I'm going to start things off with a bit of information on the systems used in this game. Necessary Evil is a campaign setting for the tabletop roleplaying game Savage Worlds from Pinnacle Entertainment. From what I've seen Savage Worlds had two main concepts that went into creating the system:
- Create a system that can be adapted to any setting that the players desire
- Create a combat system that allows players to get straight to the action without getting bogged down waiting for their turn.
In roleplaying games, conflict tends to come in two main flavors: Social Conflict, and Martial Conflict. Social conflict is complex, there are nuances, the tone of voice you use can mean as much or more than the words that you say. Persuasion, seduction, bluffing, and many other actions fall under social conflict. Martial conflict is relatively simple, you shoot or swing at your opponent, you hit or you don't, and you do a certain amount of damage. Because of this relative complexity, many game systems have no rules, or very loosely structured rules regarding social conflict, but most have rules regarding martial conflict.
Savage Worlds is a game system that knows what it is. It doesn't really have any rules regarding social engagements beyond intimidation and taunts, but the rules for combat are very nicely streamlined. Enemies are divided into two categories, extras and Wild Cards. Like in a movie, extras will go down with a paper cut while main enemies and leaders will take a bit more to combat. Incidentally, player characters are also considered Wild Cards. If you attack and do a certain amount of damage you stun a guy and he probably won't be able to act on his next turn. If you do a certain amount of extra damage against an extra he is simply out of the combat. That's it, either you do nothing to him, you stun him and he can't act next turn, or you hurt him so badly that he is out of commission. This mechanic can make dealing with hordes of lackeys amusing and quick. Wild Cards take a few extra hits to take down, but the mechanics are essentially the same.
In the campaign setting Necessary Evil, alien forces have invaded the Earth. Naturally, most of the superheroes on the planet rose to combat this threat, but through some fairly clever tactics the aliens discovered most of the superheroes weaknesses and pretty much wiped them out. Now, groups of supervillains have come together to repel the invaders, agreeing to work together until the common enemy is defeated. Of course, this setting makes the distinction between hero and villain somewhat arbitrary, except for a few key differences. In a conflict between a hero and a villain, the villain can throw the hero off balance by putting civilians in danger and forcing the hero to save them. In the conflict between the aliens and the villains, nobody much cares about the well-being of the civilians so collateral damage abounds.
This game consists of me as the GM, my wife Maria, Mike, Elly, and Kevin. Maria is playing a character based largely on Storm; she can fly, control the weather, and hit people with lightning. She had a traumatic past and had a tendency to zap the other kids on the playground. Mike is playing a robot that is actually a mass of nanites all standing on one another to take the form of a woman. She can duplicate herself (duplicates are considered Extras), interfere with machinery, and repair damage in biological beings i.e. healing them. She's basically bent on taking over the world for the machines. Elly is a confectioner with a cruel streak. She doesn't get along will with other humans, and likes to send her army of gummy bear candies into peoples bodies to choke them and cause hemorrhaging. Kevin is a pretty straight-forward fighter. He's the typical lab created super-soldier with no one giving the orders anymore.
The players for this one are pretty spread out, Maria and I are in Indiana, Kevin is in Massachusetts, and Mike and Elly are in Japan. In order to come together to play the game we're using a couple of different programs. We're using Epic Table as our online tabletop. It provides us a common area for rolling dice, laying out maps, and in-character text-based chat. Epic Table is still in beta, but I plan on doing a preview of it pretty soon since we've been putting it through its paces. Rather than use the Epic Table chat, however, we've been using Skype to talk to one another. Because we're in three locations and none of us has a paid account, it's a voice only call, but that's still awesome... when it works.
As the game starts off all of the players are prisoners. I didn't bother explaining how they were all captured, but they all happened to be on the same prisoner transport at the same time. They were also all wearing nullifier gauntlets. These are special cuffs that the V'sori (that's the name of the alien race) use to nullify superpowers. They actually shouldn't have worked on Mike, but I just had him run with it. At this point all the players explained to each other what their characters looked like and what they might have heard about one another. As soon as that was all done, the transport they're in was hit by some kind of explosion and crashed. Soldiers rushed in, dispatched the aliens and hustled all of the prisoners into another transport which quickly took off.
