Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Starros are Right! Superheroes: Year One Ends

FINAL CRISES
Last Wednesday saw the final session of my G+ Mutants & Masterminds campaign. It went out with an epic finish. Here are the AARs of the final two sessions. 

Session Twelve: The Starros are Right!:
Firstwave pulled back from the dockyard battle, leaving behind a cloak of cold to conceal their retreat. Back at Stark Labs, they launched into repairs and medical treatment to recover from the overwhelming fight. While they had managed to disable the Devilfish’s production facility, it had been operating for days- meaning that the tainted beverages had spread out across the city. Reports began to come in from multiple locations- as power, emergency services, traffic, and communications began to go haywire. Could the packages which the Devilfish had been unloading from the vessel and sending out been Starros? Perhaps fully formed and not requiring the energy burst.

Mr. Freeze assembled the group and after some discussion divided tasks among them. Most importantly, he and iron Man worked on figuring out a means of disrupting or disabling the activation signal, a burst would they believed would come from a STAR Labs satellite in geosynchronous orbit over New York. They worked feverishly on the project, enlisting any staff members still present at the late hour. The collapsing communications network made the research even more difficult. However both master scientists finally made a breakthrough. They created a multi-part shield which would interfere with the incoming energy wave. They assembled this and set it up on the highest points of the city. While Starro and the Devilfish might have other operations in the works, the two experts had managed to put a complete stop to the most insidious plot.

Mister Miracle, working as best he could with the collapsing news and broadcast systems prepared a warning statement from Firstwave, telling people to stay indoors and avoid bottled beverages. However, Miracle’s gift for hyperbole got away from him. His reputation as a showman and stunt artist uncercut his message. Meanwhile Nightcrawler travelled to The Raft Superhuman Containment Facility. The group had been attacked by several supervillains who should have been incarcerated there. Nightcrawler found a breach in the outer wall and several Starro’d guards patrolling the nearly empty site. He located Mysterio who had seen the Warden distributing Starro’s and had hidden himself. Nightcrawler released him after obtaining a pledge that he would assist the group. Heading back to Stark Enterprises, Nightcrawler tried to bring some order to the streets- as chaos began to spread across the city. Miracle called in his favors and contacted both the Black Knight’s group and Team Fury. Both said they would attempt to make their way to the Stark Facility.

Thor, meanwhile, tracked down Dr. Werner, the man who had originally asked Stretch Jackson to locate the Magus Gem. Werner, an older and scarred scientist, reluctantly told Thor the story of the Gem. It had been taken by LexCorp from a vessel they had recovered. The Magus Gem had been affixed to the outside of the veseel. Inside, they found many other crystals, though these were translucent. They also found a child inside, a young man with extraordinary powers. LexCorp, under Luthor’s direction, had begun to study the boy, the ship, and the crystals. The young man grew into his powers- appearing human but for the tiny wings on the sides of his feet. Then, less than a decade ago, the now grown test subject had escaped- displaying amazing strength, flight, and toughness. Shortly after, the vessel was sabotaged and destroyed. The crystals from the vessel vanished, along with the chief researcher working on the project, Dr. Reed Richards.

The group reassembled and tried to plan their next move. They needed to find a way to deal with the mind control and make their way to the heart of the enemy’s stronghold. However the front windows of the lab suddenly exploded inward as a team of Starro’d villains and heroes blasted their way inside- Thunderball, Lashina, Mad Harriet and Granny Goodness lead the charge- accompanied by Firstwave’s own teammates, Sarge Steel and Stretch Jackson. Miracle engaged with the Furies and their leader- with Mr. Freeze coordinating efforts to take down the bad guys one at a time. Nightcrawler handled crowd control, moving Thunderball off the scene to give the group some breathing room. Though Lashina went down quickly, the team found themselves locked up- as Stretch grabbed and secured Iron Man for some time and Sarge Steel went toe-to-toe with Nightcrawler. Eventually they managed to even up the numbers and finally took all of them down- Miracle using Granny’s own weapons against her and Thor playing clean up. Three members of the Furies arrived to assist them- the Medic, Spy, and Pyro- but the Black Knight seemed to have his hands full.

They quickly secured the villains. After some consideration they began testing the Starro’s- confirming their thermal vision and that attempting removal physically caused damage to their hosts. Iron Man hit on a possible solution- rigging up a close range device which projected the same energy Fenton had used on them earlier. This worked- causing the Starro to release which the group immediately captured. Granny Goodness awoke and eyed them suspiciously. The others treated were also released, but lacking Granny’s New God stamina, remained unconscious. Granny told them that they had little time to spare- the stars would be right soon enough. She could aid them- her price being release- which Miracle agreed to if she immediately returned to Apokolips. She told them that Miracle’s Mother Box could open a Boom Tube to the heart of Starro’s realm, Atlantis itself. They had no time to dawdle, no time to delay and prepare. The group readied themselves as best they could- with some life support, rigged up underwater precautions, a rickety touch-range version of Fenton’s device, and the six untested and unproved protection torcs Iron Man had built when they fought Fenton. With only minutes to spare, they opened the Boom Tube and stormed Atlantis, stronghold of Starro and the Last Son of Lemuria, Nam-Or.

