Monday, April 30, 2012

Comet(h) : nWOD

World of Darkness

My fifth game for Indigo Entertainment was supposed to be an ongoing Pathfinder game, but since character creation is taking so freaking long to finish, I was wondering if it would end up being put on hold for a time.  Turns out, it would because I was then asked to run a game DURING office hours (meaning yes I got paid to do it, wheee!) for the four interns who were learning the basics of how to make games.  I was asked to run them a table-top role-playing game in order for them to expand their horizons on what gaming can be and what games can offer its players.  So with four new players who have never ever tried a table-top game in their lives before me, I decided to come up with a quick game that was to blow their minds.

Each player was given a simplified World of Darkness sheet to use.  Being new to table-top games, I wanted them to truly focus on creating a character and to be aware of how important it was to understand what character one wanted to play.  The group came up with the following:

Ric played Eric Hunter, an underdog kind of guy who happened to always have a string of good luck.  He was good at deciding things without thinking, escaping situations and asking for sympathy - traits which I felt really rode on the underdog concept.  He excelled at not getting noticed and really hated one-on-one combat, dealing with heights and thinking too much.

Armond played Croman, a vigilante type of guy who had a telepathic talent.  The concept reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan's movie Unbreakable so much I let it pass.  He was good with explosives, improvising things and creative writing.  I found the creative writing a nice touch since he saw it as a hobby the guy was into outside his concept.  He excelled in lying and had trouble with parties, shopping and had a huge dislike for smoking.

Ryan played Alex Grey, a guy who sadly often gets mistaken to be the bad one.  The concept was just pushing for a story so I approved it.  He was good with intimidation, survival skills and athletics and excelled in stealth.  He hated socializing, expression and being ordered around.

Lastly, David played Antagon Dark, a street smart guy who had a flair for detecting lies, lockpicking and surviving.  He excelled at using the knife in fights and hated having to use computers, deal with math or go dancing.

I began giving them all a touch of life, with some meeting family, others getting hanging out with friends and so forth.  The key event for the start was seeing strange lights in the sky.  An orange glow emerged in the sky and began to descend towards them.  Each reacted to the approach in their own way, but there was no avoiding the incident: the comet fell to towards the ground and slammed into them.  For some, the incident left them feeling strange.  Changed.  For others, the incident simply left them shocked.  And unharmed.

And that's when the stories began to take an interesting twist.

They began to manifest strange powers.  One found himself wreathed in fire, burning down the home of his ex-girlfriend and leading a mass of people to follow him all the way to Central Park where he had hoped to dive into the lake and douse his immolated form.  Another found himself turning all liquified, passing through a car with his sister as a witness.  The third discovered some strange control of metals, controlling them much like Magneto of the X-men.  And the fourth wasn't clear on his abilities, but I always gave hints of the weather patterns shifting with his mood.

As each of them started to grasp with these new manifestations, the second twist entered the story.  A woman of golden light approached each one of them.  In some instances, menacingly, while in others gentle and angelic.  In all, the golden woman tries to kiss them.  In all, she asks them to make a choice:  Accept or Deny the Responsibility.   As some players grapple with the choice before them, the larger story is then unveiled.

The four player characters are in stories set at different times from each other.  And the golden woman's visitation of each one actually represents her slow understanding of how to approach each of them.  The golden comet, as it turns out, is in many ways the planet's own immune system to keep the world running.  Each time it flies, it seeks a new willing vessel to be gifted with powers to help return the world to a stronger, livable state.  However, the power comes with a price: the power is fueled by the person's own life force.  A small sacrifice to save the world.  The four's choices explain the golden woman's difference in approaching each player.  The first reflected her determination and lack of sensitivity, hence her threatening approach.  The second showed a bit more kindness.  The third a grim realization of the fatality of it all.  And in the last, the player embraced the Responsibility and promised to do what he can to make the world better.  It was that moment when the Golden Woman admitted she is tired and longs to rest.  The player leaned towards her to kiss her, and accept her Responsibility as his own.

In the end, there is hope.


For a beginning game, I admit the story was kind of strange.  Fun, but strange.  But I personally would like to think it was still entertaining for the players who were in it.  While combat wasn't a primary focus (perhaps something to let them experience in another game), I would like to believe the players were still having a blast.  The fact they were asking when the next one was is one good sign they did.

