Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Marvel Civil War: Session One
So I forgot that there were people interested in short reports from my Civil War campaign, since I've never read it before and don't really have any intention to. A couple of the authors of Civil War wanted to see how their writing ended up working in actual play for a group of non-comic fans. We finally kicked it off this past week. Basically, all I have, as GM, is the material provided in the supplement, as is.
THE CAST: The League of Liberty
Ms. Perception and Gargantus: Played by the same player, rotating when it makes sense. Post-teenager lovers, she's a blind woman possessed by a spirit of vengeance which gives her a vicious psychic blast and darkforce/sorcery control, he's a gruff mutant with superhuman strength and Wolverine level healing powers.
Luther Sweet: 70s style Harlem private eye and nightclub owner, Luther Sweet has powers of strength, speed, resilience, and charisma (Distinction: Sexual Dynamite)
Ol' Ironsides: An Afghanistan Air Force vet who, with the aid of his crew, put together a suit of power armor from old jet parts. Fiercely patriotic.
We opened with the League (yes, I know it's LOL) being summoned by a joint House committee examining how to proceed in the face of increasing public unease over superpowered conflict and the devastation it leaves behind. (We neatly tied it into our Hercules/Dead Meat sidestory, in which Hercules has been doing an admirable job of screwing things up for the common people he interacts with).
On the way in, they meet Tony Stark, who'd just given his testimony and was on his way out to fly to a meeting in Seattle. I played him up as a likable, slightly schmoozing rogue. He grinned for the cameras and told the press to pay attention to the League because they were totally awesome during Breakout. Then he left.
The bipartisan committee consisted of Pelosi, Stoyer, and Grijalva for the Ds, Boehner, Cantor, and Bachmann for the Rs. I had the pros and cons regarding registration *not* broken down by party lines and kept the players guessing about how the congresspeople would react to the PC testimony.
I altered the rules a bit to keep things flowing quickly here; it's a cool thing to take the superheroes out of their element, but I reckoned that it could wear thin quickly. So I had one Mental stress track which the heroes shared. I addressed questions to individuals, but any damage done was done to the shared pool. I also had it disappear entirely after the scene was over; I wasn't keen on having them potentially be disastrously messed up over a congressional hearing.
I tried to tie it into current politics a bit. Bachmann concentrated on the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating America's heroes, while Cantor floated the idea of a tailor made Stand Your Ground law for superheroes only as a way of circumventing the registration process. I was expecting them to be demolished.
Turns out they weren't! Luther Sweet really shone here. He used his Menace Master, not to directly intimidate, but to describe just how awful the city streets would be without heroes doing their thing. It was a near run thing, with the heroes' Mental damage track hitting D12, but they ended up impressing the political journalists with their impassioned anti-registration pleas.
Flanked by a phalanx of reporters, the heroes stepped out and saw Iron Man circling over the National Mall. Which was weird, since Stark said he was cutting out for a meeting. Suddenly, the figure entered a nose dive and smashed into the WWII Memorial, sending shards of broken concrete and bystanders everywhere.
The heroes made a beeline for the Memorial. Turns out that it's not Iron Man at all, but his adversary, Titanium Man. The villain demands to have Stark presented to him, which is impossible. Combat is joined.
TM proved to be a pretty tough foe. His ability to shrug off physical damage caused Luther and Ol' Ironsides fits. The Memorial was completely trashed during the fight, with nobody able to gain the upper hand, until Ironsides used one of his SFX which allows him to create a Complication by scrambling the circuits of a tech based enemy. He did this, but some bad rolls only kicked it up to a D8.
This is when Ms. Perception came in. She got the bright idea to use her Sorcery powers to create the illusion of TM's suit being filled with bees. I ruled this an Emotional attack (fear), which TM had no real defense against. Her player rolled monstrously well, while I flubbed the roll entirely. He was looking at a D12 in Emotional stress, but Ms. Perception kicked in a PP to get the overkill effect up to +10, stepping the damage up into a one shot takedown. TM unlocked his armor and started stripping it off as quickly as possible. The day was saved.
Or was it? The reporters on the scene weren't framing it as heroes saving the day. It was reported as two sides of the same coin tearing up one of the most hallowed spaces in the country. No amount of aid rendered could alter the narrative.