New Centurions, Issue #17: Cross and Crown

Our last session of Clint’s New Centurions campaign had us finish off the battle against the huge warbeast and its escort from the previous session. S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. and Widowmaker had been knocked off the howda on top, and were trailing along the streets after the thing. Along the way, we ran into some flying female demons ((This was S.P.E.C.-T.E.R.’s moment of excellence – he threw a cast iron bathtub into the flying demons, taking out two of them at once. Yay for hero dice and hero points!)), and just managed to catch up with the rampaging warbeast as it met a heavily armoured opponent in the middle of the street.

Turns out this mystery figure was a Templar knight. She and her order had been preparing for… something big and bad, and they figured this was it. Once we dispatched the warbeast, she led us back to Temple Church, where we were given blessings and talismans that seemed to counteract the negative effects that the rising magic levels were having on our technology. After some discussion, we decided that we should try and get the various defensive factions – the Templars, the army, the Royal Champions ((The local superhero team.)) – to coordinate their actions. It took a little running around, and a little politicking, and a little bit of combat with dragons, but we got them all working together to protect people.

We found out some interesting things along the way. For example, the creatures coming through the gateways were formorians ((This may seem like a strange coincidence, considering what went on last session in the Feints & Gambits game, but really, you can’t have a game in the British Isles involving elves and magic without the formorians coming into it somehow. They’re just too cool to ignore.)), and that the rising magic levels, while boosting the mystical abilities of some people, robbed other people of their magical powers. And then the fey came for us.

It was a single messenger, a mother whose child had been taken hostage to force her to carry a message to us. We arranged the return of the child, then followed the fey kidnapper to the park, where we met with the Green Knight. This fellow told us that he had come to take his queen back home. Now, this was fine, but it just so happened that the faerie queen was sharing body/mind/soul space with Queen Elizabeth II. So, Death Nell was not disposed to helping in this.

Of course, the Green Knight wasn’t going to take our word for it, so we arranged a meeting between him and the Queen. S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. wasn’t terribly keen on the prospect of assisting people who would use kidnapping as a tool to deliver a simple invitation. But this wasn’t his country, so he kept his mouth shut. In the end, the Queen told him to bring the elves to our world, and to have them fight the formorians. The Green Knight agreed to this, and went to gather his forces.

And that’s about where we left things.

The New Centurions, Issue #16 – City Under Siege

It’s been some months since the last installment of The New Centurions – what with some travel, some work responsibilities, and general life interference, it took some time to get everyone in one room to play again. Even so, Falkata was unable to join until later in the session. But we were happy to get back to the game.

We picked up the game right after our last victory against the corrupted citizens and the recovery of the tower fragment. One of the local heroes popped up to return Paladin to our group, and then rushed off to deal with a heavily magical threat in the South End ((We didn’t accompany her, because S.P.E.C.-T.E.R., Widowmaker, and Paladin are all pretty heavily technologically dependent, and the magic aura interferes with our abilities. Sometimes severely, as we found out later.)). After some futzing ((Huh. How about that. “Futzing” is in the WordPress dictionary.)) about, we managed to teleport ((“Teleport,” however, is not in the WordPress dictionary.)) the bit of tower back to the site of the explosion. We then proceeded to roam about, trying to gather the other extant bits of the tower back together before they did too much damage.

And that’s when we saw the dragons.

Like any self-respecting superheroes, we made a beeline toward the dragon attack. Widowmaker tried to teleport us there, but the magic interfered enough with her powers that we wound up scattered individually over a few blocks. We all rushed to where the dragons were, assuming that the rest of our group would be doing the same.

Once we got to the scene, there was another surprise for us tech heroes. We immediately had to start making the equivalent of Soak rolls with our Mind stat to resist the magical interference. Failure imposed greater or lesser penalties on our actions, depending on how badly we had failed. S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. was able to use his predictive algorithms to maintain functions by rerouting critical systems through undamaged portions of his neural network and anticipating and incorporating mechanical interference and glitches into his actions ((In game terms, I spent a Hero Die to get a power stunt allowing me to use my Mind Boost for Clairvoyance to make the save.)). Despite the difficulties, we managed to trounce the dragons and continue trying to recover the tower bits.

