Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Carnage of the Lost World

Last Wednesday, we packed up after work and took off for what, if pressed to choose, I would probably call my favorite convention. I think the trip is actually part of it. Out of the soul-numbing corn flats of Ohio, we cross through the picturesque hills of upstate New York and eventually into Vermont, which is basically one giant resort in the mountains. Well, that's what it looks like, anyway.

Just to make the fairly long trip a little more leisurely, we usually stop for the night in Syracuse before moving on. That gets us to Thursday, when we settled into our room and bought some groceries. Since this was Tom's first year at the new location, we also wandered around a bit to take in the scene. It looked kind of odd to me because, last year, everything had been white.
I sent out some messages to let everyone know where we were and we got the Thursday game of Conspiracy X going. I had been having reservations about the system after slogging through a few NPCs and a "monster," to the point where I went out and found pre-generated player characters online instead of making my own.

Despite all that, the game itself ran smoothly. I had some great players (ended up using all six pre-gens because Rags joined in at the last minute) who were able to navigate my over-complicated plot in style. I say it was overly complicated but, considering the genre, maybe that's the wrong word. I mean, we were playing a game in which most of the title is the word, "conspiracy," right? Also, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time: drop a crew of modern world characters into the Tomb of Horrors. It was an abridged version, but still. The looks that went around the table when I dropped that first illustration were (I hate this word, but...) priceless.
Some drinking (okay, more drinking) and socializing followed, first at Game of Growlers, then back in the room with a smaller group. Tom poured so many glasses of rum down Matt's throat that he couldn't find his own room.

Tom and I woke up weirdly early on Friday, so we went across the street for breakfast at... I can't remember what it was called. Club House or something like that. Anyway, I never gave much thought to the relative quality of pancakes, but these were amazing.

We wandered around a bit, got our badges, all that. Tom went off to run a game and I went over my notes for the ones I had coming the next day. I was scheduled to play in a game that afternoon, but it wasn't my first choice and another thought had been squirming around in the back of my head.

It was cloudy and a little drizzly outside, but otherwise really nice. It was freakishly warm for Killington in November. There are hiking trails there. Hiking trails in the mountains. Remember that I live in Ohio now? I felt a little bit guilty about bailing on a game, even one where I was only a player, but this was an opportunity I couldn't miss. And hey, the convention theme this year was "the lost world," so going exploring seemed like an obvious win.

I looked over the map of the resort, grabbed an overcoat in case it rained, and took off. It was crazy windy and I did have to pull the overcoat over my head a few times. I had an umbrella, but I already knew it was no match for those gusts, so I didn't even bother carrying it. A little poking around and one false start later, I was on a trail and heading up the mountain.

It was wonderful. I didn't come across any particularly striking vistas, and the visible wildlife consisted of a woodpecker and some angry bluejays, but it wasn't long before I couldn't hear or see the road. There were no buildings, no people, and not a single goddamn farm anywhere. I realize it was hardly deep wilderness or anything like that, but it was enough.
Like I said earlier, it was crazy windy. It wasn't constant, but there were powerful gusts that started getting scary as I got higher up. I don't know how common this is, but wind like that stirs up some kind of visceral panic in me. I feel, all the sudden, like I need to crouch down and grab hold of something or I'm going to fly right off the planet. I wanted to find out what it would be like to keep pushing through that, but then the rain picked up, so, after just a couple of hours, I headed back.

I hooked back up with Tom and we had dinner at the Snowshed before our evening games. For me, that was Steven Parenteau's Spirit of 77 adventure. I played Tangerine Jones, a sleuth with an orange perm-fro who tried a little bit too hard to fit in with her cool friends. Don't tell anybody, but her real name is Edna Pearlman. I wasn't all that helpful in the mission, which involved helping our car guy's brother get some moonshine across the county line to sell, but I had a lot of fun.

I was wiped out after that. Zack came by with Tom and we chatted for a while, but I was half asleep even while I was talking.

As before, I was a little surprised by how early I was up and moving on Saturday. I swore off morning games a long time ago, so there was plenty of time to chill and then get ready.

