Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mecha Against the Giants Sessions 11, 12, and 13

So as part of the Great Summer Blog Hiatus, I forgot to write session summaries for Mecha Against the Giants. We have played a bit, and we finally got to the big scene I've been waiting for, so let me summarize.

Beware the Dead

When we left off+Theodore Briggs had just poked a couple of dead dwarf corpses  that got up and objected to him. There was a brief exchange of combat, but the pilots backed off quickly. I guess the gold wasn't that important after all. The dead dwarves didn't want to be disturbed, and  they were okay with not being disturbed. After the pilots backed off, the dead dwarves laid back down on the floor.

The Ancient Fortress

The pilots then turned to the next bend, and found an ancient dwarven  fortress carved into the cave walls. A massive pile of rotten troglodyte corpses, filled with crossbow bolts and carved up by heavy chopping weapons, lay in drifts before the fortress. On the walls above, a couple of improbably armored dwarves (DR 18!) stood in watch, pointing their empty crossbows at the pilots.

There was a brief discussion of what to do, and I think a bit of inconclusive fire. The dwarf's helmets were thick enough to bounce carbine fire, and had thick wire grids across the eye slits that made the usual tactic of aimed shots to the eyes impossible. Stymied, the pilots pulled back and the players debated.

+Kevin Smyth  reasoned that they had access to dwarven armor from the dead troglodyte hero, and  that everyone pretty much looks the same if they're wearing 70+ pounds of steel plates. So he went  back, put the armor on, and knee-walked up to the fortress door, pretending to be a  dwarf. This worked, to an extent, in that he got to the fortress door without being attacked. Sadly, his Acting skill was not good enough to hoodwink the golems up close, and he discovered the flaw in his plan: the armor was heavy and bulky enough to impair his combat abilities. He was still faster than the golems, so he retreated while everyone else put down some covering fire.

The golems chased them out of the cavern again. Everyone passed the point of pursuit, restocked, and reloaded. The new plan was pretty straightforward: get in close and disable the dwarves somehow.

A Fortunate Mistake

At this point, Kevin noticed he had a Move and Attack technique on his character sheet, and started using his Move 7 to get behind the dwarves and kneecap them. Normally, I don't allow uncapped melee Move and Attack, because it's too unbalanced and confusing, but I figured I must have   changed my mind due to the escapist nature of this game. After the end of that session, I reread my notes and realized I'd let him buy it off for Ritter combat, not for personal combat. Sadly, the damage was done.

Between several of the dwarf golems getting hit with mud to the eyes, a couple of bolas that knocked them over, and Kevin kneecapping them, the dwarf golems stopped being combat effective fairly quickly. They were fairly easy to render combat ineffective, but hard to destroy completely, so the fight was becoming a bit tedious. Eventually, I just handwaved the end of the fight: there were another 4 golems coming as reinforcements, but they weren't going to do anything so who cared?

Alternate Solutions

At one point, the players asked me how I had intended to solve this particular combat challenge. I admitted that I really didn't have a solution in mind: sometimes, as the GM, it's interesting to put an improbably difficult fight that has hard counters to the PC's usual tactics and see what comes out of it.

After a few moment's thought, I did admit I would have solved it a  different way than they did. The 25mm rifles that their mecha carried could easily be dismounted from the mecha and put on a cart. It would have been hard but possible to manhandle the cart through the mine (the 25mm rifle weighs about 250 lbs). They could have used a pick axe to mine through the back wall of the fortress, which would have aroused the golems' ire but left the golems coming through a narrow tunnel in the cone of fire of the rifle. The golems were tough, but 25mm APEX rounds would have taken care of them very easily.

When I said all that, there was just a moment of collective silence from the players. That was a level of bloodymindedness that I don't think they were anticipating.

Things That Worked, Things To Change

Overall, the high-tech dungeon crawl was a lot of fun, so much so that it's going to be the focus of our next campaign. A couple of things didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. If I were going to do it again, I'd give the dwarven axe-armor golems ammo for their crossbows: without it, they just weren't effective enough against the PCs. And I'd definitely go back and reread the rules for everything, like the trolls that I messed up. Of course, I always tell myself to reread the rules closely and I rarely do.

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