Sunday, September 24, 2017

Night's Black Agents: Messages to/from Space

Two game write-ups in one day, ain't you lucky. End of an op, even!

Last time, the agents went to Lithuania and wound up out in the woods (well, as we start, Ess and Gambone are in the woods, Hanover, Parker, and MacAteer are in the van, which is disguised as a hillock). Gambone and Ess sneak around and discover a pretty large facility with multiple radio dishes pointed at the sky, a barracks, and a central building. The agents took a bunch of pictures and then started to fall back, but got noticed by the guards at the jeep.

Gambone grabbed hold of Ess and pretended like they were a couple off in the woods for a hike, and managed to distract the guards. Ess then struck and disarmed one, Gambone the other, and now they had two captives. The clock, as Parker noted, had started.

They examined the photos and realized that these dishes were not dissimilar to the ones at Aricebo, sending messages into deep space. Where, why, what? They had no idea, but they figured the answers would be found in the central building. They did some recon and figured that this wasn't a government facility, though some of the guards were probably ex-military. They decided they needed to take it out, though.

Ess and MacAteer took the guards' uniforms and took up their post to buy some time. Parker and Gambone circled the compound in the woods and found a good spot to sneak up to the main building, while Hanover got up into a tree to snipe as necessary. They also loaded up the jeep with explosives, figuring it would make a nice distraction.

After dark, Parker shot the one guard by the main building and she and Gambone started moving up...but then they alarms went off. When they got back in sight of that back door, they realized Parker had just wounded the guard, and he was being tended. Deciding to press on, Ess and MacAteer drove into the compound (still disguised), while Parker shot the other guards and moved into the building and Gambone planted explosives on the dishes.

Inside, Parker found main servers and swiped a bunch of hard drives before the self-destruct mechanisms when off, burning the place. She got out just as the building went up. Ess and MacAteer parked the jeep with some other vehicles, got to a safe distance, and blew it up, and then faded into the woods. The agents also set explosives on the road to prevent evacuation (and pursuit), and they managed to get to the hillock and get the hell out before reinforcements arrived.

They fell back to the safe house, and then got the hell out of Lithuania and headed north into Latvia, stopping in Riga. They sifted through the data, and found that these dishes were sending a lot of information about vampire/human DNA into space...along with figures on population density and human cities. Hanover finally found a reference for a numeric code that he'd found on Lennart's laptop waaaaaay back at the start of all this: the astronomical coordinates that the data was being sent to, and a date. The date was July 3, 1903, which stumped the agents for a bit, and then MacAteer wondered about Nikola Tesla, since the conspiracy seemed to have an interest.

In 1903, Tesla was trying to get funding for his tower at Wardenclyffe, but the Tesla tower was functional, at least somewhat. Parker applied her knowledge of astronomy and figured out that a message from the coordinates they found would have hit Earth right about there.

So what was really going on? They did some digging into Tesla's life and figured out that there weren't any extant photos of him after about 1920 or so. He died in 1943 at age 86, supposedly, at a hotel in New York, and was then cremated. His belongings were shipped to Belgrade in 1952 at the behest of his cousin, but the agents couldn't find any record of his cousin dying and no photos after about 1955.

Hanover did some research, using the online library at MIT (where a lot of Tesla's research was taken after his death) and realized that the collars that Dr. Macan was working on, the dishes at the Lithuania site, all of it was natural extrapolation of Tesla's experiments. Was Tesla, then, the first vampire? The agents didn't know, but they needed to find out.

They took a boat north to Stockholm, and then flew to Belgrade. Ess made contact with an arms dealer he knows name Kurjak, and got explosives and weapons shipped over from Bosnia. The agents are going to break into the museum again, and check the archives, hoping to find something to point them towards the truth about Tesla.

Misspent Youth: Planet Trippinballs

Yesterday was Misspent Youth, and since I've got to run Night's Black Agents in a few hours, I better get this done!

Last session is here, BTW. The characters had landed on a new planet, but we hadn't established anything about it.

