Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mecha - Episode 3 The Gunnar Thorson

Episode 3 is where the training wheels come off.  It's important to let the players know that they are getting close to some active duty so that they can do their scenes and collect some Overdrive and Tactical Points for the upcoming fight.  The Jeanne D'Arc is doing her deceleration burn so that she can rendezvous with the Gunnar Thorson, the other CSF carrier assigned to the outer solar system.  The Gunnar Thorson is a slightly newer ship with a larger crew compliment, commanded by Captain Dallas.   Spirit on the ship is high as a number of the pilots now on the GT were pilots who recently served on the Jeanne D'Arc.

Players receive a mission update on their terminals from the Captain:

This message is TOP SECRET
August 27, 2171. 
We have received the following encoded message from CSF Command and Operations:
On NOVEMBER 14 Coalition Deep Space listening post registered an previously unidentified long period comet designated C/2170 VG entering the solar system from trans-Kuiper space.  While establishing a routine trajectory for C/2170 VG, the object's orbit was observed to become perturbed and it was reclassified as P/2170 VG, a short period comet.  After the object's trajectory was perturbed a second time into a very short period elliptical orbit, P/2170 VG was immediately classified as a object of high interest by Coalition researchers. 
The Gunnar Thorson was dispatched to intercept and undertake close range reconnaissance of P/2170 VG.  On August 3, the Gunnar Thorson sent a OMEGA level secure message to CSF CO detailing the results of long range scans which detected the presence of an unidentified low level energy signature on P/2170 VG. 
The Jeanne D'Arc was subsequently dispatched to make a routine rendezvous with the Gunnar Thorson.  Details of P/2170 VG and this mission have been CLASSIFIED to be provided to crew members on arrival.  
BETA level security has been assigned to this mission.  Only encrypted short range point to point communications protocols are sanctioned.
There really is no way to do this where the players won't suspect Aliens as soon as they hear this information.  That's fine - that's not the twist but let them believe it is.

-- Player Scenes --

The players still hadn't had to worry about repair or recovery and seemed to have the hang of using Overdrive and tactical points in combat.  Recognizing the values of these in combat, the players tried for some tactical points and to build up some of their overdrive they had spent in the previous combat.  As before I found that the player scenes were more utilitarian and they weren't moving the story along as much as working on character advancement.  Again I think that there needs to be some kind of game mechanic to counter this.


Immediately after the player scenes the Battle Stations alarm sounds and players are rushed into their ships.  As they suit up and do pre-flight checks the flight officer gives them a short panicked but professional situation report:

We have visual contact with the Gunnar Thorson.  Their birds are in the air.  Unidentified hostiles are engaging.  
 - and as they launch the sit rep continues:
We can't establish coms.  It looks bad people.  I don't even know what the hell those things are!  Wait.  OH MY GOD SHE'S DOWN!  SHE IS DOWN!  We have confirmation that the Thorson is breaking up!
- and as they form up
Hostiles have some sort of signal damper and we can't establish EM or laser com locks with the GT pilots. It looks like some of them are making a break for us.  ESCORT THOSE PEOPLE IN!
So then set up the battle board. The Aliens team has 6 Base 2 mooks and two 'Ace pilots' M1 and M2.  The Alien ships look more like rocks than ships and the Aces look like rocks with tentacles.  Deploy as follows:
  1. Quadrant 3, Sector 6: 2 mooks
  2. Quadrant 3, Sector 5: M2
  3. Quadrant 4, Sector 1: 2 mooks and M1
  4. Quadrant 2, Sector 1: 2 mooks, 
  5. Quadrant 4, Sector 5: Tatical Waypoint (Friendly Pilot)
  6. Quadrant 1, Sector 6: The PCs
Stats for the Alien Aces are as follows:
ATT: 6
DEF: 5
ENG: 4
MOV: 5
Piloting (Mech Combat): 4
4/Energy Bolt (Laser)
3/Energy Bolt (Laser)
1/Anti Matter Projectile (Antimater)
M1 has the Boomer and Defender configuraitons
M2 has the Disrupter and Defender Config
This is the first real combat and the first time players will encounter configurations and physical combat between ships.  Remember you have not mentioned MECHA at this point, and so this should seem unfair and scare the players since they have neither of these capabilities.

If the Aliens win the combat then the Jeanne D'Arc will call back her pilots and will rescues no pilots from the GT and flee the scene.  If the Players win then they will rescue pilots and the Jeanne D'Arc will flee the scene. In either case P/2170 VG will continue on it's way towards the sun.

Lets just say this was supposed to be really tense and exciting combat.  However what happened was the players spent 3 Tactical Points to bring the waypoint into Q1:S4 and so won the combat before the aliens had a chance to close the distance or use their configurations.  Each side got off a couple shots and then it was over.  It was terrible for me but great for the players who thought that they were now the Kings of Space France.  Good for them.  They paid for it later.

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