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Subject: Xargon IV: the session (plain font) and rule summary (bold). rss

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A brilliance, ice-cold and fragmentary, breaks in through the widening gap in the fire-blackened doors of the dropship. The men raise their arms in defense against the rough wind that buffets them like ice in a tumbler eliciting curses.

The Squad leader surveys those who are about to launch themselves out onto that dead planet: hardened cadets - and the two specialists.

(Squad consists of: Squad leader, Demolitionist, Technician, Assault Team A (rookie), Assault Team B (rookie), Fire Team A (rookie), and Fire Team B (veteran).
Resource cache: 8 - 4 intelligence, 1 smoke grenade, 1 stymo pack, and 2 demo charges.
Total: 110 points)

They struggle across the rubble of Xargon IV. There is really nothing the squad leader can do to help the situation but try to get his men moving. Although he is uncertain of what lays ahead, he doesn´t want to communicate this apprehension to his men. It is just another mission; at least that is what he tells them.

(Squad leader draws an RN chit for command points. He draws a 4 producing 1 CP. Chit not returned to cup.)

The words come easier than he expects.

´This is the testing ground,´ he says. ´Where you will prove yourselves or die trying.´

(Advance 4. The squad need 4 points to advance. The command skill cannot be used towards the final total but it can increase the AP of a single skill check. Result determined by dividing the AP value by the unit´s skill level. The results are as follows: Fire Team A with advance of 3 draws RN chit 4 producing 1 point towards the advance. Fire Team B with advance of 3 draws 2 plus the single command point produces 1 success point. Assault team A with advance of 3 produces a plus RN chit allowing it to pull out two further chits giving a final result of 4 and producing 1 success point towards the advance. Finally assault team B with advance of 3 pulls a 6 producing 2 success points. The 4 points needed for the advance have been exceeded so the squad can progress. Step complete all chits return to cup and the token is moved to the first square of building one.)

It is a piece of cake scrambling over the rubble. Although the Squad leader has an idea of what faces them when they get into the two buildings he can´t be sure. There seems to be little reason for concern as the hot sun glints over their visors and a harsh desert wind makes the horizon a sheer curve. The sun appears like a red goddess holding council above them.

(The first square has the symbol 1/A. On a result of 1 the event occurs. A signifies a light enemy enemy attack. A chit is pulled and the result is 6. The chit is returned to the cup. It is now turn 29. A turn consists of a skill and an event check.)

Entry into the building is rapid. The silence chills his blood. All around the Squad leader are signs of a rapid evacuation; the bones of a great hope. He turns away from his men, and that is when he sees them in his peripheral vision.

(I have chosen to select the enemy now because I like the element of surprise. Mutants - humanoids. I pull a random number - number 3, and cross-reference it on Enemy Presence Table producing 2 regular mutants. RN chit returned to cup. If there were three plus enemy, the specialists would be drawn into the battle as well.)

Mutants. Only a handful, enough for some target practice. The technician and the Demolitionist try to look disappointed but they are secretly relieved. How the Squad leader hates the specialists and their excuses.

(Combat round begins. Part one. Combat points determined. Squad leader has command skill of 4. He draws a 6 producing one CP to use when he pleases. RN chit returned to cup.)

They stop away in the distance - those war monsters.

(Part two of combat round. Combat range is determined. A 2 is pulled. The relevant section of the range table labelled Set produces the result F for fire and long-range combat. Both sides will use its fire number for combat. RN chit returned to cup.)

The two sides start to fire at each other.

(Part three of combat round: Action point allocation. All sides receive RN chits as fire is simultaneous.
2 Mutants with fire attack of 4 draw chits with values 2 and 3.
Fire Team A with fire attack of 3 draws 0 - nothing
Fire Team B with fire attack of 3 plus 1AP draws a 5 giving a result of 6 and dealing out 2 damage.
Assault Team A with fire attack of 4 produces a 5 and dealing out 1 damage.
Finally Assault Team B with attack value of 4 draws a 4 dealing the final point of damage and the killing blow. All RN chits returned to cup. The combat round ends when all enemies or your until entire squad is incapacitated/killed. An event chit is placed on the node which is next to the security door by lab 3.)

