Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Not Even Love Lasts Forever : M.O.D.E.L.S.

Not Even Love Lasts Forever


I was able to have a second playtest of my super spy game called M.O.D.E.L.S. which draws greatly from shows like Alias, video games like No One Lives Forever, and movies like Zoolander.  I was lucky enough to have a total of six players willing to take the plunge in fashionable secret agent action.

The players were all secret agents who were part of M.O.D.E.L.S., which stands for Military Operations and Defense Emergency League Specialists.  The game system heavily borrows the Wager system of John Wick's Houses of the Blooded, with each character having ratings in Face, Gun, Brains, Web, Muscle, and Mouth.  Each had 2 X-Factors, which made them stand out in a crowd, and had Utility items which were fashionable and powerful, which usually were their Never Leave's, things they never leave home without).

Valerie played Kaluha, who always had perfect hair and was tech savvy.
She had high Brains, but no Mouth.  She never left home without her Cigarettes, Lego Figuries and Lipstick.

Ben played Hilda von Markovich, who believed in tough love and always wore heels.
She had high Muscle and no Guns.  She never left home without her High Heeled Boots, Big Belt Buckle, and Bracelets.

Chloe played Charlotte, the Daredevil and the World's Sweetheart.
She had high Mouth and no Muscle. She never left home without her Cellphone, Rings and Sunglasses.

Niccolo played Hideo, the man known to be good with animals but never had the same face.
He had high Face and no Mouth.  He never left home without his Jacket, Watch and Flask.

Flip played Colombus, the man with an explosive personality and a fearless demeanor.
He had high Gun and no Face. He never left home without his stud earring, wallet with chain and cigars.

Carlo played Javier, the Social Media King who was Never Alone.
He had high Web and no Gun.  He never left home without his Chewing Gun, Phone and Necklace.

The story had them infiltrating a socialite's party to provide distraction while the rest of the team snuck into the home (which doubled as a base) to complete the mission.    Of course, we started the scene with one of the agents hanging upside down to try and hack into a computer and retrieve the information inside.  He spins on the rope to pull himself back and prepares to use his silenced pistol to shoot down the lasers.  But then the other warns him that shooting the lasers would trigger the alarms.  "Not if I shoot them right," Colombus grins.

Elsewhere, the others are at the event. Across the river, at the manor, the party is going on.  The players provided the following keywords for the party: Hipstery, Circus Masquerade, and Animals.  The agents are dressed in gowns and suits, with masks held to their faces.  Another agent stands at the rooftop, her eyes trained at her fellow agent on the rooftop of the building across the river. One agent's communication device is hidden in her necklace.  The other has her's hidden in her earring.  The General, who is the head of the facility, is being distracted by two other agents, Markovich and Hideo.  Both are just talking to the General and his wife.

A man in uniform with his mask comes up to the agent in the dress. He muses how a little bird told him that there are super models among them, and asks if she is one.  Javier recognizes him as a former military officer who was dishonorably discharged for alcoholism. General Laquin. He asks if the two with the General are super models. He seems to have recognized Markovich, having seen her with Tom Hardy.  He does not recognize the other.   The General laughs the two agents carry the conversation with him to keep him distracted. He offers to show them his missiles. The wife asks Hideo to "show her around" and they leave.  The General muses trading his wife for Hilda. He asks Hilda how his wife knows all the supermodels, but she deflects the question claiming they all probably have gone to the same school or something.  They reach the balcony and he motions towards the building where the facility is, telling him he is in charge of the large missiles there.  "I have large missiles that I would like to show you."  Seeing Hilda having trouble, Charlotte steps in, unmasking herself as she introduces herself to the General and comments on how much she is enjoying the party. He recognizes her, being the Twitter Sweetheart, and it distracts the General from going to the Facility where the others are handling the operation.

The wife walks with Hideo, showing him the pens with the bears, the crocodiles and the ostrich.  She tells him, "So you are the ones they sent, huh?" and he learns she isn't happy with the actions her husband has undertaken. She contacted M.O.D.E.L.S. in hopes of stopping him. The password to find the contact was Rosemary, and true enough she knows the word.  When she asks if the operations are ongoing, he confirms they are. "Your group should be able to disarm and retrieve the Uranium."  Hideo is surprised as they were only told to gather information on a missile strike. She informs him that her husband's schedule has moved two months in advance.  As he tries to hurry off to warn the others, she grabs his arm, warns him that her husband is watching, and tells him to seduce her! Hideo fake kisses her neck.  As he scans the surroundings, and he recognizes near the animals a man who is a known assassin in the intel community, and worse, he's an ex-super model.

