Friday, January 25, 2013

2300AD: Star Marines - Episode 5

“Who ever heard of someone getting their legs shot in an elevator.”
PVT Arben “The Noob” Johnstone, Dunkelheim, 2302

As gunfire died down and building and vehicle fires roared, the squad rallied just outside the entrance to the colony’s main petrochem facility. The squad members who were wounded received first aid and then Biff went to work on Ms. Green who had been nearly killed by the insane clown governor, the Sung having a highly advanced medical technology. Although she was soon out of danger, the corporate rep was barely conscious.

There were still some convicts hiding in the abandoned sections of the settlement, just beyond. One even tried taking potshot at LT Boomer but the round merely ricocheted off his armor. CPL Cusmano, who was still in a sniper position on a bluff overlooking the settlement, silenced that hold out.

It was soon discovered that there were five workers who had been kept prisoners in the colony petrochem facility. These were Texan civilians that the convicts had kept alive to make sure the well-head and refinery kept operating, probably the only reason the Kafers left any of them alive. The workers’ leader, Russ Katurian, told them that the Kafers had taken most of the non-convict population, nearly two thousand, off on the trains a few weeks after their occupation of the planet began. He did not know where or why they were taken.

None of the workers knew anything about running the maglev train, but said there were some German colonists who, like them, had been forced by the convicts to work for the Kafers. As the train was nearly ready to depart, they must have been somewhere nearby.

Fireteam 1 under SGT Korand was sent to find them. The first place they decided to look was the rail control tower overlooking the train yard. The Noob opened the door on the ground floor and the fireteam rushed in. Korand, the Noob, and LaPetre headed up the stairs single file. Machinegun Lenny, who was a little overweight and a lot lazy, decided to ride up the three floors in the still operational elevator, whispering that he would take any enemy in the flank this way.

LePetre warned him that the elevator could easily turn into a little square coffin.

Lenny responded, “Sure, you’re right, that’s what we call them in Lower Alberta.”

“Are there that many elevator shootings in Lower Alberta?” asked Gaylord.

“No, elevators are just dangerous there.”

“Probably because you piss on the them to turn them off,” suggested the Noob.

Concluded that he probably hadn’t made the best choice, Lenny decided to ride the elevator from its roof. However, as he attempted to climb there through an access panel, his bulk became stuck half-way through.

“Don’t worry,” said the Noob, “who ever heard of someone getting their legs shot in an elevator. Even if you do, it can’t be a major wound.”

“Yeah, but my balls are on that side!”

By this time, Korand approached the second story landing. He heard a small series of thuds and a grenade rolled down the steps towards him.

He ordered the rest of the fireteam to charge forward up the stairs. They were greeted by a hail of assualt rifle fire. Then the grenade exploded at the Noob's feet. Amazingly, neither the grenade or bullets penetrated their light armor.

Korand reached the top of the stair and confronted the convict there. Grabbing the goon's assualt rifle by the barrel, Korand shoved a pistol into the convict’s face and ordered him to surrender. The convict cursed him. The Noob had come up by now and shot the thug in the knee cap. The conivict cursed again. Korand shot him in the shoulder.

The sound of the grenade going off gave Lenny the impetus to free himself and he leapt onto the roof of the elevator. He soon opened the door to the third floor and jumped out into the hallway. He found himself on the third floor directly behind another convict who was too busy firing at the rest of the fireteam to notice.

Lenny struck at the convict with butt of the machine gun, knocking the convict down the steps, brekaing several bones on the way down. He landed directly into Korand and the rest of the fireteam and his wounded college.

By this point, both convicts decided to be more cooperative.

A quick interrogation proved that the convicts did not know how to operate the train but, after some persuading they revealed that two train workers were in a housing tower across the tracks. When this information was relayed to LT Boomer, the rest of the squad rushed the housing unit. The single convict guard, having seen the devastation that the squad had wrought on his cohorts, surrendered without a fight. The two rail workers, Gunter and Franz, were more than willing to help the Marines.

