Thursday, August 12, 2021

5 Parsecs From Home: Turn 13 / Story Track Event 3

This is a step-by-step breakdown of the thirteenth Campaign Turn in my Five Parsecs From Home campaign. This Turn's mission is also the third "Event" in the "Story Track". The Story Track is an optional plot thread that (if you've elected to use it in your campaign) shows up about every fourth Turn or so, with a custom mission that shakes things up a bit. This time, it's a pretty brutal close-quarters combat, pistols in the fog from just inches away.

Crew names below are often abbreviated "G" to "M", as explained in: Crew Roster, which also tells you about my team and a bit about their ship. See also the Index of my Five Parsecs articles for a list of previous Missions and other content.

1.1 Flee Invasion: - n/a

1.2 Decide Whether to Travel: - no

1.3 Starship Travel Event: - n/a

1.4 New World Arrival Steps: -n/a

1.5 Gain 1 story point if it's turn 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, etc. - n/a

2.1 Upkeep and Ship Repairs: -
Crew Upkeep - 1    Ship Debt - 0    Ship Repairs - 0    Medical Care - H needs 5 turns of recovery, and I don't have enough credits to get him out this Turn.

2.2 Assign and Resolve Crew Tasks: -
Find a Patron -    Train -     Trade - M    Recruit -    Explore - J,L    Track -    Repair Your Kit -     Decoy - G,K
Noteworthy results from Tasks: -

    Inshubur plans the attack. From the Story Track for this Turn: "One crew member of choice must be assigned to plan the attack. This crew member cannot take any actions this campaign turn. If you are not ready, you can opt to delay for one more campaign turn, but after that, it’s go time!"
    Moreva trades for Local Maps that may prove useful for future Quests
    Leonidas trades away his old Blade for Combat Armor!

2.3 Determine Job Offers: - Doing the 3rd Story Track event. Thankfully, I didn't roll a "1" and trigger Rival interference.

2.4 Assign Equipment: - n/a

2.5 Resolve Rumors: - n/a

2.6 Choose Your Battle -
Job Description:
Story Track Event 3: Disrupting the Plan - Your old friend is up to something big, and it’s time to teach his people a little lesson. You’ve found out where his organization is storing contraband for sale off-world, and you’ve decided to pay them a visit.

Battle: Story Track Event #3

Deployment Conditions:
  Set up like a camp, with crates and barrels all over. Scatter 5 Goons, 2 Bruisers, and 1 Leader around the map.

Select which battlefield edge you want to enter from, and roll to Seize the Initiative (at +3 because I captured a mercenary in Story Track #2).

Enemy within 12” of crew figures will act with Defensive AI. Enemy that are not within 12” of crew figures will first attempt to reach the center of the battlefield, then go Defensive.

Planetary Condition: - Planet-Wide Fog - All shots beyond 8" are -1 to Hit.

Notable Sights:  The mission clearly spells out unusual deployment and objectives, so obviously you don't roll on those charts. It doesn't mention whether or not Notable Sights are a thing, but I'm going to assume that since they aren't mentioned, they're not used this mission. If I ever play the story track a second time, with a new crew, maybe I would add one just to mix it up, but this time, there's nothing notable to see here. Move along.  

EDIT: My bad, it's actually spelled out on page 152 that there are no Deployment Conditions or Notable Sights in any Story Track Events. I somehow missed that on my first two reads of the chapter, having included Notable Sights in Story Track Missions #2 and #3. Including them did not seem to break anything, just for the record. So, if having a dynamic mission is more important to you than following the rulebook strictly, go for it. 

Objective: - Sabotage the AeroSpace Fighter that my old friend has just purchased before his techs can get it armed with the missile they just purchased.

To Win, you need to either Hold the Field, or fight your way to the center of the battlefield and plant a sabotage device. This takes a Combat Action and requires a 1D6+Savvy roll of 5+. If failed, the roll can be attempted again by other characters, or through future Actions. Once planted, the opposition will retreat from the battlefield at the end of the next round.
• If you drive off every opponent, you can just plant the device at your own leisure.
• If the battle drags on too long, reinforcements will show up. 2 Goons in each of Rounds 8 and 12 will arrive at the end of the round, in the center of a randomly selected battlefield edge.

