I Love the Corps: Geek Retreat 1

So, yesterday, I did my first of what will be (mostly) once a month visits to Geek Retreat on the 1st Sunday of every month (when I am free, which is most months this year). I turned up a little later than intended, but not late in terms of the event start time. Three intended players were already there, and in not too long, two more players turned up. Considering the event had only been advertised online this week, and for several days with the event day wrong… not half bad. Five characters out of six were played, and being that one player really foolishly, pointlessly but gloriously killed themselves about halfway through, it meant I had a spare character to chuck at them. I wouldn’t ever say a game went perfectly, BUT, it did go exceptionally well. Considering the short amount of time to advertise, the two month gap since I was last at the cafe and the fact that this was the first attempt to do a promo and an RP session on a 1st Sunday at the venue, I couldn’t have asked for better.

So, two of the players (David and Chad) had played once before, and were very firm about playing again when I last saw them and kept to their word. I did discover, however, that ILTC was Chad’s first RPG. This isn’t a first for me, but it is always a pleasure to have the game you created be someones’s formative RPG experience, especially when I had no idea at the time. This says something for both the accessibility of the game and his knack for picking up the RP basics. David is clearly more experienced and really got into some very massively creative uses of the rules, which was great to test me and the system. Chad meanwhile generally opts for ‘gung ho’ as his play mode, which works fantastically. Though he suffered a relatively early character death from an awful roll combined with an unfortunately penalty and a highly risk manoeuvre, he took it with grace and a grin on his face. He then adopted the spare medic character, and pulled off some utterly insane moves that not only saved the Sarge’s life repeatedly, but turned him into a drugged up living weapon/mount. (This will be explained more when I get to the game highlights. Bear with me.)

Next we have James, who I have spoken to at GR twice before, and has specifically approached me with his (highly enthusiastic) intent to play the game. He decided to let me pick the character; due to his level of excitement to play the game, and his general presence at the table from the get go, I threw the Sarge at him… because apparently only children ever want to pick the Sarge. He embraced the role wholeheartedly and really played to his brief. He’s adamant that he’s going to play at the UK Games Expo on Sunday, which being that he is volunteering the rest of the weekend, is a great privilege for me to hear.

Then we have Sam and Trevor, who were both new to the game. Sam really dug her heels into the game and was the exceptionally kickass murder-monster that all women who play ILTC seem to become (okay, not all, but most tend to go for the most aggressive characters). She had some cracking plans and some fantastic descriptions and stole the show many times. She was telling me that she has been telling friends outside of Birmingham about the game, and was insistent to get me some more players from further afield at the UK Games Expo, so here’s hoping I can get at least some of those last spaces filled by a good bit of word of mouth.

Trevor seemed to also have a good time, and was very much into embracing the style side of the game in everything he did. He did, before the game was entirely over, express that he likely wouldn’t play again. He only had experience of Pathfinder, and I didn’t take it as a knock; they are utterly different kinds of game, and sci-fi is not everyone’s thing. At the end of the day, when you design something, not everyone will like it.

However, I then finished the game, and he changed his mind. It turned out that his misgivings seemed largely just because he felt his thunder had been a little stole, which wasn’t the fault of him, me, the game or anything else, just a case you get sometimes in any game, when a player plans to do an amazing thing… and somebody else gets in first. (There WERE  a lot of Glory Points flying around, which is a sign of solid cinematic RP all round.) But, he got to save everyone’s ass at the end, and then spoke with me about his other finer moments, and this seemed to turn him around. So extra victory there I think. They say they’ll all be back next month, and I don’t doubt it. Several character concepts for a campaign were already forming as I was on my way out…

Also, an honourable mention for the gent whose name I did not catch, who insisted on spectating, and was clearly having a blast. He sat and listened to the whole game and was very complimentary. (I think he felt too tired to play effectively, but not complaining at having an audience.)

And finally, time for some spoiler free…

GAME HIGHLIGHTS

  • A Glory Point being used to remote operate a drone, killing 14 different rebels with one single ability total. And then the sniper finished the last two.
  • When all the rebels were dead, but the knife specialist wanted to describe finishing one off as they were staggering backwards, just for cool.
  • Taking a rebel by surprise… and decapitating him with a vibro-knife.
  • When a Glory Point was used to blow out the plasma engines of four rebel dropships (which I gave a Disadvantage for Rebels where you can ignore armour with a +3SL shot, which in this case was used to blow an engine per +3SL, due to the sniper’s Eagle Eyed/Sharpshooter combo and aimed shots) as ‘rock you like a hurricane’ randomly played in the background at the perfect time. Their callsign was Hurricane, by the way.
  • Remote operating an aerial recon drone through three dropwires to drop three rebels to their deaths.
  • Rolling to throw a plasma charge, a close (not thrown) weapon, with no total, a -2 penalty… and rolling a 3. And accidentally disintegrating themselves in mid-air.
  • A Glory Point being used for dramatic editing to explain a rocket failing to hit three exposed marines due to throwing a knife at it…
  • The crazy Sergeant standing in a doorway, wildly firing at a bunch of 20 rebels, and somehow not getting shot. Only to then take a chunk of flying masonry to the back of the head that damn near killed him. Oops.
  • The medic leaping down onto the Sarge’s shoulders (with paracoils) and slamming syringes through the sealant foam covering the hole in his contact armour, stopping him being Compromised by injecting drugs directly into his brain.
  • The medic essentially being the Sarge’s jockey, using Drop and Give Me Fifty and Get Down! (which lets you use DGMF to save others from attack) to constantly move him into cover away from gunfire.
  • Remote operating a spy drone on the Sarge’s shoulder to grab a chemical grenade, leaping through air with it and triggering it mid-air.
  • Kinda feeling sorry for the rebels as they get shot at by a druggle-addled berserk Sarge, tear gassed, blasted from above by a drone, and then shot THROUGH THE WALLS by a Sharpshooter sniper with an armour piercing battle rifle.
  • The medic riding the Sarge like a sledge at the last rebel.
  • Swinging the Sarge wildly to defend from attack.
  • A marine was facing off against a rebel, realising the rebel was more than a standard rebel, as their fingers pressed against the marine’s visor, turned into claws, and started to push through to the skin. AT THAT VERY MOMENT, this chorus played… “What if I say you’re not like the others, what if I say you’re not just another one…” as Pretender by Foo Fighters plays (in real time, again at random).
  • The Sarge trying to get a high enough Sentry Duty to deliberately turn Psychic… they didn’t, of course. But they did get some HANDY PLOT HINTS via mind probe.
  • Saving a marine by shooting a rebel in the dick.
  • The drug-enthused Sarge, hopped on adrenaline leaping through the air with the medic, landing in a Glory Pointed ‘conveniently appearing dropship.’
  • The knife specialist, describing calmly sitting down on the dropship, as three enemies board. They play ‘Bodies’ through their helmet, as each number is called, and a knife hits and knocks a rebel out of the ship.
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