Sunday, June 27, 2010

WotG: Session 3 After Action Report

At long last, after many delays, we finally finished our introduction.  I focused entirely on the Great Game, and it went really well.  I managed to fix the problem my previous group had with the lack of kung fu in the game by offering Challenge Stones (for example, one player charged a group and I said if he killed 10 guys in 3 turns, he'd wipe some of the Force Stone off the board).  In general, I allowed alot more personal action, which I think the Great Game is designed to do.  As a result, everyone quite enjoyed themselves.

Except for Bee. Bee was bored.  She wasn't as bored, I think, as she let on, as she had things to do, but I think I see where she's coming from.  The introduction has been light and easy, a simple scenario meant to let you understand the game.  But it lacks the sparkle, the dazzle, the intensity that gives a game its X factor.  Bee is enjoying the game "well enough," and the rest are enjoying it quite nicely, but I don't want that.  I want them addicted and obsessed.  And that means kicking it up a notch.

I have two more games this week, one GURPS, one WotG.  I'll have to see if I can pull out the awesome in that amount of time.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

GURPS Andromeda Incident: After Action Report 2

Our first session ran long, so I cut out the final battle.  Knowing that my players would need extra time to put together their characters, I focused entirely on the final battle and then character creation, and that worked well.

We don't have MapTool (yet), so I made up some of my own little tokens and a hex map, and it was BEAUTIFUL.  Not nearly as awesome as MapTool, but it certainly did the job.  The battle focused entirely on a 25 Quetzali "mooks," Heavies and standard Soldiers, with two Assault Hovercraft and a contragravity Dropship.  The players, unsurprisingly, slaughtered all of them.  To a man.  I did manage to leave some wounds on the players and some of the NPCs, however, giving them (rightfully) the impression that they could have died.  Hooray!  Appropriately epic.
Some highlights:
  • After crashing to the ground in the middle of the battle, Icarus (a battlesuited Heavy Marine played by Raoul) from ORBIT blew one of the Hovercraft out of the air with his Semi-Portable Plasma Gun, and then leaped in the way of the Dropship's Semi-Portable Plasma Gun blast, taking the full hit and suffering a mere 5 damage.
  • Jack Bishop (played by Pascal) used 3 grenades to take out 2 Quetzali heavies and heavily damage one Hovercraft
  • Maddie Madison (played by Maartje) blew the Dropship out of the sky with a single missile and a string of foul-mouthed curses (seriously).
I made one change from my previous G-verse military campaign that, despite it not working well for this group yet, I liked well enough that I will keep:


So I'm playing Modern Warfare, and it occurs to me, while I'm chucking grenades, that they're on a timer.  This is, of course, obvious in retrospect, but in most games, with 3 second (or longer) turns, this seldom comes up.  You throw a grenade, they blow up, and they kill lots of people.  First, however, this isn't how grenades actually work (grenades seldom kill people, what they do is flush people out of cover so that you can kill them properly: With bullets), and second, GURPS has single second turns, so it has the granularity necessary to make grenades actually work properly.

But it gets better: G-Verse Humans use smart grenades which can be programmed.  They can be programmed for a very long countdown (say, like setting a charge), to blow up on impact or, my favorite, to blow up when it receives a particular radio signal.  This allows you to throw your grenades and treat them like mines, blowing them when people get close, which, of course, encourages them to keep their distance.  In our game, grenades worked this way, either keeping the Quetzali at bay, or forcing them to run.  So, I'll be keeping my token-style grenades, I think.

I did a few things wrong.  I always do, of course.  This time, there were two errors that I can think of.  First, the players hit the ground after the Quetzali opened fire.  I declared that while they stayed down, they would avoid fire, but as soon as they came up to fire back, they would expose themselves to the suppression fire.  So they aimed (safely) and then fired (in danger).  I don't think it works that way:  If you're aiming, you're exposing yourself to Suppression Fire.

Second, the Quetzali ran at 8 yards per turn.  Most Quetzali soldiers have a Basic Move of 8 or 9, but they also have encumbrance, reducing their Basic Move to 6 or 7.

Next week, we'll start with the second major adventure: Cat and Mouse.  Every session, I've been exploring new tactical "puzzles" that the players can enjoy.  I've been gaining alot of inspiration from this site, if you're interested.  Good stuff, especially if you're a 40k player.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

GURPS Andromeda Incident: After Action Report

If I hadn't mentioned it before, I've dug deep into my Generic Space Opera material (G-Verse) again because I've decided to run a short campaign for the local RPG association. I've been enjoying my time with them, lacking in gaming (particularly with the slow disassociation of my Kansas group) and figured "Heck, why not?  I already have the military templates, let's give it a go!"

The game definitely benefits from the previous run-through (Frozen War).  The templates and loadouts have slowly tightened (making premades and NPCs definitely helped as well).  Knowing the ins and outs of Ultra-Tech GURPS combat also helps, though we didn't come to that right away.

Tonight was a "one shot" introduction to the game, meant to teach the players how to play, and to introduce them to the world, the storyline and the NPCs.  Everyone who played wanted to play again, including an old friend I never expected (he saw what I was running, attached himself at the hip, and now intends to be there for every session.  In retrospect, I should have seen this coming: He loves space opera, especially the "dark" stuff, and military games).

So: Andromeda Incident: Crash Course opened with a debriefing that introduced the world and the premise.  Each scene thereafter introduced an NPC or two and a key aspect of the game (How to fire and aim a gun, how to use first aid, how to fight in melee, and so on) as well as interesting NPCs: A tough tom-boy demolitions marine, a tempermental mechanic, a brooding doctor, an arrogant heavy marine, and so on.  Then, once everyone was set, we unleashed all hell as the orbital defense grid of the planet they were invading tore apart their ship.  The players had to choose which NPCs to rescue, with each rescue becoming more difficult and lethal, until the final set, wherein I informed players I would be actively trying to kill them.  They, of course, rescued all the NPCS without losing a character.  The bastards.

I had hoped to play out their rough landing and a short battle, but alas, we started late and while I got alot done in 3 hours, I called it quits.  We'll get more done later.  As I said, everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.  I probably should have played hard ball, but GURPS, IMO, works best when the GM makes quick calls and focuses on "roll & shout" style play, and I did so.  The result was spectacularly cinematic rather than grim and dark, but players had the sense of impending doom and, to be frank, it was Luck that kept them alive.

A success, but hardly surprising: G-verse usually works well.  I am surprised how many people wanted to play, and how vociferously they demanded another game.
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