DM Screen 21 – The Invasion of Nexus City

As I mentioned before, I try to make the final episode of any given plot arc bigger and more explosive than any of the episodes leading up to it, plus I like to give a tough choice to the players as a way of gauging their characters’ evolution. As far as I can tell, this episode did both of those things pretty dang well, largely from how eagerly the players threw themselves into the increasing ridiculousness of the adventure.

We see a long Nexus City street running between rows of skyscrapers. Cars roll by on the road while pedestrians clog the sidewalks. One by one, the pedestrians begin to slow, looking around in confusion. Is that the sound of… machinery? But where’s it coming from? Just then, several large, greasy spots appear in the air around them, vomiting forth scores of skeletal, horrifying Phyrexian shock troops. Those civilians who spot the invaders scream and turn to run, not knowing that it’s already too late for them.

We see an aerial shot of a Nexus City park, a small remainder of nature carefully tended to in the midst of the impossibly immense metropolis around it. More greasy portals open in the air above the park and small creatures pour out in buzzing swarms, with bodies like bat-winged scorpions. The dark cloud of Phryexian creatures begin their descent toward the park below.

We see a busy Nexus City intersection, where two major roads cross between photogenic tourist hot spots. A tremendous portal suddenly expands in the middle of the intersection, depositing a towering Phyrexian weapon of war, looking like a combination between a tank and a threshing machine. Cars brake and swerve in an effort to avoid the new arrival as the blades on the front of the war machine begin to spin and the vehicle rumbles forward.

And finally, we see the Balboa Memorial Arena. The parking lot is currently empty, with the notable exception of a large pirate ship with hover engines on the sides.

The interior of the Arena is intended to seat over 20,000 people, but at the moment it feels almost empty with just a few hundred. These few, however, are the past combatants in the Nexus Tournament—exhausted from their recent abuse at the hands of Shang Tsung, but united in their resolve to stand in defense of Nexus City against the Phyrexian invasion.

The five of you (plus Lace) have been joined by Sombra, as well as another Extraordinary League cell which was able to travel to Nexus City to deliver the message about the invasion and provide what help they can. This is the team which helped to rescue Luna from Phyrexia: Beatrix Kiddo, Samus Aran, Raistlin Majere, Lucca, and Toothless. Also here is Doc Brown himself, who has pulled himself away from his lab in order to see what he can do to help. At the moment, you and the other Leaguers are in a backstage area, poring over a complex series of maps of Nexus City.

Samus Aran sighs as she makes some slight adjustments to the figures and markers on the map. “I think that’s about the best deployment of our forces we can manage at this point. We have a lot of fighters on our side, but this plane is just too damn big. We’d have to spread ourselves way too thin to cover more than one city. At this point, the best we can hope for is to delay Phrexia’s takeover, and even that could cost us dearly. It also doesn’t help that the Phyrexians have deployed swarms of Plague Stingers—all it takes is a sting from one of these little bastards and you’re infected. Watch out for them—that’s how they turn huge populations at once.”

Give the players a chance to respond. If someone brings up the idea of staging an evacuation to Eternia, Lucca points out that, even overcharged, the DDCs can’t take more than a dozen people at once. That’s a lot of round trips with overcharged DDCs, which means they’re going to need constant maintenance or they’ll break. At best, they could potentially save a hundred people, which still leaves billions of people lost to Phyrexia.

Eventually, Doc Brown, Sombra, and Lucca will approach Mordin. They’ve been looking into the network of alien orbs beneath the arena that Shang Tsung was using to manipulate peoples’ emotions.

Doc Brown says, “That network stretches between and beneath every section of Nexus City, crossing through dozens of dimensions. In some ways, we think that the network may actually be stabilizing the city itself, acting like a web or a net holding all the dimensions together. The three of us have run some calculations, and we think that, if someone was able to send a pulse of energy of just the right magnitude into the network, the alien orbs would detonate with sufficient force to splinter Nexus City into its original component dimensions. The resulting energy would fling the dimensions off into the multiverse and away from Phyrexia.”

If asked, the three tech experts admit that this is a particularly brute force method of solving this problem, and would likely result in no small amount of collateral damage, but given the seriousness of the situation and the lack of both time and resources available to the League, this may be their best shot at preventing Phyrexia from taking Nexus City. If the heroes want to go with this plan, Sombra, Lucca, and Doc Brown will head down to Shang Tsung’s lair to set this up, although they warn that it will take them some time to reroute power systems, disable network safeguards, and perform the proper calculations so they know exactly how much energy to discharge through the network—they’ll need someone to guard the arena from the Phyrexians in the meantime.

