The crowd begins to disperse after fawning a bit over meeting superheroes (kids love this sort of thing ). The heroes set about checking out the health and condition of the three men the pulled from Firefly's overturned car (the two thieves and the driver), waiting for the sirens to draw closer. They line them up with two men from Silk Dragon's car. To ensure they won't bolt, Silk Dragon binds all five together with her silk. During the "get them out of the car" fiasco, just to keep tossing things out (and figuring this was just a straight-up busy, busy day for petty criminals everywhere), as Feral (in scary wolf form! ) snuffles through the cars looking for clues, I mention that there is a distinct third person's scent that is just as fresh as that of the two men currently awaiting the police. No; I had no plans, and nothing to run on: I am giving myself plenty of set up: This may ultimately just be filler information, with nothing to come of it, or I may be glad I threw it out. Seriously: there is no such thing as a world too rich, because sometimes you can reach backwards and pull yourself out of a bad situation. Problematically, you can't grab anything you didn't put there, so just keep tossing until you can---
"you know..." says Feral, there were three scents at my crime scene, too! Can I tell if this is the same scent?"
You should be able to tell if they are the same. Give me a quick Skill Check on INT (if you don't know why I say "Skill Check," we can go over it later. Just roll with it for now). Meanwhile, I'm hastily trying to decide if it actually _is_ the same guy. Not seeing an advantage to the story (or to my lack of an adventure! ) either way, I figure it just seems to keep things simpler if all the scents at the crime scene belongs to criminals (see? I had the "mystery man" at the crime scene, and I could have done anything I wanted with that, if I had come up with something that needed him to have been there. What is that? The future past pluperfect or something like that? Too many years; I don't remember) who were in on the crime.
So sure: "Oh yeah, even without your elephant form, you won't forget this scent for a while. It's all Axe body spray and flaming hot cheetos. There's a strong smell of gun oil, too...." That last was just to put an element of potential danger around our mystery man. I could have just as easily decided, had he pursued it, that there were guns hidden in the car. I never had to decide, because he didn't pursue it:
"Ah, CRAP! One of them got away!"
"Hey wait!" says Silk Dragon. "What about my car? How many people were in my car?"
You guys arrested two people-- well, you've detained two people. They will be arrested shortly. You can see the lights on the patrol car now, and traffic has started to move a little better.
"I mean how many people _were_ in it? Can his character check that?"
I know that he _can_, but I don't know if he _will_. You'll have to ask him that: you be your character, and talk to C. as if it was Silk Dragon talking to Feral. Go ahead. That's how you play this game. It makes it more fun, because when you think like that, you actually know everything about how your character thinks, too.
Self-consciously at first, "Uhm... that was pretty cool.... can you check and see if there were extra people in my car?"
"Yeah, I can do that!" can i do that?
Yes you can, but only if you want to.
"Sure; I can do that!" and do it he does.
I make a PER roll behind the screen; he fails by one, but the kids have sort of keyed to this idea that someone got away. I fudge it, and reply with "there was indeed someone else in the car, laying low in the back seat.
"But I glued the driver door shut, and then I chased that passeng--- OH NO! He must have run away while I was chasing the passenger!
yes... yes. he must have.... ( )
"Wait a minute!" says Firefly's player, a light coming on. "There were three people in _all_ of the cars!"
(well yeah, because I was frantic to get things moving, try to line everything up to some sort of cohesion, and I didn't get real creative: two guns and a wheelman in Firefly's car and Silk Dragon's car. The rest was just working with stuff I had already tossed out.) "Two of the backseat guys got away!"
The kids perk up, waiting to see where this is going. They're also a bit nervous, with that "are we doing this right? Is this what we're supposed to do?" vibe we all remember so vividly. . E (Silk Dragon) has an epiphany: "Oh my gosh! Those two guys who were filming us! I bet that was them!"
"Why would they be sticking around to record us?"
You know: like one of those "I'm so cool I fooled the police" videos all those guys put on youtube or something like that. Maybe their going to put up the video to show how the fooled the superheroes!"
yes... yes, maybe that.....
"Maybe they're studying us!"
ooh. I like that better.....
"Can any of you guys hack the internet and see where they put the videos?"
I'm pretty sure that's not a real thing, but I don't say anything. I like where they are taking this, and now I know how I can swing this back to my planned story. I'll have to tweak it (again! ) but I've got something I can work with.
At this point, since they're getting interested in things, I start jotting down notes almost spastically before I forget something else I may have thrown out.
Okay. going to turn in.
(to explain: as we're going to be closed up for five days for the holidays (hooray! I get three days off!) we've been putting in a lot of extra effort to get everything done. My job is physically demanding anyway, and I'm nowhere near young anymore. I'm pooped.
