Hair of the Dog PBeM Report ~ 5.1c BT

BATTLETECH: A TIME OF WAR RPG

Campaign: Hair of the Dog

Story 1: Running with the Big Dogs

Act 4: Bites, Scene 2 PoV – Sgt. Velika ‘Blowtorch’ Kadlec

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 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.

Behind you, in your direction of travel until the sound started, is the enormous carapace that strikes all of you as being crab-like. Thirty meters beyond it, there should be some sort of exit. CH:L is looking back down the tunnel just to MD’s left. You are just to Winters’ right. From where you are you can more or less see his IR scope.

He activates the wide panel on the 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.

As the blazing heat of the IR tags rushes closer through the cool purple of the display on Mad Dog’s scope, he asks, “CH? Grenades…?”

As something mechanical clicks in the direction of CH:L you hear the reply, “Grenades in 5, 4, 3, 2…”

As he nears 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.

“…1”

A soft thump and rush of air accompanies CH’s coolly uttered 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.

All three stop.

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

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

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.

Lucas keeps the team on the defensive and has you all conduct a steady withdrawal. He is ready to launch grenades and indicates that you should be ready with 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.

You reach the end of the tunnel first. Against the smooth concrete wall, marked with a large sign indicating that this is theControlCenterfor Mech Water Trials, you find a rusted metal flight of steps going up 1 meter to give 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.”

Blowtorch

Saint could have given us a little warning. He could have said, “Oh by the way, watch out for the gigantic man-eating crab-aliens that have infested the tunnels like a crabs on a hooker’s crotch.” Fuck! Everyone must have to run this fucking gauntlet, grenading fucking crabs in the fucking face, just to get the fucking hidden base. No wonder no one fucking uses this fucking place anymore.

“I have a feeling there are no fucking Lyrans here, sir!” I quip as I run up to the keypad.

We may have a problem… if no one has a code for this thing, we may be totally screwed. If we’re lucky, there is no passcode necessary. My first priority will be trying to get this door open. My second will be helping out with the suppression fire, trying to aim and shoot at softer or cracked parts the of crabs’ carapace.

GM

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 you reach 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 you proceed up them quickly and hook left to move down the metal walkway to reach the keypad.

Muttering expletives to yourself, you quip, “I have a feeling there are no fucking Lyrans here, sir!” as you run up to the keypad.

As you hit the stairs, CH:L says, “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. ”

He turns to speak to MadDog, but you cannot make out what he says over the clattering of your boots on the grill beneath your feet.

The keypad is a standard issue, GateKeeper 3373 model A, and judging by the glow, is running on normal power, not emergency. The 3 key and enter key are very worn, as they usually are – but none of that matters (great roll) as you know that this model has a factory reset programmed in. This model would never be used for a primary entrance, but is quite common inside facilities, with more secure models used on exterior entrances.

You need to press and hold 0 for 5 seconds (1 combat round) then enter for 5 seconds, then depress 1,5,9 together and hold for 5 seconds and it will wipe the password and release the door… probably…. usually…

Your helmet light does not show anything written or scratched on the wall around the device, but you know that CH:L is not wrong about password notations… your techs have to constantly scrub them off the walls in mech cockpits…

Alternately, you can pop the cover and race to remove the security device which will melt the interior circuits to slag in less than 5 seconds.

As you think, Cool Hand says, “BT… Your back to us. Grenade in 3, 2, 1

The blast is as intense as before, as is the light, but you are ready for it this time.

The darkness descends again like a shroud.

Blowtorch

OOC Question: I know that in movies the good guys would often shoot the lock (electronic or otherwise) to disable the security device and get the door open, but in the real world this is much less likely to work. So are we operating on Action Movie Physics or Real World Physics in this case, and would BT firmly believe that melting the circuits would work? She can repair the door later if they are going to be using it later on.

If BT is certain that melting the circuits will work, she will pop the cover.

If BT is not certain of this, here is what she will do instead:

While holding down the 0 key, she yells over her shoulder, “You need to hold them off for fifteen seconds!” and gets to resetting the password.

GM

OOC: Physical locks with bolts and tumblers will respond well to shooting. Keypads will just break. Closer to real world physics than not~

The only issue with popping the cover is one of speed…  Can she do it in time? She knows she can do it if time were not a factor. All the methods proposed are ones that she knows will work and I tried to include a sense of the time and difficulty required to make them work.

Factory Reset: Slow Process, each stage of which requires 1 round (5 seconds). No roll needed.