My 13th Age game, "The Fire Within," only had two players signed up, but Tom had a few players and a game he wasn't all that eager to run, so we combined the groups into a slightly more than full table. I had seven players and only six characters, so Tom and Zack played the two brain-halves of the Frankenstein's monster character (statted as "warforged," but I don't like steampunk contraptions clanking around in my fantasy worlds).

The game itself was a lot of fun. The players kept things moving for me, so it was easy to run my "what's going on in this village" scenario. Whoever came up with the winged cat familiar on the pre-gens -- thanks! I had a lot of fun giving the wizard a headache with that one.

The rules were really smooth. Everybody enjoyed using their special abilities but (apart from the fact that, between the ranger and the druid, the party could muster two huge bears to terrorize the villagers) they weren't so god-like that they stomped the setting. The only thing that puts me off sometimes is that the characters I just described as powerful but not quite god-like were only first level. I kinda think 5th level is as high as I'd ever want to go with this game. I'm not sure that's a drawback, though, just not what I'm used to. After all, I decide what level everybody is every time in convention games, and the fact that these guys loved playing their characters is worth way more to me than my calcified notions of what first level should be like.

After a brief recharge and rule book swap-out, it was time to move on to Doctor Who with "Out of Joint." Another full-plus table gave us The Doctor, Romana, Ace, Jamie, Peri, Kamelion, and Nyssa (of Traken, not New Jersey). And yes, there was a reason for the crazy assortment of companions.

They put on a good show. The Time Lords are the hardest to play in that game (probably any game) and those players were both awesome. Peri made friends with a metal lizard, but had to leave it behind when the time spur collapsed. I consoled her player with the reminder that she wouldn't remember and was about to have her brain removed anyway. I decided to let Jamie, who was beginning to remember his work as a Time Lord agent, and the lizard, stick with the Doctor, just because. Maybe I'll use that backstory in some future adventure. Maybe they'll save Peri first because... technobabble retcon. I mean, Trial of a Time Lord was a mess anyway, so I can pretty much invent whatever continuity I want. Or they try to save Peri and just get Lord Kiv in Peri's body. Oooh, I could have an absurdly mismatched team go looking for Peri's brain!

Tom was either not finished with his evening game or was jumping right into his late game. Steve and Rags were in my game, so we were already together and headed over to the makeshift bar (the real one was being renovated) for drinks. Along the way, Matt used his unsettling ninja powers to materialize behind me out of nowhere. Or, okay, somewhere else. I'm sure he wasn't literally nowhere. That would really be unsettling.

We were actually sitting right where Tyler had said the trivia game would be, but after a couple of drinks we wandered off for some reason, had several interesting conversations at Scott & Petra's room party (once again regretting that I had been unable to play in Tom Mechler's Cypher game where the players are all velociraptors), wandered off again, and eventually got a text from a different Tom asking where I was, so Matt and I headed over there to hang out with Tom and Zack.

And then there was Sunday. In the end, there will always be Sunday. I had planned on packing up the car and then hanging out a little bit. I think I even told several people "I'll be right back" as I rushed past. Then I got caught up in Tom's mania to omygodwegottagetontheroadrightnow and forgot about all that. My apologies to anyone who felt slighted. I honestly meant to come back. I just didn't do it.

We later found out that the hotel was already filling up for next year, but we still managed to get the room we wanted. The theme has already been announced too, and here it is: Carnage Royale. So, I guess espionage and super-spies and stuff. Or painfully stupid banter about hamburgers in Paris. I really hope it's the first one.

And then Carnage was done for another year.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Stay Tuned

...or go away. I don't care.
But I'll probably announce something this week.

Here's a picture of some chewy fish oil.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Some House Rules for Icons

We added a couple of house rules to the Icons campaign this time (session write-up coming soon) that seem to be working well.

The first one is that you can keep dodging attacks, but you get progressively worse as the page goes on. Your first dodge is a normal roll, but, after that, penalties start stacking up. Minus one on the next dodge, minus two on the one after that, minus three on the one after that, and so on. There may already be a rule for this somewhere, but I haven't come across it so far. I adapted this one from Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space.

