Campaign Idea: Beneath a Steel Gray Sky

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Campaign Idea: Beneath a Steel Gray Sky

Postby Mike Costigan » Thu Dec 19, 2002 11:23 am

Here we go, rough draft, apologies and kudos to the excellent Godlike and other sources I've kitbashed this from. Comment away. :D

"Beneath a Steel Gray Sky"

It goes like this -- superhumans have been 'known' since the late 19th century, when 'exceptional adventurers' first started showing up. Then came the Mystery Men (like the Phantom and the Shadow) of the 1920s and 30s...then, in World War II, both the Axis and Allies began to field Talents, superhuman soliders. For most of the war, they managed to cancel each other out, with a few exceptions...

June 6th, 1944. Operation OVERLORD, the invasion of Normandy. D-Day.
The Axis and Allied Talents went at it. Of course, by that point the Axis knew they were losing...so they fielded something they called the Ragnarok Device, a weapon of immense destructive potential. A superscience atomic bomb. It got deployed against the Allied forces in Normandy...and didn't stop there. Within moments, most of Normandy was simply *gone*, and the Ragnarok Effect began to scorch the sky, moving slowly, inexorably across Europe...and the world...

The Ragnarok Effect burned off some of the Earth's upper atmosphere, specifically the ozone layer. The end result was a sudden jump in worldwide temperature, and a lethal increase in UV radiation. Weirdly, the Effect didn't extend over the oceans of the world...but within 3 years, it has scorched nearly all life from the landmasses, forcing humanity to flee underground.

25% of the world's population died, either in the Effect itself, or in the burning that followed. The survivors rallied, and built vast underground cities, working towards the day when the surface could be reclaimed.

The current year is 2005. In another five decades, humanity will be able to return to the surface without fear. Without the massive postwar industrialization of the 1950s and 60s, the Earth's surface has bloomed, scrubbing away hundreds of years of abuse and neglect. In many ways, it now resembles a Jurassic jungle, all giant trees and ferns.

Beneath the surface, though, huamnity plans its return, to a brighter future.

The campaign is set in the city of Chicago. Underground Chicago, rebuilt after the fire of 1905 and rebuilt again to support the residents of the city after WWII. The new city is inverted, having built down instead of up. The ghettoes are closest to the surface, and the wealthy live deep underground, where geothermal power is cheap and plentiful.


Travel from city to city is by train, and within the city, cars are either big and clunky, 1950s style, or sleek Art Deco trikes. Cable cars and elevators are public transport, and the flooding of Lake Michigan produces rain, of a sort, as the water leaks down. The umbrella never came into fashion, and the world, while perpetually dark, isn't an entirely unhappy place.

In 2005, the Talents are returning to humanity -- gifted individuals thought lost forever since the war. Their inheritors, born in this strange reto-pulp world, who could use their abilities for good...or evil.

It's post-apocalyptic, sort of, but not hopeless at all. The society is sort of 1930s-ish, optimistic...but there's still problems. After Normandy, most of the Talents in the world were killed, so few were left. But now they're reappearing, and the normal police can't stop those who choose to break the law and threaten the fragile world beneath the surface.
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Postby Joniphonic » Thu Dec 19, 2002 11:27 am

neat! :D
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Postby Mike Costigan » Thu Dec 19, 2002 11:30 am

As an aesthetic here, I'm going for the noir feel, with the reto-Pulp look from Batman: The Animated Series. Retro futuristic, 50s style tech. FYI. :)
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Postby Giddoen » Thu Dec 19, 2002 3:22 pm

uh I must reply with a ....WOW! man if I had not already started my game I would steal...um borrow this great idea and use it.

Very well thought of. What power level are you thinking of?

Keep us posted.

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Postby Mike Costigan » Thu Dec 19, 2002 5:22 pm

Well, we've already run our first session of BaSGS, and here's how it shakes out:

PL10 campaign, with the modifications to damage saves (DC 10 base) and increasing skill points to 2 per PP. Considering a few other modifications, but not too many. ;)

Characters so far:

*Judas Trigger. Jake Wachowski, disgraced cop. Quit from NCPD after his partner attempted to murder him at the behest of a member of one of the Talent syndicates, the Seven Deadly Sins. Detective skills, a swell-looking gas mask and a pair of big honkin' guns left over from WWII. John Woo hero meets Golden Age mystery man.