First, of course, we need our Authority Figures:

  • The Valkyries, a cadre of agender space cops.
  • Morpheus, the god-ruler of this planet, with power of perception and dreams
  • The oceans themselves! On this planet, the waters are meant to hydrate the ambrosia farms, so they're highly narcotic and hallucinogenic
  • Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror, the former ruler of this planet, now in hiding
  • Pythons, immense serpents roaming this planet as security
And then our Friendship Questions:
  • Eli asked Jacqui: "What did Bruce (my father) say to you when he out of the car?" Jacqui: "If anything happens to me, dig under the shed at my house."
  • Jacqui asked Yasha: "What did you have to leave behind on Bardo?" Yasha: "My brother. I don't talk about him."
  • Yasha asked Alaska: "Why did you insist on this planet?" Alaska: "I saw something shiny in the distance. Also I like to appear decisive." 
  • Alaska asked Kshanti: "Do you feel different now that you're off Bardo?" Kshanti: "Not internally, but I feel different things."
  • Kshanti asked Eli: "What have you been taking your wrath out on?" Eli: "Punching a lot of bulkheads."
Scene One: What's Up

Kshanti's player set us up and chose the giant pythons. 

We open flying over the new planet, skimming down near the ocean's surface, heading towards an immense yellow obelisk. And then a huge goddamn serpent lunges up out of the water, wraps around their ship, and starts to crush it! The YOs fight back - Eli punches it, Jacqui tries to use her power to mess with its blood flow, but then Yasha stands up and loses. She sells out her MO (Righteous Fury sells out to Revenge is Best Served Cold) and turns on the ship's force field generators - which, unbeknownst to Kshanti (who designed the ship to have no weapons), work just fine to vaporize flesh. The snake dies, and the ship splashes down into the water. 

Kickoff: This episode is about survival. 

Scene Two: Fighting Back

Eli's player sets us up, and it seems natural to choose the oceans as the authority figure. The ship is leaking and every gets high as balls, seeing sounds, feeling colors, and so on. Jacqui realizes that everyone is full of paint (which is a disquieting realization), everyone sees Alaska changing into the monster snake - Yasha decides she's in love with it - and Kshanti stays quiet but all of the Unsuitables on the ship scream for her. The YOs struggle to control their minds, but they can't - Yasha stands up and loses and falls into madness. The ship eventually washes up on the shore, but by that time, the YOs are the only ones left alive, and everything else on the ship is a mural of blood. 

First Beat: Catastrophe (massacre on the ship) Question: What have we done?

Scene Three: Heating Up

I set this up, and chose Yasha's question to Alaska: "Why did you insist on this planet?" "I saw something shiny in the distance, and I like to appear decisive." 

Alaska was the only one who wasn't terribly affected by the seas (perhaps because her perceptions are always a little skewed). She kind of becomes the de facto leader, which terrifies her. The YOs walk up the black beach to a huge field of flowers (that become blood red when the YOs see them). Kshanti starts immediately pulling mojo and stuffing it into the YOs, trying to supercharge them, and YOs argue about what happened on the ship. Jacqui, in particular, is horrified (everyone was full of paint), but Alaska repeats that it's not her fault.

And then the serpent arrives! Another huge snake, drawn by Kshanti's mojo manipulation, perhaps, lunges at them. Eli punches it, and Alaska stands up and fails. The snake swallows them, and everything goes dark. 

Scene Four: We Won

Jacqui's player sets us up, and chooses Tezcatlipoca.

The YOs awaken in a dark place, covered in slime. The snake is nowhere to be found. Everything around them is made of black glass. They walk a ways, and find themselves in the presence of a huge man with black scales and smoking eye-sockets - Tezcatlipoca. 

He reveals that he used to rule this planet, until Morpheus moved in, put these damn oceans in and started growing ambrosia flowers. He wants his planet back, and that means Morpheus needs to die. He can't act directly against another god, but perhaps these folks...

The YOs agree - if they kill Morpheus, Tezcatlipoca gives them passage off this planet. Tezcat agrees, and provides Yasha with a powerful obsidian sword, Eli with glass gauntlets, and Alaska with a gun that shoots hurricanes of blue smoke. The serpent swallows them again to transport them to Morpheus palace (in the midst of the biggest ocean), but along the way, the serpent gets pretty stoned and starts slithering this way and that. The YOs work to control it, and Jacqui stands up and wins on Kshanti's Unctuous Conviction. She uses her sangromancy power to keep everything nice and smooth for the snake, and the snake deposits them on the shore of Morpheus' palace, the obelisk that Alaska saw in the distance. The YOs are ready for battle.

Scene Five: We're Fucked

Yasha's player sets this up and chooses Eli's question to Jacqui: "What did Bruce tell you when he got out of the car?" "If anything happens to me, dig under the shed."

