DM Screen 39 – After and Before

This episode came about at an interesting time for the show. We’d just had the super-climactic end of the Phyrexia arc, in which the League were pushed to their limits and Nico seemingly sacrificed herself. I also knew that the next arc was going to be the last for this particular League campaign, but I felt like jumping right into the final arc immediately after the last episode wouldn’t give our heroes time to breathe and reflect. The campaign had been basically nonstop action and questing since the first episode and I felt like we were well overdue for some character focused stuff, so I asked each of the players privately what they felt like their characters would be doing in the aftermath of the previous episode.

Claire said she was interested in the aftereffects of Mordin’s exposure to massive amounts of radiation in the last arc, and said specifically that she thought it would be appropriate to his character arc to have this result in a terminal diagnosis. She also said that, once Mordin received this diagnosis, he would probably want to try to pursue a different kind of project than he’d been pursuing beforehand: the creation of a karaoke machine.

Mordin: We open in the infirmary. Mordin is sitting in a chair, glancing around the room at the weird juxtaposition of medieval castle architecture and ultra high-tech otherworldly machines and devices, a setup not unlike his own lab. Mordin has been waiting for several minutes like this before a figure appears in the middle of the room a few feet away. It’s the Emergency Medical Hologram, a projection that resembles a balding middle-aged human male wearing a teal and black uniform.

“Doctor Solus. I’ve finished running the tests, and… well, I won’t insult your intelligence by trying to sugarcoat it. It doesn’t look good. The radiation you were directly exposed to has been unexpectedly destructive to your salarian biology. When you factor in your species’ faster metabolism allowing the damage to spread more quickly, and the fact that we simply don’t have access to the normal medicinal substances that salarians would use for treatment… I’m sorry. We can maybe try to slow things down, but I’m afraid you just don’t have much time.”

Mordin will eventually meet up with Lucca, perhaps in the hall or in his lab. Lucca will commiserate with him if he shares the bad news, but eventually (if he doesn’t prompt), she’ll ask what he plans on doing now.

Right now, Mordin’s only lacking a particular type of monitoring board for his karaoke machine. The monitoring board can be found in the Eternian city of Tahryn. Lucca knows of an individual there that specializes in acquiring rare or unusual objects from different worlds that cross over, one she’s used to get unusual parts for her inventions in the past. This is a character by the name of Moneybags, and she encourages Mordin to bring a model or an image of the device he’s looking for. Mordin can pick out a vehicle that he and Lucca can use to travel to Tahryn, talking along the way. Once they get to Tahryn, they find it to be an opulent city of towering spires, lush gardens, and friendly but well-armed police patrolling the streets.

Moneybags has an establishment called Elite Services and Uncommon Finds, a small shop on one of the upper floors of one of Tahryn’s many tall buildings. Mordin and Lucca enter past a pair of polite but burly guards, only to find an almost-identical pair of polite but burly guards on the opposite side of the door. Moneybags’s office is small but well-appointed, almost painstakingly so—he’s clearly cultivated a wide variety of valuable-looking paraphernalia to be conspicuously displayed to potential clientele. A large window looks out over the spires of the city.

Moneybags himself sits behind a wide mahogany desk. He also happens to be a slightly anthropomorphized brown bear, wearing a suit jacket over a white dress shirt, a monocle, and no pants. He carries a large bag conspicuously marked with the symbol of some sort of cut green gem on it. “Yes, yes, come in, come in. What precisely can I do for you?”

Moneybags is polite enough, but doesn’t waste time on being overly effusive. He is surprisingly blunt as to his expectations. If shown the design for the monitoring board Mordin is after, he’ll confirm that he happened to acquire one in excellent condition and still has it in stock—it will only cost Mordin a mere 100 gems. If Mordin balks at that, Moneybags demurs briefly before offering instead to sell it to Mordin for his omni-tool or something of similar value. Mordin can try many tactics to get the monitoring board; a successful roll should do the trick.

Kit said that Stitch would probably want to go to Nico’s room to remember her.

Stitch: The door into Nico’s room is locked, but that should be no problem at all for Stitch. Once inside, Stitch finds that her room is small, with a single bed, several bookshelves, a desk covered in thick books and scrolls, and numerous drawings, symbols, and pages of frantic writing strewn on the desk, the floor, and occasionally pinned to the walls. Looking more closely, though, Stitch can see a number of other items more suggestive of Nico’s life before: posters of bands presumably from her world beneath the scrawl-covered pages; a small collection of colorful plastic ponies; and a single framed photo of a slightly younger-looking Nico with a handful of other teenagers.

Stitch may also spot a red and white Pokèball sitting on a shelf. Strangely, this one is covered in arcane symbols and has a note taped to it reading “EXTREMELY DANGEROUS DO NOT OPEN.” At some point while Stitch looks around, either he, Lace, or Wexter will accidentally knock this ball off the shelf, at which point it opens on the ground.

