Capes! Issue #13

For those that came in late: Season One Summary

Issue #1

The entire team under Avenger’s mentorship intervene to prevent two FCPD homicide detectives falling victim to a major drug deal involving meta-drugs. All of the plot threads of the entire season are begun here.

Super-villains: It is the Bomb, at the behest of Calculus II, who murders Victor Taylor with an incendiary which – by coincidence – blows right outside the drug deal. Calculus II is brought in to “help” Bomb by Broker, a powerful cape-hire agency. Calculus II, and probably Broker, is playing a double game on Bomb, using him for their own deeper ends. They deploy various mercenary capes to achieve their objectives, and it is these capes the Massive have set-piece battles with.

Barbs Kane and Sam Davis: They are the FCPD homicide detectives who investigate the car bomb. These two are clearly laid out as good cops. During Season One, their involvement is assured by Joe Tripley/Bad Tripp who uses them and is used by them to feed information.

Crimelords: Meta-drugs are a rising scourge. Existing crimelords are struggling to deal with the new order. Both mundane and meta-drugs provide a vast revenue stream that goes through the casino system to pay off officialdom.

Corruption: The trail from drugs to officialdom leads through the casino system up to the Mayor himself. It is not merely crimelords but many of the greatest private enterprises in Freedom City that use the casino system, crooked law firm CCC, and slush funds, to bribe their way forward.

Panoply/Big Five: Panoply has already come to various conclusions about meta-drugs and crimelords, particularly Underworld. Because it is Avenger who sponsors the team, Panoply never reveals his hand.

Issue #2

Panoply/Big Five: the team are tasked to concentrate on the Bomb. This theme of focusing on the showy menace and not the underlying plot recurs during the season. Most of the team decide that the showy menaces are their justification for being capes, regardless of their backgrounds.

Super-villains: The first glimmerings of light are shone on Calculus II. Bomb creates a new menace, at Foster’s Yard subway station.

Issue #3

Super-villains: Foster’s Yard is made safe. Links between the initial murder and Calculus II are found. The Bomb begins a new threat, against City Hall, which has been suggested by Calculus II in order to deploy Buttonman against Panoply.

Issue #4

Super-villains: The Massive arrest the Bomb while defeating a number of reasonably powerful capes. Creep, who appears in Issue #12, is never caught, and nor is Calculus II who uses the Bomb’s objective – nuclear-fissile material belonging to Grant Conglomerates – to distract the team while he gets clear. Grant Conglomerates eventually proves to be part of the Corruption plotline.

Panoply/Big Five: Panoply is fatally wounded while exposed at City Hall.

Issue #5

Panoply/Big Five: The Massive – after a period of bickering and dispute about their objectives – are told directly to make their presence felt among the super-villains currently under detention. This is the episode in which the name “Freedom City Massive” is decided.

Issue #6

Super-villains: Part of the Massive interview super-villains Demolition, Pale Horse and Bomb, and the ex-villain Hannah Swartz. This features a small hint that Demolition is ready to break free, but will presumably have most bearing in a later season.

Crimelords: Joe Tripley/Bad Tripp manages to keep some momentum with crime family the Tonifannis. He and Skylark investigate.

Panoply/Big Five: Armory I and a new mentor, Red, are gifted to the Massive. Avenger finishes his role as mentor.

Issue #7 Prologue

The GM enforces a fortnight’s lull in play which is disastrous for the investigation. It does allow some character development.

Issue #7

Super-villains: The two main plot threads, this and crimelords, tie up in this episode. Mercenary capes are encountered at Jordan International Airport. They go after the Tonifanni crime family, at the behest of Underworld, because they are trying to source their own supply of meta-drugs.

Crimelords: see above.

Corruption: Major Gilbert, a pawn of crimelord Big Al, is appointed by the Mayor to investigate the situation.

Issue #8

Crimelords: The Massive investigate the Golden Calf and Mr. Eddie, at last. Mr. Eddie has some mental wards up. Almost all of the Tonifanni organization is dismantled.

Super-villains: The Massive have a closer encounter with the mercenary capes. Demolition escapes from Black Rock.

