WatchTower New England – Episode 3

Robotic Rampage Stopped By Raw Recruits

by Rhonda McAvoy of The Boston Globe
March 18th, 2002

The Prudential Center was subject to a brutal attack this morning at around 8am. Three robotic figures burst out of one of the iconic “Duck Tour” tour buses to go on a deadly rampage through downtown commuters. The three were finally put down by new WatchTower recruits, most notably the terrifying destructive powers of Sapphire and Trace.

17 Bostonians were killed during the attack, and over 80 were injured before WatchTower’s new “B” team arrived on the scene. While it’s unclear what roles the team members play, the two women on the team both used their disintegration powers to great effect, taking care of all three robots in under a minute, and saving us from further death and destruction.

The origin of the robots is still unknown, although an anonymous source at the WatchTower lays the blame at the feet of the Downward Spiral group, known to have been terrorizing important religious sites on the east coast. While many a shopper may worship the almighty dollar at the Pru, it seems unlikely that an anti-Christian group would attack there.

WatchTower New England – Episode 2

Sunday March 17, 2002 (St. Patrick’s Day)

From the log of Karl Maclean, WTNE Controller

8am: New recruits have lasted 24 hours without injury or fatality. Void seems to have settled into a leadership role, and may make a decent long-term recruit should we choose to extend their contract. Seven seems somewhat unreliable and bears closer scrutiny – he’s already made it into the media and seems to bask in attention. Kimono is more reliable but suffers from severe cultural disadvantages here in the US: this is somewhat counterbalanced by his immense powers. Trace is, as expected, insufferably young.

10am: Fifth recruit arrived today from Texas. While he looks good enough to eat, he’s sadly lacking between the ears.

4pm: New team reports a lead on the whereabouts of the old team, due to a tip-off from The Chancer. A previously unknown exotic with dimensional powers trapped and abandoned them in another dimension, with seemingly no way of recovering. Kimono negotiated some kind of agreement with the guy, but it sounds like he was conned. I don’t think Mr Canning will be happy, but then again, I doubt he’d be happy even if they brought back the old team safe and sound. I’ve e-mailed him.

7pm: Got word that we have a sixth exotic joining us tomorrow. No idea who she is or what her abilities are. Christ, it’s like superhero kindergarten.

3am: Yes, Canning is not happy. Big fucking surprise. I’m drawing up permanent contracts just in case.

WatchTower New England Episode 1

WatchTower secretly recruits new members

by Rhonda McAvoy of The Boston Globe
March 17th, 2002

Unknown WatchTower Operative floats over Old Ship Church
Unknown WatchTower Operative floats over Old Ship Church

Three new WatchTower operatives were spotted yesterday in and around the greater metro area. While no information has been forthcoming from the New England franchise, the identity of one of the new recruits has been confirmed as Vanja Mestrovic, also known as Void. Void’s intimidating black and featureless body was seen in Stoughton yesterday morning and in Hingham yesterday afternoon. He was accompanied by two old men of Asian decent, and all were wearing WatchTower clothing.

“Void’s a good guy,” says Jimmy Cortez, who worked with him at Devon Energy, an oil company. “It takes a while to get used to him having eight eyes, but he’s got a heart of gold.” Whether that’s true remains to be seen. Katherine Simmons, manager at Ikea in Stoughton, told us that he was very intimidating. “He walked in here, butt naked, with his two crazy friends and I gotta tell ya, I was scared.” Simmons wasn’t able to tell us anything about why the trio visited her store, as the investigation is still ongoing.

The sightings in Hingham were centered around the Old Ship Church. One of Void’s companions, who identified himself to local tourists as “Seven” levitated up over the church to survey the roof. The third man, wearing a thick Japanese kimono bearing the WatchTower logo, is still to be identified. The minister of the church, Rev. Kenneth H. Read-Brown stated that the WatchTower was there as a precautionary measure, given the recent spate of anti-church exotic crime on the East Coast being perpetrated by the so-called Downward Spiral group.

Does this mean that WTNE has decided to hire more operatives? While it has long been the opinion of this reporter that six is too few, why choose now to recruit? And why the secrecy? As of yet, no-one at WatchTower New England or HQ in San Francisco has been willing to comment on this development.

WatchTower State Coverage and the New England Team

Franchise mapThis map shows all 50 states, and which WatchTower franchise(s) cover each state. Those states which are shaded with two colours have agreements with two franchises, and either will respond depending on availability.

The north-east used to be covered by the WatchTower New York, but a series of blunders a few years ago by the operatives at the time created a split. New England and DC created their own franchises and New York’s influence was reduced considerably and awarded to a different vendor (Jack White). New England’s franchise is owned by a consortium led by commercial real estate magnate, Chris Pfeiffer.

The current New England team (codenames and powers):

  • Claymore – Can detonate objects remotely
  • Silverhawk – Silver-armored fast flier
  • Firewall – Fire generator and manipulator
  • Nimbus – Weather controller
  • Gemini – Creates replicas of herself

The two men on the team (Claymore and Firewall) are both capable of vast amounts of destruction. As a result, they have both loyal followers and loud detractors. To date, they have both sufficiently avoided any collateral damage that would result in the kind of bad publicity which shut down the New York franchise. Some say it’s only a matter of time …

WatchTower Franchise Map

WatchTower LogoThere are currently 10 WatchTower franchises in N. America, with a number of others under consideration by both WatchTower Inc. and various city and state governments. View WatchTower franchises on a map.

Each franchise has its own charter of specific responsibilities (primarily geographical) but in times of crisis, operatives from other franchises will help out. As can be seen on the map, many areas are without direct coverage. Exotic crime tends to be less common in these areas, and support for local law enforcement comes from both Fortress and on an ad-hoc basis from WatchTower (usually with a very hefty hourly fee).

