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Invasion of the modern world by an evil fantasy empire


Thot

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An idea for a campaign (setting) is forming in my mind for which I'd like to read your ideas on how to do it with BRP:

 

It is our modern world of ca. 2016 that, through magically created interdimensional portals, is being invaded by a particularly evil, evil multidimensional fantasy empire - led by a necromancer king, supported by all the types of evil people fantasy has to offer: Orc chieftains, complete with various types of semi-intelligent war beasts, undead of all sorts (of course), evil wizards, demon summoners, dragons, priests of evil gods (who may seem a bit lovecraftian of a more traditional fantasy-evil-god-type), subjugated 'good' people, and so on. Their technology, initially, is at about rennaissance level, but they will have various types of magic at their disposal that still have to select (suggestions welcome) and that should sort of even the odds against a defending world that has tanks, war jetplanes, automatic weapons and all the modern tools at its disposal.

The invaders have done this whole "conquer a new world" thing many times before, but of course never against one so advanced. They have about a billion (nine zeroes) warriors at their disposal, from many, many worlds, can resurrect dead with various means and are determined to conquer our world regardless of any initial casualties.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

Edited by Thot
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Really? Awesome! Sounds like stuff worth a license... got to check that out, thanks!

Edit: From what I can read, no, not all, not even close... though those Laundry Fles seem interesting, they are utterly different stuff.

Any suggestions on how to implement such a thing as described in the OP with BRP? Particularly, what magic types are most suited to countering modern weapons technology?

Edited by Thot
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Well, then I'll have to replace lovecraftian gods with more traditional fantasy-type evil gods. 

To avoid any confusion: The tone of such a campaign as described in the OP will be more like military SF. You know, MASSIVE military invasion involving plate-armored evil undead fighters, dragons, wizards, and hordes of cannibalistic axe-swinging orc barbarians.

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TBH modern military weaponry of the sort regularly deployed on the streets of the US will deal with anything in any sort of medieval armour and burst or autofire will deal with hordes of axe swinging barbarians. I'm sure a 50 cal Browning will give even a dragon food for thought. Wasn't there some sort of film that involved dragons attacking London in the last two decades, oh yes, Reign of Fire.

What you need in the Big Gold Book/BRP 4e as that has dragons statted out and all manner of modern weaponry in the same format.

You should be able to find it on the Chaosium website under BRP.

Nigel

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Thanks, I own the BGB (and various setting-specific BRP stuff). My question is more geared towards magic systems recommendations that would even the odds a bit.

 

Specifically because I don't want Reign-Of-Fire-like implausibility. ;)

 

Edited by Thot
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You will probably need to figure out a way to prevent modern heavy weaponry from working. Dragons aren't quite so difficult to deal with if you  are in a supersonic jet fighter equipped with heat-seeking missiles that can shoot the thing down while still a couple of miles away. I don't think the normal magic system in BRP is going to be able to offset the differences in firepower. A 15D6 tank gun is pretty much a autokill even on a giant or dragon. You will probably need to use one of the more powerful powers systems (sorcery or superpowers) to be able to ramp up the magical defenses enough. 

You might  want to consider having fantasy creatures have some sort of detrimental effect on high tech. For instance, maybe they can't be detected with modern radar, sonar, IR imaging and so forth, and therefore can't be locked onto or tracked. Or maybe they even warp reality a bit around then, scrambling or knocking out high tech in a fashion similar to an EMP burst. 

 

Another possibility might be to make heavy use of those creatures than cannot be harmed by normal weapons. If could really scare the PCs if they open up they spray a bunch of werewolves with machinegun fire, artillery barages, and even call in an air strike and the blasted things get up unharmed and keep coming.  

But however you do it, you are definitely going to need to address modern firepower. 

 

 

 

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

You will probably need to figure out a way to prevent modern heavy weaponry from working.

 

Hah, that would be easy, wouldn't it. :D

Unfortunately, that is not an option for what I want to do. As I wrote, this is supposed to be military SF in tone (even though the opponents are fantasy-sourced), and for that, I cannot take away the players' and their allies' most important tools.  (I mean, imagine that, you build your character as a soldier proficient in firearms, and then those very skills are made useless by GM fiat. Not cool.)