Only one player opted to spend Will Power to boost a roll though.  I am starting to think I should come up with a new way to approach Will Power and make it something everyone is encouraged to use freely.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

World of Darkness : Newbie Sheet

When breaking in players who have NEVER played a role-playing game before, it can help greatly to reduce the systems they have to learn to the essentials and have them focus instead on experiencing the act of role-playing.   The mere act of embodying the role of a character, then thinking and talking like the character, can be quite demanding to a new player.  Breaking past shyness and the inherent self-conscious mindset is critical to helping the new player enjoy the experience.

So to facilitate this, I created a simplified version of the World of Darkness sheet for my new players.   Given how I love running World of Darkness games, creating a sheet for this game seemed apt.  I've used this kind of a sheet for many games now, even for games as "out there" as Zombies, Harry Potter or "Disney Princesses."  The sheet reduces the information to focus on the concept of the character, the strengths and the weaknesses.  You'd be surprised how many new players find the idea of thinking of what they are good at, or bad at, daunting.  But personally I've always found this sheet to speed up the process of coming up with what to play, and getting the actual game going.

Hope you find it as useful as I have.
Download the sheet here.

Keep gaming!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Soundtrack Suggestion: Shame - Harry Escott

Shame - Official Soundtrack

Composed by Harry Escott

While the popularity of the movie may stem from Michael Fassbender and his notable... uh.. Rod of Lordly Might, I will have to admit that after hearing the very first track of this soundtrack, I knew I had to get it for the potential role-playing game use it would offer.   For those not familiar with the movie at all, Shame chronicles the events surrounding Brandon (Michael Fassbender) and his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) and touches on sexual themes the only way director Steve McQueen knows best: without any hint of shame at all.  Brandon is struggling with his sexual addiction and the stage is set in New York City.  These elements alone already suggest that the soundtrack would be a fantastic one to use for games that touch on mature themes or are set in New York City.

Boy did I not regret this soundtrack!  Starting with the very striking opening theme, Brandon (01), which makes use of a constant tapping tempo, strings and a repeating signature harmony, the soundtrack does not waste time in lending itself to be used in so many ways.

The classical parts (Goldberg Variations BMV 988: Aria, Goldberg Variations BMV 988, Variation 15, Prelude &Fuge No.16 in G Minor) were a tad odd to have in the soundtrack but upon listening to them fully, one learns they can easily be used as soft background music during social scenes.  You have interesting vocal tracks like Genius of Love (track 03) by the Tom Tom Club, Rapture (track 04) by Blondie, and I Want Your Love (track 05) by Chic which clearly give the vocal tracks a 70-80s vibe to it.  But then a wonderful gem is My Favorite Things (track 06) by John Coltrane which is basically a jazz rendition of the Sound of Music song.  I've already used this track once as a dissonant element in a scene that featured a combat sequence.  Carey Mulligan herself lends her vocal chops in track 07 as she sings a poignant and doeful rendition of New York, New York.

Ultimately, while Brandon (track 01) and unravelling (track 11) sound very similar, the direction their emotional string pull at surprisingly is quite different.  And these two tracks plus the End Credits (track 15) make the soundtrack a worthy investment.

Shame track suggestions
WTF moment:  My Favorite Things (track 06), The Problem (track 13)
Introspective/calm moment:  Brandon (track 01), Goldberg Variations BMV 988(track 02), Genius of Love (track 03), I Want Your Love (track 05),
Tense/mystery moment:  Brandon (track 01), Prelude & Fugue No. 10 In E Minor, BWV 855 (track 09), Goldberg Variations, BWV 988_ Variation 15 A 1 Clav. Canone Alla Quinta. Andante (1981 Version) (track 10),
Combat music:  Unravelling (track 11), You Can't Be Beat (track 12),
Hopeful moment:  Let's Get Lost (track 08),   Unravelling (track 11),  You Can't Be Beat (track 12),
Drama/sad moment:  Rapture (track 04), New York, New York (track 07), Prelude & Fugue No. 16 In G Minor, BWV 885_ Praeludium (track 14), End Credits (track 15)

Best Used In: Games that have a subtle undertone of tension or danger.  Less appropriate for epic battles and extreme violence.  But for an atmosphere of subdued threat of pain and suffering, this one works pretty well.  The vocal tracks can give your games a touch similar to Luc Besson movies (The Fifth Element, Wasabi) if you play them right.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

System Shopped: The River - World of Darkness

The River Flows Everywhere
System Shopped: World of Darkness
by Tobie Abad
April 2012

In the very well-written but sadly not as popular wuxia game Weapons of the Gods (by Brad Elliot and Rebecca Borgstrom), an interesting system was introduced:  The River.  In the game, when you make a roll, you are allowed to keep some of your dice to be used for later rolls.  This system allowed the player to determine when to have much more radical successes at more dramatically appropriate moments which made for a much more dynamic and fun game.  Here's my attempt to adapt the system to work for White Wolf Gaming Studio's World of Darkness.

