Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Wardens ep07 : DC Heroes

The Wardens
Episode Seven
"Starborn - 1st Act"

Mayfair Games' DC Heroes

Hadrian is staring at Fangirl's dog, her retriever named Armageddon.  The dog whines occasionally. Hadrian recalls Apollo's story of Fangirl doing what she can to save the dog outside the burning building.   He receives a message from Diego asking for help.  Triggering their communicator, Hadrian can hear Diego having a conversation with Tara's mother.  She seems to be desperate to find her daughter given she has been missing for almost four days.  Eleanor had baited muggers to attack her until one of the Wardens showed up to save her - just to ask them about her daughter.    Eleanor is just terrified if her daughter is okay. She asks if Tara is in danger, and Diego suspects she might be.

The dog whines and stares at the telephone.  Hadrian hands it to the dog, but it doesn't do anything.  Conrad shares that his son, Dermont, had been asking him about Tara.  Hadrian learns Dermont is Tara's schoolmate, and that she had been missing for the last few days.  As they talk, Fangirl's dog runs past him and leave the room.  They run after the dog and find it in front of the door.  Hadrian asks Conrad to deal with the dog while he "sees to business." Conrad pulls out a leash from his pocket.  They head off to Diego's location.  Conrad and Hadrian talk about immortality and growing up.  Hadrian tries to "read" Armageddon but animal body language just seems to different.

Apollo had recalculated the initial data that supposedly suggests Trace had been abducted into outer space.  But his bigger concern is the fact the information he had received seemed to have come from ArmsCorp.   Pouring through all the data he had stolen from ArmsCorp, he is finding a lot of data gathered that are marked, "Takenoko."  They turn out to be plans and schematics for various vehicles including stuff that have yet to be developed for this era, as well as experimental battle dresses, subdermal communicators and the like.  He even finds something for Obscuring Face Putty or Pseudoderm, which acts as both an armor for the face, and a survival mechanism.  Though still mostly untested, they are still frighteningly advanced for someone of this era.  "Theoretical Concepts for the ArmsTeam."  Apollo is fascinated to discover Armstrong is hoping to create his own superhero team, it seems.  There is mention of seven candidates for the group.  As he continues digging, he finds video diary recordings of a young man named Mason, addressing his thoughts and confessions to a "Ben."  They confirm that Mason had been around twenty years in the past before Ben actually arrives.  Mason is fascinated that there are heroes in the world, though none of them live on in their own timeline.  He even mentions being interested in meeting the daughter of the "female knight" hero. More interesting, a lot of the bluepints he has written were penned with the help of Armstrong himself with one being a space vessel using Hard Light sails to propel the ship foardi

Lucita and Buzz have a date.  Lucita is complaining that Buzz is not paying attention.  He keeps imagining stuff related to the fight.  Buzz wonders aloud how one would rescue someone stuck in space.  Lucita is frusted he's still focused on that, but eventually they do talk about her brother and his super hero antics, Buzz' grandparents having legacy powers, and their trip to some dimension..."But I can't have you not be here when I finally have you here."  Lucita does however mention that if she as lost in space, the bigger question is how much time would have passed since she left.  "Everything is constantly moving and given the vast movements, you might hope to try to rescue me but it has been years since you found me."  She also talks about the distortion of time and gravity and how hours may become years in some systems.  Buzz starts to imagine Trace as an old woman, and so he explains Trace is in space and needs to be rescued.  Lucita realized Buzz is "listening in" the whole time, with his communicator on.  He stresses he only does it during emergencies.  She complains he was the one who asked for this date, and yet he's the one who isn't "present" in it.

Hadrian arrives and is told that there's a young girl in the hospital who claims to be part of the team.  The group is a bit confused - which is not surprising given it was Trace who rushed her here to save her.  Hadrian opts to try to heal the child's internal injuries and shattered bones with his powers.  

Armstrong and Apollo finally meet and have a long discussion.  There are six chairs in a circle in the room, with each chair having a brown envelope.  Apollo notes there are only six envelopes instead of seven, to which Mason muses he figured Apollo had been prying into his files.  Mason asks if Apollo is Ben Wilder, but Apollo still dodges the question.   Mason reveals a broken artifact from the museum the day he and Ben traveled into the past.  He talks about the woman who was trying to warn them of something that very moment, but he never understood what was happening until it was too late.  Mason only wanted to see what the past was.   When Apollo asks what he really wants, Armstrong admits he is looking for a man named Benjamin Wilder - someone he hoped to finally find.   Armstrong invites Apollo to become part of a team he wishes to fund.  He is even offering them access to technology such as uniforms and rings that have been enabled to have telepathic radio communication, flight, and an emergency cocoon of hard light if user is injured.    Apollo has concerns with both his intentions and the technology he is creating.  Mason shares he's met with Oni and Tsunami, foreign heroes mistaken as villains often due to the government not trusting them.  He wants to create a team that is more welcomed and more recognized as heroes, is funded by a known group and stands with the government.   He talks of children across the coast calling themselves Wardens.  Clubs have formed online inducting members.  Will the Wardens work within the law, or leave these children to start their own vigilante groups?  Apollo does remind Mason he was the one who named them, and Mason admits he only said that cause it reminded him of a prisoner outfit worn back in his time.   Apollo proposes to study working together for a time being, perhaps using the project Odysseus, which has a space vessel.  Mason agrees to introduce him to the project manager.  Mason does muse how Apollo reminds him of an old friend who never trusted him before, "But its probably because he never believed in me."

Elsewhere, Tara White finds herself looking out the balcony of The Beginning Of Everything.  The place is supposedly Starborn's planet, and what she sees appears to be an urbanized world of order and celebration.    A variety of alien races are present, cheering her on.  Tara tries to ask people questions, but no one seems to properly give any answers.   After a brief moment talking to an alien who can speak terran, Tara realizes everyone around her are now suddenly speaking in terran as well!  When she tries to ask another alien where Starborn is, a bald man with perfect teeth, a huge chiseled form and a cape addresses her by name and reveals he is the very man.  He calls the planet a "grand design to his liking."  When Tara asks if everyone were welcome, he counters the place would not be as peaceful.  He asks Tara to stay for a limited amount of time, and determine if she would like to stay.  If not, he promises to return her home.   Tara goes about hearing about the aliens who have all taken refuge in this place, and finds not a single one who leaves or comes and goes.  She even finds one who met another terran before, a woman dressed in a carapace of silver.  The terran, "Consy" inspired their term for Protector.  She learns the M'thrysn are seen as bogeymen of the universe!  

