The Saving Throw
Contest Entry Jan. 31, 2007
Gaming moments with multiple endings, but only one is the real ending.

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Locked Out
featured on Jan. 31, 2007 contributed by   Nwash

This story comes from long ago and is a portion of a tale from tabletop roleplaying gone horribly wrong. I had recently purchased a boxed set about the Romulans from the Last Unicorn version of Star Trek RPG, and I figured I would try to run a campaign from the Romulan side of things. I also figured I would run this as an completely open-ended campaign; I would just set up the scenario and improvise as the players tried to deal with the situation. In other words, I hadn't bothered to think ahead to what they might do in the situation. This would be part of the disaster as even I really didn't have a clue how they could get out of it as gamemaster. This adventure was also run without the use of dice, amplifing all the mistakes that would be made by both gamemaster and players.

In short, the party consisted of a Tal Shiar (Romulan Intelligence) agent and two members of the crew of a Romulan dreadnought. The commander of the ship had decided to defect to the Federation, and intended to bring the ship with him. There was a fake battle staged where it was made to appear that the ship was destroyed, while it really left to meet up with four Federation ships escorting the Romulan ship to Federation territory. This was yet another mistake; the scenario didn't have any easy solution.

That said, the player of the Tal Shiar agent was coming up with many clever ideas and trying really hard. The other players were just totally stumped, though. Since one player was pretty much stealing the show and I wanted everyone involved, I made my next mistake. I kept trying to block his solutions in hopes of forcing the party to work together, which, in turn, was just making the adventure even harder. Eventually, though, the Tal Shiar agent did recruit the other two, planning to try to take over one of the Federation ships in a daring move. This worried me, as I wasn't sure how this was really going to help them overall, so I figured I'd try to make this realistically difficult in an effort to convince them to choose something more likely to allow them to regain control of their own ship and return home. Yes, this was another mistake.

What didn't help is that one of the players was really tired. We finally got him trying to do something. He was going to the engineering section of the ship they had boarded to try to take control from there. He made no attempt to be subtle, instead just entering the engineering section and pointing his disruptor at nearby crew members. I wasn't sure of his intended strategy, so I simply had the ship's chief engineer quickly lock out the controls with his personal voice code. In his fatigue, the player was about to make a really bad decision.

 Which ending is the real one?


The player told me that he decided to shoot out the side of the warp core. I asked him to confirm this, and after thinking about it for a moment, he did. I had no idea what the strategy was, but I couldn't come up with a plausible excuse to prevent him from doing it. Naturally, such damage set the ship on an inevitable course to explosion, so the order to abandon ship was quick in coming. The party managed to make it to escape pods, and they did slow down the operation as the ships stopped to pick up the escape pods. This led to the party being placed in the brig under heavy guard, and they didn't figure out a plausible way to escape, leaving the adventure hanging. We never got back to this one.


The Romulan simply shot the chief engineer, basically destroying any chance of overriding the lockout and entirely derailing the plan to take over the ship. This wouldn't have been so bad in and of itself, but they had already revealed themselves to the crew, so they had likely destroyed any chance of getting away. Essentially, they'd backed themselves into a corner. Even the Tal Shiar wasn't able to come up with anything else; all of us were entirely stumped at that point. We stopped the adventure for the day, and later decided never to continue it. Letting this adventure die would be simply merciful.

Results for this Contest Entry

Correct answer: B. 4 correct, 2 incorrect.
Crestlinger guesses A and earns 2 points.
XeroZohar guesses B and earns 7 points.
  Macstorm guesses B and earns 7 points.
Leaper guesses A and earns 2 points.
Bainick guesses B and earns 7 points.
Karlinn guesses B and earns 7 points.
  Nwash earns 10 points from writing the entry.
UFJ casts Divine. He gains 7 points.
  Macstorm casts Chain Lightning.
     Nwash loses 9 points.
   UFJ loses 6 points.
   Karlinn loses 3 points.
   Bainick loses 1 point.
Bainick casts Sympathy on   Nwash.
   Bainick gains 2 points.
     Nwash loses 2 points.

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