Game Prep: New PC Background and Plot Elements

So, yeah. I’ve done a frankly terrible job of maintaining the blog over the last couple of weeks. As I think I stated in a previous post, I’m in that odd position where I’m not really going to be running (as a GM) for a while and as a result, I’ve allowed my focus to slip a little bit to other things. Yesterday – 9.26.2018 – the Pathfinder: Kingmaker video game went live, for example, and as I’d backed that on Kickstarter, I’ve started playing it (even though we just finished chapter 3 in the face-to-face group.

Anyway, one of the things that I have been doing is coordinating with the new player regarding his planned character. He declared earlier on that he was leaning toward a “holy” kind of character – Michael Carpenter from the Dresden books … but without a sword – and we’ve been discussing ideas about that. In the previous runs of Red Sky, we briefly had a PC who fit this – Brandon Harris – but the player had to curtail his gaming on that night due to family obligations, so that character quickly fell out of the narrative and eventually died in the fifth adventure (which ended up being a bit too … railroady at the end.) So the precedent for such a character already existed in my game and I recommended the new player – hereafter referred to simply as Mark – at least take a look at Harris to look at him.

During our back-and-forth, though, and before Mark’s character concept was fully settled, I was reminded of this scene from Supernatural and really dug the idea of ripping it off in some way.

I even offered Mark the chance to take over that (deceased) character entirely if he wanted to with the conceit that he could totally rebuild him however he wished, but he declined as he wanted to do his own thing (which amounted to ‘holy biker guy.’) He initially started looking at the Crusader template in Monster Hunters 1, then stumbled upon the Outcast Angel racial template (though at first, he did not realize that the latter was part of the Inhuman character template.)

Still, I kind of wanted to play with the idea that the new guy – currently named Hugh “Mac” MacArthur – was tied to Harris in some way. I’d ended adventure 5 with Harris tackle-grabbing another former PC, Robert Mankiller (who had been possessed by a big bad evil dude) through a dimensional vortex that carried them both to a Hell dimension (specifically, a pocket of the Nevernever where the Big Bad of my campaign is imprisoned. So I floated that concept to Mark and he came up with an interesting idea – Mac and Harris have the same Soul that is constantly being reborn. This Soul was one of the original 12 Knights Templar, and they keep coming back to fight the Good Fight. Now I really liked this idea, but I’m currently recommending some minor alterations to it.

What I’m thinking right now is thus: this ‘rebirth’ is not a normal one by any stretch of the imagination. Brandon Harris (the previous recipient of the Soul) voluntarily tackled the Nihancan (disembodied bad guy) possessed Robert Mankiller into a dimensional vortex that took them both to the pocket of the Nevernever that is controlled by the Faceless King, my previously mentioned Campaign Big Bad. This is essentially a hell dimension but the Faceless King is master here and as a result, the Soul was feared to be Lost forever. Jegudiel, an Angel of the Lord (probably a seraph?) who had charged Brandon with his recent Holy Mission, took it upon … himself? Itself? to retrieve the Soul and breached the Faceless King’s prison. This proved to be something of a mistake because in that place, the Faceless King was nigh-omnipotent and Jegudiel was nearly Lost as well. The Soul was finally pulled free from that prison and, with its last fragments of power, Jegudiel thrust it into the recently deceased Vessel that was Hugh MacArthur, restoring the mortal shell to life. Unfortunately, Jegudiel’s strength was so far gone that doing so destroyed the seraph so it poured the last fragments of itself into this Vessel in the hope that a greater Power could possibly restore it. This could explain the “Outcast Angel” racial template (should he pick it up) but could also be used to pick up stuff like Flashbacks or Nightmares (with the notion that when he wakes and realizes he’s no longer in the Heavenly City, that’s when the terror strikes.) Those who are gifted (or cursed as the case may be) with Sight will be able to realize that something ain’t right about this guy. An added benefit for me, I think, is that Jegudiel breached the Faceless King’s prison to retrieve the Soul, there’s absolutely nothing saying that something else didn’t get out as well!

Honestly, even if Mark decides to not go the Outcast Angel route – I may end up allowing him to pick up the racial template without requiring Inhuman as well – I’m sort of leaning toward utilizing this backstory because I just like it and it ties into the greater narrative. Mark understandably doesn’t want to deal with any of the stuff tied directly to Brandon’s character, but in this way, I can link them somewhat.

