Monday, 22 June 2015

Moments from the gaming table #1

I normally take part in a roleplaying group on a Monday evening, and catch up with a couple of the guys for additional sessions on a Saturday. Recently, we've been playing Dave's home-brew LEGION setting, using the d6 Space engine as a base - think the old West End Games Star Wars system.

Due to our players, as much as our characters, there is normally something which manages to go wrong each week...

In addition to our GM - Dave - and regular players - Andy, Alasdair, Jim and myself - we were joined by Charles for our latest session. Andy and Dave had apparently gamed with him years ago, and he was up for a few days, so joined in. He'd put together a technical character, which was handy, as none of the other characters have a technical bone in their body.

Our mission for the evening was to teleport on a planet and hunt down an enemy listening post. This listening post was monitoring an Interdiction field, which in LEGION is used to block FTL travel - the idea being that if the field flickered, this post could let an incoming fleet know, so they could travel a bit quicker.

Once we'd geared up, Alasdair used his character's psychic abilities to teleport us to near the target, landing us in a polluted, flooded rainforest, ripe with the outflow liquid from some sort of mine, its own minefield, and assorted tectonic activity - our favourite sort of vacation spot, really.

Our recon drones got knocked out by EM interference over the plateau that we'd established the enemy base was on, meaning the assault element of Mechs wasn't going to be able to go in until we dealt with the defense system. Cue a second teleport...

Once on top of the plateau - and having eliminated an unfortunate technical officer and patrolling sentry - we noticed a regular series of shielded pylons sticking out of the ground, which seemed to be generating the EM field. Once Charles had hacked the nearby control room for the section we were in, we realised this wasn't a listening post after all - the enemy were using these pylons to try to interfere with the Interdiction field, which could allow their fleet much quicker access to our core worlds.

After consulting with our commanding officer - who was in a Mech with the assault team - we came up with a simple plan: storm the enemy base, and deal with whatever was powering this field, then the assault team would come in to clean up. Given how much firepower we were packing in our team, this seemed straightforward enough - if not overly subtle.

A short bout of surprisingly stealthy recon later, we had a plan - the group would split down into three fire teams and deal with individual objectives. Alasdair and one NPC would rescue an important hostage from a group of apparently unarmed enemy; Andy and I would deal with the armed and armoured squad performing drills; and Jim and Charles would capture the enemy ship that seemed to be powering everything, so they could figure out how to shut it down.

The first two parts of the plan went off pretty smoothly - Alasdair "rescued" the captive Houseman from a bunch of children and unarmed women, which Andy and I deployed an excessive amount of firepower to deal with the ten or so enemy troops which were performing drills in a courtyard.

I love the smell of white-hot plasma in the morning...

The part Jim and Charles were performing, on the other hand, went somewhat awry - and for once, we couldn't blame Jim for screwing it up. Some of this might be down to an adrenaline rush, as the character experienced his first mission in the field, while other elements were certainly down to Charles' decisions.

Whilst boarding the small ship, Jim went in with his trusty sword, while Charles followed up with his VAPE (a plasma rifle). On burst mode. As a result, Jim was able to surgically apply violence to the technical staff who were crewing the device, while Charles was cringing as plasma spattered off, and occasionally through, his targets to start melting through wall panels.

Secondly, even though being a technical genius, it turned out that Charles didn't actually understand the language the enemy were using - and neither did the S.I. (Synthetic Intelligence, in this case called Oracle) that we had taken along on the run. As a result, he was trying to figure out from icons and guesswork what each command did. In the end, he narrowed it down to a big red button that he thought might be the "Shut Down" command, and hit it.

This may have been a mistake.

Unbeknownst to Charles, there had been large amounts of static electricity arcing between the pylons and through the sky above us. When he shut the system down, somehow this all transferred into a giant EMP effect, reaching out for at least 600 miles from the epicentre - Dave cut to an amusing little scene, with our Colonel trapped in the fluid-filled, life support pod of his Mech, in the pitch blackness. Needless to say, he wasn't amused, not least by the time he eventually was able to emerge.

Those of us on the plateau were also affected, with neural interfaces, weapons and armour shutting down - which is somewhat disturbing when you have a cybernetic spine, or are charging at a castle door to knock it off its hinges when you come to a crashing halt.

We'll not mention what happened to the Interdiction field - somehow we avoided being pulled up on charges, as the mission as a whole was a success, but that Matriarchy fleet is now looking uncomfortably close...