Back at Earth, Apollo sees Ren who tries to pretend they just met for the first time.  Mason tells Ren Apollo is interested in Project Odysseus and the Blitz Ship.  When Ren asks what for, Apollo realizes neither Ren nor Mason were the ones who sent him the coordinates of where Tara's abductors had gone.  He discovers it may have come from someone else... perhaps... Fangirl?

"How's my dog?" a message comes onto his communication system from somewhere in the room.  Fangirl asks about Leona wondering if she made it.  Apollo admits he assumed Fangirl was Leona, but learns she was just representing her.  When he asks where she is transmitting from, she tells her to look to the left.  Apollo's eyes scan the left and finds an old suit that students from the moon during his time would wear.  He stares and realizes the flickering light on it means Fangirl is actually the artificial intelligence in the space suit that Ben wore when he slipped into the past.  "I kept trying to find you," Fangirl admits and that she could only find Mason.  "But I remembered how much you didn't trust him, so I kept waiting and kept watching."  Mason notices Apollo seeing the old suit and explains its an old relic from the past.  He even jokes it looks like Apollo's costume.  The AI was searching for Ben for years, and Leona was the person who helped her contact Apollo as Fangirl.

While Hadrian tries to help Cassie Wilder recover from her intense injuries further, Buzz arrives to check on the rest.  Both El Teniente and Reliquary however feel he is lying when Buzz tells them he is late because he was saving lives.  El Teniente confronts him about his promise to stop having a serious relationship with his sister.  "But it was still a date, just a bad date," Diego snarls when Buzz tries to explain it wasn't a date since he was focused on them the whole time.  Medea arrives, with a more modern look, and apologizes for also being late.  She learns about the need for code names to hide their identities.  Hadrian asks Medea about Gervain, and learns the name is of one of the great ones during their day.  He was known as "The Alchemist" who discovers the Philosopher's stone.  They were a group were warriors, each representing the Spheres and the Patterns of the Great Tree.  The Shining Knights represent the areas of the tree.  They are reunited when so great a threat appears that none else may face it.  In the last battle against a Fallen Star, the Alchemist sacrificed himself to save the others, transmuting himself into an element which destroyed the fallen star.  Legend has it the Alchemist will return when its essences are reunited across the stars.   Hadrian and Medea combine their efforts to try to heal the child faster.   Buzz hurries back to ArmsCorp.

Back at the ArmsCorp, Buzz overhears Apollo talking to his brother talking about how he feels that Buzz never had to do anything to get the powers he has.  He didn't earn it.   Apollo opts not to get involved in the argument between the two brothers.  When Buzz throws something while annoyed, it launches a plasma blast that nearly harms Apollo had he not used his nanites to create a Hard Light barrier around himself.  Buzz however insists that Ren should realize that despite not having powers, he's accomplished so many things and build so many awesome devices.  Ren however stresses that its not Mason he wants to be with in these misadventures.  The group starts discussing possible plans if they do head to space to try to find where Trace had been abducted to.

El Teniente stops away, and he ends up at his abuela's room.  There, the two finally talk more about the myth and stories behind the armor they share.  They talk also a lot about Lucita, about her being strong-willed and about her still seeing the boy, Buzz.   Abuela admits she just wanted Lucita to end up with someone normal.   They also discuss the challenges between Magic and Steel and how Buzz succeeded in a challenge.  Abuela gets distresses when she realizes Lucita was seeing "the swarm" and not the boy of gold whom she investigated on and learned is rich.   She even shares knowing him back when Savior was still young and Diva was still a man.  She asks Diego to promise to her one thing: Never to reach for the stars.  Not knowing what she means, he admits the Lady claims he was fated to fight Starborn.  Abuela admits it was against Starborn that she lost his grandfather, and the boots of the armor.  But the artifacts seek each other out.  When the time comes and he finds himself before the Starborn, he is to always remember that Starborn is everything, and everything is a lie.  He should never give up the artifacts and let him take them back.  This Starborn was the first chosen of the Lady.

Tara has learned more and more at how happy and satisfied and content everyone seems to be in Starborn's world.  No one works, no one struggles or pays for things, everything is freely provided.  Even with her remote sight stretched as far as she could, everyone seems happy in this paradise which is a single city the size of a planet.  24 hours later, Tara finally meets with Starborn again and discusses how much of her people are missing out on, and how she desires to go back to Earth.  She feels there are many things she still needs to do there.  Starborn warns her it will take generations of reeducating them all to make those planets better, especially her own world - while her brother still stands on the throne. When she wonders if her father can make a difference back at her planet, Starborn peers at the distance and seems to see and claims there's no way for him to make any difference.  Starborn touches her head and makes her "SEE" across the distance between galaxies, nearly causing her to vomit from motion sickness as she "flies" through interstellar space and her gaze halts at a hospital room where a blonde girl is crying while hugging her father.  At the side, Tara can see her mother, exhausted and still in her hospital gear.  Metal bloody rods are on the table nearby.  And Reliquary lies on a nearby chair, tremendously tired.  Starborn warns her that if Tara returns to Mthrsyn, they will never allow her to leave again.  But she counters that if she goes to Earth, those from Mthrsyn will come for her to Earth to take her back by force.  He offers to help, and when she asks how, he tells her it is up to her.  He can make her mother forget, so she moves on in life and does not remember having a daughter.  But despite Starborn's suggestions, Tara feel they would not help solve things.   She is returned to Mthrsyn and her brother, the Grand V'ktor, is incensed, wondering who would have taken her without his permission.  She asks about Starborn and the mere mention of his name brings fear to V'ktor's visage.  He calls for the city for time to commence and for all to revel and make noise.  He presses against Tara and asks in fear if Starborn watches.  He claims the last system that caught his attention did not survive his curiosity.  When Tara admits he is curious of her, V'ktor's response is fear of her having lead the Starborn to them.    He begins to call her the Herald, and agrees to make the changes that the Starborn desires.  She insists she came of her own free will.  She finds it disturbing that Mythrsyn is known as the "monsters under the bed in the galaxy", and she wants this to change.   When Trace mentions she wishes she can go home, Starborn suddenly simply sends her back without effort.  Trace finds herself back at the hospital, overwhelmed by the immense power this Starborn holds.

