Friday, June 17, 2016

Inspiration Source: Nexus War

Back when I was just starting highschool, this whiskey-drinking, apollo-worshiping dude named Brandon Harris created a browser based game called Nexus War. (Spiritual Successor: Nexus Clash.)

Nexus War had some roots in Urban Dead- Jorm had played, and Nexus War at first glance had a lot of the same elements. Play entailed moving around a map of squares on a grid, heavy PVP elements, and that's about as far as the similarities went. Players had a limited number of Action Points to spend, and once they were gone, you were stuck waiting until they refreshed to do more.

But Urban Dead was always about zombies and humans duking it out in a ruined city- Nexus War was far more ambitious. The entire world was a conflict between beings of immense power, with the players ultimately deciding the fate of the entirety of that existence.

Nexus Clash had something like fifteen or so different character classes to spec into, with the option of becoming Angelic (Good), Demonic (Evil), or Transcendent (Neutral). Within the morality framework, you had combat monsters, spellcasters, and combat/spellcasting hybrids.

Angels ranged from the clockwork Seraphs who got badass ultratech innate weaponry to use, to the Divine Champion who could assume various cloaks and change their composition to do crazy shit. (Shoutout to the cloak of steel that allowed them to use ambulances and other vehicles as weapons.) The other classes didn't really grasp me as much, although the Lightspeaker had some kickass pets.

Demons had Infernal Behemoths, hulking masses of flesh and muscle with their own innate weaponry, as well as Void Walkers, these badass creatures capable of stepping through walls and turning invisible. Kudos to Dark Oppressors for having the Agony Curse + Defiler Poison Combo, one of THE most satisfying and evil things to slap on another human's virtual representation of themselves since the dawn of time. (Every time someone hit with the combo took an action that used Action Points, Defiler Poison would damage them, boosted by Agony Curse, which also gave the user of the curse XP every time the curse triggered.)

Angels never gained access to debuffs, and were generally stronger than an individual demonic character, although morality restrictions meant that certain behaviors were extremely counterproductive. Demons couldn't accept healing from others, and also had no built-in reasons to cooperate since killing one another gives just as much XP as killing an Angel or Neutral character running around.

I've been brainstorming pretty heavily about a game centered around mortals empowered and enhanced by an Angel to fight off Demonic hordes, and it's safe to say that the aesthetic of Nexus War will play a large part in the trappings of the campaign.

One Last Thing: I am scared to try Jorm's grilled cheese recipe.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


The Team:

Lucas Nielson (PK Levine): A former vicar who lost his faith and made an enemy of the Vatican. Now he leads the AEGIS Subway team in their attempt to make sense of the supernatural. 

Niklos Xanthopoulos (Kevin): Multidisciplinary genius, medical doctor, general curmudgeon. Believes Morphazine is the answer for everything.

Marsh Langston (Maverick): A blond, smiling hacker that will rip the most secure files out of your mainframe and convince you that was something YOU wanted. Marsh is a technical wunderkind and social engineer with a shadowy background in intelligence.

Mikhail Kovalenko (Alex): Measuring over 6'4'' and weighing about 230lbs, Ukrainian-born Mikhail Kovalenko was a former special agent in Eastern Europe, and is extremely competent in multiple forms of combat, piloting, field action, and weaponry. One of the nicest dudes you can probably meet, as long as you don't imply he's Russian...

Agent Veracity (Me): Agent Veracity is a highly capable investigator and field agent.  Agent Veracity is not allowed to participate in AEGIS Trivia Night. 


(January 7th, 2012)

Marsh gets to work on the Witch's phone. It's a burner, purchased just around the corner from the wax museum. It's been barely used, only calling a few numbers. It called an address in Nice, France.

Niklos is using sedative drip to keep the witch knocked out.

The address is a timeshare, and the papertrail leading to it is a trail of shell companies, false identities, and all sorts of other crap.

James brings up contacting the Black Cup to get some magical backup for containing the Witch. Lucas shoots this plan down.

It's decided that Lucas will talk to her once she's allowed to wake up. Niklos gets to work making aerosolized morphazine (sleep drug) for use with flooding the room if the Witch gets all uppity. He also slips something into the drip to make her more gullible and talkative. Niklos succeeds by 12 to make the gas.

