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A game about the pilots of powerful machines in a war that dominates every facet of life. They are trying to do their time and part, and get out physically and mentally intact. The organizations that perpetuate the War through all of known space are too incomprehensibly huge to take down. There is no “winning” the War, there is only surviving it.

These are their stories.

An Announcement and Mission Prep Rules

Nov 2, 2018

In my efforts to grow the Beam Saber community I'm going to be posting my mission prep notes for Beam Saber: The Cenotaph here. To help formalize the notes today I'm sharing the as of yet unreleased Preparing A Mission section!

Furthermore I'm opening up this blog to fan work!

Contact me via email if you've:

  • GMed Beam Saber and want your mission available to others.
  • drawn art of your Beam Saber pilot or their vehicle.
  • written up actual play reports of Beam Saber.
  • written prose, poetry, or song about Beam Saber.
  • created interesting NPCs, campaign set ups, squads, or vehicles for use with Beam Saber.

You can send your work and any links you want plugged to awesome.ramsay@gmail.com. If you're sending in a mission please use the Preparing A Mission format below.

PREPARING A MISSION

There is one rule for designing a mission you must keep in mind: Make a situation, do NOT make a story. The flexibility that pilots have access to (through their vehicles, abilities, flashbacks, and everything else) means that your plans need to be similarly flexible. So try to avoid extensive paragraphs and events that WILL happen, and instead make notes that detail narrative resources and possibilities. These are my guidelines on how to prep missions for Beam Saber. They work for me, and hopefully they’ll work for you too.

    There are eight categories that I prepare for a mission: Briefing, Employer, Target, Objective, ROE, Complications, Characters and Challenges. The GM can pull from each section for obstacles the pilots must overcome. Some of those obstacles will be represented by Clocks, while others may be sources of Consequences in the fiction.

    The contents of each section should flow from the outcome of previous missions as well as step 3 in the End of Session section (see ??). The End of Session questions will give you an idea of the type of objective, environment, and opponent the players want to face in their next mission; it’s your job to tie those desires into the narrative created from earlier missions. Of course if this is your first session you won’t have these questions to rely upon, but that’s why there’s the Starting Situation section (see page ??)!

BRIEFING

This is the basic information that the Pilots are given when they are planning the mission. It summarizes the situation in your notes so that you can tell what the mission is about at a glance. The Employer, Target, Objective, and maybe the ROE will be mentioned here. If you want to provide the players with false information, this is the place it should be since they will have had to work for any other information they have (which should not be taken away from them).

EXAMPLE

BRIEFING: Lady Elreth fought a dragon near Wander causing a great deal of damage (Don’t tell the players that she won and has left the area). The 3rd Public Connections Corp wants to help the populace repair to build stronger ties. The Wrights of the Ascent want to use this as an opportunity to rebuild the town in the image of the Celestial Myriad.

EMPLOYER

This is the squad that is hiring the pilots to complete the mission. The representative of that squad should also be listed here. This should detail the representative (when appropriate), and the Tier and faction of the Squad so that when going through the Mission Completed process (see page ??) the required information is at hand. The Employer’s goal for the mission will be listed in the Objective, so save this space for information about the Employer and their liaison.

EXAMPLE

EMPLOYER: 3rd Public Connections Corp (Tier 2S) of the Democratic Federated Systems represented by Laura Neirnick. They are a well funded squad of attractive pilots and the military documentarian crew that follows them. GOAL: To look good for the public. Laura Neirnick has dark skin, broad facial features, blonde dreads with white/pink/pale blue beads, small, slight build, mid 30s, she/her, wears a very fashionable business suit.

TARGET

This is the squad that the pilots are going to most obviously harm by completing their objective. These notes should detail information about the target such as their tier (to adjust effect, engagement rolls, etc) and faction (to provide descriptive details, adjust trust during Mission Completed process, etc). Further, what the target is doing when the mission begins and their objective during it should be listed; the former to help describe the situation when the target appears on screen, and the latter to provide direction to their actions.

