[WGP] Tarnished

Started by Wordmaker, May 06, 2009, 12:42:04 PM

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Moving my thread on our new With Great Power... game here:

Background Pitch:
Everything changed the day Superman died. Metropolis is gone. Nothing remains but a crater and the surrounding ruins. The government calls it a memorial to humanity, a reminder that mankind cannot rely on people in masks and capes. The last attempt by Lex Luthor to defeat his old foe involved a Kryptonite-laden bomb, with two primers, one lowering into the other. The Man of Steel tried to hold them apart, unable to reach the control panel which could have stopped the device. Eventually his strength gave way and the bomb detonated. No-one survived to tell of how he was watched by frightened people, none of whom answered his pleas for help.

Maxwell Lord moved quickly to pin the blame on superhumans and anyone else in a mask or cape. Over time, heroes dwindled, as they were recruited into government agencies, killed in action, arrested, or simply retired. The loss of Superman started society's steady fall as people stopped believing in heroes, that one person could stand for something greater than himself.

Years later, there was only Batman left, keeping a lonely vigil over the city of Gotham. He was struck by a stray bullet, stopping a mugger from killing a husband and wife in front of their young son. The wound was mortal, and he died there in the alleyway. Perhaps if Jim Gordon was still alive, the police wouldn't have revealed his identity to the world, but as it was, the Dark Knight was finally unmasked. The last great hero was revealed to be nothing more than a man. The dream was over. There were no more heroes. Just men who could be broken, bought, or killed.

The funeral of Bruce Wayne was lavish, but cold. Media hype was turned against him and those like him as people lost the last of their faith.

Shortly afterwards, the Joker broke out of Arkham one last time. Witnesses reported that the Joker laid flowers on Bruce Wayne's grave, before taking a gun from his pocket. His last words were said to be "I always thought I wanted the last laugh. But in the end, it turned out the joke just wasn't that funny."

Now it is ten years later.

The Age of Heroes has passed, and the world is poorer for it. Crime, corruption, and war threaten to rip apart the last shreds of society's soul.

Now, a small few have decided that enough is enough, and it is time for old heroes to bring their legend back to life, and for new heroes to forge their own.


On Saturday we had James and Maegan over to make characters for With Great Power. We also had home-made shortbread and mini calzones. Yum.

We chatted a lot about the system and the ideas for the setting. Despite Aonghus not being able to make it I also gave a quick summary of his character. After commenting that the game would work very well with sometimes rotating GMs and players being in one story arc but not the next, I went and made a character too, figuring I'd like to get a chance to play at some point.

So we have the following heroes:

Lady Hood/Olivia Queen
. The daughter of Green Arrow and Black Canary. Her parents refused to retire when the government and popular opinion turned against heroes, and were killed by a Checkmate team led by Huntress, who had joined the organisation.

The Bandit of Gotham - Power Asset, Personal Scale. Lady Hood has inherited her mother's talent for martial arts, and her father's abilities as a marksman.
"My Father's Bow." - Origin Asset, Personal Scale. After her parents' funeral, Olivia took her father's bow and began training herself in its use.
Millionaire Philantropist - Identity Asset, National Scale. Olivia inherited her father's fortune, which she uses to help fight poverty and promote urban renewal.
"I Will Make My Parents Proud" - Duty Motivation, Personal Scale. Olivia is determined to carry on her parents' legacy as a hero in her own right.
Freedom is Every Man's Right - Conviction Motivation. Like her father, Olivia has quite liberal political views which are at odds with the current authorities.
Barbara Gordon - Friend Relationship, Personal Scale. Barbara Gordon withdrew from her activities as Oracle after the death of Green Arrow and Black Canary, a move which alienated her from Batman. Barbara took Olivia in and raised her as her own.

The Elementalist/Lord Baron Rockford
. A treasure-hunter and inheritor of a large fortune and title from his father. His father was an avid hunter, which Baron detested, putting him at odds with his family.

Elemental Totems - Power Asset, Municipal Scale. Baron possesses 3 elemental totems giving him control over Earth, Air and Water. The power of these totems can only be given up voluntarily, or upon the bearer's death. He has come to Gotham to find the Totem of Fire.
Family Heirloom - Origin Asset, Personal Scale. The first totem that Baron received was the Totem of Earth, a family heirloom which he inherited.
Last Member of the Rockford Family - Identity Asset, Global Scale. Baron is the last living member of his family, an old line of European nobility.
People Are All Basically Good - Conviction Motivation. Baron's over-riding belief is that there is good in everyone, it just needs to be given a chance to show.
Manservant (not yet named) - Partner Relationship, Personal Scale. Baron travels everywhere with his faithful manservant.

Kallisto/Kali Fox.
Kallisto is a Muse. Specifically, she is the Muse of Rock and Roll. Born along with rock music, she inspites social upheaval and freedom through music.