It is a short battle.
Afterwards the men are amazed by the explosive arrows employed by their opponent. They look like the weapons of a professional soldier. The Squad leader frowns. ´Well, it didn´t do them any good,´ he says.

(Every enemy has specific characteristics.)

The Squad leader looks at his view screen and sees that they are approaching the first of the three laboratories in good time.

(It is now turn 27 and a special mission rule is introduced. Each mission has different rules. In Mission 01 a security door is rendered impassable on a result of 3. What do I get? 0)

The door slides open and the acrid smell of death greets them causing the demolitionist who is here on a work experience spell to retch, and finally vomit. The demolitionist appreciates how culture and history is shaped not just by a country but also by the land itself. He imagines that the men from this desert planet will be rough fighters unafraid of facing their enemy head-on. Rookie, thinks the Squad leader, why does he always have to get the rookie? The first objective at hand the squad leader sends the two yellowhearts to obtain security clearance to the lab that greets them at the end of the passage. The silence is unnerving. He searches in his mind for the words that will motivate his men.

(At the beginning of the node resolution step the Squad leader may make a check to generate command points. He generated 1 point from the previous combat round but this was lost as unused CP points cannot accumulate.)

He stutters and stammers but little comes out of his mouth except air. His men remain fixed on the work of the specialists.

(Command points cannot change event check values with an asterisk such as security. Turn 26.)

`That was a doddle,´ says the technician.

(Chits returned to cup.)

There is an audible pause broken by the yell of the mutant horde which is surging in through a broken security door on the other side of the chamber.

(Event check chits returned to cup.)

Three mutants and one hybrid. He calls it a hybrid. It looks the most powerful, the least recognisably human.

`All men to commence firing on my orders,´ says the Squad leader. `Fire´
The creatures and the men fire across the length of the vast laboratory causing monitors to explode and jars of luminescent liquids to shatter, misting the air as though stretching tentacles.

(Range table chit returned to cup.)

This will be a tough battle, thinks the squad leader.

The hybrid goes down but the other mutants remain and his men are injured.

(Chits are returned to cup. Now, two damage points are shared out between the squad. Fire Team B has armor so it can potentially soak up one point of damage, if it passes the check on a result of 4 or more. Success. Fire Team A take one sure point of damage. Repeat combat round 1-4. At this point I looked at the rulebook to see if I could Ambush - I am not the smartest tool in the box, sometimes, and discovered I couldn´t. I then decided to search for other options I could use in the next turn of combat. If I had generated a command point during combat and not used it, then I would be able to use the tactical squad orders but I haven´t started to use these yet.)

The squad leader knows that his men are stronger when they are fighting face-to-face. If they can rush the creatures under the cover of a smoke grenade they might cut them down in quick order, he thinks.

( Stage 2 of combat round. Pull RN 4 chit to determine range and check on section of range table F for long-range combat. This produces an undesirable result for the human player. The Smoke grenade is played. It modifies the range table result by -2/+2 while it remains in play. I want melee so I choose +2. The downside or upside of this attack is that smoke remains in play affecting all long range attacks by -2 action points. At the end of each turn pull an RN chit and on a result of six plus the smoke dissipates.)

The tactic works. So face to face combat it is then but the squad leader has one final trick up his sleeve.

(The Stymopack gives +2AP in melee for the rest of the combat turn. I place the SP token on top of Assault Team A´s card to remind me.)

Two mutants bite the dust. One lone creature remains.

(RN chits returned to cup. Stymopack removed.)

The squad leader wonders if the smoke will ever clear.

(Plus chit pulled. Two numbers follow - 2 and 3. Result 5. No is the answer. Effect of smoke grenade remains in play. Update - I didn´t realise the +2/-2 modifier was still available. I could have entered melee combat and avoided the -2 modifier to long-range combat.)

The Demolitionist glimpses through the thick haze a creature not much different from himself. He wonders if it is part of a squad and where its home planet is, and what its rituals are. The Squad leader wonders why on earth he chose to use a smoke grenade. And looking around he sees that assault team B has taken a hit. This may not play out so well after all as the creature has used the smoke screen to best effect to move back to long-range.

(All long-range combat suffers a -2 modifier during this phase until smoke clears.)

They all fire at the lone creature.