Fearing that the airstrike against New Lubbock could begin at any moment, the Marines rushed to prepare the two-car maglev train for the trip to Site Beta. The squad discovered that in the fight with the convicts, a stray rocket round had hit the Uranus armored vehicle, knocking out the drive train, imobilizing the vehicle. The heavy laser was still operational so, using a crane, it was loaded into the top storage bay in the front car. A couple of light mobility vehicles that the convicts had been using were loaded onto the rear car along with every small arm and round of ammunition that could be salvaged. An oxy-torch assembly was also loaded to cut firing slots into the thin walls of the passenger compartments.

Korand and the LT came up with the idea of disguising as convicts escorting captured Marines to the Kafers at Site Beta. They grabbed some of the less disgusting convicts’ clothes as disguises. The rest of the Marines were put in the rear passenger compartment with their weapons stacked and armor off, in case a Kafer patrol wanted to inspect the train.

They soon set off.

The fight in New Lubbock and its aftermath had used up precious time. They now only had about four earth days left to get to and back from Site Beta which was a good 300 kilometers from New Lubbock. Fortunately, Gunter and Franz were experienced and the train was soon reaching a speed of over 200 klicks per hour and should reach Site Bata around the time of the local sunset.

About 80 klicks out from New Lubbock, Gunter slowed the train. He told the LT that there was a tunnel through the mountain ridge ahead that was normally guarded by the Kafer.

The outpost soon came in sight: a large observation tower with a massive pulse gun stood above the tunnel. Several sandbag emplacements protected by barbed wire lined the cliffs around the tunnel. All the positions were manned by Kafers who looked surprisingly aware. Some Kafer officer must have been laying it on pretty thick with his baseball bat to get their adrenaline pumping to boost their intelligence.

Once the train stopped, a Kafer officer with two soldiers and a human translator approached the train. Korand went to greet them. The translator was a convict who was suspicious, not recognizing Korand. Korand cut things short and said he had Marine prisoners to take to Site Beta. This distracted the Kafer officer who demanded, in a harsh, clacking attempt at English, to see one of the prisoners for questioning.

The Noob volunteered, not realizing how Kafers interrogated their prisoners. Just as the Kafer began to slice into the screaming Noob, Korand interrupted and convinced the Kafer that the Marines were just common soldiers who would get smarter with the pain and stress of torture.

The Kafer told them they could proceed. However, he placed a Kafer escort onboard to make sure the Marines didn’t cause trouble. A Kafer junior officer installed itself in the drive cabin while another joined Korand in the observer’s position on top of the front car. Two more Kafers acted as guards for the Marines. Jutta, Naci, and the Texans hide themselves amongst the cargo mounted on top of the rear car. Gaylord, Sanchez, Biff, and the wounded Ms. White remained hidden in the Uranus vehicle.

The train rolled on and covered about 100 klicks in short order. A short distance outside of Neue Zweibrucken the train sensors indicated that a number of the magnets were out up ahead.

The train rolled to stop in a bleak area of desert between two big stretches of sandy kamelinsekt habitats. Korand and his new Kafer friend escorted Gunter and Franz to inspect the break in the line. They found several Earnshaw couplers on the main rail were out and would need to be replaced. Fortunately, as this was a frontier system, each vehicle carried spare parts and tools to repair the line.

Just as Gunter and Franz completed their examination, a high-pitched chittering was heard. The ground in the habitats on both sides of the rails began to collapse and dozens of the giant kamelinsekts began to charge out of the resulting holes. These grotesque mutations were close to four meters tall with razor sharp beaks and talons. They skittered rapidly across the desert floor towards the train.

Korand radioed into Boomer of the attack and began firing with his assault rifle at the oncoming bugs. The Kafer fully alerted now, joined him. Gunter and Franz ran towards the door to the cabin.

Boomer convinced the Kafer officer that only the Marines could help them repulse the creatures and asked that they be re-armed. The Kafer reluctantly agreed.

Gunter and Franz ducked into the cabin and Korand followed quickly after them. Just as the Kafer was about to enter, Korand shut the cabin door in its face. Before the Kafer could try to force its way in, the bugs were upon it.

The horde hit the starboard side of the train first. They soon began to tear gaping holes into the thin metal walls. By this time, however, the Marines had rearmed themselves and the Texans and Dunkelhiemers had emerged from hiding.

In the control cabin, the Kafer officer frantically squawked into a communication device, no doubt reporting the attack. It was cut short when Boomer fired his pistol into the back of the Kafer officer’s head. Boomer then smashed the communications device.

