Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Atomic City: The Animated Series - Museum Mayhem Part 1

Well the way the schedules worked out this weekend we didn't have time for D&D but we did have time for Apprentice Blaster and Apprentice Who to return to the modern era of Atomic City and take on the menace of Doctor Karnak!*

We were pressed for time and I was just rediscovering the greatness of the Folio so despite being interested in point buy hero creation the boys rolled them up the old fashioned way. They did use my modified power category chart from this post and it did seem to fit their style of play better. I'm giving them the option of creating new characters anytime we start an adventure because a) it'[s fun and they seem to enjoy coming up with new concepts b) it helps populate the universe and c) it builds up a pool of characters they can bring into any adventure -which as it turned out will prove useful.

We ended up with "The Musketeer", an alien swordmaster  (Strike, Fast Attack, Invulnerability, oh and Prowess 8 + a specialty in bladed weapons!) from an Asgardian** type society who has come to earth to prove his worth as a hero (played by Apprentice Blaster) and "Nightmare" a semi-battlesuited man from the future with light invulnerability, blast, and time control powers (duplication, time travel) played by Apprentice Who.

The ACPD puts out a call for superhero help as the supervillain Doctor Karnak has taken control of the Atomic City Museum of World History with a gang of thugs and has already repulsed several SWAT team assaults.

I am running Museum Mayhem from Vigilance Press as it seemed pretty well suited for a single-session ICONS game. There is a lot of exposition here delivered by the police captain on site. I skipped almost all of it - heroes rarely stand around for complete intel on a situation beyond "the cops can't handle it they need your help". I would share the information from the impressions of the police mystics if I had a magic-sensitive here but I didn't and they heroes didn't care.

Springing into action the heroic duo decide that the roof is the best place to enter. They climb a nearby tall building and leap/glide down to the roof, entering the museum without much difficulty.

I don't make them roll for this stuff once they come up with a plan. In D&D this is an Athletics check to climb, a Thievery check to pick the lock, etc. but this is a Supers game - we don't roll for boring mundane stuff anyone could do.

Climbing down into the gift shop, the Musketeer sees hostages in the room next door and charges in, ignoring Nightmare's attempt at coming up with a plan, or suggestion that they sneak or use disguises of some kind. The room is an exhibit on Roman charioteering. The museum guards are tied up here, guarded by some thugs and a masked Egyptian-looking mystic of some kind. He calls out some words, his amulet glows, and as the thugs fall to M's sword the charioteers come to life! Nightmare considers calling some duplicate help but the Musketeer (having been raised right) slashes the glowing amulet free of the mystic and then smashes it when it lands on the ground. As Nightmare blasts the cultist into unconsciousness, the charioteers stiffen and fall over as their magic drains away.

I was still in D&D mode here and almost had the chariot guys stay animated to get in a good fight. I came to my senses though and realized that the amulet grab-and-smash is exactly the kind of action I should be rewarding even if it's not explicitly described in the text. It's a smart play, especially from my combat-minded Apprentice, and should pay off. I also gave them each a point of determination for rescuing the guards - not a by-the-book award but I consider them all to have the unstated quality "hero" and like to reward them for doing heroic things. Plus, we are really bad at tagging and even remembering to spend Determination until the stuff hits the fan so I work it in when I am thinking about it.

After freeing the guards the heroes told them to wait until the coast was clear before getting out. A nearby room had some hubbub in it and turned out to have 4 thugs guarding some wealthy museum patrons taken hostage. After a short fight the thugs were down and the hostages were free, in spite of a desperate gun-to-the-head move by one of the criminals, which was dealt with swiftly by Nightmare.

I knew this would be an easy fight even with double the number of recommended guards. Coordination 3, Prowess 3, Stamina 5 or 6 means that in many cases a single hit takes them down even without using the minion rules. It's supposed to be that way but I was still fighting some D&D mindset and feeling like somebody should be taking at least a little damage while walking over these guys.They got another Determination point for freeing these hostages. 

Then they went into the next room, the huge exhibit on Set, and got their clocks cleaned. Doctor Karnak was here in the middle of a ritual, and he summoned Wraith Mummies to delay the heroes while he completed his magic. It worked really well: as the heroes charged into the thugs guards, the mummies blasted them with beams of dark magic, doing little to the impressively resilient Musketeer but dropping Nightmare into 10 pages of unconsciousness. Stunned at this turn of events, the alien swordsman backed off and decided to seek some super-help as the helpless Nightmare became a the newest hostage.

I just love this picture - Definitely belongs in "The Animated Series" -  it could be right out of Scooby Doo! More of Dan Houser's fine work

Will Nightmare survive? What if it's one of those rituals? Can Musketeer find sufficient help to rescue his new partner? Where is the Handicapped Hero? All will be revealed next week!

This is the danger of ICONS and really any Superhero game - combat against normals tends to seem very easy then BAM! Something takes out half the team in one shot! I probably overdid the mummies as I used a half-dozen of the "Elite" level types and while M was up for that fight poor Nightmare was not and went down quickly. I reminded him that in the future if you're going to take Duplication as a main power it's probably a good idea to use it before you charge in. I still felt a little bad though. The good thing is that it makes this adventure a lot more exciting and it gives Apprentice Red a chance to join in and help rescue another hero. It also lets Who bring in one of his old characters too. So really, it's all going just fine.

*Some names of villains have been changed to better fit my game. I'm very picky about my villain names. And my city names. And quite a few other things when I'm building a setting through actual play. 

**They decided he might be from "Buttgard" pretty early on. This is one of those situations as a parent where it's hard to decide whether to stifle the laughter (more because of how clever they think they are and how pleased with themselves they are at their cleverness than the remark itself), tell them to knock it off (so the entire game doesn't dissolve into teen/preteen silliness), or just try to ignore it and let them think they've gotten away with something. I managed that last choice until about the fifth time it came up amongst a sea of partially-suppressed giggles and snickers and we all had a good laugh and moved on. Because years ago I probably made the same comment to my friends and thought I was just as clever...


Barking Alien said...

Sounds fun and pretty simple.

By simple I really mean, "Straight forward and not overly complex", which is good simple, not negative simple.

Funny but your PC heroes are sounding a bit more heroic then some of mine...-sigh-

Blacksteel said...

I do like -and ICONS has been well-supported with - the drop-in situation. Here's what's going on, here's who is behind it and here is why - now GO! It's a good kind of supplement as it's self-contained, doesn't come with any long-term story assumptions, and doesn't demand a lot of prep for characters or plot adaptation. For a supers game these are especially handy.

You mentioned a possible sandbox supers campaign in one of your recent posts - this is the kind of support product that would make that kind of thing easier IMO. Pick up 6 or a dozen of these and have a ready-to-go set of options to be dropped in on short notice.

As for the heroic behavior, well, we watch a lot of Avengers and Justice League so they know how this is supposed to work. It probably won't last forever but for now they aren't interested in gritty angsty anti-heroes or having everything in shades of grey. A small degree of mechanical reinforcement assures them that they are doing the right thing so they happily charge onwards.