2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Dragons aren't quite so difficult to deal with if you  are in a supersonic jet fighter equipped with heat-seeking missiles that can shoot the thing down while still a couple of miles away.

Yup, and AAA tanks like the Gepard or the Shilka will shred anything flying with fantasy tech or magic, like dragons or cloudships, into pieces even through layers of clouds at night.

Looking at the two actual magic systems in the BGB (magic and sorcery), there are a few things that could help the invaders, such as

  1. invisibility (which I would rule to protect from radar and infrared in addition to normal sight)
  2. teleportation (firearms are basically useless when the enemy melee fighters teleport between you and your allies, as any shot will also hit your own people)
  3. Summoned creatures (many of which are immune or less vulnerable to firearms)

But I have a feeling that with these three alone, it could get a bit dull for the players, so more options would be nice. As the evil invaders have conquered many (as in hundreds or thousands of) worlds, their servants may use various different magic systems.

 

2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

 I don't think the normal magic system in BRP is going to be able to offset the differences in firepower. A 15D6 tank gun is pretty much a autokill even on a giant or dragon. You will probably need to use one of the more powerful powers systems (sorcery or superpowers) to be able to ramp up the magical defenses enough. 

 

Ah,you mean a superpower-based "magic" system? I'll have to look into that. I know GURPS and Hero systems can do it that way, but I haven't studied BRP's rules options for such a thing yet. Thanks for that tip!

 

2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

You might  want to consider having fantasy creatures have some sort of detrimental effect on high tech. For instance, maybe they can't be detected with modern radar, sonar, IR imaging and so forth, and therefore can't be locked onto or tracked. Or maybe they even warp reality a bit around then, scrambling or knocking out high tech in a fashion similar to an EMP burst. 

 

Another possibility might be to make heavy use of those creatures than cannot be harmed by normal weapons. If could really scare the PCs if they open up they spray a bunch of werewolves with machinegun fire, artillery barages, and even call in an air strike and the blasted things get up unharmed and keep coming.

Those are very cool ideas!

 

2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

 

But however you do it, you are definitely going to need to address modern firepower.

Quote

 

Obviously. :)

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2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

You might  want to consider having fantasy creatures have some sort of detrimental effect on high tech. For instance, maybe they can't be detected with modern radar, sonar, IR imaging and so forth, and therefore can't be locked onto or tracked. Or maybe they even warp reality a bit around then, scrambling or knocking out high tech in a fashion similar to an EMP burst.

 

 

Stealth dragons :D

Regarding modern firepower and werewolves, the silver bullet would work, but which modern armed forces routinely equip troops with silver bullets?

The various tropes of vampires being immune to normal weapons, were-creatures being vulnerable to silver, head-shots being most effective on zombies, and so on, could all be used to great effect. I could see the modern armies being pushed back quite severely, trading space for time, while scientists work with occultists to design some effective weapons.

The magic system, I feel, would be sorcerous in nature and may even involve dealing with the Forces of Evil's rivals on another plane of existence in order to counter the invaders powers. A lot of esoteric research into "tomes of forbidden lore" (like the BGB, the D&D Monster Manuals) would be needed to find these evil creatures' weaknesses and launch a counter attack.

Colin

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I don't think things are as dire for the magic types as others suggest.  You have to presume the Bad Guys are reasonably smart, reasonably adaptable.  Sure, they're unfamiliar with just how deadly modern firepower can be; but they will learn...

I expect that the Evil Empire will experience a large amount of early success, overrunning civilian populations/etc (depending on where their Gates open -- if it's in an existing conflict-zone, maybe not so much!!!).  They will get a nasty shock when they first encounter our world's "modern military" and presumably suffer defeat after defeat... until they adapt.  Since they have faced dozens/hundreds/thousands of other worlds, adapting to the local rules of magic & tech will be par for the course, for them.  This may be a worse instance of "the tech problem" than they have faced, but the basic issue of "figuring out what works best in THIS case" is their standard military doctrine.

As to some specifics...

