Sunday, 19 November 2017

Jovian Chronicles Odyssey SEED - Part 4

Sunday, November 19, 2017

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Jovian Chronicles station assault by Dream Pod 9
On approach to Slumbering Eidolon.

We left our heroes just as they had helped uncovering a secret space station in close Jupiter orbit. Having spent some time at Joshua Station it was now time to recalibrate the linear frame and warm up those reactors! The time for blazing spaceships and darting exo armours has come...

SPOILERS for Odyssey SEED below!

En route to the secret space station, Slumbering Eidolon, the Thunderbolt class cruiser JSS Brave was joined by JSS Steadfast, another Thunderbolt, as well as one of the fleets newest ships - the Athena class destroyer JSS Sparta. The Athena class was commissioned by President Itangre herself just two years ago and the Sparta was the third, and latest, to slip out of drydock and into active duty. It was decided that a light escort would suffice with Angel flight taking on that duty. The actual boots-on-metal assault would be performed by specialist troops of the Skuld arm of the Jovian Intelligence Service. While regular JAF marines could no doubt do the job just as well, Takeshi wanted to keep actual physical access to the station to members within Nornor.

Dutronc's Pathfinder CT.
With the JIS presence already established aboard JSS Brave she was appointed as the taskforce flagship with Commander Bright at the helm. While the Thunderbolt class is not a spacious ship by any stretch of the word, there was just enough room to fit the 10 Skuld troopers, and their Decker suits, in the JSS Brave while Angel flight would make their way on their own power. The taskforce was given the name Torchbearer, as befits someone trying to shine a light at things lurking in shadows.

To try and retain the element of surprise the taskforce went into a close, but not abnormal, parking orbit around Jupiter. Being careful to keep it as close to the location of Slumbering Eidolon as possible while still not raising suspicion. After establishing an orbit the ships started doing many small but numerous course adjustments to slowly change the orbit so it would intersect with the target. Of course these were done with verniers only, to keep them from being spotted. The entire operation took almost 32 hours, but having surprise on their side, as all three ships came in on ballistic trajectories, made it worth it.

Spending 30+ hours in the linear frame of an exo armour can be tiring. Fortunately there's enough
Swede's Pathfinder.
room to detach for more natural movement in freefall while the onboard computer VI took over piloting duties. The three pilots shared stories and talked trash over tightbeam while slowly maneuvering for their attack run. Swede kept complaining that things weren't as they should as they hadn't had time to repair his personal exo armour in time and had issued a new one to him. He kept saying that it didn't smell right.

On a given signal thrusters burst to life and three warships and as many exo armours started the deacceleration to match the Slumbering Eidolon space station. The excellent thrust-to-weight ratio of the exos meant this wasn't really a problem for them, as they could come to relative stop in a matter of seconds. The larger ships, on the other hand, would overshoot the station and had to make their way back toward it. This was according to plan as the JIS troopers would launch from the JSS Brave as it buzzed the station. It also meant that the two Thunderbolt cruisers and the Athena could bring their main, forward firing, weapons to bear, should it be needed.

Taskforce Torchbearer arrive at Slumbering Eidolon.
Only a few seconds into the burn Slumbering Eidolon came alive with emissions across the spectrum to evaluate the approaching threat. Two Wyvern exo armours were outside near the station and they immediately raced to intercept the taskforce. Shortly after them another Wyvern made its way out of a hangar opening and followed them. A strong jamming signal had started broadcasting as soon as the burn started and a kinetic kill cannon mount gimbaled to face the approaching ships. As hundreds of different sensors tried to make sense of the scene, hundreds of others did what they could to jam and block them.

Sturmer's Retaliator.
As the Wyverns approached it seemed like they had various modifications compared to stock models. The most obvious being a large shoulder mounted cannon on one of them. Somewhat disconcerting, but at least there were only three of them. Commander Bright made the KKC a priority as it was the most obvious threat to the ships. The enemy exos could certainly be dangerous but as long as Angel flight were screening the taskforce they would have other things on their mind.

Ever the opportunist, Sturmer decided to take a potshot at the KKC with his railgun. Extreme range and a very hard target really made it a (literal) long shot, but sometimes lady luck smiles at you! Just as Commander Bright was about to open fire on the KKC a neat hole appeared at its base, severing not only a large cable truss but also parts of the mount itself. Even if the gun could still fire it couldn't move any more, rendering it for all practical purposes, useless! "I aim to please, sir" Sturmer commented to Commander Bright as he recalibrated for incoming targets.

Two of the Wyverns made passes on Sturmer and Swede while a third, the one with the shoulder mounted cannon, burned past and approached the incoming ships. Dutronc fired but couldn't penetrate the Wyvern's heavy armour while Swede and Sturmer couldn't get a hit in. All three of them commented on how well these machines flew. Sure, the Wyvern is a great CEGA engineering feat, but they usually didn't dance about like this! Suddenly a stabbing beam of energy dazzled across space as the lead Wyvern fired on the Steadfast with its shoulder cannon. The beam burned for a few seconds as it effortlessly sliced through the ships particle accelerator, resulting in a violent explosion as it detonated.

