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Author Topic: [3:16] Killin' Bugs  (Read 6707 times)
greyorm
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« on: November 12, 2009, 02:55:28 AM »

After a couple weeks of folks being sick, etc. we finally got together to give 3:16 a go. Flat out: it was a blast. I was, in fact, told we were playing it next week, too.

We did have the usual "new game we've never played before" sort-of kinks. Though there were two big ones I wrote down to get answers to:

At one point we realized we were rolling FA at Far range, and everyone had a "0" for kills at Far. There was a moment of staring dumbly at each other wondering if that meant you couldn't roll FA at long, but we shrugged it off for the moment and continued. That did, however, make me realize I wasn't sure if the aliens could always attack at any of the ranges, or if that was a feature of the narrative design of the aliens. Anyone have advice? Did I miss a sentence in the book about that?

Also, the game ended with five threat tokens still in play. Sergeant Webster used a Strength to escape from the twisting caverns they had fled into from a horde of pissed-off bugs, and called for E-Vac. I wasn't sure if that could or should happen, mechanically (any of it: counters remaining, Strengths outside encounters, etc.), but I went with it because it worked in the narrative. Again, advice?

We also figured that for bonuses and penalties you don't modify the die-roll, you modify the appropriate ability (FA or NFA). Thinking about it, I'm not sure that's necessarily the best way to handle it. Might be easier to reverse them (ie: +1 is a penalty) and add them to the die-roll. What do other folks do?

While writing this, I also realized I'm assuming something about Threat Tokens: if an encounter ends in a standoff, or the troopers withdraw/flee/escape, do you take all the tokens you had played back so you can use them again later? I'm assuming "yes", but not so sure that is definitely the case.

-----

Set-up

Before the game, I had semi-randomly designed a slightly-larger-than-Earth-size desert planet (Degas) full of giant, acid-spitting, spider-insects with scythe-blade forelegs, and a giant, semi-intelligent, telepathic queen. Highest NFA-1 with the End Encounter ability. The squad's mission dirtside was to guard Company B while they located a series of caves and extracted ores vital to the war effort.

For the game, we had about two-and-a-half hours, which we did finish the mission during. I was GMing; PL, MJ, and WG were running PCs. Handed out character sheets and ran through the rules quick as we set-up characters. That took about fifteen minutes, maybe ten. The roll-high-but-not-higher-than-your-score mechanics read weird on paper, and sound odd when trying to explain them, but are damn easy in play.

I was surprised when everyone took FA 6 and NFA 4, so there was a three-way roll-off for rank. PL got Sergeant, MJ got Colonel. WG was playing Trooper Moe (Calculating), MJ was playing Colonel Rackman (Meticulous), and PL was playing Sergeant Webster (Crazy Smartass). Interestingly, the Colonel started with only 10 kills to his name, and ended with the most (30, IIRC). Also, this meant the aliens on this world only had an AA of 3.

PL asked how many other guys were in the squad and I decided there were a half-dozen.

-----

The Mission

The squad was awoken from cryo-sleep and told to get their asses to the situation room, where they were filled in on the said situation. I'd sketched a crude map on a piece of notebook paper, and used that throughout the game to sketch more crude maps and illustrations of the bugs, their queen, etc.

Lieutenant Brooks made it clear to them that they were getting the inglorious duty of playing nursemaid for Company B because they were complete fuck-ups, and not to continue in that fine tradition. He explained their Mandlebrites had been modified to compensate for the higher gravity and heat-conditions on the surface, then told them to get to the drop pods.

-----First Scenes & Encounter

I had them roll NFA for the drop and the higher gravity or lose their lunch inside their suit. The Colonel lost it and spent the first scene scrubbing out his helmet with sand, and experiencing the moisture-sucking dryness of the atmosphere on a first-name basis. So he popped a hydration tablet then put his still-stinky helmet back on.

