I Love the Corps at Asgard Games

So last week I ran another I Love the Corps one-shot, using the Missions campaign characters. I ran the game at a gaming shop in Walsall, Asgard Games. My housemates are well acquainted with Asgard, having lived at this end of Birmingham much longer than I have, and have already gabbled on about the game to Vince (the awesome and incredibly friendly shop owner), so it was great to finally get to run a game at the shop, and meet Vince.

I had turned up the previous week to see if the usual campaign group were interested (the answer was ‘very excitedly so’) and I played a one-off character in their usual Savage Worlds campaign, as Vince suggested I joined in a game before running one, which seemed fair enough to me. I certainly had fun playing with the group, but they were mostly incredibly loud (which coming from me, is saying something) and had a lot of chatter going on and weren’t paying much attention to the game, so it was clear to me that running a game for them could be a challenge. But, they were enthusiastic, and I don’t back down from the opportunity to show people how I like to do RPGs, so CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

So, six of the seven I had played with the previous week had turned up to play, and also had another player. Good thing I had prepared two additional characters just in case! Now, when I usually run these shorter games, people are usually quite content to spend about 20 minutes familiarising themselves with the basics of the game and their characters. However, it took about an hour… mainly cos they all seemed pretty interested and wanted to know all the ins and outs of everything. A good sign, in a way, but I didn’t get started with the game till 8, and had till around 10.30 to get it done. Certainly doable, but with 7 players, many of which who seem to be very loud and easily distracted, I was a little worried about getting a decent game done in time…

I feel one of the initial things I found gratifying about this game was that even though it was seven men, one of them asked if he could play a female character, which the sheets are very much built for (since I only use initialled first names and try to avoid specifying a gender in the background). After that, the final player to describe his character then decided to be transgender, which is not only fine, but actually fit that particular background pretty well. We ended up with the ‘usual’ lot of the one-shots of Judge (the Sarge, as transgender), Helgreth/Bailiff (as a lady), Inquisitor, Verdict and Defendant, with the inclusion of grumpy battlefield surgeon, Jury and Warden, the unusual combo of heavy/sniper (uses a railgun with a lock-on feature and helmet modded to see in different visual spectra). Arbiter was the Friendly.

I started the game in the usual style for Missions, in documentary style… the players loved it, and it seemed to instantly really suck them into the game. Rather than me giving them interview asides, most of the time they were just asking for them at appropriate times.

They were sent on a mission to investigate a drifting spaceship of alien origin, see if they could recover any aliens (alive or dead) and/or any technology, and then blow up the ship behind them. As they approached the ship, they got a taste of a narrative scene, as their Friendly pilots navigated the field of debris, and the players either tried to discern more information about the ship they were approaching, come up with plans of approach or simply prepare to kick-ass. Not many dice were rolled; like most players in this situation, they were largely quite happy to go with their passive totals. The three marines using Sentry Duty eventually ended up rolling with active abilities to get more info once they realised what little information they were getting, and they could only use three Sentry Duty totals in the scene at most. Eventually, through coordinating their findings, they managed to work out that the ship (made from metal so dark that it was practically invisible, seen only from lights within a hull breach) realised that the lights they could see from within indicated that the hull had been tore open, was hollow on the inside and likely had emergency protocols, lights and likely defences activated. With this information, the Sarge ordered a landing on top of the vessel, near the main hull breach. I was quite pleased with this, since even though they were very noisy and excitable, they were quite happy to engage with the set-up and create their own story approach, and there was lots of communication between them at this point. And then, as things often go, things spun into disorganised madness… but in a thoroughly in character sense.

