Sunday, May 17, 2015

Under Strange Suns - Session 4 - a Sherlock Holmes/Dark Sun/Star Wars Campaign


Making Wookie Noises


Last night was one of those games that makes me truly grateful to be a gamer.  Assemble a terrific group of people in a room, let them create some interesting alternate personas, and work together to create a memorable story.  We were a little late starting our game last night, however, and I have my wife to blame.  Early in the evening I gave the party instructions to select Star Wars inspired foci for their characters.  There was a great diversity of characters:  a clawdite sniper, a force-sensitive Jedi, an ace pilot, a rogue slicer, and a… uh… Jen?  

While everyone else was picking their characters, my wife Jennifer was busy cutting cheese… literally.  It has become a ritual that our table be set with copious amounts of cheese and alcohol before each game, and Jen was working on the spread while everyone else was generating foci.  So I decided to choose for her.  Grabbing In Translation, the Character Options book for The Strange, I found "Hurls Boulders".  That would make for a great wookie, right?

When Jen sat down I asked her to make the "wookie noise" - the sound that Chewbacca makes when speaking Shryiiwook.  Jen couldn't pull it off!  So we went around the room and let everyone give their best Chewie impression.  Some were great (Jeremy and Ethan)… some not so great (I won't list any names, but pretty much everyone besides Jeremy and Ethan).  But Jen's was by far the worst.  I can't describe the sound… but it was pretty much a guttural voiced guy saying "heeeeey!"  

The group couldn't stop laughing, and I still get a chuckle whenever I think about her making that impersonation.  Maybe one day I'll share it with you all… since I got it on video.



Jen making wookie noises


Agents of the Estate

  • Barbara "Babs" Goldstein, a Strange Paradox who … 
    • Works the System on Earth
    • Shepherds the Dead on Ardeyn
    • Casts Spells on Athas (Elven Preserver)
    • Works the System on Dantooine (Slicer)
    • and is played by Emily
  • Jacqueline Dingo, a Skeptical Spinner who … 
    • Solves Mysteries on Earth
    • Embraces Qephilim Ancestry on Ardeyn
    • Focuses Mind over Matter on Athas (Human Psionicist)
    • Throws Boulders on Dantooine (Wookie)
    • and is played by Jen
  • Arlo Coulton, a Graceful Vector who … 
    • Is Licensed to Carry on Earth
    • Carries a Quiver on Ardeyn
    • Fights Dirty on Athas (Mul Gladiator)
    • Infiltrates on Dantooine (Clawdite)
    • and is played by Jeremy
  • Chuck Lannigan, a Stealthy Spinner who … 
    • Operates Undercover on Earth
    • Channels Sinfire on Ardeyn, 
    • Crafts Powerful Poisons* on Athas (Half-Elf Bard)
    • Defies the Laws of Physics** on Dantooine (Jedi)
    • and is played by Andy
    • Dr. Sybil Holloway/Ka'cha Kano'kek, a Lucky Paradox who …
      • Conducts Weird Science on Earth
      • Embraces Qephilim Ancestry on Ardeyn
      • Hunts with Great Skill on Athas (Thri-Kreen Ranger)
      • Pilots Starcraft on Dantooine
      • and is played by Ethan 

    * Crafts Powerful Poisons is out of Ninth World Assassins by Metal Weave Games
    * Defies the Laws of Physics is out of The Translation Codex by Ryan Chaddock Games



    Emily and Ethan are so well behaved

    Adventure Summary



    Miss our last session?  Here's the report!

    Our valiant unit of Estate Agents were assembled in the cockpit of the Ebon Hawk, the famous freighter made popular by Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, preparing to land on the planet Dantooine.  Their orders were clear: seek out the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes and join forces to end the reign of the Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes on the recursion of Athas (AD&D 2nd Ed.'s Dark Sun).  A relatively new recursion, Dantooine consisted of the Ebon Hawk in orbit, and a few hundred square kilometers of idyllic green landscapes.  Sherlock Holmes was rumored to be pursuing the power of the Force, with Dantooine's Jedi ruins serving as a "training ground" of sorts.  But before ace pilot Dr. Sybil Holloway could land the massive transport, alarm klaxons blared out.

