Monday, November 30, 2015

The Video Season: Goings on in Marvel City, New Jersey

I am seeing a lot of my friends on the FacetuBe and the Goggles (Plush, no less!) talking about this or that video game. I am doing a lot of video games as well. Of course I mean video chatrooms gaming. Last night we, the core group (Peryton, Wylde, Curtis, and I) finished up the two-part super-powered tale "The Crosshairs of Thrill-Kill." Believe it or not we finished up a two-part story in two sessions. A rare thing for the on-line RPG event in my experience.

Now I wrote about the first of the sessions, "What Price Beauty," in generalities a month or so ago, but I'd like to got into more plot detail this time.  Scrap Pile, our ICONS super group, stars Citrus Shocker and Land Shark, helped young hero Disco find his mother. Wanda Dazzle besides having been a self-empowered single mother is the retired super-heroine the Sparkler, who rocked the 70-80s super-powered nightclub scene. Notified by Groovy Boy, the Sparkler's sidekick since he was old enough to have a fake ID to get into the clubs in the late 80s, Disco got right back to his hometown, Marvel City, New Jersey.

Groovy Lad in his 90s costume.
Staying with Disco's sister, AKA the costumed martial artist Dancing Queen in the late 90s, at her house out in the inner suburbs of the Yonks, our heroes began their investigation after getting in contact with Groovy Lad, now a professor of physics and physical fitness at Great State University, Marvel City's almost ivy league college. Disco went rummaging around Wanda's penthouse apartment, in the city's well-heeled Green Harbor district, the trio ran into his adoptive aunt Jessi Laynge, AKA Moonbat (picture a female Moon Knight). Land Shark and Citrus Shocker would meet Brick House, Marvel City's, woman of wonder with super-strength and the ability of flight. It from these two meetings that they learned that Wanda was investigating the disappearance of her sometimes ally, sometimes nemesis Hell's Bell, she came missing as well.

Coming back to Dancing Queen's apartment, the Scrappers of pieced together enough to know that they had to go to _the club_ get any further in their searching. It his then when our heroes were introduced to the Millennial, a super-powered teen group now on the scene, by Groovy Lad whom acts as their mentor. Lady Goth-Goth, Militia, Clunker, and Starfall were all ready to help, they even had their fake IDs ready. To show how the times have changed, Citrus Shocker refused to be a part of the deliquency of minors. Disco slipped them a bottle of Tickle Pink as consolation for his partner's prudishness.

Lady Goth-Goth is actually 27 and can get into Club Creation any time she wants.
 At the club called Creation, where super-powered individuals like to hang out, dance, and be seen. It is here where the Scrappers found W00T!!! working the bar. As you know W00T!!! was working with Y2K and Wise Owl during the Carmageddon crisis of the 1999-2000 winter. Some say he was with Y2K when the Secret Battle among heroes and villains formed Lake Mohawk from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in 2001. Both Y2K and Wise Owl had been captured by the Sparkler with Hell's Bell, finally deciding to be a hero instead of an anti-hero, the following year. As Disco was getting somewhere, using his light show/mind-control powers, in his questioning of the bar-tender, another group of super-powered folks came in.

Kaboom Cobain (John Barrowman as Solomon Grundy/Curt Cobain), Shiva (four-armed martial artist), Smoke (smoke-form for burglary), and Adder (shoots "venom" blasts) came in and promptly started a fight with Land Shark. W00T!!! tried to slip out in the general chaos of the bar brawl that erupted as Citrus Shocker and Land Shark went into Scrapper mode. Disco followed W00T!!! out the back door and onto the rooftops that he was using as his escape route. He was about to spill the beans when he was cornered but was suddenly shot in the head by the arch assassin Thrill-Kill. The mercenary was far enough away to wave at Disco and disappear into the shadows.

