Wednesday, March 8, 2023

AEON Season 7, Session 6



  • Amie-Belle T. W. Lee aka Whisper (Played by Curtis): Cold War era super-soldier/spy that got put in the Freezer, because she got poisoned. After getting thawed out and cured she tried to back to work, and was given an “adjustment period”. Uncle Sam called 2 years later, with work… because once you’re in, you’re in for life. Tagline: “In and out without a whisper.”
  • Beauregard K. “Bo” Ratnam aka Wirerat (Played by Brice): Technopath, inventor, and hacker. He specializes in co-opting enemy systems and tech assets. Tagline: “Nice tech – I’ll borrow that.
    • Stainless Steel Rat aka “Sir” (NPC Ally): Bo’s best friend and assistant. A sentient drone in the shape of a stylized shiny metal rat mindlinked to Bo. Specialties are rapid repair construction and modifications. Imagine if K-9 and R2D2 made a baby and it looks a bit like a rodent. Tagline: “Repairs and upgrades in progress”
    • Derrick K. Ratnam aka Ledgerdemain (NPC Ally): Spin doctor and media liaison for Project VANGUARD. Twin to Bo. Tagline: “Well, actually that’s not how it happened.
  • Rafe Hanlon aka Nyx (played by Chris D.): An umbrakinetic petty thief still on work release several years later, on his way to becoming a true agent and hero. Tagline: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
    • Layla A. de Blackburn aka Nox (NPC): CIA-trained child assassin all grown up to be Daddy’s Little Monster. Maybe a little mad. Argues with her shadow often. Tagline: “No, we shouldn’t do that…should we?”
    • June B. O'Neill aka Prodigy (NPC): Savant with hyper-intelligence that may have cracked the universal power-dampening conundrum. Fresh out of the Meraki Institute for the advanced and gifted. Extremely intelligent, but young (she's 16).
  • Vincenzo L. dePrezzo aka Threshold (Played by Rory): Doctor, Mathematician, and Scientist (yes, capitals) and Spatial Manipulator. Threshold can bend space like a pretzel, teleport, obliterate things, and has extraordinary senses. He’d rather be in a research lab than fight. Better known for his work with Doctors Without Borders, the United Nations, and disaster relief than famous battles. Tagline: “I can be there in a snap!”
    • Nawang Sonam aka Wan Shi Tong (NPC): Martial Artist with a mysterious past. Thresholds mentor, experienced and highly capable, indeterminate age.
  • Grant L. Wojcik aka Fridge Boy (NPC): Can control icer/cold, but mostly the ability to create ice that explodes. 16 year old emancipated orphan, Our janitor. 
  • Rudy A. Coldwater aka Gimmick (NPC): Mildly hyper-intelligent savant. Stutters. Makes very accurate guesses. Typical nerd, not yet 20. Wants to make a difference, assigned to support duties.
Dates: Monday, May 4th, 2020 1400 to 2200 hours.

The Setup

Threshold and Wan Shi Tong go out on patrol, Whisper and SSR go to Mole Trolls lair, Nyx keeps an eye on the prisoners were holding, and Wirerat starts hacking records and shoring up electronic defenses - also a secret project.
Threshold and Wan Shi Tong pass a bakery just as it explodes. Luckily Wan Shi Tong senses the threat in time to throw up a forcefield to partially protect them, though Threshold still gets hit pretty hard.
Threshold scans for survivors and heads inside to pull people out. Wan Shi Tong senses more danger and watches their backs. Threshold triggers another bomb in the back but teleports out of the way in time to avoid damage.
They get everyone out as the first responders arrive and the bomb squad takes over the scene. Threshold power stunts his Spatial Sense to search the area for more bombs, the explosive was the same experimental type as the one in Prodigy's father's apt.
He doesn't find any more but plans to check all of Flushing as soon as possible. Also he belatedly informs HQ about the incident. He figured they all knew from surveillance systems but acknowledges Wirerats complaint that he should inform them directly and immediately rather than assuming the rest of the team knows whats going on and knows they are not needed. Threshold determined that they needed no assistance and didn't want the entire team to respond to every emergency as that could make them more vulnerable and leave people undefended. However people should be kept in the loop.
  • This Power Stunt adds Scanner for skill -5 (-16) and 2 FP so pretty reliable but checking the entire borough will take awhile. Taking another -1 to skill doubles range to 200yards.

