Monday, October 20, 2008

Session Four and Five: Cover Blown!

Playing catch-up again. That's why I don't do this sort of thing; I keep falling behind.

Okay, as last we saw the Secret Heroes, Aqua and her friends had raided the headquarters of ANEK, a sinister research group associated with Nephilim. While there, they encountered the chilly Mister Berg, (whom Alanna promptly named "Frosty the Snowman")

Since Berg had met Aqua before, he was able to identify her. Nephilim's next logical move would be to take action against her. Problem: the girl playing Aqua was not at the next session.

So... I bent the rules of GM ethics.

The next session began with Python telling the rest of the team that Aqua had been abducted by Nephilim and organizing a rescue. It went pretty well, except that the team took out the opposition a little too easily. They managed to beat Berg and a lady ninja with teleport powers and humiliate them to boot. (Alanna squirted a tube of magenta paint at the ninja; now she calls her "Pinky McNinja.")

For session five, I decided it was time to bring back the vampires.

Fred the Vampire hunter gets a call from one of his street contacts asking to see him. When Fred meets him, the contact, apparently under some sort of mind control, draws a dagger and cuts his own throat. Suddenly Fred has a dead man lying on his feet and witnesses all around him calling for the police.

(Fred's player, recognizing how screwed he was, grinned and said, "I saw Blade III too!" Dang. And here I thought I was being so original.)

So Fred finds an abandoned building to be his new safe house and goes to the apartment where Python had the team bring Aqua. He discusses what to do with Python (who as always appears only on a TV monitor), Aqua and Alanna.

When he returns to the abandoned building, he finds company waiting: a scientist from Nephilim named Dr. Blake and three Nephilim goons including Pinky McNinja. The scientist tries to persude Fred to join them and that they can protect him from the vampires. She also tells him that the vampires themselves are nephilim, that is, genetically augmented metahumans; they just don't know it. Fred turns her down.

That's when the police show up outside. "We know you're in there! Come out with your hands up!"

Fred decides he's going to drag his motorcycle up to the roof and use it to jump to the next rooftop. Which would have been cool, had it worked. Unfortunately, the police have already started lobbing gas grenades through the windows and Fred (rolling a critical failure on his HT roll) gets an incapacitating whiff...


Back at Aqua's safehouse, she and Alanna get a message from Python. According to police scanners, the police have been tipped off as to Dave's location and are sending a SWAT team to get him. The girls hurry to the scene (Alanna cleverly suggests that Python set up some false alarms to distract and delay the cops) and arrive shortly after the police do. Aqua uses her water powers to burst a fire hydrant and under that distraction Alanna filches a couple gas masks so she and Aqua can sneak into the building.

They arrive just in time to see Dr. Blake and Pinky teleport away with Fred; although not before telling the other goons to take care of them. The girls and the Nephilim goons have a brief skirmish in which Alanna attempts to hop on board the motorcyle, (which you will remember, Fred had dragged halfway up the stairs), and ride off.

Rolling against her nonexistant Motorcycle skill, Alanna rolled a critical failure. The second of the day.

So I said that in her nervousness she accidentally activated her gravity powers, making the motocycle 150% heavier, causing it to crash through the rickety staircase.

In the chaos that ensued, the girls were able to get away from the goons, (who wound up getting arrested) but did have to make up a semi-plausible story for the cops. Which they did.

But what about Fred?

He wakes up in a Nephilim lab. Mister Berg is there and once again offers Fred the chance to join their organization. "What if I don't?" Fred asks. "Then Dr. Blake gets to experiment on you."

While Berg is briefly out of the room, Fred manages to break free from his bonds. He makes a McGuyver device out of stuff in the hospital room to create a distraction and flees through a back exit which leads him to a loading dock in the back of the building. There he encounters Pinky McNinja again and the two have a fight. Pinky actually does better than she did in her previous two encounters... until she rolled the third crit failure on the day.

Fred flees the building before further pursuit can catch up with him. It's a good thing Nephilim's security cameras don't seem to have captured any of his movements in the building. Funny that. I wonder if it will occur to Fred to wonder about that...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Solo Game: Star Trek Endevour

Lute and I wrapped up the fantasy campaign we were running this past week and so we started a new one. After some discussion, we decided to do a Star Trek campaign set in the Next Gen era. Lute didn't want to be a member of the crew, so I decided to make her a college grad student who has been placed as a civilian scientist on board a Galaxy Class starship as part of an Internship program. (This is one of the reasons why Lute wanted a Next Gen era campaign; because they permitted civilians on board)

I spent much of Saturday afternoon making up character cards for the crew of the Endevour. And I'm rather pleased with the result. We have:

