Aeon S1E5: More than meets the eye

October 29, 2015

Dramatis Personae

  • The Commander (Doug) – telekinetic super-soldier with a really angry dog (Yukio). The dog is a powerful ally (250-300 points) and very intelligent and very, very aggressive.
  • Arc Light (Christian) – battlsuited gadgeteer with electrical powers
  • The Rat Queen (Emily) – brick with super-perception; made of actual rats
  • Eamon Finnegan (Kyle) – smooth talking gravity-master; Ultimate Fighting Lawyer, to borrow a phrase.
  • Zephyr (Merlin) – Real name Murui; Shaolin Kung Fu expert and super-speedster. 

Transformers are More Than Meets the Eye

We start the game headed off to Arc Light’s secret, secret base underneath a light house in Hudson Bay. If there’s no light house in Hudson Bay . . . that’s how secret it is.

We all have to turn around as he enters his secret code (which he swears is not 1 2 3 4 5, because that’s on his luggage).

The base is shiny and well-kept, like a hospital (or psychiatric ward?) with little robots going around keeping things shiny.

“The floors are so clean . . . “

Zephyr believes that Arc Light has too much time on his hands. Or too much money. Or both. Clearly he’s not helping the economy by outsourcing to automatons and nanobots.

Anyway, he goes through several points of ID – voice, retina, fingerprint, and probably other body parts and chemistry. Machineguns on turrets appear, pointed at us. Pretty much right out of The Incredibles. A face appears in the wall, and greets him. We follow some blinkenlights to his main lab.

All with Mad Skillz either roll things like Inventor! or gravity talent or mechanic or physics. We’re working on a quantum stasis field stabilizer thing (a TARDIS in a DeLorean in a Stargate in a Bag of Holding . . . ) to keep the Nazi time bubble machine from going crazy again.

Multiple ridiculously awesome critical successes later, we have a device. We lock it up with some Top Men? No, we’re going to feed the Nazi device to the quantum stasis generator and give it a nice warm cup of tea . . .

The QSG manages to not only shut the old Nazi device down, but it stabilizes future bubbles. Or past ones.

So we go get some pancakes, and get along with some down time. There are showers, here, too . . . so people step out of their power armor, wash up, and sleep. The robots seem offended if we don’t accept their hospitality, so we Be Their Guest before they go all Maximilian on us.

We decide to go investigate who’s blowing up the transformers – we assume that someone is causing this issue. When we access the computer, a stylized face shows up on the computer screen: “It appears you are trying to data mine. Can I help you?”

“Um, yeah. We’re trying to find a pattern behind the destruction of the transformers.”

“I can help with that . . . ” says the Helpful Computer. Share and Enjoy!

We get a map of the destroyed transformers, with real-time and time-lapse imagery, and reasons why the transformers might be blown. The power grid might be overloaded; usage has gone up by 22% overall. Another theory is that there might be an issue with the power supplies that feed the city; the instabilities could be causing the issue. The third option – 92% viability – is someone’s intentionally sabotaging the grid. Probably an electricity-based metahuman.

The Commander: “Dude. I didn’t need an artificially-intelligent supercomputer to tell me that.”
The Computer: Here’s 65 dossiers on the potential metas, sorted in pareto order. Take that, Commander Cynical.
The Commander: Thanks, Clippy.
The Computer: 10011001100101 you, 10010101011hole.

We’re each given a modular communication device. Well, except for the Rat Queen – there aren’t enough wearables in the world for her.

We speculate a bit about the reasons behind the Riker’s escape. Why does Javier Cortez want to declare martial law?

We head out to investigate a few transformers nonetheless, looking to see if there’s more than meets the eye.

We board the VERTOL (what? we have a vertol?) that’s the size of a chinook helicopter. But blocky, so if it goes fast, it goes fast by brute force, not aerodynamics.

The transformer we check out is fine from the outside; it got 20-40% too hot from the inside, and shut down. Seems like there might be something in the grid that is causing oscillations. Hmm. Are the usual safeguards enabled? Or are we on the leading edge of a massive power outage due to cascade failures of the transformer grid?

Are the grid failures/transformer failures random? No, it looks like, given the huge amount of real-time data we have, that we’re got an outward spiral of destruction going on here. That can’t be accidental. It’s manmade, and it has a center. We decide to go to it.

We do, and when we get there, we see a quintet of shiny, shiny metal men. Could be a battlesuit, could be an automaton. But they’re in formation and they’re approaching us at a rapid pace. Some have swords, some have hammers, some with ever cruder instruments. They definitely do not look friendly.

The Commander steps forward and says “We are authorized agents of the MAPS of New York City. Please stand down!”

