In the last session with my niece, nephew, and daughter, the three young heroes were sneaking through the ship on which they’d found themselves following some kind of abduction they couldn’t remember.
Thanks to Angelia, they’d slipped out of the main corridors and into access passages that helped them avoid most of security patrols. Talking with Oracle (the voice on their earbuds) about what they could and couldn’t remember, the kids were able to recall they’d kind of known each other ‘before’ (and pick up Aspect to match this knowledge), but that was about it, so far.
They found their way to a choke point in the ship’s construction – a large room they needed to get through to reach the ‘transport’ section of the ship and, hopefully, escape. Stealthily scouting the room, they could see it was some kind of ‘trash reclamation’ chamber currently crowded with “Overseers”: a sort of commander-level robot that, according to Oracle, would be a challenge even if there were only one.
Meanwhile, Angelia had noticed that there were a couple warning lights blinking on the control terminals in the room. After working out what the lights are supposed to mean, she Cleverly deduced all the trash delivery tubes for the room are currently locked, and the supply of various kinds of trash were building up in the massive tubes overhead.
“What’s in each of the tubes?” Jadyn asks me.
I work out a quick list of tube contents.
- Tube 1: Rotting and liquid food waste.
- Tube 2: Automobiles and other large mechanical devices.
- Tube 3: Scrap metal.
- Tube 4: Chemical waste.
- Tube 5: Pillows and mattresses.
(Tube 5 got a muttered “Seriously?!?” from my niece as she peered at the list.)
This room wasn’t really meant to be a fight, or even a point to engage the dice – it was more of a puzzle solving challenge in which pretty much anything would work and the GM (me) was just curious what they’d come up with. Basically, anything they decided to do to clear out the Overseers would work if it made any kind of sense at all – the main question was what sort of consequences (Aspects) would they have to deal with in the room, afterwards, when they tried to cross it.
After some debate over the use of the Chemical Waste (and a few ideas in which they tried to use every tube, no matter what), they decided to empty the tubes onto the Overseers in the following order:
– Tube 3: Scrap metal.
This would introduce a lot of sharp ‘stuff’ that could damage the bots.
– Tube 2: Automobiles and other large mechanical devices.
They saw the main value here as being the weight of the stuff: dropped on the bots, with the scrap metal already in place, would, they felt, either puncture or rupture their outer casings. Then…
– Tube 1: Rotting and liquid food waste.
It was a toss-up between this and the chemical waste, but in the end they went for this tube because (a) it would be likely to seep or pour into the damaged bots and cause shorts and (b) while gross, wouldn’t turn the whole room into a chemical hazard they had to get across.
The tubes were opened, stuff fell with clangs and crashes and lots of sloshing and squishing, sparks flew, and the room was full of the smell of rotting garbage and fried wiring.
The kids made their way through the piles of junk (or over and around it in the case of Angelia and ice-sliding Anna). Oracle assured them they were almost to the hangar. Anna keyed the switch for the big door leading out of the room, which slide open to reveal a Master Overseer coming to investigate the disturbance.
The kids scattered, Anna throwing up a quick ice shield and rolling to the side as the Overseer let off a series of plasma blasts.
Stunt: Because I can make snap-freeze shields, I get a +2 to quickly defend against physical attacks.
The overseer stomps into the room, coming about halfway through the hatchway, and blasts out an order that all prisoners surrender immediately.
Angelia, already used to throwing around heavy objects, tried to hurl the thing to the side, but the Overseer was braced and clinging to the deck and couldn’t be moved. Mikenna tried a few exploratory bow shots, but couldn’t get anything through the Overseer’s defenses. Anna slipped past the Overseer and into the hallway beyond, verifying that the nearest hangar was only a few hundred feet further along, but couldn’t figure out how to get her friends into the passageway, past the giant robot.
What followed was a few rounds of the Overseer proving Oracle right – it definitely was not the sort of thing the young heroes wanted to fight, if they could help it. Mikenna, dodging nimbly, was still unable to entirely avoid the thing’s plasma blasts and picked up several Stress hits and a “twisted knee” Minor Consequence. Angelia’s force fields handled the blasts a bit better, but she was still accumulating Stress. Anna avoided the worst of these attacks, but working on her own, her ice couldn’t do anything significant to the Overseer.
