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Ice Station Zebra 24, Part 1

Well, the game went off at Simon and Cristel's yesterday evening. Overall, it went well. I'd like to try a post-mortem. Forgive me if this rambles a bit; I stated writing it at half past twelve in the morning, before I remembered we needed an early start today.

The Basics: The game was Starship Troopers. The adventure was "Ice Station Zebra 23", as seen in Signs & Portents issue 26. The GM was myself, the players were Vickie, Simon and Cristel. I'd contacted a few other local gamers, but two couldn't make it, and I'd not heard back from the third after I postponed the session last Saturday. I'd pre-generated six Level 1 Mobile Infantry Troopers a while ago (each one advancing toward a particular cross-training specialty), and also done up a rules summary for the players.

Cristel's first comment upon seeing the rules summary was, "Ah, so this is a hack-and-slash." Which is a fair assessment of Starship Troopers. Cristel's comment was value-neutral, but I started worrying (you know me, I'm The Road Worrier) that it was a sign that Cristel wasn't particularly in the mood for hack-and-slash. I made the suggestion that we could do something else (like, say, Primetime Adventures), but everyone was positive about continuing.

I'd been planning a Big Opening in movie style; I'd bought the soundtrack, which has the music from right at the beginning of the film, the one that runs behind the "I'm doing my part!" bit, and I'd had the idea of doing that very segment, getting the players to say "I'm doing my part!", and then telling them more afterward (assuming, of course, they wanted to know more), until we got to a point where I could move to the briefing. I'd even carted my stereo along in case we set up in their covered back patio. Unfortunately, we were playing inside, and Simon and Cristel were occupying their kids with cartoons, so use of the stereo was out.

I also knew that the next bits were briefing, Requisition rolls, shuttle to the surface of the adventure's planet and then driving to the Ice Station. All boring stuff, especially as all the palyers are looking at their collections of numbers on their character sheets and either trying to figure out some sort of character personality based on them or just getting confused by them. On top of those, I'd been feeling rather low earlier on and I think my enthusiasm was sapped as a result. That left me adrift, and after twenty seconds of sitting there, thinking "What the fuck am I gonna do?" I said, "This is boring, isn't it?"

Smooth move, Mr. GM, and right at the start of the adventure. Now, I'm very thankful to Vickie, Simon and Cristel for just rolling with it and prodding me forward. I went through my notes, described the opening scene aboard the TFHT City of Krakow, introduced the briefing officer and got stuck into telling the players what was going on. Which was of course, very little; at the outset, Ice Station Zebra 24 is a milk run; a group of rookie MI are tasked with delivering supplies to a remote research outpost. As said, the initial phases of the game are fairly slow; the player characters are briefed, they have the opportunity to make some requisition rolls to get some gear, they board a landing shuttle with a truckful of supplies and are delivered to the planet.

(Continued in Part 2.)

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