DM Screen 3 – Hold on to Your Butts

And here we are at the start of the Jurassic Park arc! My initial plan was to make this a two-episode affair: the heroes go the park and find the lost League members in episode one, then recover the Planeswalker tome and return to Castle Grayskull in episode two. Of course, things ended up taking much longer than I anticipated, so the notes below reflect only the first part of the notes I had originally written for episode 3. In other words, I’ll be releasing these notes based on how they played out in the actual recordings, not on how I had initially anticipated them going.

You have spent the last few days in Castle Grayskull. It’s an unusual place, with stone both carved and worked into castle-like architecture and also areas that are natural and cave-like. Occasionally one of you might find a strange object adorning the walls, such as a full-length mirror whose reflection is about a half second ahead of the real world, or a staircase that seems to travel in a loop, so that if you begin to walk up the stairs, you eventually arrive back at the place you entered them from. There are doors which are closed and locked and which yield to no amount of physical force, and some doors which are not always there.

But of course, as strange as Grayskull is, the League which makes it their home are perhaps even stranger. You haven’t had a chance to meet everyone in the League yet, but the range of realities that each comes from is staggering. Some use magic, some use psychic powers, some use superpowers or incredible technology, and some are just incredibly skilled. You have learned that the League tends to operate in cells of about three to six members each, and the cell you met in London—the one led by Buffy Summers—has been somewhat ambivalent toward you. Raz is still friendly toward you, but Buffy and Zelda have been coldly cordial—it seems as though they still harbor some negative feelings about losing the Terminator on that mission.

Check in with each of the heroes to see how they’ve been spending their time with the League, if they’ve made any connections, and how they like it on Eternia.

This was my opportunity to allow the players some ability to affect the recurring, meaningful cast of the Extraordinary League. I invited them to introduce other fictional characters into the team and wrote their names down—I took this as the players’ way of (un)intentionally signaling to me the sorts of characters they’d be interested in interacting with in the future.

At some point, have the heroes make Psyche checks; the one with the best result will have noticed an unusual bird that seems to be watching them. The bird is large, easily the size of a full-grown eagle, with incredibly bright orange, blue, and white feathers. The bird avoids any attempt to communicate with it or interact with it, and will fly away if approached.

One particularly quiet day, when the castle is empty except for the heroes and Doc Brown, there’s the electric buzz and thunderclap from the Nexus Room, where members of the League travel to and from other worlds, and where the heroes first entered Castle Grayskull. A moment later, a woman steps out of the room. She is clearly non-human, as evidenced by her gray-blue skin, large pointed ears, and batlike wings. She has a head of spiky red hair, is wearing torn white clothing, and is soaking wet. One hand holds the standard issue Extraordinary League Dimensional Displacement Capacitor, although it looks severely damaged; the other hand is clutched at her side, up against the largest of several vicious-looking slashes across her torso.

If Doc Brown sees Demona in this state, he rushes her to the infirmary, a room with a hodgepodge of medical equipment from different worlds and time periods. As the heroes enter, a middle-aged, balding human male dressed in a black and blue uniform (the Emergency Medical Hologram), appears in the middle of the room, saying, “Please state the nature of the medical emergency.” The EMH immediately begins seeing to Demona’s injuries. Doc Brown explains to the heroes that Demona and her cell had been dispatched to investigate a world—normally the Phyrexians invade worlds in a relatively logical and predictable fashion based on their relative positions in the multiversal matrix, but a smaller contingent of Phyrexians appeared to be making a stealth mission to a world far from the greater invasion route. Demona and her cell had been assigned to discover what the Phyrexians were doing on this out-of-the-way world.

Demona is slipping out of consciousness fast, but she manages to say that she and her cell ended up in a jungle full of vicious monsters—they may have been infected by the Phyrexians, she’s not sure. In any case, she was separated from her teammates and the Dimensional Displacement Capacitor had been damaged and was malfunctioning. She was surrounded by monsters and had to retreat back to Eternia in order to survive.

Doc Brown looks at the heroes. “I hate to ask this of you, but if this world is as dangerous as Demona says, the rest of her cell could be in severe danger. You’re the only other members of the League here now—can you perform a rescue and extraction mission to save Demona’s cell and bring them back? They may have discovered something important about Phyrexia’s overall mission, and even if they hadn’t, they’re part of our team.”

If the heroes agree, Doc Brown takes their DDC, opens the back panel, and begins manipulating some of the circuitry. “One of the members of Demona’s cell is an android that I often have to conduct repairs on. His power core emits a very particular energy signature; I’m reconfiguring your DDC to be able to detect that energy signature. As long as you’re within about 80 kilometers, you should be able to home in on him.” He finishes his manipulations and hands the heroes their DDC, reminding them that they can only use it at incursion points, and wishes them luck.

When the heroes enter the Nexus Room, turn the DDC’s frequency to the target world, and hit the button, the device snaps open and bathes all of them in a bubble of crackling white light, causing their skin to tingle. There’s a sensation of falling in every direction at once, and then they are suddenly very wet.

The heroes find themselves standing in the middle of some thick brush, surrounded by trees. Rain is pouring down in sheets and it is clearly night; despite this, the air is still relatively warm—this place must be quite hot when sunny.

When the heroes start moving—probably in the direction of the android’s power core—they eventually emerge from the thick jungle onto a dirt road with a single rail running down the center. Up ahead, looming over them, is an imposing wooden gate with large red letters at the top: “Jurassic Park.” The huge doors stand open.

Whoever is carrying the DDC and tracking the android’s signal will notice that the road seems to be moving in the general direction of the signal, but in a rather indirect way. Staying on the road would reduce the chances that they’d run into something out of nowhere, and would be easier going than heading through the jungle, but they’d be able to make a straighter shot through the jungle, and being on the road does leave them somewhat exposed.

I intentionally didn’t detail any further than this for this episode. I wanted to leave myself room to improvise in case the PCs opted to do something unexpected. They ended up taking the road, so I came up with a whole bunch of sleeping triceratops that they had to try to sneak past. If you’ve listened to that episode, you’ll remember how well that went, particularly for Archer. The rest of the episode was dealing with the chaos of a triceratops stampede, which was played out more or less at the table. Below are the stats I used for the individual triceratops.

Triceratops
F          A         S          E          R         I           P
In         Ty        Am      Mn       Fb        Fb        Fb

Health: 171

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