The Storm Diaries of David Mayseren, Fits the Fourth and Fifth

  • Monday’s Child is Fair of Face.
  • Tuesday’s Child is Full of Grace.
  • Wednesday we’ll be lucky if we ever get to…

Whaaaaa? Was that ringing? At (Urrr… 5:00 in the morning? Grrrr…). Phone. Who in hell…

You need some more power? Electrical and Magical? So does the TV? It wants a satellite dish and cable access as well? I did a very sloppy job on enchanting all of you? Oh, fine – but the cable access will have to wait a bit. Is there anything else? Can I go back to sleep now?

So Michael’s calling… Why isn’t he here? He was thirsty – and we haven’t got running water? So why is he…

You’re at the little convenience store a few blocks outside the park entrance and the place is being robbed? By a gang of about 30 people? Heavily armed? They’re shooting at you, you’ve got the force field up – and you just got the comlinks figured out?

Solaman? You teleport… Could you pop over to (Er, map, map… Here), and check on Michael? There’s some kind of big robbery going on.

(–Pop–)

(Yawn… God, I’m tired… That ought to…)

Waitaminute… Why in the name of god would thirty people be trying to rob a convenience store? That’d be overkill for a major bank!

Oh hell. We’d better go look.

(–Yawn–)

Meanwhile, Solaman had stepped out of time, and hiked over to the place… The store was packed with people, all of them armed, all of them looking a bit blank – and all of them shooting at Michael/Xenomorph. They didn’t seem to have anything else in common…

They also didn’t pay much attention to his attempts to settle things down – until he moved out of time and took away all the guns.

They promptly fell unconscious.

Zarquan’s Quickie Mart?????

Well… I guess it does have the virtue of being a bit hard to forget. Now what…

Now that’s weird… All kinds of different people. Even an FBI agent. Azrael? None of them remember anything about this? Their memories just go blank earlier this evening?

Great. Mind-controlled. Nobody here but victims. We’ll never be able to get that through to the police. Timewalker? Could you scatter them around in some safe places to wake up? Good. Hm… Just leave the FBI guy. He was looking for paranormal phenomena… Here’s one for him. I’ll leave a note.

The police were not happy with Warlock’s rapid-fire “explanation”… On the other hand, it looked like the word was gradually getting around. Warlock only had to wipe away a few memories – of them spotting Robert Lee making himself a hoagie. (He was kind of wanted.)

Back at the sanctum, the TV had a show for Micheal; “The Family Channel”. His mother, on a plane, worried about him, and dealing with some highjackers along the way. It seemed that somebody named “Lothar” had heard about him and his friends?

That didn’t seem like her at all.

Monday, everybody overslept… Sealed away from any other disturbance, Desrae’s enhanced psychic field – and simple exhaustion – led everyone to sleep both deeply, and late… They didn’t wake up until fairly late in the afternoon.

Michael finally managed to get out of his armor – and settled down to doing a lot of eating and drinking.

Warlock went home to see his mother… She’d wanted to see him about something.

Desrae and the junior thug went clubbing… He saw a great opportunity to do some sponging.

Timewalker decided to stay in the sanctum and monitor things a bit. He wanted to get a little more famalier with this timezone before he went out.

The TV decided to help him out. This would get very weird later on. Azrael stayed “home” as well.

Robert went hunting…

On the way home a weird helicopter appeared just in front of Warlock, some sort of invisible binding field grabbed ahold of him and started dragging him in – and an overly-amplified voice started telling him to “come along quietly”…
He was not inclined to do so.

Whaaa!?! HEY! LEGGO! I will not come along quietly! (Probably some of Dr Genos’s guys again). Maybe I can force the helicopter down if I reduce the air pressure around the rotors…

Cool.

So I’ll crash too? We’ll all crash together then… (Drat. They aren’t going for it – and there’s no room to push the descent rate enough to scare `em. At least we’ll be on the ground.)

Actually, the helicopter never touched down… It’d landed on the top of a speeding bus.

A buncha guys in business suits and dark glasses?!?

No, I don’t believe you’re from the government! The Government would start off with identification!

If this is an arrest, what am I being charged with? “National security”!?!?

Look, can’t you go bother somebody else? Go arrest the Seer. He’s a bad guy – and I don’t have time right now!

I’m wanted for questioning? So what is it you want to know? (Maybe about the alien invasion?)

You haven’t got your instruments here? (Oh No. I’m not about to disappear into some sort of lab/prison! It almost sounds like they want to vivisect me! Don’t know what this fellow can do, but they’re holding onto me somehow…)

During the ensuing debate, one of the agents seemed to deduce that Warlock wasn’t very old, Warlock spray- painted everything pink, shut down every technological item in the helicopter, grounded out “whatever-it-was” that was holding him – and got handed an FBI ID to check out. Of course, anybody could fake an ID…

<Timewalker? Could you come and help me? I’m being kidnapped… Where? Well, look for the pink helicopter parked in the street.

OK, so I painted it.>

About then, David realized that they were on top of a bus, rather then on the ground, a spirit calling itself “The Voice” (Of truth, justice, rationality – and whatever) put in an appearance and threatened to tie the rotor blades in a bow – unless the pilots took it away RIGHT NOW – and Timewalker showed up…

With the solitary agent who seemed to have personal powers entangled in a psychic struggle with The Voice, Warlock and Timewalker tried to simply leave. This did not work out; trying to get the driver to stop the bus revealed that he was afraid to slow down – someone had threatened to blow up the bus if he did…

You’ve got to be kidding. A secret government group tries to grab me, and I force their helicopter down on top of a bus that’s rigged to explode? So where’s the bomb?

Someone’s made the bus itself into some kind of explosive somehow? That’s RIDICULOUS!

OK. Fine. Wecanhandlethis. Lets put the passengers in the helicopter… Timewalker? You know how to drive this thing? Great! (Look – We have to put everybody on your helicopter because this bus is rigged to explode. Yes, I KNOW that’s absurd!!! It’s been going like this for days now, it’swhyIhaven’tanytime, JUST TAKE THEM!)

Well, I’m not the one who’s spent the last ten minutes fighting a mental duel with a belligerent sprite!

Not enough room? I’ll have to bail out and use the feather-fall spell on the last few… Jeez, why are you trailing along? How do I do this? How the hell should I know! I’ve only been at this for a couple of days!

OK… We need a big empty field or something. DAMN. Nothing within a reasonable distance. Maybe a nice, big, condemned building to crash it into? One they’re going to blow up anyway? There. About six miles away. Head for it…

Timewalker shunted himself, and the entire bus, about five minutes forward in time. It would give the others time to find a route and to clear the way. “The Voice” turned into a huge (And extremely silly-looking” pixie” type thing, Warlock threw in some siren-spells, and that FBI agent used some gadget that turned all the traffic lights green…

Warlock went on ahead… The place wasn’t actually scheduled to be demolished until tomorrow; there might be somebody inside. Besides, some illusion-signs would help Timewalker find the place…

Three street children? Oh fuck! No time. {Sleep} I’ll drop them off down the block… Anybody else? On the top floor? Damn!

Up on the top floor, Warlock found someone who knew that the place was due to go, but who seemed less then familiar with a lot of ordinary things, and who seemed to “flicker” slightly at the edges of your vision…

Warlock tried to haul him out of there FAST – and got stopped in his tracks by a telepathic override.

Weird. What’s a bus? A bus is kinda like those cars down there, but – NEVER MIND! We’ve gotta get out of – HEY! How’d he… He seemed to change as I came in… Maybe a Zarkonian? Nah. It seemed more like they way Azrael makes my eyes water when he pulls that…

Hey! Azrael! If this is one of your guys, tell him to stop fooling around, we’ve gotta get out of here!

What’s that? Lessee. You’re glad you’re not alone, but sorry it’s not a girl – and you’re annoyed that he outranks you?

WE’LL TALK ABOUT IT LATER!

Despite the Warlock’s shielding spells, the mass of the building, and Thorn/”The Voice” growing to 50 feet tall and using his body to contain the blast, there were some serious injuries – and quite a lot of damage to the surrounding buildings.

They spent some time cleaning up… Warlock healed people, The Voice (Who seemed to be basically an earth elemental with a human mindprint) propped up and fixed buildings – and Timewalker went back to the sanctum to keep an eye on everybody…

Warlock and the police (when they showed up) kindof ignored each other until everybody had been patched up – at which point one of the senior officers at the scene told him to “Just get out of here… GO AWAY”. The FBI guy was still hanging around – although he was still a bit nonplused about Thorn/The Voice turning back into a tiny sprite, and going off to try and figure out who’d rigged the bus… He decided to simply give Warlock a plane ticket, and tell him that if he didn’t come in for an interview within two and a half weeks he’d come and get him anyway. Sadly, Thorn’s expedition simply led to the city bus terminal.

Elsewhere, Robert had been targeted by the Order Of The Firehawk – apparently some group which hunted down supernatural beings. Unfortunately, the seemed to feel that all supernatural beings were malevolent, and used silver knives that could turn their own powers against them.

Whether fortunately or unfortunately, they weren’t really ready for Mr Robert Lee, or for Timewalker, who went to his assistance. It wasn’t easy – especially after Robert went berserk and it turned into a massacre. Even a bunch of highly skilled archer-warriors were no match for a martial-artist werewolf, although they did manage to temporarily overload Timewalker’s abilities.

That meant he couldn’t intervene when an Ogre grabbed Desrae out of her car (Which got totaled), or when a suction tube made from slime sucked the thug (Desrae had refused to associate with him any longer) into the sewer system…

Desrae, rather worried about Mask, started draining the ogre – but it didn’t seem to have much effect. It hauled her off to a cave anyway; to meet it’s brothers and get tied up… “Pret-ty La-dy”…

The thug was confronted with talking mutant rats, and their slime-controlling “king”, his servants and their various minor talents, and a lot of rats with blowguns and poisoned darts. He managed to avoid being dinner – but had no idea what to do when the surviving rats started to surrender and worship him… They were afraid of the alligator-men, and wanted him to protect them. He wound up taking a nap in the slime (He was exhausted…) – and it promptly started mutating him into a giant rat…

He was very unhappy about it when he woke up.

Hi Mom! What’s up? Schools doing all right… You were worried about me? Why?

One of your colleagues saw my name on a list??? For possible investigation by a special department??? Sort of like the “X-Files”??? (Oh boy…)

I’m not on the top, and she’ll try to get me off the list – but those are bad people to get involved with?

I “haven’t been doing anything that might get their attention somehow?”

Errr…

David, have you been up to something?

Errr… Those would be the guys in the helicopter, with all the weird gear? (“Yes… WAITAMINUTE! They tried to pick you up already? What could’ve got their attention that fast… and you got away?! HOW? You’re not an alien or anything… I know – I was there!”

Well; It started with the dragon showing up for the game… (No I haven’t been taking anything funny – and I haven’t been playing the games too much… And it’s not flashbacks or anything!)

See?

Mrs Mayseren got the whole story… She found it a bit hard to believe – especially the bit about the bus and the explosion – and the vampire and werewolf. She told him to try not to get into trouble – and left for the airport back to the east coast in a great hurry.

In the meantime, Desrae had used her power to “turn into a mist” to escape the ogres – but took the wrong exit from their transdimensional cave, and wound up in an alternate world. She took refuge from the sun in a hollow tree – and used her link with Mask to call on her allies for help – before she slipped into her daylight slumbers…

Mask went and got the Warlock – and Thorn, who’d used his tracking powers to locate one of those interesting people he’d seen… Tracing Desrae proved pretty easy. The great big footprints were a dead giveaway.

What do you want Mask? We’ve got to go save Desrae? Don’t tell her you got killed? (WHAT?)

The ogres took her?

Ogres… Only four hit dice. Right. Waitaminute. They grabbed a vampiress?

No, I’m not good to eat… I taste awful… Where’s Desrae? The pretty lady? She turned into a cloud and left? Through one of the doors?

Oh boy…

Good Lord. This place is some sort of nexus! A gate to other worlds. Desrae must have gone through one of them. Great. Maybe if I anchor myself here, and then follow her, I’ll be able to pull us both back through. It’s worth a try…

Cool. Weird, but cool. Now where… You can track people Voice, where’d she go? Sunlight isn’t good for vampiresses…

We should “look out for the things that eat Ogres”? They come out after dark? With any luck, we’ll be out of here then… Thank you uh… Mr Tree.

Warlock and the Voice waited out the afternoon – woke up Desrae – and got the hell out… Even with Issilor’s ring, Warlock could barely manage it; despite Desrae’s apparently limitless confidence (“You’re a mage aren’t you? Just poof us there!”)… It was a very good thing that he’d thought to leave an anchor.

Meanwhile, Timewalker had recovered – and was back to watching the TV – Robert had eaten a deer, and gone back to sleep, and the Junior Thug had woken up and gone to deal with the alligator men – as well as to find a way out. He killed a lot of subsapient alligator-things, but couldn’t find an exit. “The slime” didn’t want to let him go…

Great! We’re back… So what’s wrong now? Your BMW got totaled? I’ll see what I can do with it… Maybe a series of repair spells?

Cool. She nearly kissed me. It might’ve been worth the explosion…

I’ve got to figure out that insulating spell.

What’s been happening to the thug? I’ve just gotta see it on the TV? It’s funny as hell?

Well – It fits him.
I suppose we’ll have to go and get him back… What if we can’t change him back? Do we really want to wind up associated with “RATMAN”? He was bad enough before!

Meanwhile, Desrae’s thirteen-year-old kid sister, and Robert’s young cousin, had gotten pretty curious about what was going on…

Remember; Shapeshifting runs in families.

Amd so do the psychic potentials which allow people to survive becoming vampires…

Robert’s still asleep? Good!!! At least he hasn’t gotten into any trouble. Desrae? Asleep again? But she just slept for… Oh. Sunrise. Tuesday morning… I think I’ve got “Dimension Lag” or something. At least I took a nap while I was waiting for sunset under that talking tree…

So: Mother called to say something about some sort of an investigative team, and wants to be called back. The TV wants to talk to me. The phone and some of the other objects want recognition and rights for sentient objects written into the constitution (OK, next time I have a chance to amend the constitution I’ll take care of it), and my home computer wants to discuss a business contract with me – and says I should bring a mainframe?

Not to mention that we’ve gotta go and rescue Ratman.

Urghhhh…

It’s too early to call mother… and the TV doesn’t seem to be too talkative at the moment. Solamon left a note saying that we shouldn’t try to go after “Ratman” for a few hours… Well, it’s not like there’s nothing else to do around here.

Besides… I think I might have a way to get those pesty ninja guys off Robert’s back; what if I can make the people who hired them think he’s dead?