Issue #8 Debrief

Super-villains: the GM could not make a game, so four of the players had a tactical session, discussed motivation and roles, and generally took the chance to talk about their powers and limitations.

Issue #9

Super-villains: roles and identities of the mercenary capes are clarified a little. Gunship is confronted by Wraith.

Crimelords: A successful return to investigating the Tonifannis as a team leads to Frank Tonifanni. He reveals a good deal about the Corruption plot threads.

Issue #10

Super-villains: Gunship is convinced to leave. A set-piece battle against the mercenary capes Jack, Envision, Noose, Blizzard and Kid Bolt results in the arrest of Jack and Blizzard. The Massive are unable to trace a trail back to Broker, however.

Corruption/Crimelords: A trail does lead from the mercenary capes back to Lester Hillerman, aide to the Mayor, and from he to Mr. Eddie.

Issues #11 and 12

Corruption/Crimelords: deciding to try to remove Mr. Eddie from the system, a slightly depleted Massive plan for a coup but do not succeed.

In previous campaigns our group has struggled when we were not all on the same page as to what we were there for. This is an obvious problem if you think about any committee or team or social group whose members have different objectives. Unfortunately, there were contradictions in character allegiance/goal even before Issue #1 in the “Introductions” pieces, and these were never resolved. Issue #1, where we were apparently brought together to stop meta-drugs being dealt, led to several very clear lines of investigation (Issue #2). However, these lines of investigation were never allowed to develop until too late. Instead, the “mission” we were hearing from patrons and mentors was to focus on super-villains (Issues #2, 5, 7). A great deal of game-time was absorbed by playing catch-up with various super-villains. Had we been allowed to keep working the initial case, the plans involved would certainly have led us to the same capes, only earlier and with less frustration. When I read back over Issues dealing with the Bomb (Issues #2-4) I feel OK about the pace and action, but once we had the Bomb put away, there was an end to minion fights and quick action and we were into a soul-suck of arguing about what we were doing and who was the weakest. We were disempowered by being set about our business by the Big Five, and then there was an unaccountable 2-week hiatus in our investigation, allowing the “contractors” to take the Tonifanni family apart before we could make a move.

To some degree this breakdown in the pace, and the frustration of not being able to follow an investigation, was caused by the other major problem of the season, which was player attendance. Skylark’s player had some good reasons for not attending but losing your second fighter is a major problem for any action-oriented campaign. Other players dropped a week or two or three. By Issue #12 it felt like there was a revolving door into Armory! The usual answer to patchy attendance, in a static setting such as a city, is to make the season episodic – so each issue is self-contained and you make your fun with the people that turn up. Unfortunately the GM’s plotting did not permit this. The other alternative is to keep all characters in play and expose non-played PCs to various levels of risk. This happened on some occasions, not on others.

Capes! Season 2 Intro

Three months have passed since Panoply was killed by an assassin’s bullet whilst trying to thwart the plans of the Bomb, and a new team of Capes now watches over Freedom City: Freedom City Massive.

The FCM has had some successes.  FCM caught the Bomb, before he could obtain enough nuclear material to enter his own arms race.  They apprehended a number of Meta-killers operating in Freedom, and perhaps most importantly, the Massive has learnt the key secret to crime in Freedom: Underworld.

At the top of the Freedom City Criminal fraternity is a Meta Powered villain called Underworld, whose influence reaches beyond crime.  Using Mr. Eddie, the manager of the Golden Calf Casino, as his bargaining agent, Underworld’s influence has infiltrated the democratic institutions of the City itself, and reaches through the often corrupted FCPD even into the Office of Mayor.  Although seldom seen, Underworld has a reputation of using both violence and his influence to reshape the crime in the city.  The most telling example of this use of influence was when Underworld destroyed one of the city’s three Mafia families utterly.  The Tonifanni family had not been able to guarantee a steady supply of Boost to the city, and they paid the price for that failure.  There is now a steady supply of Boost in circulation in the city.  And this source of Boost has been the center of Bad Tripp’s investigations.