The X-1 visa

The late 80s and early 90s saw an upswing in exotic crime, as beleaguered WatchTower franchises were stretched trying to find members willing and able to combat this rising tide.

In response in 1994, Bill Clinton signed into law the Exotic Foreign Workers Act, which passed with slim majorities in both House and Senate. This law created a new visa, the X-1, which allowed foreign exotics to live and work in the United States on a two-year rolling term. This shored up the immediate needs at the time, and continues to allow WatchTower franchises to bolster their rosters in a hurry.

Some of the conditions of the visa include:

  • Fortress screening (DNA samples, fingerprints, various scans – mechanical and exotic, etc.)
  • Can only accept employment in a role in which their exotic abilities are needed
  • Cannot apply for permanent residency

In return for these fairly stringent conditions, the application is processed fairly quickly (within about six weeks, which is lightning fast for the State Department).

WatchTower New England

All of New England is protected under one WatchTower franchise (WT-NE), which has offices in each of the state capitals (Boston, Hartford, Providence, Montpelier and Augusta) but is headquartered in Boston. To be precise, the HQ is in Cambridge, MA (want to see what it looks like?).

The satellite offices are primarily administrative, although each is known to have the supplies necessary to act as a base of operations for any given action being taken by WT operatives. At any given time, WT-NE employs around 200 people, and between 8 and 12 exotics.

Watch this space for WT-NE making news headlines …

WatchTower – What Everyone Knows

The world is similar to the world we live in now. We have all the same political, social and environmental issues, the same level of media, technology and education, the same strip malls, gas guzzlers and sitcoms.

Origins
People with exotic powers first came to the public eye in the late 50s, with a series of highly publicized crimes perpetrated by someone who could turn themselves invisible. Although this person was never caught, a team of exotic crime-fighters, known as “The American Dream,” was formed to help the people of the United States feel safer at night.

There is still no satisfactory explanation as to the origin of exotic abilities. Roughly 1 in 100,000 people manifests some kind of unexplained ability, ranging from the fairly mundane (such as Martin R. from Dallas, Texas, who can instantly tell the gender of any animal and when it last procreated) to the awesomely destructive that had previously only been the stuff of legend.

WatchTower
Exotic crime rose as more and more super-powered people emerged. In response, some of the original members of The American Dream (with endorsement from then-president Lyndon B. Johnson, along with other political, commercial and popular support) founded an organization named the WatchTower, aimed at fighting crime across the United States.

It quickly became impossible to fight crime over such a vast area, and the WatchTower privatized and branched out into several franchises. Over time this became the de facto standard for cities and/or states to protect themselves against exotic crime. The WatchTower has since spread to the rest of the world, with franchises on every populated continent.

Fortress
Fortress formed at the same time as WatchTower’s privatization. For security’s sake, not much is known about this branch of the government. They detain exotic criminals and are often involved in their apprehension, sometimes working with (and sometimes against) WatchTower operatives. The world’s only known prison for exotic criminals is run by Fortress and it’s location is a closely guarded secret.

Back from hiatus – some new WatchTower

My move to Canada and subsequent birth of my daughter kind of put my gaming on hold, but now I’m back in a regular group and I’m looking to run a WatchTower game with them. This will be my first time doing a bunch of things:

  • Running a supers game
  • Running Marvel system
  • Running WatchTower
  • Running a game for this group

I’m using Marvel for the main reason as we used it in the past: it’s easy to pick up 🙂 It’s been ages since I’ve run anything: with the exception of a brief (and bland) Pendragon scenario in 2007, the last thing I ran was some D&D in 2004 when I was thinking of writing for WotC. Unlike Matt, I don’t have the plug-n-play-GM gene, so I’m intending to put a bunch of prep work into this.

Now all I need to do is switch to polyphasic sleep so I get an extra three or four hours in my day.

Superheroes can be dicks

Forget Iron Man.

PJ pointed me at the new Hancock trailer.
It’s true, Hancock has gone from being a “Wild Wild West” kind of camp nonsense movie to a movie I’d really like to see and a game I’d like to run. That said, Iron Man, much more than the Fantastic Four or Spider Man has always been a bit of a dick when he was Tony Stark – and I loved reading his stories for it.

(He also links to Superdickery)

Superheroes are often dicks.

In the first Watchtower game, there were really three ‘dick’ moments. None of these were bad on the part of the player and they made for some excellent role-playing moments but they represented times when the superhero did things that were unexpected.

  • Gavin’s first character, Atomic III, was a non-powered descendant of a dynasty of superheroes. He worked hard, he built himself some superpower-providing devices and he started doing what superheroes do – prowling around trying to find people to pummel. In the end this played out very well as he went a little power mad, fueled by his ‘power inadequacy’ where, even though he was the most powerful of the heroes due to his devices, it wasn’t enough. He ended up becoming a villain and threw a train at the player characters (one of whom were superstrong or supertough). Then he killed their healer. Ouch. Gavin has an amazing sense of comedy for these kinds of things.
  • Gavin’s second character, Wraith, was a cross between Batman and Hawkeye (but ten times cooler than Hawkeye). His actual power was the ability to be invisible and undetectable. He could sneak into places, collect evidence that was inadmissible in court and then when the criminal was acquitted, despite being guilty, Wraith would follow him home and thrash him into unconsciousness. On one absolute gem of a game, Wraith sneaked into a woman’s house (he suspected she was the supervillainess Malice) and then when nothing untoward happened (she got home, put away her groceries and sat down to watch TV), rather than sneaking out, he just turned off his power in the middle of her living room. He appeared, she freaked out and he admitted he was her creepy stalker. Turns out she was actually Malice. Go figure.
  • John Dean’s character, Ebony, discovered that his teleport skill also worked for time travel. Note to other GMs: I was a lot younger and lot stupider and had never really given unlimited time travel to players before. The ‘dick’ moments came when the player characters, after traveling into the past and modifying the future just….couldn’t….stop…..going….back to tweak things to their preference. Jade Dragon lost his restaurant, then got it back. Wraith discovered he was dating and co-habiting with Malice but had no memory of their many-month relationship. I think they all deserved to be ‘dicks’ but the biggest dick of the lot was the GM. Oops.

