Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mecha Against the Giants Session 6

My group's regular GM vacation was unavailable again this week, so we continued on with Mecha Against the Giants. Specifically, we continued the big fight against a giant fortress filled with giants.

Further Experiments in Overpenetration

I had cleverly pre-rolled all of the HT checks for poison and IQ checks for recovering from stun for all the giants, and just noted down when they would activate. That didn't simplify this battle, but it sped up play a bit.

The pilots continued fighting the giants in the main room, using automatic weapon fire to take out multiple foes at once. They quickly realized that their guns could reliably penetrate at least one giant and still disable a second, and that with some luck, a single APDS round could kill 3+ weak giants if the giants were obliging enough to line up. So that's what they started doing: trying to see how many giants could be killed with the minimum number of bullets.

On the east side, Kevin quickly discovered that his pilot, highly specialized in melee weapons as the regimental duelist, was not skilled enough to shoot multiple foes in close quarters. He switched to melee weapons as multiple strong giants started charging him. He dodged a slam attempt, and the giant punched through the wall behind him, opening up the northeast room in the great hall complex.

At this point, the observation drones alerted the pilots that the various giants in the barracks along the exterior walls were coming out to fight. There were some cries of dismay and a change of plans: instead of holding the doors from the outside while killing all the giants in the main hall, the pilots would have to move into the main hall and use the doors as choke points against the coming waves of reinforcements. The south team moved north, Ted moved east, and Kevin found himself dodging into the armory through the hole in the wall, killing the vulnerable large giant as he went.

Kevin found himself to be in something of a bad situation, since there was a second large giant with a 24' long, 500 lb greatsword to duel, and Kevin's 80 lb katana was liable to break on a parry. This brought up a quick discussion of GURPS weapon scaling rules, but I stuck to my argument that every version of those rules is bunk, and weapon weight scaled with the cube of relative size. That had always been my mental model, and it was simple and not entirely insane. So Kevin was somewhat dismayed to be fighting someone who forced him to use his relatively low Dodge instead of his excellent Parry, and who could reliable damage his ritter through his armor, and who had enough armor that Kevin's swords couldn't penetrate for much damage. It was going to be a long duel, but Kevin did have superior mobility and could murder any of the weak giants that were coming around as reinforcements.

The other three pilots moved toward the center of the main hall, shooting giants as they went. Nate fired into a cluster of giants surrounding Adam, killing off several and bouncing a spent shell off Adam's armor after it went through a giant. Apparently, not all overpenetration is good. Ted killed off the rest of that bunch, and then killed 5 of the giants coming in from the east with 3 bullets, relieving some of the pressure on Kevin.

The situation at the end of the session. Hordes of orange giants are approaching from several directions, but also getting shot. The pilots are converging to the northeast. Most of the giants that started in the main hall are dead.
Throughout all this, the Giant Warlord had been lying on the ground, shot through the hand and leg by Kevin. He was still shouting orders, positioning the reinforcements to act as flankers, and Nate decided he'd had enough. On the last two rounds, he jumped over some tables and started kicking at the Giant Warlord. Amazingly, the Giant Warlord managed to parry those attacks, and after the second one he managed a Grabbing Parry (I didn't understand the rules on his first try, and missed the opportunity to use a Leg Grapple because I hadn't read Technical Grappling closely enough). This led to a "what happens now" question, which spawned an interesting blog post. Fortunately, the game ended there.

This was a very fun session, with lots of crazy but awesome things happening. The players had set up a good plan to defeat their enemies, but the waves of reinforcements (coincidentally focused on the east side of the map, near Kevin) forced them to change that plan and forced them to move to keep from being defeated in detail and to keep Kevin from being overwhelmed. As a GM, I find that's its hard to set up a situation where one person in the group is separated and about to be overwhelmed, but it's very exciting when everyone else needs to figure out how to break off from fighting their current foes and rescue an ally.

What Happens Next?

The giants are going to lose the next time we play: that much is pretty obvious. If the Giant Warlord had two or three uninterrupted seconds to deal with Nate, he'd smash him into the group, sit on him, and start pummeling him for damage through his back armor. But Ted or Adam are going to shoot the Giant Warlord well before that happens, and there just aren't enough giants nearby to stop that from happening. The thirty or so remaining small and normal giants may get some damage in, but the PCs are faster, better armored, better armed, and fully capable of killing them just by running them over, so those giants aren't really a threat.

Kevin will probably take another couple of hits, one way or another, which is good. He's already taken enough damage that I can justify my scenario to get them out of their mechs, but every additional point of damage makes it more plausible. That will set up the ultra tech soldiers go dungeon crawling storyline, and everyone is looking forward to that.

Awesome Gaming and the Risk of Inaction

There's a theory of gaming that says all victories should be hard fought, with the PCs out of resources and only winning after a clever plan, audacity, and luck. This game isn't like that: it's an escapist game, where the PCs outmatch their foes at every turn and are rarely in real danger.

Though they aren't in real danger, they are in potential danger. What I'm looking for is stories that start with "If you hadn't..." If Nate and Ted hadn't shot up the giants around Adam, Adam might have been defeated. If Kevin hadn't ducked away from the onrushing giant hordes and if Ted hadn't shot the nearest five, Nate and Kevin both would have been in a bad shape. And so on. The PCs are aware of oncoming peril, but thanks to their awesome skills and abilities, they can nip it in the bud. If they don't act, though, things will go very bad fro them.

The combination of easily overcome but very real threats makes for a fun and exciting game. And gaming, in the end, should be fun.

Want to Join?

I set up this game for myself plus five gamers, and for various reasons, it's being played with myself and three other people. There's space for another player or two, if this game sounds fun and exciting.

We play irregularly on Wednesday nights (Central Time) for about 4 hours. You need a working Skype voice connection and the free MapTools software to play. Email me at if you're interested.

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