Thursday, October 20, 2016

We Got the Beet

Part Two of the Anniversary Special

They went down the elevator in two groups. They found a whole bunch of antrons, and an entirely robotic version which they nicknamed Max (after Maximilian, even though it didn't look much like him). Sideshow was also there, working at a console by the hibernation couches, only two of which were occupied. Violence ensued. Max turned out to be able to duplicate powers. Sideshow was taken out early. At some point, the capsules opened and The Angry Beet emerged to help the Scrap Pile.

Ruby popped in, flanked by dude in red and gold armor with a red visor (Crimson Wrath) and a dude made entirely of red crystal (Blood Diamond). She announced that the Hand of Covenant was here to claim the Smoking Mirror hive brain. More fighting. Disco was knocked out and replaced by Theta. Torpedo was knocked out and replaced by Psyclone. Ghost Lad continued to try stunts that horrified even the villains.

Eventually they noticed that Sideshow had awakened and was doing something to the machines. Cackling triumphantly, he announced that the Smoking Mirror had finally consumed enough minds and was ready to merge with him. He turned into a big scary alien dude called Bedlam and the world went blooey.

They found themselves in a void resembling subspace with Bedlam and a bunch of floating tentacled space brains. Bedlam could warp space and the brains could stun them with trippy Daliesque visions. And he summoned Deathwing. It all worked out for the best, though.

We'll deal with the aftermath next session.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Assault on IT

We played this session on October 2nd, which happens to be one day before the anniversary of our first session, so this issue was part one of the guest-star-filled anniversary special.

Besides doing everything I could to make it a blockbuster from the story side, I told everyone that any character they've played in this campaign or any of Tom's sessions was fair game and, just for this one, they could play two characters at once if they want. Also, any time one of their characters was damaged, they had the option to swap out for a surprise guest-star who pops in for vague comic-booky reasons to help out. It's turning out to be a two-parter because we couldn't get through everything I had planned, so the same rules will be in effect next time.

We started off with Doctor Zodiac on a rampage downtown, blasting things randomly and demanding that The Scrap Pile come out and face him. Eventually, they did, and he exploded, revealing that he was only a hollow Doctor-Zodiac-shaped bomb. After that, they were attacked from all sides by psybots. Whenever one of the androids zapped them with a mind blast, they had visions of webs spreading across the world from the antron hive, a black sphere floating in lava, or jaguar people manipulating or eating humans.

Deathbird showed up as the fight was ending, but she wasn't here to fight. Her team had been similarly ambushed and she was here to team up. (See? Guest stars!)

After some deliberation, they scooped up the robot parts and (with Deathbird) went back to their hideout. Magi and Torpedo built a super-hero android, Psyclone. They called in The B Team and found that Pork Chop's girlfriend, Bad Service, had been kidnapped by the psybots and taken to the Smoking Mirror. They sent Grave Bear and Psyclone to guard Morgana in case something similar was in the works for her. Then, abandoning their original plan to wait and see how their Angry Beet arrangements worked out, they went to rescue Bad Service and stop Interlocking Technologies.

The plan was for Ghost Lad to do some scouting first, but that fell apart right away. Land Shark followed Ghost Lad, while Pork Chop climbed up a fire escape into a back window. Magi, Torpedo, Disco, and Comet held back a bit.

Pork Chop found himself in a laboratory manned by Prince, Lemmy, and Muhammad Ali. Flavia (Doctor Gold) was also there. The three dead celebrities had been re-animated using hydraulic pumps and shoddy-locking electronic devices.

Ghost Lad found Blue Shift, Scarab, Scorpion, and Jellyfish guarding the restricted-access elevator to the hive. He attempted a gruesome plan to merge them into the floor by making it intangible, but failed, after which Scorpion was somehow able to determine and mark his location.

Pork Chop, tearing through zombies, found that he also had a super-human foe in Doctor Gold, as, cursing him for his meddling ("I will flay you and make a coat for Wesley Willis out of your skin!"), she raised her arms and morphed into a shiny Nebulon-like form. Magi leaped to the window to join him. When Prince's head was knocked off and landed at Disco's feet, someone quipped, "De-elevator brought him down."

The battle with the North Coast Guardians (minus Sideshow) was joined from various angles. Pork Chop and Magi took out the zombies and Doctor Gold, even after she changed into a giant acid-spitting worm thing. Scarab turned out to have darkness powers in addition to his agility. Nobody knew what Scorpion's powers were because Ghost Lad took her out with one shot early in the fight. Jellyfish turned out to be very difficult to hurt in her amorphous form, and covered with deadly poison spines.

