Thursday, August 25, 2016

Aeon C-Team S2E2: Never Gonna Make You Cry

The Team:

Lucas Nielson (PK Levine): A former vicar who lost his faith and made an enemy of the Vatican. Now leads the AEGIS Subway team in their attempts to answer questions nobody else in AEGIS has time to investigate.

Niklos Xanthopoulos (Kevin): Multidisciplinary genius, medic/doctor, and general curmudgeon. Believes Morphazine is the answer for everything and enjoys asking Marsh to hold organs during autopsies.

Marsh Langston (Maverick): A blond, smiling hacker that will rip the most secure files out of your mainframe while convincing you that he's just downloading more RAM. Marsh is a technical wunderkind and social engineer with a shadowy background in intelligence.

Mikhail Kovalenko (Alex): Measuring 6'4" and weighing about 230lbs, Ukrainian-born Mikhail Kovalenko was a former special agent in Eastern Europe and is extremely competent at drinking vodka, making friends with random people, piloting, field action, reminding others that he's from Ukraine (not Russia), field operations, and handling firearms.

Agent Veracity (Me): The Subway's resident spook and dumpster diver, Agent Veracity is a highly skilled investigator, tradecraft expert and conspiracy nut.   IT'S ALL A VAST CONSPIRACY, DON'T TRUST WHAT YOU READ  FNORD

PK was absent for this session.


Marsh takes the plunge and buys Gunther as an ally, a pretty powerful, usually available one. One who doesn't like relish.

We begin conducting surveillance on Schultz' office.

Christopher rolls Mastermind! for PK (who was absent), and crits, giving us all +3 to every following roll. Coupled with spending a week on surveillance, we're looking at a +5 overall.

We start throwing rolls at the BAD to reduce it down, going through the process of SLOWLY getting a picture of how Schultz' office operates, floorplans, passively monitoring them, actively monitoring them, and then ultimately infiltrating their physical presence.

Mavrick rolls a success by 17 for Marsh to pwn their computer networks, getting inside after the course of the week. (+1 vs BAD)

Alex crits for Mikhail vs. Tradecraft! (+2 vs the BAD), and he ends up stalking most of the people leaving the office.

Niklos crits vs Medicine! to use Psychology on the office. (+2 vs the BAD)

I roll vs an adjusted skill of 26, and get a 7. We decide that a success by 19 is likely enough to tear the BAD a new one.

"We're basically living in a NSA wet dream."- Me

We follow people, we make dossiers and psych profiles, we track down online identities, Veracity goes through trash, we drill holes in floors to place bugs, we chase shell companies down, we give them the business.

It's related to MORNING TIDE.

H&K G36
The guards are well-paid South African mercenaries from paramilitary backgrounds, not thugs in shoddy suits. They're using G36 Carbines (full auto, with 100-round mags), wearing tactical vests (w/plates) and limb armor, it's obvious they want to look as dangerous as they are. They look like a unit, or like they were all hired at the same time.

The lab runs 24/7, and the guards stick around during that time.

Kellie J. Hill is a meta on the payroll, and she's there to help new converts 'realize their purpose'.

Purple Drank is officially declared the sanctioned name of the purple goop by Christopher- it even has  PDRNK94 on the side of the canister. Niklos rolls a success by 16 to analyze it.

Niklos has got a secret
It's some kind of biological glue that seems to bind stuff to the Scion gene. It's basically a chemical version of CRISPR.

Niklos doesn't fight down his curiosity and injects himself with the ENTIRE canister. He fails his HT check by 2, launching a discussion about whether succeeding the HT roll is actually the beneficial result. Kevin and Christopher will get to have a nice conversation about the ramifications of injecting himself with it at a later time.

"One bottle of aspirin, one dose."- Maverick

Marsh phreaked their phones to gain access to their internal communications and some of their security systems (fire alarm, sprinklers, and outer cameras).

Niklos starts seeing objects turn anthropomorphic and do adult activities together.

We decide to run it up the AEGIS flagpole to cover our collective asses and maybe get some direction.

Veracity calls it in, and mentions MORNINGTIDE. (I crit a Tradecraft!+ Detective! roll with a 5)

The guy on the other end of the line asks how much ops support we have, and I tell him we're the Subway so we have none. He informs us most assets are tied up on the West Coast for something big and loud (and involving Lucas), but he has an ace up his sleeve for us- maybe.

He requests all of our data. We're informed that we're to secure the entire area, and if not, blow it up.

