GamePrep: ConsOps, 2.04

Once again, we didn’t get as far as desired … plus there’s the whole thing about one of the characters getting shot in the fricking head that has led to a mad scramble on my part to react. I’d expected the port chase to be a really minor, quick thing that then flows into the boat chase … but we did not even get to the latter chase.

So that’s how I’m going to start. Having learned my lesson from the previous session, I’m just going to start in media res with the PCs already in the chase. Digging around online, I discovered that the Iranians have multiple 26-meter Fast Patrol Craft in their Navy, so I determined that the 12-meter Patrol Boat to serve as harbor patrol which is the boat that the PCs are in. Using the specs that the manufacturer, SwiftShips, provided, I created the following stats:

12-Meter Patrol Boat

Skill Boating (Motorboat)
ST/HP 50
Hnd/SR +1/3
HT 11f
Move 2/27 (+6 on Chase rolls)
SM +4
Occ 1+4
DR 4
Loc sgX
Draft 3

Regarding equipment, they state the following Armament is available for this boat:

  • Two (2) .50 caliber M.G. on bow & stern
  • Two (2) 7.62mm M.G. port & starboard

Easy-peasy. Since Egyptian armed forces usually use American equipment, I can simply make the .50 be the Browning M2HB and the 7.62 be Saco M60s, both from High Tech.

So who is chasing them? One of those previously mentioned 26-meter Fast Patrol Craft. The thinking here is that this boat is the first responder to the incident from last session and observed the PCs attempting to flee via a harbor control boat. So the chase is on. As with the 12-meter boat, I used the SwiftShips official specs to generate the below stats:

26-Meter Fast Patrol Craft (“Protector”)

Skill Boating (Motorboat)
ST/HP 75
Hnd/SR +0/3
HT 11f
Move 2/27 (+6 on Chase rolls)
SM +5
Occ 2+8
DR 6
Loc sgX
Draft 5

Regarding equipment, they state the following Armament is available for this boat:

  • Two (2) Mk 93 50 caliber mounts with MK16 tripod. The MK93 Mod4 Gun Mount is for use with both the .50 cal or MK19 machine guns and (with adapters) the M60 and/or the M240 machine guns.
  • One (1) MSI-Defence Systems 25mm Stabilised Naval Gun System. The single lightweight automated 25mm gun provides 200 rounds on the mount and a high rate of fire (200 rds/min) to counter surface and air threats.

The 25mm is likely the Hughes M242 Bushmaster while the other mount is carrying M2HBs as well. All of the personnel aboard the 26-meter boat will have skills of 12 (Boating, Shooting, etc.) and if (when) their boat takes more than 50% HPs, they fall back sharply. With the primary soldiery type critically injured, the PCs manning the guns on their 12-meter boat are going to operating at around 11s or 12s with the MGs, but that’s fine.

Upon getting clear of the Port and escaping the chase, the PCs will encounter nothing until they reach the rendezvous point. There, a UH-1Y helicopter with Sudanese Air Force markings will arrive, though Vega, the Wheelman of the group will be able to realize that Sudan doesn’t have that model because it’s nearly state of the art albeit on an older frame. This is Mackenzie Reilly, a former PC who Hurt’s player will take over for a few sessions (although he and I are leaning toward having the other players this its a permanent change.) Reilly is ConsOps but was on a different team in Sudan … and his entire team is pretty much FUBARed, including the pilot who is operating at 0hp and fighting to stay conscious. This allows the PCs to once again take the lead, including as pilot.

Bell UH-1Y Venom

Skill Piloting (Helicopter)
ST/HP 75
Hnd/SR +1/2
HT 11f
Move 2/69 (+8 on Chase rolls)
SM +5
Occ 2+11
DR 3
Loc GH2R
Stall 0

There are two pintle mounts that will have M134 miniguns (see High Tech for stats). This leaves one PC to act as the co-pilot and the most likely person for that has already told me that he has some ideas about how to contribute to the coming chase.

