Hair of the Dog PBeM Report ~ 5.1a CH:L


Campaign: Hair of the Dog  

Story 1: Running with the Big Dogs

Act 4: Bites, Scene 1 PoV – Captain Lucas ‘CH:L’ Rom

November 21, 3028          21:42

The three of you are standing roughly in the middle of a vaguely round tunnel that at its highest and widest runs around 30m in diameter. The ground beneath your feet is uneven and covered with a fine sand, and shattered bits of heavy-duty armor glass from the many broken aquarium tanks sunk into the walls all along this section.

The black is the sort of black you get when you build underground and refuse to let the sun in. While there are some floodlights in evidence here and there, no switches or even a feeling that there might be power to this facility remains.

Mad Dog is in the very center of the tunnel and has taken a few steps back in the direction from which you have been travelling, trying to get a sense of what might be following you. He is shining his flash light, which is offset on the barrel of his rifle back along your path but its beam is too weak to illuminate much of anything except a sign which indicates this is a personnel zone and all vehicle drivers must exercise caution. Brigadier apparently liked signs. A lot.

Ahead of you is the enormous carapace that strikes all of you as being crab-like. Thirty meters beyond it, there should be some sort of exit. You are looking back down the tunnel just to Mad Dog’s left. BT is just to his right.

Mad Dog activates the wide panel on his rifle scope which shows IR readings and at first, nothing much except cold rock is revealed, until suddenly – three cold objects, invisible against the backdrop of cold stone, but somehow tagged with small high-heat, tracking markers burst from around a curvature of the tunnel and rush toward your position, with a freakish chittering noise, and the clatter of hard shell on harder rock.

What would you like to do?  If these are crabs like the one whose shell is just behind you, they could conceivably be close to 10m from edge to edge, and if the scope is to be believed, could be as high as 8m from ground to the top of their heads.


Pursuant to a question asked by Doug in his IC thread, it behooves me to clarify that there is ammunition for the grenade launcher attached to the Shotgun. There are six grenades for this weapon, and they are neatly packed in a small pouch attached to the shotgun ammunition bandolier.


[OOC: Thank you for that.  I didn’t say explicitly that I was taking ammo, but hoped it was understood.  😉  I definitely think it is time to load one, and I attempt to do so.

I assume since this is combat, all actions and communication goes through you and this channel again?]

So my understanding is that we do not have visuals with our lights to confirm what is coming, but we do have what we assume to be tags on IR.

I use my best tactics and range knowledge to estimate grenade trajectories based on the distances you mentioned.

My best thought process is currently the following.  Based on the height of the tags, the shell evidence and the lack of people that know about this location.  I would estimate 85% chance of these being giant crab, 15% some mechanized security.

Also, given the size, I would say grenades are our only high probability success weapon, and this option is removed as they close distance.  We can’t afford to wait and confirm our target.  We also can’t afford to chance that they might be friendly (unlikely at best).

My plan is to load the grenade launcher.  I will say in a calm, normal tone “grenade in 5, 4,…” quickly but steady.  If I don’t observe anything to change my mind in the time it takes to load, I plan on firing.

I am considering firing between us and the heat tags to scare them off with fire, but may have to resort to full attack.

I think one grenade is unlikely to kill 3 of these things, so I would rather induce a flight vs fight response. Unless I gather any reason to believe otherwise, I will aim the grenade for just in front of the lead ‘tag’ and maybe 1 metre above their heads.  My attempt will be to get some serious shrapnel in the face/head area.

I then hope for a fighting retreat with MD and BT leading us in their best guess towards control or mech bays, while I dissuade pursuit with grenades when necessary.  My command after firing will be “Fighting retreat, lead us to command or mech bay.  I’ll guard the rear”


As the blazing heat of the IR tags rushes closer through the cool purple of the display on your scope, you calmly slide one of the grenades in the compact launcher slung under the barrel of the combat shotgun as part of the chambering mechanism.

