Tuesday, April 12, 2016

SABRE, Issue #2 – Act 2: The Hunt is ONT

[This session happened March 5, 2016, and continues Issue #2 from the previous game.  Due to an error on my part, The Terrapin Avenger’s player didn’t know we were playing on that day, so his character faded into the background for this session.  Sorry, Bryan.]

Mars – super-powered ex-professional wrestler
Mnemesys – teleporting martial artist with no official name, yet
Black Light – light manipulator with withering attacks
Sentinel – combat armor-wearing inventor
The White Shade – mentalist with a Pulp style
Aces – the team’s “Sorcerer Superb”

The Terrapin Avenger –model and spokesman for TURTLE Armor™ line of battlesuit products
Max Power – President and CEO of FutureTech Systems and sponsor of SABRE
Chance Morway – PR representative for SABRE
Detective Alana Petrey – Detective in the CCPD Metahuman Crimes Division

Thursday, January 19th, 2012, Capitol City
The day after the kidnapping of Professor Bates and the attempted theft of the codex with him, The White Shade discussed the German prisoners captured on the University of Southern Maryland campus with Detective Petrey of the Capitol City PD metahuman Crimes Division.  Detective Petrey asked what evidence did SABRE have on the Germans, as most of what CCPD had was circumstantial.  The suspects were claiming they were just visiting the university before being attacked by the superheroes, without provocation.  The suspects were: Marko Nacht [the red-headed leader], Gunther Metz, and Eckhard Breiner.  When shown the video of the other members of their group dragging away Professor Bates, the Germans suggested that perhaps the professor had been attacked by the heroes as well and their friends were merely taking him to a hospital for medical treatment.  They also demanded to speak with someone from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., and CCPD had contacted the Embassy.

The White Shade told Detective Petrey about the recording from Aces communicator where the Germans threatened both Professor Bates and Professor Wilson.* [*Secretly the super hero Aces! –Ed.]  The White Shade offered to have the recording sent over and Detective Petrey accepted the offer, stating the recording would allow the case to proceed and help prove to the German Embassy that the suspects were actually criminals.

Later in the morning, Aces met with forensics experts from the CCPD [to maintain proper chain of evidence] in the evidence vault in SABRE Tower.  Under their watchful gaze [and SABRE Tower Security’s], Aces started reading through the codex, looking for a reason for the attempted theft and the kidnapping.  A few hours in, Aces received a call on the phone his secret ID uses.  He stepped into a private area to change back into Professor Wilson via a spell and answered the phone.  A man with a German accent started explaining that he had Professor Bates, but Professor Wilson cut him off, demanding proof that Professor Bates was alive and then hanging up on the kidnapper.  He then transformed back into Aces and returned to the Evidence Vault to resume reading the codex.  [The Evidence Vault is a large, well-lit chamber with armored walls, an armored door with serious locks, and a display table for viewing evidence.  It also has several cameras, to prove continuity of the chain of evidence, and can be filled with knock-out gas at a moment’s notice.]

Thirty minutes later, a faxed picture of Professor Bates holding today’s paper arrived at SABRE Tower.  The members of SABRE were called together to the meeting room to discuss the situation.  Aces attended via speaker phone.  During the discussion, a call for Max came in from the kidnappers.  The White Shade volunteered to take the call and handle the negotiations and Max accepted her offer.  The White Shade answered the call [on a different phone than the one Aces was listening in on] and used her interaction skills to keep the kidnappers on the line for a trace and to subtly pump them for information [use of the Conversation skill].  The White Shade was able to pick up that the Germans were part of a group named the ONT, they seemed to be improvising, and that they did not care about the physical condition of the codex, only that they got it back soonest.  The exchange was set for Midnight at the Haridover Building, at 8705 King Edward Place in the Brickberg district of Capitol City.  Professor Wilson was to bring the codex, alone, and deposit it in the mail chute in the building’s lobby.  Professor Bates will be released shortly after.

Aces recognized the ONT by reputation as a magically active sinister group in Europe.  Mnemesys remembered more from his days as a PRIMUS agent.  Mnemesys remembered ONT stood for Order of the New Templars and that they were part of a larger group known as DEMON, a criminal organization apparently seeking dominion over the world through magical means.  DEMON has a cellular structure, with each cell utilizing whatever magic works for them.  The ONT specializes in Rune Magic, which explained the anti-teleport runes on the History Building the previous day.

The call was traced to a land line in the Monastery Hill district.  Black Light volunteered to go investigate but needed a lift to get there quickly.  Sentinel volunteered to fly her there, so they took off from the SABRE Tower roof, Sentinel holding an invisible Black Light.  Sentinel flew over and past the Monastery Hill district and an invisible Black Light dropped away to locate the source of the call.

