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Drhoz last won the day on March 15 2018

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  1. 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! Flux: Well, the police for a start. Xiǎo Lǎbā: *suddenly looking worried* Police? Duly bonded forces of the law? Empowered by the magistrates? Flux: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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".
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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”
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. Champions - Return to Edge City : The Valhalla Invitational Since this session is at a superheroic martial arts tournament, Weldun prepared 16 different characters for us to play instead of our usual characters. GM: If I ever try to do something like this again, shoot me. The organisers have set up an arena near the Laguna complex. Hero Shrew: Right, where we had the zombie problem. GM: It was two zombies! Hero Shrew: Two zombies are still a problem! Fireflash: He’s not wrong. GM: They weren’t even the kind that bite and turn you! Hero Shrew: I’m still not convinced about that - we just didn’t let them bite us. Flux: He’d better stay away from my lab, is all I can say Makoto warns us not to mess things up - not only will it reflect badly on her, but we’ll annoy some very capable fighters, and the organisers of subsequent invitationals. Makoto: Aw, DD wasn’t invited this year? That’s so disappointing! Hero Shrew: … Doctor Destroyer? Makoto: No, Disco Dude! She is shocked to see Bobby Coffin among the contestants - he got caught using drugged boxing gloves in a match last year, went he one-punched his opponent and the referee fell unconscious when he lifted Bobby Coffin’s hand to announce the winner. Allana: He was probably framed, because putting contact poison on your gloves when you gaurd your face with the same gloves is just retarded. 01 - Lu Deng (Danny Lu) - Kung Fu w/ Flaming Ki powers and abilities similar to "The Glow" of Bushido's higher-ups. Owner and Proprietor of the Eight Lanterns Chinese Restaurant in San Francisco. 02 - Makoto - Shorinji Kempo w/ Psychokinetic abilities. Three time champion of the Valhalla Invitational. 03 - Manni - Personal System (A mix of Parkour and Capoeira). Brazillian fighter with a knack for spotting an opponent's weaknesses. 04 - Sunblade - Personal System (A mix of Krabi-Krabong, Muay Lert Rit and Shotokan Karate). Canadian fighter of mixed Japanese and Thai decent. 05 - The Paindancer - Professional Wrestling. Dirty fighter and general jerkface. 06 - Junzo Izumo - Sumo. Disgraced Sumotori w/ gambling problem. 07 - Tabytha- White Tiger Kung Fu w/ Pyrokinesis. Tiger Moreau. 08 - Winter - Obscure but vicious style. "Wolf Moreau" 09 - Bobby Coffin - Personal School of Boxing. Disgraced Boxer. 10 - Elliott Espinosa - Western Kickboxing. Fun-loving Florida lad with an interest in occult mysteries. 11 - Green Dragon - Kung Fu. Martial Arts Supervillain. 12 - Shogun - Personal System (Gingaken). Leader of the Zone Gang, Bushido, and master of "The Glow". 13 - Fang - Snake-style Kung Fu. Mysterious warrior in identity-concealing costume. 14 - Rikki - Mongoose style. Member of Project Mongoose to boot. 15 - Zack - Savate w/ minor telepathy. Moreau Honey Possum. (?????!!!) 16 - Ghost Shadow - Taijustsu. Weeaboo and Ninja of the Six Teens. There’s a couple of names in the line-up we recognise, including the current leader of the Bushido gang, and Ghost Shadow, one of the Six Teens. Fireflash: Hey, it’s the weeaboo. Makoto: PLEASE DON’T MESS UP THE TOURNAMENT. Hero Shrew: If we run into him we’ll just say we’re after the dangerous people. Flux intends to hold up a Bring Back Naruto sign whenever Ghost Shadow is in the ring. One of the competitors is a honey possum Moreau. Green Dragon: and Lu Deng are not matched against each other, which is just as well since Lu Deng is dating Green Dragon’s sister, and she’s in the audience, regardless of what Green Dragon thinks about THAT. One of the first matches is Manni vs. the disgraced sumo. Manni: Come on, you fat freak! Manni is promptly flattened, pinned, and sat on. Unsurprisingly, Makoto deals with her opponent, Fang, with her first combo move. GM: Honestly Fang had no right to be in this tournament. Allana: And he’s up against the three-time champion. GM: He never should have got an invite. Hardlight: We’re in the audience, right? In our heroic identities? Allana: Somebody choke him out, because he’s thinking of something and it won’t be good. A surprise development in the Lu Deng vs. Bobby Coffin match - Bobby’s junkyard boxing style nearly punches the flame-blasting Kung Fu master out of the ring. Lu Deng: THIS is how you throw a punch! *flaming overhead strike* Bobby Coffin: *blocks the strike easily* And this is how you block one. Lu Deng: I should stop announcing my strikes. GM: At least Lu Deng didn’t set the ropes or mat on fire. Hero Shrew: Seriously, Bobby needs to dunk that guy in the water bucket when he’s done. Flux: Hardlight is taking notes. Lu Deng: *leg sweep!* Bobby Coffin: Too slow! Lu Deng: 0_0 Green Dragon: from the Peanut Gallery: That’s what you get for dating my sister! Lu Deng: Fire Sphere! Bobby Coffin: Head Butt! But Lu Deng manages to win anyway. Nonetheless, observers were deeply impressed by the junkyard boxer’s performance - that boy is going to be one to watch, next year. Four of the members of Quadrant know that Winter is actually a werewolf, and not a Moreau. Allana can smell he isn’t. Ghost Shadow gets knocked down in the first seconds of his match too, vs. the kickboxer. Ghost Shadow forgot to put his shadow field up, fast enough. Allana: He got stuck in a martial arts arena, and reverted to using his martial arts training instead of his ninja skills. GM: Ghost Shadow has ambivalent opinions about murder, so... Espinosa: Shadow Powers? Neat! GM: OK, so now he won’t be using the Killing Attack. Espinosa: *spin kicks Ghost Shadow in the head* Allana: Ghost Shadow is going to be annoyed when he wakes up. His opponent just ran up, tackled him into the turnbuckle, LET HIM GET UP, and then kicked him in the head. GM: Eh, sometimes you lose in a sports match. He’ll understand. Hero Shrew: Paindancer? Better known as Edgelord? GM: No, he’s actually a professional wrestler, with the whole Heel persona. Paindancer: ARE YOU READY FOR THE PAAAAIIIIINNN!!!! Hero Shrew: I see what you mean. Paindancer gets blinded by a flash attack from Tabytha:, and nearly manages to take down the tiger Moreau anyway. Tabytha:: Jesus! This guy is actually good! I thought wrestling was fake! Paindancer: Argh, AIEE, I’m blind! *melodramatically staggers* Allana: Yeah, that flash attack just wore off. Tabytha:: Well I’m not going to trying a flying kick NOW. *fireballs him* Paindancer: *still conscious* Commentator: **** me!!!! Paindancer: I’m half tempted to grab a folding chair. The Shogun concedes defeat after the first few rounds of his match, when he realises how badly outmatched he is. Shogun: I give! The Shogun concedes! Fireflash: Sho’nuff. Hero Shrew: What’s Project Mongoose? Allana: Nighthawk’s anti-COBRA team. Flux: VIPER. GM: Yes, the totally-not-COBRA-please-don’t-sue-us-VIPER. Green Dragon: *assumes Tiger stance* Allana: That’s racist - there are actual tigers in the room. Green Dragon: also grapples his werewolf opponent by both arms. Just as well the werewolf fails to bites his face off. Hero Shrew: If he’s silly enough not to realise there are THREE dangerous parts of a werewolf he deserves everything he gets. Green Dragon: then throws Winter out of the ring, and again every time the werewolf jumps back in. Hero Shrew: Are we sure he isn’t a sumo wrestler? Green Dragon’s biggest problem is he can’t really hurt the werewolf badly, or hold him down - so he has to keep trying to get the werewolf out of the ring. Difficult when the werewolf is biting one arm and trying to twist the other off. All a little embarrassing when Winter is the hacker of his pack. But the third ring-out is enough to do it. Flux: *to Winter* Congrats on being the only contestant who wasn’t just punched out. Green Dragon: I hate Brickettes. The honey possum is matched against the mongoose fighter. Zack OoC: Side Kick. Appropriate for the genre. The honey possum loses, badly. Zack OoC: *sigh* back to living under a bridge again. Hero Shrew goes to have a chat with the honey possum after the day winds up. Hero Shrew: Well, there’s always next year. Zack: *still looks unhappy* Hero Shrew: Let’s hit the food hall. My treat. Zack: *cheers up* It’s entirely likely Gareth Lowell can find a job for Zach somewhere in his organisation. Hardlight: The only difference between me and a hobo in a cardboard box in Edge City is Opportunity. Fireflash goes over to congratulate the weeaboo on his match. The rest of the Six Teens are there too, as his +5. The leaders stop the rest of the team from starting anything. Titania OoC: Well I’m glad we’re going by the unspoken assumption that this is neutral ground - because Quadrant have two Bricks now. Day Two! Sunblade vs. Espinosa - this much goes one much longer than the others, largely because both opponents are fighting defensively. At least until Espinosa reveals he has superpowers too. GM: And the commentators go nuts. Makoto vs. Junzo Izumo - Makoto: Oh come on, my usual move is to punch them into the air then out of the ring. And you expect me to do that to a Sumo? Hero Shrew: It’s a danger to the audience, that’s for sure And a surprise result here, or maybe not given Makoto’s objection above - the three-time champion just got eliminated. She’s not happy, but not surprised. This was the first year the organisers installed kinetic dampeners around the ring, largely because Makoto used to telekinetically slap her opponents into the audience. Allana: Izumo’s probably going to win this tournament. Hero Shrew: He’s got great defenses, that’s for sure. Allana: He’s slow and he can’t move for shit, but you’re stuck in a small ring with him. GM: In an open fight the other opponents might do better, but… actually, there’s still a few who can deal with him - the hodoukenists. Tabytha: vs. Green Dragon: - this should be interesting. Green Dragon: is a racist misogynist Chinese Supervillain, and Tabytha: is female, not Chinese, and not human. Green Dragon:’s Player: At least I don’t mind losing this round - he’s an arsehole. Green Dragon: gets one hit in, and the Moreau flame-punches him into the floor. GM: And that’s Green Dragon: out. Yay! GM: We might be playing in a comic book universe but it’s not Watchmen. If it WAS, Allana would be running a massage parlor out the back of her clinic, Scooter would be a coke addict, Hardlight would be a self-hating gay with daddy issues, Fireflash would by the Innocent To BE Corrupted, and Flux would secretly be in charge of Dysprosium Dawn. Alan Moore is never writing this one. Hero Shrew OoC: Moore or Millar? GM: What the hell, they collab. Lu Deng (Danny Lu) vs Rikki - Shaolin Dragon Style Kung Fu vs. Mongoose Style. GM: Hmm. A lot of Kung Fu fighters made it through to the second round. Allana: Good idea to match them against each other now so the final round isn’t just Kung Fu vs. Kung Fu. Hero Shrew: So he fights like a mongoose? Goes for the neck and eats his opponent’s children? At one point, Lu Deng manages to get Rikki on the ground and attempts to axe kick him, which Rikki barely manages to block. Green Dragon: starts screaming from ringside, in fluent Chinese. Green Dragon:: You are scum! You are dishonorable scum! You should forfeit now! GM: This is a formal tournament, after all - if there anywhere to fight honorably, this is it. Hero Shrew: And this is a supervillain telling you off. He might be a prick, but in this case he’s a prick with a point. GM: He is an honorable fighter - it’s one of his faults. And the reason he doesn’t wear body armour. Lu Deng: What does a fake Chinese like you know about honour anyway? GM and most of the audience: Oh shit. Green Dragon: *goes very still, gets up, and leaves the arena* GM: He knows you’ll be leaving the tournament sooner or later. The match is another upset - after a long exchange of falls, kick, fireballs, dodges, grapples, and throws, Rikki eventually grabs Lu Deng by the ankle and flings him out of the ring for the third time. Semi-finals! Tabytha: vs. Junzo! The tigress wins this one - our GM was right about a hadoukenist having an edge of the sumo. GM: If Makoto hadn’t been eliminated, the Flash trick wouldn’t have impressed her. ‘Yeah, cute, I can still feel where you are. Nice tits BTW.” Rikki vs. Sunblade! - A narrow win by Rikki! So it’s the flame-juggling tiger-Moreau vs. Sunblade for the finale match of the tournament. Sunblade would probably be curb-stomped in this match… but the Fang hands her a set of goggles and says ‘wear these’, so she actually lasts a few rounds. Tabytha is the champion! Hero Shrew OoC: Hopefully this round won’t be advertised as girl-on-girl action. GM: And this is Pastor Doug, a snow leopard Prostestant. Screen: *close-up crotch shot* GM: Oops. Flux OoC: Not the kind of close-up we want of a priest. GM: For the third day they’ve got some music in - the industrial rock band Second Pretence. The name comes because in her first band, the bassist fatally stabbed the drummer. On stage. Of course, there’s still that gang of exo-boxers that Quadrant are here to harass. Fireflash: I should probably not tag along for that - I’m too conspicuous, even when I’m not using my powers. GM: So are the two Moreaus. In fact when people see Allana they can’t drag their eyes away. Hero Shrew: She has gravity powers the same way Gravitar does. GM: For all they know, you’re here to recruit the freak that just won the main tournament. From the pitch of the exo-suit engines, Allana guesses that they have an overdrive system, and a higher potential energy output than they’re using. Allana: They were probably hoping for better batteries. Allana can also hear a second ultrasonic whine, but she’s not sure where it’s coming from. There are also another observer hanging around taking notes, and talking in unaccented English. COMPLETELY unaccented English. Hero Shrew: Just like normal Hu-mans. They seem to be more interested in the fighters outside of the