Mad Dog, unable to see you in the gloom deepened behind your small group’s trio of flashlights inquires with some urgency, “CH? Grenades…?”

Keeping your voice level as the click of a successful connection alerts you to the weapon’s readiness you reply, “Grenades in 5, 4, 3, 2…”

As you near 1, the brutal, black-eyed, smashed-in faces of the charging crustaceans burst into the suddenly feeble-seeming cones of light thrown by your barrel-mounted torches. Their appearance, so much like that of a crab, speaks of insatiable hunger and greed.


Launching the first grenade in a low, flat arc you trust that you have sent it to detonate just ahead and above them.

Controlling your voice, you order, “Fighting retreat, lead us to command or mech bay.  I’ll guard the rear.”

The sudden explosion causes the three of you to involuntarily take a step backward as the tunnel is flooded with force and a brilliant flash of light.

Eyes stinging and watering despite trained responses to avoid the glare of detonation, your sense of the creatures is somewhat distorted but their size and menace are clear. Huge, yellow to orange creatures running on 4 segmented legs with two spear-like, segmented appendages arcing high over their cruel faces, are revealed, mostly as afterimages from the flash of the detonation.

The sound and subsequent rolling echoes are immense.

Your best guess is the grenade exploded less than a metre in front of the lead crab-creature.

All three stop.


If there is a break in the combat at this point, or if the rules allow for an extended comment that adds situational flavour…  I will say “If you get there before me, start warming the butter.”

I will assume that BT and MD will alert me if they encounter anything in their direction, so I plan on focusing my attention on the direction of the crabs.  I’m hoping that their senses are akin to ours, perhaps with less emphasis on vision, and more on movement/vibrations?  That grenade should have thrown their senses for a loop either way.  I intend to preload the next grenade to have it ready as I make my previous comments.  I will also start walking backwards slowly and quietly (Stealth).  I will also engage my IR instead of flashlight, and try to keep an eye (Perception) and ear (perception) for evidence that they are advancing again.

If the advance is cautious, I will continue my slow withdrawal without firing.  If the advance comes suddenly or quickly, I will fire the second grenade as similar to the first, then turn and run along with MD and BT.  I will say “Control centre, double time”.

My hope is to get the three of us barricaded in the control centre where there may be other options for flushing these things out of the tunnels.  Perhaps even trapping them for future use against intruders if we keep this base.


Ears ringing, and eyes watering, the bizarre nature of the situation can’t help but exert influence over each of you.

Dousing your light and readying another grenade, you quip, “If you get there before me, start warming the butter!” as you step careful step by careful step across the uneven terrain, past the hollow shell and toward where the signs indicate the exit is.

Mad Dog keeps his weapon trained on the crabs. Visibility is zero, but you can see on the IR scopes that the tags, and therefore the crabs are not closing… but they are clustering more closely together…

If the signs are accurate, you have 30m to go across the damp and uneven terrain of the tunnel which alternates between sand, rock, and pools of water. The crabs are roughly 50m from your position, and you estimate that they can travel significantly faster than you – especially in the dark, backwards.

Keeping your cool, you keep the team on the defensive and conduct a steady withdrawal, ready to launch grenades and suppression fire from the rifles.

Strange noises come from the darkness, including something that sounds like shattering concrete, and a mad thrashing and clattering of shell against rock.

BT reaches the end of the tunnel first. Against the smooth concrete wall, marked with a large sign indicating that this is theControlCenterfor Mech Water Trials, a rusted metal flight of steps going up 1 meter gives access to a 5 meter long metal grill walkway. The walkway leads to a large 5m by 5m metal door, not unlike that of a bank vault. It is closed, but the access terminal next to it, seems to have power. In the darkness, the keypad glows a friendly green.

A small sign next to the terminal states, “Please remove all contaminated suits in the decompression chamber and proceed directly to Decon Area 1.”