The source of the call. [Image from The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo webcomic, used without permission.]

Black Light flew around the house that was the source of the call to investigate it.  She observed what she believed to be magical alarms and/or traps on all the doors and windows.  While trying to decide what to do next, she observed one of the German thugs they were looking for exit the building and start walking away.  She pursued him closely, trusting in her invisibility to keep her safe.  The thug walked deeper into the Monastery Hill district.  As the thug entered Little Marrakesh, the streets became narrower and started having sun shades covering them [see below] and Black Light had to follow him closer to avoid losing him.

Little Marrakesh, Monastery Hill District, Capitol City – notice slats providing street shade

Black Light followed the thug through a narrow side alley to a small, square courtyard.  The thug walked to a small door and knocked.  A speak easy opened and a voice asked for the password.  Black Light moved in close to hear the password and heard, “She’s here, drop the nets.”  Realizing this was a trap, Black Light tried to fly up and away, but a fine and anchored net she had not seen dropped on her and gas started filling the courtyard – she was captured!  An hour later SABRE received a faxed picture of an unconscious Black Light with the day’s newspaper being held in front of her.  It was the same chair and wall as in the picture of Professor Bates.

While Black Light was being led off into the trap deeper in Monastery Hill, Mnemesys arrived at the townhouse that was the source of the call.  He also observed what appeared to be magical security on the doors and windows.  He set up a surveillance spot across the street from the unusual town home and waited.  Once the faxed photo of Black Light arrived at SABRE Tower, Sentinel rigged up the radar unit on his battlesuit to treat SABRE communicators as transponders [comic book physics – go with it].  He then flew over the Monastery Hill area and determined that Black Light was being held at a different location than the one Mnemesys was observing.

Mars suggested that as they could not locate where Professor Bates was and the kidnappers had made no additional demands after capturing Black Light, the group instead go to the exchange location and set up an ambush there for the kidnappers.  This plan was quickly agreed upon.

9:00 PM
Mars, Aces, and The White Shade arrived at the Haridover Building, which was an old four-story, brick-faced, office building that is now abandoned [like large parts of Brickberg].  They entered the building through the service entrance doors in the back, which led down to the basement.  They explored the basement a bit until they found the Mail Room, where the mail chute would deposit mail into a hopper.  This was clearly where the Germans would set up.  Inside this room they spotted a trap door leading to a brick-covered tunnel and explored that.  The tunnel led to an old iron door that was obviously barred on this side.  After standing around and trying to decide what to do next, they heard the loud and distinct sound of a city subway car go by in an adjacent tunnel, just on the other side of the metal door!

The trio returned to the building basement and re-closed the trap door, confident they knew how the Germans planned on escaping.  They located a storage room across the hall from the Mail Room and Mars and The White Shade hid themselves there.  Aces returned to SABRE Tower and magically duplicated the codex.  Mnemesys maintained surveillance at the town home in Monastery Hill and Sentinel did periodic aerial sweeps across the city to keep track of Black Light’s position [and to make certain no one else disappeared].

10:00 PM
During one of his flyovers, Sentinel reported a team of toughs walking up to the Haridover Building, led by one of the Germans [still wearing his distinctive Euro-style fashionable suit].  The toughs started setting up equipment in the building, including wireless video cameras.  One of the toughs discovered Mars and White Shade hiding in the store room, but a quick mental illusion by White Shade convinced him that he was mistaken.

11:30 PM
Sentinel detected that Black Light was in motion, heading towards the exchange point in a SUV.  Sentinel flew over to Mnemesys and picked him up.  The two of them followed the SUV to a place two blocks from the exchange point.  There the occupants exited the SUV and walked over to the back entrance to the Haridover Building.  Mnemesys and Sentinel could see the second German leading this group and a blind-folded Professor Bates.  They could not see Black Light directly, but a noticeably strong tough was lugging a person-sized duffle bag that likely contained Black Light.  Mars and The White Shade noticed the group enter the building and then the Mail Room, but could not get a good look at them without exposing their own position [and White Shade REALLY wanted to get a line of sight on them].

Sentinel noticed that several of the rooms in the building were blacked out to everything in the sensor suite in his armor and reported this.  Aces and Mnemesys postulated that runes were being used to do that to obscure which rooms had snipers in them.

