Welcome back for this conclusive session of Surplus Heroes!
Current mission: locate Fetterman expedition remains
The crew of the Bad’n’Ruin is on Lewis, home of the Klackons (or crabbies). Tone Wik, veteran and renowned Scout officer, offered Pip the pilot, BJ the engineer, Iceman the gunner and Widow the comms a break from the boredom of Junidi’s large research outpost on Lewis. It seems that Fetterman, original explorer of this world, encountered disaster here and was lucky to get away from a Krabby attack. Tone is on the trail of [one of] Fetterman’s exploration sites.
AL, Pip’s player, could not make it so the GM decides she sensibly decides to stay on base. This means:
- BJ, engineer and melee
- Iceman, gunner and marksman
- Widow, sensors and medic
Spelling: the correct spelling for Fetterman is Feneteman but as even the GM uses the wrong word Widow makes no apology for her way of spelling it. And of course Jundy is Junidi and Varag is Vargr.
And now, read on…
Out over the tropical forest
Ralph takes the air raft up and Tone nods and says yeah that’s good and quiet. He and Andy the researcher that done signed on to this trip are acting like rookies jumping the wire for a night.
BJ: you did log this trip didn’t you?
Tone: oh – oh yeah… yeah
[It’s obvious Tone has not got official sanction for this trip. The GM allows Iceman to roll against Tone’s poor persuasion attempt, even though he has already portrayed the unconvincing reply. With a good Interaction check, Iceman easily reads Tone. But so what? It’s not like we are going to insist on abandoning the mission.]
Tropical canopy rises to well over 30m in parts as we head N-E for 150k. I stick my Locator – the combat sensor – over the side as we skid by but we’re too fast and there’s too many birds for me to get any reading. I flick over my handy and check the mega-fauna this place has got. Yep, don’t want to argue with any of those! BJ asks Andy a question and the youngster babbles on for about an hour about origins, species and such. I don’t pay much mind.
We’re about a half-hour out when we get round to Tone briefing us. We allows as how Fetterman left a full-size scout ship. He’s pumped for looking for the site, even more than Andy. I laugh at the idea of us finding anything after 300 years and BJ looks disappointed. Maybe he’s thinking he could find a ship still standing, power it up and fly it? At dead-reckoning point, Tone has Ralph start a slow diameter pattern, and almost straight away my Locator picks up structure. Vixe!
We find an intact ship!?
We land in a patch caused by a big trunk falling, and pull likely equipment together. Ralph seems real together, which is good to see. We don’t know his background before security detail but he did say something about Varags doing the same job cheaper when we hove to over Fetterman and saw the pretty Jundy militia boys.
Order of march
Iceman, Ralph, Tone, Widow with Andy, BJ.
A short hike with Iceman on point cradling his las-carbine gets us to the structure. It’s a more or less intact scout ship. I keep my manners and apologise to BJ. On my home world the thing would be buried right quick. I guess all the trees kept the thing from sinking and the soil from drifting up over it, though it is listing and the starb’d wing is buried.
We drop our route kit, and I take another reading. Too damn many birds [Widow gets -5] so I can’t get nothing. Tone tosses some more chips on the table by saying the expedition maybe left an ATV right there too, just waiting for us. I tell myself so what. But now I seen the ship, the idea of an ATV maybe sitting cold but recoverable does sound believable.
Tone is talking about searching inside the ship, so I nod to BJ and Iceman and we set to refit with close-action gear. I run back to the air-raft and get the cold-light and respirator I packed, and by the time I get back everyone’s ready. The starb’d main hatch is open, ferns growing out of it, so I head in.
BJ: SMG. No armour, just a light jack, but has full goggles and respirator.
Iceman: las-carbine. Light combat armour including goggles.
Widow: light and knucks, pistol. Light combat armour including goggles and respirator.
With inexplicable damage
Ralph stays rearguard as I head in, Tone just about on my heels and Andy crowding up. We search the lower fore-deck but the bow cargo bay is empty, the bow doors shut.
With lots more to search, we pull all packs into the area searched and Ralph takes post at the hatch. Leaving Tone and Andy wrasslin a rusty crowbar into a locked cabinet off in a side cabin, I lead the other two on a search for the upper deck access and power plant. We find an open hatch up, only trouble is, where the hatch out to be is the deck is completely sliced through where the hatch used to be, and there’s no sign of the plate that must sure have fallen down.
