Aeon Campaign: S1E7 – Makin’ Dividends in the Worst Way Possible

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. 

Worst Gang Shooters Ever

We pick up with a more-than-a-little insane elderly chemist/scientist working with dangerous mutagens, teratogens, and boom-o-gens that we’re collectively unqualified to understand whether what she’s doing is brilliant, dangerous, or both. It turns brown and fizzy, and she drinks it.

We think she’s either aping Professor Snape, or making Root Beer. Maybe both. Or RC Cola’s old recipe? None of this is curing Arc Light.

Maybe RC stands for Radiation Control. 

We work on the plan to create islands of stability and an intelligence infrastructure involving the caring and dutiful citizens of New York. We set up an algorithm and a call center or digital media hub or something – we basically form a metahuman tip line. A poor reaction roll skunks the “yay self-policing” concept. Alas.

We call into MAPS and see what is urgently going on, and we also have Adama (our not-so-tame AI) whip up a reverse image search on the swan from the business card, a search on the ink from the printed card, and the unique chemical taggant from the card stock itself. With the three clues, we should be able to figure something out.

Also, the numbers from the card: looking up social security and the birth date. We seem correct, in that the SSN belongs to Katarina Blevartski (AKA Amanda Smith) . . . she’s not on the MAPS index at all. She’s not from Riker’s island. She’s a palm reader, apparently.Back in 2006 there was a law passed that allowed precogs to have a bit of a safe zone; they could not compel a precog to reveal a vision. She’s living in Brooklyn near Chinatown. We have a hypothesis that the numbers mean $10,000,000 for a hit on her – maybe to suppress a dangerous prophecy? Not sure, but seems like as good a theory as anyone.

The team goes to her house. It needs a lot of work Eamon steps up and speaks to her reassuringly as a rep of the MAPS program. She replies that it always has to do with people thinking she’s pulling a con on someone when a badge is involved. But it’s about your personal safety! Are you threatening me? 

She opens the door, and she’s ginormously pregnant, looking skeptical, uncomfortable, and carrying a high-end taser. We show her the card, and she recognizes the SSN and birthday, and is properly freaked out.

We ask her if she has any enemies, and she doesn’t think so. We ask about the baby’s father, and she says he called himself Marcus, and she wasn’t looking for last names at the time. We ask about notable mannerisms, and she offers to draw us a picture. When she hands Eamon the picture, she goes still, scared, for a moment. 

Eamon checks Hidden Lore; Zephyr uses his knife to detect magic. No magic, yes weird (something’s there). We also can tell she’s rockin’ some fine illegal drugs right now. She’s bordering on a lethal dose here. Her heartbeat is erratic and those of us with extreme Perception can tell she’s close to the edge.

Eamon goes for the completely left field, and asks her “so what are your powers?” She looks at him like “you’re just stupid.” She seems to be metabolizing the drugs well enough. But she seems very cagey for someone who’s a palm reader, so Zephyr looks around and finds a heroin kit, or maybe a diabetes kit? Probably heroin.

Eamon goes for the completely left field. Again. “Where do you get your drugs?” She has no idea what he’s talking about, naturally. He goes down the list. Dialated pupils, slow heart rate, can smell the drugs, etc. We are trying to impress on her that we’re trying to help, that we found her SSN with b-day and what looks to be a lot of money. She replies that what she does is none of our business.

Outside, the little girl with the cat from the first session appears. “She’s so lost. They’re coming.”

Zephyr pulls out all the stops and goes all Chris Tucker on her. “Look, we were shutting down a nuclear reactor an hour or two ago. We found a card on a supervillian with your SSN, birthday, and what looks like a promise of ten million dollars on it. You may well be entitled to your privacy, but we’re trying to interrupt the plan of a metahuman here.”

A pimped out Olds pulls up to the front of the house. We hear voices shouting “are you sure this is the right house? Cause we shot the last house, and it was the wrong house! And how come we have to use my car? “’cause my car is out of gas, brother!” 

