Fri. Dec 9th, 2022

On to the planning for 2×14. This one looks to be potentially a little weird based on how I want to do it. I’ve basically split this up into three phases that boil down to: The Meeting; The Infiltration; The Discovery.

I also need to have a minor retcon here: the UN is shutting down their operation here, so everyone is basically packing up (which allows PCs to move about relatively unnoticed.) This is why they were able to insert into the region so easily.

The Meeting

With this scene, I want to try and emulate the DeNiro / Pacino diner scene from “Heat” but with Lynch and TYR, the Russian Spetsnaz colonel.

To properly accomplish this, I need to find a way to split the group up for a span of time. Mahoney is already taken care of since he’s off enjoying some … private time with Chana, but breaking Grayson and Ilan off is slightly more difficult. Having Grayson see another SIS agent embedded within the UN personnel could work … but what exactly does that accomplish in this apart from a reminder that he’s been burned? Hmm … actually … what if the agent-in-question is here, knowing that Grayson was heading in this direction and is thus giving him a new assignment? I’ll have to develop that a bit more in a moment as Baum (Ilan, not Chana) is the next thing to really consider as I don’t have anything for him either. Fortunately (I suppose), the player has already indicated that there is a good chance he’ll be out due to school so if that’s the case, I don’t need to worry about it; that said, this has burned me in the past when he said there was a high likelihood of his absence so I planned for that and then he showed up. I suppose they may need to obtain some additional supplies & Ilan, being Mr. I have a 20 in Stealth could be the guy to sneak in and get them.

Okay. So presuming I can get the team split up briefly, Lynch will interact with TYR. Ideally, I’ll have Lynch and Colonel Sudokov see one another at the same time, while they’re in a crowded area full of civilians (so both are encouraged to not open fire and begin a shoot-out.) If it comes to stats, I’m just going to use Lynch’s with the conceit that these two men are basically the same. Ultimately, they want the same thing: LOKI dead. The big difference is that Lynch wants to ask the man some questions first and TYR cannot allow that because it’ll negatively impact his country in some capacity. This also gives me a chance to recycle an old idea I had that was originally going to be used for Baum back in 2×08 or so. TYR reveals that he knows “Lynch” – Lynch captured and killed the men responsible for downing an Aeroflot plane because it had three American citizens on it, one of which was a CIA officer. TYR’s son was also on that plane as the pilot and he would like to know how those men died. So Lynch has his thanks but if they meet again, TYR will very much try to kill him. (This will also alert Lynch that Spetsnaz personnel are likely in the city.)

Moving on to Grayson and adding more to my above thinky-thoughts. I believe (will have to verify with the recording) that the player said Brooks was going to check-in to let SIS know what he was planning via dead drop of some sort, in which case they could have someone actually waiting to relay info. It could even be a cut-out of some sort, maybe a UN or WHO operative who isn’t an active field agent, just someone who relays intel somehow. So, with that in mind, he’ll see someone wearing the WHO vest, but they have specifically colored laces in their boots that are tied in a certain manner alerting him to the fact that they have new intelligence standing by. This is specific to his operation – it’s how his handler(s) go in touch with him. When he makes contact & the two exchange their challenge-response dance, the doctor passes off … hmm … what? A SIM card could work that he could slot into his phone, then plugin in a password. Let’s go with that. On this SIM card is a MP4 from his handler relating: his current mission has been suspended – other assets have retrieved Vladimir from the Dubai hospital and are relocating him somewhere safe until he’s recovered; “evidence” has been seeded (for Vlad, should he regain consciousness before this op is complete) that indicate that Brooks’ Russian identity was taken into custody but escaped & is currently on the run. In the interim, Brooks is to continue on his task. SIS had been discreetly investigating his previous reports – the player and I established that, while Grayson was undercover on his last assignment, he discovered some oddities regarding ConsOps & reported it up the chain, then had to deal with an assassination attempt by a former ConsOps team member! – but now, with the US government quietly but officially disavowing the private intelligence agency, they’re taking it more seriously. SIS wants to know everything he uncovers, but warns Grayson that there are multiple other agencies doing the same thing, particularly their Cousins at Langley. He is explicitly ordered not to tell anyone else that he’s actively digging into this for SIS; as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he’s been disavowed and a burn notice for one of his cover identities will be disseminated as appropriate. Finally, he’s provided a contact number for emergency support but it is made clear that this needs to be an absolute emergency as pulling the trigger on that will blow multiple operations out of the water and likely compromise his own Vladimir op.

As stated above, this leaves Baum with nothing to do. I’ll have to ensure there’s some make-work for him should the player actually be able to show up, but that’s pretty easy.

