New campaign notes – not really a recap, not buffed-up, just trying to capture the main points of the first session.
I have three players, the Knights of Time crew: Bo, Israel, and Miller.
Israel’s character is Winston Slade, an older, mastermind type character, evoking Rhas Al Ghul or Slade Wilson. Except without all the villainy. Slade is an American (
for a change, I’m not going to play a minority – this does make it easier for Israel’s character to believably boss people around than in the last campaign, where his character was twelve). He comes from a humble (
redneck ) background (Arkansas, perhaps), and although very talented, he always felt trapped and limited in his life, even when he became a stockbroker (we figured Slade was in his thirties in the eighties). Taking assorted self-help advice to heart, he had a sort of mid-life crisis, went to the desert, and came back transformed, filled with Native American mysticism, he’s decided to fix the world with his own two hands. Slade has a big thing about self-reliance, tought himself martial arts, and developed funky Chi powers, which allow him to send shockwaves through solid objects, walk on air (
three extra steps), and (as we learned when we started playing), detect other people with super-powers.
Slade is now a rich enturpenuer, based in Los Angeles, and his current pet project is space-travel related.
Boaz’s character is Jack MacDonald, a 22 year old New York bartender. Jack’s parents inherited a bar (called MacDonald’s) from an uncle, and passed the burden on to Jack, his sister and her husband. Jack’s brother in law actually manages the place, and Jack doesn’t get along with him very well.
Oh, and recently, Jack has found out he has super-powers: he’s very strong, he’s bullet-proof (some telekinetic force field protects him), and he can freeze time to sort-of move in super-speed, or something. Possibly this involves messing about with the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics.
Bo claims that Jack has his super-powers because he’s descended from space aliens: they’ve been around for a long time, and (unlike Superman), they’ve been breeding with humans for a while. Ergo, superkids. Apparently, strange people have been visiting Jack and saying odd things to him that hint at this, things that only he percives, in moments where time stands still for everyone else.
Finally, Miller is playing Alex / Ajax, a 16-year old Atlantean. Apparently, the last survivors of Atlantis have maintained an unbroken cultural and genetic lineage into the present day; the line is carried on by the women, who have some form of racial memory to guide them. An Atlantean woman will usually have a child without marrying and raise her (the child is almost always a girl) by herself. Atlantean males are very rare, and apparently special, although Alex doesn’t know this.
Oh, and Atlanteans are genetic supermen and also basically Jedi. They have this weapon, like a curtain hanger (a cornice), except it’s a super-strong and super-flexible telescoping stabbing weapon, available as either a one-handed (sword-like) or two-handed (lance/spear – think Darth Maul’s double lightsaber here). Atlanteans should be tough enough to stop a bullet, and they make their own cornices as a rite of passage. Later on we also learn that Atlanteans have webbed feet (and possibly other aquatic adaptations).
Alex (Ajax is his Atlantean name) comes home one day to find his mother dead on the kitchen floor. Stabbed by an Atlantean weapon, apparently. She has been agitated recently. So he follows her contingency instructions to
Vanish and hops on a greyhound bus to New York.
That’s all part of Miller’s background for his character. Now the actual session.
Israel tells us Winston Slade is in New York to recruit a prodigy engineer for his space project, because the founding genius is retiring. We decide the guy he’s trying to recruit is a friend of Jack called Daniel Suthers, and being a geek, MacDonald’s is the one plce he’d think of to take his out of town potential employer.
So, after they talk, Jack comes over to say hi, and Slade’s supergaydar goes off, and he gives Jack his card, pays the bill and leaves.
Only to find Alex fresh off the bus standing outside, keeping out of the rain under the awning in front of the bar.
So Winston invites Alex to join him, because he detects that he’s another super, and Jack runs out of the bar to talk to him. So all three sit in the Limo, and the driver, James, starts driving to the hotel, and they discuss destiny and big things along the way.
Except in Colombus Plaza (or wherever), a sniper shoots out the driver’s brains, and they all jump out (Alex drawing his double cornice, Jack protecting Winston) just in time for a missile to hit the limo and explode it (Winston just managed to send a chi-ripple to knock the dead driver’s foot off the accelerator and jerk up the hand brake).
