Gaming Summary, October 17, 2004

Last night we started the Silver-Age Sentinels campaign that we made characters for a couple of weeks ago. I’m tempted to try to write this recap in Stan Lee’s patented purple prose, but I’d probably asphyxiate on the alliteration inside a single soul-searing sentence! So, um, sticking to my own slightly sarcastic style (sorry), here’s what happened last night.

First, some background about the world: Its history is roughly similar to ours, except that superheroes (metahumans, freakin’ muties, whatever you want to call them) have existed for hundreds of years — The Scarlet Pimpernel, Zorro, and Robin Hood were all living historical figures in this world. In America, Philadelphia has a long history of superhero involvement…Ben Franklin and John Adams were both Revolutionary-era superheroes. During World War II, the nation’s premiere hero squad, the Liberty League, operated out of Philadelphia. The League disbanded in the 1960s, however, and Philly has been in a superhero slump ever since. There are about a hundred or so big-league heroes operating around the U.S., and several hundred super-villains (heroes need more than one villain, after all), but none are based in Philadelphia. The public at large is accustomed the idea of superheroes, but most people can go their whole lives without seeing one in person.

Our story opens with Lieutenant Jack Miller (Doug), of the Philadelphia P.D.’s “Freak Squad” being called into Captain Henderson’s office. With some help from Lieutenant Exposition, Henderson outlined the scenario: The federal government maintains a super-max prison for super-villains, known as “Coventry,” which is located in the former Philadelphia Navy Yard. That much is common knowledge. What isn’t commonly known, though, is that the bulk of Coventry actually exists in a parallel dimension, where super-powers don’t operate. Super-powered criminals are sent there if their abilities are innate, and would enable them to escape from any normal prison, no matter how secure. The Department has recently learned that certain elements within Coventry are planning a jailbreak, which was considered impossible. So far, the Department doesn’t know who, when, where, or how, or whether the inmates have inside help. Miller’s assignment: find out, and stop it if possible. Miller, and his team, are to pose as prisoners recently sent to Coventry, and try to infiltrate the group planning the break-out. They’ll have no assistance while they’re in Coventry, but after two weeks the team will be removed for a “hearing,” after which they’ll be reinserted if necessary. Miller will also have an undetectable transmitter implanted in his skull so that he can signal for help if he needs to. Miller’s team will need to be unknowns, either supers who keep a low enough profile that they won’t be recognized, or new heroes who don’t yet have a reputation as forces for justice. They will need to be authentic supers, though, so they can realistically portray power loss when they enter. The Department had a list of suggestions for Miller to contact, including one whose participation was guaranteed.

Miller spent some time grumbling for effect, but accepted the assignment — what choice did he have, really? He immediately went to meet with his guaranteed team member, the former brainwashed super-soldier known as Number 117 (Mike), although he prefers to be called “Rapid-Fire” these days. Rapid-Fire was programmed to be a killing machine by your generic evil totalitarian secret society with visions of global domination…that is, until he was liberated by a superhero group, and realized that the outside world wasn’t as he was led to believe. He’s currently working off his debt to society through assignment to missions like this one. Anything that gets him closer to release is OK by 117, so he readily accepted the mission, although he wasn’t happy with the idea of being stripped of his guns and his fancy combat suit. With one team member lined up, Miller ventured out to his next recruit.

Guy Garrison (Paul) is a private investigator with a shabby office in South Philly. His powers are yet undisclosed, and although it is foretold that he may one day be called “Noir,” he isn’t yet. He has a reputation as a solid professional, and a fast talker. Miller hung around outside Garrison’s office for several hours until Garrison finally took pity on him and came outside. After a bit of verbal fencing, Garrison agreed to listen to Miller’s story. Garrison wasn’t wild about the level of danger involved in this assignment, but was willing to accept provisionally. He requested time to think about it, and to check out Miller’s background. Miller had nothing to hide, so he moved on to the next name on his list.

Miller next asked his buddy Frank to set up a meeting for him with the Blue Streak (Brian). Blue Streak is a speedster who’s been seen lately doing the rounds, saving grandmas from burning buildings and getting kittens out of trees, but strictly small-time. Blue Streak showed up (ten minutes late) at the appointed bench in Fairmount Park, and the two men went for a walk. Miller briefed Blue Streak, emphasizing the dangerous aspects, but the Streak wasn’t worried, and quickly agreed to help. Then Miller told Streak that he’d be powerless inside Coventry, which brought Streak to a dead stop. Streak admitted that without his powers, he’s just a scrawny guy, and unlikely to be of much help, but Miller reminded him that sometimes, you have to go with what you’ve got. Streak was considerably less enthusiastic about the project at that point, but his sense of civic duty took over, and he agreed. He then ran off to the Free Library to read up on all available public information about Coventry, and any criminals who’d been sent there in the past few months.

After that, Miller tried to meet with Orion (Wendy), who wasn’t home. Thanks to some hand-waving on the GM’s part, though, Orion quickly came on board.

The group met the next day to address any lingering concerns. Garrison wanted assurances that they’d all make it out alive; Miller said he’d do the best he could. Blue Streak was concerned about his secret identity. He doubted that anyone in Coventry would recognize him without his mask, but he wanted a cover ID just in case. Miller agreed that aliases would be good for all concerned, so they came up with cover stories. Miller is “Mister Lazarus,” a crime-lord with a reputation for being hard to kill. Garrison is “Mean Streets,” a tough and bodyguard. Blue Streak is “Speed Demon,” a bag man and recon specialist. Rapid-Fire didn’t understand the need for a new name, so he’s keeping his own. Orion didn’t say much, so got stuck with the name “Sagittarius.”

With the team set and united in determination, the party broke for the evening. Will the team pull together, or collapse under pressure? What secrets are hidden in Coventry’s shadowy depths? Find out in 30, True Believers! Excelsior!