The Tabletop Report – Gears of War: Session 7

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 Seven – Act 1, Chapter 3 Part 3

This session was pretty much all combat, with a little roleplaying at the end. But the group came out alive, thanks to some lucky rolls on their part, clever roleplaying, and some absolutely horrid rolls on behalf of the Locust (which really was just dumb luck, all part of the game).

So, when we’d last left the group, they’d made their way through the woods to a downed King Raven chopper in a gully and found themselves ambushed. When this session opened, we picked up right where we’d left off, with the group making reflex rolls for turn order and caught right out in the open.

Their ambusher, a Locust drone, rolled a perfect 1, and thus got to go first, which made things all the more panic-striken for the group.

Now, this was the group’s first firefight with an attacker that could actually shoot back (all prior combat has been with wretches or wild tickers, creatures that make melee attacks), so this was the first session where the group was introduce to cover! The Gears golden rule!

It was pretty simple, actually. The gaming mat we’re using for combat is entirely open to being drawn on with colored, erasable markers, so that made it easy to color-code the different types of cover. Light cover makes it no harder to hit the player, but damage received is halved. Oh, and light cover can be destroyed. Medium cover reduces an opponent’s aim by 4 if you’re behind it—very helpful. Heavy cover, meanwhile, gives a reduction of 6 to aim and even blocks explosives like grenades. The color-coded cover helping the group along with this, I laid out the map, with the crashed King Raven and the team at the center, and their attacker, the Locust drone, up on the bank on the far side.

He didn’t stay there for long, firing once before doing the classic “lone Locust” thing and rushing at the team. The team, naturally, couldn’t agree on what to do. One of the players decided that the best solution was to run, grabbed one of the three footlockers the team had found in the Raven, and ran for the far bank. Ironically, he’d grabbed the locker that would have been most helpful to the group had he looked inside it, but … their call!

The rest of the group at first seemed to settle on a “fighting retreat,” and went into cover or dove for the boxes. A frantic firefight engaged, with several players almost going down as they discovered how strong a Hammerburst to the side was when one wasn’t a COG. The team medic went to work quickly, however, and before long the players realized that there were enough of them that they could overwhelm the lone drone as long as one of them didn’t take too much focused firepower from it. The player that was running away with the locker even deposited it on the far bank of the gully and then turned around to help out.

At that moment, of course, the ground started to rumble, and a nearby portion of earth on that side of the gully began to bulge as an e-hole began to form. Whoops. They weren’t getting away from this ambush so easily.

The running player, seeing the success of the rest of the group, pulled their shotgun and ran over to some cover near the erupting hole, which soon split open to disgorge a pack of wretches. This player (who, until now had actively avoided all combat) took a single, point-blank shot with their shotgun … and instagibbed the wretch, to their immediate delight and gratification.

Yes, shotguns, even civilian hunting shotguns, are still very dangerous at close range, as they acquire more attack dice as the distance closes. The player was delighted with their kill, and then switched to their battered Boltok (battered weapons aren’t as nice as the default versions) to attack the other wretch.

Meanwhile, one member of the group (the medic) had found a lull in the combat to make their way to the other two lockers and open them. One contained magnetic holsters for weapons, twelve of them (the same kind the COG have two of on the backs of their gear), while the other contained nothing but a Heavy-duty hard drive and what looked like encrypted shipping orders, which the group took.

The first drone went down (and was executed by a player) as more wretches swarmed out of the hole (which then closed) and the group turned their focus on them … as up on the gully bank in the direction they’d come from, a new e-hole opened.

At this point, I should mention that the team’s resident hypochondriac had spent the entire fight up on this bank, sniping with their rifle and staying away from the nasty things coming out of the ground.

The eruption of the ground some fifteen feet from him, followed by the emergence of two more drones, led to only one reaction: RUN FOR MY FREAKING LIFE.

