My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Aaron Sullivan » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:07 pm

Chapter Two:

Even with Metropolis going crazy, for a moment it looked like a fight could be averted, with the older of the two cops staring down the League and stating point-blank, “Look, I’m a cop, you guys have been heroes of mine for years, and I’m just not going to fight you.” He followed this with a natural twenty on his Persuasion check and some good role-playing in how he delivered the line (this player is one who normally states what his character is doing and this time he actually acted it out and did it well …the other players clapped for him). Then the cyborg had a “bring it” moment and threw a concrete bench at the guy with a bow aimed at him and his buds.

Annnnnnnnddddd the fight began.

Again, poor rolls really hampered the players, but we managed to squeeze in some shining moments of awesome for everyone. Well, almost everyone. Johnny Rocket and Bowman double-teamed the cyborg, rolled well, and then surged (the cyborg’s player had circumvented his complications and managed to avoid getting hero points for most of the session, so I was trying desperately to feed him some HP). Deciding against advice to sit on and not use any of his rapidly accumulated HP, the Cyborg went down hard. We also found out just how fragile the psychokinetic was…but his player, an excellent role-player who had milked his complications for all they were worth, had a mountain of HP in front of him at the table and burned them left and right in what he characterized in-play as a classic comedy-of-errors which left him still standing with neither the character nor his opponents understanding quite how that could be.

And then Raven showed up. The fight ended. Feeling pressured by events, Mars made his pitch about setting up the groundwork for a team of heroes and how his first invitations were going out to these PCs. The session ended with them mulling things over.
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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Aaron Sullivan » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:08 pm

Interlude:

At that point, Real Life™ intruded. Mike (playing the psychokinetic) had his schedule changed out from under him by his job as a paramedic. We lost him for a good long while from the table in general. The cyborg’s player was notified of his acceptance in a voc-ed program he wanted into, and he needed to drop out because of that. Finally, Andi, playing Princess, was running into health, family, and work issues that were causing her problems and making her attendance unpredictable despite her best efforts. We decided to move to a different game with a few new people coming in and storylines that were single-session inclusive and designed around unpredictable mixes of players and PCs. And there we stayed until recently, when a confluence of stuff brought us back to M&M as well as brought Mike and Andi back to the table with predictable regularity.
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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Aaron Sullivan » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:10 pm

Chapter Two, Continued:

Now having seen more of the completed Adventure Path and having a better idea of how events would shake out, I presented the players with some options on continuing. Three of the people who played before rolled up new characters, divorced from the stormer origin this time around for two of them, and deciding against the previously used pre-gen for the third. A new player to the game rolled up his own character on the charts, and one player kept his previous character.

At that point, I had some decisions to make. I had to consider continuity issues and how to deal with some of the previous characters that would not be returning. Conclusion -- What had happened before had happened.

No retconning needed.

Mars’ offer was not received with the uniform enthusiasm he hoped for. Gale (the flying speedster) said yes immediately, but everyone else had problems.

• The college student stormer decided he actually wanted to live to see the next semester and thought his prospects as a professional hero type were not conducive to that goal, particularly given how close to getting pulped and killed he had come that day.

• The older cop stormer realized that like his younger partner, his face had been splashed across news reports on the scene of the Silver Storm. He had known this before, of course, but the epiphany of what that entailed, with superhuman badasses knowing his face, who and where his family was, and holding grudges directly at him instead of the badge, all hit him at once. He hurried to make a bargain with AEGIS, offering to let them study him and whatever else they needed from him, in exchange for getting him and his family into a version of WITSEC that he prayed would keep him from having to see his family hurt or killed because of his decisions.

• Reviewing security footage of the violent fiasco on-site, Mars realized the cyborg was a loose cannon and a problem waiting to blow up in their faces. In consultation, both parties concluded that the cyborg was exhibiting signs of PTSD related to his time in Afghanistan. Mars offered to buy all of the cyborg’s work and his business interests in same, in exchange for the man (a) continuing to work on his technology rather than operate in any form or fashion as a vigilante, and (b) seeking treatment for his PTSD which MarsTech would help him find and pay for.

• Princess walked away from being a hero. She had only ever been pursuing the hero lifestyle because it was entertaining and gave her a semi-acceptable outlet for her abilities. However, her run-in with AEGIS and the Freedom League exacerbated some issues she had always had with authority and started her down the path on the other side of the fence. This meshed with my earlier decision to use the various Sentinel members as their published bad guy versions.

Then I went about pulling the new PCs into play.

