Welcome to another installment of Melee Academy! Today’s topic is “Opening Moves.”

Here are some other posts by other participants

Instead of a super-detailed, broad-brush essay on possibilities, I’m going to get specific and talk about my superhero from the Aeon campaign.

The Commander is a fun character to play. He’s got a fully fleshed out background and a fairly well-varied power set.

And yet, he’s a generalist. He’s got a bit of TK – enough for things like 5d double-knockback crushing attacks with no wounding, a TK shield, and a few other things. He’s got a lot of points in Wildcard skills, the five key ones being Fist!, Blade!, Shooter!, Ten-Hut!, and SEAL!.

Plus he has a combat suit and he’s a super-soldier, so he’s got very good stats, including ST 28 and ridiculous Will and Perception.

So for equipment, he has a battlesuit, which is really more like a soldier-enhancing skinsuit than a true battlesuit. It’s got a sensor suite which is mostly non-functional, it provides DR20 everywhere, and enhances my ST and telekinetic abilities by a tetch. He’s also got guns. He uses a REC7 carbine and a FN Five-seveN pistol, because I like both calibers.

His job, in the words of Tony Stark, is “Call it, Captain!”

That is, he’s the guy who rolls vs. Tactics-20 as combat opens, and usually has enough re-rolls to hand out (thanks to Leadership-18 or even Leadership-20 thanks to SEAL! and Ten-Hut! being complimentary skills) to tip things our way.

So his opening move is basically a Tactics roll.

Still, one thing he’s found himself doing up until last game is to open combat by taking his rifle, and using his Extra Attack to Aim and Shoot in the same turn (this is a staple of combat using my On Target alternate rules, and makes for cinematically great gunmen). He did this vs. a few different foes in the last two games.

The thing is, in no case has he actually injured anyone with his rifle firing normal ammunition. In more than one case, the bullet was either stopped by magic or powers, or outright dodged by people with way too much jink in their junk. In a few other cases, the bullets ping off of armor or force fields.

But in every case, it revealed quite a lot about our foes – it was (as much as I hate to use the word) literally reconnaissance by fire. The dodge-masters reveal themselves when a single shot of 6d pi damage comes their way (I aim for the leg. Honest.). The armored guys just stand there and take it. The powered guys will do everything from an aggressive power block/parry (melting the bullets out of the air with a flame blast or something) to plucking the bullets out of the air like freakin’ Neo.

Again: that tells us how we have to fight them. And how fragile they are.

Parting Shot

I’m tempted to use this more deliberately; bring a magazine of pistol ammo (because if they just wind up being a normal human criminal in spandex, it’s less lethal) with a variety of bullet types in it. A regular bullet, maybe a low-penetration version to test for speed, a rubber/plastic to check for ability to affect metal (we fought a ferrokinetic last game). That sort of thing. Heck, an under-barrel shotgun loaded with special birdshot might be useful here too. 

The point isn’t to kill or even injure the bad guys. It’s to make them tip their hand. After that, the team can assess what’s going on and try and deal with it. We almost lost a PC last game to a super-speedster that could succeed a Dodge roll by 5-10 even when rolling a 16 on 3d6. We got lucky, in the end, but a way to see how amazing this guy was at dodging would have driven our tactics.

Some games the bad guys will be obvious, or at least tactics and threat levels will be accessible through common knowledge. Everyone knows Orcs are strong and stupid. Goblins are weaker, but quick and prone to multiple attacks and gang tactics. Feral Kobolds are weak but employ pack grappling tactics backed up with knives. Lots of knives. 

But if you don’t have time to work that out in advance, or you meet a monster with which you’re not familiar – getting some way to assess capabilities is a good idea.

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 Adama.com,” 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.

October 28, 2015

Dramatis Personae

  • The Commander (Doug) – telekinetic super-soldier with a really angry dog
  • 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.

We start by taking some downtime to eat, sleep, repair some damage to equipment, and other goodness. Mostly a bit of clean-up and housekeeping from a personal upkeep standpont.

We’d decided last game that since we were a somewhat independent team at this point, that we’d do a bit of daytime public service repairing infrastructure and damage from the big disastrous breakout. Also, some night-time work of major sites that also need repair, but are too hazardous to do with a crowd of groupies, fanboys, or admirers around us. Or drawing supervillains like magnets – whatever.

But a bit during the day we’ll be doing information hunts for the escapees from Riker’s, and a bit during both the day and the night we’ll be actively hunting bad guys.

Apparently, someone’s been going around the city destroying transformers in Brooklyn. That seems like a good thing to investigate, we decide, being civic-minded folks. We deploy the usual squad of rats for recon. 

Arc Light? He takes the transformer thing personally. 

We also get reports that people are losing time – below Central Park in the business district – and experiencing blackouts, and actual physical evidence of stopped or out-of-sync clocks, both digital and analog. It’s not widespread or growing, but it’s noticeable.

Finally, we also receive reports of PMCs (Private Military Contractors) flooding into the city. And a weird-looking dragon seen over Hudson bay – a Lung-style dragon, beating the snot out of one of the escapees from Riker’s Island. Either that or someone was really drunk – or lots of people. 

We decide to check out the time lapse guy, because time-altering supers are rare as hell and it NEVER ends well. Most of them go mad…

We look around and decide that yes, something is truly weird going on with physics in Manhattan. Normally the Valiants would handle this, but they haven’t. Up to us, then.

We buy a bag of skittles as a “physics experiment.” We also task the gadgeteer to invent a wibbly-wobbly time device to detect anomolies.

Eamon, our gravity-sensing super, flies over Manhattan looking for anything crazy. The Rats go out looking for stuff, all wearing superhero costumes in a way that fails to be utterly ridiculous. Just ask us. We’ll tell you: not ridiculous.

Eamon makes his roll by 9, but the Rat Queen stomps all over him making her intel gathering roll by 16. Yes, 16. We know exactly where to go, on Chamber St. Because all of the bad stuff in the city happens at restaurants. What’s up with that?

It’s a silver-bullet style diner, with the “Cops Eat Free!” sign in the window, and the best-smelling pancakes the Rat Queen has ever smelled. She has to have one, immediately. Hand-ground flour from the thighs of virgins, hand-cured vanilla from isolated villages in Mexico, and eggs gathered from holy hens. These are the best pancakes ever. Not sure why it’s relevant, but it was lovingly described and we ran with it.

And yet, despite all the goodness, there’s wonky time and evil here. 

We must save the pancakes.

There’s an old German dude who’s doing nothing but making pancakes. He shoos away a Rat, and we realize that the cook can tell that it’s part of a larger creature. There are a string of faded numbers on the cook’s right arm.

That gives us pause. 

We start looking about – the scene looks a bit like a 1950s set, but we don’t actually see ahistorical stuff. The fact that the place is packed and the pancakes seem to have near-narcotic qualities is odd, but everything that’s possible happens in the big city.

Zephyr realizes that technically we qualify as police. Yes! We eat free.

There are places in the diner, however, that seem . . . warped. If gravity were a screen door, we see the holes and dents in it. There’s no obvious time dilation here . . . yet. 

Rat Queen points out that the guy is freakishly perceptive. Given we’re all wearing MAPS uniforms, the Commander once again pulls  Leeeroy Jenkins and just walks up to the German cook, and asks if a word can be had.

Arc Light pulls the history of the diner – it’s been around since WW2 in one form or another. It’s been a landmark in the area for ever (not literally), and has a highly cosmopolitan clientele. It was even featured on Guy Fiere’s show or something like that.

We cross-reference the tatoo on his arm with databases if we can, and find out he’s Urich Rosenkranz. No Guildensterns are in evidence, but we’re on the lookout.

We chat for a while, but nothing really leaps out. I ask about the clientele, anything unusual, etc. The conversation is a bit wandering, but nothing really strikes me as useful. Granddaughter, daughter, and layabout son-in-law.

We hear a crash and a scream: We find the old man on the ground, unmoving. A quick examination shows he’s dead, likely of a sudden stroke or aneurysm, since heart attacks aren’t that fast. The granddaughter screams “not again, not again!” and the jukebox starts mysteriously playing. She more or less punches herself in the chest, and . . .

The GM calls for us all to make HT rolls . . . at -20. So we’re crit-fishing by GM request . . . but Zephyr is invited to spend Karma to succeed. 3 karma spend later, and he sees the back of the door of the diner blast off. There’s a funky machine, wires are everywhere, and . . . it feels to him like he’s being pulled through a wall.

* * * 

We are back at Riker’s Island, and Zephyr is acting very weird, talking about Groundhog Day. Arc Light is working on his suit, we’re looking for bad guys, etc.

