At the Table: Breakout Session Four
I implemented a few of the things I wanted to try between session. Getting an idea of what goal the players wanted to move towards before the session started definitely helped to jump straight into the action and cut down on deliberation during game time.
Still have a few technical hiccups, but those were of the getting disconnected nature, and not really something I can do much to alleviate without some technical assistance from my lovely IT department/wife, if anything can be done about it at all.
Following the breakout at the Raft and the rather serious damage to Ed Gross’ house, the team had a press conference that went . . . poorly. Despite the fact that Cap and Iron Man both made impressive speeches, the Thing muttered on and on about insurance, and Cap and Thing ended up taking the mood of the crowd very badly (with Cap taking emotional trauma from the event and wondering if he should have reformed the Avengers at all).
Wolverine skipped the press conference and drank beer while watching it on TV in the Avengers Tower.
The whole team flew to Paris to pick up Electro, who was primed for a fight, until Cap and Wolverine intimidated him into surrendering before there was any collateral damage, and Electro spilled the beans about Brainchild and Lykos being taken to some SHIELD base in the Savage Land.
The crew dropped off Electro, but before they could head to the Savage Land, they caught wind of Living Laser, Griffon, and Grey Gargoyle finding out about a top secret prisoner transfer, and attempting a breakout of Baron Zemo.
At the scene, Laser had a hard time injuring the Thing, and barely did anything to Iron Man, Wolverine squared off against the Griffon, and the rising bestial nature in Griffon seemed to cause a similar bestial response in Wolverine, and the fight ended with Wolverine killing the escaped villain, and Iron Man took Grey Gargoyle out with a few well placed sonic booms.
Cap rounded up all of the SHIELD agents and got them out of danger, but failed to rally them to start firing back at Zemo and Laser, and Zemo fired at a prison transport to cause an explosion that would catch Living Laser in the blast and cause the sacrificed villain to flare brightly enough to cover Zemo’s escape.
That leaves Iron Man with Wolverine and the newly recruited Bruce Banner to head up to the Savage Land (potentially with Iron Fist and Doctor Strange joining them), and (off panel) Captain America taking Spider-Man and Thor to track down Zemo.
The Doom Pool
I had a huge Doom Pool going into this act. I had 4d12 in the Doom Pool, to be exact. I wanted to have the Press Conference scene for a few reasons. One was a chance to burn some Doom Pool, and another was the chance to have an “action scene” that wasn’t about fighting.
There was a d10 Public Perception complication in the scene which Cap and Iron Man got rid of, but that still left a lot of pointed questions from the journalists when the Doom Pool acted on it’s “turn,” with an “area attack” against the player’s emotions.
I liked it, and I hope the player’s did as well. It seems very “Marvel” to have Cap and Thing wondering if this Avengers thing is a good idea because of a press conference and to be distracted by that for the rest of the act. It also made for some interesting roleplaying when the players were trying to decide what to say, what not to say, and if they should even be at the press conference at all.
Storytelling By Selection
I have seen a lot of people, at first blush, view Marvel Heroic as very “railroady” with it’s Event based structures. It is true that the story kind of moves a certain direction, and as with a lot of supers stories, a lot of the story is heroes reacting to events that happen, instead of driving them.
However, what I think Marvel does very well is to give players the option of altering the story in ways traditional RPGs do not.
First, and most obvious, combat is much more varied due to the narrative structure of how it works. Even if you know you are going into a scene a certain way, I’m betting no other group has Spider-Man string up Armadillo like a pinata for Wolverine to jump on, or has Thor throw the Wrecker his crowbar so they can fight on even terms. The details of the fight are as much the story in this game as anything.
Second, I didn’t realize until I started running an event into a few acts what things like Troupe Play and Unlockables can add to a story. The Avengers line up can grow with the same number of characters, because the players switch to a new character without having the other character leave the team. However, if they do want them to leave the team, they can do so and provide a great chance to roleplay.
If the team recruits someone, that can be a story element in and of itself. Talking Banner into staying with the Avengers or having Deadpool just happen to show up and “help” are player controlled elements of the story that certainly shape the narrative and the tone.
And we won’t even go into the discussion of whether or not Cap should have called in his Champion Level Clearance boon and just dropped a helicarrier full of SHIELD agents into a scene to end the scene positively for the heroes.
Really enjoying the game, and looking forward to my Thursday nights running this Event. Now I just have to come up with a good follow up for it, once we wrap things up.