Mechwarrior PBeM Report 5 ~ Hair of the Dog ~ Story I Act IV Scene 8

This entry continues the ‘behind the scenes’ look at A Time of War, and how the Hair of the Dog campaign, set in the brilliant Battletech Universe and using Catalyst Game Labs’ RPG rules, is being conducted as a PBeM.

If you are new to the story being created in this campaign, you might want to start at the beginning…  HERE. Acts 1 to 3 have been edited into a sort of dramatic continuity, with most of the game elements removed. Acts 4 through 6 are being presented as they have been conducted via gmail.

For further detail about the setting and how the campaign came about, you can check this link.

Scene 8 of Act 4 can be found below. Earlier Scenes in this Act can be found here:

Please be aware, for those for whom harsh language is of concern, that here be curse words~

BATTLETECH: A TIME OF WAR RPG

Campaign:  Hair of the Dog

Story 1:  Running with the Big Dogs

Act 4: Bites,  Scene 8: ,  PoV: All Players

Cast:

Captain Lucas Rom, callsign – Cool Hand Luke, CH:L

Lieutenant Mel Winters, callsign – Mad Dog

Master Sergeant Velika Kadlec, callsign – Blowtorch

Major Angus Llew ‘Fitz’ Fitzsimmons, callsign – Death Breath

Myron Tate, Head of Security

Alexandre Lechasseur, Security

Sal Winner, Security

Pietr Llewellyn, Security

Dominic Vincent

Pamela Cartwright, Curator

GM

Thursday, November 27, 3028 – 9:03 AM, Ward Marik Museum of Military History

With the help of your new ally and rebel cell leader, Conwin ‘Scarecrow’ Lassiter, the four of you were able to slip aboard the Red-Eye Bullet Train to Beasville posing as miners on leave. The bored conductors, paid to pay more attention to cargo than workers taking advantage of extra space for a free ride to the big cities of the soft southern tip of the continent, barely looked at the documents and passes provided for you as cover by the corporate mechwarrior.

The ride, entirely underground even when rushing through the trackless desert wastes of the Steppes, passes painfully uneventfully. The only entertainment being sleep and dreams, or what you chose to bring with you. Travelling separately, but on the same train, there is little to do. After 7 hours on hard plastic seats, with only three stops and an average speed of nearly 400kph, everyone still aboard by the time you reach Brigadier’s main complex in Beasville seemed to be in a hurry to get off. End of the line has a very final sound to it under these circumstances.

No one checks your luggage, and no one gives your travel papers more than a cursory glance. A tip from Scarecrow prepared you to seek out a few different hostels midway between the Complex and the Museum for each of you to dump your baggage in a safe while you scope out the museum. You have all the gear you can reasonably expect to need to deal with physical and electronic security systems, but as none of you are specialists in designing or defeating such measures, there is a certain amount of fear involved in preparing for that part of the mission. The hardest part is actually lugging duffle bags large enough to fit tools and your neurohelmets. Despite such heavy kit, no one gave you much attention. You are not the only ones who look like you are carrying all that you own. Although Fitz only recently got a clean bill of health from the doctor, he doesn’t seem discomfited by the weight.

As you are off-duty, and carrying IDs for the Hanburton facility you did not get a chance to check out their Spaceport, but you did have several opportunities to see more of Brigadier’s helpfully placed maps, so you have an idea of how to get around the facility should you ever need to return.

One thing you noted as you leave the restricted area of the underground rail link, and made your way up to the long-term parking lot outside the facility walls, was that there are no Lyran personnel working in the areas through which you passed, and their entire presence seemed to be limited to a few posters carrying the already familiar edicts pronounced last Friday… Annexation Day. Edicts carrying demands most of which come due tomorrow.

10:01 AM

Public transportation through the well-organized streets, already getting a dusting of early snow this chilly late November morning, is on time and cheap, but marked visibly within and without by signs of the Lyran seizure of this city. Clear warnings about the curfews, and duties of these sudden Commonwealth citizens are posted everywhere, and patrolling the streets are both civilian police and Lyran Infantry forces – the latter in very small numbers, but well-equipped with hover vehicles, riot gear, and supported with heavy weapons.