Former member of Freedom City Massive, now Lone Wolf, Joe Tripley/Bad Tripp has started investigations into the supply of Boost.  Working undercover, and usually in his non-Meta state, Tripp has noted that the Southside C has taken to distributing Boost, and the dealers are marking themselves with an unusual wearing of tie-died scarfs, t-shirts under their jackets, or doo-rags.

Disturbingly, Tripp has discovered that Boost is not being produced in back room manufacturing labs! These Tripp would easily destroy.  It is being manufactured in a well-hidden location.  So far Tripp’s hunt for information has been unsuccessful.  Even when Tripp kidnapped the Southside C senior man Haze, tearing open his car and then dangling him off an eight story building, his investigation didn’t truly advance.  Haze was barely able to cough out who his source was – Candyman, just in from the West Coast, backed by a squad of freaks, the Chemical Brothers.  The dealer couldn’t say who or where Candyman was, but it was obvious he was scared.  More scared of this Candyman, than of the looming muscled bulk of Tripp.  This gave the Metahuman pause to think – a few Southside C gang members had disappeared recently.

For the rest of the Freedom City Massive the fact that the City has not been threatened by a major villain for three months has given them a chance to re-organize themselves.  Patrol rosters have been set up, enabling the Freedom City Massive to maintain a presence in the City, and also for members of the team to maintain their lives outside of their costumes.

Thadd Reynolds/Holmes, the only member of the FCM in regular contact with Tripp, has complemented his caped activities with his out of costume interest in community / police co-operations in Lincoln.  This co-operation has enabled Thad to discuss ‘issues’ with his old friend Detective Malcolm Harvey.  And absolutely no one considers it unusual if Thad has a private conversation with Harvey, while Harvey’s partner Popodopulus keeps others out of earshot of this conversation with his normal gregarious manner.

Additionally, Thad is making enquiries into which possible candidates may be standing against Mayor Moore’s team at the next round of City elections.

Nike Williams/Skylark has found employment options difficult, and remains working for Andrew Orlando at the ‘Never-ending story’ bookshop.  With a more organized timetable she has been able to be a more reliable employee, and better at keeping up with her friend.  The only cold moment in recent months was a visit to the shop by Jeremy Falweather, a man from her activist past that causes unease in Nike, and a strong dislike in her co-worker Toby.  Indeed, shortly after this visit Toby described Falweather as ‘Oily’ and ‘a cold fish’, even musing over his half-finished muffin that Falweather was absolutely positively up to something.

Matt Grey/Wraith has had a change in fortune, while working at Backstab Bill’s Gaming Emporium.  While there Matt was recognized by a former workmate Andy McCrae, who after a conversation asked him if he would be interested in some development work, for not much money.  So Matt has gone from working at Backstab Bill’s for pretty much nothing, to working out of an office in Northside for almost twice that.  This hasn’t afforded him a chance to move out of his sister’s basement but at least he is back working in development.

Working away at trying to get a break as an actor, Drake ‘Terry’ Terrance/Performer’s new agent Bernie has been pushing his client’s interest.  One thing Terry can say about his agent is that he is earning his fee, though the extra work and in-store promos isn’t where he wants to end up.  On the other hand, Terry is making something close to a ‘living’.  If you include the clown gig.

Martin Remillard/Nightfall has dedicated himself most to the team.  With a surprising determination, Nightfall has worked on his combat skills, learning new techniques to enable him to go toe-toe with most combatants.  Additionally, Red has worked on developing a light-weight, low profile jet pack for Nightfall.  The jet pack does not enable flight, but it does provide enough lift to boost Nightfall’s leaping to superhuman levels.  And, should Nightfall drop from a high building, so long as he is conscious, Nightfall can use the jet pack to control his descent.

Although there hasn’t been a major villain incident for three months, the effect of a reliable source of Boost in the city is beginning to play out in increased petty crime incidents, and related violence in Freedom City.

Boost is a drug with euphoric and occasionally hallucinogenic effects, and in addition grants those who consume it varying degrees of Meta abilities.  While these physical changes normally include increased physical power through increased strength or damage resistance, other more drastic changes have been documented. The drug is also highly addictive, and commonly recorded mental side-effects are mania, delirium and disorientation in the short-term.  Studies on the long-term effects of the misuse of this drug are still not complete, but preliminary results indicate that there is a link between use of Boost and the onset of schizophrenia-like symptoms in long-term users.   A number of users have been found dead, indicating the granting of temporary Meta abilities can also physically imbalance the body to a fatal degree.

