Wednesday, October 31, 2012
TWO EIGHT EIGHT
Big Eyes, Small Mouth
Urim showed up today for a game and while we originally had two other players in mind to join us, we were unable to contact them early enough to finalize plans properly. So in the end, it was going to be a solo romp which quite frankly meant a chance to explore games we don't normally try. At first, we were throwing around the idea of playing either Dr. Who or maybe even Shadowrun, but ultimately I wanted something he could easily learn and not spend hours grasping the system before we actually started gaming.
That's when I found my copy of Big Eyes, Small Mouth. And I realized this was my chance to run a Ghilbi-esque kind of game. Admittedly, this was going to be a darker game though... so less Ghibli and more.. uh.. Yukito Kishiro. (Yes, Battle Angel Alita was a huge influence for this story.)
I had Urim come up with his concept, with only the following as the guidelines: The game will be set in a future-modern setting. There will be bioroids. You can have powers. And he came up with this quick concept:
Combat Value: 7
Energy Points: 65
Special Attack (Electricity) 3
Special Requirement (Food) 2 - Needs to eat after using his powers.
The game began with Alexander Lee going through a 30 foot mound of old robot and bioroid parts. It was the 8th Millennium and mankind had lived long enough that most concepts of Nationalism and Race had been lost. Instead, man lived in thousands of Arcologies that protected them from the frightening world outside the walls. Massive Corporations handled each Arcology, and kept it functional and orderly. Robots and Bioroids were created to serve man and handle anything they deemed too dangerous or difficult. But what man did not succeed in doing, so far, is stopping their own creations from gaining some level of self-awareness.
As Alexander Lee was digging and looking for something of value when he chances upon a still functional Bioroid unit. With one eye jade and the other, silver, Alexander realizes the bioroid is not only beautiful, but still intact. As he tries to lift her up from the wreckage, she parries his hands and echoes his words. Alexander tries to explain he is helping and in exchange, she mutters to him, "288." Puzzled, Alexander tries to lift her again, but still she blocks his hands. It is only when the Disposal Chute above the mound begins to activate (signalling another batch of dump heading down) does the bioroid fail to parry Alexander's grab. "Alex," the bioroid mutters as Alexander uses his Special Attack to kick at the mound with an explosive release of Electricity, launching them away from the falling debris.
As they fall, Alexander realizes he's unable to slow their descent. It is then, "Alex" wraps her legs around his waist, then uses her hands to gather the wind into a cushion that stops their fall. She points to his forehead and tells him he is bleeding. Exhausted from whatever ordeal she had endured, Alexander carries her with him and takes her to his fellow bounty hunter and friend, Katsumi.
Katsumi is an independent woman with a thing for tech. She helps find jobs for Alexander to do, and has her bioroid pet Schnauzer named Corolianus. Corolianus quickly displays some attitude towards Alex, seemingly not liking her presence in the room. Katsumi warily tries to offer Alex something to eat, and when Alexander reminds her that Alex is a bioroid, Katsumi explains Bioroids have organic parts. They might not have been born, but they were designed to heal and repair themselves by eating food. Katsumi notices Alexander gorging himself on her sandwiches again, and she reminds him he will have to pay her back for the 77 sandwiches he's eaten so far. He promises she can remove it from his share of the cut, once the job is done. "There is a job, right?"
Katsumi seems hesitant to explain it, and it is only after Corolianus escorts Alex to the bed room next door does Katsumi tell Alexander what she has found: There's a bounty for a X-DF Defender bioroid that had gone AWOL. When Alexander asks if its a "288," Katsumi grows quiet, and simply explains, "These A1 units are top of the line. She's dangerous. But she's worth a lot." An explosion rocks the house and the two rush to the room to find Corolianus alone. Alex had ripped the wall in twain and left!
Elswehere, a man surveys the mound of robot parts and makes a call. He tells the person he called that he's already on the case and he expects to deliver the hunted within the day. His face is painted to look like two faces. A cape covers his back. "There are few of my caliber, and fewer still better than me. You have the Janusary on the trail and I expect to be paid handsomely." The bounty hunter ends the call, then leaps down the Disposal Chute, following the tell-tale trail left behind by the A1 unit.
As Alex leaps from house to house, hoping to escape the two whom she had overheard had plans of selling her back to the Corporation, Alexander surprises her by revealing he is already a number of steps ahead of her. Blocking her way, Alex unleashes another torrent of air to fling Alexander back. But Alexander retaliates with timed surges of Elecrity, and the two seemingly dance around each other, never truly striking, and slowly smiling at each other's motions. Alex begins to laugh, clearly enjoying their exchange, and once more mutters, "288." But before Alexander can ask what that means, a red dot flashes on Alex's face. Alexander watches helplessly as the shot flings Alex a number of yards away. The Janusary stands from two rooftops away, and quickly makes new adjustments to his keyboard rifle.
Infuriated, Alexander grabs hold of the nearest power cable, absorbs more energy, then launches himself forward with the intent to fling Electricity strikes at the Bounty Hunter. But the Bounty Hunter is frighteningly resourceful, and with a single shot disables the energy flow, plunging the whole area into darkness. Alexander tries to reason with the bounty hunter, but the bounty hunter merely reminds him, "You are not my target. You are merely in the way," and disbales Alex with another painful shot. Struggling against the darkness, Alexander nearly loses against the Bounty Hunter, who clearly is better trained in this than he is. But Alex stands up that moment, having briefly ignored her wounds, and with a shriek, causes the winds to slam everything within thirty feet into the Bounty Hunter.
Bleeding profusely, Alex drops to the ground. Alexander leaps to her side and tries to help her up. The two hurry back to Katsumi's place.
Katsumi stares at Alexander worriedly as he carries Alex inside. Alex has lost a lot of blood and Alexander heads straight to the cabinets to pull out old Bioroid battery packs and the like. But Katsumi calmly tells him to get instead towels, a bowl of warm water, and something for her to eat. She reminds him Alex is an A1 unit and does not use those old battery packs anymore. While prepping the hot water, Alexander over hears Katsumi admitting to Alex that, "You're lucky you doesn't need those old battery packs anymore. My model still does. But what matters is that you're free now."
The bounty hunter survives. Crawling out of the wreck, he calls the Corporation and tells them he's willing to lose bounty equal to three blocks worth of property damage. He just insists on having the freedom to hunt the bioroids down. The Corporation agrees to delay the Peace Keepers. Janusary smiles, and picks up where he left off.
Pretending not to have overheard anything, Alexander returns with the things and helps Katsumi treat the wounded Alex. Admitting all they can do is let her rest, Corolianus is tasked to watch over the resting Alex while the two retired back into the room to talk. Katsumi sews Alexander's wounded temple shut while they talk. Alexander confesses to having overheard Katsumi, and asks Katsumi to confess the truth. He even stresses that he's noticed she never eats. All the sandwiches she makes are really for him to eat. Katsumi finally admits that yes, she is a bioroid. A c7 model, which still uses battery packs. But she is good at what she is made for and she insists that Alexander help Alex stay free. When Alexander prods and asks what 288 stands for, Katsumi admits it is the code serial of a bioroid. Alex is A1-X Defender with code 289. A1 units are Elemental units. They have powerful attack and defenses systems, usually inspired by the Elemental Spirits. She probably escaped with another bioroid and is looking for him. Before Katsumi could say more, however, a red dot shines on her forehead and her head explodes.
