Monday, September 11, 2017

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 13 - Factory Investigation

Yesterday was a session of our Gamma World aka Gamma Terra GURPS game.

"Caveman" - demo/EOD
"Fatbox" - demo/EOD
"Hillbilly" - medical specialist
"Love Handles" - demo/EOD

In reserve:
"Barbie" - demo/EOD (MIA)
"Momma's Boy" - computer programmer
"Princess" - cryptographer/sniper
"Short Bus" - computer programmer
"Oinker" - demo/EOD

We opened in the ferry terminal, and gathered up a partial squad. Originally we'd expected seven, but illness took out one, change of venue a second, and schedule changes a third. So despite really wanting at least one computer specialist, a sniper for cover, and a machine gun in case of a large battle, we had none of those. We set out with just four plus our officer, who we eventually dubbed "Constable Crunky" after I suggested we use the box from some Ichigo Crunky Choco (which I'd brought to inflict on my fellow gamers) as a fold-up.

We set out at 6:00 am, when it was light-er out than at "night," in a thick blanket of red snow. Visibility was bad, but we kept a good pace. After a short walk the road ahead was blocked with a bunch of Pineys, those plant men we'd fought at the hospital. Maybe 50-75 or so of them were across the road, milling around.

Caveman signaled a halt and we talked it over. They're vulnerable to fire and being hacked apart. We waited a bit but they didn't leave. So Caveman suggested we make "spears" of the overgrowth, tie his road flares to them, and light them up as flaming polearms. We did so, and advanced on the Pineys. They saw us and formed a wall across the road. We kept going, shooing them back and to the sides with the polearms. That worked - they backed off from the fire. It became clear to us that they weren't sapient - more like fully mobile weeds than intelligent and hostile beings. We kept going past them, keeping our flare-sticks going just in case. We figured heat-sensing foes would be attracted but it was worth it to keep fire-fearing plants and animals away.

We eventually reached the split causeway, and saw a mech coming. It was garishly painted up with graffiti, like an 80's Bronx subway train. To the sides were three or four patrolling Little Thieves, with big hats, waders, and hawking gloves up to their biceps, plus really ornate weapons. On top rode three Little Thieves with Japanese dai-kyu style bows we ended up called yumis. As soon as we saw that I realized they definitely did not control the mechs, they just followed them. Why put three bowmen on top of a battle mech you control? They were riding and protecting them. Heh. But shooting people off of a mech was bound to seem hostile to the mech, even if it didn't know what to do with those guys.

So we called out to the mech with the bullhorn, which Hillbilly reluctantly returned to Fatbox.

Fatbox just said that we were incoming friendlies, and we walked up. The mech scanned us with its twin gun mount, but otherwise ignored us. The Little Thieves (LTs) were stunned and excited. Three of them started following us around, and babbled a lot. Hillbilly dubbed them Jawas (the Little Monks being "Ewoks"). Fatbox was happy to have worshippers.

We headed to the factory, stopping briefly to examine an area of nuked-out sand. The LTs clearly met them this side of the devastation, and the mechs walked through as evidenced by footprints in the sand. We followed the thieves down a narrow side path. That eventually led to an underground factory buried in the side of a hill, entered by an overhanging cave mouth guarded by dozens of LTs and three mechs. We went inside, and down a big Akira-style elevator to the entrance floor accompanied by two mechs and a lot of LTs. It was stripped of good stuff, and had one working and two non-working elevators. The working one had a disabled card reader, but still opened for us. The LTs were startled - they used ladders to climb down. We took the elevator. Hillbilly hummed "The Girl from Ipanema."

At the bottom we found some side passages but Hillbilly insisted and going deeper and straight in. We did so, and found a giant factory floor covered with rows of M.A.M.A.s, robotic arms for mech assembly. On the sides of the walls were wooden nooks accessed by ladders, full of LTs. Adults, kids, whatever. We walked past them, and saw big screens showing a beautiful dark-skinned woman. We met "her" at the end of the floor, where a few M.A.M.A.s had been moved. One was a throne for the android (a Mark VII they called "Vox", we gathered from their gibber-jabber), while another was playing chess against an absent opponent.

We met their leader (we think) - a four-armed LT who had an empath act as "translator." That got us a whole lot of nowhere, except that they wanted peace and we could stay as long as we didn't cause trouble. Sigh. Like that wasn't going to happen. We tried talking to Vox, but she was clearly malfunctioning - she gave us a spiel about the M3 Corporations mech-based solutions to our business needs, then spewed random code as if she'd glitched out, and then spoke different languages in bits and pieces. She didn't respond to our queries in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, etc. - if only we'd spoke Korean we could speak to Rainicorns, or Japanese so we could speak to robots, aliens, and giant monsters. Poor planning, really.