S.P.E.C.-T.E.R.’s predictive algorithms, coupled with Death Nell’s knowledge of London, led us to the London Stone, which seemed to be growing as the magic in the area increased. Inside it, we saw an army mustering, apparently for an invasion. The heroes were able to disable the portal, but not before a huge warbeast made its way through to begin rampaging through the city, with a squad of monsters mounted in a large howdah on its back.

It was getting pretty late by that point, so we called the game in the midst of the running battle with the creatures on the beast’s back. Next time, we need to finish off the crew and then figure out how to stop this 70-foot-tall horror.

It’ll be fun.

The New Centurions, Issue #15: The New Blitz

Last Friday was the latest session of the New Centurions game run by my friend, Clint. Our last session had ended with the White Tower ((The main tower of the Tower of London, the one you see in all the pictures.)) exploding. We started this session a little bit before that, giving us a chance to talk more with the local heroes, exchange information about the Methuselah effect, and generally get some questions answered.

Then, of course, the Tower blew up.

Actually, what it looked like was that a powerful blast of multi-coloured fire erupted from beneath the tower, tearing up through the interior, and slowly ((Well, slower than an actual explosion, anyway.)) eroding the outer walls and tossing the debris high into the air. The fire didn’t radiate heat normally – it was easy to approach to a certain distance, and then the temperature ramped up sharply, as if the inverse-square law was out of whack.

When we determined that we couldn’t get close enough to the Tower to do any good there, we got to the top of the walls and looked out at the city. It had gone completely dark; even the little bits of electricity that we had witnessed since our arrival were gone. Then we started seeing lights in the city, and realized that they were bits of the Tower debris falling into the streets, burning with the same multi-coloured fire.

We decided to split up ((Sort of. Paladin’s player wasn’t able to make the game, and Queen Celeste’s player was playing a different character (Death Nell) while Queen Celeste is doing some off-screen stuff for her character’s advancement.)), with Paladin heading off with a magic-using type called Wicked, and Death Nell coming with Falkata, Widowmaker, and S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. was able to use his predictive algorithms to plot out the locations of the hot spots, and we set off to deal with them.

At the site, we found that the fragment had smashed some buildings, setting some minor fires, and was throwing off tendrils of mystic energy. It had also transformed some of the citizens into twisted, stunted creatures, who fled as we approached. It turns out that that was only so they could get the big creatures to come and thump us.

A little bit of experimentation ((That is, some desperate maneuvers in the battle that didn’t have the results we had hoped for.)) revealed that water could not extinguish the magical “flames,” that non-living things could not touch the Tower fragment, that the tendrils and the areas they created were very dangerous to be in, and that throwing the big creatures onto the Tower fragment caused them to turn into even bigger creatures ((That one’s on me, guys. Sorry about that.)).

The fight turned out to be surprisingly challenging, not so much because our foes were tough, but because the environment had interesting threats that we had to deal with, and we were unable to directly address the root cause of the problem; i.e., the Tower fragment. See, S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. couldn’t touch it, and hitting it with a weapon did no good, and none of the living players wanted to try to touch it after seeing what it did to the creatures. Widomaker was able to contain it in a forcefield, which cut it’s influence off from the surrounding area, but as she can only make one forcefield at a time, that was a temporary solution at best.

In the end, we built a bit of a cage over the fragment using the wrought iron fences in front of the townhouses, and ran off to the next trouble site.

And that’s where we left things.

The New Centurions, Issue #14: London Calling

As anyone who frequents this blog can tell, I’m even more behind on posting than I usually am. Sorry about that. There have been a number of things eating my time this past little while, and the blog has been neglected. Looking to start to fix that here.

Unfortunately, a lot of time has gone by since some of the events I’m reporting on, so these catch-up posts are probably going to be shorter and vaguer than normal. Once I’m back up to speed, things will ((Hopefully.)) return to a more regular schedule.