We discuss countermeasures for negating her magical powers. Lucas assures us he can wrestle her into submission if things go sideways.

We go ahead and allow her to wake up.

Marcelle LemaƮtre scowls at us after waking up. Veracity grabs the mic for the speaker into the room and reminds Lucas to ask about the Kiebler elves.

The Witch is quite confused, mentions she's on great terms with the Svalarts. Lucas tells her what's up, and she hits on him.

She asks to be released so she can be more comfortable. Lucas ignores this and asks her about the Bastille. She makes a bondage-related comment.

Lucas deflects, and she answers that the blood and agony of people has increased the power of the place. She realizes she's been drugged.

Lucas gets her to answer that she's selling the keys. The last person to collect the three keys was obliterated by the power, so she's not interested in using them herself.

The Witch answers that it's Brownies enslaved by Nabisco, not Kiebler Elves, that have been making snack crackers for decades.

When asked about who her employer is, she answers. "I'm not gonna tell you that, I don't want my head to explode."

She asks for water and questions whether we're giving her her rights. Lucas legalese babbles at her until she stops. She starts singing, until Lucas brings up the sky blue 1960's Jaguar and the French Consulate.

James encourages Marsh to storm in and act like her Lawyer.

Marsh doing his best Eamon impression

"Be the bullshit artist you always wish you were." -James

Jean-Piere Reynard is the French Ambassador she names. He's located at the consulate, high enough to have his hands in 'any of the pies' according to Christopher.

Marsh walks in and bullshits about being the Witch's lawyer. Lucas and Marsh spar a bit to ham it up. Lucas leaves the room and hovers by the door in case shit goes down.

Marsh starts asking her questions from the position of someone who wants to help her, maneuvering her into cooperating to escape 'charges' that might be brought against her. She asks if Marsh is related to a guy in a white suit, with white hair. She stares above his head repeatedly, as if something is there.

James brings in milk and cookies for the witch. She threatens to kill everyone. James brushes it off, claiming that the Illuminati already wants him dead.

Marsh asks if we can unrestrain a hand so she can enjoy the milk and cookies. Niklos loudly yells "NO!" through the mic into the room. Marsh helps her eat.

"Reynard is just a fixer." She says when questioned about him. She has a bunch of contacts within the French Consulate. One individual is named 'The Carpenter', who works out of Nice. She finds the Carpenter scary, including a tale about him building and shipping a coffin to one of his victims.

She was paid 5 million to get all three. She already delivered two out of the three keys, using express mail to send them to France.

Marsh starts to press her to give more info, bringing up the severity of her crimes. She starts to suspect that Marsh isn't legit. Marsh backtracks, and she recognizes Marsh as being in the Wax museum.

Niklos hits the gas button once Marsh has left the room, and she is obviously resistant to the Morphazine this time around. She's starting to get agitated. A direct injection of Morphazine knocks her out.

James suggests zapping her with an electrolaser a few times if we need to do more interrogation. The group decides we've exhausted that avenue, and Lucas makes the call to contact the Coven of the Black Cup to see what they'd like done with her.

Niklos brings up the AEGIS policies for handling prisoners like this, and AEGIS has a serious gap for supernatural folks who can sling magic.

We opt to have Lucas' coven friend create a witch-proof box. Christopher shoots down having it accessible by the ghost train.

James has Marsh break him into the USPS so he can data mine the shit out of their info and use Digital Oracle to map the most probable path of the packages. I confirm that they were delivered to the flat in Nice. James suggests following the scent of the keys' magic using the route, if needed.

Lucas goes to Salem to pick up Anya

Lucas' coven contact, Anya is very happy to see Lucas. "Muffin!" She gives Lucas a bag of molly plants. Anya and the coven are still very much happy to help Lucas.

Marsh digs through Reynard's digital trash. Reynard is originally Belgian. Joined the French Foreign Legion for 20 years. There's no hard evidence, but Marsh STRONGLY suspects Reynard was a spy of some sort. Gut feeling is CIA/French Intelligence. He's dipped his toes in the supernatural stuff 'religiously', especially catholic artifacts.

James suggests faking a religious artifact to bring Reynard out of his cave.

Marsh also pwned Reynard's accounts. James suggests all kinds of nefarious tactics and leverage this can possibly enable. His email accounts are intentionally vague when it comes to his religious paraphernalia.

