Mechwarrior PBeM Report 2b ~ Hair of the Dog

This actual play report is the dramatized version of Scene 2, Part 1 – as experienced by Lucas ‘Cool Hand Luke’ Rom. This flashback mech combat scene began in media res on the heels of the introductory scene of the campaign wherein the characters discovered their planet had just been annexed by the forces of the Lyran Commonwealth. For the scene as experienced by the other characters just click on their names:

Turn 1

The scope goes dead for a second, then erupts into rolling static – just as you thought you were getting a reading on that damned Rifleman that had been raining fire down on you – driving you into this killing zone.

The loose gravel under foot is treacherous and you have to consciously consider balance and footing as TLC rocks again and again, first from the near miss of the brutal AC20 round that hit the ridge beneath you, and then from the collapse of that ridge, precipitating a massive landslide into the gorge below, and requiring unplanned back-pedalling from you in order to keep your mech upright. No time to trigger the jets!

Somewhere down there, MadDog’s Griffin is making a mad dash across the gorge to escape the surprising pincer movement the enemy lance had executed through two narrow passes on the other wall of the gorge. He’d suddenly found himself trapped between them, and needed to bolt, but for some reason, he didn’t jump.

Blowtorch’s Griffin is nowhere to be seen.

Did Mad Dog evade the lasers of the enemy Hunchback as well as its autocannon? Did he evade the falling rocks?

TLC suddenly finds secure footing as the rest of the ridge where you had been standing gives way and sheers off into the gorge. The overcast sky is clear of enemy air support, but you have lost visual contact with all friendly and enemy mechs.

The gorge ahead of you runs more than 2 jagged km at depths ranging from 30 – 50 meters in either direction, never getting wider than 90 meters. The hard, grey rock looks black in the light.

Your HUD shows two mechs in the gorge, and a third and forth approaching through the same passes the Hunchback and Wolverine used to cut off Mad Dog. Your IFF system just crashed, and some irrelevant warning or other is howling in the background. Your weapons are online and fully operational.

Turn 2

You set off at a run. It was pure genius of them to come from the South. What is interfering with the HUD? The comms are howling with interference, pulsing in time with the distortions in your HUD. It doesn’t behave like ECM, but it is definitely raising holy hell with sensors and some of the more sensitive or perhaps less well-shielded internal electrical systems.

Darting to your right, you make brief visual contact with what looks to be Blowtorch’s Griffin, slowing and raising its PPC as though to fire at something ahead of it down the gorge. The jagged nature of the ridge edge takes her from sight an instant later as you continue to head for your chosen launch point for the SRM2.

For a split second, comms and HUD cleared, and readings resolved into Blowtorch’s Griffin, the enemy Hunchback, and farther to the south, a Quickdraw approaching through each canyon to close the pincer.

What must be MadDog’s Griffin fails to resolve, but the target designation for the Wolverine just past him to the East blips into view twice before reverting back to the generic mech icon.

Despite the narrowness of the gorge around MadDog and his enemy, what must be the Griffin keeps hammering toward the Wolverine at top speed until, against all training and common sense, it jumps!

The familiar feel of combat’s adrenalin dump would not be out-of-place now, but in its absence one can always content oneself with the rush of releasing weapons~

The SRM2 fires and seems to be tracking on target to detonate on the lip of the ridge line near the westernmost Quickdraw.

Where is that Rifleman… and where is Fitz?

Turn 3

After launching your SRM2 at the West QuickDraw, you pivot and head back east to get a good firing solution for the LRM rack on the second Quickdraw, as before, you catch sight of Blowtorch’s Griffin, as it fires off its PPC, knowing the gap in the ridgeline is there, more of your attention can be diverted to take in details, and you are positive that she took a short-range shot at the back of the Hunchback, you rip past the gap in the rocks too quickly to see the effect, but its back was square to her.

As you approach the section of the landslide, MadDog’s Griffin comes blasting out of the dust cloud like some Olympic high-jumper. His signal resolves into a steady, clear icon as he hits the apex of his jump arc, a few metres above the cloud, which you are about to enter. Doing some quick mental calculations, you target the LRM on the section of wall near the East Quickdraw before entering the dust cloud… just in case.

On your HUD you can see the West Quickdraw has come to a stop, and may be reversing direction. Blowtorch’s Griffin is continuing to backpedal down the gorge, opening up the range between herself and the Hunchback, she is just coming into the sweet spot for her PPC now.

The very distorted icon which must be the Wolverine, fires its jump jets.

To your rear right, you see a flash of light from a detonation… missiles? At the edge of your HUD, Fitz’s Trebuchet resolves out of the clutter of distortion at the extreme limit of the edge of your scope. You can’t be sure if he struck the Hunchback or not… it seems unlikely with all the distortion.

“S*rr* ** b* *ate,” comes a distant and digitized-sounding broadcast from Fritz’s channel, while from MadDog’s a howl of elemental triumph and elation gets through the static as though coming from light-years away instead of mere metres.

As you pass into the cloud, it seems like MadDog will touch down on the West side of the landslide, on the same level as you.

Turn 4

The Wolverine slams into the overhang of the gorge, and then, perhaps due to overcompensation when trying to correct, slams into the other side of the gorge, before falling to the base of the gorge. No matter how much or how little damage has been done to the mech, your experience tells you that the pilot has to have taken a severe beating and must be more than a little disoriented.

You try the comm, “Stir-fry on a blue plate, back at you.”

A long squeal of static comes back almost simultaneously, so it’s not likely a reply.

The West Quickdraw has come to a complete stop. The East Quickdraw has pressed close to the West side of the canyon and has broken into a run. TLC passes into the collapsing cloud of dust and the Quickdraw’s icon flickers, but stays steady. Breaking out of the other side of the dust cloud, you are able to posit a good target on the wall of the canyon up which the Quickdraw is running, to launch your LRMs.

