Monday, June 19, 2017

Giant Size Scrap Pile #3

This Itty Bitty World

First off, if the picture isn't enough of a hint, this scenario was a loose adaptation of Fantastic Four #236 by John Byrne. I picked it because, after the long break, I figured it'd be a fun way to welcome everyone back.

I started the session in the middle of a fight with "The Purple Flush" a differently-tinted version of the Crazy Gang, promising to catch everyone up on continuity after this scene. It was going fairly well. There were some heroic team efforts and several Purplers went down. Then Tweedledope, who had been hanging back from the fight, hyuck-yucked his way forward and revealed his latest creation, a giant metal rabbit that kept reciting the days of the week over and over. The Rabbot stomped the team flat in no time, and then Disco woke up from his nightmare.

He wasn't Disco, though. He was Josiah (Josh) Stern, son of Dr. & Mrs. James Stern, of Pilgrim's Rest, Pennsylvania. He was an "A" college student and popular athlete. He found a picture of his girlfriend, Debbie, on the nightstand. There was no Scrap Pile and no Beta City. His teammates did seem familiar though. Torpedo was his swim coach, Dorian Chalice. Land Shark was football star Quint Brody. Magi was a weird guy he had seen at the park. He couldn't remember the name.

As he thought about his alter-ego, "Disco," Josh realized that it didn't even make sense. He had never heard of disco music or rock or jazz or anything like that. The closest thing he could think of was big band leader David S. Pumpkins' occasional forays into swing.

While Josh got over his disorientation and had an awkward conversation with his parents ("what if I dreamed I was a gay super-hero?"), Quint and Coach Chalice were meeting at Der Waffle Haus. Magi's alter-ego, on the other hand, was waking up to a different situation. Algernon Touchshriek worked in a disreputable shop downtown called "Vintage Cock," where he was employed for the purpose of building, modifying, and repairing sex toys for senior citizens. His hobbies included looking through windows for demons and watching children play in the park.

Yeah, we've seen the last of the Comics Code Authority for this title. From now on, The New Scrap Pile will have to go direct distribution only. Wave of the future, right?

So anyway, Josh eventually ended up at the cafe with Coach and Quint, and they started talking about how they had all been having weird dreams. The Coach had dreamed about underwater adventuring and synthezoid imposters, while Quint had dreamed about a weird sand-sailing vessel captained by an Ahab-like Algernon Touchshriek hunting a giant sand shark.

Touchshriek, wandering by and hearing this, stopped and told them all about his own dream, in which they had all been scientist-explorers who had been exterminated by giant insect people. Despite finding him generally objectionable, the three clean-cut college types continued to talk with Touchshriek about this topic (and about Touchshriek's message for Josh that, "your dad's special order is ready") before moving on to their daily lives.

There were some fairly awkward scenes with Josh and his girlfriend, and Dorian, trying to find out how long he could hold his breath under water, also discovered that he could only breathe air.

Meanwhile, Touchshriek went back to the store, wondering why he had so much trouble focusing on any one subject for more than a few minutes.  The postman, Carl, stopped by with a package and chatted with Touchshriek. The two speculated that the package was a final component for the machine Touchshriek's boss, Rex Quirk, was building.

Before they could check it out, Professor Quirk himself swooped in and snatched it away, sneering about how Touchshriek could never understand it. Touchshriek said something about imagining a world where he was a scientist and Quirk was repairing used dildos. This seemingly caught Quirk off guard, so he just stomped upstairs in a huff.

Speaking of huffs, Touchshriek decided to take a break by getting high on aerosol cleaning chemicals. In his stupor, he had another dream. He was part of the Scrap Pile, as in Josh's dream, but they were all recovering from a different fight, one involving a computer hive-mind, an insane psychic villain called Bedlam, and a lot of guest stars.

As the exhausted heroes started cleaning up, they heard a low-pitched, disorienting sound that quickly faded into just a disquieting sensation. Then their minds went blank, and they were led away by a shadowy figure. He wasn't really in shadow, but somehow Magi's mind was failing to register his face.

Finally, as they got into his vehicle, escorted by android guards, his features became plain. It was Doctor Righteous. More than that, though -- he was also James Stern, Josh's father in the Pilgrim's Rest version of reality.

Touchshriek woke up, but he wasn't just Algernon Touchshriek anymore. His head was clear. He had all Magi's memories and skills, although, since Magi's super-powers mostly depended on his technology, he didn't have those yet. And he knew the key to restoring the rest of the Scrap Pile: getting them to snort dangerous psychoactive inhalants.

