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Supers Campaign Help needed!


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  hey all, I'm game mastering for a group of players in the GURPS IST world, but have kind of written myself into a corner, and some advice wold help, I'm actuay going to cross post with ome other RPG forum for help as well as the problems aren't rules based

My players work for "Amazing Solutions" a Super-for hire agency that dosen't do kid's bithday parties, but they stop at out-and-out mercenary work as well

the players

--A "halfway fallen" angel...bulletprrof, limited flightand can heal by sending personal energy or leeching it from others, also has a flaming sword that indces agony but not phycial damage
-- A A Martial Artist who has electrical powers, a bit of a glass cannon most powerful attack of the group twice over , also has the ability to disapear from reality with an insubstantial/invisible combo
-- A teleketic who can lift a ton and manifet a "light saber" attack
--a character who has "roach powers" and is going for more of a supersoldier vibe...main issue is he wear a bodysuit of kevlar and ceramic inserts which makes him nearly indestrctible, and has enough stength where he dosen't have a mobility penalty
---an "iceman" character with various ice powers including the ability to turn into an "ice statue"
--a gadgeteer with high level teleportation, intelligence and gasgeteering skills, with a "time freez" binding attack

The team has been hiring to act as additional security for a Presidential hopeful named "Francis Payne" after an attempt on his life....Payne has his own "superteam" The Divine Right (wing) while not outwardly religious (he's not a paston or anything) He has done a lot of fire & brimstone type rallies...He is in many ways like the current Donald Trump...Islamiphbic, anti immigration....but strangely pro-super

the Divine Right consists of
--Maccabee A "supernormal" an expert soldier and master of modern weapons. Believes himself to be pious, when really he uses it as an excuse to kill "for the right cause"
--Martial Artist; with greater than normal strength, speed, and agility...she's actualy an "Earth Angel" a militant and pious woman who was elevated to "low level angel" status after heaven's ranks were depleted after the Fall
--Guardian Angelica; Can create a giant psionic exo-skeleton to act as the team's "brick"....sheltered life, willign to do whatever she's told, exoskelwton gives her a sheltered view on life, so she dosen't react too much to violence around her as long as she's safe in her shell
--Jessica Choir; former "American Voice" winner turned christian music singer. Has sonic powers, and can create "resonance" to create dplicates of herself, though with reduced sonic ability
--Godspeed Nice guy, Speedster, takes his faith seriously, but likes to preach by example. Constantly worries about what he's gotten into
--Machica ex (Deus) Another nice guy; Gadgeteer, who enters a fugue state when he creates, so even he osen't know what he's built until the task is complete
--Lazarus not a member of the Divine Right, but Payne's bodyguard...believd to have healing or self-regeneration abilities. actualy has the ability to steal and pass on lifeforce to heal himself and eve resurrect the recently dead...has used this power to "save" Payne from a few assassination attempts
--Pulpit; not a member of the Divine Right, he was offered membership but turned it down. low level brick with the ability to give short "orders" that mst be obeyed if heard, like "freeze" "drop it" or "silence"

So far the team stopped some "fake" islamic terrorists hired by Payne from using a dummy bomb at a rally to drive anti Islamic sentiment and sympathy for Payne's campaign, however one of the terrorists killed all his fellows after their defeat...and was in turn killed by Maccabee before he could talk
...hard fight for the team, the angel character was undercover and missed the fight (need to make it up to her player somehow) and the team was really hurting without her healing powers

The game will start anew with the team escorting payne as he visits a number of sites of his proposed "Payne Universities" around the Chicago area

...And I don't know where to go from here... some of the team is undercover, and as "security specialists" they are able to choose two Divine Right members to accompany them on the "tour" (this keeps the NPC cont low as the rest of the Divine Right act as superheroes around town to drum up good publicity)

