The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

The best of player excess

Posted By on January 20, 2014

(Names have been changed for anonymity).

As a GM, you are often asked by players to grant them special concessions in excess of the rules, especially at character creation time.

One needs to be careful granting these requests, as doing so may unbalance the game, because it makes an individual too powerful, which makes it hard for the GM to come up with scenarios to challenge that player whilst not wiping the floor with the other players. Further, it changes the dynamic from being a team/group cooperative comprised of specialists (think Oceans 11) to a definite difference in skill set and power levels, where some folks are more or less along for the ride (think Doctor Who and his companions).

Mike, the player in question, wanted to play a helicopter pilot rigger. He took money as priority 1 (this was 3rd edition, remember) and bought himself some rigger goodies and a custom cargo chopper. (We used the stats for an Ares Dragon, but aesthetically, it was more like a CH-53 Super Stallion. The cover story was that he ran a high-speed private courier service. He could land anywhere he could put the helicopter down, you could drive a forklift up the back ramp and put in a couple cargo palattes worth of stuff, or drive in a short panel van. There was also a small passenger cabin, so it could carry half a dozen people. It was essentially the common “team van”, except their van was a helicopter (and I think they all parked their motorcycles in the back).

Now, in order to maintain the cover, it was not visibly armed. It did, however, have a couple of secret body compartments disguised as fuel tanks, out of which deployed a couple of Vindicator Miniguns (he didn’t have the money to buy anything better, but he still bought a pair of freaking miniguns!)

Of course, you may ask, where is the GM concession here. Well, the concession is that of availbility. These are not usually allowed for starting characters.

So, anyway, the second job they take is to hijack some cargo. Of course, the cargo turns out to be owned by Renraku and is a Cyberzombie. On top of that, there are two mages in the back of the van with the zombie, some random security driving the truck, and lead and chase vehicles full of Red Samurai. This is a very, very dangerous job.

They hack in to find out the route, and plan an ambush. The helicopter is overhead, everyone else is on the ground. As part of legwork, they stole a tow truck and used it to smash in to the lead truck (think Heat. This renders two of the Samurai out of action and blocks up the road. The second truck deploys and a gunfight ensues.

Combat turn one goes as normal – mages throw spells, gunbunnies shoot things, normal. Mike’s character flips a switch. You see, the miniguns take 3 seconds to get up to operating speed.

The next turn, because he’s a rigger, he gets to go first. For the first time we calculate what he gets to roll. It’s a minigun, no recoil modifiers or anything like that, because he’s an a HELICOPTER. It’s one, huge gyrostabilization platform.. He had a ton of gunnery skill, got bonuses for sheer volume of rounds these things throw out, no penalties, and I doubled it, because there were two.

In the end, he ended up rolling something like 20 dice per action, and got 3 actions per round. In the end, I think I ended up letting him split his dice amongst adjacent targets, and just saturate the area with rounds.

Anyway, he turns the chase vehicle into swiss cheese, can’t shoot at the leat vehicle (too close to friendlies), pink mists the two mages coming out of the back of the van, and the whole rest of the team (which was like 4 people) drop the last two in the lead vehicle..

And then the cyberzombie walks out.

The theory was that they were supposed to capture it, but they hadn’t counted on it being active – or armed with a rocket launcher and light machine gun.

I think it took a whole TWO actions of concentrated fire from the helicopter for it to go down.

Their contact ended up getting a box of parts.

They ended up getting half pay.

Now, if it made the mission so easy, you may wonder why I allowed it. Well, for starters, overwhelming firepower wasn’t the right solution here – they didn’t get fully paid. Also, everyone thought it was hilarious – the team loved it. Finally, it’s controllable. You can’t fit a helicopter in the sewers, nor is it particularly sneaky. So, it was great for bringing big guns to bear and getting places quickly, not so much for sneaking.

In the end, after a few missions, Mike agreed with me, and we ended up turning that guy in to an NPC and Mike made up a new character.

Up next – when you indulge the munchkins too much, and you end up with a PvP beheading….


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