Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Avengers : Ultimate Gambit - Part 2

04/01/2012
Avengers : Ultimate Gambit - Part 2
The Marvel Super Heroes RPG (Faserip)

My fifth game for Indigo Entertainment would be the first sequel session I ever ran for them.  Avengers : Ultimate Gambit reaches its climax as the secret master behind Kaizen Gammora's rise to power and the fate of Loki and Thor are revealed.   Using the classic role-playing game system, Marvel Super Heroes FASERIP system, five players take the roles of Iron Man (Tofie), Thor (Mark), Taskmaster (Ramir), Hawkeye (Jigs) and Doctor Strange (Jam) in this tale of heroism, genetic manipulation and self apotheosis.

The scene opens with Hawkeye learning the woman who called his name was no one else but Emma Frost.   Now a member of the X-men, she shares she was invited to meet a certain Zhang Tong for a business proposition.  She asks Hawkeye if the Avengers are on a mission and offers to stay telepathically linked in case he needs any help.   Hawkeye decides to work on the communications tower as per Black Widow's plan and to meet with Emma Frost at a cafe later in the day.

The Taskmaster, also invited by this Zhang Tong, enters a conference room and finds other notable villains in attendance:  Wilson Fisk, also known as the Kingpin of Crime, and the ever imposing Dr. Doom.  When Emma arrives, she is disgusted to see the gathered group of criminals and immediately opts to leave the room.  "I've long ended my dalliances with your lot."  The Kingpin wisely chooses to leave as well.  Taskmaster and Doom opt to stay, however, and they find a young seven-year old boy with green eyes and dark hair addressing them on behalf of the mysterious leader.    The leader happens to be the man known as the Mandarin and he unveils the proposal with much pride:  He has found a way to clone people with their mental faculties intact.  "Imagine Doom, a chance to murder the heroes you want over and over again... Imagine, Taskmaster, the chance to learn from each and every hero that has ever lived."  And worse, he even claims to have the genetic material of heroes from Alternate Earths.

Doctor Strange feels a disturbance in the astral planes.  He then receives a visit from the Fates who beseech him to find Thor.  With a quick incantation, he transports himself to Asgard and there learns from Odin that Thor has abandoned his godhood.  Promising to find him, Doctor Strange takes the belt which Odin had hoped to use to track Thor, and uses the Eye of Agamotto to find the missing scion.

Thor weighs on the choice the Fates have given him:  Allow Earth to be destroyed or slay his brother, Loki.  Jane attempts to sway him, asking him if there was any other way.  He insists he has to do this.  Jane tries to change his mind, stepping in front of him and reaching for the crack of light upon the World Tree as she asks, "If it were me who would make this choice, would you STOP me?"  Thor admits he would, but tells Jane he will return.  He leaps into the light and finds himself back at Asgard.  There, he reclaims his Hammer and with Odin's blessing, takes a rainbow bridge back to Earth.

Iron Man finds the power through-out the city flickering off for a few seconds.  Using this to his advantage as he dodged missiles from the enemy, he boosts himself out of the island's limits just in time before the shield was reestablished.  While safely above the country, he regains communications and learns from Captain America and from Pepper Potts that his disappearance has been for over two weeks, that the Wasp he had rescued from the hotel may not be the actual Wasp of the Avengers, and that Captain America is bringing a team via Quinjet to the location.  The incident has started becoming International with footage of the Hulk's rampage being used to portray the Avengers as terrorists attacking a sovereign country.  As Iron Man considers his options, Doctor Strange arrives and begins a descent towards the purple field.  Using his repulsors to grab the Sorcerer Supreme's attentions, Iron Man and Doctor Strange very quickly discuss matters and ponder on their next course of action.  As if the fates were intervening, that moment Thor also arrives and shares with them his worries of a vision of destruction and darkness.  Thor senses an incoming threat and warns the others but his warning comes too late.  A black figure strikes at them from Gammora and nearly takes down the Sorcerer Supreme in a single blast.  Doctor Strange, Thor and Iron Man find themselves facing a black metal version of the Iron Man.  Thor grabs hold of the suit, enduring a massive blast of an experimental cannon to the face.  But Thor spies Loki on the roof of a building below, and decides to head there instead of helping his fellow Avengers.

Hawkeye and Emma Frost head out of the cafe after hearing a massive explosion a block away.  As the Hulk emerges from the rubble, Hawkeye ponders on how to take the green giant down.  Brimming iwth overconfidence, Emma takes a step forward and mentally commands the Hulk to sleep.  But before he succumbs to it, the Hulk slams into the ground with a car and Emma is stunned from the blow.  Hawkeye wishes he had his arrows and watches as the Hulk tears down another building before hurling it onto the former White Queen!  She transforms into diamond in the nick of time, but does not emerge unscathed as her other leg is shattered from her body.  Hawkeye picks her up and plans an escape.

Taskmaster decides to turn the offer down, but the Mandarin takes offense.  As he begins destroying the room, Taskmaster opts to run for it.  Along the way, he spies the young boy and picks him up to escape the conflagration.  But instead of screaming in fear or thanking him for his sudden act of heroism, the boy begins laughing over and over.

Loki and Thor discuss things, with Loki claiming that Thor should help her.  She claims the fates are playing a trick on him, manipulating him to make himself within their purview.  But Thor remains steadfast and grabs Loki by the throat - ignoring her clear attempts to manipulate him by wearing Jane's face.  When he considers killing his own sister to save the world, he realizes there may yet be a way around the events:  The Fates demanded Thor kill his brother... not sister, after all.