Thanks to a fuck-up top-side, the squad was dropped in the shit-ass of nowhere, klicks away from Company B, whom they couldn't raise on the radio (more NFA rolls). They were in the middle of a depression in the desert full of Badlands-style rock pillars. The squad milled around until the Sarge cussed at them. Then the first encounter happened: a giant, shadowy, thing up high on a rock.

I pushed out just one threat token, everyone rolled. The squad ambushed the poor bugger(s). And then we spent a couple minutes actually figuring out what was supposed to happen, with some back and forth and rereading the rule, until we figured it out. I believe the Colonel got the kill(s). The bug dropped dead to the sand and they had their first good look at the aliens. They didn't know they spat acid until the next encounter, though.

Lieutenant Brooks tries to make it sound like it is the squad's fault command dropped them off-target and tells them to get their asses in gear and meet up with Company B at the caves. Unfortunately, the Sarge isn't having much luck inspiring (or threatening) any of his troops to triple-time (or even double-time) it in the searing blaze of the desert air. NFA rolls failing, and the Colonel is even bitching about how literally heavy his Heavy MG is.

-----Second Scenes & Encounter

Tromping through the desert, they reached the high ridge of a dune, where below they saw dozens of spider-things scurrying around. This encounter was awesome. I don't remember the exact rolls, and I think it was 5 threat tokens, but everyone was at near range. The Sarge commanded everyone to open up on the bugs, and then things just went to shit. The only one who made their FA roll was the Colonel, and the aliens succeeded at their AA. So the Colonel cancels to keep the aliens from succeeding.

WG stated that his gun was jammed, he was trying to clear it. NFA roll. Failed. The Sarge bellowing he should be able to take that thing apart in his sleep, trying to get over to Moe to trade weapons and fix it himself. More failed NFA rolls. And the Sarge trips in the deep sand, or on a rock, or over a trooper. Who knows. WG considered switching to grenades, but says, "Forget it" and keeps trying to put his weapon back together. More failed NFA rolls.

And the spiders are spitting acid that is turning sand into glass and melting rocks. The squad is falling apart. One of the other troopers takes a hit and starts screaming because the acid is eating right through his armor. The Sarge is hollering "Remember your training, boys!" Meanwhile, the Colonel keeps canceling successes in order to keep everyone from taking wounds, and describes it as holding back the alien horde by laying down cover fire with his Heavy-MG. He is finally able to lay down some righteous fire and make bugs explode. But no one else is having any luck with any of their rolls. Then the bugs suddenly just vanish (End Encounter ability).

One moment it is chaos and dust, exploding bug guts and flying acid, and then they're just gone. The squad never figures out how.

WG wondered if Moe could get his weapon put back together, and I told him to make another NFA: "Oh, NOW I make my NFA roll...Sorry, sir, sand and dust and flying gobs of acid, it was all so overwhelming. All fixed now!" The Colonel then helps out the trooper who was hit by the acid (NPC Trooper Rooths), prying the ruined plating off the suit, so the trooper can use his arm again, and wrecking his knife in the process.

There's some horrified whining by the other troopers about giant acid-spitting bugs and getting themselves killed, especially a guy named Stokes, and some colorful language by the Sarge telling them where to go and how to get there, including "If the goddamn army tells you to dig a latrine and then fill it back in, you will dig a latrine and fill it back in. Do you fucking hear me?"

The Sarge tries the radio again to get ahold of Company B, and hears himself? The Sarge finally makes an NFA roll. They find Company B's radio and bits and chunks of troopers and armor all over the place in the valley between the dunes where the spiders were swarming. They think it's all of Company B (really, it's hard to tell) and radio up to command that Company B is down. At which point Lieutenant Brooks puts on the "You are the heroes of Terra" schmooze and tells them to finish the damn mission and get the ore, it's up to them. The new mission specs are piped down into the Mandelbrite HUDs.

The squad picks through the remains for more gear (NFA rolls), but don't find anything useful, and heads out toward the caves.

