Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Seventh Session - Unexpected Guests Pt. 1

So last session ended with the characters causing their Astropath to be possessed by some force and then shredded into a fine mist. No sooner did that happen when the Dynasty's flag ship voxed down, in forming the Explorers that 25 ships of unknown origin had now arrived.

It turns down that the unexpected visitors were a race that calls themselves the Scylla. These 'creatures' appeared to have some sort of wing device on their backs and eagle-shaped helmets on their heads. Their armor resembled that of Ancient Terran history - it was built to resemble bronze breastplate and their carried centurion-like shields.

It was noticeable to everyone that the design and aesthetics of the master shuttle (which they discovered in the bowels of the ship), was similar to that of their mysterious visitors. With a few decent rolls, the Explorator of the group was able to get their archeotech communication equipment to contact the visitors.

The visitors soon removed their eagle-helmets and revealed themselves to be human. Not long after, the Explorers were able to ascertain that these very different-looking humans were a race of people that were lost before the time of the God-Emperor himself. Indeed, they did not even know who He was.

The Scylla wanted to ensure that the party was not trying to waken the sleeping entity they found in the large, coffin-like structure. After great assurances were made, the Scylla offered the PCs the planet - provided they would keep the sleeper subdued and issued a challenge to ensure they were powerful enough to be its guardian.

Next followed a very easy combat. Partly due to my really terrible rolls, and partly due to the fact that this was the first tactical combat they had with their new psyker (Nick's using the Dark Heresy rules for his psyker).

The psyker laid down at Firestorm right off of the bat, which annihilated the Scylla's combat leader and pretty much ended the fight. I thought it was a pretty fair trade, however, because as a result, the psyker rolled one of the worst things that he could have possibly rolled for Perils of the Warp. He almost got daemon-possessed. Which would have certainly ended his character.

The rest of the session was dedicated to an exchange of information and culture with the aloof and mysterious Scylla. Part of the fun of this session was the lack of ability to clearly communicate with the Scylla. I had the Scylla speak a highly mutated form of High Gothic, which had everyone leaning forwards, trying to figure out what was being said. There was a lot of hand-gesturing, and pointing at objects. It's one of those very neat encounters you can only have in a space-exploration game like Star Trek or Rogue Trader.

In any event, the crew were able to negotiate a meeting with the Scylla and discover a fair number of things about the planet and the massive relic which ended the life of the Explorer's Astropath.

I will save those details for next time, however.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Papa's Got a Brand New Bag

So I got an iPad.

I got this neat little toy with the writing money that I got for a little assignment I did last year. Wasn't going to get one, but I had some cousins of mine who were falling all over themselves to get one. After some investigation, I got more and more intrigued by the idea and could see several uses for it. One of those uses that I envisioned was for, of course, gaming.

Several things I'm planning on using for.

First and foremost, the iPad should make me a better DJ. I use a lot of music in my games. Back in the day, I had a serious CD collection of movie scores and whatnot. I used these as background music for gaming, but they were also ideal for playing in the background when I wrote my games up. Anyhow, with the digital age, I transitioned into using an iPod. But when I use an iPod, I always feel like there's something missing.

The main problem I have with using an iPod is that it's often hard for me to select the right song for the occasion. Scrolling through long lists of songs makes it hard for me to spot the precise song. Even when I break up the songs into playlists. When I used CDs exclusively, I always knew the right album for the occasion, and could flip right to the right album to pick the right song. On an iPod, I often get lost in the song titles. However, the iPad allows me to browse songs within a playlist much more easily. For one, I can see my song list more easily. For another, if you look at this screen, you can see that I can browse through the albums much easier with their covers prominently displayed.

Another use for me will be, of course, the iPad's capacity as a reader. I prefer to read and browse physical books. However, when I referencing just a few rules or stats, the iPad will be ideal. When I go to a friend's house to game, I no longer need to carry an armload of books. Just one device. Now you might say that I could do the same thing with a laptop. But I hate browsing PDFs on a laptop. I've tried to do the laptop thing many times and it just doesn't work for me. Typically, my laptops are slow and find it difficult to navigate graphics-heavy PDFs, such as a file for an RPG.

Finally, I'm also looking forwards to the iPads ability as a presentation device. Now, if I want to show a picture of an NPC, setting, or something else, it will be a lot easier to just pick up the iPad from the table (with one hand, no less) and pan it around the room so everyone can see. I can even pass it around, or place the iPad in the middle of the table so that everyone around the whole table can see it. No angling the laptop this way and that way so people can see.