The former commissioner, Cassie's father, thanks Reliquary for helping his daughter.   The man asks Reliquary to take a video message to ask his daughter to stop trying to act like a hero.  Reliquary insists that the websites and forums of fans calling for kids to join the Wardens have been shut down.  Tara's mother suggests they let the child have a chance to talk to Reliquary instead and discuss things.

El Teniente feels there was a presence in one of the hospital rooms.  He peers in but finds it empty.  He uses his communicator to check on the others and tells them there's a familiar feeling he's sensing... and that's when Tara teleports into the room to say hello.   When she hears about Apollo with the others, she teleports to check on them as well and ask for a communicator.  The others are briefly shocked by her alien appearance, however, which freaks them out.  Buzz reaches forward with his omni-arm to snag the thing, but Tara easily teleports out of the way.  Buzz mutters its a teleporter and the others wonder if it is actually Trace!  She starts speaking out telling them who she is which thankfully calms everyone down.  Reliquary tells El Teniente to head for the broom closet at the fourth floor and have Trace pick her up.  Medea however asks why not just tell her mother she's back.  Trace's mother grabs El Teniente's head and speaks to it, asking what is going on.  Buzz informs El Teniente to let her know her daughter is back.   Tara finally meets Medea, and the others have a wonderful reunion. As they start sharing stories and throwing snippets at each other of what they have gone through, Buzz asks if he heard correctly that Tara muttered something about a whole planet coming for the Earth in the future?  Tara shares how the Question was the one who kidnapped her in the past, and how there were warships up in the sky that wanted to bring her home.  She even talks about meeting her brother, and their desire to crown her and take over the Earth.  And that's when she finally mentions Starborn. Apollo shares he read a similar name somewhere.  El Teniente knows of a Starborn as the first of the Knights.  Buzz mutters if he's a Fallen Star.  Even the term confuses Reliquary as it seems to remind him of his past.  Tara shares the utopia Starborn offers, and the arguments she had with her brother about going to war with other planets.    Tara's mother thinks they should not be the only ones to handle this.   Hadrian grabs the phone and tries calling Doctor Keller, Saviour's other-half.  Buzz nudges Apollo to try calling his "boss," Mason.   Hadrian's call connects but to his horror, in response to the supposed threat, he tells Hadrian, "Starborn is all."

Apollo's call to Mason also has him reply, "Starborn is all."  Even Ren's call to check on his grandparents has her reply, "Starborn is all."   And El Teniente's petition to the Lady for guidance has her warning him that he has heard his challenge, and now El Teniente must defeat Starborn or else, Starborn shall be all.

Starborn is all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

One Last Journey...

I'll be running a different kind of Ryuutama game this April 3rd at the Gamers & GMs Philippines mini-convention, Apocalypse April.  This will be held at LUDO: Makati and I'm excited to introduce the game to more people out there.

I'm hoping to be able to accommodate around five players and for those who have tried the system, please note that this game will still try to approach the game with the quirkiness and lightness Ryuutama originally has, but encase the narrative in a sadder and more somber mood.  I guess in some ways, this will be sort of a mix between Studio Ghibli's The Wind Rises, Spirited Away, and Graveyard of the Fireflies.   Sounds like a strange mix, but I think it will go well.  After all, when the world is finally ending, isn't one last journey to fulfill everything you promised you should do the only sensible choice to make?

Also running are a multi-gm two-day session of The Last Days of Anglekite and the launch of Dungeons and Dragon's 5th edition release of Ravenloft.  The former to be run by good friends of mine, while the latter is to be handled by the D&D Adventures League Philippines.

For the second half of the mini-convention, which will be held on April 24, I've decided to take another stab at running Apocalypse World.    The concept will be as follows:

Furiosa's Brood
A what if story set in the wasteland world of Mad Max. The children of Imperator Furiosa now take the reins and lead their people to survival. But in this strange twisted world, do you have what it takes to survive?

See you then!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Gamers Using Mobile Phones During a Game?

Maybe it is time to tell them all to download this app?  Switch them on and leave the app running as you play your game.  Those who dare cause the trees to die deserve to have treants, owl bears, and whatever other Nature inspired threat assault them.

Forest: Stay Focused

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Bloodlines ep01 : Blades in the Dark


Episode One

Blades in the Dark

Admittedly, when I first heard about this game on Kickstarter, the idea fascinated me.  As I got a chance to read the Quickstart, and realize how much the game resonated with shows that I love (such as Leverage), I realized I just wanted to dive in and run the game even more.  Thankfully, I work in a place where there are a lot of eager people hungry to game.  And so this game has now become something we do try to play every week.

The cast for the game includes:

Gideon Seymour/Jack Makepeace (Whisper)
A former judge from Tycheros, this Whisper has a strange addiction to sniffing blood and has even stranger personal goals and twisted motivations. Played by Richard.

Reginald Eothorn Guiest Drakeboon III, also known as the Thespian (Slide)
Once part of the Iruvian Military, the Thespian seeks to find his place in the world.  His dissatisfaction with the current status quo pushes him to find a world he can call his own. Played by Flip.

Puck Maxwell, also known as the Professor (Leech)
A Skovlan Academic, the Professor has grown disfranchised with the education system and started his own exploration and studies into alchemy and spectrology.   Played by Jpsh.