-----Third Scenes & Encounter

I have everyone make NFA rolls to avoid dehydration; the Colonel fails which I state is a -1 until he can get himself hydrated, but he has to take his suit apart to do it. So he realizes he hasn't been getting proper hydration and needs to take the upper section of his suit apart in order to take some hydration tablets. The Sarge tells him to stay behind, with Rooths to watch his back, while he, Moe, and the rest of the squad head into the caves looking for the ore. Oh, and set up a perimeter with claymores.

The squad heads out, the Colonel takes apart his suit, and then suddenly spiders start swarming up the hill towards the cave entrance! IIRC, I used 3 tokens here. So, half-armored and dehydrated, he and Rooths start trying to mow down the spiders. The encounter almost ends in a stand-off, but finally the spiders start charging uphill and they start mowing them down until there are none left.

He finishes hydrating himself and loses the penalty, puts his armor back on, and then uses his new radio to get ahold of the Sarge, who sends two men back to help cover them. Then they finish setting up the perimeter.

-----Fourth Scenes & Encounter

Back in the caves, the squad can't locate any of the ore, but come upon a small cavern of bugs. 4 threat tokens. The Sarge tries to tell the squad how to take these beasts down (failed NFA roll to gain a +1 bonus), but the troopers just open up and spray everywhere. But it works out. Moe gets six kills, the Sarge does as well, and the rest pull their vanishing act. Some exploration reveals more bits of Company B strewn around. This time the Sarge finds himself an extra pistol with an NFA roll, but none of the ore.

-----Fifth Scenes & Encounter

This time the Sarge tells the squad to muffle it, but fails his NFA roll again, and they clomp around making less noise than a clown band as they head deeper and find a huge cavern full of bugs, with one giant spider-queen looming on the far wall, covered with lines of glowing energy and glowing spikes. As well as large crystals growing out of the walls that match the specs command sent about the ore. Thanks to the noise, the spiders have noticed them, but everyone is standing staring one another down. The Sarge gets on the horn and tells Stokes and Riviera to get back to the squad because they've found the ore...and trouble.

Everyone fails their Dominance roll and the encounter starts at Far range, with the last 6 tokens. There's hissing and spitting of acid, useless gunfire that can't reach the targets, and then suddenly painful mental probing. There is almost a standoff, but acid starts splashing the troopers and little bugs start swarming around them. The squad starts to freak out, the Sarge is yelling at the air as the queen demands, in her way, that the intruders leave or die. The Sarge is yelling, it is coming through the suit comms, and so the Colonel hauls ass, passing by Riviera and Stokes, who are deliberately dragging ass. Rooths is left (with the second radio) to guard the cave entrance. Moe lays down the cover fire and offs some bugs once they start charging the group.

PL comes up with the idea to have Sergeant Webster project mental images of peace and of the troopers just leaving with the ore. He makes his NFA roll and the spiders pause. The troopers are still bugging out, firing at the spiders, and I forget if he or the newly arrived Colonel manage to get them to stop firing with an NFA (they both tried, one of them failed). With a nervous "treaty" in place, the Sarge goes forward, the spiders part and reclose around him, and he discovers the spiders have laid their eggs in the ore crystals. Shit!

He nervously tries to remove the eggs from the ore, but fails (another bad NFA), and the spiders, already uncertain about him being close to their eggs, freak out. Another successful NFA roll and he manages to convince the queen he's not going to harm the eggs, they just want ore. Things calm back down to tense-as-fuck for a moment. One spider separates from the rest of the swarm and indicates a tunnel deeper into the cave system. The Sarge motions the squad to follow him carefully, makes another successful NFA roll and the squad doesn't break or snap and just start killing bugs. Stokes starts bitching again, calls the Sarge some names, and adds "sir".

The spider leads them down a tunnel to a narrow spot it can't enter, then skitters back to the queen. Inside is all the ore the squad needs, so the Sarge tells everyone to dump their backpacks and start loading up. The Colonel tossed the mitt and ball (which had been widely hated and joked about from the start) saying "Fuck that." They also left a field manual (Trooper Moe, because like he needs it, right? Please), some medipacks, and so forth.

