Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winter War Re-Cap (3 of 4)...

[NOTE: This entry was started of February 9th. Almost there, folks...]

Well, with two semi-successful runs down in the convention, it means we are at the halfway point and on the way down...

Saturday evening found me looking across the screen at five players, one of whom hadn't role-played in about fifteen years, all waiting for some X-Files-esque goodness. I don't think I disappointed...


Vertigo Dreams (Modern-Day Horror)

It all starts with our players. They are agents of a secretive government organization known as Q-Division. They know that there are things that go bump in the night, and Q-D Agents are the ones who bump back.

Our story begins with tales of a new street drug called Sueno Crystal. The drug gives the user sharpened perception (think the color saturation from the movie Dredd during the Slo-Mo scenes, but without the loss of speed), as well as other effects that vary upon the user. Invariably, though, most long-term users experience a psychotic break. Those that do not end up dead talk of hearing voices and seeing "other worlds". Until that break happens, many of the users have been reported purchasing various innocuous items, mostly electronics but other stuff as well, and either shipping those items to or leaving them at a number of different drop points.

The latest victim is one James Lassiter, former 25-year police veteran turned private detective in retirement. As straight an arrow as it got, but he is currently locked up in the loony bin after turning into a raving lunatic from a forced dosage of SC.

The agents begin by trying to interview Lassiter. That... goes poorly. Mostly because Lassiter is making zero sense and blurting out sentences like "Jalapeno chair tile spark bacon corn door asphalt cream". In others words, complete nonsense.

Going to Lassiter's apartment, they find the place already tossed, with the computer tower smashed and the monitor shattered. Once the agents clear the place, Agent T (the "Tech" agent) gets to work and in short order, is extracting information from Lassiter's desktop. It turns out that Lassiter was working on a divorce case where the husband was suspecting the wife of infidelity. Turns out the husband was right, and the "happy couple" met regularly at a bar called "Love On The Rocks". Doing a bit more digging in the apartment, Agent P (the low-level psychic of the group) uncovers a cache of high-end digital video and still photo equipment. All of it has had it's internal memory wiped and any external memory storage that would used for the equipment cannot be found. On a hunch, Agent T digs further and finds photos taken at "Love On The Rocks" of two men, both well dressed, but otherwise looking very suspicious based on the sequence of images taken.

So, in an effort to cover more ground and cover all the bases, Agent P and Agent T go back to the office to run background and financial checks on the bar, the philandering couple, and the two suspicious guys. Agent D (the driver) canvasses Lassiter's apartment complex trying to further size up the victim and see if he left anything useful with a neighbor. Agent G (the goon) and Agent L (the Leader) went to Love On The Rocks to stake out the place and ask questions of the bartender. The bartender is giving off very vague and non-committal answers to Agent L's inquiries when Agent G spots our two well-dressed but oily gentleman entering in through the back way. Agent G goes to confer with Agent L on what they should do, and as he does so, gets made but the two guys. The suspects duck back the way the came (out the back), and after a few precious moments of discussion, Agent G follows them while Agent L heads out the front way. When Agent G hits the back he sees the larger of the two men standing outside of a waiting car. The big guy turns, gets angry and heads right for Agent G. The car speeds away, almost hitting Agent L as he turns the corner into the back alley, but Agent L thinks quickly and gets the license plate number. Melee ensues with Agent G trying to out punch someone who is getting stronger by the minute. In a desperate attempt to stop him, Agent L shoots the guy a handful of times and barely slows him down. Finally, Agent G lands a blow that knocks the goon out, and as he falls unconscious, his body begins to regress into a form much slimmer that what it began.

Taking the unconscious goon back to headquarters, a number of things fall into the place. The goon in question is on record as being a low-level enforcer for a low-level mafia group. Said group's territory is nowhere *NEAR* Love On The Rocks, so he's either moonlighting, or he's moved on to better things. Searching the now emaciated thug, finds him wearing a pinkie ring with a luminescent pale blue stone set in it. Analysis of the stone finds it to be pure, uncut Sueno Crystal.

Running the license plate number, the car is registered to an Alan Tourmaline, whose only known address is in the warehouse district of the city, and whose existence is only about six months old.

Going on a hypothesis of otherworldly mental possession, the agents theorize that even the cut version of the drug allows for some minor mental control of the subject, and thus is very dangerous. So, time to storm a warehouse.

The agents approach the warehouse in ubiquitous government panel van. They notice security cameras on the building, so any approach will be seen. The agents also notice goons loading up three vans with small equipment and three body bags?!? The mention of body bags throws the agents into action and no semblance of a plan is followed. The goons with the bags, though, aren't being paid enough to deal with federal men-in-black type of heat. They drop everything and run. The bags hit the ground with the sound of rocks and gravel. Agents L, G, and D approach the warehouse as Agents T and P inspect the contents of the bags and the vans. The vans are full of small rock tumbling and grinding equipment. The bags each contain on bipedal, crystalline shape. Upon touch, Agent P's psychic senses go off of the scale and she knows that things are very, very weird.