The beam cannon let loose!
"Angel flight, new priority target: take out that beam cannon Wyvern!", Commander Bright's voice was hard as steel as she issued issued orders in the CIC - that exo was packing capital ship class firepower. What should have been a routine operation, akin to chasing down pirates, had turned into an unkown. Were there other surprises waiting for them? More beam cannons?

While Dutronc and Sturmer had looped back to intercept the new priority target Swede had ended up in a furball with one of the other Wyverns. It was carrying a massdriver rifle, like the one which had turned his old exo to shreds a week ago. He should be able to out maneuver a Wyvern in his Pathfinder, but it just kept dodging in ways he couldn't anticipate. It took all of Swede's expertise and a fair amount of luck to finally catch the Wyvern in a bad position and get a shot at its thruster array which knocked it out of the fight. Just as it hit the Pathfinder was also hit by a round from the hypergolic bazooka of the other Wyvern!

There was a sharp intake of breath as the icon for Swede's Pathfinder winked out but Dutronc calmed down a little when the icon for ejected pilot started flashing instead. "Don't worry guys, I'm fine. That missile blindsided me, but I'm out doing my daily stretches now". Didn't anything faze that man?! "Angel 3, see to it that Bogey Bravo doesn't blindside anyone else. Oh, and nice shot Swede. How is your situation? Do you need immediate pickup?"

The conversation was cut short as the beam cannon fired again, badly damaging one of the drive sections on the Sparta and burning a jagged line up one of the wings. Dutronc told his computer to fire missiles at the target while he lined up shots with the particle cannon. The second shot seemed to hit the Wyverns supply of R-mass when a cloud of white mist extended around it as it escaped into space. The Wyvern tried to speed away, using what time it had left to move, but two more hits from the particle cannon put it out of comission. Commander Bright's voice sounded relieved when she congratulated Dutronc on the well placed shots.

Sturmer's voice crackled over the coms, "Swede, you're heading towards the station. Couldn't you just land on it? I'm sure the boarding party could pick you up."
"Kid, have you seen my relative velocity? I could expend all the R-mass this puny space suit has to offer and I would still hit that station at 200m/s. I don't fancy becoming abstract art. I'll need a pickup or I'll simply sail past and continue orbiting. I would prefer a quick pickup as I don't think this suit can take the radiation levels here for very long. Come to think of it, perhaps abstract art is preferable to radiation poisoning."

Mopping up.
With only one enemy exo armour left the three ships could combine fire, giving plenty of time for Sturmer to line up a shot and take it out. Dutronc proceeded to pick up Swede just as the Skuld assault troops launched from Brave toward the Slumbering Eidolon. Commander Bright was worried that there might be more surprises inside the station, perhaps enemy exo suits, and ordered Angel flight to assist from the outside with surgical strikes as needed. However, control of the station was soon established with minimal resistance. The military personnel present seems to have been all aboard the exo armours, however most, if not all, of the datacorese had been purged and the ones saved from destruction were damaged. JIS data techs would have to dig deep to get anything from this mess.

Mop up proved easy and Taskforce Torchbearer could withdraw while a JIS transport vessel full of techs docked to the station. JSS Brave stayed behind to coordinate efforts while Angel flight returned to the anonymous space station for debriefing. Things would be quiet for a couple of days and the three pilots kept talkinga about the odd flight patterns of the enemy exos and that powerful beam cannon. Then they were suddenly called to one of the briefing rooms where they again met with Commander Bright, Agents Thomson and Takeshi as well as Admiral Thorsen. All four of them were involved in a heated debate but went quiet as the pilots entered the room.

"Gentlemen, we have good news and bad news. We also have a new mission for you."

Which we'll read about in part five! This session was basically a big board game. I was a little doubtfull in how well it would run and how my players would experience it. It ended up flowing fairly smoothly, as we'd have practiced with the transport, and both players and GM had fun with it! In fact, I feel more positive to breaking out minis for a "board game" session once in a while than I was before. While roleplaying does take a bit of a backseat, it's certainly still very present. The whole thing of Swede blowing up again gave me a great opportunity to put him at the station together with the assault troops, and play out a simultaneous corridor and space battle. Unfortunately it happened a bit late in the session so we glossed over the station fighting. Great fit for Swede though!

Start of the battle.
The great thing about pulling out all the stops and use the hex map is that you really get a very different feel for the combat. If you ran it all abstractly I think there's a risk that it would feel just like personal combat, as it's harder to visualize the space environment without the vector movement and detailed damage systems. Still, we won't do it every time, but I certainly think it's worth doing when the outcome is uncertain and there are real stakes involved. I should be receiving all the stuff from the recent Jovian Wars kickstarter any day now and I'm looking forward to have painted ships next time.

Alright, that's about it for this session. Next (and latest) should be up in a week or so...

2 kommentarer :

  1. Nice! I played JC only once and a looooong time ago. It game that good feeling. Looking forward to play some Lightning Strike or Jovian Wars in the near future.


    1. The system is decent, although certainly a child of the ninetiees. However, the setting is absolutley top notch! Definitely in my top five most engaging rpg settings. It has such depth that you can enter it at any level. While the default assumption is that you'll play exo pilots that's just one way of playing - you might as well be secret agents or free traders or Mars rebels. You can really do anything with it. :)

      I don't have my minis with me here in Japan but I think I might print the cutouts at the end of the Jovian Wars rules so I can tinker around with it. :D


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