Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Action Report: The Extraction of Mr. X (Complete)

The Agents

Tobias Stöhner: Gray hat hacker and electronics whiz, Tobias makes computer security experts at the Pentagon break out into a cold sweat when he infiltrates their systems.
Virgil Cooke: A former CIA agent, Virgil is a master of acting a part and working the social aspects of covert ops. You probably should avoid windows if he wants you dead.
Jack Herman: Former SAS, Jack is the group's heavy muscle and military man. If the group needs his talents, it's inevitably because something went FUBAR and they need saving.
Nima Caspi: A former IDF combat medic, Nima is perfectly at home driving like a complete maniac and patching up complete maniacs who have taken a bullet or two.
Johnny Trang: Johnny Trang was too cool for LAPD officer school, so they put him into undercover work. Johnny Trang is perfectly at home infiltrating illegal racing rings or snooping on bad guys.

This session we had Matt (Virgil), Max (Johnny), Thomas (Tobias) and Ryan (Jack).

Things almost immediately started with Natalia stabbing their non-critical hostage.

The Agents started going about getting Johnny fully stabilized by finding some local clinics and veterinary clinics to try and get Johnny stable for transport. They sent Mr. X and Jack to a clinic for supplies while Nima, Virgil and Natalia took Johnny to the vet.

The vet was actually closed, while Mr. X convinced the local clinic to fork over medical supplies.

Nima and Virgil got to work on Johnny.

Meanwhile, Tobias discovered that somebody was tracking a cellphone that was within their possession. Quickly working through things with his computer, Tobias took over the computer that was linked to the cell phone towers and used the information gained to hijack their communications.

That revealed that somebody was headed to their safehouse. Jack immediately headed back to ensure that Tobias wasn't attacked.

This resulted in a short and brutal firefight. The attacker sprayed an entire HKMP5 clip at Jack, clipping him in the groin for about 13 damage. Jack went down, unconscious.

Hearing the firefight over their communications, Natalia left Virgil and Nima at the clinic. She and Tobias extracted Jack and got him to the clinic where Nima could see to his wounds.

Johnny's surgery had two major mishaps:
  • Virgil failed a first aid check to assist the surgery, accidentally dropping a tool directly onto Johnny's exposed brain. (Perk Acquired: Eye twitches/spasms whenever he hears the word debriefing.)
  • One of the monitoring devices underwent a really bad electrical short that shocked Johnny. Virgil was able to mitigate the damage.
 Tobias took the rest of the time during surgery to investigate Lorin's laptop. Turns out, Lorin was the one originally responsible for getting George Hardings in touch with the Belarus KGB.

The group contacts Logan and gives him the news on their extraction- originally extraction across the Mediterranean Sea by ship, but that is changed to an airborne extraction when Logan learns of the injuries sustained by Jack and Johnny.

They make the extraction point in time, and find themselves on a Coast Guard ship that's been purchased by Agency 17.

An man they don't know immediately approaches Mr. X and reveals that he's Egeman Atalar. Logan and the Agents are all completely shocked, except for Virgil who fakes knowing the twist all along.

The group makes way for Italy, where Johnny will get the medical attention he needs.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Action Report: The Extraction of Mr. X goes nuts

So, tonight I almost immediately let loose something I intended to hold back from the players.

Slips like this happen, especially in a game where holding back information from and deceiving the players is a constant task.

The slip involved letting the team know that the strike team was actually CIA. I had originally intended them to believe their targets were PKK goons and later discover they'd taken out Americans, leading to a frantic call to their handler wondering what the fuck is going on.

"The CIA might be attempting to foster good will with the PKK to influence the war in Syria, or they might be playing both sides for reasons I can't fathom."- Logan
Logan explained that he wasn't aware that the CIA was cooperating with the PKK. He broaches a few possible theories for their involvement, and promises to look into it. He states that getting Mr. X out of the country is the top priority, and explains that while he'd prefer a lack of violence between A17 and the CIA, the secrecy of Agency 17 has to come first.

