Once again, apologies for the paucity of posts this month. Work has been getting in the way, but thanks to our benevolent corporate overlords cutting our hours back by a frankly ridiculous amount given Christmas is coming up, I should have more time next week to update the blog and comment on others.
The four Muppets are in a large, mostly empty room. Its main feature is an odd collection of pipes rising from the centre. A light green mist is rising from the open ends of the pipes. But the strangest thing is the floor.
"Jesus it's like the tropics in here," says Packman, eyeing the condensation on the floor and walls and his suit's internal temperature gauge.
"Yes, but look at the other end... is that ice?" asks Vashtal.
DeeDee peers down the room. "I don't get it," she says. "Half the room is steaming hot, the other is frozen solid. How does that happen?"
"How does anything happen in this bloody place?" says Packman.
Axon is sniffing the air. "Whatever that mist is, it's not good," he says to his comrades. "Looks like there's a valve of some sort at the bottom of those pipes. I suggest we get to it and close that gas off."
Packman takes a step forward and almost slips over thanks to the wet surface. "Oh, this is going to be fun," he says.
Vashtal arms his rifle as two white spherical objects glide into view.
"Speaking of fun, it appears we've woken up some drones..."
This is a mission with two goals: survive (and preferably destroy) the drones, and shut off the gas. The drones have 12(!) lives, and if damaged can regenerate three on their next activation. Their combat stat is 4, with a +2 for shooting and +1 for close combat, making them little buggers to take out. They can also repair each other if within 3".
Because of the gas, each Muppet has to make a Life Save 3 upon activation; in other words, they roll 4D12 and must get at least three even numbers to pass unscathed. And the floor is so slippery that they each need to make a Movement Save 3 before attempting to move. Failure means they can't move, but can still shoot. Oh, great.
Just to add a cherry to the top of this cake, the gas is a mutagenic chemical mist that has an interesting effect on the crew: if they fail enough Life Saves to drop their wounds to zero, the gas will transform them into a plant mutant. I'm not kidding. On top of that, the plants will act as enemies and immediately attack its fellow pirates. The light sprinkling of chocolate flakes over the cherry on top of the cake is that should a crew member become a plant mutant and survive the mission, that crew member remains a plant for all subsequent missions. Yes, I could potentially end up with a crew of four mutants, which would be a sod as I've only got three plant mutant minis.
Switching off the gas is done by rolling a Reaction Test 6; put simply, the valve needs six successes to spin it closed.
Combining the floor, gas, drones and potential mutations, I cannot see more than maybe one or two Muppets making it through this mission. So without further ado, let's kick off with Turn 1...
Vashtal immediately buggers up his Life Save and drops to one wound! He also fails his Movement Save, because of course he does, and just raises his energy rifle to take aim at the drone directly up the room from him. He fires, and eight white-hot balls of plasma shoot towards it, five of them hitting the robotic sphere. The drone fails two saves, dropping it to 10 lives.
Axon fails his Life Save and drops to 3, and already I can see this becoming a recurring theme throughout this mission. And then he fails his Movement Save, so he too is stuck in the corner. He fires at the same drone Vashtal attacked, only managing to hit it twice, and the drone loses one wound, taking it to 9.
The Muppets somehow roll a 10, so keep initiative. DeeDee blows her Life Save and drops to 1 wound, but she has a jump pack so the Movement Save doesn't apply to her. She flies 4" up the table and fires at the wounded drone, hitting it three times and leaving it with seven wounds.
Somehow the Muppets roll a 12 (where are these rolls when I really need them?) and keep initiative for the last time this turn. Packman's up next, and in a turn of events that surprises nobody he fails his Life Save and drops to 2. He also fails the Movement Save and, like Axon and Vashtal, is stuck in the corner of the room. He sights down his pistol and lets fly, but only one bullet hits the drone and it easily saves.
That's the Muppets' activation over for this turn. To recap, three haven't moved an inch, Axon is on 3 wounds, Packman is on 2 and DeeDee and Vashtal have one apiece.
The wounded drone activates first and automatically regains three wounds, putting it back on 10. It fires at DeeDee, who's nearest, and luckily from six shots it only hits once. DeeDee actually manages to get enough even numbers that she survives.
The second drone activates and moves 6" to its right to get a better shot at our heroes. DeeDee, being the closest, is again the target, and hits her four times. She saves 3 and DeeDee is down!
Turn 1 is finished, the Muppets' leader is out, and I'm going for a cig. Amuse yourselves for five minutes.
OK, Turn 2. My hopes of any of the Muppets making it through this turn are next to zero, so if you've developed any kind of emotional attachment to them now's the time to say goodbye.
Vashtal rolls his Life Save and passes! Not only that, he gets a double-12 for his Movement Save! Critical success! Bells ring out in jubilation and choirs of angels sing to the heavens as he makes an 8" dash towards the deadly pipes. Because he double-moved he can't shoot, and as he's got one wound left he's probably going to be dead in the next 10 minutes, but let's just bask in his success for a bit.
