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"
. 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.