He asks us what we need. 

Good luck throwing back OUR tear gas
We start seriously discussing attempting to gas them with tear gas or something similar using the sprinkler system. The system has been isolated, but there's a chance we could still access it from above via our office.

Veracity locates MORNINGTIDE's sprinkler system, which has its own separate room in the basement. Veracity checks the lock to see what he knows about it, and crits. The lock is one that will communicate home if the door opens or is otherwise fucked with.

In the course of investigating the lock he notices the sprinkler system is filled with Halon gas, not water.

We try and get Marsh to see about circumventing the locks. Marsh and Veracity gain access without causing any alarms.

An encyclopedist crit reveals that the Halon gas system won't work with our plan- but they didn't replace the old system at all. 

Veracity makes the right check to switch the halon system to disperse tear gas.

We finally get from AEGIS:
  • A shitton of tear gas
  • Police presence
  • Plastex B for blowing the building
  • Clearing of civilian presence in the area

We disable the elevator, Mikhail throws an Assault Vest + Trauma Plates on top of his Aegis TL 9 armor, taking a -1 DX penalty.

Gunther is acting as a siphon to force anyone fleeing the lab to enter our trap. 

We set off the sprinkler systems, causing mass panic and general pandemonium. 

Guards in the lobby start putting on masks (courtesy of DOOM applied by Christopher). Mikhail decides to hit all four in the arms with shots from his crazy pistols. Four rolls against Skill 13, he makes three and crits the fourth.

The inside of the lab is CRAZY PANIC as people try to escape the gas. Mikhail heads upstairs to clear the labs of anyone not affected by the gas.

Mikhail's overwhelmed with a sense of sudden fear, and he fails a will check due to DOOM applied by Christopher. Alex elects to spend 8 Karma to negate the DOOM. Mikhail gets a vision of some kind, where two people are having a conversation about a kid, two governments collaborating, and some other stuff. 

As he recovers, a MORNING TIDE guard rushes Mikhail with the butt of his rifle. Mikhail crits vs. Fist! to judo throw the guy. The crit result is any damage causing a major wound, and Mikhail rolls a 9. The guy somehow manages to live.

Artist's Depiction of the Man Exiting the Fog
Mikhail then goes to shoot him. The guy dodges despite being prone (with a roll of 4).

A shadowy figure suddenly appears out of the fog of the tear gas and kicks the prone guard in the face, knocking him out, before fading back into the fog. 
Say hello to The Judge everyone!
Scientists are streaming downstairs to escape the gas and being cuffed by us and the police. We face minimal resistance.

Mikhail encounters the meta, Kellie, who zaps him with some kind of terror. Mikhail is immune due to spending GROSS amounts of Karma.

Mikhail (in white), and Kellie
Mikhail knights her as the Black Knight by shooting both of her arms and both of her legs. She dodges only one of the shots. The same figure as before appears out of the gas, rips off her mask, and then slams her face into a wall.
Mikhail can't seem to see him, his eyes just sliding off. Kellie is out cold, but alive.

In the lobby, we're busy patching up injuries and handcuffing scientists. We request an ambulance to help with the influx of injured people.

Mikhail grabs Kellie, bringing her down to Niklos. Niklos goes about making sure she doesn't permanently lose any limbs. 

Gunther is upstairs, basically in hulk mode, on top of multiple unconscious guards and holding a gun bent like a pretzel.

Mikhail talks about the figure coming out of the mist. Veracity chalks it up to the Slenderman.

We actually nabbed Schultz during the course of events. The prisoners are taken to holding areas, and we start going through their data and files in the office.

The lab has three rooms with people in hermetically sealed 6x8 boxes that are containment cells for people in obvious pain and distress. The facilities are state of the art, include a super computer, random science crap.

Mikhail calls his mom as a social thing, she's busy cooking. She yells at him for never calling. He has a sweet moment of appreciating her for being a good mother. He brings up fighting Kellie and her powers, which reminded Mikhail of his mom.

Marsh's attempts to access the computer results in it dumping info, which is stopped after a second check and the expenditure of 3 karma to fix a crit-fail I rolled to try and compliment. Overall, we're left with 30% of the digital info they had before, although all the papertrail is left.

They're also creating a huge list of occult- or suspected occult artifacts, and the Bastille Keys are listed. They're looking for a sufficient source of Kyberic energy. 

Two of the subjects in containment are experiencing MAD SYNDROME, a degenerative cognitive disease that affects people with powers.

