The Tabletop Report – Session 4

It’s time for Tabletop Report! For the uninitiated, Tabletop Report is a new series chronicling the adventures of my DnD group as I run them through a custom campaign and ruleset based off of Microsoft’s Gears of War universe.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gears of War, and I’m totally not claiming otherwise. I just really love the universe, and have wanted to run a campaign set in it for the longest time. The system I built is entirely my own, and this game is a test-run of its viability as a full tabletop system.

This is the report summary for session 4. Prior sessions will be listed before the break if you need to catch up. Some knowledge of Gears of War‘s greater universe may be required. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!

Session Four – Act 2, Chapter 2 Part 2

When we last left our players, they had just finished deciding to leave for Ray’s Scrap Yard, about fifteen miles north of Bedel, in search of better weapons than their starting gear—though in all fairness, the better-armed of the players had missed the first big fight as they’d been guarding the entrance when things went sideways.

That’s all in session report 3. We’re all here for session 4.

Session 4 opened with the group gathering their gear and heading for the aforementioned scrapyard, setting out with their new food-stock and spending the day walking up to Ray’s. As evening approached, they arrived at the scrapyard: A large, heavily fortified place set alongside the main road. The party rolled a few observational checks, but didn’t notice the carefully-placed motion sensors leading up the road, though they did noticed that the place had been modified. Ray’s was a huge scrapyard, full of cars, appliances, and other stuff, surrounded by a fifteen-foot concrete wall and headed by a massive set of double-doors you could drive a truck through, with a home and office built atop that. All heavily reinforced, of course.

As the party stepped onto the gravel parking lot, a searchlight illuminated them, and a loud, heavily accented-voice shouted out for them to stop. They complied, and the voice asked what they wanted. One of them shouted out that they wanted to trade for guns, and the voice responded with a laugh and “More of you, huh?” before asking them to keep their weapons lowered. The light then shut off and the doors rumbled open, and the group got their first look at Ray as he walked out into the parking lot.

Wearing old, blue, UIR armor, minus the helmet, and cradling a very nice custom Markza rifle he called ‘Lucy.’ Yup, he was ex-UIR. And, though the group didn’t inquire into this, as they were really determined to get new weapons, a former Recon Commando.

As the DM, and mostly for the benefit of two new players that night who were more used to what I’m guessing was “munchkin-style play” based on their plans, I firmly warned the players that they should not attempt to steal from Ray. A few players responded that they felt they might be able to kill him and get his gear. I basically replied by asking how badly they wanted to party-wipe, which got a laugh from the players at the table that had already picked up on the fact that the man who seems to be thriving and a former soldier of the pendulum wars is not going to be a good target for shenanigans. Thankfully, those same players also agreed that the party should play nice around Ray.

Which was easily, enough, as Ray turned out to be both friendly and easy going. As he explained to the party, for some the Pendulum wars had been a personal ideology, but not for him. It was simply what he did, and what he had available to him. He bore no grudges to one side or the other.

Ray invited the group inside his workshop and made a point to show them his locker of nice, custom UIR weapons (from Booshka to GZ18) … making the point that those were his, and not up for trade. He did, however, have other weapons he was willing to trade … in exchange for a little help.

At this point, the party brought up the favor from Jed, the one they’d exchanged the stack of dirty magazines for, and Ray laughed before walking over to a workbench and pulling a UIR scope out of a drawer and tossing it to the players. It came ready to mount, with a bonding agent that would perma-bond it to the weapon. After examining it, the party was glad for it, as it gave whatever weapon it was on +2 crit capacity. The favor had been worth it. But they decided to save it for later, rather than mount it immediately.

Favor exchanged, they began to ask Ray about weapons. He replied that he would be happy to help … but in exchange for a favor. His scrapyard was being plagued by nasty little ticking beasts (Wild tickers!) that were eating both metal and his weapon stash … even grenades. As far as he could tell, they just flat-out were attracted to eating gunpowder! In any case, they’d both eaten most of his trade-weapon supplies and were infesting his scrap yard. He’d modified a bunch of sentry guns, after some experimentation, to track and shoot the little buggers, but the problem was that the guns were heavy and took time to set-up. Time the tickers wouldn’t give him before attacking.

