GM Commentary: ConsOps, 2.12

Well. That didn’t quite go like I expected it to. Once again, we got into a tactical encounter that was planned to be a really quick “bang-bang-bang, we’re done” and it ended up eating most of the session. I absolutely need to find a way to speed these things up … but at the same time, I don’t want the bad guys to suddenly start being complete morons.

Dialing back, the players caught me off guard with their decision to put Grayson into play by having him “act” as a fellow captive while in the same room as Reilly and I don’t think I recovered very well with that. I’d originally expected this to just be handled as a regular interrogation – they want to find out some info, they make the roll, information is gleaned, and we move on – but their decision to put Grayson in like they did almost demanded something more and then I started having trouble with expressing myself which only made things worse. I knew what I wanted to convey but utterly failed to do so. I also completely dropped the ball with the setup for the brainwashed agent kicking in the door to shoot them as well; my notes specifically stated that the CIA doctor was supposed to mention that the agent was taking a call when he came in … and I didn’t add that.

With regards to the Dubai agents coming in, that was due to the Heat stuff. As stated elsewhere, I’m ripping off the HEAT mechanic from Night’s Black Agents, but obviously handling it a little differently. In this, I’m treating it as basically a group Enemy. When the PCs enter a new country, they begin with a 2 in frequency of appearance (unless something changes this, like they come in hot or failed a cover check.) This is modified up according to action and I’m pre-rolling before the session – pre 2×12, the PCs had a 5 in this and I rolled a surprising 4, so the assault was on. Since the guys they shot were federal agents, this increases Heat by 4 (!), giving them an appearance of 9 or less … and just as a note for planning of 2×13, I rolled a 9.

My thinking for this guys was that they were investigating, but did not move to breach until they heard the automatic gunfire from the brainwashed agent who was trying to kill Reilly. (To my surprise, she failed – he’s at -34hp, but he made his death checks and if they can get the appropriate medical gear, the doctor currently with them can save his life.) During the fight, my bad guys were intending on using smoke and flash-bangs, but neither really helped here – with the smoke, one of the hurled grenades was shot by Baum who wanted to bounce it back into the attackers; he rolled high enough that I decided to go with it. Another agent intended to throw a flash-bang stun grenade into the players’ midst … but was flash-banged before he could do so and the HT-5 to come out of stun was brutal considering they only had HT 10 to begin with.

In the wake of the firefight, the PCs (wisely) determined that they had to bail immediately. They took the dead (brainwashed) CIA agent with them, the critically injured Reilly, and the CIA doctor (who believes he can save Reilly if they get him the proper gear), but left the now stable Vladimir in the expectations that the Dubai authorities will recognize that he wasn’t involved (considering he’d been operated on to save his life from bullet wounds.) Three dead UAE feds are in the blown safehouse, along with a zip-tied and hooded fourth (who might still be trying to come out of stun.) The PCs have already decided that Ta’iz, Yemen is their next likely destination …

I’m currently thinking that, since I rolled a 9 on the Heat check above, I’m going to start the session with a car chase of some sort because we haven’t had one of those in a long time and I think we’re overdue. Still rolling around the specifics, but I want it to be slightly more interesting than just “we drive really fast to get away.” Hmm. I could set it during a sandstorm like in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” …

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