Entering the warehouse, Agents L and G find it mostly empty except for some cover in the back and the skinny sleazeball from the pictures wielding two pistols and now wearing a hat(?). Gunfire ensues with no one really hitting anybody for the initial few rounds. Agent D heads around the back way to find the back door already open... odd. However, he goes in anyway in an effort to cover "hat-guy's" means of escape should things turn ugly. Agents P and T join in the firefight, with Agent P psychically imploding hat-guy's chest. Due to the amount of bullets now heading his way, and a sucking internal chest wound, hat-guy takes enough hits that he determines escape to be the wisest course of action. As hat-guy reaches the door to take him out of the back, he sees Agent D, who then becomes frustrated as hat-guy is shot from behind by Agent T for the kill-shot.

Searching the now-dead body of hat-guy, the agents find what looks to be a metal spider-mount holding a chunk of Sueno Crystal attached to hat-guy's head. Staring at his guns, one looks to be a normal pistol, while the other fires needles of crystal. Further searching determines that Alan Tourmaline is still out there, having left out of the back door before the agents arrived.

[Summary: "Alan Tourmaline" was one of four aliens that crash landed on Earth about twelve months ago. Its three compatriots did not survive the crash. Using its considerable mental abilities to stay hidden, the entity was trying to find a way to escape Earth before being discovered. Doing a little research into human behavior, the entity discovered that powder from its dead compatriots had a profound effect on humans when used as a street drug. One, it got us poor apes high as kites. Two, it made *REALLY* susceptible to suggestion and mental domination. Thus, it started a small criminal empire in an effort to fund a new ship to escape the atmosphere. Simple, really...]   =P


This was one of the coolest games I have run in a while, and one of the better story plots I had devised for the convention. Kudos to the group involved. They kept me on my toes...

-- GopherDave

No Use For A Title...

Not much is happening. I came to the store, finished some orders, and am now catching up on e-mail and blogging.

Last night, I took my beautiful wife out to eat for her birthday. I had a great time, and from the constant room-illuminating smiling she did, I think she did as well. =)

As far as romance goes, I'm pretty horrible at it, but I do have my moments...

-- GopherDave

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter War Re-Cap (2 of 4)...

[NOTE: This entry was started on February 8th. Still playing catch up...]

While my series of catch-up entries did not start as Winter War recaps, they slot in nicely as content, so here we continue...

the Depths of the Rainbow (Post Apocalyptic Fantasy)

The world of Tai'eres is one I've run before. In fact, the current iteration of DICEBAG was born of needing a system to run this awesome fantasy world in my mind.

Here, the Player Characters were "nameless" adolescents whose time it was to either "hunt or get out". I did not name the characters on purpose, so as to avoid gender bias among players/characters, and to give the players some investment, however minimal, into the characters.

The elders of the village gather PCs together and task them with now pulling their weight. They are to either find food for the village, or at least find something tradable with another village for food. Once these directions are expressed, they are given a proverbial swat on the backside and told to skedaddle in the direction of the Bloodmist Peaks, where a number of pre-"Rain of Shards" (the cataclysmic event that caused the apocalypse) artifacts can still be found.

Our intrepid party heads out into the plains heading for the Bloodmist Peaks. About ten miles out, the encounter two edible (!) creatures. A pair of Spearcats. Think Displacer Beasts with only four legs, a lack of image-shifting, and 2-feet long, pointed bone shards at the end of the tentacles. The fight is on as hungry villagers fight hungry cat-things.

Mighty blows are landed by both sides as a couple of the PCs become heavily wounded, but manage to kill one of the beasts and hurt the other enough to drive it off. Here's where the epic moment of the game comes.

Two of the PC's (the Tank and the Generalist/Leader of the group) decide they would like to eat *REALLY* well that evening. So, in an effort to slow the fleeing beast (who can easily outrun them), the Leader throws his sword at the creature. He barely misses, with the sword landing point first in the ground next to the spearcat. Next, the Tank grabs the Leader and hurls him onto the animal, actually hitting what he is aiming at. A new combat round begins, and it starts out with the Leader grabbing his sword and further wounding (but not killing) the trying-to-flee bag of meat. Next up in the round is the spearcat, who is trying to impale the idiot on top of it...

I (the GM) rolls *REALLY* well on the attack die while the Leader rolls very poorly on his defense. Checking hit location reveals that the cat has scored a head shot. Final damage determination indicates that this shot would have killed any of the characters, save the Tank, if they were fresh and unwounded. So, the leader dies horrible to a bone spear that impaled his skull.

The tracker of the group uses the "opening" that the death of his friend has provided to hurl his javelin and finally kill the spearcat, reasoning that if the guy was still alive, he wouldn't have chanced a throw.

