Sunday, September 23, 2012

Continuing Adventures on Mars

So, I've discovered a problem with letting the GM handle/keep all the PC sheets and notes.  I don't have any notes to go by as I write this.  I honestly cannot remember some of the details of our adventures.  Please bear with me as I struggle with this.  Also, please forgive some of my tongue-in-cheek jibes at the Savage Worlds ruleset.  The more I play this system, the less I like it.  It reminds me of all the negative aspects of 1e Munchkin-ism.  (Sorry, Stan.)

We left off last time with the ship effectively destroyed and spiraling into Mars.  Our medical officer, Dr. Scroupe, had been severely injured in a fusillade of gunfire from the hyperactive pirates.  In fact, almost all of us had a scrape or gunshot wound as we tried to find ways to prepare for impact.  Gathering our strength from somewhere, we dumped the dozen or so casks of black powder (as well as Logan's dynamite) overboard to prevent any explosive demise in the first few minutes of sitting down at the table. 

Rules Observation Sidenote:  Rolling damage in SW is very interesting.  The numbers really don't mean much as they are.  They are guidelines for tracking the level of injury.  What I was able to finally figure out (with much help from Dewayne) is that first you roll to determine if you even are injured.  This has a "success" value which you try to roll under.  Of course, everything is rolled with a "wild die", a distinct d6 which can add to whatever you are rolling on another die or dice.  So, to determine if you are injured, you roll versus your Vigor (I think I got his right).  Logan has a d8 Vigor, so rolling a d8 gave me a 2 and my wild die was a 1.  So, since neither was above 4 (the target number) Logan was not wounded.  However, Scroupe's player had a d6.  He rolled a 6 and a 5 on his wild die.  The 6 "exploded" which meant he rolled it again and added 6.  He rolled another 6, boom, and again which resulted in a 4.  Thus, he rolled a 16.  He was wounded, with 2 "raises".  So, his health dropped by three more levels...to Incapacitated.  Confused?  Yeah, so were most of us.  But here's how the rules work on this, I think; if you are wounded (no matter by 1 point above the target number or 7 above) you do not subtract numbers.  Instead, you drop the health level number by 1.  It drops by more if there are "raises", which are multiples of the target number.  Thus, Scroupe rolled 16 against a target number of 4.  This meant he had one "raise" at 8 (2x4), and another at 12 (3x4), and probably should have had a third at 16.  To die, you have to drop something like 6 or 7 levels of health, and fail a stat roll for each wound (which you can reroll if you have Bennies.....don't go there, it's another long explanantion.) and then fail one final stat roll against death.  It can lead to very cinematic styles of play but it's dang confusing to us old school gamers.  You roll your damage and subtract that from your HP is easy.  This SW health stuff is confusing.

Back to the story:  So, the characters did their best to find soft places to be when the ship crashed into the Martian landscape.  Since we've had a couple of players out for the past few games and we all pretty much decided this was not our cup of tea, we "cinematic-ally" had them die in the crash so we weren't hauling more unconscious folks about than we already had.  In the crash, Scroupe and Stein were "walking wounded" which meant they could only talk but not act in any real way.  The captain of the ship was also badly injured as well and unconscious.  Reviewing the maps and such, the PC's determined that they were roughly halfway between Thoth and Syrtis Major (two big Martian citiies) and about 70 to 90 miles west of the nearest canal.  Since everything was too far to walk with wounded and since we didn't want to split the party, we started brainstorming and checking on what all we had in terms of raw materials.  There were several dead bodies of crewmen from the ship, some water and food in the galley, some oil in the engine, our clothes, and an old semaphore signal lamp.  Logan suggested taking the masts and some of the ship, spelling out SOS in large letters (like 40 feet tall), putting the dead bodies on the wood, soaking it all down with oil and lighting it at nightfall.  The SOS should be visible from orbit, so other ships might see us and send help.  If a skimmer came by, we could try to signal it with the semaphore lamp. 

The process worked well.  The smoky signal was seen from orbit and from afar on the ground.  Our first set of rescuers were a group of canal Martians who had just survived an attack by barbaric Shashtaph Martians and who would help us get to the canal and then on to Thoth.  However, we were attacked by another band of barbarians as we prepared to go.  During the battle, Logan killed two with two shots.  The 2nd in command of the canal group showed himself to be a traitor and Dr. Upthegrove shot him.  The other barbarians were dealt with rapidly and we gathered their mounts and weapons.  As we prepared again to leave, a large skimmer showed up.  It was from Syrtis Major.  It picked us up and carried all of us into the big city.

Since we had arrived more than two weeks ahead of the DuBois's who were coming here to help a Martian terrorist group, we had time to heal up and explore the city.  We chose instead to heal up and just jump ahead.  We contacted the British authorities and had them issue arrest warrants for the DuBois's and we all met them at the ship when it landed.  Logan was disappointed to not be allowed to shoot down the ship, or to shoot them as they left the ship, and then to be told to not be allowed to be at the ship when it docked.  On the way to the ship, we encountered a group of Martian thugs beating up an older Martian.  Most of us ignored it.  Logan wanted to just dynamite them and keep walking but was told that might hurt the buildings around them, so he walked on.  Boothe challenged the leader to face someone tougher than an old Martian or get out.  The thugs left and warned the old Martian to be ready to hand over "the information".  Then the leader activated some steam-punkish exosuit and wall crawled up out of the alley.

The DuBois's were arrested after a short fight and brought to separate interrogation rooms.  Logan and Scroupe (who had lost some of his human compassion) decided to interrogate Mr. DuBois first.  And by interrogate, we mean discuss and try various torture techniques on him.  If he wanted to talk, that would be okay, but that was secondary to getting revenge for the zombies, shipwreck, and associated chaos thrown into our lives.  Didn't really discover much new information.  Got more of the "special" red sand which makes people into zombies and learned that the old guy we rescued in the alley has vital information for breaking this activity.  We turned Mr. DuBois over to Miss Weathers so she could get her revenge for what they did to her father.  Scroupe waterboarded Mrs. DuBois to gather information and then to break her mind so she couldn't inform her allies who we were or how much we knew. 

And that's where we stopped for the night.  A couple of the PCs are no more than sociopaths and not very nice to play.  I think I went down that dark road initially because I was trying for dark humor.  But I think that my confusion and frustration with the rules began to be expressed in Logan's actions.  At least, that's what it looks like to me in hindsight.  I feel bad about this and I apologize here publicly to Stan, our GM, for this turn of events.  I look forward to finishing this little adventure because I want to see where it goes.  However, I don't think I'll ever want to play SW again. I'm just not into cinematic games. 

So, one more episode and we should be done.  After that, I have offered to run an urban adventure in the City State of the Invincible Overlord using 1e AD&D/OSRIC rules.  I might offer to run a Traveller game instead, but I'm not sure.  Marshall might be talked into running a Cavemaster game.  And Chris has offered to run a B/X game in Castle Mauve/Castle of the Mad Archmage.  We'll decide in a few weeks.
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