Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mecha Against the Giants 5

Thanks to scheduling difficulties, my group had back to back weekly sessions of Mecha Against the Giants. There's a possibility of three sessions in a row, but the regular GM may be back for some random Dungeon Fantasy stuff instead.

Interrogations, Plans, Poison Gas

We ended last session with the defeat of the giants guarding Isentor Bridge. This session started with the pilots interrogating the giants, and finding out very little that they didn't know before: the giants aren't very bright, and they don't conduct a census, so the various giants are completely unsure of how many giants or even giant tribes have invaded. The pilots did manage to learn that the giants are more established farther to the east, and that there are some working forges producing advanced plate harness that the captured giants would sometimes trade with. They also learned that in a few days, there would be a big feast and strategy session at the local giant chieftain's fortress.

They did some math and figured it would take them less than two days to return to their base at Muken and travel from there to the probable location of the giant fortress, and that they were also a little low on fuel. So they headed back to restock and restore. They improvised some heavier shields by riveting multiple giant shields together (I am officially dubious about this but it hasn't come up so far) and Nate decided he wanted to home brew some poison gas shells for his mech's artillery mortar.

If I'd been thinking a bit more clearly, I would have just said no, because the gas ground the game to a halt twice: when it was proposed, there was a flurry of looking up things in rulebooks and arguing, and when it was used, there was a huge flurry of dice rolls and making notes. This was one of the times when having access to a huge GURPS library was something of a difficulty, since I knew that somewhere in a book I owned there was a listing of realistic, low technology poisons. I just couldn't remember which section of which book. Nate eventually found the reference (somewhere in Low-Tech) and after some discussion, decided to weaponize lime. That entailed a separate discussion of how poison damage should scale with size, which never was entirely settled to anyone's satisfaction. I really should write a post about that sometime.

Eventually things resolved enough that we could move in play, and so we moved to the next scene: the big, wooden fortress of a giant chieftain.

Big Wooden Fortress

I described the fortress as under construction: currently made entirely of timber as a temporary fortification, but being reinforced with masonry and concrete as the giants had time. There were three gates, and two watchtowers, each guarded by a couple of giants with crossbows as well as a guy on overwatch in the watchtower. Finding all this out was mostly handwaved, since the mechs explicitly have access to reconnaissance drones.

The players debated strategy for a bit: approach quietly with their camouflaged vehicles, or snipe the guard towers from a distance? GURPS detailed rules came in handy here, since there's a convenient table for how loud gunfire is and how likely people are to hear it in High-Tech (and I know where that table is, having pondered this question during prep). After a while, everyone decided to just sneak up, murder the guards in hand to hand, and then evaluate the situation some more.

Which they proceeded to do.  Kevin's character pushed up a gate slightly, then stabbed the giant that came to investigate and throwing his sword at that giant's partner. Ted's sniper used a javelin to take out the overwatch in the guard tower. In a bit of hilarity, Nate reflexively used hand gestures to co-ordinate the attack, only to be brought down by Kevin pointing out, "we have radios."

They proceeded to move to the other two gates and basically repeated this process, each time saying "surely, the giants won't fall for this trick again." The giants made some poor rolls to detect an ambush, though. In one case, a wary guard moved back to cover the other giant investigated the door, but the pilots had two guys inside the fortress as well as a guy outside, and the wary giant moved himself into "throw a javelin into the skull range" without realizing it. The giant in the other watchtower was sniped from the first watchtower, and since the giants in the main hall didn't know what gunfire even was, they failed their roll to "hear" it.

With the external patrols dead, the pilots moved to deal with the main hall. They didn't know what was inside it exactly, except for a lot of giants. It also had three doors, and they put a mech on each of the side doors and the last two on the main doors. The plan was pretty simple: use the gas mortar shell to disrupt and disable as many giants as possible, and then shoot any giants making for the doors.

Nate opened the main doors, and saw a long hallway to a main chamber filled with giants: four or so massive giants, a half dozen or more large giants, and twenty or thirty of the smaller sizes. The gas shell caught them all by surprise, but the giant chieftain had Combat Reflexes and a lucky roll to resist the gas, and ordered his troops out. Most of the giants were to charge down to the main doors and attack the intruders, but the large and massive giants were to go through the side doors and flank the intruders from outside the building. The pilots braced for the attack.

I'm simplifying what was really a huge number of die rolls: stun checks for forty or fifty giants, recovery checks, checks to avoid breathing poison gas, and so on. Things really slowed down for a few minutes here.

We only played through a few rounds of the combat, but things were already going poorly for the giants. The two massive giants closest to the main door charged down the hall toward it, but were gunned down by automatic weapons fire. The massive giant on the west side caught some 25mm rounds to the vitals and died instantly. On the east side, the giant warlord was smart enough to cover the door with his crossbow as it was opened, but not fast enough to win the contest of Waits against the ritter pilot with an autocannon. (Even though the rules for Cascading Waits are clearly listed in Martial Arts and I knew that, I spent a minute searching for them in a sidebar instead of the main text). Kevin walked fire between a couple of giants, and while he didn't kill the warlord, he did cripple a hand and a foot, more or less taking it out of the fight. The warlord's last crossbow shot barely missed, but barely is good enough.

For some reason, I think I've seen this before
The map at the end of play. Blue dots are the PCs, orange circles are active giants, and most of the rest is dead giants, especially near the gates.
The pilots' big problems in the next few turns are going to be dealing with the last few large giants from the main hall without getting overwhelmed by waves of reinforcements coming from the outside barracks that they never cleared. I expect it will be a lot of fun.

What Next?

I'm really hoping that one of the mechs will be badly damaged in this fight, because I want to get the PCs out of the mechs for a dungeon-crawl. I have a back up railway to make that happen if necessary, but it will be more organic if there's a badly damaged vehicle in need of repairs.

After that, I've got plans for a quick, less than one session episode, maybe some "political" stuff, and a grand finale that I'll need to flesh out as it gets closer. I'm not preparing too far in advance because I don't really need to and I have other things to do with my time. But this game has been a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to continuing with it.

1 comment:

  1. I told everyone we should have cleared the damn out buildings.