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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › Starship Astoria (Kingdom)

Starship Astoria (Kingdom)

Ian B.
user 101514082
Seattle, WA
Post #: 1
Roll Call

Host -- Marc
Players -- Jonny, Ian

Some Setup

In our Kingdom game we told the tale of the Starship Astoria, a luxury cruise liner lost in space after a strange AI malfunction.

(Apologies if I get some of the terminology wrong, I don't actually own a copy of the game so I'm going off of memory.)

Our impending crises were:

  • Passenger Mutiny
  • Running out of fuel
  • Ship AI has gone haywire

The characters were:

  • Captain (Helena) Lestrade (Played by Marc) -- The ex-military captain of the ship. Noted for her strict demeanor and impatience. Had the Power role (so Marc was able to vote on decisions at crossroads points).
  • Pompe (Played by Johnny) -- Head of entertainment on the ship. Had the Touchstone role (so the staff of the ship, our Kingdom, felt the way he did).
  • Maintenance Engineer Beren Cicurnius (Played by Ian) -- The physically large and powerful but low self-esteem maintenance engineer, used for heavy lifting and any other work the other engineers didn't want to do. Had the Perspective role (so he could predict the outcomes of crossroads decisions and, except when someone else intervened, those predictions would come true).

Summary of Play

The game ran for a total of two crossroads decisions. The first one focused on whether or not to tell the passenger population that the ship was lost. Beren (Ian) predicted that if the passengers were not told the truth, they would find out anyway and form a united front against the crew. The consequences of telling the passengers the truth was not predicted. There was a lot of back and forth between Pompe (Jonny) and Lestrade (Marc) about this decision, with Pompe pushing for Lestrade to tell the passengers the truth before it got out by other means, but in the end she decided to keep it from them. Pompe (and the rest of the staff) felt on edge from this decision, feeling very cautious of their captain and her use of power, but still toeing the line for now.

The second crossroads decision was whether to dial back the malfunctioning AI core to minimum, which would mean that only the most basic functions were available. This posed a large problem because the ship's functions rely on the AI core to replicate food and supplies, as well as much of the entertainment on the ship. Without it, the various needed goods would have to be programmed in manually and hand-delivered from the replication area (called The Kitchen), lessening the standard of service the passengers had become accustomed to. Pompe was in favor of keeping the AI core running, so the passengers wouldn't get more upset than they already were, whereas Lestrade wanted to dial it down to minimum. Beren predicted that if the AI core wasn't dialed back, the problems would just get worse and worse, to the point that life support would get unreliable. And he also predicted that if the core was dialed back, that would lead to double shifts for all of the staff in order to keep operations running from a passenger perspective with a semblance of normalcy. In the end, Lestrade decided to dial back the AI core, and intervened on Beren's prediction, saying that she came up with a set of protocols that would put some of the necessary work on the passengers instead of the crew, so the staff didn't have to pull double shifts. I (Ian) accepted that intervention, and so while the Yes decision was made and the AI core was dialed back, double shifts for the staff weren't necessary. After this, Pompe (and the rest of the staff) were still feeling stressed, with everyone on edge, snapping at each other, and so on.

This second crossroads caused us to fill up the last crisis box, forcing a crisis that could end the kingdom. Lestrade noticed that the big recreation areas of the ship were now mostly empty except for small groups talking in hushed voices and stopping speaking when she walked by. Pompe saw people that had been carrying themselves with dignity begin to act like animals in these new conditions. Beren was having to continue to kick upset passengers out of engineering, and with the usual senior staff having been taken away due to sneaking booze, was running the entire section with himself in charge and a few crewmen and junior engineers his only staff. In response to the crisis, Lestrade had to start threatening the passengers and some staff with force to keep them in line. Beren locked down engineering with every staff member who knew anything about engineering inside, and had everyone except the bare minimum needed to keep the ship running work on the AI Core. Pompe locked the captain and her retainers inside the lounge with him in order to keep her from threatening any more passengers or interfering with Beren's operation in engineering.

With these reactions to the crisis in place, we voted (as players, not as our characters) whether the kingdom would continue or fall. Since none of us voted to have our character flee the kingdom, we all had a vote, and all three of us voted for the kingdom continuing. We chose this point to end the game, describing how Beren's operation in engineering worked, fixing the AI core and letting the ship get back on course (and run at full capacity), Lestrade resigning her position (feeling that she stepped over the line) and having her first officer take command, and Pompe managing to convince Lestrade and her first officer that what he did was necessary and getting let out of the brig and back to the business of making as much money as possible.

[Split into two posts because write-up was too long for one.]
Ian B.
user 101514082
Seattle, WA
Post #: 2
[Second part of the post.]

Thoughts on the System

Overall I really enjoyed the system. I felt that overall the roles (Power, Perspective, and Touchstone) were balanced in how much power they had. It did feel like Touchstone might be more useful/powerful in some games than in others, though, and had less inherent power as compared to the Perspective and Power roles, although being able to check off two different boxes on the various tracks has a lot of potential. That we could intervene to stop what someone else was doing with their role also led to some interesting complications and kept the game from getting too predictable (for example Marc stopping my prediction from coming true), and that you could negotiate (or veto) interventions kept the power of that mechanic balanced between the player involved. We didn't get a chance to explore the Change (changing your own role) or Challenge (challenging someone else's role) mechanics, but I can see how they would fit in well, especially in a longer game.

The character creation section did a good job of making the players create enough information about their character and their relationships with the other characters so that the story could be dived right into from the opening scenes. And the constantly filling boxes for Time Passing, Crisis, and Crossroads added a good amount of tension to the game.

If I had any worries about the game, it would be the lack of direction for the opening scene. I was put in charge of setting the stage for that and I wasn't quite sure what to do initially, but that may well be my lack of experience with story games rather than any fault of the mechanics. That said, a little guidance from the mechanics for things that would make a good opening scene would have been appreciated.

I very much liked the game and would play it again in a heartbeat. I can't think of any changes I would make to the mechanics, either. I'm looking forward to picking it up someday soon (probably once physical copies are available to non-Kickstarter folks) and getting a chance to play it some more.

-- Ian

PS If there's any questions you'd like to ask or any part of the game you'd like some more details on, feel free to ask and I'll answer to the best of my ability! I did up this write-up rather quickly, so there's probably some stuff that doesn't make a ton of sense or could use some expansion.
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