Headline! Newbies Have Fun With Danger Patrol!

edited January 2012 in Actual Play
Hey Story Games,

So after nearly six months of no opportunities to game, I managed to throw together a Danger Patrol session last night for me and two buddies. My wife was going to play too, but she fell asleep with baby Max so there were only two players, and me as the GM. Names withheld using handles instead, the two players were "Phaceplant" and "Montreal". Phaceplant has been playing D&D (1st to 4th Ed) and Shadowrun (2nd to 4th) with me since we were tweens and has played a few more eccentric "main-stream" games like Alternity (Dark Matter), TMNT, Earth Dawn, plus a couple of hacks I made for D&D years and years ago. So he's had quite a bit of experience, though until last night he had never played any way other than firm traditional simulationist style. He's creative, motivated to play, and for the most part he "gets it". Probably one of the better players I've had the pleasure of gaming with.

On the other hand we have Montreal, whose only experience with role-playing is a lengthy D&D 4th Edition campaign and a few games of Paranoia. He's still pretty much a newbie to role-playing but he caught on pretty quick. He doesn't always "get it", but he really enjoys the tactical side to the games and gets a lot more into it when there are player handouts, maps, and art. His creativity comes in spurts, but he's quite familiar with writing movie-scripts and movie tropes.

Anyway, the two of them picked Danger Patrol. They picked Style and Role cards randomly. Phaceplant ended up with a Psychic Flyboy he named Lt. Rux McCool and Montreal ended up with a Robot Agent he dubbed Agent Zero (he noted that "Zero" was short for 0011001001...I thought the binary code was pretty clever though not entirely consistent with his backstory... read below). Rux McCool's story was his uncle, a crop duster pilot, taught him to fly. Rux joined the Rocket City airforce and worked as a test pilot. One day while testing a super fast prototype rocket jet, he accidently flew through a worm hole and when he came back, he had psychic powers. Soon after, he joined the Danger Patrol as a pilot. Agent Zero was once a special agent for "whoever bond worked for, I forget...". When the Earth was destroyed 50 years ago, he was caught in the blast and terribly burned and mutulated. He was too valuable to let go, however, so the Agency rebuilt him into a robot body. They wanted me to make a character too. I pulled at random and got an Alien Warrior who I named Zeebus and decided he was "one of those crazy neptunians". I described him as sort of a fishy, reptilian version of a wookie. Phaceplant was like, "so like a trandoshan?". "Yes, exactly!" ;D

I should note that at this point, the players were used to the idea of coming up with the story behind their characters. We've always done this in our games. The players come up with the backstory for their own characters. Duh.

I wanted to jump straight into the game after we finished creating characters, so I used the "Attack of the Crimson Apes" scenario. I presented the scene and explained how the game basically worked. Then, before we actually started playing, I threw the "Previously on Danger Patrol..." challenge at them. This threw them for a loop. They didn't quite get the idea that they could come up with some clues and ideas to help explain why the apes were loose. After a few minutes of explaining that in this game they get to help come up with the story and stuff, they looked puzzled so we moved on. A minute or two later, Phaceplant had a light bulb come on and said, "So, you mean, like, maybe a few weeks ago I heard reports on the Danger Channel about a Mad Scientist that recently escaped from prison who is known for doing crazy expirments on animals...?"

"Yes! Exactly what I was looking for. Perfect idea." We ran with that.

The action scene played out in an interesting way. Rux McCool did some fancy flying to shake the ape on the back of the car while Agent Zero detached his head. Zero's Robot Head hacked into the traffic system and fixed the overload by routing the traffic through some emergency lanes (I had to help embelish the details for Montreal quite a bit) while Zero's Robot Body leaned out of the car and took some shots at the apes with his electro-blaster. Meanwhile, Zeebus leapt out of the car and into the out-of-control car with the screaming citizen. I then realized Zeebus' Flyboy skill was set to d4, so the next round, Zeebus just grabbed the citizen and jumped out of the spiraling vehicle while Rux swept him up in the Hawks-5000. The team then proceeded to eliminate and/or capture the remaining crimson apes. Before they finished dealing with the last one, Zero got shot by a sniper. He decided to use his Micro-gadgets and spy drone to locate the sniper and then pinpoint him as the Primary Target, allowing Zeebus to dispatch the sniper with a well-place turbo-rifle burst. During this whole scene, the team made good use of their powers, talents, and gear. Zeebus used his alien-power-borrowed-from-the-Intrepid "Alien Battle Roar!", and used alien training and secrets of my homeworld. Zero, as mentioned, made use of his gear, his detachable head, precision sensors, and robot strength. Rux made entertaining use of his Dogfighter ability quite a bit, resulting in Hawks-5000 that explodes seconds after they get out of the rocketcar.

