Gao discovers the Emporer, still alive and grasping at a knife in his chest. Rushing to him and kneeling by his side Gao attempts us use his medical skill to preform first aid. the rules are very sketching on the scope of First Aid in RMU A&CL (Arms and Character Law).
I made the difficulty Very Hard (-20) and Gao rolls a 94 + 20 skill – 20 difficulty, a partial success, that should buy the Emporer some time. While Gao is working on the Emporer the doors to the apartments burst open and the Emporer’s body guard enter. They take one look at Gao covered in blood, knife in hand and the fallen Emporer. Putting two and two together in the way that only happens when PCs are around the enraged guards draw their swords and charge.
Gao knew things didn’t look good the minute the guards entered flees for the only other obvious exit, a pair of open doors on the a roof terrace that surrounds this end of the appartment. He easily out distances the more heavily encumbered guards but realises that the terrace affords no easy means of escape. He is faced with two options either out along the roof tiles or using silk ropes that suspend lanterns over a courtyard below. Gao opts for the ropes thinking the guards would not be able to follow.
A terrible agility check sees him barely hanging on when the first guard arrives, makes an opened ended Perception Roll and reaches out to grab Gao by the wrist. To avoid escape Gao tries to use his weight and strength to get the rope to break by swinging and jerking on it. Thankfully for him it works and he goes from certain death to near certain death as the rope snaps and he starts to fall to his death.
The result of the fall is 11 and a D Impact which reads Foe’s hand gets in the way, two fingers broken. + 2 Hits, -25, Ftg(-20), Daze but he is now on the ground with the guards up on the terrace and he is alive.
The guards start shouting the alarm and pointing down to where Gao is regaining his feet. Some of the guards leave the terrace to try and capture him.
Looking around for where he can run to take cover. To his left was an arch heading towards the gardens and palace kitchens and that was the way he went. He soon had plenty of soft cover and could hear a hue and cry going up looking for him. Gao broke into a shed and buried himself into some sacks of vegetables. He got another partial success on his concealment roll. A second attempt at concealment got the job done.
Another medicine roll with a bit more time spent on it allowed Gao to strap up his broken fingers. Outside he could hear the search come close and then move away.
All this took place late in the evening. Waiting a few hours Gao decided to try and find out if the emporer was alive or dead. If he lived then he could clear his name. Sneaking out of his shed he headed towards the kitchens when he heard movement. Moving quietly through the gardens were other armed men with drawn swords and theatrical masks hiding their faces.
Gao knew they were not imperial soldiers looking for because they were not dressed correctly, the way they were trying to avoid being seen and it was just not normal to have armed men running around the palace grounds like this. Assuming the emporer still lived then maybe these were sent to finish the task of killing him.
Gao attempted to sneak up on one and take him out using his martial arts. The modifiers for rear plus surprise stacked up to nearly twice Gao’s OB and his hit delivered an E crit that knocked the guy prone. A second strike with the prone modifier was enough to kill him having broken all his ribs. Gao then took his Qi Jian.
The night time raiders entered the palace via the kitchen doors as well as scaling trellises attached to the outer walls. Gao thought that the target was probably the Emporer and these assassins were there to finish the job. The most direct route was going to be us the trellis so he attempted to climb. I had reduced his penalty for the broken fingers because of this successful medicine skill earlier and the trellis was easy to climb. With a very good roll Gao managed to follow the assassins up the trellis and back onto the roof terrace. There he found a dead imperial guard and the doors were open into the Emporers appartment.
Gao failed to notice that there were two other assassins on the terrace and failed a perception check to hear either of them sneaking up behind him. Being a kind GM I did not kill the PC out of hand. Instead I had one of the assassins put his hand on Gao’s shoulder and whisper to him to “head that way.” whilst pointing towards the inner bed chamber of the appartment. Gao made an SD check not to cry out when he was touched by the assassin!
He didn’t really have much choice but follow the instruction as there as he didn’t feel capable of fighting both of them. Thinking he could double back and try and take these two out one at a time he headed to the bed chamber. Inside was the emporer apparantly asleep and looming over him was an assassin, sword raised, who stopped at the sound of Gao entering. Gao made a silent “Shh!” mime which silenced the assassins question and he turned back to the task of killing the emporer. Gao then took the opportunity to try and take the assassin down. He was relying on surprise and I requested a stalking check to actually move up behind the assassin which Gao failed. The bad guy looked around a fraction before Gao hit him so he was still hit from behind but not with surprise as he could flinch.
Gao’s strike dazed the assassin but did not take him down. We now had our first proper combat where the Action Point system came into play.
I hate the 2-20 initiative system, Rolemaster is a d100 system so why we have a 2-20 initiative is beyond me. Both rolled 10 for initiative both had a +2 for quickness. Gao has -1 for his momement penalty but the assassin had -4 this round due to penalties (-15 from the critical + -25 from Dazed). Gao went first. The assassin had turned to face him so Gao just did a full 4AP attack. The assassin already had his sword draw so chose to put all his OB into parry this round while he was Dazed. His movement options were limited anyway with Gao in front and a bed behind him.
Gao only clipped him for a couple of #hits but I made the assessing make a 0OB attack to check for fumble and he did actually fumble. an 07 on the fumber was a bit of a non event.
Round 3 and Gao wins initiative but is now facing an undazed assassin. Both go for a full OB attack. Gao blow to the assassins check leaves him stunned unable to parry for two rounds and knocks the wind out of him. The assassin cannot reply.
Gao keeps on pummeling the assassin and gets another decent strike in rolling an 85 + 48OB, + 20 for a stunned opponent – 10 for his broken finger. The assassin bits off the tip of his tongue and is bleeding, stunned and staggered and basically very unhappy. He has no OB left to parry with even if he could.
In a change of tactic Gao swaps to sweeps and throws to see if he can keep him stunned. The total attack is +155 and the resulting critical throws the assassin 5′ and is enough to put him unconscious. As he is bleeding 5 #hits a round that will actually finish him off but in just a few minutes.
Gao takes the opportunity to wake the emporer and explains that there are assassins all over the palace. He gave him the assassin Qi Jian. The emporer is really in no fit state to defend himself after the attack only a hew hours ago but it does suggest that Gao is not one of the assassins.
Gao then tries to take down the two assassins on the terrace. He has been very disappointed so far with how effectived martial arts have been so is hefts the sword. This gives him a 31OB instead of his 48 for unarmed strikes.
He attempts to stalk up to one of the assassins without being seen but completely fails the stalking. Thankfully assassin#2 failed his perception roll (obviously looking out over the palace and not back into the appartment). Assassin#3 does spot Gao and is a little confused as to what he is up to until Gao lashes out with the Qu Jian.
The attack cuts assassin#2’s two leaving him staggered, stunned and unable to parry and bleading. The damage delivered by the sword even with a OB that is almost half the unarmed attack was significantly better.
We now went to AP combat. Assassin#3 reacts first and has to move for 3AP to engage Gao. Gao waits for him to arrive and does a 4AP attack. Assassin#3 completely misses and Gao doesn’t do much better delivering #hits and no critical.
What followed was a couple of rounds of no one being able to hit anyone until Assassing#2 recovered. Everyone was parrying for at least half their OB and they all needed to roll roughly 80 to 90 or more to hit for any sort of critical. Eventually Assassin#3 landed a blow on Gao that stun/no parry’d him and that was lights out for him.
We ended the game at that point and talked about how it went. The players impression was that it was too hard to do anything. Skills that seemed quite good (+48 to +51) for a starting character just did not translate into a competent hero.
The positional modifiers in combat played a massive part in the overal effectiveness and that martial arts seemed very underwhelming compared to the sword attacks.
Gao is not dead, but he is now a captive of the assassins. The player is happy to carry on play testing and to see what happens to Gao.