There were lots of cool heroics and stunts and fights in multiple locations that nearly melted the Game Master's brain. Torpedo, thanks to an Atlantean prince retcon, was immune to this one particular type of jellyfish poison. Magi conjured a fire rune that was able to do psychic as well as physical damage. Land Shark endangered everyone by using the concrete floor as a weapon, but he did manage to slow the elusive Jellyfish down a bit. Deathbird was wounded and slipped away while no one was looking. Hey, she's still a villain.

Finally, the Scrap Pile triumphed. Pork Chop got them past the electronic lock and they prepared to move on to the sub-basement, where they expected to find Angry Beet, Bad Service, a bunch of antrons, and maybe more.

To be continued in the pages of The B Team -- on sale in two weeks!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Let's Go Crazy

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life. Electric word, life. It means forever, and that's a mighty long time! But I'm here to tell you there's something else...

Back to the main Scrap Pile (minus Magi, who was off doing something else), the team had a chat with that hacker they borrowed from the Lizard Moll. The Angry Beet, by the way, had passed his first interview and was scheduled to go in for processing in a couple of days.

First off, the hacker reported that there was a whole section referred to as the "Bionet" which wasn't connected to anything outside the building and so out of her reach. She did have information on the people who worked there and much of the process. Subjects were given dimethyltryptamine and placed in special sensory deprivation tanks referred to as "hibernation couches." These were then plugged in to the Bionet, which somehow completed the process. From the description, it sounded like they were talking about the weird sub-basement Ghost Lad had found on his scouting mission.

They decided that they needed some more information, so they found the lab manager, Flavia Golden, and sent Disco out to "take one for the team." According to her credit card statements, Dr. Golden spent a lot of money at Evil Gnome Games, so Disco bleached his hair and started hanging out. Eventually, he did run into her and, after somewhat awkwardly convincing her that he was interested in both women and role-playing games, scored a date.

This led  to drinks and eventually back to her place, where Disco was able to distract Flavia by telling her he was really into "sciency stuff" and would love to hear more about her work. So she took him down to her basement, where, beyond a second locked door, a chamber of nightmares awaited.

First, there was a hideous walking corpse with vinyl-like skin which Flavia introduced as Wesley Willis. Wesley was supported by a framework of hydraulic pumps which hissed and spurted fluids as he moved. The rest of the room was filled with gurneys, tanks, and an assortment of medical and other electronic equipment. Two of the gurneys had bodies covered with sheets on them.

Flavia took Disco to the closest of these and asked him if he was into rock & roll. Without waiting for an answer, she pulled back the sheet, revealing that she had the corpse formerly known as Prince, dressed in full purple regalia, in her basement. She said she was just waiting for something called "Kilmer fluid" to soak in and toughen up his skin like Wesley's, before she started working on him.

Doing his best to disguise his horror, Disco got Flavia to come back upstairs and have a few more drinks. Finally, he got her talking about her job. The Bionet was actually a cybernetic hive mind generated by the antrons. By manipulating this network, they had been able to bring the whole hive under control. The conversion process simply plugged subjects into the hive, not so much controlling them as imprinting its priorities on them.

Having gathered the information he came for, Disco risked a lightshow to make Flavia sleepy. It worked and, while she muttered something about him being sparkly, she didn't seem to notice anything amiss. Disco left a fake phone number and made his escape.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The B Team

Ghost Lad had agreed to scout out the North Coast Guardians' HQ for the Scrap Pile, partly because he was still hoping for an opportunity to meet Disco. Although he knew he could get in without being seen or even having to open a door, he still wanted some backup, so he contacted The Comet, a young crime-fighter who had recently taken up the mantle of the original Comet, one of the first known super-heroes.

He also brought in some less wholesome allies, hoping that perhaps they would have useful connections. Grave Bear had once been an up-and-coming stand-up comic who went to a lot of the same parties as Ghost Lad, but he was now a humorless undead man-beast. The two now shared a strange "ghost link" which sometimes enabled them to communicate telepathically. Pork Chop, on the other hand, was a former associate of The Angry Beet who was now trying to clean up his act.

The four of them decided to get some fake IDs so that Ghost Lad could have plenty of nearby support while he scouted the area. To this end, Pork Chop and Grave Bear went over to the Lightfoot Island docks to talk to Zombie Lizard Moll. While they were doing that, however, Ghost Lad and Comet decided to go have a quick look-around anyway.

