A Schlock RGP Game Report
To start with: Schlock Mercenary is a webcomic created by +Howard Tayler
(who was also the GM). I need to link you to www.schlockmercenary.com
because that webcomic is the world this game was set in. There is a wiki, so as much as possible, I’ll link to it to explain obscure things.
Also, let me make it clear that this was NOT a game session. It was a play-test. The Schlock RPG is still in Beta, and a very early beta at that. According to +Alan Bahr
(who’s writing this thing), ours was only the seventh time the game had been played. So there were a few bugs and some on-the-fly fixes that had to be applied. But overall, the test went really well.
We started, as might be expected, in a bar. This specific bar was someplace inside Haven Hive. Present there were the Human captain, the Kreely doctor, the Fobbt’r engineer, and our legal counsel: a Rilla with a penchant for demolitions. And then myself, the Unioc XO.
(Haven Hive: http://ovalkwiki.com/Haven+Hive
As we were enjoying our drinks, and wondering how we would pay for ship repairs, a thoroughly unpleasant looking thug strode up to our table and started pressing our engineer about some debts owed. When things turned violent (which was clearly NOT OUR FAULT!) a large bar fight broke out, and our Neophant quartermaster hurried off the dance floor a little too quickly, breaking a light tower and starting a fire.
At this point, let me explain a bit about what was happening, because it’s hilarious. We six characters, all commanding members of a mercenary company, were losing this simple little bar fight. There were a couple reasons for this, the first being that we had been completely and totally disarmed as we entered the Hive station. Therefore, we were depending solely upon our base stats in this fight, and none of us had a good melee skill.
The second problem were the Complications. Without giving too much of the game mechanics away, if we, the players, rolled poorly, the GM would introduce any number of Complications into the fray. Now, I've not done the math personally, but according to Alan, these Complications should've shown up less than half the time. Our ratio was more like two-thirds.
Despite all this, though, (and with some minor stats tweaking), we beat all the thugs, and started putting out the fires just as the police showed up and arrested us all.
The police, despite have said quite clearly that they wanted our company gone, used the overly powerful “War Against Violence” laws to confiscate our ship and weapons permanently. We were in luck, though, because they were willing to give them back if we would just take care of this little Vigilante problem they were having. Some idiot running around in an Odin suit calling himself the Hive Warden.
(I have no link to give here, because the Odin class armor is Mil-spec, and in the comic, the Toughs don't trust anything they didn't make.)
With a little griping from our captain, and a quick stop to Planet Mercenary for supplies, we set off with our Goober rounds, stun pistols and some stun grenades, hoping that by some miracle, any of these non-lethal weapons could stop a fully functioning Odin suit.
(Planet Mercenary: http://ovalkwiki.com/Planet+Mercenary
Goober rounds: http://ovalkwiki.com/Goober+Rounds
It didn’t take long for our hacking Fobbt’r to find the guy. Strangely enough, he was near the section of the Hive were all the camera’s were mysteriously jammed. Go figure. So we head to that section of the world, and get met by an Attorney Drone, part of the Partnership Collective. We summarily execute said attorney, and get meet with four more. We let loose the trigger-happy Neophant.
None of them survive the encounter.
(Partnership Collective: http://ovalkwiki.com/Partnership+Collective
We do learn, however, that we are being sued by the bar owner. Ah well, not much we can do about that now. And, as luck would have it, our Doctor chooses this time to go chasing some tail (necessitated by that player having to leave).
Our group is then approached by several obviously military types, claiming to be from the company that makes the Odin armor, ABI (if I’m remembering that right. Couldn’t tell you what it stands for, though), letting us know that they’re here to “reclaim” the suit, and that we should just stand down. We easily put them down, though there was a Complication with a stun gun, and one of the gentleman’s brains started leaking out through his nose.
Of course, our good friend the Hive Warden decides it’s time to make his entrance. He’s obviously confused by the state of the armed men we've laid out, though he does take a moment to pull out his medical kit before we Goober him, too. The rounds are surprisingly effective against the Odin suit, but further Complications arise in the form of three heavily armed thugs coming to join the partly. And when I say “heavily armed,” I mean that each of them has a gun that can quite literally blow a hole in the world.
The quick thinking captain approaches them non-threateningly. He reaches them just as the Hive Warden breaks free of the Goober rounds and takes to the air again (oh yeah, the Odin suit can fly). Before the thugs fire, the captain sets off a stun grenade in his pocket, rending all four of them unconscious.
We're all very confused. As XO, I call hold fire, and attempt to talk the Warden down and out of the suit. I feel like I'm making some progress, and then his head pops off. Apparently our engineer/hacker had discovered that ◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎. But the suit thought he was in danger, so it removed his head and put it into cryostasis.
(Cryostasis, sort of: http://ovalkwiki.com/Cryokit
We bind the thugs, start reviving the captain, and call the police to clean up this mess. The Neophant attempts to patch of the ABI guy that has brain coming out his nose. He manages, instead, to completely seal his nose and mouth. This leaves our engineer (the only one with medical training) in the unenviable position of having to perform an emergency tracheotomy with a pen.
Once he’s awake, the captain, being a savvy business mercenary, has our lawyer search the ABI guys and call their supervisor. They work out a deal to return all the “confidential” equipment their guys are using in return for a nice sum of moneys. That whole transactions goes off without a hitch.
The police show up, shake their heads at the field tracheotomy, round everyone into their vans, and we head back to the station. We’re given back our ship and weapons, and, seeing as they don't want to deal with a dead body, the Odin armor and the guy inside it. Then, of course, we find out the kid in the suit was the younger brother of one of the Hive’s mafioso. We’re summarily kicked out of Haven Hive.
Back on our ship, we re-attach the kids head, and learn that he is an absolute moron. And, apparently, his brother had given him the Odin suit so he could “help people.” Of course, most of the baddies he’s stopped to that point had a negative impact on his brother’s “shipping and receiving” business.
In contacting said brother, attempting to sale the imbecile back to him, it became clear that he didn't want the kid back in Haven Hive. But he was willing to pay us for ◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ ◼︎◼︎◼︎, and to set his brother up someplace safe.
So, in the end, we got payed twice, which is always the best outcome for a mercenary troop.
And that whole recap was much longer than I thought it'd be. Still, let me give my thoughts on the mechanics and gameplay; as much as I can without giving the whole of it away.
The system seemed incredibly fair, to me. The rolling wasn’t with a straight D20, but with several die at a time, meaning that there was a more interesting statistical curve. It also made it easy know when a Complication happened.
There were some problems with the stats, as noted above, but most of that seemed to stem from our un-equipped-ness. Both Alan and Howard noted afterwards that this was an unconventional story, and the mechanics hadn’t been tweaked quite right to accommodate it. They rules are built more to allow for larger engagements, the kinds a whole mercenary crew might be involved in, rather than just the five or six we had running around Haven Hive.
It was also more than a bit chaotic. That was by design, as there was no real Initiative system. Instead, it was a first-come, first-served style play. Adding to the chaos: there were no take-backsies. Once a player said “I do X,” X gets done, and then the mess gets cleaned up.
That all said, it was still a ton of fun. Being momentarily elated at a successful role, only to realize that it also causes a Complication, or even better, losing a roll, but still Complicating matters; basically, I love the Complication mechanic, though as GM, Howard did express some worry that the Complications had the possibility to be story-breaking. Not being the one in charge of weaving all the Complications into the narrative, I can't really comment on that.
But I'm looking forward to the full release. Watch for a Kickstarter later this year. I know I will be.