At the end of the last session, our heroes had been moderately trounced by bad guys looking for the hard drive full of genetic data we retrieved from Les Fantômes ((So we assume, anyway.)). One of the Aegis agents helping us was dead, the safehouse had collapsed, and Paladin, Queen Celeste, and S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. were all buried in the rubble.

The aftermath of that had us digging out of the wreckage while Myra Glass harried us and her companions did their best to dig themselves out, as well.  We managed to acquit ourselves a little better in this battle – S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. even managed to pitch a rock right into the spot Myra materialized from her teleport, hurting her badly. After a bit of a chase through the city after the last escaping villain, we had secured the hard drive, and driven off the bad guys.

We turned over the one bad guy we had actually captured ((She was a feral, animalistic fighter that we chased down and exhausted because we couldn’t manage to hit her. And it’s been so long that I don’t recall her name.)) to the police, and figured we had better make our way out of France, especially as some fake ((Or genuine, but crooked.)) Interpol agents seemed to be investigating us. That led us on to London, to check out the London chapter of the Century Club, and see what we could find there.

Widowmaker managed to teleport us to Picadilly Circus, where we found London to be… well, dark. Our information had revealed that there had been no transmissions out of England for the past several weeks ((Starting, of course, around the time that we found Methuselah in Manhattan.)). The reason for that seemed to be that all technology more advanced than wedges and levers had stopped working. Well, that’s an exaggeration – it seemed that there were some items of technology working, but nothing more recent that about 1940 ((My guess is nothing later than 1933.)).

We finally tracked down some of the heroes of London, and they explained that technology had started failing when the magic came back, and that the countryside was now a place of dangerous fairy tales. S.P.E.C.-T.E.R.’s having a hard time accepting that, despite the time he’s spent around magic-using Queen Celeste, but he’s also plenty worried about what’s going to happen to him, being a robot and all.

And then, of course, we were attacked, and that’s where we left the game. Next session is tomorrow night, and I’m really looking forward to it.

New Centurions, Issue #13: Les Fantômes

Last Friday ((This was my first game in five weeks. That’s a long time without a game for a game-whore like me. It was good to get back.)) was the latest installment of The New Centurions game, run by my friend, Clint. It had been a long time since the last session, so we started the game with a fairly intensive recap, then jumped in.

Our plan was to investigate and find out as much as we could about the dead heroes in the Paris Century Club. We discovered that they had been labeled Les Fantômes by the media, but had not made any statements or announcements about themselves. They tended to act alone or in pairs, but had come together in the past for larger challenges, such as freeing hostages in a bank robbery.

Queen Celeste decided that we should try to plant the corpse of the woman known as The Dryad in the ground, in hopes that she was enough plant ((She was green, and leaked chlorophyll, after all.)) that she might regenerate. The ID we had found was that of one Marcel Chevalier, who seemed to have been called Vigil in the press, and led us to a sad story of the death of his family and his withdrawal from a promising academic career to pursue research into the genetic markers for super-powers.

We also recovered the cell phone from a woman dressed in red silk, whom we thought must be La Flame. This had a couple of numbers in it – one to her sister, a police detective, and one to a man with no fixed address ((We figured this was the other dead man. He didn’t answer when we called. And no, I don’t remember his name. Sorry, Clint.)). Queen Celeste and Paladin had a bit of a tense conversation with her inside the police station, with Widowmaker standing by to teleport in and rescue our crew if things went south.

Turns out La Flame’s sister ((Who’s name I also don’t remember. Sorry again, Clint.)) had no idea about her sister’s super-life. She was somewhat shaken by the revelations, and decided not to arrest anyone. To make sure it wasn’t a trick to lead the gendarmes back to the rest of us, Queen Celeste and Paladin walked across the street to Widowmaker and teleported away, leaving nothing for the police to follow.

We uncovered one name that proved interesting – Myra Glass, who had offered to finance Vigil’s research. A little bit of prying uncovered that she was associated with a number of technology thefts, along with a tonne of titanium, from across Europe, but mainly centred in the UK. No one we spoke to about her had any real information about her, and we could find no record of her existence earlier than a couple of years ago.