The scene overall went pretty well, though it was a bit slow. The players sometimes had trouble coming up with dangerous details to earn Danger Dice, particularly Montreal. I had to help them out quite a bit in the beginning but it got better as we went on. We couldn't find any paperclips or beads in the house, so we used (heh) nails instead and they marked their power and danger right on the sheets. Otherwise, the rules and game itself was solid.

The interlude showed the three Danger Patrol operatives reporting to their CO and take some time to recover in the lounge back at HQ. They did some minor role-playing, mostly expanding on their backstories and explaining how they joined the Danger Patrol. When I asked them if they knew each other before joining up, they said yes, but Agent Zero's memory had been wiped so he doesn't remember Rux, and Rux doesn't recognize Agent Zero because he has since had a new skin fit over his robot body. It was interesting to me and I they finally started to get the idea that they had some creative control and were allowed to come up with details that I didn't expressly suggest. As this was their first foray into indie-style narrative games, they were used to traditional style where the GM/DM was the soul window into the gameworld. I was happy.

They then decided they wanted to inspect the body of the sniper and any apes that were recovered. So they kinda walked into their own Suspence scene. Again, very nice! While Agent Zero analyzed the ape carcasses and Montreal came up with the idea that they were infected with some kind of man-made virus that turned normally peaceful creatures into slathering, raging beasts. I loved the idea! Totally fits with Phaceplant's clue that a Mad Scientist just escaped from prison.

Meanwhile, Zeebus and Rux went to find the body of the sniper they took out. They checked the logs and saw that the sniper's body was being kept in Room Z-99 (I made a over-the-top serious face and used an over-the-top serious voice whenever I said Room-Z99...don't know why but it seemed to catch their attention). When the duo finds room Z-99 where the body is supposed to be, I came up with the catch that when they get there, the guard is knocked out and the door to the room is ajar. Rux uses his pychometry skills to see into the past. He gets visions of a female agent using some kind of psycic powers to fry to guard's brain. When they go into the room, the body of the sniper is gone and the air vent on the ceiling is swinging open. Rux uses more psychic abilities and rolls really really well, so I allow him to telepathically deduce that the agent is taking the body to a location near the outskirts of Rocket City.

At this point, I decide to remove my character from the game to speed up the impending Action scene, so I say that Zeebus is called away to deal with some Neptunian-sensitive business.

When the team gets to the location, they find that it's an old, abandoned corporate research facility. Rux drops Agent Zero off at the back entrance to the facility while he flies some recon loops around the area. Agent Zero finds the security room in the basement, but the power is turned off, so Montreal comes up with the idea to use his Energy Transfer ability to power the surveilance grid so he can scope out the place. Another cool idea IMO. Using the camera systems, he locates a laboratory on the top floor of the facility where the female agent and the mad scientist are experimenting on what appears to be a huge buff dude who is currently restrained by some kind of energy shackles. The team decides to fly up to the top floor, where they suggest a rocketcar dock platform allows access to said laboratory. I allow it, sounds cool! :)

They land on the platform where they are immediately spotted. Rux mind-links to the female agent and learns that her name is Natasha Ganamedska and she works for the Crimson Republic. She responds with a mind blast against Rux and calls in a CR assault unit (six CR troopers). Agent Zero deals with the troopers while Rux runs into the lab and engages Natasha and the Mad Scientist. Rux attacks Natasha again. Since the Mad Scientist was left to do as he pleased that round, he envokes a potential Disaster by trying to release the, what they now realize is, a massive snarling super-soldier from the energy shackles. Rux intervenes by grabbing the power coil and breaking the circuit to the switch that releases the super-soldier, getting some nasty voltage in the process and locking him into that Disaster. Next round, Agent Zero dispatches the rest of the Republic troopers with his robot body and electro-blaster while his head detaches and flies into the lab to try and hack the computer console and disable the energy shackles release switch. He manages to make a few hits against the system but not disable it completely.

Rux successfully breaks the power cable with brute force the next round, releasing him from the disaster, but the Mad Scientist slips out the back (maybe a recurring character?). Unfortunately, the system glitches out and a count-down start before the energy shackles lose power and the foaming super-soldier is released on them. Agent Zero re-attaches his head and moves to intercept Natasha. He rolls really well and takes her out in a single hit. The two Danger Patrollers have less then a minute to deal with the impending threat of the raging super-soldier, so I explain that they have the choice of killing him outright, or trying to concoct a syrum to cure him of the rage. They opt for the latter and roll for it. They succeed, but with the a lot of danger so I explain that as Rux injects the soldier with the syrum, the energy system break prematurely, and the soldier slam Rux, sending him flying across the room.