The other thing I did was give everybody a free activation of each of their three qualities once per session. This would  probably be overdoing it for a lot of groups, but nobody in my group (including me) is used to the whole playing for determination points thing where you penalize your own character to get the bonus later. Also, I tend to forget to hand out the points for doing cool stuff, which, unfortunately, encourages hoarding. And I didn't really see more people hamming it up to do more cool things as a drawback in a four-color superhero adventure. I was gratified to see that it had exactly the effect I was hoping for. Everybody activated at least one quality, and a couple of them used more. I guess you could think of it as sort of a "training wheels" rule.

And I'm still loving this campaign.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015


I was watching Agents of SHIELD on Netflix a little while ago. Skye was learning to use her powers. She opened her mind to the vibrations around her and, sensing those vibrations as part of herself, she reached out and shook a mountain.

I was surprised by how much the scene affected me. I think it's because this is what I've always been trying to do. That's what writing is all about for me. I'm not talking about the destruction. I want to feel the hum of the world all around me, to reach out and become a part of it, becoming more than just meat, becoming a resonant wave.

I'll never bring down mountains, but maybe I can still resonate.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Plot Thickens

I was just going to the store to look for some unnatural dice for a local friend's Dungeon Crawl Classics game, but they didn't have any, so this happened.

Damn it, Tyler. It's your fault.

And the cats. I'm pretty sure they were involved, somehow.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Selecting Some Systems

I'm not doing RPGaDay this year, but I'm still allowed to blog about games a little bit, right?

I bought some new games at Gen Con, and took another look at a couple that I bought last year. This has got me fiddling with my options again.

First, the easy ones. Icons rocks for super-hero gaming. Nothing else I've tried for that genre has been anywhere near as much fun. I'm sticking with that. Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space is an even easier choice for Doctor Who. And yes, Doctor Who is a genre.

The Vortex System (the one behind the Doctor Who game) is great and potentially useful for lots of genres. I've tried branching out with this a few times, though, and a funny thing happens. I start putting together the pieces of whatever mini-world I'm building, and I think, "Here's something cool from the book. I'll just re-skin it and use it in the scenario. Ooh, this is nice too!" And so on. Then I look at the pieces I've thrown together and think, "You know, these things would all still work in a Doctor Who adventure." And then that's what I have. Not that another Doctor Who adventure is a bad thing; it's just not what I was going for.

I've been thinking a lot about horror/paranormal stuff. Qalidar and Call of Cthulhu are fine for that, but both lead to issues similar to the ones I have with Vortex. That doesn't bother me so much with Qalidar. The problem there is that thinking about my own game makes me angry. Maybe it's because I'm still not done with the damn layouts for the second book, or maybe it's the similarly-premised settings or similarly-pronounced names that popped up after I put out the first installment, and are still popping up now. Maybe it's something else. I don't know. Whatever it is, it sours the preparation experience, which should be part of the fun.

Both Crawlspace and Stay Alive! would work. I've been in some great sessions of these games, and would gladly recommend either of them to anyone looking for a good dramatic horror or modern adventure game. Neither really sings to me as a GM, though. I can't explain it. Too close to home, maybe.

What's looking really good to me now is the Cypher System. Easy to walk people through, versatile, and focused more on speed than making every combat mechanically distinct, this looks really handy for convention games and sounds like a great match for my GM'ing style. The fact that it's a generic system also lets me do a variety of one-off scenarios without switching gears rules-wise. I'm not sure it's a great fit for four-color super-hero gaming, but I've got Icons for that anyway. I could even see using it for a lot of the medieval fantasy ideas I've got. For D&D style "elves & half-orcs kill a buncha monsters" gaming, though, I might still want something closer to the source.

And that's where much of my waffling occurs. I mentioned recently that I had been looking hard at 13th Age and liking what I saw. I think the easy monster generation is aces. I like how you put points into background choices to give you a nebulous skill system that still provides strong guidance for deciding what a character is likely to know. I like that moving combat along quickly was a design goal. And I like lots of other stuff. The people behind it have also put out some interesting, creative supplemental material which gives me all kinds of ideas, which in turn makes the thought of running a game exciting.

Also, though, there's 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, which I've already praised on multiple occasions. I've also run it a couple of times, and found it brilliantly adapted to my purposes. It somehow manages to both feel like the game I remember playing, and have much cleaner, more sensible mechanics. I can go portable with the basic rules, or go all-out with the complete game, or go halfway between. And it's really pretty.

