DC Gameday is a wonderful thing. It is a chance to get together with people and play games. I do my best to take advantage of it to try out some new games that I wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to play. This time around I was happy to run a game that I have played quite a bit of and to get players who were trying out my game for the first time. I thought it went pretty well.
A couple of years ago, I was in a long running Mutants and Masterminds campaign that took place in a world that was set in a not so far in the future world after all of the superheroes had vanished mysteriously from the world. We played a group of heroes who were intended to be Dr. Omega’s evil team as part of his bet with ‘The Archmage’ to create two teams and have them fight. Turns out the Archmage betrayed Dr. Omega before the brainwashing could kick in. Cue super-team origin story.
For my DC Gameday game I came up with the concept that if our PCs from the campaign were intended to be the badguys then in the main comic universe of this world they actually were the villains and designed the adventure around them being led by Dr. Omega. The pregenerated PCs were characters that I had previously created to be part of the good guy team during my brief stint running the campaign and then filled out the remainder with as many characters as I had in my back library as I could come up with to be members of the ‘Teen Machine’.
The players chose the following PL 8 characters:
- Akasha – A 4 armed magic user with a specialization in knowledge magics.
- Marbles – A super speedster who carries a bag of marbles as a weapon.
- Thunderbird – An immortal shape shifter who can take the form of a living storm cloud.
- NightArrow – A reformed villain sidekick who (surprisingly) is an archer
- Clockwork – Power armored teen from the future.
- Galatea – Magically animated metal statue in the form of a superheroine.
I planned out the adventure in 3 parts. In the first, the villains were attacking the Liberty Bell Museum in order to steal the (what else?) Liberty Bell. This was intended as the introductory battle though it took about a 3rd of the game time. It started with the sonic cannon taking down the walls though the PCs were able to take out the cannon shortly there after. I had really planned that the cannon would only get off one shot anyway and was prepared to give out the hero points necissary to make that one blast happen. I gave out a couple when I said “Put your minis anywhere” and ended up with two people putting their minis right behind the cannon. If I run it again I think I’ll start with some variation of force field being placed around it.
The two major bad guys that I had in place were ‘The Primordial’, the evil precursor of my Plant-based Brick and ‘AC/DC’ the evil version of Liz’s Current. AC/DC was all 80s hair band cliche with electrical control and an electric guitar that had both a sonic blast ability and a mind control ability. I started out the game by informing the players that this was taking place in the late 80s/early 90s and while they all hair ear piece communicators that was a big deal. There was no internet and not everyone had cell phones. The player who chose Galatea decided to go full on Valley Girl which was just awesome. It did cause a problem for converting Current to an evil version because Current’s catchphrase was “I connect to the internet… with my BRAIN.” But I think the switch in names to AC/DC was close enough and really opened up the door for musical based effects.
The playing area I just filled with minions. The majority were ‘Omega Clones’, genetically enhanced clones of Dr. Omega himself who he used as shock troops. There were a few plant-tentacle minions who basically served as the hands of The Primordial. I gave The Primordial a growth power that was triggered by electrical attacks so the first few rounds for AC/DC and The Primordial were mostly taken up by growing the Primordial into a giant tree and then shooting his arm tentacles into the ground where they sprouted up out from under the pavement.
In order to keep the players from just getting overwhelmed by the number of minions I tossed out there, I had a contingent of U.N.I.C.O.R.N. agents out fighting the Omega Clones. U.N.I.C.O.R.N. is like S.H.I.E.L.D. but generally more sympathetic to superhero operations, serving as clean-up crew and the wardens of super-prisons. The leader of the agents was Agent Stiletto who was an available as the only Adult PC but no body took her. They generally kept the Minions from swarming too much.
The PCs for their part picked up pretty quickly that the bad guys were trying to steal the Liberty Bell. They did a good job of fighting off the first way of tentacles but a few Hero Points given out and I had the tentacles fire brigade the bell to the waiting truck with Marbles right behind. Galatea had a lot of fun throwing the museum’s marble columns around, sending minions flying and eventually dumping AC/DC on his head. By that point The Primordial had grown quite large and was really outside the PCs ability to fight on a regular level. Thunderbird worked with U.N.I.C.O.R.N. to get his hands on some bottles of defoliant and with his ability to turn into a living cloud, I just let him rain defoliant down on The Primordial to get an instant K.O. for the clever thinking.
The second scene was a chase through the streets of ‘Philadelphia’. If they had managed to stop the bad guys from getting away with the Liberty Bell then I was just going to make this an investigative challenge to have them call in their contacts and the like to out what was going on. With Marbles chasing down the van that was escaping with the bell that wasn’t so much of an option. Instead I set it up as a chase challenge with the various characters getting +2 or +5 circumstance bonuses depending on their movement abilities. I was going to have them get there just as the bell was being loaded on the train but then the players started bickering in character which was great. I gave them all a Hero Point and declared that they were delayed to the point where the train was leaving the station.