Enemy Type: -  AbsuCorp Goons, Bruisers, and a Boss

Numbers: - 5/2/1   Panic: 1-2     Speed: 4”     Combat: +0 to +1     Tough: 3 to 4     AI: D*    

5 Goons with Machine Pistols, 2 Bruisers with Shotguns and Brutal Melee,  1 Leader w/ Blast Pistol and Blade

Deploy: Enemy are scattered around the camp. I'm entering from the North. Because they have a big missile, I'm not bringing my Shuttle or ship anywhere near this place, so I'll be scattering my people along that Northern Edge. One of the cool things about this Mission is that deployment is very atypical. Usually the enemy is really far away. Instead, we can get the drop on the ones near our table edge.

In this Mission, the villains have modified AI. It's mostly the Defensive AI, but with extra instructions to head toward my Mission Objective if there's not PCs nearby them. This has an interesting dynamic where the player is tempted to rush the Objective early, before it's swarming with baddies.

Round 1: - Seize the Initiative:  We've got +3 for capturing and interrogating a mercenary in the previous Story Track Mission. Presumably that stacks with the usual +1 for being outnumbered. So that means that if our 2d6 roll is a 6+, all my people will get to act once before the first turn. I get cocky, and roll a 4. So we've blown our early advantage, but there's still normal initiative.

Quick Actions - We open with Plasma fire! Moreva shoots the closest Goon, stunning him and knocking him back to where Juniper can see him. She fires, one stun and the second hit kill.

Inshubur moves into melee with the next closest Goon. He fumbles, but both damage rolls are low so he only ends up double-stunned.

Enemy Actions - The stunned Goon shoots Inshubur from point-blank with his Machine Pistol. She dives out of the way with her Luck. Then the nearby Bruiser opens fire with his Shotgun. Both shots miss, but one of the two dice rolls a "1", so he gets a reroll from Aiming, which is a hit. Inshubur is out of Luck, so I spend a Story Point to force a reroll on the shot. It's still a hit. Then the damage is enough to knock my Captain out, and probably still would be if I spend another Story Point. Her Combat Armor also fails her, so Inshubur goes down!  Rather than spend it on a long-shot, I hold on to the Story Point, in case I need it to help her during Recovery at the end of the Battle.

Slow Actions - Leonidas vaporizes the stunned Goon.

GcViib burns a hole through the head of the Bruiser that took out Inshubur.

The Kid moves south, and shoots at the Goon on the landing pad, driving him against the Flyer we want to sabotage.

Panic Test - The Goon furthest from the PCs runs away. There's no Enemy Table Edge in this scenario, so I probably could have chosen anyone, but since he'd have to move several Rounds to get into range, I figure he's still the best one to flee.

Enemy Ploy on a "1" - And I rolled it!   There is a Sniper in that tall radio tower to the South East of the landing pad.   In a previous game I rolled up a Sniper, and blasted them to bits before they got to activate. I decided then to implement a house-rule to make them more dangerous if they came up again: The sniper gets 1 free shot immediately upon being placed on the board, before the next Round starts.

Unfortunately for the bad guys, I made that rule before coming to a planet with Fog so bad every shot is at -1 if the target is 8" or more away. The sniper's shot skips off a rock near The Kid.

Image Key: Green lines are PC's movement. Purple lines are the enemies movement. Yellow lines are retreat when Stunned or random movement from Luck points being spent. Red X's mark places where people fell in battle.

Round 2: - Quick - The Kid returns fire, knocking the Sniper onto the supports between the tower and the radar beacon. Juniper moves forward and also shoots at the sniper, driving them further onto the walkway. They are double-stunned, but still in the game.

Enemy - The sniper shoots at Juniper, but she is saved by the Fog.

The Goon on the Landing Pad shoots at her as well, but only stuns her.

The other baddies advance. Most are heading towards the landing pad, but the Goon in the West circles around his hovertruck.

Slow - GcViib misses the sniper.

Leonidas stuns the Goon on the landing pad, who stumbles backwards into the open. Moreva flanks him, and finishes him off.

Panic Test - The goon in the west flees off the board.

Roll for Battle Events between Round 2 and 3 - 82 - Fog Cloud - The AeroSpace FIghter's engines start cycling up, causing the already dense air of Tiresias-3 to condense further. There's a cloud of opaque fog around the landing pad now, extending 6" from our Primary Objective. Line-Of-Sight is blocked by 2" of this, so there'll be some nasty close-quarters battle in our future.

Round 3: - Quick - The Kid puts another stun on the Sniper.