  • Agent Zero tries something strange and decides to use his disguise kit to make himself look like another soldier. I'm tired so I say sure why not! With a surprisingly good roll, he manages to confuse the super-soldier and delay him long enough for Rux to knock him out with a telepathic noggin-crack. They recover and call in backup. That's where we left off.

    Overall it was a lot of fun. I think they enjoyed having more narrative control and being absle to come up with their own story ideas instead of simply reactign to what I present. It was nice for me because there was basically no prep involved, and I enjoyed the reverse situation of getting to react to their ideas instead of always having to come up with stuff myself.

    Thanks Mr. Harper. Good stuff! :)
  • That was effing awesome, Zachary! I'm jealous!
  • Sounds cool! I also ran my first (GM+2 Player) Danger Patrol (actually Dangers&Dragons) game recently. I didn't use the default setup, and found the initial Action Scene a little rough to balance.

    I'm curious how your suspense scene worked out mechanically. Did you still do danger dice, threat moves leading to Hits on the PCs, etc? It seemed like the basic Threat moves didn't line up well for investigation. Instead of describing dangers for dice and then doing threat moves from the danger rolled, I had the players describe some potential wrinkles or troubling answers for each die. Then my threat moves were some combination of strengthening threats and adding the troubling details to the trail of clues. for each question.

    I'm also curious what your setup for the second Action scene was like? It looks like it starts around "When the team gets to the location..." in your writeup, but might be "They land on the platform..." Did you set out a bunch of threats initially, or sort of add new ones as you went? Did you add the new threats from existing threat moves/danger rolls, or as it felt good for the story?
  • @User-Clone

    Thanks! Although the game actually sounds great on paper, it did drag a little here and there. We were all pretty tired (and kinda faded XD) so I had to make sure to speed things up here and there and just call some shots. Overall it was a nice re-introduction to gaming for us! :)

    @ cy
    I'd like to try Dangers and Dragons. I made something similar called Legends of Fallenthrone (at sentientgames dot com). That might work better for Montreal since he's more familiar with D&D style fantasy settings.

    For Suspense scenes, I was kinda stumped at first. My first thought when I got to them was the same as yours, "What about danger and threat moves..?" So I winged it and it turned out pretty cool. I still challenged them to come up with a few dangers. I I left it out of the vignette above, but during the part with the challenge of analyzing the diseased apes, there was a mention in the game about needing get samples from both the live and dead apes. So dangers in that situation were getting hurt by the live raging contained ape, accidently getting infected, and the chance of killing one of the live apes before you could try to find a cure (my suggestion, though I don't think they really cared about the apes, heh). They still wracked up danger, and my threat move was indeed them getting elbowed in the chin by a raging ape they were taking a sample from, giving Agent Zero a Bashed box. I got to use another threat move when Rux used pychometry on the dead guard outside room z-99. I gave Rux a bashed box by narrating that the female psychic agent left a psychic trap for him that burned his brain when mind-linked with the corpse.

    As far as the setup for the second action scene, I basically consider arriving at the facility still part of the previous Suspence scene, including the part where Zero powers up and then hacks into the surveillance grid, locates the bad guys, and Rux scopes it out in his (previously unmentioned!) "armored-ass SUV rocketcar", telepathically scanning Natasha. After they land on the platform and the bad guys engage them, that was the beginning of the action scene, where I described the Crimson Republic troopers descending from ziplines from the roof, the snarling super-soldier looking like he's about to break himself out of his energy shackles, the female agent standing near the body of the recovered sniper, and the mad scientist injecting the "patient". I didn't have a firm idea of what they were going to find at the facility, but I took all the clues from the previous scene and threw the scene together. Plus the pyschic agent and her cronies made sense for some resistance.
  • This made my day. :) Thanks for posting!

    Suspense scenes are definitely the weakest part of the beta version. I'm glad you were able to make it work for you. One thing I'm trying in the next version of the game (gamma) is ditching the idea of scene types. Instead, the threats have different types, like Science, Mystery, Action, or Battle, so you can mix and match them in the same scene. The Detective can be hunting clues at the same time the Warrior is bashing renegade robots. Maybe something to try when you play next time. :)
  • HEY! If you've got time enough to post, you should spend it cranking out Gamma! *cracks whip* :P
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