Jane Doe.  She, or he, was an ex-supermodel who was "the model" for androgyny.  With age, he or she lost favor of the modelling community and in many ways, Hideo had replaced her.  Jane looks up at Hideo, but Hideo turns the wife around to block Jane's view.  The wife admits she does not recognize Jane from the guest list. The two walk off, hands held together.  Hideo uses the communicator in his watch to inform the others the update.

"Uranium," Kaluha gasps.  Colombus and Javier now wonder where to find it. They consider using the computer to search for the info. Thankfully, Colombus has one of Kaluha's cigarette's which is a remote computer link.  He pulls off the filter and the usb end pops out, which he plugs into the computer.  The link made, Kaluha starts hacking the computer to find information on the uranium.  Colombus hangs on the cable, waiting for Kaluha to confirm hacking is complete.  Javier keeps watch.

Two floors down, Javier keeps watch of the group of soldiers at the ground level of the building.  He notices a group of unscheduled soldiers arrive and flash some badge. They are allowed in. Javier warns the rest of the team immediately of the two guards, and admits he isn't sure who they are.  He tells them its best they get out.  Colombus counters however that it is Javier's job to know! Kaluha thinks she will be done in ten seconds.  Javier decides to make a distraction, pulling out one of his gum which happens to also be an explosive and throws it at the side of the entrance where a car is parked.  As the smoke begins to erupt from the car, one of the guards stops and suspects something is up.  The others rush to the car to see what is causing the fire.

"Done," Kaluha tells Colombus.  The screen opens and true enough it is filled with pictures of Charlotte. Kaluha remotely locates the files she needs and also discovers the location of the uranium, which is in an underground facility at another island.  She learns the missiles are already ready to launch. They are to launch in 24 hours.  And she discovers that General patterned the plans through Charlotte's posts.  The missiles' targeting locations are all places Charlotte had visited in the last few weeks.  And of course, it is called Operation Charlotte.  With the files downloaded and copied, Colombus asks if he can head up now given he's been upside down the whole time. With a handstand, Kaluha begins pulling Colombus up while she finalizes her hacking with her other hand.

As the soldiers deal with the fire, Javier sees the fourth guard drawing his radio to report the explosion.  Sliding down without anyone noticing, Javier saunters up to the guard and mutters about being lost and not at the party.  Flashing the invitation to the party, Javier mumbles about having arrived at the wrong place because there was no parking spaces across the river. The guards begin to realize who Javier is and they begin cheering at the thought they are with a celebrity and begin taking selfies with him.  This gives Kaluha the time needed to hoist Colombus back up with fireworks happening in the sky and also down below where Javier distracts the guards. Relaying the info of the island to the others, but sadly this information does not reach Hilda, who doesn't have one.

"You have to stop the missile, as my husband plans to have them launch by tomorrow," the General's wife tells Hideo.  "If you fail.... the world will be irrevocably changed. Can you imagine?" Charlotte comes up to the General and Hilda and she asks Hilda to accompany her to the bathroom.  General ends up dancing alone while Charlotte informs Hilda of the update. The wife tells Hideo of the whereabouts of the other island, but admits she does not know where it is.  Hideo asks Kaluha to tell her the location so he can prepare transportation to get to it. She informs him it is accessible from here via tunnels underground. Hideo excuses herself from the wife and heads off to try to locate these tunnels for the team.

Away from the group, Hideo's X-Factor helps him as he notices the rats and starts to follow them. But the rats don't seem to be headed to them either as the food seems to be keeping them confused.  Hilda realizes she needs to help.  She decides to use her shoe and she plants her heels forcefully down to activate the Hidden Sensors in her heels to locate the tunnels. The signal expands and detects the location of these concealed passageways. The General sees Hilda and Charlotte heading off and calls out to them, asking where they are going. Hilda heads back, pushing Charlotte to go ahead and find the tunnels. Hilda grabs hold of the General and tells him, "Where am I going? I am here... to dance." The General motions for the band to play Mambo No. 5 and the two dance the night away. As he leans close, he suddenly whispers to her, "Rosemary," which to Hilda's surprise is the password for the contact.   He admits to Hilda that he is the contact and that he called for them. He claims to not like what the government is doing, but he cannot stage a coup, so he leaked the intel to the group and was hoping they can make it look like he was targeted by some intelligence activity.  Hilda maintains the dance as she tries to learn more.  The General admits he suspects his wife is having an affair with the President of the country and she will eventually usurp his position.  Hilda admits she is the only agent he knows is active for security purposes.  And they split from the dance as the wife cuts in and takes her husband's hand.  Hilda heads off to find the others, knowing they best know of the new intel she had just gained.  She activates her bracelet communicator to find them.