Enemy - The Sniper returns the favor. They hunt each other. The Leader and Bruiser move into the fog.

Slow - Everyone closes in on the fog cloud.

Panic Test - None.

Round 4: Quick - Moreva and Juniper enter the fog.

The Kid is right at the edge of the map, engaged in a sniper duel with the Corp Marksman on the scaffolding. If I keep shooting, he'll probably win, because he has Luck and a better equipment. However, I resolved in Turn 7 that I would never abuse the edge of the map to avoid being pushed back by stunned results. So, to stand by that conviction, the Kid runs for cover. (He was stunned, so he can't shoot if he moves, and can't move if he shoots.)

Enemy - The Bruiser moves up and stuns Juniper with his shotgun. The boss drops into a better position with cover on all sides, but can't get close enough to shoot through less than 2" of engine exhaust.

The sniper moves back into their original position, now obscured by exhaust. They couldn't line up a shot, so I have them shift far enough into the fog for protection.

Slow - Leonidas dashes into the exhaust. I'm gambling a bit on if I can roll at least a single "1" on initiative next turn. If I don't, he'll be burning his Luck.

Panic Test - None

Roll for Battle Events between Round 4 and 5:  "Snap shot: Select a figure in your crew. They may fire a weapon immediately. If the weapon is a Pistol, it Hits automatically, otherwise roll to Hit normally."

I choose Juniper because she has a cool pistol built-in to her cyberhand that I almost never get to use (because a gun built into a cyberhand has half normal range, and her Plasma Rifle usually crisps people from much further out). It's a machine pistol with a shock attachment, and it murders this Bruiser quite nicely.

Round 5: - Quick - I only get 1 good Initiative die this turn, and it's a 2, so it has to be Moreva (or no shot at all). She rushes up the ramp, and unloads hot plasma on the enemy Leader. His armor saves him, but he ends up double-stunned. His back is to rock, so he's not moved at all.

Enemy - Moreva is in the open, so the the Leader shoots her. A bullet strikes her square on, but he's saved by her Combat Armor. It's a good thing the Leader was stunned, because if he'd been able to Aim his second shot might have hit as well.

The sniper moves to the edge of the tower, sticking just far enough out of the exhaust to get a shot at The Kid. They roll a "1", and can't Aim this turn because they moved.

Slow - The Kid returns fire, and stuns the sniper. This pushes them enough to fall. Jumping down 3" would be a +0 damage hit, per the movement rules. I can't seem to find other falling rules, so I just go with that for now.  I roll low, so the sniper only ends up double-stunned.

Leonidas charges the enemy Leader and tries out his Glare Sword. Leon wins the fight, but the Leader rolls a "6".  Leo then rolls low damage, and the baddie rolls high. Thankfully, Leonidas' armor saves him and they are both stunned.

The fog and the placement of my other characters prevent either GcViib or Juniper from getting into a position to shoot.

Panic Test - Nope. These badasses fight on.

Round 6: -
Quick - Leonidas opens up on the villain Leader, giving him a second stun.

The Kid moves and misses the sniper.

Enemy -  The leader double-stuns Leonidas. That was close.

The sniper misses The Kid because of the planet-wide Fog.

Slow - Moreva climbs back up on top of the fuel tank and fries the enemy Leader. Then she notices the flammable labels on the thing she's standing on, looks at the smoking Plasma Rifle in her hands, and counts her lucky stars.

Juniper's not Savvy enough to worth the sabotage effort, so she Dashes through the fog to try to flank the sniper next turn.

GcViib heads up onto the platform and gets into position for next Round's sabotage.

Panic Test - None, technically, because the sniper is immune to morale...

Round 7 - ...but since the next Round starts with only the sniper on the map, they automatically escape per the special rule in the Ploy write-up.

Since the Mission ends at the start of Round 7, I don't trigger the scenario-specific enemy reinforcements at the End of Rounds 8 and 12.

Yellow lines are paths of retreat, whether that's 1" of knockback from a Stun, 1d6" of random movement from a Luck spend, or the path off the edge of the board from a badguy failing a Panic test.

Analysis: -  That fight was a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be! With mostly short-range weapons on the opposition, I expected to just plasma-burn through their ranks in short order.  That's "action economy" for you: losing a PC in Round 1 had a lot of ripple effects, and made every Round thereafter that much harder. Inshubur is my fastest character in terms of both Speed and Reactions, so I'd planned to have her race to the middle of the map and claim the Objective before things got too hot. Instead, she took a dirt nap in Turn 1.