The great thing about these choices is, the only drawback of picking the "wrong" one is that I might have slightly less fun than if I picked the "right" one. Slightly. It's possible, I suppose, that the ideal would be to run 13th Age for some monster-bash games and D&D for others, but, since I don't have infinite time, I'd rather just focus on getting as comfortable as possible with one of them.

But who knows? Sometimes I blather on and on about stuff like this, talk myself into an answer, then end up doing something completely different. I haven't even played 13th Age or Cypher yet, and you really don't know anything about a game until you've seen it in action.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Gen Con 2015: Mothman, Meatwad, and Metal

Another great Gen Con! It certainly didn't hurt that there was no booth to suck the fun out of it. The closest I got to working this year was handing out cards to some players who wanted to know more about my game. Not once during the entire convention did I get out of bed before I felt like getting out of bed.

I'm going to do detailed summaries of the games in their own entries this time, so if you're going to play one of these at another convention and are worried about spoilers, just don't click on the link. The photos and stuff are all here.

Don't Call it a Comeback
All week, I had been worrying about my Icons game, for which I had only had a few meager jots of inspiration. Somehow, after I came up with the idea and got the event listed, I completely lost touch with it. Once I set foot in that convention hall Wednesday afternoon, though, I knew it was going to work. The players would give me the right cues, or something new would pop into my head, or something. That's just what happens here.

Peryton Gamers Old Home Night was in the bar at Crowne Plaza. Turned out to be a really pleasant setting. We handed out GM badges and gave Jerry his "event uber overlord" t-shirt to thank him for organizing the group. Beckett had made some cool buttons so we all collected a few of those to give away. Tom lured some innocent bystanders into the party and they were fairly interesting. Well, I thought they were interesting at the time. Maybe it was the bourbon that was interesting. Thinking back, I can't recall anything particularly noteworthy about the conversation. Anyway, good times. Oh, and train car room!

And I'm Just Gettin' Warm
My first game on Thursday wasn't until 8PM, so I wandered around and checked out the exhibit hall. There were several things I was pretty sure I wanted to buy, so I went ahead and grabbed them, despite generally trying to not buy stuff until I've had a better look around. It's nice to have reading material. Stowing the Cypher System Rulebook and assorted 13th Age goodies in my room, I wandered off to find Tom for lunch. His "Big Foot Hunting" game had apparently gone well.

Some more wandering, a dinner at Champions with Caed, Jerry, and Liam (Tom didn't want to leave the JW), and then I was on my way to run "Shadow of the Peryton" for Qalidar. I had five players, which was almost full capacity, my friend Brian among them. It was a more toned-down adventure than usual, set entirely in Blackridge. It was more creepy paranormal Mothman-type stuff than gonzo alien. I kind of wish that had been the main focus all along, but at least I confirmed that the game works well for that kind of atmosphere.

Goin' Insane, Startin' the Hurricane, Releasin' Pain
Friday was the big day. After a quiet breakfast, a turn around the exhibit hall, and lunch at Claddagh with Tom and Caed, I jumped in. Icons was up first with "Raiders of the Dark Nebula," the one I had been fretting over and was still a little nervous about. One of my players, who had taken the role of a cosmic-powered hero(ish) called Nyarlathotep, summed it up well (after I confessed that I had made half of the adventure up on the spot): "How many hobbies let you come to a table with an outline, some good intentions, and a bunch of strangers, and end up with a story that nobody could have seen coming?" Well, that might not be the exact quote, but it's close enough for newspaper work.
I had enough of a break to go back to the room, switch out my game books, and have some expensive appetizers with Tom before it was time for my Doctor Who adventure, "Out of Joint." This was the only one I had actually playtested this year. Or ever, for that matter. Plus, I'm getting really comfortable with that game system. 

I wrapped up the evening with a late night Aqua Teen Hunger Force session, "Inappropriate Mysteries of the Jersey Shore." The traditional gang didn't show up, but I did get two guys who had done a great job last year. They also brought a friend, and then there were four other people. Everyone was great. They even gave me some new ideas for game mechanics. I had been thinking about quitting the Aqua Teen gaming, but no, I'm not stopping now.