(No they, don´t. Mistake. If you start step 1-4 and there are fewer than three plus creatures, the specialists don´t take part. ooooops!)

´For God´s sake!´ says the Squad leader coming over to the two specialists. ´The last thing I need is you two putting yourselves on the firing line when there´s much we have to do.´

The demolitionist and the technician have been overtaken by the blood rush of war.

(Or rather I forgot to check.)

The lone silhouette drops to the ground. Victory tastes bitter in the mouth of the Squad leader, as bitter as the cheap tobacco he chews. Three men injured and the information out there who knows where. The mutants are weak and are easily dispatched by his squad of cadets.

(Event chit is placed.)

They decide to retrace their steps as there is nothing else ahead. It appears the other mutants have fled or maybe they are regrouping for a final devastating attack.

(Chit drawn to resolve movement to previously explored node that has an event chit. On a result of 0 a class A event will occur, 1-5, normal progress, and 6+ you actually save time. Here goes .... a 1)

Seeing nothing of interest, the squad move on. They leave the first building, gladdened by their victory, and make their way across the rubble to the second building. Ahead, a fallen water tower blocks their path. The Squad leader asks for the demolitionist.

That´s why we pay these people thinks the squad leader, hoping the rookie won´t cock the job up. These student warriors, he thinks, with their head full of rubbish. They don´t even know how to fire a gun.

(Use demolition charge to speed up process. On a result of 2+ the job is a success.)

Boom! The soldiers are showered with water washing the dust of this dead planet from their now shiny chrome space suits.

(Chit returned. One Demo charge chit discarded.)

They move on, anticipating a welcoming party and get ...

(RN chit 5. Event occurs on result of 1. Chit returned)

a big nothing.

They need to make their way to the labs. It is so close and yet so far away. There are a startling array of chemicals and laboratory equipment. ´I need my scientist´ says the Squad leader. ´I need my scientist to get all these papers in order while the rest of the squad defends this pitiful piece of rubble. Then and only then can we resolve the mess of Laboratory 2.´
´I can use a microscope,´ says the demolitionist. ´Not that I know anything much else. Anthroplogy - that´s where the real money is at.´
The Squad leader points at the array of papers. ´I am waiting,´ he says.

(Drat. I should have looked at this map in more detail. So it´s going to be a slow process. Or maybe not. I decide to make a single unskilled check and increase it with two intelligence chits which both guarantee two success levels for a result of 4.)

The Demolitionist struggles until he remembers that he has left the notes to his entry level science course on his vidilog. The notes make many of the mysteries clear. What he discovers leaves him shocked. The laboratory team has been operating on human beings. He uses a microscope to examine the contents of a slide he finds in a filing cabinet. Yes, the paperwork confirms it. Rogue cells had been used to augment the violent tendencies in the human subjects. He concludes that these monster humans - these mutants - had destroyed the lab and their masters. The demolitionist shakes as he reads account after account of the effects of the terrible devastation that had been wrought all detailed by lab technicians. Soldiers, like himself, had been shipped in and had been used against their will to develop a new superwarrrior. That was what the squad had been fighting. These mutants had been men like him infected with a blood rage that was beyond their control. A secondary effect of the virus is that it makes the skin so malleable that the slightest motion causes the skin to deform. It also renders the voice box useless. Thankfully, he discovers it is not airbourne. The mutants they have been fighting were merely victims of a scientific experiment fighting for their lives. The Demolitionist wonders if that makes him a murderer.

The Squad leader only wants the information. He doesn´t care about the backstory.´Let´s get this done and get out of here,´ he says.

´Don´t you see,´ the Demolitionist tries to explain as the other men take point. ´We are just here to clear up a political mess. And those men -- are shooting marines like themselves. What do you think they would say if I told them?´

´If you so much as speak again,´ says the Squad leader. ´I swear I will shoot you down.´

The demolitionist says nothing. He believes the threat and he doesn´t want to compromise the unity of the squad in country.

Just then they hear the sound of gunfire ...

(Event resolution. Event occurs on 5+. I pull a 1.)

The Technician has been cleaning his pistol and it has gone off.
´That´s it. You´re on mess duty when we return,´ says the Squad leader.

The Squad leader lets out a sigh of relief. There is little else to worry him now except for the stupidity of his own men.