Getting to the museum was fast and easy. It opens at 10:30 AM as it does on every weekday, and will close at 7:30 PM. Its weekend hours are from 9-9. The museum is located in the midst of a primarily commercial sector near several schools and hospitals, and flanked to the North by a large residential section. The only portion of the museum above ground is a 60m wide 3 story edifice built to look like a fortress of old, on an artificial island set in a deep, dark lake whose waters churn like a storm-tossed ocean. Although snow lines the banks of this lake, the fierce, mechanically motivated movement of the water prevents it from freezing.

The Battle of Beasville

Fighting in the Streets

The area is surrounded by an uncomfortable mix of light buildings, ranging from large private homes, bland public schools, soaring modern hospitals, and glass and steel office towers. A fast food franchise, McNaughton’s, and a small establishment called the Ardmore Tea Room, sit almost directly across the street from the guard booth at the drawbridge to the museum, and both offer line of sight to the main doors. From either one, you could sit and observe the habits of the ticket takers and door guards. Staying separate, Mad Dog and Blowtorch trying to pass as a couple, Fitz on his own reading something dull on his datapad, and Cool Hand also running solo, you each find a spot to await the opening of the museum.

There have been no signs of Lyran patrols or increased police activity since you entered this part of town.

The guards appear to be rent-a-cop types, with ill-fitting uniforms of a cheap and uncomfortable fabric. No Lyrans are in evidence. One guard passes quickly through McNaughton’s, orders a set of 4 large coffees, 1 with 13 sugars, then leaves. The patch on his jacket reads Eagle Security, with a gold eagle symbol and the motto – Always on Watch. He looks to be 20 and like he has never once missed a meal, or left one early. His pants can barely contain the vastness of his cool flesh. He walks on his toes, and looks worried to be late.

10:40 AM

The museum opened at 10:31 AM for a crowd of zero people. Eventually, each of you made your way inside and began to investigate separately. As reported, the Hall of Honour is not far from the door, and is accessed via a large ramp. The mechs are all there as Fitz and the Dean described, but instead of the Orion, there is a Thunderbolt. It is not clear at first how the mechs got in here as the front doors are not designed to open for such large objects, but eventually it becomes apparent that their display actually hides an elevator to a lower floor.

Other displays are for uniforms, sidearms, support weapons, military vehicles, and aerospace assets – including a Manatee Dropship and two Cheetah Aerospace Fighters. The support vehicles display is closed off, and sounds of construction can be heard from within.

Security appears to be limited to cameras, and a few pairs of guards who roam the premises on a predictable schedule. The displays are guarded by very visible beam sensor arrays which will sound an alarm if you pass through to get to the equipment. The smaller gear is all behind glass.

Exiting with the mechs, will require smashing out of the front of the building, or walking out through whatever method was used to bring them in.

After as thorough a patrol as you can manage, each group departs, attempts evasive efforts to shake any tails that may have been picked up, then meets for a rendezvous in a bar frequented by the down and out, near the harbour, where a change back into your miner’s gear will let you blend in, and make the Lyrans all the more likely to stand out.

2:30PM

A friendly game of darts turns into a round of early afternoon drinking, which passes unnoticed in this den of drunkards, followed by a hearty, warm, brown, and otherwise unidentifiable, but damn tasty lunch together over which a low-voiced conversation can be had in private before Rom returns to observe closing procedures and slip in to hide if the mood is right.

Mad Dog

“So what do all of you think,” Mad dog queries with a certain restlessness. Disguise and subterfuge clearly don’t come as examples of his primary skills, but he seems to be holding his own, though obviously itching for the next step. “I doubt we’ll have time for anything except smashing out and through, unless we actually knew more about the exit tunnels. We’ll have to very careful of the civilian buildings, though.”

CH:L

“We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I still think its doable.”

[OOC: a) Which entrance did we spot with best chances of letting the others in?  perhaps the entrance Mr. 11 sugars used?  b) Did the guards have electronic key cards? Were they combined with passcodes?]

“I’ll double check on security protocols after dark before letting you in, but we’ll stick with the entrance we agreed on.  30 minutes late means switch to door B.  45 minutes late means I`m caught.