In the more recent WatchTower game, they all had their fair share of dickery though Paul’s character, Balance (the priest with uncanny matter shaping abilities) probably had more moments which, though caused for the most part by the possession and emotion control powers of the villain, were roleplayed brilliantly. Like when he completely blasted the whole team and caused their flesh to slough off. That was beautiful. Or when he sealed mind-controlled proto vampires in an underground tunnel (rather than seeing if they could be cured). He was decisive, let’s be honest.

I like flawed characters, especially in superhero games because they can be flawed in much more effective ways. If you’re a dick in a Zombi game, then no-one cares because you could just be left outside at some point and that would really ruin your picnic. If you’re a dick in The 23rd Letter, again, there’s a damage limitation as even psychics don’t get an easy break. It ain’t all fun being an Esper.

But in a Superhero game, you’re often the possessor of a unique ability (at least within your team) and that means you’ve pretty special. When you’re pissed off and do something about it, people notice.

We (Aidan and I) going to try playing a Superhero game online in the next couple of weeks. One player, one GM (for a while at any rate). I’ve asked Aidan to think of a character and some of the things he wants to do, or components of the world we will be playing in. I’d have asked him to do it in Wild Talents colour codes but, frankly, I’m not very keen on them and also he doesn’t have the book so it would be impenetrable to him. (It does make me want to create a ‘world builder’ for superhero games. I have it in my head how to do it (and it could be done in software too – a simple web form, oh yeah!))

I wonder about the playability of a world where there is one superbeing. And he’s the player character. Who are you foes? Do we spend more time looking at interpersonals? Do we add ‘reality’ while accepting that there is one guy in the world who can chew through steel? How does he live? How does he pay his way? Handouts?

I don’t know what Aidan will bring to the table but I’m excited about the opportunity to play a bit more.

“I don’t have any choice, somebody has to save the world”

I’ve been reading a lot of old comics this week.

There’s been a recent thread on RPG.net about creating a setting where Superheroes conquered the world.

This, along with other memes, was part of what I was working on with the Watchtower game.

When I first started writing my own superhero settings for the Marvel Super Heroes game, I started with Zenith. This was the name of a team of superheroes based in the UK (and years before Zenith the superhero started in 2000AD). The original lineup was Metalon (strongman), a Minddancer (telepath) and Shatter (telekinetic). As time went on, the lineup changed. Metalon and Shatter stayed, but they added Aura (telepath), Scorch (pyrokinetic), Sentinel (energy manipulator) and Synapse (speedster). It was around this time that I started writing my own fiction around these characters which turned into my first and only attempt at a novel. As I was about fourteen, it needed some work, needless to say.

Zenith stayed with me for around 3 years until they lost their government funding. Synapse died, Metalon and Sentinel left and a new group called Apocalypse Inc. started, funded by the rich but probably insane Hemlock (snaffled from Jack of Hearts, Marvel Premiere #44). Additions to the team were Stasis (Healer) and Nucleon (radiation controller). There were also villains from the time: Tantrum and Hysteria, Skybreaker, The Red Menace, Lillith. This was all using the Marvel System.

I started writing my combined UK background for superheroes, including the WW1 supersoldier, Yeoman, his modern day clone, Lionheart, Lancaster, Vitesse, Prodigy, La Feu, Striker, Plasma, Blaze “Death!”, Frost, Nano, DeathMaster, Deacon, Schreck.

Not long after I started playing in Jeremy’s game and this introduced the Zombie Squad to my cosmology. The lineup, as I recall, was Sergeant Strike (scrapper with a force field), Demon Motorbike guy (it had a graser too), UnderGraduate Von Doom (you know, ruler of small country, but before he got his doctorate), Stick (a martial artist) and Baron Samedi (voodoo loa). They fought giant robots, travelled to Ravenloft (where we recruited Strahd) and other places and annoyed an ancient evil a million years ago in a place a million light years away which immediately started pursuing them at light speed. And should have arrived…just…about…then. I don’t remember fighting it. I think we may have changed game. Or left the group. I don’t remember. We used Jeremy’s homebrew system for this game.

The next superhero game involved the Protectors. These individuals: Glitter, Warhead, Download, Quill, Inferno – faced off a weather manipulator in Colorado and that was the only game we played. We used the ill-fated Heroes and Heroines for this.

After that, we had quite a few one-offs until I got a few friends together, wrote a backstory for the US involvement in the world and started my first Watchtower game. This was really the first superhero game that I placed in the USA. The Watchtower was an organisation that spanned the US with approximately 40 offices across the nation. They had quasi-legal status with the US government though few actual legal powers but a good relationship with the Federal government made crime-fighting a lot easier. The San Francisco team had recently been killed by a bloodthirsty voillain known as Bloodrage and they were recruiting new members. They were Jade Dragon (Alan), Atomic III (Gavin), Bullet (Iain), Ebony (John) and Ivory (Aidan). Gavin’s second character, Wraith, debuted when he let Atomic III go mad. Aidan’s second character, Quickening, replaced Ivory pretty soon as well. Most notably they eliminated (yes, that is a euphemism for killed) Bloodrage and defeated ARES. the US Supersoldier. They also witnessed first hand the issues with FORTRESS and why time-travel is bad.

