black seven: first session

Saved from G+ meltdown: 17 Nov 2014

One roleplaying game I’ve played recently is Black Seven. Here’s a run down of the fun from the first session.

We played online, me as GM and two players. It was the first time we had played it.

The game focuses only on agents infiltrating an enemy facility. This limit is good, keeping the play tight and focused on situation where the player characters shine as are uber-competent, stealthy assassins. It also ensures the prep is remains relevant and useful.

Before play I designed a mission, Operation Key Octave. The overall concept for the game was framing a Quebec separatist group with attacking the Canadian Parliament. The idea was a biotechnology corporation, Air Médical, was covering up a theft of an experimental aerosolised live-virus vaccine designed to inoculate people against Ebola. Importantly, Air Médical had affiliations with the Quebec separatists. The Agents’ mission would be to extract information about who stole experimental drugs by interrogating an internal investigator of Air Médical. This information would lead them to steal back the experimental vaccine from the Lifesavers, a radical medical group based in Liberia, and then use the vaccine on the Canadian Parliament, making it look like an attack by the Quebec separatists.

So I wrote up three facilities, having 8 resources to use, 4 for each player. The objectives, features, static targets and number of guards for:

1) the home of the Air Médical investigator, as well as the high security gated community that surrounds it, located in the Côte d’Ivoire;

2) the shanty town in Liberia that is the base for the Lifesavers; and

3) the grounds and maintenance areas of the Canadian Parliament.

I found the prep was fun, the steps straightforward, and provided just enough to structure the mission. It stilled required a fair bit of improvising during play, fleshing out situations and characters, but I enjoy that kind of pressure.

We all rolled up characters as we have ambitious plans to take turns GMing missions. Agents Jackal, Gecko and Raptor come alive.

Gecko and Raptor start Operation Key Octave. I wasn’t sure on how much of a low-down they should get, but I gave them most of the information about the mission, including the ultimate aim to frame the Quebec separatists. I didn’t tell them about the second facility because that information was to be earned from completing the first facility.

The Agents glide on wing suits into the compound. They quickly scared one guard out of the facility and knocked out another. They hacked the security network, entering their RFID tags, allowing them to navigate the community without triggering any alarms. They turned off the alarm system of their targets’ house, took out another guard, avoided the other roaming patrol, and successfully vaulted the wall of the house compound. Once inside they took out all the guards, compromised the camera network, tranquilised the guard dogs and leisurely interrogated the target. They escaped using the target’s own vehicle. The information they extracted has led them to the second facility, a shanty town in Liberia and the base of a radical medical group, the Lifesavers.

Formally, they were very successful with this facility. They took out all the static targets, neutralised 4 of the 7 guards in the first area (gated community) and took out all 4 guards around the target’s house. They avoided raising the Threat level, never got noticed though it was close on several occasions, and only one Agent was exposed and only on one occasion. Professionals.

The game did really well to create the atmosphere of this style of video game. There was lots of slips and recoveries. The players worked hard neutralising security systems and creatively tricking and taking down guards. The camera network was particularly gruelling, doubling the number of required positioning rolls. Having a high Sneak rating seemed very advantageous in this scenario, though we were only just coming to grips with the rules, particularly the usefulness of taking out all the guards quickly. The players were rather risk adverse, but it was appropriate and really a credit to the system building tension and providing the toing and froing that comes with sneaking about hostile territory. It does well to do this, particularly given it has to deliver that experience on the first go-through because the players can’t save game, try an approach, fail terribly, and then replay from the saved point.

Next session will focus on the second facility, which is shorter, so with any luck they will also finish the final facility and the mission. Fun times!