They head back. Again the emptiness of the building swallows them like a techno-cathedral. They appear as ants swarming across a sandy petri dish, each men taking point scanning ahead for enemy activity but there is nothing to react to.

A security door lies ahead.

(I draw RN chit 3. I take this to be a failed turn, and move the turn counter down one.)

The locked door is too primitive to hack, too thick to bust open with explosives. They are forced to return the way they came.

Ahead lies a service elevator but it is broken. ´We´re not going anywhere until it is repaired,´ the Technician says to the Squad leader. The Demolitionist says nothing fearing for his life.

(The technician pulls a plus RN chit and a 2 and a 6 resulting in two success points. The Squad leader cannot generate AP towards all skills with an asterisk. Chits returned. Chit placed to show two levels of success have been achieved.)

The men are forced to return to their previous spot to camp out.

(They draw a RN chit to see if an event occurs on the square. Nothing.)

They spend the time uneventfully and finally the technican gets the job done. The squad enter the lift and ascend to the next level.

Nobody is there. They are in an office. The craned heads of a thousand desk lamps watch over them making the Demolitionist shudder. What happened to those who remained? Did they die fighting their own brothers? And the bodies? There is no sign of life in the laboratory. The silence is broken by the crunch of their boots.

´Wait,´ says Fire Team B. ´ There´s a resource cache.´ He loots it.

(Draw an RN chit and apply a -1 modifier: 5-1. As it is a G symbol I can pick a selection of Grenade, Smoke Grenade, and/or Ammo. I am not using the Ammo rule. I pick four grenades. Resource cache is marked with an x. I return chit to cup.)

They move on, four grenades heavier.

Once more they reach a security door.

(One success level is achieved.)

The Assault teams scan the large chamber for signs of life.

(Chit pulled for event check and returned to cup.)

The Technician makes a breakthrough. A motherboard is pulled out from the titanium plating.

(Second level of success is achieved.)

The men wait.

Then the mutants attack. Three of the creatures take down Fire Team B.

(I gambled on the armor and failed.)

The final mutant goes down in a shower of blood.

(Event chit placed.)

The Demolitionist ties up the remains of Fire Team B (is this one guy or more? edit: a team consists of two soldiers) ready to be transported away from the horror of Xargon IV. He is just pleased he didn´t have to open fire. He is not sure he is capable of it anymore. He pulls the dogtag from around the meathead´s neck.

Then he heads off to join the Technician to help him with his security work. Moments later the door slides open.

The final laboratory awaits.

(The information chit is played and an unskilled check is made. Success.)

(update: A day later I realised I had forgotten to check for the class B enemy encounter which occurs on a result of 4+. The rules state that the mission does not end until the end of a turn.)

The Squad leader takes it upon himself to read through the final papers. As the man who authorised the superwarrior programme he has a lot to cover up: the transport ships of marines he authorised; faked death notices that he had sent to families; and the vital medical evidence itself. There is enough information in his hands to have him court martialled and sentenced to death. Now he has procured the information he can begin over again. It was disappointing to see how quickly his creatures fell under the precise fire of his squad.When he achieves his goal he will pick better specimens and then he will have access to a far greater power than that of Squad leader. His knowledge will rock the universe. Until then there is only the small issue of disappearing the most useful and the most damning evidence. That and the Demolitionist and the Squad leader is sure that with a lot of persuasion and one hell of an explosion that problem will soon be sorted out. He begins to think through his options as the dropship lands to pick them up.

(All units except Fire Team B who were KIA, receive 3 XP for a total of 18XP. I gave one XP to the technician because he got most of the work done singlehandedly.)

Technical difficulties:
ninjaI made mistakes with the turn track and had to recheck it constantly. I let my specialists get involved in combat when there were less than three enemy.
zombieI kept on leaving RN chits out because I didn´t see them when it was time to put them back into the cup.
arrrhI forgot to complete the final check for an enemy encounter.
gulpWhile the smoke remains in play it allows the player to modify the result of the range table by -2/+2. This kind of escaped me.
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Re: Xargon IV: the session (Normal) and rule summary (bold text).
Really nice job.
Funny characters and storyline. Gritty and descriptive. Nicely evokes the games character.

Thanks. Best AAR i have read in weeks.
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