Title: Meeting the Crew
Description: The power and the glory
JenBurdoo - May 17, 2007 12:01 PM (GMT)
A week later…
You have been in the warp for some time now. It is impossible to escape the constant shivering of the bulkheads, the constant hum of machinery and the stale scent of recycled air and water. Days start to pass in a monotonous series of sleep, bridge duty, and school lessons from Simpson, who drills you on your mathematics tables and history. Weren’t you done with that when you graduated the academy? Not as far as he’s concerned. Simpson seems to enjoy inspecting your work, and you suspect he’d make a good teacher. If he didn’t like best the prospect of scribbling all over your penciled answers in red ink.
The food is bland, the water metallic, the air dusty. Perhaps the officers (or the ship herself) are trying to dampen your enthusiasm. You speak your prayers every morning in your shirtsleeves around the wooden table in your quarters, then it’s off to the messhall, back to the bunkroom, off to the bridge, back to the bunkroom and the messhall again. Are these the only parts of the ship remaining? Only the everpresent rumble tells you that you’re truly in interstellar space now.
Finally, Simpson seems to be satisfied that your education was in order. He too is growing tired of the reviews, and is finding less and less to scribble over as you grow more confident in your new surroundings. One morning, he gets you up by the usual tactic of kicking you out of bed. Then, after leading prayers, he marches you through the corridors again, this time in full uniform. You are sweating by the time you arrive in what appears to be the ship‘s gymnasium. Wooden training shotguns and clubs are stacked against the wall. There are exercise machines, with strength trainers predominating, and a quarter-mile track circling the deck. In one corner hunkers a hulking piece of machinery -- a mock plasma mega-cannon, with all the controls, locks, wires and arcane technology required to load the plasma flasks. In this case, the flasks are filled with water and the controls are computerized and connected only to LED lights.
Simpson explains that now is the time to meet your sections of ratings, the men you will lead in gunnery and boarding actions. Most are trained, though a good proportion are utterly new recruits, including those you helped escort back to ship from the under-hives last week. It will be up to you to put emphasis on their training -- close combat, strength training (to drag chains and carry ammunition), speed of weapons drill, or discipline and obedience. “I’m sure you can think of other things to concentrate on,” Simpson adds with a harsh grin. He turns, and holds out his hand towards the men who are now divided into six groups of ten, one for each of you. You recognize some of them; a few you’ve seen about the corridors, others are from the Venthis recruit gang.
“Hop to it!”
OOC: OK guys, back to work! This is your chance to help develop some of the NPCs and for your characters to show how they deal with the men they will lead in battle. Discuss the training regimen you decide on, and particularly how you will enforce discipline (because almost all these men are older than you, and few of them are impressed by your authority yet). Name some and describe how you (fail to) win their confidence.
As the GM, I need help (in more ways than one). The goal of this game is to develop the crew of an Imperial warship, but I want to involve the players in that, because your characters will be involved in that.
Commissar Molotov - May 17, 2007 10:54 PM (GMT)
Hethwaite steps up to his group of ratings. Ten men, all scars, stubble and attitude. The navy fatigues of tank-top and trousers let plenty of gang-tattoos show. Hethwaite supposes that these men represent his first command - he is perhaps idealistic in hoping that he can do them proud. At the moment, they don't seem too impressed with him. Quite a few of them stand with their arms crossed, pointedly studying the deck, the bulkeads, the ceiling... anywhere but him.
Hethwaite notices with a slight smile that Barr was one of the ratings assigned to him - the rating looks better than he had during the riot. He is glad, as Barr is at least a familiar face.
"Good morning, men. I'm Mister Hethwaite. I hope that you will respect me; if so, I shall respect you, and try to make things as pleasant for you as possible. Your names, please?"
Grudgingly, Hethwaite manages to drag ten names from the men-mountains. Aside from Barr, who looks a little awkward and sheepish to be assigned to Hethwaite's crew, there's Richler - squat, overly muscled and obnoxious, Mort and Guy - two brothers, gangly, relatively young, and seeming to flank Richler - Yuskel, big and near-unintelligeable, Karl, the oldest of the squad, with greying hair. Nathan, Willem, Reynold and Niska round out the crew.
"Right, then." Hethwaite says.
<To be continued!>
J. Black Fraser - May 18, 2007 12:28 AM (GMT)
Gort examines his ten men, unimpressed and unintimidated by the fronts they all put on. To a man they're all of stronger build than him, although his tall, skinny frame offsets the height differences slightly. Gort didn't recognise any of them.