[OOC:I assume the ‘claws on concrete noise’ came from the direction of the crabs and that we saw nothing?  Perhaps a bolt hole of some kind?]

I will say to the others, if time permits due to the lull in combat “BT, climb the stairs and see if you can open the doors.  MD and I will cover you down here.  We don’t want to be trapped at the top if they come back, so be ready to climb down quickly.  If it’s locked, there may be a code written or scratched on the stair rails or walls – human memory is horrible.  MD, if they charge, I will fire one grenade as before.  Fire as best you can toward soft spots like eyes, mouth or head.  If BT has the door open we double time up the stairs.  If not, we defend our position till she’s back down, then retreat.”

After that, my plan is to crouch on one knee, and brace the loaded grenade launcher pointed down the tunnel.  I will try to set the round for the same distance and height as last time, and spend the remaining time aiming at that spot till something comes into view.  I will also listen for more scratching.  If it sounds like it is coming significantly closer, I will fire anyway, since the tags may have been blown or scraped off.  🙂  I hope they are not that smart though.

I am assuming that BT would have higher technical skills than me, but if she complains about any trouble, I will offer to switch.  The shotgun/grenade launcher will go to MD, and I will try the door.


The enormous door is sunk deeply into a massive metal frame on the far left of the wall which forms the end of the tunnel. As your group reaches the stairs, twisted from rust and age so that some of the supports have pulled away from the damp, natural stone, right wall of the tunnel BT proceeds up them quickly and hooks left to move down the metal walkway to reach the keypad.

She seems to be muttering expletives to herself, but quips, “I have a feeling there are no fucking Lyrans here, sir!” as she runs up to the keypad.

Shooting a quick look at her when she clatters up the rickety stairs, you return your focus to the darkness of the tunnel, saying, “MD and I will cover you down here.  We don’t want to be trapped at the top if they come back, so be ready to climb down quickly.  If it’s locked, there may be a code written or scratched on the stair rails or walls – human memory is horrible.”

You can decide to deal with her independent action or not, if you survive.

Turning to speak to Mad Dog, you have to raise your voice a bit to be heard over the clattering of her boots on the grill of the walkway as she passes behind you. You tell him, “If they charge, I will fire one grenade as before.  Fire as best you can toward soft spots like eyes, mouth or head.  If BT has the door open we double time up the stairs.  If not, we defend our position till she’s back down, then retreat.”

The hard and brittle sounds continue back down the tunnel where the giant creatures appear to be bottled up, clambering all over each other, if the scopes are to be believed….

If they rush this way… they could be on you in 5 seconds…


Independent action is needed as long as it’s the right action.  I like that we are slipping naturally into our roles – BT knows that she is the best tech and will be called upon to deal with any gadgets in our way.

I go through the options in my head.  We’ve just thrown something at them that they’ve never seen before and they are conflicted and heightened awareness.  Possibly adrenaline if they have such.  Animals galaxy wide operate on simple fight or flight with varying levels of higher decision making depending on complexity of the brain.  I will not have time to fire in front of them if they can reach us in 5 seconds.  One more grenade is likely to tip the balance, but will it be toward flight or fight?  Heavy damage from the grenade may push them towards fight/defense, I suspect/hope maximum flash/light + heat will gear more towards flight.  Strange sensation will help us more than severe pain.  The key will be to place the grenade between us and them to force the route away from us.  I should also place the explosion high since height = big = dangerous.

Decision: I want to fire a grenade now.  Range slightly less than last time, but not too close to us.  5-10 metres in front of them so the lead crabs are in the edge of the blast, not the centre of the blast.  Height slightly above their heads.  Fast reload of a second grenade.

To both, “BT, your back to us.  Grenade in 3, 2, 1, …”


Calculating to yourself and trying to use the IR scope to its best advantage, you ready your follow-up grenade for easy access after you fire this one, take up a steady position, and then warn the others.

