Wednesday, August 4, 2010

GURPS Andromeda Incident: After Action Report 4 & 5

 Wait, where's 4?  Well, it seems I forgot it.  A quick recap:

After time unfroze and the artillery struck, smoke covered the camp, while Quetzali assault heavies charged in.  Our recon team struggled to fend off the snipers and the Quetzali infantry engaging in suppression tactics.  The highlights: Icarus got in a fist-fight with a chivalrous Quetzali named Ajante-Ro, Bishop personally held off an entire flank by himself, Chaos was kidnapped by a xenophilic Quetzali girl (and had very little playtime), and McKenzie tried to disarm a bomb, failed, and, uh, suffered the consequences.  When the smoke cleared (literally), the team was down two of their three IFVs, they'd lost one of their recon specialists and their demo specialist, and the enemy tactical officer (Shay) left a suggestion that they retreat and lick their wounds.

Instead, the players engaged in strategic planning for the rest of the session, eventually hatching a plan to distract the mobile forces of the enemy commander with a feint at a supply depot while commandering their core comm station and artillery point, and suddenly concentrating all power on one of the now isolated bases.

In short, I got exactly out of this session what I wanted.

Which brings us to last night's session.

Originally, I had intended for this "Cat and Mouse" Session to involve more recon, more marching, more OODA loop, but I simply didn't have the time to express it all.  The sort of plans I have, I can see, are the sort of things that you could run for weeks, rather than "in one session," and so I backed off on many of the requirements (for example, I discarded the need to FIND the supply depot and the comm tower, and assumed the enemy commander (Dagare-da) was stupid.  Which, in my defense, was true.

We started with Jaap (Chaos) waking up in a Quetzali prison, the inquisitive Seleya (his xenophilic captor) admiring him and expressing astonishment (followed by a torrent of questions) when she learned he could speak Tyrannic.  Afterwords, he received an interrogation by the compassionate tactical officer (Shay) who tried to prove his worth to the cruel commander (Dagare-da) to save Chaos's life.  It didn't work.  After hearing that he'd been slated for torture and execution, Seleya chose to betray her own and rescue the poor recon officer.  And thus, alone, isolated, armed only with his elite combat knife and an camo-cloak, poor Chaos set out.

The rest of the players (including one of the ladies who couldn't make it last time) chose to continue marching despite having not slept at all.  After accounting for the fatigue of battle, the lack of sleep, and marching, our characters were literally running on Stims.  The heavy marines (Snow and Icarus) personally took down the enemy supply depot but found themselves faced with the full force of Shay's mobile squad.  This cost Icarus his arm (Ajante-Ro could no longer play, and deployed limpet mines).  Shay allowed them to retreat only after realizing what their presence (and the lack of the rest of their squad) meant.

The other players succeeded in capturing both the comm station and the artillery with little trouble, as they were poorly guarded (Chaos actually took down the majority of the artillery's guards with nothing but his knife and luck).

Then we moved to the grand battle, set on a much wider map than usual.  I had intended to hit them with wave after wave of Quetzali (they faced over 100 enemy), but then our artillery character got a critical success. I think you could argue that, at that point, their base would have been too compromised to continue, but I made them fight a single wave regardless.   Nobody walked away without a wound.  Our Shocktrooper (Rayner) took a limpet mine to the chest (Full force, I actually hit him with all the damage.  He took over 70 points worth, and was still going. Berserker).  I took down two additional players with sniper-fire, and only Chaos came out relatively unscathed, and managed to rescue Seleya, whom Dagare-Da had been torturing for her betrayal.  Still, despite their wounds, they managed to take out the enemy (and cute Amy Carver finally got a kill).

When all was said and done, I hit them with the fallout from their Super-stims.  Icarus was actually at -9 fatigue (that's 9 damage).  The characters had given their all.  Within 8 hours of being ambushed, they had crossed miles of desert to take three major installations, turn the battle around, and with glassy eyes and bloody wounds, managed to defeat a force 5 times their size.

Perhaps it wasn't the most accurate depiction of maneuver warfare and heroics, but at least one of my players described it as "really feeling like I was pushing my character to the edge." I felt like I depicted the Quetzali forces in all their dread glory, and showed why humanity is such a dangerous foe.  I encouraged my players to think not just tactically, but strategically as well.  And I gave them all scars. They walked barefoot through broken glass for their victory and, I hope, I feel, it will be an adventure that they remember well.

And now we move to the second to last "arc" (I had originally planned 5 arcs, but 4 will have to do, and the 4th is the best anyway.  A 5th would risk being anti-climactic): Andromeda.
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