Warlock spent the next few hours arranging; running water, waste disposal, electricity, a remote cable and satellite connection (He tapped into the rangers), and various other necessities for his sanctum. He also used some protein mush, magic, and Robert’s regenerative abilities to grow and tan a “spare skin” – a bit of “evidence” of Robert’s “death” to send to his school…

What’s up Michael? You think that my powers include something that really attracts girls? (Cool!)    Because Julia told you she wanted to go out on a date with me, and asked you to have me call her, she’s free Saturday night?

At least there won’t be an explosion…

Mother should be in her office by now!

The phone call was… odd. There was this low buzz in the background, the voice sounded a little off, her tone was far too emotional, somebody tried to trace it back (Cell Foe diverted that to the bottom of the Marinas Trench somehow), “she” sounded rather like a man – and kept trying to find out exactly where he was. She said there was some sort of investigation going on – and that she’d fly back and see him personally at 5:00.

Well… SHIT!

OK… Presuming that that really wasn’t Mother, all that interest in exactly where I was sort of indicates that somebody’s after me – and that they could get there fast. If they’re tapping mom’s line, they’re probably keeping an eye on the house. I could try to warn Dad, but I’m not even sure that there’s a threat, much less what it might be, it might do more harm then good, and I’d have to try to explain what was… and that mother’s a secret FBI agent… and how I knew… and try to get him to believe what’s been going on (Hah. I’ve been living it, and I don’t believe what’s been going on), and…

TOO FUCKING MANY IF/MAYBE/BUTS!

SHITSHITSHIT!

Maybe Timewalker will get back… I think maybe my best option otherwise is simply to be an “unsuspecting kid” and just show up… I’ve got help nearby, and it might be nothing much…

Damn.

Well, at least it’s late enough to go after Ratman.

Yeech.

Down in the tunnels, Ratman had found the Alligator King – and engaged him in conversation… He seemed to have been a stockbroker before the slime got him – and he didn’t really want to fight – even though something was making him feel like he ought to. They decided to combine their power over the slime, and to try to escape instead. If they couldn’t do it alone, they could try to recruit the Slug King and the Bat King as well. Back on the surface, Robert, David, and Azrael, had picked up a diagram of the sewer system and were on their way…

Ok, this is where he got sucked down. Right in the middle of the street. How very inconvenient. You don’t like the look of it either, Azrael? Well, you can keep us in touch from here – and that way you can field stray questions…

Well – a few “Men At Work” illusions ought to cover it. Yes, Robert – I’ll keep it out of your fur. A good slimeshield spell seems like a fine idea anyway…

(Disgusting… It looks like a big throat!)

Huh. Shut tight. Robert? Would you? Yeeech… Slime all over the street. (Sorry Azrael! How was I supposed to know that the sewer could vomit?). This way… Boy his this stuff got a weird aura to it.

There you are! So what’s with this fellow? You both want out? Fine – but I think we’ve gotta do something about this slime stuff…

After a brief discussion the the group went looking for the Slug King – and the center of the slime… It was a very nasty trip. They also had to evade talking, poisonous, guard-slugs, cleaner-slugs smoothing slime, and random garbage… At the center was a big, clean, and somewhat overheated room cut into the bedrock. It was occupied by a lot of equipment – and a man in a suit sitting behind a desk.

OH GREAT! The first guy who recognizes me, and it’s a guy who lives in the sewers!

Yes, hitting you is definitely an option! It kindof depends on what you say and do, so WHAT’S GOING ON!?

You were running an experiment on the slime-stuff – but Hardin Inc. refused to mass-produce it because all the test animals died within a month, even if they did show signs of vastly boosted intelligence. You got an offer of funding, you took it, got set up down here, and went to work with some “suggestions” from your backer; Dr Genos. (OH, NO!) It got away from you, sealed you in, and left you with nothing to do but watch TV and try to figure out what was going on. You have a phone, but it only connects to Dr Genos – and you’ve been reluctant to call him until you understand what’s going on.

Well, THE SLIME-STUFF HAS BEEN SNATCHING PEOPLE OFF THE CITY STREETS, you IDIOT! HAVE YOU GOT AN ANTIDOTE?

It’s only stays out of here because of the heater and the dehumidifier??? You have a counteragent – but the stuff has changed a lot? Give it to me, and I’ll try to enhance it…

Enhanced, the counteragent worked – on individuals. Not an infested sewer system… Warlock called in the other people who’d been mutated, and treated them (There were sixteen) – while Dr. Carlson raved at Dr Genos… Unfortunately, they couldn’t think of any way to handle the slime – and it would just keep grabbing people until they got rid of it. At least they could clear it out of the exit corridor and get the victims out.

Interrupting Dr. Carlson revealed that Dr Genos had a countermeasure – but it’d kill most of the creatures who’d been exposed. He was willing to improve it – but he wanted something in return; An opportunity to run a few tests on Mr Robert Lee. A full scan of a natural shifter could be quite helpful to his experiments. It took him a few minutes… Apparently the slime wasn’t exactly what he’d given Carlson any more – and getting enough of his new counter ready would take a few days.

OH NO! I’M NOT GONNA LET SOME GUY POKE AT ME UNLESS YOU’RE THERE TO KEEP AN EYE ON HIM!

“I don’t like it much either Robert – but I haven’t any other ideas! Has anybody got another idea on how to get rid of the stuff without wrecking the city? No? Hell…”

They told him all right – and he sent around a lab-in-a-truck and a sampling team… David knocked Robert out for the bits that would’ve been painful, and it only took a few hours…

“Don’t worry about it Robert. I’ll watch them”. Hm. Some neat Technology. At least ten years ahead on the computer stuff… Some “Psi-Based Technology”? How on earth would that work? Ahh. Thought so. Trying to scan at me too. That wasn’t part of the deal – so he’s got nothing to complain about if I block and erase it…

Actually, the tests were fairly straightforward, if repetitious. They wanted to run most of them at every step in his shapeshifting process… Fortunately, they were done about noon – just in time for them to attend a massive car pileup. Whether luckily or unluckily, at least one guy with a videocamera was around.

It took him almost half an hour to get everyone out and healed… At least the illusion-disguise he’d put on Robert was still running. He was very helpful about lifting smashed cars.

The police just cooperated. They were even obliging enough to keep the reporters out of the way.

(Non Igni!) ShiftThatCarWorstCasesFirst! OhGod, Half HisFrontRibcageIsShearedOff. TryAnyway… Nobody’sDead Yet. MaybeICanKeepItThatWayIfIKeepSnuffingFires…

Next? Aren’t any more? (Whew!) Good. Look, fellows, I just don’t have any good answers for you! Err, Well, it’s like this…

David tried to explain a few things – and then made the mistake of mentioning the slime. He’d thought that it might be a good idea to get out a warning until Dr. Genos had it cleared up, but the reporter’s were a bit torn… It’d be a great story – but people would panic and others would rush down to see… The second reporter looked at his torn colleague – smiled a bit, made some comment about reporting responsibly, and magically wiped the first one’s memory of that bit… “Being reporters doesn’t necessarily make our judgement any better then yours Warlock”.

Urr… Right. I’ve gotta be going.

12:30. About four hours until I’ve gotta walk into something-or-other…

Wait a minute… I’ve got an idea. I’ll need a few ingredients though… One of those “occult speciality” shops has gotta have a mandrake root… I’ll send in a simulacrum!

Along the way, David had to stop for cash, two pig- faced green demon-things popped in, said “Damn! Wrong Continent!”, and vanished again – and Michael tried to practice sneaking up on David and Robert, but couldn’t get the sound effects generator to turn off…

The Professor called – to announce; “I remember who you are… I have a lot to do right now – but someday I’ll be back!” (“Why?”) “VENGEANCE! (Click)”. Azrael and the Commander pestered David into scrying for a ship, and Warlock settled down to constructing a simulacrum he could channel a part of his power through…

Huh. Vengeance? For what?

Oh great… There’s one handy, but it’s in the navy construction yard, stuffed into warehouse 36. Great. Even if we manage to grab it somehow, we’ll piss off a major department of the government!

Cool. The Simulacrum bit worked! (For that matter, so did the extra memory chips I put in the phone. How did it manage to do a voice comparison anyway?) It’s a bit clumsy though…

Robert? Would you play reserve? Thanks…

Something’s bloody wrong. Dad’s nervous, he’s trying to get me to go away, and somebodies shoving something into his back. Let’s try and pull them out… Joseph’s upstairs? In his room? Why don’t I take him down for Pizza?

A dozen of those agent guys with weird weaponry? But they said they’d wait a week! (I think it’s stun stuff – but I bet this would REALLY hurt if I was really there). Well – lets collapse… Maybe they’ll haul “me” inside so I can see what’s going on…

Dammit! That one recognized that it’s a fake – and blew the head off it (Owww! Fuck! Not real, but Still. Bother. Now I can’t see… Maybe a scrying spell?).

Now who’s this? He’s smoking in the sunlight and his clothes are centuries out of date… Seems to fit the description of the guy who “sired” Desrae… Hell. He seems concerned. Maybe a darkness spell? Thanks, but it won’t work? You tried that sort of thing centuries ago, and it doesn’t work for you? OK… Yes, I know I’ve looked better! Maybe I can regrow the head… That’s a lot better. Yes, I’ve got family inside… You’ll distract the agents while I get them out? Deal!

Holy God! How can anything more that fast? He was through the door so fast I couldn’t even see him move!

David went through his brother’s window just as the screaming started downstairs…

There’s some fucking bastard ready to shoot Joseph? He’s only ten! <Corpus Humanis Mutis Corpus Canis!>

Don’t growl at Me, or I’ll leave you at the pound!
<Leash>    Yeah, “Whimper” is about right, asshole…

No, we haven’t time for you to write about this!

Warlock headed downstairs invisibly. “Lestat” had already killed eight men – and was moving too fast for the three remaining to hit… Eric was in shock. David threw some protective spells on him – but even warping time didn’t let him spellcast fast enough to drop more then two of them before Lestat killed the third and left in a blur…

Holy God! Dad?!? He’s OK… In shock a bit, but OK. God. The place is a massacre zone… Not as much blood as I would have thought. Lestat must have drunk a lot of it…

God.

Robert? Could you escort them back to the sanctum? I’ve got to clean this up a bit… “Just Vanished” is a lot better then “Slaughtered”… No, I didn’t do it, and I’m not proud of it!

Police? Hell! I’m not quite finished yet! <Forget!> <You don’t see anything!> Good… It worked. I guess the commotion was loud enough to reach the neighbors.

Right… That’s everything. No bullets, no bullet holes, no blood, no bodies – lots of odd gear, but I’m taking that along to check out… Along with the two I managed to KO (Plus the dog). The shield-spells and the rock should block any tracers…

But what the hell am I going to do with the agents?

I’ll just keep them asleep for a while… I’ve got to try and locate Andrea and Cathrin… They might be in danger as well.

Can’t find mother… Maybe she’s just out of range. Washington’s quite a stretch. Cathrin’s at work at the University… I can just call her.

Cathrin? It’s David… Look, we’ve got something of a family emergency… I can’t come over because of the security? How about I meet you in the parking lot? As soon as you can.

It took 26 minutes. Cathrin wanted to know what was wrong… She was being followed by a pair of agents, and so David told her he’d explain on the way…

He told her about the snatch attempt, and that he had Eric and Joseph hidden in Fern Park (Where’s that? If this as another one of your practical jokes, I’m gonna kill you David!).

“If this is one of my jokes, I’ll kill me!.. Those agent-guys are following us… Turn here!” David threw an illusion on their car and a passing car…

There. They’ll follow that one. “David? How did you do that?” I cast an illusion-spell, I’ll explain later – just turn into the park and drive up to that wall…

“You’re sure you haven’t been playing those fantasy games too much David? Do you think you’re Batman?” “No – look, I’ll explain in a moment, OK?”

Back at the Sanctum, Eric was recovered, and it was time for explanations. Fortunately, Eric had seen some of the film from the studio and wreck on the news. That made it a lot easier… Unfortunately, the proceedings were interrupted by the T.V.; It seemed that a trio of “Supervillians” had taken over the football arena, and were holding everybody hostage… One football player and a cameraman were already dead. They had a bomb – and wanted a lot of cash, and the release of six paranormals from secret federal detention. They were giving the authorities till dawn.

It looked like one semi-metallic brick, one energy- projector, and a martial-artist type (At least according to “Champions”…). There might be somebody off-camera giving orders as well…

Great. Just great. Well – we’ve got all night to do that. I’m gonna interogate the dog first…

Stubborn, huh? Desrae?

About 1200 agents and lots of cash? SHIT. No… It wasn’t me. You ran into an elder vampire. Yes, they’re nasty. Lots of trained (if very low-powered) psychics? “Q” determined my identity, and put a high priority on me? They’ve been tracking power-bloodlines for generations? Great. I’ve gotta set up some remote entrances for the sanctum…

So why aren’t you surprised about this Joseph? You want me to read your book; Man Into Magus; The Life Of A Teenager (!?!) A lot of your writing turns out to be about someone you know, even if you never know who?

I can’t find mother… If you get anything on her, please let me know about it, OK?

About that time, the special ninja squad (Based out of Los Angeles?) showed up to get Robert… There was a big fight with the ancient lich-ninja who could find the sanctum. The group won, but only managed to banish him… They did get some of his gear though.

Right. I’ve no time… They’re all gonna wake up as dogs. Desrae can question and drain them a bit. Hell. They were willing to shoot at Joseph, they bloody well deserve to be dogs. I’ll make myself a kennel!

Warlock is getting a bit stressed out here…

Right… So now we’ve got some cages.

Now who’s calling…? My computer? But… I haven’t even been back to the loft! How could my computer get enchanted?

It doesn’t like my roommate… It thinks he’s a bad guy because he feels creepy (OK, I can’t disagree with that), he wears black tights (?????), and he keeps odd hours. Er, well, I suppose we’ll look into it… (Why are all my appliances buggy?). You still need a mainframe?

So what else is going on? (Besides the mass hostage situation… Arghhh… What the hell are we going to do about that?). The TV has a show about a girl Ratman knows? She’s been kidnapped by a gang? About an hour ago? (Oh great). Last, but not least, the city Mayor is calling??? (HOW’D SHE GET MY NUMBER? You’ve – been – giving – it – out… ToEveryOneYouThoughtOughtToHave It. AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! YouThoughtIt’dBeOKSinceYou’reAutomaticallyDivertingAllAttempts ToTraceIt?!? ARRRGH! NeverMindNoTime! Put her on, oh “Cell Foe” (I begin to wonder if it’s serious about that!).

