Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First Wave: Series Two: Days in the Lives

The Mutants & Masterminds (2e) campaign continues. I haven’t yet gotten the video recording set up for Roll20 which I regret. Last night was an interesting session in that I switched up the structure a little. I’ve been pretty sure that managing individual character scenes in an online game was more difficult- especially in a set up where I’m not getting video, only audio from the players. There’s the risk of boring the other players or losing attention. So my sessions so far have mostly been either Investigations, where they divide into teams to track leads, or Conflicts, with a battlemap and tokens. I did one character/NPC focused session early in the last campaign that went well, but I assumed that was a fluke. Anyway, since we’d had a couple of fight sessions in a row, I wanted to do some development. I’d thrown a number of threads out in news reports, plus the PCs each had some other leads hanging out in the open. I told them I would go around and they could suggest something they wanted to do alone or I’d throw something at them. I ended up being really solid- everyone listened to each other’s stories, players were proactive, and I was able to get to each player twice and give them scenes with interactions and skill checks. I think everyone got about as much time. Afterwards several players mentioned how much they’d enjoyed the structure and said we should do that more often.

Mr. Freeze: The session opened with Mr. Freeze returning back to his labs only to discover his wife had died. His researchers had tried to get ahold of him, but he’d been in the middle of his superheroics. One scientist said directly, “Perhaps if you’d been here, we could have saved her life.” Freeze started to crack and then he woke up. (This was a teaser, tying back to the groups meeting with Nightmare a couple of sessions back. I got the player pretty well.

Freeze first looked into the drone sightings around the NYC area. Using the former-Cabal computers he was able to identify some additional incidents. From that he determined that they’d all happened within one mile of one of the July 4th Attacks from two years earlier. At that time several different corporate and technological sites had been destroyed by still unidentified terrorists. Via model aircraft enthusiasts, Freeze also discovered that the drones carried weapons as well. Next he spoke with Franklin Richards, head of LexCorp, who offered to make their business relationship more insulated and divided. Richards would lease the equipment to Freeze, giving the hero more autonomy. Though suspicious, he agreed. Finally Prosecutor Murdock asked Freeze if he would assist in a minor bust, taking down two supervillains backing up a protection racket. This would be a publicity opportunity. It would also be a chance to show that the pardoned supervillains, the Furies, now working for the team had been rehabilitated. Freeze worked with three of the team and managed to quickly take down Tiger Shark and the Mad Scarecrow. Murdock thanked him for his quick response to the request.

Mister Miracle noted a discrepancy between the behavior of Dr. Simian’s earlier crimes and his most recent operation. He contacted Sarge Steel who had been put in charge of the Raft Supervillain Containment Facility. Steel allowed him to meet with Dr. Simian and mentioned that strange government agencies had been in to run some tests on the supervillain. Miracle met with the super-gorilla and confronted him about the shift in his crimes. After repeated gambits and pressure, the truth came out. This Dr. Simian came from the future, grandson of the current villain. But he came from a timeline created by the now-defunct Cabal as a testing ground and exploitable resource. This Dr. Simian had come here attempting to keep his timeline from collapsing. Something had happened recently which had begun the collapse. Dr. Simian suggested to Miracle that the Government Operatives who had visited earlier had an inkling of that- and they would be back soon to Black Helicopter Simian away for testing.

Mister Miracle, always headstrong, decided to break Simian out. Using various tricks he set off alarms and used his burrowing power to make it appear (badly) that Simian was attacking him and knocking him through walls and floors. The plan did not go exactly smoothly- with Miracle having to rush to disable camera, keep ahead of guards, and figure out another option when they hit the external wall force fields. Even worse, after a couple of levels, they crashed into an occupied cell where Death Adder attacked the pair and poisoned Simian. Miracle managed to KO the reptilian villain and then bore through the final level out into the NYC harbor. He flew back to the base with the freed and unconscious supervillain, calling Dr. Blake for his assistance.

Loki, still disguised as Thor, spoke with his minions. They confirmed killing Lady Jane Constantine who had too much occult knowledge for her own good. However they still had no new information on Loki’s lost brother. They had discovered that the All-Father had briefly opened the Bifrost Gate and sent someone through to the mortal world, though they didn’t know who. Loki suitably punished his servant and then went to find Wong, servant of the missing supervillain Cabal-member, Dr. Strange. He pressed Wong to tell him where Strange was. Loki revealed his discovery that the sorcerer was not dead. However Wong remained baffled, having done everything he could to locate his vanished master. Loki allowed Wong to live but warned him to bring to him any information uncovered.

