Iâ€™m using the scenarioÂ Stoon Lakefrom the scenario collection Weep. Now, the bookâ€™s been out for some time, so itâ€™s gotta be past the statute of limitations, especially with the third edition on its way. Still, donâ€™t read any farther if you want to make sure you avoid knowing too much about the adventure.
In UA, knowing too much will save your life but damn your soul.
**YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED**
It’s been some time since the last session1, so this may be a bit lacking in detail, but the next session of ourÂ UA game is tomorrow night, so I better getÂ something up, right, folks?
The centerpiece of this past session was having a guest player, stopping in for a few days before he had to return to the wilds of academia. I had talked to him a bit about what kind of character he wanted to play, and it basically came out as “Nathan Explosion in a suit, with a brain, and some heavy-metal magick.”2 Now, I had just listened to aÂ Ken and Robin Talk About StuffÂ podcast where they were riffing on the idea of bone music, and suggested using that as our guest-star’s magick. I asked him to pick four heavy metal tunes that he had etched on X-rays of his own body, and then came up with a magickal effect for each of them.
I didn’t map it out like a whole school of magick; just assigned some simple mechanics to an idea suggested by each song. So, he wound up with a big blast power, a concealment power, a persuasion power, and a lesser blast power. No charges or anything; he just needed to have the X-ray with that tune with him to use the power3.
The character was essentially a pro from Dover, sent in to assess the team’s performance and loyalty4. I set it up to build some tension and mistrust, but not too much, because I wanted everyone to have fun. It went pretty well, as TEAM BANSHEE tried to answer as few questions from him as possible5 while figuring out what was going on with this whole Bigfoot thing. There ensued several strange interviews, multiple break-ins, the robbery of a Bigfoot Museum, and a high-publicity video made with the mayor.
Things finally broke for our heroes when Leggy used a bit of videomancer magick to make the guy who reported being attacked by Bigfoot to confess the truth. He told them that the broken leg was caused by the dog6 knocking him off the ladder as he cleaned the gutters at his mother’s house. He told the Bigfoot story to try and mess up plans by the mayor to capitalize on Bigfoot sightings for tourism7.8
I was just relaxing into the wrap-up of the session, when one of the players remembered a loose end9 – a weird recluse who owned land said to be a Bigfoot burial ground. He was unwilling to let them in past his high-tech security perimeter fence, so they conned their way in posing as the Sheriff. Once on the grounds, they found the house was pretty much a fortress, and their target sealed it up and hid in the panic room. He also called for help, which came in the form of a couple helicopters full of black-ops NSA teams.
So, because they had given away too much about themselves, they killed the fellow10, and tried to get out as the helicopters came in over the trees. It wasn’t looking good, until Mr. Explosion lived up to his name: he used the big blast thing I had developed to target one of the helicopters and tried to buy the rest of characters a chance to escape.
Escape they did, as their assessor fought a hopeless battle to keep off pursuit. A big explosion as the team slammed their SUV through the closed security gate and out onto the highway, and fade to black.
Next session, I’m not using a canned adventure. I’m bringing the team to the site of my oldÂ UA campaign to recruit11 a potential TNI asset. They probably won’t run into any of the characters from the old game. At least, not if they’re careful and quiet.
What are the odds, huh?
- I canceled a session since then, because of work load at the day job. Very unfair, I know, but gotta pay the bills.
- I’m paraphrasing. That was the upshot of a longer conversation.
- No, this is NOT balanced, nor did I do ANY prior playtesting. I used to run a lot ofÂ UAÂ back in the day, and I’m pretty good at eyeballing things in the system, so I relied on that. Plus, the fact that he would be appearing in only one session.
- Also, to pick up the Earhart Compass the group had nabbed.
- He cornered Cruz, the team leader, and used his persuasion powers to get some truth from him, but not overly prejudicial stuff
- The gang was suspicious of the dog right from the start, to be fair. There was a strangely lengthy discussion early in the session about stealing it, and the phrase “carry the dog” became a euphemism for pretty much anything for the rest of the session.
- Yeah, there was a whole weird childhood rivalry between the guy and the mayor.
- The way this spell works, the target confesses as if he or she were onÂ Jerry Springer or similar – lots of shouting, lots of bleeped-out words. I put a little too much into it, and almost lost my voice.
- Really, it was a red herring that they’d never followed up, so I had kind of written it off.
- A high-level NSA decryption coder, with a number of emotional issues, including agoraphobia.
- Or eliminate.