Virgil asks Logan to produce passports for Natalia, and asks Logan if Agency 17 would appreciate it if the agents confiscated Lorin's gun runner armory he's got under his shop, which Logan confirms would be a suitable secondary objective. The conversation ends with Logan expressing a concern to the group.
"Virgil, my boss is watching this operation closely. For whatever reason, this is getting a great deal of attention from the top, and it's making me uneasy. Best be careful."

The Agents interrogate Lorin, who breaks quickly. Combing through Francois' laptop because it's in French and he's the only agent with the language, Virgil runs into major difficulties as he's not a bookish guy, and it takes him over four hours to piece together a crude customer list. Tobias picked up Lorin's phone and it's received a slew of voicemails- including a very ominous one from a man listed as 'Naz'.

Naz being the PKK guy in charge of making sure that the CIA presence in the area has access to whatever toys they want. Naz being the guy who told Lorin to avoid any messy firefights else Naz would have to break fingers and smash kneecaps.

Lorin gives the Agents the location of three PKK locations that might be of use, although it turns out he doesn't have as much information on the CIA squad as they would like. The Agents briefly consider trying to lure out Naz, but it's decided to looting Lorin's vault is a less noisy and less dangerous alternative while they're trying to protect Mr. X.

That and Virgil and Johnny are both capable of impersonating cops really well.

Nima disappears for a few hours and returns with a local police car, a uniform, as well as a printer so Tobias can doctor some identification for the Agents showing that they work with the Ankara police department. (Tobias crits on his Electronics Operation (media) check).

Taking three vehicles, their cop car, a  SUV for loading the guns into, and Johnny in a random vehicle to block traffic if needed, they arrive at Lorin's shop to find that the skeleton crew able to investigate the shootings are still examining the scene. Nima, Natalia and Virgil enter the crime scene while Johnny hangs back to watch. Tobias with his bum leg is left behind to monitor things from their hideout and to continue sifting through the data. Jack is left to guard the prisoners.

Turns out INTERPOL has been handed control of the investigation because their guy on the ground, Detective Larson, asked for it and the Ankara Police were glad to free up one of their commanders for dealing with riots instead of what they view as gang violence.

Some PKK dudes are watching the police investigation anxiously, Johnny notices.

Larson and Virgil trade info, and it becomes clear that Francois is actually Larson's target. Francois had escaped France after a nasty sting operation, deciding to attach himself to Lorin who he had worked with in the past.

The Agents are given leave to explore the crimescene, and Virgil uses the passcode for the vault that they extracted from Lorin. This draws most of the cops towards the vault to begin turning it over for evidence.

The vault is a family sized fallout shelter consisting of a living room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. There are three large crates full of guns in the living room, as well as an attache case of grenades that's missing one. (My players completely missed that detail, as you'll see.) The stairs are equipped with a lift designed to help those with disabilities requiring the use of a wheelchair up and down the stairs, but the lift has obviously been used to move heavy crates.

The PKK dudes at this point rush the store, killing the cops standing watch outside. Inside the vault, every officer begins taking cover and aiming towards the doorway.

After a few seconds pause, a grenade is thrown into the room. Virgil resists the urge to be selfless, and is manhandled into the bedroom closet by Nima. Natalia completely fails to resist On the Edge, and attempts to throw the grenade back.

She's beaten to the punch by Detective Larson, who drops on the grenade to try and save everyone in the room. It explodes, killing multiple cops in the room and badly injuring Natalia who is only saved because of Larson's intervention. Virgil and Nima are battered by the pressure wave, but manage to avoid any hearing issues.

Still On the Edge, Natalia moves upstairs with an AK grabbed from Lorin's stash, which begins a firefight with the four PKK dudes who are assaulting the shop. Virgil moves upstairs to assist, taking out one of the men with a headshot.

One man advances on Natalia's, unwisely getting into close combat allowing her to slap the muzzle of his gun up towards the ceiling, causing his shots to miss. The other two still alive hunker down behind the store counter there.

Johnny pulls up in the car and aims into the firefight from behind the wheel, but misses the man who fired on Natalia. Immediately after one of the men behind the counter fires on Johnny and clips him in the head.