-----Sixth Scenes & Encounter

Back in the big cavern, the spiders nervously surround the squad, hissing and drooling acid, but nothing attacks. The Sarge NFAs to keep the squad cool, but Stokes bumps into a bug and freaks out, punching it and swearing at it. They swarm him and cut him into bloody ribbons while turning on the rest of the squad. The Encounter starts up again with the 5 remaining tokens. Dominance is rolled and everyone is at Far again. The squad decides to flee, not fight, back down the tunnel, as the spiders try to crowd into it to get at them. Everyone makes their NFAs to escape except the Sarge. Trooper Moe decides to come back and fight (WG wanted to fight...so he could eventually take out the last threat token) until the Sarge bitches at him to run.

They both make their NFAs to escape, and the group meets up again in the narrow space the spiders couldn't get into. But their way out is sealed off by a horde of pissed-off, acid-spitting bugs. Nobody misses Stokes.

The Colonel radios Rooths and tells him to get ready, because there may be a whole world of hurt coming his way, and they're calling in extraction. After a few failed NFAs to figure out a way out of the cave system, they realize they are hopelessly lost. A colorful exchange with command (they're heroes...well, they have the ore, right?) nets them some thermal-imaging maps of the tunnel system it turns out none of them can read worth a damn (more failed NFAs). Despair set in because they were seriously fucked.

-----Endgame Scenes

PL decided to use a Strength to get them out of the cave-system, and narrated how his brother back on Terra had once buried him alive, and he clawed his way out powered by sheer hate and revenge, and kicked his brother's balls into his windpipe. The troops stared at him like he was insane, but once Shields told them what (he thought) the moral of the story was, they took heart and didn't give up and figured out how to get the fuck out of that hole.

An evac shuttle came down to pick them up, but Rooths couldn't be raised on the comms. The Colonel made an NFA roll to convince the pilot to do a flyby of the cave entrance, and pick up Rooths... Unfortunately, command had picked up a huge thermal burst on their sensors during the shuttle drop, and the only thing the pilot could see during the fly-by was dust clouds and heat-seared rock. Everybody missed Rooths.

The end of the game was a bit rushed as it was time to go, but back on board, Lieutenant Brooks yelled at them that it was a cluster-fuck, but at least they got the ore. Also, they killed a decent number of bugs for having lost all of Company B and two of their own, but the Sarge made sure the Lieutenant knew about Rooth's heroic sacrifice and demanded he be posthumously considered for heroic commendation. And that's how NPC Trooper Rooths earned himself the Crimson Sword and honors.

Then we did medals, weapon upgrades, and development checks. The Colonel pushed his NFA to 5, the Sarge double-bumped his weapons, and the Lieutenant told the squad to rest up because they would be heading towards Kandinsky, and don't fuck it up next time.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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greyorm
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2009, 04:04:58 PM »

I fully admit I may have missed the answers in either the book or in the other AP threads I've read through, and I apologize if any of the questions are actually rather "DUH!", but if anyone has the time I'd love some feedback on the confusions I outlined at the top of the above post. I've also tried to just e-mail Gregor directly about them, but the address keeps bouncing.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Jaakko Koivula
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2009, 11:34:34 PM »

I don't have the book with me and Im by no means an expert, but I guess I can hazard some guesses.

Im pretty sure that aliens can cause kills at any range. The GM just might have to get creative while narrating them. For example, burrowing ambush spiders that pop up from the ground and drag a NPC under and disappear, before anyone can even get off a shot. Or flying parasites of the big close-combat only aliens, that are so small that they don't even register on the kill-counters, but still cause highly infectious bites. etc. That would be my way to do it, I think. I have a feeling, that if narratively close-combat only aliens always would have to get to close range before they can do any damage, the encounters would be too easy for the space marines. Really not that sure about this. Would have to check all the combat rules again and how they work.

