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We finally got round to our character/setting/premise generation for Mass: the Effecting last night, and as well as the characters got a fix on our Company and ship (following on from this thread). The game starts in late 2183, several months after the "geth attack" on the Citadel, and Penumbra Securities (no we don't do trading in stocks and shares, or even gilts) hasn't been active much longer than that.
There are 5 PCs, who are as follows:
Kirroe Tuditan - Turian Vanguard - formerly assigned to a special unit formed by the Spectre Nihlus Kyrik, when Nihlus died she took the opportunity to set out on her own.
Raik Yghorl - Krogan Sentinel - once a Blood Pack merc, later indentured to Eclipse where he learned the physician's trade. Now our Chief Medical Officer.
Russell Ortiz - Human Soldier - decorated former Alliance officer enmeshed in a conspiracy of silence over events during the Torfan operation.
Samantha Lim - Human Adept - young graduate of the Grissom Academy and a powerful biotic with ties to Aria T'Loak.
"Kane" - Quarian Infiltrator - geth-hating quarian who left the Flotilla after completing his Pilgrimage, and has old ties to Eclipse. Now our Chief Engineer.
So to an outline of the basics we discussed (as best as I could recollect from memory, so some minor details may be amiss).
Penumbra Securities - a small, ethical firm of mercenaries who focus on high-value, discrete and surgical jobs. We bring clarity to shady situations, and don't involve ourselves with slavery, minimise collateral damage and don't renegotiate contracts once accepted.
We have a proper mission statement (to be developed further) which helps us to determine which sorts of jobs we are willing to take, and which we are not. We will sometimes do things for a reduced feed (or even pro bono) if the cause is right.
The 5 PCs are partners/directors, a position earned by right of bringing major investors into the enterprise. Our authority flows from that position, rather than any other roles we might take on. We're equal partners, everyone else is involved as our employees.
We've detailed a number of investors: A quarian group representing those on their Pilgrimage; Funds covertly diverted from an Eclipse account; An asari interest associated with Yghorl; Aria T'Loak (a legitimate route to launder money, no doubt done through shell companies); One of the institutions that also invests in the Grissom Academy; A company associated with a turian general known to Kirroe; A financial subsidiary of Hahne-Kedar; A company run by Ortiz's grandfather.
There's no designed office, just a virtual mailbox on the Citadel. When we need office space, we rent it like everyone else does.
Our non-ship staff include an asari accountant and a salarian lawyer. We couldn't afford to have either directly employed, they're contractors we draw upon when we need them. I'd guess we might have some sort of outsourced (or even VI-automated) HR function to handle all the paperwork regarding our staff.
We're a small and largely self-sufficient outfit. When we need additional groundside support, more tranport capability, specialised equipment or the like, we subcontract it for the duration of the mission.
Our brand colour scheme is (dark) purple and silver. Our armour, the crew uniforms and all the vehicles are marked in those colours. Critically, though, not the ship.
We also need a logo stylistically depicting a penumbra (I guess?).
Our ship is an Alliance Systems frigate, formerly the SSV Salamanca, now the MSV Scalpel. It came off the production lines in the mid-2150s and was destroyed during the First Contact War in 2157. It was a new vessel at the time, and the pattern is probably ending its service life in the Alliance in the 2180s. While there was extensive damage, enough of the hull survived to allow us to salvage it for repair and refurbishment.
One of the agreed conditions of salvage with the Alliance was that the main gun was removed. The ship retains its GARDIAN defense turrets and torpedo launchers (essentially all our offensive capabilities are short/"knife-fight" range).
Defensive capabilities are unchanged, military-grade armour plating, kinetic barriers and propulsion.
We don't have stealth systems (necessitating extended heat-sinks) or an oversized drive core like the Normandy SR-1 does; thus there's more internal space than was apparent in the SR-1.
The top deck/gun deck has been converted into extended living/leisure facilities to make living aboard ship more comfortable. The rough structure of the ship is as follows:
Top deck: partners' living quarters (including Kane's clean-room), leisure facilities (gym, bar, virtual firing range, etc)
Middle deck: bridge, CIC, crew quarters, medical bay
Bottom deck: engineering, armoury, hangar/vehicle bay, cargo
We carry a range of vehicles: a pair of A-61 Mantis gunships; a UT-47 Kodiak shuttle; an unspecified rover (not a Mako unfortunately, some civilian crawler with a paramilitary upgrade, no doubt).
There's an emergency force of 4 Orcus mechs who are activated by the ship VI if we're boarded.
There are further upgrades/modifications to discuss/confirm at a later date. Probably as they come up unless people have specific ideas before then.
