Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

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Kuildeous
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Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 6:57 pm

So even though we're only on Act 4 after 5 months of playing, I've been having some fun, and it seems like players are having fun--at least nobody has dragged me into the street to shoot me, so I consider that a win. And so I decided to share my campaign here.

First off, the game is on a Discord server across several channels. Most of the action takes place in the #in-game channel, but it can get rather heavy with die rolls, chatter, and OOC discussions. There are some great conversations between PCs, and if you would like to read what is going on between the characters, feel free to log into Discord and read the old content (https://discord.gg/FwgwkcE).

But for my contributions here, I will post content that I double-posted in the #gm-journal channel. This doesn't mean that content not in that channel is unimportant. I simply had the notion to post GM content so that players (and admittedly myself) can more easily refer to previous story content. It keeps me honest as well as provide reminders for players in a game where it can take over a month to conclude an act.

Each post will be a scene that I will quickly look over. I will warn you that it could feel disjointed or one-sided since it doesn't always reflect what the players had been discussing. Take that into account if you choose to read these transcripts. I also jump wildly from second person to third person and may end up adding content to #gm-journal that didn't need adding or, worse, omitted content that would've been nice to include. Edit: Actually, it isn't always a smooth read. I've noticed that there are some things I didn't add to #gm-journal, which makes the story take weird leaps that look odd without the context of the other players. I like to think that style improved as we went along.
Last edited by Kuildeous on Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:05 pm

Malcom Kane Must Die - Act One

Cast of characters:
Miles Kenny, a Core Earth journalist who discovered the invasion long before it happened but nobody believed him.
Mika, a female ninja from Osaka who's not afraid of a face-to-face fight but readily engages in espionage, sabotage, and infiltration.
Angelo "El Conejo" Ortiz, an ex-convict apocalypse survivor who escaped the prison bus in the invasion.
William Simms, a successful minister in a large mega-church whose lost faith was rekindled after the invasion.
Xinyi Sung (Firecracker), an accomplished Nile mathematician who has mastered an outrageous and noisy form of martial arts.
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:07 pm

Scene 1
============================================
Nile Empire/Core Earth mixed zone
Standard scene
============================================

The acrid odor of petrol assaults your nostrils, punctuated percussively by the gritty landscape of the desert. The ringing in your ears subsides gradually as you struggle to stand up against the backdrop of the Pride of Nut wreckage. Who knows what caused this plane to crash? Could it have been the buffeting winds of the sandstorm that now overtakes you? Could it have been the lightning strike which set fire to one of your wings? Could it have been the glowing purple death beam that shot out of a nearby dune that cut your plane in half?

Come to think of it, it probably was the glowing purple death beam that fired out of that dune--the dune next to the metal hatch which flipped open to allow several large scorpions to scuttle onto the shifting sands. The hatch laboriously swings to close, but the sandstorm forces thousands of obstructing grains of sands into the hinges, preventing the metal door to slam shut. You could seek shelter from the storm within that hatch if only the scorpions didn't have other plans for you.
Last edited by Kuildeous on Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:21 pm

Scene 2
============================================
Nile Empire/Core Earth mixed zone
Standard scene
============================================

Sliding through the hatch, you softly land on a bed of sand. The storm rages beyond the sealed hatch. As you take in the stifling room and its macabre skeletons picked clean by the scorpions, you have a moment to think about why you were flying in this part of the desert to begin with.

Nine hours ago, the Delphi Council sent you to meet with an expert in antiquities, Professor Mariam, at her home in Cairo. A trusted ally, she explained that the esteemed archaeologist, Malcom Kane, acquired a location from one of her associates some days back. Four hours later, that associate was dead. After a thorough search of the dead man's home, you rubbed charcoal on a pad of paper and discovered the coordinates Malcolm Kane sought. Mariam has no idea what treasure he could be seeking in the middle of the desert, but his villainy is renowned. He must be stopped.