I'm Blastin' -- Outlastin'
All my events were done, so Saturday was Shopping Day. After an expensive waffle at the hotel restaurant, I saw Tom and Liam off to wherever they were going and started walking the exhibit hall, row by row. I got about a fourth of the way before I started feeling punchy and went to visit Tom and grab some lunch. Tom was just getting his game going and I couldn't get ahold of anyone else, so I had lunch with my new Icons book instead. Turns out I picked up a flawed copy, sliced so all the pages are tilted. All the text is still visible, though, so I can live with it. Looks like it's going to be a useful supplement.

Back to the exhibitor pits, I found a nifty pendant which I later decided to send to my mom as a gift instead of keeping for myself, and the Dark Dungeons movie. I spotted a few copies of Peryton Fantasy RPG in the wild. I guess it's silly to even mention it, but it's still fun to see my old stuff pop up in random unexpected places.

I also stopped by the Flying Buffalo booth to chat with Steve Crompton and take a look at the preview copy of the new Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls. Obviously, there wasn't time to do more than flip through it, so I can't say much about the content. It's huge, though, like a big floppy fantasy-themed phone book. It's attractively laid out and I'm sure they did some good work, but, for me, having a complete RPG in a tiny book was the main selling point of Tunnels & Trolls. I might still buy it if I see the print version for sale somewhere. I dunno.

Tom was off having a "business" dinner with somebody. Artist, I think. I found Jerry and Liam running Circus Imperium in the the giant, noisy board/card game hall. I was a little dismayed to see that Dungeons and Dragons was also in here, while its ugly stepchild, Pathfinder, enjoyed a nice private ballroom upstairs. I guess that's what sponsorship buys you.

Circus Imperium ("The Darkshade Circuit") was fun, even just watching. Drivers would fall out of their chariots and get trampled and jump into other chariots and fight and fall out and get dragged around. Jerry drew little blood spatters on the board to mark where people died or trace the paths along which they were dragged.

Jordan called and I spent some time with him. He had just bought a new board game in hopes of keeping his youngest hooked on the hobby. I think I did other stuff, then went back to the room to wallow in loot and watch bad movies on SciFy. Or SyFy, or however the hell they're spelling it now. House of Bones is good, and was fun for us because of its similarity to "The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters," but that didn't come on until everybody was falling asleep.

Now I Got a New Tour
Sunday was a lazy day. I wandered around a bit, then came back to the room, then Tom and Liam kicked me out so they could nap. Apparently last night's Crawlspace game ran late and was trolled by idiots. It sucks that this happened, but Tom having to deal with drunken assholes almost makes me believe in karma.

Back in the exhibit hall, I found a couple of t-shirts and a Doctor Who DVD set. I grabbed some of my new books and wandered off to read while the geezers napped. I found a really nice spot with comfy chairs and settled in. A bit later, Jordan got in touch again, so I met him, John ("Cram" on Trollhalla), and Tom in the hotel bar. John had picked up a copy of Peryton RPG and asked me to sign it. I didn't think of anything good to write until it was too late, so I went with a bland, "I hope you enjoy it."

After chatting a bit while watching Jordan's son open up his new game (Dominion with, I believe, a couple of expansions included), we moved on to the victory dinner at Bourbon Street. Back at the hotel, we got to hang out with Jerry, who had been busy working the auction for most of the weekend. It was a nice unwinding-night after a great con.

Oh, there's also Tom's blog. I don't know of anyone else in the group who's done one so far. Don't believe his lies. (Edit: Jerry has now posted his.)

And that's pretty much it. Cheers.

Inappropriate Mysteries of the Jersey Shore

Bean! (Heavily Modified)
Friday, July 31, 11pm-3am
Promo Blurb: Take the roles of animated fast food products or one of their neighbors in this off-the-rails RPG based on the late night cartoon.

I started off this year with something new, in which we had someone play Doctor Weird, someone else play his assistant, Steve, and the rest play the Grant Committee. Passing in suggestions, amalgamating them, and perverting their intent, led to the unveiling of a giant blueberry, which proceeded to eat its creators and roll off to ravage New Jersey.

