Thursday, April 30, 2015

Campaign States: Ten Years Out

Almost exactly ten years ago- June '05- I wrote a quick summary of the five campaigns I had going. Of those, three wrapped up with a full final session and two trailed off due to scheduling and player loss. Of those I ran for at the time, seven I don't play with these days: four because they fell out with the general gaming group, one because they moved away, one just due to timing, and one because they died. In fact, Steambuckler's the last full and finished campaign my friend Barry played in before we lost him. But in the ten years since this I've added seven new and continuing players to my regular gaming circles, plus another half-dozen who've played on and off. Loss and gain. 

It's also worth noting that I don't play any of these systems anymore. This ended up being the last great hurrah of GURPS before we grew tired of it. Storyteller ended up dropping off the map from WW, even as we saw the problems with it for our various hacks (wuxia, L5R). I still run Mutants & Masterminds, but the most recent edition which differs greatly from the 1st I ran here. 

What were you running/playing ten years ago? What systems have come and gone for your group?

Steambuckler (GURPS Steampunk/Swashbuckler/Fantasy)
The group makes their final preparations for the trip to Jubilee and the Grand Exhibition of Progress. They know that many of their enemies will be there, including some who have loved ones held hostage. Before departure Qynn learns of Dahlia vro-Haitus' role in the coming struggle for the Throne in Atlantae. Finally they set off, using the dangerous Glacial Air Stream to hurry their progress. Even so, they are set upon by Sky Pirates set to intercept them; the battle is fierce but ends with victory. At stops along the way they learn of the theft of the Dauntless (a grand Miremallian sky carrier) by the Captain's robot doppelganger created by Dr. Cross. Basho is also offered a position as an advisor to the Throne of Atlantae if he will kill his brother, Sheridan.

In Jubilee the group finds lodging with the Technocrat Fott Hobswain. Preparations are made for the great aero-race and old friends are met again. The group manages to free Sian Owen from one of their enemies but the villains escape. Sheridan, long lost, arrives with the mad naturalist Cynowae Autumn. Jacob encounters his mentor, long thought dead, who tries to kill him but fails and dies. In the aftermath, Jacob's secret marriage to Tara Stillwhisker is revealed. Even with all these troubles the group manages to find time to work on the great puzzles of the event, marked out in the stones and design of the city. When they succeed, they find themselves visited by the royalty of Math. Taking advantage of the situation they marry Sheridan off to the daughter of the Emperor and ask for a boon…the use of the Great Southern Dragon the largest airship ever built!!! The Emperor defers, but says he will think on this request.

The Captain and Qynn take to the skies for the aero-race, accompanied by Basho and Jacob who are last minute substitutes on a giant bug when the Orcish contingent is briefly jailed. Lady Galina goes to hand over the Perpetual Engine to Dr. Cross in exchange for the lives of her cousin and Julian's sister. At the same time, Julian heads down into the underground in a desperate bid to stop the plans of the Summoners from coming to fruition. Gallina spring's Braverman's trap on Dr. Cross, forcing him out of his robot shell and replacing him with the soul of Timeaus, long thought lost. Julian and his allies break a standoff between rival powerful villains, resulting in a massive melee of magic and death. Qynn and the Captain cross the finish line of the race, Dr. Cross' ship decloaks and his pirate allies arrive. A full scale air war breaks out over the city. Dozens of ships are destroyed in the ensuing battle. Basho takes advantage of the chaos to rescue the former Queen of Atlantae from the clutches of her son's allies. Though Cross does his level best to destroy it, the Great Southern Dragon survives.

In the aftermath, the group tells the Emperor of Math the full story of the impending invasion from the celestial sphere. News arrives of the destruction of the Drow Woods by the first wave of invaders, pressing the timetable further. The Emperor agrees and gives them the Great Southern Dragon. Knowing these "Spirit"-like invaders cannot bear the touch of Unlife, the group heads first to the Undead lands to bargain with Baron Dechenka who holds sway in the former Dwarven capital. He agrees to assist them, for a price, and the group begins their journey up out of the reach of the earth and to the sphere.

Searching for the final mechanism they will need to battle the comet-like vessel of the invaders, they head to the Moon. Jacob knows legends of ships left from an ancient tyrant who tried to invade the world but was stopped by heroes. Despite an overwhelming ambush by Jacob's enemies, the group manages to find the necessary equipment and set out, only to discover that the comet has picked up speed. The Captain realizes that the threat is larger than simply an invasion; they mean to strike the center of the continent and render it unfit for human life.

Desperately they strain the engines of the Great Southern Dragon, trying to catch up. Spirit Beasts peel off from the Comet and begin to assault the ship. All across the craft, the crew finds themselves under attack. On deck, Baron Dechenka tries to focus his magic to shield the ship but is only able to maintain the defenses when Jacob channels the power of the Shaddai through the Orb. Lady Gallina mercilessly channels her own archmagic through Jacob in a bid to protect everyone. Qynn leads the fighter assault, keeping back as many as they can, while the Captain desperately tries to plot and replot the intercept course for their one shot at the Comet. Below decks Basho readies the weapon with the aid of Simlain Braverman, the arch-villain. He's agreed to aid them in saving the world, but after that all bets are off. Basho has to swing over to repair the lines when they are cut by an attacker but manages to launch the weapon, loaded with the Deathstone they've prepared into the comet. At the same time Braverman let's go of Basho sending him plummeting to his Doom.