At the rear car, the Dunkelheimers and Texans began firing away at the bugs. At point blank range, even the archaic ammunition of their surplus assault rifles hit home, killing dozens of the bugs. Each death was met with an exhilarated “yee-haaa!” from the Texans.

Gaylord began to direct the laser at the bug, flashing them out one by one. Cusmanno began firing her grenade launcher into the black skittering mob, blasting legs off with each hit. Kubich fired some of their precious missiles into the crowd, knocking great holes into their black and grey ranks.

After a lengthy firefight, the bugs were killed or driven off. When they realized they were safe, everyone gave a cheer of relief including the two surviving Kafers who roared their relief to be still alive. Then Boomer’s voice came over the Marines’ com link, “Kill the Kafers.”

The humans’ guns roared.

Monday, January 21, 2013

2300AD: Star Marines - Episode 4

“I see no possible way in which tossing rigged explosives at the insane clown leader of homicidal convicts whilst telling everyone an orbital strike is incoming could possibly go wrong.” - PFC Gaylord LaPetre, Dunkelheim, May 2302 (SED)

While the squad members and homicidal convicts watched in surprise and horror as the block of explosives spun towards Governor Happy, SGT Korand lept up, and snatched it in mid-air, on the way down, he shoved it into the front of Happy’s baggy paints and kicked him forcefully under the surrounding walkway structure.

At the same time, the Noob, who had been a gymnastics star on his home colony, summersaulted over the circular bar in the middle of the room and landed behind one fo the thugs who was toting a flamethrower. With one fluid movement, the Noob amazingly snapped the convict’s neck.

Lenny bashed convict bearing the other flamethrower operator to the floor and readied the Squad Support Weapon. knocked out other guard.

Then Gaylord pulled out a second block of plastique, rammed a timer into it and tossed it onto walkway above his head. Unfortunately, it bounced repeated, finally rolling out of the front window of the bar. It fortuitously landed in the midst of the three convicts who stood guard at the front door.

In meantime, Jutta and Naci, Lt Boomer and Fireteam 2 moved up to the outskirts of town. Still linked by their comm systems, as soon as they heard the fight opening up, they opened fire on the convicts who were guarding the perimeter of the facility, knocking out the guards around the Uranus vehicle, in the towers, around perimeter of town. Boomer led Fireteam 2 up to secure the vehicle only to find it locked. In frustration, Boomer realized that Ms. White, who was in the bar with Fireteam 1, had the only electronic key.

Within the bar, SGT Korand next picked up a large metal table and swung it around the bar, bashing three convicts. He let go, hoping to knock out a ladder to the upper walkway but only narrowly missed downing Lenny.

Sanchez the merc, grabbed the flamethrower that was laying on the floor and fanned the flame on the upper walkway, killing one convict and suppressing the other three up there.

That was when the blocks of explosives went off.

Happy had somehow gotten the block out of his pants in time to save himself. BY tossing it away from himself, he managed to kill several of his bodyguards. The explosion at the front door killed all three of the guards there.

The convicts recovered from their initial shock and began firing at the party. However, the convicts got the worse of the exchange. While the rounds were flying, Governor Happy suddenly emerged from the twisted wreckage left by the explosion and plunged a huge knife into Ms. White’s chest.

She fell, bleeding out rapidly. Biff the Sung alien, avoided all the fire going on around it, ran to her, and began to apply first aid. Korand, who was nearby, picked up White’s beam rifle and fired it at Happy, missing the clown but knocking a hole in the thin metal walls at the rear of the building. Happy, seeing that he was outgunned, beat a retreat through the hole in the wall, screeching for help.

The convicts’ shots now began to tell. Both Korand and Gaylord were wounded. Then Sanchez yelled for everyone to duck. As Fireteam 1 dropped, she fanned the flamethrower out over the remaining convicts and the interior of the bar became an inferno who several of the convicts becoming horrible living torches.

Then the air was filled with the sound of engines as Happy reappeared aboard an armored truck surrounded by a host of heavily armed convicts mounted on a motley collection of vehicles. The convicts charged around the bar building, targeting Boomer, Jutta, and Fireteam 2 while trying to keep Fireteam 1 within the now burning bar.