They chuck a stop sign at me. I critically succeed my Dodge roll, and pull off the look of the Orc Leader stepping aside in The Return of the King. Except way, way more cool and chill. Captain America dodge chill.

We all ready our favorite attacks and stratagems. Zephyr, the fast one, heads out and right, using some high-quality cars as cover. The Commander does an aim and single shot at a robot’s leg; it pings off as expected. He drops the rifle in disgust. The rifle never works.

The Commander tosses off a sarcastic comment about needing some AP ammo. All of a sudden, thanks to Gizmo, a drone buzzes by and drops a bunch of magazines in my surprised hands. Not sure what they are, but they’re likely better than what I have! Instant gratification for the win.

The gravity sense of Eamon kicks in – these guys aren’t suits or hollow, they’re solid metal. They each weigh 3,375 lbs. Yow. That’s 21xBL for the ST 28 Commander. Eamon, on the other hand, can use one as a baseball bat on the other.

Christopher challenges Emily to make a Perception roll “at a penalty of a ton,” and she makes it by 11, which is actually enough to grant her an active defense. It’s moving fast enough that she can’t see what it is, but she knows it’s fast and dangerous. The Rat Queen sidesteps, dodges, and burns an FP for maximum duckitude. She makes her dodge by 0 . . . and the Evil GM makes her do it again. We call him names. He drinks our tears and is happy. Rat Queen makes another dodge, this time by 7.

This really skinny guy with knives appears, looking ridiculously perplexed. “I missed. I never miss!” he says. The guy, faster than the eye can blink, changes weapons to a bronze kriss knife. And that was just his WAIT maneuver. So he takes his real action. He does a run-around attack . . . and she tries to trip him; we rule it’s Fist Parry, at -3 for Aggressive Parry (-1) and -2 for the legs. She succeeds by 3, and makes him make a DX or Acrobatics -5 roll or fall down. He makes his roll, but he’s pissed off. No one ever defeats two of his attacks in a row!

We realize that we could have, in fact, used the Trip rules from Martial Arts, p. 80.

So she avoids three attacks but she gets hit by seven, and each one does 8d6 (2) cut damage. Her armor is Hardened and she has Injury Tolerance. She winds up taking 26 injury after her injury tolerance. Ouch. Fortunately, she was wearing a Super Suit.

Zephyr’s player Merlin wants a super suit. Cue Frozone. But he runs up to Kris the Knife and goes speedster on speedster. A run-round attack with more than one deceptive attack; he’s going for multiple strikes on multiple attacks, just to see what we can pull off.

He crits! But the bad guy throws down some Doom; we all throw in Karma to cancel that out to preserve the crit. He hits for 11 damage, and an 8 on the crit table means double shock if it penetrates DR!

Still, Zephyr needs to make a Will-5 roll for . . . something. He fails by 4, and takes 4 points of injury to his chest and is also at double shock . . . as he just got defibrillated by some sort of electrokinetics! But when he got hit, the dagger glowed purple, and so did Zephyr.

Instead of punching on the second attack he goes to grapple the arm. -3 deceptive, -1 for the arm, and he Aggressive Parries to Zephyr’s face for 6 points of damage! For his third attack, he fails, but turns into a success with a Leadership/Tactics reroll. The fourth attack hits, but the bad guy dodges while still rolling 16, which means he’s a Dodge Monkey.

Yukio the wonder dog tries for a slam, but misses. The Commander punches out a mag and slaps in a new one with a series of fast-draw rolls. The ammo glows a bit red. The bullets hook up to my wrist comp, with attached HUD, and suddenly I have a Shadowrun smartgun. I aim for the head.

The first round was the old one in the chamber; the second two hit. The bullets freaking explode for 10d6 after penetrating the head, and I get a message “Thank you for ordering from,” as the robot’s head basically explodes.

The Rat Queen is trying to draw aggro on the crazy speed guy, and declares AoD (Double Defense) to try and keep him busy.

Arc Light hits him with a surge attack; which basically ignores metal armor. So I don’t care how many tons you weigh, that’s gonna leave a mark.

The golems are fast, and they run up and attack most of us in melee. We make our defense rolls, mostly dodges because we know we can’t push around 1.5 tons of metal easily.

Eamon uses his gravity control to lift up one of the robots – he has to push, but a roll of 3 for a critical success means no FP need to be spent. He lifts two of them off the ground and slams two of them together as hard as he can. That makes it something over 50d6 collision damage – 23yds/sec each with very, very heavy guys. Instant mushed slag for both.

The Kinetic Knife goes after The Rat Queen again, who seems to be ‘face tanking,’ and gathering all the rage to her, taking 22 more points of injury. He also attacks Zephyr, and nails him as well, attempting to stab him four times for 4d6 each. Where is my super-suit indeed – he spends points like mad to reduce that to 2 HP of injury and a bunch of shock.

