Sunday, October 20, 2013

Team Besh Implosion! Now with 100% Fewer Black Holes (Edge of the Empire 10-18-13)

So, Team Besh was on a space station.  Things were going well.  Okay, that's not true, but they all survived the vicious space pirate takeover of the base and all was right with the galaxy.  Well, maybe not.  Anyway . . .

  • Garner continues to shock the Defel assassin every few minutes.  The station administrator wants him turned over, until the group convinces Sir Artan to tell the station master that the assassin will be remanded to Tapani justice.

  • The group finds the Defel's ship.  It has a bomb on it that has an attached droid brain.  It's set to blow a cargo hold full of Detonite and is using the ship's excellent sensors to read everyone around it, and threatens to blow up if anyone but the Defel comes near.
  • Sir Artan strangely shoves Mundo towards the ship and starts the countdown on the bomb, and then runs the other way.  Mundo offers to try and disarm the bomb while the others track Sir Artan, but the team has other plans.
  • Dia and Tiberius run down Sir Artan while Krill begins to disarm the bomb on the ship.  T3 is still out like a light, or a powered down droid, and Doctor Smith drags him to the borrowed YT-2400, randomly turning things on until he engages the shields in the hope of surviving the blast if the Defel's shop goes up.

  • Krill disarms the bomb, and Tiberius, Dia, and Garner take down the noble, after Dia misses a flying tackle and confirming to Tiberius that she's still a gentle flower.  The noble changes form when he is knocked out, and it is revealed that he is a Clawdite.
  • The group decides to head back to Polis Massa, and they slave the hyperdrive of the Defel's ship to the YT-2400 and let Mundo pilot the assassin's ship.
  • On the week long trip to Polis Massa, the group discusses what to do with their prisoners, and the ramifications of their recent discoveries.  They don't know if Artan was always a Clawdite and they blew his cover, or if he was a replacement, and if House Cadriaan will be upset with them, and if Cid will be upset if House Cadriaan is upset.
  • T3 attempts to rewrite the bomb droid brain with his own personality.  Dia hears the conversation, and tries to stop him.  The droid brain is uploaded with T3's personality, but doesn't want T3 to be the only actual T3, and warns Dia about T3's attempts at immortality and his desire to upgrade to more dangerous forms of mechanical life.

  • Dia is still friends with T3, but she is upset that he lied to her, and Tiberius takes the droid brain and dumps it out the airlock to avoid any potential problems with it, since he only heard part of the conversation and the droid brain sounded dangerous.
  • Tiberius decides a similar move might be appropriate for the Defel assassin, but Garner won't let him kill the assassin in cold blood.  Tiberius fires at the Defel at point blank range with his blaster rifle and misses, Garner prepares to defend the prisoner, and Krill, thinking that the two were going to harm one another, dives for the cockpit and starts to shut down the air in the rest of the ship outside of the cockpit to knock everyone else out so they can "calm down."
  • Doctor Smith is in one of the cabins with the Clawdite, curing him and trying to create a rapport so he can get some information out of him.  Unfortunately, while healing the Clawdite, the Clawdite shifted his hands free of the binders on his hands and he freed himself.
  • The Clawdite attacks the doctor, but Doctor Smith doesn't call for help because he has other plans.  Both Doctor Smith and the Clawdite remain awake as the air thins in the ship.
  • T3 opens the cockpit, and the life support goes back on to full, and the rest of the party begins to discuss the ethics of killing prisoners and of the profession of assassin.  Dia uncomfortably defends the Defel's profession and awkwardly tries to walk the line between not advocating his death and defending assassination, in theory.
  • Doctor Smith defeats the bound and wounded Clawdite, then smothers him to death with a pillow, which he is still doing when the rest of the party opens the door after hearing a blaster bolt in the room.

  • Dia and the others put Doctor Smith in the straight jacket they obtained for him on Malastare.
  • Back home on Polis Massa, the group expects trouble, but Doctor Smith has Imperial credentials no one knew about, and he is released and doesn't incriminate his team.
  • There is a bounty on the Clawdite in another identity, and Tiberius laments that they won't be able to collect the full bounty because they don't have a hunter's license, so Dia takes TK-655 aside and takes care of the paperwork out of earshot and view of everyone else.

