Sunday, July 17, 2022

MTDAA Legacy Actual Play: Aero's Away Session 1

I never actually put together Aero’s stat block. I’m going to house rule that you always start with your full body (there’s actually no direct mention of this at level 1, although the level up rules make clear that you get your body die every level; you should start with full health. I also cleaned up his picture and added some heavy blacks. He’s looking good.

First Lieutenant Aero
Level 1 Ant Pilot; SN 13579-12
Hits 4; Feat +1; Clout 35
Body D4; Mind D6; Prowess D6; Spirit D6
Aeronautics +2 (+1 shift); Mechanic +1; Moxy +1
AM-38 Pistol (D4; 3 cm); satchel; provisions; bedroll; entrenching tool; flight suit; flashlight (3 cm); utility knife

The Wasp Chaser, Aero’s A-180 Lightning (275 clout)

Control +2; Frame D6; Speed +1; Durability D6; Cannon D4

Aero reports to the Hill’s briefing room for the first time. Sarge is there, giving out missions. I think of this looking a lot like the briefing room from Hill Street Blues - a little bit of chaos and bickering as missions are given out. Sarge welcomes him, and two other pilot graduates, into the live team. They have lots of area to patrol and maintain, and few forces to do it. The Back Yard is in considerable chaos, so foot patrols will be staying here. The helicopters will be moving into the border territories to help establish order and re-establish the ant presence. It is important for other insects to see that the army of ants has returned, and that some peace and order are returning to Seven Fields. Aero is going to head east; he’ll be patrolling the graveyard, the grounds around the old church, and the dead willow.

Well. I had always intended to treat this area as a bit of a supernatural land of the dead where you could encounter… not zombies exactly, but insects that were closer to death. I think that the locusts would be here, living in old temples and awaiting a sign to begin the end of days… that sounds pretty cryptic. Googling insects that deal with death, we are also going to be running into some flies and carrion beetles. I like this so far. Okay - we’ve got the Carrion Beetles who are the gravediggers and vault builders who are tunneling into ancient grave sites of dead creatures (humans, of course) to raid these tombs for resources; the bottle flies are constantly raiding their sites; the locusts are squatting in old temples and ruins (or maybe on that dead willow?) waiting for the sign of the apocalypse. M‘kay then. Gnats can be running around the countryside causing mischief, and they can provide the key threats at level 1 while I work out some of the larger logistics here. It's got a whole Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe that I'm digging (get it? DIGGING? oh me).

I’m going to use the solo play engine I’ve developed to build the game here; it’s possible he has a more specific mission than just ‘patrol and see what happens’, but you never know. I go with likely to have a specific mission; Yep. Rolled a 1. Very specific. Is it to go to a dig site and check in with a beetle leader who is allied? 1 again. Heck yes.

His name is Gustav, and he is overseeing a massive excavation 50 meters due east of Shadow Hill. Aero's helicopter has a travel speed of 90 cm per second with him piloting; this means that he can travel the distance in about ten minutes. All good. I’m going to say that there is a 1 in 6 chance of an encounter of some kind every minute; at minute 5, I come across something. Is it a predatory animal? 6. No. Is it another insect? 3. Yes. In need of help? 6. No. Engaged in criminal activity? 5. No. Suspicious activity? 2. Yes. Is this ruins of something or a disabled vehicle of some kind? 3 Yes. We’ll go with that. Air vehicle that crashed? No. Land vehicles? No. Water vehicle? 3 Yes. 

On the island in the middle of the creek, he sees a barge with Wasp Empire insignia that seems to be stuck against the small rock in the middle of the water. He sees bugs - we’ll go with gnats - swarming around it. He lowers the chopper to maybe 5 cm up and activates the PA system. He announces that he is from the ant army, and asks for the gnats to stand down as he comes for a brief inspection. 

I’m thinking as a rookie, he is excited to be an army ant and to bring order to everywhere he goes, even when he’s an idiot for doing it. When I was in fifth grade, I was made a safety patrol for the back hall stairwell, and I was drunk with power in wanting younger students to go back to the bottom and walk up without skipping stairs, because SAFETY (and power).

Aero is not drunk with power, but he sure likes wearing a new uniform and telling everyone it’s okay, because a real army ant is here now. So, yeah.

The gnats are up to no good, but he’ll need a Spirit Feat (DT 6) to notice this. I roll 5. Nope. He thinks he’s got this situation under control. Does he have this situation under control? 6. Not. At. All.

Okay, the gnats found a barge that was abandoned by the bees in the final days of the Wasp Empire. It was being used to transport mostly scrap to a dumping ground further south; however, it also has some older weapons and explosives, and the gnats are pillaging it for military surplus. Aero knows that any old Wasp Empire stuff should be destroyed, and his plan is to check the barge, get the gnats to leave, and call in a request for a demolitions team to destroy this. 