Hot Wiring: Must complete one’s tampering within 5 seconds of removing the cover. Must roll and be awesome.

Option 1 cannot fail, but will take time.

Option 2 can fail, but you will know that really soon!

Blowtorch

You know what? Let’s make this exciting. Let’s take the faster, riskier, option, and I will spend an Edge point to skew the odds more towards my favor. Can I spend more than one? I’ll spend as many as I can. 🙂

Velika doesn’t say anything, she just focuses completely on her task, striving for maximum, brutal hot-wiring efficiency.

GM

Your choice to spend Edge is a good one~

The skill which governs this action is Security Systems, and the RAW support keeping things as focused as possible on specific skills. However, leeway is recommended for areas of overlap and creativity. Further, the character has ‘Tech Empathy’ which gives her +1 to skills applied out of combat. Although this will count as under pressure (voiding the +1) the empathy is not to be discounted.

With that in mind, as I was putting this little scenario together, it seemed unlikely that a person who would often be tasked with wiring things into other things, and who is a ‘damn fine electrician’ would be baffled by a low-end security device, nor be totally unaware of how to set them up. What gets set up can be un set up.

This is not something on which to rely, but in situations such as this, on Marik Worlds, with old tech like this that has become standard or almost ritualized ’cause so few know how to alter the chips or have the resources to design more – it could definitely crop up.

So, that gives us two options: Option 1 is to roll it as untrained, but voiding the penalty of 4, which yields the following:

2D6 + INT(4) + DEX(5) + 1 EDG Point (2) – Rushed (1) – Difficult (1) – Untrained Penalty (Voided)=   2D6+9 versus TN 18

Option 2 is to roll it as trained, using Tech/Electronics which yields the following:

2D6 + Technician/Electronics(6) + Link Modifier(0) + 1 EDG Point (2) – Rushed (1) – Difficult (1)  = 2D6+6 versus 9

Obviously, we will go with Option 2. In a situation with a proper security system under difficult and rushed conditions she would be looking at a roll of 2D6+3 versus the TN of 18. Nasty.

This leaves Blowtorch with 0 Edge to spend, but opportunities for it to refresh await!

GM

Unzipping your tool kit and getting what you need, you pop the covering plate off the pad and dive into the nest of wires beneath to get at the slagging device. You pry it free and with the intense heat transferring up the handles of your pliers, melting the plastic over the grips and burning your finger tips, you fling it with a curse over the railing to the right of Mad Dog. Blazing white-hot, it lands, snapping and crackling, and steaming like molten metal! 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.

The walkway you are on has a single railing, so if the creatures charge, Mad Dog and Lucas can simply crawl under the railing and up onto the lattice-like grilling of the walkway – saving precious seconds.

Unleashing a string of encouraging cursing, you get at the lock release and cross-connect to the main power. Suddenly going into alert mode, the door release triggers and with a deep thunk of metal in metal echoing through the door frame beside you, followed by a low hum, the door begins to open, rolling on a toothed track like a giant gear.

The cruel sounds of shattering shell from the darkness stop.

Rom is taking up his rear-guard position and raising the shotgun to fire the grenade launcher, as he shouts an order to you and Mad Dog to get through the door double-time!

Rifle on the ready Mad Dog runs to roll onto the walkway and rise to one knee, bringing the weapon down on the railing as you work your way sideways through the door as fast as you can, clothes and gear snagging annoyingly on the door as you move. Lights are slowly coming up to full daylight intensity inside the complex, casting your shadow across the cavern floor for metres past Rom into the deep darkness of the tunnel.

What is Rom waiting for? Why doesn’t he fire a grenade?

Mad Dog opens up on full autofire, adding flares of blue-white light, and hammering percussion to the mechanical noises all around you.

You are in what appears to be a sealed airlock with equipment lockers, showers, and private changing areas. It extends back from the door about 20 meters, and to the right (looking in from the cavern) for a considerable distance.

The floor beneath your feet is a heavy grill with a spillway for water beneath it. The floor is solid about 5 meters to your left (looking out into the cavern).

[End of turn]

The door will be a little wider next turn, allowing MD to squeeze through.

Whatever is happening out there, it almost damaged CH:L’s calm.

Blowtorch

Making sure that I am not blocking the way in with my body, I will look for a control panel for the doors. I’ll need to shut those creatures out once CH gets through, and also need to make sure we can open the doors on the other side of the airlock or else spend the rest of our lives trapped down here.

