Mon. Mar 27th, 2023

I ended 2×15 with the PCs having discovered the masks of ConsOps personnel on the bodies of those they’d taken out as well as a pack containing apparent bio-weapon material. In retrospect, I should have handled the mask discovery better – I’m finding that the phrase, ‘in retrospect, I should have…’ is in my lexicon a lot. Regardless, it’s been discovered … and crap. I just realized I haven’t worked on my recap image. Ugh. Moving on…

So, the masks have been discovered. There were nine of the hostiles, but one of them was blown up by the dropped RPG so identifying his mask is difficult and another was shot in the face by Baum, which leaves seven. I established in-game that at least one of them was wearing Phil Quinn’s face, so the five of the six are going to be Brooks, Hurt, McKay, Reilly and Vega with the last one being one of the guys from Reilly’s team that the PCs met briefly when the extracted from Egypt via the helicopter. Underneath the masks are unfamiliar faces of varying ethnicities.

One of the dead guys – let’s say it was the Vega guy – had a hardened briefcase-type thing handcuffed to his wrist. Breaking into it is going to be difficult as it’s a similar model to the one that Quinn had. It does not have much in it – a single tablet that honestly looks like a menacing red eye – but there is some other stuff that is probably of more interest, specifically a bunch of shredded material and what looks to be a salvaged internal disk drive. This latter stuff will eventually push the PCs to Riga, Latvia.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. As stated in the commentary for 2.15, I mentioned that I forgot to actually use Chana much and I’m going to immediately rectify that by having her alert them that she’s just observed multiple drones conduct a flyby. She’s trying to get a better look at them … and crap. They’re MQ-9 Reapers! Incoming fire! One of the nearby buildings abruptly explodes and the PCs have to flee now!

Cinematically, this has fantastic appeal. The PCs, plunging through the shattered city, smashing through doors or diving into ditches, and all that … it makes for great cinema. But dear God, it’s a nightmare to arbitrate. A Chase seems relatively logical at first, but in this case, they’re trying to get clear of the target site, not pursue somebody or evade someone on their tail … one of the players did something like this in Banestorm with the PCs basically trying to outrun a magical effect (a localized banestorm, in fact) where he had the storm always roll a 12 on the Chase (it always did a Move maneuver) and PCs could not be within Close when the last round ticked over. In this case, that doesn’t actually work properly, so instead, I need to determine an alternate method. Obviously, failure is bad but I need to figure out a way to avoid it just being terminally bad since, per, the AGM-114 Hellfire has 6dx20 (10) cr ex which does, on average, 420 points of damage to something it hits (maximum of 720!); that’ll ruin a person’s day really quickly.

I’ve gone back and forth over a handful of options – just when I thought I had one locked down as the best idea, something would come up to remind why it was a terrible option – and I think I’m going to just stick with something really simple: individual Universe Reaction Rolls modified accordingly. All PCs will have an arbitrary -3 on this roll because the GM is a jerk and wants to blow them up with an AGM-114 Hellfire but also because this city is a shithole and there’s always crap in the way or smoke in the air or crazy lunatics coming out of nowhere. Some other bonuses/penalties that may apply:

  • Diving into an old 1940s fridge: -15. Because that movie was stupid.
  • Dropping gear (rucksack, rifle, etc.) and running, flat-out: +2
  • Going to ground in a nearby ditch: +1
  • Insisting on staying together as a team: -1
  • Opting to not look for additional cover but instead, opening fire at the drone: -5 for you, but +5 for the rest of your team. You drew the fire of the drone operator which could end rather … messily for you.
  • Spending the extra time necessary to get that secured case off the hand of dead guy: -2 (Failing to do this means they don’t get the sample because the explosion causes it to break, but other intel inside it might be salvageable.)
  • Anything above a 13 on the result means no damage was taken by the character in question whatsoever, but the rest is adjusted according: 10-12 puts the character at about 25 yards away from the blast point, 7-9 puts them at 12 yards, 4-6 puts them at 6 yards, 1-3 puts them at 3 yards (which is very likely lethal as that’s on average 47 points of damage (with an armor divisor of 10) and a maximum of 80 points.

Now this is supposed to be happening super quickly, so let’s say … five to ten seconds to react total before the next missile hits the blast zone, so PCs need to haul ass and get out the blast zone.

Presuming no one died, getting clear of Ta’iz probably won’t be a difficult matter. I established in previous sessions that the UN and WHO personnel were already packing up, so when very large explosions occur (due to above-mentioned drone strikes) everyone really panics. Mixing into

As stated above, the material obtained from the rucksack will point the PCs to Latvia – this is probably shredded ID stuff like pictures clearly intended for use in passports, shipping manifests, etc. It’ll take a while for the PCs to reassemble this info (once they get clear of Ta’iz), but once they do, it points them toward Latvia and

RIGA, LATVIA – Meeting with “The Serbian.” 

  • This is The White Queen from Top Secret/NWO. He responds positively to Grayson, suspiciously to everyone else; PCs could get around this by only having Grayson actually meet him while the rest are loitering as backup. 
  • If informed that Vladimir is incapacitated/injured, Andros immediately begins making plans to take over his “old friend’s” organization. He’ll even hint at bringing Grayson on…
  • During this conversation, there is an attempted drive-by on Andros that can be prevented/stopped by PCs.
  • With the information provided by Andros, the PCs will be pointed toward a ship where LOKI is currently located. This requires the PCs to do another boarding action.