Zephyr tries to relay what we did. Or are going to do. Or will do again. We are skeptical. He relays the prior events as well as he can. “There were pancakes, an old German guy, and scary blonde people!”

He remembers physical details, including the fact that he was a concentration camp survivor, and his name was Urich Rosencranz. 

“Guys! Guys! There’s more important stuff going on. He just fell over dead! And the pancakes were delicious! And then technological hoo-hah happened, I got pulled through the wall, and I got pulled back in time and woke up in my bed! I think she did it to save her grandpa, but she’s caught in a loop! We can save time if we go right now!”

“Are you sure he had a stroke?”

“I’m a ninja, not a doctor!”

The Rat Queen packs a crash kit. Arc Light wonders the exact time the old man dropped . . . and Zephyr critically succeeds his IQ roll. It was exactly 10:43am, 7 seconds after the minute.

We take up Eamon’s offer to fly us there, and basically beat feet and fly and whatever to get there ASAP.

We must save the pancakes.

We go in. We hear the guy singing a nursery rhyme in German. We go looking for the granddaughter . . . who is conspicuously absent. The Rat Queen tries to stay within hearing range of Urich’s heartbeat in rat form. 

We try and sense what’s going on, but things are weirdly different this time. We need to check the back room, she says. The Commander points out that while Zephyr’s perception of police powers might have been colored by his criminal past, just wandering around and entering places without invitation.

Zephyr tries to fast-talk his way past him . . . and one does not bullshit a jewish grandfather who has survived a concentration camp. Urich pulls a gun. Zephyr decided to tell the truth after all. His heart rate accelerates, but is still going strong. His hands are steady and he seems un-phased. 

This is going to be good.

Arc Light starts to detect some weird energy that wasn’t there before. He gizmos up a tachyon-chronotron detector – he just happens to have one around, ya know. He’d been working on FTL super-comm to, um . . . nope. We have no idea why he has one. It works briefly, and then might possibly explode, if/when it works at all. 

Zephyr start in with “the truth.”

He puts up his hands, and starts talking very slowly

“Listen sir, I”m on your side I’m an officer in MAPS. Earlier today we came in to your diner, and conversed with granddaughter who is conveniently absent, and then you dropped dead in back room.”

Urich’s eyes go flinty and dead again. Zephyr continues, telling him that time switched, and we’re all going through same day again. He msut have noticed. There’s a mchine. You must have noticed. Right?

The only thing Urich says he’s noticing is his bladder right now.

In  a bit of panicked desperation, Zephyr continues. I’m not robbing you, we just want to look in the back room. You can have any cops you want in the building, eating your delicious pancakes. But let’s go to the back room.

The cops in the building are amused. They’re starting to place bets on how many bones the old man breaks on Zephyr. Apparently the last time a thug tried something the broken-bone count was eight. Urich is, apparently, a right-tough old bastard. 

Ultimately, Urich leads Zephyr back into the room, and huh. There’s a soldering station, and some majorly heavy math on a chalkboard. Urich notes that this is Mishka’s homework. She is smart girl. Mishka is the grand-daughter.

Zephyr: Yes, she is smart girl. You love her, and I’d love you to take that gun off of me. But hey, whatever . . . but it’s 10:39m:49s . . . We have about four minutes.

Arc Light and Eamon see the board . . . they understands what’s the general gist – a mathematical formula for time travel. She’s found a way to balance the direction for time travel. But the grand-daughter was here, she changed something, and she’s not here now. 

The old man gets weak . . . and falls over. Eamon and Rat Queen rush over, anticipating this. Rat Queen leads, we all try and help. We then hear Mishka, from behind us. She was definitely not there before. She’s wearing a funky-looking brown coat, much bigger than she is. She screams out “Not again!” and slams her hand onto her chest, and . . .

* * * 

Merlin wakes up in his bed, furious that we couldn’t save Urich in time. 

“We went in there twice, now . . . “
“Are you sure it was only twice?”
” . . . “

We’re all quite confused for perhaps the second time today. Maybe third. Or more.

This time Zephyr jots down some remembered math. That gets Eamon and Arc Light’s attention. “Hey! You solved the time direction problem! How did you do that?”
“I stole it. I’m a Time Bandit.”

We wonder if we could create a device to interfere with the tachyon flow? Yes . . . but we don’t have the time. 

We try and change tactics. The Commander, all impulsive-like, goes all Leeroy Jenkins again, and simply wanders over and calls the diner on the phone: “May I please speak to Mishka?”

Mom clearly answers. She’s at NYU. “She’s on the Dean’s list.” The Commander asks Mom to give her a message – please call Arc Light’s fax machine? Telex? He can’t help but name every obsolete commincations device ever as Arc Light gets offended. He’s state-of-the-art, you know. He tells her that we would like to talk to her, if she can make the time, in order to discuss current events.

The mom thinks I’m a very nice boy and would make a much better for her Mishka than her layabout boyfriend. So it seems The Commander is being set up for a different kind of mission.

We head over to NYU . . . and 20 minutes later, before we get there, Zephyr is dragged through a temporal wall.


Thirty minutes later, we are down with the story, for the unknownth time. Temporal wall. Physics equations. NYU. Blonde Mishka.

Murui (Zephyr) suggests that Arc Light ‘hacks the planet’ to find her phone number. We tell her we’re trying to help her save her grandmother.

Instant time loop. 


Thirty minutes later, we are down with the story. Temporal wall. Physics equations. NYU. Can’t call her, or she’ll push the emergency stop.

We try and memorize her phone number. But fail the roll. “Can we take extra time to memorize the number.”

Ha ha.

We decide to send Zephyr alone, fast, to intercept Mishka. Arc Light manages to make a Science! roll, and succeeding by 10 manages to balance the formula perfectly. Zephyr tries as hard as he can to memorize the new formula . . . and rolls another crit for his IQ roll. We suspect his brain is literally on fire. 

We decide to wait. We decide to wait. We decide to wait . . . 


And Zephyr wakes up, and runs as fast as he can over to NYU without the team. But with pants. Perhaps you should put some pants on, if you’re going to continue fighting evil today?

Zephyr hits the university, taking 15 minutes to get there, and 10 minutes to find her. He finds her in a lab, of course.

It’s time for some diplomacy . . . and Zephyr can’t remember her name. Good start.

“Please don’t reverse time, we’re trying to save your grandpa! Just don’t hit your chest!”
“I don’t need to hit my chest anymore. I improved the suit.” She stands up, with a new more-awesome suit. 

Zephyr goes in for full persuasion mode. Tells her that at 10:43, her grandfather is going to drop over and die. Is that why you’re trying to stop time?

“You were in the diner. What? No, it’s happening again!”

Zephyr gives her the formula as quickly as he can. She punches out.


He wakes up in his bed again. 

He gets up and runs right over . . . first banging out a full email at super-speed to us. 

When Zephyr gets to the lab, she turns and looks at him.

“Do you remember me?”
“Yes,” she snarls.

Zephyr runs over and writes the formula on the chalkboard as completely as possible. 

“Does this help you at all? With your experiment?”

It’s not an experiment, she says. I found this in my grandfather’s stuff. It’s a bunch of old tech, and I can’t make it turn off. 

So, the first one’s broke. Maybe my friend Arc Light can help? He’s super-smart at this stuff.

No, she doesn’t trust him. You have to help me!

Why are you being such a jerk? We’re just trying to help! he says Diplomatically.

She slaps him. Proving that with a poor-enough effort, even a Diplomacy roll can have negative consequences.

Zephyr keeps trying to help. He goes for full fast-talk to try and calm her down, and tries to convince her that he’s out to save her grandfather.

She offers her his hand, and it hurts less when time reverses again. She’s on board, finally.


This time, Zephyr gets Arc Light on comm, and they go over, with the plan to fix the old WW2 tech.

The new plan has The Commander to the diner for crowd control, the med team heads to the diner as well, Arc Light is playing Cyrano, online to work up a model of the equipment, and Zephyr is on the run. We have 73 minutes and 7 seconds to save grandpa.

He shows up, Mishka remembers him. Arc Light is online. And we get to examine the device, which has SS markings on it. Figures. It’s about the size of a microwave – it looks like it’s part of a larger thing. Of course.

Zephyr tries to fix the equipment, being coached by Arc Light. An Inventor! and IQ check later by Arc LIght, and they decide that this small piece is not, in fact, the main unit. There’s a larger piece or primary device, and it’s not here, but must be in range somewehre. 

In a box of stuff – a footlocker or other storage device, there’s also a box of 8mm film. Zephyr grabs a bright light and spools the film past his eyes at a convenient 30 frames per second. He sees a man in SS uniform, along with other people, around large spherical device adjacent to box we have. The machine is large enough to fit a man, and they put someone inside. He disappears. They repeat this a few times.