GM

The interior panel is located to the left of the door exactly opposite where its external counterpart is situated on the outside wall. A quick visual scan shows its keypad is lit, and it might still be in operation despite your hot-wiring shenanigans to get in – but there is no guarantee. A large wheel set in the ceiling in the right corner of the room, next to the door, is marked ‘Manual Release’. {1 incidental action for this sort of perception}

Suddenly, Cool Hand slips inside the slowly widening door, hooking to the right as fast as he can, checking his ammo pouches for something, but only producing a flare. {1 movement action + 1 simple action}

Why didn’t he fire a grenade? Wait – where is the combat shotgun?

As he runs his hands across the ammo, his eyes are 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}

Focusing more closely on the keypad, you notice that instead of the bright red light which indicates active status, or the bright green light that indicates it is in operation, the dull amber light which indicates a system reset is now lit. The door will have to be cranked shut manually – after it cycles fully open! {1 simple action for this sort of perception}

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 men, narrowly missing Mad Dog, as he slips to the left behind you.

Focused on getting the door closed, and being the only one with enough technical knowledge and time in the room to know the options, it will probably fall to you to save the day.

Cool Hand lights the flare {1 simple action}

As the spear withdraws, you slip across the gap, press your back into the wall and reach up – grabbing the ring of the manual release. {1 movement action + 1 simple action}. From this angle, you can see a large red release lever with black, stenciled letters: Emergency.

____________________________

END OF TURN

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

Blowtorch

Well, this certainly qualifies as an emergency. Not sure if that means it’ll give me manual control over the door or whether it’ll open the door on the other side, but either way helps.

Can I both toss one of my ammo clips at Mad Dog and pull the lever in this round? If I can do both, I toss the clip at Mad Dog yelling, “Ammo, catch!” then focus on the lever. Otherwise, I just grab the lever and pull.

GM

You can do one or the other in this instance (because the lever will need to be held in the down position, and you will need to brace yourself with your other hand to get the leverage to do so). There is no cause for ammo alarm just yet, though, as he has plenty of reloads of his own…so far.

________________________

From your position near the door, 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 not be easy for them to enter here, but it does not look impossible, and their reach is more than adequate to spear you before you can withdraw. Their movements are too rapid to truly follow.

Cool Hand lobs the flare out the doorway, and in an eye-blink, produces a holdout pistol from somewhere.

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.

While you are out here in the doorway, almost totally exposed to malicious crab-creature intent, no one is ready to attack or even mount suppression fire!

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 the lever with the other, you are rewarded with its smooth release from its upward position, and the instant cessation of the motor opening the door. For a centuries old device, this works like new!

The door is slightly more than half open now. You are standing next to it, quite exposed objectively, and totally exposed and about to get eaten subjectively.

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

[END of Turn]

Cool Hand, initially just visible from the corner of your left eye, zig zags forward firing his tiny holdout laser pistol at something… under the crabs? What the hell?

Take 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 pulps in a black jet of jelly, and fragments of shell clatter away into the darkness.

Despite this onslaught, the bullet-train approach of the thing’s three metre lance arrows right at your heart, slowing time and causing all details around it to fade into a swirling whirlpool of inconsequentiality. In all the universe there is nothing but you, the door, and the lance that this shelled monstrosity is intending to end you with… well, those things and an immense explosion!

Fire and fury erupt under the crab as its prong crosses the threshold of the doorway, angling right at your guts.

Hanging on to the lever for dear life, things seem so impossibly fast. As the signal to move starts to descend to your legs, and as the prong slices through the air ever closer to your comparatively tiny frame, your skin starts to crawl where you *know* it will hit and penetrate you.

But it doesn’t.

The wheel-like door rolls shut with massive force, 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, leaking a dark greenish ichor from the pulverized remains of its shell.

Cool Hand Luke is standing slightly ahead of you. The prong must have brushed his chest as it was taken off-line and smashed by the door. His gun is pointing up in a classic sharp-shooter pose, and his body is rigid.

Mad Dog has also snapped his weapon up and away, finger on the safety and is looking at you both intently.

All is calm for a moment that might only be a heartbeat, before you slowly become aware of a stinging sensation along the right side of your neck.

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

From your vantage point, you can see that Rom’s vest has been sprayed with shrapnel as well – along with a spray of the creature’s ichor.

[END of COMBAT]

The room is quiet, and well-lit. You know that there is a chart of some kind under the door panel which you believe will have further details about this room.

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