For Mahoney, I’d also like to do something other than relate that he had some sexy-good times with Chana, but I’m not entirely sure what. Maybe have her relate to him (following the above-mentioned sexy good times) that she’s getting tired of this life and just wants to be an actual doctor? Looking at her stats, I note that she “Enjoys danger” as a quirk and has SoD to Israel, but she’s also got a CoH (Soldier) … so that might not actually work here. Maybe instead she relates to him that, during her brief return to Israel, she learned that a few of the friends she grew up with were recently killed in the continuing escalation of violence in Israel following the bombing of the American embassy earlier in my run. So she feels … frustrated that Mossad has her way the hell out here when she could be doing more back home. Plus, her mom is harassing her about kids and wants her to marry a good Jewish boy. And “Paul” is not a good Jewish boy.

Last week, I also established that Chana wants either a sample of the (expected) bioweapon or someone who is infected that they can extract back to Israel to dig into, so she’ll give Ilan some contact information that she expects him to give to Ilan that will allow the latter to contact a Metsada team that is operating in the region should the latter option present itself. She strongly recommends using this only if they have someone valuable because, since Ilan has essentially been burned, the Metsada team might just opt to shoot them all and burn the bodies. And she’d hate to lose a perfectly good booty call in the form of Mahoney. Also, she’d hate to lose her brother. Their mom would never let her live it down.

The Infiltration

Following all of this mess – which should not take up a lot of gametime – the team gets to sneak into the city. As I stated during the previous session, the “quarantine” is geared more for preventing people from coming out than people going in. Still, as the PCs are likely going in heavily armed, they’re going to want to avoid notice which calls for Stealth checks. Mahoney is the lowest guy here with his 12; everyone else has a 14 or higher. Which begs the question: what happens if they’re detected? Firefight with the UN?

It also occurs to me here that, if Ilan’s player is absent, then Lynch could deploy him as sniper overwatch. I’ll probably put that into play here should it come up with the conceit that the PCs can call in a sniper shot every other round should a fight break out. Hmm. Even if he’s actually available, I could have Chana do that anyway which I rather like.

Three of the PCs (including Grayson) have Navigation (Land) so that part’s relatively easy. Using GPS coordinates grants a bonus to this check, but the state of the city itself adds a penalty, so it comes out even. Grayson may get an additional bonus due to familiarity … although I’m leaning toward no because he hasn’t actually been here.

As I’m presuming the PCs are going in at night, they’re likely going to expect the city to be relatively inactive. What they’ll discover, however, is that people are scuttling back-and-forth all over the place. And potentially even worse is the presence of multiple spec ops teams prowling the streets. They’re all obviously looking for something. If Baum is on sniper overwatch, he’s ideal to relate this factoid (which PCs probably should expect following Lynch’s interaction with TYR.)

Something I’m currently thinking about doing is using the city grid cards from Zombies but laying them out during time of play really isn’t going to work. What I need to do instead is pre-generate various “city blocks” and then either scan them in for the game beforehand or just use them without ever telling the players. What I’m concerned about if I use them, though, is that it could unnecessarily slow down the flow. Ideally, this scene moves relatively fast. I want the PCs to hear the constant chatter of distant gunfire – since AKs are all over the place in this region – and probably see some people scurrying around in the dark. I would also really like to have the PCs actually see some of the crazier locals swarm someone or something. And I absolutely need the PCs to find some corpses and identify them as spec ops of some nation or another.

So let’s have three to four “mini-encounters” along the way. That should let me relate this information to everyone. And I can break up the monotonous “I need another Stealth roll” with some descriptions and intel gathering.

Encounter 1: Just after entering the city, sniper overwatch (Ilan if he’s unavailable, Chana if he’s not) warns them that there is some intense activity just ahead. At the same time, PCs can hear the distinct sound of suppressed firearms followed by some shouts and screams. Advancing forward allows PCs to catch the tail end of a zerg rush of Infected locals upon a team of some sort. The casualty count of the attacking locals was immense – to take out three men, probably twenty Infected locals died. The locals are armed with a wide variety of ‘whatever the hell they can pick up’ so clubs, baseball bats, kitchen knives, etc. There are only about two of the feral locals still upright, though many others are still alive; they’re just physically incapable of walking around due to a leg being crippled. Further investigation will allow PCs to (theoretically) identify these guys as Saudi troopers. Oh, and by the way? Per sniper overwatch, there are more Infected locals advancing in this direction. Stealth check required.