This involved creating a whole background for the US as well. This was “The American Dream” and had luminaries such as Atomic I, Lifeline, Moon Boy and others I don’t remember. World War 2 superheroes and their unfinished legacies.

A few years later, we continued with the New York Watchtower. Again it started with a recruitment drive where Balance (Paul), Yellowfist (Gavin), Indigo (Aidan) and Skyhook (Rob) joined up with other existing members (Red Shift, Psiren, Jack White) to bolster out the membership. There was a conspiracy afoot to extend the reach of the Watchtower globally though ‘conspiracy’ often has negative connotations. This was the beginnings of an “Authority” level campaign which is why I permitted the monstrously powerful characters that the players had. e.g.

  • Yellowfist, a modern-day Native American shaman gained his powers by channeling spirits. In theory he could do anything but he only had Falcon and Bear at the start.
  • Skyhook could move huge amounts of stuff around with the power of his mind. This includes a TK gun platform as well as being able to lift huge amounts.
  • Balance has absolute control over matter – being able to shape almost any amount at will and being able to transmute other amounts.
  • Indigo, a high tech hero, had teleportation abilities which could place objects on the outskirts of the solar system.

The “plan” was that they would have the opportunity to step into these roles. Yellowfist as the infantry, with Skyhook as artillery, Balance as the engineers and Indigo as recon and supply. Sadly they only got round to cleaning up the oceans before, due to real life, we had to split the group.

I’d still like to continue that game, in theory, with the same or different characters.

This finishes some of the cosmology for my superhero games.

Converting some WatchTower characters to Wild Talents.

Codename: Warhead AKA David Bruce Brandon
Appearance: Warhead is an 8 ft tall humanoid suit of armour. Brandon is a slighty overweight man with unkempt brown hair and bushy eyebrows.
Background: Dr David Brandon is a robotics engineer. He discovered his electrical generation powers as a teen and quickly started to use it to power small devices. The Warhead armour was the culmination of a series of inventions which, while they seemed revolutionary, could only be used by him. Along with the armour, he has a motorcyle and an electric car; neither of which have batteries. David loves the thrill of adventure when in the suit.
Known Talent Abilities: David can generate electrical energy. It’s of a sufficiently low level that it cannot be used to create dangerous attacks but it has been use to power the warhead armour removing the need for bulky power supplies.

  • Harm (AU) – Shock only

The Warhead Armour provides the following advantages

  • Armour (Heavy Armour)
  • Strength (HyperBody)
  • Protection from cold, heat, pressure, oxygen (Immunity)

Sparkle AKA Helen Louise Ross
Appearance: Sparkle is a blonde caucasian woman in her mid-thirties. She’s attractive but her demeanour is very downtrodden. She is surrounded by sparkling motes in the air around her.
Background: Helen was a normal working mum with 2 kids, a busy husband and a dog. She was driving her children home from school when a car ran a red light and was about to hit her car when it was enveloped in sparkling light. The car was hefted over her car and into oncoming traffic causing a 7-car pile-up. Thankfully no-one died. She drove home, shaken more by the Sparkles which still surrounded her, than the accident. Her husband was not understanding, however, and within a matter of weeks she was homeless, presented with a restraining order preventing her from contacting her children and facing charges for criminal damages to 7 cars and 13 personal injury claims. These days, bankrupt and with a 2 year probationary sentence, she work on a construction site as a Lifter and has fallen in with a Talent support group.
Known Talent Abilities:
Sparkle can generate a visible telekinetic field within a short range of her body. The area effect of her ability is indicated by the movement of sparkling motes in the air which affect her ability to remain concealed. She calls this her “Sparkle Effect”.

  • Telekinesis (ADU) – Obvious
  • Flight (U) attached to Telekinesis – Booster, Multiple Targets

Inferno AKA Brad Nelson
Appearance: A well-built caucasian man in his twenties with blond hair
and grey eyes. When using his power, his hair and eyes are usually ‘leaking’ flames.
Background: Brad Nelson was always spoiled. He was tall, good looking, excellent at sports and graduated valedictorian of his class. He had it all and he was a Talent. But, like all spoiled brats, he was greedy. Brad debuted as a supervillain known as Phlogiston in New York. On his first outing, a bank robbery, he was utterly defeated and catapulted into the Hudson. It was desperately humbling. His resolution: become a hero. He took acting lessons, spent more time in the gym and at the dojo, moved across the continent and got himself a PR Agent. He’s not rich, not yet…
Known Talent Abilities:
Inferno can release flame from any part of his body. The shape and intensity of the flame can vary in intensity and he is immune to it’s effects. He cannot lessen ambient flame nor can he shape it into anything other than a burst, though he can reduce the effects.

  • Harm (ARU) – Burn, Killing Only, Engulf, Spray, Obvious
  • Immunity to Flame/Heat – Endless

Hemlock AKA Robert Gage
Appearance: Hemlock is a powerfully built human male who usually wears a close fitting impermeable black garment underneath his normal clothes. His gloves and mask are removable.
Background: Robert Gage developed his toxin producing abilities during gestation and as a result his mother died during an emergency procedure. As he was being delivered, his poisons killed two nurses and incapacitated his doctor. His father fled and refused to have anything to do with him and he was given to an orphanage. He spent his entire youth in isolation, limbs wrapped in plastic, terrified that his touch would kill. Always studious, he was awarded several scholarships, none of which he could accept. After his 16th birthday, he left the orphanage and attempted to make his own way in the world – not an easy task considering his isolationbut he muddled through gaining many useful contacts. Three years later, he was contacted by a lawyer as the sole inheritor of his father’s estate. No longer with any need to work or interact with others for money, he is free to do as his heart desires.
Known Talent Abilities:
Hemlock’s body exudes a powerful toxin which renders a target into an intoxicated delirium and, in very high doses, will kill. He has no control over this effect and therefore gauges the dose as best he can. (Using his poison skill to try to reduce damage).

