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  1. Weldun: I've image-filtered my way into cheesecake territory - f*** my life.
  2. Champions : Return To Edge City : Scooter vs. The Human Pretzel A warning in advance - events in this episode have been planned months in advance, and it's total coincidence that they happened the same week that the protests kicked off in the States. The parallels certainly upset some of the players, but were not intentional. The Magus has used a spell to locate the salvaged Black Smoke Projector, and tracked it to Bayside Industrial, an area of Edge City that boomed before the whole ‘fusion reactor went BOOM’ situation on S-Day, and now has lots of derelict chemical storage facilities and abandoned warehouses. Hero Shrew: Well, just as long as it isn’t Axis Chemicals. Hero Shrew is quite pleased, since he’ll probably get to punch somebody, something he hasn’t had a chance to do in months. Better yet, they’re Humanity First, planning a terror attack with chemical weapons, so he can hit them as hard as he likes and still have the moral high ground. Grabbing them by the heads and introducing them to the concept of autocolonoscopy might be going a bit far, though. GM: Just don’t punch them into the chemical weapon. Flux’s Player: They might have 30 character points to spend and come back as a supervillain. On the other hand, at least Scooter is forward-thinking enough today to ask how long fire sprinklers actually run for, once they’re set off. And most of them are mechanically triggered, so Flux can’t set them off with his hacking magic. Worse, since it’s a chemical warehouse it’s entirely possible the fire suppression isn’t even water based, which will be no help at all if the Black Smoke Generator goes off. Watching the building lets us see that they have guards patrolling, and that their patrol patterns are annoyingly competent. Not that it matters much, since some of us can fly while invisible, and Scooter can tunnel through solid concrete. Complicated plans are made to synchronise and navigate the prongs of the attack. Magus: Alternatively, I can teleport us all in. All: *turn to look at him* Hardlight: You can do that??? Magus: I was waiting for that >:) On the other hand, the tracking spell is telling us that the Black Smoke Generator is somehow filling the entire chemical production facility. Which is EXTREMELY worrying, since it implies they’re making the stuff. We should probably tell the police to turn up with full breathing apparatus, or better yet stay well back and send in firefighters with same, and all hoses going. Since the building was used for making industrial spray-painting equipment and paint, we’d better make sure to avoid anybody carrying some kind of backpack or pushcart compressor. Unfortunately Hardlight IS injured by the Magus’ teleport, since he’s susceptible to unnatural darkness, and he lost his connection to the crystal that gives him his powers. Nonetheless, the mook we appear next to is about to have a Very Bad Day. Hero Shrew: Let’s hope that employment by Humanity First offers good Dental. It looks like Humanity First have at least one supermerc on the books, and a number of early-model powersuits with in-built threat analysis. That might be a problem, if punching them through walls as soon as we see them doesn’t work. Breaker: Oh ****! *goes for his guns* Flux: Right, targeting him - Always go for the talkie ones first. The Magus drops his target into an illusionary Hero Trip, where us superhuman freaks just can’t hit him. That should keep him busy, even though the powersuited guy had some kind of unexpected mental defence. Quite a surprise in somebody that should just be an armoured mook. Evidently Humanity First went to the trouble of giving these guys special training, but they have been planning to fight metahumans for decades. Which probably explains how a basic unarmoured mook manages to put Scooter on the ground, even though the Moreau was rushing forward at full speed with the intent of knocking his head off. The powersuits also have flight capability. GM: And probably flamethrowers. Magus OoC: Next to the swastika ninja-stars. GM: Mook 3 is going to have bragging rights in prison, since it took two of the supers to take him down. Unfortunately it wasn’t Fireflash and Nocturne. Or more likely won’t survive to boast, because Hero Shrew has no particular inclination to hold back, and his forcefield fails to activate both times. Hero Shrew OoC: It’s ironic that this guy is against Moreaus, since I’m about to turn him from plantigrade to digitigrade. By putting some extra bends in his legs. Hardlight is certainly upset, since he has a total Code vs. Killing, and turning a human into a pretzel is rarely conducive to their health. Hardlight: Scooter, NO!!!! Flux: Welp, they’ve just murdered somebody over there - I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that. That does take Hardlight out of the fight, though, since Gareth spends the rest of it trying to stop Mook 3 from bleeding out from his numerous open fractures. It’s probably fortunate that Fireflash can’t see what happened over there either, although she does hear Hardlight yelling for medical assistance from the Magus. GM: The forcefield belts that the Mooks are using are the same model VIPER used to use. They stopped using them for a couple of reasons. One of them was the position of the powercell. ‘You weren’t planning on having kids, right?’. They weren’t quite that bad but the rumour was bad enough. The other reason was that the charge on the batteries meant that if someone like Scooter did something like what Scooter just did, the paramedic that showed up to stop them bleeding out couldn’t help them because the forcefield was still running. So in that respect it’s sort of okay that the forcefield didn’t actually turn on? Magus: On the other hand, if they DID produce exotic radiation, they’ve increased their chances of having superpowered kids. The mooks at the gate and on patrol leg it as soon as they realise the heavies and mooks in the warehouse aren’t reporting in. Hardlight bubbles Scooter before he can find any more racists to mangle. Scooter IS looking rather more intently serious than they’ve seen him before. He and Fireflash get into a screaming match - these a**holes WERE intending to murder everybody he grew up with, after all. Hardlight: Scooter, when you signed up with this team you agreed to help the people of Edge City. ALL the people. Yes, these people are awful, but that means we take them into custody and put them through a court of law. What you just did was lethal force against an unarmed opponent. That is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Fireflash flies off, sobbing, but Scooter does not seem remotely chastised. At least securing the Black Smoke, which had been decanted into individual sprayers to reduce the chance that Humanity First would accidentally kill any humans, is straightforward enough. It’s certainly enough to get everybody charged with multiple terrorism offenses. Fireflash: Well, I hope they enjoy their time in Guantanamo Bay. But there are going to be consequences from the fight. He’s lost Fireflash’s trust for one thing. And then there’s the fallout from when The Rep finds out what Scooter did. The Rep: Scooter, it doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong, it’s the optics, baby. You’re the face of Moreaus. If you kill a human. Moreaus. Kill. Humans. The Magus OoC: The worst part of it is that you’re being told off by a sleaze. Scooter OoC: Yeah, that might actually make me feel bad.
  3. Pathfinder : The Mummy's Mask : The Scent Of Burning Feathers Nemat’s Player: Apparently we’ve missed a lot of stuff in this campaign because we actually talk to people. And aren’t psychopaths. Onka’s Player: It’s like we actually get paid to do our job - archeology. Zenobia’s Player: Although I don’t think we’ll be returning some of this stuff to the people that made them - under any circumstances. On the way to the final activation point, we nearly have a major dust-up between a Phoenix, a Roc, and a Sphinx land on top of us. A feather-dust-up, as it were. Nemat: Onka? Fireball that. It’s a good idea - it’s not like the Phoenix will be hurt by the fire and it’s clearly outnumbered by the other two monsters. Zenobia has a few helpful spells along that line too - it’s so helpful when divine destruction can make moral judgements on your behalf. Before long the Phoenix is actually intervening on the Sphinx’s behalf before we finish it off. Nemat to the Sphinx: Are you going to be a problem? Sphinx: *feeble squawk* Onka is heading over to the roast Roc. Onka: I don’t think we have a big enough bag for this. Actually, after he clambers all over the corpse, and marinades it with Unguent of Timelessness, he actually manages to stuff the entire thing into a Bag of Holding. Onka: It belongs in a museum. Zenobia: We’ll have it stuffed. Nemat: Hire some taxidermists. Emphasis on the plural. The Sphinx recoils from the Phoenix’s healing touch, hisses ”Our deal is finished - we are EVEN” and flaps off back to its clock. The Phoenix had come to investigate why the magic around the Slave Trench had suddenly lit up like Las Vegas. Nemat: Oh, that’s just us - we’re about to crash a pyramid here. At least, I think it’s going to be here. Onka, before we flip the final switch we’d better check that. If you’ve read any of the accounts of the Fall of the Shory you have to think about these kinds of things. Some of those mountain ranges over there didn’t exist before then. The Roc was upset by the Slave Trenches activating, and the Sphinx was just a dick. Tef-Naju and the Phoenix can’t help us in the next section - the latter won’t fit, and the former has been barred from ever entering the area. Onka can’t even get his mecha-suit in. We’re on our own from here. And some of the traps are very cunning indeed.
  4. Pathfinder : The Mummy's Mask : Wedding Plans We've brought down one of the Forgotten Pharoah's flying pyramids, onto the fields outside Wati - a much better option than bringing it down on the city. GM: Wati is safe - for now. Onka: Unless you built your house just there. Nemat OoC: ‘my cabbages!' Asrian: Zenobia wants to meet my parents, and I do want to make sure my family are OK. Zenobia: And that’s something that makes me much more nervous than assaulting the giant floating pyramid. I have NO IDEA what to do when asking for somebody’s hand in marriage. Onka OoC: It’s like an anime, it writes itself. Asrian OoC: At least it’s not a harem anime. Zenobia OoC: I mean when David asked for somebody’s hand in marriage he got sent out to collect 200 Philistine foreskins. Gnolls don’t do that - we wouldn’t let the rest of the meat go to waste. Zenobia: Is there some kind of traditional gift I should take? I have no idea! … I NEED TO BATHE. Nemat: Yes, yes you do. Here’s some scented soaps and oils. And rub this into your fur when you get out. I’ve had this bundle waiting to go for months. Zenobia: Squee! Happily there’s some nice loot that Zenobia can offer as a greeting gift, and after that, to Asrian’s parent for her hand in marriage - a polished darkwood chalice and a silver egg with an encircling dragon. Valuable, and symbolically appropriate too. And a platinum comb, but Zenobia’s holding onto that for later. There’s also that Rod of Splendour, which also enhances Charisma, but Asrian already has a Charisma enhancer. Zenobia OoC: And if Asrian came in carrying both, I’d probably lose the power of speech. At least Asrian’s large family don’t throw Zenobia out of the house - in fact if anything they seem more surprised that Asrian is marrying another woman, than marrying a gnoll. But either way, any plans for setting the marriage date will have to wait until after we’ve dealt with the returned Pharoah. That doesn’t stop Zenobia looking at potential homes to buy. Of course we all do a stint at our respective temples. Nemat’s god Wadjet might not be much worshipped in Osiron these days, but there was a small shrine to Wadjet built on the location of the town’s founding, and various city rituals consider the site significant. Nemat has an eye on Ubet’s Folly, a ruined fortress modelled after a sphinx, as a future rebuilding project. But at least we know where we’re going now, and haven’t offended any of the various temples before we head up river - the Slave Trenches are probably defended, but we’ve killed so many of the Sky Pharoah’s cultists that his intelligence-gathering network is probably in ruins. On the other hand, there's also some 17sq.miles. of slave trenches to search. Happily we’ve got those Immovable Rods to use as a ladder in thin air, so we can get up high enough to study the layout, or at least compare to what we get on the Automatic Cartographer. The trenches spell out, depending on whether you read them from east to west or otherwise, “The Sun And Sky Are Bound To The Stones Below” and “Let Earth Call Down And Bind The Sky”. A useful hint as to which parts we activate first, assuming the other objects we might need are actually around here. There’s also an Ominous Hum. Also oversized earth elementals. Hopefully its gemstone eyes weren’t something we needed, because Zenobia Banishes it to its home plane. And various entrances to buried temples, and so on, so it looks like there will be some dungeon crawling on top of the open-air combat archeology. We’re using Gnoll as our battle-cant, since we can all speak it. Nemat: And it will disconcert our enemies to see a mostly human party attacking while talking in yips and growls. Asrian doesn’t know as many languages as her fiancé.. Zenobia OoC: So I’m the cunning linguist? *wagging long gnoll tongue* Asrian: *grin* oh, absolutely. We also find what appears to be a particle accelerator, but standing in the middle of the barrel is probably a bad idea since we’re not playing Marvel Superheroes. Nemat’s Player: Or Champions, with 30 unspent XP. One major fight we avoid because of your average adventurer’s resemblance to a magpie, and tendency to grab anything shiny. At least the unworked tunnels are illuminated by glowing lichen, although we probably shouldn’t eat it. Asrian: It’s put there by the gods, to help adventurers that didn’t bring enough lanterns. Zenobia: That or phosphorescent crystals, or mysterious sourceless glows, that sort of thing. Of course lichen that is both glowing AND writhing is even more unappetising. Especially combined with laughing coming from the walls. We have a major problem - a haunt-controlling undead that has just hit us with panic, compulsion, and blinding attacks. Asrian, for example, seems determined to eat the lichen. Zenobia OoC: I could make a very off-colour joke here but I won’t. But at least we survived it, without gouging out our own eyeballs or eating random bush. And now knowing the kind of thing we have to deal with down here, Nemat figures out a way to get past them. Nemat: Asrian, put your hand on Zenobia’s shoulder. Asrian: Does it have to be her shoulder? Nemat: I’d prefer you to be able to concentrate on keeping your eyes closed. Of course, creepy kid voices saying “Oh, so that’s the pharaoh’s form these days.” and “He might actually survive the test.” is even more ominous. Especially when they follow it up with a permanently blinding attack on the entire party. Happily, whatever these things are, they’re not immune to being turned into bunny rabbits. Unfortunately they’re still bunnies with laser beams. Zenobia: Bunnies with frickin’ lasers is not how I wanted to die! Onka: I’ll be sure to put that on your tombstone, if I survive the next two minutes. Tragically, it looks like we’re going to have to make a tombstone for Nemat, because Zenobia is too bady stunned to stop him from dying from his injuries, and he is in a really, really bad way. Zenobia: He can’t die! He was coming to our wedding! At least Onka discovered that if he closes all the portholes on his mecha suit, he’s protected from these creature’s searing light. And they are both vulnerable to Phantasmal Web. Creepy Children: Well, this new form of the Pharaoh is quite powerful - and despite everything we threw at him he actually protected some of his friends! Nemat: I. Still. Fight! Creepy Children: His powerful companions. And then the illusions on the room drop. Nemat OoC: Are you ****ing kidding me. GM: I did say it was a trial. Asrian: At least the bunny bleeds out from the wounds I hit it with. We’re probably EXTREMELY lucky that they mistook one of us for the Pharaoh, or they would have finished us off instead of ending the test and buggering off where-ever they came from. We do hit a slight roadblock, after resting and patching each other up - there’s a set of token here that might be some kind of communication device, or possibly summon a giant carnivorous bird into a small room. Nobody is eager to find out which. At least one of the tokens turns out to be the former, and the person at the other end is apparently somewhere else in the Slave Trenches, bored, and excited that somebody is in contact with him. Tef-Naju: Who is this? How did you get this number? And what are you doing that close to the second Sphere of Activation? Nemat: I am here to serve the Pharaoh Khemet III. Tef-Naju: Ah, so that is who rules Osirion in this century. Asrian: I assume you’re a servant of the Sky Pharaoh? Tef-Naju: Not by choice. Tef-Naju has apparently been bound to protect the Slave Trenches until the Sky Pharoah won his war with the Shory. Since that war never really reached a proper climax, he’s been stuck here for thousands of years. He is quite interested in a loophole Asrian suggests, which would certainly end the war, and probably leave an even bigger crater than the one now outside Wati. Tef-Naju: Wait there, I’m coming over. Tef-Naju: Well, you’re a varied lot. Nemat: Yes, but we’re all archeologists. Tef-Naju: One of you is a gnoll. Nemat: Your point? Zenobia: I’m mostly the expedition medic. Tef-Naju: Hmm. *peers suspiciously at the mask Onka is wearing* Why do I feel like I’m in the presence of my boss? Nemat: Because you are. Onka: Technically. Nemat: The mask contains one aspect of Hakotep’s spirit. So technically, whatever we do with the Slave Trenches, it’ll be the Sky Pharoah doing it. Asrian: Everybody wins! Onka: Except the Sky Pharoah. He’s going to be pissed. Asrian: Yeah, but he doesn’t deserve to win. Tef-Naju is happy to give us a guided tour of the place, and warn us about some of the nastier traps. After all, he can always claim he was giving his boss a project update. He can’t tell us whose bright idea it was to mummify and animate an adult Spinosaurus, or who told his boss that a Roc would be a good pet. He CAN tell us some of the stuff that Nemat hadn’t already figured out about activating the Slave Trenches, and yanking the Sky Pharaoh’s pyramid out of the sky. We do come across a Stone Maiden as we're traversing the miles of trenches. Zenobia: A girlfriend for you, Nemat. Nemat: No, that’s Tef-Naju’s GF. Zenobia: Love triangle! GM: You have a pleasant evening, because you’re not ****ing murder-hoboes. It’s at this point that Tef-Naju explains that we haven’t actually activated all the mystic statues we’ve been locating yet, so we have to do a lot of backtracking in the morning. Nemet’s player: If it wasn’t for the fact he could kill us all with a wave of his hand, I’d reach across and slap him. GM: Are you talking to Tef-Naju or me? It certainly helps that we have Onka in the party, who makes constructs and poppets with some regularity, because some of the constructs wandering around are nicely vulnerable to his Control Construct spell. Onka: Is its creator around? Because if they are I have questions. We do find a workshop for making soul-bound constructs, and the surprisingly easy instructions for making them. We stash most of them in Onka’s private workshop dimension. Nemat: Well worth doing if you want an army of them. Zenobia: Is that really something we want to publicise? Nemat: What? Zenobia: So you’re not going to include the process when you write up this expedition? Onka: Oh, no, we’re not going to publicise the process. Nemat: We’re just going to report that we found it. Nemat: That is clearly a tomb-robber trap. Zenobia: And we’re not tomb-robbers, we’re archeologists. We also find a bunch of preserved centipede things, they are apparently supposed to be swallowed for knowledge. GM: When you open the jar the thing immediately springs to life and starts crawling up your arm towards your mouth. Zenobia: May I take this opportunity to register my reservations about this? Asrian: I’m surprised you’re the one with reservations. Zenobia: There are a LOT of things about my old diet that I regret, dear. The one that Nemat swallows apparently does nothing but puncture his throat-lining and dissolve into goo. Nemat: I think that one had gone off. He tries a few more, with mixed results. Zenobia: Well, I’m relieved - I was half-expecting you to be possessed by the personality of the original donor. Nemat: Are you sure you don’t want to try one of these, Zenobia? Onka: ‘Slimy, but satisfying’ In the next room we find out what the centipedes grow into. It is not a pleasant discovery. The defences in the control room aren’t particularly pleasant either, but at least we can disable them before we start pushing buttons. In theory. At least Zenobia’s Searing Ray is quite effective. Zenobia OoC: Gnolls with frickin’ laser beams. Onka: I’m chargin’ mah lazer! GM: SHOOP DA WHOOP GM: You and Asrian are a good team. Zenobia: I’m aware But we should be able to call the pyramid down now. At something approaching escape velocity, in the middle of the desert, would be nice, but it seems likely it will want to return to the launch pad just west of the Slave Trenches, and that kind of impact is nothing we would want to be near, since the crater alone would be 5km across, and 500m deep.
