Saturday, September 27, 2008

Second Session: Circus of the Darned

I didn't get around to posting about last week's game. Better do it quick before this week's game!

When we arrived at the game shop last Sunday, I only had two players: my daughter Gamera (playing Alanna the flying waitress) and Tim (playing Fred the Vampire Hunter). Only a few blocks from the shop I realized I'd left all my character sheets at home and so had to run back. In the intervening time, Gamera's friend Kitty (Aqua the water-controlling marine biologist) showed up.

I'm still feeling my way around this setting. They aren't a team that goes out on missions yet. I wanted to encounter some weirdness that would allow them to use their super-powers in their personal lives. Gamera reminded me that her character Alanna had a wacky roommate and that gave me my idea.

I lifted some plot from an online RPG I was involved with several years ago called "Dark Redemption" Dark Redemption One of the subplots of that game invovled a cyber-cafe run by a powerful vampire. Since Tim's character is a vampire hunter, I decided it was a logical place for him and Alanna to run into each other.


We started out with Fred the Vampire Hunter doing some detective work. He had stated the previous session that he wanted to search the thugs who had attacked the group in the warehouse to see what he could find out about them. So we wrangled that out and discussed what he learned.

Next, Alanna has a conversation with her wacky roommate, Daphne; who talks her into going out for the evening. Daphne is meeting her boyfriend Raoul at the Club Cyba-Netsu and thinks that Raoul can find a friend to be Alanna's date. They arrive at the club and I describe the atmosphere. Alanna meets Raoul, and quickly pegs him as a Drama Queen. Then she spots Fred coming into the club.

Fred has heard about the Cyba-Netsu, a kind of goth club with a computer theme. Although not all goths are really vampires, Fred knows that vampires like to hang around goths because (A) it's protective camoflague and (B) goths worship vampires and so it's like free lunch. The first vampire he spots is the one at the table with Alanna; so he goes over to chat a bit.

But before too long, a waiter comes up to tell Fred the Manager would like to see him. The manager is Miss Aoi Kuriyama, an evil vamipre babe who looks like Yoko Ono. Kuriyama gives Fred some "friendly advice" about giving up his vendetta against vampires. We have a nice little dance of polite menace and veiled threats. Tim loved it.

Meanwhile, what of Aqua? Well, earlier on I had planted some information. A co-worker at Ocean World told her about how he once worked for a group of researchers who it turned out was using electrical implants to turn dolphins into weapons or something like that. Shortly afterwards, Aqua gets a job offer from a foundation doing cetean research. She turned them down.

I didn't really have anything for her to get involved with. So I suggested that Alanna give Aqua a call and invite her to the club. It was a little contrived, but it got everyone together in time for the big scene.

Daphne had gone on the floor to dance with Raoul. Alanna suddenly realizes that they're both gone. Suspecting foul play, Fred goes to investigate and finds Raoul in the alley behind the club with his teeth in Daphne's neck. A fight ensues, which includes Alanna whacking Raoul with her sketchbook and calling him a loser. One of the bouncers shows up to break things up and he suggests that Fred leave. Fred smiles politely and leaves.

Then he hunts Raoul down and kills him.

Fallout from the game:

Those three characters have gotten to know each other a little better and are starting to actually establish social bonds.

The local vampire community is now aware of Fred's presence and will be taking steps to take him down.

The game is starting to take a supernatural bent which I hadn't wanted, but which I should have forseen when I let Tim play a vampire hunter. I need to moderate that.

Oh, and I introduced a potential future menace. Kuriyama had another visitor that evening; a tall, white-haired man who was not a vampire. Fred is curious as to his identity. Actually, the man is an agent of Nephilim, which wants to make its own deal with Kuriyama. We'll be seeing more of him in the future

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Session: Gathering the Team

It's Wednesday already, so I'd better get around to commenting on last Sunday's game.

We actually had all five players together for a change. I was able to shepherd Kitty into coming up with an idea for a character. She's going to be a marine biologist named "Aqua Marie" with water-based powers. Not really happy with the name; on the other hand, Tim decided to call his character "Fred the Vampire Hunter".

I started the plot out establishing that each of the characters has recently discovered that they have strange abilities. Each one receives a message from an unknown person claiming to know about their super powers and directing them to come to a certain address the next day at such and such a time. (Alanna: Are you a stalker? You're a stalker!")