Much overdue, but I've been busy. Of course, being busy has made me tired and sleepy, so I may not get as far into this as I thought I might.
If, of course, OP is still curious. It seems that wreck of a map has successfully killed this thread.
Moving right along:
The next session, three of the players who had not shown up the week before _did_ show up, and asked if they were "still allowed to play."
Well of _course_ you are! Come on in and join the party!
Turns out that they _were_ the party, because no one else showed up.
What to do?
I seriously toyed with the idea of running _these_ kids through the Boneyard Scenario, stoked with its success with the previous kids and of course, it would stall getting into what I had prepared. However, it hit me that this would set a dangerous precedent: I would be running _two_ different groups on alternating weekends. Couldn't let that sort of nonsense get started! I'd have to re-write the whole outline for the campaign to match the much, _much_ smaller groups, and given that the mixtures of powers and defenses were built around at least five people making it regularly, well....
What to do? What to do? I had a few thing on tap, but nothing so short and sweet as to guarantee it could be done in a single scenario. I wanted something that would do what the Boneyard Scenario would do, as well: give them a safe space to learn the rudiments of combat and movement (notice the bank ceilings were high enough for leaping and flying--- sort of?) and give them a victory to celebrate.
What is Crime Spree? Is it a well-practice and honed-through-experience scenario like Boneyard? NO! Of course it isn't! Crime Spree is merely a suggestion I read in an article that was titled something along the lines of "what to do when you don't know what to do?" Let's call it the super-hero equivalent "a man with a gun walks into the room." Something to get the action going. I have no idea if there is a wrong way or a right way to do this, but I decided to give them _something_ to get things moving (you now, while they were excited and curious) and figure out how to draw it together as we went.
So we start off with Silk Dragon gliding about on patrol (say what you want about comic book tropes, that's a great one for just putting someone where you want them ) when she sees two armed men fleeing a stop-and-rob and leaping into a running car. She immediately gives chase!
Feral, who enjoyed the scents and tranquility of the wooded garden (all native species, groomed, but left relatively natural) in Daedalus Park, has found a badly beaten mugging victim and begins using his super-senses to find clues. He finds three distinct shoe prints and can make out two distinct human scents amongst the gagging stench of Axe instead-of-bath. There's a third scent, but he's not sure he'd recognize it it's so polluted here. He wants to shift into his wolf form to gain a better sense of smell and faster running. I point out that he is in a public park on a pretty day, and he opts to go with a bloodhound instead.
[note: I have commented before that we don't use Shape Shift and _rarely_ use Multi-form. Mostly this is because I run a much older edition, and I still do it the way we "faked it" back then. There are two options we use. The second method-- and I really only recommend this for experienced players-- is a power pool from which you pull appropriate powers; the shift in shape is just special effects. It helps if you have some pre-built lists handy. Unless you just want to build some custom disads, this gives you the advantage of having your actual intelligence and knowledge skills as well. Win-win. The first (chronologically) was derived from the old "Only in HERO ID" power limitation: only in X form. I allow it a bit larger bonus, depending on the power and the frequency with which he will have it (flight gets a bigger bonus than Tracking Scent, because fewer animals have Flight). From there, make three or four "generic" forms: Dog. Bird. Fish. Big Fish. Weasel. it doesn't matter enough what kind of dog you pick: you get the "only in dog form" powers, and an unlimited amount of dogs to turn into. You know: because it's just special effects. Now if there was an additional something with a more specific limitation: Only in Wolf form, well first, the bonus is bigger, and of course, he will not have it as any other kind of dog. I digress, but it's so you understand that this kid isn't running around with a nine-hundred point character).
He sprints off, hot on the trail of the muggers. He asks for regular PER checks, and at one point I tell him that he has seen a couple of young punks looking at the display of a video camera, but their scents do not match those he is looking for.
Was that part of anything? The punks with the camera?
NO! No; it was _not_.
But remember two things: A world is _full_, and it is full of people doing stuff, most of it totally random from the outside. You have to keep that world _full_, both to maintain the illusion of a living, breathing universe, and because you don't know what you're going to need later. Don't worry about adding too much unless you see the game is actually slowing down. If the players key on something that bites you in the butt-- it's _fine_. Roll with it, because it means that they are both paying attention and that they _want_ to _interact_ with your world. (there's a hilarious story on youtube about this sort of thing where he particularly creative D&D players weaponized a whale.... )
As he went on, he saw people jogging, people having picnics, and a stain of burnt transmission fluid in the parking lot where he lost the scent. Reasoning that the muggers had gotten into a car with a bad transmission, he sniffed and snuffled until he was certain he could recognize the scent of this particular burnt fluid and started out toward the road. I suggested the road was dangerous for a dog, and he said "oh, right! Okay, I go elephant." Then he walked calmly down a four-lane thoroughfare, causing quite a commotion and traffic problem.