*The Blue Tornado! Billy Barnett was just your run of the mill comic book artist working for Cosh Comics in New Chicago, cranking out retreads of the Talents of yesteryear. Fate throws Billy into the mix when the Great Chicago Fire (Hulk-style elemental supervillain with Growth fed by Absorption) attacks the Printer's District during a brawl between two Talent gangs. Billy becomes the victim of Permafrost's lethal Entropistol, freezing him solid...but a chance blow from the Fire sends an electrical conduit sputtering into the hapless artist, transforming him into the Fastest Man in Chicago!

*Titan, Prince of the Magma Kingdom. Mysterious exiled adventurer from deep within the molten interior of the Earth! Little is known of Titan's background, but he claims to belong to a noble order of similar beings called the Knights of Emerald and Obsidian. Energy-based brick hero with an Arthurian twist.

*Kokuei. Shadowy martial artist based in Chinatown. Kokuei is the chosen of Tsuki-Yumi, god of the Japense underworld and brother to Amaterasu. Kokuei's family and others have secretly served the darkness for generations, battling the forces of corruption. In exchange for the mastery of shadows, heightened senses, and a lost martial art, each child chosen in their generation has their sight taken from them in the womb.

Together, the heroes represent the agents of the Talent Emergence Administrative Mandate, or TEAM. A division of the FBI, TEAM has arisen to battle the rise in Talent-based crime that the mundane authorities are simply unable to stop.

TEAM Chicago's primary contact with the government is Special Agent Albert Kirby, grizzled G-Man and nearly-retired paperpusher. Still, he's competent enough, and seems unafraid to get in and mix it up if the need arises.

Coming together first in opposition to the Great Chicago Fire's appearance in the city, Titan, Kokuei and Judas band together to defeat the menace, while the newly-empowered Tornado lends a hand in keeping the populace safe. Fame quickly follows, and is in turn followed by a newspaper ad, asking the new heroes to come forth and join the Mandate. While Kokuei and Trigger both mutter a bit about working for the Man, ultimately badges are handed out, and SA Kirby fills them in on the current caseload...

For their first assignment, TEAM Chicago is investigating the murder of a local civil servant, Klaus Hauptmann, at the hands of the notorious robotic hitman, Automatic Kafka.

Coincidentally, the offices Klaus formerly worked at reside in the same building as TEAM's, allowing a quick investigation to get underway. Hauptmann himself turns out to have been, by reports, a slightly daffy but inoffensive sort, prone to talking to himself in his office. Nothing out of the ordinary, until Trigger discovers a cryptic device, hidden in the clerk's desk -- a high-tech video-phone, one that self-destructs before anything further can be gleaned...after a quick conference with Kirby, the heroes make their way to the deceased's apartment...

Hauptmann's apartment turns out to be a disaster...but, mysteriously, contains a hidden room, seemingly worked into the structure of the building itself, containing blueprints to apparently every structure in New Chicago.

More mysterious still is what's discovered by Kokuei within the antique Wurlitzer Hauptmann owns: a radio that's no radio at all, but some sort of miniaturized video-phone, one that briefly delivers the staticky, shadowy image of someone at the other end. Fortunately, thanks to the Tornado, our heroes shut the device off before it, too, self-destructs...but also discover that nearly every location in the city is covered with video cameras, all feeding to a single mysterious source.

A bit of detective work by Trigger and Kokuei turns up a new piece of evidence linking the devices to a seemingly abandoned warehouse on the upper levels of the city, perhaps not coincidentally near where the Great Chicago Fire last manifested. While en route with Titan in tow, the Tornado is dispatched to hide the video-phone before its creator removes it from the investigation.

Arrving at the warehouse, Titan takes to the service conduits, while Kokuei and Trigger stage a warranted break-in, only to discover...nothing.

Well, nothing, save for several barrels of TNT topped with a sealed jar of nitroglycerin. A bomb! But no timer. Stored? It seems ready to detonate...

Meanwhile, on a nearby rooftop, Kafka takes aim, the crosshairs resting on the bottle of nitro. Outside, there's a sharp crack, and the Tornado looks up just in time to see the bullet leave Kafka's finger...will he be fast enough to avert disaster?

Stay tuned!
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WOW!