All of this is supposition and strategy, of course. We'll see how it really turns out when I go to full implementation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Character Journal 3 - H. Tiberus Holocene

Well, here's another edition of our Rogue Trader's journal! Please note that this entry is for our previous session, not the latest one.

Day 221, 813M41
Log of Events
Ferral Wolf, commissioned 389M34
Captain H. Tiberius Odysean Holocene

Warrant of Trade # RV-426-G7-96-BFN4Y2
Granted to Rogue Trader Hester Nathaniel Holocene 623M35.
Given leave to spread the light of the God Emperor to places unknown within Segmentum Obscurus.

Now I know why they use the word infested when it comes to Orks. The Angvein's Blade, the ghost ship I have claimed was more than teeming with them. Hellacious fighters born with a knowledge of warfare that staggers the mind. The fighting on board nearly broke the men. But in the end, the ship belonged to me. Every inch of the vessel was scoured in cleansing Prometheum, yet still I fear that we did not kill them all; there are still ghosts on that ship, of this I am certain; and I do not believe that all of them are human.

Locked away in her chambers, we managed to find the Navigator of that ship alive, if not unscathed from the encounter with the alien. Her name is Incabula, and while Malificent assures me that her abilities as a Navigator remain intact, I have ensured that Severus keep a close eye on her, lest her fears get the better of her, and my new prize. Speaking of, I have named Severus captain of the Angvein's Blade; though he is rather militaristic and overly formal in my opinion, I trust that he will keep the ship in good order, and I trust none more in case the Ork menace is not truly over. Besides, there is a part of me that wishes to keep my captains within the family, at least for now. Perhaps it is archaic, but as the Successor to the Holocene dynasty, I believe it is my prerogative.

Our return to Footfall was none less than I expected: a greeting of celebration and much pomp and circumstance. Of course I do not mind being heralded as a hero every now and again, it bolsters the ego, and it is good for my crew to see me so highly exalted, it reminds them that they are following a man of destiny. While on Footfall, I encounter Zephyr Ontiveros once again, who cautions me on "deal" which was made between my dynasty and that of the Naraghast. I am beginning to realize that the letter of the law and its spirit are two distinct things, and that understandings of a particular point can be skewed between different parties. As I said before, there is more to Chorda than meets the eye, and she is up to something, of that I am certain.

We also met Ishi, an astounding explorer of good repute, as well as her associate, Rook. She agreed to accompany us to Vedic, as long as she could formally join the Holocene dynasty. In honesty, this seemed to be almost too good a deal. She brings understanding and expertise that I would gladly have within my line, and am certain that whatever share of the profits she might earn will be trivial compared to the wonders she could unlock.

With our affairs in order, we set sail for Vedic. Along the way we passed by the Cauldron; it seems to have a presence both here in our Universe and in the Warp, and I am not entirely sure which is the image and which the reflection. On our journey, we received a distress call from an astropath. Evidently another ship had skirted too closely to the massive black hole, and was being slowly pulled in. Part of me was of a mind to leave them; it was, after all, either stupidity or fate which landed them in their situation, and I try to avoid interfering with either when possible. But as always I had a duty to my crew (which I was in need of more in any regard, now that I had two vessels), so we left the Angvein's Blade at anchor and traveled into the empyrean to effect what rescue we could.

After a brief deliberation, we hatch a plan to save as many lives as we can. The crew of the other ship loaded into shuttlecraft while the Ferral Wolf moved in close. We then overboosted our Gellar field, and the small craft ran the distance in a desperate attempt to flee the Lucien's Folly. In the end, we managed to save just over 8'000 souls. Unfortunately most of the command crew was dead or presumed so. Ergan Wright is the highest ranking member I could find, and is currently unofficially in charge of those troops. I decided to keep them all together, since I presume they will work better together than separate, and I do not wish to appear tyrannical. Still, if something major ever does go wrong, I fear they may revolt sooner than the rest of the crew. But I cannot let my mind fixate on suppositions and maybes, I must work with what I have.

While on the way to Vedic, two other things worth mentioning occurred. Firstly, I was appraised of an idea to build military training facilities on board the Ferral Wolf to better train our troops, especially in close quarters fighting. I do not feel that our men are anywhere near woefully inadequate, but the battle aboard the Angvein's Blade does have me looking into a number of ideas should we face Orks again. Second, Kai found something that still makes me smile when I think about it: a landing shuttle designed so long ago it makes the rest of the ship look new by comparison. I have no idea what wonders it holds, but I have ordered it pulled out of the storage bay it was in and put into active duty as my personal craft as soon as possible.