The River
for the World of Darkness
It was like it was fated to happen.  

The catastrophic accident that took the lives of over fifteen people was a scene that seemed impossible for anyone to survive.  The 18-wheeler truck slammed into the cars like a rolling pin over soft dough and crushed each and every vehicle in an instant.  The fact the wheeler ended its spinning rampage by slamming into the nearby gas station only further established that this was a horrific incident that would force even angels to stare with helpless eyes.

But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Janet Prince rose from the burning debris and defied every sheared thread of destiny that decreed there was only death in this moment.  Janet miraculously survived the crash with the least of expected injuries and still had the mettle to crawl out of the crushed sports car and limp away to safety.

Perhaps she had the love of a deity on her side.
Perhaps, the river flowed in her favor this time.

From Final Destination 2

So how does this system work?
Plain and simple, every player character is meant to be the key member of the cast in a story.  While the World of Darkness is populated with billions of people - many of whom do have their own secrets and mystical traits - player characters are pretty much expected to be the stars of the show.  So it makes sense that they would defy expectations, or survive what seemed to be impossible odds.

But to make that too easy would be a disservice to the World of Darkness setting. After all, the game thrives in the sense of hopelessness and despair that pervades the world.

So here is how it works:
Each Player Character (not Non-player characters or supporting cast) has access to the system called The River.  For every two points of Permanent Willpower, a player character can store a die in her River.

At any point in time, when a character makes an important roll that may affect a major element in the game (examples include combat rolls in battles where the players are not having the advantage, investigation rolls which when failed can truly set the players back in their plans, etc) the player can opt to spend a Willpower point to store any of the successful dice she rolled into her River instead.  Since this expenditure happens AFTER the roll is made, it is possible to spend a Willpower point to gain +3 bonus dice that turn, and a second to store into her River one of the successful dice that was rolled.

Later on, in any future roll the player makes, the player can Flow the River into the roll.  What this means is, later in the game, whether or not the player should have dice to roll in a roll he wants to succeed in, he can move the dice stored in his River as part of the successes achieved in the said roll.

Characters who are of stronger will clearly benefit better from this system, and are able to store more successes in their River for later release.  They can store dice from a single roll, or gather them from numerous rolls (however, each time they Float dice into the River, it costs a Willpower point.)
all it takes in one BAD roll, even with twenty dice!

But since Willpower gives +3 dice, why would I want to waste it to move only (typically)  1-3 successes to a future roll?
Because the River does not care if you did or did not have a dice pool to use in the roll.    This doesn't mean a character with no Knowledge of Medicine can suddenly do brain surgery.  But it does mean the character can Flow the successes from his River to allow his (non-existent) Medicine attempt to keep the injured character alive long enough for help to show up.

The River is meant to encourage the player to think of adding to the drama of the scene.  The Storytellers are encouraged to throw suggestions on how a River enhanced roll actually worked out.  But personally, I think the players themselves will find it fun enough to try on their own.

Doesn't this suddenly make a lot of the threats less threatening?
It depends.  Storytellers who view games as a chance to be the players' rival may feel shafted by this System Shop.  But at the same time, they are more than welcome to have the River apply as well to any key villains or nemesis that exist in the game.

I personally like the idea of giving players some level of freedom in shaping the story to help them survive what seemed to be impossible odds.   While it may feel like a tiny box of Deus ex Machina in the hands of the players, I feel it does encourage the player to think of the story and focus on helping make it feel more dramatic and fun.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Game Idea: Objects of Legend

Game Idea:  Objects of Legend
System: Practically Any
by Tobie Abad
March 2012

You first sensed the world as her scream filled the void of silence.  You felt the tight grip of her fingers around you as she lifted you upwards and plunged you into... him.  His flesh slid open to your touch.  His blood warmly caressed you as you dove deep within the confines of his chest.  His heart kissed you.  And then he died.

You transformed that moment.  What was once a steel edge, your body transformed into obsidian mirror of a hatred that is not your own.  But these emotions swirled within you and became a new stronger passion:  Hunger.

You must have another taste.  Another heart.  You smile.  But fall asleep.

You awoke again after a long time.  A young man held your body tight with his hands.  They were hardened hands, calloused from years of training.  "Vengeance," you heard him say and released as you kissed skin once more that the throat you were cleaving was owned by she who first awoke you.  You feel the rush of air that once contained words that were to beg for mercy, but the words are lost now.  