Captain Casmir Bristol: The ship's captain. We haven't seen much of him yet, apart from an authorative, paternal figure.
First Officer J. Tyler: An anime-style slacker; laid back, easy-going, glib and relentlessly romantic. He also has a creative relationship with the truth. Everyone wonders how he ever made it into Starfleet. I'm having lots of fun with him.
Chief Science Officer Arushek: Lute's immedeate superior. An Andorian; calm, grave, mentoring.
Security Chief T'Srann: A Vulcan; very serious, by-the-book. She used to be Tyler's superior before he was promoted to First Officer. She has filed several recommendations that Tyler be demoted/court-martialed/flayed alive, but to no avail.
Chief Medical Officer Yukio Tanaka: Haven't seen much of her. Maternal.
Chief Engineer Clayton Delaponte: Cheery, good-natured; compulsive tinkerer. An accident involving a still he set up in the ship's port nacelle is why the ship is in repair dock as the game starts.
Counsellor Seth Carpenter: A nice guy, but so far a cipher. We'll see if he develops a personality.
Ensign Murray Gebotlick: Helmsman. Gawky, kind of nerdy.
Lt. Mrewlth: Operations Officer. A Caitian (from the animated series; remember M'ress?). Thinks of himself as a smooth ladies' man. We'll be seeing more of him.
Ensign Mina Parker: a microbiologist in the Science Department; one of the crew Lute will be working with.
Lt. Brendon Greensky: an ecologist in the Science Department. Kind of a neo-hippie.
Ensign Carl Blade: astrophysicist. Square-jawed and macho. No idea why he's in sciences; he just screams out to wear a red shirt.
Tohiro Tanaka: Planetologist. One of the civilian staff. He's married to the Chief Medical Officer, but that doesn't stop him from hitting on the ladies. I have no idea why Yukio puts up with him.
Dave Swenson: bartender. Every ship needs one. This one is a retired Starfleet security officer. He's friendly and generally knows all the shipboard gossip.

In the first session, Lute's character, Lauren Wojinski, learned that she was to be placed on board the Starship Endevour. She underwent some training and met some of the crew she'll be working with. First officer Tyler took a special interest in her and flirted with her. At one point he sent a bottle of wine to her cabin's replicator, just as Lt. T'Srann was giving Lauren a lecture on ship's regulations. Only some incredible fast-talking on Tyler's part saved Lauren from a stiff reprimand. And the fact that T'Srann obviously detests Tyler did much to reduce Lauren's original bad impression of him. Tyler took Lauren on a tour of the ship, including a stop in the holodeck to partake in a simulated French cafe.

In the second session, Lauren is doing some routine computer work supervising the download of data from the Starfleet central computer library. She comes across a suspicious file that seems to be full of giberish. Finding a couple other similar files, she brings the matter to Arushek's attention who has her tell T'Srann. It turns out that the files are pieces of a virus, which would not be a problem except that other pieces are already in the ship's computer and has assembled itself into an AI worm program. Lauren manages to corral the worm in the ship's holodeck, which naturally requires people to go into the holodeck to face the worm. I mean, it's just a holodeck; what could go wrong?

The campaign's off to a good start. I think this one is going to be fun

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Solo Game: Is This Any Way to Run a Railroad?

I also run a one-on-one "solo game" with my wife Lute which we run in the evenings after the kids are abed. Our current campaign is a D&D-style heroic fantasy one and right now her character and a couple companions are exploring an ancient temple that connects with myriad other universes.

Instead of mapping out the temple, I decided to run the exploration of it as a series of Random Encounters. I made a table of the kinds of monsters I wanted to show up and another of the different types of rooms that she would find.

On one of the first rooms she entered, the random room type came up "anachronism", meaning that the items and furnishings she found in the room belonged to a radically different setting than the one they were in. (I already had her encounter a group of sorcerous Nazis, I figured we needed a few more weirdities as well).

So off the top of my head, I described a Victorian Era gentleman's study, with leather backed chairs, fireplace, a globe, a snifter of brandy on a side table and a framed portrait of Queen Victoria.

Except that Queen Victoria had elf ears.

And the globe depicted a large continent in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

I intended for the room to be just a bit of local color and for Lute to move on to the next room, but she wanted to explore a bit. So I came up with a friendly retired colonel with bushy side whiskers and elf ears who met them and offered them tea and regaled them with tales of fighting flying monkeys in India.

And the more I improvised, the more I thought, "Dang! This would make a good campaign setting! I need to write this stuff down!"

And so I am.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Session Three: Save the Dolphins!

I didn't give Kitty's character, Aqua, much to do in the previous session, so last Sunday I let her be the focus. Aqua goes to the OceanWorld park where she works and learns that the park is selling one of its dolphins to a group called the Anak Foundation. This was the same organization that had tried to hire her in the previous session.

Aqua is suspicious of Anak and so tries to persuade her boss, the park's administrator, not to go through with the sale. After some pleading, he finally says that the sale must be confirmed by the Board of Directors. If she can find evidence that the Anak Foundation mistreats animals or uses them for unethical purposes, then he will bring that evidence before the Board.

So she goes to Anak, purportedly to talk with them about their job offer, but really to scope out the place. She meets a white-haired man named Mr. Berg, who happens to be the same white-haired man who met with Kurayami the previous night at the Club Cyba-Netsu. But she didn't see him there. Berg gives her a tour of the facilities and she gets to see how the dolphins are treated. It looks all very well, but with her Dolphin Empathy, she senses that they are not happy; they are stressed and fearful.

(Yes, her character has, among her powers, Animal Empathy (Cetaceans Only).)

Also, she spotted some files on Berg's desk suggesting that Anak has a connection with Nephilim, the sinister organization that Python warned the group about. (If her character had any Biblical Knowlege skills, I would have let her roll to see if she recognizes that the Anakites were descendants of the Nephilim).

This information, however is too vague to satisfy her boss, so Aqua contacts Alanna and Fred and (after some arguing) persuades them to help her break into the Anak Foundation that night.

They managed to get past Anak's security. (It's called the GM being generous to advance the plot). They were able to enter the building by virtue of Alanna botching a lockpicking roll on the skylight and falling through it and into one of the fish pools.

This is about when Mr. Berg showed up and released a shark into the pool the characters had fallen into. Aqua shoved Berg into the pool also and that was when we discoverd that Berg had cold-control powers; specifically an icy touch, which encased him in a block of ice!

The team escaped, and since it was getting late, I just said that in the process they got the photographic evidence Aqua needed.

But now Nephilim knows about them. And what will they do next...?