Chasing after Kane with a 2-day head start, you secure passage on the Pride of Nut, a modest but capable plane. After 4 hours of flying, your pilot noticed a fast-moving storm coming from the north. Though he tried to outrun it, the storm quickly overtook the Pride of Nut. A deafening crack of lightning ignites one of the wings, as the pilot struggled to fight the winds and the damaged wing. Just as the pilot caught a favorable updraft and seemed able to outrun the storm, one of the dunes ahead glowed purple, and the plane fell to the sands.

The chamber you found yourself in reeks of animal flesh. Clearly someone tended to the scorpions by delivering animal (and perhaps human) carcasses through a one-way chute. Ancient carvings of Serket and her scorpions contrast harshly with the fluorescent lightbulbs illuminating this chamber.

An iron door stands next to the jumbled animal bones below the chute. The lever to open it is rusted but seems operational.

The door opens with a squeal that resounds down the hall, which feels cooler and less like an abattoir than the room you just left. Still, there's an unshakable stench of death lingering in the air. Spots of modernity interrupt the typically Nile décor: Fluorescent lights flicker above, whiteboards adorn the walls with arcane scribblings, and classical music washes over you without any clicks or hisses from old-style speakers hung periodically down the hall.

A woman's voice calls out from a room down the hall, "Look, just because you check up on me more often doesn't mean I can work any faster. Your damnable machine triggered again, and now I'm low on power. If you keep shooting down every aircraft that passes by, you'll never get your weapon." The voice gets closer, accompanied by the sounds of squeaky wheels turning. "But since you're here, I hope you brought me more CDs. I think the Indomitable Trinity is getting bored with Vivaldi. And please consider a powered chair. I'd work better without these abominations push—oh!"

Emerging from the room is a middle-aged woman of eastern African descent wearing an unfashionable mixture of modern and vintage clothing. She sits in an archaic wheelchair that squeaks and wobbles on the uneven floor. A shambling corpse pushes the wheelchair into the hallway. Threading through its skeletal remains are several rotting vines and leaves. A tattered domino mask hangs loosely around its eyes in a macabre mockery of the masked heroes of the realm. Upon seeing you, the creature spins the wheelchair around, nearly toppling the woman to the floor and lunges toward you. Frantically, the woman shouts, "Number Three, hold!" The gospog stops suddenly, rooted in its tracks. It continues to stare at you with unmitigated loathing in its shriveled eyes.

As the gospog glares soullessly at you, the woman barks, "Number Three, push," and points in your direction. The gospog turns back to the wheelchair and pushes her up the incline to face you. "My God," she gasps, "actual people." Upon seeing Firecracker's mask, she breathes a sigh of relief. "And not any of Professor Pain's lackeys too."

Her wheelchair rattles as the gospog clenches its fists around the handles. Annoyed, the woman grips the wheels with her own hands and says, "Number Three, manure." Dutifully, the gospog turns around and shuffles back through the room from which it emerged. "My name is Qiana Jelani." She starts to extend a hand to you but reaffirms her grip on the wheel. "Follow me to a more level floor," she says as she spins around and rolls down the hallway.

"According to Professor Pain, he's the greatest villain the world doesn't know. He's brilliant—in his own way—but he's obsessed with making a name for himself. He doesn't trust anybody, which is why he repurposed this," Qiana gestures to the underground facility, "whatever it used to be—that is, assuming it even existed before the war. I don't think he's in full agreement with the upper echelons of the invaders, so he has me developing new devices due to my expertise in theoretical physics, though I must confess that I'm forgetting much of what is theoretical. I think much of what I developed incorporated too much of the current reality, and he's discovering they don't work so well when taken out of this bunker."

Qiana says, "My husband, Kofi, and I lived just outside Cairo when the Pharaoh came. Everybody was cheering him on, but Kofi and I had our doubts." She shakes her head ruefully. "Mind control can be a doozy. We didn't want to join the fight. We just wanted to quietly live out our lives, but Professor Pain learned of my research in theoretical physics and attacked our home. A heroic team calling itself the Indomitable Trinity tried to save us, but they were knocked out. And now here I am with what's left of the Indomitable Trinity. Professor Pain has Kofi locked up somewhere, which is why I can never leave. Well, and this." She motions to the wheelchair. "It seems the Pharaoh's forces are not disability-friendly."

