Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Game Night: DC Adventures--Earth 52 (February 8th, 2012)

Last night was our DC Adventures/Mutants and Masterminds 3rd edition night.  Lots of fun, lots of great players, and some ruminations of my own on the direction I've gone with the game.

Late last year, the PCs in the campaign gained boons for helping out Neron  (one of the devil-ish guys in the DC Universe).  I had always intended to, fairly soon after those boons were handed out, start throwing some foreshadowing about gifts not turning out well, etc.

Unfortunately, in real life, I ended up missing a few sessions, and when I had the Tuesday nights free again, between personal life and work, I threw some adventures together that were "in the direction" I was planning on taking the campaign, but minus some of the foreshadowing and pacing I had originally intended, because not gaming at all is much more of a momentum killer than loosing a little nuance here and there.

So last night, the group took Necromancer to one of the last "public" supernatural specialists in the DC Universe, John Constantine.  While Constantine worked on Necromancer's problem, the rest of the group went on a tour of London.

I wanted to give the group a chance to actually be celebrities without anyone wanting anything from them.  The Londoners loved them  (for the most part).  Myrmidon got to be a celebrity, Fahrenheit was the worst possible ugly American  (even if his citizenship was kind of questionable early in the campaign), and Marathon got to heckle his teammates.

Then Necromancer got freed from the ring and found out that the Phantom Stranger was waiting for his companions.  Necromancer immediately headed to the rest room upon meeting the Phantom Stranger  (in part because he had been trapped in a ring with no bathroom for a while at this point).  The Phantom Stranger picked up the rest of the team, and the full intervention began.

The Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, Zauriel, and Destiny all showed up to offer the group a choice.  It seems that Neron actually bet Blaze and Trigon that he could get Heaven to end the world, instead of causing it himself.  Once he got control of Hell, he set Asmodel loose to expound upon the wickedness of humankind, as their champions, the Justice League, gained much of their power from Neron's boon.

Destiny showed the group what was likely to happen if events continued to move down this path.  People would question where the Justice League got their powers.  Some people would be fine and begin to believe the ends justified the means.  This greater cynicism would convince many of the angels that Asmodel was trying to sway, and eventually the angelic host would demand the Justice League pay for their crimes.

In the ensuing battle, the forces of Hell would be set loose, since the angelic host entered the "neutral ground" en masse, and a massive supernatural war would claim untold numbers of lives.

After looking at the future, Marathon dubbed Destiny's book the Coloring Book of Doom.  Fahrenheit began to call Destiny "Bob Marley."  Because Fahrenheit conflated Bob Marley with Jacob Marley.  Because Fahrenheit is like that.

The Phantom Stranger shows where the Justice League New Guard's life went askew, and the assembled cosmic beings offered to let the group "fix" the meddling of other cosmic beings in their lives.  They could go back and keep Black Hand from gaining a connection to Nekron, thus keeping Black Hand from killing several members of the team, allowing them to develop their powers without Waller's experiments and cut off Nekron's connection to the Earth.  Then they could convince their later selves not to take Neron's offer.

In the past, Fahrenheit took a detour to sneak up on Damian Wayne/Robin and kick in in a sensitive place.  Yes, he was mature enough to ambush a 10 year old.  Yes, he's a 10 year old that's been trained as an assassin for years, but still . . .

Back on track, the team attacked Black Hand, and managed to dive into the portal to Nekron's realm just before Atrocitus arrived to reclaim his rod from Black Hand.  Black Hand was, unfortunately incapacitated and sans rod when Atrocitus arrived, and the group saw the Red Menace savaging the poor villain as they dove into Nekron's realm.

In Nekron's realm, they fought shades of heroes that had died  (treated as minions).  So before the group could destroy the altar that connected Nekron's realm to Earth, they had to take on Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Flash, and Ice.  They did so with amazing quickness, although oddly the group had problems hitting on poor Ice.  She must just look that innocent.

The altar destroyed, Necromancer shifted the group back to Earth, but not before almost forgetting that he still had Circe's trapped ring and almost getting the whole group stuck in "ring limbo" together.  The group then ended up talking to their past selves, just before Neron arrived.

Beorn was typically laid back about seeing his future self, Marathon left himself a note warning him about his ex-wife.  Myrmidon convinced Necromancer that he needed to write the self help book that was looming in his future.  Myrmidon also asked the cosmic powers to erase his memory of the "old timeline" but then left himself some notes.  Necromancer sobbed over Myrmidon convincing him to write the self help book.

Back in the future, the group found out that fairly minor things had changed.  Waller never died, and they were never working for her directly.  Daemona, the member of the group that died fighting Mongul, never joined the group to begin with, and Paradox was recruited by Steve Trevor sooner in the team's history.

The cliffhanger was Geo-Force destroying the Hall of Justice, and Talia explaining that her father has found out that Kobra killed the Outsiders, and raised them with a stolen Lazarus Pit, and Ra's hired agents, the Secret Six, are trapped by Kobra in South America.

In the meantime, delivering a file with all of that information, Ubu got to have a nice chat and some tea with Myrmidon.  Then he took a picture of Fahrenheit since he was the man that kicked the master's grandson in the family jewels.

Marathon intends to charge South America as soon as possible, without waiting for the party to deliberate, and Myrmidon is waiting for Ra's al Ghul to call him back.  Also, Necromancer is a famous author of a self help book.

Mechanically speaking, since Marathon was unmodified by boons power wise, and was a point away from PL 12, the whole group is "reset" at PL 12 with +1 pp.   I felt a little bad about this, especially since I let them enjoy PL 14  (well, most of them, except for Marathon and Paradox) for longer than I had initially intended.

The problem I was running into is that, I have some campaign events in mind, and I know how it all ends  (I've got a lot of millage between here and there), and challenging PL 14 characters starts to burn through "known" characters that either should be tied to the "endgame," or at the very least uses characters as powerful as those that would be tied to later events, making the pacing problematic.

I hope no one wants to hit me with a shovel.

I also want to thank Fahrenheit's player, as well was GopherDave  (Marathon's player) for the sinus medicine and the offer of sinus medicine.  Work had managed to kick a minor sinus irritation into a full blown brain melter, and while I refused GopherDave's offer at first, I took Fahrenheit's player up on the offer a few moments later because the smell of food almost made me loose any food I had retained from the day.

A few things occur to me.  I think everyone had fun, but I think I could have done better.  I went from being a bit too free form to being a bit too railroady.  I wanted to bring things back around naturally, but I think without some of the foreshadowing and gradual build up, I forced things a bit too much all at once.  I also think I should have wrapped things up a bit more gradually at the end of the night, perhaps without any cliff hanger at all this time around.

Throwing the Ra's plot into the mix kind of erased the "enjoy your downtime" that I was trying to engender with the trip to London.  Also, I know that I've used up just about all tolerance for time travel and alternate realities for a good while, so that's getting pulled out of the toolkit and put on the GM shelf for a while.  Not forever.  It's a comic book game, after all, but yeah, too much for now.

Overall, a fun night, with great players, and some things I need to work on to keep things moving along enjoyably for everyone.


  1. No... You misunderstood... Marathon has left...

    "Goin' Southbound... With snake killin' on my mind..."

  2. As fast as Marathon is, there is a fine line between "intends" and "has already left . . . " ;)