Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Champions: Phoenix," Part 4

This session, Field Effect's player couldn't make it to the game because his wife's birthday party (in real life) was that day. I commented that in the game, one of the disadvantages you can take for your character is a "DNPC" (dependent non-player character) - that's someone your character is responsible for that keeps getting into trouble (e.g. Lois Lane for Superman). In this case, none of the characters in the game have DNPCs, but apparently the players themselves do.

Anyway, continuing on...


Our heroes were hot on the tail of the people who were behind the robotic attacks. Technomancer suggested telling Agent Randall all that they knew and asking for his help, but that plan was quickly shot down by the other heroes, who thought that Randall might arrest them if he learned Beta was behind the illicit sale. Technomancer recovered the hard drive from Beta's wreckage and searched it for any useful information, but all could come up with was "off-world concerns" - not much to go on. Then, our heroes rented a car and drove out to the ambush site, hoping to get more information there. Agent Randall and his crew were already investigating the area, and asked for the heroes' help. They had found a piece of alien-looking technology in the wreckage and asked for help reactivating it. The technician, "All-Purpose Bob", couldn't do it, but Technomancer easily could. It began sending out an audiovisual signal, which could be played back on Earth equipment (apparently alien technology uses file formats compatible with Earth's). It displayed scenes from the battle, and then looped back to show a stunning image - an alien television control room, staffed by the same aliens that had abducted Field Effect weeks earlier! Realizing the Field Effect may know something about the alien threat, Radall asked to speak to Field Effect about this "matter of global security," but Field Effect wasn't there. With that line of inquiry closed off for now, our heroes went back to Phoenix and hit the streets, hoping to find more information about ACME, the group that had attacked them to start off this whole thing.

Their inquiries soon led them to a warehouse, where apparently villains were luring unsuspecting victims with promises of job offers, then disintegrating anyone who didn't make the grade. In preparation for the attack, Technomancer made a few modifications to Alpha in order to lessen its capacity for wanton destruction and teach it more about "helping people". In particular, Technomancer replaced Alpha's energy blaster with a "stun only" radiation beam, and added in a "biological energy enhancer ray" that increased its target's strength and toughness. With that done, Technomancer, Rift, and Strobe made their way to the warehouse. When Rift peered in, he saw a bad guy armed with a bow - the kind you shoot arrows out of. While this may have simply been someone who got our superhero adventure mixed up with Dungeons & Dragons, it could also be a real threat, so we were on our guard. Rift tried a surprise attack, teleporting in and blasting the enemies. Unfortunately there were two other villains - a mentalist and an electricity blaster - and they were able to get the drop on Rift and knock him out temporarily. The electricity blaster then teleported outside and blasted Technomancer, Alpha, and Strobe all with a blast of electricity. Technomancer and Alpha were of course vulnerable to electricity, so the blast fried their systems and stunned them for a round. Strobe fortunately stayed up and hit the electricity blaster with a mind-control-based paralysis ray, after which he teleported back inside the warehouse to assist with the fight there. Now that all the threats outside the warehouse were eliminated, Technomancer wanted to get into the warehouse where all the action was. But that was easier said than done: the door was locked, Technomancer was the only hero on his team without teleport capability, there was no Field Effect to use his super strength to break down the door, and Alpha couldn't blast the door down because his weapons were now stun only. But just when Technomancer thought he was safe, the bow wielder went outside through the side door, snuck around, and shot him in the back! Technomancer quickly wheeled around and blasted the bow wielder with a stasis field, then ordered Alpha to finish him off. Unfortunately, Alpha saw the villain trapped in the stasis field, remembered what Technomancer had told it about "helping people," and blasted him - with the biological energy enhancer ray! As the bow wielder used his newly enhanced strength to try to bust out, Technomancer desperately pumped more energy into the field. Technomancer finally convinced Alpha that the bow wielder was actually a bad guy who should be shot at, but soon realized that he had miscalibrated the stasis field, and it was actually deflecting Alpha's shots away from the bad guy! he recalibrated the stasis field and shot the bow wielder with the new field jsut as he had finished breaking out of the old one. A few shots from Alpha later, and the bow wielder was unconscious.