I wonder what treasures the planet Vedic will hold. There is a part of me that tries to imagine it, but already I have beheld things my imagination would never have fathomed. What more could a man want from the Universe than this? My wildest dreams are still less than the things I have seen. Every crisis I face is both a challenge and an opportunity, and I will overcome the former and seize the latter every chance I get.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sixth Session, Pt. 2 - OH @#$!

After the defeat of the Chaos vessel and its looting, the crew went about their business of exploring the planet.

The planet of Vedic is literally an untapped gem in the galaxy. It is a raw, untamed world with all of its natural resources intact. No hives or agri-farms exist on it. What's more, this planet is three times the size of a normal terran-standard world. Therefore, it can be assumed that the Rogue Trader dynasty have hit the jackpot as it were.


On the north shore of the planet's only sea, the survey crew hired by the Rogue Trader dynasty discovered a city. Not just any city, but one that seemed to be perfectly intact. The trace readings on auspex revealed that this city was many millennia old, though it looked pristine.

Further investigation of the city by the Explorers revealed that the city itself was most likely a relic of untold value - a structure from the Dark Age of Technology itself. Viewed as a treasure by some and a horrid curse by others, the Explorer crew wisely kept this discovery from most of the crew.

Indeed, one of the most mysterious things about the city itself was that each part of it, even down to the smallest brick, was emitting some form of energy signature. As if the entire community was a massive power battery.

Upon investigating the rest of the city, they found numerous statues and bas relief displayed throughout. The pictures seemed to all tell the story of a bearded human who was the benevolent leader of their city. At some point, the pictures changed, however, depicting the placement of a coffin-like structure beneath the city. Each depiction of the coffin on the walls of the city bore an impassive mask at one end of the enclosure.

Excavation unveiled a titanic structure - coffin-like in form - beneath the main building of the city. Despite extensive analysis, the Explorers could not ascertain what was in the coffin itself. The Rogue Trader started to look for a way inside. One could not be found, even with careful scanning. The dynasty's NPC Astropath arrived requesting from the Explorers that she accompany them on their expedition, because she felt that there was something compelling about their new discovery. Something...personal. Basically, the coffin structure is tied up in the NPC Astropath's backstory.

The entourage members of the Rogue Trader ship began to tell the party that they were getting bad feelings about this all the way around. The Astropath herself said that she harbored ill feelings about the coffin and what may lay inside. All that could be told about the structure was that the coffin held some form of slumbering entity. Feeling rather brash and reckless, the Rogue Trader ordered the Astropath to make contact with the entity. Against her own recommendation, she did so.

In a rather dramatic scene, the Astropath was possessed by some force which uttered a message in some forgotten tongue. The only thing that could be made out was a name - C'tan. Then, the Astropath's possessed body spat out something High Gothic:
"Tell him that this vessel will not do. The key must be used." After which...the Astropath was shredded into a fine mist. Oh @#$! indeed.

The session ended with the bridge crew of the Ferral Wolf reporting that over two dozen ships were appearing on auspex, call dropping into Vedic orbit.

We ended the session there.

Comments on the Session
One thing I like about RPGs is that I'm often surprised at what happens during a session. I definitely did not plan on the party losing their primary Astropath. Losing their primary Astropath will mean that their ability to communicate outside of the solar system will be lost. Luckily she was only an NPC.

While the destruction of the Astropath was pretty harsh, I felt it was pretty appropriate. If you read any of the GW fluff or fiction, the work of Warhammer 40k is a harsh place. It's a place where, if you are not cautious, if you are reckless, the universe comes and bites you in the ass. The PCs were being reckless, but purposely so.

I've seen many players get reckless with their characters, believing that the GM won't kill their characters or that their PCs can take whatever is dished out to them, no matter what. This was not one of those cases. The Rogue Trader was really the one who was jumping with both feet into the fire, but he made it abundantly clear that he knew that he was being really ballsy. So he was a tremendous sport when he encountered the consequences that he did.

All in all, I have to really applaud the Rogue Trader PC. It's not often that a person will put themselves at serious risk because they're roleplaying.

