Monday, October 15, 2012

Buster Squad 5 - A Necessary Evil Actual Play Report vol. 2

After Kale was nursed back to health, and decidedly weakened from the attack (lost a die in Agility from his injuries), the team were surprised to discover that their Commlinks now gave them a “V-MAP” or V’Sori Military Activities Profile.  Their options included a Recovery Mission in The Docks, a Recruitment Mission in Aruba and a Search and Destroy Mission in Downtown.

Socks immediately latched onto “Aruba”…and so the team was briefed on Sugrot, a Fin who had been active on earth since the initial invasion and had recently turned on the V’Sori after taking down a human weapons depot, slaughtering the V’Sori with his unit, hijacking three M’Buna craft and headed for Aruba.

The team rendezvoused with a just-departing Omega Cell in The Docks, taking over a stolen Barracuda from the cell.  None of the team being experienced pilots, there a moment of much concern until Mindstorm and Socks (with very good unskilled rolls), figured out how to pilot the thing and the team set off for Aruba.  Kale stood, silently, in the cockpit with them as they went.

The team exited the Barracuda once they hit the beach and were immediately attacked by Warspheres, which is what happens to V’Sori victims that don’t leave enough to turn into drones…these Warspheres had been modified with fins welded onto their tops…making them quite distinctive.

The team quickly took them apart…Bully storming in and smashing one first, Mindstorm summoning a storm to bring down lightning on them and Socks ripping them to pieces.

Socks, being the tracker, quickly picked up on the path of the Fins and the team picked their way through bombed out hotels and a nearly deserted island…making their way to a water park where Sugrot stood with his company of fifteen battle-hardened Fins.

Mindstorm opened the parley, asking Sugrot if they were the Fins that went rogue…to which Sugrot asked “What of it?”  Mindstorm gleefully offered him the opportunity to join Omega..but Sugrot turned them down, having no interest in continuing the fight for nothing.

When pressed further, he pointed out that they “Went mercenary, not charity”.  Belladonna made the effort to sway them, but Sugrot was unmoved by her feminine wiles.  When things got desperate, Kale whispered to Mindstorm to promise them the location of an Atlantean vault off the coast of Aruba…and Mindstorm used his adventure deck card, (which granted him a d6 in any skill he didn’t know until the end of the session), to soften Sugrot’s stance with an amazing Persuade roll!

Sugrot invited the squad to feast with them while Kale and a detachment of Fins embarked for the vault.  Once they returned, dripping with jewelry and news that there was more down there, Sugrot said they were officially “in negotiations”…then pointed out that while Bully looked tough, the rest didn’t look like much…and until one of them showed they could stand up to him in one on one combat, he had no interest in dealing with Omega!

Socks quickly stood up to the challenge, and both sides lined up to watch, Buster Squad 5 ready to attack if any funny business occurred.

Socks outdrew Sugrot on initiative, tearing into the massive Fin, but Surgot would not be rattled.

He lashed out with his massive jaws, but Socks blocked them…and deflected him to the side!  Sugrot continued the spin, coming around with his claws, but Socks was ready for those as well!

Socks chipped away at Sugrot, drawing blood this time…but Sugrot lashed out and seemingly eviscerated Socks (three wounds!)  Instead of even trying for the soak, Socks dropped his adventure deck card (Second Wind) which removed all wounds and shaken status!  The villains winced in dismay and the Fins cheered as Socks went down…but when Sugrot dove for the bite to finish him, Sock rolled away and let him crash on the ground (critical failure!)

The Shaken Sugrot got blind sided by Socks, but the attack just shook Sugrot out of his daze, and Sugrot bit hard on Socks’ shoulder, drawing a stream of blood and leaving Socks Shaken and Wounded!  Sensing the end, Sugrot lunged with a claw, but Socks batted him away, even in a daze!

Impressed, Sugrot said “You win.  I don’t know about them (Buster Squad 5), but I’ll fight with you.”  Then he turned to his men and said “Boys, we’ve just entered the resistance business.”

The team returned to the mainland, feeling accomplished…and Dr. Destruction was QUITE pleased.

After a couple of days rest, the team decided to launch an attack on a weapons depot at The Docks, and were excited to discover that it was lightly guarded…half a dozen drones and a single V’Sori!

