GM confidence: 4.5/5. Nevermind the last-minute scramble to assemble the necessary materials, I felt pretty good about this one, both before and after. I might have given it a “5” had it not been for a handful of minor errors, none of which would have amounted to much on their own.
I finally got a proper Tactical Combat in, even if it wasn’t very long. I was a little concerned about overpowering the PCs, but it worked out.
Bob Lazar’s “sports model” disc seats three, so I had one Grey/Sectoid flying the ship, and two on the ground fetching the MacGuffin from the crash. They weren’t expecting company and weren’t kitted out for a fight, so they had to use their psionics. Arming them with beam-weapons would have weighted the fight too heavily in their favor (plus, the surviving PCs would undoubtedly loot those beam weapons, a bit too early to my liking)—even so, it still might have gone badly for the PCs if not for their numbers. GURPS has stats for Greys in both After the End 2 and Monster Hunters 5, but they aren’t exactly the same; I also referred to Psionic Powers for some details. The result: By game-time, I confused myself about what mechanics to use, and it got a little sloppy behind-the-screen. I really should have nailed down those particulars before the game.
I intended for the aliens to go after James, Jr. but, unsurprisingly, they didn’t get that far—I haven’t properly “endangered” the kid yet. I expected Woola to be (finally!) sicced on mind-controlled Robert; I didn’t expect Robert to get accidentally bullet-riddled in the process. RIP 😛
Action Challenge System™ (Alpha test), Part II
I did the first test of the ACS in Session 2, with the “war zone” scenario. The “disaster survival” scenario is another primary reason for its existence, and I had been looking for an opportunity to use it. I like how it turned out, overall—I think it gave the feel I was looking for. But it definitely still needs some work; I had to fudge quite a bit on-the-fly. Almost immediately after the session, I realized the contest should have been an “attack/defense” thing, rather than the binary “succeed/fail” thing that it was. More lessons learned now will mean a better result when it’s finished.
There were several places in this session where the players messed up my intended sequence of events.
- I intended for the storm to hit some time after they passed Ten Sleep; I didn’t expect them to decide to dig-in there immediately, which meant I had to fire it off early, or they would have just turtles, and it would have been boring.
- I expected the PCs to avoid Denver, but I didn’t expect them to avoid it quite so far as they are currently planning, spoiling some of my future plans, unless I find a way to compensate.
- I expected the PCs would overnight at Damien’s house in Buffalo, and I was forced to scramble to refactor his ex-wife’s arrival when they decided to hit the road early.
All of the players’ decisions here were perfectly reasonable, and I should have thought of it myself. I realize afterward this means I’m probably railroading too much, trying to force events to occur. Earlier in the campaign, events were on a schedule and would happen when they happened, whether the PCs were there or not. That was better, even if it screwed with my intended narrative.