Disobeying Doctors Orders has Consequences

Wirerat decides to use his technopathy to hack some computers instead of relying on pure skill. He gets brain hacked again and the two prisoners also get hacked and die, turning into goo.
Fridge Boy freezes the bodies, somehow keeping them from exploding which is the usual result of his powers. Nyx pokes them experimentally then rushes to assist the screaming Wirerat.
Threshold is summoned, stops Nyx from killing the patient with kindly but poorly executed First Aid, and gets Wirerat to the hospital, luckily MedEvac is on scene and heals him up.
Wirerat demands to be taken back to base but Threshold gets a promise he wont use his powers before doing so. The team learns about Mia a nascent AI that Wirerat was working on and it just woke up.

Up Next and Afterthoughts

Whispers player was absent so we skipped that part of the activity. Threshold and Wirerat discussed communication and surveillance protocols and some options. Threshold decides the entire team needs to have some training as soon as everyone of the new people are on board.
Everyone needs to learn First Aid training if they do not already have it and be  reviewed regardless of what the dossiers may say. Also everyone needs to learn police codes and basic response (PS: Law Enforcement) to enable better coordination within the team and with first responders.
Threshold and Wirerat discuss a few things while watching Mia, both are worried that someone seems to be targeting the team and not minding a lot of collateral damage. Threshold asks him to try and track down any connections between the bombing, maintenance, deliveries, crime (reported vandalism or break in), location, ownership, etc. Both he and Nyx will try and work the chemist shop angle, see who might be supplying or making the explosives.

Personal Thoughts

I remarked that Wirerats pretty much going to single handedly be responsible for Threshold learning Spatial Surgery. This lead to some frustrating conversation that was fairly quickly resolved but is important to think about.
Players and GMs need to be on the same page in an RPG, and I feel this is especially important in a Supers campaign. The genre tropes are all over the place and not everyone even knows or uses the same definitions Silver Age, Golden Age, Iron Age, Four Color, Anti-hero, etc. Supers allows and often encourages a lot of creativity and that can create conflict, confusion, and take people in different directions.
In this case the GM didnt want Threshold having Healing because as he said it wasn't his niche. The GM also assesses UB costs for different niches as well as certain abilities. Something I hadn't really figured out yet, I knew certain powers got a UB tax but hadn't realized it was in part a "niche" thing.
However, I am a tinkerer and analyst in nature and a large part of what I enjoy in a game (and a big part of why I love GURPS) is taking a power set and figuring out interesting things you can do with a "special effect". An ideal character to me has a clearly defined special effect (usually just one) that can be used in different ways. Fire powers can give Innate Attack, Temperature Alteration, and brighten an area. But they may also allow Flight (rocket, lighter than air, or updrafts), welding or cutting torches. How do you breath if your on fire? The special effect needs to take these things into account (or multiple power sets that help each other).
Threshold spatial manipulation lets him bring things closer together or father apart and sense the distance between things and their velocity and orientation. This includes large objects or even subatomic particles and the primary uses are movement (Enhanced Move with Second Nature and Warp), disintegration (pulling objects apart, Innate Attack with Corrosion), sensing things (Para-Radar, Microscopic and Telescopic Vision, Parabolic Hearing) and more exotic tricks like stretching or shrinking by making things appear longer or shorter by altering the distance.
Healing seems pretty obviously off the table, you can't recover HP by just teleporting blood into them or making a limb longer or shorter. But if you can teleport bullets out of the body, remove or disintegrate foreign substances (Using Para-Radar with Microscopic, Penetrating, and Bioscan to sense what your doing) you can do a limited form of surgery (Healing with a bunch of modifiers, including no HP recovery). Basically its like using laser surgery and radiation treatment to treat cancer. Not nearly as good as full Healing but useful (removing a bullet without worrying about infection or lack of tools) but needing regular things like bandages instead of regenerating tissue or even stitching (like TK could do).

Now those details are a bit long for most of you dear readers and the GM already approved it. But I wanted to share this as a worked example of possibilities people may come up with in a Supers game. Not everyone enjoys that kind of thinking, much less the math or putting in the work to make it work. But for some people that is an important part of the game and it can make things more complicated.
Supers is a great genre, just communicate and know your group so you are all on the same page. Dungeon Fantasy typically has more narrow tropes like Scout, Warrior, Cleric, Mage, Thief, etc. What to expct to and from everyone is usually much easier, though GURPS allows a lot more variety here than most other games so communication is still valuable.

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