RPG-a-Day 2018
RPG-a-Day 2018 Day 15: Describe a tricky RPG experience that you enjoyed…

In my experience, making a plan and it working is fun, but some of the best stuff happens when the plan goes out the window or there’s no plan to begin with. Sometimes it’s a little thing like combat going south and having to try something crazy to get back on top. Sometimes it’s much much bigger…

The scenario I’m going to talk about happened in a D20 Modern game, we were a ragtag bunch of misfits in a futuristic setting, tasked with infiltrating a secure facility to retrieve something (the precise details are lost in the aether of my mind…), my character was the driver/engineer and career criminal. We had a plan to get in and out, my character wasn’t even a key part of the plan, I was just there to facilitate the escape. It was all going fine, we’d arrived in the city, assumed our roles and were beginning the operation when at an access panel me and one of the other players were picked up by the authorities. We were a little surprised, but the GM kept us guessing by shifting the focus to the rest of the player’s characters who were unaware of the situation. Out of character, our minds were racing, there wasn’t anything we could think that would have set off the alarms. The GM cuts back to us and talks to the other incarcerated player, pretty standard questions, eventually she’s released, the reason given for picking her up was that her prints were inconsistent, though it wasn’t enough to keep her. GM tells her she never saw me in the lock up as he swings back to the main mission. I’m stewing wondering what is going on with me.

Finally, as the mission starts to heat up, we shift focus to my character, handcuffed to a table, having sat in isolation for a couple of hours by this point. Two agents enter the room and ask a few question, each is met with the answer of my “name, rank and serial number”. My mind was still racing as I try to think of an approach that can get me out of here, give me an angle to use because I had nothing. Then I got my in. One of the agents informs me that my prints weren’t on the system at all (something I had totally forgotten was something I’d done by removing myself from the system entirely). Suddenly my mind is racing, I have an idea, it’s a true Hail Mary idea but it’s all I have. The next question isn’t allowed to finish before I cut them off. I start sounding off on the agents, how stupid they are, how they are putting a black op at risk by holding me. The adrenaline was flowing at that moment, it was go big or go home and the bigger I went the more time it bought me. We were all hooked up with comms so the rest of the party could hear this rant I was going on, at which another character who could hack asked if he could mock up a fake black op, GM mulls it over and oks it, but needs a couple of rolls to put together a paper trail leading to documentation for a black op signed off by someone with sufficient clearance, but not easily traceable. The group are loving this, because they’re still carrying out the original mission while this side-mission is going on, offering suggestions, even going so far as to get info from the people we’re infiltrating to use for the forgery.

With the hack done, and me winding down my “rant”, the agents finally get a chance to go check the validity of my claims, find the documents on their pads. They blanche as they realise their “error” and begin to release me, but I couldn’t let it go without one more twist of the knife. Once I was free and about to leave I stopped and addressed the two agents, I make it very clear to them that this is not the end for them, that their recklessness has put the “operation” in great risk, and also risked the lives of a number of other operatives in the field. Cue another dressing down that ended with a threat that their superiors will be notified and that life for them will never be the same. With that, and a hefty Intimidate roll, I leave and get the hell out of dodge, meet up with the rest of the party who have completed their mission and we blow out of there.

Being in a situation when your back is against a wall and you’re limited in your options can bring out the best in a roleplayer. I was lucky that the GM dug my idea for the black operative angle and deemed it suitable enough to get me out of the situation, combined with some help from the party. There’s a lot of talk about being able to balance encounters in roleplaying, it’s a tricky science that I won’t begin to try to explain as I don’t really understand it myself. I’ve found that the more interesting encounters are the ones where the odds are stacked against you or there’s no clear route to success. The stakes are higher, the need to do extraordinary things is greater, and the rush of success is amped up to the max. That session was awesome, and will stay with me for a long time because for that brief moment I pulled off something even I thought wasn’t going to work, and that’s part of what roleplaying is about, overcoming the impossible.

Tomorrow is a question I’m quite looking forward as I describe my plans for my next game…

Until then, feel free to share a tricky RPG experience you had that you enjoyed in the comments below. Don’t forget, you can find all the previous RPG-a-Day articles here, you can follow me @bargtheogre on Twitter, or check out the Inside the Ogre’s Cavern podcast at @itocpodcast