Monday, June 22, 2015

Mynock Squadron Recap # 2 [RPG]

[4.6.5 ABY]

After their first day of challenges, the recruits file out to see the Leaderboard. Kero is dismayed to find herself barely in the top six (which will make the cut), while Torgo boasts about being in first place. Keth comes in at an impressive second, with Stavros closely behind and Waric in fourth. Waric pulls Kero aside while the others check their scores and asks her about the code cylinder she had discovered on the shuttle to Enoch V. The two decide to see if they can decrypt its contents. With time dwindling before curfew, the two seek out Stapos, the base's computer technician, but, after hearing from her that other strange events have taken place recently, such as an apparent manufacturer's defect with the Holocomm last night and an unfortunate power drainage with the automated defense cannons three days ago, they decide it would be best to turn it over directly to Lt. Tuvolo. The puzzled Aqualish says he'll look into it and that the recruits should hit the sack. Meanwhile, Keth, Stavros, and the Gungan Slaprat play a few hands of Sabaac.

[4.6.6 ABY]

The recruits are woken early and told to form up for a long run, but Kero, Waric, Keth, and Stavros are pulled aside and told to report to Major Orus Dei, Mynock Squadron Commander, for disciplinary action. On their walk to HQ, the four try to figure out what infraction they've all committed, and no answer comes to mind. At HQ, another of the base's pre-fab buildings designed for quick installation and removal, the four are quickly shown into Major Dei's office, where they find the lights dimmed and a fit, slim middle-aged man with black hair turning grey at the temples. Dei activates a piece of technology only Waric recognizes and then apologizes for the "disciplinary action" deception. He walks over to a computer terminal and activates an audio recording: "Mayday, Mayday, this is Vanir in Green 2 reporting major system malfunction. Trying to bring her in manually. Control surfaces locked! Eject in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1— system shorted, can't pull up!" Dei explains that this recording is the last transmission from Warrant Officer Moldva Vanir, the base's chief engineer, who was conducting a shakedown test of the now-crashed X-Wing after routine inspections showed some minor anomalies. With the crash, Vanir and most of the X-Wing were instantly destroyed, but a recovered flight recorder indicated a simple case of mechanical failure.

Dei explains, however, that the timing and location of the crash (right where the recruits had assembled) strikes him as suspicious, especially with the other incidents involving the Holocomm and automated defence turrets. The base is left with only one X-Wing and two-seater training vessels. He says that the code cylinder that Waric and Kero turned over last night contains an embedded Imperial encryption, but that it has not yet been decrypted. Suspecting there is a saboteur amongst base staff, Dei tells the four recruits that he summoned them to help him discover who it is while he makes arrangements for a possible evacuation. He plans to put the four recruits on KP and Litter Control duty as "punishment" for their "disciplinary infraction" so they can plausibly loiter and investigate who might be responsible.

At their suggestion, Dei agrees to compile a list of base personnel and to post a guard on the base's remaining X-Wing in case the saboteur's plan is to force an evacuation and then blow up the ship that Dei would likely pilot himself. He also gives Stavros a NabooTech Secure-A3 comlink to allow the group to contact him without risking the signal being detected or intercepted. After the others leave, Waric stays behind briefly and is forthright about his former past with the Imperials. Major Dei thanks the recruit for his honesty, and acknowledges that he both knows and has satisfied himself through background checks that Waric can be trusted.

When the four assemble outside HQ, they decide to begin the long run the other recruits are on so that they can talk about what they've just heard without being overheard. One of the issues they try to resolve is a cover story for why they all received disciplinary infractions; the idea of having pulled a prank together is suggested, but the straight-laced Kero is reluctant to go along with it. The four do determine a plan of investigation, with Keth investigating the security guard Wapos-Du, Stavros investigating the quartermaster Ainisi Noh, Kero investigating the computer technician Stapos, and Warick looking into the protocol/admin droid C5B9. Waric's excellent cadence makes the run go by faster, but at one point one of the recruits notices a strange mark on a rock outside the base perimeter to the southwest. Unable to make heads or tails of it, they decide to leave a small pile of rocks so that they can find it again if necessary.

