Saturday, November 30, 2019

I Want Your Cray-Cray

Session 3-4 Recap (10/26/19 and 11/16/19)

Dazzler created a distracting lightshow while Jessica made an opening in the far wall, then picked up Alison and jumped to the next building. The two split up and made their way across town.

Jessica went to Trish's place while it was still dark, but Trish wasn't home. She did some research and tracked down the woman Barrigan had called. After conning her way to the executive floor with trendy coffee, she made her way to Danning's office and confronted her. Danning wouldn't talk and was confident that Jessica wouldn't dare try anything because she'd never get back out. Jessica grabbed her, smashed a window, and jumped out to land on an adjacent rooftop.

Dazzler, meanwhile, was busy tracking down Flame, convinced that, despite having put the last person who used that name in jail, somebody with an agenda was burning down all her venues. The search led her to Turk Barrett and some Italian guy named Tyrone at Josie's.

Despite some awkwardness about her reason for leaving Harlem's Paradise (one of these days I need to post my after-the-series background stuff), Jessica called Luke and asked for his help with her captive. Luke, pleased to hear from her, agreed to help out. On the way, Jessica found out from Sugar that Luke wasn't currently seeing ("having coffee with") anyone.

While Jessica was interrogating villains and getting laid, Dazzler was trying to keep Tyrone on the hook. At some point the two got back in contact. Morbius the Living Vampire showed up for no particular reason. He had psychic illusion powers to which Jessica was immune, but every attempt triggered a Kilgrave vision. Unfortunately for him, he didn't much like bright light and Dazzler had plenty of it. They dumped him in Luke's quiet room with Sheila Danning.

Danning, eager to not be locked in with a vampire, gave up the location of Flame's HQ. As Dazzler and Jessica had suspected, it was an organization, not an individual. This turned out to be in a trendy gym over P.F. Chang's close to Times Square. Dazzler picked out some workout clothes for her and Jessica, who wasn't thrilled at being dressed in pink and absolutely refused to wear the leg warmers.

At the gym, Jessica went about distracting the jocks. Dazzler went off and distracted the staff. Everyone was distracted, but nobody was doing anything. Eventually Dazzler did lead the manager away from her office, giving Jessica the chance to break in to the locked rooms behind it. There she found files detailing the buildings Flame had burned down and several sets of Flame gear. She took pictures and sent them to Costa so he could get a search warrant.

While they waited for the cops, Jess and Ali kept an eye on the building from outside to make sure none of their targets escaped. Jessica saw the manager climbing down the fire escape in a Flame suit and grabbed her in a leaping tackle. Though pinned, Flame was able to activate her gauntlets and burn Jessica's legs. Jessica, in pain and angry about the whole situation, hit her on the hip as hard as she could, breaking the bone. Flame passed out and Jessica turned her over to the police with a warning that she had fallen from the fire escape and broken her hip.

Dazzler went off for a hookup with Ward (once she got Danny to leave) while Jessica, hating herself for seriously injuring someone by letting her anger get the better of her, tossed back a few more drinks and headed over to Trish's place. She opened up to Trish about her frustrations and how Dazzler is "all rainbows and unicorns," and "she made me wear PINK!"

Then she grabbed Trish and kissed her and, one determination point later, Trish turned out to be up for that and credits.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Kiss Me, Fat Boy

I saw the first incarnation of It (and read the book) as a child. I didn't think I was a child at the time, but I was. I've just wrapped up the new version as an old person. I missed it (or should I say I missed It?) in the theater and had to wait for the digital release, so I made an event out of it. I waited for Tom to go to work, turned off all the lights, lit a couple of candles, and watched both chapters of the recent version back-to-back. I didn't go so far as to re-watch the old one because, for one thing, that's a lot'o watching, and for another, I've seen that one so many times that I could probably recite the lines with the sound off.

One thing I noticed just now while browsing for pictures: The menace of Tim Curry's Pennywise came almost entirely from his voice. Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise is both visually and vocally terrifying. I think a lot of this is down to budget, makeup choices, and special effects, though. I don't want to do too much of that kind of comparison. Okay, okay -- one more: nobody will ever say "kiss me, fat boy" with as much verve as Curry.

What really made me want to share my rambling thoughts on these movies was a new theme, or an old one I never noticed. The ending in the book and the first adaptation kind of mixed it up, so maybe King never intended it, but it's clear in the new version. I can't remember if the bit about Bill's books never having good endings was in the novel. If not, I think this is why it's in the movie.

Anyway, what I'm seeing here is a story about people reclaiming their identities. I'm not talking about identity as in some kind of racial or cultural bullshit. I mean it in the sense of who they really are. Over time, as we all do, they had lost themselves in faded memories. Even though the effects of that past remained, they could no longer see the source. If you don't know where your wounds came from, you can't learn from them. You can't grow beyond them. This really stands out with Bev, who, escaping an abusive father, hooked up with an abusive husband, and Eddie, who threw off his dependence on his mother's placebo medicine as a child, only to get sucked right back into it as an adult.

Chapter Two spent a lot of time making the heroes recover memories of a time that was cleverly slipped past us in Chapter One. It even went so far as to materialize their past selves as "tokens." And of course the tokens themselves, in the end, had no power over the monster at all. It was having found them, or what they represented, that made them strong. Once they found themselves, they could grow. The more they grew, the smaller their fears and self-destructive impulses became. They were able to get to the heart of their collective Shadow. They didn't simply destroy it, though. Destroying it would be denying that it, too, is part of them, so they tore it up and ate it. Together.

(Pardon the heart pun. I just had to.)

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Scylla and Charybdis

The Defenders campaign is still a delight. When we started this, I was worried about a couple of possibilities (I mean, apart from the usual things GMs worry about) because it was a campaign based on a TV show.

One was that the players would ignore the established details of the characters they were playing and just sort of make it a generic super-hero game.

The other was that they'd go to the opposite extreme and slavishly limit themselves to the actions they'd seen, never expanding on their characters, making the resulting story little more than an endless rerun, no matter what scenarios I threw at them.

I've been lucky to get players who haven't fallen into either pit. What I'm seeing (and yeah, often enough I do feel like a spectator instead of a narrator) is a group of characters that are clearly rooted in the established history, but are evolving in creative ways as they go, coming to life in ways I could never have predicted.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Reaper

I've heard people talk about Death stalking us, and that has a ring of truth to it, but it's not that simple. The stalking metaphor suggests that Death hunts us, tracks us, like it doesn't know where we are. I don't think that's true. Death doesn't stalk and pounce on us. Death herds us. Death harvests us. That's why it's drawn with a scythe instead of a bow. No turn we take is a mystery to Death, because, whether we see it or not, it left us no other path.