Ran a second game of three sixteen last night. (First game was a one-player with Joe a couple weeks ago, which I haven't written up yet.) There were a group of five people at Dave's house that night; when the time actually came -- after a couple boardgames were done -- two were willing to play; the other three had gotten deep into playing video games. Of the two willing to play, one left right after character generation because that was when his video-game-playing ride was leaving, so we were down to one, while two remaining people played video games.
This sort of thing is why I don't get to run a lot of games with this group, eh? RPGs, especially weird RPGs such as I might bring over, are absolutely the lowest possible priority.
But that's OK, I know that one-player games work fine, and Dave was into it. Dave's character Cutthroat became Sergeant Cutthroat (FA 5, NFA 5).
The game started a bit slow, because I didn't have a lot of interesting ideas for what was special about this mission (good or bad). It was Silicon beings in an Asteroid Belt. (Random roll after I rejected a couple previous rolls as being inappropriate for a first planet.) The gist of it was that you can't blow up an asteroid belt, nuke it from orbit, or whatever else, cause it's already an asteroid belt. You just have to go rock by rock by rock, killing the silicon lifeforms. So they'd deployed every damn trooper they had, rock by rock, spreading out around the whole belt.
Cutthroat's squad was dropped on a large asteroid, a few km wide, highly crystalline, like a geode turned inside out. No aliens apparent at first; they made their way into a cave and the first attack began.
The aliens were crystalline humanoids with "wings" consisting of fans of curved crystal shards, which they could use to fly in the solar wind. They could attack with the crystals, they were ridiculously strong and could throw troopers against the hard crystal walls, and there was one more attack that was revealed at the end.
One-player games, despite the fact that there are only five threat tokens, have proved to be hard as hell, the two times I ran them. I think part of it is that neither time did the one player take a really high FA. And if you don't have a really high FA, and you start out with a few failed rolls, or low successes, you get wounded FAST. And if your opponents have Armor, as these did, and your first success is wiped out...
Things went really badly in that first fight. REALLY badly. Wounds: A mess. Wounds: crippled. Armor: ticked.
The last round of this encounter the troopers had fallen back into space using the small ion jets on the Mandelbrite, regrouped, and made a full forward assault, guns blazing, straight against the Crystal Angels. Complete fucking failure. Combat drugs! Another fracking failure. All this over one threat token! ONE threat token had brought Sgt. Cutthroat to the brink of death! There were four to go!
To survive, Dave called on is weakness: "Feels Nothing." He described a situation in training where another trooper had freaked out and attacked some fellow troopers, and Cutthroat had gunned him down... and kept shooting... and kept shooting. OK. So the weakness seemed to be he doesn't necessarily give a damn about his fellow humans. Much like the "psychopath" thing in the example.
We decided that because he Felt Nothing he did not call off the attack when it went horribly wrong, and his entire squad got picked off one by one by slicing angel-feathers, he just kept on going and going until in one assault he was grabbed and thrown against a sharp crystal structure, causing his onboard computers to freak the hell out, desperately kicking in internal repair procedures trying to protect atmospheric integrity, and flooded him with painkillers, causing him to pass out. (Wound level back up to: A Mess.)
He woke up on a slab inside the asteroid, with arcs of crystal over him. His guns were in a case on the far side of the cave. There were several of the entities apparently "talking" amongst themselves somehow, discussing him. He was still in his armor, and therefore, alive. And alone.
He wanted to bust out and surprise attack them. Dominance roll didn't permit that, but he did get mutual surprise. He managed to crack off one of the arcs holding him down and improvise it into a piercing weapon. The dice were finally kind to him and he managed to take one down by piercing its "heart center" with the crystal shard... He hurled it at another and the creature (using its Armor to ignore the kill) absorbed the shard onto its body and went on the attack against Cutthroat with it, like a giant claw! I think maybe he got down to Crippled again at this point...
He managed an NFA roll to get past them and free his guns, and finished them off, filling the interior space of that cave with floating crystal fragments that were once aliens. As they died, the light went out in the cave -- it had been illuminated by their own bodies. (2 threat tokens down)
End of encounter. Now he was on his own inside the tunnel system of the asteroid. (Medikit time! Up to A Mess.)
He was going to hunt down the rest of these diamond bugs, dammit. He made his way through the caves... and found them deserted and dark, or as dark as silica in the sunlight gets. Like they'd all abandoned it. But we wanted another encounter... we rolled for dominance and got an Alien Ambush.
So he made his way to the surface again, through another tunnel... lookin for the damn bugs. And as he crawled out of the tunnel, he was enveloped in pure burning blinding light. The armor went into full panic mode as its heat compensators failed one by one and Sgt. Cutthroat started to cook inside his own armor... The remaining aliens from the rock were hovering in formation between the rock and the sun, and had formed a giant Fresnel lens with their wings and focused sunlight on him, like a magnifying glass on an ant.
His options exhausted and again Crippled, Dave called on Sgt. Cutthroat's Strength. Flashback: previous mission. They're on a jungle planet, and ambushed by arachnoid aliens who shoot webs down out of the trees and yank troopers up to their deaths faster than they can figure out what's going on. Sgt. Cutthroat is Cool Under Pressure and leads the way in incinerating the web structures in the trees and frying them like so many tent caterpillars. Flash Forward. Ignoring the heat, even as it builds to near lethal levels, he grips the crystal surface with the mandelbrite's boots and calmly draws a bead on the hostiles, one... by one.. by one.. by one.. by one... till instead of a point of horrible heat and light in the sky where they were, there's a bright stardust of fragments...
And he calls in with confirmed kills for the rock, and signals to the deployment ship that his squadron is ready for return. He manages to collect a few victims of that first horrible assault who were merely comatose and floating in their armor in space... and heads back to the ship.
He increased his HTH to 1d6 reflecting the brutal combat where he broke out of captivity.
He tried for an increase on his long range slug rifle to reflect the last attack, no luck.
He did not try for promotion. Because he used a weakness he would have been eligible for demotion if another PC had targeted him for it, but there were no other PCs. (I understand how this works now -- using a Weakness is kind of a dick move because it saves your ass and leaves the rest of the squad in danger. That's why your fellow PCs would target you for demotion over it.)
He got a respectable handful of medals. Increased his FA. And that was that.
Wow! Good little game. Single player games seem to be brutal, and drawn out if you don't have the FA to reliably take down aliens quickly. Note to self: if I get in any more single player games, recommend a high FA. :)
Nice to notice also that he used EVERY resource he had in this situation and barely made it out. Every wound level short of death, on every encounter, even after the use of medikits; his armor was ticked; he used Combat Drugs, a Weakness, and a Strength. Makes me feel like I did my job as GM. :)
UPDATE: he didn't use every resource -- he didn't use the E-Vac. But that's mainly cause I forgot it existed and so didn't tell him it was an option.