It’s the same story as we search through the dark upper deck, moving from hole to hole right up to the bridge. Luckily, the only critter we spot is some kind of bird that flies out an open hatch above the bridge.
By this time Tone has caught us up, and with more searching, finds the captain’s log locked away and intact. It’s even more of a find than the antique corroded SMG lying on the bridge deck.
Flipping down the log, Tone allows as how it gives him distance and bearing to ruins. This was what Fetterman was trying to explore, he allows.
Then explore the Mandala of death
We pack everything, hydrate thorough-like, and march to the ruins [returning to our original order]. It’s a hole in the ground. Not a big one, neither. Something collapsed, leaving a mound of topsoil with ferns growing. An easy scramble down. Around the edge, the earth slopes down to cavern, so that ought to be the ruin Tone’s looking for.
[At one side of the subsidence, there’s a three-choice entry to something wide and tunnel-like, all heading the same way.]
I take the locator out and check on our surrounds first. I get a big reading! We go to noise discipline, not that anyone’s been yelling so far.
Beyond the entry, the tunnels curve, duck back and cut across like a simple mandala or circle maze. The floor is like ceramic, or some high-tech ship metal. It makes the idea of Forerunner tech seem possible. Iceman has good instincts and gets us around back to the other side of the entry tunnel, where we find a door and a strange access panel we can’t operate. Then he leads us back around and in, right to the centre as far as we can guess. We’re just about ready to see if we get a prize for finding the middle of the maze when we hear clacking!
Finding a fight
Iceman takes us back out but taking a guess that he can get back to the entrance with a short-cut, takes us to a closed door dead-end. Andy panics looking for a way of opening it, I calm him down [great Leadership check]. We drop our packs ready to fight, and head back fanning out into combat order. At the gap we just came out of, I am just taking a locator reading when po! a Krabby charges out!
Battle layout: the circle maze is more complicated than the one I’ve clipped in above, with some wedge angles added, but essentially shows the layout. The tunnel is wide and with good footing, which suits the crabby more than us, but it does mean three people can shoot at any time.
Edge: although Widow gets a good locator check, the crabby has charged to close quarters so it has edge, but no surprise.
Round 1: Krabby stabs and impales Iceman and misses BJ with its off-pincer. Widow retreats and changes to carbine. All with mag-loaded weapons blaze away, chipping Crabby’s carapace a little.
Round 2: Krabby sweeps forward, smacks Tone into the wall, and attempts to ‘hand off’ Iceman to a feeder claw. Iceman (who has made his Fort check but is still impaled) shoots the claw joint: it does not cook out, but fails to hand him back.
BJ misses with his second burst; his mag is empty. Widow accurately shoots the same chipped area, pulling back again to keep at short range. Ralph does the same but at a poor angle (button is crap). Andy gets his carbine safety off (great Fort check) and unloads into the same chipped area. Krabby flinches.
Round 3: Krabby kills Tone messily, and hurls Iceman at the others who all clustered to get the same target. Widow (good Athletics) gets clear as does Ralph but BJ and Andy are knocked down. BJ stands, Iceman (another good Fort check) remains prone, trying to spot a weakness on the underside but it seems not to have any. With a difficult (-6) shot, he still gets the weakened armour! Widow does the same, hurting the Krabby, but Ralph misses.
Round 4: Krabby pulls back. Widow hurries forward and loots the captain’s log from Tone’s kit and asks Iceman to assess his condition.
(This is where things can get ugly. A bad roll may mean the only thing stopping Iceman’s guts from falling out is his ruined combat armour. But he rolls 17+1 for Frame and is -2 ‘beat up’ – a great result!)
Round 5: mags are changed out, Widow pulls back to the others. The Krabby charges again!
Round 6: Widow shoots it and pulls back. Iceman now has a good line on the weak point and cooks it right through!
(Each successful shot, the Krabby makes an armour check. Success prevents damage but degrades armour. The GM was rolling very high on all but three hits, and the last hit had a deadly button.)