Blowtorch is examining the keypad. Mad Dog is tracking the clustering movement of the crab-things with his safety off, and the weapon ready to fire. Based on the hardness of the shells, the slugs fired by the rifle may do extensive damage, but may not stop the creatures in time.

“BT… Your back to us. Grenade in 3, 2, 1…”

You launch the grenade and get good results. Ready for the flash, you are able to glimpse a frozen second of time through slitted eyes, seeing that two of the crabs are tearing the third apart… driving their spear-like weaponry deep into its carapace.

The darkness descends again like a shroud, and green after-images haunt your sight, morphing into horrible shapes beyond meaning.

One set of tags begins a retreat; two other sets remain at the same range.


Ok, that makes sense now.  I think our best strategy now is to not been seen as competition for the food, and let them take their time.  Did I get a sense of how fast the fallen one was being devoured?  Claws finished and working on the tails?  🙂

In a low voice I’ll say to MD “Lets give BT some time to get us in while they eat.  If they charge, go rapid fire with your rifle, but just general direction will do.  The next grenade will be much closer to us, and I won’t give a countdown.”

At that, I load the next grenade and plan a distance halfway between us and the crabs, head level in height.”

My plan will be to fire a single grenade then close my eyes for the blast while firing the shotgun as fast as I can reload.  If BT gives us the go, I intend to give MD the signal to move slowly up the stairs, and I will follow, keeping the grenade trained on our retreat as long as possible.


From the corner of your eye you can see that Blowtorch gets still behind you, hunching over the keypad with her back to you. After a second she takes some tools out of her belt pouch, and leans even closer to the wall, obscuring even the small circle of light from her headlamp.

In a low voice you say, “Let’s give BT some time to get us in while they eat.  If they charge, go rapid fire with your rifle, but just general direction will do.  The next grenade will be much closer to us, and I won’t give a countdown.”

You load the next grenade, calculating the trajectory as you do to replicate the last two shots.

The combat shotgun has an 8-shot capacity and is fully loaded with shot shells. The bandolier was loaded with these shells primarily, but also has 8 slugs and 8 explosive slugs. From experience you know that the recoil from firing slugs is heavy, and not something to be undertaken at a rapid rate of fire.

The walkway in front of the door has a single railing, so if they charge, you and Mad Dog can simply crawl under the railing and up onto the lattice-like grilling of the walkway – saving precious seconds.

A metallic clattering, a guttural curse, and then Blowtorch turns to hurl something that is blazing white hot over the railing onto the rough stone floor of the tunnel. You can feel the heat on your face even at this distance!

Its arcing passage to the ground leaves a streak of orange and white light across your vision and the steaming explosion of vaporized water as it hits the dampness on the rocks sounds like a train wreck.

Another string of encouraging cursing, and a deep thunk of metal in metal echoes through the door frame behind you, followed by a low hum as the door begins to open, rolling on a toothed track like a giant gear.

The cruel sounds of shattering shell from the darkness stop.

The crab-creatures charge.

Your mind is working like a supercomputer as time seems to slow down around you, and combat-readiness washes over you like a chill wave. Are they attracted to heat?

There is already enough space to squeeze through the opening doorway into the complex… is there enough time?

Taking up your rear-guard position and raising the shotgun to fire the grenade, you order Blowtorch and Mad Dog through the door double-time.

Mad Dog rolls onto the walkway and rises to one knee, bringing the rifle down on the railing as Blowtorch works her way sideways through the door as fast as she can. Lights seem to be slowly coming up to full daylight intensity from inside the complex, casting a bizarrely twisted shadow of Blowtorch across the cavern floor for metres past you into the deepening darkness of the tunnel.

Your thumb presses the firing stud, but a short sizzle is all that occurs: Misfire!

Mad Dog’s rifle erupts into full autofire, adding a sense of light, and hammering percussion from your rear right side.


