Way back when I first started plotting out this campaign, I knew I wanted the main story beats to center around five major worlds: the first was a fantasy world (ended up being Westeros), the second was a modern-day world with a fighting game storyline (ended up being Nexus City), and I knew what I wanted the fourth and fifth worlds to be as well. It was the third world that I wasn’t sure of. I had a number of ideas, but then Claire mentioned that she wanted to play Vivian from Paper Mario for this arc and I decided that the Mario universe would be an interesting place to set this story. It was bright, colorful, and fun in a way that none of the other worlds were, and we hadn’t yet seen a story where the main characters met and recruited a native inhabitant of the world to the team. I came up with a concept for what I wanted the story to be and off we went!
This one, of course, started off with the team back in Grayskull, so I made notes for some of the characters based on what sort of plot elements I wanted to introduce to them.
Stitch: Ever since Frostmourne was separated from Dante and sealed inside an impenetrable shield, Stitch has been feeling sensation slowly returning to his extremities. One of the League’s medical or magical experts might be able to restore his spine.
Kit had bought the Coin of Cortez (from Pirates of the Caribbean) for Stitch, which gave Stitch regenerative powers, but she was wanting to give the coin to Lace. I came up with the above plot point so that Stitch no longer felt like he needed the coin to contribute to the team.
Lace: Ever since the battle of Grayskull, Lace’s condition has remained completely stable, even given the relatively chaotic conditions she was exposed to during Demona’s invasion. The EMH is still not incredibly enthusiastic about waking her up, but either he or Mordin can develop a special nose ring that can release a stabilizing anesthetic into her bloodstream if she ends up becoming overwhelmed by her Phyrexian infection.
For those who don’t know, Lace got her name from the comic Runaways, which includes a raptor named Old Lace who has a prominent nose ring. Kit insists that Stitch’s version of the raptor comes from earlier in the creature’s timeline, so I figured this visual element was consistent with that character’s look.
Dante: Several members of the League rally around Dante in the wake of the loss of his hand. When Zelda returns to Grayskull, she reveals to Dante that her cell had created a number of spare parts for their departed friend the Terminator, one of which is a right hand. It’s metal and skeletal, but she’s confident that Mordin or the EMH should probably be able to create a realistic-looking skin covering for it (assuming that’s something that Dante even wants, which… probably not).
In addition, someone needs to address what to do with Frostmourne. It’s been encased in an impenetrable barrier, but it still needs to go somewhere. Ask them what they’re planning on doing with it.
At some point, Skeletor will stand outside the walls of Castle Grayskull and demand, then request, his Havoc Staff be returned to him. If turned down multiple times, he will threaten the League with promises of revenge—Skeletor will not be denied!
Eventually, the League will be called to the meeting room. Buffy and Doc Brown are there, along with Flemeth.
Doc Brown will eventually step forward. “Since Flemeth joined us, some of the magic users decided to allow her to take a look at the tome you recovered in Jurassic Park, see if perhaps her abilities could help them make some progress in their translations.”
“Centuries of experience do come with certain perks,” Flemeth remarks.
“Apparently so,” Doc continues. “She was able to decipher a passage which pointed to the world where another one of the gems is located. I was able to cross-reference some of the locational data from this passage with my own multiversal map and I’ve been able to pinpoint where this world is. Unfortunately, this is a world we haven’t explored yet, so we’re not entirely sure what awaits you there, and we don’t have any leads as to where precisely the gem will be. All we know for sure is that the gem looks like a sapphire and, presumably, is the same size and shape of the other two gems you’ve recovered so far. Once you arrive, it might be a good idea to seek out someone who’s familiar with the world and its history, who might be able to point you toward a likely lead. With your varied skills and resources, hopefully this shouldn’t be too daunting a task. Any questions?”
Give the heroes a chance to ask questions, make preparations, and have any other scenes they’d like in the castle. When they’re ready, proceed:
You all go through the now-familiar weird experience of shifting universes, the crackling electrical field around you vanishing as the DDC slams shut, revealing a new world. The first thing you notice is the color, which seems to be brighter and more saturated than you’re used to. Everything from the bright blue sky above you to the lime-green grass under your feet to the bushes dotting the area seem to almost pop with color.