The explosion blinds everyone on deck and the magical channel protecting the ship is shattered. Explosions rock the ship as the engines overload and bombs planted by Braverman destroy the arcane engine providing life support. Basho desperately manages to catch the tailfin of the ship with his Dragon-arm, nearly tearing it from his body. As the ship plummets into the atmosphere, he hangs on for dear life. Inside Julian tries to rescue those injured and trapped by the internal explosions while at the same time trying to ready for impact. The Captain throws everything into steadying the craft as much as he can. Gallina draws down all of her mana pool and overcasts creating a current of air to slow the ship. The misfire from the spell creates hundreds of tornadoes across the landscape. As the ship tears into the Atlantaen countryside, Basho is peeled from the bottom of the ship and flung into the storms.

*whew*

HCI (Currently L5R Storyteller)
The characters, having gone through the strange sea-borne gate in the rogue Fading Suns portal, find themselves back in Rokugan, with apparently some time having passed since they participated in the Bronze Swan tournament. They find a strange disconnect between their real selves and their samurai selves; while together they find it easier to remember who they are in the real world, but when apart that starts to fade. The group takes up their duties as magistrates in the Scorpion city of Ryoko Owari, under the command of their Emerald Magistrate lord Ikoma Okataru.

After some rough starts meeting with the various major families the group learns a little about the strange happenings in the city some months ago that left hundreds dead. Whatever occurred had something tom do with the fall of the Usagi clan and the strange magistrate group who passed through earlier. The Daidoji member of that group warns them off, telling them that this matter has been closed at the highest levels, perhaps from the Hantei himself. In the midst of this the group is given their first case, the murder of a Crane merchant. At first it seems a simple strange ritual killing with the victim having been decapitated and displayed as bundori. However, the team quickly discovers that this was not the first such murder. Others have happened and have been quietly covered up by the Clan Magistrates.

Each victim bears descent from a group of legendarily abusive maho-hunters disbanded years ago for their wicked ways. After much leg work, it becomes clear that the killer has contacts among the city officials and access to a magical method of disguise. They intercept the fifth victim before the killer can strike and put him under their protection. They also learn the name of the sixth victim and that they've accelerated the killer's timetable. However, the killer strikes while the group decides to catch up on their sleep. They arrive too late on the scene. Shosoro Yori remains to speak with the local magistrates while the rest of the group heads out to warn others. But the killer is still there disguised! He attacks Yori while she is alone. Some blocks away from the scene the Isawa thinks to check the magical energies to see if the disguise magic is in operation. Realizing their mistake the group rushes back to aid Yori. They arrive just in time to see a wounded Yori make a brilliant slash and strike down the killer.

The aftermath of the investigation is unpleasant as various groups try to steer themselves clear from the deaths and the cover up. Lord Ikoma asks for discretion in the matter, but Yori has already sent the killers head to the governor as a warning. The group begins to settle in and look into other personal matters. Kenichi, the Monk, and Kuni Yusuke look into the matter of some wandering monks who used magic to get them drunk in public and cause them loss of face. They discover a larger plot of these monks who clearly believe that everyone would be better off drunk and have conspired to cause the effect on the Thunder Guard, the largest group of armed samurai in the city. The magistrates rush to the scene, uncertain of what awaits them.

Arkham Harbor (Mutants and Masterminds)
Having adopted the team name Vigil, the group continues to discard it in favor of the more catchy "FWAP!" (aka Fabulous Women with Amazing Powers)*. Investigating strange phenomena in south Arkham Harbor leads them to the land of the fae, where the Court of the Earth has been overtaken. They overcome obstacles, take photographs with a giant fish and rescue the queen of the court. She gives them the second key to the Watchman's house and tells them that the third key lies in the hands of the one who engineered his downfall.

On their return to the real world, the group is immediately called to two different crimes. They choose to follow up on a hostage situation at a movie theater rather than the robbery elsewhere for the sake of people's lives. At the theater they raid the unattended concession stand and then take on the bad guy, the Silver Scream. Apparently in town for the Horror film festival, she creates duplicates of the group to fight them. In the tussle, the two Vinca's fight and no one can tell one from the other. However in a splash of insight Sylph spots Jujubes stuck to the true Vinca and blasts the doppelganger. They finish the fight and then head to the robbery where Player Two has apparently gotten away with his theft of a collection of rare artworks. On the scene they meet city patron and millionaire philanthropist, Mr. Sterne. He hands them the third and final key to the Watchman's estate!!!

