STORY ARC 6
GM: KILLER SHRIKE, ODD HAT
I was the GM for the beginning of the arc, and Odd Hat took over the tail end.
I moved the campaign to HERO Central and we had a very strong response, both from
former players that were no longer able to meet in person, and several players from
different parts of the country that were intrigued and wanted to play.
War Man and Wrath rejoined the story, and the new heroes Legend, Blackjack, and
Turbofist were introduced as well.
However a few months after play had started I got a new job that placed much greater
demands on my time (but paid a lot better), and I just couldn't keep the game up.
I was traveling and working long long hours, and just couldn't manage it. I had
to step out. Fortunately OddHat stepped up to the plate and finished the arc with
aplomb, demonstrating his great ability as a storyteller in the process.
By this time the Mill Men had made a reputation for themselves and were becoming
more powerful as well. They had fought real menaces such as Black Harley, Holocaust,
and the Devastator. They were becoming too tough for mere street level and small
time threats overall, and it was time to start ramping the team up to first regional
and then national, and finally international level supers.
To facilitate this I was already in the process of bringing PRIMUS's competance
level up via Major Savage's ICARUS Agenda, and Showdown's HERONet outreach program
and had been laying the ground for that. The idea being that with PRIMUS able to
handle the 350-400 point range the Mill Men would be freed up to handle the 500-1500
range and could leave Mill City for stints without the place going up in flames.
I learned the hard way that Play-by-post takes more time than face-to-face. A lot
more time. It was also a frustratingly asynchronous environment and combats took
forever to resolve. There were some plus sides however. The ability to control visibility
and run true split-party threads simultaneously was fantastic, and the ability to
look up any rules questions at leisure without stopping play was nice as well. And
of course the ability for some players that would not otherwise be able to participate
was a big plus as well.
***SHADES OF BLACK SPOILERS FOLLOW IN THE NEXT SEVERAL POSTS***
28th Session thru 36th Session
Hero Central Adventures. The below, though played on line in an ongoing
fashion, were considered to be the equivalent of 9 sessions.
So many people died that WarMan was unable to help in the OmegaWorld incident, that
WarMan was plagued with guilt.
After the MillMen fought off the Devastator and returned the STALWART system to
the FBI, WarMan shifted back into human form and made his way home to Chicago, where
he planned to try to muster up the courage to face his family.
Though he loitered in the city watching them from a distance, he couldn't bring
himself to see them as he still feels too gulity for what happened the evening of
his change, and then for running away from justice.
Afterwards WarMan returned to Mill-City and helped out at the orphanage for a bit,
trying to find some sort of emotional balance and overcome the feelings of remorse
and guilt that were plaguing him.
He fought the urge to change into WarMan from, though it became harder and harder
to do so. And then he began to notice that he could use some of his abilities all
the time now, even in "human" form.
This reawakened the old fears that he may no longer be human, and that the changes
will never stop until he is completely robotic all the time....
But he also couldn't ignore the repeated mentions of a string of murders stemming
from some sicko stalking the women of Mill City, his surrogate home. His heroic
nature got the better of him and he sought out what information he could among the
homeless of the city, who see much.
A rumor was going around that the girls were being taken off the streets by some
kind of monster. Word was an old bum named One-eye Teddy Cribbs saw one of the victims,
Silvia Blass, snatched off the street by some kind of big flying cat. The cops wrote
him off as a wino, but maybe there was something to it.
Overhearing a broadcast of Mill City Supers Scene on WCOT, the main FM local talk
radio station, that Rook was spotted at the scene where the most recent victim's
body was found along with Stalker of the MC8, WarMan realized he could hide no longer;
he must do what we could to bring the killer to justice!
Shifting into the towering metal form of WarMan, he took off into the air and flew
off to connect with his old ally Major Savage at PRIMUS HQ.
Meeting with Massive
While Alliage did her thing at the crime scene, Gravitic and Rook were locked in
a tense standoff with Massive, but after trading a few egotistical phrases it defuses.
Massive insisted that Gravitic go with him to team up for world domination. Gravitic
turned him down somewhat unconvincingly, but Massive departed.
Disgusted with Gravitic's denseness, Rook departed on his own to go find Alliage
and continue to pursue the investigation of the murders. Gravitic flew himself home
in a state of bafflement.
WarMan and Savage
WarMan made his way to PRIMUS HQ and met his old friend Major Savage and got caught
up. When WarMan indicated he wanted to go after the serial killer, Savage told him
where to go, but also warned him to not mention PRIMUS or irritate the MCPD detectives
running the case -- apparently the investigation was a sensitive subject and MCPD
had refused to give up jurisdiction to PRIMUS without definite proof of supervillain
The going theory is that its Talisman and Black Paladin behind it all stemming from
the fact that Black Pally had busted Talisman loose from the Vault a few weeks before
and the murders had started a few days later. But the MCPD was being stubborn in
the face of growing internal conflicts with PRIMUS over jurisdiction.
WarMan departed for the crime scene, promising to keep Savage apprised of the situation
on the low down and play it cool with the MCPD.