Part 2: Unspoken

The trio slept in a bit, having had to answer questions most of the early hours of the morning at the 2nd District police HQ. Detective Miller Barney was very thorough in his questioning. The early tabloids only briefly mentioned the bar fight, where it all became Citrus Shocker's fault as she threatened the club's DJ with brain-frying if she didn't get to use his lighting system and speakers. The fellow didn't let her touch his expensive equipment, but Land Shark calmed her down and became the hero of the bar. Most of the news was about the sniper that was still at large. According to the newsprint, Land Shark was walking past when he saw Citrus Shocker picking on Shiva, Disco, and the DJ. Groovy Lad though made the last pages with pictures of him being a little too drunk around young women, nothing his wife of eight years didn't already suspect though.

Wise Owl, well his alter-ego, had been released from prison in 2007, and because of his brilliance as a scientist, if specializing in mad science, had been able to secure a job with Marvel City's Alternative Energy Commission in 2011. Despite the man's apparent lack of criminal activity of late, the team noticed that every lead that they had was pointing towards him. Disco and Land Shark, both dressed civilian style made an appointment to see Dr Jeffery Kombes PHD Amorphous Energies Studies, AKA the retired Wise Owl, that afternoon. You'll note that I write "civilian style" not exactly "in civilian clothing." Disco looked like something out of Star Wars and Midnight Cowboy with lottsa rhinestones. Land Shark dressed similar to someone from the group The Time (see Prince's antagonist in Purple Rain) with his hair up in a shark fin mohawk. Of course the Wise Owl gave up nothing, being hip to the mind-tricks of the Sparkler, let alone her still learning son.

The Wise Owl was not wise enough to see Citrus Shocker, disguised in a "gadgeted" up scarf, jacket and glasses, which changed colors every three minutes as he left his office after the meeting with the other two Scrap Pile members. She followed him from a couple routine appointments to what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. After ten minutes he came out again, looking left and right, and got back into his City-provided car then sped away. Shocker called her two cohorts and prepared to get scrappy.

Breaking into the warehouse was hardly any trouble at all. The hard part was not setting off one of the dozen booby-traps set up around the building once the team got close to a laboratory area.... one word for you "sneaking Land Shark." With the alarms all blaring and flashing yellow lights flashing, the notorious villain Mad Hat and six, no ten, no twelve (just six, really) oddly uniformly-attired (shaved heads with khaki slacks and gray turtlenecks) henchmen came up from the basement.

Let's step aside for some quick notes on Mad Hat. Though this man looks like a a thirty year-old Burgess Meredith and dresses like Tom Petty in a top hat, he's not your 12 cents comic book villain. Indeed, he is the darker 90s-meets-the 1939 Detective Comics criminal. Using psychic powers as well as engineering brilliance, he and his hats have been behind some of the more ostentatious crimes in Marvel City and Angelopolis (very close to LA, California). Any fatalities that occur because of his "pranks," usually one of the less-than-tech savvy fellow criminal looking to cause him problems, he only blames the victim for being "an incompetent," to put it in his own, frequently-used words.

For a few moments the villain and his thugs, six of them, and the three heroes just stared at each other.

"I suppose I should call the police about trespassers." He said, coyly, then he relaxed his shoulders. "Screw that, I am loving it!"

"GET THEM!" Mad Hat commanded his henchmen and threw smoke bombs onto the floor in front of him.

While Citrus Shocker was blasting the henchman as quick as she could, and Land Shark was in fisticuffs with two very capable henchmen (#2 and #6) at martial arts. Disco avoided the fray, literally rising above it by levitating, to see Mad Hat climbing out of a skylight window of the building. On the roof, the villain showed one the feats that his hat could perform by leaping, without looking off of the side of the 50-ft tall building. The hat spread itself into something of a parachute and helped him land softly onto a pile of garbage cans.

Disco prepared to subdue the man with a burst of happy-inducing disco-ball lighting, when Mad Hat tapped a corner of his hat. A solid band of laser light burst into the hero's field of vision, almost blinding him if it weren't for Wylde's reminding me that his PC always wears sunglasses. Still the disorientation caused the Character to spiral towards the brick wall next to him.