We've kept the crew to a minimum to keep costs down. Total complement besides the PCs is in the 15-20 range, a little more than the skeleton crew needed to keep a ship of this size running. Lots of people pull double-duty because we don't have the numbers for dedicated specialists who do little else.
The crew work for us; regardless of our nominal roles on the ship, we are their employers
Some of the notable crew-members include: A turian former Captain who runs the ship (an idea I had was that during the FCW they led the wing of fighters that destroyed the Salamanca); A female ex-Alliance pilot; A trio of drell pilots (who pilot both shuttles and gunships, and act as bridge crew running sensors and tactical ops and backup helmsmen); A volus quartermaster who thinks he's a business genius; A human engineering crew, one of whom doubles up as a medical orderly.
We don't have armsmen or security officers, and there are no marines.
First session last night, and we were pitched right into the action (there is a danger this is going to overlap with the eventual AP thread). The Panopticon Project, an astronomical survey out on Clochia hired us to protect them from a rumoured pirate attack. We had three scenes before the action, "5 days before", "5 hours before" and "5 minutes before".
First scene was negotiating the terms of the contract and gathering initial intel, as well as procuring the necessary supplies and equipment to do the job. We leaned towards the tech-warfare side of things rather than getting more bodies, bringing combat mechs, shield generators and automated turrets for base defense. Turned out there were a lot more people than we were expecting, almost 200.
Second scene was arriving on Clochia and meeting the Project Director Rasmussen, Security Chief Vornheim (a batarian!) and others. They suspected that a batarian pirate/slaver attack was coming, because surely nothing they'd turned up would be of interest to anyone otherwise. They basically gather historical data on the celestial bodies around them. We set up the defenses, ran through some firearms drills and trauma medicine, along with an assessment of the staff with biotics to prepare. Our gunships (which we decided are "Raptor One" and "Raptor Two") and shuttle hid a little way from the facility, ready for when we needed them. We ordered the evacuation of all the outlying buildings, getting everyone into the communications hub. A score or so of the civilians are armed with surplus assault rifles and given a brief pep-talk.
Third scene we were notified by the Scalpel that three ships were incoming; a batarian ex-military frigate, a troop carrier and a third ship using stealth. Our XO took the ship into the shadow of one of the gas giants before it could be detected, which meant we were on our own. Three dropships (all batarian ex-military assault shuttles) issued forth and we got ready. We decided to meet one of the intrusion teams head-on, and prepared an ambush.
So to the first fight against a 5-man mercenary fireteam. All in medium armour with assault rifles, we got the drop on them and put one down before they'd even touched down. However, they were disciplined enough to return fire on one target at a time, and Ortiz (the Soldier) got badly mauled, prompting us to pull back (we're better much closer up than trading fire at medium range). Checking back with the civilians and their monitoring of the situation, and the mercs were converging on the generator. If they took that out, we'd be in trouble. They also noted someone was out there with a stealth cloak. And that they aren't carrying any slavers gear, these people are shooters pure and simple.
Back out to firefight number two, where we managed another ambush in the loading area on the way to the generator. Another five-man fireteam, but they had a hidden surprise, a salarian Infiltrator, who took out Kane (our Infiltrator). A rather desparate fight ensued (during which our Vanguard went down too), and largely thanks to our biotic advantage (they had none, we had lots) we won and captured the salarian.
A bit of interrogation later (well, we tried, he was rather resistant and prepared - and it turned out heavily cyber-enhanced) and we learn that this dude is apparently with the League of One, and his "overseer" might be willing to trade for his release. We have a brief, non-commital conversation with said overseer, then discuss options. During this time we discover what this is really about - data showing a sun disappearing a millenia ago. Suspicions of some League of One experiment that no one was supposed to know about. We broadcast the data to the Scalpel with orders to get the hell out of here and bring reinforcements.
Our enemy knocks out the power and starts bombarding the comms hub from orbit. That leaves us with no choice but to get everyone into the underground tunnels and hope we can hold out there...
Wow sounds like a hell of a first session. Talk about a crucible; two dead party members and a third wounded. Those batarians weren't playing around.
Oh, they weren't dead, but they were boxed out with Lethal damage (what's worse, our Vanguard forgot she could ignore one attack with her "once per session" power) and unconscious. Fortunately, at least, in M:tE suit systems will stop you bleeding to death when you're put down, as long as your medi-gel reservoirs aren't dry.
We're in quite bad shape, barring the Sentinel and Adept. Though the Soldier wasn't boxed out at least.
But yes, it was a hell of a session. Lots of exposition-y bits and some blistering action.
Sounds like you're going to have to call in the Raptors. How are all of those mechs and turrets doing?