Once again, the kids ran through their (choose who goes next) initiative in such a way as to allow the Overseer the last action in a round, followed by it giving itself the first action of the next round. It took advantage of this by (first) blanketing the room in withering missile fire (successfully creating an advantage on Angelia of “pinned down”) and then Blasting her with everything it had. The force bubble held, but Angelia was driven straight down into trash and waste, sinking into and being swallowed by the muck.
Given the not-so-subtle example of the benefits of Create Advantage, the kids started working together.
The most memorable bit in the rounds that followed was Angelia rising up out of the trash with a MASSIVE ball of muck and gunk over her head and burying the Overseer in the stuff. Anna froze the whole mess solid, then both Mikenna and Angelia shattering pieces of it.
The end of the fight came as Anna and Mikenna were taking turns freezing and shattering pieces of the robot while Angelia used her telekinesis to ‘Pin Down’ the bot: it looked like it was going to get another big attack, but Mikenna managed to get an attack success JUST big enough to be impossible to handle with a combination of Stress and Consequences – the Overseer collapsed and shorted out. The kids managed to make it out with Stress and only Minor Consequences, though it was touch and go for a bit, and all three were completely out of Fate Points (I was treating the whole ‘escape from the ship’ as a single scenario, so breaks between play sessions didn’t refresh their pool).
Anna and Mikenna also picked up their last Relationship Aspects.
– Anna is too young to be put in danger.
– I will prove (to Mikenna) I’m a hero, just like everyone else.
The trio made their (limping) way out of Garbage Disposal and down the hallway, with Oracle telling them that the ports up ahead should give them a good view of the ship’s nearest hangar.
Unfortunately, the hangar was occupied.
Specifically, it was occupied by rank upon rank of the smaller “security” bots, larger humanoid combat models they hadn’t encountered yet, and dozens of overseers.
“That must be the whole invasion force for this ship,” said Oracle.
The Classic Flashback
This is where we pulled away the last remnants of the amnesia. They all remembered these forces. They remembered what had happened.
Ships had appeared, months ago, over many major cities through the world. New York. Chicago. Gotham. Central City. Mercury Bay. And, of course, their own home of Metropolis. Sections of each city were surrounded – encased, actually – in weird energy fields: gigantic forcefields that not even superheroes like Wonder Woman seemed to be able to do anything about. Worse, if the bubbles stayed up for too long, they would fade away and the area they’d bottled was just… gone. Erased. Deleted.
The news called them “jars,” and said that the attacking force was run by someone called Brainiac.
Still, it didn’t seem to matter that much from day to day. Even the areas in Metropolis that had been encased were far away from their home neighborhood – those were wealthy, important parts of town, and they lived in a low-income project – not even an invading alien would care that much about them.
Then something happened. The news started talking about new heroes showing up – helping the well-known heroes with the defense of Earth. People started noticing friends and neighbors with strange new abilities.
Then a bottle swallowed their neighborhood, followed almost immediately by Brainiac’s troops, dropping out of the sky like a storm, ordering everyone into the streets for ‘inspection.’
Everyone was scanned.
The kids remembered the scanners beeping when they were pointed at each of them. The light on top pulsed – the Collectors said something like “exobyte detected”… and everything went black.
They’d gotten powers.
And those powers had called Brainiac right to them — had dropped a jar over their friends and families — had started a timer ticking. Very much longer, and the only home they’d ever known would just be… gone.
I pointed to the last blank on their character sheets and asked each player to write down an Aspect that covered their reaction all this.
Angelia, the natural leader, started working on a plan:
– Aspect: We’ve got to get that Jar down before it’s too late.
Anna was more personal:
– Aspect: I will get my parents back.
Mikenna, thinking about it for longer than the others, rejected the personal or tactical for big and angry:
– Aspect: Brainiac needs to pay.
The mood at the table changed dramatically. They weren’t scrambling for an escape route anymore: they were looking around for something to break.
Needless to day, I was very impressed with how each character had come together. Treating the whole flashback as a refresh scene, I told all three players to reset their Fate Point totals to 3 and clear their Stress and Minor Consequences.
“Okay,” they asked Oracle. “How do we stop this?”
Maybe it is the Dad in me and the excitement to see young people using their imaginations to create their very own fiction, but this story is gripping. The engagement you helped them come says quite a bit about your gming/storytelling skills.
I’m glad you enjoyed it! If these posts inspire someone to try some gaming of their own with new players, they’ve entirely justified the effort.
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