Alexander realizes stupidly that the bounty hunter must have followed them back! He launches a few Electricity strikes, but the bounty hunter easily evades them. With a well-trained eye, Janusary fires at Alexander and Alexander feels the bullet tear away at his temple, undoing the stitching that Katsumi had just finished. Enraged the anger within him erupts as a swirling vortex of electricity. He notices the power generator near Janusary, and uses it to trap the bounty hunter in a whirlpool of Electric arcs. The Bounty Hunter tries to blast his way free by shooting at the floor at his feet, but the keyboard rifle jams that moment! The Bounty Hunter grimaces even as his armor takes most of the assault. The hunter shoots at Alexander again, but this time misses. Alexander sees his own face reflected in Janusary's keyboard rifle and sees the truth Katsumi never admitted: His face beneath the skin is a bioroid. He realizes the Hunter needs only one shot to bring him down, and so with a surge of power, causes the ground beneath the Hunter to collapse. Janusary vanishes into the hole.
Taking Alex and Corolianus into his arms, Alexander carries them away and leaps towards the far wall of the Arcology. Not certain where to go, the least he could do is distance himself from the hunter.
But the hunter survives. Climbing out of the pit, he finds the Corporation's Peace Keepers descending around him. Telling them he's still on the job, the Peace Keepers warn him he has one last chance. They pick him up and following his directions, chase after the bioroids.
Alexander worries on how to save Alex and Corolianus given his lowered reserves. Corolianus presses his mouth against Alexander's wound and reinstalls the chip that Katsumi had him remove many months back. Alexander regains his memories of his escape from the Corporation with Alex, of their being pinned at a corridor by Peace Keepers from both ends, of her shattering the window for them to leap for freedom. Of the Peace Keepers' shots forcing them to let go, and they fell their separate ways. Alexander recalls Katsumi finding him, promising to fix him, then removing something on his temple that caused the memory to end. "Now you can understand me," Corolianus explains, "Since you are aware of your true nature as well."
"We cannot stop," Alex weakly admits, "They will not stop. They will keep hunting us."
"Then we fight," Alexander growls, ready for battle. But Corolianus explains, "We were safe because Katsumi could hide us. She was an earlier Defender model. She could conceal us before from their scans. Now we cannot hide."
"We shall not fight," Alex sighed, "We were created to be their weapons. Their warriors. To fight is to let them win."
"But we can't just give up," Alexander hissed, "What do you suggest we do?"
"Why were we created again?" Alex stares at the distance. "To fight," Alexander answers, but Corolianus corrects him, "To do what man was afraid to do. What man deemed too dangerous to do."
"Then we run," Alex continued, "Past the wall. Past where they deem it safe. We run and we be free. We run to where they will never follow."
Alexander nodded. Corolianus nodded. It was settled.
"We will fly."
Their escape, alas did not succeed completely. As Alex poured every single fiber of her being into propelling them towards the wall, Janusary's Combat Mastery would still launch that fated bullet that would strike Alexander and separate him once again from Alex. With his final burst of strength, however, Alexander unleashed all the energy he could muster, to push Alex and Corolianus over the wall.
Janusary felt victory was his as he towered over Alexander and muttered, "You're 288. Looks like I do still get my bounty." But such is the short-sightedness of man. Nearly 500 years later, after all that time spent by Alex and Corolianus gathering other bioroids who become self-aware, the bioroids tore down the Arcology walls and destroyed the Corporations of Man. They forced man to abandon their technology and embrace the world outside that so terrorized them. It was not a poisonous ruin, or a maisma of fire that awaited them. It was a world that had reclaimed itself from man's hands.
And so, in the many many years that were to follow, mankind once more learned the practice of herding. Of planting. Of harvesting. And in the Arcologies, the Bioroids remembered a lone A1 unit whose final actions gave birth to the start of the new era. Occasionally, Alex revists the spot, and thanks Alexander for keeping his promise.
They were free.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
The Riddle of Blood
Houses of the Blooded
The second session began after an hour from the first game. The players spent the hour mapping out their Season Actions (we decided to have the first Season start since they were all eager to try it out) and deciding how to manage their resources to at least have some kind of gift to bring in the party. The final gift set was as follows:
Armand Steele, Blooded of the Elk (Fici) struggled with his domain with so much Trouble brewing up that it ate his Season Actions. In the end, he ends up just bringing a Season worth of Stone as a gift. His father, a fellow Baron, suggests to him that he use this moment as an opportunity to remind the Duchess there is a reason everyone hosts their parties in Winter.
Talia Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent (Arj), opted to have his Craftsman create a wonderful perfume using the Spices that had been gathered from the previous Season. Talia had also had some cosmetics produced which she chose to wear to the party (+1 Style).
Kithranus Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox (Matt), had his village produce a wonderful sash to adorn his clothes. The sash caught the light and gave a nice contrast to his red ensemble. (+1 Style)
Quan Wei Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox (Princess) could not prepare any gift. Her Season Actions too were consumed by Trouble, while others were spent developing her Vassals into something better. She had a beautiful shawl made however to wear to the party. (+1 Style)
Gaius Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent, (Rocky) focused his production on a majestic cloak to weak (+2 Style) and had his Metal used to create an intricate metal Chest as a present.
The game opens with the characters already present at Castle Grindle for the party. The scene opens with Armand Steele being heckled by Issa Adrente and a few other young Ven ladies. Quickly turning the tables around, Armand questions their being in-the-know on events and then reminds them how he is Always Right on things. This captures Issa's admiration, which he then clumsily uses to attempt the start of a Romance. Just when he is about to seemingly turn her into the Predator, however, a new face enters the scene. Handsome Beyond Expectations with Perfected Timing in his words, a dashing Wolf throws Armand an apple from across the garden and asks, "Why force yourself to entertain and taste such a typical dish? There are some things far better to try tasting." The Wolf then walks away, and Armand realizes very quickly he has become the Predator to this newcomer.
Cavilo Adrente, Blooded of the Wolf
Duke of Kairos
Three Things You Know About Him
1) He is Handsome Beyond Expectations
2) He has Perfect Timing
3) He is of a position high enough to serve as a member of the Jury
Other facts that have been uncovered:
1) He is married
2) His wife is aware he spends time with "men"
Elsewhere in the party, Kithranus Yvarai is still bothered by events that occurred prior to the party. He had awoken one night to find his daughter Yvonne in his bed chamber. The young child had been kissing his nape and back in a manner that seemed... too intimate. He tried to shake off the events. At the party, he finds himself once more debating with Gauis Mwrr on their concerns of sealing a business dealing. Kithranus gains the upper hand in the conversation however, being more skillful in matters dealing with Beauty, and successfully suggests to Gaius that the dealing best be settled later on. His careful selection of words even bring Gaius to reconsider the direction and attitude his dealing should take ("A short term loss is acceptable to gain a long term Contact.") Opting to have a contingency ready, Kithranus receives Gaius' handshake, allowing him to set in motion the Befuddling Kiss. Thankfully, Kithranus approached the dealings tactfully, for Gaius had Wisdom's Clarity in effect and would have sensed any lies on the other's lips.