Postby gobbo » Thu Dec 19, 2002 5:58 pm

I may just steal this background for my second game. I think a lower PL woube appropreate for it though!

Might have to dig out my old Doc Savages and re-read for ideas. Any chance you'll post world background info on a website?
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Postby Mike Costigan » Thu Dec 19, 2002 6:34 pm

*chuckles*

In all honesty, I'd originally intended it for Pl 5-8, but the players wanted 4-color, and I'm lazy, so...;)

And in answer to your question, yes, soon as my site's been updated, I'll post the BaSGS campaign info.
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Postby gobbo » Thu Dec 19, 2002 7:42 pm

WOO HOO!
"Dice, grant us your friendship; have pity on us. Do not bewitch us with the force of your terrible sorcery. Lay to rest your anger, your hatred. Let someone else fall into the trap of the dice." -- Gamer's Lament
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Postby TheDayKnight » Fri Dec 20, 2002 9:46 am

Excellent Stuff, Mike.

I can't wait to hear more!
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Postby Mike Costigan » Fri Dec 20, 2002 9:51 am

You won't have to wait *too* long -- our second session is tonight, and afterwards I'll be posting an after action report. ;)

As an aside, if people are interested, I'll post some writeups of the local menaces and personalities.
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Background for the Blue Tornado!

Postby Bombaatu » Fri Dec 20, 2002 11:30 am

I'm a player in Mike's game and thought I'd share my character's background for anyone who is interested:

Billy Barnett was a struggling comic-book artist. Altho talented, he always seemed to run behind on his deadlines. One day, he was an innocent bystander at a battle between The Great Chicago Fire and Permafrost! A beam from Tempus' Entropistol struck him, freezing him solid! At that moment, a powerline fell across the froze Billy, shattering the ice and activating his LATENT MUTANT POWERS!!!

Billy looked up and saw the Great Chicago Fire standing right over him, so he left – fast! Billy soon found out that he was super-fast - in fact, he could even spin himself at such incredible speeds that he could actually fly. Using his new-found abilities, he removed innocent bystanders from the area and assisted other local heros in bringing down the Great Chicago Fire.

Being a comic-book writer, Billy designed a new persona - The Blue Tornado! Soon after the battle, Billy proposed a Blue Tornado! comic to his publisher. The publisher was amazed at how fast Billy had produced a finished work and was anxious to beat his rival to the newsstands. Thus was born the Blue Tornado! comic book.

Notes: Billy now supports himself writing and drawing the comic of his own adventures. Of course there are some embellishments made and he doesn’t reveal BT’s secret identity or true origin. In the book, BT’s “real” identity is Will Warren, intrepid reporter. A disclaimer is put on the front page of every book stating that, altho based on actual events, the characters of Will Warren, his friends, coworkers, etc., are fiction and that Blue Tornado has never revealed to the author his true identity.
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Postby Teflon Billy » Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:24 pm

Mike Costigan wrote:...the notorious robotic hitman, Automatic Kafka...


Well, consider that as yoinked:)
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Postby Mike Costigan » Fri Dec 20, 2002 1:24 pm

:D

Thank Wildstorm comics for that one. I haven't read the comic, but the title was swell. ;)

As for AK -- visual on this is an Art Deco humanoid robot in Rorschach-style Homburg hat and scarf, one big red HAL eye in the shadow. See those oversized forearms? There's a reason it's called 'Automatic', kids. ;)

This particular character underscores what I'm coming to love about M&M: amazing what you can do with a simple physical Blast power and autofire.
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Postby Mike Costigan » Sat Dec 21, 2002 12:30 am

The After Action Report!

Following the trail of the mysterious Architect, our heroes infiltrate an abandoned warehouse near Shadowtown in Chicago, near the Lighthouse.

Automatic Kafka, lying in ambush atop a nearby building, sights in on the bomb our heroes have discovered...and fires!

The Blue Tornado, standing guard on the street, sees the bullet leave the barrel of Kafka's finger. He races into action, using his namesake to launch himself into the air, a blur of cerulean justice, hand outstretched to deflect the lethal projectile...

And misses.