But the battle was not over yet. Just as Technomancer and Alpha finished dealing with the bow wielder, the electricity blaster broke out of the mind control and started attacking! Technomancer was hit again, but managed to get the electricity blaster in another stasis field. The electricity blaster was almost able to get out of it, but Strobe and Rift had finished dealing with the mentalist inside, and teleported back out to finish off the last bad guy. When we investigated the inside, we found that the villains were aspiring new supervillains trying to get a position in the evil organization, and were recruited to "prove themselves" by waiting there beat up the heroes who showed up. We called Agent Randall to send in a "pickup crew" to cart these villains away to prison, and went back to await our next adventure.

Will our heroes finally get down to the bottom of the ACME menace? Will the truth about Field Effect be revealed to the world? And will Technomancer be able to use Boolean logic to teach Alpha how to tell friend from enemy? Find out next time, only on "Champions: Phoenix!"

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Champions: Phoenix", Part 3

"Their vision is sight-based!"

- One of the players, on discovering a villain's secret weakness


The story continues...

Our brave superheroes, along with H.U.R.T. Agent Randall, were transporting the vile Future Shock villain group to the place where they belonged - in prison. But on the way, six evil flying robots, all clones of Technomancer's own, barrelled down on the vans. Before our heroes could react, the robots blew up the tires on the front van, sending it toppling over. The van in the back tried to swerve out of the way but failed, ending up on its side. The heroes inside the van were shaken but not hurt, so they quickly piled out and entered battle with the evil robots. Technomancer's robots were offline at the moment because H.U.R.T. didn't want them turned on after seeing the incident from before, but Technomancer had a backup plan. He first reconfigured his variable power pool gadget to counteract the enemy robots' repulsor fields and drain their flight capability. He managed to jump out of the van and get one shot off, draining half of the flight power from the robots, but before he could get another shot off the robots focused fire on him, knocking him out and knocking him all the way across the field. Field Effect then rushed over to one of the robots and punched it. The punch connected, knocking it back - and it knocked it back even more than normal, because the robots' knockback resistance was linked to their flight, which got drained. But there was more - at that moment, Field Effect's producers gave their viewers a surprise - they downloaded new superpowers directly into Field Effect's body! The battle continued, with both sides taking a beating. The robots' energy blasts easily pierced the heroes' armor and defenses, but Technomancer's plan had had an effect - each time the heroes hit the robots the robots were knocked clear out of the battle area, and it took several rounds for them to get back into range. Nevertheless, it was a close battle, and it looked like it could go either way. But with the fate of our heroes at stake, Agent Randall revealed his true nature - he was a retired superhero himself! He came out of retirement for a few more combat rounds, jumping out of the wrecked van, drawing the robots' fire, and throwing entangle balls at the remaining robots, delaying them enough so the heroes could finish off the rest. After the battle, Technomancer activated his robot Beta, and a few blasts from its healing ray treated the victims of the crash, and the transport proceeded without further incident.

After getting back to Phoenix, Technomancer turned ion his robots to debrief them on the day's events. Technomancer first turned on Alpha, and started explaning the situation. Without warning, Alpha turned his blaster on the deactivated Beta and fired! Before Technomancer could stop it, Alpha had turned Beta into a pile of scrap metal. Alpha told Technomancer the shocking truth - it was actually Beta that was the evil one. Beta had secretly reprogrammed Alpha through the mind link to cause him to gain sentience, and Beta was also the one that sold the robots' schematics on the black market. Technomancer's original plan was to salvage Beta's hard drive to recover any information as to who he might have sold the plans to, but Alpha was so scared of another Beta being built that he quickly blasted the hard drive, ruining any chance of successful data recovery. Technomancer soon resolved to treat Alpha like a sentient being rather than a slave, and to try the best he could to teach him how to interact with others.

Finally, our heroes made plans to register with the government's Project EAGLE as an official super team, but got hung up on choosing a name for their team. The super-team naming char in the rule book produced suggestions that were "too cliche," and all the other ideas players came up with were either politically charged ("Desert Storm") or offensive to one ethnic group or another ("The Phoenix Indians.")

Will our brave heroes figure out a name and become an official super team? Will they be able to track down the nefarious villains who purchased the robots' plans? And will Technomancer ever be able to teach Alpha right from wrong in a world where the superheroes' efforts do at least as much collateral damage as the villains themselves? Find out next time, only on "Champions: Phoenix!"