Talia Mwrr finds herself engaged with a young Wolf. The two share a simple dance as they discuss matters of marriage and thoughts on the Bronze Inquisitor. Talia notices the young Wolf's Bloodsword and inquires if it is a heirloom. Drawn to her penchant of gaining friends easily, the wolf admits to having a goal in mind: He plans to deliver vengeance it seems, but fails to clearly state towards whom. Talia convinces him to join her at the upper levels to watch the party better, anticipating the swordsman might prove useful if trouble begins. Her Strange Intuition could sense it already brewing.
Jaime Adrente, Blooded of the Wolf
Baron of Castle Fiole
Three Things You Know About Him
1) He owns a Blood Sword
2) He may have a vendetta against someone in the party
3) He handed Talia Mwrr an Artifact Ring.
Quan Wei Yvaria and her husband opt to give the shawl instead as their gift, not wanting to seemingly have no presents in the party. They have some laughs as they watch the party unfold, with Yao Lin admitting he feels some envy that another Veth is clearly gaining the chance to be Blooded today. The two notice a scene unfolding in the dance floor however. While Scarlet was speaking with the Duchess, Kithranus Yvarai could not help himself and began dancing with people all over the dance floor. Among the many women he had pulled up to dance with, one particular woman kept trying to return to his side and be the focus of his dance. But Kithranus kept dodging her and moving away. What perhaps seemed to be fun flirtations melted into a serious tone when the woman suddenly flung away her scabbard, and held her drawn sword towards Kithranus' direction. "I call for Jury!" the woman declared, "I am Insulted and wish to have permission."
Ti'Ann Burghe, Blooded of the Elk
Duchess of Grindle
Three Things You Know About Her
1) She sniffs out Sorcery
2) Her Words are Weapons
3) Control. Always in Control.
Mara Burghe, Blooded of the Elk
Baroness of Grindledown
Three Things You Know About Her
1) Her husband was taken from her by the Scarlet Baronness
2) She owns an Artifact Sword
3) She is estranged from her mother
While most Ven would have raised such concerns to their liege, others could quickly see why this woman would have such gall to make a proclamation as that. The players (with wisdom wagers) quickly defined the scene. Many recognized her to be the daughter of the Duchess Ti'Ann herself, Mara Burghe. Mara had once been married to a man, but another woman had stolen that man for her. The woman whom had earned Mara's hatred was none other than the Scarlet Baronness herself. It was clear that Mara Burghe's claims to having been insulted by Kithranus' supposed Romantic Interludes was merely a feint. It was instead, in truth, an attempt to hurt the one the Scarlet Baroness loved - just like her own love was taken from her before. The Duchess called for a Jury to form, and thankfully, Tavlim Steele, Blooded of the Elk, Baron of Shavri'for was present, and after consulting another book in his possession, reminded the Duchess that she was not allowed to be a Juror in this event. Quan Wei Yvarai stood up and nominated herself to stand as proxy in her parent's absence (once was a Marquis), another spoke up from the crowd and agreed to be a Juror. Needing one last one, Armand Steele was surprised to hear the Wolf he was following speak up and offer himself as a Juror.
With much anger in her voice, Mara began to speak of the Insult she felt from Kithranus' actions. Kithranus interrupted her, speaking quickly in his defense of how she was wrong to be insulted, and how this hearing was unnecessary given the stupidity of the accusations. The Duchess interrupted Kithranus then, asking him to clarify if he believes the Jury to be incompetent and unable to make such decisions on their own? Kithranus attempts to clarify, stating there was no real wrong done here. But the Wolf beside Armand Steele concurs with the Duchess, reminding the young Baron to allow the Jury to determine such things as its their right, unless the Baron believes the Jury, who represents the Senate, is unable to have such Wisdom in things.
From above, Talia however begins to notice something awry. The Duchess, who has been infamously known to be a stickler when it comes to discipline and order, was ignoring the other ven who were coughing or whispering among themselves during the hearing. Her eyes then catch the slightest motions from Mara Burghe's fingers, that correspond with the Duchess' movements. She realizes what is happening: Mara Burghe was using Sorcery to control her own mother's actions. And the Duchess was now moving fully under Mara Burghe's control. The swordsman turned to Talia and asked her for a promise. He handed her an interesting ring (the ring was of three interlaced pieces that could freely move around) and told her, "If you ever hope to see me again, please wear this." When asked what he was planning to do, he drew his Blood sword and told her, "Make a difference."
The debate below exploded into a fight. Mara Burghe swung her sword at Kithranus, with the Duchess Ti'Ann mimicking the very strike! With lines drawn, the ven were very quickly forced to decide where they stood in this moment of Mass Murder. Some, like Gauis Mwrr's group, withdrew and pulled out of the battle field, not wanting to be party to the event. Others, like Armand Steele, embraced the opportunity to settle old scores, and joined the fray.
The Tower and The Magician
Quan Wei Yvarai found herself being attacked by ven who were favoring Mara Burghe's side. Her Personal Guard, the Jin, fought bravely and kept her well protected. But many of their spears were splintered with a mere swipe from Mara Burghe's sword. While it was no Bloodsword, it was clearly an Artifact blade!
Kithranus quickly had both his Personal Guard, the Blood Guard, his Spy Network, The Crimson Fog, and his Valet of cross-dressed women, the Order of the Rose join the battle. While each strike and thrust was met in kind, deaths were avoided until a killing blow was about to be delivered to the Scarlet Baroness. The Order of the Rose sacrificed itself to prevent the act of murder.
Armand Steele and his entourage challenged the Bronze Inquistor head on, and while the two factions seemed well matched, Armand successfully plunges the Ruby Edge, his artifact stilleto known for being impossibly Sharp, into her face. The Inquisitor nearly fatally wounds Armand's new Wolf however just before she finally falls down dead.
And when the chaos clears, Kithranus delivers a killing blow onto Mara Burghe, and the woman drops to the ground on the throes of death. Her lips move to give one final death speech, but something interrupts her and forces the words to hold in her mouth. She dies in silence.
With the chaos ended, the young Barons and Baronesses soon find the arrival of the Vashna and share their knowledge of the events. Many are perturbed by the fact the Bronze Inquisitor's legacy has been soiled in this manner. Others ponder on what this may mean in the future. Some whisper that the Burghe's might seek vrentae for the death of such an iconic Noble, especially if her death was while she was being manipulated against her will.
Gauis Mwrr and his husband Vance return home with their very many presents. As it turns out, all presents given that day were intended for the two of them. With the Blooding delayed, Vance is told he has a few Seasons to consider what House he will accept the invitation to. To Gauis' shock, however, Vance admits he would rather remain Veth.
Kithranus spends many nights leaving his Castle at night, still bothered by the other revelation that Scarlet admits to him. Her affair with the late Mara Burghe's husband was not without a final sting: their daughter Yvonne, is actually not his. Kithranus eventually loses himself in some Ruin and finds a mirrored hallway that shows a reflection of an older version of himself. The reflection draws out a Blood Sword and offers it to him, telling him, "Blood opens all doors." He wounds himself and but finds it does not work. The reflection whispers, "The blood of someone who loves you." He wakes with a cold sweat back in his chambers. Scarlet sleeping. Yvonne watching from the door.