The Sarge and Inquisitor decided to make their own way into the ship, rather than make their way in through the whole and alert possible attention from internal security systems. Meanwhile, Bailiff, who was also worried about the internal security systems, thought making a new entrance was even more likely to cause unwanted attention. So, when Inquisitor’s (AI Guided) plasma launcher went to fire, Bailiff tries to knock the weapon so the shot misses… unfortunately, running into a mech in zero-g, proved to be a bad idea for Bailiff. I got to give the players their first taste of an action scene and showing how action doesn’t always equal combat. Bailiff’s player spent a Glory Point, as she was sailing over the ship, travelling towards its centre, to grab onto a convenient piece of hull fragment. The Sarge then used their grapple gun to grapple onto the metal, but started to be dragged across the ship. Verdict managed to hold onto the Sarge and keep him, as well as the tightened grapple wire, fragment and Bailiff in place. Warden tried to grab onto Verdict to pull Bailiff back, but it didn’t seem to help at all. In the end, after much struggle, panic and some hilarity, Defendant saved the day quite by just sending his drone to mag to Bailiff and pull her back. In a moment which very much summed up the Sarge’s Defining Trait of Nutjob, they then decided to place a demolition charge right where the squad were gathered, with pretty much zero warning, as they set it to detonate. The action scene continues as each character needed to use their abilities to oppose the effective Target Number of the Sarge’s own weapon. Everyone did fine… except for Defendant. But since I didn’t want someone to really die so early to the Sarge’s own over-eagerness, and I had control of Arbiter, the Sensitive, as a Friendly, I used her telekinesis to throw Defendant clear of the blast. Many of the players seemed shocked about the instant heroic sacrifice. Jury’s player, as Jury had developed a fondness for Arbiter, spent a Glory Point to specify Arbiter as dying rather than dead, as her contact armour coated her in protective foam, and she is flung into the medic’s arms. Then things got worse; as Bailiff predicted, this action warranted some notice from within, as a flying, alien robot with two underslung laser rifles hovers out of the hole, and opens fire at the squad.

The squad predictably opens fire on the drone with active abilities, quickly realising that that can be a bad idea in ILTC, when your enemy is opening fire, and can use that as their defence. Bailiff takes a hit, but due to being blast armour with a Hardened Shell, through a combo of being heat resistant and having high Hardass to reduce the effect, escapes mostly unscathed. Josephine, the battle drone, is not so lucky, as she is blown to pieces. (Inquisitor also gets his plasma launcher crippled by  a laser beam.) Being vulnerable to the Tech Failure Horror, Defendants starts Losing It… the player opts for the Horror of Kill ‘Em All. Jury and Warden retreat behind a cylinder they found extending from the ship, Jury treating Arbiter enough to keep her alive without her dying at the end of the scene, and stores her safely in his hab-tent, with Warden watching over them both. The other marines exchange fire with the drone, and though they can hit it, most of the shots are doing very little against it. So the Sarge gets a crazy idea (of course) and jumps onto the drone, wrapping himself around it. He then pushes his flare gun against it and fires. Now, the machine has immunity to the attack, HOWEVER, Success Levels from beating a TN (or effective TN, in this case) can still be used for other benefits… so he breaches the armour, allowing others to bypass its immunity if they get an attack of +3SL or more. And then the machine plunges back into the ship, with the Sarge attached. Defendant leaps down after it, not to save the Sarge, but because he is really intent on revenge for his drone. Inquisitors uses his thrusters and jets down to save the Sarge, flying at the robot, as it just dodges his punches. Bailiff then attaches a drop-harness, and drops down after the Sarge. Her hail of shots do nothing, but she manages to extract the Sarge and pull him out. Jury asks Warden to watch over Arbiter, grabs Warden’s railgun, runs over to the hole, fires at the machine, and blows it up with a lucky shot. Verdict, stood at the hole as well, sees more incoming and opens fires with his laser rifle. He can’t quite get the distance on the enemies, but laughs as their lasers strike him and he shrugs them off (in heat resistant armour, and as a Hellworlder, is heat resistant, which stack to give him heat immunity in armour). The squad are clearly going to be overwhelmed in moments, so the Sarge orders everyone into the dropship. The dropships swoops down into the ship after Inquisitor, Defendant and the Sarge, as the others pile in. The Sarge Glory Points more (nuclear) demo-charges and an explosive charge begin enough to end the scene by taking out one portion of the ship. Then Defendant, gone utterly crazy, spends a Glory Point to kill HIMself as he propels himself with the Sarge’s blast to fly into the ship’s plasma drive…. leaving the dropship caught in between two explosions as it picks up Inquisitor. Warden Glory Points to detonate repeated foam grenades to create a protective shell around the ship… and that’s how to rapidly finish a game with five minutes left. And bear in mind, that was through the player’s actions, rather than me speeding things up.

And there we are; a successful game. Yes, I did have to nicely ask (or gesture) for them to be quiet and listen a few times, but that applies to many. Certainly went down a storm.