I roll damage. On 5d+1, I rolled a 9, reduced to 7 damage by skull DR before wounding modifiers.  Ending up at -17 HP, Johnny succeeds his death check but immediately falls unconscious.

Virgil kills the man who shot Johnny and Natalia uses quick-shooting to eliminate the last two men by putting three shots into both of their heads.

Meanwhile, Jack has stormed out of their hideout and speeds to their location, just barely avoiding wrecking the car. Tobias hears the police alerts go out, and promptly sets about calling in as many bogus reports of violence, bomb threats and other debauchery as he can to delay the police response.

Nima stabilizes Johnny, who is missing a portion of his skull. Jack arrives and helps Nima to load Johnny into their vehicle while Natalia and Virgil attempt to get out with the guns.

Not having freight handling, Natalia and Virgil end up losing a crate of guns when it tips over on the lift and spills its contents all over the floor. Virgil nabs Lorin's laptop from the vault and the Agents leave just before the police arrive.

Back at base, Nima has to constantly watch Johnny, as she's had a very hard time stopping all of the bleeding. She makes it clear that she believes she can stabilize Johnny if she has access to a suitable place to operate on him.

The team prepares to find a vet clinic or hospital that they can use.

As far as it goes, this was an excellent session. It didn't go as planned but still managed to become a real nail-biter towards the end once Johnny got hit. All told, being in a position where you can't effectively dodge in a firefight (like behind the wheel of a car) is a bad idea.

I'm not too disappointed that I won't get to use the strike team, and next session will probably wrap up the extraction of Mr. X.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Preparing the CIA Squad

No session last week due to work schedules not cooperating. Tonight's session might also not go.

My players have been tasked with eliminating a CIA team who is out to assassinate/kill their principal, Mr. X, in an attempt to hide CIA aid going to the PKK within Turkey.

The team has five members:
  • 1 Communications expert
  • 3 Wet works men
  • 1 Intelligence/Leader
P.42 of Tactical Shooting has a nice infobox listing out Guns Skill Levels to help GMs realistically stat out shooters. Of note, special-ops soldiers are listed as having Guns up to 15, with professional soldiers/federal agents allowed up to 13.

For attributes, I'm giving each one 11 ST, 12 DX, 12 IQ and 11 HT, a spread very similar to the base agent template used for all PCs, except with 1 less IQ and DX. This is a team explicitly meant to hunt down people and kill them, it makes sense that they'd be above average (Agents of Section and Agency 17 are exceptional). 8 points in any Guns specialty (DX/E) will give a final skill of 15. The non-hitter members of the team will have 2 Points in Guns for a skill level of 13.

Other skills will be at around the same levels. Since I expect a firefight, Guns will be front and center. Throwing and striking/grappling skills will probably also be explicitly specified.

...Still deciding on grenades. Might be too lethal. Then again:
Jamie like big boom. -Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters
For body armor, I've selected Assault Vests, Ballistic Leggings, and Boots. That's DR 12 vs piercing and cut damage, DR 5 against everything else. Trauma plates are complete overkill and really heavy. Pistols flat out won't cut it against the torso or legs, although the neck, skull, arms and feet are all unarmored. 7d weapons can expect to do at least 12-13 damage to the torso per hit (roughly 50% of the time), which would cause immediate HT checks for stun/knockback and unconsciousness.

Hand to hand combat isn't really advisable since 5 DR would be tough for the Agents to punch through.

Of course, if the CIA team isn't prepared for a fight because the Agents ambush them at their hideout, they likely won't be locked and loaded to rumble, making things much easier on my players.

Things will likely start with Tobias tracking the communications expert somehow. After a few contests of skill to see if Tobias can locate the guy without alerting him, then the fight should break out. I'm probably going to have to enforce one or two equipment penalties to lower Tobias from skill levels around 17-18 to 15 or 16ish to close the gap enough to make it a little more competitive.