Something tells me that plan is not going to work out. There are 9 gnats here (ugh), and 6 of them are armed with cheap light rifles. 

Aero sets down about 5 cm from the barge, and turns off the propeller. He asks the gnats to come out and set down weapons, if they have them. 3 gnats come forward, but the 6 with weapons stay hidden. They all have to make Spirit checks against Aero, who is looking for them. Aero rolls a Prowess Feat and gets 5, which none of them can get to without a die explosion; the first two fail, so Aero knows that there are several here; two of the six are successful; Aero gets back on the PA and tells them to all come out, and he activates his cannon. There is a little game of cat and mouse here, and Aero waits out the ones he can see. There is a small chance that each of the two hidden gnats stays hidden; one does, and one does not. Aero now sees 8 gnats who have put their weapons down, and he feels comfortable leaving the cockpit. He draws his pistol but has it down. 

He asks the leader of the gnats to identify himself. A gnat steps forward and they have a chat. Does the gnat lie? Yep. He claims that this barge is full of medical supplies and non-military gear such as tents, bedrolls, and cooking utensils. He claims that the gnats need these things, and asks the ant to step aside and let them please take these for their survival. 

Aero makes his Prowess Feat and realizes they are probably lying. This is a military-grade barge, and is unlikely to have aboard what the gnat claims. He’s going to inspect, and tells the gnats to step away from their weapons and face towards the creek. It’s likely that the gnats attack at this point… 1. Yep. 

It’s initiative. Aero gets 5, and the gnats get 11 due to some dice explosions. Drat. The hidden gnat jumps out and opens fire while the unarmed gnats scurry for cover and the ones who had set their rifles down go to pick them up. The attacker rolls 4 to hit, and Aero rolls 2 to evade; dang. He gets tagged in his first combat; it’s another dice explosion, so he suffers 10 wounds. 

Well THAT was quick. He’s at -4. He rolls 4 for his Body Feat (EEK!) and is stabilized.

The gnats see him drop, and my best guess is that they grab a few things and flee (get it? FLEA? Oh, the insect humor). 4. No. They do something else. Do they finish pillaging and then go? No. Uh oh. Do they decide to take a prisoner and see if they can get a ransom for him? No. Do they try to steal his helicopter? 1.

Oh crap. 

The leader of the gnats goes to try and figure out how to start the helicopter. He’ll need to make a DT 6 Mind Feat just to figure out how to turn it on (there are lots of switches and dials and buttons on the console). He gets a 1. Duh. No chance.

Another gnat gives it a try. He gets a dice explosion but then rolls 1… so he gets a 5. He manages to get an engine to fire, but without activating other systems first, it just wheezes and sputters out. 

Someone suggests stripping the helicopter for parts. They are going to jawa the thing. They decide not to - someone realizes that ripping apart an ant helicopter is going to draw a lot of attention; they are already in over their heads having killed an ant officer (which they think they did). They are back to grab a few things and bounce. They do this.

Aero recovers 5 hits in a little under an hour, and wakes up. The gnats are gone, and he’s covered in blood. He pulls out his med kit and bandages his wounds. He’s stable, but not feeling well. The bullet went right through his shoulder. Live and learn, right?

He’s missed a check in with the hill, and gets on his radio to report what has happened. He’s tempted to lie, but I think Aero is a sincere if a bit naive ant - telling lies on his first mission is just not what he’d do. I think he would face the consequences rather than lie to cover up. 

He reports in and has an uncomfortable conversation with mission command. Is mission command going to pressure him to change his story? Likely. Okay… we go… yeah. 2. Totally.

Their dialogue follows…

Aero: Mission Command, this is the Wasp Chaser.

MC: Wasp Chaser? You okay? You missed check in.

Aero: Roger. Had an altercation with a group of fleas and suffered a gunshot wound. Am stable now. 

MC: Sorry, Wasp Chaser, did you say you had radio difficulties? 

Aero: Negative. Suffered gunshot wound. Awaiting orders.

MC: Sorry, Wasp Chaser. Your radio is cutting in and out. Suggest that you continue on mission and leave any minor details about this communication error out of your log. It’s not worth the paperwork. Hate to see you busted to cadet on your first mission. 

A pause. 

Aero: Roger, mission command. Will continue on mission and will be more diligent about checking in and maintaining radio equipment.

MC: Roger that. May the Queen protect you. Mission command out.


Okay, none of that was as expected, but all’s well that ends well. That was fun. We’ll see what he decides to do next time… part of me thinks he’s going to end up chasing after some gnats and recovering his self esteem… we’ll see.

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