Yet despite the power of Underworld, and the spreading of Boost addiction, crime and corruption is not unopposed in the underfunded FCPD:  Five police officers, Barb Kane and Sam Davis in Central City Homicide, Pete ‘The Hippo’ Hungary based in Southside, and the partners Malcolm Harvey and George Popodopulus in Lincoln, have begun to network.  Having been indirectly linked via Freedom City Massive, these five gained confidence in each other and have started discussing interlocking cases.  Cases, which may not see a court anytime soon; cases they don’t discuss with their superiors.  Cases that one day may be solved.

Season Two Begins Here With Issue #13!

Back in the FCM

13 November 2010: When they enter the common room, Joe Tripley is lounging against the wall opposite the TV. He seems to have put on more beef. Maybe not as much as Nightfall, whose iron-pump grunts have become an annoying constant of the gym.

“Yo!”

Wraith nods, moves to his favorite seat on the couch. He’s far more interested in the Meta lead Holmes called about than the return of Tripley. Performer bridles a bit, pretends to be surprised, begging a compliment. Joe obliges:

“My Man! Looking very smooth, Performer!”

Skylark scowls. She’d been glad to see Bad Tripp go, three months ago. Now he’s back, all confidence and goodwill! Joe leers at her: tries a compliment:

“Lookin’ good!”

The icy stare she fires back has the same effect that a .32 slug would have on Bad Tripp. She moves to the couch, opts to ignore Joe as the moral high ground recedes.

Holmes comes in from the hall leading to the garage: nods to Red, who dims the lights a little.

Joe has been working with me part-time over the past few months. I’ve been his cover for his work, and he’s helped me out.”

“How does he help you out?” Performer asks, hilarity in his tone.

Volunteer work, on bettering communities.”

“What?”

“I bin workin’ with m’man Holmes, fosterin’ better safer communities. We like to say, making Communities out of Projects,” Tripley explains seriously, raising a clenched fist in a black power salute.

“It’s a good thing you don’t do that in real life Joe,” Skylark says cattily.

“Actually he does… it’s kind of awkward. But my people figure all white folk talk like that when they’re working in Lincoln so…

“Anyway, Joe’s been investigating Boost activity. He called me in on a Greenbank incident. It was an abandoned warehouse: this is what I’ve reconstructed of the incident:”

Greenbank negotiations

Three RVs have been driven into the warehouse, sub-woofers thumping as they churn out hip-hop beats, and twelve of Southside C’s finest, distinctive in tie-dyed bandanas or T-shirts, are checking the loads on their handguns and watching for trouble. Eight of them are simple bangers, but four are the South-C elite: Haze, Riptide, Little Leroy – obvious from his size – and Cheese Combo.

“I didn’t know you had so many friends, Haze,” comes a mocking voice from the shadows. A man in a multi-colored three-piece – patterned with the rainbow of tie-dyed colors and with rose-tinted sunglasses and a bizarre Mad Hatter hat – steps out.

“This better not be a set-up, man,” Haze yells, “what’s this about?”

“It’s about too big a cut, and too much profit-crimping, and yes, it is a set-up.”

Abruptly the sub-woofers in the RVs cut out and a Sammy Davis Jr. number begins:

Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, Cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two…

Haze blusters: “Yeah, I don’t know how ya did that, but it don’t matter! Fancy tricks win ya nothing: if you don’t like the deal ya gettin’ – which may I add is very generous – you try’n’ find someone else to sling ya product aroun’ Southside.  Ain’t gonna happen Bitch.”

There’s a report, like a magnified single shot, and seven bangers fall! As the others react, firearms vanish from their hands! And there, stepping from the shadows, come the Candyman’s crew:

A blonde, wrapped in 70s-surfer style muslin;

Howling with glee, and with blur-swift movements, a man who hunkers down and pants like a dog;

A spider-limbed strider;

Roid, the impossibly-swollen powerhouse;

And finally, stepping arrogantly out to stand near Candyman, is the guns’ confiscator: he’s a speedster, four holstered automatics strapped on, carrying the ones he’s just grabbed.

