The Tabletop Report – Gears of War: Session 8

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 8! 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 Eight – Act 1, Chapter 4 Part 1

This session was pretty much all roleplaying … but that’s not boring at all, as this group proved. In fact, there was so much laughter that not only did I nearly paint my GM supplies with my drink, but today my sides are sore and I’m pretty sure that feeling is shared across a good chunk of the group. Players were laughing so hard they couldn’t breath.

What happened? Well, we’ll start at the beginning. It was a shorter session because after last week’s combat, it was time for the players to level, plus we needed to wait for a late player running late to show up, since their character (the obssessively clean stranded) was the navigator and the group wanted to be sure he got the map copied down.

So, first, the leveling. Some laughs were had with the level cards as the group continued to enjoy them, but the laws of random probability asserted themselves. Despite having a healthy deck of abilities to draw from, one player drew a hand of four base-start stat boosts and one ability … and promptly took straight stat boosts since that was exactly what they’d been hoping for, getting rid of their last few negative modifiers and then pumping even more points into their strength stat and melee skill. At this point, they’ve got a battered Retro Lancer with a decent bayonet on the end, and they’re working their way toward being able to have a somewhat decent punch-up with any Locust they run across. As long as there isn’t more than one of them, at least.

A few other party members took some other decent skills. Gunslinger, which allows a player to draw a pistol without spending an action, was a popular choice. Another player took their new Crossbow Execution (place the DBNO foe’s head within the crossbow arms, then decapitate them with the metal cord for a spare 1d4 you can add to any roll) and the “Seasonings” ability (once per day, their cooking of rations gives the team an extra 1d4 of bonus health). Another player excitedly took another ability that let them add +2 to all their dice rolls when using a medkit.

Speaking of which, they are flush with medkits. I’m going to make sure they don’t find any for a while. They’re getting a little overconfident, even with their wounds.

Anyway, after leveling, they decided that since they’d arrived at Ray’s later in the day, once again they’d take advantage of his hospitality and stay the night in his workshop. So they all went to work on various projects. A few of them finally took my at this point declarative suggestions to try modifying their weapons seriously and gave it a shot. The player with a scrap crossbow made himself a poor-man’s pair of iron sights (+1 Aim), and another player built a rudimentary stock for their hammerburst, reducing its recoil. The rest of the party overheard this … but none of them gave it a shot, or caught my hint about taped magazines (I may just make that a passive ability or something).

Anyway, as they were all about their business and figuring out their plans, the motion sensors went off (courtesy of another roll) and Ray slipped out the front door in full battle kit with an admonition for the group to stay there. Which they did, though one of them was pleased that they were able to keep an eye on him for at least a few seconds before he vanished into the night.

A short while later, the group heard a faint firefight, which I quietly rolled for while the group discussed what to do, and then not long later Ray came back, dragging the body of a drone (one of three he’d killed) that had been trying to track the party. The drone was clearly dead, courtesy of a shot that had blown the back of its head off, and Ray hauled it up onto one of the workbenches with the intent of cutting it up to get a closer look at its insides.

The skittish sniper of the group went to the far side of the room, while a few members of the group came in closer. Ray picked up a powered saw (scrap-yard shop, remember) and began sawing through the drone’s armor when one member of group decided this was the perfect chance to help by testing out the chainsaw they’d found earlier.

Ray let them at it, since it was a good test. They shattered a few of the teeth on the saw, but it was more than capable of cutting through the drone’s equipment and then flesh.

Said skittish party member shrinks even further back. At this point the party is talking about the dead drone. One wants to know if its edible, another (the mechanic with the “Foxy Grandpa” hat) wants to try eating its heart to gain its powers. He got very excited when they learned that it had three hearts. But then a little grossed out by the smell and whatnot.

One player expressed interest in the pauldron on the drone’s shoulder, and Ray, being pragmatic, simply hacked the drone’s arm off and tossed it at him. Our skittish party member, freaking out, went outside to the rest of the scrapyard. The player that took the pauldron also took the drone’s boots.

The rest of the party examined the body a bit more before getting bored, and Ray tossed it out into the front lot before hosing down and cleaning up the space it had bled all over. The party used the workshop’s showers (worth mentioning, at this point, that the party’s armorer has gotten more and more comfortable being mostly nude around the party, and her behavior has spread to at least one other party member, which has led to some funny double-takes and interactions—and if you’re thinking of complaining, she is played by a woman) to clean up, and then Ray tossed an incendiary grenade off of his balcony, cooking the Locust remains, and the party went to sleep.