I had the characters arrive at the location (an empty, abandoned warehouse with a television monitor set up in the middle of the room) and meet each other. We had a fun bit when Nina, the blind violinist with psychic powers, attempted to tap into Fred's mind to see through his eyes. I had Fred roll to see if he noticed the intrusion. He did.

I told him, "You've been fighting vampires long enough to recognize when someone's trying to mind control you."

"Wait, it's daytime; she can't be a vampire!" one of the players protested.

"It's dark inside the warehouse," I replied. "The windows are boarded up and Nina's not standing in any direct sunlight."

So Fred leaped to one of the windows and ripped off the plywood allowing the sun to shine directly on Nina! Ooo! Nice and dramatic!!!

Too bad she wasn't actually a vampire.

When everyone had arrived, the television flickered on and a shadowy figure appeared on the screen.

The unknown person is Python, an NPC I've set up to be the team's patron. I intended him to be mysterious and secretive, appearing only as a voice on a telephone or a digitally blurred image on a computer screen. I decided that he has machine control powers, which would allow him to operate machinery telepathicly and mentally hack into computer systems; an ideal power for a behind-the-scenes string-puller.

Python tells them about a shadowy organization called Nephilim, whose purpose is to find powered individuals like them and use them for their own nefarious purposes. Python offers to protect the characters from Nephilim and wants to help them fight the sinister conspiracy.

(What the players don't know yet is that I plan on pulling a Xanatos Gambit with Python. He is actually a member of Nephilim himself and is plotting against them as part of his own little game. But that's a development for the future).

Unfortunately, I got so wrapped up in working on Python's character sheet that I never got around to defining his agenda. And when one of the players asked him, "So what exactly do you want us to do?" I didn't have a good answer for them.

So I had a bunch of thugs bust in carrying guns.

The fight was somewhat disorganized; I did not follow turn sequences as well as I should have; but the group held it's own. With a little coaching and suggestions from the GM, Aqua was able to do some effective things with her water powers. (Her player, Kitty, is the least experienced of the players and so I want to help her get a firm grasp on what she can do).

The thugs were defeated, and Python promised he would be in touch with the group. Fred the Vampire Hunter suggested they search the thugs for identification. A logical move. I distracted the group so that I wouldn't have to give them an answer, but I will need to decide who the thugs were working for and what ID they might be carrying before next game.

So, for next time: Finish Python's character sheet; polish up Aqua's character sheet; figure out identity of the thugs and what all working for Python is going to entail.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Assembling the Characters

Still haven't started the new Secret Heroes campaign. We spent last Sunday's session working out some of the characters.

Harold Howe (Michael): A garage mechanic with super-strength. I spent a lot of time with him getting the strength level right. He wanted to be able to lift a car over his head, like the cover of ACTION COMICS #1. But we also wanted to keep him within the 250 Character Point limit I established for this campaign. (GURPS recommends that four-color supers be built on at least 500 points, but this is supposed to be a more realistic campaign. Also, the characters are just starting out and learning about their powers. I plan to allow the players to boost their characters considerably once they have a few adventures under their belts).

Nina Thompson (Toeboi): A blind concert violinist with telekinetic powers. Wait, wait! You haven't heard the cool part yet! She also has a mind link with her seeing eye dog allowing her to see through his eyes! I had to ruthlessly cut out some of the Disadvantages the player wanted; (for example, Fearfulness and Agoraphobia); which I judged would be too crippling for her character.

Alanna Andersen (Gamera Rose): An aspiring artist who works a day job as a waitress and who can control gravity and fly. At first Gamera wasn't sure what kind of character she wanted. She had a vague idea about flight powers. Looking through the GURPS: Powers suppliment, I suggested she link flight with general Gravity Control powers. The weird thing is, when I tallied up the point cost of all the advantages, disads and skills she wanted, they totalled up almost exactly to 250 points.

(Tim's Character): Tim wasn't here this week, so we weren't able to finish his character and he still hasn't given him a name. He's a half vampire, possessing certain vampiric powers and weaknesses, but he's not actually undead. He also has an obsessive mission to destroy vampires. He's going to be an interesting character to work into my gameworld, because I'm kind of ambivalent about allowing magic in the campaign. I think I have an idea of how to make it work, though.

(Kitty's Character): Kitty, unfortunately, hasn't been to a gaming session in a while. About a month ago, she made noises about wanting a magical character, but I haven't heard any more since then. We'll see.

Now I have to start defining the campaign setting better and setting up some NPC's.