Firefly is drawn to this scene by a report on her police scanner of a possible accident and major traffic problem. She never quite makes it, because before she can see the elephant, there is another call on her radio about a smash-and-grab robbery at a nearby jewelry store. She shrinks down to power up (she gains a considerable amount of flight speed in her miniature form) and rockets off toward the address given, just a couple of blocks away.
She arrives in time to see a car, stuck in the sudden traffic problem, swerve onto the sidewalk and begin to accelerate through pedestrians. As she gives chase, I tell her "you see the traffic problem: There's an elephant walking down the northbound fast lane, trunk probing all along the road, sniffing here and there, changing lanes randomly, but always moving forward." She replies that she wants to take a closer look at that; why there's an elephant here. (during the character generation party, it was established that she and Feral knew each other as superheroes, but not as civilians) She wants to know if it's acting "like an animal" or more like a person. I tell her "it doesn't seem to be paying any attention at all to the horns or the shouting, and seems to be taking care to not bump the cars that are edging around it." On a whim, I added "you also notice two young guys with their phones out, filming. There are _lots_ of phones out-- hundreds! Even the people in the cars are trying to film the elephant in the street! But these two guys.... They don't seem to be interested in the elephant. They're filming something else....."
Announcing that she's pretty sure the elephant is Feral, she turns her attention back to the fleeing car, which has forced its way back onto the road to get around an open basement elevator in the sidewalk.
We now have three people doing things.
Because I steer the bad guys, I have managed to push two of these people into close proximity. That's going so smoothly that I figure it's time to ease Silk Dragon over this way. Her fleeing car is southbound on the same road. Traffic isn't as snarled (yet) coming from that direction. Meanwhile, Firefly has grown back to her regular size directly in front of her quarry and fired a bolt of "biophosphene" directly in front of it; the driver swerves deeper into traffic. (Firefly's EB isn't particularly strong in her full-size state, but it is easily the most visually-impressive attack of all the players, looking like nothing less than pure plasma with an almost-painful yellow/green glow. Cranked to it's max, it has a Flash linked to it). "Feral!" she yells, counting on his big elephant ears, "I can use some help!"
Feral turns to look to see who called him and why, and we cut back to Silk Dragon, who's quarry is now encountering traffic problems. She drifts up higher to make sure she isn't spotted, and isn't too worried about losing the car as she has carefully marked the roof with considerable amounts of silk. As traffic grinds to a halt, the hoods inside start looking around for a better route. Silk Dragon takes the hint and dives, making every attempt to entangle the doors and seal the criminals inside. She has already called for police assistance (shame Spock-like's player hadn't shown yet, since you know... THAT WAS HIS ACTUAL JOB! anyway, the police are inbound, but are slowed by traffic conditions. Silk has managed to get the driver's door sealed with her Entangle, and the hoods now notice her. Panic begins as the driver floors it and tries to jam between the two lanes of traffic. The passenger opens the door and bolts. Silk Dragon is concerned about "that poor elephant!" but gives chase. They end up inside a garage (mechanic's, not parking), and Silk Dragon has a chance to shine with her Martial Arts and soundly defeats her opponent, in spite of his gun.
Meanwhile, Firefly herds her quarry toward Feral, who thinks he understands what's going on, though he is unaware of the second "bad guy car." Feral charges the first car as Firefly fires another EB to encourage the driver to swerve again, allowing Feral to approach it broadside and flip it onto it's roof. unfortunately, everyone is now on the southbound side, where traffic is moving much better, and the panicked criminal is bearing down on them. Intent on pulling the criminals from the overturned car and getting them disarmed and out of harm's way, they fail to see the reckless abandon with which the other vehicle approaches!
Silk Dragon has taken to the air again and sees the car smashing its way forward through traffic and hurtling toward the crowd milling around the overturned car, the superhero, and the elephant. Concentrating, she draws in a deep breath and exhales a column of flame, not into the crowd or at the car, but low enough to attract attention. Everyone looks up, and with relief she changes from fire to silk and attempts to entangle the crowd beside the car. Feral grabs the entire entangle with his trunk and runs for the sidewalk, pulling the dozen or so people with him while Firefly shrinks down and powers up her EB to maximum, turning on the Flash. She fires at the car, melting the grill and radiator and doing some small amount of damage to the engine behind (the power steering pump will have to be replaced). Blinded and panicked, and poisonous steam spilling from the radiator, the driver reflexively jams the brakes out of self-preservation. Silk Dragon is on him in an instant, pulling him through the broken windshield and entangling him. She breathes a quick flash of flame onto the entangled bystanders, harmlessly flash-burning the entangle itself (no dice; it's all special effects, folks ), smiles and does a slight curtsey for the two guys on the sidewalk filming everything......