Back at the other side, Javier tries to charm his way in explaining he was looking for parking. He tries to excuse himself, but the officer doesn't seem that convinced yet. Javier makes more excuses then slips the officer's access card away as he heads off. Kaluha asks where the group should converge, and Colombus suggests they all reconvene at the cove in the island.

The wife claims to have called the organization.
The husband also claims to have called the organization.
Who is telling the truth?

The group meets at the beach.  Standing at the sandy cove, hidden by the shadows, they gather and share updates on what intel they've gathered so far. The last five cities Charlotte has visited turn out to be the five target cities.  Not certain who is telling the truth, the group now must choose whom to believe.  Javier uses his Web to try to contact people he knows to check if anyone knows if there is any truth between the claims of the two. Javier tries to reach the President's secretary to see what he can find. He learns that General Stallion is so loyal to his job, but his wife is cheating on him with the President himself. The General's side of the story seems confirmed. In the end, the group thinks they just have to head to the facility, stop the missiles and see what else they have to do when they get there. They decide to sneak in as a cleaning crew with Hideo helping them all into a disguise. Kaluha has the mop and equipment cart, to hide her computer stuff.  The rest appear in cleaning crew uniforms, matching the appearance of some the crew whose files they've gained from the computers.  Thankfully, they're all sexy women, given the General's predilection for hot women. Hideo finally has a mop for himself, hiding a katana inside.

The team arrives at the entrance of the secret facility, walking in sassily as they approach and sign in. The group splits up with one group heading to the maintenance area of the facility, and the other hoping to head to the control room.

The "janitors" head to the lower facility, quietly moving into position. Kaluha pulls out a cigarette and switches it on to camera mode. She places it against the floor, to serve as a lookout trained at the elevator. Further down the corridor, the group sees the rooms for the Power, the Water services, the two Storage areas and the last one being the Hardware area.  They move into the hardware room and they begin hacking the computers they have access to for any more information on the missiles.

The other team of "sexy cleaning crew" make their way to the Control Room. Javier stays away from the controls, not wanting to touch the wrong thing. Colombus activates his device to keep tabs with the other group. Charlotte's ring, which is also a micro-computer, begins to tap into any nearby computers.  They hear from Kaluha that she's gained control of the facility.

Hilda heads to the Power section and finds someone already there, working on the pipes.  Hilda closes in on the man and uses her taser-belt to try to knock the man out from behind. But when the guy turns around, Hilda surprisingly sees the man is actually her... with a mustache!  The figure suddenly grabs Hilda by the hair, and attempts to hoist her to slam against the wall.  Hilda, however uses her powerful legs and her forceful reinforced heels to catch herself against the wall and shove the man instead! The man rolls as he goes for a run, leaving a peeled off face behind!

Hideo was at the Water section and finds a terminal he can access. He looks for any logs regarding explosive material or uranium and finds the information logged quite openly.  The material is scheduled to be moved to the missile itself within the hour.  He informs the team immediately of this and wonders why they didn't even bother hiding the information.

Back at the control deck, as the group "cleans" the room, they discern the people in the room are currently working on the installation of the explosive material onto the missile. Or at least, should be, since they're all distracted by the three as they "clean."  Charlotte asks Kaluha to hack the controls to stop the installation procedure. The two find the missile loading controls and they override it.  Realizing they need help, Colombus walks up to the door and mouths at Javier that he'll take one guard, and Javier should take the other one. While Colombus knocks one guard unconscious and pulls him out of sight, Javier distracts the others by flashing his shaved leg. With the opening, Charlotte decides to divert the uranium rod to be placed on the truck nearby instead of its usual containment box.

Back down below, Hilda sees the man attempting to run off as Charlotte informs them that the rod is in a truck. Hilda warns them that they may be facing rogues in the area. The man turns at the last moment in a bid to smack Hilda on the face. Hilda catches the punch, and he sees the man turns out to be... an older woman.  "Jane Doe."  Hilda locks Jane Doe in a head-leg lock to keep her from escaping.  She claims "the two of them" are working in cahoots.  "They're playing you all for fools. They are attempting to expose the  M.O.D.E.L.S organization." When Hilda admits she's not the smartest agent in the group, Jane explains with one word, "Charlotte."  The General wants her, and the wife knows this, and so the two have come to an agreement: The General is to prove his love for the wife by betraying the very woman he has fallen in love with.  The General hires the  M.O.D.E.L.S to have them killed.  The wife hires the  M.O.D.E.L.S too, to make sure. Jane Doe claims she is loyal to the  M.O.D.E.L.S.  "There's more to us than merely doing what other people want."

A double double feint on the  M.O.D.E.L.S.