Latest ILTC Promo Games

So, this Monday, and Sunday last week, I ran some games at the local Manaleak shop. It’s a decent gaming space, with no need to pay or book to run games (though I came along for their Sunday Fun Day and RPG night, respectively, and made sure they knew I was coming). Whereas most gaming shops seem to struggle for space, and don’t seem particularly welcoming (especially if there is a game going on, and people stop to stare at you as you walk in) this was a much more open, welcoming environment, and both the staff and the gamer/customers there were very friendly. It was a relaxed atmosphere, and fun to run games in.

Since I had lots of unused character sheets printed off for the incredibly quiet Strategy, I decided to run some more Missions one-shots.

Game 1

For the Sunday game, I had three players, and two of them were not only new to role play, but also very much on the quiet and nervous side. The other players seemed to have some RP experience, but I think because the other two were new to it and a little awkward, none of them really leapt into it to begin with. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

The squad was Verdict (axe-wielding space barbarian), Inquisitor (charismatic mech pilot) and Arbiter (multi-discipline Sensitive), whilst I handled the Sarge. I used my usual tricks to establish the narrative and characters, but since no-one wanted to describe their own character, let alone do character dialogue, I decided to try and throw them into the action instead. This was a good choice. The player of Inquisitor helped when the rest of the squad jumped via drop-wire out of the dropship, whilst he ordered the pilot to land (for the safety of his charge, Arbiter)… on a collapsed jungle canopy. The joy of relying on Friendlies who do not have dice rolls! The players suddenly started to get into as soon as they nearly crashed and died. Two characters had to leap out of the ship, whilst the other had to avoid said crashing ship.

Now, originally, in this story, they have a Drogan escort to add some tension to the mission, whilst they explore a Drogan jungle or a crashed human spaceship for survivors. However, in this case, the Drogan became the direct antagonist of the piece, which worked, since I didn’t have time to do the full story (due to an impending Magic draft the others were playing in). Now, this Drogan was rather infuriated about one of the marines not only crashing their getaway, but also crashing ANOTHER human ship on Drogan territory. Suddenly, the players actually started role-playing once the alien started ranting, and Verdict decided to try and punch him. That didn’t work so well. Inquisitor and Verdict at least tried to deal with him non-lethally, but the humongous, encounter suited alien wasn’t going down in a fist-fight. However, though they couldn’t hurt them, there was a character with 5 Powerhouse and another with insanely high Grease Monkey for mech piloting. They used their success levels to disarm him of his plasma launcher (could choice), knock him backwards, smash him down through a tree trunk and then pin him under more trunks. Then Verdict dropped in an incendiary grenade. This hurt the Drogan, but also freed him from his prison… so Inquisitor used a Glory Point to disintegrate him with his own plasma launcher.

This was just a short taster session, but good enough that the two players new to role play immediately asked if they could play again (even though Arbiter didn’t get to a whole lot due to being grappled onto by Inquisitor for most of the action scene). Arbiter’s player, Keith, did return the following night, and got to shine as Verdict instead…

Game 2

For the Monday game, I had four players, plus a spectator for the end half. Though I had the Return of Keith, the other three players were experienced role players. Whereas I struggled to get people to get into the narrative and character moments to start with in the previous game, I had no problem with this group. They were very appreciative of the descriptive documentary style I used to speed events on, narrate events and give characters little character establishing asides as ‘interviews.’ I had Arbiter, Inquisitor and Verdict once again, joined by the first female version of Bailiff I have seen. (I write the characters as best as I can to be gender neutral when using pregenerated characters, so you can pick the gender you are either comfortable playing or you feel works for that character). Once again, I played the fruitloop Sarge, Hauser.

The game went down really well. Inquisitor and Arbiter had a fun, slightly crazy father-son relationship, Verdict praised the sun as much as possible, and Bailiff quipped at every possible opportunity. And there lots of suitably crazy antics for Jurisdiction squad.

