Friday, January 25, 2013

[Actual Play] Marvel Heroic Roleplaying - X-Men: Last Class Vol 2., #4 Finale

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.



Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate

CONFIDENTIAL REPORT: Quesada Incident 2010-544545

Clearance Level: 9

Jenny Darkholme - Codename: EVERYWHERE #1

Alex Murphy – Codename(s): DRIFTER/WING ZERO
Blaine Burton - Codename: ANIMA
Chad Hudson - Codename: ROCKHEAD
Ericka Edwards - Codename: FACSIMILE
Jenny Everywhere - Codename: EVERYWHERE #2 (STEAM-GIRL)
Jenny Harris - Codename: EVERYWHERE #3 (TRAVELER)
Larry Luck - Codename: COLLECT
LMD-TEL054 - Codename: LAWRENCE
Megan McCloud - Codename: DISC
Kyle Steel - Codename: ADONIS
??? - Codename: MAYHEM

According to the testimony of EVERYWHERE, as Thanos' asteroid base was disintegrating, ROCKHEAD used his earth bending ability to hold the platform that their group was standing on together. Matters were apparently complicated by COLLECT who, having acquired a Red Lantern Corps ring, was overcome with rage and attempted to attack DISC. COLLECT was however pacified by his fellows, and the red power ring vanished from his person once he placed his hand in his pocket. Presumably the dimensional portal in that pocket returned the ring to its universe of origin.

It was at this point that EVERYWHERE's comrade, DRIFTER, who was presumed dead, reappeared having been inducted as a Star Knight, going by the name WING ZERO. WING ZERO informed the group that he was detecting a critical build-up of Darkhold energy and recommended that COLLECT find a way of deleting it, perhaps by sacrificing himself for the good of the group.

Before COLLECT could further attend to this matter though, ANIMA - another colleague of EVERYWHERE'S who was previously assumed dead - manifested from one of his dimensional pockets wearing a second Infinity Gauntlet fitted with the other two gems, demanding to know if the group knew where his daughter was. Though they were not aware of Beth Burton's whereabouts, and STEAM-GIRL was busy working with the rogue Life Model Decoy LAWRENCE to use his Infinity Gauntlet to try and safely teleport the group out of danger, COLLECT retrieved a copy of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy from one of his pockets and paid the subscription fee for it by using Mr Stark's credit card and determined that she was at the Nexus of All Realities. There were a number of ways listed for how to access the Nexus, one of which involved the Darkhold. STEAM-GIRL strongly - and quite wisely - suggested using an alternative method. As such, ANIMA and LAWRENCE (executed an epic high five) combined the powers of their Infinity Gauntlets to create a portal which thrust all of them into the Nexus.

They found themselves at the feet of Purple Man, Lady Deathstrike, Mister Sinister - who was confined to a wheelchair, seemingly catatonic as a result of an earlier encounter with ANIMA - Proteus, Man-Spider, Doctor Doom, Spot, and finally, the one who was apparently responsible for the entire multiversal crisis, a teenage Franklin Richards. ANIMA's daughter was seated in chair next to Mister Sinister.

The lights came on, revealing them to be in what appeared to be a coliseum - the Nexus of All Realities - filled with the fixed-grinned archivists. Above them, all of the Franklin Richards' abducted from other universes were suspended from an apparatus, presumably the engine designed to reconfigure the multiverse.

In response to mockery from COLLECT and EVERYWHERE - who was at this point manifesting a number of different personalities attained from absorbing the essence of all her expired parallel counterparts - Franklin Richards proceeded to outline his plan to destroy the multiverse a replace it with a new one, one where a 'young boy would never have to watch his parents die'. It seems he amassed power by using the Darkhold, which he then used to pursue his vision of a better reality.

Franklin attempted to sway ANIMA to his side, promising him a peaceful world where he could raise his daughter in safety. But in order for that to happen, he would have to kill EVERYWHERE, because as long as the guardians of the multiverse continued to exist, a memory of the realities that once were would remain, and could not be overwritten. ANIMA responded by summoning a skeletal T-Rex to attack Franklin and his allies.