Remember invisibility:  handwave that it covers the entire EM spectrum (no reason to think it DOESN'T, as it's usually taken to be proof vs infra- and ultra-visions), and -- voila! -- instant anti-radar stealth.  Also, screaming hordes of orc barbarians are MUCH more effective -- even against automatic weapons -- if 5 min's before they start their charge, they are preceded by a Silence'd / Invisibility'ed squads of goblin assassins (or by incorporeal spirits, who attck/disable mentally!) .  By the same token, magical stuff should be virtually-impossible to defend against, because Magic.  I mean, sure a spell that just "hits hard" will bounce off a main battle tank or even a mere APC... but a spell that "ignores armor" will ignore all that tank-armor, too!

Also:  realize that ENOUGH screaming hordes will overwhelm any firepower:  you've got 2 machine-gun nests with overlapping fields of fire and a total killing-ground, each nest stocked with cases of ammo?  Gee, so sorry for you...  They have ONE MILLION willing-to-die troops who are going to take those machine-gun nests.  10 minutes into the battle, you're out of ammo with 25,000 dead on the field before you, but you've barely scratched the attacking force...

Cold-drakes can be just as dangerous as fire-breathers, and don't show as targets vs. heat-seeking systems.

Magic that is line-of-sight and auto-effect -- magically super-effective -- will be NASTY surprises for military forces.

***

Don't forget other magic, either -- why bother "questioning" or even "torturing" a captive for information?  Just read their mind, or summon a possessing spirit who can consult the helpless host-mind and answer using their body... and then "escape" back to their original military, possessed, and wreak havoc as a turncoat!

Invisible mage-spies, who can find top leaders, "Sleep" them, teleport them away to be mind-read (or possessed) and teleport them back without anyone the wiser...  I mean, "Evil Empire."  They have GOT to know all about suppressing rebels, co-opting their enemies, etc.

Last but not least:  what happens when the Evil Empire begins to train with & use captured high-tech gear?

 

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I'd favor a much more stealthy approach early on... getting agents in place to gather information and disrupt defences... set off a global zombie plague and other magical diseases to soften things up. Mind control some key military leaders. Then come in with the dragons and screaming orc hordes. Play it out like Twilight 2000 with a supernatural armageddon.

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6 hours ago, Simlasa said:

I'd favor a much more stealthy approach early on... getting agents in place to gather information and disrupt defences... set off a global zombie plague and other magical diseases to soften things up. Mind control some key military leaders. Then come in with the dragons and screaming orc hordes. Play it out like Twilight 2000 with a supernatural armageddon.

I guess it depends a bit on the "necromancer king" in charge of it all.

On the one hand, you tend to be a bit casual about "casualties:"  when your soldiers who die just get back up and keep fighting for you, keeping them alive gets less important; when THE OTHER SIDES'S dead soldiers just get back up and START fighting for you, then bloody no-quarter carnage looks more and more like a winning strategy...

On the other hand, "necromancer" sounds like some variety of "wizard," with a nod toward high intelligence, willingness to study a problem for the "best" solution, profound patience, etc.

In the final analysis... go for More Fun (that means BOTH strategies, of course) !

Does the N.King play the long, slow game?  Or with hundreds of worlds worth of resources to throw at 1 new conquest, does he just do it quick&dirty?

 

Edited by g33k
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So the sinister warlord of the Evil Empire is not stupid: he has had  his agents on this world for some time, and what they've reported  of  helicopter gun-ships, smart weapons,  and tactical nukes has made him cautious.  Instead of the over-whelming assault that is his usual plan,  he has opted to engineer a near-apocalyptic conflict between global powers; in the chaos that follows the world would be easy pickings.

 

Campaign mode 1 | "Just Before Midnight" : The setting is some 3rd world war-zone, the site of a protracted civil war and a seemingly never-ending humanitarian catastrophe.  In the wastes the Evil Empire has established a base and assembly-point. The PCs are:

--Harried UN Peace-keepers.

--Contracted security for some corporate interest willing to risk the on-going strife in the pursuit of some valuable natural resources.

--Special forces, on a covert mission.

There are strange tales told in the refugee camps:  bandit gangs being routed by inhuman creatures.  The player characters discover the truth of these stories themselves.  The main thing is the Player Characters  are going to have very little in the way of support: no artillery fire-support, no air-strikes.  They are in the middle of a wilderness, surrounded by creatures from nightmarish myth, and they have a limited supply of ammunition.