The hero was spiraling towards the brick wall until Citrus Shocker using her amazing rocket-pack, the only one that really works in the whole world as of now, caught him. After blasting four henchmen senseless, she had become a bit overcome by the smoke in the warehouse and flew upwards to get some air. Mad Hat cried "Curses! Foiled again!" and jumped into his "hat-mobile," a 1993 Ford Bronco to make an automotive-powered getaway.

Land Shark had just been able to grapple Henchman #6 and choke him into unconsciousness, when he heard a very loud thunderclap from out side. Car tires screeched and there was a crash into the side of the building. The smoke was clearing and seeing only subdued henchmen in the room with him made his out towards a fire exit nearest the noises.

Having struck the "hat-mobile" with essentially a lightning bolt, Citrus Shocker watched as a rather angry Mad Hat climbed out of the driver-side window, his door blocked by garbage cans and boxes.

"I am done playing nice." The villain announced and laid down some heavy psychic attacks at all within his sight, namely Shocker and Disco.

Disco watched as the man became ten feet tell and a horde of ravenous, man-sized, meat-eating bunnies swarmed towards him. Shocker though only saw a flash of a Trix cereal commercial.

"You have to do better than Lewis Carrol to get me to worry about rabbits." She said, and let loose another electrical blast. This blast knocked Mad Hat off of his feet and sent his _Hat_ spinning into the air. Coming out of the fire exit, Land Shark winced at the noise but looked up in time to seeing the tall hat spinning downward.

"Don't tou... !" Disco was able to get out before his fin hair-dooed friend easily caught the gadget.

The concussive grenades subsided in about a minute later. A rather smarting Land Shark was able to shake it off and help out with getting the apprehended tied up. After catching his breath, he suggested that the Scrappers check out the basement and see what the villains were so afraid that they'd find. Citrus Shocker had a quick idea and threw a chair down the steps to the basement. Once again the concussive grenades and other booby-traps took about a minute to die down. And when the smoke cleared, the three continued their searching.

In the basement, the Sparkler and Hell's Bell were found in coma-inducing containers. When Hell's Bell's door was open, his eyes flickered. Seeing Disco, he dropped into his arms.

"Son." He said dreamily, before dropping back into unconsciousness. "I knew that you'd come save me."

Looking at Citrus Shocker and Land Shark staring at him, Disco could only say, "Don't even think about saying something."

A scandal rocked Marvel City as it was discovered that Wise Owl was indeed working on alternative energy. He had kidnapped Hell's Bell to try and harness the sonic boom of his singing voice. When the Sparkler cam looking for him, he had to kidnap her as well. The evil scientist was able to leave town before being caught to answer for himself.

Once awakened, Wanda insisted that Disco and his friends stay for Thanksgiving dinner. Every hero met this adventure showed up. Groovy Lad's wife made sure to tag along as well. Just at the turkey was about to be carved, Disco noticed a laser spotter's red dot hovering over his mother's heart. With a deft jump, he pulled her to the floor and saved her life from the bullet of Thrill-Kill.

This sent over a score of super-powered individuals pouring out of the penthouse. Thrill-Kill knew the gig was up. He was about to leap from his perch and disappear again, but Groovy Lad had teleported behind him.With a single punch, the assassin was knocked out. As the other heroes arrived, the aging lad was all smiles.

"I might not be the perfect hero," He said, "But no one messes with my soul sister!"

The Sparkler hugged him and said, "I never liked your wife anyway, sonny."

By the end of dinner, Disco couldn't stand watching his mother and his dead-beat dad getting along. He left for Beta City the next morning, early.

Monday, November 16, 2015

1500 miles worth of gaming

Since mid-September, our gaming has gone from what I had thought was one of the busier RPG schedules that folks with stuff like jobs and life happenings going on, into hyper-drive. Since late August, we've hit the sweet spot for on-line sessions and Carnage up in Vermont got us some face-time to top things off. The last two weeks have been even more intense than usual.