The Interlocking Technologies lab that supported the North Coast Guardians was across town, in one wing of what used to be a hospital. Ghost Lad got them in and found a lab coat for Comet easily enough, but it wasn't long before a member of the fairly small staff noticed an unfamiliar face and referred him to "HR" in Beta City proper.

Ghost Lad, meanwhile, found a mysterious locked elevator at the end of the hallway. Upon attempting to phase in, he was repulsed by a force field. Not to be dissuaded, he gave it another go and pushed through. Down the elevator shaft, Ghost Lad found a large underground chamber with a smaller central dome surrounded by hibernation capsules. Creepy human-sized ant-cyborgs were crawling all over everything.
Ghost Lad took pictures of the facility but, to do so, he had to briefly become visible. One of the antrons saw him and fired off a shot with some kind of bee gun. Alarms went off. Upstairs, Comet was attacked by Jellyfish, Blue Shift, and several decimators and psybots.

Back on Lightfoot Island, Grave Bear and Pork Chop caught up with Firetemple (one of the Lizard Moll's super-powered enforcers) and made their case to the Lizard Moll. She was no fan of the North Coast Guardians and agreed to have some badges customized for the B Team. This wouldn't take long, because much of the work had already been done for some reason. Grave Bear sent out a ghost-brain message to Ghost Lad and discovered that he and Comet were under attack at the lab.

Comet and Ghost Lad were holding their own, although Comet's defensive "blast field" was being gradually weakened by the decimator's null ray. Pork Chop and Grave Bear rushed to the rescue in their freshly-rented car and everybody slugged it out. Then a whole mob of fresh "Ultra" agents stormed in from nowhere and the group decided it was time to run away.

They decided that, before they took what they had to the Scrap Pile, they needed a hacker to get into I.T.'s computers and find out more about what they had seen. Another trip to the Lizard Moll's den seemed in order.

This time, the Lizard Moll wanted something in exchange for her help. Her ex and mob rival, Joe Cassanelli (AKA NecroDon) had set up a warehouse in her territory. She wanted our heroes to burn it down.

They said okey-dokey to this, and, after a bit of ghostly scouting, they proceeded to trash the place. It was defended by some goons with guns and a large, undead Liberace. There was also a crazy-looking mad scientist guy with a shrink ray. Giant-sized Grave Bear punted Liberace into the harbor, and Comet took out Downsizer after Grave Bear took a few shrinks.

The Lizard Moll was satisfied with their work and hooked them up with one of her hackers.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Day of the Dastards

While going over their options (and talking to their publicist, Winnie Amanda), the team heard the news that the Angry Beet was being considered for I.T.'s controversial early release program and would be transported to the North Coast Guardians' HQ for an interview the next day. The Scrap Pilers needed proof before going to the authorities, and Magi suggested that they might save a step by stopping the plot and then offering that proof as their justification. There was also some discussion over the wisdom of letting Gamma go after she very nearly killed Torpedo.

They decided that best way to proceed would be to inoculate the Angry Beet against the brainwashing procedure and use him to get more information, then send someone stealthy in to deal with the Smoking Mirror. They contacted their friend Morgana for the first part (Magi had technology that would work, but only if Beet were allowed to wear obvious electronic headgear during the procedure) and Ghost Lad for the second part. Morgana, however needed to be in close proximity to work the spell, and Beet wasn't being allowed visitors.

They needed to abduct the Angry Beet mid-transport, but didn't want to be seen being all criminal, so they created villainous alter-egos and ambushed the transport as The Dastards. As the team screeched onto the scene in their Chevy Malibu of Evil, the trunk opened to disgorge Asteroids (Magi), who crashed into the pavement in front of the van in a fireball, bringing it to a screeching halt. Blacklight (Disco) gave everyone the finger and dazzled the driver of the lead police car. The police car veered off the road. Protesters and random bystanders scattered, except for one guy who didn't seem care that he was about to be run over.

Despite his villainous cover, Bad Fish (Land Shark) tackled the bystander to get him out of the way. The civilian, however, turned out to be a psybot, a plastic-faced robot with mind blast powers reminiscent of the roboto guards from the Styxverse. Its eyes flashed as it zapped Bad Fish. Land Pirate (Torpedo) and several more psybots from the crowd joined the fray. Land Pirate occupied three of the cops by pretending to wrestle with one of them while his compatriots tried to get a clear shot.