 

 

Campaign mode 2 | "End Times".   The Evil Empire succeeded in tricking the superpowers into WWIII.  So this is pretty much a mash-up of  Twilight:2000 and  RIFTS.  The satellites are down. Cyber-warfare has pretty much shredded  most digital technology.  The major powers only sparingly used the nuclear option; but the global infrastructure has pretty much crumpled.  And now  the howling  orc hordes come pouring out of the dimensional gates.

Edited by 1d8+DB
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21 minutes ago, 1d8+DB said:

So the sinister warlord of the Evil Empire is not stupid: he has had  his agents on this world for some time, and what they've reported  of  helicopter gun-ships, smart weapons,  and tactical nukes has made him cautious.  Instead of the over-whelming assault that is his usual plan,  he has opted to engineer a near-apocalyptic conflict between global powers; in the chaos that follows the world would be easy pickings.

That is a beautiful and plausible idea, but not what I'd want to do with this. When you are an evil overlord and have conquered hundreds or thousands of worlds, each with their own type of magic, their own strengths and weaknesses, and their own strategy and tactics, then I would assume that neither casualties nor raffinesse are terribly important. Most likely, the initial assault will not even be carried out by the Emperor himself, but some under-underling, who will of course be sacked and turned into an undead as reward for his first failure. They will just be used to roll over an equally equipped foe with superior numbers, and the reconnaissance they do will probably usually be "reconnaissance by main task force".

Which has, of course the advantage that our heroes actually have a chance to figure it all out and save the day, the week, the month, possibly even liberate other peoples from subjugated worlds and that we have clear-cut enemies.

 

It seems I will have to do my own magic system to at least offer some fun counter to modern military weaponry for a fantasy civilization?

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7 hours ago, g33k said:

I don't think things are as dire for the magic types as others suggest.  You have to presume the Bad Guys are reasonably smart, reasonably adaptable.  Sure, they're unfamiliar with just how deadly modern firepower can be; but they will learn...

I expect that the Evil Empire will experience a large amount of early success, overrunning civilian populations/etc (depending on where their Gates open -- if it's in an existing conflict-zone, maybe not so much!!!).  They will get a nasty shock when they first encounter our world's "modern military" and presumably suffer defeat after defeat... until they adapt.  Since they have faced dozens/hundreds/thousands of other worlds, adapting to the local rules of magic & tech will be par for the course, for them.  This may be a worse instance of "the tech problem" than they have faced, but the basic issue of "figuring out what works best in THIS case" is their standard military doctrine.

As to some specifics...

Remember invisibility:  handwave that it covers the entire EM spectrum (no reason to think it DOESN'T, as it's usually taken to be proof vs infra- and ultra-visions), and -- voila! -- instant anti-radar stealth.  Also, screaming hordes of orc barbarians are MUCH more effective -- even against automatic weapons -- if 5 min's before they start their charge, they are preceded by a Silence'd / Invisibility'ed squads of goblin assassins (or by incorporeal spirits, who attck/disable mentally!) .  By the same token, magical stuff should be virtually-impossible to defend against, because Magic.  I mean, sure a spell that just "hits hard" will bounce off a main battle tank or even a mere APC... but a spell that "ignores armor" will ignore all that tank-armor, too!

Also:  realize that ENOUGH screaming hordes will overwhelm any firepower:  you've got 2 machine-gun nests with overlapping fields of fire and a total killing-ground, each nest stocked with cases of ammo?  Gee, so sorry for you...  They have ONE MILLION willing-to-die troops who are going to take those machine-gun nests.  10 minutes into the battle, you're out of ammo with 25,000 dead on the field before you, but you've barely scratched the attacking force...

Cold-drakes can be just as dangerous as fire-breathers, and don't show as targets vs. heat-seeking systems.

Magic that is line-of-sight and auto-effect -- magically super-effective -- will be NASTY surprises for military forces.

