Thursday, October 26, 2017

Episode 6: The Saga of the Swamp Things

SYSTEM: ICONS

Only one player, but it had been so long since I ran that, well, we went ahead. I didn't want to do the whole session I had planned so the exterior portion, which would have been half of the original session plan, took up the whole thing. We got more experience in stunting powers, which is good... The session is sort of serialized because of this, though, which I regret.

This account is long, because it's kinda a brain vomit. There's a chance I'll come back to it later and do a shorter, more readable version.

When last we left off, our heroes had captured the thief from the strip club robberies and discovered that it was a repaired robot, robot that was giving off tau radiation. While Nathan, the owner of the robot, was easily dealt with by hiring him and paying back the money he had stolen ($586.00 in mostly singles), the teenagers who then attacked were slightly more difficult. They were George Turner (age 13), Lily Gloom (age 15), and Landslide (no identity yet, but turned into a 16 year-old boy when they put the power neutralizers on him). Still, those three were arrested and we open in the police station, where Gold Tiger is interrogating Gerorge Turner.

(Credit where it's due: George, Lily, and Landslide are part of the Young Anarchists, created by Ade Smith in the Fainting Goat adventure, Lair of the Wrathmaster. Most of the Improbable Tales adventures are excellent, and the ones I don't regard as excellent just are not to my taste. Anyway, aside from names and powers, I've invented some backstory for them that isn't too different from the one in the module but is, shall we say, congruent to the backstory in the module.)

TL;DR summary of events:

  • Gold Tiger offers George a job
  • Dr. Warp is from the 1960s
  • His hideout is an abandoned laboratory in a swamp
  • The liberal and casual use of tau radiation has caused the muck to become human-like swamp things
  • PCs fought them before getting in to the secret base
  • They now have Professor Jelinek and a device that sucks up tau radiation with them
  • They might have shut down all the robots, or they might have shut down just one—they don't know yet

The Long Version


George apparently knew where the robot came from and needed the robot, nicknamed "Liza," to get into the base's security. The robot was implicated in a number of thefts (though legally the robot has no culpability: it's a tool). Gold Tiger used Spectre and his crazy-high Willpower score to intimidate George and get information. He did this not-on-the-record: Gold Tiger got the police to shut off the recording equipment (well, they turned off the audio, and George hides his mouth from the cameras).

George was not willing to reveal the location, but he would show it to them. Gold Tiger counter-offered: he'll hire George, George will get to work with cool stuff, and George stops this life of crime.

Basically, the police weren't going to charge George, Landslide, and Lily with anything related to the fight at Nathan's place unless Nathan pressed charges (and Nathan was waiting for a hint from Gold Tiger on whether he should). Landslide was being held until they figured out what his identity was, and Lily was wanted because she went all Carrie on a school dance back in June. All three are minors but they probably wouldn't be tried as adults; Lily didn't kill anyone in her school dance thing, but some people were hurt. So Gold Tiger could take George, because there won't be any charges. The others had to stay.

George agreed to the terms, got Gold Tiger's number because he had to text it to his mom, who works nights.

Gold Tiger, Spectre, George, and Liza flew out to the location of the secret base, which was in the swamp on one side of town. (So far, Strange City has nearby deer hunting and a swamp; the uranium mine is at the edge of the swamp.) There was an abandoned lab there, which was researching ways to improve crop yields, in our nod to Alec Holland. (Spectre created a hard light platform for himself and George, and Liza or Gold Tiger was flying it. Although George had a bag of parts, he had no overt assembled equipment: that had been taken from him.)

On a scan of the area, Gold Tiger found the security perimeter—all recent off-the-shelf equipment, which communicated wirelessly with the security center. It took Gold Tiger about thirty seconds to exploit a known flaw and he had access and control of the security sensors. Because the swamp has alligators in the swamp that have managed to survive the winters (invasive species are a problem here, too), the sensors ignored anything smaller than about 40 kilograms. George, Lily, and Landslide wouldn't even be noticed.