While the rest of the team slugged it out, Asteroids was using a dimension travel stunt to get into the transport, drop a teleport beacon for himself, and bring the Angry Beet to the Styxverse, where Morgana was waiting to perform the ritual that would mystically shield his mind from the Smoking Mirror. Once that was completed, Asteroids returned Beet to the transport and signaled the others that it was time to go. They took their parting shots and the Chevy Malibu of Evil screeched away, while Blacklight again offered his sneering middle-finger salute to the assorted onlookers.

Next session, we'll be going in with Ghost Lad and whatever group of infiltrators he comes up with, so everybody gets to try out an alternate character for real, instead of just a different costume.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

One Microscopic Cog

(We started with a cut scene from the opening of "The Man Comes Around" just to give me an excuse to wave Stars, Specters, and Super-Powers in front of people again.)

Looking into their new rivals in the North Coast Guardians, the team found out from Carl Caravel that Interlocking Technologies was owned by Concord Holdings, which also owned a number other companies (Aspera Charter Schools, Covenant Transport, Advanced Idea Mechanics, and a think tank called the Friedman Foundation).

They also found out that the North Coast Guardians were formed under the auspices of a radical new rehabilitation program called The Smoking Mirror Project. Supervillains were offered early release contingent on their participation in some sort of new therapy program. Sideshow, Scarab, and Blue Shift were known participants in this program. Another villain, Gamma (who the Scrap Pile fought in space once) had run away after apparently having an adverse reaction to the treatment.

The team split up. Disco wanted to check out a Covenant Transport warehouse just outside Beta City. Torpedo, Magi, and Land Shark went to the wilderness on the south side of Lightfoot Island, where Caravel believed Gamma was heading.

After some flirting in the office in his civilian identity, Disco went back outside to see a smallish object flying away in the distance. He suited up (spinning like Wonder Woman to change into his costume) and flew after it.

Magi and Land Shark cooked up a search method which involved a lot of tunneling and leaping and fire. Torpedo swam out to search the lake. While Magi and Land Shark dealt with an avalanche, Torpedo spotted an air-filled underwater cave with lots of cheap camping gear and fast food wrappers scattered about. After letting Land Shark and Magi know what he was doing, he hid nearby and watched the entrance.

Eventually, a pair of somewhat shoddy-looking cyborgs flew into the area, checked some sort of scanning instrument they were carrying, and plunged into the water. They were followed shortly by Disco, who first took a moment to change into his aquatic costume (a silver speed-o with suspenders). The cyborgs looked around the cave, took some readings, and were preparing to leave when Torpedo and Disco attacked. The cybogs went down fairly quickly, although one of them did manage to temporarily nullify Disco's powers first.

They were able to determine that the cyborgs were cobbled together from a combination of Dimension Q technology and tech scavenged from Karza's soldiers. They had successfully identified Gamma's energy signature and had been about to follow her trail when the Scrap Pile stopped them. They did, however, have a legitimate Hero Corps operating license. Despite this, Magi sabotaged their jets so the Scrap Pile could get to Gamma first.

Swimming, flying, and Scrap-Boating off to the west, the group found an island with some dilapidated houses, shops, and a faux-castle Mexican restaurant. Gamma was in an old motel near the castle. Both Magi and Torpedo went down in the fight. Torpedo was so badly wounded that he had to be hospitalized. Magi had been driving the boat, so his unconsciousness led to a crash. Disco tried the diplomatic approach. Gamma agreed to talk over lunch at the castle as long as Disco gave his word that they wouldn't try to take her in.

Gamma revealed that Smoking Mirror was actually a cyber-brain scavenged from the Karza War. IT had adapted it to ESPer technology so they could use it to brainwash people. Something about Gamma's powers had protected her from its effects, giving her the chance to flee. She believed that Sideshow, who was formerly known as The Clown, was also immune and was trying to get ahold of the brain for his own nefarious purposes.

Gamma revealed that Sideshow had once mentioned a contact called "Warmaster" and that neither Scorpio nor Jellyfish were known criminals. Jellyfish's powers had come from exposure to alien technology during the Karza War.

Magi took the opportunity to point out that they never should have made a deal with Qth-raq, and a few other old arguments resurfaced, but everyone had a nice dinner in the intensive care unit with the carry-out Disco brought from the Castillo Grande.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Man Who Sold the World

To recap, our heroes returned from fighting Karza to find that the larger Scrap Pile organization had been bought out by Interlocking Technologies, and the Tripod City team and all subsidiaries had been disbanded. The Beta City team (which would be our guys) and their base had been off the record, so they were overlooked. They did, however, find that all the utilities had been disconnected.