Note to self, give the order for regular gun maintenance and cleaning when we get back.  School ordinance doesn’t get used very often…

I drop the gun to save a few seconds and yell “Inside, double time!”  I will try to jump on the platform behind MD since He is as likely as not to fire off an extra round or two despite my orders.

The grenade reloads are still on my chest in a sleeve, correct?  I will try to pull one out while I am squeezing through the door, and have it ready to throw back outside once MD is though.  Here I am assuming a manual pin.

Assuming we all get inside, I plan on moving us far enough into the room that the claws will not reach.  If BT can shut the doors behind us, even better.  We can take pot shots on any claw that does try to come in to dissuade further attempts.


Re: grenades –

Sadly the grenades are shells which are primed by firing from the launcher and after a brief arming period will detonate on impact.

You do have a flare, however.


Fair enough.  I will prep the flare, but save it.  Same plan as before, but save the flare in case claws try to get through the doors.  I will try to place it close to the entrance to drive them back.  It’s a good theory that it will scare them off (heat or light).


Stepping behind Mad Dog as he blazes away, you slip inside the slowly widening door, hooking to the right as fast as you can, checking your ammo pouches for grenades, but only producing a flare. {1 movement action + 1 simple action}

As you run your hands across the ammo, you keep scanning the darkness of the cavern. {1 incidental action}

Mad Dog begins his withdrawal, gun blazing – trying to maintain fire while squeezing through the door. {1 movement action + 1 complex action}

Blowtorch is to the left of the door, inspecting a keypad.

As Mad Dog rushes backward into the room, clip now empty, one of the creature’s spear-like appendages, 3 meters long if it is an inch, stabs through the ever-widening doorway!  The brutal-looking prong deflected slightly by one of the gear-like grooves in the door, passes between the two of you, narrowly missing Mad Dog, as he slips to the left behind BT.

As the crabs are here and more likely to press in with each passing second, you spark the flare. {1 simple action}

As the spear withdraws, BT slips quickly across the gap in front of you, before pressing her back into the wall and reaching up – grabbing the ring of some sort of wheel in the ceiling. {1 movement action + 1 simple action}.


Your side has initiative over the Crab Creatures.

The doorway counts as partial cover.

Primary Targets prior to movement are Cool Hand (less covered by the door) and Blowtorch (close to the door, more exposed than Mad Dog)

CH:L has a lit flare in hand

Mad Dog has an empty clip


I realize I don’t have a lot of free time to inspect the room, but do I see another exit?   I will attempt to toss the flare toward the door to illuminate and hopefully frighten the crab(s) and draw my holdout laser.

If there is no other exit I will say to BT ‘Get it shut’.  If there is an exit, I will say ‘fall back NOW’.  See below for actions that go with these commands.

I have a few ideas for plans, and they may depend on the opportunities that arise.

-The primary plan, if there is another exit in this room, is to provide cover fire for BT and MD with my holdout laser, then follow them out the door.

-If the crabs show any sign of retreating, from either the concentrated fire or the flare, I will push the advantage by moving back to the door we came in and try to get a laser fire shot on the loaded grenade launcher on the tunnel floor.  🙂  If things work out that I do get a shot, I will certainly spend an edge to get at least one extra success in an attempt to explode the ammo.

-The basic fallback plan if nothing else is available is fire my laser like mad, try to avoid any claw that comes at me, and give BT time to shut the door.


I am waiting for some post revisions from the others, so in the interim, perhaps this will fill in some blanks:

You are in what appears to be a sealed airlock. It extends back from the door about 20 meters, and to the right (if you were looking in from the cavern) for a considerable distance. In the section to the right of the door there are arrangements of equipment lockers, showers, and private changing areas. Whatever other exit exists, will be beyond those.

The floor beneath your feet is a heavy grill with a dry spillway for water beneath it, about 1 meter deep. The floor is solid about 5 meters to your left (if you were looking out into the cavern).

