The Saving Throw
Contest Entry Sept. 27, 2006
Gaming moments with multiple endings, but only one is the real ending.

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Temper Augmented
featured on Sept. 27, 2006 contributed by Nwash

This adventure took place in the science-fiction realm my friend and I have been working on for some time with the crew of the Endeavour, an exploration starship. This adventure was a different style than I had done before, being more of a collection of minor incidents than one overall adventure. Essentially, the crew had been asked to visit a neutral trade station that had been in this exploration sector for a long time, allowing them to meet and establish relations with many of the nearby civilizations. It wouldn't take them long to learn that this was something of a troubled sector, possessing a few imperialistic powers and a number of others who engaged in various dubious business or criminal affairs. Most of the other more stable and lawful civilizations had other problems, including one in a full-scale civil war.

In this case, three of the Endeavour crew were about to have an unpleasant encounter with three Vinsar soldiers. It was an extremely busy day in a tightly crowded part of the station, and everyone was finding it difficult to move through the dense crowds. This already made things tense, as nearly everyone was frustrated and stressed. Three Vinsar soldiers, not paying too much attention to where they were going, kept pushing their way through the crowds, who seemed to be well motivated to make way for them if they could. The player characters weren't fortunate enough to be in a position where they could make way, though, and accidentally ended up bumping into the soldiers with enough force to knock them down.

Under other circumstances, this would have simply been a tense moment. There might have been a moment of anger, an apology, and both groups would likely have moved on. The problem was that Vinsar soldiers have a special combat implant that releases various hormones and stimulants when the soldiers enter a combat situation. Naturally, since there is really only one reaction to stressful situations, these combat implants have a tendency to activate at inappropriate times, making the soldiers highly aggressive and reducing their ability to control their tempers. This is why everyone nearby had been trying so hard to make way for them, and the player characters had been warned about this as well.

Naturally, a fight was about to occur, but I had some question about how it would go. The rules of the game were of my own design and still pretty experimental at this time. In many ways, they still are, though the system is getting more and more stable. Thus, balance has been a tricky issue thus far; I try to ensure that the enemies are able to put up a good fight, but that the player characters are going to win in the end. Most of the time, I tend to err one way or the other. When the fights are too hard, I usually have to improvise, typically making the enemies fight less intelligently to give the players a chance to recover and win. There's little I can do when the fights are too easy but move on. At any rate, with these combat implants giving the Vinsar bonuses, it seemed important to make sure they were less experienced and less capable than the players, so I tried to tweak it that an overall basis, they'd be just below the player characters' level of skill. Still, I didn't really know how things were going to go when the Vinsar in charge threw the first punch.

 Which ending is the real one?


I hadn't quite adjusted the stats of the Vinsar soldiers low enough, though. The first hit was solid, dazing the unfortunate player character who received it. They were fortunate enough to dodge some of the following attacks, but their own attacks had little effect on the Vinsar soldiers. Then the Vinsar started hitting again, and they were rather quickly racking up the stun damage on the player characters. The effects from this stun damage left the player characters unable to hit their opponents, so they decided to try to get away. I had to improvise quickly and came up with the obvious save of having station security come in and start fighting the Vinsar as well. With the additional numbers and a little time to recover from the stun damage, the player characters were able to help get the Vinsar under control. Unfortunately, as a result of security's involvement, the player characters had to spend the evening being interrogated over the incident, but at least they avoided being knocked out.


As it turned out, he missed cleanly. The crowd suddenly found a way to give the combatants some distance, but it was a very short fight. Despite the bonuses from the combat implants, the Vinsar were unable to do much of anything to the player characters, who reacted very quickly. With the combination of my miscalculation and some lucky rolls on their part, the player characters landed a few solid blows on each soldier, quickly knocking each out and leaving the crowd in stunned silence. The characters certainly gained a great deal of respect during that brief fight, but I was naturally disappointed as I hadn't wanted it to be nearly that quick.

Results for this Contest Entry

Correct answer: B. 0 correct, 5 incorrect.
Leaper guesses A and earns 2 points.
Lightshard guesses A and earns 2 points.
Bainick guesses A and earns 2 points.
Karlinn guesses A and earns 2 points.
Macstorm guesses A and earns 2 points.
Nwash earns 19 points from writing the entry.

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