Friday, November 9, 2012

[Actual Play] Marvel Heroic Roleplaying - X-Men: Last Class Vol 2., #2

And here's the write-up of the most recent session of 'X-Men: Last Class'. It's a short one, since we had some trouble with the rooms on the day Doc ran the game.

The Cast
Adonis (Played by Heather V) - A mutant of such natural charisma that he can't help but be attractive to the fairer sex, and even other men. Also possesses super strength and endurance.
Chad Hudson (Also played by Heather V) - An earth manipulating jerkass jock, and one of only two surviving members of the New Runaways group who crossed over in Vol 2., Issue #1
Erica (Played by Heather W) - A shapeshifter who is able to sense how things work in any given reality, allowing her to move like the creatures she transforms into. This also allows her to sense if something about the reality she inhabits is off.
Jenny Everywhere (played by me) - Yet another alternate version of Jenny, hailing from a steampunk reality (the Spirit of the Century universe). This one is more experienced in her role as a mulitversal guardian, and is also more of a scientific bent than her predecessors.
Larry Luck AKA Collect (played by Mike) - Larry has the ability to retrieve any object he requires from anywhere in the multiverse, though the process can occasionally be quite random. This talent has earned him unwanted attention from certain players in the war currently being waged across the multiverse.
Mayhem (played by Blair) - A symbiote with child-like intellect whose host, an erudite professor, is able to exert enough influence to keep it fighting on the side of good, unfortunately the professor's intelligence does not carry over to the symbiote.
Memo (played by Axel) - Possesses the ability to mentally interface with machines, which led to him being taken over by the Borg hivemind at the end of last season.
TE Lawrence (played by Anna) - A life-sized decoy robot disguised as a high school student sent by SHIELD to track down the source of MGH being sold on the Midtown High School campus in the New Runaways universe. Now one of only two surviving members of that group, having crossed over in Vol 2., Issue #1.
Disclaimer: The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.

With a Borg Cube moments from exploding overhead, Larry Luck AKA Collect reaches inside one of his interdimensional pockets and pulls out the Darkhold. He opens the ancient tome and converses briefly with the Darkhold dwarf, makes a wish to remove himself and anyone he may consider an ally to safety. The Darkhold dwarf taunts him, hinting that the part of him which is loyal to his friends has been 'compromised', and that such a wish may not turn out as he expects.

Meanwhile, Memo, who had been taken over by the Borg hive mind after communicating with the nanobots last season, manages to break free of the collective, and escapes the Cube he was taken aboard in one of the ships they had captured (the Primate Avenger from Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys). He unknowingly receives some help in circumventing the Borg ship's security measures from TE Lawrence, who is hacking the Borg collective via his wi-fi connection.

Collect takes great care in wording his wish, and he and all the heroes on the plateau except for Susan Storm, Reed Richards and their daughter Valeria, are teleported to an empty classroom at what appears to be Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

They are joined there by yet another alternate version of Jenny, this one dressed in an old fashioned aviator's outfit, complete with goggles and a multi-coloured scarf. As the group tries to regain their bearings, they are able to discover that the year is 1962. Before the group can decide on their next move, Professor Xavier and his first class, including Scott Summers and Jean Grey, enter the classroom. Despite Jenny's warnings not to interfere with events, Collect and the others attempt to explain the situation to Xavier and his students. But no matter what they say, the Professor seems to dismiss their claims and continues with his lesson. Meanwhile, the group are trapped in the classroom, as the Professor has instructed Jean Grey to telekinetically block the windows and door to the classroom, in case any students try to skip out of class.

Jenny, Memo and [other Heather's character] are convinced that it would be dangerous to push too hard to try and change things, and that they should wait it out and see what happens. Collect isn't willing to wait though, and tries to head for the door, only to be partially consumed by Mayhem. The others are less than pleased with the symbiote, and demand it let Collect go, under threat of pain. This scares Mayhem into releasing Collect, but he's also so scared that he runs for the door himself, smashing it down. As if in response to this, Jean Grey collapses into a seizure on the floor and lets out a scream.

At this point, a voice fills the room, saying: 'I thought I might throw you a bone, let you see what's in store, but apparently you're not as smart as I thought you were.'

Jenny flippantly demands that the 'mysterious voice from the sky' introduce itself, to which the voice replies: 'Oh, I rather think you'll do.'

The group are then teleported out of the room, and find themselves in a throne room facing Thanos, the Mad Titan. Collect then collapses in pain as Thanos seems to be torturing him with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet. Jenny trains her blaster on Thanos and demands he let Collect go. Thanos is unfazed, remarking: 'Oh no. A tiny pistol. My one weakness.'

Jenny fires anyway, but Thanos levitates Collect into the line of fire, and she ends up shooting him instead. Realising the futility of it, Jenny holsters her weapon and stares Thanos down. Thanos makes clear his intention to make Jenny into one of his agents, to which she replies 'over my dead body'. Everybody decides to choose this moment to rush Thanos, hoping to overwhelm him with numbers. It might not have worked, had Jenny not made a gamble and apported what appears to be an X-Men communicator into her palm, and pressed the button.

As the others make their assault, Cyclops teleports into the throne room and blasts Thanos. The blast is a little different from his usual energy blasts, it's a darker shade of red. The blast is enough to wound Thanos, and the others take the opportunity to lay into him, Mayhem engulfing him in tentacles and holding him in place while Cyclops continues to blast away. Meanwhile, TE Lawrence pries the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos' hand and puts it on herself. Thanos screams at him: 'No! You fool!'

Thanos is knocked out by a final blast of dark energy from Cyclops, who then stares TE Lawrence down and demands he hand over the gauntlet...


X-Men: Last Class Vol 2., #3 will be online Monday @ 6:00pm. Stay tuned!

[Marvel Heroic Roleplaying] Previously on 'X-Men: Last Class' and 'New Runaways' - Season 1 and New Runaways Recap

Here is a recap of the events from the first 'season' of our Marvel Heroic Roleplaying campaign, 'X-Men: Last Class'. This should help reduce confusion as to what the heck is going on in the game as of the most recent session, since there's a lot of stuff that's happened.

Disclaimer: The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.


The Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters is destroyed by Sentinels.

The Baxter Building is blown up, and Franklin Richards - son of Reed Richards and Susan Storm - is abducted.

All over New York, heroes are being systematically defeated and captured by strange duplicates of other superheroes and villains infested with metallic slugs.

And it's not just this New York. It's happening in every universe. Nobody knows why, and so far no hero has been able to stop the tide of destruction that's sweeping across the omniverse.

There are, however, those who might yet make a difference.

A ragtag group of survivors from the Xavier School escapes the invaders. They're not even fully fledged X-Men, but they nonetheless don the uniforms and take the fight to what they know only as the Enemy. Gaining the support of Susan Storm and Valeria Richards, they are able to track the abducted faculty and other superheroes to a hidden base in the Savage Land, seemingly run by OzCorp.

Two of their number vanish in the conflict that follows.

Jenny Harris, gifted with strange trans-dimensional teleportation powers, is sent on a mission across the omniverse by Susan and Valeria to seek aid from the version of Reed Richards closest to the frontlines of this omniversal war, and is instantly replaced by a cold and emotionless soldier version of herself from another timeline.

Then, while Black Ops Jenny accidentally levels the facility after discovering her energy absorption powers and losing control of them, Larry Luck aka Collect, gets dragged inside his own dimensionally transcendental pocket by a purple hand belonging to Thanos.

In the aftermath of the blast, all of the X-Men and other superheroes the team thought they had rescued dissolve into metallic slugs, just before an armada of cube shaped ships arrives to blot out the sun, announcing in a booming electronic voice: 'We are the Borg. You will be archived. Resistance is futile.'

Meanwhile, another band of would-be heroes arrives from an alternate timeline. They consist of the air-bender Alex Murphy, toymaster Blaine Burton, earth-bender Chad Hudson, yet another alternate Jenny by the name of Jenny Darkholme, and the malfunctioning Life Model Decoy known as TH Lawrence. There was a hope that this motley crew of misfits might make a difference in the events to come, as they had either perished or didn't have powers in all the previous universes visited by the Enemy before theirs.

However, it seems this hope was in vain. Blaine Burton disappears after he is seemingly absorbed into the cape that he borrowed from Doctor Strange, which is now in the hands of Thanos. Jenny Darkholme blows a hole into a universe of pure kinetic energy, significantly diminishing the Borg's numbers, but she is absorbed into the energy universe while sealing the breach before it grows out of control. And finally, self-appointed 'team' leader Alex Murphy flies into the upper atmosphere in his hijacked Gundam and sets off a nuke, destroying another large group of Borg ships, but the shockwave sends him tumbling out into space, having lost all power to his thrusters.

As all of this unfolds, Susan Storm and Valeria realise the Borg ship that has crashed into the plateau they're on is about to explode...

X-Men: Last Class Vol 2., #2 will be online @ 6:30pm. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

[Monster of the Week] GUGaCon One-Shot: The Jersey Mothman

I just returned from the GUGaCon, a mini-con that GUGS attempts to run at least once every year. As I've been itching to try out Mike Sands' awesome AW hack, Monster of the Week, I signed myself up as a GM for the evening portion of the event and ran it as a one-shot. Here's my report on how the game turned out:

The Hunters
Charles (the Snoop - played by Sam) - Charles is a jittery film student and webmaster of the moderately well-known Youtube channel by the name of thetruthisoutthere. He's best friends with Angus from their film class at university. Helped Constance kill a story which threatened her reputation as a university professor. He was saved by Elena when he blundered into a vampire nest she happened to be staking out. And Eliza is his creepy cousin, who's moving to New Jersey with Constance.

