Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Aeon-D Season 1: Episode 1

Our Heroes:

  • Nichodemus Faust -- The Devil in a Suit
  • "Eddie" -- A mysterious, time-travelling gadgeteer
  • "Doc" -- A deeply christian healer with a floating rainbow cat
  • "Kurst" -- Totally not a wendigo, he promises.
  • Alexander Ini-Herit -- Philosophical brick

Preliminary

The world has already ended.  Vampires roam the world, dark fogs herald the coming of dread beings, and the average person huddles in the shelter of their desolate homes, knowing two things: that they are doomed, at that metahumans did this to them.

The Session

Our heroes find themselves in media res on the run from the Saviors of the Heartland, a group of vampire-stomping, metahuman-enslaving Christian fanatics who know what we did last month.  Whatever it was, it was pretty dramatic, but not important.  What mattered is that some 30 of these guys, including several guys in some advanced combat gear (TL 9 power-armor) and two chained metahumans, were just a few hours behind us, doggedly tracking us to the ends of the Earth, almost literally as we were bouncing back and forth over a narrow strip of country full of thick glaciers and bordering on dreaded Wendigo territory.

Thus, we found ourselves in a desolate wasteland covered in dusty snow, frigid winds and a speckling of hardy trees.  Great cliffs of ice jut out of the landscape, grinding slowly against one another, the occassional glacial "crack" shattering the snow-blanketed silence that was only ever otherwise disturbed by the murmur of the wind and the crunch of snow beneath our feet.  Literal cliffs also jutted out of the landscape too, stony grey peaking out from behind the monotonous white of ice.

It was there, as my character reached down to help pull Nicodemus up the last bit of cliff (his suit still perfectly impeccable and utterly out of place in this arctic wasteland) that we found our destination: a squat castle lurking at the top of this cliff wall.

"My name is Nichodemus. Perhaps you've heard of me."

It seemed that Nichodemus had been through the area before. A huntsman hopped from the wall of his castle, slung his rifle over his shoulder and heartily greeted the sinisterly handsome figure of Nichodemus.  Our devil had cast a great spell to make their fields bountiful, and another illusion to hide the castle from outsider eyes (how we found it seems a fortunate mystery, perhaps because Nichodemus led us here deliberately).

This solved the problem of the Saviors, but we nonetheless secured our tracks.  With his weird, ungainly gait, the over-dressed Kurst scrambled back over our tracks and created a new set of tracks that led away from the castle.  Given the invisibility of the castle and the change to our tracks, we felt confident this would keep us safe.

Nyan Cat approves of rainbow aerobatics
By "We" of course, I mean everyone but Eddie, who was in absolute panic that we might bring harm upon those who had let us into their haven.  While the rest of us enjoyed the hospitality of our surprisingly friendly hosts (who didn't seem to mind metahumans at all, and had a cute redheaded child who seemed to be metahuman herself), while Eddie rushed about ensuring that the castle was sufficiently fortified.  Meanwhile, Kurst devoured meat buns, Nichodemus showed off how great and wonderful he was, I turned coal into a diamond and gave it to the little girl, and Doc's cat dazzled all with its rainbow aerobatics.

"Do unto others..."

The appointed hour came.  If the Saviors of the Heartland were to find us, they would find us now.  Thus, donning my long coat and goggles, I joined Eddie and Kurst on the wall to keep watch.  And, sure enough, Kurst's deception held true and they meandered in the wrong direction.

Nichodemus, not to be trifled with, also watched their passage via his magic powers, and when they were sufficiently far away, created an illusory smell of blood.  See, he knew they were in Wendigo territory and wanted to make sure they never messed with him again.  And sure enough, the Wendigo screamed and howled as they descended upon the Saviors.  "Good riddance," thought Nichodemus.

Eddie didn't agree.  Using his senses, he could see their plight, and expressed it.  "The wendigo have them."

"Where?" I asked.  Eddie pointed me in the right direction and I did the only thing I could: I went to rescue them.  While Nichodemus' player fumed (and his character reveled in self-congratulation).  I arrived too late to help any but a single boy who lay dying, his arm chewed off.  Kurst and Eddie had followed me (though I'm not sure if it was to protect me from my foolish idealism or to join me in my rescue mission).  Kurst rages at the remaining Wendigo and showered them with silvery arrows, like a glass rain, and then upon seeing the rest of the human carnage, began to devour the corpses of the fallen, which is weird because he's totally not a wendigo, though Eddie managed to drag him away from the worst of it.  Meanwhile, I returned to the sanctuary, bringing the Savior-boy into our midst and placing him before Doc, who exhausted himself healing the boy (who showed miraculous recovery, including a healed arm).

Retrospective

It was a servicable session.  Your first session should involve characters getting to see one another in action, and get a chance to try some stuff out, and get a chance to look at the world.

I'm personally left with a few basic questions, like how powerful is my character compared to the world (If I had been there, could I have defeated all those Wendigo?  Could I take on one?  Would one kick my butt?  Should I have feared the Saviors or would I have kicked their butts).  And how will our characters interact?  Thus far, I think we make a fairly good team, though Eddie and Kurst seem to be intentionally a little on the edges of things for now.

I suspect, though, that I am "powerful enough." What struck me as interesting in the session was the implicit moral choice of how to handle the Saviors.  The obvious answer was Nichodemus' "Kill them all."  That's how most murder-hobos work, after all.  But the rest of the group chose to save them.  That will often be the case with my character: I could win, but do I want to?  Is it the right thing?

For my part, I largely remained silent during the session.  Right now, it seems important for the other players to find themselves, so I'm waiting for that phase to be over.  It's also difficult to get a word in edgewise on a call (two people talking over each other on an internet call is difficult to handle).  I do think I should probably make more use of the chat function next time.  I'm also personally struggling with the role of philosopher.  I struck up a conversation with Eddie where I essentially told him he was "doing it wrong," which suits one kind of philosopher well enough, but I think in the future I should try to be more Socratic and ask questions.  Asking questions gives players a chance to define their characters a little better, for us and for themselves, and I can be sufficiently probing with my questions that the other players will think "Oh, hey, he's a philosopher."

I'd like to see some combat, less because I'm totally excited to fight, but more to get my bearings, both in the game, and with the infrastructure we use to play.  How well will hangouts handle combat, and how will it play?  But that's one session down.
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