Arc Light remotes the VERTOL and drops the thing smack onto the Cutlass. One of the thugs drops his gun and picks up a rim, still spinning: “My car! What you do to my car!?”

“Man, you messed up my homie’s car!” He opens fire on the Commander, whose force field is protecting the house. Commander pulls out the sword, sends out a Kinetic blast, and rolls a 3 for Intimidation (made it by 17). Thugs try and flee, but they can’t make it. One’s pants are so far down his butt he trips, the other just faints, etc. We subdue them all quickly.

Apparently the 10 million bucks was a general offer, and it went to idiots first. 

We drag them together, tie them up, and say “Talk!”

They all talk. At once. We look through what’s left of the car. The guy who owned the remains of the car, and finds several cards with the same swan logo, with different SSNs. So clearly it’s a hit order, but we doubt these guys are smart enough to have figured this out.

There’s a ringing phone in the background, we find it and pull it out. Zephyr, being an ex-thug to begin with, answers. 

“Hey, who ‘dis?”
“Who dis?”
“I”m looking for Antonio!”
“He’s busy – his car just crashed! You shoudl see him; he’s weeping and stuff, cryin over his rims”
“O, the purple monster? Send me a pic, man!”

The other thug says that we knows he’s good with computers, but he thinks maybe he shouldn’t have given us the stuff. But anyway, bring him home the General Tsao’s chicken. Just finish up and come back to his place.

Where’s that again? Man, I just texted you this. Here it is again. 

It is physically impossible for me to transcribe all the spectacular jive city talk that Christopher and Merlin engaged in. It defies transcription.

We go look up Digital Dawg (yes, really) in the Arc Light’s computer. As pathetic as these guys are, they did try and shoot up us and the pregnant palm reader. We put them in some ersatz cells in the VERTOL, and Ms. Smith decides that since people are actually shooting at her, it behooves her to trust us.

We claim the Purple Rain licence plate and mount some of the spinning rims on the VERTOL. We float the firearms with TK into an evidence bin, though The Commander is advocating for destroying these worthless excuses for firearms on the spot, because such poor guns must not besmirch the name of quality firearms everywhere. He wanders off muttering about successful missions, military simplicity, and blah blah the good old days blah.

We converge on the house. Eamon uses gravity sense to yank Digital Dawg’s computer out the window. Dawg runs out the house screaming about “They’re here!” and “Carrie!” and poltergeists. Zephyr tackles him, and Digidawg starts up about running away from monsters, but he used Kung Fu on it, and etc.

We decide to pull a good cop/bad cop, with Commander in the role of Batman. “SWEAR TO ME!” and Eamon plays good cop, with no cool gif.

We terrify the hell out of the guy, and he spills his guts all over the floor. He works a computer and he shows how he got the SSN, and he shows us a picture of a guy on a webcam, who gave him the business cards. Probably a messenger, but very good looking, tall, chiseled jaw . . . he’s a full-on scion. He’s David Maxwell, an electrokinetic going by Charger, a recent escape from Rikers. Once he gets all charged up, he becomes an extremely dangerous foe.

Hmm. Power plants. Transformers. Etc. He’s probably involved.

There were 20 cards that were delivered in an envelope, and his group has killed four already. He pulls up the images of things, and we get the list. All 20 names are available. One guy from Rikers, two on the metahuman index. 19, including the metas, are dead. We have the last, and only one left alive.

Dawg tells us that the problem was that Amanda Smith was living under another identify, including the SSN.

The guy from Rikers was to precog 66 seconds into the future. The other MAPS guys were known precogs as well. We ask Adama if any of the other 16 names on the list might have been precognitively gifted – it’s likely. At least one won the lottery four times. 

We zero in on Miss Smith. The Commander steps up: “Look, here’s a powerful precog from Rikers. Dead. Here are two other metas with a history of precog. Dead. Dead. Here’s someone that won the lottery four times. Dead. Weatherman with a perfect record. Dead. Others. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Are you getting the pattern here? You’re the only one left. We can’t help you if you don’t talk to us.”