Angus McGuffin (the Flake - played by Paul) - Perfectly average looking in appearance and dress sense, though he's got a bit of a Scotsman in him, it seems. He only befriended Charles because he's convinced he's somehow tied into the Illuminati conspiracy. He looked up Constance's work on the internet, and all signs pointed towards them working together, so he got in touch with her. Elena is an old friend of his, they used to play wargames at the local RP soc, before she got all vengeful. As for Eliza, he knows her through cryptozoology and conspiracy theory sites they both frequent.

Constance Trivle (the Expert - played by Doc) - A stern faced university professor, dressed in finely tailored clothes. She has worked with vampires in the past, trying to help them in their efforts to find a cure, and believes not all vampires are bad. She nearly got in trouble after she was seen fighting a monster on campus, but one of the students she saved (Charles) helped her cover it up. Angus is a very distant cousin, thrice removed, her side of the family don't like to talk about his side much. Elena knows of Constance's dealings with vampires and she's not impressed with Constance's views on them. Eliza is Constance's ward, she took the girl into her care in order to help her learn to control her powers.

Elena (the Wronged - played by Heather) - A steely eyed, scar-faced woman often dressed in hunting gear, Elena lost her boyfriend just after he proposed to her when they were attacked by vampires. She got away but he was turned, and she was later forced to kill him in self-defence. She has been on a vengeful crusade against vampires ever since. Charles helped her out with finding a nest, and even though she had to pull his fat out of the fire when he blundered on in, she still feels she owes him for the help. Angus has withheld information from her on people she suspects of being vampires, because he doesn't trust her. Constance has helped Elena train to fight against the vampires and everything else out there. Eliza is the orphaned daughter of some old friends of hers, who she was unable to save from vampires who came after them.

Eliza (the Spooky - Played by Mike) - Eliza is a 9 year old girl, dressed like something out of the 1800s, with dead eyes and a creepy, dreamy voice. Her powers manifested due to the stress of losing her parents in a vampire attack. She remembers Elena as a close friend of the family, but ever since the night she saved her from the vampires she's been distant towards her, because she failed to save her parents. After her powers manifested, Elena took her to see Constance, who took Eliza into her care and helped her learn to control them. Charles is her big cousin. She once made Angus's computer explode during a tantrum.

The Session
We started the game off with the gang getting ready to head down to Lake Abbot in New Jersey, where there have been reported sightings of a winged creature in the local area. Constance is also bumming a ride off of them, because she's moving to New Brunswick to take on a visiting fellowship at Rutgers and Eliza is there because she's also moving up with her.

Before they hit the road, Angus does some research to find out what might be used to harm the Jersey Devil. He finds some lore that indicates iron may harm it. Charles starts recording the proceedings as soon as they hit the road. On the way, Constance takes a look at some of the reports on the sightings in the area and surmises that they're actually dealing with a Mothman. She also finds that the only 'official' sightings of the Mothman previously occured in Point Pleasant between 1966 and 1967, and ended with the catastrophic collapse of the Silver Bridge, which some believe the Mothman was responsible for. Constance suggests that they put an end to the creature before such a tragedy can be repeated.

Just after dusk, they're getting near to the town when they encounter a roadblock. The sheriff meets them and explains that there's been a crash in the road; a truck driver lost control of his vehicle and caused a collision. The sheriff assures them it won't take long to clear things up. Charles asks her some questions, showing her his press pass, and gets a bit more information. The driver claims he saw something huge flying towards him and swerved to avoid it, but he's pretty delirious and in critical condition. With some mental trickery from Eliza, they're able to bypass the roadblock and pass by the wreckage as the driver is being carried away in a stretcher. Eliza tries to read his thoughts, but his mind isn't coherent enough to get a good fix on it.

As it's late, they check into a hotel for the night, except for Angus, who stays in the van to look stuff up on his computer. While he's trying to get info from his net friends, there's a power fluctuation which seems to drain his battery. In the motel, Charles notices the power disruption as the lights flicker. He turns on his EMF detector and it goes crazy, then it diminishes to normal levels again. He wakes Constance to let her know, and discover that Eliza is not in the room. They head downstairs to ask the staff if they've seen her. Turns out Eliza has actually got Elena to take her down to the bar and get her some orange juice, and they head back up in the lift just as Charles and Constance are taking the stairs down. Constance is furious with the bartender when she learns he served Eliza orange juice: 'I know what you people put in orange juice.'

As Eliza and Elena arrive back in Elena's room, Charles' EMF detector starts going nuts again and they follow the signal upstairs. In Elena's room, the lights go out and the Mothman's blazing red eyes are seen peering inside the window as it hovers outside. Elena raises her weapon, but Eliza is in the way, as she's stepped forward and starts communicating with it telepathically. It seems the Mothman felt her psychic presence earlier, and was curious. She asks it what it wants, and it tells her it's searching for 'the nexus'. She asks what the nexus is, but before the Mothman can answer, Charles comes bursting in and fires his .32 through the window at the creature. It plinks off of the Mothman's hide and the creature flees, while Elena butts Charles in the face with her shotgun out of reflex, not expecting his sudden dramatic entrance. Angus rushes into the hotel on hearing the gunshot and tries to talk the manager out of calling the authorities. Unfortunately, he only makes the manager more desperate to get the sheriff, who arrives a short while later to question them. Charles tries to explain the matter, saying that there was an intruder on the fire escape outside the window. He is asked to go down to the sheriff's office and give a statement. He's also fined for damage to hotel property.

The next morning, the group head out to the Ostler farm, where one of the earlier sightings took place. From questioning Mr Ostler and Eliza casting some magic to see the events of a few nights ago, they're able to ascertain that the Mothman tried to open some kind of portal, but the portal collapsed and the excess energy released killed the farmer's dog and two cows.

From this, and the information Eliza gleaned from her conversation with the Mothman, Constance theorises that the Mothman is attempting to find a connection between this plane of existence and another in order to either cross over or bring something through. Either way, the effects on local reality are clearly destructive. Eliza doesn't understand this, and thinks they should help the Mothman find the nexus. For this reason, Constance doesn't reveal that she has already identified the likely nexus point as the Abbotsview Bridge.

In order to track the Mothman to its hiding place, Eliza uses her mental powers to reach out and make contact with its mind, and is able to tell the group where it is right now. It's in the pine barrens, across the nearby river. They set off up the hiking trail into the barrens, and come across an area of flattened trees a little past the river, with the shape of a winged humanoid figure scorched into the earth at its centre. This looks to be the spot where the Mothman arrived in this world. They continue onwards, spotting a pair of deer hunters nearby just as the EMF detector indicates the Mothman is approaching their location.

While Constance distracts the hunters by pretending to be an animal protection officer and demanding to see their hunting licences, Eliza attempts to make contact with the Mothman's mind again. It was moving away from them, but when it senses Eliza it comes back around and lands in front of the girl. The hunters see this, and raise their weapons, though they're too shocked by the creature's appearance to fire straight away. Meanwhile, Eliza converses with the Mothman and discovers that it only wants to go home. She asks if she can help, and the Mothman says that it could use her to boost its mystic senses to widen its search. Of course, Eliza realises this would burn her out and leave her brain dead. She decides she doesn't like the Mothman anymore and says: 'But I don't want to die.'

Hearing this, Constance orders the hunters to open fire. They do, and the creature lets out a terrifying scream. Eliza uses telekinetic force to enhance her punch and lamps the Mothman square in the chest, sending it flying into a tree. Constance charges it and stabs it in the eye with her magical dagger, twists the dagger and makes a run for it. Enraged, the Mothman flies after her, but Elena gets in the way, and it grabs her and slams her into a tree instead. At this point though, it rears back and holds its head in pain as Eliza attacks it with her mind. This gives the others the opportunity to blast it to pieces with their various guns.

The Mothman collapses and starts shimmering, Eliza notices that it's bleeding off a lot of energy and Constance recommends they all run. They do so, but the energy wave still catches them. Only Charles is really badly hurt by it though, getting a nasty case of sunburn but manages to survive. Shame the same can't be said of the camera though. The footage on the tape seems okay too, there's enough to put something together for the Youtube channel...after Charles has had some time to recover from his injuries.

Thoughts On The Game
Overall, the players enjoyed the game and I enjoyed running it. Character creation was fun in itself, as the players enjoyed working out how their characters were connected to each other. There was some slight resistance to the way the system limits you to specific options, as in the Investigate A Mystery move, but people got into it a bit more as they played. The only thing I think I could work on, as Keeper, is remembering to use the Keeper moves and Threat moves a bit more. As it was, I probably was actually doing moves, but it was more a case of 'this seems like the kind of thing that should happen now, so I'll say that's what happens', rather than my consciously choosing from a list of available moves.

From this first game, I really like the way the system works. My only issues are that the 'Use Magic' move seems a bit powerful and has definite potential for abuse in games. I'm also not sure about the experience system, as it seems with players getting experience every time they roll highlighted ratings, they level up maybe once or twice per session. That's cool for a one-shot, but it seems like it might be a bit too fast a progression for campaign play. That said, I'm definitely looking forward to running this as a campaign, and already have a group ready to put characters together for one over IRC this Monday evening.

P.S. The actual play reports for 'Marvel Heroic Roleplaying - X-Men: Last Class' will resume shortly. There was a brief hiatus due to clashing schedules, and Doc ran a side-adventure as a one-shot, but we've started again as of last Saturday and I'll be resuming the APs after I get Doc to look over my write-up of the most recent session and give it his stamp of GM approval.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: New Runaways #8/X-Men: Last Class Vol 2, #1

This session served as both a finale for the summer game and a premiere for our regular X-Men game. The events detailed here are, as always, prejudiced towards Jenny's POV and there's some stuff that happens elsewhere and also later on that she's not privy to. I won't be going into detail on these at this time, for reasons which I'll explain at the end of this Actual Play.