Korand had run out of the hole in the wall and fired on these vehicles from behind. Jutta and Naci also opened up and the convicts were caught in a cross fire.

The convict vehicles exploded one by one. Finally, riddled with rounds, Happy’s big truck rolled to a stop directly in front of the doors to the bar. Fireteam 1 was just exiting the burning building and the Noob took aim with a grenade launcher he had picked up during the fight. He fired at point blank range, putting the final touch on Governor Happy’s reign.

The remaining convict vehicles, mostly motorcycles attempted to flee but were gunned down by Lenny who had followed Korand out of the rear of the building.

“I told you nothing could go wrong!” said Gaylord. He was the last to exit the building as it collapsed into a flaming ruin.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2300AD: Star Marines - Episode 3

As part of the Earth Forces' raid against the Kafer facilities on Dunkelheim, Lt Boomer and 1st Squad had been “recruited” to aid Ms. White, a representative of the Uranus Corporation, to recover corporate “property” at Site Beta which lay some 800 kilometers from the Marine drop zone.

Based on information from the local resistance, the maglev line originating in the Republic of Texas settlement at New Lubbock still seemed to be operational, under Kafer control however. A spur of the main line linked to Site Beta.

The group came up with the plan to drive overland the 500 klicks to New Lubbock and seize control of one of the trains and use it to infiltrate Site Beta.

They set off in the corporate scout vehicle. About an hour out, they encountered a single Kafer recon flying vehicle only to observe it fly into a hill side due to error on the part of the unawakened Kafer pilot.

Pilot Error

The next eight hours of the trip went uneventfully, except for Ms. White’s growing irritation at the endless puns on the Uranus Corporation name.

Further annoyance was caused by Biff (they can’t pronounce his full name) the Sung assistant the corporates had with them. The Sung are an intelligent reptilian race that was discovered in the Chinese Arm. After a brief war, they submitted to human domination in return for their “uplifting” to human technological levels. From a practical standpoint, the process of uplifting consists of making endless non sequitir inquiries into the nature of humans and their biological processes.

Then they saw the bug.

They grow them big around here

It was a perfect example of the indigenous kamelinsekt only instead of being a couple of centimeters in size, it was almost as big as the scout car. The group speculated from DNA modification to nuclear mutation as the cause of this prodigy but left the thing alone. The bug did not spot them and soon scurried out of their path.

The group then arrived at the outskirts of New Lubbock, around noon of the 40-hour Dunkelheim day. New Lubbock was a small Texan settlement of only a few thousand people. Before the Kafer invasion, it had been a penal colony with the prisoners being used to develop the petrochemical resources nearby.

The colony seemed deserted with a number of the buildings showing considerable battle damage. The group skirted the settlement to get to the maglev facility which appeared much more intact than the rest of the colony although it seemed equally deserted.

New Lubbock

Lt Boomer sent Fireteam 1 (SGT Korand, Gaylord, Machine-gun Lenny, and the Noob) and the resistence fighters, Jutta and Naci, to recon the settlement while he, Fireteam 2 and the corporate group remained with the vehicle in hiding some distance back.
Fireteam 1 took position on a mesa overlooking the rail facility. The mesa also contained a relay for communications satellites. Gaylord attempted to access the relay to determine what if any communications were occurring.

At the same time, a human figure appeared on one of the buildings and seemed to have observed the fireteam. His ragged appeareance suggested either a resistance member or refugee. Therefore Sgt Korand and the Noob approached him.

They seemed friendly

Several more of the ragged but well-armed locals appeared. Assuming they were resistance fighters who might help, Sgt Korand asked to be taken to their leader. The Noob volunteered that the rest of the team were on the mesa and Ms. White was “in back with the truck.” The locals told them to bring the rest of the group in.

While this was going on, Gaylord failed in every attempt to access the communications site, being able to determine only that a flash message had been sent out shortly after the locals spotted the team. He also couldn’t download any of the memory, track where it was sent or even shut it down.

Any job is easy with the right equipment

Machine Gun Lenny rectified this last point by urinating on the circuits. He noted that this is the way they turn off the TV at home. Gaylord then booby-trapped the relay station with a large piece of plastique.