Quan Wei Yvarai and her husband quietly settle in for the night. Quan remembers that Armand Steele failed to deliver the Healing Salve he had promised. Among the ven, after all, promises are never broken without repercussions.
Armand Steele finds the Wolf inviting him to join him in bed, and is lead to a carriage that contains nothing but a chamber to make love inside of. Agreeing, he is surprised the Wolf does not join him in the carriage for the first thirty minutes of the ride. Opting to wait, Armand soon hears the Wolf's voice as he explains, "I'll be back shortly" and a woman responds, "Very well, my love. Enjoy your young man. I shall be here when you are done." Armand realizes he is but a pleasure thing to this married couple. "He is a good find," the Wolf replies, "I think you too will enjoy him." One that the Wolf intends to share with his wife.
And lastly, Talia Mwrr toys with the ring while in her Castle. The swordsman had just vanished after leaping into the fray. There was no sign of him during the battle. No sigh of him among the corpses. At one point, the ring seemingly interlocks when twisted at a certain way, and like a Chinese-finger trap metal parts swivel to wrap around her finger into a tube. A click-click-click sound then strikes before utter pain! Talia stares at her four-fingered hand and watches as the ring clatters to the floor, continues to click into place as it seemingly expands into the size of a metal drum, then opens to eject out the naked, bloody, swordsman in her chamber. Guards bang at the door, asking if she is well. Talia merely tells them to bring her a warm basin, clean cloth, and some healing salves. She returns to the man who mutters, "You sacrificed your finger for me... I think I am in love." Talia raises an eyebrow, uncertain what she had just gotten into.
The second episode had more twist and turns than expected. But this was because the players were getting a better grasp on how to use their wagers. Just like the first session, this game still had Tarot Cards added to the mix which affected the game when unleashed. Here, with the coming of the Devil and the Tower, the twist of the Duchess being enslaved and the eventual destruction of her house hold was imminent. What the players failed to consider, however, is the repercussions of letting the Duchess die/killing the Duchess when her actions during the party were evidently the result of being used as a Puppet. The other card, the Magician, introduced the mystery Swordsman whom Talia had met. As to what his motivations are, and exactly what he did in that Mass Murder are details to be revealed in time.
I feel sad that the Duchess Ti'Ann Burghe had to die. I kinda liked how she was approached in the game. But this is Houses of the Blooded, and a Narrator can't have any favorites in a game like this.
Armand Steele's Romance with the Wolf is an interesting one since the player clearly knows he's not in the upper hand, but does not want to just give up on the Rank 6 Romance he has with him. I wonder if he'll try to eliminate the Wife from the situation, or just break free. I sense someone becoming Padana soon!
Add to that how John Wick has shared the link to this blog on his Facebook wall, I now have players who feel "pressured" to play better. HHehehe! I just told them to have fun and know people will have fun seeing we're having fun. :-)
So yeah, up next... Puzzle Houses. Specters.
Doom. Sorcery. Orks.
Doom. Sorcery. Orks.
And more Doom.
I frigging love this game!
Monday, October 29, 2012
The Riddle of Blood
"The Bronze Inquisitor"
Houses of the Blooded
After the one shot Houses of the Blooded game I ran for Arj and some friends, I was surprised to find a Facebook event set to have another game come the weekend. Looks like the gang definitely enjoyed the game John Wick had written, and I definitely had no complaints about running another one. This time, however, the plan was to have a longer ongoing chronicle. Which meant being more true to the systems the game provided, including the wonderful world of Season Actions.
The cast of characters were as follows:
Fici is Armand Steele, Blooded of the Elk, whose Cunning and Prowess outshone his lack of Wisdom. Known to be a Chance Talker who is Always Right, the Baron lived in the Dusk Citadel and was an only child.
Arj is Talia Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent, whose Cunning truly outshone her lack of Strength. Known to have Strange Intuition and to be an Intriguing Beauty, Talia had a penchant of making Fast Friends with others and getting them to talk. She resides in the Tower Azure and had hopes of finding a husband soon.
Matt is Kithranus Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox, whose Cunning and Beauty made up for his pitiful Strength. Quite the Life of the Party, few are aware of his Night Stalker tendencies when he seeks out justice. For him, Everything is Useful. Keeper of the Red Throne, his female entourage of vassals is quite noticed by many. Some do ponder on whether it is really he or his wife, the Scarlet Baroness, who is in charge.
Princess is Quan Wei Yvarai, Blooded of the Fox, whose Beauty and Prowess stands above her embarrassing Cunning. She is an Athlete and is quite famous for being Kind-Hearted, which is a rare trait among the Ven. Based in Wushu Castle with her Cunning husband, Yao Lin, the Princess hopes to someday have her husband receive the Blooding ritual.
Rocky is Gaius Mwrr, Blooded of the Serpent, whose Cunning and Wisdom tries to make up for his lack of Courage. He is Silver Tongued and is said to Pull the Strings of others quite well. Based in Archos Castle with his husband Vance, they too hope to gain the Blooded ritual. Vance however is notably Well Known for a Veth, and is even seen as a Court Gossip.
Pressed to help his husband, but too scared to approach, Gauis used his hidden Artifact, Phobos, to distract the Ork. Struct by its powers, the Ork began to flee the gathering. Mistaking Vance's fiery chair as the source of the Ork's fear, Kithranus calls out for the guards of Duke Vangalio's castle to attack the beast with torches. The Ork's attempts to flee further entangle it in the party's decor, and force it to the ground where it seemingly cocoons itself.
Quan Wei Yvarai's husband, Yao Lin, is injured by the Ork, which brings her to request for a healing salve from the Duke's Apothecary. On her way back to her husband, however, a thrown glass nearly hits her. The glass happens to have been thrown by Talia Mwrr who was eager to hear more about this Veth who had saved them. With Armand Steele realizing the Bronze Inquisitor was the last person he should have shown off his familiar to, the Elk quickly joined Talia Mwrr and the two approached the center area. There, Vance found himself being congratulated by the Duke Vangalio for having such Courage. Kithranus and his wife, hoping to further cement their growing ties with other ven, and their place in Vangalio's favor, approach as well to vocally share their own congratulations - but are intercepted by Gauis Mwrr who reminds them of a recent deal which did not go quite equally on both sides. Their discussions eventually lead to them joining the Duke, where Kithranus even suggests that Vance be given the Blooding, and that for him to become one of the Ven was a define display of gratitude. In truth, the offer was to balance the scales since Kithranus had made a previous dealing with Gauis Mwrr, and in that dealing, Gauis was clearly at a loss and was to eventually want balance returned.