Then, suddenly, a giant man with long black hair 7 or 8 ft tall bursts through the wall, and starts punching out Nazis 200 times. A few frames later, a woman walks in. It’s Basilisk, the woman with “Legend” on her nametag from two missions ago.  She hasn’t aged at all. since then. She’s blasting nazis with a tommy gun, and is ridiculously accurate whether firing single shots, short bursts, or full-auto. She was apparently as dangerous then as she is now. Or if she’s more dangerous now, that’s profoundly not good. There is an obvious family resemblance between the large man and basilisk.

We deduce that the large man is “General Legend,” the person with the gravelly voice that The Commander talked to from Riker’s. We’d thought that the two were opposed to each other somehow, or at least that’s what The Commander thought at the time. 

That film reel ended, and the next one shows same device, this time with american scientists, then large native American guy walks in and is shouting. He rips the metal frame in half tosses it on ground, starts barking orders then film ends.

Zephyr asks how Urich got the box, but she doesn’t know. It’s malfunctioning because it’s not complete.  Zephyr asks if we can teleport further back, Mishka notes that yes, they could, but that could destroy universe. We opt out.

Zephyr asks Arc Light if he can fix the box, and Mishka agrees that Zephyr can bring Arc Light with him next time. Arc Light tries to get to NYU flying supersonic over the city but doesn’t make it in time.


This time Zephyr has the briefing down, and it takes less time to bring us up to speed. We speed out and head over to the diner, and manage to convince Urich he’s in danger from an unknown medical condition. A Patron roll is made, and a high-tech safe house that happens to be a spectacularly advanced medical facility is made available to us. They’ll be ready with a neurosurgeon and the best anti-stroke drugs and gear when we get there.

The Commander has gotten everyone out of the diner so we could convince Grandpa Urich that he was going to have a stroke. We’re now rushing towards a safe house with neurosurgeons on staff . . . we have 23min until the unfortunately-literal drop-dead moment.

The old man looks really agitated, and the docs and the daughter manage to calm him down. They pull out some really advanced medtech, and we can see it. There’s a blood clot there that’s ready to burst, like, well, a time-bomb. 

There’s a vacuum stent that can help this; it’s new, but it’s there. Eamon works out how to assist using micro-control TK or something to assist. They remove the clot without any problems. They remove all of his thromboid issues without problems, in fact.
A man comes up by me, wearing an impeccably tailored suit. Nicolaides Xanthos, whose company has the revenue of the GDP of many small-to-medium size countries. He brought water to most of Africa. He worked with world leaders to cure major worm infestations. We introduce each other.
Time does not loop. We’ve saved the old man, and the granddaughter breaks down in tears.
We still have to deal with the device . . . but now we have the time to do so.
The Commander gets important info from Zephyr: Basilisk and someone who’s clearly related to her tried to stop the original experiment. They were there for the original experiments, and seem to have not aged since then. That’s at least scion levels of not-aging. Maybe better.
We suspect they’re stuck in time.
We talk to Urich. Over pancakes. 
He says it’s not time travel, it’s a bubble. The Nazis couldn’t make it work, but they sent in “the twins.” Urich met them later, when they rescued him from a terrible place. The Twins? Good people, never famous, but the world would never be the same without them.
We ask him about The Legends. Turns out that they’re brother and sister. Navajo. She’s the best sniper you’ve never seen, and he’s been known to lift a tank. Both metahumans, then.
They work with Cortez, though, ARES, who hates us.
They don’t work with Cortez! He spits. 
Well, we’ve seen them together. She healed Zephyr
If Katori is working with Cortez, it’s at Daniel’s Orders.
Why would the Legends not work with Cortez? 
He looks over at Arc Light. “He knows. Where did you get that battle armor?”
“I made it.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Where’s the person who owned this?”
“He’s retired, I took his place.”
“Mmm hmmm. You don’t trust Cortez. He’s only out for himself. Do not let him have any control over you. Do not let him figure out your weak points.”
“Does that include your pancakes?”


We end there. I’m still reflecting on lessons learned. This was an entirely roleplaying-driven session, and Christopher pulled off the time paradox thing spectacularly well. We gave Zephyr (Merlin) MVP, which seemed an obvious call.

This one managed to weave in future adventure possibilities with a lot of backstory. There are a lot of pro authors that can’t pull that off, much less in an interactive session with unpredictable PCs.

Cool stuff.

Last episode we had successfully fought to a conclusion Vortex, a low-life water super of no small power (Alpha Epsilon class, and if you want to know what that is, ask Christopher).

As the battle wound down, we found ourselves surrounded by some sort of black ops force in powered armor, led by a senior officer with a hefty grudge against Commander Samurai, and backed up by a cloaked-invisible (but stunningly good looking when decloaked) super with healing powers with “Legend” on her nametag.

We pulled some high-level and fast-talkin’ legal shenanigans to avoid getting arrested, shot, folded, spindled, or mutilated, and got some help bringing Vortex first back to the city precinct, and then eventually back to Rikers island. The Commander made his presence highly visible at all times (to make him harder to disappear), and Eamon kept up a steady stream of legal and PR consequences for the former Joint Chief of Staff member (Cortez) to keep in mind before he had us all killed.

Reaching Rikers, Commander called in to San Diego, his SEAL base where he and his Regulators were officially based. He told the entire story – washing up on the beach, making his way to New York, and getting “side tracked” into helping out with Vortex. When the Commander brought up Cortez, Project ARES, and something called Basilisk, things got very, very quiet. Then they asked if the Commander had access to a secure fax. Which the general in charge couldn’t operate. After they got it working, messages were sent and received.

And the senior officer’s name on the other end of the fax?


At that point, the Warden of Riker’s asked for our help. There was a deep region of the prison known as “the pits” from which no communication was being accepted or sent, and anyone sent to explore the area did not return. 

Naturally, we took the job.

We head towards a ridiculously rickety elevator – an express elevator to hell, goin’ down! – and we scan it intensively to apply maximum paranoia to the problem. We hear someone singing in an English Accent “I’m Henry the 8th I am, Henry the 8th I am I am . . .”

We decide it’s Patrick Swayze and flee in terror.

The voice seems to be about 20 yds from the bottom of the elevator. 

“Let’s go down,” says the Commander, but no, the military guy wants to charge in and the PCs want to make a lot of plans. The Commander gets into the elevator.

Elevator’s not worthy!

We do have a brief and productive discussion about Arc Light and his rocket thrusters, so we don’t cook us all to death.

We make plans to send a rat down to do recon . . . and The Commander pulls a Leeeroy Jenkins and just steps into the trap door opening, dropping 30′ to the floor neatly and quietly. Yukio the Dog of NIMH jumps down as well.

Everyone else is like “so much for stealth” and comes to the bottom of the shaft by leaping or floating under gravity control. We note that this leaves the elevator up at the top, cutting off our only escape route.

We open the door and see a giant somewhat glowing guy in the middle of the floor – he’s not the one singing – who we guess weighs about 1,200 lbs. There’s also a guy sitting there drooling, and another sitting there with green mold on him.

Those of us without supersuits with sealed environments are asked to make HT rolls. We all make it – “OK, you’re OK for this round.”

Oh, that bodes well.

The next instant, several of us start coughing and sneezing; one is coughing, sneezing and itching. Those of us breathing PerriAir are fine.

A few of the characters know that there’s literally magic in the air. And a good lore roll by Eamon said there was an old guy named Cactus Jack a while back (yeah, yeah) who could control cactuses (cacti?) and would use that to rob people. He was eventually caught, set on fire, and his ashes scattered.

Murui offers to rub his hands together really fast to create fire.

Someone tells us to stay clear. Then he starts cursing us roundly, inventively, and thoroughly. The source of the pollen is the greenish guy behind the 1,200-lb guy.

“Here comes the show – some more people go die, I guess…” says a bystander.

The Rat Queen

The Rat Queen scouts around. Someone locked guards and prisoners inside the cells, and also piled furniture and whatnot against the door from the inside.

The Commander throws up a force field barrier across the narrow part of the corridor, to keep additional pollen from coming in. Naturally, this triggers the giant guy to charge at us. The Commander has had quite enough of that – he supercharges a kinetic blast and hits him with 185 points of knockback.

“AND STAY DOWN!” he says.
“BarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBarkBark……Bark.” That’s Yukio, who always has to get in the last word.

Murui evaluates, looking to see who’s hostile, and who’s not.

And a bolt of lightning hits above The Commander’s head – he dives forward, rolling, and aims at the guy, (but we’re using On Target, so I use Extra Attack to Aim and shoot). Three bullets hit, and three bullets are melted as he Power Blocks them away. Color me not surprised.

