Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What A Few Cirt-Glitches Will Do To Your Session

I'm writing this shortly after the latest session of my Shadowrun game, and what a session it was. Now, the plan for the session was fairly simple. The group was in a position where they had to shake up their plans and they had very limited time to get the pieces in place. Unfortunately for the characters, and fortunately for the players and my entertainment, we had three to four critical glitches at key moments. So what happened? Well, I'd like to share this session.

Mapping The Sewers
As part of the plan, the PCs have been setting up a safe house to hold the VIP they're trying to extract in. Since they want multiple ways out, one of the PCs has been using a lot of his time - even before they knew they had to shift things around - digging an entrance into the sewer tunnels below. With that tunnel dug, the PC decides that he needs to find a way to an alternate entrance and he's going to do that by finding one of the drain outlets and working his way back to the house. Now, he wants a motorcycle to be able to use this path so he rides the bike while doing the check to make it faster. And then he critically glitched. The result? The bike, which was bought used and not checked over before the ride, had a clutch/brake failure and he went out of control before crashing into the water. An amazing series of rolls later and the PC somehow managed to survive not drowning and is waiting to see where he wound up.

Shopping For Explosives
The other two crit glitches came as one of the PCs (just going to give his name: Krush) was looking for explosives. Why? Well, because you always want to have explosives on hand. Only, Krush isn't interested in finding a black market contact to get them. He needs boom boom fast, so he figures he'll go for the next best thing and hit up a construction site that's blasting and use that. The search for an appropriate site takes the better part of two days, but find one he does. His chosen method is...a little direct.

First, he grabs bolt cutters and cuts the chain link fence to get into the construction zone. He then figures the explosives are in one of two trailers, and probably not the manager's trailer. Only, the door to the trailer is locked and resists his attempt to boot it in. The door seems stronger than the wall though. Krush finds a nearby sledge hammer, climbs on top of the trailer, and pounds his way in through the roof. Once inside he finds the security crate that keeps the explosives. He breaks that open with application of sledgehammer as well. The tool is effective, but it also takes time. By the time Krush can climb back out with explosives a pair of Knight Errant patrol cars are on the scene.

Krush tries to make a run for it, but the cops catch up to him near the fence. They use one of the cars' PA system to tell him to freeze. Krush responds by trying to shoot out the speaker (his gun is loaded with gel rounds.) The 2 knight errant officers respond that they're under fire and return fire. Krush manages to soak the damage from their Ares Preadator IV heavy pistols. The call goes out for back up, they're clearly dealing with a dangerous cybered up madman here. Krush apologizes for the shot, saying he was just going for the speaker, and tries to climb the fence. At the top he gets a critical glitch. I decide we'll roll it out. On an odd roll he gets tangled up in the barbed wire atop the fence and will be immobile unless he can make a very hard check to get himself out. On an even, there is a support helicopter close by and it will arrive instantly to the Knight Errant distress call. Krush's player deems it fair. We roll the dice and it comes up a 4. The helicopter shows up.

Krush continues to try to flee. He pauses atop the fence and mocks surrender. When the two ground based Knight Errant cops are close enough that the guys in the helocopter can't just open fire he makes a jump for it. He soaks more fire from the ground cops and uses the buildings to give some cover from the guys in the helicopter. The two ground guys break off to pursue by car (they have to get back out of the construction area first) and the guys in the chopper get a chance to open fire. One does so and hits Krush with a long burst of full auto fire. The damage is crippling, almost an instant KO. The other....critical glitches and takes out the pilot of the helicopter.

Ending the story, the helicopter crashes and Krush is knocked out. One of the other PCs happens to be in the area and moves to try to extract Krush. We ended the game with them stabilizing Krush and waiting to see if they can escape the rest of Knight Errant that is coming out to get this should be fun.


  1. Ha, a critical glitch that causes taking out your own helicopter pilot is hardcore yo.

    So question - say it was the PCs in the helicopter with two firing and one piloting. If a firing PC crit-glitched would you still rule it took out the PC-pilot...causing the whole helo to crash & possibly a TPK? Pretty rough from one crit-glitch!

    My general thinking, at least in my current campaign that is a different game (Dark Heresy), is that the world affects NPCs the same as PCs - but is this a situation where you went harder on the NPCs?

  2. I rolled randomly to determine if it would hit the helicopter, the pilot, or if he would just get thrown out of the helicopter. Even 1/3 chance for each. It came up helicopter.

    With a PC I would probably do the same thing, though there might be a second roll if 'friendly fire' was rolled to determine which PC got hit by the friendly fire.

    The full ruling was: he crit glitched. I rolled, got he fragged a friendly. The only friendly I could conceive of him hitting was the pilot. The pilot didn't get a dodge roll as per system he wasn't expecting an attack from the shooter. Pilot had a bad soak roll, so enough damage was done to kill him. Failed pilot check meant the helicopter crashed.

    I over simplified it here in the description. But I did do a lot of behind the screen rolling. The crashing helicopter actually ended up hitting close enough to the PC that it is what took him out and put him into a "dying" condition (other PC managed to save him.)

    Still, you do make a good point. Especially in games like Shadowrun and Dark Heresy where the "PCs are Special" flag is supposed to be heavily muted, I do need to be aware of how extreme crit glitches are for NPCs vs. for PCs. In this case, I think I'd have ruled the same way, but I didn't even consider that at the time of the ruling.