I really enjoyed how this battle played out quite differently from the typical Mission. Having the enemy scattered about and shooting immediately, instead of tightly clustered and creeping up slowly, was pretty interesting. The two layers of Fog (a planet-wide fog that penalized all shots beyond 8", and a localized-fog that blocked all shots beyond 2" in the vicinity of my primary objective) really made me have to get up-close and personal. The only part where I didn't push in close was the long-range sniper match on the far Eastern flank, and that ended inconclusively as a result. If not for the fog, though, I would have been able to aim 2 or 3 Plasma Rifles at that sniper's tower, which probably would have wrapped that part up in a hurry.


4.1 Resolve Rival Status: - No, I rolled a 2. I'm happy with that, as I don't think a bunch of pistol-packing Goons would be much of a threat in a more typical deployment/scenario. They just don't have the range to be a serious threat in a normal mission, at least not against my team with all their plasma-rifles.

4.2 Resolve Patron Status: - N/A

4.3 Determine Quest Progress: - N/A

4.4 Get Paid and Benefits of Success: + 5 credits.

Planetary Condition - Booming Economy - When rolling for post-battle credit rewards, any 1 on the dice are rerolled until it shows a score other than a 1.

4.5 Battlefield Finds: -  Vital Info: I can turn this in for an automatic Corporate Patron on this world. Turns out AbsuCorp wasn't going to use those missiles on me, but on some other corporation. If I bring them Q'narr's targeting data and plans, his planned target will look on me favorably. I cash it in immediately, and roll up the new Patron just for fun. They have the usual Corporation rules of +1 on Danger Pay, and increased chance of jobs having Conditions. Their recurring benefit is "Connections" which means they pay in rumors. I name them Caduceus MultiMedia. One of their journalists is currently working on a hard-hitting exposé about Q'narr and AbsuCorp.

4.6 Check for Invasion!: - I don't have to roll this Turn, since these enemies aren't an Invasion Threat. That's good, since there have been rumors of war that would add +2 to any such roll on this planet.

4.7 Gather the Loot: -  The first roll gets me a Hunting Rifle and a Military Rifle, both Damaged. I get a second roll on the Loot table as specified by the Story Track's rewards section, and this rolls up a Unity Battle Sight, which is far more useful.

4.8 Determine Injuries and Recovery: -  I roll a 90, so it turns out Inshubur was merely knocked unconscious, with no lasting injuries.  H'Xex is envious, since he's still in Sick Bay from last Turn.

4.9 Experience and Character Upgrades:  G.0 H.0 I.1 J.4 K.4 L.3 M.3   - First Kill: - J    Rookie: K

The Kid is not happy about that sniper getting away, so they practice long-range shots in the fog. XP spent to bring Combat Skill to +3.

Leonidas raises Reactions to 2.

4.10 Invest in Advanced Training: -  Juniper uses her ex-Enforcer contacts to get enrolled in night classes at the local Academy, hits the books, and learns Security Training. (Total cost, including application, is 2 Credits, and 8 XP, and an Instruction Book.)  This will give us +1 on Seize The Initiative in the future, which I note would have been huge this Mission.

4.11 Purchase Items: - None

4.12 Campaign Event: - You renegotiate some old debts. (If you currently owe money, reduce your debt by 1D6+1 credits. If you owe nothing, earn 2 credits for being prudent with your money.)

Well, I'd just typed the meaningless phrase "Juniper uses her ex-Enforcer contacts" as how she arranged for her Security Training, and then the very next die roll recouped the costs of that Training. So yeah, some sort of favor called in by her Mentor/Partner from back during her old Enforcer days. I love it when story-dressing and randomized mechanics cooperate like that.

4.13 Character Event: - Leonidas discovers he likes the local cuisine, and gains an XP. I just hope he didn't eat H'Xex's delivery order -- a K'Erin's stomach is teflon-coated.

4.14 Check for Galactic War Progress: - N/A

4.15 Tick Story Clock: -  Set the Clock to 5 Ticks.  Based on that, I expect the next Story Event to be around Turn 19. Not that I'm complaining, as I enjoy the game quite a bit, but I hadn't realized when starting this just how long your Campaign has to run to get all the way through the Story Track.  I was planning on running this for about 20 Missions, but the Story Track will still be rolling strong at that point, so I'll probably keep going until it's done.

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