A visible whirlwind bursts out and begins to move through the room. Papers are torn up from the desk and ripped off of the wall, Nico’s bed is tipped over, and her books are scattered chaotically. The whirlwind continues spinning and wreaking havoc for a moment or two before it stops spinning, revealing itself to be a creature, which lets loose a strange, non-verbal tirade.

Stitch, the creature is taller than you but a bit shorter than a normal human. It is covered in fur, dark brown on its back and sides and light brown on the front. Its face is animalistic but expressive, with a very large, toothy mouth. It stands on two legs, has two skinny arms, and a pair of tufts of hair on top of its head reminiscent of devil horns. The creature looks around the room momentarily, sees Stitch, grins, and then resumes spinning at an impossible speed. It barrels into the wall right next to the door and cuts cleanly through, leaving behind a hole in the shape of the creature.

The Tasmanian Devil will begin rampaging through Castle Grayskull and it’ll be up to Stitch to put a stop to it. The Devil, however, won’t make that easy. The following encounters/events occur:

Part 1: Despite the speed at which it’s moving, the creature isn’t impossibly hard to catch up with as it seems to zigzag around, pinging between things that catch its interest momentarily. Wherever it goes, it leaves destruction, as it’s apparently able to chew its way through solid objects almost instantaneously, and Stitch passes by many toppled shelves and wrecked stonework in his effort to pursue the fugitive monster.

Stitch catches up to the whirlwind in the hallway just outside the kitchen. Doc Brown is stepping out of the doorway into the kitchen as they approach, carrying an improbably large stack of dishes topped with some very delicate-looking glassware. He turns his head and spots the brown whirlwind coming at him. His eyes widen in fear and he freezes in panic until the creature sideswipes him, sending him stumbling and causing the plates and glasses to slide, tip, and begin toppling off the stack.

Stitch can choose to either help Doc Brown by trying to save the dangerously toppling plates (Agility check) or to cut past him to continue his pursuit of the creature.

Part 2: Stitch runs into the kitchen and almost trips over the door to the refrigerator, which has been torn off and thrown across the room. The creature sits in front of the fridge, and Stitch can see it shoveling Lunchables into its wide open mouth, packaging and all.

Stitch can decide how he wants to approach this issue, but if the creature gets the upper hand in combat, he’ll probably grab one of Stitch’s arms, whirl him around, and throw him through the wall into the laundry room before spinning off through Grayskull.

Part 3: The creature has spun his way into the League’s garage and auto shop, a large space with vehicles from a dozen different worlds, along with tables, machines, and cabinets full of spare parts. The creature zips from one surface to another, curiously chewing on a wrench here or taking a pull from an oil can there. Ultimately disinterested, he begins spinning again and heads for the exit. However, he passes close to one vehicle in particular, a black souped-up police interceptor. The rear end of the vehicle is propped up by a jack and Stitch can see Mad Max’s legs sticking out from underneath as he performs some sort of maintenance on the underside of the car… and Stitch sees the moment when the whirling creature knocks into the jack, sending it wobbling dangerously and threatening to dump the car directly on top of Max.

Stitch, again, may interfere with this as he wishes (Strength to hold up the car).

Part 4: Stitch continues to chase the creature through the castle, following it through the holes it leaves in the walls. Eventually Stitch finds it in the hidden throne room of the sorceress Flemeth in the center of the castle. The creature has stopped moving for a moment, looking around the high-ceilinged throne room for something to eat or destroy. In its looking around, it eventually turns around and fixes its large eyes upon Stitch and grins an eager, toothy grin.

Tasmanian Devil
F: Ex
A: In
S: In
E: In
R: Pr
I: Pr
P: Pr

Health: 140         Karma: 12

Whirlwind Travel: Ex speed, can deliver In damage to anything it comes across

Note that playing any kind of music (except bagpipes) in Taz’s presence will calm him down enough to stop his rampage.

If, after a round or two, Taz is still fighting Stitch, he will suddenly be lifted up in a glowing, coruscating field of energy and held a few feet in the air. Taz flails wildly, but it is clear that he is unable to move anywhere.

Flemeth walks in, hand outstretched, and regards Taz curiously before looking at Stitch. “And where, exactly, did you come across this peculiar creature?”

Flemeth will listen with amusement as Stitch explains. Eventually, she will volunteer to fill in some of the gaps in his knowledge.

