The recruits emerge from the flight sims and soon learn that the leaderboard has been updated. Stavros is amused to find that he is in first place despite doing poorly in the dog-fighting scenario, Slaprat is saddened by seeing his name in last place, and Torgo is belligerent after dropping all the way to a tie for sixth.
Lt. Tuvolo orders the recruits to take a long run before curfew, and a handful of the recruits take the opportunity to discuss recent events away from prying eyes. Kero, Stavros, Waric, and Keth discuss potential suspects in the recent sabotage, and decide on a course of investigation. Using the secure comlink, Kero informs Major Dei of the group's plans and receives a data-file containing a list of base personnel.
That night, back in the barracks, Kero gets yelled at by Lt. Tuvolo for trying to read the file on her datapad after lights out. The datapad is confiscated, but Keth manages to slip it out of Tuvolo's pocket and return it. Waric and Stavros each sneak out of the barracks. Waric tries to get into the main administration building but is rebuffed by a suspicious guard. Stavros follows Tuvolo to a field north of the base and sees strange preparations underway before returning to bed.
In the early morning hours, the fatigued recruits are awakened by klaxon--Lt. Tuvolo has a surprise in store for them: "The Gauntlet". The recruits are taken to a large, fenced off field that contains a handful of weapons scattered about (all set to stun), mysterious crates, and a large stun-laser turret in the center. The recruits, who have a choice of where to start based on current ranking, are told that the only rules are to stay within the perimeter and don't kill anyone; last one standing wins.
When the competition starts, a furious combination of melee and hunt-the-womprat ensues. Waric initially seizes control of the turret, but is driven off by Torgo. The Rodian and his sister team up and take out a few contestants, but neither is trained to use such a heavy weapon and miss as much as they hit. Keth grabs a blaster pistol, circles along the northern part of the perimeter, and ends up in hand-to-hand combat with the Ewok Gatara; he manages to defeat her and take her quarterstaff. Stavros finds a blaster rifle that only has a couple of shots' worth of power left; he strategically hides behind a rock and formulates a plan. Kero manages to wrest a blaster as well, and she soon joins Stavros at the southern end of the field. The two decide to enlist Keth, Waric, and the hapless Slaprat in a bid to remove their toughest competition. With teamwork and good shooting, the group manage to take out Torgo and his sister.
While the fight is going on, Waric begins to act oddly, shrieking strange, high-pitched gibberish. He sets the laser turret to explode its built-up stun energy, and the wave catches himself, Keth, and Stavros (annoying the latter), but they all remain conscious. In the spirit of the competition, he then attacks Kero, but she stuns him into blissful sleep. Later, when he wakes up, Waric remembers little of his strange behavior.
Slaprat having earlier agreed to be stunned to guarantee a fifth place finish (a high for him), there are soon only three combatants left: Keth, Kero, and Stavros. The three agree to end the competition by simultaneously stunning themselves using a charge rigged by Keth. Lt. Tuvolo is annoyed at this outcome, but Kero defends their actions, saying it demonstrates the best virtues of a fighting unit. The two Rodians, seeing what they perceive as the others ganging up against them, shoot angry glares at the trio.
Having made it through the final test of their ground combat abilities, the recruits are ordered back to their bunks to gather a last hour or two of shut-eye before reveille.
Director's Commentary (July 11, 2015)
I was quite candid then and now that this session was a total rip-off of The Hunger Games--but it was too good of an idea to pass up! It's rare that PCs get a chance to out-think and out-fight each other, and it's great fun as a director to set up the game board and see where the pieces fall. It might've been even more fun if the PCs had incentive to really go after each other instead of tying, but I respect the teamwork solution. If I had been more clever before the session, I should have had some of the NPCs team up and try to take out the PCs instead of having each NPC play it straight.
The Gauntlet test took up pretty much the whole session, and it was a bit tricky as a director to run so many NPCs and still try to keep a reasonable pace. Placing the stun cannon turret in the center of the field worked really well, as it was powerful enough to give the contestants something to fight over but inaccurate enough to not necessarily be worth it. Of the NPCs, the Rodian hypermale (Torgo) and the comical Slaprat had the best developed personalities, which is ironic considering what happens in the Leaderboard. More on that next session.