Elsewhere, while Houston had been liberated, the city and the surrounding areas had been devastated by the war. In addition, swarms of antrons and reptovors from subspace continued to ravage the countryside. As a result, the entire state of Texas was declared a Forbidden Zone, its government shut down and its governor executed. Okay, no, the governor wasn't really executed. He had already disappeared in a hornetroid attack early on.

So anyway, the team did what they could to get things working again, including trying to get some back pay out of Captain Scrappy. While they were setting up the rabbit ears, they caught a broadcast about a new Interlocking Technologies-managed team called the North Coast Guardians. This team consisted of a strangely familiar tech-using character called Sideshow who wore face paint instead of a mask, a woman called Scorpio who wore a glowing opal on her forehead and used a tech-based tail, a woman called Jellyfish who was able to assume an amoeboid form, a man with insect-styled tech called Scarab, and the rogue hero they had encountered in Dimension Q, Blue Shift.

And then Karl Caravel (who Magi and Land Shark met while hunting Doctor Zodiac) showed up, asking for help because, "I might, possibly, have, um, caused just a bit of an alien invasion." He told the team about a meeting he had at one of his many philanthropic events. He was approached there by an old friend he had thought dead. This "Ulysses Nebul" wanted to buy an ancient jade tablet which, according to legend, conferred ownership over the Earth to whoever held it. After having a laugh over the idea, Caravel shook hands on the deal and they parted for the evening.

Later, after the deal had gone through, Caravel noticed rising numbers of paranormal incidents with "demons" of a few recurring types, and began to suspect that they were actually aliens. There was also the "Digit 6" political group, which... I'm not going to explain all that here.

Caravel was about to say more, but then our heroes decided that this was a good opportunity to wrangle funding for their now-orphaned enterprise. Using heroic guilt-trips, heroic blackmail, and various other heroic coercion methods, they managed to secure support for their base expenses, regular salaries, and the money Caravel made selling the tablet. Caravel also agreed to help establish The Scrap Pile as a legal business entity.

Caravel, revealing that, "I’m something of a mystic myself," said that he believed something was going on at the Weatherhead Building in an abandoned section of Lightfoot Island. The bizarrely twisted building had been popular with occult practitioners ever since it was abandoned in 2001

They found the building guarded by brutish aliens with four arms, one pair of which bore fearsome claws. After the team defeated one of the aliens, Disco was able to win over the other with a light show and convince it to take him to its leader.

They found several banks of elaborate, if strangely old-fashioned, machinery set up in the auditorium. A small man with big folds of flabby skin and a woman with a red crystal ball instead of a head were working there with some more guards.

Subduing and/or brainwashing these two, the Scrap Pile discovered that "the real show" was happening over at the Chandra Hill Observatory. There, Nebulon ("Ulysses Nebul") was planning to summon an ancient god called Shuma-Gorath to take possession of the planet, as promised by the jade tablet.

As they approached Chandra Hill, they could see shadowy forms flitting out from the telescope lens. While Torpedo walked directly into the lobby and then shifted to lava form when attacked, the others made their way up to the telescope and started working on destroying the lens, which turned out to be a great deal tougher than regular non-demon-summoning glass.

Inside, Torpedo found that Nebulon was indeed performing some kind of ritual with the jade tablet, and a portal was indeed opening. Between Torpedo and Nebulon was another patchwork horror-show. There was a gorilla with a man's head, a man with a bison's head, and there was Chondu. Chondu had a demonic-looking form with eight lampreys for arms (four from each shoulder), big ole bat-wings, a horn sprouting from his forehead, a forked tongue, and the talons of a gigantic bird for feet.

Magi, Land Shark, and Disco destroyed the lens fairly quickly and joined the fight. Eventually, Land Shark got his hands on the tablet and smashed it. The ground shook. The portal started to flicker and fluctuate erratically. Nebulon screamed as Shuma-Gorath's six tentacles reached through the shattered gateway and took hold, dragging him through.

The portal snapped shut and vanished. Chondu's various pieces all fell apart, leaving his lifeless head rolling around on the floor. The same thing happened to the man-headed gorilla. The bison head disappeared, leaving a headless corpse behind.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

In the End, There Will Always Be Karza

Reunited, they made it to the door of Karza's sanctum without much more in the way of trouble. Once there, Magi was able to gadget up the electronic door lock/intercom system to give them a look inside. The room was dominated by the ESP core, a central column ringed with ESPer chairs. The top of the ESP core had been fitted with huge, shimmering crystals. The chairs were occupied by emaciated but living psychics. There were two pharoids (like the creature from which they had rescued Torpedo) standing against the far wall, unmoving, with their arms crossed tomb-style. Four Gauntlet soldiers stood around the room. Karza was ranting at one of the psychics. There was no sound over the improvised monitor, but his body language suggested that he was pretty pleased with himself.