Carnage was Nov 6-8th. Of course we like to get there a day early and Robin started the weekend on Thursday night with a Conspiracy X game. While I liked the session and the players we top form, as is usually the case, the game itself made me yearn for Delta Green. Throughout the rest of the weekend, I would end up running four out of six of the games that I promised to run. That was one T&T game and three Crawlspace games. What was awesome is that I was able to conclude my "Castle of the Moth" horror series with the one surviving Character, with the player (Derek Harde)who has played him for five sessions over the last six years. This dude has seen bigfoot, the moth-men, and wrapped it up with a final horror-filled ride aboard flying saucer. I apologize for the "Dune: the Rock Opera" session that I didn't run. I will do it next year and amp up the preparation seeing the full table-interest.

The trips to and from Vermont were quite enjoyable. During the stop in Syracuse on Wednesday night, I met an Adam Brown who was a game designer and writer working at the Red Roof where we always stay. His game looks awesome, I hope we can talk him into coming up to Carnage in 2016. At the convention, I rediscovered the joys of hot-tubs and mountain air. I also hung a lot with Zach, my "Carnage son." Coming home, we diverted into Ithica and Big Flats New York territory where I set my "Castle of the Moth" town of Horsehead Crag somewhere around. Early dinner at Tag's was as awesome as ever.

"Horse's Head Bluff"

The "Carnage Son"

Route 13!

Once at home again, I barely worked two days before having to jump into playing in Peyton's ICONS on-line campain. The "Magi Bomb" session was awesome and full of drama as well as action. The next night on Saturday, I took a break, but Pery helped Curtis, start his D&D "Tales of the Orange Troll" campaign. I was only sitting in on and listening to the action, but these guys went hard for five hours on-line which is like a ten-hour session at the tabletop. On Sunday, JerryTel wrapped up his Tele-Con 2015 (the first annual, I think)  with running a "Little Horror on the Plains" scenario for his Stay Alive! modern T&T variation with us on-line and a couple people at his table. Well that last session ended up being "Part One" and we have plans to work through the historical fantasy piece over the winter months.

It has been an awesome autumn. I do need to get some writing done though.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Metaphysics for my ICONS supernatural sub-plots.

Despite what most mystics would have one think, there is no default in the universe towards order or divine law. Structure happens by design. Denizens of universes find power and come together to create the order of the universe around them. While plurality comes about, the drive to maintain what is considered “right” or “normal” is a significant drive in all places where folks like to live.

Chaos is not the opposite of structure, indeed it requires structure to exist to thrive. Chaos meshes motivations of structure to its own purpose, which is very self-serving. That is as well as defiant to those that would tame it.
Within the universes there are an infinite amount of aspects that make each of them and occur throughout them. These aspects can be somewhat elemental and alike, but there are exceptions. Earth, wind, fire, water, magic, plant, light, shadow, et al are all manifestations of the aspects.

It's not just that all “good” things must come to an end, it's that change is the one and enduring truth in all of existence. Change comes about best when what is there wants to change. Eroding the arbitrary barriers, set by past endeavors, no longer relevant, opens the range of possibilities of the new age. 

The Architects
Magicians that are not only powerful sorcerers but are champions of the order of the existence around us. They are not an official group, but an association of individuals that come together when our world is threatened by forces from beyond our own universe.

Lance Fredrick, the current holder of the Helm. This helm is said to have belonged to Merlin and before him Marduk, it grants the wearer vast magical powers (+15 more points of Character creation options) when wearing it. As Spelllock, Fredrick is probably the most powerful sorcerer on Earth at this time.

Professor Hemm
The “Navigator” of the multiverse around our home plane, as well as the sub-verses within it as well. He also is very committed to maintaining the barriers between the various universes and each other.

Dr Mojo
Sheila Gisgo, a gifted surgeon who turned toward the supernatural to work against the forces of Corrosion.

Samedi Sam
Specializes in hunting those that break the rules of death, also knows how to bend the rules a little as well.