The goal of the train scene was to set up a tunnel that the PCs had to travel through in order to get to the engine of the train, fighting the inhabitants of the various box cars along the way. I had initiative cards for both the train’s movement as well as Dr. Omega’s experimental device (Motivation: SCIENCE!). The device would send the train hurtling through alternate dimensions and while Dr. Omega’s various lieutenants each had a dimensional stabilizer on to keep them themselves, Dr. Omega himself was plugged directly into the machine to transform himself with each dimension.
I understood that the PCs would likely foil my plans and so I had a basic idea in my head for what would happen if they derailed the train and no clue how they would actually get themselves or stop the device. I figured that would just happen. What happened was that Marbles was able to get to the front of the train and disconnect the engine from the rest of the cars. Everyone else landed on the end of the train. So rather than derailing the train, the experimental device just sort of rolled to a stop while the engine kept going. Marbles, being a speedster was more than hot headed enough to want to fight Dr. Omega but not nearly hard hitting enough to really get past his power armor. So instead the McGuffin became the target.
I had initially set the device to go off every other round of combat and while in real world terms that was only every twelve seconds, in game terms it wasn’t nearly fast enough. So I used the hits upon the device as an excuse to cycle through the world faster. Down at the other end of the train it was the team who had to deal with the results of that.
I had set up index cards so I could randomize the alternate worlds that the train was running through. Any minions or PCs who were outside the area of the dimensional tunnel would be transformed along with the world. These were mostly favorable effects for the PCs but they quickly realized they didn’t want to have any part with the area of the world that was outside the tunnel. It probably didn’t help that the first world they went through was Zombie world. No one wants to be a zombie. The moving train would have been something of a hindrance for the Zombies anyway but with the train slowed to a stop it became much more likely for the zombies to get there.
Fortunately the world changed quickly. I’m pretty sure the Zombies never even got a chance to act before we switched to Magic-Ninja world. This worked out well because the Ninja had shadow creation/teleportation abilities and quickly got onto the train. It also gave NightArrow a chance to shine with his darkvision goggles. The last world they hit before the machine shut down was Perfect V.I.G.I.L. world where the nanobots had completely taken over. All of the nano-bot duplicates looked like spandex-clad superheroes as they flew around the train disolving it for raw material. The heroes were luckier in that they only wanted to mind control them. At least to begin with.
In addition to randomizing the worlds, I also randomized the enemies. The enemies I had in place to pull out were:
- C.R.U.S.A.D.E. – The Evil version of our good C.R.U.S.A.D.E. This was easy because we had already met him in game.
- Red Alert – The evil russian spy version of our luck controller Mayday.
- Omega 1 – The evil version of Omega 6. Both being enhanced Clones of Dr. Omega
- DreadMorph – The evil version of Megamorph who was both in our Campaign and a Pregen option for this adventure.
Dreadmorph also stands out in that his background was inspired by a character from an old Aberrant game I ran as a play by post years ago named Dreadknight. They were similar enough with alien origins that it was relatively easy to bring him into this world. By the random draw of the cards, I only had the time to use C.R.U.S.A.D.E. and Dreadmorph for the combat on the train. Poor Akasha ended up on the wrong end of both The Primordial’s Tentacles AND Dreadmorph’s tentacles. I feel a little like a pervert for that one but in my defense, having 4 arms Akasha was able to give Dreadmorph a run for his money.
Stranded in a world where a bunch of superhero-shaped nanobots were attempting to assimilating them, the members of The Teen Machine had a relatively easy time convincing the mercenary (and bigoted) C.R.U.S.A.D.E. that a temporary truce was in order to get out of this world. That would have been great if the Nanobots weren’t of the same programming that allowed C.R.U.S.A.D.E. and Clockwork to interface with their armor. Both of them went into full on rages as the bots went nuts. Fortunately some quick acting by his teammates (I forget who reset his brain but I know NightArrow magneted a bunch nanobots to help lock them down) allowed Clockwork to recover after only a round of crazy.
In the end, the team was able to immobilize C.R.U.S.A.D.E., tie the tentacled Dreadmorph up in knots, and set Dr. Omega out of phase with the rest of the universe. The only real damage done was Galatea who took a punch from C.R.U.S.A.D.E. that sent her metal body flying like a cannon ball across 3 box cars and nearly knocking out her team mates. She was saved by true love’s kiss an emergency defibrillation by Thunderbird.
Clockwork was able to hack in to the Experimental device and transport the party back to their own world along with Dreadmorph, C.R.U.S.A.D.E. and the ball of magnetized nanobots (oops!). Being time-locked and without a dimensional stabilizer, Dr. Omega was cast adrift in the multiverse and will either return someday or be replaced by his clone Omega 1. Dreadmorph and C.R.U.S.A.D.E. were quickly taken into custody by U.N.I.C.O.R.N. The Teen Machine celebrated with real Philly cheesesteaks.
As for the Nanobots… that’s the subject for another DC Gameday.