The Tabletop Report – Gears of War: Session 6

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 6! 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 helpful. Now, let’s see what happened to our players after last week!

Session Six – Act 1, Chapter 3 Part 2

When we’d last left our players, they’d decided to head out the following morning for a remote weather station out to the east, with the goal of installing a relay into it so that Ray—and the team—would have radio coverage over a larger area, as well as weather reports. However, the team didn’t want to leave the moment the sun rose. Instead, after camping out in Ray’s shop (he didn’t let them into the heavily fortified house above it) they decided to spend a little time first acquiring some more stuff from his scrapyard—mostly odds and ends to make sure that their own equipment would stay in good shape. They also hunted down a few more bike frames in order to make travel easier. Of course, they were missing tires and gears, but it was a start. They added the bike frames to the wagon and trailers they’d put together. Unfortunately, due to some poor rolls, this took them several hours.

Meanwhile, a short way into the morning something set off one of Ray’s alerts, and warning the group to stay there, he took off heading for the north, vanishing into the brush at the side of the road. Some of the group, being out in the scrapyard, didn’t even notice he was gone, but the few that were inside (one of whom was studying the manuals around the workshop) knew, and one of them decided to see what Ray’s house looked like.

As it turns out, pretty nice. And secure. Not only was everything reinforced, but Ray had a whole security station set up, with cameras and motion sensors all over the place. On one of the screens, there was someone lying wounded in the middle of the road, and the player watched as Ray appeared on the screen and helped the man up, carrying him back to the scrapyard in a fireman’s carry.

A few minutes later, Ray arrived and set the man down on a workbench before going to work treating the man’s multiple gunshot wounds. Ray explained to the party that he knew him—the man was one of the stranded that had passed by heading north before the group had come along, taking some of his loaner weapons for food and heading for Clint with the goal of making their way west to Jacinto Plateau.

Obviously, something had gone wrong. With the man patched up, Ray retreated to his home to watch for signs of pursuit on his monitors and, seeing the open door, reminded the group to stay out of his house. The group medic took over watching over the wounded stranded, and the rest of the group went back to work.

Some time later the man woke up, just long enough to get some broth Ray brought down in him and report what had happened. Clint, he said, was crawling with Locust. They were busy doing something there, and there were way too many of them. His group had been spotted and tried to run, being chased by something with large legs and lots of teeth that some of the Locust were riding (bloodmounts) and hunted down one by one. He wasn’t sure if any others had survived. Then he passed out again.

Ray advised the group that if they headed to Clint, to be very careful. The group elected not to go there at all. Ever, if they could help it.

Instead, they elected to head east, up the mountain road Ray had told them about, and get the largest radio tower for a hundred miles connected up, as well as the weather relay.

So they set out. The day passed uneventfully, with the group reaching the rocky road that wound into the mountains and making their way up it. They camped out overnight, keeping watch, and then the next with clouds moving in and rain on the horizon, pushed east, up into the mountains.

By the time they reached the radio tower, night had fallen and the rain had gotten much worse, reducing their visibility (a -2 mod) and sending thunder crackling across the sky.

The tower itself was huge, climbing a hundred feet into the air and a good forty feet across at the base. It was resting on a concrete pad built atop a larger rock pad that also had a small, corrugated metal shack and an old, abadonded truck. All of it surrounded by a large chain link fence topped with barbed wire. The gate was chained and locked.

This was the first, real obstacle for the players. None of them had any training in picking locks, so that was out. And the lock was pretty sturdy. One of them wanted to cut a hole in the fence … but they only had a pair of wire cutters, and after a few tries, realized that they’d ruin the wire cutters long before they cut a good-sized opening in the fence.

The team’s sniper wanted to shoot the lock off, but the rest of the group disagreed. He did it anyway, counting out the rumbling in the clouds and timing the shot so that the report sounded alongside the rumble of thunder. The first shot took a huge bite out of the lock, but didn’t destroy it. Emboldened, the armorer got her hammer out and focused on the damage. Within a few rolls, the lock broke, and the group was free to get inside and out of the rain.

They opened the door to the shack without even thinking to check, and a wretch leaped out at them, clawing the player in the lead as it jumped past. This made her really mad, because her armor stopped the blow, but it was ablative, and so the wretch ruined it. The wretch, though, wasn’t interested in attacking them, but ran, and the team’s sniper put it down with two successful shots from their hunting rifle.

The group, now more cautious, checked over the rest of the shack. It was an electrical substation for the tower, but the power was out, and the backup batteries were dead. A check of the station (in the dark) found a generator out back that was out of fuel. It was a pull-start, sadly, and the team was infuriated by the successive rolls required to start the thing. After a few minutes they got it going, however, and the backup power was on. After disabling the external lights (they didn’t want to attract any attention) they checked out the inside of the station and found that the backup power had run down after the main power had gone out due to something—likely the hammer strikes of E-day—triggering the breakers. They checked the system, flipped the breakers and BAM, the power was back on!

Granted, they also found that the place to wire Ray’s relay into place was on the tower, and that there were breakers on the tower too. Rather than brave the storm, they elected to wait until morning, set up a watch, and went to sleep.

Morning arrived without incident, the storm broken and only scattered showers coming down. The team electronics expert, without waking the rest of the group, immediately began to climb the tower to get everything hooked up.

It was harder than he thought. The rungs were wet, and his “Climb” skill was not the highest. He had no problem getting to the landing at 25 feet or 50 feet, but past that he kept losing his grip on the rungs … and he realized this would apply to getting down too, leaving him stuck. Thankfully, another player had awoken and had a whole batch of hand-towels they’d picked up, and dried the ladder rungs for him, keeping them from being slick under the rain. They made their way up to the top of the tower and got the whole thing dialed in. They then turned on their one-way radio and found, to their delight, that Ray was broadcasting a message for them saying “It’s up, nice job” as well as letting them know that there was a COG emergency beacon, likely from a downed Raven, to their south. Turns out, they’d head the beeping of the beacon before, but with three towers up now, Ray could triangulate it easily, and the group, spotting a clearing in the trees from the radio tower, headed south to investigate.

A few hours later they found the crashed chopper in a gully. Two dead gears. Signs of a fight. The chopper was a total loss. One of the group stayed on guard above the gully (almost rolling well enough to spot a locust hiding nearby) while the rest of the group made their way down to look at it. Of particular interest were the dead gears, shot up and battered from the crash, and three large metal footlockers. The gears were stripped of their COG Tags (tradeable to the COG as a premium currency, basically) and then the group was about to investigate the lockers when a whine from the other side of the chopper caught their attention. They walked around it to find a starving dog tied to the chopper. It whined at them again, half dead … and then when a player approached it, growled.

Moments later a hammerburst fired, and the dog died in a shower of blood. A howl echoed through the woods, and the ambush was on.

And … it was late, so we called it there. Until next time!

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