  • The party doesn't tell Cid about the dead Clawdite, and Cid gives them some credits for the Defel's ship, pulls some strings to transfer the YT-2400 to the group, and gives the YT-1300 (the Free Enterprise) to Mundo to apologize for the Retirement Party being blown up.
The bulk of the session was comprised of the gigantic fight in the middle, which wasn't long because it was cumbersome, but rather because there was a lot of roleplaying involved as well as the fact that it morphed multiple times, from the party versus T3, to Garner versus Tiberius versus the unconscious Defel, to Krill versus everyone else, to Doctor Smith versus the Clawdite, to the party versus Doctor Smith.

Doctor Smith's reputation has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride with the rest of the group, with T3 starting to warm up to him and Dia being even more wary of him now that he's got Imperial fans.  Also amusing to the GM was the growing circles of paranoia as the group discussed all of the possibilities involving the Clawdite and House Cadriaan.

Catching Up with Honest Cid (Team Aurek, Edge of the Empire 10-10-13)

What was Team Aurek doing while Team Besh was fighting pirates on a locked down space station?  Well, tension was running pretty high from the Force sensitive exile using her powers fairly publicly on Cadomai Prime, the group finding a top secret Imperial weapons test, and Tor'Waar killing Mining Guild guards and posting the images to the Holonet for his fans.

Cid determined it might be time to do some damage control.  A quick call to Dia so that he could use her hunter's license to hire some mercenaries, and the night was off with a bang.

  • Cid had the team use the "back door," and warned them to "fly casual" so that the Imperial patrols in the system wouldn't look too closely at them.  This is something they haven't had to do before.
  • Cid had the buffet set up for the team, but then slowly tried to take members of the team out of the room before "things" could happen.  Most of the team left, but Prawn was extremely paranoid, and Max . . .
  • Max was asked by Cid to stay in the room to keep Tor'Waar calm, since the two are "so close."

  • Krevs, the Trandoshan mercenary that Tor'Waar tangled with on Terminus, came into the room with his team armed with force pikes to haul off Tor'Waar to collect a bounty for the Mining Guild, which Cid had set up so that he and Dia would get a kick back.
  • Prawn dove behind the buffet table and flipped it over while the mercenaries stunned Tor'Waar into unconsciousness, but not before Tor'Waar dove at Krevs and knocked him senseless in one blow.
  • Cid talked to Katya about calling in some favors to bury any investigation of her potential use of the Force, and warned her to be more careful.
  • Cid sent the team to Raxus Prime to rest and relax and to lie low while the heat around their recent activities started to vent a bit.
  • Coming out of hyperspace into the system near Raxus Prime, Prawn bumped a TIE fighter on patrol around the Sienar facility above the planet, but the patrol commander just reprimanded the pilot for being out of formation and apologized to Prawn for the incident.

  • On Raxus Prime, Katya was drawn to the "Junk Temple" constructed by Kazdan Paratus, and the group runs into a thousand year old assassin droid that agrees to join them.  He is upset that the Jedi did nothing for droid rights in the time since the battle of Ruusan.
  • Katya accepts a whole lot of Obligation for getting a chance to absorb some of the knowledge left behind by the psychic impression of Kazdan Paratus.
  • The group finds out that Cid's friend on Raxus Prime has been kidnapped by "savages," and they survive an attack by a relatively sneaky Dianoga which Prawn sees and warns the party about.

  • The "savages" turn out to be a band of jawas that, like Cid's friend, have been squeezed out of their traditional scavenging areas by Sienar.  Although the assassin droid kills a few of the jawas, in the end, Prawn negotiates a truce and a trade agreement between the factions with Max's help.
  • Thankfully this avoids the fight with the walker that the jawas have reassembled to help defend their home.
The flip side of Team Besh having a combat heavy session, diplomacy played a big part in this session, and Prawn, lovable, paranoid, willing to hide the body Rodian that he is was key to that diplomacy.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Catching Up with Honest Cid (Team Besh), the Beginning (Edge of the Empire, 10-3-2013)

When last we saw Team Besh, they were landing on the Skymaster V22 R3 Station in the the Tapani sector after their harrowing escape from both Zann Consortium raiders and a black hole.  Things could only get better from that set of circumstances, correct?

Team Besh checked in at the station, and then all Hell broke lose.

  • Dia almost flashed her bounty hunter's license so that the party wouldn't have to give up their weapons, or at least so she wouldn't have to do so, but then Tiberius bribed the official and everyone walked right in.  Except Doctor Smith, who ran all of his weapons back to the ship before he could witness the bribe.
  • Dia and Mundo spent some quality time at a weapon shop talking about the trade and morning the loss of the Retirement Party.