Darius Cromwell, also known as the Ghost (Lurk)
A young Iruvian Noble who had run away under the pretense of searching for his missing sister.  Darius has found sanctuary among the other thieves in Duskwall.  Played by Gab.

Cliff Lawford
A former blacksmith of Dagger Isles, his desire to embrace the stupor of battle has pulled him away from the smithy and into the shadows of Crow's Foot.  Played by Tio.

Robert "The Piper" (Hound)
Once part of the Seafaring Industry in Akoros, Robert had left the life of clean living for a romantic spiral of excitement with a bounty hunter.  When that fell apart, he found a new home among the thieves of Duskwall.  Played by James.

The thieves, long content with their hidden Lair and the Boat house, find themselves standing at a moment of opportunity.  Roric, the ward boss of criminal operations at Crow's Foot, has just been killed.  Some whisper it was by his second in command, Lyssa.  And some whisper it was the actions of either the Lampblacks or the Red Sashes.  All the thieves know is they stand poised to choose sides and exploit the situation to their advantage.

The Lampblack's leader, Bazo Baz, meets with the group - which they tell him is called the Actors - and learn that they are being challenged to choose whose side they are on.  During the meeting, however, an old rival of Darius Cromwell shows up and the Bluecoat complicates matters by trying to investigate on what is going on.  Forced to act, Cliff Lawford creates a distraction down stairs by starting an arm wrestling challenge while Robert continues negotiations.  But when things get messy, and violence ensures, the group is forced to escape via the hidden tunnels which Puck and Darius locate.  The Thespian reassures Baz they're allies even as they rush to escape.  Gideon, however, begins scheming given his connections to the demon Setarra.  And while for now they've gained some reputation towards the Lampblacks, there is clearly a concern with their having gained the notice of the Bluecoats.  Darmont's loss of his arm, after all, is an injury he is not going to quickly forget.

The group retires at the Red Lamp where the Lady Tesslyn offers them information on the Red Sashes and their eventual need to see her as well.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Primeval i01 : Marvel Heroic Role-Playing

Issue One
"Monkey Business"

Marvel Heroic Role-Playing

At work, my office mates are always willing to try new games, which frankly is amazing since as the Senior Game Designer at Indigo, exposing the people to more games overall helps us in expanding the creative resources we can tap.  And even better, this means me having people willing to join me as I try a new set of twelve new games this year.  
I finally had a chance to embrace one of the games that I really loved reading and was anxious to try: Marvel Heroic Role-Playing.  The sad thing about the game is, as awesome as it is, the game line has been discontinued due to the license having ended and not being renewed.  I'm just happy that I purchased a copy of the game before that happened.

For this game, I had four players:
Carl was playing Wade Wilson, the Merc with a Mouth called Deadpool.
Josh opted to try Matt Murdock, the man without fear known as Daredevil.
Nicol, on the other hand, embraced the role of Clint Barton, the world's greatest marksman, Hawkeye.
And finally, Flip decided it was a chance to explore the many identities of the enigmatic Moon Knight.
We discussed carefully what we expected in the game, especially since the group was a mix of comic readers as well as non-comic readers who saw the Marvel films, and there was always the possibility of the idea of Deadpool breaking the fourth-wall being distracting rather than fun.  We decided for a Marvel MAX feel to the game, like the Daredevil tv series, with touches of the Deadpool movie.
Moon Knight is tipped off on human trafficking happening in New York City. He visits Matt Murdock, rumored to be Daredevil, for assistance. Matt tries to hide his identity but Mr. Knight is insistent he can help. He throws a pencil at Matt, who barely dodges it from grazing his ear. For Mr. Knight, that’s proof he is Daredevil. Daredevil contacts Hawkeye, wanting him ask back up just in case. Given Moon Knight’s supposed madness, Daredevil isn’t sure if he can trust the guy.
They head to the location and find the people being forced into trucks. Hawkeye’s Hotheadedness gets the better of him and he charges the trucks. As the trucks rush to leave, Hawkeye hangs onto one. Daredevil and Moon Knight take chase on the rooftops to follow.
Down the street, Deadpool just massacred a bar filled with people looking for human traffickers that he is supposed to intercept. But he realizes he went to the wrong address! He apologizes, kills the last guy in the bar, and leaves to see the incoming trucks. He teleports to the Metro Train Bridgeway above the street to observe and notices Daredevil and Moon Knight on the flanking streets running after the trucks and wishes he had popcorn. That’s when he realizes a Gorilla with a machine gun on the same Bridgeway beside him, prepping a machine gun.

Hawkeye clambers up the truck, but slips when the driver of the truck tries to shake him off. He clings to the side of the truck. As one of the goons prepares to fire at him, Moon Knight leaps down from above to fling his throwing daggers at the guy, disabling him. Daredevil leaps for the front driver, knocking him out and causing the lead truck to block the two others from progressing. As the trucks stop, more goons rush out and fire at them, forcing them to dodge. “Hail Hydra!” the goons cheer. The slippery roads make dodging tricky, Hawkeye loses his bow and arrows.


Deadpool grabs the machine gun of the gorilla, amused with its heft. The baboon behind him grabs hold of him and flings him at the incoming Metro Train, that carries him away. The Gorilla then open fire at the heroes. Thankfully, the trucks have Armored Walls. As the heroes deal with the apes, Deadpool lets the driver see he’s been hit by the train, making him stop the train. He goes back inside, and has the train start moving backwards, leaving the driver. As it continues, he soon reaches a car with two armed men keeping guard. He casually disarms them and discovers to his horror the man with the mask is a chimpanzee underneath the monkey mask! That’s when the Red Ghost appears before him and freezes him in place with his Freeze Ray.

As Hawkeye, Moon Knight and Daredevil’s combined efforts knock the Gorilla down, the goons begin to run off in fear. Daredevil takes chase after the apes, while Moon Knight runs after the closest goon, suspicious if they are Hydra. Hawkeye breaks open the truck to find inside the poor people have transformed into monkeys!