Session Thirteen: The Final Hour
Firstwave, accompanied by Granny Goodness and three members of Team Fury, entered the Boom Tube. Immediately Miracle could feel that something was wrong- as the energies of Atlantis crackled and disrupted their exit. The group found themselves in a massive temple- underwater, for they could see the dark ocean in the distance. But something held that back leaving them free to breath and they could set aside those precautions. They barely had time to register the scenery before they had to leap into action- taking advantage of their surprise. The room held a dozen Atlantaens and Deep One Agents and a host of Starro’d superbeings: Manchester Black, Sonny Sumo, MODOK, Ms. Marvel, The Engineer, NoMan, Yes Man, Diablo, and Moon Knight. Scattered across the massive area, the team tried to coordinate as best they could.

Iron Man reacted first, using the makeshift anti-Starro device on NoMan. The star came free and the villain collapsed. Iron man followed up with a rapid shot to the Starro to keep if from leaping on anyone else. Meanwhile the others engaged the biggest threat, Ms. Marvel. They teamed up to bring her down, but she shrugged off many of their hits before finally being stunned. However the group found themselves ganged up on- with the Engineer taking advantage of the opening to let loose with autofire volleys at Mr. Freeze and Thor. Granny Goodness followed her own agenda- striking down Miracles possessed friend Sonny Sumo and then battering him into unconsciousness. She then vanished out a side door. Team Fury, on the other hand, stood their ground, backing up Firstwave and using their abilities to assist them.

Iron Man took a pounding, as Manchester Black let loose on him with a mental blast. Stark pressed on- freeing Daiblo from the Starro influence. Unlike others released, he did not collapse but instead joined in the fight. Nightcrawler, seeing an opportunity teleported across the field and took the Anti-Starro device. His mobility, combined with Iron Man’s resilience might be the key to victory. Miracle, Freeze, and Thor, however found themselves tied up in a battle with half a dozen troops, Yes Man, the Engineer, and Ms. Marvel. All of the heroes took hits- with Team Fury’s Medic saving them from collapse several times. Nightcrawler and Iron Man continued to take out bad guy after bad guy, even as more villains arrived- including a possessed Enchantress and the Executioner. Despite the beating Kurt and Shellhead took, they dispatched Manchester Black, MODOK, and the Enchantress. However the device shorted out on this last release- and the team lost their key advantage. Everyone continued to be battered, bruised, and stunned by their opponents- Moon Knight gaining the upper hand on Iron Man and Freeze taking more fire from the Engineer.

The situation grew even more perilous when a streak shot into the room- shattering the room next to Nightcrawler. The figure stood and cried out “Imperious Rex.” This, then, was the Last Son of Lemuria, the Mighty Nam-Or. He was accompanied by a Naga Priest wearing the Serpent Crown and his lover Mera, wearing an ancient magical belt. Undaunted, the team coordinated and with a series of mighty blows finally knocked Ms. Marvel unconscious. But two of Team Fury dropped from attacks, leaving only the Spy conscious. Then Nam-Or leapt across the field and drove his trident through Diablo, impaling and killing him. Miracle felt the release of energy which signaled the death of a New God. That puzzle would have to wait.

Freeze held the line- keeping back many opponents and skirting between consciousness and collapse. Iron Man switched up their tactics- grabbing the Serpent Crown from the Naga Priest. Immediately he realized that his conventional powers would not be equal to the task of destroying the relic. It would require potent magical forces. Nightcrawler grabbed the other two relics, the Trident and Belt and moved away to the side. Mister Miracle threw himself into the fray- keeping the titanic villains at bay- until a blow staggered him. At the same time, Granny Goodness reappeared and moved to the temple doors behind the throne. She fell back, her arms across her face- shouting that it was too late. From the doorway poured forth Starro the Conquerer- crushing Granny beneath his bulk.

Nightcrawler put the three relics into the hands of a beaten and battered Thor even as staggered Freeze and Miracle kept the enemies away. Thor raised his hammer, recognizing what would happen if he struck the three items, each a powerful nexus of Eldritch force. He screamed for the others to escape. Miracle grabbed up the Spy and the Medic, while Nightcrawler teleported Iron Man and Mr. Freeze. Thor brought his might Uru Hammer, Mjolner down and shattered the relic. The wave blasted out into those connected with the items. The explosion tore the complex apart- destroying the temple, releasing the forces of the held back ocean, and burying the stunned Starro, Namor and the others under the debris.

Firstwave activated their survival gear and shot to the surface, they then immediately launched back under the waves, searching for survivors. Some of the possessed villains had survived and were arrested- including Manchester Black and NoMan. However the Asgardians Executioner and Enchantress vanished- along with the body of Granny Goodness. Ms. Marvel, the Engineer, Sonny Sumo, and Yes Man survived; Moon Knight’s body remained mysteriously absent. The heroes counted their own cost: Pyro from Team Fury died in the collapse. And, even closer to home, the Mighty Thor had been destroyed- sacrificing himself to bring defeat to the Otherworldly Invader.

AFTERWORD
I was nervous about this campaign at first- unsure about the tools and running a higher crunch system than I usually do. But I like M&M quite a bit and once I got my feet under me I figured out ways to make it move more quickly. I liked the players and the game so much I agreed to run another arc in a couple of months. I originally had planned this as a one off thing, but i had a blast. I don't think I can overstate how great the play group was- their enthusiasm, interest, and planning convinced me to do another story. 

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