Hearing other people’s gaming anecdotes is usually an exercise in location jokes that mean little for those not present. It is for this reason I rarely recount anything from my Alpha Omega home game. That said, Haaldaar my co-blogger provided some serious humor at our last game that I thought worth posting.
“Alpha Omega” is a high-action post-apocalyptic game, so modern weapons are available. Relatively cheap, large kill-radius and massive damage potential make the grenade a favorite among my players.
Enter Haaldaar, playing an artificial intelligence with shotguns mounted on each arm and grenades on bandoliers. He is the epitome of kicking-ass.
The scene begins with the party barreling down a street in an old flatbed truck, headed for a ship and escape from a very unfriendly Vancouver. Haaldaar jumps in the back with weapons at the ready “just in case.” Not moments later a sports car starts paralleling the PC’s truck and the gang members inside start preparing for violence. A rear window rolls down revealing a spell-caster warming up some pain for the party.
Haaldaar gets initiative and immediately throws a grenade into the gang’s open window. I cringe because the grenade will easily kill most of my NPC cannon fodder before they can act. Even the gang leader is probably dead. Oh well, thought I.
Now Alpha Omega has a “critical failure” option when rolling. If you fail a task and roll a one on a d20, then some setback befalls the party. There is a chart to roll on, but many times I just make something up on the fly that fits the situation.
I remember saying something like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if you dropped the grenade in the truck?” Ha ha, everyone laughs. Haaldaar rolls his attack.
One on the d20. GM cackled with glee.
The NPCs quickly roll up their car window.
Happily for the PCs, AO grenades have fuses and you have a couple of actions before they detonate. Everyone jumped into the back of the truck batting the grenade about like a toxic hockey puck, eventually throwing it off of the truck to detonate harmlessly in the street.
Fast forward a couple sessions and we once again have Haaldaar and company adventuring in AO. Washed up on a small island, the PCs and a group of 50 islanders march toward their capitol city. The island has some bandits, so the PCS take up front/middle/rear positions among the peasants to protect them. Everyone is on alert.
Exploding from the jungle, an ambush party of bandits appears on the trail. They quickly interlock large shields and form a small phalanx and begin advancing. The shields provided cover and made it hard to hit the bandits with small arms. Haaldaar again gets initiative.
He quickly explains that his mistake in the truck was throwing a grenade. Now he has a grenade launcher! No chance to drop the grenade this time. Taking aim he rolls his dice and seemingly hits. I am annoyed at the carnage among my NPCs. Quickly noting that Haaldaar forgot the d20 failure/success dice, I ask him to roll with a comment like, “I hope you roll a one.”
Haaldaar casually throws his die.
One on the d20. GM cackled with glee…again.
This time, I decide to let chance decide the grenade’s fate. I use the AO failure chart. This is a quote of what I rolled on the chart.
Ricochet: Random PC hit.
I roll randomly and the lucky PC takes his damage. Remember that “large kill-zone” I mentioned earlier? Sadly, he was also standing in the middle of the innocent villagers and the entire party. Total carnage and 95% die instantly. A few survive, including the only “named” NPC in the crowd, minus a hand.
Most PCs are critically injured, with Haaldaar actually on the verge of death. A short battle commences and the bandits die in a hail of PC firepower.
With all due credit to the PCs, they quickly spun a story about how the bandits fired a grenade at the party. With some good rolls on their bluff skills, they come out looking like heroes of the hour and get invited to meet the local leader. The one-handed NPC spent the rest of the session thanking the PCs for their “heroism.”
The party is now discussing never letting Haaldaar use grenades again…ever.
It is moments like these that make RPGs worth playing. We are still laughing about it.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer