Starship Commandos – LC-427 the Landing

MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor from Halo Nation

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened in the first playtest for Starship Commandos. For those not in the know, Starship Commandos has the PCs as specialized troops in the far future who utilize power armour. This is as much for my gaming group as for your entertainment, but I hope it sparks some curiosity and maybe some inspiration.

The PCs are attached to 121 MARSAT (Marine Special Armour and Tactics) with the 71st Fleet Special Purpose Force as part of the ground combat element of the 7th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the Command Support Vessel MARLOW. On anti-piracy patrol in the Tau Ceti system, the MARLOW is diverted to the Asterion system (Beta Canum Venaticorum) for a possible support to civilian authorities operation. LC-427 (also known as Logan’s Cross) has gone dark – no signals, no transmissions and they haven’t broadcast their no-fail signal for three days running.

On planetfall, the PCs learn that the MARLOW’s ARVs (autonomous reconnaissance vehicles) have all been neutralized by EMPs created through electro-static discharges (ESD). While it might be natural, it sure looks like a coordinated attack, and so MARSAT is sent down using landing pods (atmospheric entry person torpedoes) to secure a landing site. Further ESDs bar the use of landing craft, and so a follow-on security detachment is sent down also using landing pods. The site secure, MARSAT advances on the civic centre (city hall) to seek survivors.

On the way, MARSAT uncovers a collection of bones, lacking any tissue or garments, beneath a building that has a signals relay tower on it. Triangulating all known ESDs, the team traces the events to buildings with signals relay towers. Sending their own ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) assets, they discover more bone pits in the basements. Investigation uncovers biological residue very, very similar to native species similar in size to racoons and squirrels, however other information leads the team to believe the beasts that undertook the killing and eating ranged in size from a large tiger to a rhinoceros.

Further, short range sensors uncover a flow of energy beneath them. Scanning for further such flows, they plot them and expect they will intersect under the civic centre.

Reaching the civic centre, the team uncovers a mainframe and server centre beneath the building that is awash in glowing green goo. They also discover an area the size of an aircraft hanger beneath the building that is not identified on the blueprints. The lieutenant decides to lead MARSAT into the unknown area.

The unknown area turns out to be a laboratory with a bio-hazard containment area. Inside that area is a container of glowing green goo.

Sundown, and the xenomorphs come out to play. Sensors detect movement burrowing toward the building while the team’s ARVs witness an attack en masse on the landing site. The security detachment loses more than half its force before barricading in the terminus of the off-line orbital elevator and calling down an orbital bombardment, destroying the surrounding area.

MARSAT is trapped in a lab as the xenomorphs advance. A fight ensues during which a marine accidentally initiates an ESD which leads to an EMP shutting down the team’s power armour. At about the same time, a grenade is dropped. Blood, terror and lots of damage ensue for 30 seconds while the armour reboots, and then the team destroys the xenomorphs.

They are left out-of-breath, cut off, and more than a little nervous.

You can read more about Starship Commandos here.

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  1. This is very groovy! Man this would scream in Savage Worlds (My go to system for non-supers related gaming). By the 5th acronym you had me throwing on my ACU’s and reaching for my 42400’s. Sounds like a great game and a great write up!

  2. Glad you’re digging it. We actually recently did a Savage Worlds space mercenary game similar in vibe to this – very ALIENS.

    Can’t do a military game without acronyms. 😉

  3. ISR… Whoop! Whoop! Out of curiosity, how large is the party and how well is the system working out with regard to number of players? Anyone playing multiple chars?

    1. The fictional MARSAT itself is a team of 12. There are six players in my group – though only four were at the last game. No one is playing multiple characters as the rest are just narrative. It’s actually good to have six NPCs about whom the players actually cared get wiped out in the first xenomorph assault. It makes it feels more like Aliens, which is very, very awesome.

      In case anyone is interested:
      A MARSAT squad of 12 consists of
      1 x Team Leader (lieutenant) who should be using the J25A Command and Control
      1 x Assistant Team Leader (warrant officer) generally using a J25I ISR Harness
      1 x Combat Controller (sergeant) with a J25C Close Air Support Harness
      1 x Radio Operator (sergeant) using a J25T Communications and Electronic Warfare
      1 x Combat Medic (master corporal) with a J25M Medical and Health Support Harness
      1 x Heavy Weapon (master corporal) with a J25D Direct Fire Support
      1 x Grenadier (master corporal) with a J25G Grenadier Harness
      1 x Designated Marksman (master corporal) with a J25S Long-Range Reconnaissance
      4 x Riflemen (corporal) with J25R General Infantry Rifleman Harnesses

  4. That’s a lot of master corporals. I am just wondering why so many and no privates and only a few corporals. just looks a little top heavy in the middle ranks for NCMs

    1. MARSAT is supposed to be elite, closer to a Special Forces ODA than a Marine rifle company. The Marines aren’t giving powered armour to just anyone! 😉

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