Redacted 3, Part 5, GM Debrief


GM Confidence: 4/5. Given last week, mercifully, this session basically went to plan, with only a few, minor, rough edges for me to complain about. We’re approaching the finish-line now. As usual, the better the session goes, the less I generally have to say about it afterward.

The Sniper

As mentioned previously, there was supposed to be a sniper involved in the fight last week. I decided to kick this session off with him downing an “expendable” NPC to set everyone moving. I had been toying with making the sniper one of the mini-bosses, El-Saleem, but this time, I thought an “upgrade” was warranted—even at lower skill levels, chances of a miss were pretty low, so survival would come down to PCs’ tactical/defensive decisions. At this point, I wasn’t concerned about him being spotted, and/or being killed, since the “ambush” was already over—though I would have preferred him to participate on the Sun Deck. This was another “Quick Time” scenario, but it had a sort of natural rhythm, the time it would take the sniper to line up another shot. I meant for Mayhem (or whomever took the shot) to make the shot roll in secret, but forgot until it was too late.

The Middle

Given the last two sessions, I was more keenly aware of the need to prevent things from bogging down. The helicopter provided the “countdown”/urgency. The plan was to use the drones to encourage the PCs to keep moving, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to fit them into the narrative. Arbitrarily deciding they would be attacked by an explosion feels, well…arbitrary. I decided after the game, firstly, that a “random encounter” thing might have sufficed, providing the players were “aware” of it and rolling it themselves; and secondly, a Tactics or Observation skill roll might be better, with Margin of Success as the time-to-attack. Also, players tend to waffle about next-moves when there are too many or too few obvious options/solutions presented; ideally, I would use nearby NPCs to communicate this—there were plenty here to use, and they could have benefited from a little more development. Had I more time…

Other than needing a slight nudge in the direction of using the RPG on the helicopter, it went well enough. I did find myself having/trying to steer them toward dealing with the helicopter first and not “something else,” and I would generally consider that a minor GM failure to communicate the situation properly (and/or be flexible enough to accommodate the players).

The Sun Deck

The bad guys “remembered” to wear their acquired armor this time, making them (slightly) more dangerous, along with their improved (via BAD) skill levels. The bad guys really should have been “warned” of the PCs’ approach and not been surprised—meh. The glass panels made the terrain a little more tricky to navigate—also confusing, as it turns out; I might have been able to communicate that better. I decided in favor of the cinematic, and let the glass be shattered by the bullets, even though I suspect it’s actually too thick for that. I didn’t have a proper mid-point change-up planned, but one presented itself when I got down to the last bad guy or two, cornered, and remembered I had grenades. Spreadsheet to the rescue, once again making the complicated math mostly-painless, and I finally got a proper PC injury!

As the third combat in a row at “firearm” ranges, I am very aware that the close-combat focused characters (that is, everyone but Mayhem) are not getting the best use of their abilities. This is narrowing what I want to do for the finale quite a bit.

The RPG shot at the helicopter went as expected. I prepped a lot of that ahead-of-time. They did end up using the default anti-tank warhead, which is not what was loaded to be used against the PCs at the pool, but I actually intended to do that anyway—”cinematic.” I actually intended to carry on a little after the helicopter, but in the moment, it seemed like the right place to end on a cliffhanger.


  • I didn’t get much mileage out of the BAD 4 this time, but it is capped at 4. After-the-fact, I see a number of places I could have reasonably thrown that in for good measure.
  • I’m still debating about whether or not to make the Extra Effort “Overcome Encumbrance” option an official house-rule.
  • “No body; no death”—I can bring back the terrorist boss later if I want, regardless of how ridiculous his survival chances realistically are.
  • PCs will have armor next time. If Mayhem had armor this time, the results of the grenade would have been much different.

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