A one-shot supercrew adventure for 4 players
Genre: Cartoon superheros, a la the Supercrew comic, or Justice League Unlimited, or Teen Titans Go!
Rules: Supercrew, but with Aspects and hero points instead of abilities.
Players: Relative newbies – for three of them, this is was only their second RPG experience, for the other, it was her first!
Art: Art is tres important for a supers game; costumed supers are meant to be seen. But drawing lots of pictures takes time! Solution- Trace Images of Bruce Timm art – everyone looks like a DCAU character! Most drawings were B&W and I enlisted the players to color them in during the game with colored pencils.
(I’ve included the art here – but since it is not colored in, I should remind you that they are not naked – it’s just that they are mostly wearing spandex!)
We started by making the characters:
• Blue – She turns into an azure fairy, in the mode of tinkerbell or Oona (from the movie Legend). She is tricksy and has dazzling fairy magic.
• The Brute – He grows into a big strong guy, wearing only the tattered remains of his jeans. He’s super-tough and a bit direct.
• Dragonette – In her human form, she has force field powers and a sort of psychic invisibility. She can also transform into a huge, fire-breathing dragon.
• Atomic Bombshell – Due to exposure to radioactive waste, she has the power to talk to and control electrical devices and she can boost her strength to superhuman levels for short times. She has invented rocket booster boots that let her do super-leaping.
I mentioned to the players that they had an archenemy – the gorilla criminal supergenius inventor known as “Ape-X” who prefers to be known as Dr Tiberius. I let them know that as always, Dr Tiberius was on the loose.
The Game started in proper Supercrew fashion – with the players finding an excuse to get away from the ref and become superheroes. In this case, the players all came over my house to play DnD. I was just explaining the setting to them when a strange darkness fell outside – as if night had arrived hours early!
Making various excuses (I have to check on my guinea pigs!) my players slipped away and became the superheroic Warped Corps!
Dragonette shifted into Dragon-form and the other three jumped onto her back. They flew over the city to look about – a strange darkness, like a starless, moonless night had fallen over the city. There also seemed to be scattered power outages. These events were triggering some problems in the city – some scattered looting and rioting.
I had expected the heroes to go help out with calming the city, but instead they asked if they had a headquarters or secret base. I told them they could have whatever they wanted along those lines, so they chose to have a big, cavernous base beneath Boston harbor – and there they went to make plans.
The players decided that they wanted to investigate the Darkness on-line, and used Atomic Bombshell’s ability to talk to machines to do some datamining. They found that government agencies had no idea what as going on, but that the Darkness covered a lot of New England and seemed to be spreading fast.
Our heros flew out of their base and flew up, hoping to learn more about the Darkness. However, the Darkness appeared to be above the atmosphere, further than Blue or Dragonette could fly.
At this point, I reminded them about the chaos spreading in the city below.
Seeing a building on fire and people crying for help, they zoomed down to the rescue. (This was the burning building from the Supercrew rules, which I placed here as an easy first opponent, to get everyone comfy with the rules). The 4 heroes made short work of the fire. Atomic Bombshell was able to talk the sprinkler system into coming on despite the power outages and the others rescued people handily. The fire scorched them here or there, but they were fine.
When the fire was out, we broke for a quick dinner.
When we resumed, the players heard alarms coming from the old Seward Museum. They rushed over to find the Museum being robbed by the Evil Team, a bunch of minor supervillains and wannabes. Ours heros descended on them and meted out Justice!
The Evil Team:
• Mr Horrible (minor mastermind)
• The Black Nazi – master of Kung Fu! (why do people laugh when I say that?)
• The Blow-up Doll (she can make things explode)
• The Monotone (he always speaks without affect!)
• King Leer (super powered when aroused)
The heros were making short work of the Evil Team when Suddenly, another group descended from the pitch black sky and struck!
The Dark Agents!
• Primus – The Sultan of Strength!
• Lawgiver – The Master of Combat!