We also engaged in some actual thinking, and put together some big pieces of the campaign. We figured out some pieces of the Methuselah Effect.

From what we can put together, the Methuselah Effect was Dr. Methuselah’s attempt to edit the variable that produced super-heroes like the Centurions out of the world. Unfortunately, his equation was slightly flawed, and failed to take into account that the existence of super-villains is at least partially dependent on super-heroes to inspire them to use their powers for crime.

So, on that day in 1933, super-heroes and the potential for and concept of super-heroes just stopped. Along with super-villains. Everywhere. Vigil’s genetic research showed that the gene markers for metahumans had only recently started re-appearing, having been practically nonexistent for the better part of eighty years.

Now, the big question that remains is why did the effect stop? It looks like it faded fairly quickly over the last couple of years, with heroes and villains starting to manifest even before Dr. Methuselah was snatched from the NYC Century Club ruins. And what will happen if the effect goes away? Will the Centurions currently in limbo in our reclaimed club house come back to life? Will all the old villains?

So, as we were speculating about this stuff, the bad guys came and got us.

Myra Glass and her team of baddies got the drop on us in our safe-house and kicked our asses. Widowmaker managed to save one of the Aegis agents watching us, but the other one died. Falkata saved the data on Vigil’s computer, preventing the bad guys from getting it. And S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. managed to keep one of the tougher bad guys occupied until the building collapsed on us.

This was a wonderful, comic-book style ending to the session. Our team is hurt, scattered, and defeated, but not out for good. I see the rubble of the building with S.P.E.C.-T.E.R.’s battered arm jutting from the debris, Paladin’s ((He was in the building with me, so yeah, he’s sharing my fate.)) shield lying beneath a big chunk of concrete, and the victorious Myra Glass standing over the wreckage with her laser pistol in her hand and her team arrayed behind her. Across the bottom is the garish next-issue teaser: Is This The End of the New Centurions?

Very satisfying game.

New Centurions, Issue #12: King and Castle

We picked up our game where we left off last time, searching the underground installation in Provence for some clue as to the whereabouts of Dr. Methuselah, and the source of the ancient robots. We quickly found another room with robots in it: some more pawns, another knight, and a huge rook.

The robots activated and attacked when we tried to open the door on the far side of the room, and proceeded to try and take us apart. Widowmaker used her forcefield to keep the rook off us as we took apart the other robots, but then the door opened and the King came floating out.

Now, I’d been doing a little bit of gloating, I must confess, about how S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. was immune to the mind control ((Being a robot, and all.)) of the illithids during the invasion storyline, so I really should have seen what was coming. This King robot, which commanded the other robots, attacked me in my weak spot – my Mind – and took poor S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. over. I threw off the robot mind control for a panel, using my hero die, but completely flubbed my intended attack on the King, and resigned myself to going back under his command next panel.

Fortunately, the others noticed that the King had a glowing crystal attached to the back of his head, and… forcefully removed it. All of a sudden, he stopped fighting us, told the remaining robots ((Including the rook. The rook was nasty.)) to stand down, and released me from his control. Then he took off his mask, revealing a cadaverous human face behind it.

Turns out that this was the creator of the robots, himself essentially a cyborg with dead flesh. He had built his army of chessmen to aid the war effort against Germany, but something had gone wrong during his construction of the bishops, and he didn’t remember anything after that. What he did remember was how his wife had died, and he had tried to convert her to a cyborg like himself, but wound up with a Queen that had no more will and mind than his other creations.

With his help, we figured out that Dr. Methuselah had been retrieved from this installation by a group of agents that included at least one super-powered individual who could teleport and wasn’t Nightshade. They seemed to be able to control the King through that glowing crystal and, through him, the rest of the robots. As they left, the teleporter said something about the Mountain being grateful for his help ((This, of course, got my conspiracy theory lobes spinning into speculation about the Assassins, and the Old Man of the Mountain, and Templars, and so on. Don’t know if any of that will turn out to be applicable, but that’s where my brain went.)), and took off with the still-immobile Dr. Methuselah.

