Devil Caught In a Web
Ran another game for Gene and Rocky who both wanted to try another take at the super hero genre. After having them choose between Marvel Superheroes' FASERIP system and DC Heroes MEGS, Rocky chimed in that DC Heroes would be far easier for Gene to grasp quickly. While I also had my copy of the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game, that game still needs more time to grasp and embrace the system. I love the Cortex System, but MHR kinda makes it harder to grasp than usual with all the sfx and doom dice and things. Gene wanted to be Daredevil while Rocky opted for Spider-man. I offered to have them choose a major comic event to explore, excited at the prospect of throwing them The Infinity Gauntlet or maybe even a Days of the Future Past touch. To my surprise, they asked for Civil War. Given Matt Murdock was actually in prison and Iron Fist was posing as Daredevil, I asked him which of the two he wanted to play. Gene confirmed he wanted Matt Murdock, which posed a challenge for me to shape a game around. Thankfully, inspiration hit me and I came up with this:
The game opens with Matt Murdock in his prison cell in Ryker's Island, staring at the blank wall. The two policemen guarding him were chatting about how cruel it was to leave a blind man in a cell without a window. Both seemed to be humoring themselves to pass the time since neither believed the accusation that Matt Murdock, blind lawyer, could in any way be the supposed Daredevil. Neither was aware of Matt's hyper senses describing what was far beyond the wall in front of him, the fact that one of the guards had the scent of two ladies perfumes, suggesting he has an ongoing affair, or actually prefers ladies scents on himself, and the other was a recent smoker quitter. His ears picked up the sound of energy humming, and he then realized coming towards him down the hallway were two men in Guardsmen armors that Tony Stark had developed to secure the prison, and spandex hitting the floor with the exact rhythmic pace used by Spider-man.
Spider-man had come to talk to Matt Murdock. With the events of Civil War spiraling faster and faster, Peter Park was wondering if taking the step forward to unmask himself was what was necessary to convince others to cooperate with the Registration. He had known Matt for a long time and once even posed as Daredevil to help him with a case when some guy sued Daredevil for property damage. As he walked down the hallway, he felt his Spider-senses tingle, suggesting there was an ambient presence of danger looming in the area. Thinking this was Ryker's, Spider-man tried to shrug it off as tension of being in a prison with so many possible threats. He notices the Chameleon imprisoned at Matt's right side, who shifts to all these forms in hopes of agitating them. And this serial killer on the left side, who sits quietly with a smile on his face.
The Guardsmen ask if Spider-man is okay, and he tells them he is going inside the prison to talk to Matt. Matt and Spider-man share their opposing views on registration, on the importance of responsibility and liability, and whether privacy and the safety of one's one family is reason enough to keep the mask. While they discuss, both realize the screws from the panels above Matt begin coming undone from the inside. And with a peek, Spider-man realizes it is the Black Cat herself how seems intent on springing Matt Mudock out. Hoping to avoid an escalation of issues, Spider-man shoots webbing to coat the opening sealed. But white talons tear through and the Black Panther in a while outfit rips it aside and reaches down as he calls for Matt to take his hand.
Matt opts not to, and Spider-man blasts him with webbing to pin him down. Daredevil would have normally evaded this, but since he was pretending to simply be Matt Murdock, he had to allow the webbing to hit. With the Guardsmen now on full alert, Spider-man warns Matt Murdock not to try to escape. The Guardsmen spread out searching for any trace of the intruders and Matt Murdock is thrown into the showers to be reprimanded for his "part" in the escape attempt.
Scene shifts to Tony Stark's office where Spider-man is debriefed by Tony on what happened in the prison. Tony reminds Spider-man that his choice to unmask is important for the Civil war to end. "If they see that someone like you would be willing to trust the movement, more will follow." Spider-man heads off after a few snappy quips and decides to find himself a hot dog to eat somewhere in the streets below. What he finds as he orders a hot dog, however, is an attack by what looks like the Hobgoblin! Only this Goblin is female and seems to rely solely on exploding pumpkins and pumpkins that erupt like fourth of july fireworks. As he nets all the throw bombs with his webbing, a second threat triggers his spider sense! Turning to the sound of a six-year old bystander calling out, "Barney!" Spider-man finds himself facing a female version of the Lizard! And narrowly escapes getting slashed by the mutated thing. Leaping and twisting to evade further assaults, Spider-man's spider sense triggers once more and dodges an incoming bullet that was aimed at his temple. Far above, atop one of the nearby buildings, a female Kraven the Hunter snars for failing to hit. Spider-Man entangles the femLizard in more webbing, and is ready to bring the slam down on the Goblin when a feminine Sandman emerges from the drain to confront him. Confused at the sudden gender-bending presence of his usual villainous gallery, Spider-man is thankful as S.H.I.E.L.D. finally arrives to control the situation. Sand(wo)man is frozen in ice while Kraven(ess) is taken down by the soldiers. The Goblin attempts to escape, leading Spider-man to launch a Spider Tracer to follow her later, thank the agents for a job well done, then finally swing off to chase after the wicked flier.