The Power of Rock! - Power Asset, Municipal Scale. As a Muse, Kallisto has enhanced strength and agility. She can also generate sounds of varying frequencies which can influence emotion, dampen noise, or break down walls.
The Tenth Muse - Origin Asset, Global Scale. When rock and roll was born, so too was Kallisto. For decades she has been the embodiment of artistic rebellion for the modern age.
Rock Star and Talent Agent - Identity Asset, Global Scale. In her persona as Kali Fox, Kallisto poses as a rock star to spread her rebellious influence, with an accompanying career discovering and inspiring new talent.
"We Will Rebuild This City on Rock and Roll" - Duty Motivation, Municipal Scale. Seeing Gotham as the most opressed city in America, Kallisto has decided it will be the next subject for her influences. Gotham will be freed, by her direct action, or by the inspiration she will bring to others.
Never Sell Out - Conviction Motivation. As an embodiment of rock and roll, Kallisto is dedicated to maintaining her artistic and idealistic integrity, rather than doing something for money or flattery.
Apollo - Family Relationship, Cosmic Scale. Being a Muse can lead to all manner of strange "family matters..."
Groupies - Friend Relationship, Municipal Scale. Kali Fox is one of the most popular artists today. Now that she has moved to Gotham, she is frequently surrounded by adoring fans.

Templar/Ben Grant.
The young boy whose life, and those of his parents, were saved by Batman on the night he died.

Secrets of the Bat Cave - Power Asset, Personal Scale. When Wayne Manor was destroyed in a fire shortly after Batman's death, many believed that the Bat Cave was also destroyed. Years later, Ben has now found the Bat Cave and uses the equipment there to improve his fighting and deductive skills.
Last Person Saved by Batman - Origin Asset, Municipal Scale. Unlike most people, who were disillusioned to learn that Batman was, in fact, just a man, Ben realised the power one man could have if he allowed himself to become something more than a man. He is somewhat famous within Gotham for being the last person Batman saved, but dislikes the attention.
Scholarship Student - Identity Asset, Personal Scale. Ben is on a scholarship program at Gotham University. Naturally this causes problems as he tried to juggle his course work with protecting the streets at night.
Honour the Legacy of Batman - Duty Motivation, Municipal Scale. Batman gave his life to save Ben, someone he didn't even know. Ben believes such a man does not deserve to have the city he protected simply disregard him, and that people should continue his fight for him.
"Gotham Needs a Dark Knight" - Conviction Motivation. The loss of heroes did not make the world a better place. Gotham needs something, someone, to believe in again.
District Attorney Patrick Grant - Family Relationship, Municipal Scale. Ben's father is Gotham's district attorney, a man who believes in the rule of law and its use for the betterment of society. Ben knows his father would not approve of him being a vigilante, but hopes that he can become an ally of Templar.
Erica Sanders - Romance Relationship, Personal Scale. A fellow student, Erica helped Ben explore the caves underneath the Wayne estate and locate the Bat Cave. She is the only one who knows what he's doing, and though Ben has a crush on her, he hasn't worked up the courage to do anything about it.

*There were a fair few details about Kallisto's powers which weren't clarified, but I figured this might make a good suggestion. It could all change, though, depending on Maegan's preferences and final decision.

Aonghus, another player, couldn't make it but wants to play the only surviving witness to what happened to Superman. The blast caused him to absorb Superman's powers because of a combination of kryptonite radiation and how close he was. He knows the truth, that Superman survived the blast but has turned his back on protecting humanity because no-one would help him when it was his turn to be saved. His hang-up is that he feels responsible for the loss of Superman, and wants to make amends.

We'll be introducing his character in the second session.


After our Deadlands game tonight, Aonghus got his WGP character made.

The last witness to the destruction of Metropolis, the person who coud have saved Superman, but instead was too afraid, and in the blast, and gained Superman's powers.

Scion of Superman (Origin Asset, Personal Scale) - Scion was there when Lex Luthor's bomb destroyed Metropolis. The radiation gave him Superman's powers, and in the wake of the explosion, he had to face Superman's anger and resentment that no-one would help him, before the Man of Steel flew away, leaving humanity behind.
Adopted Son of Krypton (Power Asset, Municipal Scale) - Scion has all of Superman's powers and weaknesses as a result of the explosion.
Cab Driver (Identity Asset, Personal Scale) - Scion works day to day as a Gotham City cab driver.
Redeem Superman's Faith (Duty Motivation, Global Scale) - The world needs Superman, and if Scion had acted faster, been braver, it would not have lost him. He feels it is his duty to make the Man of Steel realise that the world needs and deserves him.
"People can't save themelves" (Conviction Motivation) - Although people want to be better, do better, they need something to follow. They need something, someone to believe in, to inspire them and protect them from the things they can't fight.
Overprotective Mother (Family Relationship, Personal Scale) - Scion lives with his mother, who feared she'd lost him in that awful disaster in Metropolis. She won't risk losing her only son again.
Co-Worker (Friend Relationship, Personal Scale) - One of Scion's friends at the cab company who covers his shifts whenever he has to disappear unexpectedly. He does not know Scion's secret, and things he's got a woman he doesn't want his mother finding out about.