ring, then the actual matches. Allana: Might be recruiters for the Warlord or something. One of the other exo-suit fighters, not a Park Front Dragon, hasn’t had to change the batteries in his suit all day. That’s pretty impressive. The PFD are having to change their batteries more than anybody else, and it doesn’t help that half their members are quietly leaving the venue as soon as they notice we’re hanging around. Allana and Flux scoop them up as they leave, since they’re not bright enough to leave in multiple directions. Their leadership, on the other hand, seem to be more intelligent, since they’ve managed to vanish while we weren’t looking, leaving their exo-suits parked in a corner. Hardlight realises we haven’t checked for utility tunnels under the venue. As it turns out they’re all out on the dance floor. Hardlight: Dance-off time! Flux: Are you serious? GM: You can also see the Six Teens, cutting a rug. Hardlight: Hey Fireflash, can you get out there too and distract them with your dancing? Fireflash: Let me explain why that won’t work, in short words you will understand - Geek. Hero Shrew: I could go out there and distract them. Hardlight: Can you dance? Hero Shrew: Nope. But I’ve watched lots of lapdances. Hardlight does have something of a self-esteem problem. Despite being handsome, fit, and well-coordinated, he spends a lot of time around actual superhumans, who are enough to make anybody feel inadequate. Hero Shrew OoC: Of course if somebody DOES challenge me to a dance-off I do have that ‘Can’t turn down a Challenge’ Psychological Limitation. GM: I challenge you to a Bake-off! Allana: ‘Okay.’ *drags challenger into an oven to see who lasts longer* ‘I think you have misconstrued the nature of this contest’ About an hour later, a courier arrives and starts wheeling off the Dragon’s exo-suits. Allana and Flux toddle off to intercept the delivery van, confirm that the suits have been illegally modified, and confiscate them. Flux: Please keep your tracking status as ‘in transit’ or you may be obstructing justice. GM: Ouch. Fireflash: Well he MIGHT be. He doesn’t know. The Six Teens certainly seem to be enjoying themselves. We thought that they were three couples, but two of them seem to be going out of their way to grind with others in the dance pit. Of course it’s the same couple that go out of their way for some private fun in the middle of a job. Hero Shrew: It’s the added thrill of ****ing while on a heist. Flux OoC: ‘The alarms are going off.’ GM: ‘Great!’ Flux OoC: ‘A superhero might burst in on us.’ GM: ‘Even better!’ Jimmy Chen, leader of the Park Front Dragons, his lieutenant, and a bunch of other people including Bobby Coffin, get together to head off and hit the night clubs. The moment they leave the venue, Chen is fair game, and we have a warrant for his arrest. Which of us, with police powers, will actually arrest them? Hero Shrew: *bouncing excitedly* Oooh, ooh ooh! GM: You’ve DONE the course, Scooter. Hero Shrew: I know, I’m mostly invested in the chance of a punch-up with Bobby Coffin. Fireflash: We are not doing that. Hardlight and I are going to WALK up, and tell him we have a warrant for his arrest. Hardlight: Walk up? I wanted to fly down. Fireflash: We want to avoid any kind of fight, Gareth - we’re doing this exactly by the book. GM: ... well, ****. Evidently Chen was expecting a superfight - which is why he invited Coffin along. Bobby Coffin: Boys, I have a record. I ain’t helping you. Hero Shrew: Aw. GM: Well, there’s still a party happening inside. Fireflash: We’ve got to fill in all the paperwork for the arrest first. Hero Shrew: But I wanted to fight somebody! *sulks* Hero Shrew: I can always go to the Six Teens and complain. I mean, I hang around a martial arts tournament for three days and don’t even get to swing one punch. That curious individual we noticed hanging around walks up behind Allana, after we split up. Normal Hu-man: Ms. Nocturne? Allana: Yes? Normal Hu-man: Claudio Fierro, agent of UNTIL. I have some questions if you don’t mind. Allana: OK? Fierro: Have you noticed anything unusual about the tournament? Allana: You, for a start. Allana gives her assessment of the various suits, based on her listening to the engine sounds. Fierro: Super-hearing. We had that right about you then. But it pays not to make assumptions. But he’s more interested in Allana’s assessment of that silver suit that never needed a battery swap. Because the rumour is that VIPER are testing new kinds of battle armour, and Edge City is a great place where they can experiment with that kind of thing, practically in the open. Allana goes to have a literal sniff around, and discovers that the silver suit left no discernable smell - a useful trick a city with so many Moreaus with tracking abilities.
  12. Nemat OoC: I apologise for forgetting I had Silence, when we were temporarily playing Pitch Black. As we harvest the dead Yrthaks for body parts and trophies, there’s some argument about whether their sonic weapon is a horn, or something else. Since they’re covered in skin instead of keratin, we decide that they must be related to giraffes. Deserts are also so quiet that we hear a distant commotion, far across the wasteland. Climbing to the top of the nearest hill and getting out the spy-glasses, we can see distant campfires and the shape of numerous people running around in some uproar. But it’s so far away that even running, it would take hours to get there. Zenobia: I knew we should have bought those Speedy Camels from Crazy Hassan. GM: Crazy Hassan only shows up when people really, really need him. Zenobia: Ah, so if he doesn’t show up there was no real reason for us to hurry. Onka: Breakfast first. We should have kept some of that meat. GM: You want to eat Yrthak? Zenobia: …. I’m not really sure I want to. Nemat: As a general rule, don’t eat anything listed as ‘Aberration’. It was a nomad camp, and there are survivors. They’re wary - probably because one of us is a gnoll and we’re only carrying one small tent - but they don’t attack us on sight. They’re understandably more concerned about a second attack by the land-sharks that chewed them up last night. Multiple land-sharks, which is really unusual for these normally solitary monsters. Nemat determines which way they went, while Zenobia patches up the wounded. GM: You MAYBE might be able to create a Bulette if you have a big armadillo, a big snapping turtle, a bunch of spells, and some demon ichor. Zenobia OoC: It doesn’t just take a romantic evening, a few bottles of wine, and some lube? The Bulettes get identified as B1 and B2. Zenobia OoC: They’re bulettes, in pantalettes, and they’re coming down the stairs. Of course, there’s still the problem of trying to find anything out here, let alone mapping it. Sending Onka up in a hot-air balloon a few times a day can only get us so far, and we can hardly tow him along behind us. Nemat OoC: As I said previous session, I’d really like our GM to be familiar with compass directions. Zenobia: We need to commision some kind of marker obelisks out here. It would probably be worth the expense of enchanting them with Continual Flame, so people can find them at night. Our next encounter