You’re in a somewhat elevated position—not far from where you appeared, a cerulean-colored river drops off a cliff into a white-capped waterfall, and searching the landscape, you can see a slightly weird landscape of strangely-shaped hills, tall palm trees, and—strangely—the occasional green pipe sticking up at various angles straight from the ground, large enough for a grown man to easily slide into. In addition, you even notice that, floating about ten feet off the ground in places are cubes maybe a foot or two on a side. Most of these cubes seem to be made of red brick, but some are bright yellow in color and feature a large question mark on the side—indeed, one such cube actually floats not too far from where you landed.
Vivian, of course, is going to be nearby, but can reveal herself whenever she would like.
If anyone manages to get the treasure box open (by hitting it on the underside, natch), an oval-shaped gold coin pops out of the top. If the box is opened during combat instead, then a red-capped mushroom with two black markings that look kind of like eyes comes out and begins to crawl along the ground. A character who grabs the mushroom will double in size and get +1 CS to Strength and Endurance until the end of the encounter; they must make an Endurance check when damaged or revert back to normal prematurely.
I had a lot of fun with the treasure boxes in this world, as you’ll see in future DM Screens.
If they want to look around a bit, they can see a number of varying landscapes in different directions: a volcano, a desert, a large body of water, a snow-capped mountain, all at various compass points from where they’re standing. They might even be able to see what looks like structures built on some of the larger clouds in the sky. If they are looking for something a bit closer, they can make out what looks like a town nearby, from which the sounds of machinery can be heard distantly.
At some point, a patrol of Koopa Troopas will come upon our heroes. The Hammer Bros leading the group will demand what the League is doing outside of the work camps, and whether or not they have a Koopa Troopa-issued permit for that Yoshi they’re hanging around with. Combat is pretty much unavoidable.
I had a fight planned out for this episode, but we ended up pushing it to the next episode, so you’ll get the enemy stats there.
Before we go, I had something else to share with you. I normally have a helper NPC hang out with the players in each world just in case they get stuck or otherwise need information quickly. This time, however, the helper character was Vivian, played by Claire. As such, I sent her an email with all the info I thought she’d need to help the characters in the first part of the story arc. Below is what I sent to her.
Seeing as you’ll probably end up providing a good amount of background for this upcoming League arc, I figured I’d give you a detailed summary of what you would know going in.
It’s been some time since your adventures with Mario in the events of Thousand Year Door. After spending some time in Rogueport, you realized that you were craving another adventure, and decided to head to the Mushroom Kingdom to see what Mario was up to. Upon arriving, you discovered that the Kingdom–and a good portion of the world besides–had been conquered by Bowser and his Koopa Troop, who have been using strangely advanced technology, weapons, and robots.
You’ve been able to hide in the shadows and gather information (as you do), and have discovered that:
*Bowser has turned Peach’s castle in the center of Mushroom Kingdom into his own personal palace.
*Mario was last seen heading off to confront Bowser–no one has seen him in some time. It’s not known if he was captured or killed or something else entirely.
*Princess Peach has formed an underground resistance movement (the One United People, or 1-UP for short). At the moment, their efforts haven’t produced a great deal of results–they simply don’t have the numbers or strength to mount a concerted assault on the Koopa Troop. Right now, they’ve secretly taken up residence in the Forest Maze.
You also learned that the Koopa Troop have established a prison on Yoshi’s Island, where they’re keeping all of the Yoshis. You managed to snag a map of the place that shows that the otherwise impregnable fortress can be entered via an underwater pipe at the base of the island. You know that having an army of Yoshis would significantly help Peach’s resistance in their struggle, and figure that this could be your “in” to the rebellion–I leave it up to you as to whether you want to bring this info to the resistance first, or raid the prison first and then show up at the resistance’s doorstep with an army of Yoshis.