Everything out-of-the-ordinary that happened in the city went over the mayor’s desk – and there had been a lot of it over the last few weeks. Enough to convince her that, if her city had suddenly acquired a “superhero”, it might be worth going along with it…

Especially with whatever weirdness was going on out at the air force training center… Lights and noises, guards who acted semi-hypnotized, and a complete refusal to talk to the city police – or even to her – was just a “bit” out of place for a basic training camp…

The next call was from Julia… She had a couple of concert tickets for Saturday night, and she’d like David to go with her…

Pick her up Saturday night? Where am I going to get a car?

Oh, never mind! I’ll come up with something if I’m still alive by then! It’s only Tuesday…

Michael seems to have accidently teleported himself somewhere? Oh great! I don’t think he’s hurt, but it may take him quite awhile to get back… We’ll have to go without him this time.

All right already! We’ll got after Sarah first. It shouldn’t take too long, it’s just a gang…

Huh. Can’t find her now? Could be shielded somehow – or she might be dead. Damn.

We could go back and look? (Yes, Dad – he’s a time-traveler… Yes, I know that makes no sense! You seem pretty pale… Uhmmm… There’s a bed over there, OK?)

Leave us some margin… About an hour and a half?

Huh… Everything seems sort of stiff and sticky… Maybe something to do with being temporally displaced?

OK, she’s been snatched into this huge “warehouse”. It’s heavily guarded, belongs to the “Bloods”, and has only two entrances?

So we’re not just talking punks here. We’re talking major criminal organization… Just great. We need a diversion? How about an illusory drive-by while Ratman blows the door in?

Watch out, they’ve got automatic weapons and combat training?

Ratman? Do you think you could mention things like that a little in advance from now on?

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?!?!?

Please tell me that that one guard-punk didn’t just take off down the street fast enough to be trailing a sonic boom?

Please tell me that?

Well, it’s not like we’re going to catch him! Let’s get on with the normal punks…

Actually, dealing with thirty or forty punks wasn’t all that hard (Especially with the amount of confusion an illusory “Aliens/Predator” assault motif spread). What complicated things was that they’d been running a private roman-style arena – and had been snatching any necessary “volunteers” from among the street people.

They’d also been making tapes. Unfortunately, none of their “productions” were on the premises. Weapons and such, yes, but no tapes.

TimeWalker fixed that readily… It was easy enough for him to go and do some personal filming…

Then they called the cops.

What a look. Surely they can’t really be swallowing this “Predator” bit? It’s only a movie! Well, it makes for confusion anyway… Let’s go with the gag.

No! You can’t just swipe the guns and drugs and stuff! It’s evidence, we’re the good guys – and we don’t need any more guns anyway!

I bet he sprouts whiskers again inside a week, just on force of personality…

Hello? Yes, I’d like to report a drive-by, murder, kidnapping, drug possession, conspiracy, and quite a few other things… Could you send someone around? Here’s the address…

It took the police almost half an hour to respond – but it was hard to blame them, given the area… They were a bit bothered to find that the Warlock and company had called them – but had to admit that it served as a great reason for a search. They didn’t need TimeWalker to turn up any more evidence though… The videotapes, the drugs, the setup, and the weapons, were plenty…

I HATE this sticky feeling… Let’s get back to the time when we’re supposed to be, and maybe it’ll go away. We can check out my roommate…

WaitASec… I’ll shield Sarah against my scrying and the TV’s first… A few hours should do. That way we won’t interfere with our own decision to jump back and look for her… No paradoxes please… OK.

Well, he seems normal enough… (Shaddup Solamon!!! You can’t just ask people if they’re villains and peer into their closets! Yes, I agree, he gives me a creepy feeling – but he’s always done that! He’s a creep, it doesn’t make him a supervillain!).

OK; You need a mainframe to run your sentience core on, and you want some “metals” from the “Spirit Realm” to bring your magical powers online, and you want some crystals to bring your psychic powers online – and you need more power, and a bigger drive, and a…

Spirit Realm? Matrix Crystal? Sentience Coding?

You can’t be moved because the “access location” is important? My enhancement spells are much too limited to be of any real help?

What in the name of God are you?

Unfortunately, David didn’t manage to find out before fatigue caught up with him and he had to crash for a couple of hours.

Next up: Wednesday!

The Storm Diaries of David Mayseren, Fit the Third

Fight using Kadhara

Image via Wikipedia

And on the second day of the Chaos Storm, things got even screwier, and the characters spake onto the game master, “why us?!”. Once again, far, FAR, more time (several weekly sessions) went by in the real world than in the game…

About a week ago, Robert Lee, a fifteen-year-old martial arts student, had been sitting in the garden and thinking about what jerks the guys from a rival school were, when the full moon rose.

The next day he woke up naked on the school steps – and the rival school had been massacred. The ensuing complications forced him to leave Bangkok very, very quickly. He hopped a freighter “in disguise” as a big wolfish mutt. If he could make it back to the American west coast, maybe his father, Adrian, could help him – even if the man was a survivalist loony. This was just too weird…

OK, so this flight business is a great way to avoid the traffic snarls… I wouldn’t have thought that acquiring a decent set of prospecting gear would be so hard. It is California after all, you’d think they’d stock that kind of thing just for the tourists.

Oops.

Sorry man, I didn’t mean to land on… What are you doing with that phone booth? And with the guy inside? You’re desperate, you’re hungry, and you keep losing all your clothes when you turn into a dog?

Oh bloody HELL.

Look kid… Put his wallet back, I’ll heal him up, and you’re coming with me… (Sorry officer, but It’ll be better if I deal with this. Who am I? Why, I’m The Warlock! Stop snickering! Yes I’m serious!)

Well, that’ll make him take me a bit more seriously next time… I got nice and high before kicking in the invisibility spell. Jeez… Strong, tough, and shapeshifting. The kid couldn’t be a Zarkonian could he?

Nah… What would be the point?

I’m not gonna set him down though. If I keep him levitated, there’s no way he can hurt anybody – and he does seem to have some awfully violent tendencies.

I’ll call the professor… Good Lord. He’s eaten up all the steak in the freezer ALREADY. I’ll have to go and pick up some hamburger or something.

Now THAT’S an AURA. A giant wolf?!

I don’t BELIEVE it. I’ve found a werewolf. NOW what am I going to do?

At about this point, Adrian Lee parked his helicopter in the street outside and started banging… Well, Robert had called him – and Adrian had implanted a radio tracker before he sent him off. Some sort of government job he stole. Stuck itself to the stomach lining. David and The Professor eventually managed to get rid of him… Seeing his son shapeshifting was enough to set off all kinds of paranoia. Still, what were they going to do with Robert? However unintentionally, the child was violent, dangerous, and had killed at least twenty people in Bangkok. Putting him in one of Dr. Genos’s cells seemed a bit much – but the juvenile authorities would never be able to handle him.

Now that’s strength… I’m not sticking my arm near him again. I’d like to keep it attached! He doesn’t have any idea what he’s capable of does he? Wait just a minute… Wasn’t there something about Bangkok a few days ago in the newspaper?

KILLED TWENTY PROFESSIONAL MARTIAL ARTS STUDENTS?!?!

We can’t just let him go… I don’t think he really deserves to die – but… Hmm.

Control. He needs control – or at least we do. If he cooperates, maybe I can work a binding spell on him somehow. It’s worth a try.

Cool.

Having settled that, The Professor sent them out to get the boy some clothes… Preferably, at the rate he seemed to run through them, some cheap ones.

Meanwhile, Desrae was learning to adjust to her new status as a vampiress. Quarreling with her father was just the start of it… Still, adapting to a new role wasn’t much trouble for a theater arts major.

Unfortunately for them both, (As faerie and vampire), She and David bumped into each other at the mall. It was proving difficult to find anything which satisfied Robert – except army surplus. Survivalists…

Now Isn’t that Desrae? From college? The one taking acting courses… God, she’s lovely.

(Slip… Bump… BOOM)

Whaaaaat the FUCK!?!?!

OWWW!

Good thing I can work some healing magic… So what the – the – I can’t think of anything obscene enough – was THAT?!?

The ensuing discussion had to be put off until after they evaded mall security and some would-be protectors (AKA about one-half of the the local male population). Both David and Desrae could see that each others auras were extremely weird…

Besides – the energy flares which started going off whenever they got too close to each other made it just a bit obvious tat something weird was going on… The professor found meeting her very, very, interesting…

At least she only needed to drain some C’hi energy, not blood.

Great. Just great… The most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. Bright, lovely, pleasant, and with a lot in common with me – and if we get too near each other we explode.

This really sucks.

Just to top the cake, on the television, they found THE CRIMSON EARRING (OK, so he claimed it was “the Crimson Seer”), had taken a studio hostage – and wanted Warlock to come and engage in a “test” of their mystic skills…

Just great. What skills? I’m running on guesswork here… He’s only giving me/us an hour. I guess we’ll just have to go…

So where is this place? Well… Hell. I’ll call and ask. Where’s the phone book?

What’s that Azrael? All of your ships are still in orbit – but they might have shuttled down? It’ll have to wait… We’ve got an immediate problem.

Hell. That’s sixty miles away. With traffic like it is every saturday night? We’ll never make it… Put the guy on. Maybe we can talk him into waiting.

Yes, I know it would be a lot faster if you had one of your ships Azrael… We’ll try to get you one, OK?

OK, so that’s not going to work. There’s got to be some way… Ebonflame? You teleport… Can you carry other people with you? You think so? Let’s go for it guys…

The trip through the dimension of darkness wasn’t a pleasant one… The “place” seemed to be the domain of primal nightmares. Azrael went down instantly. Master Dao poured power into his psi-shields – but the effort left him dazed.

Warlock, still too young for his mind to have fully sealed away the childhood fear of the dark, was warded only by his instinctive solar spell. Primordial night poured through the open gateways of his consciousness.

And passed. Unlike his elders, the Warlock had yet to forget how to fully awaken, to find the world fresh and new and full of wonders.

Unfortunately, the strain of taking the other three through his portal knocked out Ebonflame as well. That left David and the Professor to deal with “The Crimson (Whatever)”

Uhhh… (gasp… pant…) Gotta remember not to do that anymore… Fuck… Is that what happened to the kids he swallowed up?

Well, there he is. At least he doesn’t seem to have brought any thugs. The studio audience doesn’t even seem to be taking it too seriously. They seem to think it’s some sort of publicity stunt.

Thank god we beat the cops here.

<Ahhh… There you are Warlock. Sneaky aren’t you? What’s with the goody-goody bit? As another mage, you surely understand that there are times when… (As he leaned forward, the Seer took a closer look). You’re just a boy! No wonder! You’re still full of totally impractical ideals aren’t you? How long have you been at this? THREE DAYS?!?! Look, I only sacrificed three homeless kids – nobody wanted them anyway – and it was for the greater good…

You haven’t taken philosophy yet?>

The Professor had recovered… The studio had more then enough electrical power to draw on. He channeled it into a massive electrical bolt, beginning a curious combination of an arcane battle and a discussion…

(Warlock) “Cuerennos Invocat, Entra Canis Perdo!” (Seer) “LATIN? Why on earth would you use LATIN?” (Warlock) “Fulimenta Jove!… It seems to work!) The Seer engulfed Master Dao in mystic flames… (Seer) “OK; what the hell are those huge slobbering things?” (Warlock) “If they’re what I called, they’re the hounds of the wild hunt! (Seer) “THEY’RE WHAT?!?! I’ve been trying for years – and I’ve never been able to contact anything like that! Could you call them off? I’d really like to talk about this!” (Warlock) “As far as I know, they’re supposed to be unstoppable!”

It got even more complicated when Michael showed up and started shooting… First with bullets (Look, kid, I was expecting the police – did you really think that I wouldn’t be prepared for bullets?), and then with some sort of plasma beam… (General chorus; Whaaa…?)

(SEER) “Look, can I have your phone number?”

(Warlock) “On TV!?!?”

Meanwhile, the audience was applauding madly – as a variety of binding effects, disruption, flight, mystic energy, and kinetic spells went off. The Seer complained bitterly when the hounds started levitating themselves after him (“What, now dogs are casting spells?”) – and tried to teleport out… David, while he wasn’t really sure what the Seer was up to, tried to stop him. He threw a disruption spell. The resulting wild gate took them both… Master Dao swore in annoyance… Wizards. He’d probably get a call asking for the fare back from Stonehenge or Easter Island or someplace like that.

He scooped up Azrael (Evidently Ebonflame was still someplace in his dimension of darkness) – and went after the earring. It’d seemed so important to the Seer that he’d gone to a lot of trouble to knock it off… It’d gone through the wall into the parking lot.

Unfortunately, an enormously fat fellow in a pickup truck had already picked it up – been compelled to put it on – and was peeling rubber getting out… Master Dao gave chase – and ran straight into a skateboarding teenager who’d just barely dodged the truck. He’d never catch it hauling Azrael… On the other hand, this was the one place in town where an alien napping on a park bench would attract no attention at all – just outside the Sci-Fi channels studios.

Oddly enough, the teenager was using his skateboard – and a handy passing car – to pursue the truck as well. He got there first – and started yelling… Master Dao flipped aboard and tried to grab the earring. It burned his hand off… While he was still in shock, the teenager smashed the back of the drivers head in.

At nearly 90 MPH, this did not work out well… The fat fellow wound up “technically dead”, sustained only by the power of the earring. Dao and the teenager wound up fighting a duel of psychic energies… Dao won, and stashed Azrael and the kid in a hotel room before going back to await an ambulance.

Elsewhere, David opened his eyes – and regretted it very quickly…

Urrgh… Ok. I’m lying on a glowing pathway made of golden light, which drips endlessly into a black void. The sky is purple, and covered with strange flecks and twisty patterns – and the path slopes steeply upwards. There’s the Seer…

Well – I don’t feel dead.

Call it a truce? Sure… We fought and we wound up here. I’m not about to try it again at the moment. Up or down? Up I think…

OK, so it’s clicheic. Look at this place. Have you got any better ideas?

Why did I interfere with your spell? Didn’t I have any idea how dangerous that was?

No I didn’t… And as for “why”, well, we were kind of fighting, so I figured that whatever you were doing would probably be bad for us.

The Seer groaned.

It was a long way to the gate… Just an extension of the path really. With bars of blue light. Warlock and the Seer spent a few minutes tinkering, but didn’t get very far before that fellow in the black-and-white outfit showed up again. This time he stuck around long enough to talk;

It seemed that this was the “Path Of Ascension” – a way of initiation into the higher magics. Most mages didn’t come here until they’d had a century or more of self-teaching – and they might spend many centuries more here, learning, in the realm of mages at the bottom of the path.