With only one member lined up for his new team, Mars sent his people recruiting. While setting the rest of the groundwork for his new venture, he had also been researching every potential recruit he could get info on. His people approached several, with varying results. Some said no, some said maybe, and a whopping three names off of his compiled list actually said yes. Luckily, a new candidate appeared like mana from heaven.

Nearby to the MarsTech corporate campuses there are a number of small labs and fabrication facilities belonging to private contractors, independent tech firms, and subsidiaries of some of Mars’ competitors. The man who would later go by the name “Doc Emerald” was the owner of one of those small facilities and was working in competition against Paladyne and A.R.E.S. for a new series of defense contracts for Man Portable Powered Combat Armor. Originally, he had been pursuing this goal purely for the monetary rewards, but footage of the Silver Storm and its effects on his hometown woke more altruistic impulses. Hearing the battles at nearby MarsTech’s corporate campus while he already had his prototype suit on for testing, Doc went to see if he could help. He arrived too late to do anything and so he left again almost immediately, but Mars saw enough of the tech, and had an encyclopedic enough knowledge of his competitors, area tech experts, and advanced technology in general, to work out who the armored man had been. His people approached Doc and were pleasantly surprised when he agreed to the offer with the added terms of MarsTech maintaining the secret of the man’s identity from the general public, and that no association between him and MarsTech offered them any degree of ownership over any of the man’s proprietary tech. Recruit #2 was onboard.

“Lady M” had been a law student and community activist when a highway pile-up that buried her in the remains of her car offered the combination of physical trauma and psychological push (thanks to her claustrophobia) that triggered what she believes to be previously latent mutant abilities. Lady M is tremendously strong and resilient, and can somehow fly by force of will. She immediately put her abilities to use supporting the same pursuits she had vigorously applied herself to when she was non-powered. A more high-profile community heroine now, Lady M had quickly become a terror against pimps, rapists, child pornographers, and various domestic abuse offenders. One such abuser was using his considerable money and influence to bring charges against her and was a serious problem before MarsTech’s high-priced legal staff showed up offering to represent her in court. Mars’ recruiters also offered considerable routine contributions to local rape-counseling centers, free medical clinics, and other similar services in exchange for Lady M signing on the dotted line. Offered the resources to see her goals supported in ways she otherwise never would, Lady M became successful recruit #3.

Jade’s real name is unpronounceable by the human vocal apparatus. Its ship crashed in the Atlas Mountains several geologic ages ago and took eons to rebuild him from the cellular level up based on available local materials. It appears as a vaguely man-shaped being (not anatomically correct) made of green crystal resembling jade. Its memories are spotty, with some mighty big holes as to some basic questions. When it dug itself out from under the Atlas Mountains after returning finally to consciousness, it had only the basic language skills and very basic cultural knowledge for Emerald City the ship’s “dying” computer managed to program into him before it succumbed finally to age and damage. Attempting to learn about the natives, the alien repeatedly found itself put into confusing situations where its actions wound up saving lives and preventing crimes (it remembers enough of its native culture to know that law and order were very important and that it was some form of soldier or policeman). A local hero in some of the less economically affluent areas of town, where the inhabitants called him “The Jade Hammer,” it was approached repeatedly before eventually understanding enough of the recruiter’s offer to realize they offered valuable resources and learning experiences. It then accepted. Bam! Recruit#4. Though it has been approached on more than one occasion and interrogated by undercover agents of Majestic 20, it has no understanding of the significance of their questions. M20 is still surveiling the creature until deciding on the best course of action, a decision that has been complicated from the start by public awareness of the entity.

Jeremy “Jolt” Johnson is the grandson of fifties era heroine “Lady Lightning,” known as much for her self-promotion as for her heroics. Her children didn’t inherit her abilities, but her grandson did. A motorcross champion, his powers erupted during a deadly crash. Already under contract to MarsTech for the motorcross team they sponsor as advertising for their motorbike properties, Johnson is currently banned from legitimate competition this season due to “excesses in behavior” and “unacceptable lapses in judgment” against a fellow competitor during a sanctioned event. Mars’ recruiters played to his ego and sense of newfound familial pride in his abilities, offering a lucrative set of advertising and merchandising opportunities based on a new heroic persona for him during his season away from competition (and its concurrent loss in paycheck opportunities). And Jolt made #5.

Gale has slowly accepted her new powered status and the (handled as gently as possible) exit from the police force. She had wanted to be a cop for as long as she could remember, so she’s focusing that same intense enthusiasm into being a powered hero. While the other four team members have any number of reservations about what they’re doing (Jade‘s is actually more confusion than reservation), Gale is wholehearted and annoyingly direct in her adoption of the lifestyle. She’s already earned the nickname Dudley Do-Right from the people she’s working with, but doesn’t really understand yet how her handlers are spinning that personality to the public for maximum effect (and to overshadow some of Jolt’s less savory behaviors).