(A new PC joined the group for this session and played one of the squad’s SSW operators, Machine Gun Lenny who had recovered from wounds suffered in the landings battle. He was an experienced Marine who loved to tell stories that no one believed and was from LA - Lower Alberta - there having been considerable changes to North American borders by 2300AD).

After this, the remainder of Fireteam 1 and the corporate folks join SGT Korand and the Noob in the maglev rail facility center. The LT and Fireteam 2 held their position out in the desert but listened in on coms. Jutta and her lone resistance fighter stayed in hiding on the mesa with a clear view of what was going on in the facility.

Once the corporate scout car was driven in, a very large group of heavily armed locals appeared from hiding and surrounded the group. It was then that they noticed that many of the wildly attired locals were sporting the bar code forehead tattoos that marked convicted felons in the Rep. of Texas. Although not disarmed, the group had slung their weapons and so were forced to follow the locals’ directions to see their boss.

They were taken into a large building that had been converted into a bar of sorts where they were introduced to the boss: Governor Happy, a huge, genetically modified serial killer in clown make-up. He let them know that had an arrangement with the Kafers to ensure that oil was shipped to the Kafers and that any resistance fighters would be killed or turned over.

He must be one of those "crying-on-the-inside" type of clowns

Although the Marines were not disarmed, their weapons were slung. Any attempt to draw them would result in them being blasted by the more than two dozen assault rifles and pair of a flamethrowers that were pointed in their direction.

SGT Korand, who is adept in …fabricating the truth, attempted to convince Happy that they were there to steal gold and other precious minerals being kept at Site Beta. With Happy’s help they could overcome the Kafer guards there and steal all that treasure. Korand even hinted that some of the more important convicts could be gotten off planet in a corporate starship.

At first Happy seemed inclined to merely torture the group into revealing where the gold was kept at Site Beta until Korand warned him that if the group didn’t return successfully to the Marine drop zone, a massive aerial strike would hit New Lubbock.

Happy seemed to buy into this whole notion when he remembered that he had alerted the Kafers to the Marines’ presence. Of course when he attempted to rescind the warning, he discovered that communications had been shut down Alberta-style.

So Gaylord was sent back up the hill to fix what he and Lenny had broken. He was escorted by two of the less bright convicts. Jutta was able to remain hidden and Gaylord was able to easily remove the booby trap he had placed and hide the explosive in his fatigues. He also fixed the relay station as well as sending on to Brigade HQ the fact that New Lubbock was being controlled by collaborators and producing petrochemicals for the Kafers.

Unfortunately, he unwittingly caused New Lubbock to move up on the Earth Forces list of targets to be destroyed.

Gaylord was the returned to the bar. He walked up to Happy and tossed the explosive into the clown’s lap….

This is not going to end well.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

CROM! First Try at Conan-style Adventure Rules

I recently picked up the Crom rules from Matakishi’s Tea House and decided to give them a try on a snowy Saturday.

The rules are simple, fun, and fit the genre excellently. One of the players said that they so gave him the Conan mood, he went home and watched the Arnold movie after he left.

The mechanics are quite simple. Each character has a pool of dice that, at the beginning of the turn, allocates the dice to movement, combat, or special (everything else, magic, opening locks, etc.). Sequence is by card but dice allocated to special can be used to grab the initiative to move first.

Whatever is rolled on the movement dice is the number of inches moved.

Combat is resolved by the attacker deciding how many dice he wants to devote to an attack and then the defender chooses how many dice to use for defending against the attack. Both roll and the higher number wins, inflicting 2 points of damage plus 1 point of damage for each “6” that is rolled. Hits reduce the number of dice in the pool.

Special tasks require target numbers to be rolled: “6” for an average task, “12” for a difficult task.

Movement, combat and specials can be done in any combination. A player may voluntarily give up a dice for the duration of the scenario to count it as an automatic “6”

Main characters have large dice pools while lesser figures have only a few dice to spend and may have specific limits on how they are allocated. Thus Conan has 16 dice to divide any way he wishes while an average minion has only 2 movement dice and 2 combat dice. This allows for the recreation of the heroes reeving and smiting huge hordes of minions.

Magic is mostly for summoning evil creatures from another dimension (Conan actually took place in the Cthulhu universe) and lots of special dice are needed, allowing for interruption by any mighty-thewed barbarian who might happen by.