The Cast
Alex Murphy (played by Blair) – Formerly the school’s resident drug dealer, Murphy is now attempting to establish himself as team leader in the fight against the forces of evil. He has the ability to manipulate air.
Chad Hudson (played by Heather) – Earth manipulating jerkass jock.
Jenny Darkholme (played by me) – Orphan with a strong sense of responsibility and potentially destined to be one of the guardians of the multiverse. She has the ability to teleport, and to manipulate energy. She is also currently sharing head-space with the 'ghost' of a reformed evil (and much older and more experienced) version of herself.
TE Lawrence (played by Anna, absent this week) – An undercover life-sized decoy robot sent by SHIELD to track down the source of MGH being sold on the Midtown High School campus. As of episode two, his memory banks have been erased except for his cover identity and a single directive: ‘Save as many as you can.’
Disclaimer: The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.

The energies given off by the Phoenix Force were too great. We had to do something or all of New York beneath us would be blown to pieces. We tried siphoning off the energy through the TARDIS and my own energy absorption powers, but it was too much. Chad even tried when I couldn't take any more, but even he had to stop, as the energy current started purifying his earth form into a metallic form. Eventually, the Doctor ordered us all out of the TARDIS. Before we left, he reminded us that the Phoenix would arrive in our own universe in 13 days; he said it was a fixed point in time, and for a point in time to be fixed on 'the omniversal scale' it meant something cataclysmic was going to happen. He told us - or, I think now that he was talking to me specifically - not to worry, that we would meet again. Murph took everyone in the palm of his Gundam, while I teleported out and hovered nearby.

Head Jenny told me it seemed the Doctor was planning on filling up the TARDIS with the Phoenix energies and using the extra charge to shunt the TARDIS and the Phoenix somewhere far away, where it wouldn't be a danger for a while. But he couldn't do it alone. Head Jenny told me that this was where she got off. She told me to retreat to the Gundam's clasped hands along with everyone else, which I did. And then I took some kind of fit - felt like I was being pulled apart - and passed out. The last thing I remember before losing consciousness was Head Jenny's voice telling me: 'We'll meet again.'

When I came to, there was a hole in the world in the shape of the TARDIS and the Phoenix. The view on the other side kept shifting. One minute it was showing some sort of starry backdrop, the next it was showing a strange, tropical landscape where a huge armada of cube shaped spaceships were hovering in the sky. We started getting pulled towards it, and I yelled for Murph to go the other way. I guess he couldn't manage that though. We got sucked through into the tropical land, and all the power cut out in the ship. Murph managed to pull us out of the freefall soon enough, and we regrouped with Grimlock, who had also been pulled through the portal.

We encountered some guy who called himself Collect. He had some X-Men insignia, so we figured him to be friendly and asked Grimlock to keep him safe. He did so by asking the poor guy to climb inside his mouth which he was understandably reluctant to do. All the same, he did, and we got to addressing the matter at hand: the armada of cube ships announcing to us that 'Resistance was futile' and we would be 'archived'.

Well, I was in a pretty foul mood by now. The Doctor was gone, so was Head Jenny, and I'd had about enough of cosmic level bullies trying to push people around. I teleported myself to a hovering position in front - or what appeared to be the front - of the fleet and drew the space sword. Then I yelled, 'Archive this!'

I slashed at the air in front of the armada with the sword. What happened next wasn't exactly what I had planned though. I had meant to channel my power through the sword and teleport a bunch of the cubes elsewhere. What actually happened was, I cut open a portal in front of the armada, and a huge burst of red energy - like the eye beams that Cyclops guy used - poured out of the the tear. I'd accidentally ripped a hole between this dimension and one of pure energy. It made a pretty big dent in their numbers before these things - they called themselves the Borg - seemed to adapt to the energy and put up forcefields to defend against it. Even then, their forcefields couldn't completely stop the full force of the energy, and it was slowly eating away at the rest of the cubes.

The energy was running out of control though. I knew if I didn't fix the hole I'd made, it would continue to expand until that energy consumed the world, maybe even the entire universe. I reversed the space sword and started trying to zip the hole shut. I got about halfway before the sword got so hot I could smell the flesh burning on my hands, but I kept going, kept pulling the hole shut until there was just a fist sized hole left. And then the tip of the sword melted. The rest disintegrated in my hands as I pulled it away, and my hands were covered in first degree burns. And because of my energy absorption powers, I was still linked to the energy on the other side of the portal. The beam of it that was pouring out from that hole was tethered to me, and I couldn't stop absorbing.

"Murph..." I said, "...don't let them win. You hear me? Don't let them." He was busy, so I don't think he realised this was my way of saying goodbye.

My last thoughts were that I hoped I'd done enough damage to give the others a fighting chance, but there still seemed to be a lot of ships. I counted maybe about a thousand. I hoped the others would be all right. I hoped they would be able to stop Them from getting their hands on the Phoenix Force.

Finally, I became energy myself, and got drawn back into that dimension as the hole finally sealed itself and drew the energy that was spilling out back to the other side. As I was absorbed, I heard Head Jenny's voice say: "I told you we'd meet again."

After that, nothing much seemed to matter anymore. I was still conscious of my surroundings, of the red light that was now my world. But everything was sort of numb, none of it seemed all that important anymore. The others would be fine. Everything would work out as it was supposed to.

Eventually I became so used to the red light that it faded to white. And then other Jennys started appearing in this white space. They tried talking to me, but I didn't respond to them. They still seemed to remember what feelings were and talked to one another, but I couldn't interact with them. I couldn't see that it mattered.

After a while, it dawned on me where all those Jennys were coming from. They were the Jennys who had died. This was the White Room where Jennys go after they've died. But that couldn't be right. I was there, but I wasn't dead. And I realised that I had created this place. I had created the White Room. And it seemed that shortly after I realised this, all the other Jennys went away again. I was alone again.

Alone. I remembered what that meant now.

And so I screamed.

OOC: So, this version of Jenny is, for all intents and purposes, dead. There's also a lot of backstory from the X-Men: Last Class campaign that isn't explored here because she wasn't privy to it. My intent is to post a recap of the first 'season' of the X-Men: Last Class campaign before the next session on Saturday. I'll also try and start off the next AP report with a brief summary of what happened last session to those who weren't Jenny.

I'm not sure who I'll be playing as next Saturday but I'll be giving an AP report of the session as usual next Monday, either from their POV or I may start just giving a general overview. Which means I'll need to take better notes of what happens. I'll be getting some practice with that when the L5R campaign starts up on Tuesday.

X-Men: Last Class Vol 2., #2 will be online next Monday @ 6:00pm. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What The Future Holds (Roleplaying-wise)

GUGS wasn't on yesterday, as it's Fresher's Week at the university, so sadly no Fiasco or other one-off game session to report about this week.

Next week though, GUGS will be starting its 'one shot season', allowing new members to try their hands at roleplaying (and existing members to settle back in after the holidays if they've been away) in one-off games for the first couple of weeks, before the long-term campaigns get started in October.

I've decided to take another shot at GMing, after a disastrous attempt at a Spirit Of The Century campaign over the summer break, so I'll be running a couple of sessions of InSpectres.

I chose to run InSpectres as it's a 'GM-lite' game which requires no real prep, and allows the players quite a bit of narrative control. The default setting is a horror comedy in the style of Ghostbusters, with the players as a team of supernatural investigators for hire. I've run the game once before and it was a good bit of wacky fun, so I'm looking forward to running it again.

After that, I'll be joining a Legend of the Five Rings game. At the moment I'm still trying to decide what kind of character I want to play. Right now it's a toss-up between sneaky ninja (Scorpion clan) or detective type (Dragon clan). I've got a couple weeks to work it out yet, in any case.

I don't know if we're going to be having a GUGathon this month or not - that's our monthly gaming marathon day, which usually takes place the last Saturday of the month - but I'm going to try and prepare myself for running a one-shot of Monster of the Week (the action-horror Apocalypse World hack by Michael Sands). I've got a vague idea for a mystery in mind, just need to iron out a few details.

All that aside, the Marvel Heroic spin-off campaign should be running as normal on Saturday, and it should be the finale before we segue back into the main campaign.

So that should all make for lots of great roleplaying fun in the near future. Looking forward to it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: New Runaways #7

This post should really be much shorter than it turned out to be, since most of Saturday's session involved training montages for our various characters. It didn't work out that way. In any case, this should definitely be the penultimate session this time, as Doc promises next week will be the finale.

The Cast
Alex Murphy (played by Blair) – Formerly the school’s resident drug dealer, Murphy is now attempting to establish himself as team leader in the fight against the forces of evil. He has the ability to manipulate air.
Chad Hudson (played by Heather) – Earth manipulating jerkass jock.
Jenny Darkholme (played by me) – Orphan with a strong sense of responsibility and potentially destined to be one of the guardians of the multiverse. She has the ability to teleport, and to manipulate energy. She is also currently sharing head-space with the 'ghost' of a reformed evil (and much older and more experienced) version of herself. 
TE Lawrence (played by Anna) – An undercover life-sized decoy robot sent by SHIELD to track down the source of MGH being sold on the Midtown High School campus. As of episode two, his memory banks have been erased except for his cover identity and a single directive: ‘Save as many as you can.’
Disclaimer: The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.

Where was I? Oh yeah. The Doctor and Chad were outside on this planet made of weird metal, and then the Doctor said: 'Oops.'

That was when a big worm-like creature burst outta the ground. Thought for sure Chad and the Doctor were worm chow, but before we could all rush out to the rescue, it turned out this thing, and its six buddies who showed up soon after, recognised the Doctor and were friendly. They had earth manipulation powers like Chad, and he spent some time meditating or communing or something like that with them. It was very un-Chad-like.