• Velocity – The Fastest of Mortals!
• Blackmagic – The Lord of Mysteries!
• Feral – The Savage Warrior!
Our heros braced for the attack, but the Dark Agents wiped out the Evil Team instead. Primus greeted them nicely and said “Glad we could help, I’m sure you could have handled those guys – eventually.” The police came to take the Evil Team away, collect evidence, and such. The Dark Agents mentioned all the chaos in the city and said they had to “get back to our superhero work – call us if you need more help!”
Our heros felt a bit upstaged by the Dark Agents, and wondered if they were truly friend or foe. They flew back to their base to think things over (I was coming to regret the base, having one just seemed to entice the players to hunker down and chatter – I resolved to try to move some plot points into their big “monitor room.”
So when the players looked at their monitors, they saw a TV broadcast with the Mayor (who sounded like Quimby, because I can’t do Boston’s mayor) asking the people for calm, and saying that the Dark Agents (the city’s new protector’s!) would surely get things in hand soon. The mayor opined that the problems were all a plot by Ape-X, whose “reign of terror has been allowed to go on for so long.”
Of course, our heros were now cheesed off. They resolved to go talk to the mayor, and took to the skies again. Of course, over the city they could see that some looting and rioting was still going on – and then they saw an explosion!
They flew down and discovered a power station had just been blown up by a bucnh of bad guys-
The Fearsome 4some!
(A known group of supercriminals from the west coast)
• Aqua (a sort of water elemental)
• Rubber Maiden (a stretchy type)
• Slam (master of kinetic forces)
• Eleven (a flying sonic attacker)
(I somehow drew them looking happy and pleasant, so I played them as happy-go-lucky robin hood villains)
The 4some were escaping in a van, and the heros made short work of the van in the first turn. Then it was combat time. Dragonette breathed fire on Aqua and turned a lot of him to steam, Blue tried to dazzle Robber Maiden with Fairy magic, The Brute went head to head with Eleven, and Atomic Bombshell attacked Slam.
They actually handled the 4some pretty quickly – they had a rather lucky fight, though Slam was able to bounce off of Dragonette’s head and knock her out. The 4some turned out to have some dynamite in the van, and a map of targets – weak points in the city power grid! The 4some admitted to blowing up power stations to cause the ongoing power outages, and claimed to be in the employ of anonymous master “who paid us pretty good.”
The police showed up to take away the 4some. The heroes were startled when the police put the 4some into a black van marked “The Dark Agency” and explained “well, those wonderful new Dark Agents are pretty much in charge during the current crisis!” which did not make the heros happy.
Around then, the heros attention was brought to the window of an electronics store, where a bunch of TVs were showing an important news conference! Mayor Quimby announced that the Dark Agents had captured Ape-X, and blamed him for the Nightfall, the power grid problems, and so on. He went on to say that Ape-X had probably been working with the Warped Corps, and the city’s former protectors should be considered fugitives!
The heros decided it was time to face the Dark Agents. They flew up over the city, found the Dark Agency van (the one carrying the captive Fearsome 4some) and followed it to the Dark Agency base – a large building on the waterfront protected by an electric fence and a small army of goons.
They snuck in easily enough (Atomic Bombshell talked to the security system) and poked around, but then they fell into some sort of electrical trap and got stunned into unconsciousness!
They woke up some hours later, trapped in big plastic tubes with blood being withdrawn from their arms automatically. In front of them was Dr Tiberius. At first, they thought Tiberius was gloating, but in fact, he was waking them up and opening their tubes!
Dr Tiberius told them a tale: The Dark Agents had captured him weeks before, and forced him to invent all sorts of stuff for them – especially, the plasma shield that was causing the Nightfall. He said they had powerful mind control (better than his!) and their powers seemed to be magical in nature (Dr Tiberius hates magic).
