Earthfall, S1E5, GM Debrief


GM confidence: 4.5/5. Finally. I felt okay about this session beforehand, and I thought it turned out pretty well overall. There were some missteps, but they didn’t break anything—though they certainly could have.

Not Easter Eggs

There are quite a few references in this session that are worth pointing out. I think, to qualify as an “Easter Egg,” they have to be somehow hidden, so I don’t think they meet that requirement. You can decide for yourself, I guess. 😛

  • The guys in the station wagon at the collapsed bridge were taken from the movie, How it Ends, with a little modification. Events from the movie mostly happened as-is up to this point, minus the addition of the Alien Menace. Although the movie itself is a bit “dry,” it’s actually a really interesting treatment of what has been theorized to be a “gamma ray burst”—as discussed in this video. But you ask, “Why did the gamma radiation only affect certain people?” That would be telling… 😉
  • The prepper bunker in Jackson is from 10 Cloverfield Lane. I can’t get too deep into this one since the situation is still ongoing, in-game. I will say that I have had to modify the timeline and specific background details to make it fit, of course. The PCs will be interrupting the movie events before the midpoint or thereabouts. But an interesting consequence of the PCs’ involvement, should they rescue Michelle, is that her character development as depicted in the movie won’t actually occur, so she could remain as she began the story—too scared to help others.
  • Like the Sk’ran (see previous post), the Taareh race goes all the way back to the precursors to the Daniverse. They have always been an offshoot-human species with a proto-Egyptian culture. Their name has morphed many times over the decades; in fact, all their details other than the most basic have been a bit slow to materialize. They have appeared in previous campaigns, specifically in the first and third installments of the S³M campaign. But their most recent incarnation is in Rigil Kent’s spinoff MGT2-powered campaign, The Verge, where we co-developed many of the details that currently exist (such as the format of their personal names, their communal child-rearing practices, and physiology). This session required me to actually vocalize some of their modified ancient Egyptian language, for the first time, I think. Being Rigil’s PC, the idea to make Heinlein an “alien hybrid” was originally his off-the-cuff remark that I decided to use.
  • Regarding the “personal names” above: According to what I was able to find, the ancient Egyptian word for “agent” (and also, in this case, “bystander,” which I shamelessly stole) is wpwty—I am as unsure of the pronunciation as any Egyptologist, I suspect, but I gave it my best internet-educated guess. That was the second part of Grandfather’s name, the occupation. The final part of the name, the “assignment,” is an Egyptianized pronunciation of the word “Earth”
  • “Project Genesis”/“Gen-Hisis” also owes its origins to the pre-Daniverse works. This one has been a persistent crossover element throughout the Daniverse all along, and was to be a plot feature for at least three campaigns that have not yet seen production, and one that has (Dreamland). Obviously, I can’t go into too much detail here, for spoiler reasons.
  • The alien “beasts” that appeared in this (and previous) session have also been encountered in a previous campaign, specifically Dreamland. I’m getting around to updating the visuals for them, now that I have need of it, while reconsidering some of their basic physiological features. One of my design decisions in that campaign included each of the various species having some sort of “utility feature,” of which the current PCs have discovered one (the “jaw”) and put it to good use.
  • The “incident at Area 51” is a reference to the Dreamland campaign’s intended ending.

Other Stuff

  • The session began with a lot of exposition, which is normally a no-no. Realistically, I would have had Grandfather explain a lot more in the video recording, but I elected to keep it short, and abstract the rest, rather than force everyone to listen to me read off a script for an hour or two.
  • I got a little more focused than I should have on the PCs going to Jackson next. I got a little concerned when they started talking about going a different way so soon. I’m not sure how I could possibly prepare for that, but I suspect we would have somehow managed. I was fortunate to not have to.
  • I finally got to work in a proper Skill Challenge. I like the way it turned out. The time-based penalty for rolling over into the new round was that the bug would appear mid-operation, which did occur. The Challenge very nearly failed—might have been interesting to see—but I guess that means the difficulty level was “appropriate.”
  • I honestly had not thought of a PC recovering the bug “jaw,” much less using it to cut through the bunker door. I’ll surely be more mindful of that in the future. Now I have to figure out how long before it decays too much to use.
  • Chandler’s player had never defined his Objective and I didn’t expect him to bring it up…but now he has. Now I have to scramble to figure out what it actually is, or it’s gonna get weird.

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