DM Screen 2 – From Here to Eternia

Hello again! We’re about to get into the notes for the second Extraordinary League episode, the conclusion of the brief intro arc where our heroes meet up with the League and escape to Castle Grayskull. The first episode, as I mentioned before, was largely to introduce the players and listeners to the Marvel system, as well as to the main characters. This episode was largely intended to display how overwhelmingly numerous, scary, and unstoppable the Phyrexians are, and to drive home the threat they posed to the multiverse.

In addition, I’ve decided that every plot arc should end with a tough decision for the players. I try to give them a few different options for dealing with certain challenges throughout the story, but I think the end of an arc should feel significant and give the characters a chance to express themselves… and there’s no better way to examine the core of a character than by giving them a tough choice. More on that later.

The strangers introduce themselves as Buffy Summers, “Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101,” Razputin “Raz” Aquato, and Princess Zelda. They explain that they’re here to find the Phyrexians’ invasion plans to better anticipate which planes will be targeted by the conquerors next. They managed to get some information, but they won’t be able to interpret it until they can plug it into their own databases. In addition, they managed to grab some important- and powerful-looking weapons and gear that the Phyrexians had raided from other worlds—they don’t want to use them until they figure out exactly what they do and how they work, so for the time being, Terminator is carrying the lot of it in a large bag slung over his shoulder. Unfortunately, their extraction point was overrun by Phyrexians and they need to find an alternative.

Buffy looks to Raz. “Speaking of, how we looking on that front?” Raz reaches into his satchel and produces a device with the silhouette of an 80s-era brick cellphone, with a small rotating parabolic dish on the top of the antenna. He looks at a small display screen, then turns and points. “Another 460 meters or so thataway,” he says.

Along the way, Raz will ask Stitch about himself and be generally awed by the alien creature. Zelda will ask Dante about his weaponry and magical abilities (if demonstrated). Buffy compliments Archer on his turtleneck. Terminator comments on the fact that he doesn’t have a corresponding anatomy entry on Mordin.

This was my attempt to give the players a breather before the final push against the Phyrexians, allow them to express themselves through roleplaying, and to allow them to get to know their new allies a bit better—the better to torment them with later on.

The path that Raz leads you on takes you on a diagonal path cutting across a road and around a walled-off parking lot; as you emerge from around the concrete wall, you can see the looming and unmistakable shape of the London Eye at the end of the street, sitting on the bank of the Thames. The Eye itself actually hasn’t been touched much by the invasion, apparently, although the Thames is almost black with industrial runoff and is covered in an oily sheen.

As the heroes approach the Eye, have them make Agility (+Stealth) checks to avoid being spotted; failure means a number of Phyrexians begin moving from buildings and down the streets toward them.

Raz’s device shows that their extraction point is at the top of the London Eye. How the heroes want to get there is up to them. The wheel is currently not operational, but some Reason (+Technology) might be able to get its power back on. In addition, another Reason (+Technology) will be necessary to boost the Dimensional Displacement Capacitor sufficiently to accommodate all eight passengers. All the while, the heroes will be under attack from Phyrexian Crusaders, as well as a Devouring Strossus when they get onto the Eye.

Note: The passenger capsules of the Eye are large enough to hold 25 people. The Eye rotates at about 0.6 mph, meaning it will take 15 minutes for a capsule to get from the ground to the top.

Of course, I forgot about Archer’s grappling gun, so they were able to ascend the wheel a lot faster than I anticipated that they would. That ended up being fine—Dante and Stitch directly attacking the Phyrexian Crusaders actually ended up drawing a lot more aggro than I initially intended, so really this whole sequence ended up being a heavily-accelerated version of my original plan.

As the heroes are on the verge of escaping, one or two Phyrexians will either knock out or attempt to drag off one of the four League members with them. This should be a painful decision as to whether they attempt a rescue or decide to cut their losses and escape while they can.

Here’s the tough decision I mentioned at the top. While running this, I first tried to make Raz the imperiled character, but Mordin ended up rescuing him fairly handily and it didn’t really feel like a tough decision. Therefore, I decided to have one of the Darkslick Drakes come in and grab Terminator. That ended up having the effect I wanted—the heroes had a moment of painful indecision before they made the tough choice of abandoning him in order to ensure that the rest of them escaped. Drama!