They had also captured lots of super-types (like the Fearsome 4some and the Evil team and our heros) and were drawing blood from them slowly – the blood went to a large pool called “the rebirth chamber” but Dr Tiberius claimed not to know much about that. “They only want the blood of super-humans, not super-Gorillas, they didn’t take any from me.”
Dr Tiberius said that he come up with an escape plan some time ago, but was looking for something that would distract the Dark Agents while he escaped. “You super heroes will be perfect. Go get ’em!”
The Heros momentarily considered escaping with Dr Tiberius instead – but no, it was a job for heroes after all!
Dr Tiberius slipped away, and left our heros to consider the other tubes with their captives. Atomic Bombshell talked the system into waking the other captives up and freeing them, but they didn’t wait around for the prisoners to wake up – they went to find “the Birthing chamber.”
It was a big room with a swimming pool full of blood, and lots of weird gear. Floating in the pool was a man of some sort – he did not look awake. Yet!
But before the players could act, the Dark agents arrived, and it was smackdown time!
The Dark Agents were supposed to be about equal to the heros, and should have done well in the fight – but I had underestimated the number of Hero points the players had built up and they plowed through the Dark Agents. Blue beat Blackmagic in sorcerous combat, the Brute Pummeled Primus, and Dragonette breathed flame all over Feral. The players more or less wiped out the Dark Agents, but they all took damage along the way, and were pretty much on their last legs when the guy in the pool woke up.
It was a robust young man who emerged from the pool and he introduced himself in broken english as Dracula – Lord of the Vampires!
There was a little patter with Dracula, who despite being young and strong, spoke in my very best Lugosi.
Dracula explained that the Dark Agents – his “children” – were going to cast the whole world into eternal night – making life very easy for their kind and allowing them to take over. They had discovered that super-human blood made them even stronger, and so had used such blood to resurrect their leader – Dracula himself. (He mentioned that the DA had hired the Evil Team to rob the Seward Museum, where Dracula’s ashes had been secretly stored in an urn – the Seward family having held them since Harker, Van Helsing, Morris and Seward and others had killed Drac at the end of the famous novel). Of course, the players interrupted the robbery, but the Dark Agents had suborned the police and claimed the urn from the “evidence room.”
Obviously, the heroes attacked.
Now, this lead to a quick rules debate. Was this a new fight or a continuation of the old one? In Supercrew rules, the players would expect to start a fight with full hit points. But they had just defeated the Dark Agents and were on their last legs!
I ruled that it was a new fight – they could take on Dracula fresh. Of course, that meant the Dark Agents would also be awake! To be reasonable, i ruled that the other prisoners were now awake (the evil team, the fearsome 4some, and others) and would come to their aid – they were mostly bad guys, but they were mostly anti-vampire types who did NOT want to be drained and fed to Dracula. We described the others sweeping in to help in proper “last minute calvary! villains inspired to do good!” terms.
So with the Dark Agents engaged, the heros took on Dracula. It was an end-of-the-issue fight, with no holding back. The players were unable to find much in the way of traditional vampire fighting weapons but Dragonette’s dragonfire seemed to be effective, so they pummeled him with everything they had and then let Dragonette deliver the coup de grace.
Dracula cursed them a lot, but in the end, he was finished – and so was the adventure.
All in all, it was fun, and the players seemed to enjoy themselves. As usual, I had overstuffed the plot, a habit I have got to break (I am too used to campaigns, one-shot games need more focus!)
A few things didn’t work – the players did not catch on that the Dark Agents were vampires (and that all their powers – strength, flight, animal forms, mesmerism, and so on) were just vampire abilities. So at the end they were not well armed with crosses and spikes and holy water, which would have helped. Again, I was laying campaign style clues, but I should have been a lot clearer.
All in all, The game started too slow and then felt a little rushed in the end.
On the upside, the game flowed nicely to the end and everyone had a lot of fun. Any game that does not bore the players is a success, I always figure. The players asked to schedule another game – I’ll have to stop calling this group newbies!