Red Ghost talks about a new evolution to sweep over mankind, and about standing upon a new dawn. He turns intangible and leaves Deadpool to die, not realizing the Merc with a Mouth would survive the ice prison.
When the sounds of gun shots fill the air, Hawkeye looks up to see Daredevil return. He was almost about to catch the apes when a powerful magnetic pull began to yank them off the ground. An orangutan with magnetism powers hurls Daredevil away and it is only thanks to his Reflexes that he lands safely despite not having his swingline. While that doesn’t answer the story behind the gun shots, Moon Knight returns and tells them all is settled for now.
Moon Knight chased the goon into a corner where Hydra agents were waiting to shoot. As the air filled with gun shots from other locations, Moon Knight threw his knives to disable all the gunmen in front of him. Madame Hydra emerges, telling him that the goon should be punished for claiming to be them. Moon Knight tells her he takes the matter into his own hands, walks up to the goon and snaps his neck. She deems this matter settled. He returns to the others without telling them of his encounter with the Madame. Investigating the trucks, Moon Knight finds a canister inside which may have some kind of biochemical to have caused the change. He decides to keep it to find someone to inspect it. The cops arrive, as does Captain America, who commends them for having handled the matter. Captain asks Hawkeye if he wants to return to the Avengers now, but Hawkeye tells him he’s fine where he is for now. When presented with Deadpool, Moon Knight takes Deadpool with him and leaves in his car. Daredevil notices no one is driving Moon Knight’s car.

The next day, horror fills the streets as Hawkeye sees columns of gas spreading out of various buildings. He tries to call Avenger’s Mansion but the call is answered by a chimpanzee in Captain America’s uniform. Matt Murdoch went to visit Peter Parker whom he knows is a scientist as well finds his place surrounded by emergency workers. Monkeys are being carried out of the apartment building! Matt sees a shape leap out of the windows and webswing to the rooftops and takes chase. He finds Spiderman shrinking, changing into a monkey before his very eyes! He picks up the monkey and takes him with him. Matt hears from Hawkeye and the two decide to check with Moon Knight on what’s going on. Mr. Knight welcomes them to his home where they find a horribly tortured Deadpool laughing about not really knowing about the monkey business. As they consider their next course of action, it occurs to Hawkeye to consider asking the Fantastic Four for help.

They arrive to see Sue Richards in tears. She reveals to them her family has been transformed as well and that her limited knowledge isn’t enough to make sense of the canister. She suggests they try the one other person she thinks who might know an answer.

She calls Doom. And Doom, amused at the turn of events, invites them to Latveria

Monday, March 14, 2016

Eyes Upon Amaras : Mouse Guard : Dungeons and Dragons 5th ed

Eyes Upon Amaras
Mouse Guard
Using Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

A one-shot 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons game for the Gamers & GMs Philippines mini-convention.

Adal, a Tenderpaw Rogue from Barkstone.
Played by Maki.

Kole, a Ranger  from Sprucetown.
Played by Jann.

Finn, a Tenderpaw Fighter from Lockhaven.
Played by Paolo.

Cale, a Tenderpaw Fighter from Glasslake.
Played by Chester.

Euwan, an Oldfur Fighter from Ivydale.
Played by Karl.

Leorand, a Tenderpaw Rogue from Copperwood.
Played by James.

1154, Winter
The story begins with the mice being given a mission by the Matriarch.  Euwan meets with Gweldoyn, the Matriach, as they discuss the importance of the mission that needs to be accomplished.  She explains how she doesn't really have a choice given the insurgency that has been happening in Lockhaven.  She stresses the need for Amaras, an old friend of hers,  to be brought safely to a specific destination.  Euwan knows Amaras to be an oldfur who had long stopped being part of the Guard after speaking against the Matriarch publicly.  While Euwan has handled other duties before, such as maintaining the scent lines and escorting farmers, he is surprised to hear the Matriarch seems adamant that the oldfur's safety is that paramount of importance.   Amaras used to speak a lot about how peace with the weasels can be found through conversation.  A knock on the door announces the arrival of a white mouse named Meryl, a Bard whom Euwan had trained with in the past.  She, like Euwan himself, had once been trained by Amaras.  Euwan learns to his surprise that Meryl herself is taking part in the mission, despite no longer being one of the Guard.  "It seems like you already made my decision for me," Euwan groans.  "Of course not," Gwendolyn replies, "Although it seems like Meryl is already going."  Meryl teases Euwan that she will keep him safe.  When Euwan tries to counter that the mission might need more than just two of them, Gwendolyn merely smiles.  She had anticipated this response.

In the Wildneress, Minutes Later
The mice move through the snow, on their journey from Lockhaven to Pebblebrook.  Finn travels at the front of the line, his eagerness clearly evident.  Leorand and Kole are at the rear, both trying to be the one watching the back.  Adal is nearby, quietly travelling ahead of the two.  Cale follows after Finn, with Meryl and Euwan at the middle of the line.   Amaras walks between the two fighters, as the third person in the line, keeping pace with them despite his peg leg and his missing eye.   His left arm is barren, while his right hand hold the sturdy staff to use as a walking cane.  The group moves in single file, traveling nicely despite the cold.  The snow is deep, but the fall is still light.

Amaras snorts, realizing Euwan would be the one assigned to bring him to Pebblebrook.  As he berates Euwan as the one student who disappointed him, Adal slows her pace further, not wanting to be within the oldfur's judgmental eyes.   He asks Euwan about the "whitefur he was so in love with" and Euwan glances at the rear of the line to check on Meryl, while asking who is guarding the rear.  Kale raises his hand in response.  Leorand moves up ahead, closer to the oldfur, curious to hear more of what he has to say.  Amaras tells them of the stories of how Euwan had once fought against a chicken - a living tower of talons and claws - fought it to pluck one white feather before running off to a tomato patch to hide.  Leorand asks if Euwan had run to hide inside a tomato.  He did; Euwan hid in a tomato, got stuck and was red for a week.  The stories amuse the young tenderpaw, but amuse Meryl a bit more than she would admit.  Meryl tries to converse with Adal, sharing how she found it a bit too violent for her tastes.  "When you worry about others too much, you lose sight of what you should focus on."  Finn, hearing her statement, calls out from the front, "And who might that have been, Meryl?"  The white mouse blushes.  Adal admits she just wants to contribute to the community.