EXAMPLE

TARGET: The Wrights of the Ascent (Tier 1W) of the Church of the Celestial Myriad. They’ve been constructing a cathedral of the Celestial Myriad in Wander the last year or so, and it has sustained structural damage during the recent battle. It can still be salvaged and so the Wrights are prioritizing its repair over everything else, including neutralizing the dangers to the town left from the battle.

OBJECTIVE

This is the reason that the pilots are undertaking the mission and braving its challenges. Fulfilling the requirements of the Objective will require the pilots to fill at least one Clock because if the mission could be completed with a single roll there’d be no reason to hire the pilots. Some missions may have more than one objective, or multiple stages for the objective, and each will likely be represented during the mission by a Clock. Once the objective is completed the GM should decide based on the fiction if the mission immediately ends or if it continues for some reason (such as needing to fill a clock to escape).

EXAMPLE

OBJECTIVE: Undermine the locals’ opinion of the Wrights of the Ascent and make the Democratic Federated Systems look good.

ROE

This section details the ROE that the pilots will have to abide by during the mission. It can sometimes be tricky to come up with ROE on the spot, so writing down some ideas before a session is a good plan. Having the mission’s ROE quickly accessible will also be helpful during the Mission Completed process when adjusting Trust. Most missions will have 2 ROE as a deterrent from uncivil behaviour. Missions with fewer ROE give the pilots freedom of action, while more ROE will become a challenge in and of themselves. If you are having trouble there is a list of ROE Suggestions on page ??.

EXAMPLE

ROE: Threatening, or employing force against civilians. Firing upon or presenting as a clearly marked medical transport or facility. Initiating combat with the Wrights of the Ascent.

COMPLICATIONS

This section details the majority of the obstacles between the pilots and their objective. Information about these are not provided to the pilots unless they work for it. What complications are revealed to the pilots when they Gather Information will depend on the methods they use. You should come up with about 6 different complications per mission so that you will have a variety of dangers to employ against the pilots.

EXAMPLE

COMPLICATION:

  • The dying dragon’s body is in the middle of the town and one of its two ignition glands has ruptured spreading flammable caustic fluid.
  • The locals are suspicious of outsiders.
  • A secret Burden cell looking to use the locals’ suspicion to gain political power is present.
  • The Town council is resistant to receiving aid from outsiders because they’ve already made a deal with the Wrights of the Ascent.
  • Wander is in the mountains which are rough terrain and make communication with the outside difficult.
  • Should the dragon’s mate come looking for it?
CHARACTERS

This section lists the important NPCs that might appear on screen and provides details about their appearance. You don’t need many characters listed as there’s always the chance they won’t come up. You only need to detail those who will be giving a face to the groups that can provide meaningful opposition or support to the pilots. One character for each group of NPCs that will appear in the mission should be plenty.

EXAMPLE

CHARACTERS:

  • Hannah Copeland, Burden cell leader/populist politician. Lithe build, late 30s, pale brown skin, curly purple hair. Knew one of the pilots when she was a kid, wears coveralls with the top tied around her waist and a tank top. She/her.
  • Grout DeVinter, Wander’s mayor. Former contact of another pilot’s gang. 50s, wears a head scarf and beautiful robe, soft build, east Asian ethnicity. They/them.
  • Senior Kin Arrow Slide, the local leader of the Wrights. Frail build, sickly, 40s, bald, pale white skin, wears the same rough hooded robe that all Wrights wear. He/him.
CHALLENGES

This section summarizes all of the potential obstacles and dangers that are explicitly stated in the other sections or can be inferred from their details. It is very likely that as you think more about what problems the pilots will run into the challenges list will grow quite a bit. Remember that you don’t have to use all of them! The list exists to give you quick ideas about threats, consequences, and obstacles to throw at the pilots.

EXAMPLE

CHALLENGES:

  • The cathedral’s stability
  • Make the Wrights look bad
  • Make the DFS look good
  • The dying dragon
  • The caustic ignition fluid splattered all over
  • Suspicious locals
  • Hannah Copeland’s Burden cell
  • The deal between the town council and the Wrights
  • Mountainous terrain
  • Wireless communication is difficult because of the mountains
  • A second dragon