“Magic” wasn’t something you did – it was something you lived.

He asked how Warlock and the Seer had gotten there, and listened to their stories – the Seer’s tale of a tower in an ancient cave, the books and relics it contained, and of his years of study.

Of Warlock putting on Issilor’s ring last week, and the ensuing confusion…

WAITAMINUTE! You know about this ring? Who’s this “Issilor” guy? What do you mean he must be dead “Or I wouldn’t be wearing his ring”.

He’s the only mage who ever completed his Ascension and got out? How long does this stuff take anyway? I gotta get home by Thursday, or mother will have a fit!

“Your arrival was an accident child… I think that I can send you back. Perhaps you will return when you have outlived your ties to the outer world…”

(POOF!) Oops… Police again. Would-be interviewers and “we’d like you to answer a few questions”… Look, guys, I really haven’t any answers for you! Which way did Master Dao go? Through the parking lot? I’ll never get through this mess…

Hey! I can levitate without casting a spell! Maybe it’s some side effect of taking a walk on that path… That place had been incredibly overcharged with magic. It was made of the stuff. Now where? I’ll try another mirror spell.

OK, the Professor’s in the hospital (OW! That must hurt unbelievably… Maybe we can regenerate his hand somehow?). Still, he’s fine for the moment…

Where’s Azrael?

Well, perhaps you could… WHY AM I ARGUING WITH A HOTEL DOOR!!! Come to think of it… HOW AM I ARGUING WITH A HOTEL DOOR! SHUT UP AND LET ME IN! (How??? Oh. Am I radiating that much magic? Can’t bind it in. Hey! Maybe I can shunt it to the workshop I was setting up! It might even be useful there…)

Cool.

Azrael?… He’s way out. Maybe I can work a mind- healing spell? Huh… I can, but not a very good one. Oh well, it worked. So who’s this guy? No idea? Lets wake him up and find out why Dao flattened him.

So that’s why. He’s a nasty little thug with power. He wants his skateboard. Never mind. I’ll conjure him one and put a tracer spell on him (in case we want him later). Let’s get out of here…

It’s a door. It can’t have much of a mind. Just zap it would you Azrael?

Warlock and Azrael flew… The junior thug decided to hitch a ride in a Porsche and visit the hospital as well. Who knows why… Once there, he started looking for things to steal, but at least his skidding, spark-throwing arrival made a good diversion from Warlock and Azrael dropping in.

Dao was in surgery to get his stump neatened up. They were having trouble anesthetizing him… He kept using his powers to block the drugs.

A member of the surgical team then proceeded to use his pocket-watch to knock out everyone else and turned into a janitor. It didn’t work on Dao – but, this turn of events did leave him throughly confused…

When Warlock and Azrael showed up, he decided to go and check on the fat fellow in ICU instead.

Up in ICU, the doctors were puzzled. The fellow had no heartbeat, no blood pressure, and a wrecked brain – but he was still breathing and refused to die…

Unable to get the earring off, Warlock and the others decided to try and patch him up so he could do it. That idea left them with a virtually invulnerable “earring-powered” zombie on the rampage. Warlock repaired the walls – and most of the patients – on the way out.

Look at that loon skidding in… I’ll add a display of sparks. That ought to divert anybody who might spot us landing…

OK; the surgical team is unconscious, and the patient is awake. Aren’t you getting a bit overenthused about this knocking people unconscious bit professor? It was the janitor? With a pocket watch?

Maybe I should try the mindhealing spell on him.

So where’s the earring? (Shut up! I don’t talk to surgical tables! I’d better work on that power shunt a bit more…)

Look, why don’t you quit arguing, let us in, and go sound the alarm or something?

Yuck… So what’s wrong? He’s had a massive heart attack, a broken skull, brain damage, various injuries – and his heart quit beating twenty minutes ago? He’s still breathing though…

Hell. I’ll try. It’s not like I could hurt him…

Oops.

Well that was a lousy idea… Sorry about the wall. I’ll fix it… Hell. I’ll heal everybody while I’m at it.

How are we going to stop that thing? We can’t just let it smash it’s way through a hospital… Well, just blast the earring loose again! All together now…

PROFESSOR! DON’T!… OHSHIT!

Overcome by curiosity, Dao tried on the earring. It promptly took him over – and teleported him away.

This was not good.

Oh boy… Maybe I can get hold of the Seer? After all, it’s his earring. Maybe he knows how to…

Blocked. DAMN

OK, so where’s the Professor? He’s crawling down a crevice in a cave – someplace where there’s a blizzard overhead. Can’t see a thing – but it feels like a long ways off.

Damn. I don’t think I can do anything.

I’m not even sure I ought to.

Maybe I can do something with that big mirror I was working on enchanting… I can’t get into the workroom because it thinks I’m the wrong person? I think maybe that I channeled too much power into it.

Now my phone is talking to me. OK – telephones are supposed to do that – but not by themselves. I’ve got to find a way to cut off the rest of that mana leak… It says that Michael is calling. Caller ID. How very convenient! I’d been meaning to get back to him anyway.

So what’s up? You’re calling youself “Xenomorph”, and you’d like to meet me at the pizza place? You’ve found your powers? (Oh boy… SO WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?)

Let me get this straight… You “found” a secret US government base in a sub-basement of that condemned old office building you were using as your base – and it was full of alien technology and a bunch of GI stuff – and a bunch of records dating back more then twenty years.

(What, are we living on a planet or a swiss cheese? I mean, if you count the little workroom I set up in a cave back behind the house (on the edge of Fern Park) that makes three secret underground bases in less then a week…)

So you moved all the stuff to your new secret base, and put the armor on. You haven’t got it all figured out just yet, but some of it’s systems are really easy to use? Especially the flight, camouflage, and weapons systems?

WATCH WHERE YOU POINT THAT THING!!! JEEZ!!!

Look, Michael, lets just have some pizza, OK? Just don’t push that button again…

How come I can see the armor if nobody else can? It doesn’t work on strong minds? Weird.

Meanwhile, the “junior thug” had decided to go back to the hotel room… It wasn’t often he had a room. It talked to him… It (The consciousness of the room???) could feel where Warlock/”Father” had sent most of the power, and it wanted to be moved there… Otherwise, it would run out – and die – in a week or so.

Well, why not? Besides – if “Warlock” could simply conjure stuff up, he’d be a truly handy guy to know…

So. A map, a compass bearing, and a range estimate. Right on the edge of… Fern Park? Well, he guessed it wasn’t too unreasonable… Nobody ever went there. It was just a bunch of little mountain valleys and woods. It wasn’t even all that pretty compared to some of the NICE parks around…

OK; Off to Fern Park.

Unfortunately, the place turned out to have another visitor… The Lizard. Now eighteen feet tall and more annoyed then ever.

The ensuing conversation didn’t go well… Neither did the fight. He wound up on the run, trying to hide, and calling 911… (Would this be Fire, Ambulance, or Police? “YES!”).

Back at the professor’s place, Robert had finished cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry – and was looking for more. Desrae had woken up from her “afternoon nap” as well. Evidently even the little sunlight she got crossing the parking lot, and indirectly through the car windows, was enough to severely “tire” a vampiress…

Hrrrmmm… I’ve got to find somplace for Robert to stay… He can’t stay at the professors when the man’s disappeared.

Hey Michael – wanna meet a werewolf?

You guess your armor’s tough enough? It’s not like that, he’s got some control.

Back at the professors, there was some confusion… Geez… You’ve eaten everything already? Wasn’t there a chest freezer in the laundry room? (God. I hope his appetite tapers off pretty soon. Where can he possibly be putting it all?). Good… There is. Have a ham…

Desrae? We sort of defeated the Seer, The professor has been possessed by an earring and vanished – and we probably ought to clear out of his place, just in case he comes back as a megavillian. Besides – who wants to try and explain his disappearance?

At about that point, the TV came on – first with a smiley face (on every channel), then with a short film featuring the fight with the Seer (with everyone given full credit) – and then a scene with The Lizard on the rampage in the park…

Oh boy… I wonder how many things I’ve accidently empowered lately? Great. The Lizard again. Couldn’t Dr Genos hang onto him for twenty-four hours? He’s gotten too big for Ebonflame to swallow him again…

Well – who wants to fight the Lizard? Yes, Robert, I know you want to…

Well… I’ll work a shielding darkness spell around you, OK? You’ll have to drive anyway – you’re the only one here with a car and a licence.

Well, that’s a familiar-looking skateboard. Where’s the little thug? Ah. There he is. Flying by overhead headed for the bay. Looks like he’s been fighting the Lizard…

OK, maybe he’s worth something. At least he’s still alive…

So I’ll catch him… What’s with people falling out of the sky around here?

GAAAH! Where did you materialize from your armoured nastiness? (Isn’t it getting a bit crowded in the back seat with three?).

Your – name – is – Solamon – Riser – and – you – call – yourself – “Timewalker” – and – we’re – going – to – invite – you – to – join – in – a – few – months – and you – thought – that – you’d – drop – by – early – and – avoid – the – rush. Here’s – the – invitation – I – wrote.

Riiiggggghhhhhhtttttt…….

The TV is calling me through my talking cell phone. It says to “Look out above you!”???

Whaaaa???

The Lizard is jumping on us? Just step on the gas. He can’t steer while he’s in the air… Robert jumped out? Why?

Now what? We’re barely staying ahead… Maybe I can transform him?

Cool.

Why a dog you ask?

Well… He was chasing the car.

Hey Robert! What are you going to do with him when you catch him?

About then, this glowing blue portal opened up, and a lot of Dr Genos’s guys in power armor came out. They were looking for the Lizard.

They were sort of surprised (and extremely relieved), to find a big mutt with the Lizard’s energy signature.

It still wasn’t easy to put him out. There’d been some sort of accident when they were trying to put him in cyrostasis… He’d just been too dangerous to leave loose.

They thought that Robert was “one of their’s” for a moment or two – (“How did He get loose!?!”) – but were easy enough to straighten out…

While they were taking the unconscious (he fainted) park ranger back to his post, the guy in white and black showed up again, smiled – and put Warlock’s power-flow back under control…

Now what? Him again? What’s he want now?

Well – That solves that problem anyway. Dammit! I’m tired of not having a name for this guy…

From now on, I’m gonna call him “Equinox”… Maybe “Master Equinox”- He does seem to be a master mage…

Anyway, from now on he’s got a name.

After a bit more confusion involving Mask, Desrae’s sentient pet raccoon, the skateboarder’s bag of stolen candy, the gas pedal, and Desrae finding out about her shapeshifting talents while driving on a mountain road at 90 MPH, they managed to stop the car and locate the Warlock’s secret workroom… Desrae was feeling as if she’d “Gotten too much sun”, and a cavern sounded like just the thing…

Besides, his workroom had called to say that it was sorry it hadn’t recognized him before – but his power- aura had been too strong to see through.

Just park it here… I camouflaged the place pretty well and covered the entrance with a sheet of rock – but I ought to be able to spot it’s magical aura…

Cool.

Huh. The rock won’t flow. So how can we… (POP!) Errr… Just touch the wall and it teleports you through guys.

The workroom/base/sanctum seemed to be inhabited by several major spirits now… It seemed that they liked “Squishy Mages” – and there hadn’t been any around for quite some time…

They didn’t like vampires though – but were willing to put up with Desrae as long as she behaved.

Desrae rested… Around sunset, a bunch of japanese ninja types showed up… They were looking for Robert Lee (It seemed that his “school” felt dishonored – and wanted him back for judgement).

Look – guys – he’s a supernatural shapeshifter, and this is a really bad idea.

They didn’t believe it.

Robert (and the Warlock) gave them a demonstration…

They left very quickly, but did say something about “Sending in a special team”.

Well – Hell. At least I can blur the location they remember a bit… Too bad that they’re too many for me to make them forget it entirely.

I wonder if I can get them off his tail somehow?

Maybe fake Robert’s death somehow? But I’d have to convince the school…

Well, I’ll have to think about it.

Hey, Michael! Aren’t you going to take that helmet off?

WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T TAKE THE ARMOR OFF!? How are you going to eat?

You don’t seem to need to? Errr… Well – maybe we can figure something out later on.

If things don’t slow down a bit pretty soon, I just may collapse… I don’t think it can keep on. At this rate the world would be absolutely insane within a few months.

Warlock spent much of that night fixing up a mystic garage for Desrae’s sports car, reinforcing his spells on Robert, and gathering up the various mystic effects and devices that he’d accidently left scattered around (Luckily, transferring most of them, or at least their mystic essences, back to his sanctum proved relatively simple – for the most part).

Oh boy… Thank goodness that I don’t seem to need as much sleep as I did before… (Maybe it’s some sort of side effect?)… At least I don’t have class until tuesday… Class… Somebody’s going to take over the professor’s classes… I hope it’s not Pr. Carlson… The man’s a pain in the ass… It’s not fair dammit… I’m sleeping out with the most beautiful girl who I’ve ever seen, and we explode if we get together… Maybe an insulation spell would work… Try it tomorrow…

(Sleep)

The Warlock’s Personal Timeline:

  • -3) (Tuesday):    David finds a (Mysterious) cave.
  • 01 (Friday Night):    David holds his regular friday night game at an atmospheric location – the cave… He arrives early to set things up, and finds an interesting ring with a green stone…
  • 02 (Saturday):    Feeling a bit feverish, he doesn’t get out much – although he does take a few calls about the DRAGON! (???????????!!!!!!!???????????)
  • 03 (Sunday):    The odd stuff begins… Some little lapses of memory about what he’d cleaned and so on could be dismissed – but the weird auras was another matter.
  • 04 (Monday):    David discovers his “sensitivity” to cold iron – and begins to speculate.
  • 05 – 07 (Tuesday – Thursday): David’s increasingly dramatic experiments at last lead him to conclude that he can actually cast spells (unless he just needs some therapy). Of course, he has to work between classes…
  • 08 (Friday):    Deciding to consult with Pr. Willams leads to getting entangled in a bank robbery, police – and several other superhumans… Also, being late for his composition class, Michael discovering David’s new magical skills at the weekly game, and more experiments.
  • 09 (Saturday):    David visits home, sets up a small workshop-cavern in the hills behind the house, tries a few shape-shifting experiments – and then gets called to deal with Azrael, The Lizard, Dr. Genos’s secret base, Michael, Douglas, and THE CRIMSON EARRING… He misses his (special) writing-class workshop.
  • 10 (Sunday): Looking for a “prospecting kit” leads to a Werewolf and Adrian the Survivalist. Shopping for clothes for the werewolf leads to Desrae the vampiress – and a mystic explosion. Meanwhile, the Crimson Seer takes a television studio hostage and demands that the Warlock come to him… This leads to a mystic battle, a visit to the realm of the ascension, Michael’s grand entrance as a superhero, the earring zombie, Professor William getting possessed by said earring – and lunch. After lunch, they have to deal with the Lizard in Fern Park, the Warlock’s sentient sanctum, and the ninja…

Next up: Monday!