Winston runs in one direction (where the shot that took out the driver came from), and both Alex and Jack make their way using their distinct styles (climbing the stairs in super-speed or retro-motion or whatever, vs. swinging aqnd vaulting using the cornice) to the other corner of the plaza, where someone is still shooting missiles down at the passing cars.
Jack and Alex burst into a room with two gunmen, with automatic weapons, body armor and an advanced mini-missile launcher. They take them out quickly – Jack smashes one guy’s head in with a slap, Alex stabs the other in the chest through his body armor.
Meanwhile, Winston has slightly more difficulty, as the room he’s reached is occupied by two women, a younger woman with a crossbow and an older woman with a steel whip. They are obviously pretty tough, but Winston can hold his own, so while the older woman engages him in combat (which culminates in him knocking the floor down), the younger woman makes a break for it, trying the door (which Slade locks with a chi ripple) and then through the window up onto the rooftops. Alex and Jack show up to help, and Alex pursues the younger woman onto the roof. She whips out a pair of Atlantean swords and they duel, Alex wins and stops before killing her, asking the woman (who is obviously Atlantean) why she’s stying to kill him. She calls him “Abomination”. He confronts her with the fact that he’s not going to kill her and knocks her out, going inside. Slade has disabled the older woman (the other woman’s mother, it seems) and has her hog-tied and held down with his knee pressing into her back. Alex and Jack show up and the older woman explains that Alex and his mother are abominations, that a male Atlantean and a woman who bears one are considered unclean and dangerous. The male Atlantean, she says, is genetically unstable, and upon reaching a certain age will produce endogenic viruses that can cause a devastating plague. Alex is shocked, but stares down the woman, confronting her too with the fact that he chose to spare her life.
Winston calls his government contact to clean-up and collect the two Atlanteans. The agents show up, screeching black vans and teams of operatives in bright coveralls posing as emergency workers. Winston’s contact, Bernice Malamud of the ETIA (Extra Terrestrial International Authority), introduces herself to Jack and Alex. She expresses sympathy for Alex’s loss, and asks him to spit in a test-tube. Apparently, her agency is familiar with Atlanteans and with the health hazards of male Atlanteans. They take away the two women and Bernice leaves Jack and Alex her card, asking Alex to notify her if he leaves town. She says that she’ll let him know if she learns anything about his mother’s murder. Alex is convniced that the two Atlantean women who tried to kill him weren’t responsible for his mother’s death – she was killed with a different (two-handed) weapon. Winston offers Jack and Alex to join him in LA.
Winston goes about arranging for the limo driver’s funeral, and orders plane tickets to LA for Jack and Alex. Alex goes to swim in the ocean and meditate. Jack reunites with his buddy Daniel, who has accepted Slade’s job offer. He offers Jack to be his roommate in LA. Jack tells his brother in law that he quit.
Thoughts: Miller has set up some clear goals for his character, find his mother’s murderer and the more nebulous “fulfil the Atlantean legacy” and the mysterious role of males in this. I actually had some vague thoughts about Atlantis when I started to think of this setting, and I think I can fit my more cliched ideas into Miller’s version of the Atlanteans. Israel has a character with some sweeping and ambitious goals, which are also pretty nebulous. Bo seems to have set up his character as an ordinary joe with ordinary problems that gains amazing powers. It’s a bit annoying I think how Winston’s money will now sweep aside all those issues. Also, Winston will drag everyone to LA, ditching the bar and the New York setting Bo was expecting.
Something else that bothered me was how angry I got during the session, throwing dice and acting hostile. I think part of this is my anxiety over GM/player power, with Israel saying that I can not really stand up to Bo. Miller’s presence just intensifies that, because he’s both more stubborn and more proactive than Bo. I think I need more of a system to help me stand up to the players – our current technique of “opposed roll of precentile dice, higher roll wins” annoys me, perhaps because it requires me to be assertive of my NPCs coolness and their ability to counter the PCs. And this makes it very easy for me to either wuss out or abuse GM power.