And if someone calls E-vac, then naturally the mission ends, even if there are threat tokens in play. Wouldn't be much point in E-vaccing otherwise, I guess. Not sure about using strength outside an encounter. I can see how it fit propably very well into the situation that you had, but as a general guideline, I feel that it would be like "wasting" a strength. I would have hit them with a final encounter and the last threat token would've been the big spider guarding the exit to the surface. Then they could have used a strength if they've wanted and get some kills for it too, or just blast their way out like men.

"Let's cut this crap and go straight to the next battle!" as one of my friends often says. If the NFA-action grinds to a standstill, more explosions!

If there are threat tokens in the encounter and the encounter ends for other reason than everybody dead, then yeah, the GM gets the remaining tokens back. Pretty certain about this. Again, wouldn't be much point in all those AA:s that help escaping otherwise.

About the bonuses and penalties I really can't say. Don't have the book here and haven't really thought about the issue before. Guess I should, hmm.

Hopefully I got even some of those right. How do you feel about those answers?
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Marshall Burns
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American Wizard


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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2009, 10:29:49 AM »

At one point we realized we were rolling FA at Far range, and everyone had a "0" for kills at Far. There was a moment of staring dumbly at each other wondering if that meant you couldn't roll FA at long, but we shrugged it off for the moment and continued. That did, however, make me realize I wasn't sure if the aliens could always attack at any of the ranges, or if that was a feature of the narrative design of the aliens. Anyone have advice? Did I miss a sentence in the book about that?

Aliens can cause kills at any range. They could have distance weapons of some sort, or they could just be darting in and out, or whatever.
0 Kills at Far means it's a waste of time to roll FA at Far; the only point of it, the only thing that separates it from the "--" found on grenades and contact weapons, is so you can upgrade it to 1 and then d6.

Quote
Also, the game ended with five threat tokens still in play. Sergeant Webster used a Strength to escape from the twisting caverns they had fled into from a horde of pissed-off bugs, and called for E-Vac. I wasn't sure if that could or should happen, mechanically (any of it: counters remaining, Strengths outside encounters, etc.), but I went with it because it worked in the narrative. Again, advice?

E-vaccing means the remaining Threat Tokens don’t matter, nobody gets a Crimson Sword, and the sarge gets shit about running away without killing everything.

As for Strengths outside an Encounter: using a Flashback allows you to change whatever was about to happen in the fiction. That can be useful outside of Encounters. While it may be more efficient to save Strengths for when you can take out a bunch of Tokens, it’s completely kosher and potentially useful to use them outside of combat.

Quote
We also figured that for bonuses and penalties you don't modify the die-roll, you modify the appropriate ability (FA or NFA). Thinking about it, I'm not sure that's necessarily the best way to handle it. Might be easier to reverse them (ie: +1 is a penalty) and add them to the die-roll. What do other folks do?

Doing that only increases your chances of success. Doing it the book’s way increases chance and potential degree of success. Being able to roll 1 point higher and still succeed can save your ass.

Quote
While writing this, I also realized I'm assuming something about Threat Tokens: if an encounter ends in a standoff, or the troopers withdraw/flee/escape, do you take all the tokens you had played back so you can use them again later? I'm assuming "yes", but not so sure that is definitely the case.
Yep.
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greyorm
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2009, 03:06:09 PM »

Thanks for the responses, guys! Very helpful! One question, Marshall:
Quote
Doing that only increases your chances of success. Doing it the book’s way increases chance and potential degree of success. Being able to roll 1 point higher and still succeed can save your ass.
Sorry? Doing which? I'm afraid I wasn't sure what you mean (as I'm not sure what "the book's way" is; I don't recall it saying more than "get a +1 bonus"...but it doesn't say to what: roll or score).

The reason we avoided adding bonuses to the roll is because while it increases your margin of success, it also increases your chance of failure (extreme edge case: you have a FA of 1, and get a +1...now you can't succeed because any roll will be higher than your FA).
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Marshall Burns
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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2009, 11:02:35 AM »

The book says to add bonuses to the stat. It's in there somewhere, but it's kindof hidden; don't have the book on me at the moment to give you a page number, though. Which means that chance for success goes up 10%, and your highest possible margin goes up by 1.