The YOs walk towards the palace, and Bruce is there waiting for them. He and Alaska (who have some history, which is always disturbing to both Eli as Bruce's child and Yasha as Alaska's lover) start flirting. Bruce tells them they need to be careful here; Morpheus' power can make their desires turn real, but even if that happens Morpheus still controls them. Bruce is unable to tell them how he got here, though, preferring to ask leading questions using information they already know. He also starts caressing Alaska, just like she wants...and she realizes he was never that good. He's a construct, a hallucination, but it's too late. Jacqui stands up and loses, and the YOs' cover is blown. Nightmares descend from the palace to kill them, and Morpheus stands on a balcony and watches. 

Second Beat: Catastrophe - Nightmares of the palace!

Scene Six: Who Wins

Alaska's player sets this up and choose Morpheus (seems appropriate). 

The battle rages, which the YOs fighting off their own personal nightmares (Yasha fights Alaska, but with a god behind her eyes; Kshanti sees herself, but grown up; Jacqui sees the dead Unsuitables; etc.). Eli stands up and loses, but sells out Rich to Profligate. Eli uses a secret stash of mojo that they hid from everyone, and punches the ground, sending out a ripple that causes the tower to collapse. Morpheus lands in their midst, and Alaska shoots him with the gun she got from Tezcatlipoca. Morpheus is killed - the clique has won the episode. 

Scene Seven: Dust Settles

Kshanti's player sets this up and chooses her question to Eli: "How have you been venting your wrath?" "Punching bulkheads." 

Tezcatlipoca gains control of the planet, and the towers collapse. The seas recede, and all changes to black glass. The serpents come in to feast on them, and Eli punches them angrily, but it's to no avail (Jacqui stands up and loses). They get swallowed again, and when they wake up, the planet is blackened and barren. Tezcatlipoca is back in charge, and has no intention of letting them leave. They're stuck on this planet. 

Aftermath

Of course, they did win the episode, so they add a new Exploit. They find the ship, now on a barren sea bed, and fix it up, fitting it with treads. It's now a tank called Bruce. Next time, we'll see what they can do with it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Movie #425: Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious Basterds is a war film directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, Daniel Bruhl, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger and a lot of other people.

In the midst of WWII, the US drops a small contingent of Jewish soldiers into France, led by Aldo Raine (Pitt), for the express purpose of striking terror into the Nazi soldiers' black little hearts. "Aldo the Apache" quickly develops a reputation, ambushing, slaughtering, and scalping Nazi soldiers.

Meanwhile, Col. Hans Landa (Waltz) of the SS has made his name as the "Jew-Hunter," tracking down Jewish refugees in occupied France. In the opening scene he tracks down a family hiding at a farmhouse and has them shot, but one of them, Shoshana (Laurent) escapes. Some years later, she's running a theater in Paris with her lover Marcel (Jacky Ido), and finds that because of the unwanted attention of Nazi war hero Fredrick Zoller (Bruhl), her theater will be used to premiere Zoller's biopic/propaganda film for the German high command, including Hitler himself (Martin Wuttke).

So, of course, there's a big plan to blow the damn thing up, masterminded by British intelligence with British solider Archie Hicox (Fassbender) at the forefront, including German movie star/double agent Bridget von Hammersmark (Kruger), and the Basterds. And everyone goes completely off the rails, but the plan kinda works, Hitler gets mowed down by Donny "Bear Jew" Donowitz (Roth) before the place burns down thanks to the fire Shoshana set, and Landa weasels his way into American citizenship...but not before Aldo cuts a swastika into his forehead.

I kinda feel like this is one of Tarantino's better films. Sure, it's a little long, but it actually improves on a second viewing in that regard. Waltz won an Oscar for his portrayal of Landa and absolutely earned it, though I think Melanie Laurent deserved some recognition, too. Tarantino doesn't generally treat his women very well, so that's a thing, but if any movie deserves to get brutal with its characters, it's a WWII movie. Bruhl, too, has a great performance as a Nazi who spends most of the movie in "nice guy" mode and then shows his true colors at the end.

The asides narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and the little on-screen titles don't always work, but that's a small thing in the scheme of things. The movie works best when it just lets the actors work, and Tarantino doesn't get all wanky with things, which is actually true of most of his movies.

