Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Torch of Liberty

It took about two months to get through the first adventure that I wrote for the new campaign, and in that timespan I completely forgot about this blog.

My design goal for the adventure was to start off with a lot of the same RPG cliches that I relied on in my last campaign, and then shatter them all at the end, leaving a clear message that this time, anything can happen. I'll try to summarize the important bits here.

The PCs were summoned to New York, for the funeral of a railroad tycoon, and mutual acquaintance named Glendon Aldridge. In his will, he revealed a lifelong desire to go adventuring, and offered to put his vast personal fortune into paying the PCs to travel America in his crazy experimental train (think Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but a train). If the PCs accepted, they would be obligated to help any Americans they came across who were threatened by the Affected.

The PCs agreed, for the sake of the campaign actually happening. While the train was being fitted for the journey, a priest from St. Paul's Church (where the funeral took place) suggested that they do something about Affected organized crime in New York; Particularly the many menacing "Uncle Sam Wants You" posters that kept appearing.

The PCs poked around some different locations, mostly bars, and heard a lot of rumors about the Affected activity in the city. The most troubling rumor was that Yankee Doodle had come to town, and was spearheading the propaganda campaign with the posters. Additionally, there were rumors about a few of Uncle Sam's high ranking generals, including Leuco the eagle-man, and Millicent Braincroft, a psychic who could petrify monsters and hold cities for ransom by threatening to unfreeze them.

In the session where I first brought the characters together, I established that the Statue of Liberty was an enormous fighting robot that defended New York with "Purity Bombs" carried within her "Judgment Torch". For those arriving late to the game, "purity" damage is used by the game's equivalent of Clerics (called Anglicans, since this setting is mostly made to accommodate British adventures), and is harmless to Trueborn characters, damaging only the Affected, and very mutated Nukeromancers. Anyway, back in the present, the PCs found out that a single bomb for use in the Judgment Torch had to be forged from the hearts of 77 Anglicans (typically, Anglicans from all across America would donate the precious organ after their deaths). The last bomb was used to save the passengers of an incoming train that had been beset by Affected. There was a new one being constructed in St. Paul's church that was still one heart short. The final heart was being moved in from Pittsburgh, and had been stolen neatly from an armored carriage along the way.

While passing a spirited but dim political candidate named Ross Douglass on a soapbox, the PCs spotted an Affected in the crowd who was concealing his mutations under a light scarf. They followed him away from the crowd, cornered him, and interrogated him. He didn't know much. He was a low-ranking minion of an organized crime syndicate, and had never even met the local crime boss personally. The players ended up getting some good information from him: The location where he was supposed to receive his next assignment, and the code words to get the assignment.

The players sent Emilio, the bizarre horse-fish hybrid, to the location of the assignment. Sure enough, a higher-ranking gangster named Davide Demoni was there. Emilio convinced him that he was the other guy, and Demoni gave him the assignment: He had to rub out a member of the gang named Luciffi who had been leaking the gang's secrets. The party considered attacking Demoni and getting more information, but he was carrying a suitcase bomb, and they deemed it too risky.

The party went off and staked out Luciffi's house, assuming that his reputation for having a loose tongue would pay off in the form of more information. When they raided his house, however, he brandished a stick of dynamite, intending to save his reputation by exposing the PCs plot to his higher-ups. It didn't work. The PCs managed to disarm him of the dynamite.

After a lengthy interrogation, Luciffi finally revealed that the gang's main operation was located in Helltoni's Italian Restaurant. The PCs promised Luciffi protection, but revoked it violently when he tried to escape.

The PCs went to Helltoni's restaurant at night, and found their way into the secret gangster area in the basement, with a couple 0f combat encounters along the way.

The best combat here was in a sealed-off room with some card-playing gangsters. When the PCs showed up, the gangsters filled the room with poison gas, and took some pills, which created bubbles of breathable air around them. Someone tipped over the table, and Romeo Scrabs used it as a jump, awesomely running down one of the gangsters with his bike before he could take his air pill. Romeo gave the pill to Colonel Jefferson, who took it, and all the non-melee PCs clustered around Jefferson for air. The gangsters had an impressive (and kind of broken) regenerative ability which made it virtually impossible to deal with them one-on-one. Which was kind of cool in my opinion, but some of the players resented it.

The PCs then found themselves in Helltoni's chamber. Helltoni was a huge fungus-like being made out of pasta. His body had grown all over the walls and ceiling, and he revealed to the PCs that he was holding up a bunch of acid goo on the ceiling, which would fall if he was killed.

Surprisingly, the PCs tried to convince Helltoni to hire them. Even more surprisingly, their bizarre logic worked, due to some really good diplomacy rolls, and some treacherous intentions on Helltoni's part. Helltoni hired them on temporarily, demanding that they assassinate Ralph Winewater; A mayoral candidate, and rival to Ross Douglass. He also revealed a printing press in an adjacent room, along with stacks and stacks of Uncle Sam posters for the PCs to put up.

The PCs then went and tried to convince Winewater to fake his death so that they could gain Helltoni's trust, but Winewater worried that such a move would be bad for his campaign, and was somewhat disturbed by the PCs methods. The PCs decided to abandon this idea, and opted instead to fill up a cake with dynamite and explode Helltoni's chamber from outside.

This plan worked fantastically, except that they dropped the cake while climbing down a ladder, and had to replace it with a big plate of spaghetti. Helltoni was easily neutralized with some remote detonation from Patches, and the players were able to evade the tide of acid by standing on the gangsters' card table. Demoni was speaking with Helltoni at the time, and he died too.

It was revealed that behind Helltoni's usual sticking-to-the-wall place there was a staircase descending deep underground.

To be continued!

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