For weapons, I'm likely going to go with an eclectic mix of assault rifles, SMGs and maybe a shotgun with slugs. And sidearms, of course. I'll probably stick with vanilla ammo. Because simplicity.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Planning: Fallout from the Extraction of Mr. X

Last time we met, the Agents managed to get a lot done, mostly by grabbing firmly upon a bunch of hooks I can build upon for new missions and the continuation of the current one. I'm going to use a method from Orbs and Balrogs which has served me well in the past. Orbs and Balrogs is an awesome, detailed and nuanced blog that I highly suggest reading.

These hooks are:
  • Francois' Laptop
  • His USB Thumb Drive
  • A safety deposit key for a place in London
  • A gun runner's vault
  • Francois' cellphone

The vault is by far the easiest one to decide on- it's teeming with all sorts of great weapons to shoot people with. Instead of explicitly listing out everything inside, I'm likely going to give it a merchant skill between 10 and 12. For each specific weapon they hope to find, roll vs. the effective merchant skill to determine if it's there or not. Modify based on LC and how much I don't want them toting around hugely powerful explosives or .50 cal rifles (Virgil's Player: Now see, those aren't quite the same situation. Virgil can turn a .50 cal rifle into a game breaker, but we'd just blow ourselves up with decent explosives.)

The next big decision is which data storage device has Francois' local business information on it. This would be the information dealing his work with Lorin's organization, as well as information that was pertinent on Mr. X. I'm thinking that the USB stick acts as an encryption key that allows access to a partition on the hard drive that is storing a virtual machine with the credentials to log onto a secure private VPN routed through some random country (Romania comes to mind for no real reason) that will give access to the information. Francois likely had a tech savvy individual set this up for him and teach him how to go through the steps without breaking proxies left and right.

If you didn't understand that, don't worry, Tobias' skill levels for computer related tasks are outright ridiculous and he's also skilled in cryptography. I could probably write an entire post on how game-breaking a character such as Tobias is in skilled hands. Don't fuck with the communications expert. Ever.

So information is worthless without knowing what that information actually is. Again, I'm going to assign the data a skill level and do multiple checks to decide what's actually contained there. It's more organic than cherry picking everything. These are the stats on Francois' laptop:

Property Notes
Base Research Time 1 Hour
Research Modifier -2 (Messy), all data is written in french
Knowledge Base Lorin's Business- 14 (+1 Research), PKK Information- 9 (-4 Research)
Specific Content Name of Lorin's Suppliers, Past Client Info (+2 to research if cross-referencing with Francois' cellphone contact list), Details of a deal between the PKK and the CIA, Armament of the CIA squad the players have been tasked with eliminating, List of people disappeared on the orders of Egemen Atalar (-1 to Research)

For the specific content, I've already rolled checks for various things I felt the players might try to discern while going through the data. I rolled well on almost every check I made, meaning Francois must have taken comprehensive notes- albeit in french.

The Safety Deposit Key will be a hook for another mission, potentially something another team of agents goes to collect and then deliver to the players.

The CIA team is likely going to be 4-5 people, all of them spooks who are attempting to kidnap Egeman so that he can be investigated.

So I slept with the first half of this post completed last night and finally decided what it was that got everyone as angry with Egemen as they are- Project Olympus.

Project Olympus is an experimental training programing modeled after NATO training procedures- but started at a much earlier age. Egemen's implementation of the project involved children as young as five. Natalia is a product of the program, having been selected for it at age six and taken from her family.

Training under Project Olympus involves severe SERE-style exercises, physical conditioning, drug regimens,  and the completion of multiple black ops missions up to and including assassination. A lot of the people disappeared by Egemen either found themselves in the program- or dying at the hands of those going through it.

Details of that will obviously come out at the beginning of next session, prompting Logan to call the players to check the news and discuss things.

