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Writing Adventures without Conflict

posted Apr 26, 2018 13:55:16 by Megilered
Hi All.

I was wondering whether people have any advice for writing adventures that revolve around Science characters, which don't feature combat or a particular antagonist.

I wouldn't say that in other systems I run especially combat heavy games, but Star Trek seems like a great opportunity to remove it entirely. I do like Biological Clock from These Are the Voyages..., and some of the Living Campaign missions, but can't really come up with any ideas of my own.

Thanks for any help.
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7 replies
PatricHenson said Apr 26, 2018 15:30:32
Pages 157-160 has rules for scientific discoveries and developments (and one of my favorite headings: Zen and the art of warp core maintenance). From this you could come up with some problem the players have to deal with over the course of the adventure, such as the REM fatigue episodes where no one could dream.
Other ideas:
-after spending some shore leave with an alien babe, one of the PCs has unknowingly brought a virus aboard that is rapidly spreading
-a violent plasma storm makes it necessary to evacuate a colony, but there is little time
-a space-faring creature mistook the PCs ship for one of its species, and now there is a very large embryo growing in the main shuttlebay...
-the PCs discover an ancient pyramid of an unknown substance (impenetrable by phasers) which traps them inside. They must make it through various puzzles to escape. (This is one I'm going to run soon. It's more like a traditional dungeon crawl without the monsters. Sort of a series of escape rooms you could say.)

You could also check over at the Fan Scenarios section of this forum and see if there's anything there you could use. Also, if you come up with anything on your own or expand on any of the ideas, you should post them there too. It'd be nice to see more activity on that forum.
[Last edited Apr 26, 2018 15:31:52]
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jonrcrew said Apr 26, 2018 17:00:20
I know it's not much help now, but based on the content of the Command Division book, I would imagine the Science Division book will include a lot on this kind of thing. Also the Command book does contain a lot of ideas for diplomatic and social scenarios (as opposed to science).
Megilered said Apr 26, 2018 23:48:25
PatricHenson, just reread that section of the rule book and understood it a bit better than the first time round, so hopefully that will spark something. I like the REM/dream idea; could be the basis for something really creepy.

I will try and put an idea up on the scenarios section, it's not particularly Science focussed so I don't think I'll get round to running it but it may be of use to someone.

joncrew, I am eagerly awaiting the other two division books. Before the Command supplement came out I didn't think I would be that fussed about anything bar the space frames, but there was loads of useful stuff, including those tables.
erikfilean said Apr 30, 2018 22:45:04
My advice is to think of "conflict" and "opposition" in different ways. A science plot is, most basically, a mystery with no crime. There might be victims, but instead of a criminal with a motive, you have an impersonal phenomenon that needs to be identified and understood. Also, a scientific mystery can be just one element of a plot. Maybe an unknown phenomenon isn't dangerous on its own, but it's getting in the way of another task - delaying the delivery of perishable medical supplies creates both a time limit and a practical problem, but you could go with just the time limit (deliver a diplomat on a timetable) or the practical issue (the phenomenon is directly affecting one of the ship's consumable resources).
briandavion1982 said May 01, 2018 02:00:53
adding onto what Erik said, conflict can take many differant forms,

in writing conflict is generally divided into several catagories.

You Hvae Man Vs Man: When you say "conflict" this is what you mean, you have your protagionist and someone working against him.
But you also have other options

Man Vs Nature: this one the character is in conflict not with another person, but with nature, be it an animal, or a natural disaster or something. For a science plot this could be pitting them against the clock to save the ship from some sort of subspace anynomly etc. a good example of a Trek episode that is Man vs Nature would be the Episode "Cause and effect" the primary conflict in that episode is with a temporal casualty loop.

Man vs Himself: this is pretty much everytime a value challange comes up.

So yeah for what you want? go with a man vs nature conflict. that sounds best
Megilered said May 12, 2018 23:28:13
Cheers for the replies, guys. Thinking about it as a mystery is quite helpful, have done a couple of investigation scenarios before, so will try and repeat that through a man vs nature lens.

In case anyone else is looking to write mystery adventures, I once found this thread on how to write them, which I found incredibly useful:

It seemed to work for crime mysteries (I think my players enjoyed them, though often I think they are too nice to give entirely honest feedback). I will see how I get on doing one with a 'science' plot, rather than crime. Will also have a read through the sci-fi GUMSHOE game, as I believe it talks about setting up mysteries as well.

Thanks again.
TimKellogg said May 23, 2018 21:44:55
I think most players enjoy a mix of differing types of conflict. Perhaps, your Science Officer could have a side plot of working on a particular problem, aside from the main mission. But, because you are such a clever GM, you can deduce a way to link the solution of the science sub-plot to the main arc of the story.

My group likes problem solving, and solving puzzles, but they also like ground combat and starship combat. At least, based on their reaction to Starfinder. I think a good GM works to present characters with a range of challenges. It makes creating adventures harder, but it adds spice to the dish!
[Last edited May 23, 2018 21:45:59]
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