  • Skill: Poison (to gobble Harm dice)
  • Harm (A, R) – Always On, Touch Only

Episode Seven: 28th October 2000

“This is Kitty Thoreau for LCI News Dakota in a prefab cabin built by the newly inaugurated WatchTower New York. What are they doing in Dakota? Good question and something we’ll answer after the break.”

RASA Fashion, the leading bespoke tailors are now touring the Dakotas. Call 1-80-555-5555 to find your nearest store.

melissastark.png

“We’re back with more news on the WatchTower. We’re not in Dakota which is one reason – we’re suspended a mile above the Atlantic coast while WatchTower New York takes steps to clean the terrible environmental disaster caused by an unidentified superpowered terrorist. To pull this herculean effot together, they’ve pulled in technical staff from Torus Research, a leading edge technology corporation and using technology licensed from the UK-based Prodigy Corporation.

The amazing thing is that this building was created from the air by Balance, the leader of WatchTower New York. We’re currently being held aloft by Yellow Fist, the superhumanly strong scrapper who provides WatchTower with much-needed muscle. I’ve been talking with Indigo, the wearer of the Torus Research prototype “Rescue Suit” designed to help locate and rescue people in danger and two senior technicians from Torus; Mikey and Pete. I’m told we also owe some thanks to SkyCrane who is acting as a forward observer ten miles up.”

[She pauses and walks around the prefab, pointing at the individuals and the equipment]

“This device, dubbed the VacScoop, is removing all of the pollutants collected on our nations beaches and removing them, dumping them into deep space. The process of cleaning all the world’s oceans of 90% of pollutants is apparently going to take less than 12 hours. The question this journalist has is: Why hasn’t anyone done this before?

[she pauses and the sound goes out]

“I’ve just been told we’re going to teleport to the Indian Ocean, on the other side of the planet, to continue this work. I can really see this being a viable alternative to aircraft flights with instantaneous travel, no risk of deep-vein thrombosis. Yes, it can send you to the Bahamas but you have to purchase your ticket 30 days in advance.”

[she grins an award winning smile]

“Just joking folks, this advanced tech is still in testing which does make me a little nervous but it seems to be working fine.

Just so we’re clear: we’re saving the world here….on live TV….”

Episode Six – 28th October 2000

The team was immediately dispatched to intercept the intruder who seemed to be a humanoid waterspout, heading towards the land. Debate ended fruitlessly with the humanoid who called itself “Ocean” and a short battle ensued – Yellowfist, Balance and SkyCrane providing the muscle, Psiren and INDIGO the recon. Eventually a psychic targetting from Psiren enabled Yellowfist to strike at the source of the ocean manipulation, knocking him out.

The episode ends with the team holding onto Ocean and wondering what to do with him. If they turn him over they know for sure he’ll disappear into the depths of Fortress, never to be seen again. And what’s to be done about the several thousand miles of pollutants along the shores of North America?

Episode Five – 28th October 2000

“Any other business?” was the last words of the meeting spoken before the polished teak of the conference table began to dribble onto the floor into a congealing mess. The wood grain, melting and flowing like and oily slick. The assembled team, everyone minus Balance, had the same word on their lips “Balance”…the marble floor of the conference room began to sag and spill into the basement below and even the walls of the room seemed to curve inwards as if the massive weight of the building was pushing down upon itself.

The effect began to fade as soon as it appeared with only two notable clues. Both, impressions of some of the Ten Commandments, appearing on solid surfaces.

Balance returned to the WatchTower to find the place in disarray and assisted the technical teams in reshaping the walls and surfaces back to what they should have been. He had to endure some interrogation as he was not only the solution but the prime suspect. It was apparent however, that the WatchTower was under attack.

And it was not over, either.

As soon as the last block of marble was fixed, there was another attack. This time a series of bursts of psychokinetic energy which caused a constant 1 mm/sec movement of nearly everything within WatchTower. There was more prperty damage as fixed objects tore free from their housings and every few minutes there was a massive burst which smashed wood and bent steel.

Still under attack, there was a more pressing concern. Reports of sewage and pollutants washing up on shores across the eastern and western seaboards had been a minor news story earlier and Red Shift had investigated. Now it was the most important thing as a humanoid figure was spotted at the edge of the pollution belt, heading for the Eastern Coast of the US. As the most capable team on the East coast, WatchTower NY was deployed….

Episode Four – 27th October 2000, PM

Skycrane and Psiren arrived safely on the rooftop of WatchTower and were greeted by a concerned INDIGO and the team Paramedic, Robert. Nothing could be done about Skycrane’s smouldering flesh and Robert quipped that it might “clear up in a day or so”. With them, of course, was a bundle wrapped in a red fore blanket which was revealed to be Stephanie Butler, a marketing Exec from Manhattan. She claimed to have been snatched from the street by this red blanket and that left INDIGO looking puzzled at Skycrane. Psiren, at this point, was still unconscious and could add no testimony. Stephanie Butler was detained under the Dangerous Superhuman Felons Act for 24 hours of observation.

Meanwhile, across town, Balance and Yellowfist were flitting over the rooftops and touched down on a busy backstreet. While attracting a lot of attention, they slipped over to the building they were interested in and noticed that the padlock was missing. Entering the warehouse they found boxes, racks of more boxes and a lift shaft leading down…they investigate the lift and Yellowfirst takes a liking to a mini-forklift and starts to wonde rout loud about whether he should have large heavy, forklift-sized , bladed weapons. Forklift in one hand and superpowered priest in the other, Yellowfist starts to descend the lift shaft into darkness.

