Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Modern Marvels - Session 2 "Into the Savage Land"




We open with a Transition Scene: Knowing they were dealing with a magical artifact the team contacted the only expert they knew - Dr. Stephen Strange. He traced the location of the item to Antarctica but could not pinpoint it. He offered to teleport the heroes but admitted he was not sure he could return them given the fuzziness of the signal. He gave them a card - "Nick Fury - Director of SHIELD" - and suggested that they contact this person and explain the situation. He would be interested in the situation and it was likely he could provide transport.
I decided Strange was at least sort-of-known as an expert on the occult to local NYC heroes, even the new ones.



Meeting with Mr. Fury the next morning he had already talked to Strange and agreed that the threat should be pursued. He shares that he has a file on all three of them and is willing to "deputize" them and provide them with transport to the Antarctic. 

Castle bows out at this point - he has a war to wage here, not at the other end of the world.
Apprentice Who decided that he wanted to take a different hero for this mission

Iron Man says he has to check in with his employer first and heads out. 
Apprentice Red had to go to work earlier so he was not available

Fury announces he's bringing in another "resource" to help out as he doesn't want Panther going alone and can;t spare any of his normal agents. He introduces T'Challa to Peter Rasputin, code name "Colossus". They jump into a (Flying Car? Does SHIELD still use those? Momentary confusion, ended up giving them something like a quinjet. I figure it's an earlier version that Stark has developed and the more advanced one will eventually end up used by the Avengers.) SHIELD jet and head south - waaay south!


Apprentice Who decided he wanted to try out Colossus instead of Punisher so now we have an interesting situation where Colossus has ties to Nick Fury and SHIELD - do the other X-Men fit into this too or is it just Peter? What about Professor X? Is SHIELD behind the X-Men somehow? We will have to explore this some more down the road a bit.

The estimated location of the Serpent Crown has been loaded into the S-Jet's Nav system so navigation is not an issue. Panther makes an easy Vehicles check against the Doom Pool. 


Unexpectedly, in the middle of the icy wasteland the whiteness gives way to a verdant green valley! This is where the Crown is located! Is it responsible for this tremendous climate change?

Attempting to get the lay of the land they spot 3 areas of interest: a mountain with a skull carved into it, something that looks like some kind of ice fortress, and something that looks like a modern-ish installation. The jet is acting up so they decide to land an equal distance from all three structures to minimize travel time. The VTOL system engages and they land in a clearing, in the jungle ... in the middle of what should be Antarctica.
Scene Distinctions now in effect: "Dense Jungle" and "Dangerous Flora and Fauna"


Feeling that the jungle is at least something like familiar territory, however unexpected, Black Panther debarks the jet and climbs a tree to take a look around. Colossus loiters near the jet and is suddenly jumped by 3 velociraptors! Shifting to metal form the "Russian Farmboy" uproots a nearby tree and tree-slaps all 3 of them into next week! Panther looks down in amazement - he didn't even have time to jump out of the tree.
This was creative action and an awesome roll by Who backed up by some pretty vivid descriptions of what he was doing and a nice justification of how  "Russian Farmboy" applies to fighting dinosaurs in Antarctic jungles. The answer is that he pulled up a lot of trees working on the farm and used to swing them around like baseball bats for fun - sounds good to me!

Fortunately for Panther's ego, 3 more raptors emerge from the jungle, this time circling and approaching more warily "Surrounding" the metal man. (Imposing the "Surrounded" condition on Colossus) Panther leaps out of the trees, sinking his daggers into one of the beasts - he's never fought dinosaurs so he's not taking any chances.

Line of the night, Apprentice Blaster:"... that's a d6 Weapon for my daggers because I'm going to stab him, then a d8 for Enhanced Strength, because, uh, I'm going to stab him really hard ..."


The remaining 2 dinos attack Colossus whose steely skin resists their tearing teeth.
Apprentice Who learns the awesomeness of the "Invulnerable" SFX: Spend a Plot Point to ignore physical stress or trauma unless caused by electromagnetic effects" - yeah. The dinos don't have a chance after that. The kid gets pretty giddy because he has about 5 Plot Points when he discovers that.

