Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mecha Against the Giants: Session 3

Mecha Against the Giants was supposed to be an intermittent game, but some scheduling difficulties with my online group's nominally main campaign means that I've had the opportunity to run it three weeks in a row. Which is good, because I'm excited about it and it's silly and fun and it deserves some momentum. I'm still looking forward to getting back to the regular game next week.

Continuing Technical Issues

Last session, I had technical issues because I was at a hotel and couldn't configure the firewall. For this session, I was back home, but a new cable modem had arrived from TWC while I was away. Of course, it had some obscure firewall requirement that I hadn't realized, and I had to spend half an hour mucking with settings before it finally let people connect to MapTools.

We Return to our Regular Programming

Since the response to my introduction of politics last session was muted and displeased, this session was primarily a big combat set piece: the giants are on the other side of a really big river and they've captured a bridge. The mech pilots decided to recapture the bridge, as a preliminary step to making some deep penetration raids against the enemy.

We started by resolving some lingering issues from last session: interrogation of the captured giants, execution of same for war crimes, and picking up some loot. The interrogation didn't reveal much, but now the pilots know there are multiple tribes of giants and that one of the chiefs is building a fortress to the south.

The execution was a bit of a puzzler. A couple of the PCs have Soldier's Code of Honor, which requires following the laws of war, and executing PoWs is usually a war crime. We reread it quickly, and the disadvantages specifies that the laws of war only apply to honorable enemies: dishonorable enemies get the bullet. Given that the giants were attacking a refugee column with clear intent to eat the civilians, we all agreed that the giants weren't honorable and they were decapitated. I could have gone either way, and was willing to handwave the creation of some really big manacles, but it was nice to have a clearly defined solution in the game rules. Even if it was a little blood thirsty.

The guys with Throwing Art wanted to pick up some mecha/giant sized swords and axes to throw at people, because uprooting trees apparently takes too much time. Fair enough. In practice, the giants don't know what autocannon are and thus don't know to try to dodge out of the line of fire (and none of the giants have survived to tell anyone), but thrown axes are something they can understand and defend against.

The Big Bridge

The map for the bridge was huge: over 200 hexes, at 5 yards to a hex, makes it over a half mile wide. The river itself was some 60 hexes across. As soon as I made it available, I got asked, "hey, what happens if our mecha fall in the water?" Since I'd already established the mecha as being electrically powered from a back mounted generator, it seemed reasonable that they could operate without the generator for brief periods and were fully submersible. There was a briefly discussed plan to wade the river and attack, but since most of the giants were on the near side of the river anyway, it was skipped.

We ran through the first 10 or so turns of the fight. There were 4-5 groups of giants, spread out on the fortifications on the near side of the bridge and on the bridge itself. One group of 8 was closely clustered (within 20 yards of a central giant), and the pilots opened up the fight with a cluster shell from the artillery mech's 160mm mortar. That didn't actually kill any of the giants, but it knocked about half of them down and hurt them.

After that, I fast forwarded through the next couple of seconds, since everyone intended to mostly engage at melee ranges. The giants realized they were under attack and moved toward the mechs, and the mechs moved toward the giants. Two of the pilots split off to engage the wounded giants who were closest, and the others continued on the main road toward the bridge. The original plan had been something different, but it got adapted on the fly.

The usual shenigans ensued: the weapon master dueled a couple of giants, including a large giant that was pretty difficult to take down but eventually lost a leg and got killed. The ace pilot had picked up a two handed axe and was swinging it wildly, and got in some lucky shots (and took some damage from a surprisingly lucky hit). The artillery mech used his weight and speed to just body slam a small giant, reducing him to a red smear.

My favorite moment came at the end of the session: the gunslinger had been leading the way toward the bridge, and a half dozen giants had closed in on him, surrounding him and cutting off his forward movement. He calmly drew his gun and fired at three of them, killing all of them - and since his shots were to the vitals, one of the giants even went down to -5xHP in a single hit! I don't think I've ever really seen that happen against a significant foe in all my years of playing GURPS. It was a very cool moment - and it was only later that I realized that since he was using non-explosive AP shells, it's very likely that the shot went through that giant and on to kill or wound someone else. It'll make a nice point to start the next session.

Really, everything gelled together in this session to approach most of what I wanted from the vehicle combat in this game. Everyone had a better idea of what the mecha could and couldn't do, and how much the restrictions on ammo usage mattered. The lesser giants were safely dispatched with melee, and the modern cannon were used to thin out clusters of giants. I was very pleased.

What's Next

More of the same for the next session, as they continue fighting their way across the bridge and tangle with a 30' giant (who is currently menacing them with a enormous repeating crossbow).

After that, Mecha Against the Giants will probably go on a hiatus as we return to the main, dungeon fantasy game. I'll keep plotting and planning, though. I do want to get the pilots out of their vehicles (though not to fight giants!): some TL9 versus TL2 dungeon-crawling is something that I want to see in action. I don't know when I'll get to that, but I'll prepared for when it happens.