Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sideways Through Subspace

First, let's talk a bit about Subspace. I came up with this by grooving on a bit of Fantastic Four trivia. When it was first introduced (FF #51), the Negative Zone was called Subspace. Consistent with conventional sci-fi usage, Lee & Kirby's Subspace was a between dimensions kinda place, a means of getting somewhere, or at least that's what Reed was hoping. Somewhat less conventionally, although entirely sensible, was the fact that it was a weird and terrifying place.

Marvel never really developed Subspace as a means of getting anywhere else, though. Before long, it was the Negative Zone, more a cosmic ghetto for psychotic aliens than the funky hyperspace it started out as. That being the case, I thought it would be fun to take some of the elements of Subspace as it was originally presented, give it my own spin (more of that below), and feed the Scrap Pile to it.

A bit of a rewind from last session: Our heroes weren't hurled directly into Dimension Q. Instead, they found themselves floating in the void. Torpedo, who had gone back to Earth to deliver Deathbird to the authorities, wasn't with them. There was no sign of the space station or any of the ships or supervillains that had been around it. The Earth glowed with searingly bright blues and greens, casting weird colors on the surrounding objects. The sun was a black sphere surrounded by a corona of dark tendrils.

Not far away, they saw Professor Hemm (or, as Disco said, "that guy with the bad hair"), who they had previously consulted on extra-dimensional issues, poking around without a space suit. The Professor flew over to them and explained that they were in Subspace. Any object with a large gravity well, like the Earth or even the Moon, would tear them apart because of the way gravity from the material universe interacts with Subspace and because their bodies here were adapted to occupy hyperspatial dimensions.

Subspace was peppered with asteroids, though, many of which were occupied by strange and deadly life forms that had found their way here from material space and somehow managed to survive. Orbiting closer to the deadly echo of Earth (and, presumably, other bodies with a gravity field strong enough to reach into Subspace) was a belt of xenoliths, transdimensional stone extrusions of other realities. The Professor had made his way into Subspace through one of these, and, with Magi's help, could probably locate one that could take them to Dimension Q.

Deciding to spread out to avoid missing anything, they got out a long rope and split into two teams. Disco and Land Shark took one end of the rope while Magi and Hemm took the other. What could possibly go wrong with that plan? As they floated carefully toward the Xenolith Belt, Disco and Land Shark saw a cool-looking asteroid off to the side, with domes and tubes connecting it to smaller asteroids, and something flying around it. Disco flashed a rainbow strobe at their teammates and the two of them let go of the rope to check it out.

A little closer, and they saw spotlights waving around in the dark, one of which found its way to them. Shortly after, a group of winged figures (and one with a rocket pack of some kind) started to head for them. Calling Magi and the Professor to help, they got ready to fight. Their enemies were four reptilian creatures with cybernetic enhancements (reptovors) and one borged-up guy bristling with weapons (a devastator). The Scrap Pile's opening move was for Disco to try a "fastball special" using his flight to accelerate Land Shark at their opponents. That didn't work out as well as it might have. Still, Disco was the only one who got knocked out in the fight, and they did eventually defeat the aliens. Or natives, I guess. Whatever.

Down at the Xenolith Belt, they found their portal rock, snagged it, and hopped on. Once there, they found a group of three hooded figures chanting over a cluster of crystals growing out of the rock. Professor Hemm recognized the chant as ancient black magic used by a half-forgotten cult known only as Dire Sorcerers.

Disco, already back in action, flew around and cranked up his light show to eleven, mesmerizing the sorcerers into a dazed reverence. The only information they provided was that they were trying to wear down the dimensional barriers. Then Disco introduced them to his friends and fellow deities, the rest of the Scrap Pile. Overcome with terror at the presence of so many gods, the sorcerers cringed and vanished.

That left our heroes free to move on to Dimension Q, which they did.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Groove is in the Heart

In space, no one can hear your soundtrack.

After taking some time to hone their skills and, in Magi's case, work on deciphering some of the dimension-jumping technology he had been gathering over several previous adventures, they talked to some contacts about Dimension Q and found out that there was a space station where technologically enhanced psychics were peering into other worlds, one of which appeared to be what they were looking for.

While they waited for their custom Scrap Pile space suits to be modified by the parent company (operations services had recently been bought out by Interlocking Technologies) the Angry Beet attacked with two strange ant-like henchmen. Apparently, he had been tipped off that the Scrap Pile was here and, confusing them with the Tripod City branch, come to settle old scores. Before long, Beet and his beet buddies were shipped off to Gladstone.

Out in space, as they neared the dimensional interface, Magi's mind shield power grew into a kind of telepathy. And their shuttle blew up. Torpedo and Disco were unconscious, but, miraculously, no one was otherwise hurt. Well, except the pilots. They probably died. The team was rescued by Freefall Brawler and Starbryte of the space-based branch of the team, Orbital Scrap. That's another two characters I need to put in the "supporting cast" thing, isn't it? Anyway, Disco was jealous of Starbryte's sparkly solid light powers and perfect hair.

Oh yeah, and stuff happened. They found out that it had been Azrak cultists (we talked about them, right?) who blew up their ship, and the same cultists were flying around stopping anyone from getting to the space station. FFB and Starbryte pointed out that the Azrak ship was coming back and they could take it over and use it to get to the space station. In the course of taking over the ship, they fought a bunch of the Gauntlet dudes and Gamma, a woman in glowing green armor who radiated deadly... uh... radioactivity.

In the cockpit, they found their old enemy Deathbird. This fight was considerably less humiliating than the last one, partly because Deathbird was confined to close quarters and couldn't maneuver as well. In the end, they took her down and the only casualty was the Gauntlet soldier Disco had brainwashed, skewered by one of Deathbird's spears.

Torpedo went with the Orbital Scrap team to take Deathbird to jail while the others moved on to the space station. By the way, it had at some earlier point become apparent that the Azrak cult had been maneuvering Qth-Raq and the human super-heroes into fighting each other because they wanted an inter-dimensional war to weaken the walls between universes and open the way to the Bright Cosmos.

The station was flooded with psychic screams coming from the ESP stations. The team was only able to proceed because of Magi's newly expanded shielding ability. Inside, they found some zonked-out telepaths ranting about stuff.

Then Baron Karza, who seemed to know Magi (even though Magi only had a vague memory of a bald guy who used to teach science) popped up and drained all the extra power that Magi had been collecting. Everybody got hurled into Dimension Q for reasons that weren't entirely clear. But that was where they were originally headed anyway, so I guess it's all good.

Worst write-up ever. Sorry.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

House Rules

We added a couple of house rules this time (session write-up coming soon) that seem to be working well.

Multiple Dodges: The first one is that you can keep dodging attacks, but you get progressively worse as the page goes on. Your first dodge is a normal roll, but after that penalties start stacking up. Minus one on the next dodge, minus two on the one after that, minus three on the one after that, and so on.

Free Activations: The other one is that everybody gets a free activation of each of their three qualities once per session. This was mainly because nobody in this group (including the GM) is used to the whole playing for determination points thing where you penalize your own character to get the bonus later. Also, I tend to forget to hand out the points for doing cool stuff, which, unfortunately, encouraged hoarding.