Robotech Cadet Corps

Consequences
or "How to properly panic when your characters *really* screw the pooch..."

Ok, so check here for where we last left our intrepid group. Me? I’m PANICING. As best I can figure, my cadets just walked into a court martial situation. So, since this was before the internet was a REALLY good resource, I called one of my buddies from college, Jeff Price, who was going into the army. As I recall, the conversation started something like this:

“Hey Jeff, It’s Scott.”
“Hey Scotty, what’s up?”
“How do you run a court martial?”

After he picked up the phone off the floor, I explained the situation, and he let me know that it would be an informal inquiry, not a court martial. We talked for a bit, and I think he could tell that I was a bit overwhelmed. When he offered to come up and assist, I jumped at the chance, and that got my wheels turning. You can see the results below.

GM Background:

The 48-hours of shore leave is almost over, and the PCs are looking forward to… an informal inquiry.

The events at the mud wrestling bar ended with Tony yanking off the g-string of Janice McMurray (of Blue Squad) at the end of her wrestling match with Jackie Phillips. As a principled character, this disturbed Janice deeply, enough to warrant an insanity check, which she made. Lucky for the PCs. Instead of facing a court martial, they now only face an informal inquiry.

Why? An aide of Edwards was tagging along behind the members of Blue Squad. Therefore, there is an impartial eye-witness to the whole thing. The PCs were doing nothing wrong or out of the ordinary until the end of the wrestling match..

Ok, I know you’re asking. “Who’s Edwards?” Edwards is T.R. Edwards, an official Robotech continuity character from the Sentinels saga as a “bad guy,” but his history has him as a rival of Roy Fokker. My players were familiar enough with Robotech continuity to make this a fun throw-away, and it fit what I needed.

Upon learning of this, Edwards has Janice report immediately for psych evaluation, which she passes. An immediate return to duty and support from her team are deemed the only treatment necessary.

Blue Squad spends its Sunday getting the third-degree from Edwards, who matches their testimony to the aide’s report and security videos. He then calls in Ecker and proceeds to tear him a new asshole. Once having heard the positive results of the psych eval, Edwards softens a bit, but still recommends that no matter what the evidence and intent, that the three perpetrators be removed from contention for squad leader and a note placed into their permanent records.

Luckily for Ecker and the squad, the head of Agressor Squadron is assked to serve on the board of inquiry. He takes the matter out of Ecker’s hands, both to silence Edwards and take the pressure off of Ecker having to dole out punishment to his own squad.

Blue Squad will be very icy toward the PCs in further confrontations, with the following exceptions: Janice will speak with Jackie – the only person she knows didn’t do anything. Jake will give the PCs a chance to explain themselves, but will remain angry.

UNTIL FURTHER EVENTS CHANGE THINGS, BLUE SQUAD WILL GAIN A +1 BONUS TO ALL ROLLS, OR 5% ON SKILL CHECKS VERSUS RED SQUAD.

Game Time:

For the players – it is now Sunday. The big-wigs are just getting wind of things and setting wheels into motion.

Any attempts to contact Blue Squad by the PCs are met with icy silence. They will NOT be allowed into Blue’s barracks – the desk sergeant will see to that, at T.R. Edwards’ behest.

At approximately 1800, the PCs will be summoned to their briefing room – uniform: full dress! Ecker looks harried, and he sits the squad down. “The events of last night have landed you – and me – in a heap of trouble. This is an informal inquiry proceeding. You will each be questioned individually and then brought together for a ruling.” He stands and leaves the room. A few minutes later, an aide arrives and calls Calvin Meadows.

As each character is brought into another briefing room, they note the long table. Seated at it are six officers (10% to recognize Roy Fokker). An aide stands, holding out a Bible to the PC…

So, my wheels were rolling. Jeff and a mutual friend, Kyle Bryant, arrived early Saturday morning before the session, and over breakfast, I went over what I had planned. Jeff would play the role of Major Johnson, actually conducting the questioning. Kyle would be the adjutant, escorting the players in and out of the separate room I would use for the questioning.

When my players arrived and saw the two of them present, they got very, very nervous. What followed was probably one of the most fun gaming sessions I’ve ever participated in, and I didn’t have to do a lot of work. Jeff had rudimentary knowledge of the situation (as Major Johnson would), and so he was asking the characters what happened, and just looking over to me to verify the fact with what had occurred. I truly got to referee the session, without having to do the split personality thing.

The PCs will be questiioned individually about the previous evening’s events by Major Johnson, better known an Agressor One, the leader of the instructor’s squadron – strays from the truth will not be looked upon favorably.