Since Magi had also gained access to the alarm system, they decided that the best thing to do would be to set off an alarm at a lower level, then hide around the corner and wait for the guards to head downstairs. After trying this once, they found that two of the Gauntlets had moved to stand outside the door, but not much else had happened. They fought the Gauntlets. R'yl lurked uselessly in the back, but the Scrap Pile was still easily victorious. They decided to try again, hoping to continue picking off enemies the same way.

At first, not much seemed to happen. Then the whole station started to vibrate and manifest multi-colored double images of itself. They decided that something big was happening and they needed to stop it right away.
Inside, they each picked a target. Disco drew the Gauntlets away and fought them. Torpedo and R'yl attacked Karza, hoping not so much to defeat him as to keep him busy while Magi shut down the machine. Land Shark investigated the pharoids.

As "The Magical Mechanic," Magi found that he was uniquely qualified to decipher the sorcerous super-science of Karza's machine. It was engaged in attempting to bring a planet-sized mass of unknown composition forward from the mysterious "Bright Cosmos." Land Shark prodded the pharoids and they remained inert, so he decided not to bother with them any further.

R'yl blasted Karza to no benefit. Torpedo was barely able to harm him, but still got in some powerful blows that dented his armor. A couple of times, Torpedo hurled Karza into instrument panels and enraged him to the point of ranting. They were able to wear him down and keep him occupied (and sometimes even off-balance) this way. Disco continued to fight the Gauntlets. Land Shark jumped across the room to try and smash the crystals on the ESPer core. Magi was working on making the machine feed back on itself so that it would send its Bright Cosmos object back, overload, and destroy itself.

Magi (with some help from Land Shark) succeeded in stopping the machine and making it really hard for anyone else to start again. R'yl left Torpedo to fight Karza alone because he wanted to dash off and grab a gauntlet from one of the soldiers Disco took down. As the peripheral enemies fell, however, more of the Scrap Pilers were able to join the fight against Karza. In the final minutes of the battle, R'yl accidentally released a burst of Karza's energy essence from his cracked armor and apparently disintegrated himself.

Prodded by Magi, Karza monologued a bit about how he was an amalgamation of minds that were drawn together to give voice to the sentient energy of the Bright Cosmos. Since one of these was the former teacher Magi remembered, he tried (unsuccessfully) to reach that mind and bring it to the surface. Karza still went down though. As Kirby-cracklin' energy rose from the ruined suit and started to drift around the room, the team looked for something they could use to contain it and found Karza's helmet. Torpedo attempted to overcome Karza's will and force it into the vessel, but couldn't pull it off at first. Magi added some mystic runes to enhance the binding spell and gave it a shot on his own, which also failed. Together, though, they were able to trap Karza's life force in his own helmet. The pharoids disappeared.

The team returned home to find that the larger Scrap Pile organization had been bought out by Interlocking Technologies, and the Tripod City team and all subsidiaries had been disbanded. The Beta City team (which would be our guys) and their base had been off the record, so they were overlooked. But that's a story for the next issue.

Epilogue (narrated to the players as a cut-scene)

A burning figure crashes into the ground. As he staggers to his feet, we can see that it's R'yl, and he has fallen to Earth somewhere in the ostrich-blighted wastes of Ontario. His armor, especially his helmet, is battered and sparking in several places. Tearing off the overheating headgear, R'yl shows his face for the first time. He is Warmaster Qth-raq.

A tall woman in a dark coat approaches.‭ ‬Qth-raq takes a shot,‭ ‬which is intercepted by shadows which swirl around her and settle back down in the folds of her cloak.‭ ‬She gestures and black tentacles spring out of the ground to hold him.‭ ‬She‭ ‬says, ‭"‬Poor Qth-raq.‭ ‬Command center destroyed,‭ ‬soldiers‭ ‬scattered,‭ ‬and‭ ‬here you are,‭ ‬stranded on an alien world in a barely‭ ‬functional suit of armor.‭"

Qth-raq‭ ‬growls that he still has a few tricks left and ‬manages to get an energy blade working to slice away the shadows.‭ The dark woman snaps her fingers and‭ ‬a group of‭ ‬zombies claw their way out of the earth‭ ‬between them.‭

She laughs. "Tsk.‭ ‬Once‭ ‬a soldier,‭ ‬always a soldier,‭ ‬eh,‭ ‬Qth-raq‭? ‬You needn't worry,‭ ‬though.‭ ‬I‭ ‬believe you and I‭ ‬could be great friends,‭ ‬actually.‭ ‬You may not think you have much right now,‭ ‬but‭ ‬you don't need your rooks to become powerful‭ ‬again.‭ ‬This world offers all manner of‭ ‬opportunities ‬for those of us who are‭…‬ Unbeholden.‭"

Monday, March 14, 2016

Torpedo Tubes

As Topedo was fidgeting with the reactor controls, an alarm suddenly went off. Light shimmered around him and he vanished. The screen said, "Unauthorized Access Detected: Intruder Transported to Containment 3."