In addition to the standards (Frylock, Meatwad, Shake, Carl), we had Willie Nelson (not the Willie Nelson), the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future, and Inignokt. Ghost and Inignokt were selling Speedos door-to-door as part of a pyramid scheme. Somehow this led to a Foreigner Belt mishap which caused a real pyramid to grow up underneath Carl's house. There was time travel, cloning, and a Boxy Brown cameo. The giant, spiked blueberry showed up on the news, but nobody cared. Carl died, but was revived when Frylock attached his head to Ghost's body.

As the neighborhood was destroyed (I think by the blueberry, but I'm not sure I'm remembering it right) Frylock and Meatwad left town.

The players had several good ideas for future sessions, including a pile of cameo characters that players could just grab, play for a few minutes along with their other characters, and then discard. That's in the works for next year, along with some tweaks to the Doctor Weird prologue system.

Back to the Gen Con Write-Up:

Doctor Who: Out of Joint

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space - Friday, July 31, 7pm-11pm
Promo Blurb: Swept into a twisted branch of the Time Vortex created by the nascent Time War, the Eighth Doctor finds himself surrounded by an impossible assortment of companions in an abandoned Dalek city far in Skaro's future. Or, more precisely, a maze of Skaro's possible futures.

Player characters included the Doctor (obviously), Kamelion, Romana, Harry Sullivan, Sarah Jane Smith, and Rory Williams. They made their way through the petrified forest and down to the ruins. Harry fell down along the way and discovered an odd bit of Time Lord technology.

They worked out that the towers and the pit were "like a giant TARDIS" although the term "paradox machine" didn't come up until later. They encountered several of the alternate-history Skaro life forms that had been pulled into the time spur and had a conversation with Davros, who had been making the best of the situation by improvising a crude robo-man conversion to turn his attackers into his troops. Unlike the last group, they actually looked into the pit, which was fun. It was also fun when they realized that Davros was just hamming it up and really was as much a victim of the real villain as they were.

Back to the Gen Con Write-Up:

Raiders of the Dark Nebula

Icons Assembled Edition
Friday, July 31, 2pm-6pm
Promo Blurb: The dust of a dead star-god, the Tenebrous Nebula has sheltered many strange civilizations, but none as relentlessly expansionist as the Dire Wraiths. Since their awakening at the fall of the Ilkani homeworld, these shape-shifting techno-mages have terrorized entire star systems. Take the role of a starfaring super-hero in this mashup of Micronauts, Farscape, Rom, and assorted other space fantasies.

To be fair, the only Farscape reference was the living ship, and the Rom connection (Dire Wraiths) was mostly just backstory. Also, I don't think I even mentioned the Dark Nebula in the game. I didn't really have any idea what I was going to do when I wrote that blurb. It was like January or something.

I came up with basic stats and power sets and let the players come up with names, appearance, and qualities at the table.
  • Nyarlathotep: Seriously, that's what he called himself, saying that he was inspired by the Old Ones, although he didn't seem particularly insane. He had cosmic energy powers. Typing out his full name will get old fast, so let's call him Narly for short.
  • Trixatrix: Insectoid working with Narly. Extremely enthusiastic and somewhat naively friendly. Great leaper and had a rocket lance.
  • Siren: Winged human patterned somewhat loosely after Marionette from the comics. Also had sonic powers.
  • John Legate: Experimental subject whose shape-shifting and power-duplicating abilities were far more extensive than he let on.
  • Arok: Canine-enhanced humanoid with tracking, ESP, and fast attack powers.
Siren, John, and Arok were experimental Body Banks subjects imprisoned and forced to fight in the arena (although John was pretty sure he could escape any time and was staying because he liked fighting). Narly and Trix were trying to break them out because Narly had received a vision or something about one of them being the key to overthrowing the Archon. They had, therefore, allowed Trix to be captured and thrown in with the other prisoners for... reasons. I don't know. I just thought it sounded cool.

When the cyber-tyrannosaur with rocket launchers came out, somebody said this was sounding more like Epic Magazine than a comic book adventure. They downed it really quickly, though, so I probably didn't make it tough enough. Anyway, the breakout proceeded and they fought their way past the armored "angel" guards (ironically, a much harder fight than the dinosaur) to the landing strip, where they were drawn to a big wasp-shaped ship. Trix found that it was particularly well adapted to his people. They blasted their way out, shot down their pursuers, and warped away.

