Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Running Low on Steam

Mint condition, for now!
This session took place during half-term and unlike for most of the population, it has been a very tiring week for me. To give you a better idea, I left work early in order to attend the session so I’ve been working only 10 hours. Indeed, in the six days leading to Thursday, that was my shortest day. Unsurprisingly, I have made several mistakes as a GM in the throes of fatigue.

This is the second issue that the players are going through so I had to introduce another rule. During the previous issue, players got to use their special abilities called Principles. Each character has two of these which represent some fundamentals of their character. Other than allowing the player using it to use his Max die (thus increasing chances of success), they also give everyone at the table a Hero Point! However, these points can only be spent in a subsequent issue (which is clearly now!).

I explained that during this issue each of them has the option to spend their points to add to their result after rolling dice. The only requirement is that you must explain how events from the previous issue inform your current action. I quickly alleviated the worry about “having to remember stuff” by reminding people that retcons are very common in comic books so they’re free to add things that happened in the previous issue as long as it doesn’t contradict anything.

The Freedom Five flew in their Freedom Jet to Ravenwood (they took Unity with them!). On their way, Bunker, whilst piloting, recalled that he did actually read about the Void. He has this habit of going through mission logs while having his morning coffee. One of them mentioned the Void as a dimension of unbridled magical energy. Meanwhile, Absolute Zero created a small blizzard localised around Legacy’s nose who was flying alongside the jet.

The very moment the superheroes landed they were hit with… exposition! I explained that they’ve been to Ravenwood before. A suburban area of Rook City, several years ago the Freedom Five battled many odd creatures appearing here when young Vanessa Long’s psychic powers manifested and ran rampant. The Visionary is an older Vanessa who breached the time-space continuum with her mind in order to stop her terrifying future from coming to pass.

After I was done describing the seemingly idyllic place, I was very happy when the players noticed that despite it being late afternoon/early evening, I didn’t mention any people being around. It was eerily quiet but a crash eventually broke the silence. The Wraith sunk into the growing shadows to investigate. She found Vanessa Long’s house and, peering through a window, The Visionary being surrounded by some kind of demonic lizards. They flung themselves at the figure sitting in the middle of the living room but they hit some form of invisible barrier and slid back onto the floor.

I may have ran out of ink at some point there.
The Visionary’s voice thanked Maia for coming to her aid. She felt something preying on the psychic energies left in the area after her younger self’s powers went rampant several years back. When she got here, she telepathically put the residents to sleep while she worked on putting up a dimensional barrier to stop whatever was trying to break through. These creatures are not making her job any easier so she’s not sure how long she’ll be able to hold it together under these circumstances. While their help is welcome, she did ask not to damage the house.

The rest of the Freedom Five (with Unity) were relayed this information. It was clear they had to get the creatures out of the house so Bunker provided a fireworks display. The demonic creatures jumped through the door and windows, looking very confused at their surroundings. Two of them managed to grab hold of Absolute Zero’s limbs while Unity summoned her gnomes only to have them combine into a dog-catcher construct! Absolute Zero even added some ice-spikes to its collar-catcher.

Meanwhile, The Wraith climbed into the house, careful not to damage its exterior. I asked for an Overcome Action to perform this and we had our first use of Hero Points to add to the result. The knowledge she gained while overseeing her company’s construction work in the previous issue helped her a great deal. She found the house’s occupants safe in their beds and went downstairs to flank the creatures. Legacy tried to attract the rest out of the house by making himself look like the weakest member of the team. Even though he succeeded on his roll, since his entire character sheet states how he’s in peak physical condition at the worst of times, I required he rolled a d4 in his dice pool. This was the first time I called up the rule that states that if a player can’t incorporate his Qualities/Powers into an Action, he has to roll a d4 to represent being unskilled at a task.

Did I mention I was tired that day?

Your GM, internally.
When the Action Scene progressed into the Yellow Zone, I forgot that all the demons would have gotten stronger and to up their die size by a step. It has probably made the scene shorter than originally intended. My other mistake was when I judged the nature of Bunker’s action. He tried to help Legacy in his next action by providing covering fire to distract the demons, lowering their effectiveness. Through my fatigue I have allowed that to be a Boost but in retrospect, since it was more geared towards the enemies rather than Legacy himself, I should have ruled it a Hinder. Sadly, these things happen when you’re too tired to think properly. All in all, I was more annoyed at my inability to get into character of The Visionary than anything else that went on at the table.

The scene ended shortly after Legacy decided to make an attack hitting several of the demons at once. After the dice were cast, his player entertained us with a short story of how Legacy used to pretend to be a spinning top to amuse his daughter Pauline. This allowed him to tick off his Collection for the issue and change one of his dice to any side he wished. With this new result, he took out nearly of the creatures they were fighting. They dissipated into nothingness. Bunker took care of any stranglers with his grenade launcher which similarly lets him target multiple opponents.

It’s amazing the amount of dice manipulation this system allows you to do. You can create a modifier for yourself (or your allies) that you apply when it benefits you most. You gather points to add to your rolls for the next issue that you likewise add at your leisure. Finally, there’s the option of choosing the exact number you roll. All of this at your disposal as long as you can add to the story being told at the table.

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