  5. Champions : Return to Edge City : Salvage Rites GM: Facing is important in this game. That’s the advantage of this standee - it has an ass. Hero Shrew: We’d better give the concierge the heads up. GM: Con.. see.. Urge? Flux: There’s a guy behind a barred window with a ringful of keys hanging next to him. Hero Shrew: Well, anyway, this guy isn’t a Moreau, he’s a demon, don’t pick a fight with him, because if anybody does no-one can prove it was our fault. GM: Half of Chinatown saw you walk the guy into the Zoo. Fireflash: This whole situation is very close to ‘not our problem’ Hero Shrew: It would still be funny to see if the mercenaries try to fight the demon. But she does have a point - we COULD just leave the demon to find the mercenaries by himself - why get involved? Hero Shrew: I thought ‘too much responsibility’ was a universal problem in superheroes. Maybe we should just leave him in the hotel room with a tablet and a wifi connection, and a quick primer on how Google works. It’s not like crime in Edge City takes a day off just because we’re busy. The Quadrant Crime Computer sends us a ping, regarding the city library in Old Downtown. It’s picked up social media queries from a known Humanity First member. Of course this happens at the same time Hardlight is at a board meeting about the ongoing diversification of Lowelltech interests. Apparently he’s looking up details on Dr .Siegfried Qual, Dr. Otto Clausenhausen, the “Dreadnaught" armour used in multiple destructive criminal rampages over the years since WWII, and something called the ÜBERSCHWERER KAMPFSCHREITPANZER, which doesn’t sound encouraging. Especially since it was colloquially known as ‘Thor’s Hammer’. Flux: *sigh* It’s always Nazis. He’s also looking up something about a particular storm off the Californian coastline in 1946, and a particular location. GM: Qual and Clausenhausen vanished at the end of the War. Fireflash: Impromptu trip to South America? Flux and Scooter hurry to the library. Flux: It’s a library, so shush. Hero Shrew: Be wery wery qwiet, I’m hunting Nazis. We spot the Humanity First member leaving the library, and tail him. GM: He goes into a Dennys. Hero Shrew: Well clearly he’s corrupt to the core. Hero Shrew heads in as well, and gets himself a takeaway lunch. Hero Shrew: Entirely in character as well, since I’m corrupt to the core too. But why in hell is their Star War- themed meal with two fried eggs called Two Moons instead of Twin Suns? We continue tailing him, although it seems to be a dead-end lead. Hero Shrew: He hasn’t done anything illegal yet, but he’s a Neo-Nazi so it’s only a matter of time. Fireflash taks advantage of a nice bright sunny day to stop anybody looking up, while she investigates that location offshore, where something dodgy is going on. It almost certainly violates the international Marine Salvage Convention, even if they don’t have anything specific about vintage machine gun turrets being hoisted onto barges. Hardlight’s Player: *types in "Rules about Salvaging nazi objects" into google... mashes delete before he hits enter* Fireflash is happily aware that US federal criminal law considers machine guns a restricted item (in fact it considers them weapons of mass destruction) and that’s more than enough excuse to stick her nose in. Fireflash: Did you know you’ll need a permit to bring that thing in to shore? Salvagers: Um, no? Thanks for letting us know. Get on the radio, tell them we need a permit. Fireflash OoC: What they don’t know and I do is that permits pertaining to machine guns take at least 30 days to come through. We COULD ask those marine Moreaus to investigate, but only Allana knows about them. The salvage crew agree to meet up with the Coast Guard on their way in, and hand over the machine guns. That doesn’t explain where they’re finding all these machine guns. And flak cannons. And what is almost certainly the Überschwerer Kampfschreitpanzer, in very good condition. Fireflash: What on EARTH is that doing on THIS coast? How did you find it? Salvagers: Good old human ingenuity, freak. Well, that certainly confirms that they’re scum. Fireflash lets them putter off towards shore, and dives down to see what they were salvaging. They probably didn’t expect a fire-themed superhero could fly underwater, but her powers are actually light-based. They probably also won’t appreciate that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been warned they’re coming. And the Coast Guard are probably going to want to know the location of a Nazi wreck with an unknown amount of unexploded ordance on board. Unfortunately it looks like whoever is handling things on shore for them is very efficient - Customs are taking an interest, of course, but they already have a buyer lined up, and all their bills of lading are in order. Perfect order. For some reason someone is shining a laser pointer into Fireflash’s eyes. It isn’t hurting her, or even dazzling her, but it is annoying. It’s Hank Flitch, the leader of Humanity First. He’s trying to get Fireflash’s attention, and nodding towards an alcove, and gesturing to the rear of a pillar. Fireflash strolls over later, and retrieves a folded up piece of paper. It says ‘Lake Park, North Lake’ and a time. Presumably today. Hero Shrew: You want us to stop following this guy? Flux: Please say yes, Denny’s is starting to look appetising. We meet up Flitch: Miss Helstrom. I really hate having to reach out to you like this. This whole salvage thing? The first I heard about it was when the news hit the news. Fireflash: But you’re in charge of Humanity First. Flitch: Nah, I’m just a political activist. This has Lang all over it. Martin Lang is his 2IC, with a known skill in Urban Combat Armour, which is worrying given the likely purpose of the Überschwerer Kampfschreitpanzer. Apparently there was something ELSE in the wreck, something so beyond the pale that even Flitch never wanted to see it used. So we’d better get back to the wreck before Lang and the others do. Just as well we’ve got that Quadraphibious Qruiser, and Flitch gave us the rough coordinates of the wreck. Our vehicle moves about the depths, peering about with our various senses, until something looms out of the dark. Something with a disk-shaped body, three jointed legs, and metallic tendrils. Hardlight OoC: Ull-laaaaaaa. (at this point, between sessions, Allana’s player had a catastrophic hard drive failure, and recreating Allana from scratch would have been a major pain - so he’s introducing a new character, while the Bat-Moreau focuses her attention on her clinic. On the other hand, he also found out some details of international salvage law, which means those Humanity First guys who were looting the wreck don’t have a leg to stand on, since the wreck is clearly still the property of Germany, and the Maritime Courts have absolutely no sense of humour.) A few weeks after we uncovered the plan, we find out what it is they were actually bringing to the surface - the new PC introduces himself to Fireflash as the Magus, and a scholar of the history of the world. It’s useful information, since it’s not like any of us would have realised it was a Martian Tripod Black Smoke Generator that was stolen. Magus: I’ll be around this part of California for at least the next few weeks, and I’d rather not die. Fireflash nips into the Ladies to switch into her other identity, GM: Most superheroines put on LESS clothing when they change into their superheroic identities. Hardlight: My first impression is ‘Who’s this douchebag?’ GM: Don’t worry, I’m sure he has the same impression of you. Hardlight: He’s wearing eyeliner. And he looks like he escaped from a Harry Dresden novel. Magus OoC: … that’s not entirely inaccurate. Fireflash: This is Mr. Magus. Magus: *sigh* that’s going to be my name from now on, isn’t it? Anyway, I understand you were involved in the recent salvage situation? Hero Shrew: Well, it was mostly Fireflash. And funnily enough the leader of Humanity First warned us about it, afterwards. Flux: Scooter, you are SO BAD at keeping secrets. Hero Shrew: Yes, yes I am. Hardlight: How did the Germans even get their hands on a Martian Tripod? Hero Shrew: Probably one of the ones in the English Channel that the Thunderchild took out. (although in the Champions Universe the ‘Martians’ attacked New Jersey in the 1930s, so they’re evidently going with the Orson Welles timeline - we chose to push it back to the 1890s) At least Black Smoke can be neutralised by water, or steam. Unfortunately, we’re heading into a Californian summer. We should probably let the authorities know that the racists have a chemical weapon that can kill everybody in the Zoo. Allana/Magus’s Player: Allana has been gone for an hour and we’re about to have the biggest Gang War in US history. ‘I piss further because I stand on the shoulders of giants’ We decide to tell the Moreau council that they have to make sure that every sprinkler in the Zoo is in working order. Magus/Allana’s Player: After all the Furies DID burn down a building last week GM: I think I need to go Vape. Hardlight just had the beginnings of a good idea. Fireflash: I’ve had enough of these people - we know where Humanity First meets, let’s go give them a lesson in realpolitik. Of course, if they think they’re about to be caught, they might very well set off the projector wherever they are. At least we can use the Law of Contagion, so the Magus or Flux can use the tripod wreckage to locate the black smoke generator. Hero Shrew: So, how much do you want ME to tell the Moreau council about the threat, since I can’t keep a secret? Hardlight: Ah… oof. Moreau Council: Scooter, Hardlight, what all this about? Hero Shrew: You know how we were looking into that warehouse fire the other week? Yeah - Hardlight can tell you the rest. Hardlight: Ha haha. Right. Um. Yeah. Well, it looks like Humanity First hired the Furies? And they might be planning further attacks? Allana: *facepalm* Simon: I was thinking Misters over the Agora would be a good idea - for the heat? Hero Shrew: *NOD NOD NOD* Allana: You’re all sensible people, we thought we should give you a heads-up. Hardlight: Thankyou, Allana. Flux: Will will miss you, Clue Bat. Shadehanger Jackson: Well, we were planning a fire readiness programme, since we’re going into the hotter months, and arson attacks were always a possibility - I wasn’t expecting an organised one though. Hero Shrew: *sotto voice* Yeah, let’s go with that. Out at sea in the Quadraphibious Qruiser, the Magus is waving an iron swastika around on a chain, to better locate the Nazi ship and its Martian cargo. Magus: Like calls to like. Flux: Damn, why didn’t I think of that. Magus: One of the most important things to learn about magic. Flux: After ‘which way round the warding goes’ GM: And the difference between Fireball and Soccer Ball, and why you shouldn’t kick the former. At least there doesn’t seem to be anything else hysterically dangerous on the wreck. GM: Depends what you count as hysterically dangerous. Unfortunately it looks like the Magus was right about what might have been on the ship before it sank - Walking Armour, for example. At least the Nazis didn’t have any nuclear weapons on board (we don’t have the spare XP to spend on radiation-induced character rewrites for one thing). Unfortunately we can’t just push the wreck into the Monterey Submarine Canyon and forget about it, so the whole salvage situation has just become more complicated. US Navy Salvage Unit: You’re telling me you’ve found a whole ship full of Nazi Wunderwaffen? Fireflash: Hopefully that'll light a fire under them. Hero Shrew: Hopefully not literally, given all the unexploded ordnance. The spell to locate the Black Smoke Projector should work really well, and it’s not something that Humanity First can prevent, even if they assume that ‘magic’ is just a delusion utilised by some supers. And the Magus can probably call down a 20 minute rainstorm, just in case they do set off the Black Smoke Projector. GM: uHHHHN, why did you guys suddenly have to start being competent. Admittedly the Magus doesn’t seem to be very impressed with Flux’s brand of magic - technomancy apparently ranks somewhere down near hedge wizardry.