Checking the dates of things, we found that the shut down of the King’s facility occurred at about the same time as the Centurions had vanished, and super-heroes had generally disappeared all those decades ago. And that the reactivation of him and his army coincided with our discovery of the Century Club HQ in Manhattan. This was our first confirmation that whatever had happened in 1936 ((Is that year right, Clint?)) was world-wide, and not isolated to the United States ((This was corroborated by the fact that the King had sold a few hundred hover-sleds to Russia, and they didn’t see service during WWII, any more than the King’s robots or any of the German advanced inventions that the robots were built to counter.)).

We decided then to go check out the Century Clubhouse in Paris ((Which Clint hadn’t prepared for. But the man’s good; he was able to give us something to investigate, interesting things to find, and some challenges to overcome, all right off the cuff. If I hadn’t known what the subtle signs of GM surprise look like – from having experienced them so often from the inside – I wouldn’t have known he hadn’t set this up in advance. So kudos to Clint!)), to see if there were any clues there as to what had happened. When we located it and found the secret entrance, we discovered that, like we had done in Manhattan, some new heroes had discovered the headquarters and moved in.

Unlike in Manhattan, these heroes all seemed to have been slaughtered in an attack on the clubhouse. The place was torn up, and bodies were strewn about, dressed in super-hero costumes. Any records had been either removed or destroyed. We found a hidden lab that seemed to be untouched, with an isolated computer, showing that someone had been investigating genetic origins of super powers, which we decided would be best removed and examined at our leisure.

That’s about where we left the game. We’ve got the ID from one of the bodies, and we’re looking at following up on that next game, then we’re looking at investigating some of the other Century Clubs in various cities, to see if we can uncover more of the mystery of what happened to all the heroes just before WWII.

New Centurions, Issue #11: Fear in Provence

Last Saturday was the latest game in Clint’s BASH campaign. I was hoping to have something ready to take over and GM, giving him a chance to play, but work has been kind of insane the past few weeks, so it didn’t happen ((This time. I’m working on it, Clint!)).

Anyway, the session started with us interrogating Nightshade, a villain we had first met waaaaay back at the beginning of the campaign ((When it was run using the Icons system and we only had three players.)), when he took Queen Celeste hostage and freed the holographic Dr. Methuselah from his… stasis, or whatever it is ((We still don’t know, and I’m waiting for the other shoe to hit us squarely in the back of the head.)). He had turned up again during the Illithid Invasion, when an ally of ours captured him robbing a jewelry store during the panic.

Now that things had settled down somewhat, we decided to interrogate him. He turned out to be a cape-for-hire, very much like Lady Crimson, except not completely psychotic. After some negotiation, he revealed that he had teleported out of the Century Club with Dr. Methuselah to a location he didn’t know the location of. Somehow, he had been given knowledge of how to teleport to it, without actually knowing where it was. Also, his employers had given him a magnetic stripe card that allowed him to interact with Dr. Methuselah ((And presumably the other frozen, insubstantial folks in our lobby.)) as if he were solid, but he had left it with Dr. Methuselah when he delivered him.

We agreed to release him, in return for teleporting us to the same place he had brought Dr. Methuselah, and then let him go ((S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. wasn’t very pleased with that, as he was a criminal in our custody. However, by pitching it as giving Nightshade a head start before we came after him, S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. was somewhat mollified.)). There was some discussion of just S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. going along on the first teleport, to get a GPS fix on the location, but I pointed out that this might mean S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. was teleporting alone into a very dangerous situation, and it would be better if we went in force.

This turned out to be a good idea: whoever had built the place where we arrived had lined the destination room with high-powered lights, dispelling the shadow, giving us serious sunburn, and rendering Nightshade – who relied on shadows for his power – useless, as well as just about killing him through his vulnerability to bright light. S.P.E.C.-T.E.R.’s resistance to heat and radiation helped him stay active, and we got Nightshade wrapped in Queen Celeste’s coat and hunkered down behind Widomaker’s force field, while everyone went to work smashing the lights.