As I understand it, Mark’s current thinking regarding Mac is that he was an undercover DEA agent who had infiltrated a criminal biker gang that, unfortunately, discovered his true identity and basically murdered him. If I’m going to ripoff Supernatural (which Mark hasn’t watched), it makes sense for the gang to have buried him so starting out with him in a shallow grave and waking up abruptly there is probably the way to go. And the grave is, quite conveniently, extremely close to where the dimensional vortex that Brandon went through was located at. Even more conveniently, that location is the epicenter of a minor earthquake we had here in Oklahoma on the day that the adventure begins. So New Mac wakes up in the shallow grave, claws his way out, and discovers that the area around him – it’s an oil field that’s still operational in the real world, but has been abandoned in the game world following the events of adventure 5 – has been devastated, as if a bomb has gone off.

Mac will be met by Arthur Curtmantle, an immortal NPC who is currently believed to be dead (though only the wizard PC actually knows he’s immortal) following adventure 5, who will point the new PC in the correct direction. Which will, of course, be the same direction that the other PCs are pointed toward…

Captain Marvel trailer

So … it doesn’t totally suck but neither is it especially good. If I had to pick a word for it, I’d use … underwhelming. I’m still not sold on Brie Larson – she has, it seems, exactly one expression and that’s not even taking into account that she sounds 12. I maintain that Katee Sackhoff would have still made a better Carol Danvers, though I guess the fact she’s almost 40 now makes her too old in the MCU eyes.

And how sad is it that I’m more excited to see Young Nick Fury and Young Phil Coulson than Captain Marvel?

Back to Game Prep: Red Sky

So … it appears that I will likely be returning to Red Sky, my GURPS Monster Hunters game set in the Dresden Files universe, instead of GURPS Traveller: The Verge based on the changing metrics of the face-to-face group. One of my primary reasons for shifting from Red Sky previously was group stability – it isn’t that we’re changing the group makeup a lot, but rather, half of the group was likely to end up missing sessions with very little warning. Volume 3, for example, was … five session? Maybe six. But at no time did we have back-to-back game nights due to Player 1 & 2 bailing because of family, and then Player 3 missing due to work, then 2 and 3 missing due to family emergencies, and so on. We’ve lost one of the problem players (and I use the term ‘problem’ loosely – he wasn’t actually a problem; his attendance performance was through no fault of his own) and picked up another who is far more of a GURPS veteran.

Unfortunately, that means I have to juggle some PC stuff straight away. The now absent player was running one of the OSBI characters – a kind of blatant ripoff of Iron Fist – so that character will depart, though thankfully, the actions of the PCs in volume six gives him a good explanation for doing so. I still don’t have a character concept from the new guy yet – he’s floated a couple of ideas thus far with at least one of them being what amounts to a holy man of some sort. We had one of those in previous runs but the player had to permanently leave the group because of family scheduling stuffs and I ended up killing the character off in volume five. So currently, what I’m thinking is that, if New Guy decides to go with this take, I’m likely going to ripoff Dean being pulled out of Hell by Castiel in season 4 of Supernatural and have this PC be the old one, just with Amnesia (to explain why his skillset is different) and some sort of weird caveat about his soul being stuffed into a different body to explain any recasting.

am a little concerned about a couple of issues, though and really need to figure out how to proceed.

  • The Wizard PC is using RPM as well as Sorcery … but the player has continued to struggle locking onto GURPS. As a result, her character really isn’t as capable as she should be and when she is, I feel like I’m hand-holding her. I sort of shot myself in the foot as well when I removed her mentor as early as I did – what I should have done is used him to teach the character (and thus the player) the system…
  • That player’s husband may or may not be rejoining us – if not, that’s due to grad school – and his character … well, I retooled him to be a gunslinger shooter type and I’m really starting to second-guess that because, like his wife, he hasn’t quite locked onto GURPS yet either and he absolutely is not a gun guy. Thankfully, his upgraded gunslinger PC hasn’t officially been introduced, so I guess I should reach out to the player and consult him. We could rejigger him again, but refocus so he better suits the player.
  • A third player – who is definitely the other GURPS veteran/expert in the group – has expressed his concern that the characters have become too complicated now that they’ve hit the 400-point level. Not for him, but for those who are not experts … and I don’t entirely disagree with him. Outside of some strange continuity Reboot – which isn’t out of the question – I’m not sure how to fix that though.
  • We have a fourth player who hasn’t chimed in – I expect he’ll just shrug and roll with it; he’s usually just there to beat people up – and a fifth that I’m expecting to bow out of the game because he’s not a fan of GURPS (even though he hasn’t played it in like a billion years and the stuff he wants in a game system are all in GURPS) as well as suffering from a serious case of narcolepsy (which is … interesting to say the least.) This means I’ll likely have five players total with the sixth “New Guy.”

Interesting things are afoot at the Circle K…

Cavill Out As Superman?