Niklos suggests using the actual Key as bait. Niklos' ARCHAEOLOGY! can totally be used to fake artifacts.

We decide to target The Carpenter more directly via Reynard, claiming that we took out Marcelle LemaƮtre, and will sell the final key for the $5 million he was going to pay her.

"You've created a nice mockup. It even appears magically delicious." - Christopher
 We decide to contact The Carpenter in a ballsy manner, using Reynard to do so. Marsh drops a trojan in the email, pwning Reynard with a serious backdoor. James drafts the message with help from Lucas, succeeding by 8 on Tradecraft! after a +2 boost from Lucas.

We get a quick response back. He's interested and will contact a mutual friend, but wants proof. Reynard wants to meet in person.

James suggests meeting outside wherever AEGIS' local kickass team likes to hangout, so that if shit goes down we have friendlies with a big can o' WHOOP ASS nearby. The team decides this isn't actually needed.

Christopher indicates that James' tin-foil hat behavior about an ambush, kidnapping attempt, or other such shenanigans are unlikely considering Reynard's personality.

Anya crits on creating the witch containment box, creating a permanent place to contain witches. She eventually takes the time to make two more for us.

The transaction at the meeting spot is going down at a deli in three hours. Niklos doesn't have acting, isn't good at hiding who he is, and doesn't scream "I'M A SECRET AGENT".

Anya decides to come along as she's hungry. When prompted to think about her safety, she mentions shooting lightning from her palms and make someone's balls wither.

Reynard and his personal bodyguard show up. Reynard is your generic looking average joe, his muscle entirely lacks a neck and is loudly complaining about the composition of his sandwich.

"GUNTHER NO LIKE RELISH." -Gunther, a wordsmith of our time
The Gorilla might be smarter than Gunther

Mikhail attempts to order voka and accidentally gives away Marsh's name. He tries to cover by saying that Marsh's name is April.

Reynard goes into the bathroom to contact his people after bashing out some details with Marsh. Marsh makes small talk with Reynard's goon, helping him to get his sandwich order corrected. We learn he's making peanuts working for Reynard, so Marsh gets his phone number and makes the goon a job offer. Marsh is completely shameless about poaching the goon, even once Reynard returns.

At this point we have Gunther completely about to lose his shit and quit. Reynard fires him, after handing over a phone the Carpenter will contact us with.

Lucas and James decide to bug Reynard's car. Lucas succeeds by 9, increasing James' success to 9 as well. We get a nice over-the-shoulder view with the camera bug so that we'll see whatever the driver sees.

We leave the deli. Marsh begins work tracking any calls received by the phone we were given by Reynard. He sets up shop in a pub. Reynard's goon has followed Marsh to the pub. Marsh pays him. It becomes evidently clear that Mr. Goon is like a puppy that refuses to stop following someone around.

Marsh crits on making a device to track the call from the Carpenter when it comes in. The Goon then crits on his roll to detect tails on Marsh. He spots one, rushing outside, grabbing the unfortunate tail, and tossing him at Marsh's feet. The creep is completely awed by Gunther. Creep was paid by "some guy" to follow Marsh. Marsh instructs him to tell "Some guy" to say that Marsh entered a random bar.

Marsh makes it clear that if Creep is ever seen again he'll be in major trouble.

Evidently Goon is rocking some crazy ST, as a car outside is flipped over and the driver's side door has been completely ripped off the hinges and tossed across the parking lot when James and Lucas arrive outside.

The Carpenter calls, speaking French. The entire party groans when Maverick suggests giving the phone to Mikhail to make the deal, but Mikhail ends up with the phone anyways. The Carpenter sounds like an elitist asshole over the phone.

The Carpenter is happy to pay 5 million if we bring the key to him in person. He wants to meet us in two days at an address in Calais France. He hangs up shortly after. Marsh's tracking efforts fail (whoever was doing The Carpenter's encryption got a crit).

James knows that it's a small cottage that's currently in foreclosure.

Marsh tasks Goon with watching the bar, bribing him with a sandwich.

James makes the mistake of calling Lucas Muffin and then questioning one of Anya's threats about speaking Amphibian. She casts a spell and turns into a frog. After being turned back from a frog into human, he immediately runs off to inform his conspiracy theorist forum buddies that polymorphs can actually happen.

