Thursday, 14 February 2019

I Hope You're Not Arachnophobic


Issue Cover!
The weather seemed far more agreeable for an evening game this week. The threat of the pub closing early due to snow falling from the skies has passed but the spider-bots attacking the heroes did not!

Although I was expecting this fight to end with the second round, the dice don’t always roll in your favour. Fortunately, I have gotten the impression that the players understood the basics of the system and I was more than glad to see them utilising their characters to the fullest. Unity created a mechanical panther to fight for her and when it got destroyed, she zapped the spider-bots responsible for its destruction with electricity. Wraith took out a small EMP out of her utility belt. Legacy flew up into the air and down into a group of bots. In essence, the heroes destroyed the annoying critters!

This scene that we have just gone through, with spider-bots attacking the Freedom Five (and Unity!), is defined as an Action Scene within the Sentinel Comics system. It differentiates between two types of scenes, the second one being a Montage scene. It is everything that happens between Action scenes and is the main period when heroes can either regain health or interact with the world in other ways. Regaining lost Health during this scene is fairly simple. A character’s Health is divided into three ranges: Green, Yellow and Red. When you take action to regain it, you regain up to the maximum Health of the range one step above your current one. All you have to do is describe how you’re actually doing that. In the event you’re not interested in Health recovery, you can do whatever else you feel like.

Absolute Zero was the only superhero who decided to ask Unity to repair parts of his life-supporting suit, the others opted to investigate what just happened. Wraith emerged out of the sewers informing her team that the machines came from the direction of the sea, but since they were smaller than a person she couldn’t follow their trail through the pipes. Meanwhile, Unity took a closer look at the robots. She managed to quickly ascertain that they were built using designs from Baron Blade, Omnitron, Atlantean and Thorathian technology. All of which the Freedom Five faced in their previous adventures.

They weren't joking when they said the tree was huge!
Just when they were done catching their breath, a distress call from Argent Adept reached them! He asked for assistance at the Akash’Flora tree because some spider-like robots were attacking it. The transmission ended abruptly after the sound of something very heavy falling down. The sounds of battle were also unmistakably there.

Tachyon might have been first to get there but her team mates arrived shortly after. I started to put out cards onto the table as I described the scene before them. Hundreds of spider-bots crawling onto the massive tree, hacking, slashing and drilling into it, putting its pieces into their internal storage compartments. Innocent civilians were webbed onto the tree, making fighting the bots more difficult. Half a dozen spider-bots took positions on higher ground, on buildings and street lights, ready to shoot at anyone interfering with their task. Argent Adept was nowhere to be seen but the massive shadow of an egg-laying giant machine spider loomed before them.

A large clutter of spider-bots!
It was very nice to hear that the players now understood why I didn’t want to skip through the previous fight. In the tutorial fight, as it has been dubbed, I gradually introduced elements of the system. In this one, everything was out and the superheroes felt truly overwhelmed… as is appropriate for superhero comics!

Since this system is reliant on players describing their actions, during my preparations for running this game, I tried to come up with ideas for what the superheroes might do. Many of them were fairly easy to figure out. Absolute Zero, however, gave me some trouble. He has an Ability called the Principle of Dependence which allows him to use the highest rolled die (remember, you roll three dice and normally take the middle result) on an action when he uses his suit to Overcome a Challenge. I struggled greatly coming up with ideas on how to utilise this so I was extremely impressed when his player came up with a brilliant idea.

In order to save the civilians trapped in the spider-webs, Absolute Zero opened parts of his suit, cooling down the moisture in the air and creating a fog to cover the innocent bystanders. Tachyon took care of the rest, releasing them from their bonds with superhuman speed. Bunker decided to engage the biggest and meanest spider-bot but first he needed a bigger gun. He had his orbital satellite deploy an additional cannon that attached itself to his suit’s arm. On their turn, the giant spider-bot laid even more eggs to replace the ones that hatched several other spider-bots which quickly joined the ones attacking Absolute Zero and Tachyon. Legacy gave a rousing speech to boost his team’s morale while the Wraith navigated through the battlefield trying to locate Argent Adept whom she eventually found buried under a ton of rubble.

I originally expected the group to divide their attention between Attacking the Minions and Overcoming Challenges but instead they decided to focus on mainly removing Challenges. Their choice made sense. The trapped civilians were providing them with penalties to their rolls and they suspect Argent Adept might help in the fight. Boosting yourself instead of Attacking the Lieutenant, which that humongous spider-bot is, is also a great choice because unlike Minions, Lieutenants have the annoying ability to ignore damage.

What differentiates this Action scene from the previous one is the inclusion of a timer. Our superheroes have only so much time before the machines get what they came for… which can’t be anything good.
Naturally, we had to take pictures before we left!

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