Saturday, August 16, 2014

Classic Traveller, Who fired? - session report

Last night's session of Traveller picked up exactly where we left off last time. The PCs were in company with a squad or two of their own company, and a contingent of the local police on a tax collecting mission to a local farmstead.

One cop had been shot and the PCs had atomised the shooter and his cliff-top perch.

They started the session by using some computer skills to override the homestead airlock and crank open the outer door. One PC thinking this was taking too much time, and besides, house clearing operations were too costly, opened up with his plasma gun and blew the top corner off the building, thereby opening the interior to the near vacuum. Air, and household equipment blasted out of the opening.

At this point another shooter appeared on the opposite cliff, standing in the open and opening a rapid fire into the cops and PCs. This proved too much for most of the cops who had already seen one of their own killed, they broke. Diving into half the vehicles these cops took off. The PC's troops opening up a hot fire, riddled the shooter who tumbled from the cliff.

The PCs then cycled the airlock and entered the homestead. They found a dead woman inside, just behind the door. Her vacc suit helmet had not been locked safely on when the air had been let out. The players assumed at this point that the shooters had been man and son, with the dead woman being the wife. This was then confirmed when they found family photos. They found the money chits they'd been sent to collect, but also found an empty chit bearing the "Outre" mark. They took this with them and left the scene.

The column of vehicles was reformed and the chicken-cops who had run earlier were recalled and joined up. It wasn't long however before radio interference alerted the convoy that something was up.
The cops were really jumpy and decided to travel behind  the PCs and their mercs about a quarter of a mile back.

The now-expected ambush took place. A line of spider holes across their front erupted with shooters. the vehicle was riddled with bullets almost instantly but the mercs (and PC's) were fine in their combat armour. The heroes launched an immediate frontal attack on the line of shooters splitting themselves into two squads. They rushed the line directly ahead and then split, working their way along the line in opposite directions from hole to hole.

The "red" squad took a casualty to one of the mercs but carried on. The "blue" squad had a slightly more interesting time. Before they reached the end of their line of holes more shooters and a vehicle appeared on the cliff line above them. The merc squad was directed to take the rest of the spider holes while the PC dealt with the men above. The rest of the convoy with the cops in it, was not doing too well. One of their vehicles was destroyed and more cops could be seen on the ground.

The spider holes were cleared and one of the cliff top bad guys taken out along with the vehicle up there. The rest of them pulled back out of sight. The PCs decided to rejoin the beleaguered cops. They soon fell in with them and some nice shooting took out the rest of the shooters from their cliff top positions. The combat ended.

All but two of the cops were down, mostly dead. One of the PC's mercs was dead and one injured. There was one vehicle working, the injured were put on there and the living provided a walking escort back to town.

Back in town they met with the planetary governor and there was a bit of a to-do. He was not impressed at the death and destruction and the PCs were unimpressed with being led into an ambush. It soon calmed down when the PCs produced the "Outre" cred chip as evidence that someone was paying to stir up trouble. The governor collapsed in his chair. He revealed that Outre was a rival mega corp to Indes, the company that hired our heroes and own the planet.

The gov' went on to reveal that his family had been threatened, that the offices of the government had been threatened, that the taxes still needed to be collected and that an archeological dig on the far side of the planet also need to be protected as it was a major source of revenue to Indes.

With so much work and only one platoon to work with the PCs set up a training cadre. One fireteam was to be dedicated to giving the local cops military grade training, and with that training they could bolster the mercenary troops adding to their numbers.

A second fireteam was to be dedicated to protection of the Governor and the offices, bolstered by the downloading of one of their Aslan combat droids. One full squad would be placed on tax collecting duties as that was where the real money from this ticket would be coming (they are on a 10% promise). Finally, the remaining fireteam and the PC's are on duty protecting the dig.

At the dig site, a buried monolith has been found (think 2010) and a tunnel excavated. The PC's kicked the two cops already on duty, in the butt as they weren't doing anything other than playing cards and sleeping. They organised a patrol routine and then had a moment to take a tour with the head researcher. When looking over the finds, they discovered that these included a damaged ancient box very similar to the ones they discovered when they were warped through a wormhole to the dead planet a few months back...

As the referee I'm finding it quite interesting to handle this type of play. It's not just the PCs that I have to handle but an entire platoon at their command.

Consider this, if it were D&D the characters would effectively be 2nd or 3rd level in regard to hit points, but wielding weapons of a +10 nature with +3 shields. They can meat out the death and destruction but are still rather fragile. In lasts night's game the PCs where individually manouvering with a fireteam each, almost like a single creature. When the enemy got a hit I treated it as a team-hit and rolled a die to determine who got hit with the PC taking their chances with the others. It worked quite well the game was able to move quickly without handling each NPC seperately.

I have to say I'm a little disapointed in the Classic Traveller Mercenary book as it's rules for handling large numbers is rather lacking and I've had to apply my house rules.

House Rules-

A groups of characters only roll once to attack, not individually. If the PC is with the group they roll with their own modifiers to see if the group hits.

A hit on a group, means one individual has been hit. If a PC is in the group, roll a die with everyone having an equal chance of being hit. If the PC is hit, they handle it as normal. If an NPC is hit, roll 1d6, 1-3 dead, 4-6 injured.

I've also started giving the individual fire teams in their company XP, 1 per combat. A team with more XP is going to be "steadier" than one without. This XP total is used on the following chart:

0-3 XP , will stand their ground on 9+
4-6 XP , will stand their ground on 8+
7-9 XP , will stand their ground on 7+
10-12 XP , will stand their ground on 6+
13-15 XP , will stand their ground on 5+
16-18 XP , will stand their ground on 4+
19+ XP , will stand their ground on 3+

In a situation with a mixed group of XP totals I'll use the average. If new recruits are added to an existing unit they might well lower the rating, that is permanently reduce the units XP until it earns more.

And here is the map for the ambush:

I'm an author, I write adventure game books.

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