  • Sir Tulan Artan of House Cadriaan insisted on having the team stay overnight at the station and feeding them at the finest establishment on the station.  Mundo drank too much, and Garner was getting suspicious.
  • Half the party wanted to spend the night on their borrowed ship instead of the rooms on the station, and a Defel assassin attempted to kill Mundo and Sir Artan.  Thankfully T3 was still with them, and called for help.

  • After an epic battle with the Defel, the group defeated him, but Garner noted that the noble seemed to know more than he was letting on. Before he could follow up, however, the entire station was put on shutdown.
  • A pirate that Mundo had brought in a few years back was apparently the security chief of the station, and was offering a price for Mundo's head. 
  • Krill sliced the security systems open from the habitat section of the station, through the mercantile section of the station, and into the security section of the station, while T3 managed to shut down a security droid that attempted to slow them down.
  • T3 reversed the polarity of the security system protecting the security chief's office, and electrocuted the pirate captain's first mate.

  • Team Besh had a truly epic fight with the pirate and his most trusted crew members, who also signed on as security personnel for the station.  Most of the group was banged up quite a bit.  Tiberius went down, and T3 took a vibroaxe to the head that was meant for Dia.
  • Tiberius repeatedly passed out after doing something impressive in combat.  The first time was after Doctor Smith had injected him with a stim to make him more capable in combat.  Tiberius was never awake to see Dia fighting, so he continues to think she is a delicate flower that needs to be protected.

  • Doctor Smith was thrilled to actually have combat injuries to treat, and people to stim in combat, but was nearly gutted by Dia when he came up behind her to inject her.
  • T3 nearly died from a particularly nasty critical, but Krill was naturally talented enough to save T3 from droid oblivion even without having a tool kit handy.
  • The station administrator thanked the crew, paid them a reward, and then gave them a file showing the letters of recommendation that the pirate crew received from a judge in the Expansion region after the criminals had been pardoned by Moff Alimund.
At this point, the group decided to take a breather, rest up, and get ready to head back home to Polis Massa, after finding the Defel's ship and establishing a pattern of shocking the would be assassin every few minutes "just to make sure."

It was interesting to see Team Besh, which had been "Team Diplomacy" up to this point, take on so much violence.  Tiberius is now convinced that he's much more capable in combat than he is, and that he's prone to black out when he goes into a berserker rage.  

Tiberius is sure that Dia is still a delicate flower that needs to be protected, and while the rest of the party saw her go toe to toe with a pirate captain armed with a vibro axe, no one knows that she is a licensed bounty hunter except her boss and her mysterious patrons.  Also, there is a general crew misunderstanding about the nature of Dia and Mundo's relationship.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In Honor of Loki's New Series (Marvel Heroic)

Loki's getting his own series.  To commemorate that momentous announcement, I thought I'd throw together a couple of milestones for Marvel Heroic that represent Loki as a player hero.  These are "general" Loki milestones, not particularly tied to his current, de-aged version or even tied to a particular time period, so if you want Loki running around in your home made events or even Annihilation, here you go.

Oh, and I guess he's in a movie or something too.

(By the way, if you want a good set of Loki stats, look no further than the Plot Points website.  Lots of great characters, and Loki isn't too hard to convert from a Watcher character to a Player hero).

Sometimes, even when you are on the side of the angels  (and your dear brother), you have to stay in practice.

God of Mischief

1 XP  When you convince an ally to take an action based on your direction without explaining why that action is important.

3 XP  When an ally that is heeding your advice takes stress, trauma, or suffers a complication because they were doing what you told them to do.

10 XP  When you abandon your allies at a critical moment and they are all defeated after your departure, or when you are defeated because you remained by your allies side, and they are victorious in part because of your sacrifice.

Sometimes those around you don't realize how important you are.  They must be made to learn.

Burdened with Glorious Purpose

1 XP  Whenever you introduce yourself utilizing an important title, or when those who are addressing your ascribe a title to you.

3 XP  Whenever an ally takes an action that furthers your current joint task and also advances your own long term agenda.

10 XP  Whenever you defeat a major enemy that would have claimed something that rightfully belongs to you, and you either defeat both the enemy and your allies to claim that prize, or you decide that the time is not yet right for your glory to be made manifest, and you warn your allies how close they were to being ground under your heel.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Marvel Heroic . . . 90s Style!