We did call them in to try to take one of the landers out, but those things are heavily-armoured brutes and they only managed to damage one before having to retreat. We'd rather they weren't shot down by the ships in orbit, so we had them go to ground again.
Turrets were pretty much wiped out and the mechs couldn't hold long without us to support them. Things are looking grim. The mild upside is that they've got a "kinetic harpoon" rather than a proper, military-grade mass accelerator cannon in orbit. So we might well survive this siege long enough for reinforcements to get here.
The big concern now is trying to keep all these civilians alive.
How tunnel-y are the tunnels? You can turn them into veritable death traps with a little ingenuity.
Not sure yet; indeed we could assuming they intend to ensure we are all dead by following up the bombardment with an assault. There is also the issue of how feasible it is to be moving around them while under orbital attack.
Good idea, though. Our Infiltrator is good with that sort of thing.
For those who are less keen on listening to over six hours of podcast, here's Russell's After Action Report of the Cloture mission.
As far as is possible, I will attempt to write one of these on the conclusion of a mission, done from Russell's point of view. The idea is that we're briefing our investors on what happened and why we did what we did.
After Action Report by Russell Ortiz, principal, Penumbra Securities
Client: The Panopticon Project Contract: Anti-piracy, Installation and personnel protection. Short term/single threat. Location(s): Cloture, Skyllian Verge. Principals involved: Kirroe Tuditan, Kane, Russell Ortiz, Sam Lyn and Raik Yghorl. Account Status: Settled - fee paid in full.
Following preliminary inquiries, final negotiations were concluded on the Citadel for Penumbra to take on a contract to protect the Panopticon Project's installation and personnel on Cloture. Rumours of an imminent pirate attack in the region had led to their Project Director being authorised to take on additional security, and following recommendations they selected Penumbra.
The principals resolved upon a technology-focused base defense strategy, leasing mechs, drones, turrets and shield generators commensurate to the properties of the client site. Some surplus assault rifles, combat rations and emergency medical supplies were also procured. Please see Procurement Officer's report at Annex 1 for a complete breakdown of the details of supply of this equipment.
Upon arrival on Cloture, the principals met with Project Director Beorn Rasmussen and Security Chief Vornheim to get an update on the situation. All signs on the ground implied a batarian pirate/slaver attack with a purely economic motive (seizure of equipment/capture of personnel). No other viable leads found suggesting alternative threat scenarios.
Preparations were made on-site; weapons drills for the civilians, a crash course in combat trauma medicine for the doctors, a review of the biotics-capable staff and setup of the tech assets. The communications hub was deemed the most defensible building and designated as fallback position. Air assets were scrambled to nearby locations where they could be hidden, ready if called upon.
A warning from the Scalpel in orbit that ships had entered the system prompted an evacuation of the outlying buildings and lockdown of the scientific equipment. XO Romnus took the ship into the shadow of one of the gas giants and went comms silent to avoid detection. Three ships entered orbit around Cloture, a batarian ex-military frigate, a troop carrier and a stealthed ship. A trio of dropships, all ex-military batarian Maulers, entered the atmosphere, heading straight for the facility.
Having locked down the comms hub and civilians, the principals set an ambush on the enemy fireteam making directly for their position. Kane selected an ideal spot and the team were able to open fire as the mercenaries disemarked from their lander. One was taken out of the fight before he'd even touched down and another was incapacitated before they could get into cover, but when they concentrated their fire on me, I lost my shields and was wounded. Yghorl dragged me out of danger and we retreated back to the comms hub.
Assessing the situation once more and reading the movements of the other mercenary fire-teams revealed a concerted push on the generator. The tech-assets could not hold that alone, and if the generator went down the client's work would be threatened. It was also clear now that these were not pirates or slavers, they had no specialised gear for taking captives. It had all the hallmarks of a covert operation with fireteams out to kill. Furthermore, someone was operating with a stealth cloak amongst the gunmen.
After some hasty field medicine, the principals headed back out before the mercs locked down the installation to drive them away from the generator. Another hastily-composed ambush was sprung amongst the loading area units around the generator facility. Kane and Sam were set up on a gantry overlooking the loading bay, while Kirroe, Yghorl and I moved in quietly.
The enemy had a surprise of their own, the aforementioned stealther was a sniper who put Kane out of commission after his first shot. Only some hasty biotics from Sam spared us any further trouble from the sniper. A short, brutal firefight ensued in which Kirroe was incapacitated but none of our team were killed. The sniper, who turned out to be salarian, was captured and brought back to the comms hub for interrogation. In the meantime, the Raptors attacked and damaged one of the landers, but were unable to put it out of action before having to retreat once more.