The team considered their options for a bit, and then heard clicking and scuttling noises outside. Land Shark peeked around the corner and was shot in the face by a rocket lance. There were two bug people crawling around outside. They had trouble hitting the bugs at first, but Magi came up with a way to split his fire blast into a bunch of tiny blasts to get them to hop right into the path of Land Shark's fists.

Making their way up to "Containment 3," the team found a man(ish) in a weird techno-Egyptian outfit working at the controls of a bank of cyrogenic tanks, two of which were occupied. Magi remembered stories from Dimension Q in which beings like this were responsible for something similar to Earth's alien abduction phenomenon. They first attempted to chat him up, discovering when he turned around that his face was nothing but blank silvery skin. Magi toyed with the idea that this might be an enemy of Qth-raq and therefore a potential friend.

Eventually, Disco made a grab for the module around his waist and its large greenish stone. The creature fended him off with an energy shield and responded by blasting him with green energy. While he was doing that, Land Shark decked him and knocked him out, after which he vanished in a silvery mist. Disco lamented the lost opportunity to pick up a piece of glowy bling.

Opening the tubes, they found Torpedo and a beat-up rook (still in armor, but wingless) from Dimension Q who offered to help them out in exchange for freeing him. After a few stammers, possibly owing to his recent defrosting, the rook introduced himself as "R'yl."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Easy Part

After arriving in the airlock of Karza's space station, Magi, Land Shark, and Disco were surprised to see a ship docking, carrying none other than Torpedo.

Moving on, they found that the corridors beyond were coated with webbing. After some prodding, four insect-like dudes with rocket lances came skittering down the corridor at them. The creatures were very agile and hard to hit, but eventually went down.

One of them kept a rocket lance. I think it was Land Shark. They also found the tattered remains of uniforms belonging to station personnel and discussed whether this meant they ate the crew or they were the crew. In any case, they had the unconscious insectoids taken back to the ship for further study.

Moving towards the middle, they were intercepted by a group of Gauntlet soldiers (like the ones they ran into a long time ago). Disco tried to calm them into sleepytime with a light show, but their gauntlets injected stimulants and kept them going. Another exhausting fight later, the Scrap Pile moved on.

In the station's core module, they found a large central shaft going up and down with bridges and an elevator. Also, several indentations along the core housed skeletons wired to ESP units. They decided to head for the main power plant to see if Karza had done anything to it, and possibly to do something themselves. They were met by a humanoid who only identified himself as "Hunter Unit #5" and seemed to be made of melted wax interspersed with cables and funky tech implants.

The Hunter Unit proved difficult to harm, and was also able to reconfigure his tech components to give himself new powers. Luckily, the sonic device that he tried to use to take them all out at once was similar to some undersea noises to which Torpedo had a resistance. Magi was injured in the fight and lost consciousness, but eventually the gloppy, difficult-to-hurt guardian fell.

Examining the reactor controls, the team was unable to find any sign that Karza had tampered with it. Everyone was battered and Magi was still out cold. They discussed some possibilities and that's where we left it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Giant Size Scrap Pile #2

In the midst of a heated battle with the villainous Time Lincoln, Land Shark and Magi were joined by a new hero called Ghost Lad. After wrapping up the fight and turning the evildoer in, The heroes got word that a silent alarm had been tripped at the newly-renovated Beta City Museum of... I don't remember. Doesn't matter. History or something.

Checking it out, they found the museum being burgled by a dude in a ski mask. When confronted, he announced that their defeat was written in the stars, then summoned four zodiac avatars and vanished in a flash of light. Fighting Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn with an incredibly small amount of property damage (for the Scrap Pile), the team watched their foes turn to smoke and disperse.

They found that the burglar had made off with an ancient Babylonian breastplate that had four gems attached to it, and space for eight more. The display, it turned out, was new, just opening to the public, and the missing items were loaned to the museum by a Dr. Karl Caravel, a local collector of antiquities. The display was set to open tomorrow. Caravel was hosting a fundraiser event on his yacht, the Silver Eel, the next night.

