Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dark Knight on a Dark Night : DC Heroes

Dark Knight on a Dark Night
DC Heroes

Gene had been wanting to get a taste of how a table top role-playing game goes, and I decided to throw him a quick one-hour solo game.  Given he's a comic fan (Marvel, but somehow like me owns more DC Titles), I asked him to name any super hero he wanted to try playing.  His answer was simple:  Nightwing.  But just as I showed him Nightwing's write-up in the DC Heroes main book, he corrected me and explained, "I want to play Nightwing when he had to be Batman in Bruce's absence."

And very quickly the gears in my head were turning.

First, I drew out the Batman character sheet I created for the previous Justice League game I ran for Rocky, Mahar and Urim.  Handing this to Gene, I told him, "While Nightwing may have been a different Batman than Bruce, given this is a solo game, I don't mind seeing you use the stats of Bruce Wayne over Nightwing.  There won't be anyone to compare them to.    You okay with that?"  Gene said he was, and that meant all I needed to do now was throw in a story.  Given Gene has never played a table top game before, I knew I had to ease him in slowly.  So I started with having him roaming the streets and encountering some thugs.  I didn't even reflect it as part of the game proper, but just let him get a hold of the dice rolling system, and how spending Hero Points can affect the game.

And once he got the hang of it, I clicked on the soundtrack to Batman Begins, and started the actual game.  It was the third night since the whole of Gotham City was enveloped in darkness.  Somehow, the whole city was suffering from a massive power outage, and while the Gotham Police Department worked their asses of to keep the city safe and under control, the eventual break out of Arkham Asylum was expected.  Batman contacted Oracle to find out which inmates were believed to have escaped.  Oracle admits they were still confirming given most were taking down any attempting to escape.  A few minutes would be needed before she could report a final answer.  Ahead, a building's penthouse area was enveloped in a blue glow.  Batman perched on the rooftop of the building across from it to survey what was going on.

It was Mister Freeze.  And he had a woman with him.  The woman was addressed repeatedly by Mister Freeze as his wife, Nora.  But the woman repeatedly denied being her.  Batman checked with Oracle and learned that supposedly only Scarecrow was the villain unaccounted for in Arkham.  Unconvinced, Dick insisted that Oracle double check, and upon learning that the Huntress was in Arkham, demanded that she check on Mister Freeze's cell herself.  When Dick saw Mister Freeze aim his Freeze ray gun at the woman, he knew it was time to act.  Without warning, beside him was Batgirl.  She motioned to him mutely whether he needed help.  And when Dick motioned no, she gave him a look which suggested she knew it wasn't Bruce beneath the cowl.  She leapt off the rooftop without a word.   Quickly throwing a Batarang, Batman forced Freeze to miss his shot, and during the shock of surprise, swung into the room to rescue the woman.

She was smiling.  That small fact made Dick worry.  In all the times he had come to aid a hostage, never would he find the hostage calmly smiling as he made his approach.  Most would be in tears or in a panic.  This one, however, was smiling.  Changing his mind, Batman slid past the hostage and landed on the rafters.  There, he prepared to convince Freeze to surrender.  But Freeze acted faster and another freeze blast was unleashed.  The cold hit Batman and forced him down to the ground, with parts of his arm covered in ice.  Gritting his teeth against the pain, Dick dropped a few smoke pellets to provide some cover.  With the rising smoke, Dick charged forward and hoped to tackle Mister Freeze, but his armored form was too heavy to bring down.   An ice-cold fist slammed into Dick's face but thankfully, he was able to take it and remain standing.   Using two batarangs, Dick slashed at the tubes that fueled Mister Freeze's cold, and while the man struggled to fix the torn tubing, swung to the hostage to bring her to the rafters with him.  Once again, her smiling face was all he could see.  And Dick knew there was more to this woman than he thought.  Oracle called again and in a small video feed, Dick could see the Huntress in the cell of Mister Freeze.  The man was indeed still in Arkham, raising questions as to who Dick was currently fighting against.  But ice blasted all around them both and Dick turned to see an ice prison had been created to trap them both. Quickly feeling for the small device in his belt, Dick drew out the laser cutter and sliced the bars away.  Without wasting further time, Dick grabbed the woman and this time swung to leave the penthouse and land at the next door rooftop.

The girl finally confessed the truth.  She had hoped to find a way to draw Batman to her.  She had been told that in this era, the Batman was dead.   Dick felt the sting of the truth.  When confronted to explain herself, the woman finally identified herself as Madeliene Grayson, a Bat of the year 4025.  Her clothing folded away like origami until her Batsuit became visible.  A stray blast of cold flew past them both, and Batman turned to see Cassandra Cain (the Batgirl) engaging with Mister Freeze.  She threw him a look that said, "I knew you needed help" but when her kick then decapitates Mister Freeze and reveals his robotic parts, she turns to Batman with an, "Oops" in her expression.

Madeliene explains.  She was fighting against a Count Chronos who boasted that she was holding a non-existent Legacy.  Count Chronos claimed that in this era, Batman had died facing a god.  And he had even used a gun.  Madeliene tells Dick how happy she is to know that Count Chronos was wrong.  That the Bat Legacy truly is based on the real one.  And that Batman is still alive and well.  Dick decides not to tell her the truth, that Bruce Wayne is dead, and that he has taken up the mantle.  She also tells him that in her time, Batman Incorporated is a massive group that operates to protect various planetary systems.  She tells him how each planet now has a Batman watching over it.  And how her Legacy is traced back to an ancestor who was part of the original Batman team.  Dick tries to stay calm and not reveal his thoughts that she might actually be related to him.  She activates her suit and Dick watches as black lines dance on her skin, forcing a Bat cowl with neon lines as ears, and a bat symbol on her chest.  She tells him she is happy to know Batman is alive and has to head back to her time before the Warp Tunnel closes.  Oracle then contacts Dick, telling him she has finally traced the energy loss that has caused the black out.  The location turns out to be where Dick currently is.  Dick finds himself wishing Bruce Wayne was here.  He'd know what was going on.

But Dick decides to help the woman.  Offering a batarang as a souvenir, Dick asks what else he can do to help.  She disarms her Batsuit and reveals that her legs are useless.  "The suit helps me walk.  I guess this is an inheritance from my great great grandmother or something," Madeliene muses and asks Batman to carry her into the Warp Tunnel.  Dick places her gently inside and decides not to say anything further.  As Madeliene vanishes into the light, power gets restored in Gotham City.  Dick finds Cassandra Cain once again beside him (almost making him yelp in shock) and she mimes, asking if he and the woman were related.  Dick chooses not to answer and instead asks Oracle if there has been any sighting on Scarecrow.  Learning the villain is at the docks, Dick once again assumes the role of Batman and swings out into the night, trying not to think about what might happen if he never ends up with Oracle.


The game was a quickie story, but I admit I felt it had a nice touch of an ending.  Gene definitely had fun, and although I must admit I was hoping he'd realize that the idea was Dick ends up with someone else, since Oracle's handicap was not genetic in nature.  But I guess ultimately he had fun and learned the system, which means come the time we ever run another game, he's ready.


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