After that, the worms took Chad to see an 'Earth-bending' master: a twelve-year-old blind girl called Toph Beifong. Don't let the blindness fool you, though, this girl's tough as nails. Of course, Chad didn't realise she was blind for almost a week. Watching her train Chad was hilarious, on account of her throwing boulders at him and stuff. Within four days, Toph had taught him everything she could, and he came out of it with a 'second skin' of that weird liquid/solid metal the planet was made from.

While Chad was busy with that, we all spent a bit of time preparing ourselves for the big battle that was to come. Murph went off to train in his Gundam, learn how to pilot it and such. The Doctor took Lawrence under his wing to teach him 'some stuff', in the Doctor's own words. He was very mysterious about the whole thing. Whatever he was teaching him, I know it included flying the TARDIS...and Lawrence got pretty at that good, too. As for Blaine...I'm not sure, I wasn't there for it, whatever it was.
[OOC Note: Amy discovered that Lawrence was a robot and told the Doctor, who sat Lawrence down and explained the truth to him. This led to Lawrence experiencing a system reboot, allowing him to remember his true nature and purpose. The Doctor decided to teach Lawrence that even though he was a robot, that didn't mean he wasn't a person too. At the same time, he also spent time teaching Lawrence how to use some of his hidden functions and fly the TARDIS and stuff.
In Blaine's case, I really don't know what his 'training montage' involved, because Elliot wasn't in the game this week.]

See, Toph had mentioned about this sword her friend had lost. A 'space sword' she described it as. Apparently it was made of the same stuff this planet was. Because of its unique properties, it had cut its way through several universal barriers and got lost somewhere in the multiverse. Anyway, they'd encountered the Doctor a while back, and in exchange for their help, they'd asked him to recover the sword for them, which he hadn't done yet. Head Jenny thought we might be able to find it though.

Turns out that while Head Jenny was under The Enemy's control, she had been in possession of this sword, and had been using it to cut holes between universes which The Enemy's assembled fleet could pass through safely. Just before arriving in our universe, she hid it somewhere. But she had forgotten where.

A couple nights later, it came back to her, and she helped me find my way to the place where she'd left the sword. She warned me not to interfere in the course of events, despite what I might see there.

It was really a hard warning to follow. We were somewhere underground, with all these girls - most not much older than I was, some a bit younger - armed for battle. There was a hoard of creatures climbing out of a pit to attack the kids. 'Ubervamps', Head Jenny called them. The girls were fighting hard, but a lot of them were dying. There were two women there with them as well, and one of them looked a lot like me except, well, older. Her name was Faith. I went to her, and she was surprised to see me, but not for the reason ya might think. Apparently, she thought I was 'just a dream'. Anyhow, she had been given the sword to put somewhere safe, and had dropped it down the pit. I thanked her and teleported down into the pit to get it. The sword was in the middle of a circle of Ubervamps, so I teleported in and grabbed it.

It felt just the right weight in my hands as I was fighting off the Ubervamps, and I discovered a new ability: I could teleport things - like, say Ubervamps - away from me, without touching them.

I fought them off and teleported back up to where Faith and the kids were still fighting off the hoarde, but the tide seemed to have turned, and a piller of light burst to life around this peroxide blonde guy wearing some kind of tacky medalion. The cavern was collapsing, and the girls were fleeing. That was my cue to leave too. I gave Faith a nod before teleporting out and returning to the TARDIS.

The Doctor and everyone seemed to be having a meeting as I arrived. He was just saying something about 'having to go ahead with the plan without her' when I appeared. I had just enough time to notice how relieved they looked to see me, before I passed out. I guess that battle and all the teleporting I'd done really took the wind outta me.

When I woke up, the Doctor told me I'd been gone for two weeks. We only had a matter of days until the Phoenix Force was due to arrive, and we still had to go to the universe where they'd been able to contain the Phoenix before, in order to figure out a way to deal with it and keep it out of the Enemy's hands. The Doctor noticed the sword, and figured we could use it for our 'plan'. I'm not sure what plan that would be, I thought we were just making stuff up as we went? Anyway, I guess Toph won't mind if we hold onto it a bit longer, what with the fate of the multiverse hanging in the balance and all. We'll need every edge we can get in order to stop the Enemy's plans. Heh...'edge', get it?

I used the sword to cut a hole for the TARDIS to travel through, and we arrived just in time to witness the first arrival of Galactus and the Silver Surfer on this version of earth. At which point the Doctor fainted on us. The Surfer sensed us watching through the scanner somehow, and started blasting the TARDIS. While the rest of us hung on tight as the TARDIS started flying wild-like, Murph took his Gundam out for a spin. Kicked the Silver Surfer right off his board. Lawrence managed to bring the TARDIS back under control, and  we watched on the scanner as Murph addressed Galactus, telling him that bigger things than Galactus were afoot, and that if he didn't spare this earth so that the Phoenix could arrive and find its host, even he would perish.

I was impressed...and not a little horrified. Fortunately, Galactus called a pause on destroying the world. We decided to wait in the TARDIS for the arrival of the Phoenix. Except the Doctor realised that we were about seventeen years too early. So we fast forwarded a bit, and then alarm bells started ringing and the Doctor went 'Oops' again. Turned out we weren't so early after all, because there on the monitor was a giant flaming bird flying straight towards the screen. Kinda hope that doesn't mean it's headed right for us, but then, with our luck so far...

To be continued...

New Runaways #8 will be online next Monday @ 6:00pm. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 7, 2012

[Fiasco Actual Play] The Quest For The Golden Panda

With Blair's Cthulhutech game having wrapped up the previous week, the five of us sat down to play some Fiasco on Tuesday night to fill in the gap. Here's the mayhem that followed.

The Cast
Me - Xan Wu
Blair - Meelo Wu Ming
Heather - Kaede Ming
Doc - Granny Ming
Anna - Kotatsu Ming

Act One
It all begins at the Green Market Place. Meelo is looking for something cool to buy with his pocket money, and is offered a scroll by a creepy old merchant, which he claims is a map to adventure. Later, as Granny Ming is beating Meelo senseless to take the map from him - because she's a nasty old crone like that - his grandfather (Kotatsu) mistakenly eats a dragon egg. As a result, he starts belching flames, and the map catches on fire. Granny Ming is able to put out the flames and hides the somewhat charred map on her person. The shopkeeper who had the dragon's egg on his stall comes out and is very troubled by this turn of events. It turns out, anyone who dares to eat a dragon's egg, will become a dragon themselves! In order to break the curse, they must eat the stem of a white lotus flower, but it must first be cut by the Sword of the Golden Panda. Kotatsu knows where this blade may be found, because he works as the sweeper for the temple where it is kept. While Meelo lays barely conscious and Kaede goes to get her sword, Granny and Kotatsu journey to the temple and meet the temple guardian, Xan Wu, who has some sort of history with the family and is none too pleased at Kotatsu for bringing his wife to the temple. Nonetheless, Xan agrees to help them and retrieves the Sword of the Golden Panda from the inner sanctum. However, he will not allow them to carry the sword. Only it's guardian may wield it properly, and for any unworthy soul who tries there will be dire consequences. Xan agrees to accompany them on their quest to cure Kotatsu.

Meanwhile, it turns out Meelo managed to steal the scroll back from Granny, and has set off on his own. Unfortunately, he encounters a bandit at a bridge, who demands a toll. Before the bandit can extract said toll though, the others arrive, and the bandit is given a sound telling off by Grandma Ming. The adventurers continue their quest, encountering another bandit with a giant panda as a bodyguard along the way, and fending them off. Eventually, they reach the Hanging Coffin Gorge where the white lotus can be found. Before they proceed, Xan calls upon the spirits through the Golden Panda sword, to seek permission to take a cutting of the flower.

The four elemental spirits tell Xan that they must first acquire an artifact to represent each element, and that a sacrifice must be made. Xan thinks he knows what the spirits mean, and mutters: 'Oh, so it's time then.' (In reality, the spirits are just making stuff up as they go.)

The Tilt
Mayhem - Magnificent Self-Destruction
Tragedy - Confusion, followed by Pain

Act Two
The adventurers journey deeper into the gorge, where Xan locates a particular crack in the rock and drives his sword into it. This causes the crack to widen and form a tunnel the adventurers can follow to find the artifacts they need. No sooner does Meelo rush inside the crack, than a deluge of water sprays forth from within. Luckily, Kaede is able to rescue her son, and scoops up the water talisman as it is flushed out in the water. They then find themselves besieged by a pack of wild pandas, which Kotatsu sets alight with his fire breath. This doesn't stop them though, so now the adventurers are faced with a pack of flaming pandas. (Confusion, followed by pain.)
Luckily, Xan is able to put out the flames by using his sword to blow them out with the power of Air. The pandas, having lost all their fur to the flames, run away in embarrassment. The air spirit appears and says they have passed the second test, and reveals the air talisman to them.

They then come to the hanging coffins for which the gorge got its name, and the earth spirit unleashes a horde of zombies from within the coffins. At the urging of his fellows, Xan uses the sword to return the zombies to the earth, by causing the earth to open up and swallow them back down. He does not come out of this unscathed though, and gets bit in the leg. The earth spirit grants them its talisman as reward.

The fire spirit's challenge turns out to be a school of flaming fish, which the adventurers easily dispatch and gain the fire talisman. causing the other spirits to ridicule him for such a lame challenge. Then their 'boss' shows up, and decides to make up for activating the dormant volcano inside the mountain. The adventurers flee in panic from the volcanic flow, with Kaede staying behind to try and hold off the flow of the lava with her sword, even though it's not mystical in any way, and getting burnt to a crisp. (Magnificent self-destruction.) Granny Ming, distraught by her daughter's death, steals the Golden Panda sword from Xan and tries to use it to stop the lava flow. However, as she is not its rightful owner, it does not respond to her will, and she can't use its power. She too is burnt to a crisp. Xan summons the sword back to himself, and retreats down the mountain with Kotatsu and Meelo in tow.

Arriving back at the grove where the white lotus grows, Xan receives permission to cut the white lotus flower and gives it to Kotatsu, who eats it and is cured of turning into a dragon...mostly. Xan must still make one final sacrifice to fulfil the bargain with the spirits, and reveals to Meelo that the Golden Panda sword is a sacred relic which can only be passed down from father to son...and then he tells Meelo that it will soon be his. Xan is Meelo's father. He's about to stab himself with the sword, but Meelo moves things along a bit by pushing the sword into his stomach himself. Xan can only gasp a shocked final breath as Meelo withdraws the sword: "Yay, I have a magic sword!"

The Aftermath
Granny Ming (White 6: Weak) - Granny Ming finds herself in the afterlife, where she is consigned to eternity working in a tea shop (her idea of hell), where the customers all look like her husband Kotatsu and constantly make very complex orders and irritate the hell out of her. Eventually she decides to make the best of it, and starts beating the snot out of all her customers.
Kaede (Black 9: Nothing to write home about) - Kaede returns to the early plane to wander as a ghost, watching over her wayward son to keep him out of trouble, because he's far too young to be adventuring on his own.
Kotatsu (Zero: The worst thing in the universe) - The quest to cure him of his transformation into a dragon has cost him his wife and daughter, and it's all for nought. The white lotus only partially cured Kotatsu of the curse. His body isn't transforming into a dragon anymore, but his mind still is. Eventually he's reduced to little more than an animal, cast out by the villagers, and occasionally having strange dreams of being multiple people in a tea shop, being beaten over and over again by Granny Ming.
Meelo (White 10: Not too shabby) - Meelo has a magic sword, yay! All it cost him was the lives of his entire family. Oh well. He's off to go adventuring now!
Xan (Black 11: Pretty good) - When Xan reaches the afterlife he is told that he jumped the gun a little with his sacrifice. It wasn't time for Meelo to have the sword yet, and he will require a mentor to teach him to use it responsibly. As such, Xan is sent back to earth to be Meelo's spirit guide: 'Did you really think you could get rid of me so easily, son?'

Closing Thoughts
I think this one got away from us a little. You may have noticed that it's a bit unclear whose scene is whose in the sequence of events shown above. This is because people weren't very familiar with the game, so we weren't managing to establish scenes that focused specifically on the spotlight player's character. It may not have helped that the needs we came up with during the setup went largely unexplored and we went off in a completely different direction than our original setup indicated. This was all really down to me, as facilitator, failing to properly explain how the game is supposed to work to the players. So, my bad.
 It was still fun, it just...went a little more off the rails than even Fiasco is supposed to. I'll try to do a better job as facilitator and make sure people know what they're supposed to be doing next time.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: New Runaways #6

If this is a little less coherent than the previous recaps, I apologise. A lot of stuff happened, and things got a little wacky during this week's'll see what I mean towards the end of the recap.

Also, as of this session, I'm wondering if it wouldn't be appropriate to call our campaign something like 'Exile Runaways' or 'No-Faters' or something. But I've already been referring to it as 'New Runaways', so I'll stick with that.

Anyway, on to the recap...

The Cast
Alex Murphy (played by Blair) – Formerly the school’s resident drug dealer, Murphy is now attempting to establish himself as team leader in the fight against the forces of evil. He has the ability to manipulate air.
Blaine Burton (played by Elliot) – Teenage single dad with the ability to manipulate inanimate objects; his sympathies are currently leaning towards the Brotherhood’s ideology, in light of recent events.
Chad Hudson (played by Heather) – Earth manipulating jerkass jock.
Jenny Darkholme (played by me) – Orphan with a strong sense of responsibility and potentially destined to be one of the guardians of the multiverse. She has the ability to teleport, and to manipulate energy. One of the main antagonists so far appears to be an older, evil version of her.
TE Lawrence (played by Anna) – An undercover android created by SHIELD and sent to track down the source of MGH being sold on the Midtown High School campus. As of episode two, his memory banks have been erased except for his cover identity and a single directive: ‘Save as many as you can.’
Disclaimer: The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.

After my other self showed up, she made quick work of beating the hell out of us all. Took me down with a zap around the head. Everything got a bit fuzzy after that, but when I looked up, all the others were on the floor as well. Beating us all down seemed to take a lot out of her though, and she was breathing pretty heavily. She looked a bit unfocused...and she had a bunch of those damn nanobots crawling all over her from some kinda device on her wrist.

It was then that I realised that Other Jenny wasn't herself. Obviously these things were controlling her somehow, and if I could just get through to her, she might be able to break free and stop trying to kill us. I pleaded with her to just stop and think, remember who she really was. It looked like I'd gotten through to her...then she punched the air, and we all got sucked into some kind of portal with her.

She'd transported us all to the 'white room': that blank space where all the other Jennys I'd seen before were waiting. Other Jenny told me we had five minutes, and apologised for her actions up until then. She told us she'd been controlled by Them - still not sure who They are yet, but it sounds like they're some sort of 'Elder Gods' or something, maybe - and that they were trying to build some device that will allow them to change reality to what they want. At least, that's what she thinks they're planning. They've been abducting versions of Franklin Richards from all the universes to use as 'batteries' for this device.

The Phoenix Force is supposed to be like the 'glue' or whatever that binds the whole thing together, but there's only one in the whole multiverse, so they'd have to wait until it manifested in this universe to attempt to trap it. They'd also recently acquired an unusual individual: a being who could summon any item from anywhere in the multiverse.
[OOC Note: This is a character from the main X-Men game which this is a spin-off from. His name is Larry Luck AKA Collect, and at the end of last 'season' he was abducted by Thanos.]

Other Jenny warned us not to fight Them. She and the others from her universe had tried, but they were all wiped out, and she was enslaved. She watched as everyone that fought back were either destroyed or 'assimilated'. Eventually she'd come round to thinking that if she could stop people from fighting back, then they could be 'spared' from annihilation. Which is why she'd come up with the 'cure'.

I was mad as hell when she told me this, and asked the rest of the Jennys to back me up, but then they told me why they were all in the 'white room': these were all my alternate selves who had fought back and been killed in the War. This was purgatory for our kind, which was why I shouldn't have been there, on account of me not being dead and all.

Of course, the others - Murph, Blaine, Chad and Lawrence - shouldn't have been there either. In fact, according to Jenny, in every universe she'd encountered so far they had either perished or weren't mutants. Something about those four in our universe was different; perhaps different enough to turn the tide of the War? In this, Jenny found hope again.

She revealed that she had sent the X-Men somewhere safe, and that the Mystique who was on board the Blackbird had been a Skrull long had she been a Skrull? Had she been a Skrull when she adopted me? Or was she replaced more recently? Jenny didn't have the answers. What she could tell us was how long we had before the Phoenix Force manifested in our universe: three weeks.

Jenny was losing control again, and if we didn't do something right then and there, she'd kill us all. So Blaine and I stopped her before she could go evil on us again. We made it quick.

When she died, she...sort of turned into energy and became a part of me. Turns out that's what happens to the Jennys who don't have a universe of their own anymore. So now I have her voice chatting to me in my head. Great. Hope that doesn't happen too often, or it'll get pretty crowded in there.

After that, I teleported Reed and Valeria into the white room from where my twin had sent them - after she'd blown up the top floors of the Baxter Building, to make it look like we'd all died - and we explained the situation.

Turned out they had been sent to the same place as Tony Stark, and together had come up with a device that could destroy the nanobots without harming the host. Murph called them 'magic wellness guns'. I took one and test fired it at Lawrence. He stopped twitching all creepy-like, so I figured it worked. We left Beth with Reed and Valeria, who I sent back to join Stark and keep working on a way of dealing with the Phoenix Force.

As for us...Murph figured we needed to go on a interdimensional 'shopping trip', putting together some resources for the confrontation with Them, having been told by the other Jennys that 'if you can think of it, it probably exists'. Something about 'pantheistic solipsism'.

First off, he wanted to pick up a giant robot dinosaur called Grimlock. I made a couple of navigational errors on the way - wound up on top of some kind of safari jeep facing a real T-Rex, then wound up crammed inside a car with a purple haired woman and a wimpy kid called Shinji, driving away from a giant bipedal monster - but eventually we wound up in the right place. Got eaten by a talking blue and red truck called Optimus, who we made nice with and who led us to this Grimlock. Grimlock didn't seem the sharpest tool in the box, but I guessed he'd be handy in a fight.

Next, Murph wanted to go grab himself a giant robot he called a Gundam. I protested that I'd never be able to carry all this stuff across universes: couldn't we get some kind of ship or something that could do all the dimensional travel for us instead? The Jenny that I was now carrying around in my head - let's call her Head Jenny - said she might know someone who could help, though she was reluctant to drop in on him after 'last time'. I talked her round, and she helped me teleport us inside his ship. Specifically, we teleported to the swimming pool. And then a short while later the ship's owner came tumbling into the pool himself. Weird guy. Dressed in tweed and wears a bow tie (he thinks they're 'cool').

He called himself the Doctor, and somehow he could sense Head Jenny inside of me, and was a bit upset with her since she'd tried to kill him (when she was evil, of course). We managed to smooth things over, and then the Doctor went off to deal with some 'Daleks' (didn't look that scary, just big pepper pots with an attitude problem) before coming back to discuss things with us.

Turned out he had a picture of us all from three weeks in the future, but it kept shifting and changing. 'It's a fixed point in time,' he said, 'but the variables are in flux.'

I had no idea what that was supposed to mean, but I looked pretty beat in the picture. Also, there was a giant robot - Murph's 'Gundam' - fading in and out of the photo, so the Doctor took us off to go and acquire said Gundam. Took us into the middle of a big space battle between lots of the things which he interrupted by...I dunno, hacking all the Gundams and making them dance in space? He's kinda nuts, I think. Anyway, I floated outside his ship - which is called the TARDIS and it's bigger on the inside - while being protected by an 'atmospheric field' or whatever, and teleported the Gundam into the swimming pool.

After that, he took Chad to some moon with some special space metal he can collect to use with his earth manipulation powers. While they're outside collecting this stuff, we hear the Doctor over the intercom as he says: '...oops.'

Head Jenny tells me that when the Doctor says 'Oops', it's usually a very bad

To be continued...

New Runaways #7 will be online next Monday @ 6:00pm. Stay tuned! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: New Runaways #5

According to Doc, the next two sessions will be the two-part season finale for our 'MHR: New Runaways' mini-campaign. Until then, here's Jenny's account of the events from the most recent session...

The Cast
Alex Murphy (played by Blair) – Formerly the school’s resident drug dealer, Murphy is now attempting to establish himself as team leader in the fight against the forces of evil. He has the ability to manipulate air.
Blaine Burton (played by Elliot) – Teenage single dad with the ability to manipulate inanimate objects; his sympathies are currently leaning towards the Brotherhood’s ideology, in light of recent events.
Chad Hudson (played by Heather) – Earth manipulating jerkass jock.
Jenny Darkholme (played by me) – Orphan with a strong sense of responsibility and potentially destined to be one of the guardians of the multiverse. She has the ability to teleport, and to manipulate energy. One of the main antagonists so far appears to be an older, evil version of her.
TE Lawrence (played by Anna) – An undercover android created by SHIELD and sent to track down the source of MGH being sold on the Midtown High School campus. As of episode two, his memory banks have been erased except for his cover identity and a single directive: ‘Save as many as you can.’
Disclaimer: The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.

After the shitstorm at the Sanctum Sanctorum, we were on our way back to the Xavier Mansion to pick up Blaine's pet animatronic T-Rex, Elpheba...oh, didn't I mention? Yeah, when Blaine found out about Ruth's abduction earlier, he kinda brought the animatronic T-Rex in the Toys R Us store at Times Square to life and went on a rampage through the city before meeting up with us at the mansion. We left it there because...well, it's a freaking T-Rex and we're fugitives. Not exactly the most low-key mode of transport, yo.

But like I was saying, we were on our way to pick up Elpheba with more of those green guys on our tail (according to Lawrence they're called Skrulls, though I'm not sure how he knew that), and we trashed our car trying to outrun them. Since our getaway wasn't working out so smooth, I decided to try teleporting us directly to the Xavier Mansion instead, seems the universe had other plans. Instead of arriving on the grounds of the Xavier Mansion, we appeared in the sky over the Baxter Building. Luckily for us, Susan Storm of the Fantastic Four was up on the roof, and managed to control our fall with her forcefields, while also beating back a couple'a Skrulls, all while looking pretty beat up. Is that seriously badass or what?

Turns out the bad guys were after Susan's kids, just like they'd gone after Beth, so we all headed down into the building to save the kids. We saw pieces'a rock lying around on the way, which seem to have been shed by the Thing. Susan outfitted Chad with a 'Thing Suit' after seeing his earth manipulation powers, and then we made our way to where the kids were being kept. Along the way, we passed through a dimensional door, and I got another flash of that white space with all the other versions of me in it. Someone threw She-Hulk into me, but I managed to separate myself from her before she went crashing through one of the walls by teleporting out. Good thing I did...that would have really hurt. I also fought off a Skrull who called me 'Master'. I can only assume he’d mistook me for 'evil older me'. Didn't much like that, so I ran the Skrull through with my sword and fried the sucker by channelling energy through it....what? He made me angry.

When I'd taken the Skrull down, more of the silver slug things I'd seen before started bleeding out of him. Which is when Lawrence showed up, tried to push me aside to get to the Skrull's body, but I moved out of the way. Lucky thing too, he took out a chunk of the wall while trying to swipe me outta the way; could have been my darned head. I noticed one of those slug things moving between his eyes, and before I could stop him he knelt down and started...absorbing these slugs into himself, calling them 'chums' (but then, he calls everyone and everything 'chum', so that's no big surprise or anything) and then started twitching and jerking in a sorta mechanical way.

Susan put Lawrence in some kind of stasis field, and then we all went into the main lab. She left him on a bed and went into the next room to go check on the kids. Except when she did, we heard the telltale sound of my teleportation power and then she was talking to somebody. No prizes for guessing who. We tried to get into the room, but Chad being the big idiot he is just stood there all slack-jawed, blocking the door, and I wasn't confident about teleporting with all the dimensional safeguards they had in the building. By the time we got into the room, Susan was unconscious, and her daughter Valeria was kneeling over her. Then she saw me, and demanded to know what 'I' had done to her mother and 'where was Franklin'? I tried telling her it wasn't me, but she wasn't listening. She took over control of Chad's Thing Suit - lucky for him he'd stepped out of it by this point - and zapped me with an electricity blast from the gadget she had on her arm while the Thing Suit got busy beating me down.

Luckily, she figured out I wasn't the same woman as the one who attacked her mom and took Franklin, and called off the Thing Suit. Between this and my collision with She-Hulk's earlier, I was feeling a little boneless by now. I got on a scanner bed thingy and Valeria stuck me with some dimensional needles which gave me another flash of that white room. Don't know what was in them, but they fixed me up pretty good.

Valeria's a bit of a whizz-kid, it turns out. She worked out that her mother had been injected with the same 'cure' that had robbed the X-Men of their powers - so it doesn't just work on mutants, apparently - and identified it as being a much more advanced version of some sort of nanotechnology that her father had been working on. She operated the computers to find out what happened to the rest of the Fantastic Four. Ben Grimm appeared to have reverted to his human form, and Reed Richards had been tied up around one of their vehicles in the hanger bay. Me and Murph went to untangle Richards, while Chad was sent to recover Grimm and She-Hulk, leaving Blaine to watch Beth and Valeria.

With Richards to assist - and Susan conscious again - we discovered more about the nanothings. The metal slugs that infested Lawrence seemed to be of similar design. Also, Richards ruled out the possibility of simply knocking out the nanothings with EMP or something; apparently they're programmed to attack the host if anyone tries something like that. Richards also said he was fairly sure that there was no 'time travel' involved here, so maybe Blaine will shut up about how I'm going to turn evil now. I also gave Richards the black box from the X-Men's jet - he called it the Blackbird - so that he could work out what happened to them, and Chad gave them a sample of the cure he'd picked up somewhere. 

We started forming a plan. Richards and Valeria figured they could put together some kind of doohickey to prevent Evil Me from being able to teleport, and then we could give her a dose of her own medicine to put her out of business. The sample Chad provided was incomplete though, so they'd need to work on it a bit to get it up to spec.

Of course, then we came under attack from a bunch of Iron Man suits. I headed up top to blast them from the roof, Blaine managed to commandeer one of the suits and got some tech support from some computerised voice and Tony Stark himself, as well as aerial support from a toy dragon he'd summoned and Elpheba, who he'd somehow managed to get rigged up with a freaking jet-pack! Meanwhile Murph gave Chad and She-Hulk a boost to help them get in the fight. Back in the lab, Valeria and Richards worked on the...the...anti-teleport doohickey - I forget the technical name - and tried to synthesize a version of the 'cure'. Some point during the fight, we lost contact with Stark. Not sure exactly what happened, but it sounded like my other self got to him.

We defeated the Iron Man suits and returned to the lab, where Richards and Valeria were just about finished. While working on the cure and the anti-teleport device, they'd also somehow found time to analyse the black box from the X-Men's Blackbird. All we saw was Beast and Cyclops talking, then we heard someone - Jean Grey apparently - screaming and the picture cut out. Richards seemed to think this had something to do with a thing called the 'Phoenix Force'. He wasn't real clear on what this thing was, except that it was inside of Jean Grey, and the last time it was destroyed entire planets. Richards also had a programme running which constantly assessed threat levels of different things in the universe, and right then 'Franklin's Power Set' was at the top of the list. According to Richards, Franklin had enough power to create whole new realities, powers which he had kept secret from his son.

It wasn’t real clear yet what Evil Me's ultimate plan was: implant the Phoenix into herself, or into Franklin? According to Richards, with the power that Evil Me has it would be bad enough if she took it into herself, but if she put it in Franklin...whatever the case, Richards seemed pretty sure she meant to destroy the universe.

He asked me where I would go if I were planning on doing that, but before I could answer I heard my own - psychotically grinning - voice coming from behind me: 'Oh, well, I wouldn't beat around the bush...'

To be continued...

New Runaways #6a will be online next Monday @ 6:00pm. Stay tuned! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

[Character Sheet] Technoir RPG: Hong Kong - Mei 'Lightfoot' Li

I've just joined a one-shot of Technoir over on the RPGnet PbP board and play is expected to commence on Monday, as the GM (kagechikara) and myself both have stuff going on over the weekend.

In the meantime, as I'm pretty excited about the upcoming game, I thought I'd post the character I've written up for it. So far, there's only one other player (Chronicler), but we're hoping more people will show an interest over the weekend. Even if we don't get anyone else though, I think we'll probably do okay with just two.