"You have no reason to care who I am or what my name is. Therefore, I have no reason to care who you are or what your names are. I'm the young, obnoxious officer who knows nothing about real life, you're the ruffian meatheads who just want to get by."
Gort considers pacing about, but decides there's no point, instead he just blinks and tries to catch each of the men in the eye. Rapidly an idea forms in his head.
"You, come here." Gort points to one of the largest, surliest men and beckons him over. The man looks bored and doesn't respond. Gort sighs to himself. It's going to be a long day.
The best way to get the men to at least listen, is to highlight that it's essential to their wellbeing. Trust exercises are simply too kid-gloves for these men. Something else might work. Gort quickly committed their names and faces to memory. The four most unruly-looking were called Bette, Hooden, Wedison and Junger, three more seemed plain uninterested, Farnal, Upeltec and Sinow, and the last three looked, at first glance, as though they may have some hidden potential. These were Thenelo, Lillin and Zentana. They were all clean-shaved and visibly well-kept, although no doubt it wasn't optional for any of them.
OOC: Primary focus on discipline and teamwork. Gort wants them able to dance the nutcracker blindfolded just because he ordered them to. Discipline, discipline, discipline. The God-Emperor wants you to obey, damnit!
Ashnari Doomsong - May 21, 2007 06:05 PM (GMT)
Jarran clapped his hands together and walked over to his bunch of lads. He sized them up; most were in their early twenties, and all sorts of builds were present. Including, Jarran noted, the bloke he'd wrestled in the alley.
"Aight, la'ies. I be yer boss on th' ship, an' ye lis'n ta me. Sa long as ord'rs be 'beyed nice an' efficin'tly, I dinnae care much fer wha' ye do wi' yer time off. Hell, if we dae well, I'll e'en buy y'all a drink once we hi' port. So. Yer names an' any prior trainin', gents."
He'd never believed in discipline for discipline's sake, and this was hopefully going to increase morale. He also made it absolutely clear that despite this, he would brook no delay; this was told in such a perfectly cheerful manner that it might make the men doubt his complete sanity; good. It was better to be loved than feared, but when one could be both, why not?
One by one, the people under his command comprehended what he was saying and reluctantly introduced themselves. The big bugger that Jarran had wrestled in the alley was called Morann and seemed, much to Jar's chagrin, like he was the among brightest of this crew as well as one of the biggest. Morann had served in the guard, apparently, and when Jar read through the lines it was obvious that the bigger man had deserted when the rest of his squad was wiped out; both good and bad; on one hand, it meant that Jar had a skilled and doughty man ready to take orders, on the other he was still a deserter and thus scum.
Other than him, there were Karl, a small, mousey man who looked like he wanted desperately to be somewhere else. He was not a former convict, and was apparently quite adept at using medical tools, having worked as a drug distiller before being "volunteered" by his loving wife. Then, you had John, a huge monster of a man whose capacity for clear thought stretched far enough that he was standing at attention and saluting as well as stating that he had a head wound.
Nolan, a lanky former hitman. Marius, an ablesman who had served on this ship since his days as a volunteering boy, and who knew the way around it. Ognan, another young slummer who had volunteered in hopes of glory rather recently. Boris, a man almost as broad as Jarran, stated that he had extensive close-combat training as well as some skill with a shotgun.
Alsamon and Astranon, twin brothers who had led a life of high crime before being caught and almost killed - apparently, they'd been arms smugglers.
And finally, there was a heavily built young man from Cadia; he, too, had been a criminal. A professional thug. His name was Cessar, and Jarran decided to keep a wary eye out for him in particiular.
OOC: Training focus for close-quarter combat, that is melee and small arms shooting. Discipline is more of a secondary issue, though he will maintain a cheery composure while telling them that if they're so lax/half-hearted during action, he will have no choice but to shoot them himself.
Avenger2099 - May 22, 2007 05:16 AM (GMT)
Joshua slowly walks up to his ten men, smiling his unnerving smile. Mostly criminals, Joshua thought he spotted one, maybe two men who seemed to be professional navy men. They’d most likely be the easiest to win over; it was the rest he’d have to work on.
“Alright, here’s how this works. I give you orders, you listen to me. You don’t listen to me, bad things will happen to you. Fail to follow my orders enough and you will conviently disappear. Now then my name, as far as you are concerned, is sir. If you really have to address me by my full name you will call me Mr. Midshipman, sir. I want you to look around, you see my colleagues, most of them are getting all friendly with their squad. I won’t be getting friendly with you. However, know this, everything I order you to do is nothing I could not have done myself. I will expect you to be the most disciplined squad. I will expect, and accept, only your best. Now then, give me your names and former occupations.” Joshua delivered his speech in his best oratory voice, pacing along his men, looking at each of them, sizing them up.
