The first day of Con on the Cob 2007 wrapped up at just after midnight.For Gus and I; when we left there were still several games and the con suite was still abuzz with activity, including Larry Elmore and one of the convention volunteers bouncing some sort of ball back and forth across the table. Was it a game? I don’t know, but they seemed to be enjoying it. Following four rounds of the Quick Draw competition—the first three I’ve already mentioned, the theme of the fourth was “A Sentient Tub of Butter Fomenting an Agrarian Uprising Against the Cow From Whence It Came” and resulted in two equally fantastic drawings—and some pizza, Gus and I adjourned to our first roleplaying event.
Introduction to Mutants & Masterminds
Game Master: Steve Kenson
Scenario: The Wreck Room
The intro to Green Ronin‘s Mutants & Masterminds setting was a (relatively) short one; only two hours. Game designer Steve Kenson gave a brief overview of the game, explaining character stats, powers, feats and skills and how the basic game mechanics work. Mutants & Masterminds uses a single twenty-sided die for all skill checks, so there’s never any fumbling around and wondering which of your many colorful polyhedrons apply to the task at hand. Roll a d20, add the appropriate modifier and report the result to the Game Master. Piece of cake.
After explaining the game and answering a few questions, Steve launched right into the scenario. We were all members of The Freedom League, training in The Wreck Room, a highly advanced danger simulator designed to put our powers and abilities to the test. In this exercise, we were split in two teams and pitted against one another in a game of Capture the Ball, in which the object was to simply find the ball and possess it for eighteen consecutive seconds. A complex array of interlocking steel rods turned the Wreck Room into a jungle gym, just to complicate things.
Team One: Bowman (played by gus), a deadly accurate archer; Dr. Metropolis, who embodies the spirit of Freedom City and bends the very environment to his will; Johnny Rocket, a man who moves even faster than his namesake.
Team Two: Daedalus, immortal Greek inventor who uses his mighty power armor to dispense justice; The Raven (played by me), the dark detective who has several clever tricks in her utility belt.
The game was very quick and a lot of fun. Everyone got plenty of chances to show off their powers (or, in The Raven’s case, the contents of her utility belt) and the ball changed hands quite frequently. Johnny Rocket was able to grab the ball in the first round, but Daedalus took it by force two round later. The Raven used a smoke bomb to conceal Daedalus and then Bowman accidentally plunged the Wreck Room into darkness with his EMP arrowThe EMP arrow wasn’t in Bowman’s equipment, according to his character sheet, but Gus spent a Hero Point to declare that he had one. A moment later, I spent a Hero Point to declare that The Raven carried a pair of night vision goggles on her utility belt (which, again, wasn’t on the character sheet). In the introduction to the game, Kenson had likened this method of expending hero points to the scene in Batman: The Movie, where Batman just happens to have Bat Robotic Shark Repellent when he is being attacked by a robotic shark. Other ways to expend Hero Points include re-rolling in the event of a bad die roll at a critical time or immediately shaking off the effects of being Stunned.. Ultimately, The Raven failed to learn the lesson that it’s nearly impossible to catch Johnny Rocket off-guard; she failed to dazzle him with her flash bomb or trap him with her adhesive pellets (another Hero Point expenditure) and wound up on the receiving end of his whirlwind vortex, which rendered her unconscious until the end of the game.
We ran out of time before either team had managed to hold the ball for the required eighteen seconds (three game rounds), but the adventure was a good way to introduce the Mutants & Masterminds system and showcase some of its unique features.
Now that we’d been introduced to the system, it was time for Gus and I to dive into a four-hour session with power-level 14 characters.
Mutants & Masterminds: A.G.E. of Heroes – “The Walls Come Tumbling Down”
Game Master: Sean P. Fannon
Characters: Shiva (played by me), a four-armed martial artist; Incendus (played by Gus), a fire elemental; Nerys, the Excalibur-wielding modern-day incarnation of the Lady in the Lake; PDQ, a speedster with the ability to turn himself insubstantial; Sarge, a living weapon; Alexander Running Wolf, a Native American powerhouse, strong enough to throw a garbage truck into orbit.
The game began with the heroes gathered in Washington, D.C. as a host of punk angels assaulted the Washington Monument to the sound of heavenly thrash metal. Though outnumbered at least two-to-one, the heroes made short work of the winged vandals and discovered that one was not quite who he seemed to be.
Joseph, the angel whom Running Wolf captured, revealed that the marauding seraphim were members of the archangel Gabriel’s army, and that their attack was but a diversion, meant to keep the heroes of Earth busy while a dark force known as The Shadow Host attempted to use an ancient and powerful artifact to free a powerful ally and ultimately to destroy all of mankind. Joseph, an agent of the archangel Raphael, infiltrated the ranks of Gabriel’s army to learn more about his nefarious plot and to enlist the aid of Earth’s heroes.
Joseph and the heroes journeyed to the UNISO base on Storm Island, an underground facility that houses the Storm Gate, a carefully controlled wormhole. With the assistance of UNISO personnel, Joseph enabled the Storm Gate to transport himself and the heroes to a strange dimension where the angel used his sword to rend a hole in the very fabric of space. Explaining that he would die if he entered the Dark dimension where the ancient prisoner was held in eternal stasis, Joseph sent the heroes onward.
The heroes found themselves in an eerie and unsettling landscape of rocky platforms, over the edge of which was the Dark abyss. In the distance, the glimpsed a mighty castle, surely their destination. Without a second thought, Running Wolf split off a large section of the rocky platform and, holding it above his head, invited those heroes lacking the power of flight to climb atop it. Once PDQ, Sarge and Shiva were aboard the stone slab, Running Wolf took to the air, still holding the rocky platform over his head. Nerys and Incendus, both capable of flight, led the way to the castle, where Incendus blasted through the werewolf guards and ignored the door in favor of melting a large hole in the wall.
Inside the castle, the forces of evil were already at work. A mighty battle ensued and the villains (whose names I cannot recall, save for The Ghoul and Baron Gnaw) were forced to flee, leaving behind the Spear of Longinus, the artifact they had planned to use to free a being so vile that he had been ejected from Hell. Spear in hand, the heroes returned to Storm Island, victorious, if only for the moment.
And that about wrapped it up for our first day. Two gaming sessions totaling just over six hours. On the menu tomorrow: the exhibitor’s hall and…more gaming.