Inside, Kokuei and Judas Trigger have but a moment to act! With lightning reflexes, Kokuei phases herself and Trigger, just as the nitro explodes, hurling barrels of explosive doom in all directions...unfortunately, her powers over shadow are negated by light and flame, both of which an explosion produces in abundance! The two heroes are pitched across the dusty concrete floor, concussed, about to catch fire...when Prince Titan bursts through the floor, deflecting the blast with his body, protecting his teammates with his own body.

Later, after crawling out of the wreckage of the warehouse, TEAM Chicago discovers yet another oddity: the blast seems only to have damaged the warehouse, doing little damage to the surrounding buildings...the mystery deepens.

Back at TEAM HQ, mulling is done, and the heroes split up: Tornado and Prince Titan head to the Ossuary, the club owned by Charlie Bones, a grotesque local gangster. Meanwhile, Judas Trigger and Kokuei head to Northwest Memorial to examine the body of the deceased Klaus Hauptmann.

At the Ossuary, the first memorable line of the evening is uttered:

Tornado, looking at the nightclub full of gangsters, looks at Prince Titan.

Titan: "GREETINGS, CITIZENS! WE NEED TO SPEAK TO THE BOSS!"
Tornado (sotto voce): "Shut *up*, we're both going to die..."
Titan: "OF COURSE NOT! WE'LL BE FINE!"
Tornado: "Me, I'm not subtle. Then...then there's *you*."

Through sheer...oddness, the Tornado and Prince Titan manage to secure a meeting with Charlie Bones, who seems unusually cooperative, after the Great Chicago Fire gets mentioned. The implication is dropped that there might have been more in a garment shipment stolen by Permafrost, but little else, as the meeting is off the record.

Meanwhile, at the morgue, Judas (in civvie guise) and Kokuei (likewise) examine the last remains of Hauptmann, and make a discovery: a tiny radio transceiver, hidden in the teeth.

Just then, an orderly enters the room, pushing a gurney. Wait, that's no orderly...it's Kafka!

Kokuei and Trigger take cover behind a table as the murderous robot opens fire, chewing up the scenery. Kokuei fires off a cloud of shadow...to no effect.

Kafka launches himself from the blinding shadows, clinging to the ceiling, firing all the while. He's unable to hurt Kokuei in her incoporeal state, but Trigger takes a bad hit...and he's out of costume, weapons tucked safely away in his briefcase...

Kokuei rises like an avenging spectre, laying into Kafka with shards and shuriken of shadow...again, to no effect. Kafka retaliates, blasting away. The police have been alerted, but seem set to arrive too late.

However! Trigger has taken the opportunity to snatch up his guns, and makes a one in a million shot, bouncing a pair of shells from the steel morgue doors, knocking Kafka nearly senseless. Sensing imminent defeat, thanks to the sudden change in the tide of battle, Kafka lets loose with another blast to cover his escape...

Elsewhere in the city, Blue Tornado and Prince Titan are set upon by the Skulls, a local electro-trike gang. Mocking the noble lavaman's costume and manner, the leader of the Skulls gets a super-powered slap across his jaw, knocking him nearly senseless.

Enraged, the Skulls attck, brandishing BuzzKnucks, cutlasses and more than a few mysteriously provisioned energy pistols. The Tornado knocks a good half of the mooks unconscious with a sonic boom, while Titan charges a goodly chunk of the rest. The remainder of the Skulls open fire with their Electro Blasters...to no effect on the mighty titan, whose silicon and stone form resists the electricity.

More Skulls fall, after nearly injuring Titan with an overload attack with their weapons. One goon comes close to incapacitating the Blue Tornado with a sonic blast...but too late. As the last of his comrades fall, the Tornado hurls the last conscious Skull into the air with a whirlwind!

Hearing sirens, the two heroes leave the goons for the police, and race towards Northwest Memorial to aid the forces of Law and Order.

In the basement, Kafka smashes through the ceiling, clambering up into piping and service conduits. Elsewhere in the hospital, the Tornado engages in a speedy search, alerting Titan to the robotic assassin's escape route. When Automatic Kafka emerges, the Prince of the Molten Earth is waiting.

Already badly damaged, Kafka engages in a desperation manuver -- powering up his servos, the mechanical murderer reaches for a pipe bearing normally life-preserving oxygen...too late, though! Titan's mighty hands close on the robot's metallic noggin, separating it from its body...moments before Kafka is able to fire into the conduit.