Then they found out that the ship was the result of a larger project the Archon was investing in, using beings similar to Trix's people as stock to create an biologically networked race of cybernetic bug soldiers. At this point the comparisons moved from comic-book style magazines to heavy metal album covers. Anyway, the researchers lost control of their engineered soldiers and fled the planet, accidentally leaving behind the unfinished device which had allowed them to communicate with the network, but was not yet able to accomplish its intended goal of shutting the bugs down.

Deciding that this was what they were looking for, the heroes headed for the planet and found that, as promised, it was overrun by crazed cyber-bug people, some of which had exposed brains, because that's cool-looking. The building that was supposed to have the device in it was covered by a gigantic hive. Trix made some fake cyber-attachments for himself out of spare parts and John transformed himself. It soon became apparent that the bugs were communicating with pheromones and would not allow either of the imposters through, until John duplicated this ability as well.

After some tense experimentation, John and Trix fired up the machine, made contact with the bionic network, and guided it towards a more advanced level of functioning. Also, they led the horde of vengeful cyber-bugs back to the Archon's world, overthrew him, and took over.

Back to the Gen Con Write-Up:

Shadow of the Peryton

Qalidar: Resistance - Thursday, July 30, 8pm-Midnight
Promo Blurb: The quiet college town of Blackridge is being haunted by a soaring shadow, a dark, winged shape with antlers. On the ground, weird agents are looking for something, terrorizing people in their homes and then disappearing. Is it just a coincidence that there's a nuclear power plant nearby?

For this one, I had five players, taking the Ascendant, Fixer, Karcist, Mystic, and Scrapper characters. They were third level, high enough to have some cool powers, but low enough that they can't just rampage through the town. I opened with the statement that they had all done a little bit of Storm walking, but this was a familiar town on a familiar world. The Fixer was actually a student at the local college (University of Arkansas at Blackridge) and the Karcist was his dad.

As the blurb promises, there had been some weird sightings and some suspicious retractions, and the heroes were there to check it out. Also, there wasn't really a nuke plant in town, but several people had seen the ghostly image of one across the lake.

After finding out what they could from their senile motel manager, they headed out to the college to interview students. After stalking a few, they found their way to Matt, a zine publisher who was able to point them in the direction of Jim and Stacy, who had seen the creature, and to Doctor Morton, who had made a public statement and then retracted it. Also, there had been bigfoot sightings at the Cliffs overlooking the river, but not even Matt put much stock in those stories. The Mystic and the Fixer saw a cloud that looked like a steam plume from a nuclear plant.

Morton wasn't terribly helpful, but Jim and Stacy independently provided fairly consistent accounts of an encounter on a hiking trail on Chactas Mountain. The Ascendant had a strange, brief conversation with a man in a suit. They really did see Bigfoot at the Cliffs, much to the Fixer's delight. The Karcist nailed him with a magic feather and he floated off into the foliage below.

On a nocturnal trip to the lake, they encountered a pair of eyeless children whose psychic assault almost killed the Karcist. The Ascendant encountered another man in a suit hidden in the trees, but he (the man in black, not the Ascendant) disappeared during the fight with the other creatures. I was gratified by the level of creepedoutedness my players displayed in reaction to this encounter.

Finally, they made there way out to Chactas Mountain, where the Karcist's ghostly helper led them to the peryton, actually just a winged shadow-humanoid with smoky tendrils twisting up from its head. In the fight, it was destroyed fairly quickly, only to release a fiery wraith from its charcoal-coated skeleton. The wraith was eventually destroyed by the Scrapper's crystal knife as well, leaving a fine, iridescent dust which the Fixer collected in a canteen.

Renting a boat from Ray's 24-Hour Marine, they went out to the nuclear plant and confirmed the Mystic's intuition that the forces drawing it towards this reality (which would have been extremely disruptive) had been neutralized by the creature's destruction. There was other stuff that led them to all this information, but that's the general idea.

And, damn it, I forgot to tell them about interrupts, which is a pity, because interrupts are cool.

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