Payne is evil though....here are some highlights

  • Payne is abducting young people. Some are volunteers, others are students at his "universities",,,some are being "Sacrificed" to Lazarus so he can heal Payne if needed...but it's worse than that....
  • Payne is drugging the women he has no use for and selling them to "foriegn businessmen" in exchange for weapons
  • The weapons are in turn sold to REAL terrorists...not only does Payne make a profit, but he increases terrorist activity he can demonize as part of his platform to get elected
  • Using mundane forms of hypnoisis and mind control, Payne was able to utilize Machina Ex's fugue state to build a device he keeps hidden behind a wall in his office....the device holds a comatose Pulpit with various wire and tubes...by subjecting himself to the machine once a day he gains Plpits powers....Machina Ex is unaware fo the machine

The team has had some success they discovered tax record showing that Payne accidentally has paid taxes and tariff's...with no items listed. They also know Payne is evil as he framed a cameraman with some illicit photos on his harddrive (the cameraman's desperate assassination atempt is what drew the PC's in)

So any ideas where to go from here? of course the endgame is a big fight with the Divine Right and Payne revealed for who he is

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Whew! That's a lot to absorb. You have quite a complicated group of characters there. I'll need to ruminate on this a bit before giving many concrete suggestions.

 

A couple of things strike me, though: you have a "halfway fallen" angel "undercover"... exactly how is she undercover? What is she posing as? What's she trying to accomplish? On the other side you have a woman "elevated to 'low level angel' status." Have you had any kind of interaction between them? It seems like they would have a number of unique things in common, maybe the chance to form a bond. They might even have met before, even if one doesn't recognize the other initially. The fallen angel might try to redeem the earth angel, or the latter try to seduce the former.

 

You wanted to make things up to the angel PC's player? How about letting her roleplay bringing her angelic counterpart to the side of the PCs, becoming their mole within the Divine Right?

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Young people and women have relatives. Some of these might be journalists or police or federal agents who might investigate this.

Then again the young people and women might have a relative who is determined to get to the truth. This person is then eliminated by The Divine Right. However in doing so the person has a 'radiation accident'. Hey Presto ! A new superpowered individual out to get to the bottom of what is happening.

There is also the possibility that an existing villain might have a relative who is a victim of what Payne is doing. They don't have to follow the law and will do whatever they feel necessary to get revenge or their relative back.

 

Foreign businessmen also have enemies. They might two and two together and come after Payne.

Payne on his way to the top may have hurt people. People who might try for revenge via blackmail or murder or leaking details to the press/police now that he is well in the public eye.

 

Payne may also get a group of superpowered people to terrorise the area or agents that will now have to be combatted by the team. Proving his pro-super ideals.

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I guess my question is: if Payne's so dirty, and he already owns one superhero team he can control, why would he bring in a bunch of actual heroes that he can't control? It seems like the last thing Payne would want is a group of Good Guys crawling around in his bidness - too risky they'll stumble onto some of his dirt. (I'm assuming your PCs are in fact Good Guys.) If he needs more muscle, I'm sure he could find some more morally-dodgy pseudo-heroes along the lines of the Divine Right. So why bring in actual heroes?

 

I'm not saying this to derail you - just the opposite. I think once you answer that question, an ocean of plot will follow. Maybe he wants to send the PCs on offense after a known (legitimate) enemy while the Divine Right plays defense. Or maybe he need the PCs to protect him defensively while he sends the DR on some shady offensive operation. Or maybe the PCs have a specific power(s) that he needs for a specific reason. Or maybe the decision was forced on him by his campaign manager (who's actually honest and therefore a potential ally). Or he just wants the publicity of having the PCs working for him, and they're just there for the photo ops. Or maybe he's just that arrogant and overestimates his ability to control the PCs - and what will he do when he starts to realize he's underestimated them?

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One possable answer is that they are there to take the fall. Payne is smart enough to know that stuff floats to the surface, so he brings in "Super Mercinaries" to frame. And that is how he falls...it's Always the" cover up".

 

As things go on clues start popping up, and the "not Evil" members of his own team will likely turn, even if passively by leaving extra clues for the heroes...?