In the bathroom, Matt Murdock senses the guards exit as they let four prisoners into the showers. The four are former flunkies that he had imprisoned after providing their connections to various criminal activities in the past. But while he hold off on his own quite well even without using the full extent of his abilities, the arrival of the Black Cat once again brings him the question, "Join us. The fight against Registration needs you." Matt declines once again, and this brings the Black Cat to snarl at him. Matt picks up the sudden hum of an energy source, and he realizes one of the Guardsmen was cloaked and in the shower at all times. Dodging its energy blasts, Black Cat closes in and tears into the armor's helmet, leaving blood in her wake. Matt feels very unwell about what has happened and with the incoming foray of additional guards, he surrenders once more and hopes things quiet down. Back in his cell, he finds a final visitor coming to him at the dead of the night. The Black Panther reminds him of his duties, and through Cloak, teleports them all back to the secret hideout of the resistance lead by Captain America. There, they convince Matt to do his part to help Hell's Kitchen and to try to convince Spider-man to join his cause. They tell him how Spider-man is being used as a figurehead to push their agenda, and Matt remembers the time when Mysterio nearly had him kill an innocent child. Matt agress to help at last and Iron Fist trades costumes with him once again to allow him a chance to make a difference. Matt goes to the Daily Bugle and leaves a note for Peter Parker to meet him at a nearby bridge.
But Spider-man won't make it there. Trailing the Hobgoblin, he discovers the new Goblin turns out to be the multi-millionaire heiress Mill Hilton, and scoffs at the idea that she has become his new nemesis. She acts like a caricature of herself as she detests his presence, and when the snarling form of Venom emerges, Spider-man ponders on how this day can get any worse. The venom he sees seems more shadow alien than real, and Spider-man begins to wonder if the ordeal is some magical thing placed upon him. He swings to the mansion of the Sorcerer Supreme and finds it abandoned and empty. Calling out to whoever may be listening, Spider-man asks for the Sorcerer to help him out if he is willing. The Doctor Strange he consults with, however, tells Spider-man that he had strayed from his path and must find his way back to his real destiny. He whips out a wand and at one point, rips off his face to reveal a noseless face underneath. What the Sorcerer Supreme presents as the embodiment of Spider-man's curse is a small red doll with devil ears on the head. "Destroy it, and the world will be back in sync with how it was meant to transpire."
Daredevil waits at the bridge and instead of Spider-man finds himself assaulted by the Femmes Fatales! Knockout and Bloodlust nearly throw him off the Bridge. Mindblast loses consciousness when a well aimed Bully Stick smashes her brain canister. Dodging the mettalic whips of Whiplash, Daredevil begins to have confusing flashes of still being in the prison and staring at the wall. Spider-man starts to hear the voices of the Guardsmen still in the area, and between eyeblinks sees the Sorcerer Supreme's mansion replaced with the hallway to Matt Murdock's prison. Sensing the psychic attack, Spider-man tries to locate the attacker, while doing his darned best to avoid injuring "Dr. Strange's Spells" which he knows are really the guards trying to tackle him down. All the guards see are Spider-man suddenly attacking the prison where the serial killer was in. Daredevil sense all save the serial killer's heart beats are panicked, and in a last ditch effort yells at Spider-man to punch to his immediate left. Spider-man does so and his fist breaks just enough of the prison glass to strike the serial killer unconscious.
The confusing psychic hallucinations immediately end.
Fast forward to next scene, Spider-man is undergoing psychiatric evaluation and debriefing under Doctor Samson. He shares that the serial killer turns out to be a latent Mutant with "living psychic parasites" that float around him like a cloud. Both Matt Murdock and Spider-man were affected since the parasites were not held back by the glass wall. The visions represented the killer's twisted views on many of the villains as sexy vixens that deserved being beaten up. The serial killer, Burns, was not detected as a mutant because his mutation only surfaced that moment. In response, Ryker's Island contacted the X-men and Emma Frost has arrived to claim the serial killer "as one of their own." Spider-man steps out of the window and decides he needs a break from all this. At least for a while. And by break, he swings off to deal with the first act of crime he sees.
As of Matt Murdock, the people on Ryker's Island decide to move him to a new location. Given the events of Civil War, Tony Stark wanted the lawyer somewhere safer. As he is being transferred, he sees Emma Frost and Burns boarding the X-men's jet. He feels uncomfortable about the events, remembering how Mysterio once nearly made him kill an innocent child. Deep down, he wishes the whole mess would come to an end. In the distance, he sees Mister Fantastic arrive and talk to Tony Stark. He overhears with his hyper hearing talk about, "Having to move foward with the prison" and something about not having "Enough space to house the more dangerous ones." Time will tell what that project will be about.
So the game was a hoot. I tried as much as possible to retain the events of Civil War yet throw a good plot for both players to explore. The fight sequences were energetic and wild, with both players utilizing lots of dodging and fancy moves to take their opponents down. Hero points were spent and freely earned, a lesson I got from John Wick who recommends rewarding any behavior that supports a game's genre.
Here's to another game soon.
I remember Gene saying, "O, DC naman!"
But deep down I'm tempted to throw them a Neil Gaiman-inspired game.