Aces, as Professor Wilson, arrived at the front of the Haridover building in a SABRE Response Vehicle with a driver and the duplicate codex.  Professor Wilson exited the SUV and walked up the steps to the main lobby of the building.  The lobby was dark, but a voice called out for him to stop and to place the codex into the mail chute on the wall to his left.  He did so.

Down in the basement, as soon as he heard one of the toughs state he had the codex, Mars charged through the wall of the storage room, across the hall, and into the doorway of the Mail Room, bellowing for the toughs to “SURRENDER NOW OR FACE THE MIGHT OF MARS!”  [This was a Presence Attack made by Mars on all the toughs, which achieved the maximum effect on the Presence Attack Table.  And the player bellowed it at volume, at the table, for extra effect.]

Everyone in the Mail Room was stunned by this turn of events [and the volume Mars made his demands in].  While they were standing there gob-smacked, White Shade stepped up through the large hole Mars had made in the wall and placed an Improvised Telekinetic Barrier over the trap door to the subway, blocking off all routes of escape.  Once the toughs found their voices, all the locals immediately surrendered.  The two Germans used their bronze wands to destroy the [duplicate] codex and then demanded to be arrested.  Above ground, Sentinel and Mnemesys took out the mooks with sub-machine guns ready to snipe out the upper floors.  This included the tough hiding in the lobby attempting to shoot up Professor Wilson.  [Sentinel also took a moment to suggest to Max Power via SABRE radio that Max buy the building quickly before anyone made a claim based on the damages Mars was doing in the basement.  Max concurred.]

Once the heroes verified they had rescued all of the hostages and bound up all the toughs, they called in the CCPD to take possession of the criminals for processing.  Max (now the new owner of a slightly damaged abandoned office building in Brickberg) and White Shade discussed what to do with the codex and agreed that the best thing would be to let the ONT continue to think they destroyed the codex and turn the real one over to the German government as a national treasure, one they should keep secret.  Max called people he knew at the State Department to get the diplomatic ball rolling.

Friday, January 20th, 2012
10:00 AM
The White Shade and Mars attended the dedication ceremony for the Star-Spangled Singer Memorial Statue in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park.  Also in attendance were:

  • Indigo Flame (the event organizer) – she is a local solo hero (energy projector)
  • Ivette J. Miller – she is the Head of the Friends of the Singer Charity (Normal)
  • Senator Catherine E. Pugh – she represents District 40 in the Maryland Senate (Normal)
  • Walker – she is from Special Unit One in Annapolis (animal-based shape shifter)
  • Fire Ant – he is from Special Unit One in Annapolis (pyrokinetic)
  • Dr. Katana – she is from the Damocles Society in Virginia (British accent, martial artist)
  • Dr. Shield – he is from the Damocles Society in Virginia (force field projector)
  • Moonsword – she is from the Sentinels in Washington, D.C. (super mage)
  • A small crowd of 30-40 Baltimore citizens who were either personally helped by the Star-Spangled Singer or were superhero boosters/groupies

There was also a small crowd of protesters off to one side, about 20 of them.  Baltimore PD had the protesters contained in a taped-off area and were standing by in case the protesters got rowdy, but they were not expecting any real trouble – after all, members of Special Unit One were there.  Signs in the crowd included:

  • “Heroes” aren’t COPS!  COPS are COPS!
  • REAL Humans NOT metahumans!
  • Beware the coming threat!
  • Remember the REAL victims!
  • Major Victory was a THUG!

The event consisted of a short ceremony where Indigo Flame, Ivette Miller, and Senator Catherine E. Pugh stood up on a low stage next to the draped statue and made a speech.  Once the senator finished her speech, the drape was removed from the statue, revealing the life-sized bronze underneath.  The crowd respectfully applauded and the event finished.

8:00 PM
All of SABRE attended the WWE event at the Reyes Aerobank Arena in Capitol City, making use of the VIP box seats Mars was gifted and shared with the team.  A good time was had by all.

End of Session

[Thus ended Issue #2 of SABRE.  This issue had much more in it than Issue #1 as I had a better idea what the characters looked like and how they would interact.  Everyone had something to do that contributed to the overall story and everyone got time in the spotlight.]

[Story-wise, this issue was self-contained, as will be the next couple or so.  I prefer to start this style of campaign relatively low-key until the players get a feel for their characters and knock all the design kinks out.  Plus, it gives me a chance to see the characters in action and spot where things might be broken and need some fixing.  This is the HERO System, so sometimes unusual interactions between powers and actions can lead to unexpected results that are disruptive to the game.  Luckily for me, my players are willing to work with me and are learning to trust I won’t mess them over.]

Issue #1

Issue #2, Part 1

Issue #3 [Not Yet Written]

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