The line travels swiftly, covering a fourth of the journey within the first day.     Amaras soon starts complaining about the route not being a "quick path" as Euwan had promised.   Their journey soon leads them towards a large clearing.  Finn can hear the sound of wood, metal, and water in the distance.  He mentions it to the others and Meryl wonders aloud about how a water mill could be functioning given its winter.  Adal wonders if its a hot spring.  Leorand wonders about the sound, thinking of the books he had stolen from his home, and remembers reading about a brook ahead with a mill.  There should be some kind of old machine there owned by an Old Man Leland, who creates oil for lamps.  Meryl confirms she has heard of that as well, given such oil burns longer at night. Cale agrees it would be good to divert there, as the oil would prove to be useful come nightfall.  Amaras teases Euwan again about how it sounds like others have risen to become leaders.  Euwan tells Kole to take lead, being a Ranger, with Finn opting to go with him.   Euwan takes guard of the rear.  When Kole suggests Euwan use some bushes to hide their tracks as they walk, Amaras once more breaks in to laughter that maybe the Tenderpaws are more capable as leaders than his former student.  When Euwan nearly begins an argument with Kole, Meryl steps in to remind Euwan that Kole is just showing that he has learned a lot from him.  "Just... do your job," Euwan tells Kole, frustrated but dropping the argument.

As the group moves, with Amaras conversing with Kole and Cale, Euwan and Meryl talk about how he should let go of his own grudges against Amaras.  Adal's sharp senses, however, pick up a sound in the wilderness.   She walks up to the others to whisper that she senses trouble ahead.  Euwan draws his steel.  The others begin to draw their weapons as well, though not certain where the trouble is.  Euwan gestures for all to circle Amaras and he calls out to Leonard if he sees anything.  Adal sees a golden eye staring back at her.  The other eye, however, is blood-shot and red.  A burst of white from the treetops, and it takes to the sky!

"We're too open!  To the tree line!" Cale calls out and runs for the treeline.  The others break into a run as well, save for Adal and Leonard, who both draw their ranged weapons and try to track the enemy.  When Euwan grabs Amaras to run, he finds the oldfur's walking staff on the ground and his hand trembling.  Euwan and Kale grab the oldfur to bring him to the treeline.  "My cane!  My cane!"  Kale hurries back to grab it.   The others reach the treeline and bring out their bows.  "Guys, the water mill is just nearby," Finn yells at them, realizing its barely a 100 yards from their position.

An owl!   The predator emerges from the white snow-filled sky.    Amaras is terrified by their appearance, to the point that he is struggling to breathe.  Cale sheathes his weapon, keeping one hand holding his shield and the other supporting the oldfur.  Kole launches an arrow at the owl and hits it!   Euwan tells everyone to keep running, realizing the owls have the advantage.  He tells them to watch the skies as they try to bring Amaras to shelter.  Euwan lifts Amaras with Cale's help and the two bring the oldfur to the treeline.  Adal and Leonard, with their ranged weapons, ready to strike at the owls.  Adal notices however there are more than one owl in the sky.  She calls out a warning to all that there's more than one and all feel the terror rush through their fur.  Some are stunned by the fear that overwhelms them.  Leonard slides Amaras' walking staff into his quiver to carry it with him.  Finn launches another arrow and it tears into the wounded owl's wing.  As Cale tries to lift Amaras once more, something lands behind them - and the impact forces Cale, Euwan and Amaras to the snow.

Adal realizes no one has kept track of where Meryl had gone!  But seeing the threat before them, Adal launches an attack at the landed owl, taking advantage of the fact it seems distracted as it stares at the tenderpaw that launched an arrow into it's shoulder.  Kole is confused why these things are attacking in groups given they are usually solitary!  Adal's arrow hits squarely and the owl drops to the ground.  Another owl dives down to snatch at something, but pulls back at the last second.  As it flutters just beyond reach, it stares down at Amaras.  Amaras begins hooting at it, over and over, and suddenly the owl flies away!

The mice continue the battle against the owls, with Euwan readying his longsword for any owls that get to close.  He calls out repeatedly, hoping for Meryl to answer.  Adal leaps atop the downed owl and uses the higher vantage point to try and find her as well.   Adal finds Meryl hiding at the far opposite side of the clearing, hiding by the other treeline!   Their surge of aggression forces "one-eye" to begin to withdraw, and the other owls withdraw as well. The mice hear something crash into the woods further ahead as they vanish.  Finn runs for Meryl.  While the others regroup by the downed owl, Kole rushes into the forest to look for the owl that fell.  Kale and Euwan check on Amaras and find the oldfur to be unharmed, but clearly distressed.  Adal scans the surroundings and thankfully declares the area to be safe.

"I guess some old sins will always find their way back to you," Amaras mutters to himself as the others help him back to his feet.  When inquired, Amaras admits he can speak owl and he told one-eye that he "remembers."  The group clearly learns "one-eye" does recognize him, and when Leonard inspects the walking staff, he discovers it is more than just a cane.  It has a catch which allows a part to detach.    Euwan groans how this was supposed to be a simple escort assignment.  Finn gets to Meryl and discovers she hid because she was terrified - courage was a large part of what she lacked and in many ways was the reason she left the Mouseguard.   Finn decides to keep to himself the fact she looked up and first thought it was Euwan to came to look for her, or assumed that Euwan sent him to look for her.    They rejoin the others.  They hear a click sound and turn to see Leonard having clicked open the walking staff.  A hollow is revealed with a rolled up parchment resting inside.  Amaras tries to retrieve it, but Leonard returns only the staff and opens it.   All look with curiosity at what seems to be an old map of the territories, with strange blue scribbled lines added to it connecting certain settlements and cities to each other.   "Tunnels," Leonard muses aloud despite Amaras demanding it be handed back.  Euwan, however, asks the oldfur to explain what they are.