Now obviously, a lot of people are very alarmed at the rogue head of an intelligence agency disappearing- hence Agency 17 stepping in.
  • The CIA was cooperating with the PKK elements within the Turkish governments with the hope of securing research data from Project Olympus. Capturing Egeman would allow them to interrogate him to learn what he knows.
  • Anti-government forces want Egeman to answer for his crimes against humanity.
  • The Turkish government wants to make a show of taking down Egeman to appease the anti-government protests.
  • The US Government is denying any part in Project Olympus, as is the rest of the NATO community who are all in agreement that it was purely Turkish Intelligence who decided to step over the line.
  • The PKK is hoping to take advantage of the chaos to improve their foothold in Turkey, but Egeman does not fit into their plans
  • Egeman (Mr. X) wants to flee the country after ensuring that the CIA squad sent to retrieve him is eliminated.
Now, for the next mission, I'm thinking it's time to do something involving parachuting, the wilderness and roughing it away from society.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Action Report: The Extraction of Mr. X, Part 3

The Agents

Tobias Stöhner: Gray hat hacker and electronics whiz, Tobias makes computer security experts at the Pentagon break out into a cold sweat when he infiltrates their systems.
Virgil Cooke: A former CIA agent, Virgil is a master of acting a part and working the social aspects of covert ops. You probably should avoid windows if he wants you dead.
Jack Herman: Former SAS, Jack is the group's heavy muscle and military man. If the group needs his talents, it's inevitably because something went FUBAR and they need saving.
Nima Caspi: A former IDF combat medic, Nima is perfectly at home driving like a complete maniac and patching up complete maniacs who have taken a bullet or two.
Johnny Trang: Johnny Trang was too cool for LAPD officer school, so they put him into undercover work. Johnny Trang is perfectly at home infiltrating illegal racing rings or snooping on bad guys.

This session we had Matt (Virgil), Max (Johnny), Thomas (Tobias) and Ryan (Jack).

The sniper posted above immediately tagged one of the three men leaving the gas station. Virgil and Jack immediately headed into the building with the sniper as Johnny and Tobias followed the two surviving men who got into a car.

The sniper, Wade, turned out to be a hired thug who was contracted to kill Lorin by a rival gun runner. Virgil and Wade strike a bargain where Virgil will take half of his pay for delivering Lorin, the gun runner Wade is supposed to kill, to him. Wade agrees.

Lorin's guards show up, prompting a firefight. Wade pulls a crazy daredevil-level stunt, jumping out of the second story window and shooting a man in the head once he lands. (Lucky crit.). Virgil and Jack eventually kill another man, taking the third captive. They split up from Wade after getting his contact info.

A quick sweep of Lorin's shop shows that the ground floor is a front and that his shop is behind a locked reinforced steel door.

Lorin and Johnny have a car chase that almost ends with a bad wreck and then does later down the road when Lorin's car gets clipped by a sedan, spinning around and slamming into a guardrail. Lorin is still barely alive, although his guard who was in the car with him didn't make it.

The agents looted the various thugs, turning up a lot of useful stuff:
  • A heavily modified FN Five-Seven. Fine (Accurate), Extended Magazines (30+1 shots) and burst fire (for 3x3 ROF since it is not selective fire).
  • A Ruger Super Redhawk in .454 Casull
  • Lots of cash
  • Multiple Kurdish drivers' licenses
  • A hotel keycard
They escorted Lorin and one of the thugs back to their safehouse. Uzi broke quickly, explaining a few things to the group about Lorin's operations. The agents then tracked down the hotel keycard, finding the room where Lorin's business partner, Francois, had been staying before Wade shot him.

Natalia tags along, using her sex appeal to go about the hotel as if she owns the place. It works.

Francois' boyfriend is very open to helping if it means keeping his life. He assists the agents in recovering Francois' possessions from the hotel:

  • Laptop
  • USB Stick
  • Deposit Box Key to the Julian Trust of London
  • Four-digit passcode to Lorin's weapons vault
  • The hotel desk jockey also gives them another patron's baggies of drugs (cocaine, heroin and weed)
Once back, Lorin has awoken, but he's scared silly that Egemen Atalar is after him. Little does Lorin know that Egemen Atalar is indeed in the room with him- swaddled in bandages and known to the players as Mr. X.

To Do List:
  • Populate the arms dealers' weapon cache under Lorin's store
  • Make the CIA strike team they've been tasked with taking out
  • Come up with suitable complications
  • Find a use for Tobias in this mess