Gotta say, for a variety of reasons, this movie feels really fucking timely.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium

Next up: Misery

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Promethean: Chop, Sploosh, Gack, Pow

Anybody ever watch Harper's Island? Horror mini-series, basically a slasher movie played out over 13 episodes, which has the effect of making things really uncomfortable by the last couple because you've come to know the main characters well enough that it's hard to be densensitized to their deaths. Anyway, I mention it because the episode titles were all onomatopoeias, and pretty violent, MUCH LIKE LAST NIGHT'S GAME.

So! Skip heads out to the swamp with Jesse, and we'll learn what happened to them next time (Skip's player was absent). Avalon and Carroll head back towards town, but next a salvage yard there's a loud bang and then the car spins out and crashes. Both are mostly unhurt, but Avalon is worried - that sounded like a gunshot. She gets out of the car and is immediately struck by a blast of acidic blood that melts the flesh from her body...and there stands Red. She rushes forward and uses her knowledge of Alchemicus to turn him to stone, and Carroll's eyes go completely black. The darkness pours out of him and surrounds them, and Carroll and Red both vanish.

Avalon, realizing they're probably screwed without help, pulls Fluffy (Enoch's shabti, whom we haven't seen in a while) out of her backpack and tells him to alert Enoch, and then runs into the dark.

Avalon realizes they're in a maze, but she can, inexplicably, easily find her way through it. In the center of the maze, she sees a huge, monster-ghost thing erupting from Red's petrified body, and facing off against it is some horrible spindly-legged creature, shrouded in darkness. The creature is badly wounded, and the ghost turns the blood-torrent on Avalon again.

Avalon, enraged, switches to the Refinement of Tin and throws lightning at the creature. It cries out in pain, and Avalon gears up to fire again, but then Red de-petrifies and shoots her.

And in a cab, heading towards town, Feather and Enoch feel Avalon die. Grimm and Matt, walking back towards the city, feel it too. The folks in the cab see the boys on the side of the road and stop to get them, and based on what Enoch can see through Fluffy's eyes, finds the salvage yard. Grimm gets out of the car and sees the huge pocket of darkness, and rushes in (completing a milestone and his Daredevil Role for enter a gateway without knowing where it goes). Feather and Matt follow, telling the cab driver to wait.

Enoch, seeing them go, calls out "OK, I've sent them in, now come get me," trying to bait Red. It works - Red appears behind him. Enoch tells him that his quest for vengeance is going to get him killed; the other supernatural beings of New Orleans are looking for him. Red says that all he wants is "all of you at the River." Enoch asks why, and Red tells him "figure it out, you stupid sonofabitch, you killed my boys" and then hits him with an ax.

Enoch changes to barghest form and attacks, but the first hit took too much out of him, and Red blasts him with blood and then finishes him with a second stroke of the ax. Enoch dies, and the others feel it.

Inside the darkness, they find themselves isolated and lost in a maze. Matt and Feather make it to the center, though, and find the spindly creature slinking up in the dark. Feather sees that it has Carroll's eyes...but then those eyes go away and become the black, insect-like eyes of the creature. The maze walls start to collapse, and the Prometheans run. Outside, they find the cab gone and the cab driver dead.

They call DeVries for help, and moments later a car with the mages Sebek, Mort, and a third one named Cassie, arrive. Cassie looks around at all the death and gives an abbreviated version of what happened, but notes that it's like it all happened "in a nightmare." The Prometheans note that Red seems to have a thing for junkyards, and maybe he was holed up there - of course, he's not there now because he took the cab towards New Orleans. The mages decide to investigate the junkyard, and the Prometheans take their car (with the bodies of their friends in the trunk) and head for town. They call Sicky, who's terrified because he felt Avalon and Enoch die, too, and have him meet them at DuMonde.

In the Underworld, Avalon awakens on the shores of the River of Blood. She unleashes her rage in lightning form at the river, screaming in anger, and firmly cements herself as on Stannum, pursuing the Vigilante Role. Enoch appears behind her, and they talk a bit, and then start heading upriver. The river splits, and Avalon remembers that the River of Blood is about violence and passion, so she takes a drink and feels aggression and anger surge. She takes a little blood with her in her shoe. She figures she'll need it.

They find ghosts in the nearby tunnels, and Enoch asks where he might look to find a particular person (specifically he's looking to find Red's family to try and get them to calm him down). The ghost responds that Enoch should look in the Web of Names, and tells him to follow the River of Memory. They find said river (Lethe) and Enoch takes a couple of stones to work into his project back in the world of the living. Note, too, that all of this fulfills the projectio milestone for both Avalon and Enoch: Visit a River of Death.