Tony and Wolfgang will have a TOUGH time absolving themselves of their actions. David’s will be slightly easier, but not much. Chances are that Tony, at the very least, will not be able to.

Based on my notes, the characters acquitted themselves quite well under Johnson’s questioning. The memorable moment was during the interrogation of Von Hammer – Johnson asked if he saw what happened. I knew that he had been right there near Piazzalini, so his answer would be pretty critical. Straight-faced, he answered, “No, sir.” I cocked an eyebrow, which Jeff caught, and asked “Are you sure?”

VH: “Yes, sir.”
MJ: “You were right there, cadet! How could you not have seen?”
VH: “The mud sir – it got in my eyes.”
Jeff: (blinks, looks over at me)

After we all picked ourselves up off the floor from laughing so hard, I allowed it, and we moved on…

PUNISHMENT:
At minimum, anyone determined to be guilty in this matter will be removed from contention as squad leader and be on restricted duty during the next 2 leaves. During that time the characters will perform any tasks ranging from manning the duty desk to KP to simple check-ins. Also, those characters will have their next month’s pay cut completely, and reduced by half for the next three. They will also be on probation for the forseeable future.

After the investigation:

Another week passes in simulator training. Ecker is busting your asses, and only progress pleases him in the slightest. It’s going to be a long road to get back in his good graces.

Finally, the next Monday arrives. You note that Ecker is waiting for you in the briefing room, sans projector or overheads. He gets right to the point. “Head to your lockers and grab your gear. Meet me on the tarmac in 20 minutes.”

At their lockers, the PCs find the additions to their flight suits that make them spaceworthy – g-harness, oxy pack, and breathers. Out on the tarmac, Ecker is waiting for them. “Let’s go, people!” He directs you into the passenger bay of a waiting shuttle, and as soon as you are strapped in, it blasts off.

Ecker remains still and silent during the ascent, but ass soon as the sky outside the windows darkens, indicating that you are in space, he is on his feet. He taps a control in front of him and the viewscreen at the front of the compartment comes to life, panning around a real-time view of an ARMD platform.

“This is Armor 3 – your target.”

(allow time for reactiions)

“Relax. Your’e not taking it on alone. The is a concentrated strike by five squads – thirty Veritechs.”

“Armor 3 is a fully equipped ARMD platform – that includes ammunition and fighters.” The viewscreen switches to the familiar clean green lines of a schematic. “As I stated, Red Squad is one of five, including Purple, Green, Yellow, and Blue. Each squad has an assigned mission. Here’s yours.”

The schematic cycles, and a quadrant of the platform turns red. “Your job is to disable the defenses on this quadrant of the platform, to include both missile launchers and lasers. Each of three other squads have their own quadrants to take care of, and the fifth squad will try to take out as many of the fighter defenses as possible. Once enough of the defenses are down, you will begin striking the platform itself. Your overall mission is to destroy the platform.”

(Handle questions as necessary

You note that an ARMD platform is looming outside the window now. Ecker continues, “We are at Armor 4. Your Veritechs are combat prepped with a standard missile load and full ammunition. They have been flight prepped. This is a scramble, so don’t waste time.” At that moment, there is a loud clang as the shuttle docks. “Let’s go,” Ecker opens the airlock, “Move ‘em out!”

(Characters scramble – head to combat!)

More GM Notes:

  1. Two defensive squadrons (your choice) will meet the PCs before they can get through to the platform itself.
    (I used a flight of Lancer Is, and a flight of QF-3000Es)
  2. Targets to be eradicated
    2 main laser cannons (300 MDC each)
    1 Main Anti-Warship missile launcher (400 MDC)
    2 Medium Anti-Warship missile launchers (200 MDC)
    12 AA Lasers (!00 MDC)
  3. Harry the squad with one more defensive unit – add air support if needed.
  4. The PCs need to deal a MINIMUM of 500 MDC to the main body
    Targeting the flight deck is pointless, as all craft are up.
    Targeting the foredeck – where life support is – should be frowned upon for Scrupulous or Principled PCs
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The AAR and Shore Leave
Where it all went horribly wrong.

As ordered, you report to the briefing room at 0800 the next morning. Ecker is ready and waiting for you, armed with printouts and the ever-present overhead projector. He motions for you to sit down as you enter, noting the notepads on your desks.

“Ok, kids,” he begins, “Your performance yesterday was good – damn good – as I indicated yesterday. Now, here’s what you did wrong.”

You each get the feeling you should be taking notes, and do so as he begins. He definitely gives it the feel of constructive criticism rather than a gripe out. Nothing significant comes out until he gets to the final two scenarios.

“Scenario Four pitted you against Destroid Squad Magenta,. I’ll start with the second set.”