Yukio the Wonder Dog charges after lightning guy (“Chopper, sick balls!”), and the big guy gets up. Again, color me not surprised.

The prison guards, looking none-too-healthy with elongated faces, distended bellies, random viscera and organs jiggling from teeth, and generally looking zombie-like. Plants vs. Zombies decide to gang up on the poor superhero humans.

Murui, in a leap of deduction, decides he will punch the green dude in the face. Arc Light tries to clear out the room using static charge – he attempts to charge one of the doors as a charge plate and draw the pollen to the door.

Green guy explodes, and dandruff flies out of his body, re-populating the room. Woo hoo. One of the prisoners is trying to escape, while the guards barricading themselves in the cells try and get free.

Eamon hits the big guy with a density reduction affliction, losing DR 40 and 20 ST. “Commander, hit the big guy again!”

Suddenly, the air around Arc Light heats up to the point of exploding; rolling vs his suit’s HT (made by 4) and vs. Perception minus lots, he takes 4d6 large-area injury. Nothing gets past his DR, but his suit is really hot.

Zephyr drops a FP or two, charges across the arena to Green Guy, and does punch, punch, punch, punch with -3 deceptive attacks, and generally makes like a punchy ferret on speed. He hits once due to itching and coughing and general ick, for 2 crushing. For his second maneuver, he steps around and clocks him in the back of the head – telegraphic with a run-around. His sneeze . . . is his kiyap. 10 damage to the back of his head, puts his fist through his head. Ewwww.

“Is he . . . discomfited in any way?”

Well, he falls to the ground, and Murui has to make a HT roll for being in contact with Spore Boy. (The Commander tells him not to be a spore loser). He critically succeeds. Twice. So he’s now completely immune to Ragweed’s powers (we finally know his name).

There doesn’t appear to be any brain matter in there. His holed body just looks like a plant.

Yukio the Wonder Dog gets nailed – hard – for 38 points of electricity damage to his front leg. Burnt hair and an angry dog later, he’s still up and fighting, but really pissed.

The Commander tries something new – he sucks the thermal energy – kinetic energy from the vibrating atoms of Arc Light’s armor – away in order to charge his next blast.

Yukio tried to bite his foe’s hand – yanks hard – and the hand, arm, shoulder, and a bit of spine comes with. One does not mess around with Yukio the Wonder Dog. This is not Scooby Doo here.

One of the not-ghouls tries to attack The Commander; he kicks him in the torso as a parry, doing 7 points of damage and knocking him prone. He makes a Will roll to maintain the energy drain from Arc Light.

Rat Queen takes a Step-and-Ogre maneuver; she stunts to make it reflexive. Basically Fast-Draw (Herself into Ogre). She runs and slams a foe; HP 24 and Move 5 hits for 1d+1 slam damage. She rolls 7, he rolls 1, and auto-knockdown. This is key, because this guy last pointed at Arc Light and he exploded.

Arc Light moves into the fray proper, punching two zomboids one time each. One goes down with 28 HP to the torso, the other dodged.

Ragweed continues to emit pollen. Dudes break out of their cells and run straight for the shaft.

Eamon buffs The Commander for +30 DR and +10 Striking ST, making him DR 50 and ST 38. He also pushes the “Call Elevator” button.

The Laser Pointer explodes again, doing 18 points of raw damage to The Rat Queen, who soaks 10 with DR and takes 8 damage.

Murui hits the big guy, who’s grappled by a guard and also less a lot of DR and strength due to Eamon’s affliction, with a solar-plexus strike to inflict fatigue points. He winds up at half-move and half-dodge . . . and he’s still being choked out.

Yukio is going to attack Laser Pointer, going for the throat.

The Commander tries to knock the nearby ghouls away with the gathered energy, but auto-fails the roll, and the attack fizzles, the energy wasted. Ah, well, it was a nice try.

Kill stealer!

A ghoul leaps at me, trying to bite me and knock me down. With a failed parry, but DR 50, and a successful DX roll later, and I’ve got ghoul all over me, but no other ill effect.

A coupla ghouls attack Arc Light, but he parries one and the other misses.

Yukio bites and starts to choke out Laser Pointer with scary precision. He chokes him out, and gives The Rat Queen a Doggy grin, as if to say “Yeah, I’m a kill-stealer. What of it?”

Rat Queen runs across the room and slams a ghoul into a wall, landing him unconscious near Arc Light. He, in turn, lights up a non-lethal 5d6 FP damage to the ones attacking him, and they’re right out.

Ragweed spore-gasms again, re-filling the room with his noxious pollen.

Zephyr bolts over to Laser Pointer, and uses an All-Out Binding attack at -10 to instantly slap on some handcuffs. He dashes over and does a flying kick on the Commander’s foe. We figure the Commander has DR 50; he can take it. Thanks to another player saying “don’t fail the roll” he does, in fact, roll a 17 and fails. He misses the ghoul, misses The Commander, and doesn’t fail his DX roll, so he lands neatly. We all imagine Murui washing himself casually like an embarrassed cat.

We mop up the last ghoul, the elevator finally arrives, and we render medical attention to those who need it. Like the guy with the missing arm. A few of us dogpile him in a medical way, rolling success by 3. We get the bleeding stopped, and he doesn’t die.

Yukio brings over the arm as if returning a broken piece of a Ken doll, now without Kung Fu grip. Yukio licks the Rat Queen’s face as if to say “I”m sorry,” and rolls over on his belly, awaiting forgiveness. Remember, the dog’s full name, translated, means lightning and gets what he wants. Spoiled, willful, cute little killer.

We come up with a brief plan

  1. Put ghouls in a cell
  2. Put Ragweed in a cell
  3. Get samples in full NBC gear
  4. Fix up the HVAC to apply positive pressure to outside the room, so spores can’t escape.
  5. Clean out the spores by any means necessary (electric charge, static, flamethrower, whatever)

It takes a couple hours, but with good rolls and some improvisation, we science the crap out of it.

We get the entire wing working again, and head back upstairs.

The guards look appreciative. Some people, when the break occurred, couldn’t escape, so they went into the pit and hid. The spores have hallucinogenic effects, but no one is sure why the guards turned into flesh-eating zombies.

Zephyr tries to use his Chi sense, which is magical, to sense something . . . and no one picks up anything, even though we sensed magic in the area before. We wonder if there was someone invisible. Zephyr sensed a magical presence or force.

We play back the full HD video from Arc Light’s video feed, and look to see if there were some sort of disturbance in the pollen on the floor. The video analysis reveals nothing, but we’re still skeptical.

We go back down and check the pit out with Criminology, Perception, gravity control, plus interrogate the guards and prisoners. The Commander interrogates the prisoners, Eamon chats up and charms the guards. Zephyr uses his criminal past to guess where an escaping prisoner might go. The guards note they brought down 12 prisoners, but we have brought back 13 bodies.

Someone’s playing dead. Guard #7 isn’t around anymore – the British guy . . . the one with the accent . . . got away. We totally got snookered by the most common trope in cinema. The Brit is always evil

We are shamed.

We bring Warden Sykes up to speed, but we’re told we thought he died. In fact, the body disappears into a murder of crows.

We end there.

The game picked up more or less in the middle of things. We’d established that the horde of mooks could not really hurt us, and also that Yukio the Wonder Dog (an important Ally of mine) really should have been biting folks by now. Oops. 

We had discussed the fact that we simply must get Vortex inside, out of the rain, in order to do anything to him, but did not actually come up with any good plans to do so by the time the game broke up last time.

He’s big and getting bigger . . . and we need to stop that so we can stop him.

Combat Resumes

Zephyr steps up to the plate, and since his player is absent, we put him on “mop up the mooks” duty. He has the speed to Rapid Strike four times, and he does so, taking out one mook in front of him.

The Commander uses a cinematic KO strike to knock out one of the mooks in front of him; one of the rules is that you can’t kill a foe doing this, even if you do full damage – so I roll all 5d+14 crushing damage and drop him, though it takes two attacks to do it (the first is dodged, the second strikes home).

The Rat Queen moved up between Vortex and the Innocent Bystanders, doing an All Out Defense: Dual to try and protect them.

Arc Light hits Vortex with a lethal arc blast, at -2 to defend, rolls 40 damage – painfully boiling off some water. But not that painfully. Vortex angry! Vortex angry!

He goes after Arc Light, who can dodge out of the way. The bulding is not so lucky, and does 66 HP of damage to the poor taco stand. In a few more rounds, it’s going to be toast.

One mook tries to shoot The Commander in the back, but he dodges; another crits with an all-out attack with a chain saw to the groin, which makes me drop my sword, but does no damage through my armor suit.

Emcee: Whatever you do, don’t hit him in the balls.Stu: You said “anything goes”!Emcee: Anything goes, but he’ll take it personal.