Back in the world of the living, the Prometheans decide that maybe they should check out a local scrapyard (Sicky tells them that the one that the characters were near earlier has werewolves in it; they call the mages and warn them off. Grimm espouses a theory that every scrapyard has some kind of supernatural creature running it, which is now canon in my Chronicles of Darkness). There's one nearby, though, outside of the city, pretty small - some of it got destroyed by Katrina. The Prometheans decide to go check it out. If they can find Red while he's hurt, maybe they can kill him.

Grimm, meanwhile, adopts Ferrum and the Soldier Role. He also forces himself a little further along on the Pilgrimage, and achieves the fermentatio milestone (use Vitriol to increase Pilgrimage). Enoch uses Vitriol to fix Mutatus Aspiratus and Sanctus Aspiratus, and Matt uses Vitriol to fix Externalize, which is where we'll pick up next time.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chill: Layin' Old Ghosts to Rest

Yesterday was the end of a Chill case (beginning was here).

The envoys have Darnell come down from Boise, and he brings Dylan (Edward's player was out, so we figured Edward was out in LA doing movie-stuff) along. Dylan is still recovering from his last mission - still a little injured, still a little delicate mentally. They arrive at Stewart's house, and Darnell checks out Jordan. She's badly dehydrated and sick, so he puts a saline bag up and tells her to rest. He checks out Stewart, too, but he's not as bad, so Darnell just tells him to stay hydrated.

The envoys talk a little about what to do, and in a couple hours Jordan is walking again. They think about heading out to the site that evening, but decide it's better if they have everyone (and Jordan isn't really 100%), so they choose to sleep on it and gear up in the morning. Dee dreams of riding in a car with Bryan, the mysterious hitchhiker. The car stops and he follows a light into the woods, and then falls into a crevasse. Dee hears a crack when he lands, and then realizes something else is there with her. It chases her and she falls near the road, scrabbling for a foothold, and then the creature backs off. Before she wakes up, Dee realizes that her hands smell like carrots.

The envoys wake up and realizes that Stewart has gone to work, which is good - at least he's feeling better. Darnell, however, is not well; he's contracted the strange disease. Jordan draws a line of defense around his bed and he starts to feel better, but that of course means he's stuck in the circle.

Dylan realizes that he was going to hit the books last night, but forgot and passed out instead. The envoys get some breakfast at the diner and then make some plans. Dylan does a little research and learns that Unknown-caused diseases tend to be fast and acute, but if you can get through the initial sickness they're usually not fatal. They are, however, sometimes contagious, and often the only way to stop the spread is destroy the creature that caused it. Some ghosts can cause contagion, as can some undead creatures, but without knowing what the envoys are up against they can't really make a plan.

Dee mentions that she woke up craving carrots and that they might be significant. Carrots don't grow wild around her, but Queen Anne's Lace, which is also called a wild carrot (and smells like just carrots) does. The envoys figure that their best bet is to get down into the crevasse and see what they see, so they hit Wal-Mart and buy a rope ladder, some garbage bags, some rope a tarp, and some lights.

They head out to the site and see a man flagging their car down - Bryan. They pick him up and start driving him back to town. They ask him questions, but he's pretty uninformative; Willa realizes that he probably doesn't quite know what's happening and is just recreating a particular scene. She uses Voice of the Dead to channel him, and he reveals that his full name is Bryan Gill. He was visiting his brother in Mountain View, NV and on the way home when he pulled over because he saw a light in the woods. He felt compelled to follow it, and then fell, and then nothing. He asks that the envoys tell his brother what happened to him, and then he fades away, leaving some ectoplasm behind.

They head back out to the site, make some garlands out of Queen Anne's Lace, and rig the rope ladder to go down. Willa starts descending, and activates Eyes of the Dead. Sure enough, she sees a figure in the bottom of the crevasse, but it isn't approaching her. The bottom of the crevasse is covered in white mushrooms, which makes the envoys nervous - what if the spores cause the illness? Willa hangs on the ladder a minute, but when she goes to descend again she forgets how her hands work and lands on her ass in the shrooms.