Hey, I was wondering two things:

1.  It's interesting that you decided to set your game as connected to published comic-book characters and settings.  Was this decision made deliberately, and if so, by whom?  (I ran a "Justice League of America" game 6-7 months ago at a mini-con, and the decision to do so was partially because of immediate familiarity with the characters, but also because somehow playing with the "real" toys seemed to make everything just a little more bad-ass.  I actually really liked this approach, and would kind of like to try it again and compare it to using a homebrew.)

2.  Have you guys gotten around to playing the game yet, beyond character generation?  (As written, With Great Power requires explicit stakes and counter-stakes in conflicts, and I'm wondering what would happen if you didn't bother with explicit stakes-setting and just did some sort of narration-swapping instead, sort of like Trollbabe.  In my experience, devising explicit stakes and counter-stakes, and then honing them down, takes a good 3-5 minutes especially in a multi-player conflict scene, and that kind of interrupts the flow.)


It was my decision. I made the pitch to some people who were interested in trying out the game, and most of them jumped at it. I've wanted to run a game in a setting like this for a good while, one where I could bring in a strong focus on themes like the need for heroes and what they actually represent.

We had our first session yesterday and I'll be posting a report later. Getting to grips with stakes, and the mechanics for Conflict scenes, did slow things down a bit, but I think it's all just practice.

Also, our 5th player, Philip, got his character made before our session on Saturday:

Green Lantern/Desmond Doyle - A Gotham University professor who has a Green Lantern power ring and believes the world needs its heroes back, but lacks the confidence and will to become a hero himself.

Origin Asset: "My brother un-masked Batman."

Powers Asset: From the Ashes - He has a powerful artefact recovered from the ruins of Wayne Manor

Identity Asset: Bestselling Author of "Bruce Wayne & Batman - The Man or the Mask?"

Conviction Motivation: The World needs Heroes

Duty Motivation: Rebuild the Justice League

Family Relationship: His brother is the head of the GCPD Homicide Unit, and the former beat cop who unmasked batman

Friend Relationship: One of his colleagues, the Professor of Metahuman Biology

Romance Relationship: He has a massive crush on one of his grad students, but nothing has ever happened.

Philip actually went and came up with sample lecture slides for his character's lectures, with titles like "From Gilgamesh to the Man of Steel," and "Batman - Too far or not far enough?"

Lance D. Allen

Your opening pitch was quite evocative. I'd like to play in that setting my ownself.
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls


On Saturday afternoon we played our first session of With Great Power. Maegan couldn't make it so we went ahead with Jen, Aonghus, Philip and James.

The first story arc, called "Tarnished," kicked off with some laughs but a bit of stumbling over the differences between this and regular games.

The Struggle was "Freedom vs Security" and the Strfe Aspects were as follows:

Lady Hood/Olivia Queen: "I'll Make My Parents Proud"
Scion/Calvin Clarke: Scion of Superman
The Elementalist/Lord Baron Rockford (Baron is his given name): Family Heirloom
Green Lantern/Professor Dominic Doyle: The World Needs Heroes
Kallisto/Kali Fox (who'll be introduced next Issue): "We will rebuild this city on rock and roll"

James decided before we started that The Elementalist's Conviction Motivation should change from "People are basically good" to "Everything's going to be okay in the end" to show a certain innocence in the character's outlook.

I played some music to set the scene and opened up the floor to see who wanted to take the first Enrichment Scene. In retrospect, dropping all of my players in the deep end like that was a mistake. Jen especially felt a bit overwhelmed, because I hadn't actually sat down with her to tell her the rules or how the systems for the two kinds of scenes worked.

Scene 1: Philip went first, with Professor Doyle giving his first lecture in his course "From Gilgamesh to Superman." I took the opportunity to throw in a cameo from my own character, Ben Grant, who we all agreed should be a student of Professor Doyle, and who piped up with a question about whether or not Professor Doyle actually managed to find the Bat Cave (it had been agreed that, as heroes were eing taken out in the years since Superman's death, Batman would have gathered their equipment and hidden it for safety, and a failsafe system designed to sink the cave and destroy Wayne Manor made a lot of sense, so no-one has actually found the cave yet).

Philip decided that his stakes would be to see if his students bought into his argument that society had suffered since losing its heroess, or the administration would reprimand him for pushing a biased personal agenda. We each played identical value cards, so we raised the stakes to the professor either receiving a standinf ovation for his speach, or many students walking out of his class. He won the stakes and the heroes were off to a strong start.

Scene 2: Aonghus went next, describing a flashback to the destruction of Metropolis and his gaining of Superman's powers. It was nice and tense, with Superman staring him down after the blast, just as confused as Calvin. The stakes were that Superman would either have some grudging respect for Calvin and understand why he was too afraid to help save Superman and the city, or would leave, warning him that he'd be best not to bother using his new powers to help people, as it wasn't worth it. Aonghus threw down a low card and failed, before describing his character waking up in a cold sweat.

Scene 3: James chose a scene in England, where his character (proving to be somewhat eccentric) telling his manservant Crimmins that he'd located the Talisman of Fire, one of several magical talismans offering power over the elements. Unfortunately it was at an invitation-only charity auction in Gotham. The stakes were that Baron would be able to get an invite. He won, and Aonghus (who we roped into playing the much-suffering Crimmins) announced to Baron that he'd managed to find an invite on E-Bay.