CUT TO: New Chicago Police Department Evidence Warehouse. A massive bunker of steel and concrete. Within, few lights shine, most of which are held by the dozen or more SWAT guards patrolling inside and out.

Within, a door opens. Hidden in a dusty and disused corner, it nonetheless slides open silently, disgorging a small, hunched figure. Moments later, the thief disappears through the hidden passage again...with Kafka's head in hand.

Back at TEAM HQ the next morning, Special Agent Kirby's phone rings. A short conversation later, the grizzled FBI agent slams the handset down. Steely gaze raking across our heroes, and he utters a single sentence:

"Washington reports that Kafka's head is missing."
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Postby Judas_Trigger » Sat Dec 21, 2002 1:23 am

Note to self: sure, going incognito is a great gig when you don't want to attract attention. But it *really* sucks when your gas mask, body armor, and two favorite implements of righteous fury are tucked into a briefcase, and some murderous automaton is using you for target practice.

I'm working on a somewhat more interesting background writeup for Mr. Trigger/Warshawski... should be forthcoming when I've got the time. :)
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Postby TheDayKnight » Sat Dec 28, 2002 11:21 am

For All That is Right and Pure in this World...


BUMP!
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Postby Mike Costigan » Sat Jan 04, 2003 9:25 am

Action Report: Beacons of Hope

June 22nd, 2005

While meeting at the office of their Bureau contact Special Agent Allan Kirby, TEAM Chicago is alerted to the latest crisis to afflict the Windy and Wet Undercity:

Earthquake!

As the temblor rumbles through the city, citzens flee into the streets, panicking...for, as anyone with eyes can plainly see, the Lighthouse, source of light, heat and power for New Chicago, teeters on the verge of being destroyed! Energy escapes from the great light-channels to the surface, arcing into raw electricity, striking the suddenly fragile-seeming supports that hold the world above at bay. The tubes begin to crack under the relentless tectonic assault...and slowly, surely, several of them crack, growing dark, trapped sunlight dimming before flickering into darkness entirely.

TEAM Chicago springs into action -- Prince Titan rockets upwards, punching (another) hole in the roof of Kirby's office in City Hall, while Judas Trigger and Kokuei, the ShadowBlade use more mundane means to approach the disaster, via police autogyro.

The Lighthouse is in chaos as the three members of TEAM Chicago try to contain the damage...but out story cuts away for a few moments to FermiLab at the University of Chicago, where we see a hitherto unknown character, Professor Hans Stern, assessing the situation with steely eye and computerized quickness. Ever the civic-minded soul, Stern makes for the nearest telephone, in the office of the Project Director, Bruno Woljincek. Oddly, the Director has the phone in hand, and hands it to Stern:

"It's for you, Hans..."

The voice of Special Agent Kirby crackles through the rapidly degenerating telephone line:

"Professor Stern, by the authority invested in me by Uncle Sam, we're reactivating you. Get your gear on and get to the Lighthouse, now."

The mysterious professor, following directions from Kirby, makes his way to the nearest maintenance tunnel for the city...but not before donning a new guise: the high-tech body armor and equipment harness of Doktor Tesla!

Back at the Lighthouse, Prince Titan aids the emergency workers in sealing the breaches in the solar collection conduits, while below Judas and ShadowBlade rescue workers fleeing the eruptions of heat and volcanic gasses released from the vast geothermal tap powering the city's reactors.

Below, having comandeered one of the emergency lifts, Doktor Tesla assembles his amazing Bose Condenser, extracting the lethal heat from his environment long enough to allow more workers to escape.

With the help of Prince Titan below and the team of ShadowBlade and Judas above, casualties are limited to perhaps a dozen badly burned personnel that were working in the Reaction Chamber when the earthquake began. Prince Titan and Doktor Tesla, the crisis under control, examine the chamber...

One of Titan's mighty hands scratches curiously at the chinguard to his helmet as he examines the geothermal tap's protective insulation...insulation that seems to have been, bizarrely, crushed from the outside...three hundred feet up.

"That's unusual."