Waiting on the transport was a man that all of the characters had heard of named Dr. Destruction. He'd been organizing cells of super-powered resistance called Omega all across Star City and, it's rumored, the world. As Destruction's minions placed small explosive charges on the former prisoners' manacles and earpieces in their ears, the man himself explained that he didn't care about any of them individually, they were all tools that he intended to use to drive out the invaders. He explained that they were heading to a medium security prison and in one of the cells was a particular individual named Mindjack. The task was to break Mindjack out and bring him to the central courtyard for pickup. Everyone was free to agree to the task or not, at that point all of the prisoners were unceremoniously thrown out of the hovercraft.
The thing about the nullifier gauntlets is that they don't just cancel out your powers, they actually make you a fair amount weaker than a normal human. As they fall through the air the players all choose to go along with the scheme and the explosives blow their nullifiers off, the few other prisoners were not so quick to take up with Destruction and they hit the ground with active nullifiers and went "splut". Maria's character could fly, so she pulled up before impact. The other player characters landed on the corrugated tin roof of a supply building at the prison and it absorbed most of their impact as it broke and they fell through to the ground.
At the moment, I don't have a drawing of they way I had the prison area set up, so I'll try to describe it. Just inside the gate were two buildings, the storage building that the PCs were all inside of or floating above on the South of the roadway, and a guard barracks to the North. West of those two buildings were several rows of free-standing cubes that were the cells. I designed it so that each cell was a singular unit and could be loaded onto a truck without having to take the prisoner out of the cell.
Looking toward the courtyard between the two large buildings, Maria could see four androids looking somewhat startled. The androids, known as drones, look pretty much like black Storm Troopers except for the helmet. The drone head is just a very smooth, featureless battle helmet.
Because the drones were surprised, I let the PCs act first. Maria shot off a lightning bolt and ducked for a little but of cover on the roof. Kevin jumped out of the building, guns blazing. Mike attempted to interfere with their weaponry and Elly threw some bear candies into the fray commanding them to jam up the drones joints and weapons. During the first volley only one drone was taken out. After the three remaining drones took their shots at the intruders, eight more filed out of the barracks but didn't get to act that turn.
The following turn Maria decided to summon a storm. The good part of that power is that she only had to do it once and it would sustain itself from that point on without her concentration on it. The bad part is that it takes 1d6 (that's 1 6-sided die) rounds for the storm to gather and she rolled a 6. The other players did their part and another couple of drones were taken down. Unfortunately, it turned out that the drones really packed a punch, so they were throwing around some pretty wicked damage and i was starting to think that we were going to have a Total Party Kill on our hands. I brought up my concerns to the group and everyone decided that we'd just play it out and if there was a TPK we'd just start again the following week having learned a lesson.
Elly's bears had been unable to find an opening in the drone armor that they were able to force open (come on, how strong can little confectionery bears be?) so she gave them new orders to blind the drone they had been working on. They covered his faceplate and he spend a few turns going in circles and firing in random directions. Mike took a particularly nasty shot and got knocked out, since he is actually a pile of nanites, that meant that he collapsed into a pile of grey dust which was somewhat disconcerting to his compatriots. Around this time Maria decided to pull out her other power, which completely turned the tide of battle.
Maria had the power to summon and control a small tornado. It took a round to summon, but once it was on the ground, everyone in its area had to make a strength roll or be thrown around. This caused several of the drones to go flying into buildings and be smashed into broken heaps. Close to the end of the fight, Maria's storm finally gathered and it started to rain hard. Once the last of the drones was destroyed the party started looking for Mindjack. They found him in one of the cells and had a hard time breaking him out. The alien material that the cell was made out of was tougher than anything that the party had available to them. So, Maria used her tornado to pick up one of the nearby cells and knock a hole in the wall. I wasn't expecting that one. I didn't have any rules for it, and i was pretty sure that something about it wouldn't work, but I thought the idea was so great that I ran with it. Maria knocked a hold in Mindjack's cell and pulverized the poor souls who were in her projectile.
Being villains, the party didn't bother to rescue anybody else and took Mindjack to the pick up zone. Dr. Destruction set them down in the docks area of town and told them he'd be in touch. The group decided to set up a small base of operations in one of the self-storage areas and we ended the game.
Whew, that was a long one. I hope you all enjoyed it and I'll plan on writing up the next mission before too long.