Scene 4: Taking suggestion from the others, Jen opted for her first scene to be at the charity auction James had mentioned. With some more suggestions, it was decided that Olivia Queen was a patron of the Gotham Museum of Metahuman Studies, where the auction was being held, and was acting as MC for the auction. Also in attendance where Baron and Dominic. Calvin was unfortunate enough to be the cab driver taking Baron to the auction.

The stakes here surrounded Dominic's brother Robert, Captain of the Gotham City Police Homicide Division. He was drinking heavily, a sudden development of him being an alcoholic came about as a result, and Jen's stakes were to get information from him on crime hotspots, without arousing his suspicions. She failed, and Captain Doyle remembered the last time a Gotham City millionaire became interested in crime.

The stakes of Dominic and Baron in this scene resulted in Captain Doyle starting to cause a scene, railing about his brother's pro-cape attitudes, but Baron managed to distract the situation and Robert Doyle was escorted from the auction,

Scene 5: This was my first scene. I took us back to an earlier series of events at the ruins of Gotham where Maxwell Lord primed his Mind Control powers while visiting a research team excavating the ruins. One of them had found a completely undamaged pair of glasses, and had picked up a lot of Kryptonian energy readings, more than one Kryptonian could have produced, especially taking into account the time since the disaster. Lord used his powers to make the researcher forget what he'd found, and believe that his equipment was faulty. He then left in a helicopter to go to the charity auction in Gotham.

Scene 6: Calvin picked up Captain Doyle as a fare and took him home. While Doyle ranted about superheroes and his brother, Calvin failed his stakes and Doyle overhead his sarcastic comment about how things had "turned out great" since Batman was killed.

Scene 7: The Elementalist had a brief scene to win the auction for the Talisman of Fire. He failed his stakes to do so without drawing too much attention, and made a huge bid for the item. He found out, however, that someone had already bonded with the talisman, making it useless to him.

Scene 8: No-one else had any ideas for a scene so we went back to me and I declared a Conflict. I had Inferno, future nemesis of The Elementalist, show up.

Inferno - Nemesis of The Elementalist. African-American, black-market dealer in antiquities. He possesses the Talisman of Fire
Scale: Personal
Obsession: "Business is business. A deal's a deal. So long as I get my share."
Talisman of Fire - Inferno has bonded with the Talisman of Fire and can use it to create and manipulate fire and heat. (Power Asset, Municipal Scale)
Black Market Contacts - Thieves, fences, and smugglers who can provide Inferno with equipment, information, and lackeys. (Minion Asset, Personal Scale)

Inferno blew open a hole in the ceiling and flew in along with a large gang of men in black combat fatiugues and armed with submachine guns. His stakes against Baron were that he'd take the talisman (Inferno had already bonded with it, but hadn't had a chance to steal it). Baron's stakes were that he'd get to see Inferno's face. They fought briefly, with Baron using his wind powers to try and stealthily defend himself. He eventually brought down a piece of ceiling over them both using his earth powers, knocking off Inferno's mask.

Calvin showed up in his temporary hero guise of Jumping Jack Flash, a speedster, to fight off the mooks. Lady Hood tried and failed to stop Barbara Gordon from being hurt in the fight, and Dominic successfully managed to have himself taken hostage instead of hid grad-student crush. Jen was the only one who failed her stakes in the Conflict, and added a card to the Story Arc track.

This scene was the most troublesom, I found. Again the fact I hadn't made the rules clear to everyone hampered things and caused a lot of delays. Having to work out so many stakes and get our heads around the fact that in-game events weren't necessarily happening in the order we played them out was a bit of a challenge.

Scene 9: A quick enrichment scene where Jumping Jack Flash rescued Dominic from Inferno's fleeing thugs.

Scene 10: Baron got a taxi to his hotel with Crimmins. He set up stakes that he would believe that everyone back at the auction would be okay. My stakes were that he would believe that the fight over the talisman was actually his fault, and that he would have to take responsibility for things like this in the future. He failed.

Scene 11: Another brief scene where Dominic went into the metahuman museum and took out the Green Lantern ring he had. He found a Green Lantern Power Battery as part of the museum's exhibits and charged it up, setting his stakes that he'd have the willpower to fully control the ring. He passed.

Scene 12: Back to Jen for this one, and she set up a scene with Olivia in the hospital with Barbara, apologising for not being able to protect her. As Jen hadn't increased the suffering of her Barbara Gordon aspect, Barbara didn't blame her. The stakes for this where that Olivia would realise she needs to step up her game and possibly find that maksed man (Jumping Jack Flash) who'd shown up at the auction, to see if they could work together, or that someone would overhear the conversation. Olivia succeeded.

