Monday, February 25, 2013

Four Campaigns, One Week

Changeling the Lost Vegas (G+) The group decided to paused their current investigation to meet with the leader of the Summer Court, Lean-and-Hungry Mike. While the Autumn Court carefully presented themselves as refined and controlled, the Summer Court ran things from a Strip Club/Buffet with a one-star Yelp review of "Sticky." Still, the group put their best foot forward, and then began to irritate the mostly Ogre/Beast gathering. They left on troubled terms, made worse later because John the Wizened Smith built a tiny smoke machine and left it in their offices. Morosa found herself blacklisted from the Ogre Buffet Phone Tree. John's actions caused some contention in the group, ending with them splitting and some going to check in at the Hob-run 25-Hour Convenience Mart. There they found out some useful information, including details of a crazed Hob gang which had been trading goods from the lost Greyhand Grip's stores. You can see the video for the session here

Firstwave: Series Two M&M 2e (G+) The group moved to carry out plans they'd come up with at the end of the last session, infiltrating a rave in an underground parking garage where the necromantic drug Blackout would be distributed. Mr. Freeze put his Inventor feat to good use, creating an area effect Emotion Control: Discomfort device in order to get ordinary attendees to leave. However, Mister Miracle who went in first undercover fumbled a Bluff check and immediately drew the attention of the Wraith enforcers. The situation went badly quite quickly- since most of the group couldn't even see the ghosts. Miracle and Nightcrawler tried to hold things while the others did crowd control to minimize damage, except for Thor (Loki in disguise) who used intimidate to make the crowd flee and caused a panic. The players spent their hero Points trying to correct the situation, before Mister Miracle finally activated the magical device they'd obtained to send them into the Land of the Dead so they could find the souls which had been stolen.

They were thrown through into a weird realm. Miracle could hear the sound of the Black Racer beginning pursuit of them, and the group chose one of the three paths open to them- weird floating bridges suspended in space. The rush down a path before being confronted by a figure calling himself Nightmare, who offered to aid them. They'd chosen badly, he said, and would not make it to stop the ceremony without his aid. He asked for a drop of Nightcrawler's blood, but his player hemmed and hawed, refusing to do it. Finally Loki, as Thor, actually stepped up and made the heroic sacrifice, offering his blood. Nightmare agreed and sent them on to battle the wraiths and their sorceress mistress, Umar.

Now the group could actually see and affect their enemies, but it was still a tough fight. The wraiths had unusual attacks- Drains, Mind Blasts, Sickening Strikes- and weird defenses. The battle shifted several times, most notably when Iron Man took a long range shot to hit the cauldron Umar was working at, releasing a gout of red liquid which formed into a humanoid shape, an uncontrolled Demon of Carnage. The team spent through their hero points and Miracle took a lethal shot to the side, rendering him disabled. The following round he pushed himself and began to die- as he saw the Black race draw closer. Mr. Freeze barely manged to apply medical attention to stabilize him. Iron fired off a last desperate blast to knock Carnage down and Thor hurled the beast to the horizon. The group fell back, grabbing up the soul jars of the victims as Miracle opened a Boom Tube and they fled as the remaining wraiths swopped in on them.

Interesting session. One of the challenges is to create a coherent plot and story in a setting which is superhero fan-service. A couple of the players know comics really well, one knows it clinically, one knows a little, and one only knows the movies. Ideally the references have to be fun- and I can't rely on player knowledge for any of the plot hooks . They should be more of a homage. The scene with Nightcrawler and Loki was interesting because the former player is really mechanically oriented and I don't think it occured to him at all that the heroic choice would be to take a risk in order to save lives. While the Loki player was able to step in and show himself to be a better hero which will be great to call back to later. 

