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Sunday, December 18, 2011

BRUTAL ep. 3: Ninjas vs. Pirates

To prove I am ambitious, I am pitting Ninjas against Pirates in a bid to settle the age-old question: who would win in a fight?

It seems obvious to me that the answer is, "It depends..."


One basic Ninja and basic Pirate mano-a-mano seem balanced. They each are worth five points, wield two weapons, and have two wounds (I am figuring one per weapon makes sense); representing physical conditioning, and tenacity / greed respectively. For the Ninja's part, his superior level of discipline and training is represented by 1i, which is the "infantry" equivalent of 10i (see last episode). So he will be able to dodge the Pirate's one pistol shot (or sneak up on him) and by the looks of it, sai him to death. Let's run it a few times!

The Pirate fared a little better than I expected; having him at two wounds to start is huge. I have to say this seems a bit fanciful, more like a judgement based on charisma than on real-world resistance to the attacks of a highly skilled ninja by a groggy brute. But so be it. And the Pirate didn't get the chance to use his pistol, which didn't surprise me. In only one combat did he emerge unscathed, having tagged the Ninja.


In part two, we work with units. This particular scenario is useful for me because it adds some problems to solve without adding them all at once.

Compared to a mob of unruly pirates, a unit of co-operating ninjas is extremely deadly. So deadly that the pirates stand literally no chance. They have to carouse sometime... and when they do, silent death!!

No matter how you slice it, if Pirates are to be fluffy, they need to be irregular. And that means they don't get to 20 points before the Ninjas do. Ninja squad is worth *, and as such, nothing the Pirates have can dent them. If you skirmished this scene with models and divided up the wounds and attacks realistically it might look rosier for the Pirates. Eventually we'll get into that level of craziness.

I'm still firming up whether 1i is purchased per combatant, or per unit... The thought of being able to make even more efficient Ninja units is kind of chilling. Let's keep it like this for now, before I start feeling sorry for the swashbucklers.


I am kind of reaching here. I'm sure ninjas are capable of operating in a decentralized way that only the most cunning pirate lord could uncover. But let's give that same lethal unit of ninjas a citadel that the pirates can attack with a nice gunship-sloop:

[Editor's note: the Pretty Polly is an oceangoing ship, and therefore should have a 10 crew - her captain - and be worth 30 / *. Sorry, working out the details and all that. It doesn't have any #20+ weapons, and so needs no fire director.] It seems sensible to discount the ninjas' 1i in this instance, since the Polly can hold offshore and shell the hill fort to sh*t; and, it's not like the ninjas can stab a ship to death. The #5 guns could pulverize the structure with facility. Which can only mean one thing: ESCALATION!!!

So! What does all this mean? Well, you can run it in pieces (and soon I will)... but here the story goes...

The Ninja stronghold is on a mountain (somewhat clicheedly). So if the Pirates really, really want it, they have to send a shore party to climb up and attack it. The Ninja soldiery of 160 / ******** would fight at most 57 / ** worth of Pirates (either Craggy Jack or Natty Dan would have to stay behind and mind the ship = operate weapon #90, taking combat down to single digits). In this case, the ship and its superior armament would seem to account for much of the Pirates' cool...

But this is only if Master Ru and/or enough other Ninjas fail at their mission. They want to deal with this threat promptly and decisively. Even to know where the training fort was, means that the Pirates are focused on the Ninjas and bringing them doom!

So I have accounted for all the wherewithal at Maru House that is needed in order to make some deceptively unsophisticated mines, and sneak in while the ship is at anchor: Operation New Years, bottom left.

Each Ninja has a 10 crew upgrade that allows them either to pilot / load / fire-direct a vehicle; OR "cut in" and start combat before the Holly Goshgolly's #90 (in the same way that 1i allows them to go first in hand-to-hand). Think of 10 crew as being like "marine" or "skitarii" training, accustoming the warrior to combat in, around, and against vehicles (or for that matter, castles: the stationary #90's)!

So on a D6: 2+, the Ninjas begin the combat at #6 and therefore stand an excellent chance of blowing the ship to kingdome come (before the ship's #5 guns can fire on them!).

WOW, what an exceptionally bad roll!

As it happens, many of the ninjas fail to detect the threat / are not successful in infiltrating with their barrels. But it's still enough, even on three 2's the ship is reduced to matchwood. Lucky, because three Ninjas would have trouble defending the House from the subsequent Pirate invasion in revenge!

It's important to note that if the Ninjas' wish was to board the ship and capture it, Maru House could act in this way but only because they have the (10 crew | D6: 2+) upgrade. I'm in the process of making up my mind that you can't use star weaponry (#5, #6+) in a #90 crew hold - it's just too hazardous. So it appears unlikely that the troops of Maru House can deliver enough stopping power to the Goshgolly's decks...?