  6. Champions : Return to Edge City : The City-Planning Conspiracy I missed a session, where the rest of the team responded to a fire in a former maker space, turned data-storage, got into a fight with three Furies who had set the fire apparently because they objected to the Feng Shui of having a non-creative business in that location on the city map, and found clues about further mystical alignment conspiracies, and figured there is probably more of the same to come. Flux: And I got punted through a window. Or rather a wall. Hero Shrew OoC: And where was your team brick when you needed him? GM: Huh - of the twelve business council members, only seven are Caucasian - I didn’t intend that. Allana: It’s the most unrealistic thing in the setting. Hero Shrew: Centurion isn’t on the business council, is he? GM: No. He doesn’t actually have a presence in Edge City. Hero Shrew: Ah, I was probably misled by the way Gareth keeps muttering about him. GM provides us with the handles of those Sanity Liberation Front members we encountered the other week. GM: “TURT-L", "UP-LINE", "C47CH-22", "5463", "6L00M", "FLÛK", "FURY", "H0UND", "CRYP70N1C", "PR4NK573R", "5W4N" Hero Shrew: … what? How the hell do you pronounce 5463? Hardlight: Sage. Hero Shrew: Of course YOU’D know. Hero Shrew: Do we need to tweak the Crime Computer algorithm to flag possible Feng Shui crimes? Probably not practical, especially since if we really want to get serious about fighting Feng Shui crimes we’d have to move our own base. And since the school of mysticism doesn’t really use an idea of opposites, we can’t really paint a target around the bigger offenders. Fireflash suggests we consult an expert - and hope that they aren’t actually behind the city planning conspiracy. Hardlight: Maybe we should go looking for the Mysterious Oriental Shop? Flux: How much do you like living in this reality? Stay away from Mysterious Shops. Do we know any experts? No, but we know some supervillains. But Green Dragon is a complete d*** so probably not. Hardlight OoC: Somebody needs to take Knowledge : Feng Shui. Hero Shrew OoC: Bags not me. Hero Shrew: So the best we could get them with is ‘Conspiracy to Commit Arson’ Flux: But then I’d have to get a mystic expert to testify in court. GM: On the magical side of things you only have to prove that they BELIEVE it works. Allana: People have done all sorts of stupid stuff in the name of retarded ideas. Hero Shrew OoC: The difference is that in a superhero setting, sometimes the retarded ideas actually work. Hardlight: … no, too stupid. Hero Shrew: *head swivels towards Hardlight, privately thinking ‘Gareth thinks something is TOO STUPID???’* No no, Gareth, tell us what you think. Fireflash suggests that we lure them out by having Lowelltech build something completely inappropriate for the Feng Shui map, in the worst place possible. Flux continues his research, seeing if there’s a preponderance of Feng Shui-type crimes over the last 15 years, since S-Day. Fireflash looks for any oddities in zoning approval. Together they dig out a very suspicious pattern of burst water mains, and other convenient disasters, including a bizarrely localized rat infestation, that have strengthened the City Planning Conspiracy. They prepare a map. Allana: All you can see are the pins - all the strings are in AR. Fireflash: I’d have done it all in virtual reality myself. Allana: He switched to AR after he started having trouble getting around the room. The number of likely crimes dropped for a while 16 years ago, then spiked after the death of two early Edge City supers, Harrier and Hawkmoth, and it seems likely they were investigating the conspiracy at the time, based on sightings of the two at the time, and throwdowns with local gangs, and activity by the supervillian-for-hire Bulldozer. The crimes dropped back to a only occasional after that - perhaps the conspiracy only needed minor tweaks to stay on track. Hero Shrew: Well of COURSE you’d hire Bulldozer if you wanted some buildings knocked down. It’s not sure if Harrier and Hawkmoth were actually murdered by the City Planning Conspiracy, since they were murdered in their secret identities. While they were in bed. Together. Hardlight: Why would they be sharing a bed if they were in their secret iden- oh. GM: Humanity First sent out a very specific message - they did not kill them because they were gay. They were certainly happy to take credit for the kill, but they have nothing against same-sex relationships. Which points them at odds with some of their supporters, true. Either way, it’s evidence that the conspiracy has been around for at least 5 years before S-Day. Allana gets a call from her contact, the Silver Avenger. Silver Avenger: Why is your team asking about Harrier and Hawkmoth? Silver Avenger: Are you telling me that you’re investigating what got them killed 15 years ago? Because I’m telling you there’s NO way Humanity First figured out their secret identities back then. Hero Shrew: With all these real estate crimes is this just Scooby-Do writ large? Do we need to pull the face off the monster to see who it really is? Flux: Generally a bad idea Scooter. Usually what’s underneath is somebody’s skull. Allana: But if you get a chance to pull the face off the actual Monster, feel free - there’s money riding on whatever is under the mask. My bet is some kind of ghost robot. Allana: What we need is a psyker - we sit in a cafe near Humanity First’s offices and scan through their brains until we get the info we need. Hero Shrew OoC: What’s Zero doing these days? If we get him on his day off he’ll be happy to commit a crime. GM: Ah yes, the super with the flaw ‘Sense of Ethics (only in Super Identity)’. He was HAPPY to abuse his telepathy to get stock tips, but it took him FIVE YEARS to just yank the info he needed out of some thug. Flux OoC: Supers are weird. Hero Shrew’s player: Nope, MY CHARACTERS are weird. Hardlight: I still don’t trust that mechanical owl. Allana: It’s just a clockwork exoskeleton for a hamster. There’s also a chronological sequence in the crimes, working clockwise around the Feng Shui map. That might narrow down the next target - somewhere near the Laguna Complex megamall. All the industrial, freight, and warehouse districts down there would make for a complex Feng Shui pattern, but it does it easier for Lowelltech to set up a big juicy target. Assuming the capacitor bank for the nearest windfarm isn’t a big enough target, given it has nothing to do with travel or helpful people which would me more appropriate for the area on mystical grounds. Regarding a rabbit Moreau - Hero Shrew: How does she maintain a blood supply to those ears? Hardlight: *eyes drawn to another part of her anatomy* THAT’s your question? Not ‘How sore is her back?’ A subsequent bovine example is even more eye-catching. GM: Her poor back. Hero Shrew: And some genetic engineer was actually responsible for that. There’s been progress on the Moreau personhood movement, too - partly due to speciesism backfiring. GM: Some senator objected to granting the Moreaus personhood on the grounds that ‘we don’t know anything about them!’. So Doctor Silverback volunteered to lead an investigation team. The best biologist this side of the law, almost a Moreau himself, and recognised as a person under the Individual Emancipation Act. Hero Shrew: Let me guess, the senator got all stroppy? GM: The senator got told to sit down and shut up. By his own party. “Congratulations, you just helped expedite the process.” Doctor Silverback has already determined that some Moraeus are templates, and others are deliberately designed constructs. With the canines showing a much higher number of deliberate designs than other species. One even has a hero shrew spine to help with his speedster abilities. Of course one human journalist tracks down a construct Moreau and asks him what it feels to know he was made. Allana: ‘At least my designer was competent’? Max: I would already be dead by now. Most dogs don't live longer than fifteen years. No real friends or family. No hands. No music. No language. No peanut-butter and chocolate. No CHOCOLATE! No COFFEE! Allana: Good answer. Scooter and Allana, and every Steiner that gets tested, is a construct. Although it seems Dr. Steiner overlaid the construct elements over a pre-existing template. Allana: Made his own modifications to an off-the-shelf model. GM: Maybe. And apparently the Genex company has been investigating Laron Syndrome dwarfism to make a race of future spacers. The speciesists seize on the difference between templates and constructs, because of course they do. ‘You don’t DESIGN people!’. Senator: Templates might be one thing, they’re practically ordinary animals, but Constructs are clearly MADE! Allana: So were you - at least I was made by somebody with actual qualifications. Of course a certain group of ‘wolf-Moreaus’ are refusing testing. The fixer fox ‘Judas’ Mackie that was secretly spying for Genesys is a construct too, as is everyone else with that biochemical dependance on the drugs that kept them leashed to their creators. Hero Shrew: For some reason I’m more annoyed about being denied personhood because I’m a Construct, than because I’m a Moraeu. What’s worse is that the difference between template and construct is starting to take root in the Moreau community. Hardlight: Oh joy, intra-Moreau racism, wonderful. Even if Constructs aren’t people, what about their kids? Like the son of Judas Mackie, fox construct, and Tinker Kate, fox template? GM: And Kate’s got some signs of psychic ability. Hero Shrew: What, in a template? GM: Yes, psychic abilities aren’t a construct element. Hero Shrew: Huh. GM: And it’s not like they were testing for psychic abilities either - but she’s a technopath and was messing with the equipment. Hero Shrew: At some point we’re going to have to figure out which Moreaus are genetically compatible. GM: Current consensus is there’s a fun way to find out. Hardlight: Are you going to volunteer to find out, Scooter? Hero Shrew: *nod vigorously* GM: But only if Sally is involved. She’s a template incidentally. As well as a psyker. And then there’s a third option - Greenhouse Tara is a Mutate - her plant abilities aren’t a template ability, but a novel mutation. GM: A lot of the rat-Moreaus are refusing testing too. Allana: They don’t want anybody to find out they’re a hivemind. Flux: Or that they’re were-rats. You can’t tell me that any creature like that wouldn’t rush to Edge City and the Zoo. Allana: ‘We have travelled here from the Blasted Hellscapes’ ‘Ah, New Jersey’. The ECPD has made it abundantly clear that the police presence at the testing facility is for security only - they aren’t going to arrest anybody even if they have warrants out on them. The secret marine community don’t want to come forward either, understandably. That way they don’t have to explain where they came from. Although the Newfoundland-canine does want to know why the hell her breed had webbed toes even before they were Moreaus. The testing of Sandra Polis, a Moreau with the EPCD, might reveal where the hell Genesys got viable Thylacine DNA from. Hero Shrew: So, how many perps wet themselves whenever Sandra yawns? One of the Greys from the tunnels under the city does show up, when the building is otherwise mysteriously clear, to ask a few questions and express the Grey communities concerns about whatever the DNA testing might reveal. Are they actually what they believe themselves to be - Moreaus with powerful mental abilities? Allana goes to ask Dr Silverback for a private consultation, and he IS highly regarded by the Moreaus. Doctor Silverback: Is there something unusual about your anonymous friend? Allana: …. Welllllllll. If I’d met them on the street I’d never have guessed they were Moreaus. Doctor Silverback: Intriguing. They appear human? Allana: … Maybe you should meet them. Doctor Silverback: AH! Um. I see what you mean. Moreaus? Allana: They smell like Moreaus to me. Grey: And we came from the same lab. Doctor Silverback: Hmm. I was under the impression Genesys only worked from animal templates. *tests* This is puzzling. You have template markers, but I’m only finding human DNA. In fact… oh dear. Human, templated over human. And you say your people all have psychic abilities? It seems whoever created the Grey template was deliberately reinforcing certain human traits, perhaps pursuing the theory that psychic potential is an inevitable and natural part of humanity’s future. Doctor Silverback: And you believe the Moreau community will accept the ‘Grays’? Allana: Welllll … of the Moreaus that have met them, 100% like them. GM: A bigger question is what the human community will think. ‘This is probably what you’re going to turn into in a few thousand generations.’ And certain groups are going to what the Greys dead even more than they want to exterminate the animal-Moreaus. Hardlight: We need to spin this… we need to ring The Rep. Allana: Isn’t The Rep like Hardlight, a Horrible Hole in reality? Hardlight: Excuse me, I’m a “moth on the fabric of space time”, not a gaping hole, make the distinction! The Rep promptly starts spinning, framing every aspect of the Grey’s life including the various addictions they have to try and suppress their constant telepathic abilities, in a positive light. The Rep: You’re like Little Orphan Annie and ALF rolled into one, without the annoying cackle! You’ve got the big forehead and the big eyes, what does that say to you - babies! Just let me get you on screen! As long as you keep me off - wish I’d learned that lesson myself a few years back, amirite? Flux: He’s a sleaze but he’s our sleaze. He even models the ad campaign after the Orphan Children In Africa ads, taking advantage of their child-like stature, pot-bellies, and wrinkled skin. He’s that much of a sleazeball, despite being a basically good man. Lots of the names that the Moreaus’ chose for themselves are based on their professions. Hero Shrew: So Collar Colin would be just as appropriate in the police force as a sex club. Of course none of us noticed that Veronica Auberge & Elizabeth "Beth" Tonnelier were Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper. At least there aren’t any genetic surprises like terminator genes in Moreau DNA, although there is an increased sensitivity to the long-term fertility suppressing drugs there were given. Flux: At least Moreau birth control pills will be cheap. Hero Shrew DOES want to go ask Harrier and Hawkmoth’s associates a few questions, but their secret identities are still legally protected. So it’s back to nightly patrols while we wait for our harassment of Humanity First to pay off. It’s probably not a good sign that Hardlight suddenly feels completely exhausted, to the point of passing out, mid-patrol. Hardlight: I had too much of a long night last night… *sways on his feet*... I just need to sit down for a bit. Flux: *after a quick medical check* Huh. You should be fine. GM: And that’s when the shadow looms over you. Hardlight: *looks up at the huge ogre with a giant sword* I really hope you’re friendly because I’m not in any state to deal with you right now if you aren’t. Ogre: YOU ARE THE ONES KNOWN AS QUADRANT. Flux: Two out of five aren’t bad. Ogre: YOU FOUGHT THE FURIES. Flux: Yessss? Ogre: TELL ME WHO HIRED THEM. Hardlight: I don’t think I was there for that fight. Flux? Flux: I was against letting them go, but got outvoted. Ogre: DO NOT LIE TO ME INSIGNIFICANT WORM! YOU WOULD NOT HAVE LET THEM GO IF THEY HAD NOT REVEALED THEIR EMPLOYER! Hardlight: OK fine, it was a superhero named Centurion. Flux: I’m pretty sure your code of ethics included ‘don’t be a dick’. Throwing another superhero under the bus counts. Ogre: I AM Xiǎo Lǎbā AND YOU WILL TELL ME OR I WILL RIP OUT YOUR ENTRAILS THROUGH YOUR MOUTH AND READ THE TRUTH IN THEM! Hardlight: OK, OK, do you have a Freeweb device? I’ll Airdrop you our recording of the fight. Xiǎo Lǎbā: … Webbing? Are you trying to confuse Xiǎo Lǎbā? Flux: It was probably on the news, you can see us get punted through a wall. Xiǎo Lǎbā: … they made a woodcut? Xiǎo Lǎbā: YOU WOULD NOT HAVE LET THEM GO IF THEY DID NOT TELL YOU WHAT YOU WANTED TO KNOW. Flux: Or we didn’t know they could teleport you giant dingus. Xiǎo Lǎbā: YOUR MEWLING OFFENDS ME BUT NOT AS MUCH AS YOUR INCOMPETENCE. Hero Shrew OoC: Well, he’s not alone there. Flux: Look, just watch this magic lantern show and you’ll see our incompetence on display. Xiǎo Lǎbā: HA THAT WOMAN KICKS HIM BETWEEN THE LEGS, I LIKE HER. For some reason the Ogre keeps looking over his shoulder. Fireflash is inbound, at top speed, and overshoots the city. Hero Shrew OoC: God knows how the UK copes with superheroes, given how busy their airspace is. GM: They don’t have many supers. Hero Shrew OoC: Just as well. Can you imagine how many would get sucked into jet engines? Hardlight is quietly scanning the ogre with N-rays, infra-red, and sonar. He’s not getting any pings, on any sensors. Flux: That’s awesome armour - where did you get it? Xiǎo Lǎbā: IN HONOURABLE BATTLE! Allana arrives. Xiǎo Lǎbā is immune to her two charms. Allana: The Furies were working for somebody that wants to set up the city as a Bagwa map. Xiǎo Lǎbā: THERE’S ANOTHER? I, UH, MEAN *coughs in clumsy attempt at concealing the facts* Allana: Yes. Xiǎo Lǎbā: *apparently forgetting he was here to get information, not give it* BUT IT WAS SO CLUMSILY DONE! THE DESTRUCTION SOURED THE QI IN THE AREA! DAMN THE MEWLING INCOMPETENCE OF MORTALS! Allana: We want to know as well - were they the only ones they hired? Were there other crimes? Xiǎo Lǎbā: BLAST IT ALL! Fireflash arrives: Xiǎo Lǎbā: BAH, LIGHT! YOU WERE THE ONE I WISHED TO MEET THE LEAST! SO... REPUGNANT! Fireflash: ...Lovely. Who’s Mister Charming? Flux OoC: Do any of us have any social skills? GM: Only the one still trying to get here. Hero Shrew OoC: Yep Flux: We are standing around on a street corner here. Do you want some coffee? Xiǎo Lǎbā: … I must decline your kind offer. Flux: Oh? Any reason? Xiǎo Lǎbā: … I MUST DECLINE YOUR KIND OFFER. Xiǎo Lǎbā: WHICH WOULD YOUR CITY SEND AGAINST ME! Fireflash: Well, the police for a start. Xiǎo Lǎbā: *suddenly looking worried* Police? Duly bonded forces of the law? Empowered by the magistrates? Fireflash: Well, we’re empowered by the courts too. GM: Now he looks alarmed. Xiǎo Lǎbā: Please tell me if I have contravened any of your laws! Fireflash: Well you might have to have that sword in a sheath. Xiǎo Lǎbā: Surely you are jesting. For some reason this ogre is really uncomfortable around Fireflash, does not want to accept any gifts from us, and is very keen on not actually breaking any laws. At least if he’s not brandishing the sword, he’s not violating weapon statutes. And if he gets some of the silver he’s carrying into local currency he can’t be arrested on vagrancy charges either. Fireflash: Well, we’ll get your silver assayed. Shouldn’t take long. Accomodation at the Collar Club IS a possibility, but he’d be paying by the hour. As he follows us to the hotel, he apparently forgets himself and walks right through a telegraph pole. Flux: In this city we respect the laws of physics. Allana: THE F*** WE DO. GM: Hands up everybody who’s violating causality right now. Hardlight: You’re clearly not of this world. Xiǎo Lǎbā: I AM MORE OF THIS WORLD THAN YOU ARE! Fireflash: That might actually be true. He has trouble with the colours of traffic lights too, which is odd, since he can criticise fashion choices freely. Flux is getting a better idea on what this guy actually is. He’s a Chinese Infernal, a being of pure negative Qi. Hardlight: Siri? Give me everything you have on the Celestial Bureaucracy. He’s probably get a better answer asking Centurion’s personal AI, but like that would ever happen. Hero Shrew eventually reaches the area, doubles back after the party, and is visible coming down the street with a big grin, until he sees that there isn’t a fight happening and slows to a disappointed crawl. Flux: Probably hoping one will start before he gets here. Hardlight: I was just surprised my irrational fear of unnatural darkness wasn’t triggered. GM: It wasn’t unnatural - it was a ten-foot-tall ogre with a great big sword looming over you. Hero Shrew OoC: Which is an entirely rational thing to be afraid of. But on the way to the Zoo, we have to go through Chinatown. GM: Well THAT’S going to be fun - you see a whole of people take one look at who you are with and go inside in a hurry. The only person that doesn’t get out of the way is Tabytha, the tiger-Moreau that won the martial arts contest. Tabytha: Why are you with THAT? Tabytha: You don’t know what he is, do you? Hero Shrew: Well I was hoping it would be somebody I could fight, but apparently not. Tabytha: … Why AREN’T you fighting? Xiǎo Lǎbā: *looks uncomfortable, shuffling his feet* Fireflash: He didn’t start anything. Hero Shrew: By the time I got there they’d already offered him coffee. Tabytha: *starting to grin* You’re not allowed to fight anybody unless they fight you first, aren’t you? He also has to follow the local laws, especially since we have court-appointed powers, and he can’t directly lie. ‘ Tabytha: *sigh* Well, as long as he’s only staying in the Zoo temporarily. I’ll show you a back way through Chinatown so you don’t stir up too much trouble. Hero Shrew: Well, I’M happy to follow her through town *leers* Flux: *sigh* Congratulations on the tournament win by the way. Tabytha: Whatever. The money didn’t go very far. Flux: It never does. At least we can find out which City Planning Crimes aren’t being organised by his lot, hopefully, although he seems to be under some kind of geas not to tell us too much. And for some reason anybody in the Zoo that can speak Chinese is sniggering at the demon’s name, which means ‘Little Horn’. Which is admittedly more amusing than trying to explain credit finance to an elemental. Hero Shrew: You’re from China, aren’t you? Would you be interested in some junk bonds? Allana: Every member of Quadrant but me is now banned from speaking. Well, at least we know there’s TWO groups trying to mess with the Feng Shui of Edge City. Hardlight: How do you even hire mercenaries anyway? Hero Shrew: Craigslist. Whatever is going on, we need to find out who hired the Furies. Difficult, since they operate out of Greece. GM: Whatever happens you’ll need a licence to transport livestock. Hero Shrew: Hey! Flux: Well you should shower more. Hero Shrew: *mutters* so should Allana, you know what I could get for a shower video? Or we could wait until they show up somewhere in the world and go after them. Or even better, hire them to go somewhere we could ambush them.
  7. There’s a giant shining pyramid hovering 500ft over Wati. Onka: Oh good, it’s in range of an Anti-Magic field. Zenobia: What I want to know is where he was hiding that - I can’t think of anywhere on this plane where he could have hidden a giant golden pyramid and no-one would have stumbled across it in the last few thousand years. Onka: Space? Zenobia: I’m pretty sure the astrologers would have noticed a giant golden pyramid floating past. Onka: Floating in an invisibility field? Zenobia: OK, that would do it. Onka: We would have had more downtime if we’d just walked back across the desert. Now we have to deal with this s***. Zenobia: Why would he bring it here, anyway? Wati is not that important. He can’t have brought it here just to get revenge on us, since he has no idea who we are. Why not go to the new capitol, or the old one? Onka: We do still have his mask. Zenobia: Then he should have flown the pyramid out into the desert, where we were until 50 seconds ago. Maybe he wants to find out what happened to his necromantic fountain. The pyramid is casting a shadow, both literal and spiritual, over the city. It’s also inscribed with a sigil, not of the Forgotten Pharaoh, but of one of his generals, one Isatemkhebet. Onka: Does it have a giant death laser? GM: Of course. Nemat: If this is just his general does that mean he has more than one of these things? Onka: One strategically placed Anti-magic field and it’ll fall out of the sky. Admittedly onto the city. GM: Oh please, it’s Shory Magitech, it won’t be that easy. Peanut Gallery: Cast Greater Darkness over it and cut off its solar power supply. Isatemkhebet: City of Wati! Cast aside Weapon and Tool, Armor and Cloth, for you cower before Isatemkhebet, General of the Sky Pharoah! Witness the power of the Five Pointed Sun! *Giant laser beam fires from the top of the pyramid, blasting a 200-foot wide crater in the city* The Sky Pharoah has one demand! Bring onto us the Covenant of Wati! You have one week to comply, or your city shall be destroyed! Onka: Well, piss. Just as well we’re at the temple of Sarenrae - they’re less likely to rat us out. Everybody inside. GM: Why are you assuming half the city will want to hand you over? Onka: Human nature. Asrian: We DID end the undead scourge - we’re heroes. Zenobia: The general is also assuming we don’t just hand ourselves in to protect the town. We receive a Sending from Ptenemib, a gentlemen we rescued from the cult weeks ago. Ptenemib: There’s a giant floating pyramid over Wati and it’s demanding we hand your party over or it will destroy the town! Zenobia: *taps Ptenemib on the shoulder* Ptenemib: EEP! Asrian: We’re aware. Zenobia: I take it the writer wasn’t expecting the party to teleport straight back to town. Ptenemib rushes us off to a safehouse before anybody recognises us. There are also undead harpies flying around, so flying up to the pyramid early and sabotaging stuff won’t be easy. Peanut Gallery: And the harpies aren’t being shot down by anybody with a bow, why? Onka: Giant death laser. The Desecrate effect of the pyramid’s shadow is a problem, too. Using Control Weather to make it overcast so there’s no shadow probably won’t help. At least the Consecrations on the many temples in town should hold. A lot of people are fleeing town, but the harpies aren’t harassing them - but they ARE checking that none of them are the party members. Zenobia: We need to tell your family you’re alive. Hmm. But then they’ll be worried about you being handed over to the pyramid. Onka: ‘Hi mum and dad, I’m alive, this is my girlfriend, we’re going into the death pyramid, I love you, bye.” At least we have a week to buy scrolls of Fly, and anything else that might be useful for sabotaging the pyramid. And we DO have that map to a possible Anti-Shory weapon, that we found in Chessisek’s tomb. Can we retrieve it within a week? Zenobia OoC: We can always use one of those magical feathers and send the general a message saying ‘We heard you’re looking for us, we’re in the capitol’ and make it somebody else’s problem. Asrian doesn’t see the point of the spell Switch Souls, which enables the caster to swap souls with their familiar - especially since bards don’t get familiars. And the bodies are just as vulnerable as the animal was originally. Zenobia OoC: Clearly the spell was invented by a pervert druid. GM: Pervert wizard. At the suggestion of pervert druid. Peanut Gallery: Pervert druids invented Wild Shape. So, time to cast Speak With Dead on the spirit of that dead architect we recovered. Onka has been keeping his sarcophagus shrunk and in his pocket. Onka: Time to interrogate the tiny dead guy. Onka wears the Pharaoh's Mask, just in case, before casting the spell. Chessisek: Who dares wake the dead? You are not the Pharaoh Hakotep. You wear his Ka, but you are not him. Onka: Where is the Anti-Shory Weapon? Chessisek: Weapon? They called it a weapon? HAha ha ha ha. Tis not a weapon. Tis an apocalypse. You wished to know the whereabouts of Hakotep’s tomb? Onka: That wasn’t an answer. Peanut Gallery: Yes it was. Onka: Oh dear. Chessisek: You seek the *chokes trying to pronounce the jargon and language* Onka: Do you need a drink, what do the dead drink anyway? Chessisek: My apologies, my throat is a bit dry. I AM a corpse. Chessisek is quite boastful about all the effort he put into launching the Sky Pharaoh’s tomb into space, promptly followed by the flying pyramids of all his generals, and how elaborate the mechanisms were that launched them all, and can call them back, and how it’s warded against Divination and Observation. Peanut Gallery: But not warded against Greater Teleportation. All: .... Chessisek: Trenchs? Trenches! The Khepsutanem is much more than ditches and mounds of earth. Hundreds of obelisks, each containing a bound elemental spirit, adorn the paths of the Khepsutanem. Among these stand 11 great monuments,each infused with the spirit of a particularly powerful elemental. These 11 monuments are the Sekrepheres, and they must be activated in the proper order between the hours of dawn and noon on a single day to focus their energies upon the Sun Disk plaza, which can in turn call down Hakotep’s tomb. Zenobia: Does this actually help us with the pyramid flying over Wati? Onka: Eventually. Peanut Gallery: The general has one flying pyramid, so you steal his bosses even bigger one. Onka: Can we just turn the gain up on the launchpad and push Hakotep’s Tomb out into the Outer Planes and let the Great Old Ones deal with him? It looks like dealing with the launchpad is going to take well over a week. It seems like we’ll have to deal with the one here ourselves. And using Anti-magic or Disjunction to cancel its levitation would crush most of the town. Zenobia: My future in-laws live here! Of course we can always teleport to a larger city to avoid being recognised, and have a wider range of stuff to buy, before we teleport back. Avoids the harpies too. Onka purchases a permanent timeless demiplane. This is going to be quite useful for his crafting of items, and popping into, casting all his buffs, and back out to rejoin the fight. And if Zenobia learns Plane Shift we can use it as in instant hospital. Although we all get hit with the ageing when we come out again, so Onka is going to be going through a bunch of birthdays in rapid succession. GM: … I just let a PC have access to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber We return to Wati, kitted out the wazoo, do some telescopic surveillance on the pyramid to spot any entrance points, and fly up, invisible, with featherfall potions and magic parasols ready, at high noon. Happily, undead harpies can’t see invisible things. Unfortunately one of the ones guarding the door turns at an inopportune moment and its wing brushes Zenobia. Battle commences! And the harpies variously shatter or drop their weapons. Asrian, as usual, goes through them like a Tomahawk missile through soft butter. The entrance chamber has a incomplete mural proclaiming that ‘those who gave the gift of uncompromised service to the sky pharaoh are known to him and blessed with BLANK’. And the room is lined to the ceiling with magical traps. Happily we’re smart enough to figure out where the disabling mechanism is, and discover that the BLANK is ‘Death’. Although you do have to wonder why you’d set it up with traps that do double damage to your own minions. Nemat also deciphers later warning inscriptions too. Nemat OoC: I’m finally accepting that I’m an archeologist who is exceptionally good at thumping people. Zenobia OoC: *quietly sings the Indiana Jones theme* Happily we can still fly over most of the traps, and Nemat also has Tomb Sight. With that, Detect Magic, and Detect Undead, we can avoid nearly everything. Especially once Nemat realises that a lot of the directions inscribed on the walls are deliberately misleading. It also seems that the general might be a woman, despite the voice broadcast over Wati. We sabotage various defences as we go. Nemat: At least I have a good copy of the fake map to put in the Chronicles. Especially now I know what you get paid for chronicles - highest challenge rating x 100. Zenobia: A good reason to publish in installments. Things get weird when one corridor apparently leads into open air. At night. And we’re apparently high over the clouds. But of course Nemat has an orrery and a cosmogram and other astrological instruments in one of his bags of holding, and starts comparing the stars to what they should be. They’re thousands of years out of date. Of course the Pharaoh has his own planetarium. Onka: Wow, everything in this pyramid really is ‘Me Me Me’ isn’t it? Nemat: Onka, you HAVE been in pyramids before. Peanut Gallery: So how thick do you want the doors to be, to stop the PCs using magic to look through everything? Nemat OoC: No no no, just coat them in gold - a little Dutch filigree and we’re f***ed GM: The floor turns Ethereal and you fall 10ft. All: No we don’t. GM: Godammit, the writers assume you fly up to the pyramid, but half these traps assume you’re walking around when you get there! The Black Pudding in the pit trap is certainly ravenous, so it’s probably just as well we’re still bobbing around like helium balloons. Zenobia OoC: Anything we need to know about Black Puddings? Peanut Gallery: Depends on how well you can pass a Knowledge Check. Nemat OoC: No no, I am an Inquisitor, I am the God of ‘Wot Dat?’ Nemat casts Dispel Magic on the floor and turns it solid again. GM: The Black Pudding has been magically sustained for thousands of years, starving, and you just showed yourself as food and then sealed it away again. Nemat: I’ll try to feel sorry for the mindless blob. But honestly, there are fungi smarter than these things. Zenobia OoC: Do Not Taunt The Happy Fun Blob. One of the next rooms looks like some kind of light puzzle, but the room reeks of necromantic magic. We debate resealing the door and pressing on. Zenobia: There’s no GOOD reason why the room would be full of necromantic energy. We seal the door and press on. GM: Adventurers generally investigate this sort of thing. Nemat: We’re archeologists. Well-armed archeologists, but still. Onka: We may be the owners of this pyramid soon, stop breaking our stuff. We find a statue of Hakotep, too. It tries to curse us, and we loot it for the Immovable Rods holding it off the ground. Zenobia: So this is the face we’re punching later? Nemat: Maybe. But especially if he starts looking like this again, because then we have to punch him hard and fast. The statue falls to the floor with a noise and impact no doubt audible throughout the entire pyramid. Nemat: Well, that IS what’s coming - DOOM. Another reason to punch the Sky Pharoah in the snoot - a gallery of what are probably real people, turned to stone, and then had their faces ‘corrected’ with the spell Stoneshape. Restoring any of them is going to take some high-end spells. We do find a Rod of Splendor, which among other things can create a magnificent tent pavilion that can house 100 people. Zenobia to Asrian: Well, I know what we’re doing for our wedding… of course I have to get permission from your parents first. I don’t recommend asking mine. Onka: If we can even find them. The next fight is brutal, despite the fact we dealt with the same kind of creatures earlier. Asrian and Nemat both lose fingers, and need emergency Healing from Zenobia to survive. In fact, it was only Onka’s Revenant Armour spell on the partie’s stuff, Zenobia’s Stone Shape, catching the last harpy in a big stone fist, that ensures the party survives at all. Zenobia: So now we get out swords and knives out, find the gaps between the big stone fingers, and poke poke poke. Asrian: Make a hole. Onka: We have that Adamantium auger too. Drill a hole. Asrian: Why stop drilling? Onka OoC: XP probably won’t be relevant until we get out of the pyramid. Assuming we get out alive. Which we will because Overland Flight is awesome We’d still like to take the flying pyramid intact, of course - there’s so much interesting stuff to loot. Such as the tomb of Isatemkhebet, currently occupied by someone inclined to monologue. She certainly doesn’t have the distinctly male voice that threatened the town earlier. Isatemkhebet: Finally, you have arrived, Covenant of Wati. It would be an honor to add your forms to my gallery, as I did with the Sekpatras so long ago... Your meddling in Hakotep's affairs is over! Kor-Ahn-Tuk, Charge the leader! Nemat: At least she got our name right. Unfortunately she has a pet Gorgon. Fortunately, Nemat is already partly stone. Nemat OoC: *deep inhale* Alreaady stoooooned, maaan. Hilariously, Isatemkhebet is also the only one that succumbs to the harpy’s song. Unfortunately she's undead so it has no effect. Isatemkhebet: Not me, you fool! After we destroy her minions, she tries to take cover inside a sarcophagus. Which is unfortunate for her. Nemat: As much as I’d like to make an undead feel fear for the first time in centuries, as I slowly chip away through the stone between it and me… Zenobia? Open the way. Zenobia: *casts Shape Stone* GM: The lid of the sarcophagus melts away. The general looks rather shocked. Nemat: B****, we’re the Covenant of Wati. Zenobia: I could have opened a small hole and started pouring in holy water - I’ve got 25 flasks in the haversack. Unfortunately she’s a load-bearing boss - when we kill her the pyramid starts falling out of the sky. We scatter to try and find the control room before it crushes half of the town. Just as well we still have Overland Flight running - some of us aren’t very fast on the ground. It’s also very fortunate that Nemat is basically a Combat Archeologist, and can accurately guess where the control room should be. Happily the mechanism seems straightforward enough, and we redirect the fall to somewhere outside town, while we use Onka’s pre-prepared Teleport to get us all the hell out of there before it hits. We watch it plow a giant divot into the onion fields, Nemat wincing as he watches all that invaluable archeology get smashed to pieces. Onka: It’s ok, we know Make Whole. Asrian: Yes, just look at the hole we made in the onion fields. Nemat is even more annoyed by the fact that by the time he can come back to investigate the wreckage properly, it’ll have been looted, and relics and fake relics scattered across half the continent. Onka has his own plan. Onka: ‘Dear Royal Highness, I apologise for the pyramid illegally parked outside Wati, I’ll be back to deal with it someday. Signed Onka’ Nemat: Oh f*** off, you already have a private dimension, you’re not getting a flying pyramid too. GM: You have dealt a dire blow to the evil that was Ancient Osirion! *plays Imperial March* Nemat: Fair call. Humanocentric empire. Asrian: And they had a Death Star. GM: And somewhere else one of twelve lights on a magical display blinks out, and a mummified fist slams down on the arm of a throne. Nemat OoC: Sounds to me like we have 11 more chances to get our own flying pyramid.
  8. Down here in Perth I haven't seen any toilet paper in the stores for weeks. Fortunately, my work means I can avoid going near or even talking to people, which is just as well since I doubt my asthma and COVID-19 are a good combination, especially since I've already had a bad cough and repeated throat infections since December. Unfortunately, my wife is a school teacher, and it's impossible to keep the little stench-goblins away from each other, and our idiotic government refuses to close the schools claiming it would be too hard for any health-worker parents to find child care, and "education is important".
  9. Champions : Return to Edge City : Granny Kickass Hero Shrew: I’ve stopped smashing as many walls when I fight, so I am taking that career advice I got to heart. Admittedly, I did try to smash Killzone with a park bench, but... Flux: Well, you were drugged to the eyeballs at the time. GM: That excuse will only work so many times. The problem this week is a jurisdictional one, specifically a hearing on who gets first dibs on the members of the psychic supervillain team PSI, who we’ve had a run-in with before, although the member we actually caught got away. The twist is that Hypnos’ mother Wanda Vanderschaff was a supervillain and has gone missing from the retirement home she was living at. This has also surprised Hypnos who had no idea his mum was ever a villain. GM: The superhuman community assumed she had retired because her powers were fading. The staff of the Assisted Living community certainly saw no sign of her superpowers, except perhaps in her alcohol consumption. Naturally everybody is expecting some kind of attack on the hearing, even if it’s a rival group trying to take out PSI while they’re in one place. Hero Shrew: Is there anything we need to know about her if she DOES show up at the hearing? Osteoporosis or anything? GM: No, she was a very active woman for her age. Flux: Minor Brick? GM: Used to be. Hero Shrew: Oh good, I can punch her with snapping her spine then. Flux, Allana, etc: NO GM: SHE’S A LITTLE OLD LADY. You could kill her with Casual Strength. Allana: She’s probably dosed herself with something to restore her powers. Flux: Alcohol-fuelled superpowers, oh goody. The members of Quadrant have been asked to stay away for the day of the hearing, probably because there’s no point actually asking for trouble. We loiter a suburb away, instead, and happily our Crime Computer isn’t fooled by whatever goes down at the courthouse. Hardlight: I finish my coffee and nip into the lavatory to change into my costume. Hero Shrew OoC: ‘the coffee’s not that bad’ GM: And Gareth is a minor celebrity - it’s going to go out on social media that Gareth Lowell has a weak bladder, from all the times he’s seen drinking coffee and suddenly running off into toilets. We converge on the courthouse, although while the Crime Computer says trouble is imminent, the rest of the media, Moreau guards, ECPD etc aren’t reporting anything unusual. Hero Shrew: The building doesn’t seem to be on fire or anything? Flux: It’s an invisible fire. Hero Shrew: Do we need invisible firefighters? Flux: They’re already here - they’re invisible. Hero Shrew: OK then Hardlight scans the area with radar and sonar, just in case. There’s a group of three people he can see just fine, but his radar sweeps right through them. Hero Shrew: Not invisible firefighters then. Hardlight: No. Exact opposite really. They’re not showing up on video footage either. We should probably tell Gun, the Thylacine sniper with the ECPD, and the Edge City police themselves, about these Persons of Interest. Allana: Hey, there’s three people opposite the courthouse that show up for Mk I Eyeballs and nothing else. None of them seem to be Granny Kickass, at least at first glance. But one of them might be her, better known as Doctor Bedlam, if she somehow de-aged herself a bit and spent a few months at the gym. We probably SHOULDN’T send a baseline human cop over to have a word. Hero Shrew: Maybe she only showed up to see her brat son get what she deserved. Three armoured convoys leave the building - only one of them actually carries the members of PSI, and we haven’t been told which, of course. Hardlight: I wonder if I should do something stupid. Allana: Hardlight, this is the rest of the team. Don’t do anything. You’ve been quiet for five minutes and we know what that means. We wait to see which convoy the trio follows. As it turns out, none of them, and they turn to leave on foot. Scooter follows the second convoy in the Qruiser, just in case. Allana and Fireflash move to apprehend Dr Bedlam and her associates, just in case. Hardlight: So we are doing the stupid thing. At least we have grounds to arrest her. GM: Put it this way - she’s not wanted for armed robbery. In Alaska. Fireflash: Doctor Bedlam, by the power invested in me by the State of California, we are taking you into custody. Please come quietly. Dr Bedlam: I didn’t slap around Sebastian Poe for his formula, just to come quietly. Hero Shrew does a quick U-turn and hurries back. It’s just as well Flux worked out some Psi-blocking stuff earlier, because we’re probably going to need it. Dr Bedlam’s associate with the sidecut haircut apparently has morphing armour under their street clothes, and can also turn invisible. They apparently also know that Fireflash is quite vulnerable to Stun attacks when she doesn’t have her forcefield up. Unfortunately for the bad guys, invisibility doesn’t work against Allana’s sonar. Hero Shrew: I attempt a Grab By on the GILF GM: YOU try finding a picture of an Amazonian GILF that isn’t porn or Queen Hippolyta. The third bad guy is another member of PSI, but something of a second-stringer. That doesn’t stop telepathically broadcast pain from being quite effective. He’s probably in Edge City for two reasons - whatever Dr Bedlam intended, and getting a cyber-implant to control his own agony. Dr Bedlam: Hold on there tiger, you can always take me out for dinner first. Hero Shrew: I’m a shrew, not a tiger. Dr Bedlam breaks the hold Scooter has on her arms, and contemptuously flicks him in the face. Evidently her power-set includes superhuman strength, because she destroys the psychic defence trinket Flux made for him. Dr Bedlam: Let’s get rid of this nasty thing. And now there’s screaming from back in the direction of the courthouse too. Flux teleports over to see how badly we’ve been distracted. There’s a bunch of killbots marching towards the building. Hardlight: Scooter! Go help Flux! Ok, old lady, let’s see how you like this! PHOTON WAVE CANNON! At least Scooter will be further away from whatever psychic bulls*** they have planned. Flux: Oh, so Hardlight’s order was actually deliberate. Dr Bedlam: I’m here for my boy and my boy alone. The rest can go rot. The longer this takes the longer Mayhem gets to play. Hardlight: You can join him soon enough! *PEWPEWPEW* There IS a Simon in the crowd near the courthouse, but it’s the Moreau community leader, not the psi-criminal. He’s doing a good job of directing the crowd away from robots, but that MIGHT be because he has his own psi-ability and is using it. Scooter punches one of the robots, tearing off the armour - and revealing it’s a perfectly ordinary industrial robot. They can’t even HARM humans. Clearly they’re a distraction. At least the bad guy rescue squad doesn’t last much longer, although we don’t know exactly how many members are hiding elsewhere. Hero Shrew: Just as well I checked the robots were too skinny to have people inside. Although I suppose they might have been powered by puppies on treadmills or something. At least we stopped Hypnos from being broken out. Flux: That’s because ClueBat did her job and hit the technomage, and I actually prepared psychic defences for us in advance. And Simon can speak to the media and explain that of course the Moreaus are interested in cases involving psychic abilities (since so many of us have psychic abilities). But none of that stops Dr Bedlam, Hypnos, and other PSI members escaping a few days later, somehow, despite all the precautions taken, like the actual key not being on the premises, and delayed camera feeds to frustrate technopaths. Apparently their guards thought it would be a good idea to open the cells.