Adding to the roll, as you've noted, is nonsense because it makes it harder to roll under. Subtracting from the roll increases chance of success by 10%, but your margin drops.

Glad to be of help!
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 06:07:32 AM »

Hey Raven

Sorry just got to this as I was getting ready and then at Dragonmeet in London this last weekend. But now that's over I have a little more spare time so I'll get to these soon.

Ta!
Gregor
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2009, 09:43:38 AM »

At one point we realized we were rolling FA at Far range, and everyone had a "0" for kills at Far. There was a moment of staring dumbly at each other wondering if that meant you couldn't roll FA at long, but we shrugged it off for the moment and continued. That did, however, make me realize I wasn't sure if the aliens could always attack at any of the ranges, or if that was a feature of the narrative design of the aliens. Anyone have advice? Did I miss a sentence in the book about that?

OK, on page 75 in the Example of Play you can see that Jones rolls a 1 but does 0 Kills at Far Range, just like your case.

So why roll? Because in that situation if he'd rolled a success higher than a 5 (a 6 or a 7 in fact as his FA is 7) then he'd have beaten the enemy and been able to move himself to Near Range (or exit the Encounter by moving beyond Far Range). Jones' NFA is only 3, so rolling on that to move will work only 3 out of 10 times. Rolling on FA and laying down "covering fire" and hoping to advance behind it is a tactical move. It just turned out that even though he succeeded, his roll of 1 was too low to beat the aliens, and at Far Range his skill isn't good enough to cause a kill.

0 Kills does mean he injured the aliens if he wishes to bring that in, but no Kills and no Threat Token removal. See the Kills grey box on p. 19. If a weapon does N/A then it's not even effective at that range, so Hand-to-Hand couldn't be used to advance you from Far to Near if you see what I mean.

Also, the game ended with five threat tokens still in play. Sergeant Webster used a Strength to escape from the twisting caverns they had fled into from a horde of pissed-off bugs, and called for E-Vac. I wasn't sure if that could or should happen, mechanically (any of it: counters remaining, Strengths outside encounters, etc.), but I went with it because it worked in the narrative. Again, advice?

OK, so they were between Encounters with 5 Threat Tokens still uncomitted? Or were they in an Encounter with Threat Tokens committed to it, and 5 Threat Tokens outside of it? E-vac is on p. 89. Strength is on p. 24-27.

Fictionally you can call in "drop ships", "the air-cav", whatever, any time you like. They can come in and spirit the PCs away to an new scene. Crucially an E-Vac isn't that. It's an event that "ends Combat".

So, for E-Vac "[to] succeed the PC must be successful on a roll of NFA as part of the combat sequence ... If successful then all Threat Tokens from this encounter are discarded by the GM."

It does not end a Mission, except under one circumstance. The next sentence says: "If it is the final encounter then the planet is considered to be completed as there is no Threat remaining." Final Encounter means that there are no other Threat Tokens left outisde of this Encounter, right?

What was the Sgt using the Strength for? To escape from the twisting caverns? Cool! No need to roll NFA or anything, he used a Strength and that conflict at hand is resolved. They get out of there based on whatever Strength he displayed. But there are still 5 Threat Tokens left. A Strength outside of an Encounter removes 0 Threat Tokens. Zilch.

If it was an Encounter then it ended with the Strength and all the tokens in the encounter get removed. The "E-vac" in this case is colour too. It was the Strength resolving it. By the way I presume you didn't have anyone killed by the collateral damage an E-vac doles out? I think of it as a poor man's Strength when in the hole.

I think his intent was that you would initiate a final Encounter with the last 5 Threat Tokens and then he'd use a Strength to end it, rather then even risk rolling a die. That would have the same effect as what you went with.

Now, you as the GM could go with that -- "OK, I would have started an Encounter in the caverns and you just Strengthed out of it".