After lunch and KP duty, the four recruits join the others in the rec center. Tuvolo explains that in the evening everyone will be tested on the flight-sims, but in the meantime, anyone who can display a secondary military specialty will receive a bonus on the Leaderboard. The Cerean Tazo-Rhi tries her hand at slicing, but fails, as does Slaprat with underwater maneuvers. Torgo is confident he'll easily pass Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol, but he forgets to fill his water canteens and fails before even leaving the base! However, his sister Torga will later succeed. Two recruits try to demonstrate Infiltration: Stealth, with Gatara succeeding but a bold Keth caught and disciplined for trying to steal a Reflec stealth bodysuit. Kero appears to narrowly fail the Combat Medic test, but somehow persuades Lt. Tuvolo that the medical dummy was programmed incorrectly!

However, the most stunning success comes when Stavros tries his hand at the Infiltration: Deception test. The gambler disguises himself as an old woman so well, that Tuvolo becomes irritated at Stavros' disappearance when the recruit is standing right next to him! Even more astonishing, Stavros is later able to disguise himself as Tuvolo himself so skillfully that bystanders are unable to tell which is the genuine article. Even the usually bad-tempered Tuvolo expresses genuine admiration at that.

While the secondary military specialty tests are taking place, Waric decides to take a look at the flight-sims. He notices a maintenance droid designated UR-90 lurking nearby, and something about the droid catches Waric's eyes as suspicious. Waric learns from the droid that someone else was in the sim room about four hours previously, and that the only personnel with authority to reprogram the droid are Stapos, Major Dei, and Moldva Vanir. Waric convinces the computer technician Stapos to download visual data from the droid's memory. The data has been mostly wiped, but a fragmentary image of the droid removing an access panel from Sim # 7 is seen. Further investigation shows that Sim # 7 has been tampered with: the canopy cannot be opened from the inside and a potentially lethal gas would be released once the program is underway!

At dinner and during KP duty, Waric tells the other three investigating recruits about his discovery. They speculate about who might be responsible.

That evening, the recruits enter the sims for a series of three challenges to test their ability to maneuver through an asteroid field, avoid enemy fire while flying through a narrow ravine, and dogfight a TIE-Fighter. Waric and Gatara win the first challenge, while Keth, Torga, and Gatara tie for first place in the second challenge and three-way tie puts Kero, Waric, and the Neimodian Dosh'Tu in first place for the third challenge. Stavros finds the third challenge incredibly frustrating and finishes near the bottom on that particular task, but a surprise awaits many recruits once they exit the sims and see the Day Two Leaderboard. The competition to make Mynock Squadron is nearing an end, and time is running out for the recruits to show what they're made of or be left behind.



1st Stavros 37

2nd (tie) Keth 35
2nd (tie) Kero 35

4th (tie) Waric 32
4th (tie) Torga 32

6th (tie) Dosh'Tu 31
6th (tie) Torgo 31

8th Gatara 25

9th Tazo-Rhi 18

10th (tie) Stahlog 14
10th (tie) Szo-Dano 14

12th Slaprat 9


Director's Commentary (June 22, 2015)

Recaps can make sessions look better and smoother than they were, and my (admittedly foggy) recollection of this one is that I was disappointed in my directing.  Apart from the technical issues that plagued these early sessions, I had forgotten that mystery/spy plots require a lot of preparation because the PCs will (quite justifiably) talk to a ton of NPCs, compile information on alibis and timelines, backstories and motives, etc., and then look for inconsistencies that point to the real culprit.  I hadn't put in enough prep work and had to wing some of this, so I was just glad to escape the session without a major self-contradiction.

I liked and I think the players had fun getting a chance to try to show off what they did best to qualify for a "Secondary Military Speciality" (a concept ingrained in me through years of reading G.I. Joe character dossiers as a kid) in order to get a bump on the Leaderboard.  Stavros knocked everyone's socks off with his Deception (disguise) abilities, while Kero's player ended up having either having to red chip or make a crazy high DC Persuasion check to convince Tuvolo that she actually passed her Treat Injury check.

Waric's player did an excellent job figuring out that one of the flight sims was booby-trapped.  I had a good action scene planned for it, but you have to reward players who figure stuff like that out.

After this session, the PCs had climbed the Leaderboard and secured the top positions.  Barring a drop in future sessions, the main question would be which NPCs would join them in Mynock Squadron.  It was fun and quite challenging to try to give different personalities and accents to all of these NPC recruits, not knowing which would be become a major part of the campaign and which would effectively disappear.

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