Wayward: Changeling the Lost (f2f) We'd had a significant gap between this session and the last due to work conflicts and illness. That ended up being a problem since the group had traveled into the Deep Hedge, setting aside their powers, in pursuit of a solution to the curse vexing Wayward. They'd traveled through two durances and now found themselves in a third, that of the Gameplayer Hopscotch Takebacks, who had suffered years of weird alien games, all variations on Prisoner's Dilemma's and Logic problems. The PC's were immediately faced with such a problem and failed. As a result, Hopscotch, a beloved NPC from the earliest days of the multi-year campaign, was incinerated. The remaining four in the party pressed forward (after a half hour delay in which the players desperately searched for any resources or options they had). They arrived in Nate Diamond's durance, the Statue Garden, where his former family pursued and tried to halt them to trade places with the players and gain freedom. It ended in a bloodbath and the party desperately running through the maze with phantom statues on their heels.

Somehow they made it into the final lair, the lair of the Spider Keeper who had begun all of this, by binding nine other Keepers in a gamble. He offered the party the same bargain he'd given to all of the other Changelings who had come here over the years. He would maintain the nine Keepers in slumbers, if they would agree in the future to make a sacrifice. Personally they would gain great power and the mantle of leadership for the Freehold, keeping it safe and secure for years. That had kept the cycle going for generations. The party rejected that, and gave own mantles and rights to power and authority in their Court of Judgement. Angered, the Spider told them that was not enough- they would have to convince the other rulers to voluntarily hand over their rule forever. They would have twenty-four hours and then the Spider would loose the Keepers to bring doom unimaginable on the city of Wayward. He warned he would set his worst upon them while they acted.

With that, the party found themselves back home. They returned to their own hollow and offered rule of their Court to several, only one of whom accepted. Karl Feign, a wood elemental who had come from the long lost adversarial Winter Court. They then called the Prince of Gardens, Edward Brambleteeth, who had placed a bounty upon them for their theft of his sword of office. They met with a Songbird Rex, one of Edward's companions who had left the Freehold when he'd assumed office. Edward arrived and the group began negotiations in earnest- dueling over rights and responsibilities. Only by pointing out that the Prince could never do as he wished, did Edward finally agree. But to spit Sarah No-Tears the Physiker, he made Noisy, the Armsman who loved her, the New Prince. The group then met with Doe, the leader of the Court of the Wolf. Surprisingly for someone who had fought for her position, she acquiesced. She pointed out the the PCs had helped her obtained the role and they had the right to ask for it back. Finally they called Sybold Futures, Prince of Rust, who agreed to meet them on neutral ground. The PCs arrived at the meeting hall for the Freehold and noted evidence of someone having been there and hiding tracks. They called Sybold to warn him off when the building exploded. 

The New Dragon: L5R Homebrew (f2f) Early the next day in the village of Tanoshi, the group considered their plans. A local woodcutter, Yabu, snuck in to speak with them. He’d met one of the PCs, the former ronin Shimasu Ogawa, at the inn the previous session. He spoke about the strangeness in the village but had been away from Tanoshi for a couple of weeks. Yabu offered to take them to the shrine in the woods. There the Witch Hunter Kuni Kosunami and the Monk Mirumoto Yamakaji searched and discovered that the Kitsu had been quietly hiding something. While appearing small and inconspicuous, the shrine actually powered and linked some nearby wards. However those wards had not been reestablished since the Lion had lost the lands. That process would require some materials and resources the group lacked- they would have to travel a couple of days to gather them and then return to fix them.