The heroes are free to come up with alternative ways of opposing Phyrexia, of course, and they may just decide to take the trophy and make a beeline for the nearest extraction point.

Before leaving, Beatrix will say to the heroes, “We have a lot of warriors out there eager to fight for their city. Do you want to say anything to them?” In the background, we can see Sombra struggling and failing to keep an impish smile from her face as she remembers Dante and Archer’s disastrous “impending catastrophe” broadcast.

Regardless of where the heroes go or what they decide to do, they will run into Phyrexian invaders—what type of invaders depend on what route they take.

Here I put in a kind of Choose Your Own Adventure-style branching path, based on what the heroes decided to do with this impending invasion.

If they take their flying ship or another air route: Getting some air just serves to further underscore the widespread devastation of Nexus City. You can see for miles around smoke rising from burning vehicles and buildings, huge Phyrexian war machines marching through streets, clouds of tiny swarming Phyrexians closing in on panicked civilians, and everywhere the screams of the innocent caught up in this invasion.

As you round a corner of the city, something large suddenly looms into view: a huge black web, stretched across the city street anchored by skyscrapers on either side. Your ship comes to a sudden and painful, jerking stop as it gets caught, and you can see the shapes of gigantic Phyrexian spiders beginning to crawl toward you.

(Stats given below just for reference; this should be quick. One check from everyone to show how they’re helping and then move on.)

Blightwidow (4) (a spider the size of a large dog, with a metallic black carapace shot through with glowing green veins and covered in spines and serrations)
F: Gd
A: Ex
S: Gd
E: Ex
R: Fb
I: Pr
P: Fb

Health: 60

Wall-Crawling: Ex
Web: Rm strength
Infect: Targets damaged must make an Endurance check or lose 1 rank from one physical attribute for every 10 damage taken

If they are traveling through the city on the ground, either on foot or in a ground vehicle: Now that you’re out in the city, you’re seeing the signs of destruction all around you: destroyed and smoking vehicles, buildings that have been damaged or partially dismantled, and the signs of the passage of immense Phyrexian vehicles. One thing you’re not seeing are the bodies of Nexus City citizens: the Phyrexians waste nothing in their conquest.

Before long, you round a corner and see your first Phyrexians. Three of them are human-sized and appear to be porcelain-colored armor affixed to a humanoid webwork beneath. They wield curved, black swords and stare out at the world with faceless masks. The fourth is a towering construct, with long, spindly legs lifting its hunched-over skeletal torso ten feet above the street. Its face is a mask constructed to look like a face with a distended mouth open in a perpetual scream. Long arms ending in curved, cruel claws pick through the remnants of a crashed bus.

(Again, this fight can be quick and simple; there’s a big fight coming up, so don’t drag this one out. Enemy stats are below.)

If they are helping to defend the arena: Now that you’re out in the city, you’re seeing the signs of destruction all around you: destroyed and smoking vehicles, buildings that have been damaged or partially dismantled, and the signs of the passage of immense Phyrexian vehicles. One thing you’re not seeing are the bodies of Nexus City citizens: the Phyrexians waste nothing in their conquest.

The Phyrexians are coming in great numbers now. They stream in dark rivers from the streets around the Balboa Memorial Arena and descend from the kaleidoscopic sky above. But they are met at all sides by the warriors of the Nexus Tournament, who fight back with the martial and mystical techniques of dozens of worlds. Aero Star leaps from the back of one of the Biker Mice’s motorcycles and delivers a flying, backflipping body splash into an armored Phyexian. Jim Darkmagic, Taako, and Raistlin Majere stand side by side and let loose a devastating trio of fireballs into a crowd of invaders. Butterfree dusts several Phyrexians with sleep powder, leaving them sitting ducks for Mordekaiser to run in and bash them away with his gigantic spiked mace.

(Stats given below just for reference; this should be quick. One check from everyone to show how they’re helping and then move on.)

Porcelain Legionnaire (3)
F: Ex
A: Ty
S: Ex
E: Ty
R: Pr
I: Pr
P: Pr

Health: 52

First Strike: The Legionnaire gets a free counterattack whenever a creature closes to melee range with it

Pierce Strider
F: Gd
A: Gd
S: Rm
E: Rm
R: Pr
I: Pr
P Pr

Health: 80

After the battle with either the Blightwidows or the ground-based Phyrexians, we cut to Sombra (if she’s below the Arena working on Shang Tsung’s network)—if she’s with the heroes, then this scene happens in front of them.