Once the PCs lift off, an armed Aérospatiale Gazelle with Egyptian colors comes racing toward them from Port Said. Upon seeing the Sudanese Air Force colors, the Gazelle opens fire (while simultaneously radioing back to inform HQ that it appears Sudan may be involved in the Port Said nonsense.)

Aérospatiale Gazelle

Skill Piloting (Helicopter)
ST/HP 60
Hnd/SR +2/2
HT 11f
Move 4/97 (+9 on Chase rolls)
SM +5
Occ 1+4
DR 4
Loc GH2R
Stall 0

The Gazelle is more heavily armed than the PCs, with twin forward-facing 7.62 machine guns (likely using stats from the KMZ PK from High-Tech), twin M260 Rocket Pods (7-shots per pod, 14 total, also from High-Tech), and probably a Euromissile MILAN (from High-Tech), though I don’t know if the the missile will really come into play. The Dogfighting rules from Pyramid 3-53 will be probably used and since at least 3 of the PCs have Luck, I don’t expect they’ll end up shot down. Instead, the Egyptian Air Force Gazelle will more likely go down in flames …

Which means that the Sudanese Air Force will be blamed for this. I’m also contemplating reinforcements form both sides – Sudanese who are in pursuit of Reilly’s team for whatever it was they did prior to this, and Egytian who are responding to the Gazelle’s scream for help – flooding the zone and thus get into a crazy furball that effectively starts a war between Egypt and Sudan. Which is a massive “D’oh!” (said in Homer Simpson’s voice.) During this mess, the PCs can get clear and proceed to wherever they’re going to go to ground (probably Israel … which will hopefully mean I can actually get on with the primary plot!)

I’ve commented on the planned Israel stuff before, but things have changed a bit since then, what with Hurt being critically injured and effectively out of the campaign unless there’s a serious timeskip at some point … which there might actually be, depending on the actions of the PCs. This means I’ll have to drop my intended interrogation bit … but that doesn’t mean that Reilly can’t still be compromised. I’ve already spoken to the player and mentioned that. He expressed interest.

So the Israeli stuff will probably play out like this:

  • PCs reach Jerusalem, learn that Quinn is either dead or in critical condition at the appropriate hospital.
  • PCs should observe HEIMDALL outside hospital … with Quinn’s briefcase! This leads into both a gunfight and a Chase (ideally) if PCs are detected, though they may end up just Shadowing him to a hotel.
  • Regardless of what happens above, HEIMDALL should be dead & PCs have the briefcase (made by MacGuffin Industries, of course.)
  • PCs are contacted by Riggs, their actual boss, who is freaking out because they’ve been fingered as being responsible for the Egyptian/Sudan mess, as well as HEIMDALL’s death … who is revealed to be an American DIA operative. Riggs sends the PCs back to Port Said to retrieve something belonging to HEIMDALL…
  • PCs must gain access to HEIMDALL’s safehouse and here … REILLY betrays them. Cut to PCs being either facing down against Egyptian authorities or under arres (TBD according to actions taken by the Players.)

So that’s my thinking. Based on the past, I actually doubt they’re going to do more than have two Chases…

GM Commentary: ConsOps 2.03

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.

GamePrep: ConsOps, 2.03

We did not get as far as I expected, so a lot of the stuff I had in mind for 2×02 in Jerusalem still stands. Before we get to that, thought, we have to deal with their capture of BALDR and getting out of Port Said.

I’ve sort of determined that the PCs are hiding out in containers somewhere in Port Said, with BALDR in a different one which they’re monitoring via cameras (probably using something like this). What the PCs have not determined is that he has a tracking device implanted in his foot (just under the ankle); I’d initially started leaning toward having it be an explosive charge in the head ala Mission Impossible 3, and, in fact, it may still be a charge for later.