In any case, we eventually headed down to the lower levels, looking to see if we could turn on the computers. The place had power but no signals, and the big doors to the other mech manufacturing floors were closed and wouldn't open.

We searched the next floors and found basically three things - trouble, a computer room, and radiation. The LTs didn't come with us, which was the first sign of difficulty.

Trouble was on the storage floor, when about a dozen flea-like things the size of dogs jumped us when we disturbed their area. Hillbilly and Fatbox opened up full ROF on them but didn't hit more than once each, and in a second or so they were on us. They jumped on us and our guns. In a confused melee Love Handles had some of the metal on his M16 rusted and eaten, and Fatbox had his gold watches turned to dust and nom-nommed up by a rust monster. Caveman had one on his foot and shot it off with his SCAR-H, but then one jumped on his SCAR so he drew a pistol and shot that one off of it. He ended up in a Jon Woo movie dance with a couple, shooting and dodging, before finishing them off with gunfire and a stamp kick. Fatbox cut one apart with his chainsword and then cut another up off of his arm. Love Handles shook his off and had it jump right back on, and eat more of his gun. He eventually killed his, too. Hillbilly tore one off of himself, then got out Hoopslayer and shivved it. Another came up and got sliced up a bit, then a third jumped him and he ducked and sliced it up, too.

In the end we killed them all at the cost of some watches and a need for repairs to an M16. Luckily, only the charging rod was screwed up, and Fatbox real-world knew how to get around that (he's a former Marine), and we had the Armoury skills to back that up.

Next we found a computer room. It was blinking amber and had slots for 128 cards, with seven missing. Three were broken on the floor (and Caveman couldn't get them working). We took those three and a fourth good one as an example.

Finally we found a door with extreme radiation on it, according to our rad detectors. The door said Blah Blah Blah Reaction Kaskium You're Going to Die. Something like that. It had two swipe card slots. We handed out the non-medical cards to Love Handles and Fatbox, suited them up in the best NBC suits, gave them pre-attempt rad resistance pills and injections, and sent them in.

They got a few card swipes done, uselessly, before the radiation swamped their defenses - Fatbox dropped and Love Handles was woozy. As they happened we shouted to Love Handles to drag back Fatbox by looping an arm through his belt. Caveman had been ready with a rope and grapnel and slid it across and yelled for LH to wrap it around his arm. He was woozy enough to sorta-kinda follow directions, but managed.

We stuffed them with a full grey injector each and some red pens to heal up burns. We fed them post-rad treatment pills, too.

Okay, so that was a bad idea. We gave up on it - it was worth a try to see what was beyond the door, but with that much radiation it's only going to get worse when we open it. We could barely start a reactor with a manual and a helping hand, we're not going to safely deal with a damaged one that's still online.

We headed back up. We "talked" more to the LTs. Fatbox tried to get Vox to reboot or restart, but she didn't listen. That did seem to annoy the LTs, though, as they clearly listen to her and get guidance from her, if only in their own minds. Fatbox did get them to trade a black card with three white stripes (Intel/Med 3) for a watch, and Caveman got them to give him an ornate sword that is knife-sized for him.

We tried to find the chess master, and decided to camp out and wait. They gave us a place to stay. LH and Caveman stayed downstairs, while Fatbox and Hillbilly stayed outside counting mechs (I think we decided it was like 10, but it was late and I didn't write the number down, Caveman's player would know) and seeing if the chess dude was there. They said it was a guy with spikes who punched people. Okay. But all the guards wore armor with spikes.

The next day we gave up and left, figuring that maybe the Colonel would be able to help us with the computer. We were kind of frustrated since we had no clear way forward. They LTs indicated there were more mechs but beyond the big closed doors, and with the computer down those doors would stay so. They didn't have the computer blades, either, so now what? Maybe the campus had ones we could try.

So we headed out. We toyed with waiting for a mech for a ride, and in retrospect, that would have been the best move and would have answered so many questions about violence in and around them.

Suddenly we heard whistling, and Fatbox and Hillbilly hit the dirt (the other guys didn't want to waste 15 points on Combat Reflexes for some reason.) LH took an arrow in the face. Caveman took three in the chest and didn't even bat an eye. LTs - not Little Monks or someone else, but the guys we just left - were shooting arrows at us. We ended up in a brief firefight. LH took another arrow in the face. Caveman took one in the arm. Constable Crunky too three in the face and body. We shot back and took out two archers. We took cover and healed up and reloaded, and then all rose at once to cover all directions. Hillbilly saw an LT aiming an arrow at him. Oh, to **** with that, Hillbilly doesn't have Bad Temper and mild Overconfidence for nothing. Hillbilly used AOA (Determined) and shot full-auto back, putting two rounds in the guy but taking an arrow through his gas mask, wounding him slightly (4-5 points out of 24). We sent Crunky up front but then a beam of red hit him and melted a hole in him, and he listed to the side but stayed standing. Uh-oh.