Flee to the air raft
Packs grabbed back up, we check the next intersection. Iceman turns hopefully to a way we ain’t tried yet, then we decide not, and just head back out the way we come in.
Up on the mound, I take a Locator reading and work out a gap between the megafauna that’s now on my screen. I set a bearing for the air raft. Then we run!
[This would have been a good moment for excellent Athletics checks, but BJ is struggling. Time to dump spare gear!]
I can hear clacking again. We all drop packs that ain’t critical, and Iceman, who is still sore hit, sheds a few other bits, but keeps a hold of his laser. BJ seems to be struggling, so I’m back at rearguard with him, when a Krabby hits the middle of the line!
This is a simpler combat layout. Trees must abound here but are not laid out: so effectively the ground is open for both we and Krabbies.
Round 1: Iceman hits it but armour holds. Ralph is knocked aside, Andy is down. Widow moves around clockwise towards Iceman, shoots accurately but armour holds. BJ misses as he follows Widow’s path.
Round 2: Ralph is up and running! He’s dropped his autorifle and is making fast time! We run!
[BJ makes double-ought on Athletics so is now easily able to keep up. The GM rules he may have over-torqued his mech-arm, swinging off branches! But Iceman is struggling with the -2, though he is OK for now]
I can hear Krabby noises off on my flank as we pass where the ship must be. Then I hear another to the rear! My wind is good, but looking over my shoulder I see BJ and Iceman slowing. I know if I can get to the air raft, picking them up is the best option, so I keep running. I’m just short of the raft when a Krabby jumps up atop it!
Combat layout: One Crabby (the one that killed Andy) is to rear some 10 metres from BJ and Iceman, while another is atop the air raft some 15 metres from Widow and Ralph.
Edge: neither side has edge.
Round 1: Iceman and BJ both make good shots on the rear Krabby, halting it. The air raft Krabby rises to its hind legs and bellows a challenge!
Widow shoots it, but it ignores the shots.
Round 2: Iceman cooks the rear Krabby and he and BJ scuttle away towards the front, widely spaced. Widow shoots and pulls back (another good shot without effect) near her comrades as the Krabby jumps down off the air raft and advances slowly. Ralph, down to a pistol, sidles quietly round.
Round 3: Krabby charges into Widow’s third ineffectual volley, bowling her. (She is knocked down and is -1 for all actions and stunned for the round.) Ralph closes on the air raft. Iceman and BJ are now closer to the raft than Widow.
Round 4: Ralph has reached and is in the air raft, punching it to life. Iceman targets a flank and shoots the Krabby, hurting it severely. BJ rushes back and hauls Widow to her feet.
Round 5: We dodge the wounded Krabby and race to the air raft’s running board. Ralph lifts it off, and we hear angry bellows from thwarted Krabbies from all over the area as we gain altitude.
Ending up looking for work, again
The problems only begin when Ralph gets us back to base safely. He reports, and is fired. Seems like boss-woman Andrea thinks he ought to have reported Tone for heading out without permission, not gone with him.
I’ve fixed Iceman up on the way back [excellent Doctor check, and Widow kept the med-kit] but he’ll be needing new combat armour. It doesn’t seem like we’re going to be able to get some here, not neither in Arramanx nor Fetterman.
Seems like Andrea don’t appreciate getting Tone and Andy killed neither, not that we’re to blame for more than going off base without leave and surviving. She tells Bex we’ll be paid for the work done, but won’t be employed for any second run out of Jundy.
Ralph (hopefully): I guess we’ll all be looking for work
Widow: heh, you ride out with us gato, you shoot straight and know when to run
Iceman: didn’t getting the captain’s log make things better?
Widow: you think I told anyone I got the captain’s log? No way in hell!
As this was the finale the GM awards advances. BJ comes up 1 Combat Marksman box. Widow advances 1 in Interaction. Iceman advances 1 box in Aquatic Survival, better reflecting his four hitches experience as a Marine.
End of Season, and Future
Thanks for reading! At some future date SM intends a second season of Surplus Heroes featuring the same crew but tweaked rules. Frame was a useful stat even in modern gaming but this far-future campaign has made next to no use of it. It will probably become an optional, benefits and drawbacks for being either large or small. There are some minor balance issues around burst fire and aimed, but overall everyone is happy with how it feels and plays.