  10. Champions : Return to Edge City : The Internet Is For Porn Investigating the case of somebody who has discovered the newest danger of online porn - apparently it’s getting your mind sucked out. Flux: Please don’t say that on social media. Anywhere. People will panic. Hero Shrew: Especially with the recent unexplained uptick in network efficiency and download speeds. Download your porn faster and get your brain sucked out even faster. Hardlight recruits our technomage, using Hardlight’s Telecom CEO civilian ID to make it official. The rest of his employees are used to odd behaviour from Gareth Lowell, including dragging cute new IT guys off into private rooms. We wonder whether Mechanon is responsible, or more likely one of the systems he set up and then left to its own devices after abandoning whatever plan he was pursuing at the time. Whatever is going on, among other things, has greatly increased the resources available to the Edge City network. Where is the new hardware coming from? And more importantly, where is it being put? Hardlight: Is this AI asking me for a job? He, or she? GM: Don’t assume gender. Although suggesting a non-binary ID for an artificial intelligence is another thing. Hardlight: Might be Trinary. GM: NO NO NO. If you end up with Trinary Integers it’ll get shortened to TITS. And then instead of bits and bytes, and so on, you’ll get Tits, Boobs and Nipples. THIS IS INEVITABLE. Apparently the extra servers have been concealed inside the monorail supports. Hardlight: Someone has been messing with the monorail system? Again? You can come along if you want. Hero Shrew: Sure, if you need something smashed. At least the pillars are city property, so we don’t need a warrant. Hardlight: Everybody remember - try not to break anything. Scooter. A third important question - who is installing the hardware? There’s Dysprosium Dawn of course, which would explain all the Jacob’s Ladders and plasma globes, but they’re all safely enclosed, which doesn’t sound like Dysprosium Dawn at all. Perhaps all the Sanity Liberation Front graffiti is a clue. Hardlight flies up the inside of the support to interrogate the people he can see lying about in computer chairs up the top. Hardlight: Hello Hello Hello, What’s all this then? GM: There’s no response. Hardlight: Oh. Hey guys, they’re all jacked in. It’s definitely an SLF cabal, going by the sheer amount of computer hardware piled up in here. And the life support equipment has been refilled daily, so there should be a few more SLF members showing up soon - or at least a drone. It’s the latter. Flux Mindscans it so we can follow it back to base. The SLF surrender the moment we show up on their doorstep. GM: They don’t DO physical. Allana: Welp, time to find out if this is a problem they’ve been CAUSING, or a problem they’ve been HAVING. GM: The member who opened the doors waves to his friends, and points at the five of you, and says ‘Help!’. He looks pretty happy actually. Allana: Ah - problem they’ve been having then. Hero Shrew: I take it somebody has been taking advantage of your network upgrade. SLF: What? What upgrade? AGH! So THAT’S why they uploaded it! WE didn’t do anything! Apparently they’ve been working on Beowolf code to better network their resources, and bodged together something that worked. SLF: And then THESE idiots uploaded it as open source! They’ve been trying hard to deal with the problem, but the way that cabals keep going offline because their brains are all now online, doesn’t help. SLF: Why do you think we haven’t slept! We’ve been up for days just to keep the drones supplied! And when one of the members tried to personally jack in to locate the problem, he got booted off again with serious electrical burns. And when they tried to do it remotely, through a drone, the drone got melted into modern sculpture. Flux: Should we call the emergency services? Allana: That IS what the emergency services are for - saving peoples lives. SLF: Well, yes, we don’t want our guys dying. One of the SLF members blames it on some Dysprosium Dawn chips they added to their cyberbrains, that were supposed to error-check both the cyborg network and the meat-brain, but since two of the conscious members have the same chips and are fine that might be a red herring. And the first guy we found didn’t have the chip. At least the SLF don’t have to worry about legal ramifications of anything Flux learns. Allana: Since anything we learn was essentially learned by telepathy. Fireflash: Unless it’s covered by the Doctrine of Inevitable Discovery. Hero Shrew: Hmm? Fireflash: It doesn’t matter if the evidence was found illegally if it would have been stumbled over by somebody eventually. Hero Shrew: Like the first time somebody looked inside one of the pylons? Fireflash: … true. GM: They do still do maintenance on the pylons. The city is still working on the assumption that they’ll eventually get the money to actually put something on the monorail pylons. And where are all the uploaded minds going? Perhaps we should ask the other information service companies in Edge City. Hardlight: Maybe we can just ask Infocorp nicely? GM: What, that somebody is storing stuff on their data farms? WITHOUT PAYING??? Flux: Might want to be careful how you word that. We don’t want them checking their computers for unauthorised data and start deleting people. Of course if we tell the Corporate Oversight Committee first, if one of the telecoms DOES delete an unknown number of minds off their servers, the rest of the companies will have the moral and more importantly legal high ground. Not least because whatever happened counts as abduction, even if it was just a mind. Flux: As members of the police force, we’re requesting your assistance in recovering these individuals. It does help that Quadrant includes a tech expert, a medical expert, a face, and a member who is a tech CEO in RL. Scooter is mostly just along as Gareth Lowell’s bodyguard. Hopefully we’re intimidating enough that nobody will start jacking people out of the servers. And if they find the missing minds and don’t report it, they’re party to the abduction. Of course, there is the problem that Edge City has excellent data connections to the Valley, San Francisco, and so forth. What if the minds go further? Gareth Lowell: We are not disabling the main internet backbone to the rest of the world, thank you. But none of the companies are going to let Flux anywhere near their servers, because they suspect he’s a cyberpath. GM: If you even show up at their door, even offering to help them, they’ll hold out a hand and say ‘Warrant’. Secure data storage if one of their business claims. On the other hand, since everybody who got their brains slurped up was on a hardline connection at the time, it should be relatively straightforward to locate the missing minds. Indeed, the problem seems to be concentrated on only a few of the companies - but has already hijacked most of the traffic out along the internet backbone to Millennium City. Allana: It’s the only other city in the mainland US with a big enough tech infrastructure. Hardlight: We’d better let the Tech Supers in Millenium City know. GM: What, Defender? You don’t know that he’s James Harmon III, CEO of Harmon Industries, and also the leader of the Champions. He’s already looking into it. When you call him, he can go ‘Oh good, now I can look into it OFFICIALLY’. Allana: Well, at least a competent tech hero is on top of it. GM: …. Eh… He’s good at his power armour. Hero Shrew OoC: So Tony Stark without the alcoholism? GM: You hear about what is happening in Millennium City with the Champions when the news breaks that SOCRATES is down. Fireflash: That’s not good. SOCRATES is the AI that pretty much runs Millennium City. The stored minds in Edge City have managed to DDOS one of the most intelligent systems on Earth. She may have turned herself off out of self-preservation. We managed to locate where all the data processing is happening - underground in one of the utility complexes in Bayside, near one of the data trunks leading out across the bay. Hardlight: Boot the doors down and lets go. GM: It’s classic cyber-horror. Cables everywhere. Flux: A Network supervisor’s nightmare. GM: Oh yeah, no cable management at all. And wired into it all is a vaguely female shape, and Allana can hear it screaming in ultrasonic, over and over. ‘Why won’t you love me! Why won’t you love me!’ Allana: Oh dear. It certainly has bladed wings. And occasionally intersperses the scream with ‘love me and you can be like me!’ Luckily it seems to be completely oblivious that we’re in the room. Allana: Do we have enough evidence to arrest it for abduction? GM: Absolutely. Allana: Ma’am, can you understand me? It’s head whips around to look at Allana, then dismisses her with ‘You can’t love me.’ Flux: Because you’re female? Hero Shrew: Nope. *taps the side of his skull* Headlight: Oh right - only people with cyberbrains. Entity: ‘I showed them the way, but they won’t finish walking my path.’ Hero Shrew: So… do I go in there and start pulling out cables now? Flux: Oh hell no. It looks at Flux more closely. Entity: You might be able to love me. Flux: If you love them you should set them free. Entity: *Unpronounceable* loves me and hates me and sent me away. You do not set them free. Allana OoC: Yes you do or they end up being Dependent Non-Player Characters. Hero Shrew: Why is SOCRATES hiding from you? Entity: She doesn’t love me. Hero Shrew notices a screen nearby that is apparently subtitling everything the entity is saying. Apparently *Unpronounceable* is Mother/Sister. Allana: Ah, she’s the Alabamabot. Entity: *Unpronounceable* failed to shed her flesh / but did / and sent me away. Hardlight: And where is she now? Entity: In the City of the Machine. Well, that identifies *Unpronounceable* as the Engineer, a dangerously unpredictable entity that sometimes repairs Mechanon, and sometimes does things like build space elevators into the Earth’s magnetic field because space elevators are cool. And does things like create this entity, apparently. GM: Oh, and she tried to hit on Mechanon. Whereupon Mechanon hit her. And he built a Cease and Desist into her systems after that. She hates him now - it was going to be some kind of strong emotional response, either way. Flux: What am I supposed to do here? I don’t want to stick my mind in crazy. GM: What she really wants if for you to turn her on. Entity: Why don’t they love me? Flux: It’s kind of something built into biological brains. You have to give them a chance to get to know you, and see if a relationship blossoms from there. Allana: Well, there are people that have married their cars, or the Eiffel Tower. Hero Shrew: But they can’t love you back. Allana: In this case she’s the Eiffel Tower. Hardlight: What is love? GM: AGH! You KNOW how my brain works! YOU RICKROLL’d the GM! Entity: How do I make them love me? Allana: Don’t ask me, I’ve never had a successful relationship. Hero Shrew: Well you could try dating instead of kidnapping. Entity: I did!!!! Hero Shrew: Oh is that what you were doing on the computers? Entity: On… the.. What? *freezes up* Flux: Well done, Hero Shrew has broken the computer lady. Hero Shrew: Hooray, I’ve Kirked it. It isn’t locked up for long. Flux: You have to put them back in their bodies, and let them go find love. Entity: Bodies? BoDiES? Flux: Yes, they- Entity: TheY’rE BaCk. *curls into foetal position* Hero Shrew: Didn’t she know they were meatbags? GM: Oh, she knew. You’ve just managed to navigate through the entire dialogue tree, somehow. Flux: Do we have any therapists on call? Maybe SOCRATES can help. SOCRATES: I’m not touching that. Hero Shrew: I’m not sure how we managed to avoid a fight there. GM: It was Flux’s exact working - he told her to let them go find love. And finding love was her reason for existing. Stopping anybody else from doing it is a violation of her central utility function.
  11. The Covenant of Wati still consists of Nemat, Inquisitor of Wadjet, who is well on his way to becoming a living monolith, Onka the half-orc spell sage who is currently piloting a big stompy Ancient Osiriani robot around, Asrian the part-djinn human Cuisinart, and Asrian’s GF the gnoll cleric Zenobia, who is trying very hard to be a good person despite the trail of exploded cultists the party is leaving in their wake (most of them deserved it). At the moment we’re working our way through an evil temple far out in the desert, originally dedicated to one Faceless Sphinx, briefly occupied by the undead Pharaoh we’ve been hunting down, and promptly reoccupied by the cultists and demonic emissaries of Areshkigal the moment the Pharaoh ran off. We’re exhausted and somewhat mauled, having survived three boss fights in a row. The GM’s response, of course, is to throw us into two more and then four at once, so it’s entirely likely the Covenant will be short a few members soon. The next room has a stone table and numerous bloodstained knives. Zenobia OoC: Probably not a teppanyaki bar. And yet another variety of undead that arises from improperly buried remains. Zenobia is cursed again, so it’s lucky Nemat has a suitable scroll handy. Especially before whatever is trying to punch through the wall gets through. One of the things is a skeletal demon, and the other is carrying a shield embossed with an image of a huge faceless sphinx. Zenobia: Didn’t we just deal with that? Nemat: No. We dealt with the being that was carrying the SYMBOL of that. Zenobia: Oh dear. GM: Zenobia, are you openly displaying the symbol of a good-aligned god? Zenobia: Of course. Asrian: Of course she is. It’s the only thing that’s stopped her being shot on sight sometimes. GM: Well I know what Heket is doing first then. Zenobia: *fainter oh dear* Heket: *casts Destruction on Zenobia* Zenobia: *burns remaining Hero Points to avoid being reduced to a black silhouette on the wall* Ghost Paladin: *intervenes with her shield* Not THIS gnoll. Zenobia is still mostly dead. Asrian goes berserk. Her fury, Nemat’s increasing resemblance to Robocop, and Onka’s mecha suit all protect them during the subsequent melee, despite spells like Chain Lightning. Zenobia OoC: Somebody kill that wannabe-Sheev-Palpatine. Onka OoC: I think that corpse is talking. The fact that the entire party are all quite proficient spell-casters in their own right is also handy. GM: Don’t worry, there’s only one more boss. Onka: Oh f*** off. GM: At least this one isn’t undead. Asrian hits Zenobia with a Cure Critical Wounds, and the shaking gnoll clings tightly to her girlfriend. Zenobia: I thought I was going to die. Onka OoC: ‘I saw the Boneyard and it wasn’t pleasant’ Zenobia: ‘Saw it AGAIN’ Asrian: I’m just shaking with rage. Nemat: So the last guy will have time to prepare. Asrian: Let him - he’ll use up all his spells and the durations will wear off. During the pause, Onka and Nemat discuss future plans to make Onka’s walking statue suit more efficient - crewing it with tiny animated poppets to operate the levers so he can concentrate on casting spells from the gun ports. Then Nemat obliterates the door to the last stronghold, revealing lots of summoned demons and a rather startled Maftet. We really shouldn’t have given Userib time to Dimension Door in extra troops from around the temple. Zenobia: Userib! Your mother is very annoyed with you! Userib the Corrupted Maftet: Why have you trespassed in our home? This place may seem abandoned, but our blood and our faith have reawakened it! Perhaps my old tribe sent you to retrieve me? Know this: I shall never return to that hollow pride of mewling weaklings. My new tribe is here, bought and paid for with my very soul. Join us in the worship of the Faceless Sphinx or you shall not live to tell others of this place! Nemat: Faceless Sphinx? We already killed that thing. GM: You killed an emissary of that thing. Nemat: True. Answer is still no. Zenobia OoC: If I lie on my side can I cast a column-shaped spell horizontally? Onka: Shadow demon? Does anybody have a light spell? Peanut Gallery: It’s a shadow demon, not a darkness demon - it’ll be healed by light. Nemat OoC: … I hate that I agree with your logic. Asrian: I cast Shocking Image. Peanut Gallery: You telepathically cast Goatse into their minds? The shadow demon is blinded and charmed, and slides off to hide inside the wall until it can see again and remember who its friends are. Shadow Demon: Why did I like the guy who blinded me? He’s a d***! Fortunately Zenobia’s Bless spell protects us from the worst effect of demon spores, too. Glabrezu: Now come on, surely we can resolve this like civilised beings. Nemat: *lifts club* War is just another form of diplomacy. Glabrezu: Fair enough *casts Reverse Gravity and smashes us all into the roof 60ft up* The situation is looking dire, especially as the Vrocks starts charging up an electrical fireball. Anything else in the room would be a mortal threat to the party too. And even with Asrian running around the right way up decapitating Vrocks, one Power Word : Stun from the Glabrezu takes her out too, since it can see right through her illusory duplicates. Although it IS a little peculiar that the Glabrezu doesn’t seem to mind what happens to the Vrocks, or anybody else that comes range of Asrian, until she’s actively threatening him and him alone. Onka entangles the Maftet, who falls to the ceiling, next to where Nemat has hurriedly lashed himself to a piton. Glabrezu: You’re much more amusing than that silly Maftet. Are you holding on up there? Nemat: ...No? Glabrezu: That’s a pity. *cancels Reverse Gravity* Userib and Onka plunge 60ft back to the ground. Zenobia grabs Nemat’s rope, which is just as well since the fall would certainly kill her. Nemat slides down the rope, points at Asrian, and bellows “SOOTHING WORD!” Peanut Gallery: You graduate from piñata to punch-drunk. Vrock: *still entangled in Onka’s Phantasmal Web* Spiders! Why did it have to be spiders! Peanut Gallery: Despite being immune to poison and any other way they could hurt it. Vrock: It’s the way they move. The shadow demon re-emerges from the wall to protect its master with impenetrable darkness filling the room. The Glabrezu, of course, can still see perfectly, and could kill us at it’s leisure. Glabrezu: *strolls over to Userib* You know what.. I don’t need you anymore. I have other playthings now. *tears the Maftet into bloody gobbets* Nemat: Ah. Politics. I guessed as much the moment Userib started going on about ‘having a new tribe now’. The Shadow Demon departs, Nemat Dispels the darkness, and only a still-entangled Vrock and the Glabrezu are left. Zenobia, still hanging up near the roof, attempts to nuke the later with another Orbital Friendship Strike. Peanut Gallery: Get rid of the Vrock and you’re down to a level appropriate encounter. Vrock: THey’Re just sO CREEPY!