Mariner: A Lancer RPG campaign featuring the players as young Petrels of the Albatross
Rough outline of what will happen in Session 0
As a group, we will establish a baseline for what the tone of the campaign will be, and which things we would like to see and also not like to see.
We should be able to answer the following questions:
- Which subjects are off-limits?
- How should we deal with player death?
(We can get into the lore as well here)
- How will we deal with discomfort?
We should agree to what kind of game we are running and what we want to see. I think the combat in Lancer is quite fun (but intimidating for me as a new GM), but for me the strong points and the areas where I am more comfortable at the moment are the fluid narrative and role-playing side and the world building.
I really love the lore and the setting. It feels very earnest, very hopeful, while still acknowledging the darker expressions of the human condition. It feels like a powerful tool for imagining how we can arrive at a better world while considering the contradictions within us. And it's also fucking rad, I would expect no less from the author of a comic called Kill Six Billion Demons!
The Lancer Archetype
Lancer was chosen as the name of the game, and the title of the PCs because the Lancer as an archetype is the one who is on the ground, does the work, but isn't the hero. You are the cavalry, the lovable sidekick, the one who gets shit done.
The World of Lancer
The world of Lancer is very different from the world of D&D which has a lot of implications for role-play and gameplay. For one, there is no XP or money.
Resources are limited during combat and replenished between missions, or when you are able to secure resources by some other means in downtime.
Character leveling is based on milestones: everyone levels up after a successful mission.
Here follows a rough outline of the lore of Lancer from the Core Book.
Sometime in our (relatively) near future, human civilization rendered the Earth uninhabitable, and the human population dwindled to less than 150,000 people. Before the long dark ages, humanity's desperate bids to survive produced 10 generation ships that were sent out into the galaxy before the total collapse of civilization Earth and all the outposts in our solar system.
After thousands of years, a new human civilization was established on Earth, and after discovering that Human civilization existed once before, the New Humanity established Union, a utopian government built on 3 principles; from the Core Book (p.344):
- All shall have their material needs fulfilled
- No walls shall stand between worlds
- No human shall be held in bondage through force, labor, or debt
Through Union's 5,000-year history, things haven't always been great.
First Committee. 0u-2880u
After nearly pushing human civilization into collapse during the Little Wars on Earth,
Unionwas established to ensure humanity could never go extinct again, and the
Utopian pillarswere established. Earth was renamed
Cradle, and humanity reached for the stars once again.
Second Committee. 2880u-4560u
In the throes of an escalating war with one of the surviving Old Earth colonies,
FirstCommwas dissolved by
Anthrochauvinistmembers of the Central Committee, who established Union's Second Committee.
SecCommpursued aggressive colonization and used the military and civil service to spread their particular idea of Civilization across the galaxy, flattening many languages and cultures in the process. Due to the horrific
Hercynian Crisis—the genocide of the only known sapient alien species in the galaxy—and discontent with
SecComm's form of government, Union erupted into popular revolution.
Third Committee. 4591u-5016u
The revolution secured terms of surrender from
SecCommand established the current ruling Third Committee.
ThirdCommimmediately halted the Union Colonial Mission, re-established the
DoJ-HRand the 3 Utopian pillars. They are dedicated to guiding humanity to a better world through a soft touch—in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
A revolution on the scale of the galaxy cannot happen overnight, however, and there still exist many threats to the Utopian project:
- Elements of
SecCommstill exist in corpro-state Harrison Armory on Ras Sharma.
- Many worlds were never part of Union to begin with and do not always hold to the 3 pillars.
- Union is embroiled in an escalating conflict with the Aunic Ascendancy (one of the Old Humanity colonies).
- The NHPs—god-like eldritch math from another dimension—act on motives unknown and exist beyond our causality.
A better world is possible, and in many places it has been won and needs defending. In many other places it has yet to be won.
To some, Union isn't even the right approach (Core book, p. 348):
The galaxy has once again become a polyglot, cosmopolitan network of
thousands of worlds under Union’s hegemony—though some would call it
empire with kid gloves, instead of jack‐boots.
