It's playtest time for the newest MTDAA RPG I'm working on.
I’m going to go with a solo ant 1. I’ll make him infantry, so that he has the most flexibility (I think that’s going to be important as a solo character). I have a lot of skills I’d love for him to have, but for level 1, the ability to hit with his weapon is going to be paramount. I’ll go with small arms, even though something that gives him more flexibility (like speed) would be good, too. I rolled no successes on his MIND check, so he’s a private straight out of boot camp. He is going to spend his 10 clout on an AM-15 rifle (6) and 2 aid kits (2 each).
Eli, Dutiful Ant Infantry 1 (E1; Hits 3)
BODY 2; MIND 2; REF 2
Small Arms (1)
Standard Kit; AM-15 Rifle (dmg. 2); 2 aid kits
Eli shakes his head, waking up. The copter landed on its side. He looks around. The three others didn’t get into the harness in time, and the pilot was in the line of the rocket. Eli is the only survivor. Snot. He searches through the wreckage.
It is likely he finds something he can salvage from one of the other ants. I roll 3. He does. I decide it is grenades.
He recovers 3 fragmentation grenades from the harness of the patrol leader. Making sure he has enough ammunition and food, he decides to set out and complete the mission. He knows the orders: radio silence, neutralize the radio relay tower, report in. The helicopter is a total loss, and the Wasp Empire is likely to send a recovery team to check the wreckage. He can hear the sound of their propellers now; he beats a hasty retreat to the east, moving towards the radio relay station.
They were going to set down one click out but ended up at just beyond 3 clicks. He has 3 meters to cover over difficult terrain, but he knows the direction and general terrain features. I’ll see if he remembers anything from the intelligence briefing; he gets 1 success on his MIND check, so yes. He knows that there is a small chameleon that wanders this region. He’ll keep his eyes out for that.
In the first meter of travel through the difficult terrain, he is likely to have an encounter. Yes. Is it the chameleon? No. Is it a patrol of enemy insects? Yes. Is it gnats? Yes. Three gnats are coming this way. They saw the helicopter go down, and plan to scour the scene after the wasps depart to see if there’s anything they can salvage. Eli fails his MIND check to notice them, but they make their MIND check to notice him. He is moving through the foliage (crossing into a patch of moss), when they attack.
Small arms fire erupts from the north. Three gnats have taken position near a leaf at 8 cm away. All three miss. Eli uses 1 action to get some light cover (no better cover is nearby) and uses his second action to attack. He gets 2 successes, which is enough to kill a gnat. In round 2, the two remaining gnats fire at him, but the 2 successes the first gnat gets are not enough to hit him behind the cover. He hits a gnat for 2 damage with his first attack, which is enough to kill it. He hits the final gnat for 2, which again kills it. He goes over to examine them, but they have nothing of particular value. He continues on.
He has another encounter. He again fails his MIND check, and the chameleon is upon him, having been attracted by the sounds of combat. SNOT! He honestly has almost no chance against this… I’m going to say that each round, it is possible that an ant gunship is out patrolling to see if there are any survivors of the helicopter crash, and that these can kill the chameleon. That’s about his only chance.
In round 1, the chameleon attempts to strike him with its tongue; it hits him, and he has to make a BODY check 3 to resist being pulled in for a bit. That’s a BIG ask.. He succeeds with a 6 and a 4! Wow. He twists out of the stickiness of the tongue, turning to his right and opening fire. He hits with his first attack for 2 hits, which is not nearly enough to penetrate its thick hide. His second attack misses. No help arrives.
In round 2, the chameleon again tries to hit him with its tongue; It hits; this time, Eli fails his BODY check, and is pulled towards the chameleon, which chomps down on him with a 5D attack. Ugh. It gets 3 successes (which is not as bad as it could have been), dealing a total of 4 hits damage. Eli’s BODY soaks 2, and he suffers 2, leaving him at 1 hit. He now takes a penalty of +1 to all DTs. That stinks. He’s going to try and toss a fragmentation grenade into the chameleon’s mouth to drive it away; He gets 3 successes on the roll! Even with a +1 to the DT from being hurt, and considering it would have been DT 2 to pull this off, he is successful. The grenade pops into the mouth and explodes. The chameleon cannot absorb damage from inside, so it suffers the full 3 hits. It’s down to 5, but more importantly has to check morale. I’m going to say it is likely that this is enough to drive the chameleon away; it is! The chameleon drops the ant it was trying to snack on and scurries away to fight again another day.
Um. He literally survived that fight without me cheating! That was… surprising. I’m going to rule that he can rest for three minutes to recover without incident, and he can finish crossing this first meter without further problems.
No doubt this is already the best iteration of an Army Ants RPG I’ve created. The fact that battle with a predator actually, you know, works and is balanced and is fully supported is already beyond the pale. Scaling the game to make predators feel like predators without making them unbeatable forces of nature has always been a challenge, but this system just allows it. I’m really happy with that.
The game runs fast and loose, which is what I want. The combat with the gnats and the combat with the chameleon were both fast, but they felt different, and had different mechanical things happening. There were strategic choices that mattered in each battle (do I use an action to get to cover, or do I keep fighting from where I am? Do I keep firing with my rifle, or run away, or try to lob a grenade into the thing’s mouth?)