Pandemonium: The Chant

Well. I sat down today to post a play report on the last Pandemonium session, and found that I hadn’t posted one for the session before. ((Apparently, I suck.)) So, because I’ve got the next Pandemonium game coming up this Friday, I will now post a play report from both sessions.

We had only three out of five players at the first session, thanks to some scheduling conflicts. These three decided to continue pursuing Whipser and the Chant in order to shut down the escalating murders that Inquisitor said were the result of Whisper bringing more phage worms ((Nasty extra-dimensional psychic parasites.)) through into Gotham. Phage worms infest normal folks, and use up the hosts’ vitality to power their psychic abilities.

So, anyway, the gang did a little detective work and tracked down a meeting of a new self-help/church group called The Chant, which was the name of the organized phage worm terrorists in the Enclave ((The pocket dimension where Inquisitor was from.)). They were holding a recruitment, “self-actualization” meeting at a community centre, so our heroes decided they better bust that up before they wound up with a whole bunch more phage worm hosts to deal with.

I tried to make the action scene interesting by including a couple of embodied phage worms ((Stole most of the powers from a Marvel Girl datafile. They were tough.)), a bunch of disembodied phage worms ((Much less powerful, but intangible and able to take over corporeal victims and upgrade.)), and a whole crowd of normal civilians. The idea was that, if the heroes didn’t protect the civilians, the disembodied phage worms would possess them, turning into the higher-powered embodied phage worm foes.

It was a very interesting combat. The Heroes of Gotham got the drop on the phage worms, and then completely failed to land any attacks. I had a bout of GM terror, the kind you get when you realize that, because of dice-luck and bad assumptions on your part, you are looking down the barrel of a TPK.

And then the bad guys got to go. All stacked up at the end of the initiative order, so getting to act twice in a row if I wanted them too. And all the plot points that the heroes had earned through their bad, bad rolls saw them counterattack ((My players are big, big fans of the counterattack option using plot points. I worried for a time that counterattack was just overpowered, but then I realize that it encourages the heroes to hit back instead of hit. They are more heroic in reaction to villains’ actions. It means that heroes can spend their turn in the action sequence creating an asset or complication, and still have the chance to do something active and heroic in defense of themselves or others. Heroes never have to throw the first punch against any villain, turning the villains into the aggressors all the time. That appeals to my sense of comic-book morality.)) the phage worms into submission. Basically, the phage worms broke themselves against the noble, indomitable resistance of Inquisitor, Escher, and Warlock.

At that point, though, I had 2d12 in the doom pool ((I’d had them for a while, actually, and knew how I wanted to end the scene, but I didn’t want to rob the players of their triumph after their disappointing beginning.)), and decided to end the scene. So, Whisper appeared and sucked our heroes into a dimensional vortex, while gloating. They woke up alongside Artemis and Maker, on a piece of shattered street floating in a void, with Whisper above them.

This is the picture Inquisitor's player sent me for his nemesis, Whisper. When I first revealed the picture to the rest of the group, they all looked at him and asked, "Dude, what the hell is wrong with you?" I just grinned.

This is the picture Inquisitor’s player sent me for his nemesis, Whisper. When I first revealed the picture to the rest of the group, they all looked at him and asked, “Dude, what the hell is wrong with you?” I just grinned.

Cliffhanger session ending.

We picked up the next session, with everyone present, right there. I asked the two players who had missed the last game what their characters had been doing, and how they had been grabbed by Whisper. I got a nice little story of betrayal and ambush that I’m sure won’t come back to bite anyone in the butt. Right?

For Whisper’s stats, I reskinned the datafile of Thanos from the Annihilation Event Book ((So sad every time I think that I’ll never get a hard copy of that awesome book.)), with a few other abilities pulled in from elsewhere. I thought this would be a very tough fight, especially as I gave the first action to Whisper. He used it to taunt Inquisitor, telling him that this destroyed realm was all that was left of the Enclave, Inquisitor’s home dimension. It hit him right in the emotional stress, as intended.

The good guys went to town on Whisper, then. They quickly realized that Whisper could heal or resist damn near anything they threw at him, except for Inquisitor’s anti-phage worm tech.

And then Inquisitor got to act and one-shotted Whisper.

He dumped a huge number of plot points on the action, including buying more with XP, but he wound up with a result so high that I could have spent all the dice in the doom pool ((Not many; Whisper was having to spend them to resist or heal damage from the other characters. The heroes saw that, and kept the pressure on to keep the doom pool low.)) and still not have prevented Inquisitor’s total from climbing up above d12 and thus taking Whisper out.

I don’t mind, though. Having Inquisitor go all-in to take out his nemesis and avenge his destroyed home was pretty awesome. And then the dimension started collapsing ((Whisper was a load-bearing boss.)) and Maker, Artemis, and Warlock were mindlinked by Escher to build a gateway home. There was a wonderful moment when it looked like Inquisitor wasn’t going to return to Gotham – going down with the ship, as it were – but in the end, he did.

The fight wrapped up much more quickly than I had anticipated – having only a single GMC in the battle seems to speed things up, but also allows the heroes to all concentrate on him, which put him down sooner than expected. We spent a little time talking about next steps in the game ((First of all, did they want to continue? They did.)), and they decided that they wanted to pick up the thread of the Orrakachu gun-runners in the short term, and look at improving the quality of life for everyone in Gotham City.

Then we finished off the evening with some Cards Against Humanity, and expunged all the heroic goodness from our souls.

First session of Act II of Pandemonium begins on Friday. I’ve got some plans.

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