Over the last week I was reading sentiments that run along the line that without a chance for character death, it's hard to actually care about your character in a roleplaying game.  Without debating or affirming that particular statement, this got me thinking about how I would go about making Marvel Heroic a bit more lethal.  What follows is the result of that conjecture.

Optional Rules:  Remember the 90s?

This alternate set of rules for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is intended to make the game potentially more lethal.  

The Trauma Check

Whenever a character has been stressed out of a scene, and if the character causing stress is not pulling their punch, at the end of the scene the character must make a Trauma Check.  This takes place before the scene ends, and so is not part of the next scene.

To make a Trauma Check, the character assembles a dice pool to resist whatever type of stress took them out of the scene.  This is opposed by the Doom Pool, adding in any appropriate Scene Distinctions, Stress, or Complications.

If the character fails their check against the Doom Pool, the character is removed from the Event.  If the character is removed due to Physical Stress, they are dead, and if they are removed due to Emotional or Mental Stress, they are unable to function on a meaningful level, and likely hospitalized for their own good.

A character that succeeds against the Doom Pool in this roll acquires Trauma as per the standard rules.

Allies and Trauma Checks

There are two ways an ally can assist in a Trauma check.  

The first way is for the character that must make the Trauma check to pay an ally to use an appropriate trait die to use in their dice pool.  This represents the ally and the character making the check working together to save the stressed out character.

The second way is for the ally to make the check for the stressed out character.  If this is done, the character may not attempt a second Trauma Check on their own.  They forfeit their own Trauma Check and put their life in the hands of their ally, who assembles an appropriate dice pool to represent their ability to save their ally from their fate.

Watcher Characters and Trauma Checks

If a player character stresses out a Watcher character and does not pull their punch, that character is either killed, or mentally or emotionally damaged beyond the ability to function.  If the Watcher wants that character to survive, he may spend a die from the Doom Pool to represent their successful Trauma Check, at which point the Watcher character suffers Trauma in the manner proscribed in the standard rules.

Unlockables for Trauma Checks

Characters may spend XP to gain benefits related to Trauma Checks.  Remember that these must be purchased before the scene in which the Trauma Check occurs, since XP is only spent during Transition Scenes.

5 XP  Too Stubborn To Give Up.  When you spend 5 XP, if you must make a Trauma Check, if the check fails, you may reroll your pool to give you one last chance to pull yourself from the brink of disaster.

10 XP  It's Not Your Time.  When you spend 10 XP, if you fail a Trauma Check and fail, you may opt to survive and take Trauma as normally prescribed by the rules.  Once you use this option, you cannot do so again until you purchase this unlockable again.

15 XP  Life Changing Moment.  When you spend 15 XP, if you fail a Trauma Check, you may opt to survive instead.  If you do this, you do not take Trauma, but begin the next scene with a d10 Stress in whatever form of Stress took you out of the scene.  In addition, your near death or sanity wrenching experience has galvanized your resolve, and you may use your effect die from the failed Trauma Check as a persistent asset for the rest of the event, representing your new perspective on life.  This asset steps down once each act.  A character may only have one Life Changing Mvent per event.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I Feel Obligated to Post This (Uses of Obligation in Edge of the Empire)

There was a question posted in one of the Edge of the Empire communities on Google+ that went something like, "how do you keep Obligation relevant in EotE?  Don't PCs just want to pay it down and then stop dealing with it once it's not an ongoing concern?"

Han is not currently concerned about his Obligation

It's a good question, and I think it takes a little bit of digging to really get at what Obligation should be in Edge of the Empire.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think that Fantasy Flight dropped the ball with this mechanic or anything.  It's just that it's a huge book, and Obligation might get kind of lost between all of those guns and ships and talents and skills.

On the other hand, Fantasy Flight does throw Obligation out as one of the first things you should be thinking about when you make your character.  They stress that it's an important element of Edge of the Empire.  In fact, it's one of the things that differentiates an Edge of the Empire game from, for example, Age of Rebellion.  It reinforces the concept that the PCs are on the fringe, that they owe someone something, and that they need to stay in motion to pay down that Obligation before it gets so big that it consumes them.