is a village of Maftet, a curious race related to sphinxkind. They’re not supposed to be found in flat country like this. Maftet: Who are you? What is your business? Nemat: Our goals are three - to end the machinations of the cult determined to resurrect the Forgotten Pharaoh, to return the effects of a dead scorpion-man to his tribe, and to talk to you. This doesn’t seem to your usual kind of country. Maftet: It isn’t. Drop your weapons and wait here. Zenobia: We haven’t drawn any. Onka: And we’re all spellcasters. Nemat: I can stick my fingers in my ears and go lalalala if that will make you more comfortable. They’re quite interested to hear we’re seeking the Forgotten Pharaoh, suspect we’re seeking the temple of the Faceless Sphinx, but are reluctant to tell us any more unless we can prove our worth. We’re happy to tell them everything we’ve been up to for the last year, and they're glad that their friend Tetisurah the sphinx survived her run-in with the cult. GM: how to phrase to the next bit … blah blah, you sound pretty awesome, can you give us some assistance too? Nemat: That’s why we came here. Maftet: Also, if I were you I’d burn that scorpion-man’s belongings - they’re mercenaries hired by the cult. The Maftet have a problem with giant, horned, red-skinned fiery humanoids blocking access to one of their temples. Asrian is not happy, since these are clearly ifriti, a kind of djinn. Zenobia: I won’t let them hurt you. Asrian: I’m not afraid of being hurt, I don’t want them changing me again! Zenobia: Onka, try and stand back a bit when I call down a Holy Smite. Nemat: Yes, your somewhat flexible morals leave you vulnerable to heavenly fire. The ifrit try to intimidate us with a wall of fire. We’re not impressed, since Zenobia cast Resist Energy on of us earlier. Nemat: We wish to parlay. Ifrit: Parlay? What could you possibly offer us? Nemat: Your lives. Let us talk face to face. Entire Party: *step through the flame without taking a point of damage* Ifrit: Um. Nemat: Shall we talk now? Ifrit: Uh … let me go get Kixexa. Nemat: Thank you. Onka: Is he gone yet? That singed my underwear. He comes back with two others, Kixexa, who is clearly fiery in nature, and one Picasi who is blue, and looks like more of a problem if we rely on our fire resistance. Nemat: I come as an Inquisitor of Wadjet, and Living Monolith of the Temple of Chisisek. I come negotiate access to the temple of Sekhmet for legitimate worshippers. Kixexa: The temple of who? Nemat: *launches into an extended explanation of Wadjet, Chisisek, the River Sphinx, etc etc etc.* GM: You don’t need to explain this. Nemat OoC: Yes I do, this is Nemat talking. Nemat: Sekhmet? The goddess of fire, vengeance and war! Are you seriously trying to tell me you’re living in her temple and none of you worship her? Kixexa: Well, she’s cool, but we don’t worship her. Nemat: Shall I tell you the story of her first visit to the world? GM: Time for another TED talk. Picasa seems to be the more level-headed of the pair. Possibly the story of how Sekhmet got her jets cooled will help her deal with her angry counterpart. Large amounts of beer were involved. Nemat: I could give you the primer on the worship of Sekhmet, but I’m a follower of Wadjet. Onka: And we don’t have four hours. Nemat: … I’d only have four hours? Nemat convinces them that actually operating the temple properly, and thereby attract worshippers, and caravans, and tithes, is probably better than chasing off anybody that comes near it. An ice spell on a nearby rock, on the way out, proves that we came loaded for bear. Nemat: Remind me to tell the Maftet that the nomad camp has Ice Bolts for sale. Of course the procession of humanoid skeletons carrying a palanquin that we run into on the walk back might be distracting. The passenger is a Div - a race of evil Outsiders. We’ve run into one before and they didn’t make a good impression. Asrian: This guy dies. GM: It looks like he thinks you’ll be perfect minions. The procession is coming towards you. Zenobia: Maybe he saw the gnoll in our party and assumed we’re evil. Div: Oh ho ho, more things to add to the collection! GM: He’s Neutral Stupid - his first action is to demand your obedience. Party: *look at each other and burst out laughing* Onka: Fireball. Div: Wait, What???? The spell destroys the skeleton minions. Div: Well, if you’re going to be that way, I’ll just make some more! He attempts to turn Asrian into a bunny rabbit. It doesn’t work. Div: *looks down at his finger* That usually works. It certainly worked in the other game some of the players are involved in, where the PCs Polymorphed Cthulhu into a bunny. Happily it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. The rest of the battle does not go so much in our favour - Sepid Divs are powerful spellcasters, and shrug off most attacks, even after we break his jaw and disembowel him. Onka is mortally wounded, and the rest of us are not much better. Only Asrian is still standing by the time she manages to finally kill the creature. Onka: *after using Hero Points and massively applications of healing magic from Zenobia* I don’t like being dead. On the plus side there’s a Feat I can take now. The Div was also carrying an insane amount of stuff in the palanquin with him. So much that we’re going to have to dump a lot of our own coinage just to handle the weight. Zenobia: Those poor skeletons. At least we can tell the Maftet where to find it so they can pay the tithe at the Sekhmet temple. Nemat: …. In pennies. Fine. I’m not carrying 16,000 copper coins anyway - just dump them on the palanquin. Zenobia OoC: Those cultists won’t know what hit them when we catch up. Because we’ve picked up so much XP in the last few days, and I bet THEY haven’t been running all over the desert on sidequests. The Covenant of Wati have narrowly avoided a TPK at the hands of the Sepid Div. Zenobia OoC: SEPID Div, not Tepid Div. Onka OoC: Well, it COULD be lukewarm. GM: If you WERE riding horses, they’d at least have names. Nemat OoC: ‘rode through the desert on a horse with no legs’ wait, that doesn’t work. Zenobia: When we get back to civilisation we’ll send a priest of Sekhmet out here. Nemat: A priest and an inquisitor. Zenobia: Oh? Nemat: Inquisitors are better at converting people. We return to the waiting nomads and their spokesperson, Erayu, who offers his gratitude, hospitality, and information. Erayu: You have indeed proven your worth. It takes strength and purpose to survive the Parched Dunes, and I see now that you have both. Nemat OoC: I’m not going to tell him I don’t eat or drink anymore. Erayu: I thank you, and I will help you in your quest.We lived for many generations in the shadow of the Sightless Sphinx, guarding and preserving it, though never entering it, for ancient evil lingered within its crumbling walls. But several of our younger kin, led by a rash youth named Userib, decided to explore the Sphinx. Of the dozen who ventured within, only one returned, her face white with fear. She told us that Userib had awakened the evil within the Sphinx and that it had corrupted him and the others. Her words held truth, for before we could initiate a rescue, Userib and