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Firmly agree with BDH's observation on establishing why he brought in the PC heroes.  Beyond pinecone's excellent suggestion of Payne setting up the heroes to take a fall later, here are some other possibilities:

 

1.  The heroes have been brought in by Payne to give the Divine Right enough exposure to them to beat them in the inevitable battle to come.  Examples might include: 

  • Maccabee establishing the heroes' weaknesses (perhaps giving him a naked-Advantage AP only vs targets he's seen in action frequently) and ferreting out their Suceptibilities / Vulnerabilities
  • Pulpit using his powers in subtle ways to command the heroes (perhaps some subliminal command thing)
  • Finding a way to detect the invisible/insubstantial martial artist

2.  Perhaps Machina Ex (Deus) recognized Payne's true nature early on and used a gadget to influence Payne to inexplicably hire the heroes.  He knows there's no way he can stop Payne and the Divine Right himself, so he enlisted the unwitting aid of the heroes with plans to act as a saboteur / silent informant along the way.  I kinda like this idea, as the heroes figure out they have a secret ally on the DR, but don't know who it is.  And later on, Payne and/or the DR can figure out who their leak is, requiring the heroes to rescue MED.  One danger with this one is making it so MED doesn't become a GM-PC.  (Perhaps he ends up crippled off-screen, beyond the "halfway fallen angel"'s ability to heal, so MED can't directly aid the heroes once his cover is blown.)

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The answer is simple. He needs scapegoats. All this takes is a clever guy with a video camera and the right guys on Youtube to give whatever screwups the PC's make 20000000 hits. It's not hard to do this. And if he makes the heroes look like the bad guys while the bad guys look like the good guys, it will be much harder for the heroes to win.

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The answer is simple. He needs scapegoats. All this takes is a clever guy with a video camera and the right guys on Youtube to give whatever screwups the PC's make 20000000 hits. It's not hard to do this. And if he makes the heroes look like the bad guys while the bad guys look like the good guys, it will be much harder for the heroes to win.

 

That's so true and such a depressing aspect of the human condition. 

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Godspeed seems to be your linchpin here. Having discovered what Payne is, he might reach out to the heroes to come clean and get some help. Unfortunately, the other members of Divine Right catch wind of his plans and want to eliminate him before he reaches the heroes. Now its a race between good and evil with Godspeed firmly centered in-between with the goods that could break Payne once and for all. This could lead up to the big, climatic battle between the heroes and the Divine Right. If that happens, it should be televised, with Payne's people spinning the press against the heroes. However, if they win, and Godspeed is safe, they'll have the evidence to clear their names and run Payne out. But, if they lose, and Godspeed is killed/taken, they'll be on the run from their home until they can discover a way to take Payne down. If the latter, it would make an excellent story to see them working against the POTUS after Payne gets in office, and while the US is hunting the heroes down. 

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  Looked back at my post and realized that a couple of things got cut (I blame editing)

 

The "Martial Artist/Earth Angle" member of the Divine Right is named "Magdalena"

 

  There's a seventh member of the Divine Right named "Jericho"...he has Disintegration powers, and after Payne calmed him down after his powers erupted (killing his family) Jericho is now the most fanatical of the Divine Right, a real "drank thekool-aide" type

 

  the Divine right  are built on +30% more points than the PC's, and out number the PC's by one, three if you count Lazarus and a Pulpit powered Payne (PPP?)...I stacked the deck a little once it was pointed out, that my  "core NPC's" have so much  fleshed out they aren't as much a threat to the PC's as characters I make up on the fly

 

  Why are the PC's involved?  The Divine Right aren't nominally part of Payne's security,their job is to be superheroes, look good, and have Payne take the credit for endorsing/being endorsed by them...it's like if you can't get the Justice League to vote for you, make your own,

   As for the PC's they work for "Amazing Solutions" a supers-for-hire "troubleshooting" company.  so providing security/body-guarding services is more their speed. The PC's had an issue with working for an "Evangelical Trump". Once I mentioned the disapearances of the "real" Trump and Pulpit. they decided four members would go to work, while two would go "undercover

  But dosen't the Secret Service provides security for presidental candidates? Not in the GURPS IST  world, in IST, the United Nations has outlawed metahumans from being fielded in an military or federal capacity (including the Secret Service, , FBI or CIA, more mundane aspects such as the post Office or IRS is more of a gray area)....if needed, the united Nations can have their own supers the "IST"International Super Teams" provide security, but since the nearest IST base is in Minneapolis, Payne wants to keep any Supers he can't control at arms length....the PC's at least are ostensibly there for a paycheck