She looks around and finds Bryan's body, and calls to the others. Jordan descends as well, and touches Willa, using Disrupt, which gives her back her coordination. Unfortunately, Willa looks off in the distance and sees lights...and wants nothing more than to touch them. She starts walking slowly towards them, but Jordan notices, darts in front of her, and uses Line of Defense to block her path. Willa comes to and sees the figure out in the dark...hovering over another level to the crevasse. They decide to head back, put Bryan's body in the tarp, and rig it so Dylan and Dee can pull it up.

They start to do that (some minor Trauma from Bryan's decomposing body later), and get the body hauled up. And then it starts raining blood. Dylan, a bit freaked out but not terribly, puts up a Sphere of Protection, which blocks the rain from him and Dee.

Willa goes up the ladder to assist, but then Jordan sees the lights. She walks right off the edge and falls into a lower area, but isn't seriously hurt. The others move the ladder, and Willa sees the figure standing directly in front of Jordan, pulling back as if to strike her. Thinking quickly, Willa uses Voice of the Dead and summons the creature into her own body. Dylan draws a Line of Defense around Willa to keep it trapped, and Dee rigs the ladder so Jordan can climb up.

Willa can sense that this creature was once human - a Chinese woman - but that she's been dead for so long that most of her humanity has gone. Jordan looks around in the lower crevasse and finds a skull, a fragment of a spine, and part of a femur - the last remains of the woman. She bags them, and climbs up.

The envoys engage in a bit of pantomime and nonverbal communication with the ghost to try and figure out what she wants, but finally they figure that burying her in a cemetery might do it. She's been dead long enough that the specific tradition doesn't matter anymore, just the recognition would be enough. They load up the bodies (like, 1.2 bodies) into the car and call ahead to Stewart for help. He says he'll meet them with the Reverend at the church, but they'll need to explain it.

The Reverend tells them that they'll need to call the police about Bryan, but allows himself to be convince that the other body could just be buried in the older part of the cemetery. The envoys dig a grave for the bones, and mark it with a stone labeled with the Chinese character for "daughter" (Jordan figures she had to be somebody's daughter, so that's accurate). They see mushrooms sprout in seconds, and then die, and the Unknown presence fades.

The police reprimand them a little for hauling Bryan's body out (this is technically illegal), but they let it go, presumably because they saved the police the trouble. Bryan's brother is notified, and the envoys collect Darnell (now recovered) and head back to Boise.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Character Creation: Synthicide

It's early in the morning, but I can't start doing inventory yet and I gotta take Sephi to the vet and no one else is up, so.

The Game: Synthicide
The Publisher: Will Power Games
Degree of Familiarity: Enough. I ran a session last night in preparation to write a review.
Books Required: Just the one.

So! Synthicide is billed as sci-fi noir, and that's not a bad description. You're playing "sharpers," mercenaries or hired help trying to survive in a universe that really doesn't give a shit what you do, as long as you don't fuck with the Church or its Synthetics.

Oh, this is sad. There's a PC generator here, but there's no way to print the sheet it creates. Boo. Guess I'll have to do this analog.

OK, so, the book has a bunch of random tables that you can roll on to generate an origin story. I enjoy such things, so I'm gonna use 'em. First roll: Birthplace. I was born on a ship. I have no home planet. Sounds OK.

Next roll: Why did I become a sharper? Restlessness. Wanderlust. Search for meaning. I can get behind that.

Next, connection to other players: Sworn to secrecy. My character and other sharper share a terrible secret. I get to roll on the mystery table to determine what we're hiding. Sounds good to me! Visions - I get visions of a terrible future...maybe past? Anyway, I start with three doses of Illuminix, which is cool, because that's the drug you need to take if you have psychic powers and I was thinking that'd be fun.

Now I choose a Motivation (there's a list). These are very broad, and help determine how I can regain Resolve in play. I'll say my guy's motivation is Don't Get Mad, Get Even, because I feel like making a character who's a little harder around the edges today. He gets Resolve if he denies an opponent mercy or settles a debt.

Step Three, I select a bioclass, which is basically whether I have or could have any cyber. You don't actually start with any cyber either way (which is kinda weaksauce). I think if I want to have psychic powers, my brain has to be organic. Yep, I can't be a scraphead or a rigfiend. I think I'll be a hardshell - got some work done in the body, but the brain is all meat. That sets my Attributes totals, but I don't fill them in yet because they'll be modified by Aspect. I also start with either Cyber Eyes or Serbs Limbs; I think I'll go with the eyes. I get +1 Awareness. I get 2 cybernetic slots for my body, but those don't matter at chargen.