Scene 13: Everyone had done everything they could think of for the time being, and it was starting to get late. I took the opportunity to set an enrichment scene in Checkmate Headquarters, where Amanda Waller brought a file on the events at the auction to Huntress. Upon seeing the photographs, Huntress remembered the night she killed Black Canary as part of a Checkmate mission to bring down rogue superheroes. She shot Black Canary in the back with her crossbow, and the Checkmate Pawns killed Green Arrow while this distracted him. My stakes for her were that she realised that Lady Hood was probably their daughter, and would say that to Waller, or would realise she was their daughter, and take charge herself to secretly warn her to get out of the business. I failed, and closed the scene with Huntress opening a cabinet with her old costume inside, priming her "Traitor to the Mask" aspect.

Scene 14: To wrap things up for this session, I had a scene in a secret laboratory where Maxwell Lord watched as a crygenic chamber makred "Unit 99" was opened. A figure in a purple costume with a red cape stepped out, called Ultraman. He handed Ultraman the glasses found at Metropolis, asking him if they looked familiar. I Primed Ultraman's "Clone of Superman" aspect, and set stakes for Ultraman to either obey Maxwell Lord completely, or go along with things for now, secretly resenting being used only as a weapon against superhumans. I closed with a final panel, a close-up of Ultraman's face, a perfect mirror of Superman's, as he snarled and crushed the glasses in his hands.

To be continued...

It was a fun session and we had lots of laughs. I think I could have done with taking the time to make sure everyone was up to speed on the rules, because you really can get confused if you try and trudge through them in-play for the first time. Jen particularly had trouble here because I'd been so used to explaining and discussing the rules with the other players, I overlooked the fact I hadn't gone through them with her except in the most general sense of "it uses cards instead of dice."


The second session of With Great Power kicked off well. We did start a bit late, but we were happy to play late so we got to take a lot more time with the scenes.

We've sort of hit upon an idea to have at least a flavour scene with Dominic giving one of his lectures at the start of each issue.

Our first scene involved Dominic, after a lecture, interviewing Jumping Jack Flash to try and find out why this new hero had shown up and who he was. Unfortunately Dominic faied his stakes, and his brother Robert, initially calling over to apologise for his behaviour at the previous night's auction, walked in on them both and tried to arrest Jack!

Moving quickly on to Jack's scene, Jack/Calvin failed his stakes and Robert ended up opening fire on him as he sped out through the office window. Robert is quickly becoming an antagonist to the whole group, so we're just waiting for the time when he becomes a supervillain in his own right. :-)

Next up was a scene where Baron (along with poor Crivins) visitied Olivia Queen, who, it was established, hadn't slept since the attack on the auction. Baron wanted to offer his sympathies for the damage caused (admiting no responsibility, of course), and also asking if she could get him information on the history of sale of the totem he's purchased. Olivia made some calls and found out that the totem had been donated by an individual who had purchased it off a Frenchman, a Philippe Rockford... It seemed that Baron's family had more involvement in these items than he realised.

That night, Lady Hood went to investigate the scene of battle at the museum. Putting her Bandit of Gotham Aspect to Risked, she was described as being worn out from staying up all night trying to find out who was behind the attack. She found soil samples, but was discovered by uniformed police officers protecting the crime scene. Under Jen's suggestion, we decided that apart from her flashlight and those of the cops, it was pitch black inside, so she turned hers off and, in a display of uncanny accuracy, flicked two small pieces of rubble at the cops, destroying the bulbs in their flashlights. She then knocked them off their feet and used a grappling-arrow to escape into the night. She gave the soil sample to Barbara, who had checked herself out of hospital and was taking up her old Oracle duties to help Olivia.

Meanwhile, in a board room of one of the many companies owned by Maxwell Lord (I established that Waynetech Enterprises had been mostly liquidated and bought up by Lord, and he owned controlling shares in Lexcorp, in addition to his own media empire), Huntress came to see Lord. They argued briefly over his failure to keep the metahuman and vigilante problem in Gotham controlled, and Huntress insisted that Checkmate be given control of Ultraman. Lord lied and told her Ultraman would be deployed under her command at dawn.

Dominic then had a very brief scene to see if he had the self-confidence to become the new Green Lantern, or use the guise of a new hero. He failed his stakes, and settled for an identity as the Green Knight, including a few panels of him creating a suit of glowing armour and a sword.

Jack/Calvin/Scion's scene was next, and his cab was commandeered by bank robbers. The robbers had him drive them to a late-night bank (where, naturally, Calvin's mother was opening a new account - which included a free toaster), and left him in the car with one of them. Calvin smashed the robber's face into the dashboard, trying to disable him, but he failed his stakes and seriously wounded the man. Panicing, he changed into his Jumping Jack Flash costume and rushed the robber to hospital.

In Baron's scene, he decided he should go out and "fight crimes!" He did see sense, and decided not to bring his completely un-powered servant Crivins with him.

Next up was Lady Hood, who was on her way to a warehouse where Barcara had traced the soil sample. She was interrupted by her police-band feed. A bank robbery had gone badly when the robber's getaway plan had been foiled, and now several people were being held hostage while one robber claimed to have explosives strapped to himself. Most of the group arived in-costume for this, except for Dominic who showed up with several of his students to do "field research" since situations like this were prime hero-spotting environments. Cops and media had already showed up in force.