A pained look crosses Qiana's face. "Those poor souls. They were captured trying to save Kofi and me. Then they showed up 2 weeks later looking like—," she motions disgustedly at the masked gospog, "—this. Professor Pain has made it clear that if I don't comply, then I can expect to see Kofi returned to me as a servant." Her eyes well up at the grim prospect. "The worst part of it is that these brave heroes hadn't even made a name for themselves yet. I don't even know what to call them. Professor Pain ordered them to follow my orders, but the service tunnels are full of them toiling away that I have no control over. Mind control can be a doozy."

Upon hearing about the purple death ray, she muses, "Is that the color of it now? That weapon is what Professor Pain hopes to unleash on his enemies--when we can figure out how to make it more portable. It is cutting into his eternium store, which is counterproductive when it fires at every passing aircraft. There aren't a lot way out here, of course, but his scorpions ensure there are no survivors. Then the gospog collect the bodies. I'm just grateful that he's not making me feed the scorpions." She shudders visibly.

"Professor Pain has many enemies, it seems. Or at least that's how he talks. He won't let me touch the weapon unless he's here. So while he's out there, I work on other inventions, all of them experimental: a grenade that makes the surrounding objects so heavy that buildings collapse in on themselves, a rocket pack that still isn't as maneuverable as the Rocket Ranger suits, and a batch of bullets that should glue a plane's propeller in place. He has me working so quickly and so tirelessly that I question their efficacy. He brings them on whatever heists he performs. But when it comes to that weapon, he's very serious, and he ensures I am well-rested for that. He's so obsessed over his ownership of that gun that he says he has a failsafe in place to keep it out of the hands of anyone who breaches his lair."

She calls out, "Number One, door. Number Two, push." Shortly after, two more gospog shuffle in from the hall on the other side. One has a pair of shattered goggles, and the other has a bandana around its nose and mouth, though it clearly had spent time chewing through it. Upon seeing you, their instincts kick in, and they twitch in an attempt to lunge at you, but Qiana's orders keep them on track. Number One opens one of the closed hatches while Number Two pushes Qiana's wheelchair. Number Three dutifully steps through the hatch while casting a sideways glare at you. "I'll be just a moment," she calls back at you.

Fifteen minutes later, Qiana is wheeled back out by one of the gospog. Another one carries a small crate with her name stenciled across it. The third gospog grabs some of the food and carries it to her bedroom. After the crate is placed on the floor, she explains, "I have two of those grenades which should work at summoning scarab beetles. I feel more confident about this freeze ray gun. It has a fresh eternium splinter even."

Her mood shifts, and she says impassively, "I figured out after pressing the button what the fail-safe is that Professor Pain placed on the weapon should anyone discover this bunker. I'm sorry, heroes, but I fear you only have 10 minutes before this whole structure is filled with flammable toxic gas. I fought it as long as I could. Mind control can be a doozy." The walls shake from a nearby explosion, and clangs echo throughout the chamber as the doors automatically open to the sounds of shuffling feet. "Oh dear, he must've improved on the Doomsday Accelerant. You have less than 2 minutes. I'm sorry."

She wheels herself into her bedroom, and one of the gospog stands ready to shut the hatch behind her. Tears hang on her eyelashes as she says, "I wish I could go with you, but if I'm not here, Professor Pain will surely turn Kofi into one of these things. Alive or dead, I can provide him a chance." Motioning to one of the newly opened doors, she continues, "I've never been in Professor Pain's study, but maybe you can find where Kofi is. If you can get him to safety, then you can come find me."