As Lancers, a title given only to the most notable pilots of mechanized chassis, you generally find yourselves in the places with the highest stakes, those rare moments where just a few people can make a seemingly impossible difference in the world.
The Albatross is a nomadic space-faring state of freedom fighters. To quote from the core book:
In a galaxy as vast as this one, a distress call is a message in a bottle:
sent with hope, and in the grim knowledge that, more likely than not, no one
will respond in time.
No one but the Albatross.
While there is faster than light travel in the world of Lancer, most travel is
still near light-speed with relativistic effects. Space-faring
folk—known in Union as
Cosmopolitans—like the Albatross seem to
live forever. This elevates the Albatross into legend: ageless knights, angels
even, who fall from a strange moon in the sky and bring the sweeping tide of
Our company's makteba, their community, is located on a moon named Mariner, which has been converted into a mobile space station. They live on and below the Icy surface. Not everyone who lives in the makteba pilots a Mech or fights in conflicts.
The galaxy is linked together by blink gates which span most of the Orion arm and allow instantaneous travel through blink space between them.
All Petrels are under the care of a Loyal Wing until they prove themselves and become Loyal Wings themselves. Loyal Qeñet is your mentor.
Rime is the name of the NHP that administers Mariner's systems.
IPSN is a corpro-state
and the largest transporter of goods in Union, and the principle supplier and
arms manufacturer for the Albatross.
IPSN Trunk Security is their
anti-piracy force and has close
diplomatic ties with the Albatross; at times this close relationship
can call the ideals of the Albatross into question.
I recommend 11dragonkid's video about the Albatross for more lore info on the Albatross. Feel free to also browse any of the other lore videos on his channel.
We will answer a short series of questions to help come up with characters. Our main goal is to have a rough idea of who your character is and where they are coming from, so it is clear to you where they might be going. This should enable the plot hooks to naturally align with your characters interests.
Ultimately, answering these questions, with a mind to the setting and how your character fits with the other characters in the party, will help us create an interesting story together. It's okay for there to be unanswered questions, as we play things will flesh themselves out.
Where they come from:
- What is their background?
(The Lancer player's guide has good suggestions)
- How did they become a member of the Albatross?
Who they are:
- What is a core belief the character has that influences their judgements and
Violence is necessary and justified to stop evil.
- What about the world or their background produced these beliefs?
What they want:
- What is a goal that your character has?
- As a player, what do you want to explore through this character?
How they fit mechanically:
- What role do you want your mech to fill?
- What kinds of weapons do you want to use?
- Does this tie into your character in any way?
With the more narrative parts of character creation finished, we can now turn
an eye to fleshing out the character sheet (p.16). I also
recommend checking out
makes building your character and customizing your mech a breeze.
We can focus on the narrative
Triggers (i.e. narrative bonuses) at first
since the rest of the stats are related to combat.
We will start at
LL0 with the Everest
frame. Mech creation is modular in Lancer. Some mech
weapons are more suited to 1 of the 4 roles. However, the modularity means
you can really push things into interesting places and fulfill multiple roles.
As we complete missions, you will gain new
License-Levels which allow you
to unlock new gear to build your Mech with.
Serving as an introduction to the Narrative rules of Lancer, we will do small vignettes of one pivotal backstory event involving a group of 2 or 3 characters, lasting 5 to 10 minutes.
This will help tie everyone's characters together for the start of the campaign. By the end, we should be able to answer the following questions:
- What is a notable event that happened?
- What lasting effect did it have on the party?
- How does your party explain it to other people?
(Lies, embellishments, omissions, etc.)
Perhaps this backstory can be how some of the characters first met!
I am really excited to try and run a lancer campaign again! I have learned a lot since the last couple of campaigns I tried to run, and I am excited to meet all of you and learn more together.
Let's hope this becomes a regular thing!
This page is referenced by the following documents: