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!