We will try to find the loading entrance for these things, but yes, let’s get out of populated areas ASAP.  If we are confronted by mechs, we try to arrange a battle outside the populated area.”

GM

Comparing notes from surveys of the neighborhood you believe that you have a 99% chance of having correctly identified the plain structure, which mostly resembles a three storey ferrorcrete warehouse, through which large exhibits would be brought into the museum. It is the only such structure with a direct line to the main entrance of the museum through the parkland which delineates the size of the complex underground. If it is not that building, it must be extremely far away and connected by a tunnel.

Its exterior entrances do not seem heavily guarded, but it is rigged to use a lot of power – too much for what looks to be a storage space. BT’s assessment is that it is adequately set up to have enough juice to run heavy cranes, massive industrial elevators, and a decent security system such as an electrical fence or a laser cannon.

Alternate exits from the museum do not permit entrance. There are a number of fire exits, and three normal exits – one in, and two on opposite sides of the park, but only the one Entrance. The museum staff all enter through the main entrance and take an elevator. Visitors to the museum do not have access to the elevator as it is behind a security desk where staff sign in.

The guard booth on the street has a small door, but the guards do not seem to use it. They exit and enter the booth from a tunnel which passes under the lake.

Entering through the exits, fire or normal, will require defeating the security system [a security roll, or a penalized electronics roll]. Entering through the main door will require dealing with human guards and/or keypads. The guards can be bypassed in numerous lethal and non-lethal ways of your devising, the keypads require a password or a security roll.

Alternate means of entrance are the air exchangers, which again require knowledge of security systems to enter and traverse without triggering an alarm.

Of all the methods, the one which seems to require the least amount of technical knowledge is hiding somewhere within while the museum is open. It will require a good knowledge of human behaviour, a good memory for camera angles, and the ability to move with stealth.

The mechs are shut down and are standing in a row. A well-padded, colorful gantry allows visitors to view the mechs up close and even peer into the cockpits. You have been able to discern that  these are fully operational mechs in pristine condition. Problems to overcome include, bypassing whatever security protocol the mechs have (typically a password), a lock plate covering the jack-in panel for the neurohelmet, and taking the weapons systems out of safety mode.

Given 30 uninterrupted minutes to work with the command system with a few small tools and software developed by Gibs, Blowtorch can unlock all the systems of one mech, and then power it up. An additional 10-15 minutes will be required to synch a neurohelmet to the mech if that is desired [1 piloting roll penalty of 1 w/o]. Starting the mechs fully for motion and combat will require an additional 5 minutes as they are completely shut down.

Best estimate of night-time guard staff based on watching the night shift exit is a 5-man team armed with sidearms, nightsticks, and restraints. This team has compact radio gear and earpieces. The day-time guards use walkie-talkies and are armed only with nightsticks, but a 5-man team similar to the night patrol is on-call from somewhere within the off-limits section of the building.

Fitz reports overhearing a heated discussion between a woman he believes is the museum curator, and a man he guesses is the head of the board of directors for the museum or someone with a similarly vested interest in the ongoing existence of the exhibit. They were discussing in heated, hissing whispers what to do about the Lyran edicts about military equipment. The curator wanted to know who would protect the museum staff from reprisal if the museum refused to declare their holdings and open the vaults to the quote “Occupiers.” The big-wig dodged the question by reminding the curator that the Lyrans are busy and have no idea what is in the museum and then started talking about civil liberties and private property laws. They moved out of earshot toward the restricted elevator in the lobby at that point, so Fitz does not know how the argument ended.

GM Note:

From this point onward, as we entered Scene 9 and the actual attempt to ‘liberate’ these mysterious mechs, most of the play was conducted in separate Points of View, with each player having their own thread coloured by their character background, capabilities, and location. I made heavy use of Intelligence, Career, and Perception checks to try to really focus on what these characters are actually capable of, and to give the players fuel for interpersonal interactions rather than purely plot and plan based interactions.

The separate threads for Scene 9 will be posted soon, and will take us through to the Battle of Beasville~  Stay Tuned!

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