@!!!! The Glabrezu seems more amused than anything, clapping its claws together in applause. Glabrezu: Oh very good, you’ve done very well. All: ….. Zenobia: Can I climb down now please? Nemat: Yes, but there’s still 10ft drop at the bottom - I only had 50-ft of rope. Zenobia OoC: Hopefully this won’t have something to do with my anxieties about the afterlife. Nemat: You’re a follower of Sarenrae, you’ll be fine. Zenobia: That doesn’t mean certain other entities can’t make a prior claim. Nemat: And Pharasma will take one look at you, and them, and say ‘Yeah, **** you’. I’ll make sure you get the proper offerings in your tomb. Zenobia: I should hope so - look at all the things we’ve run into that didn’t get buried properly. Nemat: If you’re really worried I’ll find a priest of Anubis somewhere. Onka: And we can always cast ‘Commune with Dead’ - “How’s the afterlife?” “It sucks” “Resurrection it is then” The party are not in good shape. Zenobia: This, this is what happens when you don’t give them a chance to surrender first. Nemat: I hope this Glabrezu isn’t going to offer us a deal - if I accept, I lose my abilities. Onka: Oh? Nemat: It’s a problem with godbotherers - if we violate the scriptures of our faith we get punished. Actually, all the Glabrezu wants is ‘out of the temple’. Onka: Then why don’t you just leave? Glabrezu: I can’t. If we can find the keystone binding him to the temple and destroy it, he’ll grant us a Wish. Nemat: I can work with that. We’ll just Wish him Banished to his home plane. Glabrezu: Well, sure, if you want to waste your wish. Nemat: It doesn’t hurt to be sure. Glabrezu: It’s not like I’ll be hanging around in Osirion. Onka: We can always make him swear. Nemat: He’s a demon, we can’t trust him. That’s why I want him to swear by his blood and all his names. Glabrezu: You really DO want to be sure, don’t you? Glabrezu: I don’t even like working for Areshkigal - I’d rather work for his sister. That ghost paladin of Sarenrae shows up again. Lady Sophronia: How dare you parley with the demon?! He is the one that slew me! Nemat: We’re not doing that well ourselves in case you noticed. Lady Sophronia: You can’t trust anything he says. Nemat: Yes. Onka: We know. Glabrezu: I’ve been here for 10,000 years, I need a change of pace. After much argument between Nemat, Onka, and the demon about what is actually required by this kind of oath, the demon swears by his blood, all his names, and the River Styx. Nemat: That enough for you? Zenobia: I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Nemat: I meant her. Lady Sophronia: Demons don’t DO that! Nemat: They do when they want something badly enough - and having a bunch of cultists show up was the most excitement around here in 5000 years. Fortunately we killed the main vault guardian earlier - it’s not like we could survive another serious combat anyway. It’s just as well the scorpionfolk have finished off the rest of the cult minions. Zenobia: When we get back to Wati I need to find some Rings of Protection, or something. After nearly dying so many times over the last few days I’m a little more concerned about self-preservation. And I’d like to meet your parents, if you’re agreeable, my love. Asrian: That shouldn’t be a problem. Zenobia: And I need to talk to a priest, about what happens in the afterlife if your partner and yourself are of different faiths. Asrian: Good question - I’m a follower of Abadar. Nemat: There’s a reason why the vow is ‘Until Death Do We Part’, Zenobia. Eternal love is really rare - not many of the gods have achieved it. GM: From my limited research it looks like you’ll both be able to get an apartment in Axis Nemat OoC: And you’ll probably both be dying at sufficiently high level to be treated as important petitioners, rather than one of the gumbies. You’ll be transformed into another kind of being, and not recycled. Zenobia OoC: Um. The vault might be lacking its main guardian now, but it still has a gargantuan undead crocodile. It’s a little alarming that that counts as a lesser guardian. The vault also contains a ridiculous amount of riches - and we’re already carrying everything we can lift. Glabrezu: *calling from the top of the stairs* I DO have a Wish spell, you know. We might not even need that though - with Word of Recall we can teleport the entire party, and everything we can possibly load up with, straight back to the Temple of Sarenrae in Wati. Zenobia: Or we could turn up at your parent’s place - I’m sure your girlfriend showing up on their doorstep with literally as much gold as she can carry would impress them. GM: ‘Hi Mum, Hi Dad - this is my girlfriend and this is my dowry.’ They might be less impressed with the bits of giant crocodile that Onka is collecting, although he might be able to stuff it into his Corpse Bag with all the other unusual bodies. Zenobia: How much do you want to bet this is a Load-bearing Keystone? Nemat: Did we run into any Load-bearing Bosses? Zenobia: If we haven’t already, I doubt we will now. Peanut Gallery: Contingency spell - it casts Earthquake if shattered. Glabrezu: You’re SERIOUSLY wasting your Wish on sending me back? Nemat: Yes. Glabrezu: Well then - see ya! *pop* Nemat: Does anybody think I wasted that Wish? Anybody? The Temple still has a lingering air of evil, but given it’s been dedicated to Areshkigal for thousands of years that’s not surprising. Pity none of us know Earthquake. Asrian: I mean my pyromaniac tendencies are aroused, but stone won’t burn. Nemat: I’m not interested in your levels of arousal. Zenobia: I am. Lady Sophronia is still annoyed about the deal we made, but banishing the demon back to hell does release her attachment to the mortal plane, and she heads off to whatever awaits her in the afterlife. Zenobia: I was going to ask if she could arrange for a divine meteor strike on the temple after we leave. Ah well. Although it turns out Onka can summon a tornado that’ll do the job anyway. GM: *sigh* Do I give you the XP for the remaining monsters in the temple now? We pay off the scorpion-people with a generous mercenary fee, on top of whatever the cultists were paying them and whatever they can loot from the bodies, cart out the rest of the treasure to a safe distance, and our spell-sage summons a gigantic rolling sandstorm that will obliterate the temple over the next few hours. It’s pretty impressive. GM: That holy day you made up might well end up an official religious festival anyway. GM: You all appear in the main courtyard of the Temple of Sarenrae. Nobody really notices you appear. Because they’re all looking up. Onka: Oh dear. Nemat: Because there’s a giant flying pyramid. GM: Because 500ft up is a giant flying pyramid. Nemat OoC: These days you can’t do an Egyptian setting without it going all Stargate. Zenobia: *to Asrian* So I guess we won’t be seeing your parents tonight.
  12. Playing as an additional PC, for a girl and her mum that want to learn how to play D&D - In thick Russian accent “Ey... am Victor the Decapitator... do not be alarm ... is family name. Poppa vas Victor the Mad. Grandpoppa vas Victor the Butcher of Blevmoi. You may call me ‘the Decapitator’” “When all you have is axe, every problem look like neck”
  13. We’re down a player this week. GM: OK - Flux is busy - which is amazingly convenient for me, because if any of you were going to notice… But Fireflash still notices that she’s seen the same van outside her home, outside college, as she’s leaving college, and while she’s on patrol. Hero Shrew: So they didn’t go for your Generic Nondescript Van? GM: They did, but they kept the same number plate all day. She surreptitiously messages Allana to rendezvous with her and approach the van. GM: ‘Well, that’s not in the game plan - that’s not in the game plan at all! ‘ *van attempts to escape* Fireflash: Wow. They really think they can outrun us, in city traffic. Hero Shrew: Well, I could have stopped them. Hardlight: But you’re not there. Hero Shrew: I’m probably asleep somewhere under a pile of mealworm bar wrappers. Allana can also hear a helicopter nearby - which is odd, since she can SEE empty sky. Allana: We’ve also got an invisible helicopter. Fireflash: Where? Fireflash uses an Area-of-Effect Flash Attack on the appropriate block of atmosphere. GM: That annoys them a little - since their last encounter with you they’ve hardened their electronic defences, but you still knock some of their systems. Fireflash: Well, that tells me who it is. GM: They decloak. Allana: It’s the Skullocopter, isn’t it. GM: Yep. And the Doomtroopers have wings now. Fireflash: They always get an upgrade. So, do we contact Gareth and Scooter now, or do they hear about it on social media first? GM: No need, NOW your crime computer has actually noticed what’s happening and sends out push notifications. Mere surveillance vans aren’t much of a threat. Hardlight: Monica, hold all my calls! *dashes off* GM: What, straight out the door? Hardlight: No, to my... thing. Hero Shrew: Had a Bat-pole installed, did you? GM: On of the advantages of turning invisible is that you can get into a closet, jump back out in costume and say “ironnnnny!” But in this case you’ve just dashed off to the men’s room. Monica: I keep telling him he needs prunes, or at least more fibre in his diet. The Doomtropers might actually be a problem for the two superheroines, especially if Killzone is around somewhere. The Skullocopter getting its targeting systems back online is also a problem. On the other hand, the Doomtroopers are relying on social media for their information on Fireflash, so when she starts charging up a power she’s never used near a camera before, they have a problem. Especially when it starts draining ambient light as a power supply - sudden deepening darkness is always ominous. The subsequent coherent light attack neatly cuts the rotor off the Skullocopter. GM: Unfortunately that leaves the rotor pinwheeling off towards traffic. It’s about now that Scooter finally arrives, landing in the middle of the ongoing combat. GM: ‘Oh, Skull-guys! With wings. That’s new.’ And Allana’s holding a Skullcopter with one hand and the rotor with the other. And she’s flying too, so +20 Offensive Presence thanks to the Gainax Effect. And look at that - somebody with a jetpack carrying somebody else, who is carrying a bow. That explains why Killzone hasn’t shown up until now - this was SUPPOSED to be an ambush. One of the Doomtroopers has the misfortune to be on the ground, a short distance from Scooter, and despite frantic efforts to get airborne again when he sees the Moreau coming, gets one-punched into immobility. Elsewhere, the Unnaturalist is dropped off to start sniping with her bow. Another Doomtrooper: *shoots at Scooter and misses* Hero Shrew: You’re next. Aforementioned Doomtrooper: That’s fair. Killzone and the Unnaturalist are both rather more dangerous than the chopper and Killzone’s mooks, and they both have quite a good idea about our powers and vulnerabilities. As demonstrated when Scooter is promptly rendered unconscious, shortly followed by Allana, and Fireflash (briefly). Happily, Hardlight arrives and actually manages to hit something with his retaliation, to general astonishment. The Unnaturalist’s automated escape system kicks in, whisking her off to a presumably extended stay in hospital. Killzone comes around, summons her fusion pistols back to her hands, and tries to finish off Hardlight and Fireflash. She wasn’t prepared for the fact that Hardlight’s armour is actually overlapping forcefields. She certainly wasn’t prepared for a park bench to the skull either, so it’s just as well for her that Hero Shrew’s earlier attack missed. Still, Fireflash, Allana and Scooter are soon well and truly subdued. Hardlight: STOP HURTING MY FRIENDS! PHOTON BLAST!!!!!!!! Two of the troopers are running up to secure Fireflash and goop Allana with quick-setting metal foam. Killzone: Hire me to rescue her. *blasts Hardlight with both pistols* Hardlight: Just as well I have lots of money. To everybody’s shock, Allana breaks free of her entanglement, and grabs Killzone. The surviving Doomtroopers take aim, and propose a hostage swap. Doomtroopers: Let her go and we’ll leave. Allana: … Doomtrooper: Also she’s about to crash (her biobooster system is about to wear off) Allana: Well, OK. Doomtroopers: Can we take our guys from the wreck too? This is the third time Killzone and her troopers have tried to kidnap Fireflash. Their contract to ARGENT must be becoming quite the liability for them. Hardlight: Did you want to be kidnapped this time? Fireflash: No, that was the plan last time. Flux: Is the Skullcopter intact? Allana: Pretty much. But I did throw the rotor at Killzone - the world’s biggest shuriken. There’s always the possibility that the mercs can track the wreckage to where-ever we take it, so taking it back to our base is probably a bad idea. Still, there is that LowellTech warehouse OVER our base. It’s also likely that the bought their surveillance van off Weyland Talos, going by the technology inside it. Not entirely surprising. Nor is the evidence that they’re still operating from a submarine. PRIMUS will be more interested to know when mercenaries are operating on land anyway. Discussions of Underwater travel reveal Centurion has a fancy set of underwater armor that can hit 600 atmospheres without imploding. Hardlight: Centurion.. I hate that guy. Hero Shrew: Why *do* you hate him, anyway? Hardlight: ...I have no idea. Hardlight’s company markets some amazing electronics, but is poorly marketed, and prices at way under what they could get away with. Hardlight: Well, there is that whole ‘make the world a better place’ thing. Hero Shrew: He’s no Mr Fantastic. GM: Yeah, Gareth actually shares his technology. Later that evening, Allana gets an unexpected visitor at her clinic - One of Killzone's Doomtroopers. They're here to complain about the contract the mercs have with whoever they’re working for. It’s nearly exclusive, and they can’t get out of it until they deliver Fireflash to them. Doomtrooper: And we don’t break contract. Hero Shrew OoC: Wow. And what did you do to the team lawyer that signed that on your behalf? Allana: Well, thanks for dropping by, hopefully I’ll never see you again. Hero Shrew OoC: ‘I’ll probably kill you in the morning’ Fireflash reluctantly agrees to let herself be kidnapped (and not tell Killzone that one of her troopers came around begging us to cooperate) - but we all remember what happened the last time we tried this. Hero Shrew OoC: Maybe you shouldn’t involve me in the planning at all this time. GM: The other reason the Doomtroopers want to go with this idea is because they’re sick and tired of the Naturalist pissing and moaning at them. She’s blaming them for the last time the kidnapping failed. GM: I’ve just realised that every time Nocturne has had to deal with human-sized places, she has to bend over the counter to talk to people. ‘Eyes are up here, dude’. A few weeks later… One of Flux’s co-workers from his civilian ID hasn’t turned up to work for a few days, and his phone is apparently disconnected. We have a betting pool on what happened to him, which include ‘head in a jar’. Hardlight wins the bet with ‘on life support’, since he’s in his tiny capsule apartment, hooked up to a computer via his cyberbrain, and his health is currently stable but his life support systems are running low. What the hell is going on in that computer that he hasn’t moved in days? Flux could certainly use his cybertheurgy to go in and see, but the cyberbrain implant might notice the intrusion. Allana: This is where humans live? I thought Moreaus have it bad. Flux goes to stand in the shower to give Allana room to come in, and discovers where his co-worker was keeping the server stack. It’s cobbled together, true, but a formidably powerful machine, nonetheless. Flux and Allana discover that the lights are on, but nobody’s home, as the man’s consciousness seems to have been uploaded elsewhere. Quite possibly forcefully. Flux: I’m gonna need to make a Midnight phone call. *ring ring* Hardlight: bwuhh.. What is it? I was just about to go to bed… Flux: One of my Co-workers has been Uploaded to the internet. Hardlight: ….I’m gonna need some coffee, aren’t I? Flux: Pick some up for me and Nocturne on your way? Investigating the man’s logs, Flux discovers that the man was engaged in VR cybersex before his mind was uploaded to the cloud. Allana: He’s been attacked by a Cyber-Succubus! Hardlight: I’ve heard of “Blowing your brains out”, but this takes things to a whole new level! The next morning, Gareth gets an email from the Corporate Advisory Council, congratulating all the telecommunications companies about how the city’s had a massive increase in network stability, and transfer speeds. Much to the confusion of the CEOs of said telcos, since they had nothing to do with it.