“2 and 6 – Phillips and Von Hammer. Nice job on the quick kills, but remember your missile conservation. The multiple missile strikes were good for quick kills, but your opponents didn’t really warrant the extra firepower.”

(Allow questions or comments, field – staying on that tack)

“Moving to the third set – 3 and 5 – Phillips and Stone. You did a good job of realizing that you were between a rock and a hard place. Splitting up was the best option, and taking out the arm of the Raidar X, followed by finishing it off, was the correct way to handle the situation. But, Phillips, you should have backed off from the MAC II, merely drawing its fire so Stone could get behind it. Getting yourself killed made the kill on the MAC II that much harder to accomplish.”

(Phillips comments)

“Stone – good tactical try, and good maneuvering to finally get the kill. As I noted before, teamwork would have helped.”

(Stone, Phillips comments)

“And now, the first lane. 1 and 4 – Meadows and Piazzalini. Your duo waas a toughh nut to crack…and you couldn’t quite do it. Your approaches were textbook.. maybe that was your problem. But you were up against the best of that squad, so don’t beat yourselves up.”

(Comments)

“Piazzalini. Once Meadows went down – what the hell was that? Your thinking was sound, but I’ll remind you of the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid. Getting inside the Raidar X was good, but that attempted leap? That’s what got you killed.”

As I recall, the “what the hell was that” moment was when Tony managed to get right up next to the Raider X – inside it’s gun arms, so it couldn’t shoot him. Instead of playing that advantage, he decided to boost over it and take it from behind. Problem was he blew his piloting roll and went straight up – allowing the Raider X a few easy skeet shots.

(Comments)

“Next – you versus Veritech Squad Blue. Excellent results, but again, a few comments.”

“Lane One, we had 1 and 3 – Meadows and Phillips. Tough luck with the missile backfire, but way to pull it out. Staying in the firefight drew off the second attacker from your wingman and allowed her to finish hers off before coming to help you.”

(Comments)

“Next, 2 qand 5 – Phillips and Stone. I don’t know what sort of hairbrained maneuver that wass that he pulled, but way to roll with the punches. my only negative comment was your plans to toy with the second target. That’s hot-dogging, and we won’t stand for it – that gets pilots killed. Move from target to target with experience – lingering on a kill tends to draw in his friends. Got it?”

(Comments)

“Lastly, 4 and 6 – Piazzalini and Von Hammer. You two need to watch your visuals more. That one Veritech was packing SMOKE missiles – non-damaging, except to waste the actions of the non-observant. Like you two. I counted no less than three attacks wasted by you on those missiles. The excess smoke should have clued you in when he fired the first time.”

“Other than that, passable job, Piazzalini, but excellent to Von Hammer. If you have to go out, do it in a blaze of glory.”

(Comments)

“Now then, any other questions?”

(Field questions as best you can, then get down to business)

TIME SHIFT:

For the next two weeks, you are assigned more simulator missions of varying degrees. Your squad begins to meld as a team, although you all acknowledge tha the computer is a less than challenging foe. Your off-duty time is required to be spent within the confines of the base, and you are all beginning to go a little stir-crazy.

Finally, Ecker makes the announcement you’ve been waiting for – a weekend off. he encourages you to spend the time together, getting to know each other personally as well as professionally.

You have 48 hours leave.

GM NOTES: Shore leave on Macross Island.

This is a time for long term role-playing elements to be introduced.

Specifically, these relate to: Tony Piazzalini, Scott Stone, and Jackie Phillips.

1) Allow Jackie to be pulled away from the group at some point. She is told to be on the lookout for suspicious activity, something abouty anti-Robotech elements at work on Macross Island.

2) Scott Stone and Tony Piazzalini are unwittingly linked through the mysterious Corlizone family. Responsible for the death of Tony’s parents and Scott’s current situation on Moon Base, they are looking to tie up some loose ends. Separate elements determined that both Stone and Piazzalini weree on Macross Island, so a decision was made to begin an undercover operation.

The operation mainly consisted of opening an Italian restaurant on Macross. Due to the latenss of their intelligence, they opened late, but by this point, in late January, they are open and, as a side bonus for them, business is booming.

Pictures of Scott and Tony have been circulated to all employees, but they will not make a hit in public.

At any rate, let the characters spend their 48 hours, however, but encourage the Italiian scene to push this plot element along. Also include possible encounters with other student squads (i.e. Blue or Magenta).

