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Archebius

In Over Their Heads - Non-Combat Situations for Players

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One of my players, and the most experienced RPGer at the table, comes from a long and storied history of Hunter: The Vigil and other World of Darkness games. Part of the trouble in getting him to consider Only War was the idea that there isn't anything you solve or investigate; he was worried the game would turn into nothing but a series of explosions and fight scenes.

 

In designing their campaign, I made sure that there were a few things in there that weren't straight up fights. Some of it is strategy, or survival, or making the right choices in the heat of the battle. But I also wanted to bring in some of that Hunter feel - thrust against forces that are almost beyond imagining, that simply must be survived. 

 

As Jump Troopers, the players land ahead of the main assault force (on a rebel planet of reasonable wealth/technology) and are responsible for removing AA and securing landing sites. Once complete, they advance with the main force to the nearest city, which is supposed to be a stronghold of enemy resistance. They find all the defenders slain - the Dark Eldar came, and they stole something. There are no survivors, but a shipping manifest reveals that the stolen item came from a nearby fortress. The players are given the task of taking and garrisoning that fortress, and figuring out what the Eldar wanted from there so badly.

 

Ultimately, after firing everything back up, finding the shattered remnants of a research base beneath the fortress, and having a few regimental casualties down in the depths, the players find a creature in the ruins beneath the base - a creature that sheds energy to infiltrate rooms, then absorbs light and sound to coalesce into a solid form. This makes lasguns fairly ineffective; they can wound the creature, but every blast also buffs it. The players have to decide whether they want to try to race it to the power generator, find a dark sealed room to hole up in (they found a survivor who did this - the creature tried to come for him, but couldn't coalesce in the dark space), or try to kill it with overwhelming firepower (killing it would be absurdly difficult). Assuming they survive, they discover that the research facility held a Baffle, a device capable of canceling out light and sound in a small area - a perfect tool for restraining shadow creatures, and for Dark Eldar raiding.

 

I looked back through the forum posts, but I couldn't find a thread on this, so I figured I'd start one. What are some of the non-combat things that you've had your players stumble across and try to survive? Soldiers aren't generally meant for investigative work, but sometimes you stumble across horrors on the battlefield that you have to deal with yourself.

What are some ideas you have for conflicts that can't just be lasgunned through?

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As someone who GMs Hunter - The Vigil and Only War, I would strongly recommend you look at the social investigation aspect of things. Force them to talk to people to get leads. Have them look for clues in archives. Have them investigate a scene and try to put together the pieces of what happened there.

I'd say social conflict is your best bet for problems that can't be lasgunned. One example of mine is where a player had to try and outmanoeuvre a Confessor. Sadly, that ended badly for him due to the fact he was a purely combat focused character who drew the ire of the Ecclesiarchy, and was executed. Mostly the fact that he ran his mouth when he should have kept it shut and let the Commissar do the talking.

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Addendum; Another answer to solving every problem with violence. Pit the players against a blatantly insurmountable force. Stealth becomes the only option to navigate around the enemy. Any attempt at a direct assault will result in the enemy coming at the players in tremendous numbers, and bringing their biggest guns to bear. Similarly, offer the players aids to making stealth more viable such as making the move by night, and issuing camo cloak etc, if the squad isn't suitably trained in Stealth skills.

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