RPG Naval Combat, Part I

Combat naval de Iquique del 21 mai 1879 - oil ...

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Naval combat is full of details.

Environmental shifts may upset everything. For an age-of-sail vessel a change in the wind, or patch of fog, can change an entire battle. Even with later designs, storms, floating debris, rocks and reefs, powerful currents, and – at the most extreme – tidal waves, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions can easily damage or overwhelm any ocean vessel. Space is usually calmer, but even there you can have solar flares, meteorites of various sizes, radiation storms, and whatever demented disasters the physics of the setting will support.

When it comes to the ship itself…

  1. Cargo may be damaged or destroyed – including fuel, water, food, and other vital supplies.
  2. Drive and power systems may be damaged or destroyed. A mast may need splicing, a sail may be carried away or burned, the boiler may be threatening to explode, or the engine may lose power.
  3. Fire (or radiation leaks, or magical flare-ups, or whatever) may break out – which is especially bad if it’s near a magazine, or fuel stores, or a stock of canvas or tar, or anything else which burns or otherwise reacts really well – or explosively. It’s not like you can walk home.
  4. Instruments – whether for navigation, communication, or observation – may be damaged or destroyed. And yes, even rather primitive ships will have flags, lights, gadgets for navigation, and other instruments.
  5. Officers, crewmen, and passengers may be injured or killed.
  6. Steering systems – rudder, screws, altitude thrusters, diving systems, or what-have-you – may be damaged.
  7. Structural damage is often the least of it. Barring a major explosion or a collision with a much larger and tougher ship, a ship can survive enormous numbers of holes before it starts coming apart. That’s why so many wrecks are more-or-less intact; they failed to keep out the water (or whatever), they didn’t fall to bits.
  8. Water – or whatever hostile environment your craft may travel in or on – may be coming in, meaning that leaks need to be plugged, hatches that must be sealed, passages that need to be negotiated may be filled with something nasty (or vacuum), or support gear (pumps, atmosphere recyclers, etc) may need to be repaired or manually operated.
  9. Weapons may be damaged or destroyed – or simply run low on ammo, especially if a magazine is hit.
  10. Wreckage may be dangling over the side and acting as a sea anchor, or blocking access to vital areas, and will need to be broken through or cut away.

The trick here is that the character’s usually don’t care about the details.

Unless a character is dealing with it directly, that sort of stuff is simply background scenery – and even if they are, the details generally boil down to one of “You can fix it given a bit of time”, “You can try to fix it”, “trying to fix it will be dangerous” (perhaps you have to risk blasts of flame and steam to work on the boiler of a steam system), and “you can’t fix it at the moment”. Subcategories here would be “you can live with it”, “slow disaster”, and “fast disaster” – but most RPG combat systems call for ablative damage (since it gives the characters a chance to realize that they’re outmatched and pull out before they’re killed, making for longer games), hence things will always start with slow problems and build from there.

Seas – whether or water or space – aren’t like ordinary terrain. They don’t offer much cover save for the occasional patch of obscuring material or massive chunk of rock, they don’t provide meaningful height advantages, and they don’t allow characters to do a lot of independent maneuvering. Most characters are effectively going to be riding on a platform that moves around a bit with respect to some other platforms – and, once again, the details won’t matter.

Ships are complex and fascinating things, but for game purposes, ship-to-ship combat since the cannon came along mostly consists of (1) trying to maneuver so that you have more weapons bearing than your opponent does, (2) firing as many of the weapons you can bring to bear as quickly as quickly you can, and (3) handling damage control. Once in awhile you have (4) trying to get your opponent to run into a hazard (running aground, lured into a minefield, or asteroid field or some such), but most of the time such hazards are fairly obvious, and are easily avoided.

Yes, you can ram – but that often leads to the destruction of both ships if they’re of similar size, and is usually only a useful tactic if you can’t use guns for some reason or if the enemy ship is a LOT smaller and more fragile than your own.

You can end a naval battle by…

  • Winning.
  • Losing.
  • By one side or the other escaping.
  • By enacting a truce (whether by surrender of one side or the other, by mutual exhaustion and drifting apart, or by some diplomatic feat)
  • Or by boarding the enemy ship and ending the naval battle in favor of personal combat.

In reality, boarding actions are pretty rare. Most of the time, if you’ve beaten an enemy down to the point where this becomes practical, you might as well just demand their surrender. It’s going to be a more viable option in this system though, because it’s exciting and players like it.

So to command a ship in naval combat, you’re going to need to:

  • Know exactly what your ship (and hopefully those of your opponents) can – and, more importantly, CANNOT – do
  • Have enough tactical skill to pick out a good course of option within those limits
  • Have enough skill as a pilot (if you’re doing you own piloting) and leader (if acting as both ship captain and commander) to actually make your ship and crew do it.

Yes that’s right; the commanders are going to be spending their time watching the situation and issuing orders, relying on a set of skills that most player characters – who are used to operating in small, independent, units – are often not going to want to invest in.

Many other skills are useful before and after a fight. Navigation, Weather Prediction, Diplomacy, Geography (or perhaps Galaxography), Deception, and Intimidation may all help you locate the fight, avoid storms along the way, negotiate for passage and supplies, figure out where your enemies are going, bluff your way past an enemy fortress, or get an enemy to surrender – but none of them are much help during the actual fighting.

Of course, once you’re in position to injure your enemies, you need to actually do it.

Ship-mounted weapons are usually large and powerful, and they’re often numerous – but they’re also notably inaccurate. Like it or not, “precise fire” is more or less a myth in naval combat. This is another major reason why real-world naval engagements not too uncommonly result in victories for inferior ships; it only takes one or two really lucky shots to really ruin your day.

Why is it a myth?

Instrumental systems – at least as yet – only target ships as a whole. Just as importantly, at least for game purposes, they don’t allow a lot of human input; exchanging missiles or remotely-directed gunfire with a distant ship basically amounts to “push the button and hope” – especially if you’re firing missiles at a target that’s on or over the horizon. That’s really rather boring, and so doesn’t belong in a game.

Human-directed weapons are firing from an unstable, moving, platform, at an equally unstable, moving target, are normally too big to readily direct by hand (adding in lag time), their operators often have limited visibility (which gets worse when smoke is involved), they’re run by crews rather than by individuals, and they’re usually being directed to targets by someone who’s up on the bridge who is aware of the tactical situation, but only has a limited knowledge of what’s going on with the guns. There may (will later on) be mechanical assistance with reloading, but one or two shots per minute under actual battle conditions is pretty standard for main guns. That’s why there’s usually a fair amount of time to maneuver in between shots – and why a quick turn to allow you to fire your OTHER broadside was such a good maneuver in the days before turrets.

For simplicities sake – and playability – I’ll presume that naval-scale energy weapons, missile launchers, and similar weaponry have similar cycling times. Given that we don’t even know what laws of physics will be involved in this sort of thing in any given setting, that seems like a reasonable compromise. Secondarily, the officers, crew, and player characters are going to be presumed to be busy with orders, dodging fire, and other minor activities – so their personal actions are going to be reduced to the ship combat timescale as well.

Thus a good gunnery officer – one who can tell from the bridge whether or not the guns currently have a worthwhile chance of hitting and can come reasonably close to the optimal moment for firing – is worth his or her weight in gold.

So that’s what our rules will need to cover – hopefully in a simple, quick, and easy system that won’t get in the way of the game.

That’s next.

The Storm Diaries of David Mayseren, Fit the Second

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With the prologues out of the way, events in the setting began moving into high gear. In the first day of chaos there were actually several sessions…

Back in the city, a short bluish alien crash landed in the Professors back yard. The Professor used the cellular phones and beepers he’d passed around to call everyone in. The ranger had been staying there anyway while they talked – and the darkforce guy just teleported in – but David had to ride his bicycle… Between the neighbors, the fire department, and the police, things got busy, even before David got there, and healed the alien enough to wake him up… He turned out to be a powerful telepath. Out in space, his ship had been boarded by the “Zarkonians” – and he’d ejected to escape… They might already be on this world as well. They were shapechangers.

Finding out that half the “people” around him were shapechangers, that telepathy wasn’t normal, just how primitive this planet was, that he’d probably have to hide because there was no procedure for aliens – and that all of his stuff had apparently burned up in the atmosphere – was quite a series of shocks.

The group had to catch him.

Wow! An Alien! A whole civilized galaxy out there! A galactic war! (Oh bugger)

Errr… I gotta admit it… We have wars with each other.

Wait-a-minute here… An alien. A whole world to land in and it lands in the Professor’s back yard. With news of a possible alien invasion. Just after we all got powers.

Somebody or Something is setting us up.

At about that point there was a feeling of presence behind David. He turned to find that the guy in black and white was back. He pronounced “It has begun” – and vanished again. Once again, nobody else noticed him…

Riiiiight…

The alien jerked. Minds without bodies? How can that be? Is that normal for around here?

Well, while you’re here, you’ve gotta eat. Lets see what we can find… At least if it turns out to poison you, I should be able to counteract it. You used to be a spacefighter pilot? Cool!

Michael showed up about then. It seemed his younger brother, Douglas, had disappeared – and David (and his “companions”) were the only superheroes he knew… HE had decided that this sounded a lot like Champions… The coincidence level – and starting off with a bank being robbed – sounded just like it.

Well – maybe what people believe affects it somehow (“Have you ANY idea just how silly that could be?”) (A bit like this situation maybe?) (“Well… Maybe”).

OK… So you’ve gotta get a look at your orbit slot and see if the Zarkonians managed to take control? No, we really can’t get you there… We’re using chemical rockets, remember? How about a telescope? Sears ought to have some… You can telepathically disguise yourself? Cool.

They took a bus.

David, Michael, and the Alien went shopping… It was not a good time, as some scaly green reptile-man began tearing up downtown. The Professor put out an emergency call. Evidently, he thought that “THIS WAS A JOB FOR C.H.A.O.S! (Certain Heroes Acting On Standby… or Crackpot Heroes Awaiting Opposing Supervillians or any of several other versions the others had proposed…).

At Sears, David was a bit puzzled… Taking the bus didn’t seem like a viable option. Hey – maybe he could turn himself into a dragon and carry everybody! Well – evidently not. Drat… That would’ve been so cool. Oh well, time for the fly spells again. An invisibility charm too perhaps.

Damn. He really would’ve liked being a dragon for a while.

Downtown, Shadowmaster/Nightman/Ebonfire/Nightmare/Darkstar/Batman/Whatever (He hadn’t quite decided yet) had arrived… Mr Green-and-Scaly was busy punching big holes in walls, terrorizing the populace, and making a big mess. There were casualties already, and trying to blast him unconscious simply made him get bigger… He threw things – including a four-year-old child.

Whatever-his-name was tried to cushion the impact – but the kid simply got swallowed up into the darkness. How to get him back?

Master Dao and Mr Ranger / “The Changeling” were up next… They eventually managed to dump him way out in the bay – although it seemed almost impossible to hurt him.

Unfortunately, he was swimming back.

Back downtown, David and company had arrived..

Good Lord… There’s nothing I can do for him… His brains are (ulp…) smeared across the sidewalk… At least I can heal most of them… He went that way? Good. We’ve gotta stop him somehow.

Back at the shore, Mr Multiname had managed to pull the kid back out… The boy was throughly dead – and he felt… stronger? He took the idea that he might have just – consumed – a dying child – and pushed it firmly away.

Jeez… I don’t think there’s anything I can do to actually hurt him – and I don’t know if I’m up to transforming the thing – maybe a confusion spell?

It had some effect – at least it gave Mr Darkness a chance to… swallow him up?! What was that about? Was it… David got a look at the child’s body… Oh.

Back downtown, “Master Dao and The Changeling” were going down the hole. They wanted to know where “The Lizard” had come from. It turned out to be a heavily- guarded secret, underground, laboratory/base…

So you’ve… eaten him. Now what? Find out where he came from? Sounds like a decent idea to me…

Like, this place is for real? I’ve gotta start paying attention to those conspiracy theorists. At least the guards are easy enough to knock out…

Hey! An arsenal! And some prototype suits of power armor… Somehow, looking at those, picking up a suit of kevlar armor and a few handguns isn’t really all that comforting… Still, it’ll be handy for Michael.

The first set of guys in power armor were in a room full of electronic gear. Mr Darkness turned The Lizard loose on them. They died. David was a bit sick… It wasn’t easy to catch The Lizard again either.

They went on to confront the head of security, and got his boss on the phone. Master Dao looked through the files; they had four real nasties – and a bunch of failures. David was outraged.

I might’ve known… The place belongs to “Dr Genos” – a brilliant geneticist. Of course. Well, if any of his little experiments are sensible, I’m going to make damn sure he lets them go! At least we’ve got most of the layout – and I’ve taken a peek at the nasty cases in the files.

Oh great. There are another twenty or thirty guards out there – and we’ve just set off all the alarms. Their going to be waiting in ambush for us. Maybe if I whip up an illusion of the Lizard getting loose again.

They all “chased The (Illusory) Lizard” into the main security room… This didn’t entirely go over – but they wound up calling a truce until they could put Mr Lizard back into a reinforced cell… David (AKA; “The Warlock”), insisted on using his mirror magic to talk to the four “successful” experiments in their cells…

The plant master got to talk to more plants. The shapeshifter/were got a mental vacation – if he wanted it – and the Acidic blob didn’t communicate well.

Master Dao decided that he might have to “reign in” David’s idealism a bit. Sixteen-year-olds were like that.

Jeez… All these guys got a good look at us – and got a bunch of film records as well. Not good. Maybe I can use a little darkness magic to blur things a bit. Cool. It actually worked.

NOW what? Oh great… The armies coming down… At least the security guys seem confident that they won’t find anything. (Fool “Ebonflame”. Where else would it be but down the tunnel?).

So how can we hurry up that stupid cell ? Hold the pieces in place? Fine…

It’s still bulging? Good lord! Let’s get the hell out of here.

Whaddya mean we have to swim? You don’t know where the reasonable exits are ? What a stupid design for a secret base…

Jeez, I’d’ve thought that you’d kindof have to tell the security guys where the doors are… How can they do their job without knowing?

You’ve gotta watch it Michael! Think about how hard you’d have splattered if you hadn’t been over water when the flying spell ran out!

