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.