Also, here are the stats I used for the four League members, as well as the Phyrexians they encountered…

Buffy Summers
F          In
A         Rm
S          Ex
E          Rm
R         Ty
I           Gd
P          Ex

Health: 120     Karma: 36

Crossbow: 10 damage
Stake: Str+10 damage, instant Kill effect on vampires
Scythe: Str+15 damage
Regeneration
Precognition: Ex

Terminator
F          In
A         Ex
S          In
E          Mn
R         Rm
I           Ty
P          Gd

Health: 175     Karma: 46

Light Machine Pistol (2): 12 damage
Shotgun: 20 damage to up to 3 targets in one area
Minigun: 30 damage
Grenade Launcher: 30 damage
Resistance to Radiations/Toxins: Cl1000
Nightvision
Lightning Speed: Pr
Body Armor: Ex
Hydrogen Fuel Cell: Un to 20′ radius, useable 1/mission

Zelda
F          Rm
A         In
S          Ty
E          Gd
R         Ex
I           Ex
P          In

Health: 86       Karma: 80

Din’s Fire: Am damage to one target, or Rm to one area
Faore’s Wind: Ex teleportation, can teleport up to 100’ in any direction, or
up to 5000 miles to a pre-set location
Nayru’s Love: Am force field

Razputin Aquato
F          Ty
A         Gd
S          Pr
E          Gd
R         Gd
I           Gd
P          Am

Health: 30       Karma: 70

Clairvoyance: Am, can see through a target’s eyes
Confusion: Rm chance to make target attack allies
Invisibility: In
Levitation: Creates a Thought Bubble which grants In Leaping, In Gliding, and can deal In damage when used to run into an enemy
Palm Bomb: Ex damage to all enemies in Raz’s area
PSI-Blast: In damage; after each successful hit, can make an additional attack at -1 cumulative CS to hit another target (each target can only be hit once)
PSI-Punch: In damage
Pyrokinesis: Make a Psyche check to set a target on fire; on a Yellow result, everything in the target’s area is also set on fire
Shield: Make a Psyche check as a reaction to block all damage for one turn; requires 2 rounds to recharge after use
Telekinesis: Rm

Phyrexian Crusader – This burly creature is humanoid and armored–or perhaps just a suit of black spiked armor. The forearms and thighs of the creature are almost nonexistent; the gauntlets and heavy boots are connected to the torso by an open webwork of thick, inflexible cables. The helmet–or maybe that’s the creature’s head?–looks blank and skull-like. The creature wields a gigantic greatsword with vicious spikes erupting from the crossguard.
F          Ex
A         Gd
S          Ex
E          Gd
R         Ty
I           Ty
P          Ty

Health: 60

Body Armor: Gd
Infect: Targets damaged must make an Endurance check or lose 1 rank from one physical attribute for every 10 damage taken

Devouring Strossus – this terrifying creature stands close to 15 feet tall. Its upper body is considerably bulkier than its lower body. The whole thing looks like an animated suit of mechanical armor made of corroded black metal. Its head/helmet features a pair of round, glowing red eyes. The only thing on this creature that looks even remotely organic are the huge bat-like wings stretching from its shoulders.
F          Rm
A         Gd
S          Mn
E          Un
R         Ty
I           Ty
P          In

Health: 215     Karma: 52

Flying: Ex
Consume: Must consume one creature each round or it will die. Can consume a second creature to fully heal itself.

Darkslick Drake – a creature that resembles a lizard or dragon with only a pair of hind legs. Its main body is the size of an SUV, with a tail at least three times as long. Its whole body is made of metal and is skeletal in shape, including a tail made entirely of vertebrae. The only pieces of flesh are grafted onto its back, where it stretches upward into hideous rotting wings.
F          Gd
A         Ex
S          Ex
E          Ex
R         Fb
I           Pr
P          Pr

Health: 70

Flying: Gd

When the heroes reach the extraction point at the top of the Eye, if the Dimensional Displacement Capacitor has been suitably overcharged, the front of the device pops open and a brilliant white electrical field explodes out in a bubble around all of the heroes. The heroes within feel an intense tingling sensation on every part of their bodies, then a brief sensation of falling in every direction at once.

You hit the floor and have a few uncomfortable seconds where it feels like every inch of your bodies had fallen asleep and are abruptly waking up, with all the pins and needles associated with that process. Looking around, you can see that you are in a medium-sized, strange-looking room that seems to feature aspects of both cave and castle: some of the floor and walls are made of large worked stone blocks, while other parts are more natural water-carved rock. Both artificial columns and natural pillars reach to the ceiling some 30 feet above, but carved gargoyles protrude from both. The area is lit by wall-mounted torches, though oddly you notice that they emit no heat or smoke.