Hilda asks why Jane Doe was in the power room in the first place with her face. She admits she was trying to solve the situation without letting anyone know she was involved.  "Why the power room then?" Hilda asks as she admits, "I'm not the smartest tool in the shed."

"That makes too of us," Jane Doe admits.

The group decides to trust Jane Doe, given she's an ex-M.O.D.E.L.S.   On the cigarette feed camera, the General has arrived with soldiers.  Kaluha warns the others of the situation and Colombus confirms a second contingent of soldiers is closing in towards the Control Room too. Javier suggests to Charlotte wordlessly that she should shoot the two other guys.  Charlotte slips her sunglasses on, which also have silenced firearm abilities, to shoot at each guard. As they hit the ground, Colombus tells them they need an escape plan.  Javier looks outside where the truck is and estimates it to be around thirty five feet. Colombus tells the others to go, and he'll buy them time.  Charlotte reminds the others to copy the files they can, then Javier and Charlotte smash the glass then hit a stylish pose.

Back underground, Hilda pulls Jane Doe to her feet and tells her to help them escape. Jane Doe tells them they leave the way they came in, unless their cover has been blown.  Hilda rips apart her uniform and flexes, "There's no need for cover!" Kaluha disengages from the computer, then rushes to the corridor to meet with the others. She rips apart her own disguise and they all look at Hideo, who tells them he's good. He likes his janitor costume.  Hideo and Jane Doe's eyes meet.  Jane sneers, "Now I see why you had no escape plan."

They head for the exhaust tunnels and Jane Doe tells them to go on and she will delay the others.  She pulls out three latex masks and a stick of portable silicon. She inflates it, then places the latex masks on it.  They hurry to the Water room and see the pipes they can use, assuming they choose the correct one.  Jane Doe pulls out a cellphone.  Wheels pop out of it. She connects the human-sized latex dummies to it and programs it to head the opposite way.  They break the pipe open and prepare to dive in.

Upstairs, the General arrives.  "Well well well, who do we have here..."  then after a beat, "No really, who are you? I don't know who you are." Colombus snarls about the General not knowing him, tears his disguise away to reveal his bulking form.  "I am Colombus!" He pulls out his wallet, and with its metal chain, he hurls the chained wallet like a deadly bladed yoyo at the General.

The soldiers down below open fire as the dummies zip away.  Kaluha, Hideo and Hilda leap in, but Hilda waits for Jane Doe, cause models never leave a fellow model behind.

Above, Javier lands on the truck, with Charlotte landing in his arms.  They hurry into the truck to start the engine.  Both aren't certain how to drive the truck, but they split duties with Javier handling the wheel and Charlotte taking the pedals.  Colombus at the top launches his yoyo that clashes into the soldiers near the General, slashes the General's leg to force him down, then he rushes to the General and tells him, "Remember my face!"

As the water picks up in the tunnels, each model tries to hold onto each other to control their descent and not smash into the grill. They slow their descent, and stop at the grill.  Kaluha pulls out her lipstick, which she activates to use its hidden laser cutter.  She begins cutting the grills off.

Above, Jane Doe blends with the wall as the guards move past her.  The latex figures continue to lure them away.  But one guard turns and sees Hilda at the last second.  Hilda kicks the guard at the groin with her reinforced heels, knocking the guard unconscious, then grabs Jane Doe to run for the pipe. Jane Doe tells Hilda she's not so bad.  The two leap into the pipe and dive into the water.

Kaluha leads the others out of the grill into the beachside, and they see the truck nearby with Javier and Charlotte.  As Colombus rushes off to try to leave, but the General snarls, "You're not Charlotte..." but trains a pistol at him.  Colombus hurls his chained wallet one last time, and the chain detaches from the wallet to allow it to explode as a flash bang.

The others rig the uranium to a bracelet to launch back into the pipes as an explosive of a more contained proportion.

The wallet flies and slams into the General's face.  Colombus runs out and heads for the group.  At the next door building, the wife calls out for her husband.  And then, a white flash erupts as an explosion rocks the military base thanks to the rigged uranium.  The truck roars alongside to pick Colombus up.  They all drive off as the place behind them explodes in a series of chain reactions.  At the manor, the animals watch the fireballs reach for the sky.

"So this is your team," Jane Doe asks them.

"This it not my team, this is... our family," Hilda grins.

"I still hate you," Jane Doe tells Hideo, "Oh Models.  That's what unites us all. The rest of the world is... ugly."

They drive off.
Mission complete.

The M.O.D.E.L.S. ruleset is currently on hold.
In the meantime, check out the awesome game, Cold Shadows, by Alan Bahr.

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