At which point, Ray got up to a little mischief. I had the party roll Observation in their sleep, and the skittish party member came within 2 of beating Ray’s roll, but didn’t. Hence when they woke up … something was wrong.

The skull of the Locust drone was sitting on his chest, staring at him. Ray had snuck out during the night, retrieved it, and placed it on the guy without waking him up.

Panic ensued. Lots of it. The player not only managed to backhand the skull across the room, but then grabbed his rifle and scored a crit on it as it landed, blasting a shot through it. At which point Ray calmed him down (the shot had woken the rest of the team up, as it was loud) and they got some laughs out of it. The poor party member about had a heart attack, but Ray’s response was along the lines of ‘Good reflexes. Maybe you won’t die out there.’

Yeah, it was a mean prank, but the guy couldn’t resist. And he was impressed by the shot (which is totally getting that player an ability card next week). Character, meanwhile, is not sure he will ever sleep again.

The cook distributes breakfast, and the group set out at last, after making a few more small equipment alterations. The whole group was now home to bandoleers that had a magnetic weapon dock on their backs, the skittish sniper had a cloak that would give him +1 stealth in urban environments, and one player had, after cleaning them and stuffing them with some cloth for sizing, kept the drone’s boots.

Oh, and one player used up all their old Civil Defense Pistol ammunition building a pipe bomb. This is going to be interesting.

Flush with new gear, the group was ready to head to the Northeast and the town of Jin, the goal being to find a seismograph at its museum. In high spirits, the group set out.

Their travel went pretty well, and was for the most part uneventful. They came across a few cars abandoned on the side of the road, batteries dead and seats mildewing. They checked each of them for fuel, and with a little work the team mechanic (with the “Foxy Grandpa” hat) was able to access the fuel tank and fill up their empty Immulsion Fuel tanks. They took the seatbelts too, doing a bit of googling and figuring that having a couple of dozen feet worth of heavy-duty straps might not be a bad idea.

That night they camped well off the road—and good thing too! Now that they’ve tangled with the Locust directly, they’ve got “attention” from the horde, and a very scary set of lucky rolls on my end meant that a Locust patrol looking for who/what had cleaned out their ambush passed by close enough that the party-member on watch could hear them. Thankfully, they weren’t spotted, as I really didn’t want to throw together an emergency combat so late in the night.

The next morning the group spotted signs of the Locust’s passage, heading Northwest up the road, and followed along until the path broke off to the west into the woods. The group declined to follow, though the sniper player left a few empty bullet casings atop the tracks in case they returned.

The party continued Northeast, following the road, and found more signs of old combat. A car that had been smashed off of the road and into the ditch, up on one side with the original inhabitants still inside it. the party raided the trunk and moved on. A few miles on, a flattened pickup. And after that?

They found a small rest stop with a few cabins. All uninhabited, and with the gas station mostly collapsed and burnt pretty good. The cabins showed signs of combat as well—bullet holes, smashed doors and furniture, dead bodies. All long-since dead, however, and mostly bones at this point.

The party elected to sleep in one of the better cabins, as it was getting late, and we called it a night. Next week … Jin and the end of Chapter 1!

EDIT: I realized I forgot to post what had been the funniest moment of the night! Well, while traveling, the group was chatting in character. And … Andrew came up. The group still is burned by the loss of the truck, and funnier still, was discussing what else Andrew had done to make them hate him. They blamed him for the water problems in Bedel, as well as the downed chopper, the dead bodies they were finding in the cars alongside the road, and then, in the midst of all this, as the party is discussing the many sins of Andrew, the skittish, paranoid sniper says in a deadpan, fearful voice. “And he touched me.”

The group died. Especially when the Foxy Grandpa-hat mechanic leaned forward and asked “Sexually?” At which point no one could talk for a good three minutes.

Things only got crazier from there. Dead bodies with tooth marks on the bones from wild animals? “Andrew. He’s a cannibal molester, you know. Or would that be molester cannibal?” and everyone would lose it again.

Hope you’re all enjoying this so far! Game-wise, most of the systems seem to be working, though there are a few tweaks and changes still being made. We talked about adding an “adrenaline” trait, like mana, but a few players suggested that it might make combat a little too complicated, and there’s definitely already a lot to remember with this system. It may be worth trimming things here and there later to streamline a bit.

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