Encounter 2: Out of seeming nowhere, an Infected local rushes out, holding up a large kitchen knife. He targets a random PC. Treat this as partial surprise, although all PCs have Combat Reflexes so they’re not going to be caught unprepared at all. At the first sound of gunfire (suppressed or not; after all, suppressed firearms still make noise, after all), several additional Infected locals rush the PCs. This is not intended to be a drawn out pitched firefight, but rather more of a “Crap! They are insane!” Run this quickly for three rounds or so with a d6 Infected arriving per round. The Infected do nothing but All Out Attacks or Move and Attack, but have no armor and limited defenses; their strength lies in numbers and general insanity. I suppose I should post the stats I have for them … might put that on the bottom. Again, remember sniper overwatch – 1 shot every other round – and once the last of them are down, sniper overwatch tells them to get moving now because there’s another bunch of these Infected lunatics en route. Stealth check required.

Encounter 3: An abrupt explosion shatters the ominous silence and it is rapidly followed by a crapton of automatic gunfire that isn’t suppressed. Naturally, it is coming from the direction that the PCs need to go in; as they approach (or flank around or whatever), the gunfire gradually dwindles. Sniper overwatch does not have a good LOS (line of sight) for whatever is going on. Should PCs investigate, much depends on how quickly they go there – if immediately, they will discover a quartet or quintet of soldiers from different organizations fighting back-to-back against a flood of insane Infected locals. Simply based on the immediate terrain, it appears that the shooters were (initially) fighting one another but ended up back-to-back as they were eventually overwhelmed by sheer numbers. If they wait out the shooting, when they get there, they discover a mound of corpses surrounding the quartet or quintet of shooters who have all been bludgeoned or stabbed to death. There are still a bunch of Infected loitering in the immediate area, but they can be evaded with a Stealth check. If the dead shooters are investigated, they have equipment indicating that they are Saudi, Yemenese and American!

Encounter 4: PCs are on final approach to the “warehouse when sniper overwatch informs them that they (Ilan or Chana) have to relocate; not only do they not have a clear LOS on PCs location, but the Yemenese military (or Saudi – it isn’t clear) appears to be moving into his/her location. At this point, I’m going to roll a secret Vision-based Traps check for the active characters – of the four PCs, only Baum doesn’t have the Traps skill, and all of them have it at 13 or greater, so I expect this will be fine. Success reveals some camouflaged MON-50 mines (which are basically just Russian Claymores) that are clearly newly installed. Mahoney is the EOD expert and he has a 20 in it, so that’s probably not going to be an issue. The fact that they’re here, though, definitely indicates that the Russians are here as well. Moving forward without detection requires another Stealth check.

The Discovery

The warehouse in question has obviously been heavily damaged by the fighting, but more importantly, it appears to be surrounded by a team of Russians (or more accurately, they’re all inside it and using it as cover). How do they know they’re Russian? Mahoney recognizes one of them as the guy he choked out at the Embassy in Muscat, Oman! Successful Tactics check reveals that the Russians have setup in four different fireteams of two men with overlapping fields of fire (total number of eight Spetsnaz guys). Sneaking by these dudes is going to be tough … but not impossible. If the PCs don’t have any issues with getting in a pitched firefight (which hopefully, by now, I’ve shown is a very bad idea), then they can go that route. Getting past these guys is going to depend entirely on the actions of the players so I can’t really plan much for that, apart from setting up the encounter location. So … there are eight troopers outside keeping watch, while another quartet are inside the warehouse … or rather, under the warehouse. Why under it? Because that’s where the actual storage vault is located at.

I’ll have to handle this by ear according to player actions – it’s possible they’ll manage to take out the Russians without firing a shot or this might devolve into a run-and-gun slugfest. In the event that the Russians are overwhelmed, whether by a gunfight or a tsunami of Infected lunatics lured into the kill-zone, at least one of them will attempt to escape via an underground tunnel – this could theoretically lead to a foot Chase through the city if they pursue. The important thing for this guy is that he’s got a biohazard transport container. I’ll need to push toward that if I want it to happen, probably with one of the PCs seeing the guy (same dude Mahoney choked out?) ducking out of sight with the biohazard thing.

Hmm. Actually … having multiple Russians all begin withdrawing into a Chase could be interesting as well. I’d need to adjust the Chase Circumstances table to take into account the Infected swarm and potential attack by other troops in the region. I think that, if the PCs manage to halve the numbers of the Russians, they’re all going to retreat into the Chase.

Successfully recovering the biohazard container reveals that it has two odd-looking tablets inside. Mission accomplished.

And then, the Yemenese government (such as it is) begins attacking the city with attack helicopters…

So I think I’m good to go.