***

Don't forget other magic, either -- why bother "questioning" or even "torturing" a captive for information?  Just read their mind, or summon a possessing spirit who can consult the helpless host-mind and answer using their body... and then "escape" back to their original military, possessed, and wreak havoc as a turncoat!

Invisible mage-spies, who can find top leaders, "Sleep" them, teleport them away to be mind-read (or possessed) and teleport them back without anyone the wiser...  I mean, "Evil Empire."  They have GOT to know all about suppressing rebels, co-opting their enemies, etc.

Last but not least:  what happens when the Evil Empire begins to train with & use captured high-tech gear?

 

So you'd actually say standard BRP magic and sorcery would suffice?

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43 minutes ago, Thot said:

Most likely, the initial assault will not even be carried out by the Emperor himself, but some under-underling, who will of course be sacked and turned into an undead as reward for his first failure. They will just be used to roll over an equally equipped foe with superior numbers, and the reconnaissance they do will probably usually be "reconnaissance by main task force".

This bit has me picturing the usual plot of an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Underling of the week and his gang of goons rolls into town and starts trouble... meanwhile the BBEG sits off in his space fortress safe from harm.

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1 hour ago, Thot said:

So you'd actually say standard BRP magic and sorcery would suffice?

Assuming you cherrypick for more-effective vs. tech & vs "soft targets" (like minds), and play the bad guys as smart... sure!

However, I have seen the "medieval + magic  =vs=  modern mili/tech" issue debated often enough that I suspect the REAL answer is "whatever the preconception of the person answering;" my own preconception suggests that modern militech does hideous and nigh-inconceivable-to-medieval-mind amounts of damage... but magic does the impossible.  I don't think there's really a "right" answer.

I think an all-out-war between them would see-saw back and forth (initial advantage to whoever stuck first) as each encountered capabilities in the other that were unexpected.  Eventually, I think "can do the impossible" wins, because "Magic."

HOWEVER -- one element of your set-up is potentially problematic, strategically.  The idea that this empire has the resources of hundreds or thousands of worlds, to throw at this one planet.  Numbers really do tell.  If the Bad Guys can afford 1000:1 losses (and if I understand correctly, they can!) then they pretty much win.

One other note, though: the players are liable to see and comprehend what's happening, and take Extreme Measures right away. As a player, what I'd do -- as soon as I saw signs of "magic types not accustomed to facing modern firepower, but liable to learn the ropes" -- is to assemble as much of that "unaccustomed firepower" as possible, plus modern intel-gathering, and launch through the nearest gate on a terminate-with-extreme-prejudice mission (target: necromancer king); I wouldn't wait for official sanction, mission-briefing, etc... unless I thought I could get a LOT more firepower and/or intel by waiting (speed is of the essence, we cannot afford to let them learn how to oppose our firepower). I think a heavily-armed strike team, if they got good intel, might be able to carry it off, and end the "war" in the first week.

 

Edited by g33k
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7 hours ago, g33k said:

Assuming you cherrypick for more-effective vs. tech & vs "soft targets" (like minds), and play the bad guys as smart... sure!

Well, with such a vast multidimensional empire, there will of course be smart and not so smart leaders. I mean, we want the PC's to have to do something meaningful, after all. :) 

 

7 hours ago, g33k said:

However, I have seen the "medieval + magic  =vs=  modern mili/tech" issue debated often enough that I suspect the REAL answer is "whatever the preconception of the person answering;" my own preconception suggests that modern militech does hideous and nigh-inconceivable-to-medieval-mind amounts of damage... but magic does the impossible.  I don't think there's really a "right" answer.

I think an all-out-war between them would see-saw back and forth (initial advantage to whoever stuck first) as each encountered capabilities in the other that were unexpected.  Eventually, I think "can do the impossible" wins, because "Magic."

HOWEVER -- one element of your set-up is potentially problematic, strategically.  The idea that this empire has the resources of hundreds or thousands of worlds, to throw at this one planet.  Numbers really do tell.  If the Bad Guys can afford 1000:1 losses (and if I understand correctly, they can!) then they pretty much win.