Iron Man attempts to defeat the black metal Iron Man by tapping into the suit's systems to override the controls.  But instead, the black suit infiltrates his and uses Tony's own weapons to take Doctor Strange down.  The Doctor flies off to seek cover as Tony shuts down the opponent's armor before his fails.  Switching to an emergency override, he shuts down his own and begins falling towards the city, hoping to reboot his systems in time.

Taskmaster learns the young boy is actually a clone of Loki, and being a clone that cares nothing of the rules and laws that limit the gods themselves, the young boy relishes in his superiority.  Mandarin tries to strike at them again, but the boy merely plucks all the rings out of his spinal column (where he has had them surgically placed).  When the Taskmaster's words infuriate the child-god, he begins using his limitless powers to prove his godhood!  The players all begin to see that this Loki clone is the actual Loki that can threaten the world.  When Taskmaster is flung from one skyscraper to the other in the opposite side, the Loki clone threatens to slam the moon onto him.

Doctor Strange recovers enough and offers to help Thor and Loki deal with the cosmic aberration.  Casting a spell to make both levitate, Loki covers Thor and herself in an illusion of being a giant with a fur wrap.  "The boy would not allow you to come close, after all," Lokie admits, "As neither would I."  The three then take to the air to search for the source of the aberration.

Hawkeye tries to run off with the unconscious Emma Frost, but Hulk flings a fire hydrant right smack into the hero's head. Knocked out, Hawkeye lies helpless and at the Hulk's mercy.  The Hulk, however, walks closer, picks up Hawkeye, and mumbles, "Frieeeend..."  He picks the comatose Hawkeye up and launches away with numerous leaps that cover miles of distance.

Iron Man clicks back his systems mere seconds before becoming street pizza, only to rise and find himself literally between Taskmaster and the Loki clone.  Sensing the danger the child poses, perhaps due to all the magical energies swirling around him, Iron Man dives for Taskmaster to pull him out of the way.  Loki child however strikes back with horrific power:  Iron Man finds himself drowning in his own armor which has somehow filled magically with booze, while Taskmaster finds himself losing the memory of the first time he ever called himself Taskmaster.  That moment, Thor and Loki engage with the child with Thor flinging Mjolnir at the child.  But Loki, overcome with rage at the child's usurpation of her title, grabs the strap and - perhaps due to fate - causes the hammer to spin and repeatedly smash into the child's head over and over again.  With each impact, the child's godlike powers disperse, unleashing energies that begin to undo the damage that has been done to the city.  With one final blow, Loki feels the hammer free itself from her grasp and fly back to the God of Thunder's open hand.

By the time the Avenger's Quinjet arrives, Captain America scolds Iron Man for the mess this whole event has been.  When the Wasp flies to Iron Man to ask about the "other Wasp," Iron Man can only present a shoe filled with pinkish goo.  Wasp shrinks down, flies into the helmet to throw Tony Stark a slap only she can, then flies out to remark he stinks of booze.  Taskmaster finds Emma Frost offering him a job to work for her, unaware that Emma is taking full advantage of the fact the once-highly paid master assassin has no memories of a life of crime.  Doctor Strange receives another visit from the Fates, who thank him for bearing witness to the events.  When asked why it was necessary for him to go, the Fates merely state a time comes close when Earth itself will be locked in a massive battle of cosmic proportions.  And Thor finds himself back among the hallowed halls of Asgard, with Jane simply hoping he would some day come back.

And Hawkeye awakes, gasping for breathing and screaming for Hulk to stop, as he continues to leap them submerge, then leap again across the very ocean.

And as a finale.  In the rubble of where the Mandarin once held his operations, man in armor reaches down and picks up ten colored rings.  "Yes..." says Doom with a smile beneath his metal cowl.

*

Definitely an awesome game.  Had we not been pressed for time, I would have had the players all gather up for a final battle with the Loki child plucking from their memories their greatest defeats.  But alas, I had another engagement to rush to and Tofie was already an hour late as far as going home was concerned.  This game session had players getting a better feel for the system as they began happily spending Karma points to boost their rolls, as well as embrace heroic deeds as a means to get better Karma.

Ramir and Jam had just joined in (although Jam had a taste of gaming under me during The Shotgun Diaries : Heavy Be The Rain) so they were given a crash course on the game system.  With the former Hulk player unable to join us, I had to relegate the Hulk character to a non-player character status.  Ramir wanting to play Taskmaster was an added level of challenge for me to find a way to have villains part of the Avengers storyline.  Not to mention three other players (who were to play Spider-Woman, Captain America and Scarlet Witch respectively) were too busy to join up.  So a lot of on-the-spot rewriting was necessary to make the game have a nice coherent ending.

Thankfully, it all worked out.  The game still had a touch of Avengers action and comedic moments, with Loki clone being a very effective and terrifying villain.  If anything, my biggest failing in mixing all these characters up was Ramir not being able to feel "Taskmaster"-y enough :-(  but he did admit he still had fun, so "yay!"

Soon to come would be a Dungeons and Dragons long term game, but a huge part of me is tempted to use Pathfinder instead.  Gotta admit, Pathfinder really nicely cleans up a lot of the systems.  But when it comes to actual books, I only have the Pathfinder main book, compared to The Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual for Dungeons and Dragons.  (3.0 baby! I never got into 4th Edition, thank the Gods!)  There's always something about running games with the actual books there on the table.  And there's the upcoming Romantic Comedy game too.  Ah, fun how gaming never ends :-)









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