Continued in Beacons of Hope, Part 2 -- Enter Saturday!
Last edited by Mike Costigan on Sat Jan 04, 2003 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Krellic » Sat Jan 04, 2003 2:10 pm

I would defintely be interested in reading a 'Story Hour' based on this background! I hope it all goes well
:D
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Postby Willpower » Sun Jan 05, 2003 3:39 pm

I really like the campaign idea, and am actually thinking of stealing it for a campaign of my own, though first I am designing my own to see if I like it. Anyhoo, Was wondering about the villain Automatic Kafka, he, or I should say it, sounds really cool. I was wondering though, how you came up with his name, and perhaps the implications of his name. (I know Kafka means something, but can't think of it off the top of my head. I also though of another name for a character like this that would really have a pulp like feel, Tommy Gunn. Anyway, I really like this character and if nothing else was thinking of stealing him for my campaign, would love to see his write-up, but since it is an ongoing campaign, I'm guessing that can't happen. how about just a summary of what he has, at least as far as what your players know already.
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Postby Mike Costigan » Sun Jan 05, 2003 5:47 pm

Automatic Kafka was inspired, oddly enough, by the title of a comic book by the same name. At the time, I was tanked on caffeine and off from a long day of work, so my imagination went wacky and conceived of this trenchcoated robot with a single red eye, whose hands spun and fired bullets. Go figure.

The Kafka bit struck me as appropriate, since he's the chief strongarm (when he gets rebuilt) for the Architect, who's quite the order freak. Mad bureaucracy and all'a that jazz.

Here's his stats:

Automatic Kafka
PL 12
Str: 16 (+3) Dex: 20 (+5) Con: 16 (+3) Int: 12 (+1) Wis: 10 Cha: 14 (+2)

SAVES
DAMAGE: +3
FORT: +3
REF: +5
WILL: +0

Villain Points: 6

Melee: +10
Ranged: +12
Init: +5

Skills: Acrobatics +10, Awareness +8, Balance +10, Bluff +6, Climb +6, Demolitions +8, Disguise +4, Drive +6, Gather Information +8, Intimidate +12, Repair +8, Search +8, Stealth +8

Feats: Ambidexterity, Assessment, Dodge, Evasion, Infamy, Improved Initative, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Multishot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Two Weapon Fighting, Rapid Shot

Super Feats: All-around Sight, Darkvision, Durability, Immunities (Aging, Disease, Exhaustion, Poison, Pressure, Starvation, Suffocation), Radio Broadcast, Radio Hearing

Powers: Clinging 2, Combat Sense 5, Protection 10, Energy Blast Extra: Autofire, Range; Power Stunt: Dual Damage 7L , Telescopic Sight 5

Flaws: Vulnerable (Electricity), Disturbing
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Re: Campaign Idea: Beneath a Steel Gray Sky

Postby The Falconer » Tue Jan 07, 2003 10:16 pm

I just wanted to drop my two cents in, and say that this is one of the best homebrew superhero rpg worlds that I've seen in what seems to be years. Kudos on a fine job, and am looking forward to seeing a website up for this. (Question: do you have art on the characters in your game yet?)
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Postby Bombaatu » Mon Jan 13, 2003 11:58 am

I'll be working on character art as soon as I finish up some waaay-overdue artwork for my Star Wars game.

I already have a rough pencil of the Blue Tornado done, and I've asked the other players to provide descriptions. Should hopefully have something within the next few weeks.
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Artwork

Postby Mike Costigan » Mon Jan 13, 2003 3:46 pm

FWIW, Bombaatu/Blue Tornado's artwork is mighty swell.

You can check it out at *the currently being revised) site for one of my other campaigns and fledgeling self-published game:

www.protocolzero.com

There's a dedeicated BASGS site hopefully coming on line this week as well. Action reports, Tribune headlines, background info and more! Keep your eyes peeled.
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Postby Mike Costigan » Tue Jan 14, 2003 12:31 pm

Beacons of Hope, Part 2: Enter Saturday!

Following the minor disaster at the Lighthouse, TEAM Chicago, Doktor Teslai n tow, assemble back at the office of Special Agent Kirby to deliver their report. Introductions are made all around as Kirby pores over Tesla's computer analysis of the situation...

"So you're telling me, Doc, that this damage was deliberate?" The grizzled agent sat back in his creaking chair, eyeing the gadgeteer warily.

"Indeed. It appears that by somehow crushing the insulating jacket, which also serves as a channel for magma flow to the reactors, that magma was redirected into the pocket from whence it came, causing a tectonic event. Minor, but as you see from the damage, still quite significant."