Niklos takes them into custody and moves them in where other metas are kept so that we can observe them.

The papertrail leads back to Blue Skies after seven or so shell companies and subsidiaries. Dr. Schultz used a digital voice recorder to document their successful experiments. Their success rate was nearly 1/100, with 10 subjects out of 1000 showing permanent powers.

Mark, as a successful experiment, was given a job. It appears they're more interested in paying soldiers than enslaving them. They recruited very broadly, and side effects of the PURPLE DRANK were pretty strong.

We get a list of the successful cases. Marsh crits and gets the full specs on all of the successful subjects. Poor, signed up for experimental drugs, got PURPLE DRANK and a bunch of cash, got powers, and then got WAY MORE cash than before.

They're all across the globe. 

PURPLE DRANK is often temporary, and there's batch numbers going up to 98. 

There's a refractor and a Kyberian Energy output module listed in some of their papers.

Adrenaline and Cortisol levels are activators for PURPLE DRANK, which is why they had Kellie using terror on people to activate them.

The Director of AEGIS stops by to pay us a visit because this is huge. There's an AEGIS warehouse where they're aggregating information and conducting interviews. 

We speak to a huge badass amazonian-looking native american chick who directs us to talk with a General. We believe she's been healing people, which seems to be a painful/uncomfortable process.

Mikhail tries to get to know her, realizes she's wearing a wedding ring, and then tries to smooth it over. He crit fails his reaction roll, and evidently she fails a control role, and it comes to blows. She hits him with a crazy -12 deceptive (-6 to his defenses) attack and decks him. "That's for Kolkata."

Despite the broken nose, Mikhail still remains standing. He approaches Niklos for help like a sad puppy. Niklos patches him up and straightens his nose back out, stuffing them with tampons to keep them from bleeding out.

The General is HUGE (7'+ tall), and is also Native American. His wedding band doesn't seem to match the one of the chick who decked Mikhail. "Katori tends to take things very seriously."

Evidently Mikhail burned one of her operations, and the General is surprised she didn't stomp him while he was down.

The General makes it clear that Blue Skies isn't just recruiting Metas, but is actively gathering steiner programs and creating metahumans.

The PURPLE DRANK is scary effective compared to other similar projects.

The General asks us to submit to a mind read, on the pain of R2-45 if we refuse. We're also asked to disarm, and Mikhail spends a lot of time removing ALL kinds of various weapons and gear.

We're all restrained (nicely) and told it's to stop us from harming ourselves.

Gabriella is very nice looking, wearing STARS gear, and is very soothing. The Scion gene DEFINITELY causes individuals to come out looking TOO perfect. 

She starts with Mikhail, and she removes a mental block he had, the result of some kind of mucking around by a meta. Mikhail sees his father for the first time. Mikhail falls unconscious and starts bleeding from the ears and nose- thankfully absorbed by the tampons.

Gabriella picks up on the fact that Niklos injected himself with the PURPLE DRANK. She mentions that Niklos is as bad as her brother. He requests that she not mention the PURPLE DRANK to the General. She makes it clear that he owes her one for not mentioning it. She moves on.

Mikhail wakes up screaming that he's half american. Most of us are not very sympathetic.

Marsh also has a mental block of some kind. She fails to go through, and asks him what it's about. Marsh cops to not remembering a couple of months of his life. He woke up in Las Vegas, with no memory of what happened beforehand, with a briefcase full of poker chips and a tattoo on his shoulder.

Breaking the block could kill Marsh. The conversation about it reveals that the General is the Gabriella's husband.

Marsh actively tries to help her. He starts having a seizure as she scrunches up her face in concentration. They break through the mental door until Marsh remembers. It's revealed that Marsh's dad had planted Marsh within AEGIS as a mole, because his mother would keep him under suspicion. Marsh's dad would then sell the secrets and then make a bunch of cash. Marsh's dad suggests getting sent to the Subway to avoid suspicion and to gain access to tasty stuff. His dad mentions the STARGATE program, which he was kicked out of.

Marsh is convinced that he wasn't selling secrets or working with his father. The mind-reader thinks he might not have been doing it consciously. She identifies multiple subliminal routines at play that hacked his brain.

Marsh starts babbling about his experiences and about how he didn't mean to do it, and they send him to another room to wait until they can see how badly his mind has been pwned. 

Veracity gives Gabriella a very salacious wink when it's his turn to get his mind read. She rolls her eyes.