Meanwhile across town Skycrane and INDIGO set off for the building, eager to provide backup to their companions. They arrive in a split second due to the T-Jump capabilities of INDIGO’s AMP suit and quickly start to descend into the darkness after Yellowfist and Balance.

At the bottom of the shaft, they find and start to explore the tunnel with a special shield composed of steel, made from the very air by Balance’s unearthly abilities. Along that tunnel they find a passage, smooth surfaced, made by man’s hand which leads them deeper into the ground. INDIGO scouting ahead finds that the tunnel opens into a roughly hewn chamber and inside are four superhumans and nearly thirty of these rag-tag denizens of the darkness.

Yellowfist and Skycrane enter quickly and begin to subdue the superhumans who they identify as Sewer, Killerwatt, Gridlock and Asphalt. These superhumans are subdued easily but the denizens start to attack and only stopped by the quick judgement of Balance who steps in and burns them with his searing, invisible Penance Blessing. The team then set about securing the supervillains. Gridlock was slain by the denizens and Sewer escaped by they have KillerWatt and Asphalt in custody. Not a bad innings!

Once this is done, the team start to investigate the remaining roughly carved tunnels. There’s something else out there, an oppressive psychic presence, but try as they might, they cannot track it down…

The scene ends with the team returning to WatchTower with much to think about and some new captives. They’ll have to put them somewhere….

[Above is a true and accurate recollection of everything that you remember.]

sometimes you have to wear your work clothes to the doctor

SXSW covers “Confessions of Superhero” which shows the strange and seedy world of superhero lookalikes…

We see Joe McQueen demolished by the heat inside his colossal Hulk costume — on a record 106-degree day, it’s a brutal 130 degrees inside the emerald-tinged mass of foam … Superman chugs milk right from the jug; Wonder Woman roots in her glove box through the open window of her car as valet parking guys check out her ass; Batman takes a smoke break.

Here’s the link at SXSW’s site and a review at WIRED DOT COM.

Lastly, here’s the web site of the film. Wonder Woman is kinda hot!

Episode Three – 27th October 2000

Things started off innoculously enough as Donna the receptionist watched the rank and file of WatchTower New York file into the conference room. Jack introduced a new staffmember, Yellowfist, a Sioux warrior who embodies the totems of both Eagle and Bear providing him with superhuman strength and the power of flight.

Red greeted him warmly as did Psiren and Balance though there was some palpable resentment as Skycrane realised that there was a contendor for “mightiest man in the universe”.

The subject moved from the contentious “Sanction Zero” to the events at Liberty Island three days earlier and how the latter might relate to the recent advisory about Smog, Sewer, Asphalt, KillerWatt and Gridlock. What was Squall doing on Liberty Island?

RedShift was dispatched north to the site of a reported fish kill, something he wasn’t thrilled about while the remainder of the team moved to the roof of the building where Balance fashioned a sturdy two-metre wide silver plate from the air, much to the amazement of the rest of the team. Though it was a little unsteady at first, Skycrane effortlessly lifted the plate into the air and the team stepped onto it before winging their way across the city to Liberty Island. Much more dignified than being carried or suspended in mid-air by SkyCrane’s TK.

As they landed safely on the grass, Balance evaporated the silver plate, secure in the knowledge he would be able to summon it up again should they need it.

They spent the next couple of hours interviewing the security staff at the Island until a chance comment caught Skycrane’s trained ear. There were TWO ways to get off the island other than through self-powered flight? The boat was obvious but on further investigation it was revealed that there was a cargo lift and train that tunnelled under the Hudson. At last, a lead…

The team descended in the lift, inspecting the rooms as they went by and checking the status of the generator room. In the cargo basement they could hear the gentle booming of the Hudson above them and a dark tunnel stretched east towards the city, unlit because the only thing to go in or come out of it was an automated train.

Skycrane, impulsive as ever, grabbed a halogen flashlight and sped off down the tunnel. As his lamp dimmed in the darkness, Psiren gasped and began to worry. There was something in the tunnel. Something….hungry

Psiren’s screams echoed down the tunnel and Skycrane turned on a pin and began to speed through the darkness and burst out into the basement warehouse where Psiren was visibly panicking. She took a long stare down the corridor and shrieked “They’re comingggggggg”.

The next few minutes were a blur of activity as a rag-tag group of men and women burst from the darkness of the tunnel with teeth gnashing and claws raking the air. Yellowfist swatted one and Skycrane bulldozed a group of them with his TK-Ram. They were not just normal humans as they seemed to easily shake off the powerful fists and TK-Rams of Yellowfist and Skycrane.

In the midst of the panic stood Balance, who was holding back from the group as the horrors approached. He could feel something in the darkness, something reaching for him, peeling back the layers of his brain and stroking the contours of his mind with blackened hands. In an attempt to rid himself of the dark and forbidden evil, he let slip with his most devastating attack, right at his two comrades, Yellowfist and Skycrane. A pyrotechnic display of excited atoms and the inner fire from a billion molecular bonds breaking down came from the two as they were immediately assailed by this terrible death-ray effect and eventually Skycrane sagged to the ground, bleeding from every pore. Yellowfist grunted and gritted his teeth through the pain as his Bear-Totem roared within and at that moment his mind was made up. He scooped his team in his arms and summing the Eagle, flew up the lift shaft to safety. Skycrane revived seconds later, though weak from the microfractures in his cell membranes and they waited and watched as their assailants began to scale the walls of the lift shaft.

Seemingly recovered, Balance held out his hand and began to seal the top of the lift chamber with his matter molding powers but not before Skycrane grabbed one of the attackers and hoisted him above where he was bludgeoned into unconsciousness by Yellowfist. Trying to take him outside revived the thing and each time they had to beat him into submission.