Lady Hood was briefly surprised by Jumping Jack Flash, but they agreed to work together and she swung in through a window to disable the robber with the bomb, while Jack jumped across into the building and took down the man watching the hostages, armed with a submachine gun.

The Elementalist showed up to help an trapped the bomber's hands in rock to stop him setting off the charges, but caused structural damage to the bank in doing so.

Then we got into my next scene, and a major Conflict. Ultraman ripped the top flew floors off the bank and tossed them to the street, opening the level up to the night air. With him was Inferno, indicating that the fire-using villain was more involved in events than previously believed. Working ourselves towards a particular series of events, Aonghus and I agreed that Ultraman would pick up Jack and throw him into a fuel tanker down in the street, before blowing it up with his heat-vision, enveloping Jack and the street in flame.

Inferno fought the Elementalist. The Elementalist's stakes were that he would not be blamed for the damage to the bank, while Inferno wanted to see Elementalist's face. Inferno provided unable to defeat his opponent, and Elementalist managed to use damaged water mains to douse Inferno, nullifying his powers and sending him falling to the street, where he was quickly arrested.

Lady Hood's stakes were that none of the hostages would be hurt in the fight. If Ultraman won, Lady Hood would leave the scene with him. Lady Hood was fast, and able to dodge Ultraman's savage punches, but he became enraged and used his super-breath to blow her, and several hostages, off of the building. Lady Hood was able to grab onto a number of handholds and break her fall, but many hostages were badly injured.

Aonghus' stakes were that if he won, Ultraman (being a comic-book clone with all of Superman's memories) would see the amount of collateral damage he was causing and stop fighting in shame. My stakes were that Jack, not Ultraman, would be blamed for the damage and injuries. Ultraman looked down and saw a figure rising from the flaming wreckage. Jack's costume was burned to pieces, but he seemed otherwise unharmed. Ultraman snarled, and flew at Jack, aiming a devestating punch. Aonghus threw down an identical card value and suit to mine, so Jack caught the punch and said "Not today." Ultraman then started pounding on Jack, and grabbed him by the throat saying "I'm Superman! I'm stronger than you."

Aonghus and I agreed that Calvin could still win the fight, even if his stakes were lost, so Aonghus yielded and we let him have narrative control. Calvin grabbed Ultraman's arms and fored him back. He said "I've met Superman, and you're not him" before punching him with such force that he was thrown through the air and through several buildings before vanishing from sight. Calvin floated up as the police advanced, one cop asking "Who are you?" Calvin replied with "I'm one of the good guys" before flying into the night sky. A very cool heroic reveal, but we all knew that while the reader would be rooting for Calvin here, the general opinion of the populace would be that he was responsible for all of this damage.

Lady Hood, meanwhile, though hurt and tired from the fight, went off to track Ultraman to his hideout.

We wrapped with a couple of Enrichment Scenes, including Crivins telling Baron to "Man up, sir. Grow a pair" and start acting like a real hero, not someone who'll give up as soon as things get tough. Calvin, now taking on his Scion persona, took a replica Superman costume from the Museum of Metahuman History, and burned out the S-symbol, leaving it with Dominic "for when he had earned it."

Although strictly speaking, Lady Hood's next proper scene has to involve her being where Ultraman is, we took liberty with the rules for one last flavour scene for this issue.

We started with a panel of a figure in a red cape in the sky, watching over Gotham. Then we went to a text-box narration from Dominic as he stood on a rooftop above Crime Alley (probably wearing a trenchcoat):

"Crime Alley. This is the place Batman was born. It is the place he died. This is where the first superherowas forged. It is where it all began, and where it all ended. Now it is where something new begins."

The Elementalist swooped down with a flurry of whipping winds and dust, having contacted Dominic and made arrangements to get the group together. Dominic already had met with Scion, and he knew of an old frequency once used by Oracle, and used it to get in touch with her and Lady Hood.

Lady Hood swung down onto the roof, nodding to her new allies. Finally, Scion flew slowly down to the roof in his latered costume. Wordlessly, the heroes united to protect Gotham, and bring about a new age of heroes.


Another rocking session. We were short a player, James, but decided to press on.

Picking up from last session, we started with Lady Hood tracking down Ultraman to a warehouse where he met with Huntress and a force of Checkmate Pawns. Unfortunately while she was listening in on their conversation, Lady Hood failed her stakes and was spotted by a guard and brought inside.

Scion's first scene was in a bar where a news report from Valerie Vaughn (we decided the game needed a stock reporter character), stating that a person looking just like Superman had been seen trying to stop a bank robbery, and a different superhuman caused hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of damage and a large number of injuries. Scion was being blamed for the damage caused by Ultraman. While Scion was talking to the bartender about how things could've been worse, and discussing whether all of this was Superman's fault for not being able to save Metropolis, two toughs decided to pick a fight with Calvin, one of whom had lost a brother in the destruction of Metropolis.

They dragged Calvin out the back, where he proceeded to play along and take the punches and kicks until finally subduing the first thug quickly and scaring off the second. Calvin was learning to pull back his strength.