Gold Tiger also found a secret entrance in a dead tree about half a mile (about 800 meters) from the abandoned lab. He prepped Liza (stunting ESP) so that he can see through her eyes. In conversation with her while he's doing this, it became aware that Liza sort-of recognized the area. She was having some cognitive dissonance because she had associated Nathan's house as the place where the Master lived, but being in the swamp activated subsystems George hadn't known about.

Liza went in the secret entrance. The shaft went straight down: it was clearly meant for fliers, because there was no elevator. There was a ladder, which George got on. The inside of the dead tree was metal, and covered with moss and fungi. They began descending the tunnel after Liza, but they were going much slower, hampered by George and Spectre on the ladder.

Spectre asked if anyone else could hear the sound—a kind of rhythmic thrumming that crackled. Gold Tiger scanned the airwaves and didn't find anything.

Liza entered the base via a big metallic door. Gold Tiger saw her be scanned by some device; the word "Anomaly" appeared on an old-fashioned CRT screen, and two other Lizas (femmebots?) showed up and escorted her to a mechanical bay, strapping her to the robot equivalent of a car hoist.

Gold Tiger issued a shutdown command, hoping to shut down all femmebots in the area. He did not know if it worked, because it shut down Liza, and his remote sensing experiment ended.

This was about the point when they noticed that Spectre was not himself, as tendrils of moss and fungus started growing out of his nose and mouth. The Affliction attack quickly knocked him unconscious. Gold Tiger noticed that the moss on the walls was following them.

There were two skeletons at the bottom of the shaft. The moss flowed onto them, creating a pair of moss men, or if you prefer, Swamp Things. (This was the week before Halloween, so maybe things had an eldritch bent.)

George was willing to help, but he blew the Intellect roll for Gadgeteering (both gadgeteers had this problem, that night). Gold Tiger alternated between attacking one, which was fighting him, and attacking the other one, which was wrapping itself around Spectre and sucking the life out of him.

Eventually Gold Tiger jury-rigged some of his missiles into a light-based attack that we modelled as an Affliction, and it worked reasonably well. It destroyed them.

That was the point when Gold Tiger got a faint scratchy phone call from Professor Jelinek, who was outside. "I knew that uncontrolled Tau radiation would have this effect! There's a ruined car here and the tau-powered moss is using the skeletons near it for a endostructure!"

Gold Tiger flew out and located the flare that Professor Jelinek had sent up. He didn't see Professor Jelinek, but he did see a 12-foot-high pile of writhing and undulating moss; it turned out that the Professor was at the bottom of it. (The moss was treated as a muck monster with Growth 2.)

Professor Jelinek failed his gadgeteering roll, what with being under a huge pile of sapient moss, but Gold Tiger managed to distract it. It budded some small duplicates, but Gold Tiger was whittling it down. Then Professor Jelinek finally made his Intellect test and his gun sucked up residual tau radiation in the pile.

Yes, because tau radiation was involved, Professor Jelinek had been contacted by the police. He saw pictures of Liza and recognized her as being modelled after his late wife, Maria. Given that, he knew who had to be behind the spate of tau-powered weapons: Hieronymous Warkstein, known as Dr. Warp, who disappeared in the 1960s, shortly after Professor Jelinek won the hand of grad student Maria Slavicek. Professor Jelinek put together what he could from the apartment and followed the trail of tau radiation out to the swamp.

And as we left the session, Gold Tiger, George, Spectre, and Professor Jelinek were standing in that underground access corridor in front of a giant metal door, the same one that Liza went through.

Your muck monster:
Muck Monster
PROCRDSTRINTAWRWILSTAMINADeterm.
42723512
Specialties Stealth Master (+3)
Powers
Plant Control (Plant Control)6
 Extra: Fast Growth
Plant Body: Alternate Form (Fluid: Brings Damage Resistance 5, Stretching 5)5
 Extra: Detect through plants (ESP; medium of plants)5
Qualities
Striving for eternal rest by eliminating tau radiation
He's a Plant (includes extra degree of damage from herbicides, fungicides, light, etc)