Another one tries to chainsaw The Commander to the back, and a failed dodge means it too glances off the armor, this time with no effect. A few mooks try and thump Zephyr with sticks to no real benefit to themselves.

And out of nowhere, Yukio the Dog of NIMH runs into the building and tears out the throat of the guy who just tried to chainsaw his friend the Commander. One does not mess with the friends of the Dog of NIMH.

Zephyr tries to go upside the head of a mook, who critically succeeds in a dodge roll. Mooks went all Matrix on him.

The Commander’s pissed. He does a flourish and kicks his bare blade up to his hand, and then front-kicks the mook in front of him (who just chain-sawed him in the nuts) and crushes his chest, knocking him back and out of the fight. The rest of the mooks see this (plus what Yukio just did) and decide that discretion is the better part of valor.

The Rat Queen tries to nibble Vortex to death with an area effect rat attack (no, really). It’s a swarm attack, for best possible damage 9 cutting damage. Vortex does NOT like this. And he also doesn’t like but less so, 39 more points of lethal electrical damage.

Vortex goes after The Rat Queen with two whompin’ blows – hand-to-hand and he’s big and heavy. Ratatouille backs up and dodges twice, thankfully. She makes it look good – Rat Ogre bouncing around like a rat being dragged away from an open refrigerator.

Eamon goes for the gravity slam, bringing a heavy gravity blast down on  . . . well, who knows. He crit fails the roll, and has to check to see if he cripples the power itself. He barely makes his HT roll.

More mooks try and pound on Zephyr with sticks. It’s pathetic and harmless. He ignores them, but pops Altered Time Rate and does a run-around attack – which he realizes he can do every turn if he wants to – he hits him a lot, and KO’s him with at least two hits. 

Yukio goes after any mooks who remain a threat; Commander takes his bad self out to face Vortex, moving at almost his full move, but not quite – 11 yards. Realizes that this means he should have a 2-yard step.

The Rat Queen continues to take nasty bites out of Vortex, who retaliates by attacking (and missing or being dodged by) Arc Light. 

Arc Light, in turn, cuts loose with an area effect blast that does 37 points of damage – he’s visibly smaller after that. But he’s got enough wherewithal to hit the Rat Queen with a ST 40 constricting Binding (her current Base ST is 41). 

Eamon hits Vortex with a gravity slam, another area effect attack, for 23 crushing. That’s basically terrible for him, and more  inhuman screams emanate from Vortex as he takes more injury of a type he’s not resistant to.

Zephyr runs at ATR to the back of Vortex, and hits him with the Hundred Fists of Death – an RoF 100, Rcl 1 lightning punch thing – from behind. So he hits something like a zillion times – only one point of damage per hit, but there’s a lot of hits being thrown down.

Yukio continues to savage the gang members in his inimitable way, combining all the savagery and training you might expect. The Commander power stunts a 5d6 kinetic blast, double-knockback for 40 points of knockback.

The Rat Queen’s minions continue to gnaw at Vortex, and she boosts her ST to 63 (!) and breaks out of the binding easily.

Arc Light continues to light up Vortex, and another 42 points of potential damage (less whatever tolerance he has) head downrange. He’s getting collectively smaller as the minutes go buy. He drops to the ground, shrinking to normal size, but surrounded by rats trying (successfully) to drink him to death, as Vortex tries to reform.

We didn’t hear the helicopters, but suddenly we’re surrounded by guys with a ram’s head logo on their gear. Their armor is very sci-fi looking, and they shout “Hold up your hands! Hold up your hands!” About three squads slide down fast-ropes and hit the ground, surrounding us. We hear “Sir, Basilisk is in place.”

We mostly don’t put our hands all the way up, but we know “outnumbered and outgunned” when we see it, so we pause. That being said. Arc Light casually decrypts their high-tech, state-of-the-art encryption with the help of his battlesuit AI, so we settle in to listen, learn, and probably be insulted a lot.

We’re approached by a hawkish-looking hispanic man with iron-grey hair. He looks supremely confident until he sees Yukio, when his expression changes to that of one trying to figure out what doesn’t belong. 

The Commander converts his armor to the more standard military-looking body armor, and we all get the general feel of surprise to see the Commander. Surprise, righteous indignation, anger, and then hatred or distaste. Arc Light perceives outright disgust – this guy does not like metahumans; he considers himself superior to all of us. His name tag says “Cortez,” and he proposed my Miami mission and was on the JCS opposing my early promotion to Commander.

“You are either dead, or AWOL,” he growls.

The Commander doesn’t say anything. Yet.

Having hacked into the new arrival’s network, Arc Light says “Hey Cortez, who’s Basilisk?!”

“Sir, you’re going to have to step out of the power armor. We’re with Project ARES, and the city is under martial law.”

A female voice over the radio says “Sir, do you want me to take the shot or not?” Someone new: “Not. Yet.” The female voice says “I never get to have any fun.”

The Commander notes, with utmost politeness, that the SEAL base in San Diego is my home station, and since the Martial Law was declared in New York, I was obliged to stop and render all possible assistance. As long as I’m on my way to report in, I’m within my rights.

Eamon gets the feel that Cortez is lying about the martial law thing, and challenges him on whether martial law has actually been declared.

He grudgingly acknowledges that it has not, in fact, been declared. Their orders are to render all required assistance. Nonetheless, Cortez is well within his rights to order the Commander around should he choose.

Eamon notes that he’ll have to testify to Congress about what went on here, and if he’s ordering a key asset to cease rendering aid, that won’t look good. 

Cortez is so mad he’s actually steaming. Seriously. He walks over to The Commander, brushes his epaulets. Starts to walk away with the prisoner.

“Sir, with greatest respect, we’re under oath to return Vortex to the precinct commander. Unless you have countermanding authority – which we’re willing to entertain – we need to return Vortex to that place, and we’d like to request your help in doing so.”

Some high tech transport rolls in, and a stunningly beautiful woman decloaks, and she’s at least 6’6″ and carrying a gigantic rifle. The gigantic woman – who’s fatigues say “Legend” where the nametag does – touches Zephyr, who’s wounded. We all watch as the bullets pop out of his flesh. It hurts a ton, but his wounds close in front of our eyes. 

Eamon refuses medical treatment. 

Legend disappears as she walks away. We all head back to MAPS HQ, intending on holding Vortex there until we can secure him back at Rikers, when they’re ready.

The damage assessed on the Taco place is less than $1000 or so, broken and cracked windows, but little else.

We bring Vortex back to Rikers after a brief stop at MAPS precinct. The prison warden asks The Commander if he might help – guards and troops have been heading down into “the pits,” the nastiest part of the prison . . . and not coming back.

We agree to help. And call it there . . . 

Dramatis Personae

The Rat Queen

  • ~6’9″, ~275 lbs, Black eyes, Black fur, Pink skin 
  • The Rat Queen is a giant humanoid-rat creature, with large, sharp looking claws, chisel-like incisors, and a stout, prehensile, hairless tail. She is clean, not mangey or scabby, and generally looks like a well-cared-for fancy pet shop rat, not something scared out of a dumpster. 
  • She is incongruously wearing a super-suit, in brown and grey.reports of her size vary wildly, and her appearances are associated with tons of rats crawling all over the area. 

The Commander

  • Looks like he’s in his late 20’s; 6’1″ tall, Japanese, abut 200lbs of muscle and sinew.
  • Very agile, expert soldier
  • Publicly known powers are as an expert soldier, ridiculously strong for a human. Fights with a sword (sheathed when he doesn’t want to cut people), uses firearms. Sometimes seems to appear to get a lot of lucky misses from bullets (actually mild TK)
  • His prior public appearances and news footage he was nearly always in US style body armor and fatigues; he’s known as a Navy SEAL

Eamon Michael Finnegan

  • 6’3″ tall, 180lbs, Dark Brown hair cut short in the “classic” men’s style, bright green eyes, pale skin, clearly defined muscles, medium build, typically dressed in black or grey suit with a brightly colored solid tie
  • Known abilities include flight, telekinesis, gravity manipulation
  • Has been the public metahuman face since the Rikers incident, on the news nearly constantly.

Arc Light

  • 21 yrs old; Sicilian; Electric Blue eyes; pale skin; Metallic black hair with pearlescent white tips; Height: 5’9”; Weight: 160 lbs.
  • Known Normal Capabilities: Genius inventor with mastery in multiple business, engineering, science, and mathematic fields. Expert at hand-to-hand combat and swordsmanship. Highly talented in infiltration and security as well as numerous other thief skills.
  • Known Powered Capabilities: Manipulation of electrical energy within himself or outward in all forms; enhanced intelligence and recall; and moderate healing factor.