Mei 'Zephyr/Lightfoot' Li
(Anne Suzuki used as likeness)

A Chinese-Japanese orphan who used to run with the Outstanding Five until she got caught stealing from the 28K. The Triads recognised her talent after she led them a merry chase and decided to recruit her. However, to teach her a lesson, they broke her legs and then paid for cybernetic replacements, telling her that her 'light feet' belonged to them now.

Recently, she's befriended idealistic journalist Billie Ng, whose optimism she finds endearing. Billie's trying to find her a way out of the 28K, and she's more than willing to take it if he does.

Criminal (Hack, Prowl, Shoot)
Courier (Fight, Move, Prowl)
Courier (Fight, Move, Prowl)

Coax • Detect • Fight •••
Hack •• Move ••• Operate •
Prowl •••• Shoot •• Treat •

[+] Determined
[+] Agile
[+] Intuitive

Airmask (Face Mask, Toxin Filter)
Stinger (Small, Silencer)
Stealth Jumpsuit (Thermal Dampeners, Ballistic Armor, Impact Armor)
Goggles (Display, Gesture Input, Infrared, Linked, Mic, Sound)
Springheels (Implant, Nerve-linked, Matched pair, Spring-loaded, Strong, Tough)

Money: 2 Kreds

Bluetooth Koi - Fence (armor, weapons), Shark [Debt: 10 Kreds]
Tang Lam - Fence (cyberware, organs), Splice
Billie Ng - Date, Ride

Relationship Adjectives:
Bluetooth Koi - Respectful
Tang Lam - Dependent
Billie Ng - Affectionate
Max a.k.a. Cutter (Chronicler's PC) - Sympathetic

Used Shark favor from Bluetooth Koi.
Used Splice favor from Tang Lam.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: New Runaways #1-4

For a while now, I've been part of an ongoing X-Men RPG at GUGS. The main campaign is on hiatus over the summer holidays, but Doc (our GM) decided to run a side campaign those of us who were still around. As well as letting us continue to enjoy playing as superheroes, it would allow us to test out the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying system from Margaret Weis Productions, before we switched to it for the main campaign. 

What follows is an in-character account of the first four sessions of play, as experienced by my character, Jenny Darkholme. Before we start, I should mention that Jenny is based off of the open source character known as Jenny Everywhere and, as such, I should probably post the following disclaimer:
The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed.
With that out of the way, I'll introduce you to the characters, and then leave the rest to Jenny. :)

The Cast
Alex Murphy (played by Blair) – Formerly the school’s resident drug dealer, Murphy is now attempting to establish himself as team leader in the fight against the forces of evil. He has the ability to manipulate air.
Blaine Burton (played by Elliot) – Teenage single dad with the ability to manipulate inanimate objects; his sympathies are currently leaning towards the Brotherhood’s ideology, in light of recent events.
Chad Hudson (played by Heather) – Earth manipulating jerkass jock.
Jenny Darkholme (played by me) – Orphan with a strong sense of responsibility and potentially destined to be one of the guardians of the multiverse. She has the ability to teleport, and to manipulate energy.
TE Lawrence (played by Anna) – An undercover android created by SHIELD and sent to track down the source of MGH being sold on the Midtown High School campus. 
Note: As of episode two, Lawrence's memory banks have been erased except for his cover identity and a single directive: ‘Save as many as you can.’

Things had been going well. I was getting on great with my foster mother, even got used to calling her mom. I'd settled in okay at school, and my grades weren't half bad. Wasn't much, but it was better than what had come before. It couldn't last though.

It was the first day back at school after summer vacation, and shaping up as you'd expect. School bullies picking on the new kid and me stepping in to help and getting a trip to the principal's office for my troubles, because I just can't help sticking my nose in. What made things different this year though, was that there was a TV crew on campus, and during assembly me and five others were called up to the stage to be the 'lucky' new stars of the latest dumbass reality show. 'Way things worked out though, I almost wish that had been what we were really getting into.

Suppose some introductions are in order before we get started, huh?

I'm Jenny Darkholme, a senior at Midtown High School in, duh, Midtown Manhattan. I grew up at the Marcum Youth Institute, and stayed there for a lot longer than most, until Mrs Darkholme took me in a few years ago. Oh yeah, and I'm a mutant. It's sorta cool, except for the whole 'everybody hates you' deal. I found out I could shoot energy blasts when I was about thirteen and I'd kept quiet about it, practicing in secret...'til my first day as a senior.

My fellow 'star students' included: Alex Murphy, a nice enough guy, as long as you ignore him being the campus drug dealer; Blaine Burton, a single dad, and that's a long complicated story we won't get into right now; Chad Hudson, your typical Jock McDouche; Darren, who’s pretty bright for a jock and also much less of a jerk than you'd expect; and then there's T.E. Lawrence, a British exchange student with some seriously underdeveloped social skills.

So there we were, up on stage in front of this camera crew. Except it turns out they're not really a camera crew but a bunch of anti-mutant terrorists calling themselves the Purifiers, who somehow worked out that the six of us were mutants, and had marked us for a very public execution.

In the dust up that followed, a couple of us discovered some new powers. I learnt that I could teleport, and Chad learned that he was some kind of earth manipulator. He wasn't happy to find out that he's a 'freak' just like the rest of us. Well, serves him right.

What happened next is a long story, but I'll try to give you the short version. Basically, we're now fugitives from the law. The attack on the school was put down to a 'gang war' between the Purifiers and the X-Men, whose leader, Cyclops, showed up and saved our bacon.

In the aftermath, I discovered my foster mother is actually a shapeshifter called Mystique. Cyclops says she was probably just grooming me for recruitment into some 'mutant supremacist' terror organisation called the Brotherhood, but she claims she really does care about me. I'm not sure what to believe anymore, all I know is that I trusted her and she's been lying to me all this time.

We had to put all our differences aside though, because Blaine's daughter, Beth, had been kidnapped by the Purifiers and taken to the Raft, where the rest of the X-Men and the Brotherhood were being held. I don't think the rest of the Raft personnel knew about the secret lab in their lower levels, or about the experiments they were performing down there in an attempt to 'cure the mutant disease'. What I do know is, that the cure actually works, and the results ain't pretty. Just ask the X-Men and the Brotherhood, who we found had been stripped of their powers, and some of them were in a bad way because of it. That wasn't nearly as horrifying, though, as running into an older version of myself who broke open the Raft with some scary reality-bending powers - setting a whole bunch of supervillains loose on the city. Then she showed up again after we'd all barely got out alive, and injected Cyclops with the 'cure' before disappearing into thin air again.

After that, the Brotherhood went off by themselves, but Mystique stayed behind with us, and we met Doctor Strange, self-proclaimed 'Sorceror Supreme' - sounds to me like someone's on an ego-trip. Anyway, Strange asked us to 'step inside his cloak' to be transported to his Sanctum Sanctorum, where we could hide out safely. I had doubts, but I went along with it.

Something weird happened along the way though. Instead of going straight to the Sanctum...I'm just gonna call it the Sanctum because it's easier. Anyway, I found myself in this blank, misty space, filled from one end to the other - as far as my eyes could see - by different versions of me of varying age and build, and some guys as well, all dressed up like some kind of pulp ace pilot or something. They said that I wasn't supposed to be there, that it was 'too soon', but that if I could find my way back there, they would answer my questions about who they were, and who my evil older self was.

When I returned to the Sanctum, Doctor Strange seemed to have some idea about what was going on, but he wouldn't be able to answer my questions for an hour, as he had to tend to the X-Men's injuries and other matters. So the six of us passed our time in the Sanctum learning a valuable lesson: don't touch Doctor Strange's stuff, because it's, well...strange. There was this chair that kept following Chad around, a TV with a creepy clown on every channel (I think I might have set It loose, whatever It is), some weird book that only Blaine could read (it freaking burned me), and Chad kept 'upsetting' the Sanctum by swearing.

Anyway, once all that 'hilarity' was over with, Doctor Strange took me aside and told me that there is more than one of everything, and that each universe has a guardian who 'must protect the balance between the universes adjacent to theirs, and the universes adjacent to those'...and so on and so forth. It's always the same girl in each universe, but they're all different in their own ways. Big responsibility, and apparently I'm one of these 'chosen' guardians. Yay me. Story of my life, I'm always keeping the balance somehow.

We were just getting ready to leave. introduced me to her other foster daughter, Anna Marie AKA Rogue. She seemed nice enough, and we chatted briefly before she and Mystique left for Scotland with the X-Men in their jet, hoping to find a way of reversing the 'cure'. Mom left me a communicator in case I wanted to contact her.

But before we could make our way to the safe house that we'd been told to go to, the Avengers showed up. Except, they weren't really the Avengers, and they had a bunch of supervillains with them. I don't know what they were, but their faces were green and they weren't human. Doctor Strange held them off while we made a retreat through the back door, and as we were making tracks we heard news that a plane had crashed not far from where we were; it was the X-Men's jet.

I teleported to the scene, and checked the wreckage. There was no sign of survivors, or any casualties for that matter. I did find the black box though, thinking if I could just figure out a way to access it, I might be able to find out what happened. All I could tell from the wreckage was that it looked like someone set a bomb off from inside the jet.

I got back to the others, and they'd found us some wheels. Blaine made a huge speech about how we need to take the fight to 'them'. I kinda agree, but I'm not exactly sure that 'they' are who we think they are. Those guards at the Raft bled silver slugs, and those phony Avengers definitely weren't human. What the heck is going on here?

To be continued...

New Runaways #5 will be online next Monday @ 6:00pm. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Los Angeles 1936: A Super Smash Bros Noir Fiasco

Yesterday, Doc, Blair and myself got together for a game of Fiasco before heading out to see Brave at the cinema. After I'd laid out six playsets to choose from, we eventually decided upon the Los Angeles 1936 playset. I explained the play structure of the game, and then we got started on the setup.

