Friday, February 24, 2012

Persona:Horror - DC Heroes

DC Heroes

Ran another game for the people of INDIGO ENTERTAINMENT today.  This time, it would be a fantastic comical-action packed game using the DC Heroes role-playing game system.  Popular for its Mayfair Exponential Gaming System, others might recognize it more based on the later incarnation of the game, Bloodlines.

The game actually had a wonderful cast of seven players with Jigs playing Robin, James playing Red Arrow, JP as Red Tornado, Jam as Kid Flash, Alex as Aqua Lad, Anj as Zatanna, and one last player whose name I forgot as Super Boy.

The game opened with Robin investigating on strange events at a museum where Zatanna happened to be touring a bunch of homeless kids from a nearby shelter.  There, Dick noticed as well Roy Harper who was trying his best to act nonchalant.  As it turned out, Roy had hoped to woo Zatanna, but backed out the moment he realized Robin would witness his sappiness.

While Red Tornado handled a training session with Super Boy, who struggled to control his immense strength, Artemis showed up intent to start her own training session.  Both Aqua Lad and Kid Flash were currently off base on a mission elsewhere.  When the alarm from Robin reaches them, both Artemis and Super Boy opt to head there.  Red Tornado decides to follow above them.

Back in the Museum, a bunch of ninjas eventually showed up accompanying Talia who declared herself present to take possession of a specific child in the Museum.  Zatanna, hoping to keep the twelve charges safe, uses her magic to silently nudge the children to sleep and make them far easier to hide.  Red Arrow pulls and old woman away to hide only to discover the old woman has her own secrets to share.  She claims she is the target of the League of Assassins because she used to serve as a house helper at their secret base in the Himalayas.  She had stolen secrets of martial arts by watching and copying the training done to a certain Bruce who was present at the base for some time in the past.

Robin decides to confront Talia, and in a moment when Talia is distracted and looking for her goal, he throws a smoke pellet to her face to blind her.  Taking that opening, Zatanna then casts a quick spell to shrink all the Ninjas away, and another to envelop the children in a shield.   But when she notices one of her charges, a young paraplegic boy in a wheel chair staring at her, she feels a sense of dread.  Something is not right with the child.  A telepathic spell reveals the boy's thoughts and she finds herself disconcerted to hear how he is enjoying what is happening.

Super Boy fumbles in his attempt to leap onto a moving train, forcing Red Tornado to insist that he return to the base.  Red Tornado then begins to notice something amiss when everywhere, people seem to be stopping to check their phones.  Something is spreading virally and people are all talking about it.  What it is turns out to be the events in the museum.

As Robin and Talia square off, with Talia nearly cutting Zatanna's throat and nicking Robin in the shoulder, Batman arrives to confront her as well.  But to the surprise of everyone, Batman miscalculates a move and ends up impaled in Talia's sword.  As he falls down dying from extreme blood loss, he begs Zatanna to keep the boy safe.   Red Tornado arrives, blasting Talia away with his powers of the wind.  Not wanting to risk her regaining her balance, Red Arrow launches an Electro-Arrow to stun her.  Robin doubly stuns her with his Taser.  As the two try to bring Batman to safety, a fiery version of Red Tornado arrives to attack.  And just as Robin opens a door to bring the paraplegic kid to safety, the Joker appears behind the door and nearly shoots him in the stomach.  Zatanna once again hears the child's thoughts and is disturbed by how amused and excited he is to see all the fighting.  When Kid Flash and Aqua Lad arrive to join the fight, things get even worse.

It quickly becomes apparent that something isn't normal with all these villains coming out of nowhere.  Professor Zoom appears and challenges the Flash.   The fight nearly costs him a leg when the Professor forces him to focus on rescuing others to distract him from a crippling strike.  Red Arrow finds himself suddenly arguing with an angry Green Arrow who judges him as unfit to carry his legacy.  And Robin watches again as his parents perform their final dying act.  Zatanna tries to explain to the others the events by sharing the telepathic connection, but then finds her own father confronting her about her dark side.  When her attempts to stop him lead to him accidentally being killed, the grief overwhelms her.  It is Red Arrow who realizes the boy is somehow drawing out these fears from their minds and tries to stop him.  But Zatanna, fooled by the illusions, begins using her magic to protect the boy, freezing Robin in time and nearly doing the same to Red Arrow.   Sensing the end is near, the boy attempts one final gambit and calls forth a fear all the heroes share. The wall of the museum crumbles as Doomsday emerges to fight with them.

When Red Arrow finally strikes the boy unconscious all images of their enemies disappear.   Left with a ruined museum, the group tries to regain their composure and make sense of everything.  It is at that moment when Superman and Wonder Woman arrive, asking for an explanation of the events that unfolded.  Aqua Lad, as the leader of The Team, admits he doesn't quite comprehend what transpired and Batman, the real one, emerges from the shadows to suggest maybe a joint leadership would be better.  Red Arrow, however, says he will think about it.  When Wonder Woman attempts to use her lasso on the child, she learns the child is the child of Dr. Psycho, an immensely powerful psychic metahuman.  But she senses he isn't of this Earth.  Superman wonders however, if all their encounters, including the presence of Talia and the League of Assassins were fears the boy projected, whose fear was that of the League?  Considering none of those present were familiar with them enough to be the source.  Red Arrow remembers the old woman but before he could say anything, Batman tells him flatly, "I guess some things are best never known."

And as the big three fly off, Zatanna casts one final spell to repair everything that had been damaged.  The group turns towards the sounds of a machine closing in, and finally Artemis arrives, wondering if the battle had started and fumes when she sees everyone laughing at her.


What was originally to be a JLA game transformed into a Young Justice game when the players excitedly asked for a chance to play that instead.  To my surprise, the game had seven players interested in trying it out.  Considering for many this was their first time game, I was very happy to see this much enthusiasm in the game.  I wanted them to experience the rush of superhero action and the drama and fear that unfolds with it. And of course, the dose of humor that inherently exists in any game.  Thankfully, I believe I succeeded.

By the time the game ended, I was already getting requests to run a zombie game next (The Shotgun Diaries, for sure!), a romantic comedy based on My Sassy Girl, and a d20 game.   Life is good!

The Hero Gem:  I gave every player a plastic gemstone and told them, "That is worth 20 Hero Points.  You can award that to any other player who you feel is playing his role well, or who you feel needs it.  In the game, just represent it as you giving encouraging words or calling out support."  The system was a success with many of them helping each other out the way heroes do.

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