Session 1: Fish Tacos are Hard Fights

We started with Ian coming back to New York, having been pointed that way from the deserted Island he had stayed at. Not knowing who to trust after the death-trap that was Miami.

I’d arrived in New York on Oct 24, staying at a seedy hotel that even bedbugs turned their noses up at. I’d gone out to get some Milk Duds or something, and on the way back, Ian got the strong feeling he’s being watched. A critical success on a perception roll means he sees the somewhat short shadow in a nearby alley.

I circle around, and try and lead the pursuer – ghostly girl; pursued by some group or person with walkie-talkies speaking in jargon. Have to get to the MAPS building. Run to there at Move 9 + sprint. See blurry lights, occasionally glimpse transparent girl. Arrive at MAPS building. “I don’t know what’s going on either; I’ve lost him.”

It’s the middle of the night; the battle of Riker’s Island was less than a week ago. At least 60% of the jailed inhabitants of Rikers escaped successfully. Teams of metas from all over the world are coming in to help. Violence is cropping up all over. The worst part of the breakout was that the super-secure facilities, with advanced MAD, people who were WMD in their own right . . . most of them got out. And the island defenses were turned on the heroes. Billions of dollars of damage to the facility itself, and the loss of life at the facility, meta and normal alike, has not yet been tallied. 

The city is in a state of emergency, the governor is considering martial law. Crime and especially violent crime is up 30-40% in a week. 

Murui Ao is sitting in the lobby of the MAPS building, recuperating from the battle at Rikers, eating every snack in the vending machine. A battle-suited warrior is also sitting there, attempting to recover from the battle. 

As the entire city mainlines caffeine and other stimulants, the heroes gather and check in. The calm, steady voice of Eamon Finnegan has been a constant ressurance to the residents of the city, and he checks in at the MAPS building at roughly the same time as the Commander arrives, dressed in hobo chic, with a ratty trench coat over whatever lies beneath, which looks like normal clothes. It’s not, but it looks like it.

The building is basically a lived-in looking structure with the MAPS logo in front, and broken-looking and oft-replaced doors barely hanging on in front. The inside looks like a typical police station, with a classically Irish looking man, with a ruddy complexion, bald pate, and bristling red beard manning the desk.

Supers and normals, human and very obviously not human, lie everywhere. The smell of paper and viscera and blood, copper and pulp, lingers in the air. There’s a giant bear/man snoring in the corner as a man in a battlesuit works on a very damaged-looking arm with something rather like a screwdriver. 

The Commander enters the building, and for the first time in years, no one recognizes him. Yukio (The Dog of NIMH) opens up the door by himself, and comes in giving the Commander the “You pretended to throw the ball and left me hanging” look on his face.

Eamon walks in just as the Commander disappears into a room for a much-needed shower and shave. Yukio deigns to be rubbed and petted, and tries to root through Eamon’s pockets for snacks. 

Eamon gives up on the dog, and asks the Desk Sergeant how he can help. “I have no idea. Some mighty fine words you used this evening. See that guy there who just left? He’s a dead man.”

“Oh, really?”
“Yeah. He claims to be the commander.”

“Sounds like I want to meet him.” 

They wait until The Commander has showered, shaved, and walks out. The Rat Queen has reassembled, and comes out of the women’s locker room, continuing her mission to rebrand the rodent for the last year or two.  Her current appearance is olive skin, black hair and eyes, heavy eyebrows. Physically fit build. Rather rodent-like features: A receeding chin, a pointed large nose, and ears that stick out.

The Commander walks out of the locker room with a very MAPS looking uniform on. The desk sergeant asks if I have a team. The Commander says “well, I certainly have some groupies.” The sergeant gives me a stack of potential recruits, and a much larger stack of problems. 

The Commander and Eamon ask for a team. We get passed a folder with a problem in it, and a few blood-and-viscera soaked walkie-talkie. 

We have a job, and are building a team. One of the people that escaped from Rikers, Thomas Rivers, age 25, Jewish, blue eyes, blonde hair, 5’11”, 150 lbs. He’s a metahuman with the ability to manipulate water. He’s an Alpha-Epsilon classification, a pretty dangerous guy. He used to run the Legion Street Kings gang, but then he went to prison. When he got out of Rikers, he just ran.

He was living with his mother, who was living right off of Legion street. He’s brutal as hell, and was a known murderer and bad dude even before he had powers. He’s got an uncharacteristic affection for bling and nice tennis shoes. His personality profile suggests a low-functioning sociopath.

The Commander calls for a quick run-down of who’s good at what:

  • Rat Queen: aptitude for info gathering and can hit or chew through what needs chewing or hitting.
  • Eamon: I can control gravity, you name it I can probably pull it off in that sphere, I can fly the team. He can also control density, and can generally ignore things like pistols, rifles being a larger concern. Not a terrible detective.
  • Arc Light: Power armor and electrical powers. Science guy.
  • Murui (Zephyr): Fast. Can run faster than a Lambo and turn off the lights and be in bed before it gets dark. Master of Shaolin Kung Fu, with some street connections.

The Commander suggests that Eamon and Arc Light hit the databases and see if we can fid a string of crimes that match his MO, while Rat Queen and Murui actually hit the streets and look for him to return to his old stomping grounds in Brownsville.

Murui and The Rat Queen spread out (literally) to check for the last known and current whereabouts of our quarry. Rat Queen succeeds by 16 (!), aided by Murui for +1.

Eamon Finnegan fishes around in his briefcase and pulls out his laptop, signs into the wifi and does some digging rolling 5 against a Detective! of 18. Arc Light taps into the local net, and turns himself into a combination router and cell phone tower. We decide whether to code-name him MyBook or FaceSpace.

Everyone comes back with something good, but it takes a few hours. The Commander stands there looking leaderlike, while The Rat Queen channels her sentience into nearby rats. They found Thomas eating fish tacos with his homies on the way there. 

Water-boy can control water as well as turn into it. And it starts raining. Great. There are roughly 16 gang members, none of whom are known to be metahumans, but we’re not sure.

We gather in front of the store, and roll Shadowing. Rat Queen succeeds by 16, and the rest of us do poorly. We all spend a bunch of Karma to not biff 

We do a bit of quick recon. We also send in Rat Queen in rat form inside, while Zephyr goes in and tries to act like a fellow gang thug – his history is compatible with that. He’s instantly challenged and threatened with both a sawed-off shotgun and a freakin’ chainsaw.

Arc Light uses some inboard AI to set off the fire alarm inside the building, flashing “DANGEROUS METAHUMANS” on the inside board. The bystanders leave, the gang members stay. The Commander is going to draw fire by entering from the West, Eamon will blow through the room and drop from above, as Zephyr comes in from the west, Arc Light from the east with an intent to zap water-boy (Vortex), while Rat Queen will take 20s to summon rats. 

Zephyr Waits, queuing on The Commander’s Wait. Commander smashes through the glass in full Samurai getup, triggering Zephyr’s Wait. He runs (dashes?) in, and hits one from behind, and the other from the front-right. They dodge, but are scattered. The Commander goes in, and kicks one for 8pts, and hits the other with his sheathed sword for 16. I might want to moderate my strikes against normals in the future.

Rat Queen starts to morph into her Rat Ogre form. It’ll take her two more turns to make that happen. Arc Light comes through the window and hits Vortex with a nonlethal electric zap blast, making his roll and hitting with a 10d fatigue attack, but Vortex turns into water and it goes right through him. He reorients like the Terminator from T2. And also goes outside the restaurant.

Oh, crap. That was our best plan. Who brought the knock gelatin? Curl-Ex? Absorb-all? Flour?

Vortex forms a ball of liquid and flings it across the room, and hits Arc Light with a 4d (3) corrosion attack – basically a water saw. His suit is compromised and loses 2 HP. This guy is an Alpha-Epsilon (1000+ points?) after all. His left arm has sustained the damage, and also reduced by DR 4.

Eamon blasts through the roof, hitting the floor beneath him for 31 damage to the roof at his feet, and he weighs about 525 lbs. He makes a very, very dramatic entrance. Attacks Vortex from above with a gravity sledge, doing 35 crushing damage from above.

Vortex starts to get . . . bigger.

One of the mooks shoots at Zephyr with a TEC-9 to the torso; Zephyr applies feverish defense, spending 1 FP and using his slip and step of 3 to enter into close combat, parrying the blasts into the ceiling.

Eamon’s attacked with a machete; he just takes it, and 8 points of damage bounce of his DR.

A mook tries to shoot The Commander in the face with a shotgun; Commander slips in and does a grapplng parry with his sword, capturing his arm and entering into close combat. Meanwhile, Zephyr parries a blow by throwing one dude into another dude. 

