Thursday, January 30, 2014

The News Report as Adventure Menu for Superheroes

On Monday I posted the player-generated details from between campaign arcs for our superhero campaign. Last week I posted the "teaser" bits I gave them before the newest arc began. Last night we had session two and I handed off a series of news articles. That's a classic technique I'm sure most superhero GMs use. These reinforce player victories, elaborate a little on some character backgrounds, and set up plot points and threads for the group to follow. They're solid players and I had to do very little to get them digging and following up on threads. 

I like to do news articles every several sessions- to recap what's happened, show after effects, tie a bow on some things the players have done, and set up some more ideas. It is like pedaling a bicycle. I pedal quickly and then coast for a while. As the campaign continues, we start to go downhill and I don't have to pedal anymore. I don't do much in the way of news for the third act of the campaign. They've already got enough to worry about by that time so I don't want to introduce new threads. One last note about news reports, they'll often have unintended consequences- with players wanting to follow up on something you thought wasn't a point. That makes them awesome. 

Best Practices:
*Keep them short, 
*Celebrate stuff the players have done, 
*Be ready to follow up on anything you put in, 
*Use them to introduce NPCs
*Comment on player backgrounds
*Set up future story arcs
*Throw in oddball stuff
*As with any handouts you give players, don't count on them actually reading it


New York State Troopers took control of the scene of devastation following a previously unknown super-villain group’s attack on the Geroldy Amusement Park. Witnesses on site described a group of garishly clad carnival-like attackers appear from nowhere. Upon arrival they spread out to destroy sections of the park, aiming for maximum mayhem. On-site security’s attempts to deal with them left dozen injured, some critically. While many park-goers managed to escap, dozens suffered injuries in the stampede.

Within minutes First Wave arrived on the scene. They swiftly moved to mitigate damage, rescue bystanders, and deal with the most dangerous of the criminals. The battle raged across the grounds and seemed to go against the team. “I saw Mr. Freeze go down and I thought we were doomed,” said one witness, “but then he staggered to his feet and kept going. He’s a real hero.” Authorities say most of the damage occurred before the arrival of First Wave with all section of the park damaged, including the legendary roller coaster, The Devastator. Police took the criminals into custody but thus far have released no details as to their identities or possible motivation. Inside sources have suggested a link to the recent mysterious “Wushu Thug” and “Cyber-Anarchist” attacks.

DHS Security Specialist Dennis Fairchild was grilled for a second day concerning lapses in DHS containment and custody protocols. Fairchild, once an up and comer in the DHS’ new metahuman division, found himself without reasonable answers. The disappearance from custody of at least three superbeings including the former Morlock leader Callisto, DethCroc, and Inque have raised questions about the department’s ability to handle such criminals. The more conspiracy-minded have suggested the government moved these accused villains to black sites, outside normal US legal jurisdictions. A lawyer for Mr. Freeze filed a suit in Federal Court earlier this week asking the government to produce Callisto or offer evidence to back their statements that she vanished from custody without a trace.

The return of superhero “Stretch” Jackson to New York set off a firestorm across the political spectrum. Conservative commentators have condemned the former private eye for his outspoken statements on politics, racism, and poverty. “Jackson’s admission to First Wave merely reinforces the left-wing agenda of that group. Between Mister Miracle’s anarchist rants, Mr. Freeze’s assaults on necessary security measures, and so-called Thor’s anti-Christian Pagan agenda, I think we can safely say that this group has politicized superherodom,” stated Right-Wing radio host and rapper Go-Def Rigorously. At the same time, many on the right praise Jackson for his takedown of the corrupt administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and his revelation of the identities of at least a dozen local vigilantes and superheroes. That incident has made Jackson something of a pariah on the left. Several liberal groups expressed their dismay at the hero’s acceptance in First Wave. At this time, the superhero team has issued no formal statement on the matter.

Oscorp announced today final acquisitions of Hammer Industries following a series of lawsuits and hostile negotiations. Hammer, once seen as a high-level competitor to Stark Industries and Queen Developments, fell on hard times following the July 4th Attacks. While known for armaments and defense contracts, the company had interests in private security firms, international trade, and even satellite imaging. Like several other major corporations targeted by the terrorist attacks, Hammer lost nearly the entirety of its board of directors. The loss of CEO Justin Hammer left the company without a defining vision. Unable to meet deadlines for government contracts, even with generous extensions, Hammer Industries began to spin off divisions at an alarming rate. Yet despite that weak position, the new board of directors fought Oscorp’s takeover bitterly. CEO Harry Osbourne announced that Hammer would be rededicated to Oscorp’s current projects- supervising the development of a Federal Superhuman containment facility and assorted other automated security investments.

Meteorologists expect Tropical Depression Arthur to make landfall in the next twenty-four hours in New York. First responders and disaster relief teams have been called up for duty. The weather system which has developed at an accelerated rate began to buffet the city last night. The first major storm system of the season, Arthur could cause damage and disruption across the eastern seaboard. New York has had relatively calm weather since last year’s Starro Incident and the accompanying near-hurricane conditions which followed. City officials suspended reconstruction projects at the Kaiju Attack sites in preparation for the dangerous weather.

Paramount confirmed that the world premiere of the First Wave film will take place in New York rather than Los Angeles. Speculation had been running high as NYC continues reconstruction efforts following the extra-dimensional attack thwarted by members of First Wave and their allies. Paramount executives’ moves to relocate the premiere set off internet rage, leading members of the team stepping up to ask that it remain in their hometown.

Director Joss Whedon expressed his pleasure at the final decision. “From the start we’ve been hoping to open the movie in this great city. It just wouldn’t be right anywhere else.” While many guests have been confirmed, including the stars of the film, Paramount has been quiet on the question of the heroes themselves being on stage. Some have expressed fear about the dangers such a gathering could pose. Many involved with the film’s production have been targeted with death threats from radical Anti-Mutant and Terran Supremacists.

LexCorp broke ground on another series of restoration and memorial projects aimed at healing the wounds of the July 4th attacks. In the two years since the attack LexCorp has put aside a percentage of revenue to fund “Bravery” Initiatives. Where possible, these projects purchase and clean up the industrial sites targeted in the terrorist attack. They then convert these into memorials, public facilities, or multi-use research centers. LexCorp originally began the project to help clear the gridlock surrounding the clean-up and rehabilitation of the locations. Chemical disposal, the collapse of the owning company, and local protests all complicated decisions about what to do with the sites. LexCorp has worked closely with local officials to come to an amicable settlement. CEO Franklin Richards indicated that the transfer of Roxxon Oil, Omni Consumer Products, and Xanatos Enterprises plots would be the last the company would undertake.

NYU students and staff remained shocked today by the murder-suicide of respected Professor of Physics Dr. Martin Stein. Stein, holder of the Kahn prize in Theoretical Physics, took his own life after killing his wife, step-daughter, and two research assistants. Anonymous sources say that the well-ragarded instructor had become increasingly unstable in recent months. His infant son died during the Starro incident and following that he’d become obsessed with what many describe as “fringe” science revolving around paranormal abilities. Despite that he’d published several heavily-cited articles attempting to chart out new approaches in the field for hard scientists. One anonymous former colleague of Stein said that changed at the beginning of the year. “He became absolutely convinced of a doomsday scenario based on discredited theories about geomagnetic reversal. He wouldn’t let it go.” Stein is survived by his daughter. A vigil will be held this evening on the NYU campus, weather permitting.