As to the container location, Dungeon Fantasy 16 added the whole “make a survival check for campsite, then pick from the three options available – comfort, concealment, and LOS; critical success gives all three, regular success grants two, and a failure gains just one. We used that but substituted the Professional skill, Tradecraft, and the PC who rolled it succeeded, then opted for concealment and LOS. Initially, he said this would be a storage facility, but my perusal of Port Said did not turn such a spot up so I suggested using the containers. Given that this is TL8+, LOS probably includes cameras of some sort – see before-mentioned linkage regarding the usage of cell phones.

There was also some debate about the next step – obviously, I need them to go to Jerusalem, but at least one of the PCs made some valid arguments about ‘continuing the mission’ and following up on the leads for the next step. With that in mind, I’m going to have BALDR’s cell receive some text messages, one of which is going to explicitly refer to HEIMDALL (though it uses his “Jerry Melendez” identity) moving to secure the ‘briefcase’ to point them toward Jerusalem. Clearly, said case was crafted by MacGuffin Arms.

When I started hashing out the next step following the events of the previous session, my main thinking was “I need to remove BALDR because he knows things that could derail my plot if the PCs learn them too soon” so, as stated above, I’d contemplated him having the explosive charge in his head ala MI:3, but that would set a dangerous precedent in that the PCs could never really take anyone alive to interrogate them which would lead to them never bothering to try. So then I started thinking “just have the bad guys show up and blow up the container he’s in with a RPG” but a brief discussion with the core GM of this campaign (currently a player, but I tapped him for advice since this is his campaign; I’m just guesting in it) made me realize that could irritate the players as well. Instead, I’m going to turn this into an escort mission!

  • First Aid was provided to BALDR by the interrogator as part of his angle, which brought him to 2hp. This puts him squarely in the half-Move, half-Dodge category (Move 3, Dodge 4). I don’t anticipate him avoiding rounds coming his way.
  • So … the PCs will detect the bad guys (going to use the Spetsnaz troopers from stats I published in the last game prep) in the area. They arrive via boat – probably an Inflatable Boat from B464 … although top speed for that is only 24mph. I guess I could use a speedboat (also B464) which has a top speed of 40mph … again, not a lot. More on that later.
  • By the time the Spetsnaz guys are detected, they are spread out all over the area, obviously trying to locate the PCs, although the PCs should be able to determine that they arrived via the Canal, indicating boats. Naturally, the logical presumption on the part of the players will be that they are here to rescue BALDR; thus, they are unaware that this is a different faction here to kill BALDR. I’m presuming that the PCs will want to get BALDR out of here so they can continue to interrogate him (but they may surprise me by just shooting him in the head or abandoning him to these guys with an eye on following them; in the latter case, they should see these dudes straight up execute him without hesitation.)
  • Operating with the presumption that the PCs attempt to bug out, they should quickly come under fire from the Spetsnaz dudes who are rather indiscriminate in who they shoot, an indication that they’re not here to rescue BALDR but to bury him. Again, logically, the PCs are going to make for the car that Vega, their wheelman stole, so I’ll have to neutralize that somehow, probably with a convenient RPG attack that not only blows up the car but definitely alerts everyone else in the city that something is going on! Now it’s a countdown – how long until Egyptian forces arrive? And in what flavor?
  • During this flight, BALDR will need to take a round or two and go down. Should they actually seem to be on the verge of making it to the boats, a sniper should hit him, although I’d rather it be more natural.
  • So, pushing the PCs toward the boats, this leads to a water chase which is why I’m thinking speedboats instead of inflatable ones. There could be some additional firearms present – maybe the PCs have to whack a couple of dudes along the way? Where do the other speedboats come from? Don’t worry about it. They came from off-panel. And then, Egyptian coast guard boats using something like what the American Coast Guard deploy can show up and complicate matters even worse.

But this chase should eventually culminate with the PCs making good their escape from Port Said, which then leads into the Jerusalem stuff I stated in the previous game prep post.