After taking down the Devastator, Wrath decided it was high time for his first vacation
in over two decades, so he returned home to Mississippi and caught up with his extended
family, though most of his generation are dead or doddering.
But VIPER couldn't just let sleeping dogs lie and staged a mission to attempt to
capture the crusty old campaigner for some nefarious purpose. Imagine VIPER's surprise
when the extended Wrath clan put all those rifles and shotguns in the back window
of their trucks to use and fought them off!
Wrath was last scene in some sketchy aerial photography in a running battle with
the VIPER agents attempting to flee the Wrath acreage, careening after their high
tech battle wagon in a beat up old Ford.
Weeks later he reappeared in his dingy apartment in Mill City. Warming up the boob
tube he watches the news and gets caught up on what's going on. Hearing about the
murders and the rumors of Talisman's involvement Wrath intuits from his lengthy
experience in dealing with her in the past that she wont be holed up in some dump
-- Talisman likes the finer things in life too much and after a stint in prison
her first priority would be to make herself comfortable.
Alliage, Legend, Rook, WarMan plan while Wrath lurks
The three heroes converged at the crime scene along with another super named Huntress
and after introductions made nice with Detective Marlowe and Blake, gaining access
to the scene and quite a bit of evidence and what the cops knew so far.
As they departed the scene they were rejoined by Rook. Huntress realized she was
out of her league and departed, leaving the investigation in the hands of real heroes.
WarMan flew back to meet with Savage and fill him on the details, while Rook took
Legend to a Best Western near PRIMUS HQ downtown. Of course it was very near Wrath's
apartment as well, and the old warhorse was alerted to their presence by the disruption
and looking out the window recognized Rook.
Without hesitation Wrath took to the rooftops and kept them under visual observation
without them noticing.
WarMan made contact with Savage, and met another PRIMUS person named Major "Showdown"
Brooks, who apparently is in charge of some new PRIMUS outreach initiative. Showdown
invited WarMan to meet with him the next day to discuss getting sanction members
of the MillMen set up as HERONet affiliates.
Savage gave WarMan a copy of the surveillance tapes from Talisman's breakout and
WarMan flew off to rejoin the others at the hotel. Reunited, WarMan shows off a
new trick and hooks himself up to the TV and plays back the surveillance tapes of
Black Paladin busting Talisman from prison.
Pensive, the four heroes decide that their best bet to find the villains is to use
Alliage as bait and go hit some clubs.
Hot Night at DJ's
Alliage gets spruced up and the four heroes make their way to a popular club on
the strip called DJ's. Wrath follows covertly. Setting up, with Rook on the inside,
War Man flying high above the club, and Legend using his mystic vision to monitor
the situation from a restaurant across the street the trap is set, with Alliage
perched on a bar stool as bait.
Meanwhile Wrath, still being sneaky, broke in to the club from the roof. Inside
the club the trap is mistakenly sprung by a strange lounge lizard type that starts
hitting on Alliage; Legend detects something odd in his aura, and as the stranger
escorted Alliage to the dance floor Rook sprung into action, knocking the stranger
for a loop.
At the same time a read blur streaked into the club and after a pause rushed Rook
with a sound like a wood saw at full speed. Unperturbed Rook calmly knocked the
new assailant out with his invisible force limbs, as Wrath entered the scene from
the top, leaping from the upper levels onto the dance floor.
Legend teleported in and imparted order onto the chaos, and extracted the various
supers to the street to straighten everything else.
The two new supers were Blackjack, who was just cruising the bar and thought Alliage
was cute, and Turbofist who came to the club to investigate the disappearance of
an Asian girl from his turf (North Detroit), Anh Xuan.
As the club's patrons fled the area, the odd assortment of supers departed as well
for Blackjack's nearby penthouse where they pooled info and resources. Finding out
about this new missing girl, likely another victim, from Turbofist Rook decides
to call Detective Marlowe and report it. The cops already had the lead and had gotten
some good info from the girls sister, who witnessed her leaving with some strangers,
and got a license plate number off the Rolls Royce they were driving..
Detective Marlowe directed the group to an estate about 30 miles south of the city
owned by wealthy socialites, and after Blackjack agreed to come along for kicks
the seven departed for the mansion, courtesy of Legend's ability to open teleportation
Danse at the Manse
Arriving at the mansion, they soon discovered that it was a font of dark and ancient
evils, they were attacked by huge Gryphons and DEMON Cultists! Eventually overcoming
these threats, the group was drawn to the basement by Legend's mystic senses. Opening
a doorway at the bottom of the basement stairs, the seven heroes found themselves
staring into what looked like a pastoral French countryside....outdoors!
Bemused the seven moved into the strange setting, and were somewhat dismayed when
the door closed behind them, leaving them stranded. Off in the distance they could
see the spires of a dark castle so they made their way towards it. En route to the
castle they were set upon suddenly by seven villains that appeared to be distorted,
evil versions of themselves!