his followers attacked. Many of my tribe fell under their assault, leaving us no choice but to abandon the Sphinx. I could say that in our weakened condition, and with the children to consider, we could not expect to win the day in an attack on the Sphinx. This would be true. But it is also true that our own kin still reside within the Sphinx. Can they be saved and returned to the pride? I do not know. I cannot imagine facing those we have raised from birth and making the decision to end their lives. You are strong and I believe you are worthy souls. We shall direct you to the Sightless Sphinx. May Sekhmet grant you power in battle, and Thoth give you the wisdom to do what is necessary. Zenobia: *hopefully* Does that mean we try and take them alive? Asrian: Corrupted usually means we cut them into little pieces. Nemat: Generally, but the goddess Saranrae wants us to at least give them a chance. Zenobia: I can understand the need to kill some things swiftly, but when my goddess AND the relatives of the target ask me not to, I feel bad about not obliging them. We eventually find a ravine, stuffed with cultists, and some kind of big metal statue thing. They do have a few sentries on duty, but they were looking the wrong way as we crept up. Zenobia OoC: I come from a long line of sneaky desert ambushers. To my regret. Zenobia: Is anybody else wondering who erected a statue at the bottom a ravine? It’s a good question, but not worth pursuing until we’ve dealt with the cultists. Happily, when these cultist explode they have a tendency to set off their comrades as well. Asrian: What idiot makes a Wand of Prestidigitation? Zenobia: An apprentice learning how to make wands? Nemat: No no, this is somebody’s doctoral thesis. ‘Seriously? I have to make a wand? Ok then. Here’s a wand. I’m not one of you rich bastards, I had to scrape together every coin to get into this school, and you expect me to pay for all the materials for this too?’ Examining Panel of Wizards: Is there an activating word? Nemat: ‘No, just a gesture - extend your middle finger’ Examining Panel of Wizards: … alrighty then. The statue is clearly some kind of automata, and Zenobia finds a button on the back. The design suggests it served the ancient Osiriani, and used Shory technology (the people the Forgotten Pharaoh declared war on) and we do have that power core we found earlier. We decide to risk pressing the button, and the back opens up, feeling what anybody not living in a fantasy setting would recognise as a cockpit. Onka decides to climb in, insert the power core, and pull a few levers. We pass up a few days of rations, and Onka’s Scroll of Teleportation, just in case. Nemat: Can you hear us in there? Onka’s Amplified Voice: YES. GM: Why did this game give you a mecha suit? But it should give anybody at the Sightless Sphinx a nasty surprise - such as the scorpion-men on guard.At least we can return the belongings of that dead mercenary we found. Nemat: At some point I need to sit down and list all the kinds of undead you can get from improper burial. Asrian: Hello there! May I discuss two points of interest with you? Scorpion-man: Go away! This area is off-limits! Asrian: That’s one of the things we need to discuss - the other is more intimate! Zenobia OoC: ‘We don’t do humanoids!’ Scorpion-man: You wish to parley? I give you one minute to state your case. Asrian: Simply, we found the body of your kinsman. Nemat: And for the past half-month we’ve been carrying his stuff, wishing to return it to his people. His remains we buried under a cairn. Scorpion-man: So Dakuri didn’t make it then. The sands are treacherous. Nemat: But we did avenge his death, by destroying the creatures that killed him. Asrian: There are many dangerous things in the desert - which right now includes us. We know you’ve been hired by the cult of the Forgotten Pharaoh. They are our enemy. We will be entering that temple to destroy them. But we’d rather not go through you first. We know you are an honourable people, but in this circumstance you are on the wrong side. It also helps that Nemat knows how the scorpion-men were treated during the era of the ancient Osiriani. Nemat: You do know you’re working on behalf of Hakotep the First, right? Scorpion-man: Hakotep? Nemat: Yes, Hakotep. The Sky Pharoah? Scorpion-man: *swears violently* The scorpion people certainly remember how the Sky Pharoah treated anybody who wasn’t human. So will the late Dakuri’s aunt. Scorpion-man: Do you have a place we can talk further? They’ll be changing the shift soon. Nemat: We’ve got the Iron Spike of Safe Passage and the Adventurer’s Pavilion. Look for the hill that wasn’t there yesterday. It still won’t be. Nemat: May I make a suggestion? Tell the cultists that it is a holy night and you all have to carry out a ritual for the gods. Asrian: I’m sure Nemat can forge some convincing religious texts. Zenobia: Why forge them? Your knowledge of the old gods is comprehensive enough - it must be a holy night for somebody. Rubila: You are a crafty one, for a human. Nemat: I’m sorry? Rubila: Former human? Nemat: *holds up his Uraeus symbol, symbol of Wadjet* Rubila: Ah, that explains it. And Onka can reinforce the forgery with a Contagious Lie spell, even if the Forgotten Pharaoh himself is in the temple and checks it against his first-hand knowledge of ancient religion. Nemat: Just burn these documents later, I don’t want this to become an ACTUAL religious observance next year. GM: And you’ve talked your way past another threat. *sigh* Get 2500XP. Each. Asrian: Fear our diplomancy! Nemat: For it is strong!
  13. A playtest of a D&D game, set in Virginia during the American Civil War, February 1862, playing as Union soldiers and associates hunting down what are effectively land-based privateers. Me: So basically we’re hunting down an adventuring party. The Willis Gang used to be ‘bountyhunters’, but have now graduated to general brigandage. We’re playing McAllister’s Scouts and assorted Unionist locals. The brigand’s camp is up in the mountains, and despite the fog we can see they have a number of horses hitched up. Andy McClintoch: *turns to Injun Joe* Your lot steal horses, don’t they? Injun Joe: ಠ_ಠ The lawman attached to the party, one William ‘Bull’ McClintoch and brother of Andy, says he’ll go in first and try to end this peaceful, like. The rest of us exchange glances and prepare covering fire. ‘Bull’: I am the Law! Stand and deliver! Wait, that’s not the law. Andy OoC: Exact opposite, really. Module’s writer: In response you get a mouthful of stuff we can no longer say in this shop. Bull shoots Willis’ pistol out of his hand, grapples him, and cuffs him in one round. Andy: That’s my brother. There’s somebody else in the building that the bushwhackers are holed up in - one Major George Planter, who tried to take over the town for the Confederacy at the start of the war. He sounds a bit upset about our arrival. Andy discovers the half-hidden back exit on the cabin, and grins. While the rest of the scouts set the cabin on fire, and try to bash in the front door, some of us will be lurking near their escape route waiting for the Major and his allies to sneak out. It helps that in