Monday, July 19, 2010

GURPS Andromeda Incident: After Action Report 3

My GURPS Military Space Opera continues, or rather, continued, as this took place several weeks ago and I'm only now getting around to posting about it.

The title for this chapter is "Cat and Mouse," which hints at the strategic, maneuver warfare I hope to elicit from the group in this arc.  It's a bit of an experiment, and we haven't actually gotten to that part, but hopefully, it'll work out well.

Instead, we ended up dealing a great deal with character development.  The story took place a few weeks after the initial landing, with the players regrouped at a supply point a few days journey (by IFV) from their destination.  While our beloved Lieutenant received the mission briefing, the players had a chance to reacquaint themselves with some of the NPCs.  As with the last session, I trimmed another "uninteresting NPC," this time the logistics officer ("Who?" asked one of the players "Exactly," I replied).  It's not that she was a bad character, it's that the players have fixated on others. 

In particular, this session turned around several NPCs and added depth.  Specifically, Mackenzie, our ladette, was joined by her loser brother, "Ducky," which drove her into a motherly panic.  I hope this doesn't mean Mackenzie loses some cool points, but at least Ducky's irritatingly rude manner has won over the entire party, giving them someone to kick around.  Interestingly, this means that Amy is no longer the most useless NPC, which is something I'll have to point out later (also the similarity between both wanting to prove themselves, but only Amy really making the effort necessary to do that). 

Doctor Emerson's romance with one of the players continues, but his suspicious nature has come completely to the fore, including connections with the black market, a "criminal past," and his proficiency in combat, which has made said player equally suspicious of him, adding a good dynamic to their relationship. 

Likewise, Sage Hackett's romance with a player continues to drift between warm fuzziness and raging anger, appropriate to a Tsundere, though I've begun to worry that her character lacks depth.  Why is she the way she is?  Where will things go from here?  Still, the players enjoyed her, fought to make sure she stayed with the unit, and the love/hate spat between her and the player earned some laughs.

Finally, we had Kobayashi, who didn't have a specific story, interacted with a few characters, and managed to make her mark on the players, which is important for the role she'll be playing later on.  Interestingly, while the lieutenant's player has decided she loves her ("Kobayashi can do anything!") at least one player (the player of the most naive character) has grown suspicious of her.  We'll have to see where that goes.

We ended with the players out in the wilderness, Amy telling another tall tale about her father, with one of the players ordering his recon squad to "establish a perimeter" (the smartest thing anyone did, incidentally) when the Quetazli ambush struck.  The players only had a chance to see smoke engulf the entire camp sight (artillery strike with EM smoke) and one of the recon players (the unlucky one) shot by a sniper (we're using the blow-through rolls from High Tech, so he "only" took 11 points of damage and -10 to all checks to stop bleeding), and then the curtain closed.

The session was so popular that people have been pushing for the next session, but there's a few things I'm worried about.  First, my plans for a strategic, rather than tactical, battle are so new I'm not sure how it'll fare.  I also hope to establish a rapport with some of the Quetzali enemies they face, and that's always difficult.  Finally, I get the impression that the players would like to spend much more time getting to know the NPCs and exploring relationships.  I've been keeping the story moving, due to tight time constraints and the desire to "leave them wanting more," but while this has been well-received, I still feel it's lacking something, a sense of depth, a certain |X-factor.  The NPCs from Frozen War felt like they had more depth, like they were more real, while the Andromeda characters feel either like caricatures or unexplored, like they have so much more potential than I can show.

Still, I shouldn't complain.  None of the players are.
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