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Old 09-19-2017, 09:53 AM
cosmicfish cosmicfish is offline
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The fundamental problem with Prime Base, as has already been noted, was that it just didn't fit in with the rest of the released modules. Up until that point, the Team was isolated and alone, starved for resources and advice, doing the best they can and knowing it would never be enough. They were the Doctor, the A-Team, Mad Max. But once they find Prime Base, assuming it and the Project are at all intact, the game must change.

Prime Base was the 8th module released, which pretty much guaranteed that reviving the Project would mean that the Team would be given hearty congratulations and restored to a relatively low rung in the hierarchy. Phoenix Team or the senior Regional commander or some other individual would have to exist with the authority and ability to command the Project, and the Team is not going to have developed the skills and the knowledge necessary to plausibly hold onto command unless they have been doing a lot of GM-designed campaigning. That means they are no longer isolated and alone, they are part of a system. Outgunned? Call a MARS Team. Not sure what to do? Call your CO and ask them what to do. They no longer have autonomy, they are executing someone else's orders. That can still be a fun game, but it isn't the game that the players signed up for.

And if they are to plausibly take command, then they need to be at the point where they can do so and that either requires one of two things: that Prime Base is delayed for a long time such that when they find it they already have a decade or two of experience and a substantial mini-Project working for them, OR that they already some exceptional unit to begin with.

Think about Star Trek [2009] - it is fun to think that some Academy screw up could wind up with command of the Fleet's premiere exploration vessel, but how long can you sustain the illusion that it makes sense? When Kirk takes over, is every other officer on the ship, demonstrably more qualified for command, really going to accept his orders? And after the emergency, is everyone going to buy that some kid who had a few good days is really a better choice than other top performers who have been studying and working towards that goal for decades? For it to be plausible, Kirk needs more than just daring do and charisma, and if the Team is to take command of the Project, they need to be Project Commanders and not "random Recon Team XYZ".

If you want to start with a shoot-em-up game and transition into nation-building, then let them gradually ease into the role. Don't send them Prime Base after 8 modules, give it to them after 40. First, let them adopt a second team, waking or rescuing them, and taking them under their wing. Then give them a couple of more. Maybe with the support of other Team commanders the player leader can request Group command access and privileges from one of the automated bases which can be granted on an interim basis pending approval or rejection from higher command... which will never come. Now they have their own Group, because the failsafes acknowledged that a new Group Commander may need to be appointed in the field and may need to act before Prime Base can make a formal decision.

The scope of the game then expands, with the "modules" focusing on the special circumstances that require the Team to use their exceptional post-awakening experience out in the field once more. They take on larger challenges, coming to the rescue of other Teams or taking point on missions too tough for a Team just out of the ground to handle. They keep finding and rescuing or waking up other Teams, perhaps using their knowledge of technology and the Project to do what the KFS is doing - digging them out of the ground. After a while they have so many Teams working for them that they have a de facto Regional Command, perhaps with the Team members now serving as department heads with entire Teams or Groups under them.

And now when they get to Prime Base, they are in a position where they can reasonably take command. Phoenix and the Regional Commanders can be convinced to give up control to a group of people that have spent the last 20 years doing the job, and the players will be in a place where they have the skills to actually do it.

Alternately, you could skip the shoot-em-up as anything but prologue and just start the players off with skill and authority. Perhaps they aren't "Recon Team XYZ", perhaps they were a Group Command Team, or perhaps the war came earlier and a Regional Commander and some others were forced to weather the war in an emergency bunker, or perhaps Phoenix wasn't all in one place and the players are a six-man Phoenix Unit responsible for the South Central United States. Those character groups could find Prime Base a lot sooner and still have the chops to take command. But it also means that the shoot-em-up part is going to be briefer, because they should have the skills and resources to find Prime Base and the determination and drive to make it happen.

And if you just want to keep it a shoot-em-up? Kill the Project. You don't need it and don't want it, so kill it. Perhaps the Project was compromised and the best the leadership could do was wipe the records to save the low-level units and facilities, but the higher organization was wiped out. Perhaps there was an internal power struggle and the factions duked it out, sparing only some low-level resources either overlooked or simply not gotten to. When the Team finds Prime Base, it is a hole in the ground and simply confirms that the Project cannot be revived, only gradually replaced.

Those are the options as I see it:

It's a lone-wolf shoot-em-up game. Kill Prime Base dead, the Team is more or less on its own.

It's a military shoot-em-up game. Keep Prime Base and realize that after that point, the characters report to other, better people.

It's a nation-building game. Keep Prime Base but give the players the kinds of characters that can revive and run the Project.

It can become a nation-building game, eventually. Keep Prime Base but push it down the line so that if and when the players want to seriously revive the Project they have built themselves up to the point where they can do it.
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