    "Warning!  Incoming Sith fighters!"

    A pair of sleek craft bore down on the Ebon Hawk, strafing the freighter with laser cannons, only breaking off at the last second  The party's resident nerd, Chuck Lannigan, knew that fighters could easily outmaneuver the bulky freighter, so he ran to one of the gun turrets.  Taking a seat in the top turret, Chuck carefully aimed the twin lasers on the trailing fighter.  When the fighters noticed that they were under fire, they changed tactics, aiming for the turret.  

    A loud boom shook the Ebon Hawk and the ship's computer ominously stated "Hull breach." Dr. Sybil toggled the ship's status screen and took note that the last blast took out the top turret completely.  Jackie Dingo, now in wookie form, quickly unstrapped herself from a flight seat and ran back to the turret access port.  The emergency seal was engaged, and through a tiny window the Skeptical Spinner saw poor Chuck Lannigan, holding on for dear life with his legs dangling out into space.  The only reason the Stealthy Spinner was still alive was the emergency oxygen mask that he managed to get on his face before breathing vacuum.  Quickly closing off the rest of the compartment, Jackie secured herself to one of the nearby rails, and opened the access port.  Air vented out from the hull breach, and Jackie tossed a spool of rope to a very grateful Chuck Lannigan.  Once the door was sealed, Arlo entered the chamber.  There was still one turret left, and the Graceful Vector planned to put it to use.  

    While Arlo peppered the Sith Fighters with laser blasts, Dr. Sybil put the Ebon Hawk into slow spin, hoping to evade any more direct hits.  Hoping to do her part, Babs Goldstein was already at the communications terminal.  On Earth Babs was an expert computer hacker, so it was only natural to translate the same abilities to the recursion of Dantooine as a Slicer.  Carefully bypassing the encrypted communications network, Babs sliced the autopilot system on the lead Sith Fighter.  The Strange Paradox was now in complete control of one of the small craft!  

    Chuck Lannigan was an enigmatic Jedi in this recursion, and hoped to use some of his telekinetic ability to crash one Sith fighter against another.  Although he exerted some control on the flight surfaces over a Sith craft, he wasn't able to pull it off course.  But Babs was!  With a loud cheer from the communications station, Babs Goldstein directed one of the Sith Fighters to crash into the other.  As the two craft crumbled in the upper atmosphere of Dantooine, Dr. Sybil guided the craft towards a small landing port on the main continent of the planet below. 

    Although Dr. Sybil enjoyed her time behind the flight yoke, she couldn't help but notice that the descent seemed scripted. Controlling the Ebon Hawk reminded her of riding the Turnpike cars at Kennywood Park.  The recursion of Dantooine appeared to be a full-sized world, but in truth was nothing more than a young creation of fictional leakage.  Settling for the only village that had a landing platform, Dr. Sybil carefully landed the large freighter on a concrete platform.  

    The small village, comprised of less than two dozen buildings, was both futuristic and medieval.  Plastic and steel walls were as common as thatched roofs.  As Dr. Sybil powered down the Ebon Hawk's systems, a pair of village security guards approached.  Rolling down the passenger-side window, the Lucky Paradox leaned out and smirked.

    "Hey!  Yinz seen Cumberbatch anywhere?"

    The two guards looked at each other quizzically, and looked back at Dr. Sybil.  The Estate Agents didn't have a landing permit, or any other documents to show their business here on Dantooine, but they were able to convince the guards that they needed to get some information in town.  The guards led the agents to a nearby alfresco-style Cantina, and told them that "Zimmber," the owner of Arwi village, would be with them shortly.

    Zimmber was an intimidating pirate, dressed in tough leather armor with laminate shoulder pads, and a heavy blaster pistol strapped to her hip.  As she approached, Chuck took note that the pirate bore a lightsaber scar across the left side of her face.  Her eye was noticeably fake, and a poor reconstruction.