They make their way to the former HQ of the Watchman's super team. The untouched base is as it was on the day they left for the their last battle. Moving through they find a host of equipment and materials useful in crimefighting. In the base's lock up they find the body of an unfortunate villain lost and forgotten. In another cell they meet the diminutive Devil's Robot!!! They leave him there though begin formulating plans to have the arch-criminal reprogrammed to clean the base. In the basement, apparently abandoned by the most recent Watchman, they find an occult library. In a vision the group sees themselves holding some kind of orb.

In a flash they find themselves transported back in time where they meet the Watchman of the 1950's. Assuming them to be some kind of supernatural aid, he enlists them in his battle against Dr. Cross and his Ur-Beasts who have control of the city's underworld. They take of to the fight and interrupt the deadly masked Dr. Cross at the height of his rituals. Despite the group's never having fought Cross, he recognizes them and does his level best to destroy them. As the battle finishes up with their victory there is another flash of the same orb and the group finds themselves transported back in time yet again to pre-Revolutionary America and a meeting with the first Watchman!!!

*The group would later discard this name when they discovered the internet. 

City of Tiers (Exalted: Dragon Blooded)
The young Dragon Bloods of House Ledaal are drawn together by the weave of fate, somehow tied to their own impending and yet avoided death and to the actions of a strange anathema. The family, wanting their lingering fate wrecking auras far away sends them on to Crux where the family home has been lost. They find themselves in the Dusk Quarter, an unseemly underground where they are forced to fight for their lodgings. The group settles in and begins to investigated the city.

Soon they learn that two other groups of young Dragon Bloods from other families have also arrived in Crux, though in superior lodgings than their own. The five begin to consider how they might mark their mark here and demonstrate their worth to the family. Various street gangs are fought and rumors of a mysterious monk arise. Ledaal Mihir makes a man scream in terror for no reason. Ledaal Lupita falls off a massive staircase and introduces herself to the woman who usurped their family house here; Ledaal Zhu du Fan with a sudden and strange attraction to this woman.

As they settle into things in the city, other weirdness begins to arrive. A bizarre meeting with one of the other new Dragon Blooded; rumors of a mysterious dojo enforcer named Final Sky; the strange voice that came from Zhu du Fan that he doesn't remember; circumstances surrounding the dead exiled poet and why his body cannot be returned; the three brothers marked with mysterious birthmarks all intent on catching Lupita's attention; the Sorcerer Sharpened Thought's alliance with Mihir; Kiir's late night spotting of her beribboned colleague skulking about at night, and finally the bizarre attack by one of the gangs of Ledaal Illathin, convinced that he has affronted them.
As money grows tighter the group begins to look for opportunities….

City of Silence (Vampire the Masquerade)
News grows grimmer in the city and the Vampires decide to follow up on the Irish Travelers who attacked them some weeks before. They track them back to a trailer park and cross paths with a Garou who has also been watching them. The leader of the Travelers involved with the shooting seems to have been involved with some kind of occult workings, having killed the rest of his group in a ritual. At home, the four kindred wrestle with what to do with Circe, the Tzicmze whom they have not reported to the Prince of the City, Clocke. They decide to allow her to remain here and continue their silence on the matter.

While Michael works to get his bar set up, Magdalyn tries to figure out how to get out from the clutches of Queen Arcane, a Toreador who has become infatuated with her. Erika asks Joshua to help with her father's illness and then both Joshua and her father vanish. Michael tracks down his much hated foster brother only to find him married to one of his foster sisters. He begins to plot murder. Naomi continues her work to uncover more about the Kindred and develop a reasonable business for the group. She begins to here rumors that her kinship with the Brujah may put more responsibilities on her. Erika also hears word of a stranger in Chinatown looking for her. Magdalyn suspects Dr. Hollow the Malkavian of sinister motives. However when she tries to follow up she manages to summon an angry wraith.

A meeting by the Prince is called and it is revealed that a Kindred has been slain, though by whom is unclear. Trying to figure out the occult situation, the group follows up with the Orpheus Group. In a meeting they come to realize that these people are using ghosts to conduct business. Wrapped up in their own paradigm, the Orpheus agents believe the group not to be Vampires but simply people possessed by ghosts. With more questions than answers, the group leaves and meets the third herald. In an instant they find themselves back in Victorian London again.

There they meet more of the strange figures of that city and learn of Clocke and Palladino's blood marriage in the past. It becomes clear that something is not right about this "time travel" and the changes they have undergone. They meet Naomi's sire from the past and begin to piece together something about the incident that led to his downfall, including the strange presence of the Kuei-Jin embassy which has come to England. They meet Jin-Shan, one of the Kuei-Jin, her name is one that Naomi heard before her embrace. Heading back to their "home" in this London they are set upon by some kind of supernaturals who possess an understanding of the Beast. They defeat them but with major damage to themselves.


The next night Obano Savall comes to visit them. They discover that like they, he has come here from the future. He explains that it is a strange story that ends up repeating itself in time. He also tells them how to escape it, by causing a major disruption to the timeline. With that information in hand, they go to the London Elysium to try to learn more. Magdalyn makes a Bloodhunter nervous, Naomi learns much from the Prince Mithras, Erika begins to pick up on the hatred of the Kuei-Jin and Michael speaks with Clocke and Palladino.