Civil War: In the Shadow of Stamford

***Spoiler Warning***

My group and I are playing through the Civil War event book for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, from Margaret Weis Productions. While the course of play may not follow the event book – or the comic books – precisely, there’s going to be a certain amount of stuff that does conform to the adventures and comic series.

In short, if you don’t want to know what happens in Civil War, don’t read these posts. Or the comic books.

***You Have Been Warned***

Last night, we got 75% of the gang ((Jumpstart’s player was out of town, but there was enough stuff to do that didn’t require everyone in attendance. So, Jumpstart was off seeing what he could find out from his S.H.I.E.L.D. contacts.)) together for the next Civil War session. We had ended the previous session with the clean-up after the Stamford tragedy, and we picked it up there as well.

The mood in Stamford was turning, especially after the passage of the SHRA, and most of the heroes had done what they could and got out by the third day. The people in Stamford, originally grateful for the help, were starting to look on the heroes with anger and suspicion and fear. By the end of the third day, the Guardians decided that it was best to head back to New York, but not before Volcanic gathered some samples from the blast site allowing him to create a chemical profile that he thinks will help him track down Nitro.

The Doctor also got a copy of the SHRA and read through it. He decided that the rather draconian provisions of the act ((Things like suspension of due process for heroes, conscription into S.H.I.E.L.D., indefinite detention, and treating anyone who aids an unregistered hero as a criminal.)) made him uncomfortable. He shared the information with the rest of the Guardians, and began making plans to go underground.

Volcanic and Mega Joule followed suit, starting to cut their ties with their civilian lives. Mega Joule said good-bye to Coach Nelson and left his job at the community centre to move into Guardians HQ – he had already made up his mind that he wasn’t going to register. Volcanic cleaned out his office at NYU, and had a conversation with the head of his department, who offered some support and suggested that Volcanic ((The only one with a public identity, mainly because it’s hard to disguise an eight-foot-tall humanoid magma being.)) may want to take a sabbatical, and the department head would expedite the paperwork to get it done before the registration deadline.

Volcanic also called Candy, his lab assistant ((And unknowing love interest.)) to say goodbye, and was somewhat astounded when she told him that not only would she support whatever decision he made, she would go with him if he decided to go underground ((Clint: “Just so you know, having Candy respond like that has really messed up Volcanic’s head, so good job!”)).

The Doctor went to see his parents and let them know he was cutting all financial ties with them to make sure that, if he decided not to register, there would be no reason for the authorities to come after them. I decided that I’d given enough ammo to the anti-registration argument at that point, and had the parents encourage the Doctor to register, providing mainly emotional arguments, but with a few logical bits thrown in ((So, it was a mix of “Why wouldn’t you register? You don’t do anything wrong! You’re a hero!” along with “If you’re involved, you can curb the worst excesses.” and the fearful implied argument “Untrained, unsupervised teenagers with superpowers just killed over six hundred people. Doesn’t that sound like training and supervision is a good idea? And that means you need superheroes to train and supervise – and police – other superheroes. Normal folks can’t do it.”)).

The upshot was that Volcanic and the Doctor were both on the fence about registration. A good part of the evening was spent discussing and debating the pros and cons of registration, and what would happen to the team if some opted for registration and others didn’t.

I loved it. They were taking the idea of the SHRA seriously, and were genuinely concerned about the consequences of their choices. That’s some meaty roleplaying fodder.

In the end, I made it clear that they didn’t have to make a decision during that session – I want to save the decision until the whole group is there, and Jumpstart needs to confront the possibilities before the decision becomes meaningful for him. So, maybe next session. In the meantime, everyone got ready to be able to drop off the radar if that’s what they decided to do.

With that discussion tabled for now, the Guardians decided to go after the Sloveniy Bratva, the Russian gang that had hired the Titanium Man to kill Mega Joule. They tracked them to their clubhouse during an important meeting ((Mega Joule rolled an extraordinary success when intimidating information out of gang members, so I gave him the place and decided that there would be an important meeting going on that evening.)), and burst up through the floor in the middle of things ((After carefully clearing the area of civilians and blocking the doors with Stone Walls d8)).

I had decided that the Sloveniy Bratva was being used by the Maggia to make inroads in Manhattan, allowing Nefaria to try and grab a piece of the island without directly challenging the Kingpin, so Nefaria was there to provide a case of A.I.M.-created blasters. Also present was his current bodyguard, Electro.

The fight was interesting. The players are really getting the hang of the system, and are using it to create some memorable moments. Examples? Sure!

  • The Doctor took out Nefaria, trapping him in a repeating time-loop with his Sorcery ((One-shotted him, in fact, in the first action of the combat.)).
  • Mega Joule managed a very cool counter-attack, bouncing the blaster bolts off his body with his Kinetic Control to take out some of the goons.
  • Volcanic single-handedly took down Electro with emotional stress, just humiliating him into submission. First, he let Electro blast him and shrugged it off effortlessly ((With a counterattack against his emotional stress.)), then used a pillar of lava to slam him into the waterpipes in the ceiling, soaking him and grounding him out ((Volcanic spent several plot points on this, winding up with a double-extraordinary success and two effect dice, both of which he stepped up.)).

When they turned the crooks over to the police, things were a little tense. There were a number of the cops who wanted to bring in the heroes, as well, for being unregistered heroes and vigilantes, and all that sorta thing. Mega Joule asked if he could spend a plot point to have a DEA agent who was favourably disposed toward him that he could call, and I said sure ((I made a decision at that point that I would allow the players to spend plot points for persistent contacts, with a couple of caveats. First, they had to name the contact. Second, while the contact belonged to the character, he or she would be played by me, and the relationship would be subject to change depending on how the character treated the contact. Third, it would cost a plot point so that the characters would only create NPCs they were interested in enough to spend the point, and not just create ten new ones each session that I would then have to keep track of. Clint asked, “Can we do the same thing to create enemies?” and I thought that was awesome, so I said, “Absolutely!”)). The DEA got them out of there in good order.

Now Mega Joule, who happens to have the Hunted by M.O.D.O.K. milestone, has information that the Maggia is buying weapons from A.I.M ((That’s quite a coincidence, hmmm?)). He also was able to give his DEA agent contact information on at least a couple of the Maggia’s stash houses, thanks to the drugs they recovered from the meet and the Doctor’s sorcery.

We wrapped things up for the evening then, but had a short post mortem on the game – something I tend to frequently in the early days of a campaign, then every now and then as a campaign progresses – to see how people were liking things.

Consensus is that the system is becoming easier for people. It’s required a bit of a shift of perspective from traditional games, both for the players and for the GM, but as we gain familiarity with it, it’s allowing us some significant freedom in the game. The players are getting better at using the system creatively and effectively, and I’m getting better at judging when I need to invoke the system and when things should just develop through straight narrative. And we’re all getting better at blending the narrative and the mechanics to entertaining effect.

So, here we are, three sessions in, and we’re all having a lot of fun with the system and with the campaign. I’m really looking forward to the next session.


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One Response to Civil War: In the Shadow of Stamford

  1. Pingback: What's He On About Now? » Civil War: Last Hurrah

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