Tuesday, August 27, 2013

SUETHULU: Shutting Down Darya

SUETHULU: Shutting Down Darya

Darya was not as easy to break as Ian, just because there was no subsystem only she used. She was our combat specialist, and any change to the combat system might impair the Tagers.

Marty tried, though. He'd throw random action penalties at her for reloading: "two actions to get the clip out, one to insert it, another to draw the bolt back." He'd randomly determine the effective radius of heavy guns based on "the environment being less conducive to explosions." Remember that, everyone: fog makes fragmentation grenades useless, reducing the effective radius by a decimal order of magnitude. However, this alone wasn't nearly enough; as long as guns worked, she'd shoot them happily.

Now, the reason she could carry around heavy weapons was that she was now a member of Blackspire, and we had been assured they had the authority to get whatever they wanted from any other branch of the NEG, no questions asked. Apparently this initial description was rather exaggerated, largely because the NEG no longer conducts "heavily manned warfare."


"Mecha revolutionized warfare. Instead of big squads of cannon fodder, there are just a few elite pilots. With self-repairing, self-fueling, self-maintaining mecha as the basic unit of warfare, human-scale weaponry just isn't needed, especially when the police are all in powered armor." I think I can explain this. Marty participated in NJROTC in high school, the naval junior officers reserve training corps; for our non-American readers, the JROTCs function as a workaround to the stipulation that our armed forces can't recruit minors by "facilitating recruitment". One of their stated functions, to quote Cadet Command Policy Memorandum 50, is "to sell the Army story." Somewhere along the line, Marty was under the impression that rather than an advert it's an accurate representation of military service, "which is mostly drilling and button polishing" -- and in Marty's calculus that makes most military servicepersons superfluous.

At the same time, you have people like me asking if the party can be assigned (under some fiction of being liaisons) to one of the NEG battlecruisers, because we could relatively easily hide the energy output from our research in a floating city of 3.5 thousand conveniently designed to defend itself from threats within and without. It'd be obvious to people onboard, but we can handle that; we are good at people. I liked the smirk Jin gave at that. His response was inspired: "They're desperately trying to get away from that for precisely that reason; people are the weak link. The Victory is famous for being entirely automated down to the nanorepair units, other than the command crew and the mecha pilots -- all of whom are far too high in rank to be corrupted. You aren't getting your hands on it, by the way; it's in dry dock right now behind yards and yards of nanoconcrete hangar covered in seismometers and laser tripwires, and anyway the A-pods are protected by literally unbreakable codes, as are the personnel doors, and there's a ten-minute delay built into the doors so no one can get in without base security knowing about it. So whatever you want the ship for, forget it." Well, since you so obviously want us to have it, can we poke the nanites, start them eating the ship because the NEG RIAA are insane, and then futz with things while everyone is running around screaming? "No. Copy protection is for civvies; the NEG isn't going to put up with that crap. All the nanites are totally unhackable unless you physically change the master blueprints from the bridge, and that system isn't accessible from outside the ship. In fact none of the systems are; everything but communications and sensors is totally separate to make it completely hacker-proof. The people are mostly there to bridge the gaps between consoles; one man, sufficiently fast, could run the whole ship. " Bear in mind I'd never wanted to steal it. Marty is just that paranoid; he's willing to erase a 3500-man crew and replace it with nonsense just so we don't think we can get a cool ship. Three guesses who is "sufficiently fast".

So that, readers, is the kind of military we're dealing with, and the reason Darya couldn't get anything fun. There are no crews, no troops, and no human-scale weapons anymore. All the fancy weapons in the book are "mostly antiques and for idiot rednecks in the boonies." Aw, I always wanted a hillbilly rocket launcher, and so did Darya. Nope, Blackspire's extremely limited supply of heavy ordnance is doled out only after a nightmare snarl of waiting periods and forms, and then only "in direct support of your mission objectives." The mission objectives we don't know about. Have I mentioned yet how much Marty loves obstructive bureaucracy? He will actually try to make you fill out forms. For a game. He will imply your character is doing more forms. He will hand you back forms you have filled out incorrectly and make you redo them. FOR A GAME.

Marty: because anyone can run a fun game, but it takes a real genius to look at anime mecha cthulhu funland and ask if you've properly filled out your TPS reports. "If you want to try to scam the NEG's best special forces out of their stuff, you'll at least do it by the book." WHAT SCAM, MARTY?! This isn't a con, this is legitimate use of equipment by authorized personnel! This is literally why we have that hardware. Our bosses give us weapons, we go and shoot monsters with weapons. When the weapons don't work, we tell our bosses that, and they give us bigger weapons. I know I'd flog them onto the first criminal I could find, but at least have the decency to recognize Darya is making a perfectly valid request.