EVERYWHERE provided a rather detailed account of the ensuing battle which is not relevant to this report. In summary though, Lady Deathstrike was knocked off the coliseum by DISC with the aid of the symbiote known as MAYHEM. MAYHEM also dealt with Man-Spider by chewing him up and spitting him off the coliseum. Mister Sinister did briefly recover from apparently being made to 'feel' by ANIMA - presumably with the use of the Infinity Gauntlet - but was still experiencing residual emotional response from the encounter, and turned on Purple Man after he ordered him to kill FACSIMILE, who was in kitten form at the time. Purple Man was also driven off the edge of the coliseum as FACSIMILE clawed at his eyes. Eventually, the only one remaining was Franklin Richards.

At this point ROCKHEAD started tearing apart the apparatus, but was called off by EVERYWHERE, who feared he would kill the captive Franklins. ANIMA then stepped in, joining his Infinity Gauntlet with LAWRENCE's, and told Franklin he was going to create a new world for him where his parents weren't dead, where he could exist without troubling the rest of the multiverse. Franklin protested that it wouldn't be real, and ANIMA and the others proceeded to argue that it was no different from what he planned to do to the rest of reality, except that it would only affect Franklin. 

As it seemed they were getting through to Franklin, Doctor Doom - who had been knocked out in the battle - approached from behind and told him not to listen, removing his mask to reveal himself as a scarred version of Reed Richards. ANIMA and the others continue to argue against this alternate version of Richards, eventually outing him as an imposter of Reed Richards as well. He then revealed himself to be the reality-warping entity known as Quesada.

Once his true identity was revealed, EVERYWHERE punched him hard in the face, while her counterpart, STEAM-GIRL, tripped him up from behind into a portal. It is believed that she sent him to Universe #52911, also known as the Land of Goats. We shouldn't be hearing from him again for some time.

With Quesada defeated, the multiverse was restored to its original state; all universes extinguished in the conflict have been revived, all alterations to the timelines have been corrected.

It was at this point that TRAVELER - yet another alternate version of EVERYWHERE and comrade of COLLECT - arrived with another version of Reed Richards. Apparently she had travelled the multiverse to bring him back so he could come up with a way of defeating the reality-destroying menace, but got side-tracked by some faeries, hence her late arrival.

Franklin Richards, free of Quesada's influence and remorseful of his actions, used the Nexus to send the group where they wanted to go. We have been able to determine their current whereabouts:
The symbiote MAYHEM asked to go 'into space' and now wanders the universe as a Star Knight. WING ZERO also left to resume his new duties as a Star Knight.

ROCKHEAD has been returned to the metal moon, where he continues his training with the earth-bending master Toph Beifong.

LAWRENCE asked to be sent to the Foundation universe.

COLLECT, with his newly acquired Hitchhiker's Guide, decided to go on a tour of the multiverse. He was accompanied by TRAVELER, who decided she needed to keep him out of trouble.

The rest of the group all returned to their home universe. 

EVERYWHERE, of course, returned to our universe, which is why we were able to debrief her. Due to the quantum instability created by recent events, EVERYWHERE has been advised not to use her teleportation powers to travel between universes for at least the next 5 years. She has been released into the care of the Xavier Institute, to help her learn to control her abilities, and flagged as a potential recruit when she graduates, though her history with the mutant known as Mystique is a cause for concern. She will, of course, be kept under observation for the time being.

- Commander Maria Hill


Sunday, January 13, 2013

[Actual Play] Marvel Heroic Roleplaying - X-Men: Last Class Vol 2., #3

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.
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.

TE Lawrence, the new holder of the Infinity Gauntlet, finds himself face to face with an angry Cyclops who wants the gauntlet for himself. Disturbed by feeling the emotions of everyone in the multiverse as a result of the Mind gem in the gauntlet, Lawrence flees from the rogue X-Man. Jenny Everywhere attempts to stall Cyclops by admonishing him: 'Scotty, Scotty...I'm disappointed. Your other selves had better manners. You forgot to say the magic word."

Cyclops is confused as to how Everywhere knows his real name, but he soon realises who she is, and sneers at her: "Oh, you're one of them. Those so-called 'Guardians of the Multiverse'."