So, based on the internet chatter, it looks like Henry Cavill may be out as Superman in the DCEU. Honestly, I can’t say I’m very surprised – apart from Man of Steel, which I will go to my grave arguing was a good movie, his outings as the Last Son of Krypton have been mired with shit writing. Even MoS has some pretty stupid plot elements and/or missed opportunities, but Murderman v Mopeyman frankly ruined the character and Justice League made him the butt of CGI jokes.

And then WB starts making noises about wanting to do a Supergirl movie instead of a Superman sequel? Yeah, if it was me, I’d be looking to bail as well considering it is categorically clear that neither DC no Warner Brothers actually knows what to do with him. He’s supposed to be the grand-daddy of all super-heroes but the MCU did a better job of capturing his character with Captain America than any of the DCEU flicks (even, I’m sad to admit, MoS.)

What’s really sad is that Cavill has truly seemed enthusiastic about the character and honestly looks like he was born to play Supes, especially the legendary Curt Swan’s take on the character from the 70s and 80s. As shitty as the movie itself was, Justice League also had positioned him to portray a lighter, happier, more engaging take on the character which could have made Man of Steel 2 a lot more enjoyable (presuming they got some fricking decent writers in for a change.)

Now, WB will probably just cast a black dude for “diversity,” then be shocked when a sizable portion of their intended audience freaks out.

Granted, this has not been officially confirmed yet, but everything I’ve seen – including Warner Brother’s comment on this story – seems to confirm it is the case. So … just another reason for me to check out of the DCEU, sadly enough…

Game Updates

Sorry for the recent lack of updates. I’m at that awkward point where I’m not GMing in either of my games and am likely not going to be GMing for a pretty long time (as in multiple months.) So my enthusiasm for planning has waned rather considerably and I’ve allowed myself to become distracted. Dammit. Right now, I’m trying to get myself focused again, but with less success than I would like … what I really need to do is try to get some freaking writing done.

Yeah. I’m going to see about that…

GURPS Action: Consular Operations

In our Saturday group, one of the players ran an Action game that he entitled “Consular Operations” … which he stole from me as I ran a GURPS 3E game titled that … although to be fair, I originally stole it from a Robert Ludlum book (the name of which I can’t quite recall.) Anyway, the GM has basically put that game on hold – he’s running the Banestorm game at the moment – and a couple of recent events – first playthrough of the “Phantom Doctrine” video game, my viewing of “Mission Impossible: Fallout” and my binge-watch of Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” – have caused me to really start wanting to run some modern day Action.

So with the originating GM’s permission, I’ve started brainstorming how to basically rip-off the “Phantom Doctrine” storyline in the Action game. I’m debating whether to start my run with my Siege adventure, then flow into the mini-campaign that I have in mind. My character in the game – a blatant ripoff of Coulson from MCU & Agents of SHIELD using the Investigator template from Action 1) – will be kicked upstairs so he’s the nominal handler of the Team.

Right now, the characters we have in play are:

  • Adam Vega – Australian Wheelman
  • Ilan Baum – Israeli Assassin
  • Stephen McKay – American Hacker
  • Raymond Hurt – American Shooter (Delta Forces – he didn’t use the Shooter template, though)

We had another Shooter whose player is no longer with the group, so I’m just going to write him out. As it stands, that PC had Bad Temper and Impulsive, so it’s easy enough to believe that he was determined to be not a good fit with the Team. There are two other players potentially joining that I know of: the former GM is likely planning on doing a Faceman (which is good because the Team doesn’t have one) and his daughter-in-law (the wife of McKay’s player) will play … I dunno, yet. I’m likely going to suggest an Infiltrator or maybe even a straight-up Medic? Not quite sure just yet. I do kind of like the idea of her being my Coulson ripoff’s daughter – played by Chloe Bennet, of course – who joined against his wishes…

So, as stated, I’ve thought about starting with the Siege adventure – which is three sessions at the very least, before flowing into the campaign proper which plays out roughly like this:

  • PCs go to Iran (or Syria, not sure which) to infiltrate alleged nuclear program to status it. Things go south & they must exfiltrate, then learn that Quinn (my Coulson’s ripoff) didn’t bother clearing this with his bosses who are upset at this.
  • Quinn then sends them on another info-gathering mission that takes them around the world, then arranges to meet them back at headquarters (New York?) … but the location is bombed with Quinn likely KIA.
  • And the PCs are framed for the bombing. Now they have to go rogue.
  • Then the PCs have to figure out who is actually behind this while their organization is crippled by various other alphabet agencies.
  • And the ultimate bad guy? Heh. It’s the United Nations. Or rather, certain members within it who are behind a grand conspiracy intended on toppling various governments so the UN can move in to establish a one-world system.

So … the creative juices are flowing again…