As the hatch swings closed, she warns, "I can't stop the Indomitable Trinity any longer, but it would be a cruelty to leave them in this state anyway." Motioning toward the hall where the gospog returned with a shovel, she says, "The corral is that way. There's are vehicles of some sort beyond that, but that door is locked."

With the other Storm Knights covering his rear, Miles picks through the notes in Professor Pain's study. Amid all these blueprints, newspaper clippings, and maps, there has to be some system, though it eludes Miles at first. How do you file by hieroglyphics anyway? Does Eye come before Bird or what?

As the sounds of distant explosions and hissing gas remind Miles of their desperate timeline, he has an epitome. Surely Professor Pain's filing system couldn't be that simple, could it? Risking a needless delay, Miles searches for documents under "People I Have Kidnapped to Coerce Their Loved Ones."

There it is! A folder containing a photograph of Qiana and a handsome older man. Now to get out of this room and back to the surface.

In their short time in Professor Pain's study, something's nagging at Firecracker. On the walls are a few newspaper articles of the exploits of the obscure Professor Pain, but there are significantly more articles of the more recognizable Crimson Claw, who is based in Cairo.

Why the obsession? Partner in crime? Potential rival? Another identity? Surely not that one; the two look entirely different.

Miles sifts through the pages in the folder. It looks like Kofi is being held in an office building on the south side of Cairo, the Insidious Wu Han's territory, though the neighborhood looks to be something outside of Wu Han's interests. This may have been intentional. The office building is located within disputed territory between the Copper Khopesh gang and the Hidden Asp gang.

Sand immediately pours down on the elevator's peaked roof when the trapdoor opens, creating what would be a mesmerizing and relaxing curtain of sand falling all around you. Right now, the sand is anything but relaxing as the extra weight causes the elevator to ascend slowly. After some warranty-voiding adjustments, the elevator lurches upward more quickly, accompanied by the smell of burning motor.

A horrid face bursts through the curtain as a gospog grabs hold of the lift's edge and struggles to pull itself up. Miles' camel launches a glob of spit at the gospog. It claws at the floor to secure a hole, but the floor is just too slick with saliva, and it slips back over the edge.

With a tortuous groan, the lift emerges out of the ground and into the reddening rays of the Sahara sunset. Eagerly, the camels trot off of the swaying lift onto solid(ish) sand. As the last of the eight camels clears the platform, the cables snap, sending the lift plummeting below. Judging from the frustrated howls, it took some gospog with it. You ride away from the rest of the bunker, and half a minute later, the ground shakes with a series of massive explosions, sending tons of sand spraying into the sky. Though Qiana's bedroom looked to be durable, it's questionable if she survived that explosion. At least now no more planes will be shot down around here.

The weather is clear, but the sun is setting. When you study your map, you see that you still have about 8 hours of riding before you reach your destination. It has been an exhausting day.
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:25 pm

Scene 3
============================================
Nile Empire dominant zone
Standard scene
============================================

Remarkably, the night passes without incident. Perhaps it's the stillness of the desert night that lulls one into a false sense of serenity. It's easy to forget that hundreds of miles away in any direction one can find rampant crime, mad despots, and violent reality storms. The chaos of the previous day melts away, but you awaken knowing that chaos will begin anew.

After you make your morning preparations, you arrive by camel upon a lone structure jutting out of the sands. Its location may seem strange to Core Earthers, but this reality has brought forth many strange phenomena. The building itself is only 5 meters across, so whatever is inside must be below the surface. Several jeeps are parked outside, but something is clearly wrong. Slumped up against one of the jeeps are two dead bodies.

Leaving Xinyi to wisely watch for mummies, you pass through the open doorway of the tomb. It's not what one would expect in the Nile Empire. The stairs going under the surface are implausibly clear of sand. You descend for several meters before it levels out into a hallway. Egyptian scenes decorate the walls, along with Jewish and Christian symbols.

Torches illuminate the hallway though they seem awfully high up for someone to casually go through and light each one. You've heard tales of traps sprinkled throughout ruins such as these, and you feel you may have found one.