Meanwhile, Ogawa searched the nearby area. The shrine was atop a small gully  with a hill with crevices across from it. Ogawa fell down the hillside, cracking his ribs as he did so. He stood and noticed evidence on the ground- suggesting that days before something had been dragged or crawled here into one of the narrow gaps in the hillside. Mosunami and Yamakaji followed him down the hill, as Ogawa approached the space. The Shugenja Kuni Setsu, trained by the Soshi, and Mirumoto Hayato took a longer way around, trying to judge the terrain. Briefly the group spotted a face in the darkness of the cave entrance which then vanished. They searched around finding enormous tracks. Something which walked on enormous hands with a span of over eight feet apart. The Witch Hunter identified it as the Shutten Kao, also called the Bearer of Faces, an oni nearly impossible to actually kill. The beast had four enormous and flexible arms and two legs. It could easily twist and slide through gaps. Its name came from the heads it stole and mounted on a bamboo frame driven into its flesh. It used these still animate heads to see and to lure others in. Clearly this hill had been used by the Kitsu to contain the Shutten Kao, but some of those wards had broken.

With a mix of magic, tracking, and psychometry, the group discovered that a samurai had been chased by the villagers and had plunged off the cliff into the gully  He’d then dragged his wounded body into the hill cave to escape. Yamakaji activated a tattoo and was able to tell that someone still lived in the cave- they hoped it would be Mirumoto Ujinao who they searched for. Setsu sent her wind spirits out to read and map the caverns- discovering two other exits unsealed. Yamakaji and Kosunami slid themselves into the narrow gaps- leaving them almost not room to maneuver. Yamakaji found a near dead samurai at the bottom of a pit and began to pull him out. The Shutten Kao reappeared and Kosunami cast Tomb of Jade to seal the passage and keep it from reaching them for the moment. Outside the group cleaned and tended to the samurai, when the Wood Cutter Yabu recognized him. This was Akodo Benzo, a low-ranking Lion Clan samurai who had been engaged to the village elder’s daughter. Hayato studied the wounds and realized that the Lion dealt a sword stroke characteristic of the Mirumoto School.

They returned back to the village to treat the Akodo. Shortly after the village chief Sue Harusada arrived in his funerary clothes, along with two other elders similarly dressed. After a back and forth, he admitted to the crimes of the village. Mirumoto Ujinao had arrived for the inspection. Shortly after, Akodo Benzo had also appeared. The two dueled and Ujinao was struck down. Recognizing the village as a whole would be punished, Harusada and the others had tried to kill the wounded Benzo. They believed he’d died when he fell off the cliff. They believed recent weird events had been the product of his angry ghost. The group confirmed other details, including the location of Ujinao’s swords and Benzo’s intent to use the village as a base for spying on the Dragon. Kuni Setsu pressed the elder seeking the rumored Lion Clan scrolls which the daimyo believed had been hidden here. Harusada, caught between the possible punishment to his village and his oaths to the Lion Clan asked to be permitted to commit seppuku, his right even as a low rank samurai. The group agreed and Kuni Setsu promised to take his daughter into her household. Mirumoto Hayato served as Harusada’s second, a great honor for the elder, and cut his head cleanly off when he failed. Sue Saya then presented herself, bringing with her the scrolls entrusted to her father.

The problem still remained of the Shutten Kyo. They expected it would strike at night- it was smart and crafty. The party knew they while they couldn’t kill the beast with their resources, they could damage it and drive it back into hiding- then they could reseal the wards. They took two watches, preparing several traps and magics in likely places. Late on the second watch, Ogawa and Yamakaji felt something strange and rushed back to the house in which they were quartered. Yamakaji saw that the roof had been pulled away allowing the beast to enter the house quietly. The ever vigilant warrior Hayto awoke and saw Benzo’s head floating in the darkness, his blood dripping on the floor. He gave a cry and woke up the rest of the group. Four of them charged the beats in the close quarters- trying to strike at it as beats they could. Several felt the chill of fear and the monster swung out with powerful strikes, dealing gashes and cuts. They pressed forward and Kuni Setsu used one of her air spells to carry all of the lamp oil from the area onto the beast’s skin. When the group dealt another round of vicious blows, the Shutten Kyo leapt to a more advantageous position. Kuni Kosunami let loose a fire spell and lit it up. Burning, the monster fled into the woods and back to its lair. It would take it time to recover, enough that the party could reestablish the wards. 

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