The only thing we thought that might need tweaking is the missile combat rules. Shooting is handled by the same rules as combat, attacker and defender roll dice to determine who wins except if the attacker loses they don’t suffer any hits. Because the table on which the game is played is intended to be small, there are no ranges for bows and such, the only limit is line of sight.

In our game, this led to the one player who was running Subotai, Conan’s sidekick from the original Arnold movie, to become the team sniper. He set up on the nearest high point and knocked off minions and whittled down major baddies for the other heroes to finish off in hand to hand.

We talked about adding some range modifiers or even some additional dice penalty for multiple shots taken in the same turn. This was the only problem we had with a delightful set of rules.

The rules contain a mini-campaign of 5 or 6 linked scenarios and this is what we ran with some modifications. I had three players who ran Conan, Red Sonja, and Subotai. They later picked up the wizard based on the character played by Mako in the movie. The goal was to rescue a princess who had been kidnapped by evil cultists to sacrifice her as part of a summoning ritual. Along the way they had to find the wizard, an ancient crown and a magic sword to fight the great evil. The final scenario had them breaking up the sacrifice. Below are some pictures from the game.

Slavers' Den in Shem where our heroes must rescue a wizard (We combined a couple of the scenarios from the rule set here).

Slavers' camp

Harassing the wrong lady

A rather inhospitable house of hospitality

Storming the prison

Surprising a Snake Priest

"The key's on the wall"

An early archeological dig

Disturbed scorpion

Cavern of Ancient Kings

Wako ambushed by skeletons

Inside the tomb of King Kull

The jungles of Kush

The Dark Citadel of Thoth Amon

A princess in distress

Battling to the rescue

Demon from another plane

"My Hero!"

2300AD: Star Marines - Episode 2

When we last left off, 3rd platoon had fended off a massive Kafer attack rather handily. This was not without casualties, including Jutta and the Noob. Barely had the dust settled when Ms. White, an agent of the Uranus Corporation (Motto: “Things come out differently at Uranus” - see The Grove Tube.) showed up along with her female mercenary bodyguard, Sanchez (a PC).

All Sanchez knew was that they were there to recover some corporate property at a place called Site Beta, about 800 klicks from the drop zone.

Then her boss, Ms. White begins examining the dead Kafers and the wounded Marines. Any that showed traces of Kafer DNA, those who had been wounded in hand-to-hand combat, were taken up in the Uranus vehicle with the intention they be sent to a corporate lab for further examination. This action was met with pretty tough resistance from the remainder of 3rd platoon and only the guarantee of immediate medical care permitted Ms. White to take custody of the characters.

In the meantime, 3rd platoon, along with its parent company, were relieved from the perimeter and placed in reserve at the Brigade HQ which was located at an old mining facility that was at the center of the Drop Zone. After a brief congratulatory interview with the Brigade Commander, General Cloche, Lt Boomer went to see his wounded personnel. Realizing the Uranus compound would be under tight security, he took along most of 3rd platoon with him.

Before he could arrive, the Noob and Jutta began waking from the sedation they received during their removal from the battlefield. They awoke to find themselves in hospital tent. The Noob overheard some of the doctors discussing the DNA find in his blood and ordered both patients restrained out of concern that they might somehow be affected by their contamination with the new Kafer DNA.

That was when they brought the two Kafers in.

At first, the two aliens appeared dead. Then one began moving, unbeknownst to the medical staff. Unable to move, the Noob watched with horror as the Kafer Eviscerator broke free from its restraints and approached a doctor from behind. As it began slaughtering the staff, the Noob and Jutta let out cries of terror. SGT Korand, who had been outside the hospital tent, broke in and blasted the creature with his plasma rifle.

Lt Boomer and the platoon arrived at this point and demanded the wounded be returned. A firefight was about to break out with Uranus Security when the General arrived. He had a protracted argument with Ms. White.

Ms. White insisted that orders National Command gave her the right to take custody of any patient she wanted and also required the General to provide troops to support her efforts to reach and secure Site Beta.

The General was forced to give in. However due to the needs of his primary mission of destroying the main Kafer facilities on planet, he informed White that the only help he could provide were the personnel she already had commandeered. The General, not trusting White, assigned Boomer and 1st squad, to which the Noob and Korand belonged, to be her escort to Site Beta, a long drive away.