Look, kids – we’re superheroes, OK?

Back downtown, the military had been called out and the situation was turning into a riot. Master Dao and “Ebonflame” tried to calm everyone. Demonic clouds of darkness and weird Chinese guys with bizarre powers do not make for calm – especially with their tactics. At least “Ebonflame” avoided getting caught, while Master Dao escaped with his usual aplomb – and then confused a cat. Meanwhile, David and the alien went shopping.

So the military is out dealing with the riot. Good. Dao and Ebonflame simply seem to be making it worse. Weird guys doing bizarre things after they had a fight with a monster-lizard-thinge in the street just do not induce calm.

Never mind. I don’t think I’ve got the power left to deal with a riot (Maybe it’s an endurance battery?) and I’ve got to get our resident alien a telescope. A good thing that it’s easy to prompt a telepath about things.

At least they let the professor go… I’m not sure “Crackpot” is the best reputation for a superhero, but I guess it’ll have to do.

Back at home, the Professor had to explain the hole in his yard to the guys from the gas company.

Darn it… Looks like I do have to worry about just how much power I’ve got left, and I still have to look for Douglas.

Maybe I can manage a simple scrying spell?

<Michael? Could you Fax me a picture of Douglas? In a minute? You’ve got a hot date?> (Odd – Michael never has a date. He couldn’t get a date to save his life… He’s a total geek. Hey! Maybe I can do something about that. Never mind. I’ll try the picture under a mirror or something. That ought to be a good focus…

He’s chained up? In an underground chamber? Ohshit. This is serious! Now who? Huh. “The Crimson Earring” I guess… Great. Grabbed by a loon… OHSHIT! He sees something? HE”S BLOCKING ME? ANOTHER MAGE?!? Probably higher level too. The odds on spotting someone using a scrying spell aren’t so hot. Great… I’ll need the others.

Come to think of it, I’ll also need some clues.

“The Crimson Earring”… Probably The Yellow Claws brother-in-law.

Phooey.

OK… For the moment we’re gonna be “The Guardians”

Michael’s not in but is answering the phone? How is he…? Ah. Extension cords. Now how did Douglas… He was snatched from in front of the school!? A bunch of other kids saw it!? Along with a teacher’s aide? The police are already involved then.

So what are you up to? Seeing if you’re an “super- inventor”? You guess not? (I’ve just gotta find some way to divert this boy…)

OK – so how can we get a copy of the police report? Your mothers got one? Well, Mr. Ebonflame ought to be able to swipe it easily enough…

Three nearby witnesses… All about nine. Azrael? You think you can get more out of their heads then the police did? Probably?

Right. That’s the kid’s house. Are we close enough?

Well – how was I supposed to know that you normally read the thoughts of opposing spacefighter pilots?

Well, the car’s plate number is helpful. Now if we only knew somebody who could run it for us… You can get it? Now THAT’s handy. Maybe you’re a super-hacker Michael…

From a mansion in a ritzy, private, neighborhood you say? Well, that fits – in a sick kind of way… Where else would THE CRIMSON EARRING (In a deep ominous tone here guys) alias JACOB EMERSON (Hell. Even the earring bit sounds better then that) hang out?

You’re coming Michael? I suppose I’d insist if it was my little brother… Bring your pistol and kevlar vest then.

So; There’s a storm coming, my ring’s emitting lots of bright green flames – and the spectacle has already caused a five-car pileup. MR. Ebonflame has gone into balrog mode and is pulling people out… Could we get any more conspicious guys? Hire a band maybe? (I guess it’s mostly my fault – unless it’s “my” ring’s fault – but still).

Well – we could always just ask “Mr Emerson” to let us use his phone to dial 911. Let’s just head in fast guys…

The butler doesn’t find anyone (except Michael) too abnormal.

This must be the place.

So where are the frightened minds Azrael?

The ensuing high-speed “tour” of the house required very little time. They just went through things… The servants got out of the way or got stunned, and the kids and other prisoners got turned over to the cops out near the accident scene. Confronted with this bunch of unknown factors, THE CRIMSON EARRING decided to bug out. Michael rescued Douglas – and a news helicopter got some fine footage of our heroes battling disappearing thugs and rescuing kids from the altars on the roof.

Miserable bastard… No, I don’t think shooting him is actually going to do any good Michael. Go ahead and try it if you want. The bastards been kidnapping, and evidently sacrificing, little kids… At least we got Douglas out of that ritual room. (Hush kids… You’re safe now).

What the hell are all these specks-of-blue-light-in -a-cloud up here?

Oh great… The professors trying to explain things to the police again. What do you want to bet that they soon dedicate an entire wing at the Los Angeles Mental Hospital to him? Let’s get out the back guys…

No, I don’t think I can handle too many more spells at the moment… Let’s just wait until they’re looking the other way, OK?

A good thing I disguised the car – but I don’t know how to drive the thing – and the professors got the keys anyway.

Now that’s a handy talent to have Michael… Where did you learn to hotwire and drive a – never mind, I’m not sure I want to know. At least you’re still invisible…

Come to think of it. that may attract attention all by itself. Oh well – I’ll just shut off their engines.

Now let me get this straight… OK; Morning. I get up. Things go to hell.

Maybe I should try to put the pieces together a bit better then that. Morning. One week since (I think) I got my powers… I visit home, talk to Dad and Joseph, and go out back to practice a bit. An alien crashlands in the professors backyard with news of a potential space invasion. Michael’s little brother disappears. We go out to get a telescope and a lizard-monster escapes from Dr. Genos’s secret laboratory and goes on the rampage. We defeat the lizard, haul him back down to Dr. Genos, talk to some of his other experiments, take a minisub- marine out, catch Michael when he comes falling out of the sky, get named by some kids, get tangled up with a riot and the military – and then get back to looking for Douglas (Michael’s kid brother), who turns out to have been kidnapped by the “Crimson Earring”. We trace him, convince Michael that he’s not a superhero, run off to the rescue, cause an automobile accident, and battle the minions of the Crimson Earring (who escapes).

Then we drive off with an invisible chauffeur – and have to evade the police. Meanwhile, I missed another writing class.

This job better have a damn good vacation plan.

I need some cash. Come to think of it, I also need some gold. Magic rings and such always seem to be made of gold… Maybe just because it’s easy to work and it doesn’t tarnish or anything – but I’m not gonna fly in the face of tradition on three days experience.

OK. I’ll go prospecting in the morning. Of course, with my current luck, I’ll probably find a secret army missile base or the ring of the Nibelungs or something like that… At least a basic kit is cheap enough. I can get one in the morning.

The Storm Diaries: Part I. The Players and the Stage

Example of a subject in a Ganzfeld experiment.

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The Chaos Storm game was set in modern San Francisco, in a world much like our own. While that world allowed magical and psychic powers, for many centuries they had been mere whispers – carefully hoarded by a few survivors from past ages of enchantment to support their own extended lives, and insufficient to have any real impact on recent history.

A few years before the start of the game those powers had started to rise, and various individuals and groups had begun exploiting the subtle special abilities that made possible. Those who had been most dedicated to seeking power and to peering into the shadows of the world – or who were, perhaps, the maddest – tapped into those forces first. Strange things had begun to happen, but had, as yet, little impact on the modern world.

One week before the start of the game the cycle of ages had turned – and those forces, once mere traces hovering around rituals and ancient foci, had erupted, flooding the earth with power. That surge had  ignited the hidden strengths of a thousand ancient occult bloodlines. A new heroic age had begun, even if most of its major participants had, as yet, no clear idea what new superhuman powers they now possessed.

Dramatis Persona:

The G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N.S. (Generally Underage And Rambunctious Delinquents In Another Nasty Situation)

  • Master Dao (Dr. Tristan Williams): A most notable researcher in physics and chaos mathematics, Professor Williams taught at Berkley, practiced Tai C’hi – and was a powerful C’hi Master. Currently, he’s under the in- fluence of the malevolent Crimson Bangle.
  • Changeling (Billy-Joe Cobb): A “Good Ol’ Boy” Park Ranger, “Bob” gained nifty shapeshifting and animalistic psychic powers when lightning “activated” long-dormant areas of his brain. He’s accompanied by “Ragnar” – a huge, wolf/dog sidekick/monstrosity which seems to tap into it’s “masters” powers a bit.
  • (The) Warlock (David Mayseren): A fairly powerful, if woefully inexperienced and untutored, mage, Warlock is underage, brilliant, and a bit over idealistic. He has yet to become fully aware of his powers – although quite a few magical beings seem to have ideas for him. Both his mother Andrea, and his younger brother, Joseph, seem to have some psychic abilities of their own – and Andrea seems to be a highly trained “secret agent”.
  • Lone Wolf (Robert Lee): A 15-year-old werewolf with psi-enhanced strength and toughness, Lone Wolf would be dangerous enough without martial arts training and his unfortunate berserker tendencies. Currently, Warlock has used binding spells on him, in an attempt to limit the problem. His father, Adrian, is a survivalist nut, and believes in a massive government conspiracy. While he may be right about that, he’s still a nut case.
  • TimeWalker (Solamon Riser): Originally from 12’th century england, Solamon’s was recruited, and his latent temporal powers trained, by the “TimeWalkers Guild” – an organization of “extratemporal dogooders”. He uses his own powers, and a suit of futuristic power armor, and is currently assigned to this temporal zone. Sadly, the guild has a lot less information on this timezone then it would like. There seems to be some instability.
  • Malavator (AKA; “RatMan”. Timothy Veil): A feral street thug with power, Malavator’s telekinetic powers are already frightening – and are still growing. He’s violent, unethical, a petty thief, and obnoxious – but has enough loyalty to his friends, and is handy enough to have around, to have led them to put up with him so far. It’s always nice to have a cannon handy.
  • The Voice (“Thorn”, Mark Randall): The result of a bizarre accident, Thorn is a mid-sized, rather benign, earth elemental bearing the mindprint of Mark Randall; a navy SEAL who’s minor, latent, talents for Telepathy and Summoning suddenly kicked in, and flared into terminal overload, a few days ago. Mark died, but bits of his mind overwrote parts of the elemental’s mind, creating a bizarre composite being.
  • Twilight (Desrae Grey): A talented young actress, Desrae was also fabulously beautiful; lovely enough to attract the attention of Lestat – an elder vampire. He inducted her into the vamphyic ranks – and continues to take an interest in her affairs. She has a variety of vamphyric powers and is mystically linked with Mask, her sentient “pet” raccoon.
  • Mara (Alexis Grey): Desrae’s little sister started wondering what was going on a few days after her older sister moved out. Unlike most 13-year-olds, she has vast, if still poorly developed and focused, telekinetic and telepathic potentials to use to find out.
  • EbonFlame (Louis Vanderin): Generous contributions and family connections virtually predestined “Louie” for a college slot and a degree. Louie didn’t know that his family heritage also destined him to host the power of primordial darkness as the cycle turned again. That was something of a shock – especially when the powers turned out to have a sort of “awareness” of their own.
  • Hawk (Real name unrevealed): Shapechanging runs in families. When Hawk heard from Adrian that his cousin Robert “Had been subjected to government experiments and turned into a werewolf!” he was very interested. He’d recently taken hawkform himself, and flown through the spirit world. He hadn’t seen Robert since Adrian had sent him to Bangkok, but if he was shapeshifting – and back in San Francisco – he ought to find him.
  • Azrael (No pronounceable name): Strong, tough, and powerfully telepathic, Azrael is still at something of a disadvantage socially. Being a crash-landed, scaly, blue, alien can do that. By training, he’s is a space- fighter pilot, and he’d really like a ship. He brought the group the news of a possible Zarkonian invasion.
  • The Commander (No pronounceable name): Another one of Azrael’s race, The Commander was just that; a starship captian. While his telepathic abilities are far better developed then Azrael’s, he’s spent most of his life in space and in the military – and he’s having a hard time adjusting to earth.
  • XenoMorph (Michael Thelin): While he hasn’t gotten all the details of the control systems “down” yet, the battle armor Michael found is quite powerful enough to let him play superhero. Even outside his suit, he’s a skilled hacker and a decent techno-tinkerer. Douglas, his nine-year-old little brother, was kidnapped by the Crimson Seer for reasons unknown, although, judging by the restraints the Seer used, he may be on the edge of acquiring powers of his own.

Acquaintances:

  • Adrian Lee: A rampant survivalist, utter lunatic, and latent shapeshifter, Adrian sees conspiracies, and the intrusion of government spies, everywhere. While he may be right about the existence of the conspiracies – if they were that interested in him, they’d have “gotten him” long ago – if only on weapons and theft charges. He seems to have an entire military arsenal on hand. An attack helicopter is not exactly easy to obtain.
  • The Crimson Seer (Jacob Emerson): Maybe a middle- aged wizard would do a better job of running the world then the current system does, but most of the group was unwilling to put up with someone who sacrificed little kids – especially uselessly. Not utterly an enemy, but hardly a friend.
  • Dr. Genos: A brilliant, if lunatic, scientist and maniac geneticist, Genos has yet to appear in person – but he’s managed to make more then enough trouble even without that, thanks to his creations, minions, money, and sewer-slime. Again, not necessarily an enemy, but often at cross-purposes.
    • The Lizard: Violent, super-strong, idiotic, and virtually indestructible, this massive “alligator man” seems to get bigger and stronger every time he shows up. Unfortunately, he also seems to be able to escape from virtually anywhere. A creation of Dr. Genos – and a definite pain in the ass.
    • Shifter: A full shapeshifter, apparently with a variety of minor physical enhancements, some lack of education – and a small problem with being influenced by random animalistic and predatory instincts. A possible ally – or maybe an enemy. Who knows?
    • The Blob: An acidic, corrosive, all-devouring “thing”, apparently sentient, if uncommunicative. Yet another creation of Dr. Genos. Probably destined to be a problem at some point.
    • Sequoya: A fairly normal-looking fellow, with various, enormously potent, plant-manipulating powers. He spends most of his time talking to plants. Maybe a possible problem, maybe benevolent – and maybe quite irrelevant.
    • Lt. Carl: Dr. Genos’s current security chief. Loyal, efficient, and quite unimaginative.
  • Equinox: An elder mage – and some sort of patron to Warlock. He sometimes helps out with magical problems, but tends more towards cryptic remarks. This may not be his “real” name, but it feels right to Warlock.
  • Lestat: Desrae’s “Sire”, an elder vampire, with a variety of quite formidable powers, and a selection of his own, special, curses. While his interest seems to be more or less benign at the moment, he’s the kind of “friend” that you’re not entirely sure you want.