Quan Wei Yvarai demanded that Talia Mwrr and Armand Steele behave themselves, and Armand throws in a promise to deliver Quan Wei Yvarai a healing salve for her husband in a few weeks time. Gauis Mwrr and Vance find themselves being given the choice of having Vance Blooded as either a Serpent or a Fox, and Vance admits to Gauis that he isn't quite sure what to choose. Before a decision can be finalized, however, the Duchess Ti'Ann Burghe steps forward and calls for the attention of all those present. She openly hails the Veth for his actions, but reprimands Duke Vangalio for not paying attention to his duties as a host. Too many Ven were injured in the Ork's assault, and the Duke would do better checking on his guests than congratulating one of the dirt. Vangalio quickly hurries off to make reparations, but Duchgess Ti'Ann is far from over. She continues verbally murdering the scene, raising questions on whether Sorcery is to blame for what happened in this party, and how she suspects a certain Elk maybe practicing the illegal habit. Seeing Quan Wei Yvarai, she nonchalantly turns to Armand Steele and asks him for a Healing Salve. Armand notices the Duchess already has one in her hand and seems to simply wait for him to pretend to hand one over, which for some reason he does. She then thanks Armand for the gift, adding, "A great sorcerer such as yourself would carry one on your person after all," before handling it to the Baroness Quan Wei. Many stare at Armand worriedly, noticing how the Duchess had just implicated that he was the Elk in question.
The Duchess does add praise for Vance's actions, and even muses that Vance had clearly shown a touch of Cunning in his actions. "Facing that Ork was neither wise, nor beautiful. But to use such tools to terrify it.. simply cunning. You deserve to be an Elk. Assuming you choose to be one, that is." With one last surprise waiting to be revealed, the Duchess then declares to all that another party shall be held in Castle Grindle come the following Season, and that all of them are to attend. It was to be a celebration of Vance's choice and Blooding, and that as always gifts were to be expected.
And with that, the first story ends.
The Ven quickly return to their castles, and find their parents sharing their views, and their domains in need of upkeep. Trouble springs in many regions, and goods are rapidly crafted in hopes of creating wonderful gifts for the party.
The first story establishes the characters and their relations to one another. Many of them have become fellow Contacts, and some as shown in this session, are already attempting to spread outwards their reach.
Glimpses of their familial ties also begins here, for as we all know, a Baron or Baroness' rise to power tends to be fueled if not supported by the very parents who fear being replaced. The Duchess Ti'Ann Burghe was a prominent character in this story, more so than the Duke Vangalio, and her story would only be as vital as the players would have her develop in time.
If anything, the players discovered the great advantages of being married. And having children. And some even quickly declared a determination to find a partner in the games to follow.
As an added twist to the game, I had each player draw blindly a Tarot card from my hand. I had separated all the Major Arcana from the deck and told them that anytime during the game, they can play the card they had drawn into the game. The results of the card will be something I will reveal once the card has been played. In exchange, the player who played the card will be given 10 Style points.
And I reminded them, the played cards will always affect the game, but not necessarily in the manner you will expect. Drawing "the Fool" for example, might have me tell a player he MUST accept the stupid option (and get 10 Style for his troubles). During this session, two cards were played: Judgment and the World. In effect, Duchess Ti'Ann became much more active and sought to bring her judgment into the events. And the actions of the players were suddenly being perceived not merely as choices done during the party, but choices that could have consequences to Ven society in the long run.
In simpler terms: They had gained the Bronze Inquisitor's attention. And that was never a good idea.
This is the first story of The Riddle of Blood.
A story of love, of betrayal, of passion, of abuse.
A story of poison, of fate, of devotion, of fashuva.
A story of puzzle houses, and puzzled hearts.
A story that is filled with lies.
This is the Riddle of Blood.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Houses of the Blooded
Survived a weird stomach moment and was able to run a game for a few friends. Arj, a really good friend of mine from way back (as in college years!) asked if I could run John Wick's Houses of the Blooded game and when he stated Wednesday was a good evening to have one, I just had to go for it. Arj had been reading up on the game for quite some time and I guess he felt I was one of the gms who could run it for him. Very quickly, other great friends such as Princess, Alessandro and Urim chimed in and shared their interest in playing as well. Rocky, unfortunately, had work that evening, so he wasn't going to be able to join the fun.
So, I quickly gave the players the run down of the system and showed how characters in the Game of Thrones very easily matched the game's approach. Ned Stark, for example, clearly had Cunning as his Weakness. Sansa had no Courage. Arya, no Beauty. This helped them see how having the Weakness didn't necessarily mean being dumb, or handicapped or moronic.
Arj played Lord Dillard, Blooded of the Falcon. All of Shanri were aware of his desire to find a wife. His missing (presumed dead) father was an infamous Spy and his mother, the Lady Gesserit, was a domineering woman who seemed to have no fears of doing what was necessary for her son's success. Based in Castle Dune, Lady Gesserit once reminded Dillard that when the worst happens, "Remember the Tooth. That is the reason our castle is named as such."
Fici played Lord Vittorio, Blooded of the Fox, who lived in Castle Shirah with his Mother and Step-father. Spoiled and spoonfed, Vittorio was in line to inherit the title of Marquis, assuming he were to find a way to win the attentions of Lord Wesser, Earl of Mebemer.
Urim was Maha Suchi, Blooded of the Wolf whose reputation as a ladies' man with great disregard for responsibilities was matched only by the incredible skill he had with the sword.
Princess was the Lady Sola, Blooded of the Serpent, who was the youngest of five sisters yet the wisest among them. Married to Lord Munn, Blooded of the Bear, the two resided in Castle Den where their Count Scholar seemed to have a penchant for making wrong predictions and pronouncements. She and Munn consider giving a Bloodsword as a gift to Lord wesser.
The four would find their stories meeting when Lord Wesser, Blooded of the Fox, nears the coming of his Solace and invites all to attend his final party. Lord Vittorio is reminded by his mother that this is the opportunity to show his presence to Ven society and claim his waiting title. But his lack of an appropriate present pushes him to write letters to his three friends to ask for help.
The three would eventually find themselves gathering at Lady Sola's home, each for a different reason. For Vittorio it was to ask for advice on what gift to give. For Maha Suchi, it was to flirt with Sola's sisters and meet with Vittorio. For Dillard, it was to show off necklaces he had hoped to use to gift to a future wife (as well as discuss with Lady Sola the misunderstanding brought about when he blurted out her name while talking to his mother about a future wife.) While the group do share thoughts with Vittorio on what would be a suitable gift, Lady Sola is infuriated with Maha Suchi's antics with her sisters. Quickly, she writes a letter to be sent to her absent husband Munn, asking him to someday force Maha Suchi to marry one of the four deflowered sisters.
Soon, the time for the party arrives, and while Dillard arrives pretty early, Lady Sola is terribly late upon her arrival. Vittorio has a private meeting with Lord Wesser, whose Fox nature has the young Marquis-to-be bathe him with a sponge. Dillard finds his mother in the party, who reminds him to use the tooth when all falls apart. Frustrated of not knowing what she means, he pulls her close and insists she explains. And her explanation reveals the lengths she will take to help her son succeed: The whole party is poisoned. The food. The wine. All poisoned. And hidden in a hollow tooth, is antidote for any poison. Good enough only for two. "Kiss your wife," Dillard's mother whispers, "And two you shall rule all lands that are left behind."
Even worse, Dillard realizes his mother committed to machinations that lead to Lord Munn disappearing. Sola's husband had not been replying for days now. And Dillard fears his mother may have done something to "clear the way."
Lady Sola meets the forever popular Count Kether, who after entertaining her with his wit gives her his condolences when he learns she is the Lady Sola who is wed to Lord Munn. Sola realizes Munn has not been replying for days to her letters and suddenly fears that Count Kether may have done something to him. Already bothered with how her own Scholar insisted she carry this vial of poison with her, which he claims, "She will need in her hour of greatest need" the idea that Munn may be dead pushes her to action.