*The Heart*

Your desire rises out like a passion.  The young man wielding you becomes powerless to resist.  He pulls the blade from her throat and stabs it where you had whispered.   And once again, you smile.

So, we play cursed objects?
Well, yes and no.  You play the role of an object - be it a weapon, an article of clothing, an icon, or a piece of jewelry - which holds incredible powers and eventually will have a legacy to be remembered by.  You play the stories that lead to the legends of Excalibur, The One Ring, or even the Wand of Wonder.  You play the dark forgotten tales of the Hope Diamond, and the unrecorded encounters of a Crystal Skull.  Like the movie Le Violon Rouge (released as The Red Violin), game sessions represent periods when you - the artifact - encounter events and people through out your eventual history.  Events can reflect periods in human history, or if the game is set in a fictional world, periods which mark key events in that fictional world's timeline.

What system do I use to represent my powers?
Ultimately, this is best answered with "What game are you using?"  A Pathfinder game, for example, already has a system for Intelligent Magical Items.  Whereas, the World of Darkness can easily be adapted to give the Artifact appropriate Attribute ratings.  Regardless of the system, consider the following things for a game like this:  

a) Experience Points do not matter
While you can start the game like a normal one where a weak item eventually grows into a legendary one, unless the object you are portraying is one which gains strength as it kills or something similar in its legend, there is no need to scale the item's advancement.  The scaling of power might even best be represented in each story arc.  Consider the One Ring.  As it goes through a story, it has key people it will try to seduce.  As those characters hold on to the ring longer, their capacity to resist the seductions grow weaker.    But even from the very beginning, the One Ring's powers are already strong.

b) Dying is irrelevant
Unless you want that to be the key point of the story, these objects should be "impossible to destroy" as far as the story will go.  Twists of fate, coincidental moments, unexpected twists should allow for the artifact to escape certain doom.  My personal view point is this:  While unrealistic that the object always escapes destruction, the point of the story to make the object a legendary or infamous artifact.  If it was destroyed sooner, it wouldn't BE a legendary or infamous artifact.  This again isn't your usual game where survival is part of the goals.  Keeping intact, however, should always feel like a challenge.  But outright destruction will probably be evaded with a light dose of Deus ex Machina when necessary, unless you deem it is time for the legend to end.

c) The Cast should be compelling
Since it isn't often that the artifact is as chatty as the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter, or Saba from the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, you better make sure each character who the treasures encounter have interesting stories for the player to engage in.  The Spear of Destiny falling into the hands of a soldier is fine.  But if you reveal the soldier deeply desires to merely go home to his wife, then the player, as the spear, might guide the solider to win the war single-handedly in order to be allowed to be brought home.  Or maybe, as the Spear, you fall into the hands of an antique collector who while cleaning you admits he hates his neighbors.. and you realize he isn't the best person to keep you, so you may want to influence him to succeed at something less... moral.

Keep the cast interesting and the players will feel challenged to bring the story forward.  Explore moral grounds, human virtues and remind them they are playing an object, not a person.  What counts as good and evil may radically be different (and possibly even more fun to explore!)

d) Map out a framework of the legend
If the object is an existing/prewritten legendary object, then you can quickly make a check list of key events and abilities it was rumored/believed to have.  These become a quick and easy blueprint of events and experiences to explore in the game.

If it will be a new object of legend, or one you and your players are cooking up to have a story (say, exploring the legendary adventures of the one and only Intelligent and Telepathic Portable Hole) then I recommend this:  Ask all your players to list down ten key events/encounters they think would be fun to explore.  Examples may include "a massive war" or "vengeance" or stuff as strange as "falling in love with an owner" or even "having a child" and mix all these in a bowl.  Then, have each player draw seven, and from these seven build the framework of the object of legend.  

Keep in mind the framework is mutable, at least when it comes to the chronological sequence the events transpire.  Don't use the framework to limit the fun.  Instead, use it as a nice guide to foreshadow certain events, to play with oracles and fated moments, and to give the players more freedom in approaching scenes.  You want them to have lots of ideas, not lots of problems.  You want them to have fun.

Once the Legend is Established, you've already got the best twist to throw in the next game!
Try being an Object of Legend in your next game.  Better even, ask your whole group to all try playing an Object of Legend.  Then when that chronicle is over... let your players play a different game as normal.. but then have the said objects (the very objects whose secret histories, vile machinations, selfish goals, and altruistic moments are known to them so dearly) appear.

Have fun!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Avengers : Ultimate Gambit - Part 2

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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