Colossus finally gets to go and sensing his chance he leaps into the air, snatches a Pterodactyl, lands back on the ground, and proceeds to beat a raptor senseless with it.

He wants to use the "Dangerous Flora and Fauna scene distinction to do this - WTF? I made a face, and then it was pointed out to me that he's playing a metal man fighting dinosaurs in a jungle in the middle of antarctica. I decided to allow it Heck, that one is right out of the basic book and dangerous doesn't have to mean only to the player characters..


Black Panther goes next and throws a dagger "really hard" and takes down the remaining raptor.
T'Challa is pretty vicious in melee

Raptors handled, the heroes turn to discover the face of a huge T-Rex peering at them from behind some trees - then it emerges from those tress and steps on their jet!

"Threat to Wakanda!"
'Denied! - with the jet destroyed he's stuck here just like you so Wakanda is safe!"

Colossus is kicked like a football into the jungle when the beast charges. Panther runs up the dino's back and looks for a good place to execute his tried and true anti-dinosaur strategy. Then with a roar of full-throttle boot jets, Iron Man flies in!
Apprentice Red is home now and jumps right in!


The Unibeam charges up and unloads - doing absolutely nothing! Those Rexes are deceptively quick! 

A ferocious furball of snapping jaws of giant teeth, punching metal fists, stabbing daggers, and more metal punches end with a T-Rex on the ground and 3 slightly battered heroes still standing  The Doom Pool ends at 2d6 and a d10. In the distance, three interesting structures beckon ...

Notes: Progress continues and this one went much smoother. The basics are down. I added the scene distinctions this time and they actually saw use! I am using elements of both the RPG.net campaign I mentioned in Session 1 and the material in the basic rulebook that is Act 2 of Breakout - if you have it you might as well use it!

Blaster got in a bit of a rut with Panther's dagger attacks and I pointed out he might as well play Wolverine, but he did handle the plane stuff and did some scouting around as well.

Plot Points flowed freely - Apprentice Who rolled three "1's" at one point - and the Doom Pool was rising. Who sat on his quite a bit to keep his new favorite ability going. Red and Blaster got pretty comfortable with theirs, spending them on stunts and adding in extra total dice too.

I really like the concept of "Scene Distinctions" as a way to include the setting and the scenery in the game mechanically. I think any location deserves at least one and they will be a part of my notes from now on.

I'm still figuring out Complications. I went with "Surrounded" as the three dinos closed in but as soon as Panther dropped one the question came up: Is he still surrounded with only two? I said he was but then once we're down to one it doesn't really make sense anymore. There's a fairly subtle note there that I think a complication really has to apply only to the target, without requiring anything further of the inflicting party, or it can fall apart in the next round. Typically I think the target should have to use some kind of effect to offset or counter the Complication but against weaker foes it may just be easier and quicker to wipe them out in spite of the complication, rather than wasting a round to undo it. I need more practice here.

I also need more practice sing Hordes (like the raptors) and Large Threats (like the T-Rex) as I thought it was all clear then once the game started I got a little fuzzy on how it all worked. I'm sure we will see more of each type. 

Finally, we all  still keep forgetting to use an opponent's condition against them. Hopefully we will get past this eventually.

The best part - we kept laughing all through the game as it was a blast. Something about the Marvel thing combined with the mechanics of the game leads to a very different atmosphere when we're playing this one, even over ICONS and it's fairly relaxed structure. I think it's that Marvel is something we all are familiar with to some degree and so we all "get it" when someone makes a reference or does something interesting with a "known" character. I can't really pin it down just yet but it's just a lot of fun.

Next up: Exploring the Savage Lands! What could they possibly find down there?


2 comments:

WQRobb said...

I think the complication would continue to be in affect regardless of dropping the single dino (this is a problem of complications: logical actions in play don't necessary negate them right off the bat).

Scene distinctions rock. They are such as easy to way describe the location and get the players thinking about ways to interact with their environment.

Matt Celis said...

What happened to Captain America's right arm in that first image? Did a magical villain wither it so it only comes to his waist rather than his thigh? How cruel!