Maha Suchi finds himself face to face with the Lady No, on the other hand, who offers him a small vial which she claims is an antidote for poisons that she suspects may be served tonight. Maha Suchi agrees to owe her a favor and takes the vial, not realizing Lady No is actually a good friend of the missing Lord Munn.
Vittorio had subtly used his manipulations to accomplish the following goals: Be given a seat close to Lord Wesser, have his present be the last to be presented for the greatest dramatic impact, and even have lighting adjust accordingly. However, just as Maha Suchi shares his gift: a song for the coming of the Seasons, many hear the panicked neighs of a horse, and a massive muscular white steed crashes into the party and slams both front legs down onto Lord Wesser himself!
With the host of the party brought down by seemingly accident, panic breaks out as all the guests attempt to leave. But it is at that moment that all feel the horrible fingers of hemlock coursing through their limbs. Many quickly fall down as the poison weakens them before killing them by shutting down their lungs. Others struggle to make their leave. Lord Dillard, seeing the bucking horse, leaps towards it with sword in hand, hoping to bring the beast low before more are hurt by its wild movement. He slams headlong into the steed as he plunges his blade into its chest, twisting it as he strikes the heart. The dying beast collapses atop of him, however, and the two hit the ground with a painful slam. As Dillard crawls out from underneath the dying horse, he realizes the horse has Ven-like eyes, and hears what sounds like "Sola..." whispered between its equine mouth.
Vittorio shoves past the dead body of Wesser and hurriedly makes his way to the rear of the party. There, seeing his mother, he asks her what she has done and she admits to him that this is his opportunity to take what is rightfully his! "Claim your title and lands. Survive this. But prove to me you want it." The mother draws a blade from her clothing and holds a vial in her hands. "The antidote is yours, but only if you can show me how much you want it. Take it from your mother's dead hands. If you can."
And Maha Suchi, feeling the poison swirl, sees the Lady No approach him with a glass of wine in her hands. Remembering the vial, Maha Suchi quaffs the liquid down, only to discover in his horror it is another poison! The Lady No hisses at him as he stumbles to her and tells him the poison is courtesy of Lord Munn, Sola's husband, who had asked her to punish him for his defilement of Sola's sisters. Thinking No's wine holds the antidote, Maha Suchi grabs her close, pushes his lips against hers, and pours the remaining wine over them both. Unfortunately, the wine is just wine, and Lady No's immunity must exist in some other form.
Dillard pulls Vittorio close and sets the terms of the deal. "I shall save you from the poison. But in exchange, you shall be my wife. The lands shall be ours to share. Are we in agreement?" Vittorio agrees, just happy to be alive. And as Dillard considers how to save Sola as well, Vittorio draws out the vial his mother hand, but realizes it too was a vial of poison. His mother had him fight for a vial that would have killed him as well. Dillard looks over Sola and finds she had died. The party, it seems, is over.
Count Kether walks up to Lady No and Maha Suchi, and reminds her that it is time to go. When Maha Suchi tries to verbally trick Count Kether into giving him the antidote to challenge him to a duel, Count Kether admits he would appreciate the duel but would prefer it under fair circumstances. He slips him the antidote but tells him their duel is not till two Seasons hence. "She made the deal sound appealing," Kether admitted, though never clarifying who she was meant to be, "Your body shall be collected."
Lady Sola however, just before succumbing to the poison, brings the vial of her Scholar to her lips, and drinks it. In her mind, she feels the "poison" working against the poison already in her system. An antidote, it seems, but in some ways not just that. She feels her consciousness lift from her body. She feels a shift in her perception of time.
Vittorio calls for the staff to gather all the bodies and burn them. He and Dillard soon find themselves called before the Senate to explain the events. While the Senate rules them to have justly gained the lands of the fallen Ven, Vittorio's brash demeanor earns the ire of the speakers and has him stripped of his title once again.
Little do the two realize, however, that three others plan vengeance against them. Back in Huenadora Castle, Maha Suchi recovers from the poison to be told that a visitor has arrived. Heading downstairs, he wonders who else was secreted from that fated party like he was. The carriage that waits opens to reveal Lord Munn and Lady Sola, both of whom had survived because Sola's consciousness had danced back in time before the party and allowed her to carry the needed antidotes, bribe the appropriate Vassals, and send the necessary warnings to Munn. "Those two played us well," Munn admits even as his speech struggles in its halting manner. His survival was not without a price, "Those two deserve Vrentae. Revenge." The Bloodsword is handed to Maha Suchi, and the Wolf feels the sword yearning for blood.
Sola and Maha Suchi nodded in agreement. Revenge will come indeed.
The only question was how much they wanted Vittorio and Dillard to suffer before it was revealed.
In this one-shot, lots of fun key moments were present. Fici kept "giving tips" to the Vassals to do stuff for him, even if it was not necessary at all. Urim had a blast playing a devil-may-care lecherous man who cared only about who he would bed next. Arj was able to slide in some twists which he wanted to do ever since he got to read the Houses of the Blooded book. And Princess was able to succeed in her Wisdom risk on the vial that the Scholar made for her. Her declarations were "It is the antidote. And it also is sorcery. It allows me to travel back in time to be prepared." In this case, I had her travel back mentally, being able to do things that can affect what happens next after the vial's drinking, but without cancelling out completely what already had transpired. Lord Munn, for example, instead of being dead after Dillard stabbed him in the chest while he was trapped by sorcery in the form of a horse, recovered thanks to the Healing Salve the vassals applied to the dead horse which Sola had prearranged. He recovered but at great cost: Munn now has an additional Weakness, the loss of Cunning.
The game was quite a hoot however, with Style points flying around. Even more fun was penalizing Fici of Style Points whenever he tried to explain his texting on his cellphone as "Vittorio is looking at himself in his hand mirror" one too many times. All in all, a great game.
The players have already made a Facebook group for the next session. While that one will have new characters, there's talk of trying to make it a Cut-throat game instead. Oh boy. I wonder if that will push through well.
Before more characters die.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Adventure - Aberrant - Aeon Trinity
The game opens, 1997, during the Aberrant era. (I moved the existence of Novas forward a few years.) Team Tomorrow is the pioneer heroic team of the time. Third in popularity is the group founded by Richard Rayner which remains nameless. With only three members so far in its roster, namely the former major football player who can transform into living steel called the Quarterback, the cantankerous blonde minor schoolgirl called Switchboard, and their no-nonsense business-minded leader Richard Rayner, the group has gained some popularity even if their tactics and skills have yet to be properly honed.
A villain calling himself the Phantomas targets the Chrysler Building. Police calls for back up in dealing with the nova and his three accomplices. Switchboard picks up on transmissions and quickly sends word to the others of it. She makes her way to the building. Along the way, she meets a woman with brown curly hair in a trenchcoat, who seems to be carrying a glowing stick in one hand. The woman, clearly identified by others as a Nova, is allowed through and quickly rushes into the building. Switchboard, unfortunately, opts not to nova up and finds herself told by the police to stay behind the police fences for her own safety.