So, as the tagline notes, this is where is all went wrong (or right, looking back now). My group was pretty accepting of the format, and the premise of military cadets on leave was too much fun to pass up. Von Hammer got hold of a newspaper where the lead story was his dad clocking the Soviet rep during a floor debate. They did end up at Mussolini’s for dinner (the aforementioned Italian restaurant of the Corlizone family – the group picked Italian on their own, believe it or not). There was a fun little car chase (the Corlizone’s had the group tailed, and Jackie noticed), but the group eventually ended up at a mud wrestling bar. I went ahead and had Veritech Squad Blue there as well, just to set up some NPC interactions, when Jackie challenged Janice McMurray to a match. The two lovelies were going at, with both squads ringside, when, for some reason, Piazzalini decided to reach into the ring to give his squadmate an assist. What he ended up doing was removing the g-string of Janice. Needless to say, the session ended right there, and I had about a week to figure out what would happen next…

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The Beginning
January 3, 2008 (Game time)

These were scripts I wrote for myself, to make sure I had all the information I figured that I’d need for each session. They were written to be read verbatim to the players (with the exception of parenthetical comments)

The date is December 15, 2008. You have each completed basic Veritech Training among the top 15% of your class. You have all been given orders for Advanced Squad Training. Report to Yellowstone Training Base on Janary 3, cadet.

(Have characters wrap up any personal stuff)

“Welcome, Cadets, to the Robotech Defense Force Advanced Training Program. You have all shown great promise during your basic training in Robotech mecha. As the best of the next generation of pilots, you have been chosen to be put through advanced squad tactics training. You will be competing against simulators, instructors, and even each other.”

As the instructor pauses to take a drink, you look around the room. There are quite a few people here, probably close to a hundred, but a longer look at their specialty crest shows that Veritech pilots are outnumbered by the various Destroid pilots. You wonder how often you’ll be meeting fellow students in combat.

The instructor continues. “Most of you don’t know each other. A few of you may be passing acquaintances. A select few may even have good friends or siblings in the program. I will tell you now, the odds of having been placed in a squad with someone you know is slim, so be prepared to make new friends… and new enemies.”

“You have been placed into six-unit squads, per current RDF tactics. The only pilots here assured of being with their own kind are the Veritechs. You Destroid pilots will probably be a mixed bag of mecha types. Squad assignments are being downloaded to your terminals now.”

Each of you looks at your screen and notes that you have been assigned to Red Squad. The names on the list are unfamiliar, except your own.

Red 1 – Meadows, Calvin
Red 2 – Phillips, David
Red 3 – Phillips, Jacqueline
Red 4 – Piazalinni, Antonio
Red 5 – Stone, Scott
Red 6 – Von Hammer, Wolfgang

“This program will last approximately 4 months.” You hear a few grumbles and groans about more school, but the instructor raises his hand and the room falls silent. “And to assure you that we’re not just here to keep you in training, let me tell you what you’re competing for.”

“The top three squads will be assigned to the SDF-1’s fighter wing.” A few gasps, whoops, and hollers follow that announcement. “The next six will be assigned to the CVS Prometheus. The rest will be given their choice of any other Earthbound assignment.”

You note that a few of the other VT and Destroid pilots look nervous, while some are arrogantly cracking their knuckles and mumbling about getting to work.

“Your assignments will be given to you at your squad meetings in 15 minutes. Check your pads for room assignments. And good luck.”

Your room assignment tells you to go to room 116A.

(Have the PCs arrive and introduce around, then…)

Suddenly the door bangs open and a rather stern looking officer walks in.

(PCs should react by snapping to attention)

The officer waves for you to sit down, and takes his place at the podium. “Good morning, cadets. My name is Lt. Ecker, and I’ve been assigned as the squad Tac Officer for Red Squad. You ladies will answer to me for the next 4 months. You make me look good, I’ll make you look good. You make me look bad, you’ll regret it. Any questions? Good.”

You quickly realize that he is no-nonsense, and a bit of an ass, but it seems like he’ll support you as long as you don’t screw up too badly.

“You are supposed to be the best of the best. Individually. I’m here to help mold you together as a squad. It works a little differently when there’s other asses on the line. So we’re going to start you off easy – in pairs.”

He turns on the overhead projector. “You will be in simulators. There will be three lanes. You will each be paired with every one of your squadmates during this drill. In each lane there will be a number of targets. Work TOGETHER to eliminate them.”

(Questions may be asked at this time. The following info should be sufficient.)

  1. The VTs will have full ammo loads, including the short and medium range missiles of the PCs choice (NO LONG RANGE MISSILES)
  2. Opposition will mainly consist of various Earth craft, from older fighters to the newer style tanks and aircraft. Be ready for anything.
  3. Pairing combinations will be announced in mid-flight. Starting pairs are 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6.
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