Since I only had 2 hours to do a decent game, I was once again went for the simple but effective ‘Routine’ prison train scenario. Though nobody looked towards the front of the train, no-one was able to prevent the train crashing, and most marines received (non-lethal) injuries when the train derailed, Arbiter was aware of movement outside, and we had a perfectly horror movie moment when Inquisitor refused to acknowledge Arbiter’s concerns just before the train then derailed. Verdict ended up (due to dancing to music to pass the time, then the train crashing) with his axe through one of the stasis pods. Verdict detached a S.L.U.D.G.E machine (established by the narrative to be formerly attached to the wall), dragging it over to try and block the breached pod, whilst Inquisitor, Arbiter in tow, ended up in the mutant carriage, trying to fix the problem, whilst most of the characters were unable to see anyone outside, since only Arbiter saw any movement. But everyone’s attention was alerted when a sniper fired at Arbiter’s face, though the reinforced window saved him. Meanwhile, the Friendly Sarge was left dramatically alone in the Psychic carriage…

Arbiter empathically sensed two people outside heading for the Mutant carriage, and two heading for the Psychic carriage. The players started preparing abilities for the approaching Hostiles, then Bailiff opened the door out of the carriage, opening fire on the nearest two rebels with prepared Collateral Damage. Though Neutralised, being in ballistic resistant armour, they survived with severe injury and flattened against the side of the carriage for cover. Bailiff then got to carry on firing with new abilities, and though the cover protected the previous targets, the two rebels approaching the back door of the other carriage had no cover. She breached the helmet of one of them, exposing them to the vacuum and injured the other. The sniper shot at Bailiff, but was unable to make much of a dent against Bailiff’s armour with the Hardened Shell upgrade. She goes on a quest to safe the Sarge, after the remaining rebel in the second team staggers aboard his carriage, leaving the others to deal with the other two rebels and the sniper.

Verdict exits the train through the hole created by tearing the vending machine out of the wall, dragging the machine with him. He sets it up as cover, ducking down behind it when the rebels scouts and sniper inevitably attack him. Arbiter spends a lot of time trying to empathically pinpoint the sniper, but is struggling to do so. Inquisitor meanwhile is infuriated by the attacks on the life of his charge. He ends up using his AI controlled plasma launcher to blast through the wall at the rebels, but though their cover disintegrates, the blast doesn’t harm them, and they just move further down the train to avoid being struck. Arbiter uses his telekinesis to pin them down to the floor. Then Verdict uses the low gravity to toss the vending machine at them…

Bailiff goes on a solo mission to save the Sarge, opening up the door into the next carriage. The Sarge, despite being a Friendly with no dice rolls, is in a bitter firefight stalemate, since he has cover to protect him and the enemy has penalties from being Compromised and Neutralised. Bailiff decides to go into close combat… with no Powerhouse score. This means she only got the benefit of a dice roll… and rolled a 1. Even with a penalty, the Hostile had a high enough ability total to toss Bailiff out of the carriage, where they bounced away due to the low-g. The rebel closed the door again, and started to release the coolant pumping into the pods to awaken the psychics. Baliff redirected her momentum, bouncing back to the carriage, shooting the rebel dead. The Sarge however, was very much panicking that the rebels were about to be released.

Ridiculous spending of Glory Points occurred, for the shot-up S.L.U.D.G.E (Synthetic Liquid Universal Dietary Extract) machine to spew out S.LU.D.G.E into the vacuum as it tumbled through the air. These pieces of SLUDGE froze, freezing into spears (which I termed ‘sludgicles’, which riddled the two Hostiles, before the vending machine crushed them. Inquisitor picks up a sludgicle, impaling it through the visor of a rebel, before activating his Mech THRUSTERS (an upgrade) and launching off to aid the Sarge and Bailiff with their technical problem. Meanwhile, Verdict had just removed his only cover…

Bailiff Glory Points for a massive Collateral Damage total for as many Success Levels as possible to increase the Blast area of an EMP grenade to try and take out the stasis pods, in order to lock them. This takes out 6 of the 8 pods. The Sarge and Bailiff continue to panic, since the awakened psychics, even if locked in their pods, could still interfere with their minds. They are just about to knock each other unconscious (to give the psychics no conscious minds to detect) when Inquisitor flies in. He spends a Glory Point to find a convenient release for emergency coolant, to refreeze the psychics. Hooray! That just leaves the sniper…

Verdict is shot repeatedly. But due to being a sitting duck, takes the Shock and Awe Horror, and starts Losing It. He strides ahead at the sniper. Arbiter, having located the sniper empathically, uses his telekinesis to throw Verdict at the sniper. Verdict, unaware of what is about to happen, and Losing It, is readying his plasma grenade to throw, as the Sensitive throws HIM. He ends up punching his plasma grenade into the snipers mouth, as they are both disintegrated by glorious plasma fire.

The end.