To resolve this, they wrapped the unconscious form in a fire blanket and Yellowfist and Balance resolved to travel to the other end of the tunnel and seal it shut as Skycrane took the unconscious Psiren to WatchTower for medical assistance.

What to find?

Watchtower: Just in over the wire

++++ADVANCE NOTIFICATION ++++ WATCHTOWER EYES ONLY++++

Five superhuman individuals have been contracted for operations unknown in East Coast North America, most likely New York. All operatives in the East Coast region are to collect information and relay to WatchTower Central Services Command.

Codenames

  • Sewer (powers unknown)
  • Gridlock (speedster)
  • KillerWatt (electricity generation)
  • Asphalt (solid material shaping)
  • Smog (powers unknown)

KillerWatt

  • Real Name: Helen Schultz
  • Occupation: Burglar, hired assassin
  • Citizenship: USA, has criminal record
  • Known colleagues: Squall, Hellstrike
  • Powers and abilities:
    KillerWatt is armed with an insulating uniform with embedded battery
    packs. She is able to control the flow of electricity in her immediate
    area and has trained extensively with this ability.

Asphalt

  • Real Name: Eugene Benjamin
  • Occupation: Hired assassin
  • Citizenship: USA, has criminal record
  • Known colleagues: None
  • Powers and abilities:
    Asphalt can reform his body into an asphalt-like substance which
    affords him superhuman strength and resistance. He also has
    limited control of other surfaces and materials.

Gridlock

  • Real Name: Richard Carter
  • Occupation: Hired Assassin
  • Citizenship: USA, has criminal record
  • Known colleagues: None
  • Powers and abilities:
    Gridlock can change the speed of himself or others. He usually
    uses it to make himself into a speedster and, at the same time,
    slow everyone else down.

Sewer

  • No information found.

Smog

  • No information found.

++++

Captain America and other patriots

From onegoodmove we have Stephen Colbert on the tragic death of Captain America

One of my friends, Gav, mentioned the Civil War storyline. Cap represents the forces of liberty and Iron man is a defense contractor. I can’t help but think that there’s a writer in Marvel’s hallowed halls who’s sick of the current government situation in the US. But that’s dangerously close to satire and reality so let’s change the subject.

I’ve always liked “patriot” characters. I’ve never managed to make an Irish one though, I’ve always ended up with British super-patriot heroes. Some of them (Yeoman, Lionheart, RUCman) have become staples of my superhero backgrounds. A lot of this is because I was always an avid reader of Captain Britain.

Some of these characters I have a lot of empathy for.

Yeoman, the hundred and forty year old WW1 hero who shows no sign of failing health and yet who is possessed of the most desperate ennui. But he’s a knight of the way and his shoulders are broad and he still has a long way to go.

Lionheart, the modern clone of Yeoman, full of Thatcherite reason and lately New Labour sincerity. Violent and aggressive, just like the general populace.

RUCman, short-lived in terms of the campaign but oft remembered. This superhuman attaché to the RUC has left the shackles of the government since the change of the organisations name to the PSNI. PSNIman doesn’t have the same ring….

Episode Two – 26th October 2000

At 9 am, the doors to the conference room open and a motley crew of individuals file in. At the head of the table sits Jack White, the marble-faced CEO of WatchTower New York. Clockwise around the table we see Father Julian Devon (later to be known as Balance), Jason also known as INDIGO and three new individuals. The first introduces himself as SkyCrane (though you can call him Ben), the second calls himself Red Shift (speaking with a deep Southern accent) and the third as Psiren. It becomes apparent that Skycrane can lift huge weights with the power of his mind and fly and he quickly slots into the role of the team “Brick”. Red Shift claims to be “fast, too fast to see proper”. Psiren claims to be a telepath and empath and that she can become the communications backbone of the team.

Father Julian looks confused but is assured by White that everything has been sorted out with his Bishop. More on this later.

The team are informed of the plans for WatchTower. They will be the primary team operating out of TriBeCa. The second team will be operating out of the WatchTower NY training facility in the Catskills. They are also informed of White’s intentions to construct a WatchTower franchise outside of the United States through a special Sanction Zero which has been proposed by the United Nations. He refuses to elaborate at this time.

After this briefing, the team is introduced to Nicole Menshikov, the Public Relations Executive. Her job is to help the team settle into their new role, manage relocations and cement public identities and ensure that private identities are protected. She criticises INDIGO for his lack of insignia, questions Father Julian about his codename (which he eventually relents to, with Balance) and discusses the facilities available to WatchTower staff for keeping identities private. The meeting finishes as the group start to chat among themselves with Psiren finishing questions before they are asked which some find irritating.

The last thing they do is look up the now-deceased Squall. Known accomplices including two superpowered miscreants known as KillerWatt and HellStrike.

As lunch Approaches, Father Julian invites Psiren, also known as Alice, to lunch at Liberty Island. His gesture is more investigatory than complimentary and they spend time walking around the island. He and Jason bring a multimeter and test various objects in the environment. He’s looking out for any signs of Squall’s accomplices.

Psiren is able to detect empathic impressions from the area and she elucidates her feelings on the region. Suspecting collusion, Jason flashes his WatchTower badge at the head of security, a short, balding man called Lopez. He promises to fax over the duty roster for the 24th. The group also resolve to obtain schematics of Liberty Island. There must be something beneath….

Episode One – 24th October 2000

Tonight….

We introduced two of the characters to each other.

Father Julian Devon, a priest with a secret, is taking his orphans to Liberty Island. Meanwhile, a young scientist is trying out his new Stealthsuit, a suit of armour which also gives him the ability to turn almost invisible and, wait for it, teleport 25 000 000 miles in a second…

Father Julian notices a dark cloud heading in to shore and racing up the Hudson. Under it, floats a lone figure in black. Emergency responses alert the WatchTower which then alerts it’s first recruit, the scientist operating under the code name INDIGO. He teleports to the top of the World Trade Center and from there, to the observation deck of the Statue of Liberty. As he arrives, the cloud has reached the foot of the statue and the person it carries has touched down.