I gotta say, it was an ingenious, challenging, and flavourful supervillain trap, and I tip my hat to Clint for coming up with it ((Especially as I discovered later he wasn’t really expecting us to go this way, and came up with the trap on the fly. Kudos.)).

Once we had defeated the trap, we climbed out through the ceiling to explore the rest of the complex. My locators told me we were in southern France, in the Provence hills, and the tech of the installation looked to be WWII-era. We found a whole bunch ((Forty or so.)) of robots from that era that activated and attempted to attack us. I spent my Hero Die at this point to have S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. use his radio connection as a power stunt to shut them down, and then we got out of there.

To Paris.

There, Nightshade left us. Widowmaker doesn’t have the range to teleport us all the way home, so we called Aegis, and got them to arrange a safehouse for us. That gave us a chance to examine the footage of the robots, and we determined that they seemed to be modeled in a chess motif. There was no record of such robots being used in WWII, and the co-ordinates we had for the complex turned up no record of military or scientific installations there. Satellite imagery showed only an old barn on the site.

So, after reporting in to Shannon and getting a little rest, we headed back to the site, via Widowmaker’s teleport ability. We popped right down to where we had left, and found a number of Pawn robots, along with a Knight robot, ready and waiting for us. This time, S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. couldn’t shut them down, so we had to do it the hard way.

By the time we finished that fight, it was around 1:00 in the morning, so we called it there.

One other thing worthy of mention: After our discussion last time about the Hero Point Economy, Clint went out of his way to keep them flowing out to us, and I think that really helped the game move along, and get people doing riskier things. Something for me to keep in mind for tonight’s Feints  & Gambits game.

New Centurions, Issue #10: Urban Paleontology

We just finished playing our latest Armitage Files game, but I need to talk about the last New Centurions game, which we played last Saturday, so I don’t fall too far behind on these things.

So, we picked up the storyline a few days after fighting off the dimensional invaders, in the aftermath of what they had done to the city. Before play actually began, Clint talked with us about how he wanted to handle gaining new abilities using the experience system he rolled out last session. I still don’t have a real handle on how I want to advance S.P.E.C.-T.E.R., so I haven’t spent the experience yet. We also talked a bit about the Hero Point economy of the game, and whether we needed to tweak it for our purposes ((The answer to this is that we’re looking at trying one or two slightly different tweaks: during the game, Clint decided to hand out two Hero Points at a time instead of one, and after the game, he sent out some e-mail suggesting that spending a single Hero Point provided a bonus d6 result modifier, rather than a single point result modifier. Other suggestions included making Hero Points worth a two-point result modifier, and other options to get more points in the hands of the players, so that they get used for more cool stuff. Our experiment is ongoing.)).

And then we jumped into the actual game. Paladin was out of the city ((Which is to say, the player couldn’t make it that night, on account of having a life or something.)), on assignment with the new government agency that had taken command of the new problem of superhumans, called Aegis. While he was out of the picture, Aegis made the New Centurions a real sweetheart deal – substantial funding and material, in return for being able to call on us from time to time to deal with supervillains.

Given the climate of corruption and lack of government response in the city, we were somewhat skeptical ((Okay, we were too skeptical, really. But there’s a real trend in the groups I game with to distrust any sort of patron, because it’s kind of assumed they are going to turn on you eventually. That’s a standard trope in comic books, too, but it’s also rich story territory, so when I realized what I was doing in looking for traps and loopholes in the agreement, I stopped doing it and jumped on board.)) at first, but they value they were offering was such that we would have been insane to turn it down. So, we agreed, and the New Centurions are now associated with Aegis.

And that’s when the dinosaurs showed up at the NYU campus.

Little bit of background is required here. Clint, who runs the game, is married, and has two kids. His wife and his daughter both play in the New Centurions game, but his son, who is younger, doesn’t. But Clint runs another BASH game for his wife and kids, and wanted to give his son a chance to play with the rest of the crew. In the last session of the family game, which is set in the 1940s, Dr. Tempus used a time machine to escape from the heroes, but Thunderbolt (Clint’s son’s character) and Monkeydude (his sidekick) followed him into the timestream, ending in a nice cliffhanger.