Organized Opposition:

  • Department X: A secret, quasi-official, department of the federal government, which has been in operation since some time in the 1840’s. It seems to be charged with the investigation, and containment, of paranormal phenomena, including people. They’ve been operating in emergency mode since the cycle began shifting sometime last year. Their general mode is snatch – and either recruit, or eliminate. They have training methods for low-powered telepathy, and plenty of hyperadvanced gear. They’ve been keeping track of “exceptional” bloodlines for generations – and have identified the Warlock. About 1400 agents nationwide, 6 major headquarters (Assigned 24-30 men each), about 60 major-city offices (With six men/two squads each), about 60 trainers – and around 100 “floating” agents. The rest are on vacation. The job is apparently pretty stressful. Maybe they mean well, but they’re ruthless, pay no attention to “rights” – and are willing to blow away kids for “the greater good!”.
  • The Matoshuko Ninjas: Apparently an expansionistic clan, with a base in Los Angeles and a variety of super- operatives available. They currently have a contract from his school to capture and return Mr Robert Lee.
  • The Order Of The Firehawk: These “monster-hunters” seem to be highly-trained normals – wielding enchanted silver blades that pass through “monstrous” defenses and turn supernatural talents back against their wielders. Unfortunately, they seem to be pretty undiscriminating about who and what they class as a “monster”.
  • The Zarkonians: These shapeshifting, telepathic, and reportedly-hostile, aliens have recently pirated a few ships belonging to Azrael’s species – and are now either still orbiting earth, or have already invaded. While there really isn’t any hard evidence that they’ve done so, there have been a number of incidents that seem to point that way.

Assorted Confusions:

  • Cell Foe: Warlock’s accidentally animated and enhanced cellular phone. Other accidentally-enchanted items include his TV, Mirrors, Table, Computer – and a Room.
  • (The) Ogre Brothers: This massive, indestructible, and stupid trio is relatively harmless – unless you look either collectible or edible.
  • The Secret Master (or Masters): The unidentified person or persons behind the convenience-store attack, possessed of some sort of mind-controlling power.
  • “Zardoz”: An unidentified and possibly alien being, possessed of vast strength, durability, two hearts – and advanced weaponry. “He” led a bank robbery, and escaped.
  • Troy Anderson: A responsible reporter – with some sort of mystical powers.

Others:

  • Eric Mayseren: Warlock’s father, a brilliant electrical engineer.
  • Gilead Mayseren: Warlock’s uncle, a business CEO. A fairly important and wealthy man, often worried by the antics of his son, Andre’.
  • Cathrin Mayseren: Warlock’s mother. Supposedly a corporate lawyer, she now appears to be a secret agent and to have some measure of psychic power.
  • Eidth Milner: Warlock’s aunt, a somewhat “flighty” artist.
  • Andre’ Mayseren: Warlock’s cousin (QV; Gilead), a small-time scam artist (More for fun then for anything serious). Age 17.
  • Julia Ambrose: A girl in Warlock’s chemistry class who wants to go out on a date with him.
  • Bryce Arhuss: Warlock’s sensai, a master of tiger style kung fu at the fourth – or possibly even fifth – level. For his “real job”, he’s a biotechnician at one of the local companies.
  • Cuerennos: An ancient celtic diety of nature, raw virility, and the wild hunt. He seems to have actually taken a personal interest in Warlock.
  • Spot, Fido, and Rover: Once agents of Dep-X, now pet dogs and psychic energy sources for Desrae. They were useful sources of information on Dep-X, it’s equipment and training procedures, and it’s bases – but Desrae and Warlock got most of it out of them fairly readily. At least for now they’ve been throughly bound down to the “good doggy” level.

.
The Storm Diaries of David Mayseren, Fit the First:

(Setting up for the weekly role-playing game).

Now THIS is cool… I think I’ll run the game down here this weekend. Talk about ATMOSPHERE. Nothing like a real cave to play in when you’re describing the lair of a dragon…

Interesting ring. I wonder who lost it? Not much of a chance of finding out I suppose…

Never mind, I’ve just about got everything set up for the game.

Where the hell did everybody go?

(On the Phone): How the hell did I do that? What? The DRAGON!?! I was describing it and it actually came around the corner? Everybody ran? Err…. Geez, it was just a smoke pot and a projector… (It must’ve been the atmosphere). Yeah, Right, I should work for Lucas. See you next week…

Power of suggestion maybe? Some sorta fumes?

A DRAGON?!?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????!

This is getting seriously weird… Either somebody slipped me something or I’m seeing auras. Weird stuff just keeps on happening too…

OUCH! What the fuck… How could I burn myself when it’s not even hot? Couldn’t be an electrical shock… It’s just an old iron skillet. It hasn’t even got any wires!

Iron.

Cold Iron.

Oh NO. It COULDN’T be…

David was rather preoccupied for the next few days, as a series of cautious experiments revealed that – if it wasn’t magic – he’d certainly acquired some strange talents… Still, magic was hard for a physics student to accept. He decided to ask his favorite professor (Dr Tristan Williams – a notable expert on physics and chaos mathematics) about it.

He stayed to talk to him after class. It turned out that Dr Williams had recently had a rather eye-opening experience himself; On a recent sabbatical (in Tibet), he’d managed to bring his C’hi into focus… He’d been more then willing to talk to David. The boy’s aura was very strong – and very strange. Of course, while they were talking, in burst a park ranger (He’d been having some very odd experiences, and decided to ask one’a them thar professor guys, and the department secretary sent him to the most “weird science” professor they had), and his enormous dog…

UFFF! Get Off! GETOFFAMEYAMUTT! Yeecchhh… Wait-a- minute… Maybe I can clean things with magic… (That might be what’s been going on in my apartment!). Yeah! Cool… Take that you mangy mutt! Next time I’ll throw in some perfume!

This is GREAT!

They opted to continue the meeting at Dr. William’s house… David stopped by his apartment to get out his various rulebooks. If he was a mage, what kind of mage was he? AD&D? Champions? Runequest? (Hopefully not)

Whether luckily or unluckily, his route took him by the bank – where a group of crooks had decided to take everyone hostage and demand a huge ransom… He was just riding past the front of the bank when the police came screeching up… Sensibly enough, David stopped – just in time to get yanked inside as another hostage.

Police?! What’d I… Not me, OK. I’m getting out of the wayyyy… Errrkkk!

Lessee… onehandholdingmebythethroat-an’oneholding agunthatfeelslikeacannonagainstmyback.beveryveryquiet. they’vealreadyshotatleasttwopeople…

Outside, the professor was also passing by… Well, he’d proposed being socially responsible and acting as heroes… This looked like a good time to start.

Thanks to cosmic coincidence, a man wrestling with his newly-active powers of cosmic darkness was already inside…

Ok; In with the other hostages… I think I’ll just lay here and see if I can throw some shield spells. It looks like I can… Oh great. That guy over there is turning into a balrog and firing darkforce bolts… I wonder if I can manage some sleep spells?

Cool.

Things degenerated into confusion rapidly. Between an invisible darkforce wielder, the Professor’s shapeshifting talents, and people falling asleep, the thugs never had a chance.

Their alien boss with the energy-weapon was another matter altogether. He crashed out through the wall and got away… By the time the SWAT team got to the bank, it was all over – though they did manage to take a few potshots at the darkness-guy…

The Professor wasn’t very happy though… He hadn’t meant to kill anyone.

Oh great… Interviewed by the police. Well, they’d never believe the truth anyway. Hell… they probably wouldn’t believe the bank cameras. At least he hadn’t done anything that would show up on film.

OHSHIT! The officious pest was calling his father! He’d have a fit!

Eric did. He also made a most embarrassing fuss over him… Right in front of everyone who’d come down from the college to see the excitement.

Oh GREAT. I’m NEVER going to live this down. Why such a fuss? I wasn’t hurt or anything…

Meanwhile, the Professor / “Master Dao” escaped in a bodybag. His powers let him pretend to be dead very, very, well – although the driver nearly died of shock when one of his “passengers” got up…

The professor had to jog the rest of the way back – although he did find the time to strip the clothes off a few muggers along the way.

He didn’t hafta drop me off… It wasn’t very far. Jeez, you’d think I was six… Now what? It’s that guy with the darkness powers falling out of the sky? Not a good thing. Wonder if I can use a spell to catch him? Looks like I can… Cool. Now what should I do with – He’s out cold. I’ll wait for the professor. It’s his place. UHFFF! GEDOFF! BAD DOG!

This time I’m gonna perfume the damn thing.

The meeting got a bit confused, but they did decide to work as a group… David’s rulebooks were actually fairly helpful at first. At least they had a long list of powers to check for. David also found that he could heal people…

Huh. Cleric/Magic-User? Can’t be… I’d have to be demihuman for that. Maybe it’s Champions. I might have a power pool. Huh.

At about that point someone/thing? tapped David on the shoulder… Some guy in a white and black outfit whom nobody else seemed to see. He (?) disappeared a few moments later.

Whaaa… OK! Now I’m seeing weird guys in bizarre costumes… What Professor? What am I looking at? You don’t… He’s right over… Now I don’t see him either Never mind. No, no, nothings bothering me… What was that? You’re right; I do need a disguise. Dad came and got me right in front of all those people from the college.

No, I can’t stay any longer. I’ve got a composition class to get to and a game to run this evening.

Class was an ordeal… He was a bit tardy, and the pesky instructor made a point of it. Still, he didn’t have an answer for the statement that “I was late because I was busy being held hostage in a bank robbery”, even if he believed that it was only a creative excuse at first…

The game was worse. Only two of the six regular players showed up – and they seemed pretty nervous. It got worse when that fool ring started glowing… David damped it fast, but Kevin still made excuses and left – quickly.

Michael’s curiosity was much stronger – and he wasn’t going to swallow any more half-assed “explanations…

Urrr… Well. It’s like… Well I wasn’t sure you’d believe it. I’m still not sure what’s going on, but it seems like I can work magic…

No I haven’t made a deal with any evil powers!

They experimented a bit – and concluded that David was at least fifth level… Michael thought that the “fly” spell was really great – and was hoping to develop his own powers any time now. Still, it all gave David an idea – a motorcycle racing outfit would make a good costume; tough, strong, concealing, and protective.

I’ll have to make time for a visit home tomorrow… simply to assure mother that I’m free of bullet holes.

Ok, so she won’t be home till Tuesday… What’s Dad working on? A strange circuit design with a gargantuan current capacity? (Hey, Dad? What on earth would anybody want something like that for?)    Unfortunately, his father had no idea what it was for either; it was simply part of the specifications.

David said hello to Joseph – and headed up into the hills behind the house to experiment a bit… He felt like he could manage shapeshifting.

Being a wolf felt really weird. Hmm… It kinda felt like his C’hi had been boosted too. He’d have to check that out later.

Cyberpunk Street Occupations and Backgrounds

Child beggers begging infront of a church on a...

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As a general rule, most street characters will have the “Streetwise” general skill, and many will also have area lore, begging, or something similar.

For their occupations, and their more important skills, roll 1d40:

.

.

Unskilled
Occupations:
Special Notes and Requirements
01) Acolyte Enough patience to hang around and be
respectful with a straight face.
02) Artist/Crafter Relevant general skill, such as “painting”.
03) Hobo / Bum Being willing to put up with anything.
04) Day Laborer Often idiots or thugs. Servants and such will
need a general skill such as “Butler”.
05) Dependent “Property” as far as the streets are concerned.
If you don’t like it, all you have to do is get
out on your own.
06) Driver A driver’s licence.
07) Entertainer Needs a relevant general skills or skills.
08) Guide Needs city knowledge and – preferably – an
extra language or two. Salespeople are a
minor variant.
09) Lab Rat “Volunteers” are always handy.
10) Plaything Mostly for runaways. This is awfully easy at
first, but rapidly becomes less pleasant.
11) Social Worker From babysitters and volunteers on up.
Higher-ups may have contacts, law, legal
protection, psychology, and linguistics.
12) Street Vendor Those who restrict themselves to legal items
are usually barely getting by.

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Skilled 

Occupations:

Major Skill Minor Skill
13) Begger Con Artist Begging
-“Gypsy” Syndicate Backing Fortune Telling
14) Enforcer +3 Martial Art Intimidation
-Hitman Sniper Ambush
15) Gang Boss Information Gathering Gang Leadership
-Yakuza Syndicate Backing Intimidation
16) Go-Ganger Acrobatics Piloting
-Courier Evasion Smuggling
17) Hacker Computer Operation Forgery
-Executive Syndicate Backing Extortion
18) Lookout Stealth Tailing
19) Messenger Dodging Recognizer
20) Petty Thief Slight-Of-Hand Evasion (1)
21) Poseur Thespian Disguise
-Celebrity Professional Skills Reputation
22) Prostitute Information Gathering Seduction
-Geisha Professional Skills High Society
23) Rebel Saboteur Field (City) Lore
24) Shoplifter Stealth Casing
-Burglar Locksmith Search
25) Street Dealer Fencing Contacts
-Fixer Information Gathering Connections
26) Tinkerer Technician Scrounging
27) Warewolf Cyberware +2 Martial Art
28) Wiz Kid Minor Magic (Psionics) Sensitive
-Mage Add any one magical skill Mystic Tongue

.

Highly Skilled 

Occupations:

Major Skills Minor Skills
29) Bodyguard Alertness and Missile
Deflection
Ambush and
Cyberware (2)
30) Bookie Syndicate Backing and
Con Artist
Gaming and
Connections
31) Cyberdecker Computer Operation and
Technician
Cyberware (2)
and Contacts
32) Nomad Caravan Master and
Guild Member
Personal Vehicle
and Piloting
33) “Preacher” Guild (Church) Member
and Select
Oratory and
Religious Ritual
34) Quality Goon Combat Armor and MOS
(3) Training
Brawling and
Intimidation
35) Reporter Surveillance and Select Photography and
Connections
36) Rich “Kid” Cyberware and Legal
Protection
Contacts and
Money
37) Rigger Cyberware & Electronic
Warfare Sensor Operator
Combo for remotes only.
Special
Vehicle(s) and
Gunnery
38) Street Cop Legal Protection and
Law/Criminology
Brawling and
Contacts
39) Street Doc First Aid and
Drugs/Medicines
Advanced First
Aid and
Technician
40) Street Shaman Minor Magic/Pacts and
Special Devices
Contacts and
Bargaining
  1. Evasion is normally a major skill, but Petty Thieves get a small break for their lifestyle. They could certainly use one.
  2. As a minor skill, Cyberware is limited to appropriate items.
  3. Military Occupational Specialty.

Continuum II divided most character abilities into General Skills (common, ordinary, talents that everyone got some of), Minor Skills (specialized talents covering either some special ability or a narrow field of training), and Major Skills (the items that tended to define a character – major special talents or broad fields of expertise).