Meanwhile, Dominic had gone to the Gotham University observatory and was using the telescope to try and locate the Justice League's Watchtower in orbit. He did find it, but his stakes where either that he'd find it fully functional and powered-up, or he'd get caught by the dean and the station would have fallen into disrepair and had no power at all. He failed his stakes, and was quickly marched out of the observatory by the dean.

For my scene I decided to kick things up a notch. Inferno was brought into a cell at police headquarters, still apparently unconscious and strapped to a guerney. I described him smirking and opening an eye, then went to a flashback where he met with Maxwell Lord in a meeting room at one of his offices. He and Lord were discussing a deal whereby Inferno would work for Lord. Lord used his mind control powers on Inferno and instructed him to allow himself to be arrested, to let these new heroes beat him. Then, when the time was right, he was to "Give them everything you have..."

My stakes were that Inferno would survive. I failed.

Inferno's body became shrouded with flame as his bindings were incinerated. Two cops ran but were hit by gouts of flame from the villain. The fire spread, and I cut to a panel outside the building as Gotham Police Headquarters was engulfed in flame.

Lady Hood's scene was next. Jen agreed to stakes that, if she won, would allow her to learn that Maxwell Lord was behind all of this, and escape. If she failed, she would escape, but be tagged by a tracking device. She failed her stakes, and after some verbal sparring with Huntress, revealing that she knew she was responsible for her parents' death, fought her way through the Checkmate Pawns to retrieve her weapons and escape through a skylight.

Aonghus invited Phil into his scene, so that Calvin and Dominic could do something about the fire at police HQ. Scion's stakes were to get as many people as he could out of the burning building, but ensure that any prisoners he rescued stayed in police custody. He failed, and so all of the surviving prisoners managed to flee into the streets. Dominic rode to the scene in his Green Knight persona, and got into the cafeteria where his own brother was trapped beneath burning rubble. His stakes were that he would be able to save his brother and the other cops there without resorting to using the Power Ring's full abilities. He failed, and the building came down around him, just as Scion went back inside and saw the Commissioner. They locked eyes, and Scion knew even he wouldn't be fast enough to save him.

As the dawn came, rubble was cleared and a glowing green force field was found. Inside were almost a dozen cops, including Robert Doyle. Dominic, thinking that only a true Green Lantern could save them, had created the field with his power ring. The ring, responding to his will, had turned his costume into the uniform of a Green Lantern.

Scion then pulled himself from under a slab of concrete, carrying the Commissioner's body. He handed him over to a paramedic and left, insisting that he should have been able to save them all.

Phil's next scene was Dominic visiting his brother in hospital. Robert was pretty badly injured, and complaining that the doctors wouldn't let him smoke or drink. Dominic passed his stakes to convince Robert to stay in bed and not try to help out with reorganising the police force. Phil put his "Robert Doyle" aspect to Threatened. We've been pushing for this character to become more and more antagonistic, and by now he was directly blaming these new heroes for the destruction of police HQ.

I called for a Conflict scene here. The heroes gathered at the ruins of police HQ, Scion and Lady Hood in costume, Dominic in his civvies, to exchange information. Lady Hood told the others what she'd learned, but then a force of Checkmate agents showed up in helicopters.

Checkmate Pawns quickly apprehended Dominic while Huntress fought Lady Hood. The battle was being broadcast on the news and Phil pushed his Robert Doyle aspect to Imperiled as he watched on TV. In losing his stakes, Phil lost the aspect to me when I Devestated it.

My stakes for this fight were that Huntress would soundly defeat Lady Hood one on one. Jen's stakes were that Lady Hood would get knocked out, but Huntress would realise she could never beat her. The pair fought with Lady Hood having an upper hand until a decisive blow where she grabbed Huntress from a backflip and brought her back down on her knee. As Huntress tried to pick herself up, a Pawn cold-clocked Hood from behind with the butt of his rifle.

Ultraman and Scion fought, with Scion quickly seeing that fighting an opponent like Ultraman could result in more damage to the city. He grabbed his opponent and flew up into the sky, but Ultraman reversed the hold and ended up flinging Scion through the sky and out of sight.

In her next scene, Lady Hood again managed to prove that Checkmate just can't hold onto anybody by escaping from the helicopter she was being taken away in.

Scion's next scene saw him returning to the bar, The Rusty Seashell, down by the docks. Jen suggested that this bar should be owned by a retired superhero. Given that the bar was by the docks, I settled on Aquaman, and noted that he had long blonde hair in a ponytail, scruffy stubble, and a glove over an obviously prosthetic hand. He introduced himself as Arthur.

Phil's last scene of the game had Dominic being interrogated by Maxwell Lord in a downtown prison cell commandeered by Huntress. Winning his stakes, he managed to blag his way out of custody and increased the Suffering on The Plan. As he was being led out, he overheard Lord and Huntress talking about their efforts to take down these new heroes, and how Lord had a plan to bring them all down for good.