Loki returned back, considering his next plot to bask in stolen glory. Nightmare appeared before him to congratulate the lord of lies on his success. The two passed barbs back and forth. Nightmare spoke about the irony of Loki’s having stepped forward to be the hero when his colleague, Nightcrawler, refused to do so even to save several dozen lives. Nightmare asked when Loki would carry out his plans- but then taunted the god. He could see into even Loki’s dreams and how he’d come to adore the adulation of the public. Then the phone rang, as Mister Miracle called for help dealing with the poisoned Dr. Simian. Thor/Loki rushed to the base and was able to use his stolen medical knowledge to save the supervillain.

Iron Man decided to step out of his normal comfort zone and investigate a series of killings occurring in a poorer and mostly Hispanic section of the city. He arranged to meet up with the Heightened Crimes detective, Lieutenant Castenada, handling the cases. Tony Stark flew down as Iron Man and walked into the neighborhood taquieria, drawing stares and attention. Castenada shook his head but briefed the nattily-clad Stark on the situation, going over the cases and names. Iron man hooked up to the Cabal mainframe and began to process the information- focusing on the fact that the apartment of the last victim had been cleared a couple of hours after his death. He hacked through an obtained cc footage the police were still waiting on, showing a man arriving at the apartment building in the middle of the night and leaving with a suitcase. Stark ran the license plate at got a name, Serrano, and an address. Iron Man wanted to contact a friendly judge to get an expedited warrant, but Det. Castenada talked him down. They could simply go over and speak to the man to see what he knew. They drove over after the officer declined to be flown.

At the apartment, Stark and Castenada spoke to Serrano, a seemingly weary old man. Reluctantly, he let them inside. Stark took the lead with the questions- suggesting perhaps that the victims had been members of a criminal network. Serrano denied this vehemently; Stark pressed him on it leading to the major revelation. Serrano explained that the latest victim had been a vigilante, a superhero. However because of the Cabal’s control, fighters for justice had to conceal themselves and seem inoffensive. Hence they became Luchadors, traveling and fighting the weird and strange monsters terrifying the common man: Mummies, Werewolves, Frankenstiens, the Devil’s Robot, and so on. For decades, they had quietly operated at the margins. Serrano had gone to gather up Draco Guerro’s mask from his apartment after he heard of the death, to protect the deceased’s family. Serrano knew that one of the other victims had also been a Luchador and Serrano revealed his own masked identity, as Hermano Súper. However, he had little else to offer, except that he’d heard of some kind of underground fighting league which might or might not be related. Stark and Castenada left, armed with more clues but still confused.

Nightcrawler went to look into the situation with the three mutant alleged gang members arrested. They’d been broken out of the precinct cells the night before a transfer to the Raft. The papers had little details other than the breakout had shut down most of the precinct until repairs could be done. Nightcrawler made his way in and discovered that the floors of the holding cells had been torn open from the sewers below. He also broke into the police records and video tapes of the prisoners’ interrogations. The police questioned a woman with a protective field, a young man secreting oily ooze, and a light-sensitive albino. The detectives seemed to be focusing on their role in a series of break-ins at high-tech offices. The three denied any involvement in that, stating they’d just broken into a Mall after hours. The police, however, kept hammering on them for the tech thefts. Nightcrawler checked out the damage to the cells. It clearly had been done by someone with telekinetic or matter manipulation powers. The three escapees and their rescuers then fled out into the massive NYC underground network.

Nightcrawler attempted to follow their trail, with little success. He spent some time trying to get acquainted with how difficult it would be to move around down here. Importantly, he tracked down various maps and layouts and added them to his data device, giving him a better sense of his location via GPS. Unable to track down the mutants, he decided to contact the Mole Man. The under-earth master had worked with them during the Starro incident. Mole Man agreed to help and sent some of his people to take Nightcrawler to a location which might be tied to these mutant “Morlocks.” There he found what had clearly been a long-term underground campsite. However, it had been vacated some days before. Strikingly, Nightcrawler found evidence that someone had been supplying the Morlocks with food and other resources recently.

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