The Street Runner vocation includes;

  • Militance II: 4D8 Vitality, +3 Attack Rating and Resistance Rating, and Semicombatant vitality bonus.
  • Expertise II: Two major and two minor skills, usually determined on the occupations chart above. Unskilled Occupations simply provide background. If you get a Skilled Occupation just roll up a second one and take the skills for both, ignoring “Highly Skilled” rolls. If you roll a skilled occupation twice, upgrade to the advanced (unnumbered) version if there is one, otherwise roll again. If you get a Highly Skilled Occupation first, you’re done.
  • Martial Arts I: Normally basic skills with Pistols and blades.
    • Street Survival Martial Art; Exclusive Weapon Katas (Blade and Pistol 3), +1 Attack (2), +3 Attack Rating(2), +2 Defense Rating (1), Fast (-1 on initiative, 1), No formal training (-1).
  • Either Mastery II – or Mastery I and a Vocational Speciality covering basic gear, credentials or a reputation, some minor auxiliary skills/etiquettes – and the fine art of getting along without an official identity.

Street Runner is not the most efficient vocation around – but it does have the advantage of being something that you can simply pick up as you go along.

Andaras and the World of Sidri

The heroine of Diamonds and Toads is the young...

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History

The history of Sidri is, at least as far as Andaras is concerned, the history of Andaras. While this is hardly accurate, or fair, Andaras is currently one of the planets major powers, and it is what everyone is likely to have been exposed to. Hence…

Long centuries ago, the peoples of Dorasin lived as primitive, warring tribes. They farmed and they fished the seas. They raided each other, and traded with the islands nearby – and then the Verathi came.

In great ships they came, first to raid – and then to conquer. They built impregnable fortresses, abused and enslaved the people, and none could stand before them. For a generation and more they spread across the land, until King Andarun rose up to oppose them. First with a small force of loyal men, then rallying the defeated tribes to his cause, Andarun drove the Verathi back to Athas, unifying the country under his rule as he went. King Andarun received his deathwound at Loshkean, when he fought the high lord of the Verathi – and slew him. With the death of their leader, the Verathi (not knowing that Andarun was dying as well) fled. Andarun gave his enchanted sword to his oldest son, Prince Harnwel, and commissioned him to take the battle to the foe. He did so.

King Harnwel drove the remnants of the Verathi from his shores, fortified against their return, and governed the land wisely and well. However his brother, Prince Jural, was not content with his place in the court. He schemed, successfully, to get Harnwel to launch a premature attack on Athas, entangling Harnwel, and his men, in a hopeless campaign. Left to govern Dorasin for his King, and the King’s young son, Jural poisoned the child and seized the throne, sending his own forces to crush Harnwel’s army against the Verathi. Harnwel, warned by his fathers ghost, evaded the trap and returned to overthrow Jural’s corrupt reign. Resolving not to make the same error a second time, Harnwel sent the next attack under the command of his younger brother, Prince Lars, and remained to rule at home.

Unwilling to see his younger son perish in hopeless battle, the spirit of King Andarun intervened, leading his son to an astounding victory. While it took many, many, years to pacify Athas and the Verathi, there was never any doubt as to the outcome. Prince Lars united his newly-conquered realm with his brothers, and finally inherited the crowns of both lands. (Harnwel sired no more children, thanks to Jural’s dying blood curse).

Under the descendants of Andarun, Andaras gradually civilized the minor islands of the Solantic arc – save for Sicar, which remained independent. Eventually, the great King Haden II readied his army for the conquest, and celebrated his victory by instituting the Charter, permitting the nobles and citizens of Andaras greater say in their governance, now that the last of the “nearby” threats had been dealt with.

Over the next four centuries, Andaras gradually built a trading empire, establishing colonies, and governance, on many primitive islands elsewhere in the world. While still expanding, the empire has run into at least two other “major” cultures – the isolationist Naraki Islands and the bellicose Yagura. While there are skirmishes on a few islands, there are no major wars.

Historical Commentary

The Verathi: Despite the legends, the Verathi were little more then another barbarian tribe. They simply had access to more metal then was available on Dorasin at the time, allowing them to forge better weapons and build better ships. The “mighty fortresses” were only motte-and-bailey “castles”, possibly treated with elivar sap to help prevent fires. Arguably, they were better carpenters then the people they came to conquer.

King Andarun: While there is some evidence for the existence of a skilled warleader at the time, it seems likely that diplomacy played a larger role. His wife’s name would seem to indicate Verathi ancestry – and a few rebellious Verathi nobles would provide a rebel leader with a secure base and badly needed support. Despite the considerable body of legend about him, it seems rather unlikely that any individual warrior, however powerful he was, could establish an entirely new social system.

Andarun’s Sons: Stripped of the melodrama and the legendary portents, this seems to be nothing more then a fairly standard squabble over succession. What there is in the way of material from Athas supports the idea that Andarun’s youngest son married a major noblewoman of Athas first, and then got support from his brother in first resisting attempts to overthrow “the outlander”, and then in conquering the rest of the country, becoming his brothers chief vassal in the process. All of this depends on the historical existence of King Andarun, and should be taken with a grain of salt. This may well be an account of the doings of generations of war leaders rather then of the doings of a single family. There is a bit of evidence for the existence of one “Jamall”, a minor early ruler, notable for instituting some needed reforms, but nothing to justify the evil reputation of “Jural” if there is any identity between the two.

The “conquest” of Sicar was more of an amalgamation then a conquest. By that time the nobles lineages were so intertwined that the only real barriers to unifying the countries was political; the nobles of Sicar had a much larger say in their government then the nobles of Andaras. This was eventually solved when the nobles of Andaras managed to extract a charter or “constitution” from Haden II in exchange for their support in attacking Sicar – which promptly forestalled the attack thru “signing onto” said charter – giving it far more force then Haden had anticipated. Many scholars suspect that the Sicarese planned the whole episode in advance.

Andaras Society

Andaras is quasivictorian at best, and has a few spots that are downright medieval. For example, the legal system (like almost everything else) is very heavily influenced by social rank. Penalties are minor for aristocrats, light for the gentry and the wealthy, ordinary for the middle class, and severe for the poor (the vast majority). It isn’t uncommon for lower-class ten-year-olds to hang for stealing food. There are no “controlled substances”, mostly because only the upper class can afford them. Weapons laws are rather vague. Generally, the richer you are, the more you can expect to get away with. A pistol or two for self-defense is almost expected among the upper class. Among the lower class, even a knife is grounds for grave suspicion. A few weapons (garrottes and such) are considered evidence of guilt in themselves. Aristocrats may carry swords if they wish, but few do so. A characters social class also determines how much his or her word is “worth” in court. Any aristocrat can pretty much condemn a street urchin simply by making a complaint.

Physical Description

Sidri has a rotation period of 21.87 hours, a year of 423.32 (of it’s) days, and a radius of 5318 miles. Heavy metals are somewhat scarce on Sidri and the nickel-iron core is relatively small, resulting in a surface gravity of only 1.06 gravities, a reduced gravitational gradient – and it’s consequence, a thicker atmosphere. Sea-level pressure is about 17.7 pounds per square inch – but the air has a lesser absolute oxygen content. Tectonic activity is limited by the smaller core and lower level of heat-supplying radioactive materials, hence land masses are smaller, scarcer, and usually center on areas where what few mountains there are break the waters surface.

Seas cover about 90% of the surface, the humidity is high – and the climate is consequently cloudy and rainy. All these factors combine to generate exceptionally potent storms. Hurricane-class weather is relatively common. Despite a somewhat bluer sun, the clouds and the thicker atmosphere combine to both make sunburn scarce, and to limit photosynthesis – slightly reducing crop yields and the potential atmospheric oxygen content. On the other hand, deserts are nonexistent and the ocean moderates the climate – extending Sidri’s temperate zones nearly to the poles. Overall, the climate is warm and humid.

Much of Sidri still remains relatively unexplored, due to distance, the shortage of the metal needed to build modern ships, and the tremendous storms. There are no known “continents”, although there are some very large islands and broad stretches of shallow seas. The people of Sidri eat a lot of fish. Overall, the biosphere is superficially ordinary – however there are traces of a secondary biochemical system in scattered enclaves, as well as the usual “supernatural” flora and fauna found on every world with reasonable magical impedance levels. Such things are, however, very scarce.

Astronomical Data : Sidri is fourth among the eight known planets that orbit it’s G6 yellow sun. While the primary has a red dwarf companion, that sun is far too distant to have much effect on Sidri’s system. The red companion may have planets of it’s own, but this is as yet unknown. Sidri has one major moon (Khavron) and one smaller one (Tarote’). A nearby asteroid belt leads to relatively frequent meteorite impacts and the capture of moonlets. Meteorites are actually a significant source of accessible iron. Sidri has a meager “starscape”, as it is currently located well above the galactic plane. This supplies a marvelous view of the “local” galactic spiral, but results in few stellar neighbors. Current calendars are badly in need of major reform, resulting as they do from attempts to combine roughly three week and five week lunar cycles with holy days derived from a solar tradition.

Technology

Overall, Sidri’s technology is just a bit behind current earth technology, although the lack of sufficient metals limits it’s distribution and use. High technology is limited to the social elite – while the “masses” are normally restricted to quasi-Victorian technology levels. Aviation and space research are both considerably behind earth-level, thanks to the weather and to Sidri’s higher orbital (and escape) velocities. Basic preventive medicine is available to everyone, as epidemics are certainly undesirable, but major medical attention is typically reserved for the rich. The poor must simply hope that they don’t get sick or that they can find a physician who’s doing charity work. Trains are the prevalent means of transportation. Automobiles are limited to the middle class and up, while trucks are limited to valuable or perishable cargos. If any form of atomic weaponry has been developed it’s still being kept a secret. The fact that uranium is extremely rare on Sidri may be responsible for this aberration. There are a few bright spots. Drugs, medicines, and immunizing techniques are remarkably well developed, fusion power is approaching practicality – and research into genetics and superconductivity is doing very well. As might be expected, Sidri is well ahead of earth in ceramics and cellulose-based plastics and materials.

Powers

While both magical and psychic powers work well on Sidri, both are limited by a shortage of power to work with, and by the consequent scarcity of training in the necessary skills. Magery was never a dominating force on Sidri, and – with the rise of technology and official disapproval – has retreated further; becoming something of a family affair passed down among the talented lineages, and usually quietly used to further their own ends. Thanks to a high difference in the aspect potentials which results in a shortage of magical energy, the usual “supernatural” flora and fauna are extremely scarce. With few nearby stars to generate gravitational stresses, powerflows are rare as well. Hence, outside those few talented families, magic has almost been forgotten. Psychic powers are popularly believed in – and are generally regarded with suspicion, frowned upon by the church, and regarded as unreliable. Thanks to the shortage of usable electromagnetic fields on or near Sidri, this is often all too true. Most publicly known psychics possess very little actual power. Rumors that more powerful psychics often “disappear” shortly after they reveal themselves get very little credit. Most or all of such powerful psychics seem to be frauds in any case. Invocation is extremely limited, partly due to a shortage of beings to invoke, and partially due to the fact that Sidri’s local natural laws make it difficult to transfer energy to and from astral space. Most of the “invocation” practiced is actually empyrean magic.

Social Classes

Slavery is legal in Andaras, although it is relatively rare – mostly because slaves have (at least in theory) some rights. Their masters are responsible for feeding them, providing basic medical care, and so on. All children are born free, and those born to slaves generally become wards of the church. Actually, slaves are more trouble then simply hiring some desperate man or woman to whom you’ll have no obligations except for their salary. Since this is cheap, slaves are usually only used for things which no free servant will put up with. Slaves are usually obtained by purchasing lower- class children, import, judicially, or by the purchase of condemned criminals.

Indentured Servants have to serve for anything from six months to twenty years, but have far more rights then slaves. Adults are usually indentured for debt, children as “apprentices”. Many lower-class children are “apprenticed” as servants, receiving room and board and eventually – a reference allowing them a chance to move up a bit… Such servants are utterly vulnerable, as their masters can easily have them hung – and no one is likely to protest or investigate if an “overenthusiastic” master beats them to death.

The Poor include the petty thieves/gallows-bait and the “working poor” – mostly day-laborers. While they are better-nourished then might be expected (thanks to public-health programs), the conditions of their lives are still appalling. The poor are generally terrified of being sent to the workhouse – or of being forced to sell some of their kids simply to keep the others from starving. There are lots of charities that assist the poor – but the upper classes sponsor them because it’s supposed to improve and uplift their souls – not because they feel any obligation to the poor… They wouldn’t want them to “get above themselves” now would they?

The Artisians are the skilled labourers, craftsmen, and better servants. Given long days of labor they can actually aspire to a fairly comfortable lifestyle, and a bit of schooling for their children.

The Middle Class is relatively small, but is likely to be the most familiar group among the classes. While a member of the middle class is likely to have several servants available (Nannies, part-time cleaning women, errand boys, and so on), otherwise their lives are quite a bit like those of the middle class today. This also includes the upper-class servants of the wealthy and the aristocracy. While the middle and lower classes have a voice in the government via the House Of Commons, this is more a theoretical then a practical thing. Most of them have their children privately tutored.

The Aristocracy, Wealthy, and the Gentry, are chiefly distinguished by whether their money is new or old and by how much of it they have… Most of them live in a vaguely “manorial’ style. The House Of Lords is one of the major powers in Andaras, with a power rivaling (or exceeding) the power of the reigning monarch.

The Haelin Church is the state religion of Andaras, and a major social and political factor, the Church is responsible for public education (Such as it is. It’s efforts are supported by several secular organizations who have an interest in seeing that the members of the lower class can at least read a bit) and for the moral guidance of the people. It’s a bit of a mystery cult, and has many levels of initiation – ranging from those open to lay members, up to secrets only the primate is permitted to know. Sadly, truly dedicated priests are rare… While theoretically dedicated to monotheistic worship of Amat, in practice most prayers are directed to his servants, the “Haelea”. The Haelin Church tends to support the status quo, has a quite severe attitude towards liars, oathbreakers, thieves, and others who act in violation of trust, rebel against, or betray, those set over them, but has little to say on the subject of sex or the various aristocratic vices. It regards both magic and psychic talents with considerable suspicion. Interestingly, the church supports women’s rights – not that they need much defending. Aristocratic women have always had considerable power and influence, while the lower classes have few rights, whether male or female.

Money: Andaras uses pounds, shillings, and pence. For practical purposes, a pound is about equal to 10$. A middle-class income runs around 2000 pounds a year.