We finished with my scene, in which I described the televised inauguration of a new police commissioner, Robert Doyle! My stakes were that Maxwell Lord would give a speech on TV and sway the people of Gotham to side with him in favour of the legitimate authorities and against these superhuman vigilantes. I failed, and so people all over the city started doubting that Maxwell Lord really had their best interests at heart. After all, these people were just trying to help, right? I ended with Robert Doyle returning home to find Maxwell Lord in his apartment, there to make an offer to help Commissioner Doyle bring these criminals to justice.

The game is going strong. The players are really getting into the meat of what can be decided with stakes, and we have our first Devestated aspect. It's not a Strife Aspect, but it's an unexpected turn of events. We came to a mutual decision to Devestate Robert Doyle and see where that took us. I don't believe this would have happened in quite the same way if this were a traditional roleplaying game, and we certainly wouldn't all have been rooting for it like this.

I think the next session will probably wrap up this story arc, now that we're on stage 5 of the arc. The Plan is two steps away from being Devestated, and I may be able to Devestate one of the other Aspects if I'm smart about it. I doubt I'll manage more than that, though. It's shaping up to be a victory for the heroes, the only question is what they'll lose in the process.


We got our first With Great Power story arc finished on Saturday. It was good to see it through, and the climax was quite satisfying, and there's definitely a desire to see what else we can do with the game.

We had a few enrichment scenes t start as usual. Crivvins was kidnapped by Checkmate agents who had shown up to steal the elemental totems. They managed to make off with the fire totem.

Scion had a scene with Arthur Curry, driving him home from his bar. They passed Valeris Vaughn being mugged and Scion intervened, but both Arthur and Valerie got to see that he was superhuman, when he was stabbed in the back but wasn't hurt. Scion retrieved Valerie's handbag.

Green Lantern got the Watchtower back online, using his power ring to jumpstart the generators, and began getting the various systems working again.

Olivia had a meeting with Maxwell Lord to discuss the construction of a new police HQ. Lord wanted to level a group of tenements near Crime Alley, which Olivia knew was home to hundreds of squatters. She didn't manage to convince Lord to make sure the squatters were re-homed, and in fact the stakes became raised to the point that Lord decided to destroy the buildings with the squatters still inside!

In my scene I described Maxwell Lord and Huntress watching on CCTV as the escaped prisoners from the previous issue were equipped with automatic weapons, high-powered portable artillery, and explosives. Lord managed to convince the new Commissioner, Robert Doyle, to delay police response to any major disturbances for the next 24 hours. The plan was to let the prisoners cause chaos and mayhem, then have Checkmate and Ultraman quell the situation and declare martial law. Lord realised that people wanted to see heroes, so he'd decided that people would be given heroes chosen by him and Checkmate.

We had some scenes then of the group coming together, and Lady Hood swinging in as protesters nearly came to blows with wrecking crews at the tenements. She prevented violence by using her trick arrows to stop the wrecking machinery from working.

The riot started, and the group came under attack from escaped prisoners as well as Checkmate soldiers. Lady Hood and Huntress fought again, in a brutal duel. Lady Hood resoundly beat Huntress again, winning her stakes to break her spirit. Huntress managed to admit that Lady Hood was "not bad, for a rookie" before passing out in a bloodied heap.

Baron managed to get Crivvins free from some of Maxwell Lord's agents who wanted to force him to hand over the power of the elemental totems, while Green Lantern flew down to bring the prisoners under control and stop the riot.

Ultraman and Scion fought, but this time Scion simply took his blows and just kept talking to Ultraman. Somehow he managed to reach whatever part of Ultraman still had Superman's desire to protect people, and after collapsing to his knees in frustration, Ultraman agreed to help Scion stop the riot and save people, before leaving Gotham, saying he needed to think about things.

We ended with a closing scene where Amanda Waller went to visit Lex Luthor in prison, and agreed to arrange for his release in exchange for him help to locate and capture Ultraman, and defeat Scion and his allies.

In the end, I lost every page in the final conflict scene. So all I managed to Devestate was Green Lantern's brother aspect. I've decided to change it to:

Commissioner Robert Doyle: Family Aspect, Municipal Scale - Commissioner Doyle is strongly anti-cape, and is determined to lay down the law and do everything within his power to make these vigilantes stop what they're doing. He knows he has no legal power to stop them, so he intends to make his cops more efficient and push for greater police powers and tougher restrictions on citizen arrests by currying favour with the city council and the district attorney. To this end, he is building an alliance with Maxwell Lord, realising that he needs that kind of influence to get what he wants.

Ultraman's origin Aspect, Clone of Superman, was Devestated after his fight with Scion, so Aonghus will have to decide how that gets changed, and whether Ultraman even remains as a villain.

Huntress' aspects remained un-Devestated, so she will stay as a villain, but will likely fall more and more into a meloncholy, seeing Lady Hood as a better person than her, and as an extension, seeing herself as less of a person than Green Arrow and Black Canary. She'll probably move into the background a bit, reluctant to face Lady Hood in combat again anytime soon.

It's been a fun few weeks and we definitey want to keep playing. I'm looking forward to the next story arc.