“Man, you are slow,” the killer taunts. “I’d rather fight the rat!”

Zephyr angry! He burns fatigue like wildfire to throw a telegraphic attack at Knifey-boy 100 times. In the groin. We burn our last re-roll to improve his rapid fire attack . . . Knifey-boy critical fails the dodge roll with a natural 18. 

And he hits 36 times with each hand, for 3d6 each. After subtracting armor, he literally almost takes 1,000 points of damage. He burns Karma to not die, but he’s completely and totally KO’d. And probably picks up Sterile.

The knife, though, exacts retribution. A Will roll succeeds, but Zephyr passes out . . . and the knife flies through the air and lands in Zephyr’s hand.

Yukio the Wonder Dog tries to slam the 3,000-lb robot, and does some damage, but not much. The Commander uses three rounds of 5d+1 (unknown armor divisor) with 10d followup explosion (metatronic generator) on another robot’s head. Nasty things happen, but he’s not completely dead. The Extra Attack for Aim+Shoot is nice. It’s why it was bought.

A much larger – SM+2 – robot screams in from out of the combat, and we can sense that this one’s an actual battlesuit, rather than what we’re calling a golem. It lands perhaps 30yds away from The Commander, more or less.

Eamon grabs the golem menacing the dog; he lifts him easily out of the combat. Yukio thinks this is great fun, and jumps up on the golem and starts tearing at it with his teeth.

 The Commander aims and shoots a single shot at the leg of the newcomer giant robot. The bullet more or less stops in mid-air, Matrix style, and falls to the ground. Hmm.

The Rat Queen is still conscious, and regenerating injury due to assimilating rats. She runs over and picks up a minivan. She’s ST 41, which isn’t enough to easily make the lift, but spending FP she can lift it in 4 seconds.

We continue to whittle away at 1.5-ton metal golems. But the new guy pulls a Magneto, he opens his suit to taunt him personally . . . “Yo, dawg, that suit isn’t made of metal, is it?”

He rips the suit in half – half of it goes left, and half goes right. It’s a total loss. For now. But it’s not the suit that makes the hero, but the man inside. He starts to crackle and glow – and fires a bolt of lightning at the newcomer’s face. He starts spasming, and the metal falls off of him. And all the metal golems fall apart too.

“You ruined my suit.”

* * *   * * * * *    * * *

Ballistic’s Report

The read-through makes it sound like, perhaps, we held our own and were in command of the situation. This was far from the truth. We could have easily lost two heroes – Zephyr burned character points and  karma to avoid being turned to thin-sliced cold-cuts by the Knife – the initial attack rolled 108 points of cutting damage.He would have continued to cut the unarmored to pieces had he not crit-failed the defense on the hundred-handed strike. That dropped him, with something like 500-1,000 points of damage scored, but he too burned karma to not die. There is nearly no other way that that fight ended with one or both of The Rat Queen and Zephyr cut to ribbons.
The knife attacks were 4-24 points of damage, plus the electrical shock. I think that the Commander’s native DR 20, and DR 40 with the right force field on, would have blunted that. But it was also a magical knife, and for all we know had an armor divisor of (10), which would have killed The Commander pretty fast too. Maybe Arc Light could have withstood it; his battlesuit is . . . or was . . . pretty awesome.
The second guy, whose name turned out to be Battalion, we find out later, has a Basic Lift with metal of 900 tons. Had he not gotten cocky and popped the faceplate of his helmet off to taunt Arc Light after he ferrokinetically ripped his awesome battlesuit in half, he could have assumed a form that we might not have had a snowball’s chance of stopping.
Further, the robots were no slouches either. My grumbling in-character/out-of-character (we were both thinking the same thing) led to a Gizmo being rolled up that gave me 75 rounds of APFA ammo (Armor Piercing F**king Awesome. It’s a real acronym. Look it up.) that turned two robots to slag. That and the fact that it hooked up to the new HUDs we got (+4 to Guns, all the time; a reflex sight on steroids) meant I could take head shots from 30yds away as if it were nothing.
And Eamon critically succeeded in the smash and grab on two of them.
So we got just the right gear, and just the right rolls . . . but our teamwork was non-existent and we ran in like crazy folks. What saved us beyond that? We all blew out our karma at the right times, and The Commander rolled Tactics and won us 5 re-rolls, of which we used all of them.
We’ve made it a priority to come up with some team fighting tactics, taking an entire game session in a Danger Room to do so if we need to. Because this every person for himself thing is going to get us killed, and quickly, unless we can find a better way to assess powers, assess weaknesses, and exploit them. And quickly.

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