Halfway Heroes: The Devil’s Workshop

Here's a helpful hint: never keep a supervillain waiting.

In case you skipped the last several posts:

Sam (played by me) and Connie (played by Noah) are supervillains recently released from Rikers Island (run by David). Each protagonist has struggled with reentry.

In the last session, each murdered their arch-enemy.  Connie is a wanted fugitive, while Sam, along with his villainous rival Peter King, begins the session trapped in a mystical King-Arthur-Gone-Wrong dimension.

Notably despite playing eight sessions, our characters have not had a "supervillain team-up."  We haven't even crossed paths–until this session, when things exploded.


What do you get a killer for Christmas, when they already have a corpse?

From the start of the campaign, Noah's been playing Connie as part of a revenge scenario.  But what happens once you get your revenge?

Literally the smartest human on Earth, Connie developed the $P3CTR super-suit, only to lose legal ownership of the suit and her company to her CEO brother and his business partner.  In the backstory, Connie murdered her brother–hence the prison sentence–and is now out to ruin the business partner.

Except… last session Connie fought her way through several elite security agents to reach into her enemy's chest to stop his heart.

Opearting at peak capacity like that caused Noah to burn through all of Connie's Karma.  If you're unfamiliar with Marvel Super Heroes, Karma is an important game resource spent to manipulate die rolls.  In our (sorta non-standard) campaign, you earn Karma by committing acts of supervillainy.

Here's Connie chased by the Man but running on empty with no sense of purpose but a real bad attitude.  So Noah aims her at me.

Connie's a dangerous character, but she's got a weak point: without the mechanisms in her super-armor, her Endurance is Feeble, rationalized as a near-fatal heart condition that even super-science has been unable to cure.  My character Sam, however, is a sorcerer.

The trouble is that my sorcerer is way out of town without any cell signal, and Connie ain't the patient type.  

During this session Connie:

  • stalks and threatens Sam's ex-wife,
  • breaks into Sam's storage locker and steals his mystical books, instruments–and costume,
  • burglarizes Sam's zoo of magical animals
  • steals the Goose that Lays Golden Eggs, which is the source of Sam's off-the-books income.

This culminates in a showdown on the 79th Street subway platform as the mayor's new "cops all over the subways" policy intersects with the whole "notorious fugitive conspicuously holding an unhappy magical goose" situation.

In the process of trying to regain control of the fleeing goose, Connie shoves a cop onto the subway tracks, causing the other cop to drop pursuit.  She barely gets away.  But she's built her Karma back up.
 


Your Extra-Dimensional Flight Has Been Delayed, We Apologize for the Inconvenience

Sam, meanwhile, knows nothing about any of this. He also is at zero Karma: last session he killed the annoyingly earnest superhero who put him in prison and then fought a rival villain (and Sam's boss) Peter King to a standstill.  All of these characters arrived in Dark Avalon through a super-tech gizmo which Sam has sabotaged, but as a magician he has an alternate way home which he's willing to share… for a price.  

Sam ends up negotiating a deal with Peter King to fund Sam's crusade against industrial civilization.  He also strikes a bargain with Evil King Arthur: he'll hunt down a dimensional escapee (by amazing comic book coincidence, Sam's parole officer) in exchange for magic tomes containing the exit ritual.  After five days (!) of failed rolls, Sam finally crosses the dimensional boundaries and returns to Earth–after robbing his arch-enemy's grave to wear his superheroic costume and stealing his super tow-truck. 

And then he checks his phone, and discovers what Connie has done to him.


This was a fun session, but it was only possible because I trust David as a GM and Noah as a fellow player.  The two protagonists are now unavoidably at odds and closing in on each other.  Noah's been playing Connie as an extremely confident psychopath: either she doesn't understand that Sam will try to destroy her, or she knows perfectly well and isn't the least bit worried.

One asymmetry here is that the extra-dimensional broom closet Sam was stuck in literally had three people in it.  While Connie was rampaging around in a target-rich environment, Sam had very few ways to crime his way back into Karma.  

The other asymmetry is that while Connie is an extremely competent super-scientist, Sam is–at best–a mediocre magician.  In raw stats, Connie has a noticeable edge in nearly every category, and her powers are much more lethal.  All Sam has to do now is out-think the smartest person alive.

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8 responses to “Halfway Heroes: The Devil’s Workshop”

  1. “After five days (!) of

    "After five days (!) of failed rolls, Sam finally crosses the dimensional boundaries and returns to Earth […]"

    Could you unpack this a bit?

    • The published rules are

      The published rules are silent on whether (and how) a magical superhero can cast spells merely by following written instructions.  David ruled that Sam could make a roll once per fictional day to perform the ritual.  Despite a 60% chance of success, I blew it five times in a row.  Not really the best way to impress your prospective business partner in crime, but ah well, it worked in the end.

       

    • The reason I asked is that I

      The reason I asked is that I'm thinking if there were any fictional consequences from failing those rolls on each day. I'm thinking of those cases in which a player is just rolling until he/she gets a sucess, with no consequence for failure until he/she does, which means that rolling until the dice come up "right" becomes meaningless ("OK, i try again. Failed. OK, I try again. Failed. Ok, I try again…Oh, now I got it.")

       

    • PS: I’m not suggesting that

      PS: I'm not suggesting that that's what happened, by the way. Also, you mention not impressing a prospective partner in crime as a consequence, so maybe that's relevant for what I asked. I'm just curious about wat tose failed rolls in sucession meant fictionally.

    • In this case, there were two

      In this case, there were two fictional consequences if it took too long to figure out how to cast the spell:

      1. Missing the appointment with the parole officer back on earth.

      2. Running out of food on Avalon (a place that could no longer sustain life), they had a seven day supply.

      Although admittedly what I hacked together to handle this was a little bit clunky…

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