Eventually he lets her have a sniper rifle. We wanted an antimateriel rifle, since Dhohanoids shrug off bullets, but apparently "[they're] worried about collateral damage, given the usual tenor of your operations." Well of course they are. That's why we need the guns: directed explosions are better than undirected explosions for obvious reasons. Instead of that, we get told things about "calculated risks" and our best combat agent gets a long-range weapon for urban fighting. A long-range weapon that Marty "always felt did a ludicrous amount of damage" and was therefore depowered down barely better than a heavy pistol. You know, for realism. See, Marty noted that "at their normal ranges, heavy pistols and sniper rifles put about the same amount of energy into the target, so they should do equivalent damage." Naturally, the question of where the sniper is aiming did not come into play, nor did that whole sentence being a blatant generalization and logically inconsistent. Without going into gun nut territory (and please, if you must debate this in the comments, do so with some dignity) there is a fairly wide range of conversion efficiencies between projectile kinetic energy and target tissue disruption, which nicely aggravates existing issues with hit points. This is why terminal ballistics is its own field. Nonetheless, sniper rifles are really long pistols. So saith Marty; so it is.

So Darya had her sniper pistol, and there wasn't much else he could take; he'd gotten Darya to sign so many forms to keep existing weapons that her player didn't even notice it anymore. The rest of us had to do as much, too, "in order to register [our] weapons' ballistic profiles so they can exercise discretion in permitting external investigations into your activities." That's just lovely. Let's just paint a target on our butts in case our bosses feel like letting anyone else shoot. Note, again, chronic hedging. We MIGHT get burned at any time, if they feel like exercising discretion. More control, more stultifying insistence that we are nothing, more trying to jerk us around on a string.

Par for the course, really, but at this point Darya's player was too busy to really react. She did, however, make good use of that sniper rifle.


  1. This must literally be the worst campaign ever (not, mind you, for the lack of trying on the part of the players to improve it) - you're not just railroaded, you also aren't told where the rails go, the train schedule, and if there any trains at all. Nor, possibly, what the train analog in the setting IS. Not that it's relevant, since Marty probably wouldn't let you buy/steal/requisition/whatever tickets anyway.

  2. Oh... Oh, where to even begin? Handheld firearms are no longer being made then? Because mechs are just so rad all weapons are built mech-sized. OK. Yet the NEG does employ Darya, right? Which does seem to imply the people like her are still needed, and her whole thing is she uses guns. That would suggest that the NEG does, or at least *should*, have a supply of firearms on hand, right?

    Also, the police exclusively use mechs too, huh? Right. I can see them responding to break-in investigation by sending in ED-209.

  3. Nonsense, it's Catapults for everybody - after all, liberal application of L- and SRMs will get rid of ANY problem (as well as the surrounding area, but hey, in these days of rarefying real estate, you got to keep the construction business working somehow).

    1. Actually that makes a lot of sense. At least player characters in a futuristic setting would have a sort-of good reason for not knowing how to use a catapult. This being Marty, we know how this goes:

      Marty: "OK Cael, what did you get?"

      Cael: "I rolled a 13."

      Marty: "*smirks* Wow, really? What were you aiming at again?"

      Cael: "The ground."

      Marty: "Ha! You actually missed the ground with a catapult!"

      Mind this is a best case scenario.

    2. Though a humorous image, I think JBento was referring to the Inner sphere Catapult, a (typically) 60 or 65 ton heavy mech typically used as an indirect fire artillery platform.

  4. facepalm. .50AE ~1800 Joules of Energy .50BMG ~18000, full order of magnitude in energy

  5. "The mission objectives we don't know about. Have I mentioned yet how much Marty loves obstructive bureaucracy? He will actually try to make you fill out forms. For a game. He will imply your character is doing more forms. He will hand you back forms you have filled out incorrectly and make you redo them. FOR A GAME."

    ...In any sane, rational universe, such behavior would have resulted in him being murdered and no longer causing suffering just by his existence being known.

  6. >"[they're] worried about collateral damage, given the usual tenor of your operations."

    To be honest, the group doesn't exactly go for quiet and clean. Not that it justifies...anything.

  7. As a former sniper, Marty's bit about sniper rifles offends me.

  8. These are truly amongst the wonderful informative blogs.Thanks for sharing such informative blog article with us.

    Web Application Development | JavaScript Error Fix | Website Fix

  9. I cant even begin to describe the differences in powder charge for a sniper rifle and a pistol that use the same caliber round. I mean, if pistols and sniper rifles are basically identical, why bother making a sniper rifle, which takes a lot more materials and effort to make? Just put a scope on a pistol. Marty may just be the most aggressively stupid person I have ever heard of.