A Phyrexian creature approaches Sombra. The thing is maybe half as large as a human, creeping along like a lizard on insectile legs, with a bronze-colored carapace and a large fixture reminiscent of an eye facing forward where a head would be. Sombra draws her pistol, but before she can raise it, a blue light begins to shine from the center of its giant eye. A holographic blue figure appears in front of the creature: a bald man wearing an exquisitely tailored suit, hands clasped calmly behind his back.

“Hello, Sombra,” says the hologram of Lex Luthor. Lex will explain that he is unable to appear in person, as he’s been tasked with some of the larger-scale planning of this particular invasion, but he wanted to check in with her, one of the insects who decided that they were capable of standing against him and against Phyrexia. “Surely you must know by now that any small, momentary victories you gain against us are essentially and unavoidably limited. You cannot defeat us. All will be one.”

Eventually, he will say, “Well, I’m afraid I have to go—I have an invasion to oversee, after all, but I wanted to introduce you to one of my friends: another Phyrexian Praetor. I believe he should be teleporting in right about now. I suggest you run now and abandon this plane to its fate. Or don’t, I certainly wouldn’t object to watching you struggle and die against inevitability.” With that, the hologram flickers out and the Oculus which projected it begins to crawl away.

At this point, there is the distant sound of rhythmic thunderclaps. For those heroes who were in Jurassic Park, they are reminded of being close to the T-Rex when it was walking, but on a much, much larger scale. And then, rising above the skyline of Nexus City, is the many-stories tall form of the green Phryexian Praetor, who lets loose a roar that can be heard from every corner of the city.

The heroes have a moment or two to react. After that, if they decided to destroy Shang Tsung’s network, Sombra contacts them. The network has been rigged to blow, but will need several minutes to fully charge. Sombra is going to use that time to begin to warp out any of the Nexus Tournament warriors that wish to join the League, but if Godzilla reaches the Arena before the network detonates, their whole plan will be ruined. Someone is going to need to hold off the giant dinosaur in the meantime. If they decided to just beeline for an extraction point, then Godzilla is directly in their way and they’ll need to face him to escape.

Either way, at this point the five colorfully-dressed teenagers known as the Power Rangers approach them (either stepping out from the larger group of Nexus Tournament warriors, or teleporting directly to them in a rainbow of light). All five of them are in civilian form and are still visibly weakened and look exhausted.

“Team Ohana,” says the Yellow Ranger Trini. “Our fight against the Soul Edge has left us too weak to use our powers—we still need some time to recover.” She looks up at the approaching form of Godzilla. “But someone has to stop that thing before it does any more damage.” As one, the Power Rangers all hold out their morphers to Team Ohana.

Below are the stats for the different Dinozords that the heroes controlled. Note that the Zords are working on a completely different scale from human-sized characters—in real life, the Tyrannosaurus Dinozord probably has somewhere around Unearthly to Shift-Y Strength and at least Incredible Body Armor. I didn’t want us dealing with overly gigantic numbers in this fight, though, so I scaled everything down. Also, the Zords use their pilots’ mental stats (Reason, Intuition, Psyche).

Mastodon Dinozord
F: Gd
A: Ty
S: Rm
E: Rm

Health: 76

Freezing Blast: Ex damage and target must make Endurance check or be frozen

Pterodactyl Dinozord
F: Gd
A: Rm
S: Ty
E: Gd

Health: 56

Twin Lasers: Rm damage

Triceratops Dinozord
F: Gd
A: Ty
S: Rm
E: Rm

Health: 76

Tail Cannon: Ex damage
Power Cables: Ex chance to restrain target

Sabertooth Tiger Dinozord
F: Rm
A: Ex
S: Gd
E: Gd

Health: 70

Bite: Ex damage
Tail Cannon: Ex damage

Tyrannosaurus Dinozord
F: Ex
A: Gd
S: Ex
E: Ex

Health: 70

Eye Beams: Ex damage
Seismic Roar: In damage, useable once per fight

Megazord

Each character chooses Fighting, Agility, or Reason. The chosen stat becomes what they’ll roll for Piloting (with a bonus for the Vehicles Talent). When the Power Sword is summoned, all of the non-Red Rangers make a Piloting check, getting 1 point for Green, 2 for Yellow, and 3 for Red. Then the Red Ranger makes a Piloting check to swing the Power Sword—this roll gets a -5 CS modifier, but then gets a +1 CS for each point accumulated by their allies. If the Power Sword hits, it destroys the target.

The Megazord has 200 Health.