The heroes were easily defeated by their counterparts, with even Rook finally succumbing
to combined attacks after all six of his comrades had fallen. The heroes awoke to
find themselves imprisoned in what appeared to be in individual medieval dungeon
cells, but attempts to escaped demonstrated that the cells were like the mansion
they had entered thru.
Each hero was harassed by their double to various degrees, and then after a period
of solitude the inner wall of the cells turned transparent, to display each of their
counterparts on the other side facing into their cell, Talisman behind them all
in the center of a circle, chanting some ritual and brandishing a wicked looking
dagger. At the culmination of the incantation, each counterpart stepped forward
and suddenly the heroes were displaced to a strange, polluted, otherworld of metal
and decaying industry. And oh yeah, they were under attack by what appeared to be
Major Savage, and a wing of similarly suited agents and more prosaic foot troops.
In fact, they were boxed into a containment perimeter!
The Other Side
Responding quickly, despite the incoming rounds of capture foam and miscellaneous
rifle shots, the heroes scrambled. Rook and War Man gladly took the fight directly
to the enemy, while Wrath scaled a sniper tower and wreaked his usual chaos. Legend
blindly teleported away and then started sending mystic missiles tracking various
foes unerringly. Turbofist fled the area, blinded. Blackjack just kind of hung out
in the "glue igloos" formed by the capture foam just chilling, though
the sheer number of jammed guns and malfunctioning equipment of the attacking Agents
may not have been a total coincidence. Alliage appeared to be comatose, so Blackjack
dragged her over and kept her safe.
Finally, the heroes won free and were helped by a mysterious woman that turned out
to look just like Talisman, but called herself Pendant! She took them to a safe
house. Over a period of exposition and rest, the heroes discovered they were in
a world similar to their own, but like a negative image. Instead of the USA, the
reigning world power was the Hegemony of Vinland; and they were in the ruins of
Mill City, which was destroyed by the Conquerors in an attempt to kill Doctor Democracy,
the greatest paragon of freedom and liberty in the world.
Putting their noggins together, the heroes decided that if the mansion they went
to was an evil gateway to other planes in their dimension, then something at the
same place in this one might be a benevolent gateway. Worth a shot, they managed
to sneak out of the ruins of Mill City and discovered the mansion, where they met
members of a group calling themselves ANGEL that were using it as a safe house.
Legend figured out that the seemingly comatose Alliage was really someone else hidden
by a sophisticated illusion. Using his advanced knowledge of the mystic arts Legend
intuited that Talisman must have been taking advantage of the Law of Symmetry to
cast the spell that forced the heroes into this dark world, while presumably pushing
their counterparts into their own dimension. He suspected that Talisman must have
held on to Alliage as a better subject for whatever dark magics she had been subjecting
the victims too, and put a spell on Ahn to make her as similar to Alliage as possible
to satisfy the Law of Symmetry.
Acting on his hunch Legend dispelled the illusion of Alliage, and with a wrench,
the heroes were gated back into the strange French purgatory realm they had been
Alliage In Shadow
Meanwhile the real Alliage was stuck in the clutched of Talisman and Black Paladin,
but it was quickly revealed that Talisman was in fact being possessed by the evil
spirit of Chantal, the dark witch from Black Paladin's past. Chantal instructed
Alliage in the use of her mystic powers, while maintaining a ruse that her and Black
Paladin were really good people that had been persecuted by the evil warlord Lancelot.
In reality she was priming Alliage to be the perfect host for her.
Alliage learned much about her powers in a condensed period of time, and made large
breakthroughs in her ability to use them. But she was definitely a prisoner no matter
how gilded her cage. However she befriended one of her guards, a strange fey creature
called Hob, and it helped her to escape, though she was pursued by an evil and unspeakable
plant thing called the Black Alice.
Fleeing the castle at high speed, Alliage arrived in the same pastoral field as
her erstwhile companions did when they were gated back into Chantal's pocket realm.
Mirror Match Part 2
As the heroes crossed over into the other realm, their doubles were wrenched into
it as well, seemingly in a state of disarray. This time the heroes overcame their
dupes after a desperate fight.
Not Playing Around Anymore
Even as the heroes fought against their counterparts, Chantal's pocket realm was
beginning to fall apart at the seams as Chantal drew more and more power to fuel
her dark magics.
The heroes rallied together and sped back to the cancel at high speed, where they
first fought Black Alice and the Black Paladin. They were able to destroy the Alice,
but the Paladin teleported away. Searching the castle compound, the heroes soon
made their way to a small chapel in a vestibule around the backside, as lighting
started pelting down from the sky with merciless fury as the skies roiled and shredded
Wasting no time the heroes charged the chapel, and became locked in one of the most
desperate battles the Mill Men had ever seen versus Chantal and a reinvigorated
Black Paladin. In the end it was only by each giving their all that the heroes were
able to defeat the two fearsome opponents. At the end almost all of the group were
grievously wounded. Gathering his strength, Legend teleported them all back to the
good ole' Millennium City on the steps of PRIMUS HQ.