bear country, the doors open outwards and the hinges are on the outside. Of course, the cave mouth in the hillside near the campsite is probably going to be relevant. Especially since it’s full of Confederate troops. Still, we manage to pull a victory out of our collective arses - Buck & Shot ammunition is a useful thing for firing into crowded cabins and caves. Bayonet training is also handy. Andy: I got no problems about stabbing a rebel in the back. My brother might, but I ain’t him. The surviving bushwackers and Confederates in the cabin are choking on smoke in the cabin while we help ourselves to the coffee they had brewing on the fire outside. The wounded corporal in the cave is a McClintoch cousin. Bull: Went and joined the Confederates, did ya? Cousin Reb: They were mighty convincin’. Bull: Well, don’t give me any trouble and I’ll get you some coffee. Then Bull finds the pen of ‘contraband’ in the back of the cave, and elbows his cousin unconscious. Bull: On second thoughts, no coffee for you. There’s a white boy in here too, carrying a satchel with letters of commission for company officers under Planter’s command, and some useful letters from the Confederate governor. Andy: Hey! You guys in the cabin! You know we hang bushwhackers, right? But if you come out dressed as rebels we have to treat you fairly. GM: They don’t have any spare uniforms. Andy: I know >:D
  14. Pathfinder: The Mummy's Mask - More Desert Meandering Heading north in pursuit of the cultists/amateur tomb robbers. It might be the middle of the desert, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to encounter - including a scorpion-man in need of proper burial, a Royal Naga archeologist, and some really, really annoying birds. But we do find a river, which is nice, since it means Asrian and Zenobia can wash the dust off. Onka: And I’m going to camp over here, since I don’t want a knife somewhere uncomfortable. Zenobia: Any suspicious logs floating about? This is also the first time that Zenobia has seen her girlfriend undressed in daylight - she has silver-blonde hair, and skin almost as pale as paper. Rather unusual, since we’ve met her family and they’re all ethnically Osiriani. Nemat OoC: On the other side of the God-Rock, she’d be gorgeous. Zenobia OoC: I imagine her mother got some cruel accusations after she was born, right up until her father got kicked in the balls. Asrian is still extremely sensitive about her appearance, despite the fact that Zenobia isn;t at all repulsed. Zenobia: You’ve seen the way people look at me, before they know me. I’d NEVER think you’re ugly. Asrian: You’re fuzzy, it’s nice! I look like I’ve been dipped in flour! Zenobia: Well, let’s see if it washes off *rolls around in the shallows with her for a bit* Asrian eventually explains that she had a perfectly ordinary complexion when she was younger, but had an encounter with a djinn, and after she was returned from the djinn’s palace, she looked like this. Apparently she had djinn ancestry somewhere on her mother’s side of the family, and her Suli blood got awakened. Which probably explains why her mother insisted she was still beautiful. Zenobia, of course, agrees. Zenobia: The power of your ancestry shows on the outside. The light of your soul shines inside. You are gorgeous to me. Asrian: *hugs tight* Asrian is at least confident enough to go without her veil when we return to the rest of the party, but she’ll have it back on before we catch up with the cultists. Nemat: You’re actually quite attractive. Zenobia: MINE. We also acquire some unusual loot - the power source of some unknown construct. GM: It’s an ARC reactor. Of course, all these side quests are going to take us over most of the desert, but it’ll probably be OK since the cultists have no idea we’re in pursuit, and are probably expecting the Lamia and other cultists to catch up with them. Although that assumes we don’t fall victim to things like the stinky stinky goo ghosts that emerge from some of the dunes. Nemat OoC: Hang on, let me make a ‘Wot Dat?’ roll. And things like featureless black obelisks are just annoying to the archeologist in the party, even if the proportions aren’t 1:4:9. Zenobia: What’s the point of putting up an obelisk without inscribing the name of whoever commissioned it? Nemat: I think the point is if you need to know, you already know. Asrian: Actually I think the point is up the top there. It’s actually powerfully and dangerously enchanted, but useful as long as you don’t fry yourself as you put it to use. Happily we have a spell-sage in the party who can fiddle with that sort of thing with minimal chance of spontaneous arc-welding. It’s not the only weird relic out here either of course - arrangements of skull-sized pale rocks also attract our attention. Zenobia: Blood for the Blood God! Oh wait, they’re not skulls. Voice from Above: Do not take another step! Zenobia: *politely takes a step backwards* Rest of party: That’s a step! Onka: Let’s hope it’s not a copper dragon. GM: Actually it’s a blue. Keferuzagra the Blue Dragon: *lands* This is my garden! Stay away! Asrian: OK. Nemat: Nice work. Keferuzagra: Uh, thanks? Zenobia: Would you like to show us your garden or is it entirely private? Nemat: Are you familiar with the Tien form of rock gardening? GM: *sigh* And you’ve just taken him from hostile to friendly Onka: Have you tried looking down in the wastelands south of here? There’s basilisks, you might find some interesting rockery. He invites us to stay the night, to show off his other art, which includes golden statues of dragons. Admittedly gold leaf, but still very nice work. Nemat: Are you sure you’ve never heard of the Tien forms? GM: This dragon is SO going to find himself a new lair. Nemat OoC: Once he finds a couple of portable holes so he can take his rocks and statues with him. Keferuzagra gifts us an Efficient Quiver he found in an abandoned temple of Sarenrae, before he makes plans to emigrate. Some Tianese rock garden master is going to have something to be smug about, later. Nemat OoC: We’ll give the quiver to Onka - it’s the Wizard’s Golf Bag. He also warns us about a temple in the direction we’re heading, dedicated to Areshkagal, the demon lord of portals and riddles. Should be worth checking out, just in case, even if only to add a large AVOID to the map we eventually produce. Nemat OoC: I’d really like our GM to be familiar with compass directions. We hear flapping overhead, as we head north. Zenobia: *peering * Keferuzagra again? No, that’s yellow, not blue. Are there yellow dragons? Asrian: There’s gold dragons. Zenobia: No, definitely yellow. Nemat: Might be a really lost Imperial. Actually it’s a flock of Yrthaks, huge eyeless flying beasts with a powerful sonic attack. Asrian: SCATTER! These things are NASTY. To the point some us go into negative hit points. Lucky for us that half of them plow into the ground when trying to do hairpin turns in mid-air, and that Zenobia can do ranged healing from behind boulders, at least until said boulders get blasted apart by the Yrthaks’ sonic attacks. Things probably would have gone much better for us if any of us had remembered Nemat knew the Silence spell, earlier.
