Jason recaps the events from Roll For Combat, Episode 114: Mo Them Down.
“One does not simply walk onto the bridge of a Corpse Fleet capital ship.”
This feels like the “Council of Elrond” episode of our show. We’ve got to sit down and decide on a course of action where we’ve got a fairly limited number of choices, all of which sound like a suicide mission. And our team includes Rusty, who TOTALLY wants to take the Stellar Degenerator to Gondor.
One of the interesting dynamics was letting Seth kinda serve as Gandalf (I know… I’m stretching the analogy here) and lead the discussion. In a different set of circumstances, I might actually be annoyed that “The New Guy” was coming in and monopolizing the conversation, but I think there are mitigating factors here.
First, he’s a “new guy” who has a longer total tenure in the group than I do – while he’s new to this show, he’s been playing with the group for a long time, as evidenced by the ease with which he mimics Chris’ mannerisms. So… you respect that and roll with it. But I think the more important dynamic is that walking through the options was also part of his mental catch-up process – he’s missed two years of the plot, so letting him be the one to lead that conversation was a way of helping him get up to speed. Processing information, asking questions about who has what abilities, and so on. I think if the “original four” had just steamrolled through that conversation, it might have been harder for Seth to get on board with what was going on. And in a related vein, it made him feel more like a full member of the group, rather than the four of us deciding what to do and he’s Noob-Noob pushing the mop around. (I feel like this is a Rick and Morty-friendly crowd.)
On a personal level, part of it’s as simple as I don’t feel a need to be the leader in this campaign; that’s not my character’s role. Tuttle is well-established in his niche as The Tech Guy, as evidenced in our hack of the Level 10 computer. I don’t know everyone else’s character sheets, but I think Tuttle is LITERALLY the only one who could make that roll. I know Chris talks a good game about Akiro being Tuttle’s equal, but if he’s a +21 or +22 in Computers, he’s not making that roll. My sheet isn’t here in front of me at the moment, but I’m at something like +25 or +26 in Computers, so I can get into the 50s with assists. But I think I’m the only one, and even then I think it took something like an 18 or better to get there.
Because I’m honest that way, I should also mention there were a couple non-outcome-altering fails that Steve cut for time. I’ll put it this way – it was boring for me as a player to keep re-rolling, so I suspect it would’ve been equally boring for you as a listener. These were rolls that weren’t low enough to set off a countermeasure, but not high enough (or people failed their assists) to get us over the hump. And we couldn’t just Take-10/Take-20 because of the possibility of countermeasures. I didn’t want you thinking Tuttle was too much of a technical genius.
So we get into the computer and we find pieces of varying usefulness. Obviously a map will be handy regardless. The two viruses are also extremely useful – especially the one that erases us from the security systems. The main thing I’d been dreading is accidentally stumbling through another one of those anti-life rays, and now we basically don’t have to worry about those. The one that creates the false alert? I suspect that will be useful at some future point, and I’m even willing to meta-game and feel like the plot will tell us when to deploy it.
The one that’s a little cryptic is the personal log about the plans for mutiny. Is that just “color” to give some depth to the NPC we just fought, or does that imply we might be able to get some support from her fellow mutineers in some way, or there are some pieces of her plan we could use? Probably not direct assistance: it sounds like this lady was even MORE extreme than the average Corpse Fleeter, and didn’t think the captain was doing ENOUGH to eradicate the living. So… if those are her views, it’s hard to see her disciples taking our side. But if there’s a mutiny plan we could activate without revealing it’s been co-opted by the living or pieces of the logistics (weapons caches, escape routes, access to systems)? That could still be helpful. For the moment, file it in the back pocket.
As far as our plan, I think we’re still settled on – for lack of a less aggressive terminology – a decapitation strike. Take over the bridge, somehow convince the thousands of rank-and-file soldiers we’re still issuing legitimate orders, and then somehow use this ship to destroy the Stellar Degenerator.
Let’s take the elements of that plan in order.
“Take over the bridge” is sounding like a boss fight, possibly with some adds. The real question is whether the bridge of such a ship is like the Enterprise (8-10 people), the BATTLE BRIDGE of the Enterprise (even better… like, three people) or an Imperial Star Destroyer where there are dozens of dudes hanging around. I feel like that’s where you set off the diversion virus – set off the virus to divert “extra” security away, then try to run in, beat the bad guys, and lock yourself in. Arguably the most straightforward part of all of this.
“Legitimate orders”. A lot depends on the technology. Do they have voice or video, or do commands just come in and out on a screen? Heck, maybe they went full steampunk and have old-school pneumatic tubes shooting canisters to the engine room! If it’s voice or video, can Tuttle fake an overloaded Chambers coil that’s interfering with communications, or can Rusty just fake it with charm?
“Destroy the Stellar Degenerator”. Again, there’s a little knowledge gap we have here with regards to how dependent systems work. If we order the guns to start shooting the Stellar Degenerator, are they manned by a live person at a cross-hairs, or just fired as blips on a screen. Similarly, ramming: if we set a course to ram the Stellar Degenerator, will one of those 1500 engineers notice we’re aimed right at a small planetoid, or is it just a vector and some thrust to them and they’re relying on the bridge to steer? And again, is this somewhere Tuttle can chip in – rewire the guidance or weapon targeting so they think they’re doing something benign while they’re actually blowing up their prize (and saving the universe).
The Charisma/Rusty solution here is to come up with a reason why the Stellar Degenerator now represents a threat to the Corpse Fleet and THEY need to change their objective from securing it to destroying it. Then we could use the remnants of the fleet itself to finish the job. But would they buy it, and even so, do we really want to put our entire plan in Rusty’s hands?
And then there’s one more elephant in the room we haven’t even discussed yet. We have NO, ZIP, ZERO, NADA information on an escape plan. OK, let’s say all of this works and the universe is saved. If we’re ramming, that’s a pretty direct path to death. But even shooting the Stellar Degenerator leaves us in a position where the thousands of crew now know the bridge is compromised and we, the only living creatures on board, have to get off the ship. And… what about getting back to Pact Worlds space – do escape pods have Drift engines, or are we going to float around like Ripley at the end of Alien?
Whatever. Heroes don’t sweat the little shit. Let’s do this! Join us back here next week when we decide to move forward with whatever plan we’ve come up with. In the meantime, drop by our Discord channel or other social media and let us know what you think of the show, and remember to enter the contest. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.