ShadowBlade and Judas eye each other, and speak simulataneously:
"Sabotage."

Prince Titan chimes in with a simple statement himself. "Many good people were hurt that work at the plant."

Kirby sits up, slapping the report back down onto his already overburdened desk.

"Congratulations, heroes...you get the case."


LATER

After collecting more evidence, a theory is thrown into the ring -- that the sabotage of the Lighthouse is an inside job, and quite possibly the work of The Architect, the criminal mastermind behind Automatic Kafka, still at large. Though nothing was left behind in the Reaction Chamber, TEAM Chicago veers off on a possible clue: the Wurlitzer radio recovered from the Architect's apartment...the same Wurlitzer that, seemingly, the Architect used to monitor the city of New Chicago through a network of hidden cameras.

Ever mindful of their first attempt to investigate the Architect's technology, TEAM proceeds with the utmost caution. ShadowBlade's ability to phase through matter comes in handy, as she discovers a Gordian knot of booby traps: acid, thermite, and worse. Combining their skills, Doktor
Tesla and Judas work feverishly to disarm the mechanisms, each knowing that a single mistake will eliminate this final clue as to the Archtiect's abilities.

The first layer of traps goes smoothly...only two more to go. The next set nearly results in disaster, a calamity only diverted from its course by Doktor Tesla's use of potent neutralization agents...agents that seem only to slow the decay trigger of the self-destruct.

The last layer proves the hardest...and in the heat of the moment, a slip of the fingers breaks one of the tiny vials of acid, triggering a chain reaction. Most of the components of the Architect's monitor are saved...but only parts. The rest is reduced to ash and inchoate sludge. The lab bench, and the rest of TEAM, are saved from injury by Prince Titan, by the simple expedient of closing his hand over the mechanism.

A few hours' more investigation narrows down the Architect's identity to perhaps a dozen men in the world, but word has yet to return from Washington on the matter, and SA Kirby decides to intervene directly, taking the night train from New Chicago to Washington, leaving TEAM to its own devices, temporarily.

The next day, TEAM heads back out to the Lighthouse from their new headquarters (given to them by Kirby, who seems to have gotten tired of Titan's 'exits' through the walls and roof)...and, as seems to be typical for a day working for Uncle Sam, there's trouble.

From behind the cyclone fence marked with the yellow and black caution signs typical to any industrial site, stand members of New Chicago's elite TAC unit. Before them, held back only by hastily-erected barricades and chain-link are dozens of Lighthouse workers, most from Darktown, the slum that exists in the sole shadow of the marvel of super science that provides the city with light and power. TEAM Chicago puzzles for a few moments -- these are ordinary men and women, no need for a response by the Talent Activity Control.

The mystery doesn't last long, though, as Judas' government-issued sedan noses gently through the crowd. From atop a utility van a lone figure exhorts the crowd, railing against the injustices inflicted upon the working man by the masters of the city. The white masters, he says. The figure is dressed in peculiar fashion: top hat, whiteface in the shape of a skull, vest and tattered tuxedo pants. He is Mister Saturday, vice lord of Darktown and notorious anarchist.

"Not exactly Chicago's most upstandin' citizen," comments Judas, as most of TEAM climbs out of the car.

Tensions are high, as Saturday whips the crowd into an ever increasing frenzy, tensions which only worsen on both sides of the fence. TAC clearly resents TEAM Chicago's presence at the near riot, and the workers, if Saturday is to be believed, have good cause to fear the Talented protectors of the city.

Seeing the situation worsen, Titan takes action from above. Swooping down from the sky and hovering before Saturday, he extends his hand, the hand of friendship. The flaming magma hand of friendship.

"Greetings, friend! What seems to be the problem here!"

Saturday launches into a new tirade, though it's short-lived; Titan's obviously not spoiling for a fight, and reluctantly, Saturday shakes the proffered hand, despite its rather intimidating appearance. Ever the master of manipulation, though, the anarchist turns Titan's gesture of peace to his own advantage:

"See! Do you see brothers and sisters? Even their own men, their super men, know the righteousness of our cause!"

Beyond the fence, fingers tighten on safeties, and the crowd begins to rumble like an impending aftershock. Meanwhile, Judas and ShadowBlade pick their way through the crowd, while Doktor Tesla scans the area or superhuman activity. Unsurprisingly, Titan and ShadowBlade show up...but so does Saturday, and the half dozen minions arrayed around the van. The mood is explosive, all it would take would be a single punch, the spark to ignite an inferno.