He had been right at the beginning; he had two professional navy men in his squad, a blessing. Their names were Nicholas Renning and Talren Malthus. Each were older men who, while they didn’t look at their new officer with respect, knew how to follow orders. However he also had an unruly four, Fren, Hugo, Yalnars, and Izzy. All of them bore the same gang tattoo and all deferred to Izzy. They were hulking men all, who obviously knew how to handle a weapon. However they glared at him with unbarred hatred, he knew if he didn’t keep an eye on them, or win their respect, they would put him out an airlock first chance they got. He had a small lanky man with the look of a footpad about him named Dimitri Vladochievi, he spoke with an accent almost as infuriating as Jarran’s. He also had a young boy named Gerald LeBlue who had just volunteered for the navy and would probably die in his first boarding action. Still he was impressionable and would most likely follow his orders. Then there was the jittery one, it seemed the Emperor thought it terribly funny to send the most annoying men Joshua’s way. He fidgeted constantly and had the look of a ferret to him. His name was Andrew Mason, and somewhere, something had seriously messed up his brain. Finally there was a strange man who had Imperial doctrine tattooed on his arms and the words holy and fire tattooed on his knuckles. A fanatical fire burned in his eyes, Joshua knew he would be fanatically loyal to any man in a position of power, but also knew he would most likely be the kind to go rushing into battle against any foul abomination against the Emperor. The man was as much a liability as he was a help.
“Alright then, today we’ll be working on discipline and obedience, and if we have time we’ll work on weapons drills. But first, we’re going around the gymnasium for a pleasant jog. Alright you lot, at my pace, let’s begin.”
And with that Joshua set off at a jog, making sure the men were actually going to follow him.
OOC: So, emphasis on discipline and weapon drills. Also… what rank are we? Oh and if there’s any thing you don’t like about my men and what not just tell me, I’ll change it.
BeRzErKeR - June 5, 2007 02:04 AM (GMT)
Friedrich strolled slowly forward, hands clasped behind his back, emanating an air of nonchalance. In fact, he was using the almost-arrogant, slow stroll to buy time to size up his ratings. He wasn't impressed. The group stood in a gaggle; no order, no respect. A few shot him mildly contemptuous looks. Friedrich wasn't exactly a disciplinarian, but that kind of sloppiness could get people killed aboard ship. Friedrich's shirt might not always be perfectly pressed, but it was always pressed well enough.
Ten men. Two were older, less scruffy, and in every way more competent then their fellows; they were probably professional. The others were quite obviously convicts. In fact, a couple still had manacle-marks around their wrists. Problem cases, obviously, who hadn't the chains removed until recently. The most eye-catching thing, however, was that the man in the center of the group towered head and shoulders above the rest. A convict, manacle marks on his wrists, built like an ox. . . and he had a look in his eyes Friedrich didn't like.
Friedrich came to a stop in front of the group, and made sure his heels came together hard enough to click. A few of the men stiffened at that, into something approximating attention. He let his eyes trail over the group again, and his mouth quirked into a mocking smile.
"I haven't seen a scummier-looking bunch since my aunt's kids fell down a sewer access hatch."
The genial contempt in his voice cut across the group like a whip. Ten matched glares turned towards Friedrich. He began to pace, his hard-heeled boots ringing against the deck.
"I bet we c'd lubricate the engines with the grease on yer hair, boys, if we c'd get the techpriests ta bless it. You lot call yerselves sailors? I'd be surprised if you slack-jawed, bow-legged monkeys knew the difference between a plasmic charge capaciter and a hair dryer."
He swung around and began pacing back in the other direction. "I figure there's maybe two men in this bunch that's worth something, and the rest of you have enough to do remembering to eat and sleep. Of course, I could be wrong about that."
He swung about again and planted his feet facing the group, cacking his heel down hard enough to make the deck ring. "Your job is to prove me wrong. If youcan manage that, I expect you may, someday, with lots of training and someone to wipe your noses, become sailors. Until then, we have some work to do. Fall out to that plasma megacannon over there. We're going to run some firing drills. I said fall out! Bah, leave it to you lot to screw up a fall out order. Move!
OOC: Emphasis on weapons ops and discipline, in that order. Oh, and scornful verbal abuse, that too. Nothing too much worse than displayed in the post, though.
Also, apologies for leaving this so late.