The room is now brightly lit with normal recessed lighting in the ceiling, painted a sterile white from the left side of the door. The grilled section has a green concrete floor beneath the grill, with signs of a past history of mold. The walls of this part of the room are a very pale green.

You can now clearly hear, and in the light spilling from the widening doorway plainly see, the brutish, smashed-in, crab-like faces, bulbous black eyeballs, and feathered grasping mandibles of the creatures in the tunnel. With the span of their shells and legs, it will be possible for them to enter here, but it does not look necessary, as their reach is more than adequate to spear you before you can withdraw. Their movements are too rapid to truly follow.

Lobbing the flare out the doorway [simple action if not a combat-y action], and pulling your holdout laser, you start moving toward the door to get an angle on your dropped shotgun… Blowtorch is totally exposed!

Mad Dog reloads and readies his rifle, while moving forward to press up against the wall to the left of the door – ready to fire around the door frame the instant he is ready.

In an instant, the creature pushing powerfully against the bending and snapping iron railing of the walkway outside the door scuttles backward a step and launches one of its cruel-looking prongs at the flare spitting and sputtering on the grillwork.

The flare shoots off to your left (looking out into the cavern) toward the stairs, as the chitinous prong smashes through the grating and down into the rock below as if the metal were as insubstantial as smoke! Another crab-creature partially crawls over the brute at the door for its turn at the flare. They seem to be mad for fire!

Pressing one hand against the manual release wheel, and pulling on something with the other, BT grunts with exertion and is rewarded with the instant cessation of the motor opening the door.

The door is slightly more than half open now. Blowtorch is standing next to it, quite exposed and must be out of her mind with terror!

The blank black eyes of the creature seem to be staring right at her and it is drawing its spear out of the wreckage of the walkway and pulling it back to launch it right at her heart!

[END of Turn]

You zigzag forward firing your tiny holdout laser pistol at the shotgun, relaxing as you shoot as you were taught. [1 Edge Spent]

Taking a step diagonally to his right, Mad Dog slips into a solidly defensible firing position versus the crab at the door, and opens up on full auto, at close range, slamming shell after shell across its face and the blade-like edges of its upper and lower shells. One eye bursts and huge fragments of shell shatter to reveal the soft gore underneath.

Despite this onslaught, the bullet-train approach of the thing’s three metre lance arrows right at the foul-mouthed mech-tech, until your shot strikes home and explodes the armed grenade in the launcher!

Fire and fury erupt under the crab as its prong crosses the threshold of the doorway, angling right past you and straight at Blowtorch’s guts.

But inexplicably the chitin covered lance rips to the left across your chest propelled with immense force by the wheel-like door rolling shut and crushing the joint of the armoured appendage to paste as it reseals itself with a deafening clang. Bullets from Mad Dog’s rifle spatter and ricochet in all directions from the dense metal of the barrier, and then… silence.

A flat female voice states from somewhere. “Emergency Closure Complete. Please proceed to Decontamination.”

The creature’s lance and a good half-meter of arm clatter and slop to the deck by the door to your left, leaking a dark greenish ichor from the pulverized remains of its shell.

The others are somewhat behind you, out of sight. Your gun is pointing up in a classic sharp-shooter pose, and your body is rigid with the sudden release of tension although your mind is as clear and sharp as ever.

You slowly become aware of a burning sensation along the inside of your left thigh just above the knee, a throbbing sensation below your right collar bone, and the sure sense that you have been spattered with something foul.

Looking down, you can see the fabric cover over the right side of your ab/flak jacket has been shredded in a few places – along with a spray of the creature’s ichor, but no penetration of shrapnel is evident.


The room is quiet, and well-lit.

The only sound is the slow release of breath from your companions and the slop drip of slime from the smashed joint of the creature’s arm down into the spillway.


OOC: Crab death from above indeed.  😉  A Crab would have been an interesting alternate mech choice for this campaign, and I still hope to find one.  🙂

And given the success of that last maneuver, I may start practicing grenade skeet shooting.

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