A shot rings out, suddenly, seemingly from the direction of TAC! Someone in the crowd cries out, falling, a bullet hole punched high up on his chest!

Titan leaps from the van as the crowd begins to riot, attacking the fence, overturning the barricades. The man is someone he knows, a worker at the Lighthouse, a family man. The massive lava-price bulls his way through the rioters and scoops the injured man up in his arms, rising into the sky and quickly setting a course for Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the nearest trauma center.

Meanwhile, down below, Judas and ShadowBlade attempt to quell the crowd by apprehending the firebrand Saturday. Saturday, his job here seemingly done, dives behind the other side of the van as ShadowBlade begins to call upon the divine darkness that is her birthright; and a good thing, too, as Saturday's strangely pale thugs begin to produce firearms.

Back at the car, Doktor Tesla activates his latest creation: the Para-Quantum Talent Neutralization Field! The wily gadgeteer shouts a warning, and Saturday's thugs open fire, neatly missing ShadowBlade and pinging a few pellets from Judas' armored longjohns. Within moments, two of the thugs go down, one felled by ShadowBlade's icy touch, the other knocked insensible by Judas' thundering pistols. But one of the goons gets off a lucky shot, and a TAC member falls, the slug a bright smear of lead across his body armor! The officer begins to panic, finger tightening on the Darrow recoilless submachinegun in his hands...

Out of the corner of his eye, Judas spots the motion...while a burst would surely take out the thugs, there's a good chance that stray bullets will hit the crowd of unarmed rioters. The detective spins, a blur of motion, one pistol trained on the thug who fired, the other on the TAC officer about to open fire. It's an impossible shot, against impossible odds, but two twitches of the finger later, and the thug is slumped, unconscious against the van, and the TAC officer is nursing numb hands, the Darrow gun reduced to scrap.

Doktor Tesla's Neutralization Field discharges, dissipating the protective darkness around his teammate ShadowBlade...but also felling the remaining thugs, whose odd grayish pallor begins to fade almost immediately.

Then all hell breaks loose. The rioters scatter as TAC advances from behind the fence, closing in on TEAM Chiacgo. There's a bit of disgruntled argument between the good Doktor and ShadowBlade, and words are exchanged regarding being careful with one's teammates. Judas, though, is subject to trouble on two fronts -- on one side, local television reporter Mary Chen and her cameraman Robbie, and on the other Captain James Rodriguez, the leader of TAC.

Shouting ensues as TAC attempts to drive off the media presence, the media protests, and Judas is caught in the middle. ShadowBlade and Doktor Tesla step in to aid their comrade as Prince titan returns from the hospital with news of the gunshot victim: serious, but stable. A plea is made by the noble lava-man to the media that all who witnessed the event should pray for the worker's recovery. He's a family man, with two children to support.

In the chaos, Saturday seems to have escaped, through means unknown. A scan of the area reveals lingering traces of Talent-like energy, but little else. Nearby, ShadowBlade calms down Captain Rodriguez, and TEAM proceeds inside the Lighthouse to continue their investigation.

More strangeness ensues as clues are gathered: outside, the bullet that wounded one of the crowd is found -- heavy-caliber sniper's bullet, steel-jacketed. But only steel-jacketed, eliminating another iteration of Automatic Kafka as a suspect. Evidence is bagged, and theories discussed, as Prince Titan and Doktor Tesla look for more evidence inside...

Thanks the the marvel of super-science and Titan's knowledge of engineering, discoveries are quickly made: Titan tests himself against the mangled super-metal, discovering that even his strength, the strength of the Earth itself cannot damage it. The culprit responsible for the sabotage is, Tesla states, therefore stronger than even the mighty Titan...

Stay Tuned for Beacons of Hope, Part 3: Sin and Sin Again!
The greatness of Evil lies in its awful accuracy, for without that deadly talent for being in the right place at the right time, Evil must suffer defeat.
Mike Costigan
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Postby TheDayKnight » Tue Jan 14, 2003 6:09 pm

Great Update :D

I can't wait to see what happens! Any chance to posting character stats?
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TheDayKnight
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