If Obligation stayed static, and the PCs payed it down, and it stayed at the minimum five points after they did a few jobs, I can see how the mechanic would fade to the background.  If it stayed static, and the PCs worked really hard to pay it down, a group of five PCs could eventually get to the point that they only had about a 25% chance that anything related to Obligation came up during the game session, meaning that 75% of the time they could do more or less what they wanted to do in the galaxy, without much of a care at all.

"Are you sure you don't want to make a deal?"

That's why you have to look for opportunities to temp them with yet more Obligation.  Show them the quick and easy path once in a while, and sell it to them at the cheap price of a few more points of Obligation.  Look for parts of the campaign where the GM would normally cringe at what the PCs should have logically set in motion, or at things that may not be action packed, but would take the PCs out of the adventuring game for a while, and then use obligation to cut around those things.

One of the reasons I like Obligation as a mechanic is because it reminds me of another mechanic in another game, which, at least on the surface doesn't bear much resemblance to EotE.  In Marvel Heroic, one of the functions of XP is to pay for unlockables.  Instead of just using XP to make your character better, with more or higher rated traits, or to pick up more plot points, there are often less tangible things they can pay for that are tied to an event that actually let the PC effectively shape the narrative by paying XP.

PCs can do things like calling in help from one source or another, call in a big favor to resolve a scene in a manner that they describe, or consider themselves affiliated with a given nation or group of people when that association never manifested before.

In a lot of ways, Obligation is the same kind of "shaping the narrative" mechanic, but the shaping is a little more tangible, and instead of earning a certain amount of XP and then paying for the change in narrative, free and clear, the PCs are borrowing against an "account" of sorts to change the narrative, and that borrowing will eventually have consequences.

Here are some uses I came up with for increased Obligation from the games that I have run, and from some ideas that I have had that have not yet been used in game.

Prince Xizor had lunch with the Emperor.  I'm pretty sure your name was brought up.

Hit the Reset Button--The PCs end up on the wrong side of a new Vigo in Black Sun.  They survive the it, but instead of leaving with the knowledge that someone is out to get them, they hound the Vigo as she attempts to leave and kill her.

Of course, killing a Vigo isn't the end of a problem, it's the beginning.  Others in Black Sun will wonder who has the stones to kill one of their upper tier leadership.  ISB will notice that an important, rich Imperial citizen has gone missing, and they know who saw her last.  Having Imperial Intelligence and Black Sun both actively looking for you could be bad.

Starting a new life, at least until the heat is off, could be a great idea.  So for the low cost of 10 Obligation each, the Zann Consortium offers the PCs airtight false identities and a brand new ship.  Of course they need them to do a job right off the bat, with the chance to change that 10 Obligation to 5 . . .

(This is a good one for changing the direction of the campaign in general, if you want to create a new theme and move away from old enemies and towards new NPCs and regions of the galaxy.  It does require you to really sell how deep the PCs have dug themselves in, but then again, if you tell them ahead of time that the building is being watched by ISB and they still kill a Vigo, well, that's kind of fair warning . . . )

For moisture farmers, Beru and Owen has some pretty indulgent equipment . . . 2 land speeders, an air speeder, and an oil bath?  How much do you make moisture farming, anyway?

I Ain't Got Time to Bleed--Someone in the party, maybe the marauder or maybe the droid, has taken a lot of crits.  It will likely take them weeks of rest and medical  (or mechanical) attention to get back to full strength, and all those extra crits make combat an especially dangerous risk for the time being.

Enter your local employer, willing to pay for the best medical droid or mechanic, and some quality time with a  bacta tank or an oil bath, allowing the character to be up and running in a day or two, simply by accepting 5 Obligation.  Of course, down the road, it may be time to do a favor for your boss that doesn't involve you getting a paycheck, but hey, at least your organs or components are firmly attached to your body again.

(This works best for a group that feels the urgent need to do something, and especially if you can sell how boring and unadventurous waiting around to heal would be to the characters.  Alternatively, it's a great time for a recurring villain to track them down violate the sanctity of their base of operations, if only to reinforce why staying as healthy as possibly might be in their best interests).

"Next time I trust you will remember the cover letter for your TPS reports."

A Shield of Red Tape--Has your group's Force Sensitive Exile been a little too public with their use of Force powers?  Has their midichlorian flavored bacon saving technique happened on well known and observed worlds like Coruscant or even a resort planet like Cadomai Prime?

Maybe the best way to stave off paranoia and a potential visit from black armored inquisitive types might be to have a business associate of yours call in a marker so that the locals will investigate the potential rogue Force user.