Arc Light gets hit with a baseball bat. He takes it on the DR. Ping. Another thug tries to attack the commander; he sidesteps (with the grappled guy) and dodges, while a third tries to chainsaw his back, and Commander dodges that too.

Zephyr uses his Step of 3 to move past two mooks, and kicks both of them in the skull at 15 or less. missing one and hitting the other.

The Commander strikes his sword on the ground, powerstunting and doing 28 knockback to all within 2 yds, throwing four bad guys 2 yards away. 

Arc Light lights up Vortex with 42 burning damage; but the water continues to stream into him, enlarging and likely healing him. The Rat Queen blows a hole through the door large enough for a 15′ rat coming through like Splinter on steroids.

Vortex also does a power stunt, getting even bigger, and attacks the Rat Queen with a waterjet/cutting saw. A Feverish Defense for a Dodge, and it missed. Eamon grabs him with gravity, and succeeds in his grapple, but Vortex masses 8.2 tons now, with ST 50, so can’t move him. 

Most of the thugs that have been down stand up. One hits The Commander with a chainsaw, doing 11 points of nothing, and the saw stalls on The Commander’s armor. Chainsaws not good vs TL10 battle armor. Firearm Thug 3 shoots Firearm Thug 5. Oops. Someone shoots at Zephyr, who dodges and drops. 

We call it there; it’s nearing midnight EST, and we have a lot of whupass to open on Vortex. We have to get him inside out of the rain so he can’t heal and grow. 

I’m joining  +Christopher R. Rice and diverse others to play in a GURPS Supers campaign. Christopher writes about it here.

This will be novel for me in a few ways. The first of which is that it’s, by far, the most complicated and high-point-value character I’ve ever played. I’ve also never played Supers with GURPS, though I have played low-point Black Ops (probably somewhere between Action and Monster Hunters).

But, enough of that. Let’s talk about about my character. Christopher and I used Central Casting: Heroes Now! to generate a background that was in tune with what I was looking for. 

This is what we came up with. 

Character Background Story

The metahuman known as Commander Samurai (Ian Owari) was conceived by the 9th son of Ieyesu Tokugawa, Tokugawa Yoshinao and Asano Haru, his wife, in 1649, a year before the first head of the Owari clan would die.
Ieyasu himself wanted to tie himself to eternity, and acting on word of a soothsayer, gathered together his first and last sons, and their wives and unborn children. The spell was designed to create a circle of energy flowing through the group.
Tokugawa Ieyasu’s arch rival, Oda Nobunaga, got wind of the attempt through his spy network, and brought physical and magical countermeasures to bear. The spell – whatever it was designed to do in full – was only partially successful. It preserved Ieyasu forever, but inflicted Yoshinao and his pregnant wife with a wasting disease which would claim Yoshinao’s life a year later. 
The child of Asano Haru – Ian – would have died along with them, but timely intervention by the court mystics . . . froze Asano Haru in time, along with he who would ultimately become Ian.
Ieyasu would pass his Shogunate to his descendants, but he continued to live on. He would watch as his Shogunate lasted into the mid-19th century, and eventually settled in Hawai’i, straddling two cultures – Japan and the United States. 
Ian was conceived in 1649, and frozen in magical stasis for 365 years. When Tokugawa Ieyasu – still alive and with us – finally discovered the way to release his family from that magical suspension, Tokugawa Eien no magomusuko was born on Sept 24, 1976 at 9:59am in Hawai’i, where Ieyasu was living. 
The birth was more of a magical C-section than anything else, and going into it, Tokugawa knew that Asano Haru or Ian would not surive – he chose to preserve the grandchild. On his birth, it was seen that a large “birthmark” covered his lower back – a star, dragon, sword, and jewel. This slightly glowing artifact of the magical reawakening was a herald of the imperial regalia of Japan. No one knew how or why it got there.
He was given to a different offshoot of the Tokugawa family to be raised. Matsudaira Katamori, born in 1836 and 9th Lord of Aizu, was given care of the child in Hawai’i, where he lived after feigning his death in 1893. He would go on to live another 87 years, passing away when Ian was four. 
Sota “Scott” Owari was a direct descendant of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last Tokugawa Shogun. He married a California native and surfer Ashley Jones Owari shortly after being stationed in San Diego. The couple were then relocated to Hawaii and at that point, Tokugawa, always acting behind the scenes, placed Ian with them as foster parents. This came with a very, very generous financial gift to the family, freeing them of the normal struggles that military personnel – even officers – have with personal finances. It also allowed the couple to easily afford to have lots of follow-on children: Eldest sister Anna (Anna; born 1980), and brothers Hayato (Harry 1982), Yuse (Joseph) and Toma (Tom), the twins born 1984.
While growing up, he also got to know his “cousins,” close relations on the Tokugawa family tree also living in Hawaii. Miko Wakahisa (born 1977) and Chiyoko Wakahisa (1975), daughters of Daichi and Keiko. Wakahisa means “forever young.” Not a coincidence.
Daichi is a martial arts master, who learned from Tokugawa and other relations. He also breeds dogs. Ian would study all of the classic fighting arts of Japan for hours each week, romp around with his cousins (also trained as warriors, with the naginata/spear and bow primary over the sword), play with the dogs, and generally have a fantastic time surrounded by his family. With his mother busy with five children and his father away on deployment for months at a time (he was an officer on attack submarines), he spent a lot of time with his uncle. As soon as Ashley thought her kids were old enough, they too got pawned off on Daichi, who was happy to have them.
When Ian was 12, while trick-or-treating in 1988 (dressed as always as a samurai), he found a puppy. A big puppy. The Navy was working with a highly clandestine outfit breeding dogs for guard duty and other unspecified tasks – not just breeding them, but genetically manipulating them. Initial results were highly mixed. The animals were huge, intelligent, and gifted in strange ways. They were also incredibly aggressive, hostile, and generally savage.
But not with Ian. The Aikita “pup” he found had opened his own cage (leading the breeders to call him the Dog of NIMH or Teenage Mutant Ninja Puppy) and carefully escaped from the lab. Ian found him, and they took an instant and permanent liking to each other. The two had a bit of a “Lassie” moment, where the dog (!) persuaded Ian and Chiyoko to break into the government lab and free the other dogs.
This did not go well. 
They got caught, surrounded by very angry, very intelligent border collies who had decided to “herd” them into a corner. Only the presence and special abilities of the Akita that would later be called Yukio (“gets what he wants”) Inazuma (“flash of lightning”) kept Chiyoko from getting badly mauled, despite years of practice handling dogs.
The lab personnel were impressed, and with a stern warning from both the government and the uncle (the latter delivered with a shinai, which made more of an impression than the government’s warnings), was allowed to keep and train the dog. This was the first time that any of the animals had been “domesticated” enough to allow into public. 
After that, his teenage years and high school went well enough. He graduated at the top of his high school class, and given prior government interest, an adoptive father who was a submarine officer, and no small amount of personal athletic and academic success earned by focus, willpower, and hard work, was appointed to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Military Academy
Relative to the Akita incident and his service history that would follow, his time at the Naval Academy was relatively sedate. As sedate as it can be given Olympic-level agility, a lifetime of fitness and martial arts training, a keen mind and and outstanding focus and discipline. 
He was inducted into the academy during the summer term, June 23, 1995. In an unheard-of departure from the normal rules, the DoD insisted that Yukio the Dog of NIMH be allowed to stay on campus with Ian. Mostly because they were afraid of what the dog would do if anyone tried to separate the two. Ian got very, very good at cleaning dog hair from his uniform. And was very, very, very popular with the female cadets, having the most accessible cute fluffy puppy and being a prime physical specimen.
Able to give and receive orders with equal aplomb, and with a history of interest in all things Navy from his father, he was a natural leader and again at the top of his class – he wasn’t the smartest student, but he combined more than enough intelligence with amazing focus . . . plus being a paragon of athletic performance. After his plebe year, he successfully competed in Wrestlng, Rifle, and Gymnastics, becoming the captain of both the Wrestling and Rifle teams, and performing well in gymnastics (he was a natural gymnast, but busy with other things, such as the pre-SEAL training and preparation courses); he also worked out with the track and field teams, but did not compete. He also worked out regularly with the USNA Jiu Jitsu team, and hosted a kendo club for interested students. 
He couldn’t quite bring himself to compete with the TKD team – he claimed the Olympic style TKD clashed mightily with his brutal combat-oriented sword and striking training he received on his uncle’s mat.
When he graduated and received his commission on May 21, 1999, to no one’s surprise he received one of the coveted SEAL officer billets. 
Ian started his BUD/S training in June of 1999, two weeks after receiving his commission. He more or less aced it – he was already strong, incredibly fit, and highly focused. As always, the training pushed the students to the brink, singling out each one for special kinds of hell. Even so, he completed his 6 months of BUD/S and started his first SEAL deployment in December 1999, where he immediately was given training with Yukio (code-named Krypto as a call sign) as a combat canine. 
He went through several evolutions as a SEAL, gaining notoriety for being efficient, effective, a hard but fair officer who not once failed a mission. For a newbie, he was more than solid, and as soon as service tradition allowed, he was given the leeway to lead his own team and take on as much combat responsibility as allowed. Especially in dealing with the (intensely classified) issue of military response to metahuman incidents, which were getting more and more numerous – and harder to deny. His troops nickname him Lieutenant Samurai, after the swords he constantly carried with him – including into combat.
He distinguishes himself during his first deployment in a major combat operation with a metahuman that he is awarded the Navy Cross, purple heart, and promoted from Ensign to Lt JG (O2) a full year early. His effectiveness in dealing with this and similar threats led the President himself to demand the creation of Seal Team 10 – The Regulators. Ian is promoted far ahead of time to full Lieutenant (O-3) to lead the small platoon. He was injured – very badly  (thus the purple heart) – in this battle, and is the recipient of what is effectively a super-soldier treatment. It was a cocktail of healing and enhancement drugs that was supposed to help him recover some of his function, but not the missing lower leg that was a result of his injuries. The treatment went far beyond that – for reasons that the science/tech teams cannot fathom nor reproduce – and resulted in drastic physical improvements. He was a prime physical specimen before. Now he’s downright ridiculous.
This irritates Navy brass more than a little.
Then came 9/11. 
2001 – Al-Qaeda operatives, including the now infamous Combustible Man, fly passenger jets into the Twin Towers. Samurai and his Regulators are too late to stop the jets from hitting, but their actions afterward save thousands of lives. The battle between the Samurai  and the Combustible Man is enshrined in metahuman legend and the US is forced to admit that the TAP affected some people causing them to develop metahuman abilities. The US press refers to Ian for the first time as “Commander Samurai,” after a mis-read of his uniform by unsurprisingly uninformed reporters. The President likes the name, and insists that the Navy continue to use it.
This also annoys the brass.
2002 – The United States invades Afghanistan; The Commander and his Regulators spearhead Operation Anaconda. In a single day and night the combined forces of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are all but destroyed. Within the year, Osama bin Laden is brought (alive) to justice by the Commander and his men. For his actions during that conflict, and in combination with French special forces (also present), he is awarded the Medal of Honor, another purple heart, and promoted to Lt Commander (O-4), now earning the Commander Samurai title in truth.
2004 – The Combustible Man explodes during rush hour traffic in Madrid destroying four trains in a terrorist attack. He’s quickly placed on Interpol’s Most Wanted list. The assault on Fallujah begins and hundreds of US soldiers lose their lives to metahuman Iraqi insurgents. Commander Samurai and his regulators are in the thick of the manhunt. 
For the next nine years, Commander Samurai and his regulators are waging a constant struggle to find and capture the Combustible Man and related metahuman incidents. Ian will only become eligible to be promoted to full Commander in May 2014. The Navy brass insists on the full time-in-grade of 15 years before Owari can be promoted to O-5. The press continues to call him Commander Samurai. The military continues to not.
Before that, on Halloween night of 2013, the Commander tracks a metahuman to the city of Miami, and must attempt – without his team – to prevent a major terrorist incident in the city. With no team, and no time to prepare, he engages the unknown metahuman in personal combat. The conflict goes airborne, and Commander Samurai is lost at sea. The unknown meta has not been seen since.
Neither has Commander Samurai.