Thus we had our first guest-star in the New Centurions: Thunderbolt and Monkeydude, who had followed Dr. Tempus through time. The megaraptors that appeared in our present were a side-effect of the time travel ((At least, that’s what Dr. Tempus said when S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. asked if the dinosaurs belonged to him and threatened to cite him for having let unlicensed sauropods loose in the city.)). The battle was fun – everyone kept throwing dinosaurs onto Dr. Tempus, until Widowmaker managed to corral them all with her forcefield. We turned Dr. Tempus over to Thunderbolt, who was sucked back to his own time when the time machine in the NYU lab activated.

That was pretty much where we left the game, with some thought about the next session, when we hope to finally interrogate the man who (we think) freed Dr. Methuselah from the weird time-trap/hologram/somethingorother we found when we discovered our headquarters.

We may finally learn what was up with that. And maybe even be able to free the original Centurions. Unless they’re just images. Or something.

But it’ll be fun, anyway!

New Centurions, Issue #9: Emancipation

Last Saturday ((I’m falling behind again. Work has been nuts. On the up side, I’ve got the bare bones of two blog posts that aren’t game reports on the back-burner. Look for them soon.)), Clint ran the latest installment of the New Centurions campaign, and we wrapped up the invasion storyline.

He also took the opportunity to roll out his new experience system.

Why a new experience system? Well, as he quite rightly pointed out, most comic book characters don’t really level up. Some things about them change, but they don’t often gain new powers, or become permanently stronger, or stuff like that ((Yes, there are exceptions. But for the most part.)). Most experience and advancement systems not only allow, but encourage you to ramp your character up to new power levels, and that didn’t fit for the kind of game he wanted to run.

On the other hand, as players, we’re conditioned to want our characters to get better over time. We want to develop new powers and get better at using our old ones. And he didn’t want to take that motivation away from us.

He came up with a compromise heavily based on the idea of Milestones from The Dresden Files RPG. It focuses on Challenges, and overcoming a Challenge (a fight, a plot, a trap, a complication, etc.) grants certain benefits, which vary depending on how tough the Challenge was. At the lower levels, it lets you tweak some things about your character, and at higher levels, it gives you some experience that you can bank towards a bigger change. Challenges also give you Fame and Infamy, depending on how you resolve them.

So, after a brief talk about the experience system, we got down to play.

We picked up the game right where we had left it, with the New Centurions bursting onto the bridge of the voidship, filled with the illithid crew, with our poorly-armed army of ex-slaves at our backs. The rest of the evening was pretty much taken up by the epic combat that followed.

I’m not going to go through that combat step-by-step, but I do want to comment on a couple of things:

  • Everyone’s getting better at coming up with interesting things to do in combat, beyond the move-hit paradigm. And that’s so important to the feel of a superhero game. Jumping around, throwing enemies, making called shots on brain-controlling parasites, all of that happened. It was an action-packed fight.
  • Little plastic shot glasses make awesome forcefields and flying bases. And they’re cheap at the dollar store!
  • Figuring out how to use the minion rules to your advantage as a player has some real benefits.
  • D&D monsters make great extra-dimensional villains. Illithids and a bullette surprise!
  • Going into the fight with only 21 hits ((Out of a total of 100.)) made the fight extra-nerve-wracking for me. I figured S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. was gonna go down in a valiant sacrifice, but I survived with 6 hits left.
  • This spiced pecan recipe is very good ((What does that have to do with the game? Nothing, except I made them to bring with me, and they were yummy.)).

So, we defeated the illithids, but during the fight, the ship passed through the barrier into our world. The last several minutes of the battle had us hovering over the war-torn Manhattan landscape, trying to get the psychic computer in the ship to help us defeat the incoming armies of returning raiders without blowing up their ships full of captured slaves. We managed to work out an arrangement that allowed the illithids to release their slaves, then stay trapped in their shuttles until the slaves controlling our captured ship released them back on the other side of the barrier.