You are positioned in line with the downed Wolverine, roughly 60m from the edge of the gorge, facing South-East while running East.

The highest point of elevation is above and to the south of Blowtorch, and Fitz’s icon is making its steady, precise progress across that area. The widest, most open part of the gorge is below that high point, making it an ideal killing zone if fire can be concentrated as you hope, first on the Hunchback, and then the West Quickdraw.

Eyeballing the ranges on your clearing scope, you estimate that Blowtorch is now at great enough range to launch her LRMs, and that MadDog is poised on the ridge above the Hunchback, perhaps at a range of 30 metres.

You press on to the East, needing to gain a little more ground before you can effectively make the leap across the gorge for an attack from the East on the Quickdraw. The combat computer hums to itself as the large and medium lasers slowly cycle up into their ready status.

Your scope registers that Fitz and Blowtorch both launch a flight of LRMs at the Hunchback. Due to the proximity, Blowtorch’s slam into the ugly little mech almost immediately.

Out of the corner of your eye you see the flare of a PPC as MadDog fires down into the canyon at the thinly protected rear of the Hunchback.

The cloud of missiles from Fitz’s launcher, arcs high in a tight formation. His Trebuchet continues to close at a run, gaining the high ground between the Quickdraw and Blowtorch. That Quickdraw continues to stand still. He should be in range to attack with his missiles and energy weapons in another few seconds.

Turn 5

MadDog is closing on your position at a run.

Glancing at the scope, and the slowly clearing topographical overlay, you rush toward the ravine and the enemy that awaits you there.  As the Quckdraw runs into view around the bend where the channel he is using widens to join the canyon where the downed Wolverine lays unmoving, you trigger both lasers while it launches flights of long and short range missiles and a barrage of medium laser fire.

The LRMs arc up and toward you, the SRMS curve flatly in your direction, their trail of smoke coiling behind them like serpents on the hunt. The medium lasers pass harmlessly to either side of TLC, as your own large laser sears a glancing blow [reduced damage on a hit exactly equaling the target number] across the top left side of the Quickdraw’s head.

According to your scope, another heavy mech is around the bend, just behind the advancing Quickdraw.

Your cramped cockpit is alive with missile tracking warnings, and the warmth of weapons exchanges.

The wolverine has not yet begun to rise.

Turn 6

With the reactions honed by too many sudden life-or-death encounters, you lean back into a full deceleration on the hard-packed dirt and sun-baked stone of the plateau at the first glimmer of the Quickdraw’s intention to leap up to do battle with you. Behind the enemy mech, another alien landscape stretches away into the distance under another barely familiar sky, and stars which look nothing like those of home.

Leaning intuitively to account for the lateral drift of the heavy mech as it clears the lip of the canyon, you fight the inertia of your mech and the typically sluggish response of the targetting system to try to more accurately direct fire at the glinting cockpit of the Quickdraw.  Odds are you won’t have a clearer shot than this.

As the Quickdraw reaches the highest point of its trajectory, everything seems to come into alignment, and you get ready to loose your pair of SRMs at short range. The Quickdraw is beginning to turn in the air, suggesting it means to come down facing you. Its arms are still raised overhead from its last laser attack. Its head is squarely in your sights as you depress the firing stud. Your missiles blast toward the enemy, twisting about each other and trailing familiar coils of black smoke which roil past your cockpit momentarily.

At the last instant, the other mech’s arm drops and you see your missiles slam into the heavy mech’s right arm to detonate just below the shoulder actuator.

Your radio comes to life suddenly on the Full Lance channel, beginning with static and then resolving into Fitz’s voice, “…please advise, OVER.”

Turn 7

Blowtorch is just beginning to guide her Griffin to a gentle landing on the hard stone of the highest plateau, as the Quickdraw which has stood unmoving all this time erupts out of the canyon on a blazing trail of heat distorted air. Its arm-mounted lasers are already trying to track her, but Fitz- continuing his own jump – completely outmanoeuvres the heavy mech, to settle in behind it.

You know that what one of the things that makes Quickdraws unique is that they have no blindspots. In fact, it may have the most heavily armed rearward arc of any mech, no matter what class. Fitz is so close to the back of the heavy, that he can practically reach out and touch it.

Due to the nature of mech targeting systems, the pilot will have to attack either Blowtorch, or Fitz, he can’t chose both. By landing behind the heavy, Fitz seems to be offering himself as a sacrifice. His Trebuchet, armed with a good balance of medium lasers and LRMs will perform better at this range than Velika’s Griffin will. Perhaps he is hoping to distract the pilot, while she extends the range to make her PPC a viable threat?

TLC pivots left as you fire your jump jets in a short burst, and hook around unpredictably, keeping your facing as much toward the Quickdraw as you can before landing suddenly. Holding your fire, you prepare to evade as the Quickdraw sends two blasts from its Medium Lasers, and are rewarded as it misses narrowly both times.

MadDog, off to the North East of you, also hooks around, running flat-out. His PPC strikes the Quickdraw in the right arm, just above the medium laser. He also launches an LRM flight that arcs up smoothly, ready to rain explosive death down on the heavy mech.

Over the command channel, you issue your order to regroup to the north, your heart rate barely climbing, as the temperature in TLC returns to normal.

“Regroup North.”

To be continued…

Check out the scene from the point-of-view of the other characters!    Blowtorch Mad Dog

2 Responses to “Mechwarrior PBeM Report 2b ~ Hair of the Dog”
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  1. […] The scenario seed for this encounter […]

  2. […] of the first 7 turns of my group’s exposure to this scenario from three PC perspectives here, here, and […]

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