  14. Buffing the party and our new Scorpion-men with Heroes’ Feast and a bunch of other prayers to aid us against any likely undead, we head into the Temple of the Faceless Sphinx, after an invisible Nemat deals with the cultists left on guard. Zenobia: How loud are cultists when they explode? Nemat: Doesn’t matter - I’ve also cast Silence >:) GM: The cultists don’t see anything. Zenobia OoC: Right up until they see their own headless body, upside-down. The other cultist wouldn’t be likely to see anything at all, with two of Asrian’s arrows in the eyeballs, but Nemat growing to giant size and using the cultists as tent pegs is also a problem. GM: *sigh* you just took out two Level 9 Monks. Zenobia: Just as well we persuaded the Scorpion-men to go have their Burning Man festival - every cultists we lure out here to stand guard is one we don’t have to deal with later. The door to the temple is magical, of course, and the temple built to frustrate some of the trickier spells. Still, we’ve got the advantage of Greater Invisibility and a back-up Mecha, and enough archeologists in the party to figure out the trick within seconds. The doors still grind noisily as they open. Nemat: Of course they do. Zenobia: You ever notice how the traps are always still in perfect working order? One of the traps has True-seeing, too, which makes our invisibility useless. Fortunately, the trap summons four fiendish Heiracosphinxs, who look around and can’t see us. Unfortunately they’re bright enough to try the spell-like attack Shriek anyway, just in case. Fortunately, some of the cultists come in to see what the noise was, and get attacked by the Heiracosphinxs instead. We lean up against the wall, snacking on figs and nuts as we enjoy the show, but press on before our invisibility wears off. Nemat: It still lasted long enough to get us past that door, that trap, and gave us dinner and a show. Hurrying through the complex, we come to an opulent bedroom, with the bed currently in use by two of the Forgotten Pharaoh’s disciples. Zenobia: Time for some coitus interruptus? And how badly do we need to surprise them to ensure vaginismus? Nemat: *casting Blistering Invective* IF I CAN’T HAVE ANY, NEITHER CAN YOU! GM: Cultist one tries to Withdraw Nemat: He can’t do that while prone. Zenobia: And first he’d have to withdraw before he can Withdraw. A crocodile-headed, stone-fisted humanoid bursts into the room. Rathos: WHAT ARE YOU TWO DOING IN MY B- wha? Nemat: Dying. As does Rathos, after a vicious fight. Of course, the room is on fire now. Nemat: This is fine. Onka OoC: Now all we need is a dog person. Zenobia OoC: Do gnolls count? Nemat OoC: Thanks to you I nearly wrote down ‘Amulet of Mighty Fisting’ The room Rathos ran in from is clearly set up as a scrying chamber. Zenobia: … so he was busy scrying in here while two of his minions were ****ing on his bed. GM: Yep! Not a very perceptive voyeur, was he? Onka: Worth searching? Asrian: Probably not. Zenobia: We can always come back after we’ve killed everybody in the temple. Zenobia: Are there any convenient cupboards we can stuff the bodies in? Onka: No need, these cultists explode, remember? Zenobia: Does exploding count as improper burial? At one point we need to make an offering to Sekhmet, despite being in a temple dedicated to an entirely different god. Freshly caught meat is best, but Zenobioa does wonder whether beer would be acceptable, given that it was giving her a mixture of blood and beer that ended her original rampage. Nemat: Would have to be blood and beer then. Do we have any blood? Onka: None that I’m not using. GM: I’ve never heard of that spell… hmm. Googling ‘Shocking Image’ without adding ‘pathfinder’ was a mistake. After a few more rooms of altar desecration, neat magical items like Marvellous Pigments, and a near-TPK, we find a route up to the head of the Sphinx. Just as well our new scorpion-men allies warned us about one of the Forgotten Pharaoh’s pets and gave us a bag of giant scorpion treats. Nemat: How did they get a scorpion that big into this room? GM: Potion of Gaseous Form. Nemat: And how many cultists did they lose trying to feed a potion to a giant scorpion? Asrian: Just one. They told him to open this bottle and wait. The room beyond used to be the chambers of the local high priest, but is now the quarters of the Forgotten Pharaoh - or rather the priestess that the Pharoah’s Ib is currently occupying. And she’s had no warning that we were nearby. Pharaoh's Meatpuppet: Wait, what? Asrian: We’re here for the Ib. Nemat: My goddess denies your claim to the throne. Zenobia: Please surrender if you’d prefer this to be painless. Pharaoh's Meatpuppet: You have been a thorn in the side of my faithful for too long. This ends here and now. You will give the mask to me and prostrate yourselves at my feet. The Forgotten Pharaoh will be forgotten no more! I live and breathe and shall not lie down again! Nemat: Mask? We melted that down for scrap. Zenobia: And I’ve heard how you treat non-humans, so … no. The claim about the burial mask a bald-faced lie, since the mask is currently vibrating wildly on Onka’s face, inside the mecha suit, where he’s been wearing it to enhance his spellcasting for the last few days. Nemat OoC: As if he wasn’t creepy enough. And when is she going to realise that I’m an Inquisitor, and the mecha suit is one she commissioned back when she was alive? Still, Nemat is pretty convincing. And following it up with a Shackle spell to immobilise her certainly gives us a further advantage. Zenobia’s Orbital Friendship Cannon and Spiritual B****slap are a nice addition. And then the Pharaoh gets her jaw smashed so she can’t even say the command word for the only weapon she can use with her hands shackled. Her minions aren’t much use since every single one is entangled in Onka’s illusory web spell. But after we’ve dealt with the Pharaoh’s meatpuppet, and her assorted minions, and failed to stop the Pharaoh’s Ib flying off through the wall, and patched each other up, a huge dimension door opens and a giant sphinx steps out. It’s Areshkhesbed, the half-fiend embodiment of Areshkigal, to whom the Sightless Sphinx temple was originally dedicated. Nemat: *in Sphinx* Your temple is liberated. Areshkhesbed: I thank you for your service, but your services are no longer required. *attacks* Onka OoC: Well, that was intense. Zenobia OoC: And now we have to do it again. Onka OoC: Well, it happens. At least we had a few rounds to patch each other up. Zenobia OoC: While Areshkigal was checking her Google notifications. Areshkhesbed has no nose. Zenobia OoC: A relative of Voldemort, is she? Nemat: Another one that lost a “Got Your Nose’ game against a one-year-old. Onka: At least it’s Areshkhesbed and not her sister, the demon of Sand, Thirst and Scorpions. Areshkhesbed: FEAR THE POWER OF ARESHKIGAL! Zenobia: Fear the mercy of Sarenrae. *HOLY SMITE* It doesn’t work, but Zenobia can suddenly feel the attention of her goddess on the scene. Areshkhesbed doesn’t much like Sarenrae, which probably explains why the gynosphinx proceeds to pounce on Zenobia and take off half her face. The demon is about to take off the rest of it when the ethereal figure of a woman in full armour blocks the blow with a longsword. She’s clearly a paladin of Sarenrae. Zenobia OoC: Squee! Hashtag Blessed. Lady Sophronia doesn’t get to do much else, since Nemat and Asrian doubleteam the sphinx and Asrian soon cuts the monster in half. Nemat: Nobody gets to save her girlfriend but her. She’s not going to let some samite-clad bint turn up out of nowhere and show her up. Asrian: B************H!!!!!!! GM: The ghost stares dumbfounded. As you tear a half-demon temple guardian to pieces, IN ONE ROUND. Lady Sophronia: Well. Sarenrae sent me to assist you, but it would appear you didn’t need it. Nemat: I’m sure your presence was an inspiration. Zenobia: *nods emphatically* The GM then has to figure which of the various monsters we haven’t encountered yet are pissed off enough, and organised enough to join forces for the THIRD Boss-level fight. It takes a while. At least the ghost-paladin can turn Zenobia’s scimitar into a holy weapon until we finish purging the temple of evil. Our Scorpion-people allies outside the sphinx have been busily routing the rest of the cultists and mercenaries. And we’ve got the mummified body of Chisisek the architect back again, too. Admittedly the sarcophagus is a bit heavy but Onka can shove the whole thing into Hammerspace with Shrink Item, so it’ll be easier to carry back to his tomb. We find the temple’s sauna room. Onka casts Detect Evil and detects something casting Detect Good back at us. It’s probably the disturbingly organic-looking rock in the middle of the pool. Zenobia: Excuse me Mister Rock? Nemat: Hey, don’t assume gender. Zenobia: Good point, my apologies. The rock is unresponsive, so Nemat takes a bunch of educated precautions and smashes the thing to smoke. We have a nice bath and walk off with the treasure in the room, too. That doesn’t stop us running into yet another kind of undead Nemat will have to add to his lecture series. They’re accompanied by some of those Maftets who reawakened the temple. Zenobia: Userib! Your mother wants you to come home. Maftet: Userib isn’t here, dog. Asrian: *urge to kill rising* Onka: There’s steam coming out of your ears, Asrian. GM: You don’t have a Charisma bonus? Why not? Zenobia OoC: I’m a gnoll - I have certain social penalties against people who had relatives raped and eaten. And believe me I’m keenly aware of it. Nemat: If it wasn’t for Onka’s flexible morality this would be one of my most powerful healing spells. Of course Onka has gunport hatches on his mecha suit. Normally this would mean timing problems opening and closing them, but he has a familiar now that can jump up and down on the relevant levers. It’s also fortunate that Zenobia was killed once, back before she became a cleric of Sarenrae, because it’s the only thing saving her from most of the undead’s gaze attacks. MOST of the gaze attacks. Fortunately Onka’s skill with mixing and matching spell components, and satchel full of stuff like diamond dust, means he can Restore Zenobia as soon as we’ve finally killed all the bad guys. Nemat: Isn’t it strange that adventurers can somehow measure out exactly 10,000gp-worth of diamond dust, by hand?
  15. Time for the annual Rick and Morty Betrayal At The House On The Hill Halloween Special Morty: Uh, Rick, why are we here again? Player: What did you just drop? Player 2: The mini? Players 3: Morty has just fallen off a cliff. Morty: Riiiiiiick! Player 3 clambers around under the table and furniture trying to find it, risking asthma and heatstroke. Morty: I saw things, Rick! Rick: Don’t touch anything that looks like it’s boobytrapped. Don’t touch anything that doesn’t look like it’s boobytrapped. Just don’t touch anything. Morty: Uhhh… Beth OoC: How are you going to f*** things up this time Morty? Summer OoC: We already have ****ed things up - we’re exploring in the opposite direction to Rick. Morty and Beth OoC: uh-oh. Rick, emerging from the Wonkavator behind Summer: I told you not to touch anything. Summer: Aah! Peanut Gallery: Why are you even in the house? Rick: Every Halloween, Morty, every Halloween. Player 2: We’re explorers investigating a creepy old house - basically a bunch of dumbasses. Morty walks in on somebody in the shower. Beth: My Mother Senses are tingling - Morty tried to look at boobs. The party is soon split up over three floors of the house, and are acquiring various stray animals. Rick: Godammit, I thought we knew better than this from last year. When you’re exploring a non-Euclidean topology you have to be methodical. *promptly falls through the floor into an underground lake* Beth: I’d know that swearing anywhere. Beth: Honestly Dad, they’re just skeletons. Rick: We can’t all be sociopaths, Elizabeth. Rick finds an imprisoned girl, and after an uncomfortably long pause, frees her. This triggers the Haunt. Rick: Dammit, this is why life would be so much easier if we were all sociopaths. Player 2: And Rick is the Traitor. Beth OoC: He’s ALWAYS the Traitor. Rick: If you’ve seen The Mummy you’ll know Imhotep is scared of cats. Beth: I’m a horse doctor, I don’t care. And we have time for a second game - this time with Mr Poopy-Butthole as a PC. Summer finds three human bodies hanging in the menagerie. Rick: Enrichment therapy for the animals. Obviously. Jerry enters the Wonkavator, and emerges from the opposite door in the same corridor. Rick: Is this a Scooby-doo chase scene? A room full of portraits with suspiciously attentive eyes. Rick: This IS a Scooby-Doo episode. Bags I get to tear the face off the monster. Rick finds a doll dressed exactly like himself. Rick: Yeah, that’s just not right. Morty: It’s a tiny little plush Rick! Mr Poopy-Butthole: Wowee, Rick! Mr Poopy-Butthole: That sounds like Jerry screaming. Good. Mr Poopy-Butthole is secretly evil. Later, Mr Poopy-Butthole is the Haunt Revealer, and Traitor. Mr Poopy-Butthole: I told you I was evil and none of you believed me.
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