James knows a spot for the ghost train to arrive once he comes back from his epiphany moment.

But we're interrupted...

Christopher crit fails a roll, and Marsh receives a call from the pub. The Goon is causing quite a disturbance. He ripped a bolted down stool from the store and has threatened the cops with bodily harm if they try to enter the pub. He's indicated that Marsh is his contact info. 

Niklos and Mikhail go with Marsh. Marsh fakes some files to make it appear that his pet goon is suffering from some mental issues that make him respond badly to authority figures.

Gunther tosses a dude in a costume out into the street, injuring him badly. It's clear that Gunther is some kind of super, considering he's shrugged off bullets. Niklos does his medical wizardry, rolling a crit vs. Medicine!

Marsh and Gunther have a conversation about the merits of causing trouble instead of preventing trouble. Evidently some huckster tried to shakedown the bar, got attacked by Gunther, and then shit went down that escalated the situation.

Gunther after talking with Marsh about causing trouble
Niklos is pretty sure bullets completely pancaked off of Gunther's skin. Gunther also claims to not feel pain. Marsh pulls 'rank' by flashing Homeland security credentials, claiming that he's taking custody of Gunther.

The cops back down. Marsh eventually talks Gunther into lying low and not causing trouble for a few days.

We finally actually get to take the train to Calais, France.


Lucas sends a report to AEGIS' supers monitoring department, pointing out that Marsh has made contact and might work as a handler. 

"Do we get an 80% cost reduction on a microfab that only makes sandwiches?" "SUDO MAKE ME SANDWICH"

We take a look at the cottage, which is a really nice place, complete with flowers. A Tradecraft! sweep at a high success tells James that something... wonky... is going on.

Lucas determines that there's a hella expensive glamour over the place, one that changes its appearance and makes people ignore the spot.

Mikhail locates a vantage point for shooting with the rifle while PK uses foresight to state that he's prepared with occult countermeasures to such a glamour. It takes pain to break the glamour, meaning that we're dealing with Japanese sorcery of some kind.

The illusion is gone for Lucas. The cottage is in still in great shape, but doesn't look nearly as amazing as before. He spots several cameras, and the urge to look away is no longer present. 

Marsh pulls up some info on the cottage. It was owned by the Lemarchand family. The last owner couldn't pay a loan related to rethatching the roof, and the bank took it after the loan repayment lapsed.

Lucas tells us all about pain being what will break the glamour. Mikhail has difficulty given his high pain threshold.

Dramatization of our stealth attempt
The house is being maintained, it's in good repair, it's not empty. We assume someone actually lives inside. The security work is average, not bad, but not amazing. Lucas can plot a path to avoid security. 

We all avoid the cameras, then break the illusion.

We decide to place some electronics gear on the cameras to allow Marsh to Pwn them. With a staggering +5 to skill with a bunch of complimentary skill checks, I roll a 17. One point of Karma later and that's a success. For placing the bug I roll a success by 11. Marsh is in their camera system.

James suggests changing the camera footage with this at a later point in time.

We leave and go to a high-end hostel. We start using the cameras to conduct surveillance, with the intention of Veracity paying a visit later to snoop around. PK crits on a Mastermind! check. With the crit from Lucas, some other complimentary skill checks, and time spent, James crits with a success of -23-

James finds fox fur at the house.

Lucas succeeds Occult by 9 and knows that we're dealing with a Kitsune. Kitsunes are fox/ferret type things, really good at illusions. They DO have Foxfire. A shinto priest can bless a scarf that will bind a kitsune if tied around their left ankle.

Remains to be seen how accurate this picture of a Kitsune is.

James knows of a Shinto Priest nearby via his crazy encyclopedic knowledge. At a sushi restaurant. Niklos as the only one who speaks Japanese makes the approach. Niklos spins a yarn about a sister with a wedding, and needing some scarves blessed to make her happy.

Christopher slaps down Doom points to make this interaction go poorly.

The Japanese dude is the Kitsune's uncle. He knows she lives down the lane. He flips out about the various spirits talking to him. He calls us insane for trying to kill a kitsune. Niklos tries to convince the priest to talk to Lucas. The priest begrudgingly hands us ribbons blessed with glacial spring water.