  15. Champions : Return To Edge City - Heist! Quadrant’s plan to take down the more ideologically-unpleasant gangs of Edge City, one affiliate at a time. At the moment, we’re focussing on the Park Front Dragons. Or rather, were, until we got distracted by an attempted tech heist at UC-EC. GM: You do realise that the way Allana sniffed out the ganger’s blood types is going to spread around the paramedics, and the rumour is going to be you’re a VAMPIRE bat? Those crows that Scooter chased were Hooded Crows, an exclusively Eurasian species. Hero Shrew: Well, all we have to do is check the birdwatcher’s network - because if any hooded crows are flying around California someone will notice. Of course, the Black Paladin was accompanied by carrion crows, not hooded crows. Hooded crows are more associated with the Morrigan and Cú Chulainn. Allana: So, who’s pissed off any Celtic death goddesses or Irish Hercules lately? Flux: Do we really want to spend time tracking down these crows Scooter spotted? Hero Shrew: If they’re important, I'm sure they’ll come back to bite us on the arse later. Allana: I assume we just checked the internet while we were waiting for campus security to show up and cart off the battery-stealing idiots. GM: You spent time explaining to them that what they did was a horrifically bad idea that could have got them charged with multiple federal crimes. That generally makes them back down. Allana’s right, too - the laws regarding crimes committed in powered armour are still overly broad. Of course, that’s not Allana’s only skill - she overhears one of the security people telling Brent that he’ll put the new superbatteries in secure storage until it’s time for his big presentation. And Allana can also tell that the security guy is COMPLETELY full of it. He also smells of unusual welding compounds and advanced engineering. She considers scent-tagging the batteries, but doubts she can do it inconspicuously. Or she could just carry them back to secure storage herself - she’s strong enough, and Brent went through too many years of high school to doubt the obvious jock can do it. Hardlight: Well, if we’re down here I’m going to go hang around the chemistry labs. GM: As Gareth Lowell? Hardlight: Yes. If they need me as Hardlight I’ll duck into the toilets. Hero Shrew: It not like you can find a phone booth these days. Hardlight: What do you actually DO to scent-mark something? Lick it or something? Or do you have a spray bottle? Hero Shrew: ‘And this is Mine, and this is Mine, and THIS is Mine…’ Allana: Actually, I can always wrap my wings around the batteries as I’m carrying the crate. Then I can do what I like. Hero Shrew: How much do you want to bet that security guard is planning a heist? Or is he just the Park Front Dragons’ contact on campus? Allana heads off to run her free clinic for a few hours, Hardlight, Fireflash and Flux lurk around campus, and Scooter parks the Qruiser off-campus, switching on the ‘Nondescript Van’ disguise, and has a nap. Allana: Just as long as it isn’t the ‘Low-Cost Nuclear Waste Disposal’ van. GM: Or the Septic Avenger. Hardlight: I’m at one of the cafeterias, peoplewatching. GM: And how old are you? Hardlight OoC: Mid-thirties? GM: So, you’re hanging around a campus cafeteria looking at people? You do remember the kind of reputation Gareth has, right? Hardlight OoC: Sigh. Hardlight does notice a number of students wandering around with aviator goggles hanging from their bets, and bags, and necks, and suspects they’re Dysprosium Dawn members who want to mark themselves with something less conspicuous than shipbuilder’s wrenches. Flux: I HAVE goggles, but they’re in the Qruiser, where Scooter is sleeping. Hero Shrew: *draped sideways across the pilot’s seat, mouth open, drool dribbling down his chin* Flux notices a hooded crow hanging around. Allana: The great tragedy of The Ring - everybody watches videos on their smartphones these days. Tiny screens. Flux: How fast can a crow fly? Allana: Pretty fast? Hero Shrew: But is it as fast as an unladen swallow. Flux: I’m being shadowed by a crow. Hero Shrew: Appropriate colour at least. Hero Shrew: Offer it some bacon. Flux: You’re asleep! Hero Shrew: Offer ME some bacon. Allana OoC: And Hardlight spends 30 minutes thinking he’s being followed by a crow, that turns out to be a pigeon. GM: Actually he IS being followed by a crow. He just didn’t see it until now. Hero Shrew OoC:: I’m going to wake up and find three standing on the window sill, aren’t I? Allana: If a second crow shows up we’ll have an attempted murder on our hands. The crow easily follows Flux around campus, even as he tries a few teleports. It doesn’t laugh at his attempted joke, either, but that may have been the delivery. Fireflash: Birds can’t laugh. Hero Shrew: Kookaburras. Fireflash leaves her class, takes flight, and actually manages to catch one of the hooded crows. It’s much stronger than any natural bird should be. And moving without flapping it’s wings. GM: up down up down left right- Fireflash OoC: is it doing the Konami code? They call Hardlight in to scan it with millimeter radar, but he takes so long changing from his civilian ID and sneaking outside invisibly that the bird wriggles free. Fireflash: The bird is loose in the room! Hero Shrew: Is that a code nobody told me about? The crow tries to bash it’s way out the window, as the other bashes its way in, but when Hardlight bubbles it in a force field, it goes limp and the other flies off. And his scan reveals nothing of its interior. Hardlight: It’s s bright vaguely bird-shaped object. Fireflash: *turns to Flux* Well, you’re the scientist. GM: Wow. Right in front of Hardlight too. But it does have carbon fibre feathers, and Flux detects emeralds. Flux: Ah. Oh dear. They’re Guiltrider’s. GM: Yes. She’s an Irish lass so Hugin and Munin wouldn’t have been appropriate. GM: This took much longer than I expected. You guys are consistently showing more restraint these days. Hero Shrew OoC:: Well, I was asleep in the van. GM: True. You’d have tried to eat it. Evidently she made the crows to keep an eye on us, without being too creepy-stalker. It’s just unfortunate we had that run in with the Black Paladin too. GM: these were just her first model. Hero Shrew: It’s when she has carbon-fibre cassowaries that we need to worry. GM: Recently Gareth Lowell achieved a new position. Hero Shrew: He had some ribs removed? He actually got a position on the Corporate Advisory Council Allana: The junior junior version of the Illuminati. Fireflash: If you can’t control the sandbox, how can you be trusted with the world? It’s more an attempt to moderate the excesses of corporate ownership of Edge City, using that most universal of powers, mutual enlightened mistrust. Allana and Hero Shrew take the night shift, watching for the theft of that battery tech. Hero Shrew takes up position on a nearby roof. Hardlight: So you’re a gargoyle now? Hero Shrew OoC:: Well, I just botched that perception check. Evidently I’m perched on the wrong corner of the building. GM: Or you were too busy staring at Allana’s tits. Hero Shrew: Very likely. Hardlight OoC: Did you remember to add your Brooding bonus? Any dramatic flashes of lightning nearby? At least we didn’t get spotted. Hero Shrew OoC:: Despite the implausibility of a gargoyle on a building at a Californian university. We might not have seen them go in, but we do see a cloaked figure coming back out, carrying the battery case. But Allana can’t smell the scent she tagged it with. The figure also has a grapple gun, and their cloak transforms into a glider. Hero Shrew: What’s going on? I was too busy staring at Castor and Pollux. Allana swoops off in pursuit, whilst Scooter jumps down and heads into the security building. Allana: Not a bad idea, actually. Check that the security guards are OK. Hero Shrew: And that the person with the bat-cloak isn’t a decoy. It’s impressive that they can fly and still carry the battery. But that assumes the battery is actually in the case, and besides, we’re living in a comic book universe. Flux: Theoretically, you can fly with an elephant, if you can pick up an elephant. Allana: I can. GM: Well, you follow the batglider without much difficulty. Hero Shrew OoC:: I’m not surprised - if he looks over his shoulder and see giant bat wings he’ll just assume they’re his. Scooter, meanwhile, is checking the side door of the security building, discovers that the batglider reset the security systems and locked it as he left, and heads round the front to let the night guards know the bad news. Allana snatches the case