Personality and Perception
Ian has two modes – soldier and freetime. When he’s in soldier-mode, and he’s in soldier mode a lot, he’s all about training and the mission. With tremendous willpower and focus, he’s on task and rarely stops until what he sets out to do is complete. Whether that’s time on the firing range, archery or sword practice, strength or endurance training, or actually being sent on any number of secret operations, he’s all-go, all-the-time. A natural leader, he is a feared and respected training leader – he made time to personally supervise the exercise and trainging of the SEALs in his unit at least three times per week, and by and large worked them into the ground. Pre-experiment, he was not necessarily the strongest man in his unit (ST 14 is good, but not that good, for SEALs, who have a penchant for weight-lifting), but his uniformly high level of ability in all things combat and soldier-related made him a bit of a legend even before he won the Medal of Honor.
Like this, but bigger
When not in “soldier mode,” he’s surprisingly relaxed. His background is wide, he can be shockingly easy-going, and has a penchant for mischief and sticking his nose into interesting things that don’t add up that directly led to The Puppy Incident when he was 12. 
Of course, some of his non-soldier mode activities involve playing with his huge Akita, often at local dog parks. As one might imagine, he does not lack for attention and notice while sporting merrily with an Akita the size of a large wolf.
The public knows Commander Samurai from his actions associated with key events in his military service. He first came to attention of the public on 9/11, saving countless lives and his hard-fought victory against the Combustible Man. When in uniform, he is hardly ever without both his dog and his sword, which makes for a very colorful presentation. (The Secret Service were not happy about the dog sharing the stage with Ian and the President. Ian’s invitation to them to attempt to convince the dog to stay away? Video gold – some of that leaked to the internet to the general delight of dog fans everywhere except in the Secret Service.)
Metagame Considerations
When I first talked to Christopher about a Supers game, we talked for a bit about the kind of hero I’d play. I’m not a huge one to go in for fancy powers and exotic abilities, but more importantly I wanted to make sure I was playing a fairly compelling character from a heroic perspective. While I can appreciate – and I’ve played in the past – the anti-hero type, my tastes these days have been more apple-pie-like.
This is influenced in no small part by the compelling portrayal of Captain America by Chris Evans in four films (not including Thor 2 cameos). Evans says Captain America is “the kind of man he wants to be,” or something like that. The actor himself lives up to some of that, making visits at kids hospitals in full costume. 
So I wanted to play a character that captured some of that nobility and sense of both purpose and goodness. I also liked the idea of at least starting with a relatively normal guy from a powers perspective, and then layering abilities on top. It grounds character generation, allowing me to ask myself “who is this guy?” followed by “who is he now?”
I did not set out to play a samurai-type. I wanted a super-normal who then got enhanced at least once. When we tried to find out where he was born, I used a random place generator . . . which put me in several fairly useless places, but then plunked me down in the Pacific Ocean not too far from Hawaii. OK, I thought. Hawaii, then. 
But then the Heroes Now random generator put me as a pure ethnic minority within my place of birth, and both Christopher and I settled on pure ethnic Japanese. Then I rolled that I had a famous ancestor, still alive, and I’d been watching Shogun. I joked that my ancestor should be the person that the Toranaga character was based on, Ieyasu Tokugawa. 
We both paused. Yes, precisely. That flavored the narrative interpretations of the die rolls.
I piled on excellent basic physical stats, a mess of SEAL training and other wildcard skills representing near-constant martial training, and Christopher and I worked out the background and “not Wildcard, but he has it anyway” details. I recall he wound up something around 400 or 500 points. A very experienced, metahumanly-talented cinematic hero that would fit in well in a Monster Hunters game, which was about right.
Then we had him injured in combat, and between his magical background, his genetics as a Scion, and the coincidental (or was it?!) timing of the TAP pulse with his treatment, he becomes a super-soldier in truth, gaining more ST, DX, HT, regeneration (with regrowth!) and some minor but growing telekinesis. That made him about a 900-point character.
After more of that, we gave him his armor – which was 300-ish points of function right there. This isn’t iron-man style armor. Picture it more like Captain Amazing’s armor from Mystery Men, but with less glitz and chrome. It’s also metamorphic – it can look like normal clothing, thick combat fatigues/armor, or when things get real, it turns into full-on samurai-looking battle armor. 
This change is cosmetic – the abilities of the suit don’t change (maybe a few harness points or something).
Ultimately, the discussion was fairly straight-forward. This guy as a melee and military expert does a lot of punching people in the face. Captain America has his bulletproof and energy-absorbing Vibranium shield. I needed a way to get close to my foes without being riddled with bullets and killed. Dodge can take care of some of this, but even with DX 15-16 and HT 14-16 (I don’t recall where he ended up), that’s still “only” a Basic Speed of 8, for Dodge-11 as a base. That’s good, but not enough for full-auto.
So we tried to give him enough “always on” DR from the armor suit that he could take assault rifle shots and not worry too much. For something more serious, he needs to invoke his TK abilities, and with that he’s protected against up to a bit shy of 6dx2. For bigger stuff, he still has to take cover. This is to the good.
Still, there’s a lot of stuff on his character sheet. I’m looking forward to playing him, but keeping the abilities in my mind will be a challenge. 
Game writeup tomorrow!