The V’Sori instantly realized that an Atlantean (Kale) was present and sounded the alarm!  He and the drones moved in and he prepared a mental blast…but Socks burrowed under the ground and popped up on him, staggering him!  Bully rushed out toward the drones while the V’Sori blasted Kale, Belladonna and Socks with a mental blast, to little effect.

Suddenly, a portal opened up and, um, Bully burst out, wiping out a drone!  He was followed by Belladonna, who ran for the weapons depot…and Angel’s Bane, who emerged cackling, hurling fireballs at the V’Sori!  Another man dove out of the portal and shot a drone, while Mindstorm came up in the rear, unleashing an electrical burst on the drones!

Buster Squad 5, entirely pleased at first because they just assume its Omega Cell backup or something, proceeds…right up until the gunslinger asked “Can I shoot Bully?  I always wanted to shoot Bully.”  He did…but Bully survived with a minor scrape…and the other Bully laughed about it.  Kale, remembering Belladonna’s phobia with Angel’s Bane, warned her to back off, and he took mental control of the other Bully, who had just started raging after being shot by a drone!

The drones had been largely picked off at this point, but the raging Bully lunged at the lone remaining drone, missed, and the drone gutted him!  The Other Mindstorm expressed some concern, but Angel’s Bane shrugged it off as he Decayed the V’Sori’s head (critical failure on the Vigor roll).

Bully charged in between Belladonna and Angel’s Bane, while Socks misjudged a burrow attack and popped up off his mark.  The Mindstorms traded lightning bolts, with Mindstorm inflicted little damage and Other Mindstorm missing, calling it a “Warning shot.”

Angel’s Bane tried to use his Decay on Bully, but got hammered in a double-team by Bully and Socks, and collapsed in agony!

Badger (as Mindstorm called the gunman) opened fire on Kale, but he shrugged it off!  He unleashed radiation on Kale and Other Mindstorm, with little effect, while Belladonna chased Other Belladonna inside the weapons depot.

Other Mindstorm blasted Mindstorm with lightning again, after Mindstorm wiped out the last drone, but the lighting bounced harmlessly off of Mindstorm’s telekinetic sheath.

Mindstorm lashed back, nearly frying Other Mindstorm with lightning, and hit a sweet line: “We may have the same name, we may have the same powers…but I don’t fire warning shots.”

Other Mindstorm, wounded internally, questioned whether or not they really needed the alien technology available on this planet, and departed through the portal.

Belladonna pinned down Other Belladonna inside the weapons depot, but Other Belladonna turned on her with a large rifle…which Belladonna laughed at, knowing what a lousy shot she is.

Kale bore down on Badger, a fury rising in him, and he dug inside Badger’s head, wrenching control of his mind.  He ordered Badger to swallow his own gun and take his own life.  Badger tried, desperately, to resist…but Kale’s will was unshakeable.

Mindstorm saw on the horizon that the V’Sori were coming to investigate the attack on the depot, and the Cell was forced to scatter…Mindstorm flying between the buildings, Socks burrowing into the sewers with Bully, and Kale grabbing Belladonna and teleporting her away.

As the V’Sori scoured the warehouse, they found Angel’s Bane barely alive and gasping for his team…upon scanning him and realizing his supernatural origin, the V’Sori ordered him to be prepared for an exploratory vivisection.  After capturing Belladonna, and recognizing that she matched their database (Belladonna is wanted for infiltrating North Point and murdering several human agents of the V’Sori while working as an escort), they called for her execution!

The Cell returned home, feeling downtrodden about their loss, but found out through the grapevine that while the V’Sori moved on the depot, their naval base had apparently become compromised by another cell…

Notes:  Two adventures in this session.  The first one totally validated the concept of the adventure deck, as both players got something they could use.

They also had to learn a valuable lesson at the weapons depot that they may not always succeed at every task.

I softened this blow for them by giving them reports that leaked out about things that went on while they were ambushing the weapons depot, a couple of which were precursors to future adventures.….other evil counterparts was cute fun, and I mixed things up by tossing in a pre-experimentation version of Socks (Badger) as well as leaving Kale off the team and putting Angel’s Bane back on the team.