So, laden down with the carcasses of two fresh kills, the party is joined by a straggler from the village (I had 6 characters made, but only five players. So I let the player of the dead Leader take the leftover character.), and begin to make their way back home.

As they approach the village, an odd light appears the sky. A rainbow forms on a clear day, arcing between a point in the Bloodmist Peaks and what looks to be... ...the Village. The PCs race back to the village as quickly as they can manage to find the entirety of it wiped to a person. The lone survivor has been impaled on a pole in the center of town. Protruding from his body are several shards of crystal.

After a small rest, the PCs head for the Bloodmist Peaks. Since we were pressed for time, I excised one of the planned encounters.

Once the party gets to the Peaks, they make some climbing checks, and find an interesting sight. In a shallow in the hills, three bi-pedal crystalline beings are seemingly repairing a larger, crystal structure. In an attempt to get closer, some of the characters try to quietly move through the rocks,but they end up being as stealthy as Paul Bunyun. The creatures react and the fight is on.

As the fight happens, the party is taking it on the chin when the large structure gets bumped in the fight, and resonates with a disturbing, disharmonic sound. Making a few intelligence checks, the PCs realize that if they push the structure out of the light of rainbow, it not only makes the hideous sound, it *REALLY* agitates those they are fighting. One good shove from the party Tank and...

Everything crystalline explodes... The PCs take some shrapnel damage (less than I should have made them take, but it was a great idea), but are pretty much alive enough to keep on existing and make their way in this harsh world...

[If you're sensing a theme, you're not wrong...]

-- GopherDave

Birthday Wishes...

Gods, could I use a lint brush or what?

Normally, I use this spot to pontificate on various things. Usually, these things are trivial and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Today, it's not...

Today, I, GopherDave, would like to wish my darling wife, the beautiful and very special Loquacious, a fantastic 40th birthday.

There are a lot of words I could put here, but I am not her in the writing department, so I'll just leave it at this...

Happy Birthday, Sweetness... I love you more than mere words could ever express...

-- Dave

Monday, February 11, 2013

Winter War Re-Cap (1 of 4)...

[NOTE: This was originally started on February 6th, 2013.]

I am finally beginning to recover from my second round of illness that began right before the convention and has lingered on thus far. I am now down to only coughing up my own lungs instead those I have borrowed due to mine being lost.

Going back to Winter War, now that I have recovered I can add a bit more to things. Here's the recap of the first game...

"Showdown at Shadow Gulch" (Western)

This scenario ran fairly smoothly. It was my first run of the convention and the first time I had run DICEBAG in over two years. On top of that, I was just starting to really be hit with the sickness. All said, the players seemed to pick up the rules quickly, and got into the wild west with a TWEEST theme fairly well. The group was a search party sent out to find a previous posse who had been sent out to deal with some cattle rustlers.

In short order, the group stumbles upon a scene with three mutilated bodies and three mutilated horse carcasses. They also avoid picking a fight with a band of Shoshone natives who are also looking into a similar situation. As the group follows a trail of drag marks toward Shadow Gulch, they are accosted by a trio of cougars. The animals look oddly lumpy in a cancer-ridden sort of way, but are still cat quick, vicious, and breathe fire?!? The "Fire Cougars" do some damage. Actually, the cats dish out a fair amount of pain, but the party ends up victorious and continues on.

The group reaches the lip of the gulch, and scale their way down the steep embankment to a cave entrance about halfway down. The party enters the caves and quickly finds the bodies of the other two missing horses, and a little further in, the fourth member (out of five) of the original missing posse. This person is still alive, but almost "welded" to the rock wall of the caverns by a crystalline substance. While the PCs are trying to free this person, two members hear more moaning further in.

Never split the party...

Two of the PCs head or the noise and find the source. It is the last of the missing posse. The man is heavily wounded, and lying about three quarters down the left wall of a HUGE cavern whose dominant feature is a roughly chevron-shaped piece of crystal that is roughly 65' x 35' in size and hovering four feet off of the ground. The PCs head for the wounded man and begin to tend to him. A third PC reaches the entrance of the cavern to see a large (9' tall), bi-pedal figure made of crystal silently "peel" itself out of the larger crystalline structure, point an "arm" in the direction on one of the PCs helping the last wounded man, and emit a beam of light that strikes said PC in the chest for a *LOT* of pain.

So, once things began to get busy, it ended up being six cowboys against a 9-feet tall, laser-firing, crystal alien in a large, but enclosed space. The alien entity was getting the best of them when one of the PCs scored a fairly lucky head shot and shattered the creature.

In the end, none of the PCs died, but three were heavily wounded enough that they would most likely have permanent effects from the injuries they had suffered.

It was a good session. The game came back to me fairly quickly, and while I had "front-loaded the confusion" in the beginning, people worked out what they needed to play smoothly.

All in all, despite my illness, it made a good start to the convention...

-- GopherDave