This of course attracted the attention of one of the drones, who then proceeded to chase him across the map while the other went after the party, who was dealing with wretch screams and not being clawed to death. This Drone then immediately rolled six straight misses … even when the players were in the open and it had an elevation advantage. Oh well …

The wretches died, and in the same round another e-hole on the other side of the crashed Raven began to open, but the players were ready. One of them (the guy who’d thrown himself on the wild tickers earlier in the campaign) was carrying two jugs of flammable oil the group “found” (why they haven’t thought to make molotovs yet …). His idea was to run over to the hole and dump the oil on it, then set it alight with a flare.

He didn’t arrive in time. The last hole opened, and a grenadier climbed out, hole closing behind him.

This did not deter our player. They ran right up to the emerging grenadier (with its Gnasher), splashed it with oil, then ran back, trailing the flammable fluid as they went.

The grenadier fired, point-blank, and missed. The player dropped the flare. PHOOM! Toasty drone!

But … oil isn’t as nasty as a flame grenade. The grenadier was now on fire (taking damage each turn) and chasing the player, who happened to retreat toward the sniper that had been running from the drone. Who really didn’t like the flaming thing with a shotgun rushing at him.

Meanwhile, the drone that kept missing punched the player with a battered Boltok, who retaliated with a headshot that blew its brains out. The party turned their attention to the last drone and the flaming grenadier.

The grenadier tossed a grenade at them, while the drone downed the sniper at long last. Which terrified the sniper even more, as he didn’t want the team medic to touch him either. Which meant that he needed to succeed on a DBNO roll or combat needed to be over before she arrived.

Meanwhile, due to a score of successful reflex rolls on the team’s part, all the players within the grenade’s range rolled out of the way (no joke, they had to beat 2s on d20s, and two 2s and a 1 were rolled; they were on fire this session). The grenadier succumbed to fire damage and went into DBNO, while the last drone went down due to combined arms fire. Someone shot him.

The grenadier, who had missed all his Gnasher shots (guess he was on a Gears 4 connection) went out in a much more horrid way. The player with the jug of oil went over and sloshed him down with it, fanning the flames until he cooked and ending him in a truly classic Gears manner.

Combat was over, and the group had survived with only one DBNO and the loss of a few medkits (as well as a lot of ammo). They then collected their spoils—three hammerbursts and one gnasher, plus some ammo. An investigation of the lone locker they hadn’t opened revealed it had three cases of incendiary Lancer MK I ammo, which can set targets on fire! Fun stuff (and not in the Gears games, but a perfect fit for a survival horror scenario).

The wounds licked, but high on the thrill of a successful combat, the group made their way back to the radio tower (following a few orienteering rolls so they didn’t get lost in the woods) and then from there back to Ray’s. They had to camp out overnight, but they weren’t found by any Locust (they are, however, on the Locust radar now, so it’s more likely).

They arrived back at Ray’s, and he was glad to see them arrive. Upon reporting the crashed King Raven, Ray got curious as the angle of crash said it was coming from the East, and there were no COG bases for two-hundred+ miles in that direction that he knew of. The group debated on it for a bit, trying to decide where it could have come from, and showed him the data drive and the shipping manifest. The manifest was encoded, and in a new code the former UIR Recon Commando couldn’t decrypt, and the data drive, though he gave it a shot with his own considerable computer systems, was encrypted with manner he didn’t have a way through, though it was familiar to him. Not without brute force trial and error, anyway. He had no idea what it was either, though he suggested it could have come from a carrier in the ocean, several hundred miles to the east. Whatever it was, the COG had tried to get it out from the look of it, but it hadn’t made it.

He did suggest that the crew could travel to “nearby” locations that had once held COG bases to try and find a computer capable of decrypting it. Suggestions included nearby cities and, what he considered the best bet, the Endeavor Naval Base. This was almost hundreds and hundreds of miles away, so a risky proposition at best without transport … though the rail network was brought up as one possible method of getting there, if it was still up.

He then said he had another idea for tracking Locust movements: seismology equipment! He wanted a few monitors for the region that could let him know when and where tunneling was happening. Unfortunately, Sera having a dead core, such equipment wasn’t common, and their best bet was to try Jin to the north to see if they had anything in their museum … but to get any good return, they’d probably have to travel south, to a city ruin that had at one point been home to a college or geological research base.

At this point, it was late, and we called it a night (myself relieved that combat had worked out so well). See you all next week!

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