By the time we got to the Megazord fighting Godzilla, we figured the episode had gone on for long enough that we didn’t want to further stretch out the battle, so we went straight to the Power Sword right after the Megazord was assembled. However, I did have rules for how combat would proceed in the Megazord prior to the Power Sword being summoned. Essentially, each of the pilots would be able to act (or, in the case of the Pterodactyl, react) once per round on their initiative count, and would have the following systems that they could draw on:

Tyrannosaurus:

Cranial Laser: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, this attack deals Rm damage to one target. Yellow or Red results inflict Bullseye and Stun, respectively.

Coordinate: Make a Reason check. On a Green or higher, every teammate gets +1 CS to their rolls this turn

Pterodactyl:

Responsible for making all reaction rolls—Dodging, Blocking, Evading, or rolling against effects like Slam or Stun. These all require Piloting checks.

Mastodon:

Punch: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, this attack deals In damage to one target. Yellow or Red results inflict Slam and Stun, respectively.

Shield: Requires an action (but not a roll) to summon the Mastodon shield. Once it is out, you can use a reaction and make a Piloting check to negate any single incoming attack of Unearthly rank or lower. If the attack is energy-based, the attack is reflected instead. Either way, the Mastodon shield is unsummoned afterward and cannot be used again this fight.

Divert Energy: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, the next attack performed by any Megazord part gets +1 CS to hit and +20 damage

Triceratops:

Battle Stance: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, the next attack performed by any Megazord part gets +2 CS to hit and +10 damage

Kick: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, this attack deals Ex damage and the target takes -1 CS to its next attack. Yellow or Red results inflict Slam and Stun, respectively.

Brace for Impact: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, the next enemy attack deals -20 damage.

Sabretooth Tiger:

Battle Stance: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, the next attack performed by any Megazord part gets +2 CS to hit and +10 damage

Kick: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, this attack deals Ex damage and the target takes -1 CS to its next attack. Yellow or Red results inflict Slam and Stun, respectively.

Brace for Impact: Make a Piloting check. On a Green or higher, the next enemy attack deals -20 damage.

Godzilla
F: In
A: Rm
S: Am
E: ShX
R: Gd
I: Ty
P: Ex

Health: 270         Karma: 36

Atomic Breath: Un damage

If the Megazord manages to drop Godzilla, the gigantic kaiju topples over, sprawled out across multiple blocks of demolished Nexus City buildings. Their victory is short-lived, however, as Godzilla’s eyes shoot open, glowing with an intense green light. Emerald lines of magical light radiate out of him in pulses, surrounding and consuming him, before he pulls them into himself, growing and swelling as he does so.

Godzilla has been transformed. He now stands half again as tall as he was before. His reptilian body seems to have melted away, replaced with a metallic skeletal version of itself. His shoulders are covered with a wide, flat bone plate, and his head, now a grinning dinosaur skull, glares out with glowing green eye sockets.

Godzilla, Lord of Abominations
F: Am
A: In
S: Un
E: ShZ
R: Gd
I: Ty
P: Un

Health: 690         Karma: 116

Atomic Breath: ShY damage
Hunger Aura: Whenever an enemy performs an action, they may choose to have it be half as effective (rank is halved, effect is halved, all numbers are halved). If they do not, then after performing that action, they are stunned for 1 round.

And remember, those stats are scaled for mech combat, so… yikes.

The Phyrexian-ized Godzilla opens with an Atomic Breath, which should demolish the Megazord. The League is flung from the destroyed mecha, but by this time they are close enough to an extraction point to make a run for it (Shang Tsung’s framework has been successfully set to blow by now if they are attempting that strategy).

As you race down the sidewalk, dodging and leaping over debris as you make your way for the alley with the extraction point, there’s suddenly a droning, buzzing sound that escalates into a low roar. Emerging from the broken windows of a nearby building are a small swarm of tiny creatures. They look like scorpions with bat wings and horrifyingly skull-like faces. The Plague Stingers immediately begin to swarm in your direction.

The heroes can take what actions they want—running, counterattacking, whatever—but at some point, there’s the sound of a wet impact, and everyone turns to see the raptor Lace, a puzzled expression on her face, looking down at her side, where she’s been stung by a Plague Stinger. Already a dark web is beginning to spread through her veins.

The League can deal with this situation as they wish.

Either way, once they reach the extraction point, their DDC activates and whisks them away from Nexus City. Either the Phyrexians continue their now-unopposed rampage through the plane, or the vast network detonates in a series of spectacular explosions, tearing the various cities out of each others’ skylines, and leaving Phyrexia hungry as the dozens of planes that used to be Nexus City are hurled to safety.

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