The drones immediately get initiative. The damaged drone is back to 12 wounds thanks to its bloody self-repair ability. Vashtal is the closest Muppet, so instead of firing over the cargo container between it and our blue-hued soldier, it moves 6" and rotates to aim at him. Three laser beams hit him, and he either makes three saves or the Muppets are down to two team members. The dice skitter across the dice tray and... he makes four! Vashers lives, and there was much rejoicing.
Initiative returns to our trio of space pirates. After rolling his Life Save, Axon drops to 1 wound and then for an encore also fails his Movement Save. He fires at the closest drone, hitting it four times, and the spherical droid saves three, dropping to 11 wounds.
Packman's up next. So you're not kept in suspense, he drops to 1 wound but at least he can move! So, do I have him leg it towards the pipes or try to act like a medic and heal Axon? I went for the second choice, with Packers moving an inch to the soldier and attempting to fix him up a bit. Packman has three first-aid packs and they succeed on a roll of 6+. Two work, bringing Axon back to 3 wounds. It doesn't help the Muppets' mission goals but it might keep them alive a bit longer.
The final activation of the turn is the second drone. It moves 6" and fires at Vashtar, hitting him only twice! And Vashy saves both! In the words of the Bee Gees, HA HA HA HA STAYIN' ALIVE STAYIN ALIVE!
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Turn 3!
Vashtal kicks off by rolling four odd numbers for his Life Save. Oh dear.
Vashtal suddenly collapses to the floor. He's unconscious but his body is twitching and spasming. As Axon and Packman watch in horror, pinkish fronds rip through the soldier's clothing and his body changes shape, tubes and bulges appearing under his grey armour. With a final tearing sound, a green-pink plant rises up, four tentacles waving gently in the misty air.
"What the hell happened to him?" says Axon.
"Don't ask me," replies Packman, "I just work here."
"Aren't you the medic?"
"Yes, the medic. Not the horticulturalist. I'm assuming that mist is some kind of mutagenic gas and so much of it is in his system that it's altered his DNA."
"Into a plant?"
"Apparently. I wonder if it'll like us?"
The black-clad soldier throws his arms up in frustration. "But what do we do?"
"I dunno, Ax," replies Packman. "Water him?"
The Muppets keep activation and Axon's up next. He rolls his Life Save... and blows all four dice.
Axon thuds to the floor, and Packman watches with a mix of fascination and horror as he goes through the same transformation as Vashtal. Within seconds, another green plant with pink tentacles is standing before the medic.
"Er... hi, Ax," says Packman.
Oh shit, this is not looking good at all, especially as the second drone gets initiative. It moves 6" towards Packman, the last Muppet standing, and fires. Five of its six shots find their target! Packman has six dice and must make five of them oh shit he made four. Packers collapses to the icy floor.
All four Muppets are down, and now I have to roll 2D12 against the table to discover their fates. Here we go...
DeeDee: 22! Not only does she survive, she gets to up a stat by 1. I've increased her shooting skill to 7.
Vashtal: 6! He's dead. Dammit, I liked Vashtal.
Axon: 15! Full recovery, so he'll be back... as a plant!
Packman: 12! Another full recovery!
Holy crap. Three Muppets left from the original seven.
Wow, that was a bastard of a mission, way tougher than even the Science Lab, where I lost Betty, Globrick and Misloi. To be blunt, this one is just too hard. The Life Save 3 — where you need to roll three even numbers at the start of each crew member's activation just to stay alive — is too much; maybe a one or two would be better. The Movement Save is also a complete sod, and given that only two of the four Muppets even got to move in three turns is pretty bad. So you have two aspects of the game that could get you killed, or at the least severely hamper your chances, and that's without the apparently indestructible drones.
As far as the Movement Save goes, I think it would be better that, upon failing, your character's move is halved. Or the mini could move in a random direction because of the slippery floor by using a D12 and having, say, 1-3 meaning forward, 4-6 meaning left and so on. It would add a randomness to the game and at least the crew might get out of the corner of the room.
And the drones, the bloody drones. Having them able to self-repair three lives at the start of their activation is an absolute sod. One or two lives would make for a better game because at least then you'd have a chance of taking one out.
The effect of the mutagenic gas is, however, pretty funny, especially as the plant keeps all the stats of the original character. So Axon's new form will have his skills and won't be an enemy in upcoming missions.
I have no idea if I should replay this mission, given that none of the goals were met, or just move to the next one. I decided to leave the crew's fate to the Dice Gods and roll a D12, with 1-6 meaning a replay and 7-12 meaning they move on. It came up 9, and this mission has three possible exits, so again I rolled a D12 and got an 11.
Packman stares nervously at the plant that used to be his fellow pirate and friend.
"Er... Ax?" he says. "We need to get out of here." He walks over to the unconscious DeeDee and picks her up. Turning around, he discovers that the plant has silently followed him across the room.
"Could you not bloody do that?" he shouts at the mute vegetation that's now holding Axon's rifle. It responds by simply waving its tentacles in the warm air.
"Bugger this," Packman mutters as he carries DeeDee towards the exit, the plant following along...
Next up: The Chemical Lab! But with only three Muppets left, how long will they survive?