Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Epsiode 25 - Detente and Detonations

The Immortals went to the Law Offices to meet with the Lawyers who claimed Hephaestus's power suit, only to leave minutes later, after the scheduled Lawyers were not punctual. Days later they received a subpoena to meet at a Federal Courthouse.
Present: Judge Warren Wilson, Attorney (Tarot Priestess) Samantha Sussex, Congressman (Tarot Lovers) ....., Super Patriot - Patriot, and the Immortals.
The Federal Judge Warren Wilson insisted that this was in informal meeting, but that he could arraign a true court case if either party wished. Charges made by Sussex and Co were primarily focused around the claim the Thompson (Hephaestus) stole the Warden suit, which was property of a secret government project.
Hephaestus claimed to be saving the world from evil-doer who use the suit for nefarious ends, if they had it.
The Immortals claimed that the group who claims the suit (no one mentioned the Tarot by name) kidnapped Marduk, impersonated federal agents, and left their own people dying at the scene, during the siege on Torrent's hide out in Blount Bay.
The opposition put their own spin on the event, but admitted to using extra-legal force where needed.
There was a general tension. In the end, both parties agreed that Hephaestus would hand over the battlesuit so they retrieve schematics and data that belonged to them, and then they would return the suit to him so that he could continue to use the suit to fight superhuman threats.
The judge ordered that nothing be altered by either party.
Reluctantly Thompson removed his suit and handed it over to Patriot. In less than a week it was returned, physically undamaged but bearing a mark inside the suit of a Tarot Tower, and containing several thousand lines of additional code. Hephaestus hoped to go to work deciphering the code, but his first priority was checking out the suits systems which all appeared to be working.
Then something unusual happened, in a corner of his Heads Up Display a set of GPS coordinates appeared. The team boarded the Osprey to go investigate the strange message. This led them to a decommissioned Coal Power Plant. Jack Flash scouted the long abandoned site and found evidence of recent activity, including chains cut away from a supply door lock. The team moved cautiously into the huge building. Above them, a cathedral like expanse of iron, concrete and brick. The building was coated in coke and soot. Most of the main structures were still intact. They split up and investigated further. Marduk and Hephaestus walked towards where they estimated the GPS coordinates centered. When Hephaestus reached the point, a small pop-up appeared on his HUD. This one said only "Your services are no longer required." As he spoke the words out loud trying to make sense of them a serious of explosions ripped through the building. A well orchestrated implosion and demolition took place bringing the whole building down upon the Immortals. The team survived the initial blast and collapse only to find themselves trapped under a mountain of rubble. C4 was quickly able to turn liquid and maneuver through the wreckage. Jack Flash tried something he never had before. By pushing his speed to the limit, he was able to vibrate at such speeds that his body was able to move out of alignment with the physical world. He was able to move himself out of the rubble and into the smoke-filled surface. He surveyed his surroundings while trying to catch his breath. The effort of this action has exhausted him.
Meanwhile C4 was able to locate Hephaestus and Marduk by sensing tremors in the rubble as the two strongmen battered away at their prisons of stone and iron. Marduk was dangerously low on air, and holding his breath while pummeling the walls. He would not last long in that situation. Hephaestus was out of immediate danger, having his own life support, but he was trapped nonetheless. Neither of their great powers were enough to effectively move the rubble without bringing more down upon them.
Luckily for them, C4 was a trained mining demolitions experts and he quickly calculated the size and placement of his explosive force to free Marduk. Sadly he estimated it would require a blast at least as powerful as the one that disabled him in the Mandrill's Massive Tank, but the principle was the same. He explained it to Hephaestus who modified his suit enough to channel raw electricity into a tendril of C4 which acted like a fuse connected to the rest of him which was planted as a shaped charge inside the rubble above Marduk to achieve maximum blast energy. Marduk girded himself with his Armor of the Gods, and C4 signaled Hephaestus to unleash the blast.
Marduk remembered a brief moment of blinding light before being rendered unconscious. Hephaestus registered enormous energies on his sensors before a concussion wave from the blast washed over him sending him into darkness. Jack Flash saw an eruption like a massive volcano from the mountain of rubble blast into the sky as far as he could see. The blast liquified iron and lead, pulverized concrete and brick. When the dust and smoke cleared, he moved over to see a conic crater, and the limp body of Marduk at its bottom. He was able to revive Marduk with first aid, and the two of them pulled Hephaestus out of his stoney prison as well and revived him as well.
The three of them looked for C4. They combed the rocks, they sent Jack Flash out miles to check for debris, the carefully studied the discolored stones and metal for any sign of their teammate. To no avail. The elastic hero was gone.
As night fell and the searching become impossible, the heroes returned to their plane. Each one contemplating what seemed like an undeniable fact.
No one could survive that blast.
They each started to deal with it their own way.
Marduk with optimistic denial.
Jack Flash with quick if cautious acceptance.
Hephaestus with a stoney silence, and a bottle of scotch.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Episode 24 - Rat Patrol - Part 2