The players have only just started the whirlwind of municipal functions and meet-and-greets that go with their new roles, but I decided to bring the players backup to speed with the mechanics by the traditional method of having a fight scene.


Out of Arc:

Told by their liaisons with MarsTech that information had come to light regarding a planned theft of MarsTech materials from an isolated storage site, the team was hustled off to wait in hiding for the criminals to arrive. The device targeted for theft was stealthily replaced with a non-functional decoy and the whopping two security staff members on-site were firmly instructed to run like hell at the first sign of trouble. The security feed was re-routed to better recording systems for latter use in PR exercises and everybody waited. The thieves were a contingent from the crime union AEGIS had been tangling with lately all along the west coast and that the team’s so-called predecessors had encountered at MarsTech. Included in their number here were again Cannon and Megamorph, freed from confinement in route to a more secure holding facility than the limited SCCs (Superhuman Containment Cells) available to the ECPD. The two of them were working off the “fee” involved in other members enacting their Get-Out-of-Jail free arrangement. Also involved were the weapon master “Edge,” the mercenary battlesuit user “Warwing,” the extradimensional powerhouse “Mogh the Mighty,” and the stormer thug-for-hire “Gator,” who was involved as an initiation of sorts for his entry into the union.

I had stats for Cannon and Megamorph already from the published material. Edge is the Weapon Master archetype from the core book edged up to PL11. Similarly, Warwing (for the purposes of what I was going to run then and there) used the Battlesuit archetype with a couple of substitutions in the Weapons array. Gator I had stats for from later in Chapter two. For Mogh the Mighty, I had a vague idea of the character, already enough to know that I could simply cannibalize the stats for Validus from the Fatal Five’s entry in H&V Vol I and drop two PLs off him to be good to go.

Quick discovery -- The current spread of PCs is much more combat effective than their predecessors. End results:

• Storage building/warehouse destroyed completely. Sooooooo much collateral damage from both sides.

• The PCs hate Cannon. I played up the In-Your-Face Jock/Jarhead Type-A personality and it scored hard.


• Bad guys hold grudges, too. Following the humiliating defeat at the corporate campus a few days ago, someone (possibly plural) within the union put a price on the head of the hero-types involved there.

• The PCs are aware now that the union is really a disparate group of criminals thrown together for jobs – not a lot of teamwork from this bunch at all. In fact, Warwing abandoned the job and his compatriots altogether to try and bag Gale – apparently the price on her head was better than his potential cut of the action involved in the theft. Edge immediately worked out that they had been set up, had no loyalty to the others, and apparently has enough leverage on Cannon to pressure him into helping Edge escape, leaving everyone else for the authorities.

• Cannon and Edge got away. See above.

• Teamwork is vital. Working together Lady M and Jade pounded the screamin’ bejeezus out of Megamorph, and attacking en masse, the group dropped Mogh in a single round. Also, Lady M and Jade make excellent use out of the Slam maneuver.

For next time, the players will get the opportunity to meet AEGIS and the ECPD brass in a more formal manner, get a tour of their new HQ, and meet the public in well-staged events until they’re sick of it. Time allowing, I’ll probably switch the timing around on the next two encounter scenarios and run the stormer beatdown as the next fight.
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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Aaron Sullivan » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:20 pm

Art I used:

Cannon:

Image

Cyberknight:

Image

Megamorph:

Image

Tempus:

Image
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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Aaron Sullivan » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:56 am

Art Stuff

If you continue reading this thread, you'll quickly notice that I swipe art from all sorts of places. I have artists I like, and I'm pretty obsessive about accumulating pics from all over the web when I have even the vaguest glimmer of an idea that I may eventually use them in a game someday -- either as foldover paper minis (which I prefer to plastic or metal ones, since I can tailor it more to my needs) or just a print-out I can show players. At no point am I claiming any sort of possession over these pieces, and if I know or remember the artists involved, I'll happily credit them.

The Tempus piece is Storn Cook's... an old standby whose art I have always liked. Storn would have to intentionally try to go wrong before I'd turn away his stuff. Megamorph is obviously the generic Powerhouse archetype pic from M&M 2e core, and Cyberknight is the pic for the Valkyrie character in 2e's Paragons book. Unfortunately, I don't remember at the moment who the artists were on either, though the Powerhouse may be one of Talon Dunning's (it's a guess, so don't quote me on that). On Cannon, I picked the pic up somewhere on a forum way back when, and I neither know the artist nor whether or not it showed up in print somewhere -- though the style puts me in mind of Matt Plog or Pat Zircher.





