Wednesday, February 02, 2011

repost from Encounter Critical mailing list

So Friday night I ran a little EC session at my local con.  Nice folks here and elsewhere really helped with the prep, as I based the game on Mr. Hoyle's description of the City of Blackhawk as described in the Lexicon of Vanth:  I also handed out some random print-outs from other Lexicon entries to the players to give them a feel for the setting.  The pregenerated PCs were all from this handy file of starting characters:   I gave each player two random selections from the assorted PCs on hand a few minutes to pick one or the other.
The adventure begins with Standard Opening #2: everyone wakes up in jail hung over.  A mutant (eyeball in mouth, his speech comes out of his empty eyesockets) in evil vizier robes has the PCs pulled out of the drunk tank and hauled over to the palace of the King of Blackhawk.  The palace is a ramshackle wreck, as the King has no real wealth or political power in the city.  Instead he exists on a meager pension and takes care of all the ceremonial duties that whitewash a small facade of legitimacy over the otherwise anarchic fiasco that is life in the big city.  But the current king is such a lazy and mushbrained fool that every time his vizier takes him out for a public appearance the results are always a train wreck.  So years ago the vizier had a frankensteinian double made to order.  Its complete lack of social skills is an improvement over the real king's liabilities.  But someone done stole the double.
At first the PCs operated under the assumption that someone wanted all the vaunted powers of the king at their own disposal instead of Cortox Jones's (that the vizier) but they quickly got on the trail of the King's estranged ex-wife, who still holds the title of Queen but has been shacking up with a mysterious warlock called the Black Scorpion.  Most of the party takes the monorail to the Citadel of the Black Scorpion while one ornery player sets off alone to the red light district to get some street level insights into whatever is going down.  He ends up talking to some drunken short order cooks that put him on the trail of the Astroburger Corporation and the local Regional Manager in Charge of Fast Food Operations and Planetary Domination, the solid gold businessdroid Syd Moodabi.  It seems that the Astroburger Franchise Fortresses in Blackhawk are putting all the other fast food places out of business because "those Astrobugrer jerks are putting real meat in their sammiches!"
Meanwhile, a gang of hardened Battle Mimes jump the PCs in the monorail.  The PCs are dodging invisible imaginary bullets fired out of nonexistent machineguns and wrestling invisible imaginary chainsaws out of mime hands.  One foe is a Mimeomancer, who puts one of the PCs into the dreaded Shrinking Box, but the silent bad guy is killed before I pulp the poor bastard.  At one point a PC is thrown out a monorail window by Walking in Place Wind Strike, but he saves himself with a bullwhip Indiana Jones style.  Once the Mimes are defeated they search the bodies.  One of the PCs finds some imaginary paper in an imaginary pocket and makes a Scholarship roll to decipher the Mime Runes, giving them clear evidence that Moodabi hired the mimes to keep the PCs from interfering with his nefarious plans.  The party heads to the robot's mansion with revenge on their minds.
The party is on edge when they discover that Moodabi lives in a Scooby Doo style haunted house next door to the largest cemetary in Blackhawk.  They immediately assume that Astroburgers is people, but I reassure them that actually all the other chains use Soylent Green and that's why Astroburger is the more popular alternative.  As a Happenstance roll would have it, a couple of computer nerds in cheesy uniforms are making a service call the mansion just when the PCs need some pretense to get into the place and past the HamburgerDroid guards (giant animatronic Mayor McCheese types).  They find their way to the computer room, complete with lotsa blinky lights and spinning reel-to-reel machines.  Some serious Machine Friendliness allows them to do two things: discover that the "special order" for the Queen was sent to Franchise Fortress #1's grinding room for preparation and to transfer a zillion quatloos from the Astroburger Ridiculous Profits Account into one of the PCs best friends, a shady ATMdroid that appeared earlier in the episode when they were short on cash.
Using the wealth now at their disposal, the party gets themselves equipped with phasic this and prismatic that (one PCs foregoes the mechanically best armor they can wear for some Solid Gold Mail).  They also buy a Damnation Van with armor plating and a pintel mounted photon grenade launcher.  They then attack what is essentially the Death Star of hamburger joints.  No wait, first they went through the drive thru to grab some lunch, THEN they attack.  They blast their way into the loading/unloading dock, where they chew up some Burgerdroids pretty quick and annihilate the poor Minimum Wage Mutant turned hero who tried to reach for a mysterious lever.  Then the Giant Four-Armed Grimace ( attacks.  The vulcan doxy responds to this threat by guzzling some Project X Liquid to grow to giant size.  Of course he then attempts to seduce the titanic purple milkshake monster.  He doesn't roll well enough to succeed, but close enough that the creature pauses to question its sexual orientation.  That's when the guy operating the grenade launcher drops some steaming hot photons right down the monster's throat, exploding him from the inside.
After clearing sizziling purple monster foam from ever nook cranny and crevice of the D-Van and their own bodies, the party grabs a Minimum Wage Mutant and has him take them to the Grinding Room, where they find Moodabi (C-3PO in a business suit) and the Black Scorpion (mysterious hooded black robes, facemask) huddled over a big machine.  The king's double is dangling over the gaping maw of the grinder.  The party immediately lets loose with a Death Blossom of phasic energy and other miscellaneous weaponry.  The robot is melted but the warlock is protected by some sort of force field effect.  Noticing that the Black Scorpion is not a chump, the dude still holding onto almost a zillion quatloos belonging to the guy they just melted offers the warlock a hefty bribe to walk away.  A portable card reader appears out from under the black robe and 7.8 million quatloos are deposited into the Scorpion's bank account.  He ninja vanishes away.
The frankenstein is returned to the vizier and he has the real king give the PCs their promised reward: pardons good for all past crimes committed in Blackhawk as well as up to three future crimes.  The party agrees they use the rest of the money and newfound criminal immunity to give up this penny ante adventuring crap and move on to becoming fullblown corporate jerkwads.  The end.
Question from a player as the whole deal is heading towards the end: Why the crap does the Queen want to eat the king's double?
Answer: She doesn't.  The thought of doing so sickens her.  Part two of the plan would have been to feed the frankenburgers to the king.  Not only would that have doomed the king to a lifetime of making all those public appearances himself (which he hates doing) but self-cannibalism is against his religion, endangering his immortal soul.  Moodabi and the Black Scorpion were just pawns in her plan to get back at that fat ugly stupid toad for all those years living with him.  She plays for keeps.
some miscellaneous scenario design notes:
King Hortensus = the King of Town as played by Tsathogua or vice versa
map of Blackhawk City = map of Disney's Magic Kingdom (Cinderella's castle = the King's palace, Space Mountain = the Citdel of the Black Scorpion, Haunted House = Syd Moodabi's Mansion)
Syd Moodabi = Gordon Gekko played by C-3PO
Black Scorpion = what if Ric Flair was a wizard?
basic plot of missing frankenstein king comes from a paragraph in Milorad Pavic's Dictionary of the Khazars (fabulous book)