A couple of ninjas fail to (10 crew | D6: 2+) board.

Another one fails his skip-to-close-combat 1i.

The close combat attacks of the rest. Not making me real confident...

The Pirate close combat roll. Ow.

Distributing hits, and scrubbing the no-show ninjas.

The end of close combat, and the round.

Now comes Master Ru with his #5 attack, which destroys most of the pistols.
And pistols / shuriken do nothing!

Below: the end of second close combat.
Many have fallen and it's still not over.

Overall this is not as good an approach for the Ninjas as the limpet-barrels. I actually screwed up a little and let Master Ru use his #5 indoors. Out in the open (probably at night) his full powers could be articulated, and I think it would be an evenly-matched slobberknocker to the bitter end. In the hugger-mugger of the ship's hold, the Ninjas face a losing battle.

Also, instead of eliminating that Ninja who failed his (1i | D6: 2+), I'm thinking I should have just skipped his close-combat attacks and included him in the next round. May skirmish and run it just to be sure.

To do a boarding brutally, one would maybe need some very expensive frog-men with death-rays...


On Planet Bru, a bitter nuclear / nanomachine war has created an uniquely challenging and hostile environment for life. But humanity still lodges here, humming and working away in the Buckydomes of safe-zone cities...

Transit and cargo passage between cities is accomplished by heavy tracked or legged vehicles, since foot travel or travel by light vehicle or plane cannot afford for the proper amount of shielding. Affairs outside of shielding are conducted in environment suits... and swiftly as the rads tick upward.

A passenger liner is setting out from the spaceport town, heading for the outliers; with a rich cargo of trade goods and also some more and less well-to-do passengers.

Piracy is a new and frightening concept on Bru, beginning its advent as the planet cools, the treacherous nanobot "grey goo" wears itself out, and surplus military equipment appears on the market... or disappears from out of the military's slackening grasp.

Enter Awesome Mel. Born in a Buckydome during the height of the Hot Goo War panic, Mel has spent her life under military heel, and fervently wishes to rebel, carving for herself a high life on the edge.

As a young raider setting out on her own, Mel spooked, tricked and murdered her way into ownership of an Ichneumon Phantom: an ex-military stealth boarding assault mech. It is a ruggedly-built robot with a close-encounter #20 in case things go pear-shaped, though the stealth function has broken down since it saw action, and Mel has not been able to get it repaired. The Ichneumon also has an AI capable of taking over fire direction or loading (10 crew) [editor's note: on the sketch it says 10i. sorry!]; Mel herself prefers to handle pilotage...

In less biohazardous times, skitarii from both sides of the war would battle pitilessly for strategic mountain passes: choke points where they could assault and hijack enemy mecha and other vehicles (10 crew | D6: 2+). Now in the post nuke / goo age they are relegated to assaults within the domes or across the gangway of their #90. But their 10 crew upgrade means they can replace the crew of captured enemy vehicles. So Mel found it in her interest to capitalize on their post-war ennui, and has seduced them to her cause. Their mech is a Brasser C: a basic, brutal fire and assault platform equipped with crew hold, three dedicated crew-servitors, and some artillery. It too sported a close combat #20 weapon during the war; but this has been retired.

The exoninjas act for reasons solely their own. One would imagine they quickly tired of hearing stories of piracy; of seeing woefully undergunned transports full of precious cargo and innocent dome peasants disappear over the blasted horizon, never to be seen again... Lives and resources wasted in reckless attempts at profit by unscrupulous businessmen... But who knows?

The Frost Fox is a mighty and subtle piece of hardware. It can board or sneak; or handily destroy any opponent less than 200 points with its #50 ultrastar-damage weaponry. I designed this mech / fighting force to hold its own against both pirate vessels, for a lower points cost (396 vs. 300). I am curious to see how it will hold up.

Area map.

The Veronica is scheduled to proceed from the spaceport, bottom right, through zones 1, 3, 4 and 6, stopping at the first settlement, then proceeding through zone 7 to the second settlement. Mel will most likely prefer to engage in zone 3, with the hope of capturing and diverting the Veronica to zone 5, the passage to her hideout. It has not escaped Mel's notice that zone 6 gives out on both the destination zone (where it would be suicide to engage) and on zone 7; and so there could be some thought among traffic-controllers that the Veronica had proceeded straight to its second destination; perhaps buying the pirate a little more vital time!

What Mel couldn't have counted on was the Exoninjas. They are tailing the liner, waiting for the pirates to make their move (as placing units aboard the liner might attract attention and would certainly risk them all being death-rayed).

stay tuned...

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