Session 4

An Omega Cell consisting of Magnetic North (with a sense of direction and a little magnetic power), Arachne (mutant mistress of webs), Mercury (a bladed super speedster), Miss Nemesis (a firebreathing badgirl) and Kevin Wade (a veteran of Afghanistan with unnatural healing abilities) were sent into a chemical factory on The Docks to blow it up…when they were taken by complete surprise.  Mercury was sniped, a grotesque man-spider named Lycosa pounced on Arachne and ripped her apart and a scorpion-like beast-man named Deathstalker murdered Magnetic North.  Kevin Wade and Miss Nemesis holed themselves up in an office and screamed for assistance over their commlinks…and Dr. Destruction responded by sending Buster Squad 5!

Socks, Bully, Kale, Mindstorm and Belladonna arrived as Lycosa, Deathstalker and half a dozen drones moved in while a Fin and a pair of V’Sori watched on.

The V’Sori sensed the arrival of Kale, and left with the Fin to investigate.  Meanwhile, Kevin Wade unloaded with gunfire in the general direction of Lycosa, Deathstalker and the Drones.  The Drones moved in, but quickly cannibalized their ranks with friendly fire, while The Fin and the V’Sori closed in on Buster Squad 5.

Mindstorm, who has been rather lucky in combat lately, was targeted by the Fin with a Fusion Grenade…but the pitch went wrong and he exploded a V’Sori!  The Fin immediately laughed, angering the other V’Sori, then made a half-hearted effort to deflect the blame onto Mindstorm…giving Socks time to rip up between them and bring them down with a brutal sweep of his claws.

Wade was shot and hurt badly, but managed to heal part of it and made a break for Mercury.  Lycosa webbed him up, but he threw himself on top of Mercury.  Deathstalker moved in on Miss Nemesis, but she spewed flame at him, nearly igniting him, and he yelped out, activating a warp shunt and disappeared!

Buster Squad 5 moved in, but as they helped wipe out the drones and Miss Nemesis torched the remainders, Lycosa also decided to skin out.

Wade used his power to restore Mercury to life, but Mercury was nearly insane, screaming about Hell and his time on the other side.  The squad set their charges in the factory and exploded it…but not before Wade made sure a certain set of poisonous chemicals were released…with catastrophic consequences for a poor, nearby orphanage.

Dr. Destruction helpfully recommended the two cells combine, especially with Mercury insane and Arachne too far gone to be resurrected.

INCREDIBLY short session, as we added two new players at nearly the last minute, and previous scheduling arrangements got bounced around with no notice…so this entire session was meant to introduce Kevin Wade and Miss Nemesis to the group…it was a nothing session, meant to set up the new status quo.

Miss Nemesis is a firebreathing supervillainess, a walking flamethrower with halitosis, who is quite crazy…apparently.  See, she talks to her Dad…a lot…in fact, he’s taught her everything she knows about tons of things…the only thing?  He’s dead.  Has been for some time.  I mean, she has to be crazy…right?  But if she is…then how did she know what was behind that door?

Kevin Wade was a corpsman in Afghanistan, until the death and destruction forced him to desperate measures…overwhelmed with the desire to save people, Wade made a deal with the Devil and gained the power to heal grievous injuries and even raise the dead.

The catch?  For every life he saves, he has to take one.

Wade has justified that by finding “bad guys” to kill, or killing anonymously…such as releasing a horrid toxin into the air in a crowded neighborhood.

Session 5
Here’s a short recap of the mission that nearly killed the game.  And this will be a very short recap, really.

Mindstorm was indisposed, on a secret mission for Dr. Destruction, leaving Bully, Belladonna, Socks, Kale, Kevin Wade and Miss Nemesis as the operating cell.

They were dispatched to the Hoover Dam, southeast of Las Vegas, where a V’Sori scientist named Magon was developing a secret weapon.  The Las Vegas cell went to recon the dam and hasn’t been heard from since.