We saw a gator-skinned spike-shouldered red-eyed LT with some archers at his side. We fired. Hillbilly assumed he was protected and shot an archer, and the others shot him. He had a force screen that deflected the bullets. We called out targets and shot down all of his friends, as he drew he swords and ran at us, yelling "Vox! Vox!" Ahah, the chessmaster, who Caveman called the General.

We fought a big melee after this. LH got out a rope and moved to the side, Caveman his knife Groot Wormslayer and moved to the other. Fatbox got out his chain sword and moved to engage, "charging" at Move 2 or 3. Hillbilly scanned the area, and once melee was joined drew a stun grenade and Hoopslayer and moved up.

The General used his radiation vision to shoot and his swords in melee. He and Fatbox had a nice duel, and Fatbox laughed off a sword slash to the chest and got a face full of radiation in return. He later slice his own arm up after a critical parry by the General, and dropped his sword. The General moved in for the kill. But too late - LH got behind him with the rope, Caveman jumped in and slashed his arm, and Hillbilly ran in and critically hit him with Hoopslayer. He shot off some spikes into Hillbilly but Hillbilly was going low for a takedown and dodged some and the rest pinged off his armor. We ended up with Hillbilly grappling his waist, but unable to move him due to the General's extreme strength, and stabbing him non-stop in the side and back with Telegraphic Rapid Strikes. LH got a rope around his neck and hung from him, trying to get his gaze up (but only after Caveman and Hillbilly each took a shot - Hillbilly's being basically nothing, Caveman's wounding him badly). Caveman stuck a knife in a few times before leaving it stuck in the guy's arm. Fatbox recovered and carefully shoved his saw-blade into the guys chest a few times.

Finally, after a lot of stabbing, more spikes, more gaze attacks, and even more stabbing, he went down. Hillbilly may have dealt the final stab, I'm not sure, as Fatbox was stab-sawing holes in him from the front and Hillbilly was eyes to the ground. Hillbilly stabbed him a good 4-5 times after to ensure he was down, and then Fatbox sawed off his head. Hillbilly cut the throats of everyone not clearly, visibly dead (like, head blown open dead.)

Hillbilly lost his temper, here in this fight. It showed in excessive stabbing, a couple of AOAs when they weren't the best choice, and killing the wounded. Little bastages attacking us when we're trying to deal with them peacefully and harm none of them? No, you shot at us and you die. Hillbilly didn't raise any objection when Fatbox took the General's head, either.

We took their weaponry and attractive bits of decoration and left.

It was way late in the real world, and since the GM had to leave, we had a choice:

- end right there, close to our next objective (the college)


- handwave travel back to the base.

We chose the latter, because it won't necessarily be the same players next time and people might have to sit out half of the session while we "just check this one thing out" on the way back to picking their guys up.


Hillbilly things to do for next time (I'd have done them right away, but we didn't have time at the session's end):

- take a rad-away pill
- use a rad-away stick
- mend his gas mask
- put on some temporary arm and leg armor (bark, sticks, and cloth)

As always, we run into computers when our computer guys aren't around. Maybe that's because 5 out of 9 players chose "Demo/EOD" as their specialty?

Speaking of specialties, we're the most un-optimized group.

- the biggest, strongest guy is the medic

- our most charismatic guy doesn't want to lead or be the main guy talking

- our fourth-strongest guy loves melee

- our most organized guy usually gets sent off scrounging while we're planning and organizing

We make out okay, and people are happy running their guys. It's just that if you wanted optimized guys, you'd sort out our choices differently.

Caveman's player and I discussed this on the way home. We're not frustrated as players, but our characters are pretty frustrated. We are kind of stuck as to what to do next. If we hadn't made a deal with Colonel Jezza to split up the robots, at this point I'd just be saying we should loot the church's supplies, loot the mall, check out a spot or two and then just up and leave. Our hope at this point is that the Fit have some computer blades we can re-insert to get the factory going again, we find a way to either make peace with the Little Thieves or defeat them so we can gain access, and get the factory rolling our mechs again. Fighting the Little Thieves will cost a lot of ammunition and injuries - possibly even character deaths; we'd be trading irreplaceable resources for something we don't know to be of greater value. Plus, we don't know if we'd trigger the mechs to fight us!

It's flat-out annoying that we're trying to be friendly (and tried to make amends after a fight) with both the Little Monks and the Little Thieves, thought we came to a friendly pass, and then got ambushed by them. Grr. We're probably tramping all over their beliefs and goals and can't communicate well enough to sort it out. If that's the case, we're going to err on the side of what we want and need and resort to violence to get it. Real-world, I think that's a terrible thing, but in game, well, we're mostly those kind of people. Oh well.

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