"When it taps three times, don't answer." The old man cautions us. He forces some sushi on Niklos. 

We gather up again to decide on plans and end the session there. (January 9th, 0900 in the morning start of next session.)


We had something like 10 critical successes over the course of the night, which seems to be a running trend. Maybe PK really did bribe Roll20. Despite being session two, the group has had very little difficulty coordinating, planning, or executing once a plan has been settled on.

Which has been awesome

We're killing it with complimentary skill rolls, given that all of our characters are broadly skilled, and took Wildcards that are (SURPRISE) applicable in a great deal of situations. Tradecraft! has proven to be a great investment for Veracity.

Mastermind! also deserves mention because of the special benefit Christopher has given to it- when PK makes a complimentary skill roll, a success can add more than just +1 to the assisted roll, which is huge. With Lucas at the helm, hard skill checks become vastly easier.

We spent a good amount of time deciding how to handle Reynard and his connection to The Carpenter. I'll admit, I was really hoping to kidnap Reynard, but the group decided that antagonizing him and the French Consulate wasn't worth what we'd gain. I believe we made the right call, even if a well executed kidnapping is far more fun to plan than a simple meeting at a diner.

Much like my character, I'm probably the most overtly suspicious player in the group. I fully expected Reynard to be a double-crossing liar who'd be willing to attack us in NYC during negotiations over the London Bastille Key, and I'm going to treat future NPCs with the same level of distrust. Part of this is undoubtedly based on the fact that I've been running socially back-stabby games for the last 2-3 years.

It's good to stretch a little and cleanse the palate so to speak, even if I'm still itching to sandbox whatever I can in the future. (Such as pumping Reynard to give us dirt on the movement of artifacts with mojo, lest we blow his cover and trash his life via his pwned email account.)

I'm really not looking forward to the Kitsune fight. I'm sure all of the PCs would agree, given that Marsh and Niklos are both Scully-types who don't believe in magic, that Lucas and Veracity both likely understand that we should be afraid going into this, and Mikhail- well, Mikhail gets to shoot something, but hopefully bullets actually work.

The occult nature of what we're going up against is also a large part of why I'm not looking forward to the fight. Fleshy meatbag humans blasting at one another with guns is cut-and-dry, easy to understand, and it's what Veracity was built to do.

Asking him to take on illusion-using Japanese fox spirit with the goal of tying a silk ribbon around its LEFT ankle is just...

Have you ever tried tying something around say, a cat's tail? Especially when said cat has no interest in being nice and still and cooperating, and would much rather sink its claws into your flesh? Binding the Kitsune is going to be a gigantic pain in the ass. I fully expect blood, sweat, tears, and agony.

Christopher definitely has an appreciation for folklore and old wives' tales about things that go bump in the night that I lack. I'm pretty sure my first thought upon hearing Kitsune was 'My ex was fucking obsessed with those things'. 

The occult stuff is basically intellectual lettuce to me- it's there, it pads out the plot sandwich so that it's got some heft to it, but is flavorless and easy to ignore if you wish. Salt is a counter-measure to witches? Woo. Hopefully Lucas has some because that's his character's niche and I'll just be over here never putting points into having practical Occult skills. (Note: This is not actually ruling out putting points into practical knowledge, just showing my reluctance to actually do so.)

I'm looking forward to the next session we get to play, even foreseeing a hard confrontation ahead of us. I'm chomping at the bit to get to the meat of the plot- we're really similar to a new TV show where they're trying to put down roots and a foundation to build on later. 

Familiar Horrors:

Being polymorphed into a frog/toad

Saturday, June 4, 2016

You should be checking out Johnny 3d6 (and some updates)

1: You should read Johnny3d6

Mavrick plays Sam in Prohibition Mobsters, and he's done an outrageously good job on summarizing both almost a year of play as well as the last session. Don't be surprised when he starts churning out quality blog posts about GURPS and other topics relating to RPGs.

Seriously, feel free to stop reading the rest of this post and go check it out.

2: Travel

Traveled home for my mom's birthday, which means a week gap between Prohibition Mob sessions and very little productivity when it comes to GURPS,

3: C-Team

C-team is making me regret that playing on a weekly basis likely isn't in the cards.