Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Against the Termites – Initial Thoughts

Inspired in part by G 1-3 Against the Giants, I’m embarking on the solo adventure/mega-dungeon design in tandem. Here are some initial concepts:

- This fits in the world of MTDAA as the ‘lost story’ of Zak’s integration into the Ant Army. After he became an Army Ant and completed his training, but before he joined the team (as of issue one, or the first page of the MTDAA collection ‘Tour of Duty’), he was sent on a solo mission of some import.
- Quick Backstory: The Termite Mound at the edge of Seven Fields has been a source of growing anxiety for several nations, foremost among them the Ant Republic. Although claiming neutrality with all nations, the termites have appeared to have taken steps to become a military power, and the ants want to know more.
- The Queen has been openly negotiating with the termites, but they’ve been playing their aims and motives close to the vest. She can’t get a good read on what’s really going on… and she needs someone to get inside and find out.

Zak is ideal because:
- He’s not a red ant – he’s an outsider, and no one knows where he’s from (excepting a centipede, a few potato bugs, and three ants). It’s easy to hide his existence, and even easier to deny him should the operation go south. The ants can use him to gather intel, and if he’s found out they can deny that he has anything to do with them.
- His skill set is well-suited to this operation (except for the whole no talking thing).

Zak as published in the Core Rules (page 159) is at the end of Tour of Duty. He’s midway through Level 6. I could back him up to Level 4 or Level 5. This puts him between 100 and 200 XP. Since one of the goals is to make this adventure adaptable to group play (designed for solo play, but easily adjusted to fit a squad), I need to consider how this plays out for group play:

- At 120 XP, he’d be Level 4, but play could be adapted to 2 characters at about 60 XP (level 3), 3 characters at 40 XP (level 2), or 4 characters at 30 XP (also Level 2).
- At 180 XP, he’d be Level 5, but play could be adapted to 2 characters at about 100 XP (level 4), 3 characters at 60 XP (Level 3) or 4 characters at 45 XP (midway through Level 2).

As far as adapting goes, it’s pretty much a wash. Comparable groups could take this on. For solo play, he’s going to need to be as versatile and durable as possible, and I want to be able to design some tougher encounters in here as well. I’m going to put him right at the start of Level 5, at 150 XPs and 30 CPs. I need to reverse-engineer him from the Core Rules, taking away 6 CPs. Dropping his Spirit from D10 to D8 right away nets 4 CPs. I can drop his Explosives altogether to get the other 2 CPs I need. The only other place I could take a hit is in Stealth, but I think that this is going to be his hallmark. Running away and hiding always has to be option #1 in any situation. His goal is NOT to clear the entire complex (seeing as that’s impossible). He needs to move through, gather intel, and make strategic choices about who and when to fight. I think that having explosives also creates more problems than it solves for solo play. I’d actually rather not have that on the table as one of the options for every encounter; the temptation to just blow the whole place up might be too much for any player to withstand.

His build in the Core Rules has 285 Clout, but he’s given up 100 XP and one rank (another 20 Clout), so I have to cut 120 Clout from his build there…

I’ll drop his 2 field grenades (10 clout), 2 high explosive grenades (20 clout) and all of his explosives (84 clout). He won’t be blowing anything up (L). This has freed up 114 clout. I’ll get the other 6 from a boot knife (5 clout – he only needs 1) and 1 cm of rope (the difference between 9 and 10 cm of rope should be negligible… now watch me put in a 10 cm gap he needs to traverse…). I will dock him 5 hits for the level drop, bringing him to 28.

Zak                                                     
Level 5 Commando (S-5); Hits 28; Feat +3
Body D8; Mind D6; Prowess D10; Spirit D10
Aim +3; Explosives +2; Melee +3; Moxy +1 (+1 ant shift); Mysticism +2; Nature +2; Security +2; Stealth +4 (4 CPs/+1 shift)
2 B-UZs (D6+3; range 4) with silencers;  2 Field Grenades (D6+D6; radius 1 cm); 1 Boot Knife (D8+1 damage); 1 Bola

Binoculars; rope (10 cm); basic aid kit (D4); satchel; basic provisions; bedroll; entrenching tool; basic flashlight (3 cm) grapple.