    Being the smart-ass that she was, Dr. Sybil couldn't help but blurt out.  "What happened to you, you freak?"

    In a flash, Zimmber pulled her heavy blaster pistol and shot Dr. Sybil in the belly.  The Jedi Chuck Lannigan drew his own weapon, a shiny vibrosword, and meant to cut off the the pirate's blaster barrel.  

    He missed.

    In a terrible turn of events, Chuck missed the blaster and instead chopped off Dr. Sybil's left hand.  The Paradox doubled over in pain while Jackie Dingo rushed to her side.  Zimmber raised an eyebrow at Chuck's actions, not realizing that this turn of events was an accident.  
    "I like the way you move," the pirate informed the Jedi. 

    With a shrug, Chuck asked about any other Jedi that could be on the planet.  Zimmber revealed that there was a recent visitor who had taken up residence in an ancient Jedi monastery only a few miles from Arwi.  As the party looked towards the distance, they saw the structure resting on top of a hill.  They also heard an ominous song play in the background.

    Come to think of it, the Estate Agents realized, the Star Wars soundtrack had been playing ever since translating to the Ebon Hawk.  The background music played during the dogfight, and during their interaction with the guards.  It must have been a feature of the Dantooine recursion.  

    Strange.  

    Bidding Zimmber adieu, the party quietly formulated a plan to travel to the monastery.  Of course they could've taken the Ebon Hawk to the hill, and then make an attempt to land in a nearby field, but that would be too easy.  Instead, the Estate Agents decided to steal a whole fleet of speeder bikes, and then ride out.  Dr. Sybil kept insisting that they just steal one large speeder that could fit everyone, but no one else seemed interested.  

    On Dantooine, Arlo Coulton was a shapeshifting Clawdite sniper.  Noticing that there were several speeder bikes, as well as a large speeder, parked outside of the cantina, the vector observed a new patron hover up.  As soon as the patron got off the craft, Arlo took his form, mounted the speeder bike, and sped off.  Although they couldn't shapeshift, Jackie and Babs did the same, each taking their own speeder bike.  

    Dr. Sybil still wanted a large craft, so she sat down behind the controls of the big, luxury class speeder with a convertible top.  As she pulled off Chuck jumped in but was spotted by a local guard.  Dr. Sybil gave the craft more power, but the guard was riding a six-legged lizard at high speed.  The guard took some cable, made a lasso, and threw it around Chuck's head.  The Jedi rolled and struggled with the cable, but managed to pull it off before getting yanked to the ground.  Rather than face off with a town guard, Dr. Sybil simply chose to outrun the lizard.  Only a few moments later, however, Dr. Sybil heard a familiar sound.  Above the speeder was the Ebon Hawk!  The ship pitched to the right, and the pirate Zimmber was clearly seen behind the controls.  With a smirk, the one-eyed woman took off. 

    The ancient Jedi monastery was an impressive scene.  A simple stone and steel structure, it rested nearly five hundred feet off the ground, atop a beautiful green hill.  The stairs leading to the doors were steep and dangerous.  This didn't stop Jackie Dingo from "pulling a Rocky!"  While the rest of the Estate Agents carefully climbed up (Chuck going so far as to use the Force to walk up the hill rather than the stairs), Jackie raced to the top as fast as she could.  Once there, the wookie turned and raised her arms in triumph!  Noticing that the doorway was left ajar, Jackie strolled into the monastery alone.

    By the time the rest of the agents got to the top, they saw Jackie's wookie form sitting on the last step.  

    "This is not the monastery we are looking for," Jackie meant to say.  Instead the party just heard "yaarghaarraahaggha!"  [GM's note:  As I said, Jen can't speak shryiiwook very well… she sounds like a moose dying.]

    Believing that the Jedi-Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes must be nearby, Arlo Coulton used his clawdite shapeshifting to take on the form of Martin Freeman - the actor who plays Dr. Watson on the BBC Sherlock Holmes.  Entering the ancient Jedi monastery, "Dr. Watson's" appearance certainly got Holmes' attention.  Immediately a light switched on, and Arlo saw a brown-robbed Benedict Cumberbatch sitting in the corner.