Well, thing is: In the setup, the evil empire's base assumption when opening the gates (which I imagine as mobile, summonable-with-a-simple-spell portals) will be that this is just another world to conquer easily. Which means they initially don't plan to spend all of their empire's military might for such a conquest. And that means they will have other conquests running elsewhere which bind troops, at least in the beginning, so we have an escalation chain for the military involvement of the evil empire on Earth:

  1. Standard invasion force led by young and inexperienced leader gets shredded to pieces,
  2. then a bigger force led by a veteran commander comes, who might actually be willing to report back home how and why his army might not be able to pull this off,
  3. and only then we'd see the massive masses that the empire could theoretically field.

Somewhere during step 2 (which may have several substages) at the latest, I would expect some players to learn magic... to open portals, become invisible, teleport, etc.

7 hours ago, g33k said:

One other note, though: the players are liable to see and comprehend what's happening, and take Extreme Measures right away. As a player, what I'd do -- as soon as I saw signs of "magic types not accustomed to facing modern firepower, but liable to learn the ropes" -- is to assemble as much of that "unaccustomed firepower" as possible, plus modern intel-gathering, and launch through the nearest gate on a terminate-with-extreme-prejudice mission (target: necromancer king); I wouldn't wait for official sanction, mission-briefing, etc... unless I thought I could get a LOT more firepower and/or intel by waiting (speed is of the essence, we cannot afford to let them learn how to oppose our firepower). I think a heavily-armed strike team, if they got good intel, might be able to carry it off, and end the "war" in the first week.

But that assumes that the players (and any powers on Earth who support them!) quickly understand the evil empire's power structure, overall goals and vastness. A big element in military SF is to learn who your enemy actually is, what they want, and why this war is happening in the first place.

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D100 is perfect for this kind of thing. You can use BRP/RuneQuest/Legend/Mythras for the fantasy stuff, such as cults, spells and medieval weapons, then take modern weapons from something like Delta Green, improvise modern technology and pick things from SciFi settings where necessary.

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I think it would be key for the Evil Empire to be able to control the gates. Basically, you have to figure that once we start using modern tech we will completely annihilate the intial force. Any survivors will pretty much be be design- so we have somebody to interrogate (BTW, it could be chilling if prisoners were somehow eliminated right in the middle of an interrogation).

 

If the Evil Empire does use necromancy or some sort of contagious monsters (i.e.vampires, werewolves), they could "recuit" more troops from the ranks of our fallen. "Turned" ex-soldiers, now-vampires could be a devastating weapon, since it would give the Evil Empire a way to get rapid intel and troops experienced with modern tech and tactics. Plus they'd be able to infiltrate our ranks. and cities. If the Empire started by picking off some secuities settlements and military bases, it's possible that they could catch up with tech early on, and even start their first real battles with modern tech. Not as much of it as we could field, and probably not be able to replace or repair it easily, but..

Imagine if the initial attack was with modern weapons and then the nasties monsters came out after we took out thier tanks and guns. For instance, we shoot up a Empire tank, reducing it to a burning wreck, and then, unbelievable,  the hatch opens, the crew climbs, uninjured, and begin to transform into bats, wolves and what not. The dead rise up and stagger forth. Could be a great shock way to reveal the true nature of the enemy. The PCs could be part of the mop of team, who suddenly have to fight their way out and report back to HQ. 

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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21 hours ago, Thot said:
  1. Standard invasion force led by young and inexperienced leader gets shredded to pieces,
  2. then a bigger force led by a veteran commander comes, who might actually be willing to report back home how and why his army might not be able to pull this off,
  3. and only then we'd see the massive masses that the empire could theoretically field.

Somewhere during step 2 (which may have several substages) at the latest, I would expect some players to learn magic... to open portals, become invisible, teleport, etc.

Where does the first gate (or gates) open?

Many places in the modern world will have a peaceable & disarmed populace.  Even a young/inexperienced leader will find it to be "easy pickings" until an organized military force can respond...  And isolated spots (small island nations, deep-mountain regions during winter, etc) might not get those responses for a fairly long time.  Initial reports back will be of "unusual wealth and remarkable technology, but no sign of effective military."

Then there is the NorthKorea / SouthKorea DMZ, where the invading force gets wiped out within a few minutes of arrival!

***

Players learning magic... OK, and when does the Evil Empire learn to use tech?

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