The absence of Mindstorm was immediately noticeable as Socks is not a thinker, and the whole group ground to a halt as Miss Nemesis and Kevin Wade argued over and over again about what to do and how to do it.  After nearly an hour (real time) of this, they acquired a high powered telescope to scout.  Seeing the heavy patrols in the air around the reservoir where the camp was set up, another lengthy debate broke out that ultimately culminated in a protracted poisoning of the camp as Socks burrowed deep underground and brought Belladonna to the reservoir so she could work her magic, poisoning the water supply (and God only knows who all else).

This weakened the camp to manageable numbers for an assault, and Bully, Socks and Wade provided a distraction while Kale, Belladonna and Miss Nemesis attacked the superweapon.  Miss Nemesis ultimately used her flame powers to inflict irreparable damage on the unarmored device, destroying it and robbing the V’Sori of a powerful asset to their arsenal.

The team scurried away, hijacking an M’Buna and making their escape, the damage done.

Notes: Again, this is incredibly short, partly because of the months long gap from play to write-up, and partly because the session did repeatedly grind to a halt as in-party (and out of character) bickering took over the table.  The group died two weeks later.

Six months later...

Dr. Destruction welcomed the team back together, Mindstorm included, and informed them that Kevin Wade and Miss Nemesis had been sent back to Las Vegas to attempt a rebuilding of the Omega Cell there .  He also told them they had another urgent mission, this time outside of Missoula, Montana.  V’Sori agents had struck at the “normal” resistance and captured Julia, Jana and Mary Wilson, the wife, daughter and granddaughter of the (deceased) President of the United States!

This needs to be handled quickly, so Buster Squad 5 immediately sets out to bring the family back to the resistance!  Luckily for the team, the alien forces were running light on security, with half a dozen drones guarding an M’buna.

Out of character note: The adventure card drawn for Socks allowed him to convert his bennies to experience points...which he used at the start of the adventure to take an advance and boost his Strength up to a d12.  This also left him with no bennies.

The team decided that Socks was more than a match for half a dozen drones and he burrowed in, springing up to surprise one…but it blocked his attack and the others opened fire, leaving him Shaken!

Mindstorm and Bully charged into the conflict as Belladonna and Kale crept toward the barracks.  Bully smashed into the drones, but two K’tharen guards charged out and inflicted massive amounts of damage, leaving Bully badly hurt but in a berserker rage!

Kale took advantage of a storm that Mindstorm had previously summoned, and blasted one of the Fins with a bolt.  Socks failed to get his head clear, but managed to fend off any further attacks.

Another Fin emerged, and got hammered down by the enraged Bully.

Hearing the battle raging outside, Shavak – a V’Sori warlord – stalked out of the barracks with six more drones dragging the First Family, and another elite Fin guard!  The Fin smashed into Kale and Belladonna and left Kale wounded…but Kale got the last laugh when he dug deep inside the fin’s head and turned him against Shavak!

Shavak unleashed his mental powers on Bully and Socks, but Bully shrugged them off in his fury!  Meanwhile, Kale’s mindcontrolled Fin was chewing his way through drones, trying to get at Shavak.

Mindstorm tried to strike down Shavak and drew his full attention…but when Mindstorm got the better of Shavak (who was burning through bennies to stay focused), Shavak switched to desperation tactics and tried to shoot Mindstorm down but couldn’t penetrate his force shield!

Socks burrowed up underneath the First Family and yanked them underground, and Mindstorm unleashed an electrical surge on the drones!  Shavak, seeing his moment of triumph fade away, swore vengeance on the team and activated a warp shunt, vanishing into the ether!

While Kale, the Fin, Bully and Mindstorm ripped through the remaining drones, Socks kept hitting on the First Lady, thinking that if he could get her to marry him, he would then become the President.

Buster Squad 5 hijacked the M’buna, with Kale forcing the controlled fin to pilot one of them, and they headed back to Star City with their prizes in tow!

Dr. Destruction was QUITE pleased to see Jana had made it back, and said he had a great many questions for her…then congratulated Buster Squad 5 on their victory and said he would be in contact soon.

Notes, thoughts and observations: Socks REALLY regretted cashing that card in at the beginning of the session, as he spent half of it Shaken. Kinda short as one of the players had somewhere he had to be, but we have now hit Episode 3 in the Plot Point campaign, though minus two of the players. Mindstorm's player's roommate sat in on this session to observe, and wound up joining the next session...