Or you could have said "OK, you use your Strength and you get to say what happens, but you don't get any Kills or any Threat Tokens removed -- it was outside of an Encounter". After that gets resolved and I would imagine some role-playing of why he "cried Wolf"", you push 5 Tokens on a final encounter: say on the ship at a de-brief or at the parade on the planet celebrating the final victory (oops, look like we jumped the gun on calling it over!).

Or you could say to the player "You might want to hold off on that Strength, it won't end the Mission, you know that right?" and leave the decision up to the player. I think that's what I would do.

I've seen players use Strengths when utterly prompted in the fiction. They don't care that using it between Encounters doesn't remove Threat or gain kills, the value to them is in winning the conflict in the fiction at that moment. "I was the one who got us out of the caverns!" I've also seen players who revile at the very thought of using one of these resources in a "sub-optimal" way. Both ways are fine and it depends on the player.

Does that make sense?

We also figured that for bonuses and penalties you don't modify the die-roll, you modify the appropriate ability (FA or NFA). Thinking about it, I'm not sure that's necessarily the best way to handle it. Might be easier to reverse them (ie: +1 is a penalty) and add them to the die-roll. What do other folks do?

I have FA of 7, a +1 makes that effectively 8 so that I can roll higher and still succeed.

While writing this, I also realized I'm assuming something about Threat Tokens: if an encounter ends in a standoff, or the troopers withdraw/flee/escape, do you take all the tokens you had played back so you can use them again later? I'm assuming "yes", but not so sure that is definitely the case.

Page 19, point 7 of the Combat Sequence (the final point) says you put them back in the pool unless specifically told not to.

Cheers,
Gregor
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2009, 10:00:18 AM »

Page 75, Combat Round 1 also has the "0" kills thing and Jones usefully cancelling rather than moving under covering fire.

And, aliens killing which I had forgotten to answer. Page 18, point 4 has it all.

On a success...
(AA) ...you cause a kill to each PC who either failed or rolled equal to or less than you, desctibe the ensuing carnage,
or you can...
cancel your won success... (etc.)


So, the Threat does not care about range, only that you are there..
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greyorm
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2009, 01:02:45 AM »

Many thanks for the replies, Gregor. I can see that some of it is simply things I'm going to have to work on remembering during play, which will come with experience.

To answer the question about the E-Vac situation:

What was meant to be the last encounter ended when the squad fled; I had committed the last 5 threat tokens to that encounter. I returned those tokens to the pool for the planet so I still had 5 left for another encounter(s). They became lost in the caverns and the Sarge then used a Strength to lead them out, calling for e-vac when they got top-side, since the squad had retrieved the ore they had been tasked to and no one wanted to fight bugs any more.

The player understood he wasn't getting kills or removing Tokens or "ending the Mission" by using the Strength. He was not thinking of the E-Vac in the sense of a game mechanic, but just as an escape, as you or I might think of it (we're done, get us the hell out). Those last 5 tokens might as well have not been on the table, as he considered the mission over and completed despite them and did not want to get into another combat at that point, nor saw any reason to. Though on board the carrier, after being praised for getting the ore, they were bitched out by command for failing to clean up the bug problem (ie: "Now we have to send another squad down to check things out and mop up!").

I wasn't sure if I should have pushed things and forced another encounter to use up those last 5 tokens when they surfaced or if it was fine the way it was. (Another consideration was that outside the game fiction it was getting late and time to wrap up for the evening; we didn't have time for another encounter after their trek through the caverns. PL -- who hosts at his house -- stated he was tired and we took the hint and finished up.)

More specific answers to that situation:

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What was the Sgt using the Strength for? To escape from the twisting caverns? Cool! No need to roll NFA or anything, he used a Strength and that conflict at hand is resolved. They get out of there based on whatever Strength he displayed. But there are still 5 Threat Tokens left. A Strength outside of an Encounter removes 0 Threat Tokens. Zilch.