When the Quarterback arrives to help out, Switchboard powers up and joins the other to discuss how to approach the building. The explosion seems to have damaged the 23rd floor and a quick scan using the security cameras of the building reveal people frozen in place from the third all the way to the twentieth floor. Quarterback decides to head in from the outside, leaping six floors at a time and burying his hands and feet into the walls with each landing to gain more leverage. Switchboard catches sight of the other novas. A woman in all green who seems to have super speed. A man in all red who seems to have some telekinetic power to fling things around. Switchboard cannot find the two others, it seems.
Enroute to the building, Richard Rayner finds a brown-haired woman in a trenchcoat sitting in the helicopter beside him. Demanding for her identity, the woman admits, "I'm sorry, we haven't met yet. I'm not supposed to be here. I don't quite control my jumps." She fades away just as quickly as she appeared.
Switchboard realizes the three are making a bid to escape, and tries to shut down the fire doors of the building to slow their escape. But as the woman in green drags her two companions out of the building with her, Switch realizes there was no stopping the speedster on her own. She instead reaches out with her computer brain and theorizes where most likely the three were to end up at. She catches the green woman's body language suggests a higher metabolism when powers are used. The need for a concealed location near a venue where sustenance can easily be gathered was quickly calculated and Switchboard felt confident she had predicted where to find the novas once they escaped.
The Quarterback arrives at the twenty-third floor to find a woman with brown curly hair in a trenchcoat checking on some people. Asking who she is, the woman admits time is too valuable right now and tells the Quarterback to rush the people to the nearest hospital. She had frozen time around each one, allowing their degeneration to occur at a much slower pace.
Richard Rayner arrives at the location to see Team Tomorrow already arriving and taking control of the area. Not wanting to be forced away, Richard uses the Voice to convince Caestus Pax to stand aside. The man leaves. Richard and his assistant, a young woman whom he teasingly named "Mud" join Switchboard and the Quarterback and learn of what had transpired. The group allow Team Tomorrow to head in now and handle the remaining damage control needed while they make their way to the location Switchboard predicted. The diner is in slight shambles. Debris outside the building suggest a large box was pried from a concrete area. It soon becomes apparent to them the box was taken from the Chrysler building, and it was the time capsule that was set beside the keystone when the building was completed.
The game shifts to 1930, just as the city celebrates the finished construction of the Chrysler Building. The heroes are with the press and congratulations are in order for a job well done. “To the future!” they toast. Sarah Getel talks to Max about his hair, musing she will miss the ivory comb she gave him to fix it. Max reminds him they are now just friends. Present are The German, The Sleepwalker, Scarlet, Phantom Face (Alexander Pope's secret identity), Maxwell Mercer, Michael Donighal and of course, Sarah Gettel. Max has a moment of chest pain, which worries those present, but it passes. Sarah Gettel asks about the new “member” and Phantom Face and the German throw some insults playfully at each other. Ultimately the celebrations go well and Max reminds the others to be nice to Miss Gettel.
The game shifts back to 1997, and the same guy now has broken into the Empire State Building. But this time, before the heroes can get to the building, his three goons attempt to delay them. Calling themselves Ready, Set and Go, the three goons turn out to be people who had auditioned to be part of Rayner's team in the past but were turned down. Ready was a man named John McGraw who could launch objects at others with telekinetic force. Set was Shelby Faust who could mentally immobilize another with a glance. Go was Alexandra Lee who was gifted with Hypermovement. Switchboard uses her Cyberkinesis to have a crane, then later, cars smash into Set to knock him down. The Quarterback arrives and smashes a car down on Set to make sure he's brought down. But Go outmaneuvers her and closes in to bring her down. Richard Rayner lands his helicopter at this moment and uses his power to shut her speed down. As she trips and slams into the parked cards nearby, Switchboard has another car slam into Go's downed form.
But Ready finds the opening he needs and strikes at Quarterback and Rayner, enveloping them in a swirl of deadly debris. While their armor and defenses hold, Switchboard sneaks into the building in hopes of intercepting the Phantomas. Switchboard finds assistance in the presence of a trenchcoat-wearing woman named Mary Rose. The woman seems to be a time-traveler, but admits to be having trouble controlling her jumps. Mary Rose explains that the Phantomas had escaped but they might succeed in finding out what he is really trying to do. Switchboard is unable to predict the situations events, lacking enough data to course through her computer brain. However, she realizes if Mary Rose leaps back in time when the time capsule was first sealed, she could better computer an understanding of the events that have transpired. Mary Rose attempts the jump.
Outside the Quarterback tears the very street out from in front of Richard Raynor, then uses it to form a wall to protect his boss from the debris. Raynor then uses his nova power to shut down Ready's powers, giving the Quarterback the opening to slam the same wall of earth onto the man.
The game cuts back to 1931. Karl Jansky at Bell Telephone Laboratories discovers emissions from the center of the Milky Way, inaugurating the science of radio astronomy. The news of this exists Benjamin Dixon and he cannot help but wonder if the Z-waves ever reached that far. The Empire State Building is completed and the Aeon Society is present for publicity again. Maxwell once more has chest pains. Dixon admits, “Good thing you quit the pipe then.” Max draws out a new one. When asked about the pains, all he could utter is “Spice.” Pope is seen returning from the bathroom, too late to join the group photograph. Michael does comment how excited he is for the completion of another landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge. The Phantom Face bumps into a reporter as he exits the bathroom. Scarlet uses the event as the opportunity to announce her real name as she chooses to make herself known to the world. As the reporters gather to take photos, the Phantom Face joins the rest to pose for pictures.
The year is 1932. The Neutron is discovered. Franklin Roosevelt becomes President. Dixon gets even more excited about the atom. Maxwell thinks it is a good step forward for man. Michael Donighal however does not share that excitement.
The game then makes a leap forward to 2120. It is the era of Aeon Trinity. Classical music plays as Dr. Matthieu Zweilder uses is incredible mastery of Vitakinesis to slowly reweave the decimated body of Ministry Agent and Vogue Creative Director Autumn Lacierda-Wu. Wu's body was immolated when the ship she was in exploded above the Beaulac Clinic in Luna. But thanks to her intense Ministry training and will-to-survive, Wu retained a rudimentary consciousness even if her body was reduced to barely a tenth of its original mass. That gave Zweilder enough to work with to bring her back. When asked why, he explains he is determined to uncover the depths of the Huang-Marr Conspiracy and expects Wu, who owes him her life, to dedicate her focus on doing so. He insists the investigation remain a private matter and tells her she will have the assistance of one of his own Æsculapians, the survivor of the Beaulac Clinic's destruction himself, Dr. Sven Casperzak. She agrees.
Erik Langley on the other hand busies himself reading up once more on the fragment of the Babel Dossier he has been given by the Benefactor. The events of the Dossier fragment speak of the parallel events that occurred during 1997 as well as the events of 1930 to 1939. Langley wonders how the team of heroes will realize the Golden Gate bridge is their next destination.