    It took Sherlock Holmes only moment to see through the ruse.  Knowing that Dr. Watson did not have the spark in his home recursion, and having seen all of the Star Wars movies before translating to Dantooine, Holmes immediately concluded that Arlo was an agent of the Estate.  Knowing that they could not hide their intentions from such a mastermind, the rest of the team slowly shuffled into the room and revealed their mission - taking down the Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes on Athas.  

    Cumber-Holmes agreed that he could be of some assistance to the Estate, and promised to help so long as he was allowed to returned to Dantooine upon the mission's completion.  The mysteries of the Force were extremely fascinating, and Holmes believed it to be the last, great riddle in the universe.  Holmes invited the agents into the monastery, and gave them a tour of some of his experiments.  One of his imaginings was a way to translate large artifacts from one recursion to another, with a limited life-span of course.  For instance, Holmes stated, he could potentially translate the party's Ebon Hawk into Athas "as is", possible for as long as an hour.  Arlo Coulton revealed that he had uncovered an artifact in the Victorian 221B Baker Street recursion, used by the "other" Holmes, to protect items from translation, and bring them from one world to the next completely intact.  Holmes believed that he could definitely do something with the artifact… after tea.

    Having tea in a garden with the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes on the planet Dantooine was a surreal experience for everyone.  Babs sipped her tea while dreamily staring at her "future husband", while the rest of the party quietly took in the sights and sounds of this world.  For a moment, Chuck Lannigan believed something to be awry, but the feeling passed…

    … until the loud concussion of a blaster rung out!  

    The Estate Agents quickly turned their attention to the far side of the garden, and heard an ominous, mechanical voice.

    "Mockery:  “One less meatbag!  If you have seen one you have seen them all.”

    A crimson-metal assassin droid clutching a heavy blaster rifle, flanked by a small troop of similar constructs, descended down cables into the garden!  The droid's words didn't make sense at first… until the agents turned their gaze to a screaming Babs Goldstein.  The tough attorney cried out in despair as she cradled the dying body of Sherlock Holmes!  

    The assassin droid stepped towards the party, blaster leveled on Chuck Lannigan. 

    "Statement:  “You are all wanted dead... Are there any last requests that I can deny in a snarky manner?”  

    Jeremy, Andy, and Emily updating their Dantooine Foci

    Quotes from the Table


    "Babs is so happy right now… she cannot control her joy." - I don't know if it was the character Babs or her player Emily that was more excited to meet the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes in the game.  

    "I can't make that noise… I'm gonna sound like Andy!" - Jen on making the Chewbacca noise.  Andy sounded SO much better.  

    "I need to go find my future husband!" - Babs upon translating to Dantooine

    Jim - "Where would you like to land?"
    Jeremy - "On top of Benedict Cumberbatch." 

    "How many 1's is that tonight?!?" - I said this… I think there were at least eight. 

    Jim - "So you cut off Dr. Sybil's hand!" 
    Jeremy - "Now it's Star Wars!" 

    Sherlock Holmes - "What do you want?"
    Babs - "Your hand in marriage."



    New Stuff



    New Artifact - Sherlock Holmes' Lightsaber

    I don't know if I'm sold on these rules or not… but they seemed suitable for a short stint in the Star Wars universe.  This didn't even come up during Session 4, since the party took a while to get to the Monastery and engage Sherlock Holmes.  
    • Level 7
    • Form:  Metal handle with green energy beam.
    • Effect:  
      • This weapon is considered "Light", however it inflicts 7 points of damage.  
      • Using a Lightsaber is dangerous to one who has not spent time mastering the weapon.  Each swing requires the user to spend 1 point of Speed or Intellect to use "safely".  Should they choose not to do so, if they miss their target they inflict 6 damage to themselves.  
      • A Lightsaber can be used to carve through material of the same level or lower. 
    • Depletion:  1 on a d10

    Solo pose!