“As I recall, Nico at one point decided to help out some of the local Eternians. Some farmers were being tormented by an otherworldly creature that had shown up during a crossover—this creature was devouring crops, destroying buildings, essentially menacing their entire way of life. She came to me asking if I knew of a way to capture and store such a creature temporarily. I told her I did, but asked why she didn’t just kill the creature and be done with it. She seemed to believe that it was probably just confused and scared and doing what it usually did—‘twasn’t its fault that the world it ended up on wasn’t equipped to deal with it. I enchanted one of those… capture orbs that the young boy from Nexus City uses so that it could contain the creature in suspended animation until Nico found a world she felt like she could set it loose on.” She smiles slightly. “So curious. Even after all that had happened, all that she had seen, all she’d been forced to do, she still held out hope that not every threat needed to be met with lethal force.”

She then asks Stitch what he thinks should be done with the Devil.

Liz said that Dante would be planning a funeral and wake for Nico.

Dante: Dante, you’ve decided to take it upon yourself to put together a memorial service for your lost teammate Nico, as well as for Raistlin, who was lost at the beginning of your last mission. Several other members of the League have volunteered their time and effort to help you with these efforts and the time is drawing near to the event itself. You and Michonne just picked up a large supply of alcohol from a nearby Eternian town and are now driving back in one of the League’s transport vehicles across the rocky expanse back toward Castle Grayskull. I assume you’re probably driving?

After some conversation about Dante’s plans for the funeral, the two can feel the ground start vibrating almost rhythmically, growing in strength with each pulse. Looking at the rearview mirror, Dante can see an enormous creature resembling a purple and red tyrannosaurus rex racing across the landscape toward them. It’s going to overtake them in seconds. They may react as they wish—the Tyrantisaurus will leave after taking damage a couple of times or if otherwise discouraged.

Tyrantisaurus Rex
F: Rm
A: Gd
S: In
E: Un
R: Fb
I: Fb
P: Fb

Health: 180

My plan for this was to have a couple of brief rounds of combat before the dinosaur was ultimately scared off or lost interest and left. Obviously Liz ended up having other ideas and actually befriended the guy. During the session I also decided to use this as an opportunity to explore Michonne’s relationship to the Soul Edge and compare it to Dante’s relationship with Frostmourne.

Meganbob told me that she planned to go to the Mushroom Kingdom (along with Fiver) to make amends with Bowser. Around this time, Claire had also expressed a deep interest in playing Bowsette, so after some off-mic discussion with Claire, I felt prepared to set the scene.

Our next scene opens in a world we left behind not long ago, the world that contains the Mushroom Kingdom. The area that we see, however, isn’t as green and lush as the Mushroom Kingdom itself—this is a rocky and mountainous area, dotted with deserts and the occasional field of tough scrub. This is where Luna Lovegood finds herself, along with Fiver, the small precognitive rabbit that the League rescued back in Nexus City.

Luna, how are you traveling through this land? Are you riding your broom, maybe riding Venusaur, are you just walking, or is there some other way that you’re heading through this area?

After some conversation with Fiver, he’ll announce that they’re getting close: the person that Luna wanted to talk to is nearby. As he says this, a town comes into view. It’s built into the side of a canyon, with gray doors and windows built directly into the side of a cliff face hundreds of feet tall, connected by ledges and walkways. Milling about the area and going about their business are the various races that you recognize from your time in this world: Goombas, Koopas, Chomps, Piranha Plants, and many others. Those that spot you either ignore you or regard you with polite curiosity, one or two even waving or smiling as you approach.

If Luna checks with any of the inhabitants, they will tell her that this is Monstro Town, a village of monsters who, being down to their last one or two extra lives, decided to move away from a life of, well, being a monster. They’re quite certain Bowser isn’t here as most of the inhabitants here were trying to get away from him specifically and don’t have particularly fond feelings toward him.

Either the citizen or Fiver will point Luna toward the local watering hole, the Hammered Brothers. Luna can hear the sounds of raucous laughter as she approaches the door. Walking in, she sees a long, low-ceilinged room with several tables and chairs, and a bar against the right wall. Glancing around, she sees a poster of Bowser hanging on the wall with several darts protruding from his face. A large crowd of monsters has gathered around one table in particular and seems to be cheering on a pair of people engaged in a very intense arm-wrestling match. One is an especially large and muscular Koopa; the other is a light-skinned blonde woman who looks entirely human except for her visible fangs and horns. She’s wearing a black dress, a spiked collar with matching armbands, and a small golden crown. As you watch, the woman grits her fangs together and, with one final surge of strength, sends the Koopa’s arm crashing triumphantly into the table, spilling drinks and scattering gold coins. There’s a chorus of cheers and groans that comes from the assembled monsters.

I let Bob and Claire play out the remainder of the scene as they wanted—they were both bringing a lot of emotion into this and I wanted to give them plenty of room.

After that was the funeral scene, which I more or less let the players narrate as they wanted to. There were a lot of emotions and a fair amount of singing, which in my mind is exactly what catharsis looks like. In other words, more or less exactly what I was hoping for.

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