Deepfreeze - A
By Will McDermott
to know more about the designer/DM of Montecon's "Operation Deepfreeze"?
Here's what Andy Collins had to say about the adventure and his DM strategies.
designer and editor of roleplaying games in Wizards R&D. I co-designed
the Star Wars Roleplaying Game with Bill Slavicsek and JD Wiker.
My recent editing projects include the D&D adventure The
Standing Stone, the Forgotten Realms supplement Magic of
Faerun, and the DarkMatter campaign setting for Alternity.
did this adventure come about?
years ago (like 10), I was hanging out with my gaming buddy, Viet Nguyen,
when we had the idea to write a "cinematic" adventure -- that
is, an adventure loosely based on the movies we loved -- that would use
pregenerated PCs (so nobody got too attached to their short-lived characters).
After some discussion, we decided to riff on the Alien and Aliens
the adventure in secret. When it was finished, I told the group that I
had a new adventure to try as a break from our regular campaign. I assigned
characters to all of the players (including Viet -- nobody realized that
he was the co-author and knew what was coming). Viet played the traitorous
Goroch Khefaroth, secondhunter in the service of the uldra (dwarflike
humanoids) on the icy world of Aslak.
went just fine until the heroes set off on their long journey home, limping
back in a half-wrecked mammoth ship. (Due to time constraints, this part
of the adventure wasn't played at Montecon.) On the way back, the heroes
had to fight off a pack of newly hatched alien creatures while dealing
with the treachery of Goroch. I think Viet nearly managed to kill a couple
characters before the aliens got him.
enough, almost all of those players are still active in my campaigns.
us about the personality quirks you placed on everyone's characters. Do
you use this often in your games?
I'm running a one-shot game session like "Operation: Deepfreeze,"
I like to provide pregenerated characters with specific personality quirks.
This lets me ensure that the PCs are appropriate for the adventure (for
instance, I didn't provide a cleric for "Operation: Deepfreeze"
because I didn't want the players to be tempted to rest and heal). The
quirks also give everybody an angle you might not otherwise have in a
regular D&D game.
you're playing your own character in a campaign, you tend to make decisions
based on long-term survival issues. Everybody usually cooperates, characters
rarely take big risks, and you always look out for your buddies. But when
you're playing a character for only a few hours, you don't mind being
saddled with a psychological profile that doesn't lend itself to surviving
the adventure. For example, in "Operation: Deepfreeze" I saddled
the various PCs with poor decision-making, a superiority complex, overweening
bravery, pathological cowardice, mistrust of fellow adventurers, and flat-out
nihilistic rage. Now that's fun.
us a little about your DMing philosophy and style.
to mix action and intrigue in my games. In campaign play, I like to have
multiple storylines weaving in and out of the game, which the characters
can participate in as desired, while still making sure there's always
plenty of action and dice-rolling. My theory is, "when in doubt,
throw in a fight."
a big fan of creating very vivid scenes in my games, because I think that
helps players visualize the action. For example, when I tell the players
that the ice-encrusted ship is plummeting out of the sky as the sorcerer
grips the control helm trying to restart flight despite the traitor attempting
to cut his throat, while the commander and the musket-wielding lieutenant
are fighting off a deadly alien creature at the back of the ship as frigid
winds whip through the vessel, which is rocking back and forth and threatening
to hurl unwary characters out into thin air. . . . Well, people pay attention
was the coolest moment of this session for you?
Lt. Ozrick (Owen) realized that the huge carved "face" jutting
out from the ice wall was the prow of an ancient spelljamming vessel.
I also got a kick out of the scene I mentioned above when Lt. Prefect
(Will) was trying to regain control of the vessel before it crashed into
the snowy landscape while a battle raged around him.
us something about yourself that's not public knowledge
75 percent of my vocabulary is made up of quotes from The Simpsons.
there anything else you can tell us about "Operation: Deepfreeze"?
this: Watch out for the sequel, entitled "Operation: Deep Green."