His deal with the players was to use their numbers to set up the sentry turrets and hold off the wild tickers (which the party quickly gave their own name, something they’ve decided to do for everything they encounter). In return, they could keep whatever the tickers dropped … and he’d give them a custom crossbow he’d been building for another customer before “the world ended.”

The party agreed … and the combat began.

It was actually pretty involved. My gaming mat was large enough to give them the whole scrapyard, with ten locations for these sentry turrets (they had to be at those locations for power and the like). The sentries were heavy, so a party member had to carry them, and required three successful mechanical skill checks on a d8 to set up. So not too hard, but enough that it would take either some skills or some time.

And immediately, the party split, heading in two different directions. Both were promptly swarmed by wild tickers.

At this point, the group got their first taste facing a group of enemies instead of just one … and the battle began. After their initial rush was brought to a near stop as they ran headlong into the tickers, they managed to regroup, set up a few turrets (which both mowed down nearby tickers and kept new ones from spawning nearby), and made it to the center of the map, where a large, magnetic crane was put to use carrying the sentries for them and dropping them in place, at which point the team would get them up and running.

That’s not to say it was easy. There were some dangerous moments, including two players going down, and one of those players almost dying for good (they had reached their max amount of wounds, which meant going DBNO—which they call Dee-Bee-No-No—would have killed them, and had enough HP left that an attack from a ticker would have, but the team medic got there first). They had some hilarious moments, such as one player announcing that they were throwing their body atop the closest wild ticker in a tackle. The party, in shock, shouted out “But they explode!” to which the player replied “Are you sure?” (wild tickers do, don’t forget, it’s just small)

Yes, the party was sure, since they’d already killed a couple. He simply weathered the blast … and did it again later! Yes, he’s getting skills revolving around this now.

Another player spent more than half the battle wrenching a door off of a nearby junked car. While it took, well, about 3/4 of the full battle, they were able to then use the door like an ablative boomshield, and gleefully ran around with another player, using the door to soak up ticker self-destructs and laughing. Another simply went to work with their hunting rifle, popping ticker after ticker at range with a great string of rolls.

Crud, one player even killed a ticker, blowing it up to chain react and kill the ticker next to it with great glee.

Eventually, with only half the sentries set up and the hour growing late, the tickers simply stopped coming. Frankly because it was late, and the party had, at this point, killed 37 of the little buggers! They were incredibly proud of this fact.

So, with the ticker threat gone and the rest of the sentries established, Ray thanked them and handed over the scrap crossbow, a technical-class weapon that fired moddable, custom bolts. The current ones, made of rebar, were heavy enough to deal 1 stun alongside their attack, forcing targets to make stun defense rolls or, if they failed them or couldn’t make the roll, lose one of their two actions in combat.

He also had another proposition for them. As Ray put it, their showing against the tickers was “not bad for a bunch of young pups” and he wondered if they would do something else for them. His home had an antenna that he was using to monitor local radio traffic, but he could only get so much. The civilian networks were either too small or down, and the COG network, while still up, was encrypted. However … Ray presented the team with a collection of circuits designed to act as a hijacking relay node, which when wired into an existing radio tower, would allow the tower to both pick up and relay further along Ray’s own signal.

In other words, he wanted the party to travel around to nearby towns and towers and wire in his nodes to expand what he could pick up with his radio systems … and in return he would let the players use it (they’d still need their own radios). Plus, he’d be able to listen in on radio traffic and hopefully be able to get ideas of Locust and COG troop movements or activity (which will give the players a look at a broader “threat area” system I’ve got in place).

At which point it was late, and we called it for the night. But the players had a blast. Talking about it afterward, one even told me that they’d been dreading the campaign when I’d announced it, guessing that it would be a disaster … only to discover now that they were loving it and the mechanics. Then we all talked mechanics for a while, since the party will be leveling at the start of the next session with a whole lot of new ability cards in their level decks, and then bid one another goodnight.

That’s it for week 4. Hope you guys enjoyed reading about this, and I’ll be back after next week’s session!


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