The year is once again 1997. Switchboard gets a glimpse of how heavily fragmented and confusing Mary Rose's experiences are. But she also learns that her jumps, while chaotic through time, are not without some level of control. In one, she visits Rayner in his helicopter, before meeting any of them. In another, she visits Towers in the base. In one, she seems to leap to a glass chamber where two military-clad nazis confront a german guy in a suit about a son of his they had "created" while he was unconscious. Eventually, she does arrive at 1931 and hides in the bathroom when she realizes she is surrounded by so many heroes. While there, she witnesses Phantom Face enter the rest room, strip his mirrored helm, then talk to himself in the mirror about, "Staying focused on the plan. Not allowing himself to be swayed by the fun of being in America. And of keeping his loyalties clear. Even if he is working so closely with 'him.'" The white-haired man known as Alexander Pope seemingly shifts in appearance and becomes a fifteen-year old young man, before shifting back to the old man and stepping out, bumping into a reporter in the process. Mary Rose peeks into the box and learns its contents: A pipe.
Best of all, Switchboard learns of Michael Donighal's excitement to see the opening of the Golden Gate bridge. For Quarterback and Switchboard, this is the best lead to follow. Mary Rose once again fades away, jumping through time beyond her own control. Mud, instead, who they realize is also named Mary Rose, meets them outside to tell them Rayner had taken off with the copter to chase after Caestus Pax, whom he was determined to exchange unpleasant words with. Swallowing their pride, the team of three approach Team Tomorrow to ask for their help to get to San Francisco. They get Slider's vote of confidence and the woman opts to take them using the Team Tomorrow ship to the other side of the United States.
Enroute, Mary Rose and Switchboard trades stories about their childhood. Switchboard admits being a prodigy and talks of how her Eruption simply made her even better with things. Mary Rose, on the other hand, admits she never knew her parents. Her father, Ben Mercer, took her from the dead arms of her mother Su-Bin Song, who had shielded Mary Rose from the falling ceiling when their home collapsed from an earthquake. Ben Mercer, however, claimed to have many things that needed his attention, and she had been left in the care of Rayner since then. Slider asks Quarterback to consider the youth of the girls and that perhaps joining Team Tomorrow might be the better thing to do.
They arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge and make their way to the museum at the foot of the bridge. Slider stays on the ship, ready to call for back up, while Mary Rose stays across the street to call for help if need be. As Switchboard and Quarterback enter the museum, noticing the broken lock of the door, Switchboard uses her nova powers to locate Phantomas and finds him talking to some shady figure in the cornerstone room. The stone was already broken, and all three black lacquer boxes were laid down beside them. The Quarterback rushes forward, while Switchboard is delayed after she stupidly stubbed her knee on a bench. As Phantomas steps out to go somewhere, Quarterback leaps to tackle him, but the masked villain leaps backwards fast enough in time to avoid him! Switchboard has the lights go wild, hoping to distract the villains, not realizing Quarterback had no protection to the shifting light display either. She mentally commands the door to shut closed, trapping Phantomas and the Quarterback inside. Before Switchboard could get closer to help however, an older Mary Rose appears and warns Switchboard that this is a moment in time the Quarterback best go through alone. When asked for a reason, Rose simply explains, "This is the time Quarterback needs to learn at times there is a need to take a life." When Switchboard attempts to reason with Mary Rose, Mary Rose instead reminds Switchboard that she is doing what she has to given her knowledge of what is to come and what has happened. And at one point remarks, "Ah yes. It hasn't happened yet. You haven't hurt me." Switchboard accuses Mary Rose that she is merely acting out of petty grudges. Mary Rose corrects her, "No. This is me keeping myself from taking vengeance. I will never forgive you for what you have taken from me. But that won't happen til a few years from now."
When a second attempt to tackle is done, the Quarterback learns Phantomas has the ability to literally warp movement and had Quarterback find himself falling the opposite direction. Phantomas reveals that his body is wrapped in explosives and starts ranting about his plans to save 17 million lives. It turns out, Phantomas has plans to try to stop the Holocaust. But his actions may change the world as they know it. The Quarterback rips debris from the ground and hurls it with his full strength at the villain, no longer caring if it kills him. And true enough, the debris strikes like shots from cannon fire and Phantomas falls dead.
With the police soon arriving, and Slider vouching for the team's heroism, the villain is identified as Lawrence Cardinal, a theater actor who had erupted a few months ago while on stage. The man called himself Face of Phantomas, seemingly after the Phantom of the Opera. His real name was Levi Propes and his parents and family of seven siblings were killed during the Holocaust. Propes, according to records, had limited teleportation powers. "Who knows," Mary Rose mused, "Perhaps he could more through time as well. This is a moving planet we are on, after all. Point A is not necessarily in the same location as Point B at times as far as the planet's position in relation to the Sun."
The game jumps back to 1937 as we learn the closing events of what happened in that time. With the Golden Gate Bridge completed. Scarlet witnesses Max going emotional over a telegram he had received. Amelia Earhart and co-pilot Fred Noonan have disappear over Pacific and Max vows to try and find her. He wipes his tears with a handkerchief then places this in the lacquer box. Max has another tremor. Scarlet begs him to have it checked, but he explains the pain is self-induced. When she tries to have him explain he merely states, "I do what I must to keep from leaving." He prepares to begin the search, but unfortunately they are delayed when news arrives of the Hindenburg burning over Lakehurst, New Jersey. Aeon Trinity moves to assist.
In 2120, Dr. Sven Casperzak discusses with his friend about how the past might have been a far simpler and kinder world. Having been pelted by some people with rotten fruit, the two have experienced first hand the perils of when an Order is slowly seen as evil by the public eye. "Consider what happened to Chitra Bahnu and Upeo Wa Macho. What if we are next?" He returns back to the Montressor Clinic and receives his passport to visit the Philippines.
Miss Wu packs her things for the trip to the Philippines. She is anxious to get out. She feels happy to be alive, but understands she owes the Order greatly for her new body. The Opnet and news feeds are filled with speculative horror of what the Order can be doing. She realizes this is going to be a massive affair to repair.
The two pack their bags and prepare to leave.
And finally, to close the game, it is 1939. Maxwell Mercer speaks to the gathered Aeon Society for Gentlemen about how this is now truly the time to prove their loyalty to the country and their love for their fellow man. The World is at war and the Nazi threat must be dealt with. The Sleepwalker notices neither The German nor his sidekick, Phantom Face are present. As the group readies themselves for war, the television sets are suddenly taken over by a rogue transmission: a bald-headed man with a monocle comes onto the screen and announces himself. "I am Baron Zorbo. Today, the people of New York City shall experience first-hand the immense and undeniable power of the Nazi Regime. Menschheit! Zum Himmel!"
Yes, this currently is probably the LONGEST post for a game update. What can I say, this was one game I really enjoyed writing, and later, running for my players. The complexities of time connected events, the fun of a mystery that spanned an era, the Dr. Who feel of it all, and even the immense difference in atmosphere of each era made for an awesome game.
Yes, I will admit I fudged on many of the time lines (for example Amelia Earhart did not vanish on the very day the Hindenburg burned) but I liked changing things a bit to keep my players guessing and not make them feel like history is their cheat sheet on what is to come. I even set the Aberrant sessions around 10 years earlier than usual (1997 instead of 2007) and made things like Team Tomorrow exist that early since I wanted to both make players familiar with metaplot uncertain what parts I am using or changing, as well as have fun with the supposed panic the coming of the year 2000 brought.
But yeah, this is one epic game. I sure hope my players are loving every moment of it.