He was able to "wake up" Disco fairly easily. Land Shark was somewhat more difficult, and Torpedo put up quite a struggle, but eventually they were all huffing their way to enlightenment. They didn't, however, get their powers back, and they weren't sure why. There was some discussion of doing even more awful things to catalyze that process, but in the end they decided to go to the one person who they knew had some answers.

Everybody popped over to the Stern household, where Josh's mom, Faith, answered the door and was immediately punched out by Torpedo. Doctor Righteous, realizing they knew at least a significant portion of the truth, agreed to tell them what was going on.

They were in artificial bodies in a town built specifically for this purpose. Most of the townspeople were robots, but he and the Scrap Pile were inhabiting synthe-clone bodies.

He had devised this entire scheme because Disco looked just like his son in the 80sVerse. The real Josiah had been lost to sex, drugs, and rock'n roll. He had even joined one of those D&D cults and eventually committed suicide. "I just wanted my son back," Righteous sobbed. Torpedo punched him.

Magi wondered how Doctor Righteous was able to pull off all this mind transfer clonebot stuff. They hadn't seen anything close to the technology needed in the 80sVerse. Righteous said he had found a partner who could help him. When he didn't elaborate, they prodded him for the name.

A booming voice from above said, "Surely, that is not so difficult to deduce." Running outside, they saw a ridiculously huge figure blotting out the entire sky. "Who else could have taken the childish plot of Doctor Righteous and crafted it into the perfect vengeance against his most hated enemies? Who but THE WARMASTER?" It was Qth-raq. He ranted on a bit about how they were prisoners in his tiny village while their real bodies were helpless and then said he was off to regain his rightful position.

Magi took the opportunity to remind everyone that this was the guy they had all been so eager to cozy up to in Dimension Q. He kept saying, "Yeah, let's team up with him! He's a great guy!" When they discovered that Righteous was trapped here as well, Magi said, "Wait, you mean you worked with Qth-raq and he turned on you? Whoa! That's so weird! Who could have predicted that something like this could happen?"

Anyway, they eventually worked out a plan involving the machine Rex Quirk (who Magi had just recognized as Qth-raq with hair) had been building and a horrible assortment of spare parts from the store. Using his magical mechanic skills, and driven by his hatred of Qth-raq, Magi was able to adapt the machine to send them back to their real bodies.

They found themselves in a small building with the tiny town, lots of tech, and not much else. Magi snatched several of the synthe-clones and used them to stage mock arguments in which his teammates defended Qth-raq. Outside, they saw that they were on an island in the ocean and Qth-raq was speeding off to another island on some kind of evil jet-ski thing.

Torpedo, finally able to use his salt water-based powers, launched himself across and smashed Qth-raq into the wall of the building he had been heading for. The others followed. A tech-enhanced Tar Pit came out to help. More fighting. The Warmaster had some nifty new gadgets in his armor. Magi pumped up his flames as much as he could and let loose on Qth-raq, incinerating him and then stepping on his charred skull. Tar Pit surrendered at the sight of that and explained that he was helping Warmaster on behalf of the Unbeholden.

Disco and Torpedo told Magi they were going to have to arrest him for killing Qth-raq. In response, Magi announced that he was quitting the Scrap Pile and bounded away to the evil jet-ski. Torpedo was confident that he could catch him, but chose not to pursue.

These Dreams

Here are the dreams from Giant Size Scrap Pile #3, unedited from the messages I sent to the players. I used their super-hero names in the text instead of the fake history names because they had these descriptions before they knew they were going to be brainwashed.

Everybody but Disco got these instructions: Here's some stuff for the next Scrap Pile session.‭ ‬This is a dream your character will have at some point in the game.‭ ‬I'm sending‭ ‬it to you now so you can relay it in conversation to the others in character rather than having me take over to cram it into the narrative.‭ ‬I'll tell you when it's okay to share it.‭ ‬Before that,‭ ‬don't mention anything about it to the others.

Coach Dorian Chalice (Torpedo)
The four of you are all there,‭ ‬but you don't have super-powers.‭ ‬You do‭ ‬have funky high-tech suits like in the old Steranko Agents of Shield comics.‭ ‬Your current mission is underwater,‭ ‬so you have bubble helmets with big air hoses and propeller-jet backpacks.‭ ‬There's a gigantic cyber-turtle waking up in the depths,‭ ‬and you're‭ ‬trying to prevent it from rising,‭ ‬somehow.‭ ‬Partway down,‭ ‬you realize that all the others are‭ ‬synthezoid‭ ‬infiltrators and suddenly you're afraid that maybe you are too.‭ ‬Then‭ ‬all the water disappears.‭ ‬With nothing to support you,‭ ‬the whole team falls to its death.

