Sunday, August 21, 2016

Nu World Session 8

My goal for this session was to a have solid, engaging, scavenger experience with a little role-playing and possibly some combat. It didn't exactly work out the way I planned, but everyone seemed to enjoy it and that's the most important part. This was the eight session in my Nu World After the End game.

Cast of Characters

Nate wasn't able to make the game, so I ruled that Rabbit had got sick eating some of Wash's radioactive ratdog jerky and was lying ill in the back of the truck.

Looting an Abandoned Compound

I started the session by telling everyone that Redfrost knew about an eccentric gearhead who had lived in a fortified compound outside of the ruins of Boston. He'd died in the last set of raider attacks, and his compound was available for looting. Redfrost didn't have the skills to loot the place by herself (for one, she's a city gal and wouldn't be able to get there safely) but with the help of the group, she thought it was a good place to find the electronics they needed to trade to the computer at Uxbridge Farms to get information on where to revive the astronaut in hibernation.

The PCs started in the woods on the north side of the compound, looking at a 8' tall wall of junk-reinforced wood topped by razor wire coils. Beyond it, there was a large house with a bunker on the roof. Closer inspection revealed there was an electrified line running through the razor wire, and a keypad by the front gate.
The compound, showing the outer and inner fence, the minefields,
the fields of fire for the crossbow turrets, and the house itself.

What I didn't tell them, but kept notes on, was that there were also 60 or so mutant raccoons in the woods around the house who'd been prevented from overruning the house by the various automatic defenses. Loud noises and other breaks to stealth by the PCs would attract the raccoons' attention, and a scouting group would arrive and summon more and more reinforcements. I didn't really have a great plan for this, but I figured I could run some kind of siege or something.

"I blame the Rev for this!"

Redfrost hotwired the keypad at the front gate, though not very well, and didn't realize that there were two separate security systems that could be deactivated. As it was, she turned off the minefield. Then she picked the lock and opened the gate.

Wash blew a bunch of Perception rolls at this point, and failed to notice the mine field or any of the other defenses. Ben'n did slightly better, and at least noticed a set of trail markers that indicated the safe path through the minefield. Feeling confident, he stepped through the gate and heard a clicking noise from the bunker on top of the house. A second later, he was diving for cover as a crossbow bolt came flying out, narrowly missing him. As soon as he was beyond the gate, the automated system stopped firing.

There was a quick consultation, and then Wash charged down the safe path. Two automated crossbolt turrets began firing at him, and I quickly discovered that they sucked. I was using by the book standard designs, which have crossbow-12, and even with aiming, they had almost no chance to hit a target 40 yards away. They only had a 50% chance of hitting a target within 15 yards! So what was supposed to be a deadly automated defense that would easily prevent anyone from traversing the yard turned out to be a joke, and I complained bitterly and then increased the weapon skill slightly but it really wasn't a big deal. In another bit of comedy, Wash's Danger Sense failed to detect that he was in a minefield, so he ran down the path without worry.

Wash had dropped at the interior fence that indicated the end of the mine field, and there was some shouting back at forth. He got up and ran for the garage, and Edwin and Redfrost followed. Ben'n almost did too, but all the excitement had summoned the raccoon mutant scouting party, and Ben'n didn't see them but heard them moving around in the woods so he stayed with the truck, planning to drive it into the compound after the crossbows had been eliminated.

Edwin and Wash had made it down the path safely, but Redfrost took a bolt to the gut and dropped. Edwin then jumped on the roof, ran up to the bunker, and started destroying sensors and machinery. Redfrost was just barely alive, but she held on until Edwin finished and then Wash and Ben'n rescued her and performed first aid.

"That's Not What I Intended, But We Can Do That Too"

The PCs then easily broke into the house. I mean, they had to check for traps and pick locks, but all the defenses were on the other side of the fence and they got in safely. Inside, they found a huge house, full of junk and loot: several workshops for inventing, various junk, and a couple of bedrooms. After some brief discussion, they settled down to loot.