Jack Flash gets news of the trouble in Freedom City and kicks in the afterburners racing across the globe to Franklin to help out.
Meanwhile the other Immortals struggle against the Rat King and his hordes or rats, while Hephaestus struggles to extract himself from the insides of the hellish creature as hundreds of rats begin to burrow into the cracks and crevices of his mighty armor, and one system after another begins to fail.
C4 and Marduk press the fight against the hulking Rat King but find their efforts hampered by its capture of Hephaestus. Any blow against it might land on their ally as well. Marduk invoked the power of flame and uses that while C4 tried to wrestle his comrade from the Rat King's grasp.
Jack Flash joined the fray to help with the fight. He made quick work of the rat minions, and though it put him on the verge of exhaustion, he pounced on the Rat King removing its constituent rats one by one at incredible speed. This quickly rendered the Rat King a less ominous foe, a skinny and thoroughly grotesque bled of rat parts with Hephaestus's suit protruding from the torso. With the Rat King so weakened, Hephaestus managed to channel his suits energies into several bursts of powerful electricity burning the Rat King's body to a crisp.
As its charred remained fell to the floor they witnessed the smoke from its body slither along the ground and infect dozens of its rodent minions who then scattered to the far corners of the lab fleeing to the safety of the sewers. Although destroyed for now, the Immortals can't help but image they hadn't seen the last of the Rat King.

As the team returns to the Mansion, Hephaestus is strangely quiet. The ordeal of immersion inside the Rat King has affected him strongly. When they return they ascertain that Thompson had ceded the controls of the battlesuit to its AI, Cedallion. When the team tried to coax Thompson out of the suit, it treated their entreaties as an attack, an fled the building for the nearby swamps. There it rested while Thompson recovered from the shock and fatigue of his ordeal.
When he did he found the Battlesuit less that welcoming. Cedallion questioned his competence and demanded he answer two questions before it returned control of the suit to him.
Q. Imagine yourself before an ATM. The ATM is spewing forth twenty dollar bills like a fountain. People are stuffing the bills into their pockets, including you. Why are you doing it?
A. To return the money to the bank, unless it was mine, then I would just be collecting what belongs to me.
Cedallion seemed satisfied with that answer, then asked him a challenging math question which he answered easily. Cedallion ceded control of the battlesuit to Thompson, who worn out decided to return to the Mansion and deal with that issue later.
That night C4 was researching the Hypercat online when he noticed some other computer activity on the Mansion's mainframe. A quick search of the mansion revealed no one else using a computer, so he woke Marduk, Jack Flash and Ormand. Together they discovered the computer use coming from Hephaestus's room. He was asleep in bed, but when they check they sense something like the sound of a tape measure retracting into its case. They woke him, and further investigating the issue figured that the computer breach must come from his "meteorite shard" which has previously exhibited the ability to extend a fiber-option wire from his leg. It must have used that to tap into the computer systems.
Sensing this was beyond their abilities, they called up their old teammate Steel Dragon, who examined the battle suit and Hephaestus himself. He didn't find out much except that the AI Cedallion might not be in the suit at all, but rather inside the meteorite shard itself. The team speculated how this might work, what the connection to the event might be, and whether or not Cedallion might in fact be some other part of Thompson's own personality. No clear answers, but lots of questions remained.
The next day, as if to throw gas on the fire, they received a call and fax from a lawyer Samantha Sussex, claiming Hephaestus's Armor belonged to he client. She provided sketches backing that up, and ended the fax with a blurry image of the Tarot -Priestess, the same nom de guerre who contacted the immortals during the Torrent debacle.
The team pondered the situation. They know the Tarot was involved in the creation of the Warden suit that Hephaestus wears, but what was the meaning of this apparent legal maneuver? Why would a secret organization try such a thing?
1 xp for all.

Monday, March 19, 2007

New Rule - Damage Roll

In our ever present to complicate the game here is the latest variant of the Damage System. Culled Shamelessly from Ars Ludi (the web's premier game theory blog)

Rolling for Damage

When an attacker hits, they roll a d20 and add the damage of their attack (e.g. for a Blast 10 roll a d20 + 10). Compare the result to the target's Toughness:

Toughness +7 = bruise
Toughness +11 = stunned + bruised
Toughness +16 = staggered + stunned
Toughness +21 = unconscious

The attacker is rolling, so of course the attacker can use a Hero Point to re-roll damage.

The defender isn't rolling, so can't spend a Hero Point to re-roll anything. Instead the defender can spend a Hero Point to reduce the result one category (after the attacker has finished re-rolling, etc). So if the attacker gets a Staggered result, the defender can spend a Hero Point and move that up one bracket to Stunned instead.

The rules is the same for PCs, NPCs, everybody. The GM can use GM's Fiat/Villain Points for the NPCs to re-roll damage or reduce damage results as above.

Fast Play

For fast play just write your damage brackets on your character sheet. So a Toughness 8 character would write 15/19/24/29. If you want to spell out "bruise 15/stun 19/stagger 24/unc 29", that's fine too.

When you get hit, the attacker rolls the die, adds the damage rank and says "23 damage." You look at your brackets and see that falls above stunned (second result), but below staggered (the third result), so you're stunned. If you've already taken bruises, just add them to the damage before you look at the numbers. Very easy, very fast.

Here is a table showing everyone's current Damage Chart.