GM Commentary: ConsOps 2.05

As expected, this session was kind of light on the “action” part, with the bulk of the time spent setting up future events. We basically began at the PC HQ where they sifted through available intel and had a conversation with their boss who revealed that he knew they’d continued to do side missions for Quinn. Here, I tried to establish him as a “Reasonable Authority Figure” … we’ll see how that plays out.

MAHONEY then began the interrogation of the captured HEIDALL. Now I’d originally intended on this serving as a data-dump, but I wasn’t sure how that’d play out … luckily, the dice cooperated with me. I’d given HEIDALL Overconfidence – I can’t recall if he originally had it or if was added later – and he failed that roll, then (to my great surprise), MAHONEY crushed him in the Interrogation check – I think the margin of success ended up being by six or seven – so I just answered the questions that MAHONEY had while trying to remain “in character” with HEIMDALL. PCs learned a bit and during this, REILLY realized that his team had been the mystery group that hit the Syria location before the other PCs. This led to the discovery that not only was the cargo human – a Russian bio-weapon guy – but he was now in the wind and more importantly, ConsOps itself was behind this mess.

At this point, RIGGS (the boss) revealed some other intel: CS ODIN (who most of the PCs originally knew as Bishop during Opn: Chessmen) had been photographed in a romantic interlude with ConsOps DO Jennifer Harrington. The organization was compromised. With all of the pieces in place, RIGGS invoked a “Shadow Directive” …

which meant the PCs had to go off the grid, find & stop the bio-weapons guy, and break open the Conspiracy. Plus, they shouldn’t expect assistance from ConsOps … in fact, they should expect active interference.

Also, RIGGS got word that Phil Quinn died on the table. I think most of the players either missed this or don’t actually think I killed off my own (former) PC off-screen like this…

To my very great surprise, the PCs did not kill HEIMDALL, but instead left him outside a Haifa, Israel, police station with a note about his connection to the recent bombing. I’m not sure if they included additional evidence – I’ll have to check with them on that one. They then proceeded to the airport where they discovered their new (off the books) ride in the form of a Grumman HU-16 Albatross which matches their covers as members of a conservation non-profit.

Opting to head to Cairo to dig into BRAGI, who they learned from HEIMDALL operated out of the city, they arrived, then spent a bit of time setting up rally points and vehicle stuff, before rather quickly locating BRAGI via the “magic phone” that was in Quinn’s gear. I could have made this a little more difficult, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time with the PCs wandering around aimlessly. The plan they put into motion required two teams and since BRAGI had made VEGA, he had to be the trail team; along with REILLY, VEGA would follow BRAGI should he get clear. As BAUM and MAHONEY moved to enter the hotel, they quickly realized another surveillance team was already present. And BRAGI was exiting…

The other team nabbed BRAGI without real trouble and when a member of hotel security started to intervene, he got shot with a burst of SMG fire. Rather than get involved, the PCs decided to shadow them … which I screwed up a little bit. VEGA was primary and I decided on the fly that since they were basically tag-teaming the fleeing bad guys, BAUM (the other driver) would make an assist roll. Here, MAHONEY made an assist roll of his own to help BAUM … which I don’t think is legal per RAW. I mean … assisting the assist roll? Seems weird. I should have just done a Group roll – all four PCs have the skill, so the primary (probably VEGA, though BAUM’s skill is actually 1-pt higher) would get a +3.

Regardless, the Shadowing was successful … which was the first time in the game that it has been, actually, and it led them to a warehouse location where the PCs observe some additional armed bad guys. This is roughly where I ended the session as we were closing in on 21:00 and the next part would be a tactical encounter. Rather than just storm in, though, the PCs opted to basically call this to the authorities somehow, then, while dressed up as fellow SWAT-equivalents, go in alongside them. I’ll get into the mechanics of how I expect that to play out in the game prep post.

Overall, I was moderately satisfied with this. It wasn’t super “actiony” per se, but neither did it bog down in boring minutae so it mostly worked. All of the players seemed engaged, so that’s a positive.

On the less positive side, I didn’t really do a great job of making the “clues” more obvious. There was a momentary hiccup in there about where to actually go after departing Israel and for a moment, I was legitimately concerned that they were going to head straight to Kuwait City for that plot thread in lieu of heading to Cairo to deal with the BRAGI stuff. So I’ll need to keep that in mind for the future. I was also surprised that they did not kill HEIMDALL, which means he can theoretically come back in the future somehow.

Next week looks like it could theoretically just be one big firefight, though I do want to find a way to spice it up a bit more. Again, more on that in a later post after I’ve had some more time to digest and figure out my next steps.

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