Next up, Aspect. I already know I want to be a Bulbhead. I get +2 Influence but -1 to another Attribute of my choice. Hmm. I think I'll take it to Toughness; my rigged body was done on the cheap and it's prone to shorting out at bad times. Now I can fill in my Attributes. My Influence and Awareness are both pretty good, but my Toughness and Combat are sucky, so I'll need to rely on my psychic powers, which, speaking of, I get two.

Ooh, these are pretty baller. I'll take Psychic Barrier (I need a way to prevent damage), and...hmm. Do I want a movement power, or do I want a way to do damage? I think given my motivates I should take the latter. I'll take Mind Burst (there's a slot to write these on the back of the sheet, but I don't care that much, so I'll just jot 'em in on the front).

Now I pick a Natural Talent, which is the closest this system gets to skills. There are really only two types, Influence (which, perhaps ironically, let me use my highest Attribute instead of Influence to lie to or otherwise persuade certain types of people or in certain situations) or Operate, which let me use a higher Attribute than Operation to perform certain tasks. Since Influence is one of my highest Attributes, I'll take an Operate one. Since I grew up on a ship, let's make it Operate Vehicles.

And then, an equipment package. I appreciate these; you can just pick one and get stuff you might need without shopping. I'll take the Gutter Psych package; that gives me a gun and a combat vest, but more importantly, it gives me Illuminix, which I need to be all psychic. That means I have 10 doses total.

And that's all the number stuff. Now for a little backstory. Stelo (means "star" in Esperanto) was born on a colony ship bound for...parts unknown (turns out they were bound of Cruxian, which is a planet that doesn't realize that space travel exists - they're kept forcibly ignorant by the Church). Stelo was taken off the ship by his mother during an incident (she never told him about it, but he has visions of explosions and monsters), and she became crew on another transport ship. Stelo grew up in space.

He fell in with a crew of sharpers when he was 14, and on his first mission got caught between two huge cargo crates and crushed. The buyer, who was moderately wealthy, felt bad and paid for some augmentation to keep Stelo alive, but not, like top of the line. Stelo stayed with the crew for a while, though, and then met up his current crew (which would be the PCs). He revealed his occasional visions to another sharper, and they realized they both had similar visions. Stelo is curious about what he's really seeing, but up till now he figured it was just Illuminix side effects. Stelo also took to heart he lesson of the buyer fixing his body - if you wrong someone or are responsible for someone getting hurt, you balance the scales. He's toying with the notion that the reason he's seeing these visions is because something is out of balance, but that hasn't really crystalized yet.

OK, I think that does it!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Movie #424: Home

Home is an animated comedy starring Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin, and Matt Jones. It didn't do fantastic at the box office, but it's got a special place in my heart.

Oh (Parsons) is a member of an alien race called the Boov. They are the self-described "best at running away," and move from planet to planet, fleeing their world-destroying enemies, the Gorg. They find Earth and use their superior, bubble-based technology to move the world's population to Australia, where they arrange everyone in circular neighborhoods with Ask-a-Boov kiosks in the middle (side note: it's never revealed if they arrange people in any particular way, and Boov don't have families the way people understand them, so it's a good thing they took the time to learn all these peoples' names so they can find missing folks!. Further side note: Their relocation always makes me think of this).

Anyway, Oh is kind of a fuckup - he's enthusiastic about being with other Boov (most Boov aren't), and he's hyper enthused about his race and their cowardly leader, Captain Smek (Martin). In his haste to have everyone over for a warming-of-house party, he inadvertently broadcasts the invite to the whole universe...including the Gorg. Now a fugitive, he runs into a young girl named Tip (Rihanna), hiding out in her apartment after the Boov's technology missed her. After some highly amusing initial disagreements ("Can I come into the out now?"), they team up to find Tip's mother (Lopez) and try and clear Oh's name.

This movie is based on a book and diverges wildly, but that's normal. I like Oh's linguistic foibles (what they do with gerunds is fascinating), and I like that one of the main characters is a girl and a POC. I don't know if she's from Barbados in the book, too, but that was also a nice touch - she's assimilating to a new culture, and in the process winds up teaching Oh that he can't just steamroll in and take everything.

I think the fact that the Boov are pretty clear analogs for well-meaning white people could be underlined a little more heavily, but hey, this ain't a Pixar movie and we're not in it for the message. Home is funny and touching at points, and the voice acting is good.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch value: High

Next up: Inglorious Basterds