They learn of the former weasel tunnels that criss cross beneath the warrens.  They learn of the map's existence which stands as proof that the MouseGuard may have taken the communities from the weasels. And they learn that this may be why the map is being brought the huge distance.  The Matriarch desires to have the map verified.

In the woods, Kale finds himself audience to the owls who have been waiting for him to arrive.  The owls warn him that there is nothing but danger in their path, and attempts to bargain with them.  "Give us the old one, and we will let the rest of you live."  Kale returns to the others, uncertain what to report.

The group arrives at the Mill to find it empty.  There is no sign of Leland, and there is no sign left of the precious oil.  The group meets by the fire place, to determine the course of action they are to take.  The option soon comes to them: the tunnels. Though likely dangerous, the group decides it would be safer and less treacherous to navigate the darkness as it would allow them to avoid the owls.  At first the journey seems to have been the best choice, as the group travels in the near complete darkness of the warmer tunnels.  They move quickly, and soon encounter what they assumed were weasel guards only to learn are statues.  They make camp in the darkness, hoping to recover from the exhaustion of their long journey.

But soon, they learn the darkness is not without its own share of dangers.  Hoping to feed on their warm blood, striges swarm in hoping to sate their thirst.  The predators swirl at them, seeking to sup on their very strength.  The group hurries to leave, using their torches to force the things away, as the move deeper into the tunnels in search for a way out.  They find old rafts and broken debris which they rapidly fashion into serviceable rafts to escape.   Kole leads one raft, with Adal, Meryl and Finn riding with him.  Cale steers the other raft, with Amaras, Leorand and Euwan onboard.

The waters carry them away, with a gelatinous cube seeking to sate itself on any of them who happen to be in the cold depths.  The surging waters soon warn them of a greater coming danger - cliffs - which signal them that it is time to leap for shore.  A legendary leap coupled with acts of teamwork successfully spares them all from a gristly end.

And once off, a terrible encounter with a hungry armored reptile forces them to consider searching for a means to get back to the surface.  They find a crack in the walls leading back into the snow, but the concern of the owls still being on their trail forces them to find alternate routes once more.

A final tunnel leads them to an unexpected chamber, one massive structure of stone and bone.  The great chamber is filled with hundreds of bones and remains.  And the sounds of taunting whispers fills the air.  "This is a chamber rules by the bats," a voice murmurs in the darkness, "And you are not welcome among us, little ones."

The group has found themselves trapped in a bat lair.  Though it is hard to know for certain, what may be dozens or hundreds of the bats watch from the ceiling as the group slithers in the shadows and search for a way out.  Adal separates from the others, her keen senses leading her to a sealed doorway which may prove to be a way out.   Euwan and the others address the bats, attempting to parley with them and find some level of accord.  Adal however determines that the passageway is the best way out and opts to bring Amaras with him.  "Best that one fulfills the mission," Euwan tells the others, "While the rest of us ensure its completion."

And as the bats challenge Euwan and the rest, the Mouseguard remind them that it is only together can they find survival - with the mice needing the bats to leave, and the bats facing the owls to no longer be trapped and forced to feed merely on stragglers that fall into their trap.

And so it is that the tale ends.
Adal arrives at Pebblebrook, with the old man Amaras, and the mission brought to completion.  The old man tells them of the map and the Matriarch is informed that the rumors of the tunnels being once owned by the weasels to be nothing but merely rumors.  The tale ends with Adal wondering how fared her friends, but understanding that some tales are never told.

It is on a late morning when Adal hears the ever familiar cry of the Red-Eye.  She watches as the Guard prepare to fight, but is surprised to see the oldfur Amaras telling them to lower their weapons.  Amaras tells Adal that enough time has passed, and that old debts must be paid.  He tells her that she now represents the future of the Guard, thanks her for saving his life, but now admits it is time for him to end the long feud.  She finds Amaras walking out into the snow.  She watches as the oldfur stands and readily accepts his fate.   Red-Eye appears in the sky, flying closer with each beat of its wing.

But then, behind it, she sees a band of mice flying in the sky upon wounded bats.  She realizes that her old friends have somehow defied the odds and found their way home.  And their triumphant return is one which legends will someday speak of and songs shall someday sing.   But for today, she is content knowing she is witnessing the end of one story, and the birth of a legend.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reunion : Homebrewed Oneshot


Romantic Comedy One-Shot Game
Home-brewed System

During the September Gamers & GMs Philippines mini-convention, I decided to try the unlikely and offered to run a Romantic Comedy game which I cooked up.  I wanted to try to offer a game for people who weren't usually gamers, maybe even people who might have only showed up in the event because a significant other dragged the other along.  Luckily, I was able to get four players who were willing to try the game.   Character creation involved having each player choose a positive trait for their character, and a player on their left or right choosing a negative trait that the character may or may not have been aware of.   There would be a third trait, by the last player who was neither on the left nor right, who would choose their final positive note.

The game was set in New York City, and the cast included the following:

Maria O'Conner
(Anne Hathaway) played by Bogs.
She is Shy by Passionate, Conservative but Open to New Things, and ultimately a social Chameleon.  Deep down she believes she was "meant to be" with John, but was always shy and conservative, with some slight pervy secrets of her own.  Her company, "Something Something" was the major sponsor for the event.

Bill Raison (Benedict Cumberbatch) played by Robert.  He is Confident but tends to be a Clutz. He is a Hot-headed Person but is secretly quite Evil.  He loves the fact he is Tireless.  Back in school, he was the school editor in chief and had an ear in the administration.

John "McDreamy" McToole (Liam Neeson) played by Drexx.  He was nicknamed, "Big Mac" and was always Optimistic and Deep.  He had a tendency to be Naive and Charming.  He was very Fast and thus was the prom king and the jock in the group.  Few were ready to discover that he had now become a priest.

Felicity Scarlet (Natalie Portman) played by Emi.  She was Perceptive but Picky.  She was Slow To Anger but had a tendency to be Manipulative (to give her the feeling she belonged).  She always had Perfect Poise.  The class all knew her to be their friend, although deep down she was never really friends with anyone.