How will that help?  Because if the locals are already filing a report and looking into it, and it doesn't happen again, it's likely to be handled at the local level, instead of involving pesky ISB or Inquisitorius agents.  And local Imperial government is much more likely to "forget" about this kind of investigation, especially when your business contact already donates plenty of credits to the local government official's favorite charity.

So for 5 Obligation  (10 on a major world like Coruscant or Corellia), you don't need to worry that your hand waving Rancor taming trick was seen by thousands of tourists, because the local officials are "looking into it," and Imperial Center never needs to get involved.

(Making this one appealing is generally a matter of letting Force sensitives know exactly how bad it might be if the Empire sends someone around from higher up the food chain to ask about hand waving miracle workers.  And making Force users paranoid and ultra careful is really one of the ways this era of Star Wars differs from others).

"I find our lack of seats disturbing."

The Mysterious Rescue--The PCs get into a fight in an enclosed space, somewhere they can't get out of easily.  They just fought people that have the means to call in reinforcements, and the ability to make the PCs regret those reinforcements arriving.

For example, let's say your PCs look guilty as hell when they present their travel papers to the Imperial officer and his squad of Stormtroopers on the grav train.  Let's say a fight ensues.  The PCs survive the squad of Stormtroopers and the Imperial Officer.  But what about the stormies waiting for them at the train station when they pull into town in a few minutes?

They might be able to survive the big fight, or they might be able to sneak away, but those options involve immediate risk and potentially bad odds.  But what if a mysterious rescuer pulls up along side the grav train before it gets into the station, and asks them if they want to hear about a job offer.  The pilot makes it clear that they are essentially signing a contract by jumping off the train, but there is no immediate danger to the escape, just 5 Obligation as they tacitly agree to pay back their rescuer.

(This one is especially tempting as the grav train gets close enough to the station to actually see the legion of the Emperor's Best Men standing with guns at the ready, or the uncountable horde of Hutt henchmen with very mean looking vibro axes forming a welcoming committee).

"Seriously, next time I get picked up for jaywalking, I'm just going to do the 90 days."

I Don't Do Due Process--The PCs get nailed for doing something illegal. It's nothing big, like murder or sedition.  But they boosted a speeder, broke into a warehouse . . . something like that.  And they got caught.  In a fit of almost unheard of adventurer wisdom, they don't shoot it out with the local authorities.

Maybe they figure they can break out of jail.  Maybe they figure they can make a run for it during the time they get transferred to their hearing.  But what if a lawyer shows up and tells them he can bail them out and get charges dropped, as long as the PCs talk to his employer, who will expect certain concessions  (and 5 Obligation) from the PCs.

(This one is a nice double edged sword, since it shows the PCs they can get away with routine crime will reinforcing both their willingness to commit said crimes, and the Obligation hole that they will be digging themselves into).

"According to your medical insurance, it's time for a surprise colonoscopy.  Please make a vigilance check to see who acts first."
Throwing Up Some Hurdles--The PCs are pressed for time or just want to get something done with as few complications as they can manage.  They have their objective, and they see an impediment, and along comes an recurring rival or enemy that might slow them down, or even turn a bad fight into a three sided nightmare.

At the first sign of trouble from the old "friend," the PCs might arrange for a meeting to either pay them off or attempt to deal with them right then and there, but that takes time, and it could still get messy.  Or, they could call in a contact that might be able to make sure that said rival/enemy has his ship inspected by the local customs agent, detained for improperly filled out travel papers, or arrested for an accidentally illegal hunter's license.  Nothing permanent  (or else the price goes from 5 Obligation to 10), but enough that said rival/enemy isn't going to be a factor for a session or two.

(This one can be really fun when it comes to recurring rivals and villains, because the more rotten things that have passed between adversaries, the more fun the confrontations between them become.  The thought of being able to bring up the time that X happened to their hated foe the next time they meet might be temptation enough to take on the Obligation).

"I don't speak their language, but I'm pretty sure I just won their home planet."

Embracing Debt

Probably one of the best ways to make sure that you keep the cycle of Obligation moving in a game is to make sure you let you players know you are willing to take their suggestions about what they might be willing to take on more Obligation to obtain.  I'm not saying you should always say yes when they propose something, but when they say, "I wonder if X would help us if we asked?," that's when your ears should be perking up.