Looks like my “real-time” gaming group liked the first session of the Damaxuri Deception so much that they decided to alternate between D&D 5th Edition and Planet Mercenary until we’re done with it. This made me quite happy, because I missed being the GM and the system is quite fun. Descriptions for our cast of player characters can be found here.
Rumble at the Warehouse
When we last left Skynet’s Avengers, they had just defeated a bunch of Kostavi’s thugs guarding a fake hideout, and interrogated the survivor before leaving the scene of the fight. The guy told them Kostavi had holed up in another abandoned warehouse with a small army of henchthings. This other warehouse had a cargo elevator that led right into the building from the spaceport on the surface.
The party figured that if they were the ones hiding, they would play to use the shaft as an escape route. After arguing about it for a while they came up with the following plan: Rufus and his fireteam would go topside and infiltrate the warehouse through the elevator shaft, while the rest of the company performed a frontal assault on the warehouse. This would trap the enemies inside and give the Avengers an edge in the fight.
There was one small wrinkle in that plan: the elevator door was locked! It had a big “Out of Order” sign on it, behind which hid a fairly sophisticated lock. The PCs would need to hack that lock or find another way to open the door.
So Orangus decided he would build a bomb. He didn’t have any boomex, and the company had no money with which to buy some, so he used household chemicals, random debris and a large trash can to build a home-brewed monstrosity. He succeeded by just enough to build something, drew the “Spit, Balling Wire and Brass Ball Bearings” Mayhem card, and succeeded in the Engineering roll it asked for despite not having the skill. The effect of that of course went into the bomb, which I ruled was what allowed it to breach the door when it went off.
With the bomb in place, they split up according to the plan, and begun the assault. Kostavi’s hideout was protected on the outside by a pair of minigun drones disguised as trash cans, and once the shooting started someone fired a rocket through the door from within, nearly missing Orangus.
It’s here that the party was formally introduced to what I call the Powered Armor Conundrum. Heavy armor in Planet Mercenary has 1 Hull Point, making it equivalent to an armored vehicle. This means it and its wearer can only be hurt by anti-vehicular weapons. However, even one hit by such a weapon will destroy the ruinously expensive suit, which means PCs wearing the best armor are the ones most afraid of being hit in any fight involving heavy weapons. Such as this one.
Aside from the two drones, Kostavi had four goon squads inside the warehouse, hiding amongst piles of containers arranged to serve as cover. I ruled one of these had rocket launchers - they’d still do the damage listed in their basic stat block, but that damage would have the Anti-Vehicular Payload tag. That prevented Orangus from running amok without fear of being hit.
Kostavi herself was in a suit of flying powered armor equipped with a rocket launcher and plasma cannon, in addition to a Goaltender drone. She fought openly until Orangus managed to tag her with a plasma bolt and destroy her armor. From that point on, her tactic consisted of hiding and sneaking around the warehouse while her goons distracted the PCs, taking every opportunity to snipe at the geatest threats. When Rufus revealed himself, it became obvious that the greatest threat was him, since he was blocking Kostavi’s retreat.
Kostavi broadcast that she had a bomb tied to a heart monitor, and would manually detonate it unless the PCs stood down and let her leave. The PCs called her bluff and kept fighting.
Unfortunately I never managed to hit anyone with a heavy weapon - the players wisely began to use one action each turn to dodge, and kept rolling well on those attempts. Some of the more lightly armored characters did get hit. I told them how much damage they would suffer and gave them a chance to spend a RiPP on Ablative Meat, which meant that the rule got used fairly often. Thus did poor Jonas from the grunt pool meet his death in battle. Other uses of the rule caused one Leto’s Joy clones to be named Joy Katislene1, and Rufus to remind me that he named most of his fireteam after the cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Rufus was in a particularly bad position here because a lot of enemies were targetting him, and I ruled that since he on the opposite side of the battlefield from most of the company he didn’t have access to the Grunt Pool for Ablative Meat purposes. He also didn’t remember to dodge in the first few rounds. Fortunately, his grunts were lucky, and would survive to complain about him another day.
Soon the party began to spend more actions looking for Kostavi in the middle of the fight than actually fighting! The problem here was that only Orangus and Max had even middling Perception, and she had a Stealth of 11 and rolled really well.
Orangus decides he’s going to end this swiftly by finding the best place to plant a bomb on this building and doing that. He not only found the perfect spot, but also found that someone had already planted a bomb there. A nuclear bomb. That bluff wasn’t quite as bluffy as they thought!
Orangus recognizes the device as an Urthreep Industries Dial-a-Yield, which is currently set to something equivalent to 1 ton of TNT. He decides to disarm it right then and there, and between his high Demolitions skill, his specialty in Disarming and generous RiPP expenditure, manages to roll a 23. The bomb is deactivated!
Kostavi still eludes them for a while longer. Finally I turn to Leto, whose turn it was at the time:
Me: Pay me one RiPP and I’ll let you find Kostavi.
So Leto spots her hiding out aways from the main body of the fight, lining up another shot, and communicates her location to the company. Rufus leaves his position to charge hers, and attempts to subdue Kostavi in unarmed combat. She nimbly dodges away and shoots him point-blank with a plasma cannon.
Now, some time before the fight started, Rufus had drawn the “Oh Captain, My Captain” Mayhem card. This card can be invoked when the PC in question is about to take damage and has the effect of applying the damage to the Captain instead, essentially using them as free Ablative Meat for that attack.
I initially considered voiding the card, since the company Captain is Skynet, which is also their ship. Then I decided I would come up with something if the card came into play, and told him to keep it. Since Rufus was more afraid of losing his extremely pricey EX Supersuit than of losing his captain, he used the card when Kostavi hit him.
This means that the sound of an explosion was heard over the company comms, and Skynet cooly ordered them to finish that firefight already and come help her repel these pesky boarders. So yeah, Rufus was safe but the Captain took a hit.
The fight did end soon after that, when Leto attempted to charge Kostavi and melee her. He had a Melee of 1, she had a Defense of 18, he rolled a natural 17. Leto does a fixed 11 damage with his claws, which left Kostavi with 1 hp. I ruled she had been squashed like a bug and was unconscious.
Leto broadcasts to the enemies that he has their boss and that if they don’t stand down he’ll finish her off and make the bomb explode. The bomb in question has been very publically disarmed, so I he rolls Bluff to make the threat stick. It turns out Kostavi is so underhanded her goons are ready to believe she had another bomb hidden somewhere. They drop their weapons and surrender. The party lets them leave, since they claim they were just hired muscle and that’s something they can empathize with. Their stuff stays, of course.
That’s All, Folks!
And that’s where we stopped the session, since we were out of time. The party has to take the unconscious Kostavi to the authorities without getting implicated in the many shootouts and explosions they engaged in, and now they also have the matter of the boarders currently trying to enter their ship2.
Who are these boarders? I don’t know yet! We are entering uncharted territory here, since that bit isn’t in the published adventure. I have two weeks to come up with them.
This session was a little more “rules-intensive” from my point of view, which left less space for levity. The players, however, told me they found it even more fun than the first session, so I’m happy. I discovered I was operating under a slight misconception regarding Mayhem: only players draw Mayhem cards, and only when the test in question succeeds. Before this, they managed to turn at least one failure into a success due to a serendipitous Mayhem draw.
For the next session I’ll also refresh my memory on how goon squads work - for this fight, I ruled that a non-area-effect attack would kill at most one individual in the squad, so even though the goons only had 2hp apiece it took 3 successful attacks to take the whole squad out. It made them a suitable threat for the players and their up-gunned fireteams.