Welcome to the first session of Surplus Heroes! It’s a shakeout session that takes just under an hour and a half.
I start off with no inner picture of how my character will react or speak, or even what baggage she might be bringing to a situation. I feel the same applies to the other three players too. But the benefit of a shakeout session is that you can try stuff. Here’s how it went down.
We don’t meet in a tavern
But that’s because we already know each other and are sitting around listening to the news, nursing our drinks, trying to figure out why our buyer, who wanted the ATVs we have crated up in our little cow when we set off, ain’t around to move them and hand us a case of creds so we can fuel up. Maybe the news clues us in: riots, anti-offworlder crap, dead president. Ain’t a body allowed to turn a cred?
Along the bar a ways is a doggie – what they call a Varag – and a couple high-cred types that might of come in on the big ship, Empress something, across the port from our little cow the Unschlug. The girl ain’t looking for action and the guy ain’t giving the eye.
The thin underslung type working the bar pops the vol up a mite and says how its getting ugly. Sure enough a drone cam shows us crowds on both south and west gates of the star port. Great. We are cut off from the old girl and need a way in.
“This your place?”
Pip ain’t just making with the small talk. She ain’t got hitched near as many times as me. But mostly, an offworld type like him might want to leave and might know how.
The underslung type allows as how ain’t nothing permanent and digs up a cashbox from under the floor, and a cut-down 8-bore. Seems his name’s Tone Loc and sure enough, he knows a way out.
I think Pip may have taken an Interaction check; at least one of us has rolled Alertness to see if we are aware that a mob is heading to the bar’s front doors. Meeting the Varag (name of Bob because his real name is unpronounceable) and Glenda and Wells is a gimme.
Low cloud is the same as fog
When you’re up over 1k that is. Glenda and Wells, the pair from the Empress, I’ve set in the middle. Barkeep Tone Loc is our guide but I set him at rear, Bob the dog next. Big Jim the Engineer is point so as to bulldoze through, me next. Giant then Pip slot in in front of Glenda.
The first real trouble we strike, the fog helps us. Fog carries sound real good, and we hear the locals before we slam into them. I get an idea and check around what we have. All good. I get the team together and quiet-like, say I’m going to throw a scare into them and at which point, we run through. Then I hurl Welling’s flask like it’s a pipe-bomb and yell ‘fire in the hold!’
The locals scatter like they ought to, and we run through. Once they get their nuts picked up, some run after us and Giant discourages them with a volley from his autopistol. I help with a shot or two my ownself. They stay discouraged long enough for us to get right round to the next problem.
Alertness galore. You can see how this is going can’t you? If you miss Alertness, you are surprised, or at least don’t get to plan. We make our checks and the GM does not penalise me for having to explain the plan out loud to a group of people. Someone, it may have been me, rolls on Athletics to throw the ‘bomb’ and that goes well too. Rolls on Athletics also decide how fast we run through, and there’s some party order shifting.
We swing in towards the starport’s feeder line, through a built-up zone. Well I’m still along at the rear, making sure no-one’s getting lost, then from up front I hear a challenge and Pip squeaking and the sound of her 9 going off. The next thing I know, Jim is popping his blade and going toe-to-toe with some local that is trying to throw down on him with a gun. It’s a little local reception party barricading a street leading into the spaceport. Besides the shit-kicker fighting Jim, there’s maybe two or three others. The fog is making it hard to tell. We hit the dirt and I call shift left to cover, because that’s where I can see doorways and windows. Turns out the other side of the street is hard by as well, so some of the team roll right.
Being under fire causes a Fortitude check. If you are exposed, chances are you are just going to hug the dirt and, at best, seek the nearest cover that is no closer to the enemy. I called left because that would meet requirements for most conditions – I guess I was working from Dark Heresy’s suppression rule.
Glenda does not make even that good a check, and I spend a bit of time trying (using Leadership, and failing) to make her move: eventually Bob helps and we drag her over into cover.
In each combat the GM decides who gets ‘Edge’. Normally, it’s really important. In this case he decides both Pip and the local are surprised and neither has the edge. Jim decides to go for close combat and pops his blade out of his cybernetic arm. If this was a d20 game I think that would be a free action, but I could be wrong. The local on the other hand is trying to use his firearm. Jim gets the edge because he successfully closes and hits. As long as Jim stays in contact, the man’s Close Combat skill is what is counting for his use of a firearm. If the local ever gets a hit in and gains the edge, he can switch to combat marksman by backing off.
The locals are bad enough that we blow through their lousy excuse for a barricade, flinging a few discouraging shots behind us as we scuttle. Jim’s still up front so far as I can hear. The fog is plumb thick, right down to around 1 metre vis, but I’m pretty sure we’re in the port. Then there’s a real challenge up ahead! I’m guessing Marines: I used to be one. Jim starts trying some chatline crap on the Marine so I shout him down and offer a proper response. It’s a picket of nervous low-hitch jarheads, just about wetting theyselves. Good thing I spoke up. They are keen to evac, so they head in with us.
The GM asks for a Leadership check in relation to the Marines, and I make a good roll. I don’t know if my background and rank helps. There’s some extra conversation across their RT network with their sarge, to co-ordinate evacuation and cover. These seem to be gimmes.
We need to leave but fast. Glenda and Wells have a fuelled-up ship so that’s what we need. I set up an extended line of search, adding the jarheads to it: we run a simple sweep and find the Unschlug: we have about one minute to grab our shit and get to the Empress. And away!
I hope you enjoyed this shakeout session, or at least got an idea of how the game plays. I moved pretty much from one of the team to boss-lady, but I hope to take a more equal role in most sessions. It ought to be horses for courses, where the helm is leader in one situation or even the gunner in another. Stay tuned!