As you begin to climb to your feet, you notice that Buffy and the others have recovered from the transition much more quickly and have lined up several paces away, facing you with weapons drawn and leveled. “No sudden movements,” the Terminator says. “Don’t reach for your weapons.” (Obviously the Terminator ended up captured here, so this changed.)

Zelda looks at Raz. “Call the doctor.” Raz nods and concentrates briefly. “Done,” he says. (Raz had ended up unconscious, so I had to have Doc Brown called in physically.)

“Now we’re all just gonna wait here, nice and friendly, until the doctor gets here,” Buffy says, crossbow aimed toward you.

Eventually, a heavy stone door in one wall swings open. In walks a gangly man wearing a labcoat. His age is hard to place, maybe in his sixties or seventies, and he has a huge shock of white hair. He’s carrying what looks like a small metal suitcase in his left hand; there’s a small device he carries in his right hand about the size and shape of a remote control attached to the case by a cord. He looks over the four heroes with a carefully neutral expression. “These are the newcomers?” he asks. Before anyone can respond, he sets down and opens the suitcase, revealing a rather primitive-looking but complex computer of some sort. He approaches Archer first with the handheld device extended. “Try not to move too much,” he says as he begins to wave the device over Archer’s body.

The doctor continues with this process if left uninterrupted, waving the wand over the different characters and checking the readout on the foldout computer screen.

He starts when he notices Mordin, saying in a loud and halting voice (like an American tourist talking to a foreigner), “Greetings. On behalf of humankind, I come in peace and mean you no harm. I hope that our two species can find a mutually beneficial accord.”

When he sees Stitch, the doctor peers at him curiously. “What kind of creature are you?” he asks as he waves the device over him, though he’s clearly not paying any attention to the readout on the screen.

Eventually, the doctor will pronounce, “They’re clean. They had translator modules installed, but there’s no trace of infection.” At this, Buffy and the others lower their weapons with visible relief.

“Sorry about that,” he says, turning to the heroes. “We’ve had a couple of people who claimed to be allies and… well, turned out not to be.” He forces a smile. “Doctor Emmett Brown. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

At this point, the heroes can do more or less as they wish. If they wish information, their allies will provide.

The creatures they escaped are known as Phyrexians–sort of weird alien parasites. The homeworld of Phyrexia itself is a parasitic entity that will overlay and absorb other worlds (what Phyrexians refer to as “planes.”) The world the heroes escaped was an Earth that was in the late stages of being assimilated into Phyrexia; the living population had already been conquered and “compleated,” as the Phyrexians call it–assimilated into Phyrexians themselves.

The Phyrexians follow some weird, twisted dogma which speaks of a day in which “all will be one”–that is, absorbed into Phyrexia. The center of this quasi-religion is a figure known as the Father of Machines, though the heroes’ allies don’t know for sure if this is an actual being or just some sort of object of worship. The strongest forces that Phyrexia seems to control are five beings called Praetors that act on behalf of the Father of Machines. These beings are singularly powerful–they were once mighty beings on their native planes, and though they were compleated by Phyrexia, they were left enough of their own personality and will to direct the march of Phyrexia while also having their natural powers increased exponentially. Engaging any of the Praetors with anything short of an army is tantamount to suicide.

Fortunately, the heroes have found themselves the group which has (tentatively) named itself the Extraordinary League, after a comic book that one of Buffy’s friends from back home was fond of. The League is made up of people who, like the heroes, encountered the Phyrexians either during one of the aliens’ exploratory missions or as the result of a full-on incursion. Buffy and Doc Brown were the first two members; they found themselves united after they were taken by Phyrexians. They managed to escape and evade their captors for long enough for Doc Brown to reverse-engineer the Phyrexians’ dimension-hopping technology, letting them escape Phyrexia altogether. They found themselves here, in a structure called Castle Grayskull on the world of Eternia. The castle itself seems to be some sort of dimensional nexus, with lines of strange energy criscrossing from all corners of the multiverse, allowing for relatively easy travel to and from different dimensions.

The League makes occasional trips to nearby cities in Eternia for supplies, but by and large uses the Castle as a staging ground in their battle against Phyrexia. They monitor Phyrexia’s path through the multiverse and attempt to subvert the alien dimension’s progress however they can–it’s tough going, though, as the League has only a couple dozen members and generally operates in cells of four or so.

It seems like an impossible battle at times, but to abandon this battle would mean surrendering to a foe that will strip away everything that reeks of individuality and freedom and to live in a world devoid of hope. For that, the League fights alone–and they hope that the heroes will join them.

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