from the batglider. Hero Shrew: He just got mugged in mid-air. GM: Yep! I bet he wasn’t expecting that. Batglider: Tesla’s Magnificent Moustache! *draws a curious gun, pauses to think for a second, and shoots a large pellet at Allana* But it’s not a ping-pong ball, so it can’t be FoxBat. It’s pretty easy for Allana to take him down too, and we might be able to find out who he’s working for. Batglider: They haven’t paid me enough for confidentiality. Hero Shrew: … so… if we let you go, you’ll tell us who hired you? Batglider: And you won’t take all my stuff? Sweet - usually I have to rebuild it. Hero Shrew: *looks up at Allana* He’s smarter than they usually are. Batglider: Sure I am *jiggles the Dysprosium Dawn google on his utility belt* Hero Shrew: You’re holding him against your chest and he’s not even wriggling. I mean, I would. Batglider: Anyway, it was Johnny Chen. Of the Park Front Dragons. Allana: *dramatically flings her arm out and doubles over in badly-faked pain* Argh. Ow. He’s getting away, Batglider: No no no, I don’t want a rep for that! You think I want people to think I could hurt either of you? Allana: You’ve got gas grenades. Batglider: True. *shoots Allana and Scooter with them, and ‘makes his escape’* Hero Shrew: So, Allana, do you want to go fly around over Park Front and see if any gang members try to flag you down? If they’re looking up at the night sky looking for a big bat shape they might make an understandable mistake. She doesn’t see any, but when she returns to the university she can smell chemicals burning. Somebody has dissolved a hole in the wall. And the case we just returned is gone again. Hero Shrew: *sigh* Hey, security guy! They got in again. It looks like the Batglider played us for fools. At least he had to drag the case out along the ground, since we kept the impeller unit he’d been using to minimise the weight before. Hardlight: What happened? Hero Shrew: We caught the Batglider but we let him go because he was smarter than most of the people we catch. But he went around the building and broke in again. Hardlight: … Flux, what happened? Flux: A burglary. Well, two burglaries. Hero Shrew: Technically it was the same burglary twice. Hardlight: … … Allana, what happened? Hardlight does detect the beeping signal coming from Allana. That pellet was a tracking bug, so the batglider knew that she had left the university and he was free to try again. On the other hand, Allana can follow the batglider’s sweaty exertion as he tries to drag the case across campus. He didn’t actually get very far, despite having an hour to work. No deal this time. Batglider: That’s fair. Allana: And we’re taking your utility belt too. Hardlight: Shark repellent? Why does he have shark repellent? Hero Shrew: It’s bat-shark repellent. It only works on bat-sharks. He has a bunch of other very interesting tech, too. Including a crime-scene analyser. GM: He’d actually be a better superhero than some of you, if he wanted to be. But he’s perfectly normal without his tech, so he’ll be going into minimum security, and nowhere near the machine shop. The batteries will get into proper police custody. Hero Shrew: Even if it WAS the Park Front Dragons that commissioned the theft, we can’t prove it. But hey, we stopped the theft. Twice. Allana: Three times. It’s probably going to be a big blow to the Park Front Dragons. Not least because Dysprosium Dawn are going to be annoyed that their top procuring agent is locked up. What now? Allana: Visit Millenium City. See the sights. Like the Mini-godzilla in the zoo. Hero Shrew: So how long until we do one of those PSA videos? GM: The Rep is not putting Scooter anywhere NEAR a PSA. You all know what information is like after it gets filtered through Scooter’s brain. Hero Shrew: You want me to go tell this campus news reporter everything that happened? Flux: I do not have a Gag superpower. We decide to patrol around Park Front, to make it harder for the gang to collect protection money. GM: But if you spend all your time there, you won’t be elsewhere. Hero Shrew: At least we have the Crime Computer to send us alerts now. GM: It only really notices major things. Hero Shrew: Doing better than we do, then. But Fireflash has figured out how the gang collects their protection money. It’s through Patreon. Fireflash: Great - then all we have to report the account and get them suspended. Flux: And the IRS will take an interest too. And we’ve got enough evidence that the ECPD can get a warrant for external surveillance, so if they try to collect the protection money in person, they’ll be on film. If we can shut down their exo-armour fight ring too, the gang will lose all its income streams. It turns out that we’ve been hitting them at the worst possible time - there’s an underground martial arts tournament coming into town soon, and the Dragons were going to running the exo-armour part of it, but it meant cancelling most of their local matches in the lead-up. We start asking around, in case a friend of a friend knows exactly which martial artist pros are coming to town, and where they’d be. Oddly enough, it’s the Neo-druids of Lo-Carb, and Madam Lil the brothel madam, who have the contacts we need to track down this Street Fighter problem. Madam Lil: You have to understand that my clients expect a certain amount of discretion, but some of these people have very specific tastes. And don’t feel much. The event is the Valhalla Invitational, which used to be held in Vegas. She gives us the information she has, on the condition that when the fighting starts we’re nowhere near her place of business. And Lo-Carb provides organic produce for the fighters that want that sort of thing. Especially the mystically enhanced produce. The person we need to talk to about the Valhalla Invitational is one Makoto. Lo-Carb: She - and we MEAN she, we’ve heard about the way your brain work, Scooter, don’t make any comments about her, *gestures* you know, she’s sensitive about it. SHE is one of the contestants this year. And she won’t be happy if she finds out you’re going to be messing with the tournament. Actually, take Allana when you talk to her, she’s less likely to stick her foot in her mouth. Hero Shrew: Let’s just hope Allana doesn’t make her feel inadequate. We do have one good reason to be involved. Hero Shrew: These guys are wearing exo-armour when they beat each other up. And that’s assault with a deadly weapon. And PRIMUS come down heavy on this kind of tech crime. Do you really want PRIMUS to show up in their powered armour and trash the whole tournament? GM: What, those old things? I mean, even the Iron Guard - wait, they can’t even afford those these days. Allana lends on the veranda of Makoto’s rented penthouse apartment. The doors slide open. Without power. Makoto: I’m upstairs. In fact she’s sitting cross-legged in mid-air, in the lotus position, with a couple of vases orbiting her. She opens her eyes and comes face to face with Allana’s primary attributes. Makoto: Wow. They really - I mean they mentioned. They warned me. Flux: Oh wait, that’s what Scooter meant by Castor and Pollux? I think one of the twins was supposed to be bigger than the other, but I’m not going to check. Makoto explains that the oldtimers of the Valhalla Invitational aren’t happy about exo-armour fighters being at the event at all. Mere cyborgs are borderline. So the exo-armour event was going to be a side-tournament. If any of the gangs are going to get into trouble over this, she’s pleased to hear it’s one of the ones affiliated to Humanity First. Makoto: These people want to put a bullet in my head just for breathing - but you know all about that. She also points out that if we come in to break up the event before all the betting is over and the organisers get their cut, a lot of people are going to be very very unhappy with us. She drops a few nicknames that we should probably recognise, but don’t. But she CAN get the five members of Quadrant in as observers, if we bust the Park Front Dragons outside the event. She’ll even feed us video of the tournament, if we do her a favour later. Allana: Well as long as it’s nothing completely heinous. Makoto: Nothing illegal, I promise. The last time the Invitational started letting organised crime get this involved, well, it got bad. Allana: OK then. Makoto: Great! You can be my +5. Hero Shrew: I’m looking forward to sitting and grinning at the Park Front Dragons, and looking up at the clock every five minutes. GM: And they won’t be able to leave, because they need the money.
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