The salarian bore an ex-military (possibly ex-STG) bearing, and a medical scan revealed heavy cybernetic augmentation. When roused, he was resistant to all attempts to intimidate and pressure, but revealed that his "Overseer" would negotiate for his release. Those discussions were non-committal.
More importantly, the motive behind the attack was discovered - recent data showed a sun disappearing a thousand years ago, an anomaly that should not be possible. These mercenaries had been dispatched to silence the installation and remove the data to maintain an ancient secret. Furthermore, Director Rasmussen mentioned "League of One" had come up in conversation with his Project Services - a viable instigator behind the events if true.
Deeming the revelation more important than attempting to negotiate a peaceful settlement (and being unable to trust that the enemy would keep their word), the data was broadcast to the Scalpel with orders to get out of the system with the data and return with reinforcements.
A response came from the opposition; the generators were knocked out and orbital bombardment from some sort of kinetic harpoon began. The sniper was executed and left behind as the civilians were moved into the underground bunker beneath the communications hub. The onslaught carried on for several hours, but the civilians were safe in the bunker and there were no casualties. Everyone settled down as best they were able given the circumstances. I walked amongst the staff with Sam bolstering morale while Kane and Yghorl prepared IEDs.
The cessation of bombardment was a sign that an assault was coming, so using what little time there might be before its arrival, the principals went back up to the comms hub to lay some surprises for the assault troops. We were briefly able to make contact with the Raptors, but Kane was unable to create a more lasting solution to the comms blackout in the bunker.
Once the explosives were set, we retreated underground once more, sealing the entrance. The breaching troops set of two of the five devices before making it to the final door, slowing their sweep considerably. Once they cleared the last device, they were at one of the two stair entrances. A flash-bang tossed down the shaft, followed by smoke grenade stunned the unarmoured civilians, but some quick-thinking by Sam who erected a biotic screen prevented any more. Someone on the other side raised another biotic barrier shrouding noisy activity going on in the stairway. When the smoke cleared, a very large bomb was clamped to the wall near the doorway. A narrowly-averted panic turned into an evacuation of everyone in the vicinity. Sam's barrier took the brunt of the blast, and rather than clearing a breach the explosion collapsed the stairway, sealing it as a viable entrance to the bunker.
Rather than waiting for the assaulters to try again at their leisure, the prinicipals decided to turn the tables. Yghorl's bio-scanner suggested there were around six bodies on the floor above. Kane wanted to go up and get eyes on our attackers, and went up stealthed. He relayed the situation non-verbally, but was spotted. Unwilling to abandon him, we charged out of the bunker to engage the remaining hostiles.
A desparate battle ensued with their biotic proving a difficult adversary. They had numbers on their side, but were caught between two elements of our forces. Kane, Kirroe and I were badly injured, but we prevailed due to effective teamwork. The last of them fled and Sam and I gave chase, followed by Kane and Kirroe. Kirroe and I caught up with him in the bay outside the hub and brought him down, but not before one of the landers appeared overhead. Kane's quick thinking overheated their cannon while we dived for cover. Finishing off the last merc with a grenade, Kane was out in the open too long, and hit by the reloaded cannon. I opened fire with a rocket launcher, damaging the underside and driving the shuttle off.
The bombardment resumed, forcing us to pull back to the bunker once more. This did not last more than a few hours, during which time we rested and recuperated. All the principals were exhausted having spent the better part of a day under attack and fighting. Once the bombing stopped, we waiting until the Raptors gave an all-clear signal to move people out of the bunker. The shuttles had retreated and ships left orbit.
The installation was devastated. No power, ruined dishes and incoming data lost. However all the project staff survived (barring a sprained ankle in the evacuation, there were no casualties amongst the civilians) and we retained the project data stored up to the point of evacuation of the comms hub. It would be several months of repair and reconstruction at great cost before Panopticon's work could resume.
The Scalpel returned with a salarian military cruiser in support a couple of days later, and the salarians rapidly moved to secure the installation and provide humanitarian assistance. We were debriefed by their Captain on the presence of the League of One and the nature of the data Panopticon had found. Apparently our broadcast had set in motion a rush to reach the location of the missing star. That is a developing situation we will monitor. For the time being, however, what was needed was rest. Concluding our business on Cloture and ensuring transfer of the balance of the fee, we left.
The lie in the report was the fate of the salarian we captured, then executed. We claimed when questioned by the salarian military that we left his body outside, and it had disappeared by the time we went back to the surface. Russell also lied to the investors in this AAR to preserve plausible deniability. In actual fact we retained his body and sent it up to the Scalpel with our shuttle the moment it returned. There was some debate as to what we should do with it; in the end our quartermaster persuaded us to let him carve it up to sell the cybernetics.