JenBurdoo - June 11, 2007 02:11 AM (GMT)
OOC: My apologies as well. You guys (especially Mol) have been remarkably patient with me. I know this game has been slow, but I'm really pleased with how we're fleshing out the characters and environment. I want to keep it up. There will be more action presently.
IC: For the next four hours, you drill your new sections of crewmen hard. Save for one fifteen-minute break for food (water, a shot of liquor, and hard biscuit and grox beef), there is no rest. Joshua and Friedrich work their men hard; Jarran is more easy-going. The other three midshipmen are methodical and straightforward. Mr. Simpson paces around the gymnasium, watching you all with a jaundiced eye but not interfering with your training schemes or disciplinary actions.
Friedrich runs weapon drill after weapon drill. By the end of the day, he has reduced the plasma-cannon firing, cooling, and loading procedure from thirty minutes to twenty-one, and is still not satisfied. His two spacers seem content with his leadership; the others have taken some work but are now obeying orders quickly, if grudgingly. The big one does not seem happy, and his eyes bore into Friedrich with smouldering contempt.
Joshua manages to get his section to run at his pace, snapping in their faces all the while. Most are intimidated, and the two youngest are utterly terrified; so much so that they tend to stumble rather than speed up. While this frustrates Joshua no end, he is more pleased with the rest of the section, who take his attitude for granted and even seem to thrive under it. Even the gangers don't make trouble, though they are still clearly plotting something. Joshua is finally satisfied enough to try some plasma drills, and while there isn't much time left, he concludes that his section is at least competent. Except for LeBlue and Mason, who both spilled the water before Joshua assigned others to carry it. If that had been plasma, everyone would have lost their feet to the blazing hot liquid running across the floor... and Joshua would have lost both legs from the knees down. At least his pants are dry now. Morale seems low.
Jarran spends his time on close-combat drills. Wooden knives, clubs, cutlasses, and pikes are copiously splintered across the floor and by midday everyone, including the midshipman, is bruised and tired. Jarran is happy with most of his men, particularly the excons who seem to delight in beating up the younger men. Karl and Ognan, however, will clearly take more work, and Ognan is presently sleeping off a particularly severe blow to the head in a corner.
Gort focuses on teamwork. With some patience, his men begin to work together comfortable. Calisthenics, with rapid switches between exercises, make them used to obeying Gort's commands. Most still seem fairly bored, however; they are clearly taking this in stride and are barely challenged.
Collum seems indifferent, and doesn't focus on any one discipline. He tries something of everything, and if nothing more seems to know his men well and to have them accept him.
Finally, Hethwaite focuses on close combat. His own interest lies in boarding actions, and he does his best to instill in his men the gung-ho attitude necessary to survive in the first minutes of an attack. They don't seem particularly good at close combat, but Hethwaite's personal magnetism keeps them together -- even the ones who still distrust him. He gradually realizes that only true crisis will cause them to recognize him for the leader he is, and hopes that the combat drills will at least keep them alive long enough for that to happen...
At last, Simpson calls a halt and orders you all to take a good long drink of water. Then, bellowing, he marches you into the space next door -- which turns out to be packed with iron bars, fences, bulkheads, tunnels and tripwires. It is a veritable maze of walls, passageways and obstacles, on several levels.
"Gentlemen!" he announces. "And I use that term loosely. Our next goal is to see what you've learned today!"
Everyone looks at him like he's an idiot. He ignores the look.
"I'm separating you. Each section is going to go through this obstacle course and do its damndest to take out the other sections." He grins fiercely, clearly looking forward to the contest. "No holds barred. Everyone gets wooden hand weapons. And a flag. Your goal, should you choose to accept it --" here he sneers -- "is to capture your opponent's flag, doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Winners get an extra ration of grog tonight. Losers get their asses kicked. By me. That goes for you young gentlemen, too." He shows his teeth.
"Hethwaite and Gort. Merdruch and Collum. The other two. Who wants t'go first?
OOC: All right, this next bit will be involved. You will have to pmail me or talk on MSN, because in the next few posts (which I will write) you will be facing each other. As I mentioned, it is essentially a game of Capture-the-Flag, set in a maze. Describe your strategies privately to me, and I'll post the results. Will you send your entire squad rushing through the maze to the other side? Will you hold half of it back to defend your base? Will your character join one section to lead it? What will he do if he meets his opposite number? You have described your crewmen, are any of them better at certain tasks than others? How will you split them, and how will you maintain discipline whilst doing so?
This is a bit of an experimental element, and I appreciate your patience and cooperation. It will become more obvious what I expect out of you as we go. Do not post here -- contact me.