As she is unable to reason with Cyclops, Everywhere tries a different approach. She has sensed something unusual about the energy coming from Cyclops' visor, and suspects he is connected to the dimension of kinetic energy into which her alternate self, Jenny Darkholme, has been absorbed. She hopes that if she can make mental contact with her counterpart, she might be able to manipulate Cyclops' energy stream and turn it against him somehow, maybe even use it to escape from the energy dimension. However, in order to contact the other Jenny, she must wait until the channel to the other universe is opened; in other words, she needs to wait until Cyclops uses his blasts.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group attempt to slow Cyclops down, but he's too powerful for them. Luckily, Chad is able to raise a rock barrier from the asteroid around them to protect Lawrence from Cyclops' blasts.
As Cyclops blasts his way through the rock barrier, Everywhere is able to make contact with Jenny Darkholme, but her plan hits a snag: Darkholme's voice calls from the other end of the channel, and she says that she is trapped or tethered inside the other universe. Everywhere begins to try and teleport her out herself, but she has to take care how she does it, as Darkholme's essence is now intermingled with that of the energy dimension.

Having recovered from being knocked out and having heard Darkholme's voice, Collect realises what Jenny Everywhere is trying to do, and decides to help her out. He reaches inside one of his dimensional pockets and pulls out a stream of energy, which coalesces into the naked form of Jenny Darkholme. He puts his coat around her to cover her up.

Everywhere is taken aback by Collect's intervention, and once again both stunned and slightly worried by the apparent transdimensional properties of his coat.

Before Everywhere can return her attention to Cyclops, however, events take an unexpected turn for the worse. Jenny Darkholme starts being dragged inside one of the pockets of Collect's coat. Collect and Everywhere grab hold of her arms and pull her free, to find her body covered in claw-shaped burns. Everywhere throws her own coat over her counterpart, and pulls her away from the coat as something monstrous claws its way out from the pocket that Collect previously retrieved the Darkhold from. To her horror, Everywhere recognises the creature that emerges as a Gug, and tries to use her apportation powers to send it away to another dimension, only to open herself up and allow a thread of dark eldritch power to connect itself to her, forcing her into a battle of wills against the creature.

Not far away, Cyclops penetrates the rock barrier created by Chad, and renews his assault on Lawrence, who uses the space powers of the Gauntlet to throw boulders of asteroid rock at Cyclops in order to deflect his attacks.

Facsimile further horrifies everyone by transforming herself into a Gug in order to fight off the monster, and manages to defeat it in a brutal smackdown, while also resisting the attempts of the Gug's dark master to assert control over her own mind.

Lawrence finally manages to use the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to project the pain of everyone in the multiverse onto Cyclops, who collapses in despair, beating his fists into the ground and crying, 'Oh Jean, why...why...WHY?'

He then unleashes a powerful blast of kinetic energy that sends him hurtling off into space, and critically compromises the integrity of the asteroid in which Thanos' lair resides. As the team recovers from the battle and regroups, the asteroid implodes...


X-Men: Last Class Vol 2., #4 will be online next Monday @6:00pm.

Apologies for the wait, I wanted Doc to read over the recap before I posted it. It's been a while since the  previous session, but the next one is going to be happening on Saturday and Doc is planning for that to be the big finale, so it'll all end soon. SOON.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking Back and Forward for the New Year

Happy New Year everybody! As is traditional at this stage of the year, I'm going to use this entry to look back on the past year and looking ahead to how I'm going to try and reboot my life this year.

2012, for me, was a year of big plans and great expectations which...kinda fell flat on their faces. I had hoped to have a job by the end of the year, and that just didn't happen. I had hoped to finish a novel that I felt confident enough in to submit for publication, but overall I haven't got a whole lot of writing done this year at all. On the roleplaying side of things, I planned to run a one-shot every month and attempted to run a mini-campaign over summer. The one-shots didn't happen every month because I couldn't get players for my games every month, and there wasn't always a venue for running the one-shots each month. The campaign got cancelled after about 2.1 scenarios because I had a breakdown during the start of the third scenario for a number of reasons I won't go into. I also didn't finish either the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge, or my 2012 A to Z Reading Challenge.

A lot of that is down to the fact that I had set myself goals which weren't realistic. Instead of setting myself the goal of 'Get a Job', I should have set myself a number of smaller goals that were more acheivable and would help me work towards finding a job.

I also realised that I don't yet have enough of any one plot idea fleshed out to make an entire novel out of, so I've come to realise that I need to develop my ideas a bit more (through outlining and shorter writing pieces) before I try and aim for a novel.