The whole group votes to have Felicity be the main character of the Romantic Comedy, and all the others were to be supporting roles.

The story began with them all receiving invitations to attend the upcoming High School Reunion.  With Felicity going through a break up, Maria conniving for a chance to get close to McDreamy, and the others merely curious to see how much their friends have changed, the four eventually get back in touch with a host of old friends and enemies.  Andy, who used to be Felicity's closest buddy, offers to help her when he notices she's not having that good day.  Neil, who sees himself as the ultra popular guy, starts musing all about John and begins asking everyone, "Have you seen John?"  Shirley, who handles the front desk, isn't too happy to see Felicity, but seems less happy to notice Maria.  She does bring up the feeling of having been neglected, but neither seem to even notice - more so when Maria notices Mabel, the outcast of the class, lingering around the edges and darting off to the rest room.  Shirley tries to say hello to Bill, whom she had the hots for.  But Bill noncommittally says hello, which infuriates her more. When Mark, the other jock, approaches John to welcome him back there is a clear unspoken tension existing between the two.

As the reunion continues, Maria follows Mabel to the restroom and sees an unexpected sight!  Some kind of grand machine of sorts had been set up in the restroom.  Mabel thanks Maria for being a friend, and warns her that all will be better.  And before anything else could be done, a white flash envelops the whole room.

Maria and John discover they are... celebrities.  And more interesting, are a couple.  John is supposedly part of some kind of boy band, while Maria is seen as his stage manager and wife.  Elsewhere in the city, Bill finds himself waking up to be working at some Italian Restaurant.  And strangely, his wife turns out to be Shirley herself, who doesn't seem to be confused why this is happening.

Felicity, on the other hand, finds herself in an entirely different world.  Machines talk to her about the end of the Earth, and how sentient living trees now revisit the planet often to reminisce on the once thriving species.

Soon, Felicity breaks free from the future, which turns out to be a false reality created using technology.   She had broken down into a terrifying state of self-destruction when she first discovered the world had changed, and Neil and Mark had combined their efforts to save her by plugging her into the machine that would hold her on a repeated stasis until she mentally fought to reclaim her life back.

Bill, John and Maria almost literally bump into each other when Bill runs away from Shirley, who had become some kind of Italian Mob Queen, and by running off nearly slams into John and Maria who are on a bus.   Maria realizes the "reality" they are in seems.. too perfect for her.  And shares her suspicion that Mabel might have a hand in things.

The stories eventually converge as the two groups rush back to the reunion location and true enough discover that Mabel is still there, maintaining this massive machine which has been keeping this alternate perfect world running.  Being the class nerd, Mabel had someone created a machine that allowed her to shift everyone to an alternate world where her preferred events had transpired for her schoolmates.  Felicity, whom she hated the most, was thrown into a series of events that nearly caused her to commit suicide from insanity had Mark and Neil not stepped in.

As they confront her, and try to stop her and her machine, Felicity finally apologizes to Mabel for not being a true friend and promises to her that had she had the chance, she would do what she can to start over.  Mabel agrees to shut the machine, and the group finds themselves back in the Reunion as if nothing had happened...

... although everyone remembered what had transpired.  

Felicity walks up to Mabel, apologizes and gives her a sincere hug.  Neil glances at Mark, who finally chooses to come out and admit that he is gay and in love with Neil.  John and Maria agree that their lives are better off separate.  Bill tells Shirley that while they aren't meant to be either, they at least know how interesting things could have been.  Shirley just winks back at him.

And finally, Neil gets to Felicity and asks her if she's seen John yet and everyone laughs as they consider the events to be a true Re: Union of sorts.


Thankfully the players had fun and I would like to think the game can be further tweaked for eventual release.  Special thanks again to my players that day for trying the game out!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

dollhouse ep06 : Orpheus


Episode Six
"The Living"


Alex Carter lies.  He tells the group that Ellie Barker has run away.  He lies to them all as he makes deals with something unthinkable.  Natalie Kureya draws her children closer to her life, despite the dangers they may face.  The events have pushed her to start learning for ways to defend herself and train for combat.  Natalie tries to explain to Sophie what has been going on, not quite aware that her youngest daughter, Marina, has become friends with Radio Free Death.   Misha Rusanov visits Natalie Wick but discussions remain uncertain given the secrets both keep from each other.  When he tries to tell her the truth, the truth terrifies her.  Misha even visits the detective, Osorio and learns while he does want to help he has been taken off the case.  A new agent has been assigned to handle investigations.   Shepherd tries to find other Orpheus survivors and eventually visits his wife.  He discovers she actually has been actively investigating what she can and even holds a file with lots of gathered information.  Her investigations seem to lead to a group called J.D. Cryogenics.  He does not choose to let her know he still lives, however.  Wendell begins practicing the use of technology to become a Sleeper.  He successfully goes under for a week and learns to shift his Lament.  But when he witnesses Marina talking to Radio Free Death, however, he is plagued with uncertainty if Marina' mother should know.

The group considers the assassination attempt at Arms of Light.  Forebode reveals little about the assassin, but does guide them to a P.O. Box where he had received the mission to do the attack.  Misha, Shepherd and Fiona investigate.   In their absence, Natalie confronts Wendell about being too serious, which seems odd to her given his usual jovial nature.  He finally admits he has been witnessing Radio Free Death communicating with her youngest daughter.  When she makes a fuss, Wendell reminds her, "At least he talks to her."

A new tragedy hits the city.  Along Greek Row, fraternity parties are celebrated.  Sophie attends out of her rebellious anger towards her father claiming Marina.   The others rush to help and learn of the hundreds of deaths that strike Greek Row.    Pigment, which has spread out among teenagers are a new buzz drug, be it as tattoos or as pills, turns out to be poisoned.  Hundreds die. They find strange hand like Spectres gathering the dead.  They find a Fox in the shadows, luring them and taunting them.  Worse, Sophie is once more injured and Fiona is forced to watch over her.  Natalie questions her role in the group, but wonders how else to protect her family.

In the darkness, something laughs.  Triumphant and confident of eventual victory, the darkness begins to plan anew.

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