  1. Jeff, seriously: I've been reading fantasy and sci-fi since I was a kid, and as a bookseller for the last six years I'm around the stuff constantly, and your EC game recaps are easily 100 times more entertaining than most of the "big" books on sale today.

    Just felt like sayin'.

    Heh. My verification word is "mishiest." It's wonderfully inscrutible adjective and could only describe something from EC.

  2. Man I need to be getting me a copy of EC

  3. Anonymous11:11 PM

    "what if Ric Flair was a wizard?"

    What if, indeed!

  4. Awesome session sounds awesome

  5. The Battle Mimes are my favourite bit. Brilliant.

  6. What if Ric Flair was a wizard?

    8-O. That's an entire campaign right there!

    But ohgreatgod, Damnation Vans, Battle Mimes, Abstruse Theological Implications of Autophagia, and the Power of Greed winning thru at the end! It's times like these when you ask anyone who'll listen(or who can't get away...): "What would it take to make my Campaign go so Horribly Right?"

    Seriously, This. It is how you Bring Awesome Back!(Course, in some places it never left!) Yet another triumph for Encounter Critical.(And Jeff and his group, of course! :-))

    Glad to see more EC!(Preceded by Monsters! Monsters! no less...)

  7. I am so glad you posted this. I am so glad I read it!

    Thank you.

  8. I'm so glad I was able to play this time around! It was a great, great session.