The one-shot a month goal wasn't unrealistic per se, I just didn't implement it very well; I needed to be more effective in securing players (and venues) for those one-shots, and I also needed to not pile a bunch of other RP projects on top of myself at the same time (I was toying with some campaign ideas while working on the one-shots as well).

And as for the reading challenges...the A to Z Reading Challenge was totally doable. The Goodreads Reading Challenge? Not so much, at least not with the goal I had set for myself: 70 books in a year. I told myself: 'If Stephen King can read about 70 to 75 books a year, then so can I!' FYI folks, it doesn't work that way. Everybody has their own reading speed. Stephen King is obviously some kind of speed reader. Me? I found that I need to take my reading at a slightly slower pace, otherwise I'm just not taking everything in and I'm not enjoying the story as much as I really ought to be.

That said, I'm now a year older and, I like to think, a little bit wiser. Both in terms of learning from my mistakes, and in terms of having acquired some new knowledge and experience. I'm almost finished my ECDL course, and I can now say with confidence that I know my way around Microsoft Office a lot better than I did a year ago. I could use OpenOffice fine, but employers really don't care about that as much as MS Office, apparently. I may not have written as much this year as I would have liked, but I have read a lot of good writer's advice books, and that should arm me with a greater selection of tools to help me work on improving my craft. I've run a few one-shots this year, at least, and each game I run continues to give me greater confidence as a GM. And I've learned that it's best to read at your own pace, rather than trying to make a race out of it. You should be reading a book to enjoy the story, or learn new things, not reading to say you've read it. That should go without saying, but apparently I forgot it this year thanks to the vast selection opened to me by my newly acquired Kindle.

So, with 2012 over and the world not having ended (again, I might add), it's time for me to look ahead to 2013 and think about what I want to achieve this year.

Obviously, I want to try and get a job. But I need to be smart about it this time, so I'm going to a) structure my jobsearch activities a bit better this year, b) continually reevaluate my transferable skills and update my CV once every fortnight, or at least once a month, c) not limit myself to trying to find full-time work straight out the gate, that's been a big problem for me is that I feel like part-time work just isn't enough. I've also started volunteer training with the Citizens Advice Bureau, which should be good experience for me, and it's another thing to keep me busy while I'm looking for work, in addition to my volunteer work with the Hospital Broadcasting Service and the ECDL course.

For my writing, I'm going to try smaller projects to start off with. I'm going to participate in weekly Flash Fiction challenges more regularly, and LitReactor has a sci-fi short fiction contest they're going to be running, so I'm gonna try and submit something for that. I'll give April's Script Frenzy and November's NaNoWriMo another go when the time comes, as I do every year. And I'll also work on fleshing out one or two of my long-term writing projects and getting an outline ready before I set myself to work on them. I kinda want to say I'll write and publish my Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfiction series this year, but that's still a secondary or tertiary priority, in relation to my own original fiction projects.

As for roleplaying, I'm working on organising a Run Club at GUGS, based on the idea proposed by Ben Robbins here. It's my hope that this will offer an opportunity for myself and other budding GMs to practice their skill at running games in a friendly and supportive environment, as well as offer an opportunity for people to play a variety of different games, and interact with players they don't normally game with. I still hope to run a one-shot per month, but I won't be treating as a definite 'must-do'. If I run games during my turn for Run Club, that'll be enough. I'm also hoping to run a Doctor Who campaign, either starting over the summer break, or when GUGS starts back for the 2013-2014 semester. There have been some requests for a Doctor Who campaign, and being the big Whovian geek that I am, and this being the year of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary, I thought I'd give it a shot.

I'm going to attempt the A-Z Reading Challenge again this year, and you can find my list so far on its page here on the blog. I may participate in the Goodreads challenge again, but I'll be setting a much more reasonable goal for myself this year. Somewhere between 25 and 50. I've shown that I can manage at least 50 in less than a year, but even 50 may be pushing the boundary between enjoyment and just ploughing through. In any case, whatever goal I set myself for Goodreads, I will not be taking it nearly as seriously as I did last year.

As far as any other goals go, I'm just going to take things as they come. I will aim not to pile on more and more expectations on myself as I go until I burn out like I did last year.

In short, this year I still have big plans I want to achieve, but I'm going to plan more realistically and take things one step at a time.

So, with all that in mind...