“You really want to know what this is?” Candyman laughs.

“Yeah, yeah OK, what’s the deal?”

“The deal is this:”

There’s another report and Haze and Riptide drop, head-wounds spurting blood. The speedster seems to have instantaneously reappeared on the bonnet of the nearest RV.

“One of you lucky survivors gets to come back to my Fun-land for special treatment, and oh yeah – you get to drive,” Candyman adds, pointing to the lone surviving banger. Nothing loath, the banger clambers back into an RV and Little Leroy and Cheese Combo turn woebegone to Candyman:

“Special treatment?”

Candyman hauls out a coin, flips it:

“Your call….”

“So that’s the post-cog: now, we need to work up some leads.”

The Beat

Drake Terrance

Terry flips over the latest callback sheet as he thumbs in Bernie’s speed-dial. The sheet’s no better reading than it was just before Holmes called. His brain is dull, his eyes feel leaden. He feels like something’s going to give. Bernie’s rasp fills the mic:

Hey, kid, sorry about that toothpaste gig, but don’t sweat it, I got lotsa irons in th’ fire!”

Terry pretends to be glad not to be a tooth model then winds round to the reason for the call:

“So Bernie, uh, I was wondering if you could do me a favor. I’m trying to track down an act… it may feature a wild man or dog-boy… and a surfer chick with long blonde hair…”

“Huh? Ya want I should sign some kinda geek act? Kid, that went out with the horse n’ buggy!”

It’s uphill work and Terry suspects that somewhere between the Armory and his apartment and Bernie’s spin on it the plot has been lost.

Matt Gray

Matt spools through the phone company search results. Still nothing. Strike two.

Murphy’s Law: the one you want is the last you try.”

To be honest the third company had real security and even his powers of cyber-persuasion had not cracked it inside the hour. He jots results up on the Armory whiteboard in case someone checks back in, and walks through to the real computer room to begin serious attacks. To date he has the real names of Little Leroy and Cheese Combo and little else. On second thought: he’s also given the others the results of a quick property search for fun-parks, fun-houses and the like with title changes over the past 4 months. Enough for them to get going on!

Nike Williams

Nike leaves Toby quietly fretting – or perhaps sulking – as she heads away to somewhere a little more private and calls Jeremy Falweather. He quickly – eagerly? – agrees to meet for lunch. She names a burger bar: there’s something in his confident assumption that she would still be Vegan that makes her want to bite into a juicy meat burger.

Over lunch – Jeremy opted for the vegetarianNike explains that she’s interested in new music acts; asks him what’s new in the city. Jeremy enthuses about a new style of multi-act, all-night trance gig he is involved with named Dream Raves. DJs aplenty: he mentions Hep and Hex, from the Coast.

“If you’d like to try it, it gets humming about midnight and… you probably shouldn’t linger on too long into morning.”

“Why’s that?”

“Oh… the odd sour note… people on a down… not hooked up and nowhere to go… Eclipse is the next venue: Southside, you know?”

Nike does know: she spotted it while slumming with Joe Tripley in Mars Bar over there. Not one of her fondest memories.

Joe Tripley

Joe wanders into Rocket Records and up to the counter. Al Mozinski the record-store manager is on duty: nods to Joe. They spend a few minutes discussing NMA over the Clash, and Joe forks over currency in exchange for a moderately common pressing of Vengeance (1984). Then, having warmed the audience, he asks about surfer-acid and recent buyers.

“No… though when you say acid we had a little run on the Chemical Brothers.”

Joe grunts: this latest crop of Metas, even the narcissism is superior. He offers to slide across another 20 for more info. Al refuses:

“But say – you know Wendy? She’s looking for her boyfriend Eric. She mentioned the Chemical Brothers when she was talking about her problem. Four weeks now.” He digs under the counter and comes up with a picture and phone number.

Wendy huh? That the cute chick works here?”

“Yep, Wendy Boys. That’s her number on the bottom.”

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