 

  Also Payne is obsessed with power, those that have it,and how he can control them. So whenever he has an issue he usually goes for the "super solution" first...it's one of the standouts of his conservative right wing platform, is that he is extremely "pro-super"

 

  in the IST world, when the UN passed it's resolution banning military supers and nukes, China dropped out of the United Nations and has the largest standing force of metahumans in the world

   Francis Payne saw this and thinks they have the right idea. He not only ultimately wants the presidency, but over time he will manufacture various crises with Super supported by federal grants, Once the nation becomes more and more dependent on metahumans fixing problems from crime, to forest fires, to simple park ranger service, he'll push for wider registration of metahumans sing the "carrot" instead of the "stick" to create what he sees as a new "noble class" with him in the most powerful position in the free world at it's head.....then he will push to also have the USA drop out of the UN and make this "nobility" a ruling class of the country

 

  No one said Francis Payne was 100% sane.....but that's a very long term goal...but gives some ideas of his motivations

 

  the last session didn't go poorly, but could have gone better. on their "tour" of Payne universities. the PC's found that they were using college applications to "screen" potential abductees, particuarly young women, and the questions (immediate family, roommates, emergency contact ect;) had less to do with academics than how easy they are to abduct and if they would be "missed"

   meanwhile at the next stop where Payne kept his pre-candiate offices, one of the undercover PC's broke into his office and installed a flashdrive whipped up by the gadgeteer PC that would hack Payne's computer (he failed his perception check to notice the hidden room where pulpit is being held)

   Also magdalena confronted the "halfway fallen" Angel PC about how she's not wanted there as only she can accomplish good works on Earth by serving Payne before disappearing

 

   Before the mototcade left the PC's had decide on two DR members to accompany them on the tour (the rest would be out doing "superhero stuff" and make sure they were seen doing it,plus it kept the number of NPC"s I had to track low) They chose two that were most likely to talk, Jericho and Machina Ex.  they didn't find out too much other than they both seemed to have a post hypnotic suggestion to support Payne whenever it came up (though Jericho did it the most vigorusly)

   Once the motorcade got to the second university, they were confronted by REAL terrorists who were angry with Payne for a missing "shipment" (haven't decided if that shipment is weapons or slaves) with over a dozen armed men with automatic weapons I thought it would be a challenge, but when combat inevitably broke out it slowed to a crawl as the PC's took out terrorists one by one, but I already used "generic metahumans" in their last encounter, and they aren't THAT common. But the PC's have a lot of "glass cannons" high damage output with quirky, or no defenses.

 

  At the end of the battle, the telekinetic pc and the angel charcater were severely wounded, but with the angel acting as the 'team's "cleric" should be ok by the start of the next session

One "normal" bodyguard was dead

Jericho started disintegrating two bodies of the terrorists, wether he is trying to 'cover up evidence' or is just in an overprotective rage over Payne's safety I haven't decided

  Payne broke from his detail and ran for his offices, taking a few shots with little damage (thanks to powers he absorbed from Pulpit)...he was wanting to make sure Pulpit was secure, and maybe get a "boost"

   the teleporting PC took the injured terrorist leader back to "Amazing Solutions" headquarters and has him tied down in the infirmary and plan on questioning him...then teleported back to Payne's office to confront him....Payne attempted to use Pulpit's command power on her, but she made her will roll.....but now the PC's know there is more to Payne than meets the eye (though she also failed her sense roll for Pulpit's room)

 

So at the end, the teleported, electric martial artist, and supersoldier are confronting Payne, Lazarus and a normal bodyguard just outside his office, with Machina Ex on their heels

 The iceman PC ran away jumping off the roof down an iceslide

the telekenetic and Angel are severely wounded but on the mend outside

Jericho is on a disintigration spree

and they have the terrorist leader tied up at base

 

One thing I thought about as I wrote this, withe Jericho disintegrating this and that, it's going to be impossible for anyone to know that the terrorist leader is a prisoner, escaped, or is ashes on the wind

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