(Okay, confession time. I'm a bit of an art snob. Though I have little to no actual talent of my own in that respect, I know what I like and what I respect. If your art stylings look anything like what I could myself churn out [and remember, my skills in that area are openly admitted to be the suck] then it doesn't really matter how heartfelt your efforts are going to be, I'm still going to wrestle with diplomacy to get out a "Ummm, yeah, that's real nice." Does that make me a bad person? Maybe. But it's the equivalent of listening to someone go one about their stories and writing, only to see once you've gotten your hands on their work, that they struggle even to manage complete sentences and that their spelling acumen is on par with a crack-addled eleven-year-old coming down from a memory-destroying sugar binge. You can try to be nice, or you can try to be honest. Which is better for the situation? You choose. )
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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Aaron Sullivan » Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:52 pm

Hopefully, I'll have some time coming up much later this week to post about my crew's handling of the last of Chapter 2 and beginning of Chapter 3. In the meantime, here are the thumbnails for the Menagerie mentioned in Pack-Rat's Threat Report (at least, as they appear in my games). Also, hopefully, in the next few weeks, I'll have time to put up stats for these guys.



Lady Serafina

A female mountain gorilla with heightened intellect that affects a British accent and acts aristocratic. Think Dr. Simian, but with a genius for tactics and people skills rather than technology. She was named by the only one of the scientific staff at Morgenstern the members of the Menagerie actually liked, the elderly Dr. Amelia Genovese. Genovese's poor health took her out of the program before the subjects escaped. They kidnapped/"rescued" her from the rest home where she was in hospice care and the good doctor died peacefully surrounded by her "children."

Talon
A chimeric quadruped with traits from multiple predatory species (reptile, mammalian, even an insect trait or two). Gender unknown. Think of an intelligent D&D Bulette. TV junkie. Especially soap operas.

Bengal
A male (adolescent equivalent) tiger-based humanoid. Showy and wants to be a superhero or a TV star…though a combination of the two would be even better. Sometimes plays vigilante until the others reel him in and remind him about the whole “overthrowing the evil Empire of Man” thing.

Tusker
A male wooly mammoth humanoid standing about 10 feet tall. In-house tech guy, stoic and poetic to a highly-mockable degree.

Carapace
Centauresque with bottom half looking like crab-scorpion and upper half looking crab-scorpion humanoid. An evil, scheming little bastard waiting for an opportunity to turn on the others.

Scaredy-Cat
A female feline humanoid with fear-based pheromone abilities. Drama queen that gets on the others’ collective nerves.

Sidewinder
A female reptilian humanoid with low-level speedster and melee-based combat savant abilities. Bad case of ye olde gunslinger mentality.

Harpy
A female avian humanoid with highly destructive and barely controlled sonic powers. Hypercritical personality and sibling of Raptor.

Raptor
A male avian humanoid, think the Warrior archetype plus wings and aerobatics. Aggressive and greedy. Frequent tool for either Harpy or Carapace.
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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Chad Spider » Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:56 am

I liked the two Algernon Files books and your last couple of threads, but I don't think I ever said anything. So now I am! I will be watching this.

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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Aaron Sullivan » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:50 am

That's flattering. Thanks. I hope real life starts cooperating enough for me to post more in the foreseeable future.
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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Libra » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:33 pm

I hope that you will be able to post more as well - your articles DO tend to be rather splendid. :D
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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by iNSOMN14 » Sun May 06, 2012 1:40 am

Sorry to post something possibly off-topic, but I noticed something that piqued my interest.
• [3C] Majestic-20 continues to hunt Xeno and Xeno, in turn, hunts Majestic-20 (who have possession of the tech it needs to get off-world).
Who/what is Majestic-20. I thought I saw a reference to them/it in one of the Threat Reports (in the opening AEGIS report), and have been causally looking for information about it/them, but haven't seen anything yet. Unless I'm horribly overlooking something

Also, love the thread. Hope it continues to get updated. I'm running ECK as well and it's always nice to see someone who's been there before and post their insights so I can run a better game.

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Re: My Emerald City: It Ain't Easy Bein' Green...

Post by Aaron Sullivan » Sun May 06, 2012 8:21 am

Secret government-started but now rogue anti-alien agency. Think MiB, but less friendly and far more self-righteous.

Assuming they weren't victims of editing needs (always a possibility), you should see a write-up for them in the boxed set.

The reference you thought you saw was way back in the Cybertribe group write-up preceding and attached to Motherboard's Threat Report. 8)

Glad you like the thread material. I am recuperating from unanticipated surgery and have only recently returned to my job following it, so I hope to free up time and energy to continue it at some point in the near future.
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