Veracity's conversation with the mind reader focuses on his recent focus on Plastex-B, whether he knew about Marsh and Mikhail both being mind controlled, and whether Veracity knew that they were half-brothers.

Marsh's and Mikhail's Dad

We're all released. Niklos argues that Mikhail could be programmed as well, and Mikhail is shunted into the side room along with Marsh.

The General and Veracity have a conversation about Blue Skies, Veracity's requests for thermo-optic camouflage, and Marlowe.

They begin mind surgery on Marsh. It goes poorly.

"Marsh, make a HT Roll or die."-Christopher
"What's that Christopher? Look up the resuscitation rules? I'm on it."-Kevin 
Marsh is in horrible, writhing pain, close to death (staved off by Karma). The program was tied into his brain's autonomous processes, processes like breathing, having a consistent heartbeat, and nocturnal emissions. Removing the programming has possibly damaged his brain, hopefully limited to just bruising.

Mikhail comes up clean without any deeper programming besides the memory block involving his father..

We're ordered to get some rest. Niklos tries his adrenaline+cortisol injection, but being Unfazeable, it fails. He talks with Gabriella, asking for her help. They decide to try implanting memories of fear in Niklos. Niklos experiences fear for the first time in his life. This puts Niklos into an 11 hour coma, and adds on -30 in disadvantages.

Gabriella showed Niklos the results of Black Swan.

Niklos wakes up afraid. He's given a better biomonitor to wear, one that will report back to her how he's doing. She asks him not to talk about his experience with Black Swan. 

We end there.


We were facing a BAD of -10, which applies to anyone connected with Blue Skies. It's subject to increase as we go up the ladder of taking on bigger and bigger threats. (Evidently Thanos warrants a -20 BAD.) We reduced it to -5 overall (fuzzy math is fuzzy), but a success by 19 would have succeeded without any support at all, which definitely feels nice.

We spent a good amount of time discussing our plan for taking Schultz' office, from the second we were told to capture or blow it up. I was a bit shocked to get instructions like that from AEGIS, but giddy at the same time. The tear gas plan was largely my baby, and despite suffering from a slight bout of 'keep it simple, stoopid', it was a flawless plan. To say that we've put a feather in our cap is both accurate and appropriate.

The only execution error was Marsh's flub with the supercomputer. Nobody died, PC or NPC, which is a huge plus, even if the C-Team isn't under genre conventions to 'Save everyone you can' at all times like the B-Team is.

We did have a backup plan involving a VERY BIG boom and a gas leak scare to clear the area of people in case we flubbed the first plan and needed to blow up the lab.

The after action stuff involving the General and AEGIS as a whole was cool, an opportunity to touch on the pulse of the campaign outside of our own bubble. I feel it's safe to say that this session will create waves that will affect the B-Team as they continue to face Blue Skies, and hopefully the C-Team's gains will be of use for the other teams.

The revelations due to Gabriella were surprising, but awesome. Marsh as totally a mole, yet not actually a mole works great for Christopher because he has a great explanation for how AEGIS got penetrated and what information might have leaked, as well as a hammer to bash Marsh with regarding his bad past decisions.

I don't envy Mavrick having to roleplay both the repercussions of his past actions AND trying to keep Gunther behaved.

Niklos' decision to inject the PURPLE DRANK was definitely one of the bigger moments of the game, possibly the campaign. It's a decision that will have lasting consequences, but it complete fit Niklos' motivations. Evidently Niklos really wants superpowers; Veracity's never contemplated having them. Injecting the PURPLE DRANK that certainly made for a more interesting story than leaving sleeping dogs to lie.

This session was by far the best one of the campaign thus far. I'm still interested to see how the group does when PK is able to play again, since a large part of my complaints two sessions back is that his character and Veracity have significant overlap in a few areas- overlap that would have really dampened how much involvement I likely would have had planning the tear gas fiesta. I'm very optimistic that Christopher will find the right balance of things, and tying us more closely to Blue Skies is definitely helping Veracity and Marsh contribute more.

I spent a good amount of the session laughing my ass off, largely during planning when Christopher was saying "THAT'S JUST MEAN." when I suggested using slip-spray on the exit stairwells, as if we should feel sympathy for the people who are experiencing tear gas + a chemical agent that promotes vomiting and retching.

Here's looking forward to next week, when Veracity will likely encourage Niklos to run paternity tests on Marsh and Mikhail.

P.S: We didn't use the Ghost Train at all this session :(

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