As the storm clouds swarm, everyone crowds inside the statue building, all save one: Father Julian. He confronts the dark figure and words are exchanged. The dark figure raises his hand and a brilliant bolt of lightning arcs down from the skies. There is a huge burst of light and when our eyes clear from the flash, only the priest is standing. His antagonist lies smoking and burned upon the grass. Father Julian touches him and utters a short prayer, as stunned as anyone at what has happened.

The emergency services response arrives and everyone is required to give statements. The burned man is taken in an ambulance to hospital and later dies from his injuries. INDIGO decides to investigate this priest further but before he can take action, Father Julian, urged by a young nun at the orphanage, arrives at the WatchTower to confess his actions. He reveals his powers to INDIGO and Jack White, the inscrutable, marble-skinned CEO of WatchTower New York. Jack agrees to speak to Father Julians Bishop and see if they can resolve his feelings of remorse at the accident earlier that day.

Next Week….some of the other heroes who will inhabit WatchTower New York, will arrive.

Episode Zero: The Premise

Premise:

Game start is June 2000.

There are superheroes. There is no known definitive reason for their being, but they’ve been among us for decades. During the war years, the Allies and Axis powers deployed their own superbeings in the armed struggle and the US continued to use superbeings in all of their conflicts for the next 50 years. There are some of these teams and individuals still active. The most famous in the US was “The American Dream” – a team of patriotic superbeings who contributed widely to the Allied cause, as well as being the main strike force in Vietnam.

The US (where our game is set) is divided on the issue of superbeings. Many feel there has to be some sort of licensing of superbeings as there are some who can literally flatten cities with their powers and it is perhaps only luck which has prevented this thus far.

The Watch Tower:
The US Government has taken the initiative of starting a federated system for superbeing protection of cities and states: The Watch Tower. Each state has a minimum of 1 Watchtower installation with at least one superbeing stationed there. Some locations are luckier than others and the resources available to the WatchTower in San Francisco would be very different to the resources provided to a WatchTower in Idaho or Montana. Upkeep of the WatchTower is an accounting nightmare due to the necessity to ensure that the WatchTower makes money through licensing of trademarks, images, intellectual property and technology. The WatchTowers may also “sell” additional protections beyond the necessary to cities, regions, corporations and private individuals.

FORTRESS:
The realisation that state prisons and penitentiaries are utterly insufficient for the incarceration of superbeings came early but it wasn’t until the mid-80s that anyone could do anything about it. Technology could, in some cases, suppress the abilities of superbeings but in the mid-90s, a task force focussed on solving this problem came up with Fortress. Some of their restraints have been described as inhumane, but we are reminded that humane solutions are for human beings. FORTRESS is incorporated as a public-held company under the watchful reign of the CEO, President and major shareholder, Jorden Grainger.

Personalities:

BloodRage – multiple serial killer and US-based terrorist. After a series of very public displays including the 1998 bombing of the Orange County Womens Correctional Facility in which 120 people died and an unknown number of superhuman felons escaped, BloodRage disappeared and has not been seen in public since.

Atomic I: One of the heroes of the Vietnam-era American Dream, badly injured by BloodRage, but returned to active duty as an independent in 1999. His power, manipulation of nuclear radiation, has resulted in his being contracted over the years out to other nations in order to clear up nuclear spills in Chernobyl, Hamm-Uentrop, Hessen, Tomsk and Tokai-mura. He is a senior member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Atomic III: Though born unpowered, the son of Atomic I developed advanced technology which permitted him to manipulate intense magnetic fields. This technology was subsequently licensed to nations and corporations in order to better control their nuclear reactors and high-energy colliders. In early 1999, Atomic III was missing, presumed dead and his magnetic-impluse gauntlets were used in a crime wave which resulted in the death of the superbeing Lifeline.

Lifeline: Born with the ability to heal others of almost any injury or affliction, Lifeline craved a peaceful life. His powers, though potent, worked best on superbeings and he felt real guilt that they were not more effective on normal humans. in many cases, his healing abilities were only temporary when applied to normal humans. Lifeline was assassinated by persons unknown in 1999. it is known that superbeings from around the globe, heroic and criminal, attended his funeral.

Vitesse: the national hero of France, known for his television and movie appearances, excessive use of stimulants and liberal attitudes to clothing, porn and sex in the media.

Prodigy: major shareholder of the UK-based Prodigy Corporation, Prodigy is now in his mid-20s and still the major supplier of advanced technology to the highest bidder. Prodigy has collaborated with others to build some of the advanced technology we see in use and his company provides the IP protection and licensing for all parties.

The Protectors: based on the west coast of the USA, the Protectors provide a non-governmental alternative to the WatchTower. Their roster: Inferno, Sparkle, Warhead

Moon Boy: the only active member of the original WWII-era American Dream. The scope of his abilities are unknown.

Malice: one of the known escapees of the Orange county Penitentiary bombing in 1998. Malice was captured in late 1999 and placed within Fortress.

The Zombie Squad: mostly inactive “team” of superbeings based in Miami who were partially active during the early 90s. Some of their number still respond but most have simply disappeared.

Hemlock: international assassin.

WatchTower New York: possibly the best funded WatchTower in the country. Roster: The Enigma, White Lightning, Minddancer, Shatter, Scorch, Sentinel, Metalon, SkyWarrior, Dominic Drake. The current team has just lost the extremely lucrative franchise to the WatchTower in New York after a series of costly mishaps and poor public opinion.