Yep, to escape from the caverns. So that's all understood, and just how we played it. Thus there were still 5 tokens on the planet when they got out and called for pick-up. I wasn't sure how to stretch the mission from that point to again dole out those last 5.

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I think his intent was that you would initiate a final Encounter with the last 5 Threat Tokens and then he'd use a Strength to end it, rather then even risk rolling a die. That would have the same effect as what you went with.

By "his" you mean that player's intent? If so, no, not at all.

I suspect, even if they knew the rules better, from what I've seen in a number of games no matter if PL is a player or GM, he prefers to just roll dice, play with the fiction, and leave knowing what the rules actually do and how they work to others (and often ignoring them for fast-and-loose play). For example, he's become slightly frustrated with me if I point out his spells in D&D 3E can't work the way he describes their effects working, or if he ignores certain rules  (like potion-making limits) or wants to double up on effects (the equivalent of multiple Move actions in a turn).

Nothing necessarily wrong with that (he's used to old school freeform D&D), just pointing it out as why it is unlikely that was his thought process.

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Or you could say to the player "You might want to hold off on that Strength, it won't end the Mission, you know that right?" and leave the decision up to the player. I think that's what I would do.

That is actually what I did, but he didn't care. He just wanted to get them out of the caverns, and then figured "we have the ore, now I call in e-vac to get it and us out of here." It all made perfect narrative sense. Though thinking back, and this didn't occur to me at the time, I suppose I could have had the squad swarmed the minute they hit the surface and tossed the last 5 tokens at them again.

That wouldn't have changed when the Strength was used, though. Since the point of using the Strength was getting them out of the caves, not the fighty-bits or Tokens.

-----

We have played one more session since then -- kamikaze shadow things in an asteroid belt situated around a volcanic planet, the one they were supposed to make the drop to until the shadows started tearing up the carrier -- and will hopefully be playing again soon. I made a number of mistakes in that game, like not using the Alien Ability to its full advantage and going too easy on the characters. But live and learn.

The "OH CRAP! WE DON'T HAVE OUR MANDLEBRITES TO FALL BACK ON!" part was fun, as was the player-aborted attempt to get to the Drop Bay and their armor: "Is the bay clear? No? Well, we are NOT fighting our way through a mess to get there! Let's just circle around to the bridge." I was surprised, I figured they would push hard to reach the armor. The gun-fight in the cryo-bay was noteworthy, too (they racked up kills...a bunch of frozen soldiers. Shooting at shadows among the racks and racks of cryo-tanks = bad idea).

We may be playing again tomorrow night, and they'll finally drop to the planet they were originally briefed on, just prior to the shadow assault.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2009, 08:59:16 AM »

Oh, crystal clear now Raven. Great.

You know, when I've played it I think I've always used up all the Threat Tokens. When we're short of time I tend to blow them in big amounts on Encounters. When we have more time I am more careful with them and take my time.

I have left a planet before and had a final scene on a ship, and so on, and I think the reason for that was as follows. The players, in those cases for me, could see the Threat was still there to be spent and expected me to bring it. So I did.

If the players don't want to face that Threat and the whole group is "this planet is done for us, the story tonight is over, and we don't care that we left some Threat behind" then, yeah, I'd end the Mission with Threat unspent.

I do think that you have to consider that enemy unfinished business, though. Reincorporate them in, maybe even as potential allies if the Troopers turn, and so on. And I'd ride them pretty hard about running too (but that's just me).

Have you seen the free supplement "Disposable Heroes" in the Collective Endeavour Journal with its sub-missions? I'd make your group an E-Vac team on some future planet and have them hauling people out of holes all over a planet. The journal is free and has some new stuff for 3:16 in it: http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=59188

Thanks for posting!
Gregor
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 05:29:10 PM »

I was just thinking earlier today: you know, the real question is if the players say, "We're done here!" do you end it? And then how do you proceed? So, yeah, excellent. Thanks for the advice!

Also, yep, I snagged the journal some time ago, but thanks for the heads up. Great stuff in there and I've been looking to use it!
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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