I will also note here that this sort of shows the Entourage system in action. I was able to levy a consequence upon the party, but I didn't have to screw anyone's character over. At the same time, the incident was really jarring and we all really felt it. Heck, even I did. I had worked up a number of storylines and plot twists with that NPC Astropath!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sixth Session, Pt. 1 - Battle for a New World (and Thoughts on Ship Combat)

The Bare Facts
So last session left the Explorers in orbit over the planet Vedic, facing off with a Chaos ship.
Towards the end of the last session, the crew was able to do a cursory exploration of the planet and find the remains of an ancient, post-Emperor human society. This long-faded society had signs of being wiped out by orks. However, there were signs of the orks being wiped out themselves by some mysterious third party.
They were about to get into more exploration when their first officer hailed the Explorers and told them about another ship lurking on the other side of the planet. Returning to the Ferral Wolf, the crew soon learned that their visitor was none other than a Light Cruiser - controlled by Chaos forces.
What happened next was a pitched chase 'round the circumference of the planet Vedic. The Explorers were clearly outclassed by the light cruiser chasing them. However, back on the dayside of the planet was the party's other ship - the Raider Angevin's Blade.
After a Stern Chase, the Angevin's Blade fired and blasted the Light Cruiser, wounding it. However, in retaliation, the Light Cruiser opened fire with its twin lance cannons, crippling the Angevin's Blade.
Here's where I learned something interesting about the Rogue Trader ship combat system. All of the ship weapons are relatively equal. Yes, there are some ship weapons that are better than others. But a raider can access the most powerful lance weapons as easily as a cruiser. This means that even smaller ships can pack a really powerful punch.
When the Light Cruiser got into range, the Explorers scrambled the fighters and performed a hit and run attack on the enemy. To their great fortune, they were able to lead the crew to set fire to the Chaos ship's lance battery.
At that point, the Explorer's flagship pulled a crazy ivan, came about, and fired both batteries at the oncoming chaos vessel. With the combined firepower of both the Raider and Frigate, they tore apart the opposing Light Cruiser. After disabling the vessel, they were able to raid it for a sizable weapons cache.
My Thoughts Ship Combat Systems in General
This was our first real run of the ship combat system in Rogue Trader. I can tell you right now that I like them a lot.
Ship combat is a pretty tough concept to take on in roleplaying systems. I've seen a lot of different ship/craft combat systems over the years and most of them, unfortunately, fall flat. There are a number of notable exceptions, of course. Most combat systems I see for vehicles suffer because in a roleplaying game, it's mostly all about the characters. Not what they drive. So most of the time and effort in the game's design has been spent working on how character interactions and character combat works out. Not how vehicular combat works out.
Add to this the issue that most vehicle combat systems in RPGs almost always use a different mechanical system than the one used in personal combat. Which meant, in the past, that you now had to be responsible for two different combat systems. Add on top of that - an even bigger complication - how do the two systems interact? If a person starts shooting at a car, how do those two separate combat systems mingle without becoming entangled?
Some of the most headache laden vehicle rules that I've seen have been: 1st and 2nd Edition ShadowRun; Of Ships and the Sea (2.5 Edition D&D); but worst of all - 1st Edition Star Wars d20.
If you remember the first edition of d20 Star Wars, they tried really hard to make space ship combat completely abstract, with no minis or maps. In fact, you couldn't use minis or maps even if you wanted to. By making it too abstract, the whole system was very confusing. Especially when multiple ships were involved.
Some of my favorite vehicular combat systems in the past have been Spelljammer (yes, I said it). And the system in d20 Future. Both systems essentially treat ships and craft combat like character combat. Craft moved about on the battlefield like characters. They had similar abilities to characters as well.
What I like about Rogue Trader's system of ship to ship combat is the fact that the system is fairly abstract, but not too abstract. In ship to ship combat, you can represent your ship with a token or mini. Accumulating degrees of success on a ship piloting check allows one to make sharper turns or turn earlier in the ship's required movement.
All of this is very simple and very familiar if you've seen other ship combat systems. Where the game becomes abstract and neat is how it gives everyone on board the ship something to do. The characters in Rogue Trader have been designed so that they each have a special role on the ship. These roles allow them to interact with how the ship operates, allowing a ship to move faster, scan an enemy vessel, or even stage a raiding party on the opposing vessel. Also, a character on board a Rogue Trader vessel can try to rally the troops or give guidance.
That meant that when we were engaged in the battle, every single PC was rolling dice. Just this one innovation means a lot to me, because so many ship systems for RPGs just have the pilot and maybe a co-pilot shoulder the bulk of the responsibility. I've sat at many gaming tables over the years and many times, on a ship, I'd find that my character couldn't do much of anything. So, I would just sort of twiddle my thumbs while the big boys engaged in some vehicular fighting.
The Rogue Trader system is not like that. Everyone had to make checks to get various bonuses and benefits. More importantly, the various things that the PCs can do on board the ship are fairly significant. Many times, I've seen ship combat rules where one PC can give the engines a bonus, or adjust shields, or something like that. That's nice, but it's just throwing a PC a bone. Often times, just a small one. In Rogue Trader, having someone with a good Tech Use score matters. It significantly changes what your ship can or cannot do. Having someone who can lead a hit-and-run raid on another ship matters. Hit and run maneuvers do significant damage to opposing ships.
What I also like is that each roll the the PCs perform during ship combat is very broad and narrative. If you want to get into a fighter craft and attack the opposing ship, we don't get out more minis, put them on the map, and then stage a dogfight on top of the capital ship combat that is going on. A successful raid is determined by two rolls. One to see if the swarm of fighters reaches the enemy ship and another to see if the troops can successfully raid it. That's it. While this does boil things down and make them simplistic, it liberated me to allow of narration and storytelling in the combat.
For example, when the crew staged a hit and run attack on the cruiser, I allowed the PC controlling the fighter craft to narrate what the battle looked like and what they were doing to accomplish their successful goal.
One more thing to keep in mind about the Rogue Trader system - all ships do about the same kind of damage. There are certainly different grades of weapons, but for the most part, all ships can access the same weapons array. So, a Raider with a lance is just as damaging as a Cruiser with a lance. This makes the smaller ships fairly dangerous in their own right, even though they cannot take nearly the same amount of hits.
I'll leave you with a few pics of some of the ships I've painted up for the game.
The ship at the top of the picture is a cruiser that I painted up for Rogue Trader and our Star Wars game. I didn't want to dish out the serious cash it would have taken for a Games Workshop cruiser.
And here's the Explorer's ship - the Ferral Wolf to the left. To the right is a ship I was using as their captured Raider. However, we have a new more "accurate" model, now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Character Profile: Kai Etchdar

