Now, I don’t know half of what’s going on here, but I do know…
- That’s an awful lot of chips!
- Losing that much cash has got to hurt.
Most of life – even most Traveller lives – are ‘making it big on the small deals’. Doing the cadre and security assignments for mercenaries; eeking out that 3% profit for merchants; cataloging ALL the flying rocks for scouts.
And then, every so often, you get a turning point. An opportunity, or a trap, where you have to make a decision that will change the shape of your Traveller game. Committing to a single war and a single paymaster ‘for the duration of the conflict’; putting in an entire year to find a lost, extremely valuable Ancient relic; getting to the bottom of mysterious alien sightings on a backwoods starsystem.
Rarely do you get a ‘do or die’ situation as in above, where you win it all, or lose it all. That’s a lot of risk, and if you lose, you can die; or become a debt slave; or lose your family or your future.
Is the reward worth it? That is the question!
The movie the scene is from, Rounders, is mainly about recovering from a big, big loss. The protagonist has to decide if he’s going to cut his losses and run, or make it good. If he’s going to make it back honestly, or cut corners. If he’s going to borrow even more money, in a last-shot attempt to get back on his feet. If he’s going to focus on law school for safety, or on his first love, gambling.
The same can be for any PC trader who loses his ship, a mercenary whose unit is destroyed, a scout who is marooned very far from home. A lot of decisions, and a lot of ways to get it wrong.
And there’s the question of what ‘winning’ means. Money? Safety? Significance? Proving your enemies wrong? Knowledge? Victory? Vengeance? Family? Righteousness? Justice? Happiness?
Finally: the PCs impact the world around them. They help or hinder each other, and their actions change the world around them, for good or for ill. What they do, matters.