Tue. Oct 4th, 2022

Well. That was unexpected.

If you’ve kept abreast of my Game Prep posts, you’ll know that the opening “run and gun” chase was intended to be a very minor part of this session that was supposed to then flow directly into the boat chase that ended their time in Port Said. Instead, it turned into the entire session, then transformed into a tactical shoot-out. And the session ended with one PC 2 or 3 points shy of insta-death due to a skull hit from a bullet…

We started a little later than normal because we were having some minor technical issues with the newly revise Chase mod that Ronnke updated over the week, and then, once we got started, I screwed up by not just dropping them directly in the middle of the run-and-gun … what I should have done was give the recap, then BAM! Shooting begins and the PCs need to get clear. Instead, they had too much time to discuss and meander about. This was also a situation where I was too focused on what I wanted to see happen instead of just setting up the scenario and then waiting to see what they did.

I also started rolling the dice out in the open this session … and boy, did that bite me. The Delta Shooter got nailed in the skull with a bullet after taking a bullet to either leg (and crippling both) due to, first a failed dodge followed by random hit locations since the bad guys were using bursts; initially, we thought this meant he was straight up killed right there, but after juggling the maths, it turned out he was 2 or 3 points away from insta-death. He succeeded in his death checks, but was most definitely unconscious because of the brain trauma. Since this is a Modern(ish) setting, that means this character is out of my run of the campaign … which seriously sucks because I really liked the character (as did the player.)

Because he dropped, we determined that this would cause the team to go into a tactical shooting scenario instead of the Chase, and that dragged out a bit longer than expected, culminating in the PCs finally getting to the boat part of the chase.

So … the mistakes made that I immediately observe. First, the armor that the bad guys were wearing is Advanced Body Armor (35/5*) from High Tech (I think.) These guys being kitted up like this makes sense based on their mission profile, but I’m starting to lean toward suggesting we remove that armor from use because A) it was based on “Dragonskin” armor which turned out to not be as awesome as claimed and B) it rendered the PCs basically combat ineffective because they only had sidearms (except Vega, which I’ll get into later) which could not penetrate said armor at all. Admittedly, one of the PCs was also wearing it and he took multiple shots to the chest that did not penetrate (I think he was down four or five hp due to blunt trauma at the end), so maybe the solution needs to be “all PCs have this armor”?

The bad guys also had assault rifles, which meant the PCs were seriously outgunned. After the fact, it turned out that Vega had his rifle with him – which I did not realized – and what he really should have done is give said rifle to the sniper who could have radically shifted the odds.

The fact that the run-and-gun bit was using the Chase rules instead of standard tactical combat seriously hampered Hurt because a lot of his usual options were removed. We’ve seen this in the past, both with Chases and Mass Combat – what immediately comes to mind is in a Banestorm game we played a while back, two of the characters were mondo badass combat monsters in normal situations and then they were almost wholly ineffective during a mass combat scenario – and I’d really like to figure out a way to mitigate this.

Another error on my part is not correctly noting the Hostile’s encumbrance level, which is partially the fault of the NPC stats in Fantasy Grounds and partially me not double-checking. The bad guys had a Move of 6 and Dodge of 10, but due to encumbrance, should have been Move 4, Dodge 8. Looking back at the chat log, it turns out that five bullets that were dodged would not have been … but all five were aimed at center-mass so they couldn’t have penetrated the armor’s DR. At best, blunt trauma of 5hp would have been inflicted, so that’s not much of a danger; however, their slower speed may have adjusted the range band … I don’t think it actually would have, but it’s possible.

Once Hurt went down and we shifted into a tactical encounter, things got weirder. In the opening round, two of my bad guys went down due to gunshots aimed at random hit locations that struck the skull. After that, it slowed down a bit with the usual arguments about positioning and rules.

Ultimately, this session does hammer home the whole “anyone can die” because Hurt came really close to kicking it, but I do worry that this felt too weighted against the PCs. I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future. So yeah … I ended this session not happy at all because of these factors…

Hurt’s player is going to take over a former PC who, just like Hurt, wasn’t built with the Action templates (so no Luck!) He’ll show up in the next session and I’ve already been discussing story options with the player that I’ll likely go into in the next Game Prep post.