So I encourage player engagement in a campaign outside of the sessions themselves. Way back in the day, I tried to get the players to write journal entries of their adventures. As you might suspect, this met with horrible failure. After all, as soon as you have to do something, or even if you are just asked to do it - it feels like an assignment. I've even offer XP as a reward for character journals, and it gets a little more response, but not that much more.

I've noticed, however, from the past three campaigns that I've run that many times the players will want to get involved in the campaign...just not in the form of journal entries. I have one player who is an expert on Excel Sheets and so has built a ship-building Excel Sheet for our campaign. I have another player who loves putting together minis, so he's bought a number of ship minis for the campaign. And then there's the Rogue Trader PC who has already written two journal entries for the campaign.

I think this kind of thing is great. It reminds me of my time back in Minion Town, when a friend of mine would draw maps or do concept art based on what we were playing at the time. Or build lego models that reflected the characters or equipment in the game.

To try to foster this a bit more, I'm handing out in-game rewards for out-of-game work. If someone does work on the campaign outside of the game session, I might award bonus XP, an extra Fate Point, etc. This is more of a pat on the back than anything else. I want to acknowledge what the player is doing.

And that's where this blog comes in. As another way to celebrate players participating in the campaign outside of the game sessions, I can post their journal entries, thoughts, artwork, or minis right here as an acknowledgement of their hard work and effort.

That Brings Us to Kai Etchar

Kai is the Explorers' Explorator, played by Jared.

Jared stepped up to the plate and jumped into the campaign knowing nothing about the Warhammer 40k universe. And a big universe it is. As a character who associates with tech priests there was a lot of discussion about how 40k technology works. There was talk about machine spirits, machine rituals, and the like .

My take on Kai (I'll let Jared correct me if he wants to) is a young, brash, and eager explorator who has seen much of the universe in a very short period of time, much more than most anyone in the 40k setting does. Especially at the rate in which he has seen it.

Here's Jared's sketch of the character.

Here's a design for a device he's working in on the campaign. A device for reading the aura and demeanor of tech spirits.

This is the mini I finished up for the Explorator. Not bad for one of my first ever converted models.

View from the back.

All for now.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Cast of Characters - Breathing Life into NPCs

So, as the Explorers have been adventuring, they've been picking up NPCs along with them as they go. What is interesting, particularly in a campaign of this type, is that NPCs stick around. Usually, in campaigns I've run, an NPC might come and go. Perhaps they meet with the party and then go their separate way. In such cases, I've had NPCs disappear forever. Basically, the party just never does anything to warrant another meeting with that character.