Quint Brody (Land Shark)
The four of you are on a ship that sails on a sea of sand.‭ ‬You're the first mate,‭ ‬with Disco up in the crow's nest and Torpedo in charge of something below-decks.‭ ‬Magi is an Ahab-like captain,‭ ‬totally obsessed with his prey,‭ ‬a giant sand-swimming shark that bit his leg off in a previous encounter.‭ ‬Disco has just caught sight of it when the dream starts.‭ ‬The pursuit ends in disaster when it turns and wrecks the ship.‭ ‬You fall into the sand,‭ ‬which sucks you under and smothers you,‭ ‬and then you wake up.

Algernon Touchshriek (Magi)
The four of you are scientists who do more exploring than villain-punching.‭ ‬This time,‭ ‬though,‭ ‬you find yourselves fighting your way through a horde of cybernetic ape-men.‭ ‬Then you're in a world of giant insect-like creatures.‭ ‬They're intelligent,‭ ‬living in a huge,‭ ‬weird-looking city.‭ ‬They're not too fond of tiny visitors,‭ ‬though.‭ ‬One of them sees you and sprays you with something like bug spray‭ (‬mammal spray‭?)‬.‭ ‬Disco gets hit dead on and is tossed up into the air like a leaf.‭ ‬Land Shark tries to run into some kind of mouse-hole,‭ ‬but doesn't make it.‭ ‬The spray reacts with your equipment and you catch fire.‭ ‬Then you wake up.

And of course Disco's dream was played out by the whole team to open the adventure.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Coming Soon!

After a long hiatus, Giant Size Scrap Pile #3 is on the release schedule! (Pleasedontfallthrough-pleasedontfallthrough-pleasedontfallthrough!)

The bad news is that there's likely to be another hiatus afterwards, so that's all the more reason to make it awesome. I'm looking to resolve one long-running plot thread, at least.

That's pretty much all I can say, because almost everything about the story is supposed to be a surprise and, like, 99% of my audience is going to be playing in it.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Citrus Shocker Scandal

The New Scrap Pile is still in reprints, so we're going back even farther this time for a story from the original Scrap Pile:

Citrus Shocker Scandal Deepens

Apparently, cozying up to Arbiter Sands wasn't enough for the Scrap Pile. Now team leader Citrus Shocker has been accused of serious dereliction of duty by some of her fellow guardians of Paragon City.

Early in the evening of May 2nd, 2007, Citrus Shocker responded to a call for heroes to roust some Circle of Thorns cultists from a hidden temple in the Hollows. As one would expect of a hero, she joined the ad hoc team assembled by Police Drone 774 and joined them at the site. That's where the trouble began.

"I kept radioing her to ask if she could teleport me," said team member Iceman_X_123, "but she never answered. Later, I found out that she never even mentioned it to the other team members. She just stood there, reading her newspaper, while I jogged all the way across the Hollows. My cape was still on fire from Outcast Torch attacks, and she just stood there reading!"

Once in the temple, Shocker's behavior became even more... well... shocking. "She got in some good hits," says MedicHeelrDude. "I'll give her that, but then we all did. It was just an overwhelming horde of mages, guards, and some kind of screaming ghost things."

Police Drone 774 adds, "I took most of the aggro [sic] because I attacked first, but almost all of us went down. Poor TankerBelle will never be the same. As I collapsed on the stone tiles, gasping for help, I saw Citrus Shocker. She was badly hurt, but not down, and she was running for the door. And I'll tell you exactly what she said, because those words are burned into my memory. She looked over her shoulder with this annoyed expression, like she was really put out by our cries for help and said in a weird voice which I can only assume was a bad Eric Cartman impression, 'screw you guys; I'm going home.' That's what she said. And then she was gone."

"I saw her flying past as I came out of the hospital," says scrapper TrinityCatwoman. "I caught up to her and asked her to come back and help us finish the job and all she said was, 'You guys are morons. I don't have time for this.' Like it was all just a game to her. She's so mean."

Citrus Shocker could not be reached for comment, but she was photographed later the same evening, frightening civilians by kicking gang members below the belt in King's Row.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

In Reprints

We won't be producing original material for a bit. Gotta wait for some Scrap Pile members to find their way back to Beta City.

We'll be back, though, bigger and weirder than ever!

For now, I guess we're in reprints, so check out the classic Scrap Pile adventure, "Oh, What a Night."

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!