Redfrost took the lead as the scavenger, and found several major finds, an amazing find, and a stash. I took suggestions for what they found in the stash. Eilmyn proposed someone in suspended animation, but everyone else nixed that idea on the grounds that they already had one. In the end, it turned out to be an ammo cache that included a TOW missile. I suspect I will regret giving the PCs access to an anti-tank missile, but I guess it lets them solve one big problem if they decide to use. I did point out to them that although it was theoretically worth a fortune, it wasn't really tradable in their usual haunts and the places that could afford to trade for it would probably steal it. So it's more of a one-shot plot device than an instance of fabulous wealth.

After poking around the place a little more, people began to talk about settling down, turning the compound into the start of a player base or maybe a trade center. Kevin asked me if that's what I intended when I set it up, and I honestly hadn't. I had intented that they would loot the place of valuables and move on, but the fact that they weren't doing what I expected didn't mean what they wanted to do was wrong. It was just different than what I had planned.

I did have to tap down on their enthusiasm a bit: a fortified compound in the woods wasn't nearly as good as they expected. It provided a lot of supplies for a small group, but there wasn't enough food or water to really convince a bunch of other people to move out of some place safe like Diamond City. But they could work to change that, I guess, and that'd be an interesting set of adventures. It would mean giving up on the astronaut storyline, but doing that would change the focus of the game, not end it.

Meanwhile, Outside the Gates

Although I thought the PCs had mostly forgotten about the noises in the woods, they hadn't. After looting the place, Wash had Ben'n turn off the electric fence and headed out to scout. His first attempt to scale the fence ended in a noisy failure amid the razor wire, and he took out his multitool and cleared out a path. Sadly, the fall was just noisy enough to attract the attention of the mutant racooons, and they took positions and prepared for someone to come out.

Wash eventually got a good look over the fence, and saw a horde of raccoon mutants. He turned around and fled back to the house, shouting for Ben'n to turn on the fence again. Ben'n got caught up in the junk in the garage, and one of the raccoons made it up onto the fence before Ben'n turned it on. Wash and Edwin shot that one, and the raccoons reconsidered the assault.

The PCs prepared to receive an attack, and the raccoons began shouting at each other over what a bad idea it was to attack the fortified compound. Finally, one of their leaders began negotiations: the raccoon mutants claimed the previous owner had promised them a lot of loot, and the PCs counter-claimed that debts expired with death. It went back and forth, with the PCs pointing out that the raccoons couldn't assault the compound, and the raccoons pointing out they could certainly ambush the PCs when they left the compound. Ben'n tried Diplomacy and Redfrost did some Fast-Talking, and the raccoon mutants eventually settled on demanding some shiny loot and they'd call it a done deal. The PCs promised to provide them hot lead.

That's where we left the game, with a plan to have a discussion over email.

Take It To Email

Over email, the PCs have apparently agreed that they want to create a settlement or a trading post at least. They're still debating what to do about the mutant raccoons, but they're moving more towards "pay the buggers off" rather than "commit genocide." Though that may change. They're also planning to stay at the post for a week at least, while Redfrost heals and Rabbit pimps up the Power Wagon to have some gun mounts and hidden compartments.

Evaluation of Play

This session didn't go at all how I expected, but everyone enjoyed it and that's the important part. The useless automated turrets were very frustrating to me, as they made the main focus of the defense into a farce. I'd planned for the PCs to have to experiment and struggle to find a way past them safely, but apparently running very fast and minimzing their exposure was sufficient. Still, everyone enjoyed the game and everyone liked the idea of setting up a base, so I'm satisfied.

What Next?

One problem with this session is that I inadvertently wrote myself into a corner. It's not obvious to me what the PCs are going to do next: focus on forting up the compound? Grab some electronics and head to Uxbridge Farms? Some other random thing? As Uhuk pointed out, they all have severe cases of gamer attention deficit disorder, and there's a bunch of good things they could do. I had a good session here. I might not have a good session next time.

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