She crumbles. She sees things. They always happen. She’s got dreams of a dragon flying above the Hudson, and retiring to a cave filled with coffee machines, shiny popcorn makers, and gold. An image of a redheaded man.

She’s got more in her Diary. Zephyr runs to get it . . . and can’t help but peek at the book, a heavy, leatherbound book. 

We warn him to say Klaatu Barada Necktie first, but he doesn’t listen.

He sees an image of himself with an espada, a Spanish sword. Happens Zephyr is an expert swordsmith . . . it’s very old. 16th century or so from the Italian states, tapered. 

He looks through the book some more, and sees images of Arc Light, who has become light. Eamon looking down at the world, huge and timeless. And over and over, the words black swan.

She seems to be drawing these images with no control over it. 

Zephyr recruits the thugs. They’re our crew now.

As soon as we hand her the book, she starts writing again. We decide that she’s drawing another sword through Zephyr saying “Ecto Gamat.” She draws a little girl holding a cat.

The cat’s name is Namir, a persian cat. And we speculate that the girl is her future daughter. In fact, we find a childhood picture of Angela, and look mostly a carbon copy.

We try and cross reference metas named Marcus with pictures. No dice. 

She started using about four months before she met Marcus; the visions/precog episodes were so bad she had to do something. She met Marcus at a coffee shop in Manhattan called Sacred Grounds that used to be a church.

We make plans to visit Sacred Grounds. The Commander changes into “more civilian” clothes.

No one is fooled.

*** ** ***
We ended there. 
We shot the breeze longer than usual to start the game, which was fun.
The play of the game was much more frustrating to me. The plan was solid, and one crappy reaction roll – technically two because I spent Karma and still biffed it twice – blew that from relevant to not. Christopher’s going to let me try next session, but my mechanics thought here is that one option for a Karma point would be to assume the dice are an 11 – just above average on 3d6 – which would have given me a roll of 15 rather than 9.
The conversation with Angela Smith, our pregnant palm-reading drug user, was again an exercise in stymie. She eventually responded to a set of very high pressure tactics, but I just wasn’t feeling it there.
The interaction with the gang, from dropping the VERTOL on their car to their panicked reactions when I made my Intimidation roll with a natural 3 on a base target of 20, was too funny and too fast to transcribe. Some of the group have a real way with street vernacular that rings quite true – I know this from listening to an inner city cop talk about how he interacts with gang members – and the play of the game was hysterical. 
I think we finally gave the plot the old heave-ho and moved it forward. The book and its inevitable prophecy images will bear a lot of looking into, but the “inevitability” of Angela’s prophecies and the circular nature of the problem (the girl has to be born, she has to adopt a cat, certain things have to happen) will be a unique challenge. And one of the pictures (not mentioned above) was an older Commander, with an eye patch (Commander Fury!) surrounded by Vampires. Couldn’t tell if they were attacking or serving him. We do have a next metahuman target, though, and we probably have to get him from ambush. So a plan will be needed. 

We don’t always do plans real well . . .

5 thoughts on “Aeon Campaign: S1E7 – Makin’ Dividends in the Worst Way Possible

  1. Your misgivings are almost word for word my own written in my GM notes. Looking back over Impulse Buys, there is a system for figuring margain – I should have used that. In fact, let's just assume that you succeeded enough last time that you can avoid some of the penalties next time. Furthermore, I think a Reaction Roll + a Skill roll would be about the right way to pull off what you want. I'll check Social Engineering to see if Bill wrote anything useful.

    As for the obstinate NPC – that's just bad GMing on my part (It's one of my faults as GM).

    Regardless, the parts you highlighted were spot on. I'll endeavour to do better next time.

    1. I will say that I didn't find her obstinate behavior unrealistic, I should note. It was just frustrating. I'm not sure in-character "but my dude would have known that!" would have applied, either – though perhaps a skill roll similar to a Common Sense roll ("I check Interrogation to see what kind of tactics will be best line of attack") might be the right thing to do, rather than just roll and handwave it. We all like the "actual dialog" part of the game, so skill tests that help us take the right pathway might be a good split between "roleplay it!" and "Just roll some damn dice!"

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