There were some interesting hints about why our world had a dimensional barrier at all, and some fun stuff with the Defenders superhero group getting most of the credit for helping out during the disaster ((After all, we were no where to be found, having chased the illithids into another dimension.)), and some dark government cover-ups put in place, and S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. reuniting with Shannon, his tech and lifeline. Then we called it a night.

Now I’m looking over the experience system, trying to decide what I’m gonna do with my brand new experience points.

New Centurions, Issue #8: The Price of Freedom

Last night was the latest installment of Clint’s New Centurions superhero campaign.

We had left off just after boarding the invading interdimensional aliens’ voidship, so we picked up with our exploration of the vessel. Our plan was simple: capture or disable the vessel, and stop the invasion.

The inside was huge – bigger than any aircraft carrier – with massive hallways and doors. The walls were something like lacquered sandstone or coral, in vertical striations, looking very organic. The floor was a leathery substance with octagonal tiles. The first doors we made it to were aircraft hangar sized, and Queen Celeste needed to use her magical abilities to open them.

Beyond, we found the slave pens – rows of large, barred cells, filled with a myriad of aliens, each with a small parasite attached at the base of the skull, controlling them and keeping them docile. A small band of them were being moved somewhere by four of the invaders, so we rushed into the fray and took out the slavers, thanks in no small part to a well-timed fastball special, with Paladin tossing Widowmaker into the mix. A little experimentation managed to remove the parasite from one of the creatures, and she pointed us to a control node in the wall, where Queen Celeste was able to remove all the parasites, open the cell doors, and access some vital information.

Information such as the layout of the voidship, the number of slaves aboard (about 3400, if I remember correctly), and the number of invaders aboard (a little over 700).  With this data, we formulated a plan to take a hundred or so volunteers with military training from the slave population and push on to take the bridge. Another group, made up of a few hundred, decided they wanted to try their own plans for looting and capturing the ship. Paladin managed to arrange an agreement with them that, no matter who took the ship, there would be co-operation between the victors and the other groups. Queen Celeste then used her suggestion ability to send this group, made up of many of the largest and most troublesome slaves, to attack the forward guard stations, where we had determined the largest number of guards (and weapons) would be.

With our stalwart band of followers, we pushed on toward the elevator that led up to the command deck. Widowmaker used her forcefield to bottle up a room full of guards, and then we ran smack into a trio of priest invaders, with mind-blasting gems, psychic armour, and force swords.

This showed up one of the interesting artifacts of a system like BASH that has a very chunky progression ((And by chunky progression, I mean that there are very few steps in the progression latter of abilities, and the difference between adjacent ranks is large.)): the initial aliens we fought in the ship were pushovers, and these were devastating. Now, obviously, there were other factors involved than just the chunky system: the initial aliens were minions, while these were not, for instance. But there is a real difference between fighting someone with a hit, damage, or defense multiple of x2 versus a multiple of x3. This is partially addressed by the half-step system that Clint is using, providing mid-steps, but there’s still a big difference.

Case in point, these three illithid priests pretty much ate our lunch. We had to pull out all the stops to take them down, and would have been completely routed except for Queen Celeste’s power stunt of using her weakening touch to deactivate their armour, and Widowmaker’s massively successful gravitic smash ((Pun intended.)). As it stands, S.P.E.C.-T.E.R. is running around at about 20% of his hit total ((I can’t complain, really – this is only the second or third time he’s been damaged at all, so he was due for a pummeling.)), with no way of getting any back, because he’s a machine and the alien healing tech doesn’t work on him.

Now, this is not a criticism of the game or the fight – it was a great fight, and very much in keeping with the genre to force the heroes to get creative and sneaky to take down strange and terrible foes.

So, we pushed on at speed to the elevator, took it up to the command deck, and did our best to disable it. Then we stormed the bridge, catching the captain and the rest of the bridge crew apparently by surprise.

That’s where we left it – we burst through the door onto the bridge, and the captain and bridge crew turn to see us crowded in the doorway.

Make sure you pick up the next issue.