The team decided to attend the party incognito. Ghost Lad had connections who were able to get last-minute invitations for all of them. Ghost Lad scouted the area while Magi and Land Shark grilled Caravel for information. Well, Magi grilled him. Land Shark mostly just made cryptic remarks about watchful sharks until Caravel finally said, "You're that clever shark, aren't you?"

Ghost Lad found the burglar, along with Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius, breaking into the safe. He overheard the burglar saying, "Damn that Caravel! Where is the moonstone?" He did his best to hold them up with intangibility stunts while Land Shark headed below to help. Magi stayed to keep an eye on Caravel.

Once Land Shark arrived, the burglar teleported to up to Caravel, where he was able to wrest the moonstone ring Caravel was wearing away. In the struggle (aided by Magi), Caravel pulled off the burglar's mask and exclaimed, "Zodius!" just before the villain sucker punched him. Zodius laughed villainously as the zodiac avatars below disappeared. He bragged about the stars again, summoned a giant tidal wave, and teleported away with one of Caravel's guests.

Stopping a tidal wave was a bit much for this group. The adventure offered another option, but I wanted to see what they'd do with this one anyway. They did manage to come up with a determination-point-draining blend of earthworks, boat-phasing, and fire that saved the boat and only flooded the shoreline instead of trashing the whole city, so it was worth it.

Caravel revealed that the man who had been causing trouble for the heroes all night was Dr. Lemuel Zodius, a former astronomer with the city observatory run by the university. (Under some pressure from Magi, he also admitted to having hired Zodius to research the gems and tell him how to use them. Apparently Zodius had decided he'd rather keep them for himself.) Zodius had been dismissed from his position due to psychological issues, a nervous breakdown or some such. The man he abducted is Dr. Gordon Lyton, the director of the observatory, who was responsible for his dismissal. Before they vanished, Caravel heard Zodius tell Dr. Lyton, "Now it begins anew where it ended!"

The observatory was out on an island in Lake Mohawk. Once there, they sneaked (sort of) past some more zodiac avatars (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) and saw Zodius completing a ritual to fuse all the gems onto the breastplate and give himself all their powers. Big fight, punch blast grab, etc., and Doctor Zodiac finally went down. The zodiac gems were inert and seemingly drained. The observatory was trashed. The team turned Doctor Zodiac over to the police and resolved to keep an eye on Caravel in the future.

This adventure came from The Sidereal Schemes of Dr. Zodiac, by Steve Kenson. Well, most of it did.

I picked it because it's easy to run and the zodiac gems conveniently tie in to another storyline that's been creeping along in the background. Luckily, my players never read the write-ups, so I don't have to worry about them seeing this note.

Monday, January 11, 2016


With a giant shadow-pterodactyl between them and the Nexus (see last session), the Scrap Pile dove in and attacked.

It didn't take long to figure out that, being made of darkness, Deathwing was really hard to hurt with physical attacks (like Land Shark's fists) but was vulnerable to light. Disco was all set. Magi took a moment to adapt his flame vents to burn brighter in the visible spectrum at the expense of heat.

As they dodged beak-strikes and continued to wear away at the creature, Professor Hemm was drained by a tail-swipe and seriously injured. As he lost consciousness, he was transformed into a fiendish yellow and green man-beast who spoke in rhyme, the Goblin. Luckily, Goblin was formidable in hand-to-hand combat and proceeded to tear into Deathwing. Disco finally cranked up his searing aura and flew directly into Deathwing's heart, dispersing it.

The shadowy remnants of Deathwing's body reformed into human-sized shadow mantas, which renewed their attacks, but the team was able to eventually destroy these as well.

This left them in charge of the undefended Nexus, but Professor Hemm, who was carrying the Pillar of Universes and had been expected to activate it, was gone. In his place was unpredictably violent Goblin. It took some cajoling and some Disco-magic (which almost backfired because Goblin had his own ideas about how you treat people you like) to get the Pillar away from him.

Magi then had to improvise a ritual, but succeeded spectacularly with a rhyme of his own. The Nexus was sealed. The inter-dimensional war had, for the most part, been cooled to suspicious animosity and the portal through which their misdirected energies were passing was closed. Except for the small matter of Baron Karza being in charge of a space station orbiting Earth, the day was saved.

Oh, and we played on Tom's (Capt. Scrappy/Torpedo/Goblin) birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY/ELVISMAS, TOM!