The Setup
Somehow, during the setup, we wound up going with a 'Super Smash Bros' theme, and ended up with the following arrangement:

Mario Forensca (Blair) - Part owner of the  L'Kingdoma Fungi bar and restaurant, and associate of the Kikong family a Hawaiian crime syndicate.
Luigi Forensca (Doc) - Mario's brother, and co-owner of the L'Kingdoma Fungi. Is being blackmailed by Detective Bowser, who has evidence of his involvement in some shady dealings. Through the nosy porter, Luigi has found out about a safe deposit box held by the Kirby family, and knows how to get it.
Detective Bowser Cooper (Me) - Bowser is as dirty a cop as they come, he's tiring of the cop life, and wants to get rich and make a new life for himself elsewhere. He aims to do this by bullying Luigi into helping him get his hands on the key to the Kirby family's safe deposit box.

Act One
Act one starts off with an argument between Bowser and Luigi. Luigi doesn't want to go through with the deed, but after Bowser assures him he can keep the heat off of him on the cops' side, Luigi gives in to his demands. Unfortunately, all of this has been overheard by the nosy porter, Shigeru Miyamoto, who goes to Mario and tells him about his brother's talk with Detective Bowser. Mario asks Miyamoto to set up a meeting with Don Kikong to see what they should do about this 'rat problem'. Meanwhile, Luigi is still undecided about whether to do what Bowser wants or not, but a run-in with a health inspector who is unsatisfied with the standards at the  L'Kingdoma Fungi, Luigi decides the money from the Kirbys safe deposit box might help get the inspector off their backs.

Detective Bowser finds himself under extra pressure, as Detectives 'Birdo' and Bob Omm get on his case, making thinly veiled accusations about his shady dealings, making him more desperate to get the cash and get the hell out of dodge than ever.
Meanwhile, Mario meets up with Don Kikong Jr, Diddy, to discuss the rat problem. Don Junior tells Mario not to worry, he'll see about getting the 'rat' (Bowser) exterminated. Don Junior calls up Luigi, tells him that he's been hearing troubling things about rats hanging around in the L'Kingdoma Fungi. Luigi doesn't immediately understand the metaphor, so Don Jr spells it out for him: get rid of that detective, or it's curtains for you both.

The Tilt
When it came to the Tilt, Doc and I rolled the highest, so we each picked a category based on the dice rolled in the centre of the table. I picked Paranoia, and Doc picked Innocence. We then defined each other's categories as suggested in the book, and wound up with the following Tilt elements: Collateral Damage and A Sudden Reversal (of status, of fortune, of sympathy).

Act Two
To shake things up a bit, we switched the direction of play for Act Two, and started with Luigi once again. Luigi decided to confront his brother about talking to the Don Jr behind his back, only for Mario to turn it around and give Luigi hell for having anything to do with Bowser, and Luigi lets slip that he was due to meet the detective in the kitchen tomorrow evening. Later on, Mario receives word from the Don Jr that he doesn't trust Luigi to handle the situation properly, so he's brought in a notorious hired gun from out of town, Samus Aran. Mario meets with Aran (who we decided to cast as Anna Torv) and tells her the situation, they decide that she will disguise herself as one of the kitchen staff and she'll take out Detective Bowser when he shows up tomorrow evening. Meanwhile, Detective Bowser meets with a snitch - Miyamoto once again - who reveals that Samus Aran has been hired by Don Kikong Jr to take him out. The detective is displeased by this, and assumes that Luigi has sold him out.

Later on Luigi is cornered by Detective Bowser, who expresses his displeasure at this new complication, and coerces Luigi into sticking to their agreement, and dealing with Aran. Luigi agrees, and says he'll lock Samus in the walk-in freezer in the kitchen and then they can meet as planned. Later on, Mario is in the kitchen, with Aran disguised as a member of kitchen staff. Luigi comes into the kitchen, meets Aran, and then asks to speak with his brother alone. He takes Mario by the arm, walks into the freezer with him, and closes the door behind them. He tells Mario that Bowser knows all about Aran, and that it's better for both of them if they hide out in the freezer until Bowser and Aran have duked it out with one another...assuming someone finds them afterwards, and they don't just freeze to death.

Bowser shows up, finding the kitchen deserted and, expecting to find Samus in the freezer, opens the freezer door and fires off a volley of bullets into the freezer. There's nobody there. He then feels the barrel of a gun pressed to the back of his neck. It's Samus. She reveals that after the two Forensca brothers got themselves stuck in here, she 'rescued' them, then tied them up and locked them in a room upstairs. Truth is, she's looking to retire, and is interested in the contents of Don Kirby's safe deposit box herself, she thinks the two of them can do business...if he'd like to come upstairs and help her interrogate the brothers. Bowser agrees.

The Aftermath
We decided to move on to the final stage of the game then, and rolled our dice to see how things would turn out for us. Surprisingly, only Doc got a bad result (Black 2: Brutal), while Blair (Black 13: Awesome) and me (White 10: Not too shabby) came out more or less unscathed. This is how we wrapped things up:

As soon as Bowser stepped inside the room where Luigi and Mario were being held, Samus brained him over the head. Turned out she wasn't all that interested in crossing the Kirbys after all, but since she liked Bowser, she was going to let him off with a warning. Stay out of the Kikong's business, keep his nose clean, go straight, even. Otherwise, he was a dead man.

After the mess he'd made of everything, Mario sent Luigi packing. Fearing that the Kikongs would make an example of him, Luigi fled in a boat, only to be caught in a storm, get thrown overboard, and lose his leg to a shark before being rescued by a fishing boat.

In a brief aside, Miyamoto is gunned down by Samus as she leaves the restaurant. The Kikong family apparently decided they'd had enough of his snitching.

Meanwhile, with Mario as sole owner of the restaurant, business started picking up significantly. Mario got the health inspector off his back, and even opened up a whole new chain of restaurants.

The game ends five years later, with Luigi returning to the Los Angeles branch of L'Kingdoma Fungi and asking for the manager, only to find that it's someone else. The new manager tells him: 'Luigi, your brother's in another restaurant!'

Closing Thoughts
I have to admit, there were a few minor issues with the game. We didn't perhaps keep the story as tight as we should have with only three players, and several plot elements were all but forgotten or weren't as important as they should have been. For instance, the Need between Bowser and Luigi was originally 'To Get Rich Through Murder' but that never really came up and so Bowser's goal got a bit fuzzy, I felt. I also had a bit of trouble reconciling my result on the aftermath table with how things were turning out for Bowser. (We'd already decided Samus was going to double cross him, having declared the final wild dice as a bad oucome.)

Most of the problems were because I had only played the game once or twice, and the others were playing it for the first time. With a little more experience, future games of Fiasco (and I intend to see about making this a monthly thing, if I can) should go much smoother. All in all though, we had lots of fun and got a lot of laughs milking the Smash Bros theme for all it was worth. It seems we've already decided on the next playset we're going to use: the Wuxia themed 'Quest For The Golden Panda'. Looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Reading Challenges

Hey all, long time no see. It's been a while since I last posted an update on here, and I've been pondering a bit about the pros and cons of reading challenges, so I figured I'd share my thoughts on here.

Reading challenges are a new thing for me, as I only started doing them this year. I blame this on two things: joining Goodreads and getting a Kindle for Christmas.

The point of reading challenges, as I understand it, is to add an extra element of fun to reading. But lately I've been wondering, do they really add more fun to it? Or do they actually suck the fun out of reading instead? I thought about it, and decided the answer really depends on what kind of challenge you're doing.

From what I've seen there are two types of reading challenge: there are 'speed reading' challenges, and themed challenges.

The themed challenges encourage you to read books according to a specific criteria. For example, the A-Z Reading Challenge I've been doing encourages you to read books with titles corresponding to each letter of the alphabet. Others might challenge you to read books which have been adapted to movies, collections of short stories, books translated from foreign languages, and so on.

These kinds of challenges might be fun to try out because they influence your reading choices, perhaps encouraging you to try something out that you'd never have considered reading otherwise. In my case, the A to Z Challenge even got me to check out books I'd been meaning to read for years, but just hadn't got round to it yet.

Speed reading challenges, like the Goodreads Reading Challenge which I've been participating in, encourage you to attempt to read a set amount of books within a certain amount of time.

The problem I've found with this kind of challenge is that if you take it too seriously, and if you try for a goal that's going to push you beyond your natural reading speed, you might find you're not enjoying the books you're reading as much as much as you ought to be. You're reading them faster than you're used to, so you're not absorbing them as much as you normally would. Also, you might find that the need to read a certain amount per day/week/month in order to make it to the finish line makes the act of reading stressful rather than enjoyable, which kind of defeats the point of reading in the first place, don't you think?

I challenged myself to read 75 books this year - I'd read Stephen King's comment in On Writing where he says he reads about 70 to 80 books a year, and made it a personal goal to match that - and I'm still on track to manage it. But as I've said, I feel that it's taken some of the fun away from reading for me, so I'm going to dial back to a more natural reading pace for myself and just enjoy reading, challenge be damned.

That said, it might be interesting next year to do the Goodreads Challenge again, set myself a lower goal, read at my normal pace, and see how many books I get through by the end of the year that way.

All in all, I think reading challenges can be fun, particularly the themed challenges, as they can help you add a little more randomness and variety to your reading choices. I'll definitely be signing up for a couple more of those myself next year, as well as doing the A to Z Challenge again. Even speed reading challenges can probably be fun as long as you don't get carried away and try to do too much like me. I guess I just have a masochistic competitive streak in me. Who knew?