Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Post-Holiday Update - DC, M&M, and Emerald City Begins!

With a 3-day weekend and all of the Apprentices coming home for at least a day I planned absolutely nothing and paid the price. Red wanted to play 40K, Blaster wanted to play Deadlands, Who wanted to play something with Superheroes, and I was thinking about trying out 5E. Great - no consensus at all! We finally settled on superheroes, but I had done zero prep for anything supers this week. I decided to start the Emerald City Knights adventures for M&M, but they wanted to play in the DC universe ... alright ... the first part isn't really going to change anyway but I'm going to have some homework to do for future sessions. Also ... characters:

  • Who took Arsenal, formerly Speedy, Green Arrows old sidekick - who has also had some addiction problems over the years. He was a little disappointed to find out after the fact that he doesn't have a bow in this writeup! We decided he was moving out to the west coast to get away from his old problems and in the wake of the death of a family member.
  • Blaster took Batman Beyond - clearly this is some kind of "next generation" campaign in the DCU - and since I didn't have a Hero Lab file for him ended up running him out of the book itself. He's in town running down a case that is honestly pretty vague right now.  
  • Red made up his own hero named "Archangel" who is a winged mentalist. No, he hasn't read a ton of X-Men so I don't care about the name - besides, this is DC! As it turns out he didn't recall the finer points of character creation even though Hero Lab declared it legit and this caused a few problems later. He's a local who has been genetically modified by someone into his current state.
Emerald City is a quiet city on the west coast up around Seattle/Tacoma. It hasn't ever had a significant or long-lasting hero presence - but that's about to change. The characters are all downtown when there's an explosion and a silvery cloud whips through downtown, moving on its own with no regard for the wind and blasting out blue bolts of lightning, bringing havoc and devastation to an otherwise nice afternoon. It dissipates as quickly as it appeared but there is a great deal of damage, numerous injured citizens, and some people have ... changed.

After leaping into action to help pull people from damaged cars and clear the rubble from a partially collapsed building (to many thanks), the heroes notice that one of the victims has multiple rubbery arms and is throwing other survivors around. Another is hovering over the area near the center of the destruction and pulling pieces of cars and signs towards her. One more victim is glowing, rotating through the colors of the spectrum, while one more is crumpled on the ground, surrounded by swirling black shapes.  

Of course a fight breaks out - what kind of jerk mugs people during a disaster? - but it's a tough one for our heroes. The octo-man fights BB to a standstill until he and Arsenal bring the mutant down together. The light-guy and the darkness-guy take a few shots and then disappear. Magnetic-girl blows Archangel out of the sky after he takes a few shots at her and his attempts to mind-control her come to nothing. At the end, three battered heroes stand amidst the damaged downtown with an unconscious octo-man as the police and fire finally begin to push past the traffic jams and rubble. Their intent is to ask the "villain" a few questions then turn him over to the authorities but that will have to wait until next time...

DM Notes: The word of the day is "rust" as in it felt like I had never run this game before. Between the character scrambles, the last-minute setting changes, and not having read the rules in months, I was really sloppy and really slow. This is a fairly simple game to run but you wouldn't have known it if you were watching me today. We only spent a few hours doing this and some of that was set-up time, but that's as "off" as I have felt in a long time. I maybe should have run ICONS but we really didn't even consider that option. Some points:
  • One was running from the book, two were running from Hero Lab sheets so just the basic "where is this stuff" was a little different between the two, slowing things down
  • I'm trying to run 4-5 separate villains with completely different types of powers with no prior review  - that's not a good place to be. Advantages, maneuvers, different action types - it really slowed me down as I realized I don't know what the powers do by sight like I do with say, Champions so I spent some time flipping through books to figure out exactly how some things work. 
  • Red was not really thinking about power limits when he made his character and so was not really running at a full PL10, with lots of things like attack 10, effect 5, shorting himself when it came time to roll dice. 
  • I'm still not great at managing the transition to M&M's damage system, and it's the one part of the game I think might be hardest for my players to handle, so I need to make it work. That whole resistance roll mechanic with bruised/dazed/staggered/out is not as visceral or intuitive for us as "I did 37 points with my greatsword" and that's hard to embellish when I'm struggling to work the rules and the villain tactics and the players are just as raw as I am. 
Anyway it went alright and they are interested in playing more. It will be a while before we play again and I will have time to refresh myself on the mechanics. I've been so focused on Pathfinder and 5E the last couple of weeks that it's tricky to keep all of the details for all of the games in my head but I think i'll be fine with a re-read when I'm not actually trying to run a game.

The fun part will be re skinning this adventure to fit into the DC Universe. I had started working on this a few months back and then put it aside as we played other games. Looks like it's time to put that back on the front burner. As a campaign it has some railroad in it, but that's a plus if we're going to have some breaks between sessions anyway. I kind of like the idea of time-shifting it forward too, where the sidekicks and younger heroes are taking a place in front, and some of the older heroes are semi-retired. I'm not sure I'm going to stay with that, but I'll be chewing on it for a while. I expect some familiar faces will be dropping in and out regardless.

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