However, in Rogue Trader, the Explorers have such a large ship that it's easy to incorporate particular NPCs into the crew. And once on the ship, NPCs can continually meet with the PCs. Thus, you can have a growing cast of non-player characters who grow and develop alongside the PCs.

Obviously, if you do this, you want to avoid video game type characters who sit in their room waiting for someone to talk to them. To avoid this, I wrote up a background for each NPC on the ship and then also wrote down one or two adventure hooks and personal goals for them. So if the PCs haven't really heard from a particular NPC for a while, I can just look up one of their adventure hooks or personal goals. Then, the NPC can actually approach the player characters. "Say, Lord Rogue Trader? I have a favor to ask of you...." From there, the resolution or non-resolution of the NPCs personal goal or quest can cause the relationship of the non-player character with the rest of the party to grow and change. Also, by keeping NPC goals in mind, I can have them react to things. "Captain! I must object to this course of action!"

One thing that I made sure of - I made each of their hooks and goals very short and quick. That way, I can glance at my NPC fact sheet and remind myself what it was that they have hidden in their past. I also made sure to only give them one or two. If I need an NPC to have more hooks, I can do that at any time. However, at the beginning of a campaign, I feel that it's a waste to put a lot of effort into developing random hooks that may go nowhere.

I've not had a chance to have one of my NPCs initiate something, mainly because the Explorers are currently busy with their own agenda. But I plan on this being a fairly regular thing once we hit the middle part of the campaign. All that said, in the latest session, two of my major non-player characters' goals came up. More on that later.

A Few Things - Good NPCs

Generally speaking, I've found that a good NPC has to be a really good supporting actor on stage. Meaning, they have to make an impression really fast, and then leave very quickly, so that the main characters (in this case the PCs) can do most of the talking.

Thus, it's helpful for NPCs to have little shticks or little hooks that can really convey who they are and what they are about in less than a minute. One good way to do this is to have a really distinct voice or accent for a character. A great example of this would be Demidov from the Dark Heresy episodes of the Minions of the Monster Podcast. With just a little accent and a few personality traits, Duck Sauce (the GM in those games) was able to make an NPC that the players really latched onto.

Unfortunately, I don't do voices nearly as often as I used to - mainly because I don't have the time to craft voices like I did in the past - but I've found that one doesn't need to be an expert impressionist to do a good character voice. A great example is Chris Perkins of D&D fame. If you watch this video podcast of Chris Perkins gaming with the creative team for Robot Chicken, you'll see that Chris does voices, but he doesn't have to make his own voice dramatically different. Just a slight alteration is enough to get the point across. In my opinion, this is a great example of how affecting a voice doesn't mean that you have to make an idiot out of yourself.

As I mentioned above, I've also found that helps me is to keep an NPCs goals and motives at the forefront in my mind. This helps them come to life whenever the game is running. For example, if I have an NPC whose mother disappeared on the plant of Sinophia and the PCs' space ship is going to pass by there, then that NPC should actually go and petition the PCs for a detour. And if the PCs don't stop by the planet, then perhaps he steals a shuttle and goes anyway. By keeping an NPCs ultimate goals in mind, it allows me to make living, breathing characters who do stuff when the PCs are not around.

Finally, I've noticed that people tend to remember intriguing characters and that they leave an impression most of the time. And one of the best ways to make an intriguing character is to give a character contradictory personality traits. Perhaps they're greedy, but have a soft spot for kids. Perhaps they're a stone-cold killer, but happen to be a really good chef and have the PCs over for dinner all of the time. If the tension is interesting enough, just having two contradictory traits can make for a character that will be remembered for a long while.

Another way to make characters memorable is to give them something a little more complicated than an adventure hook. Basically, give them an "unsolvable" problem. For example, a character might be a straight up coward in a gun battle. Or another character might have love problems. The only thing is that if you give an NPC one of these sorts of issues, you need to make sure that they're still things that party will care about.

If your NPC is a love-sick puppy, it's just as likely that the party will roll their eyes and not give his problems a second thought. If he's a coward, the party might leave him behind or expel him from the group. The trick is to make the NPCs problems matter to the party. For example, what if the ship's pilot has love-problem and it's affecting his performance on the ship? What if the colonial marines commander is a sadist and it's affecting the morale of the crew? By having an NPCs problem affect the PCs directly or indirectly, you give the player characters motivation for its resolution. The best part about these types of problems is that they can have long-lasting and far-reaching ripples throughout a campaign.