The floor you walk on stops being level and twists at a 25-degree angle to the side. The slope ends at a dark crevasse that continues down the hallway. The purpose of this architecture becomes obvious as you see fresh blood staining the tiles that drips toward the crevasse and disappears in the inky blackness. While you can easily walk down the slanting hallway without falling into the crevasse, the symbols etched into the large tiles give you pause.

The symbols are all different: One has crocodiles, another has frogs. One has the sun, and another has the moon. One has an exsanguinated man on an Aztec-like altar, and another has a woman giving birth. And many more. Clearly you're meant to step on certain tiles, but which ones?

Miles steps on the tile with the frog. So far, so good. Crocodile would've been too obvious. Then another step onto a tile carved with wild, ravenous beasts. Yes, very good. Then onto the the tile with the six-legged insect. This confirms Miles' suspicion that the safe tiles are associated with the 10 Biblical Plagues. But why would a tomb with such strong Judeo-Christian elements be found way out here?

After Miles hops to and from the exsanguinated man, the dead cattle, the seeping wounds, the lightning, the locusts, and the wailing parents, he finds himself just one hop away. The solar eclipse would represent darkness. He leaps to that tile.

Will follows closely behind Miles and had just leapt onto the locusts tile when he notices Miles leaping for the eclipse. "Not that one," he shouts. Miles reflexively jumps back to the tile with the wailing parents just as a pristine blade, seemingly untouched by age, slides out from the ceiling right above the tile with the eclipse. Will points out, "The eclipse is an attempt to explain the plague rationally. This would be represented by something truly supernatural." He motions to the blank tile. "There's your darkness."

Putting his faith into a self-defrocked minister, Miles leaps for the blank tile. Nothing happens. He and Will complete the crossing and aid Mika and Angelo past the trap.
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:32 pm

Scene 4
============================================
Nile Empire dominant zone
Dramatic scene
============================================

After you cross the trapped hallway, you hear a couple of gunshots up ahead and some shouting. The hallway opens into a vast chamber filled with both Amaatist and Christian iconography. Two large statues of Horus and Ammit stand in the corners near you. Taking cover behind them are five people wearing leather jackets and wielding Schmeisser MP-40s. Though they look to be comfortable in this realm, they have the same steely resolve as the very obvious Cyberpapl agent behind the statue of Horus.

The person that the Cyberpapal agents have taken cover against is barely visible from your vantage point. Malcom Kane is in between three large statues of Christian knights. There appears to be some sort of mechanism that he fiddles with as he takes cover from the Cyberpapal agents. He fires a warning shot, which keeps the agents in place.

A gaping chasm stretches between the two adversaries with a narrow stone bridge of questionable structural integrity leading right to the knight statues. Behind him, several laborers cower behind picks and shovels, eager to not draw any attention to themselves during the fighting.

Sister Marta shouts out to Malcom Kane, "This Eternity Shard is a holy relic. It belongs to us."

Malcom barks, "It belongs in a museum!"

"Our museums are the safest—"

Malcom guffaws. "Sorry, I just can't keep a straight face. I'm certainly going to sell this to the Pharaoh. To hell with museums!" He fires a shot that whizzes past Marta's ear. "Now if you excuse me, I'm busy not rigging the entire room to collapse in on itself, but you're not making it easy."

Marta growls, "If this entire tomb kills us all to protect something so holy, then so be it. Open fire!"

Kane's smarmy look falls away as the entire chamber shakes. Horrified, he watches the statues of Horus and Ammit gain life. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no," he sputters. "This can't happen. The walking gods are to remain dormant until the return of Pthan-anum's spirit, and that's not just going to waltz--."

Malcolm watches the statues' interest in Will Simms. "Him?!" he exclaims. "That's the returned spirit of Pthan-anum?" Backing away from Firecracker, Kane says, "Your presence here complicates matters, Firecracker. You want the ring? Take it. I have another Eternity Shard to catch." He pats his shirt pocket, which holds an envelope, as he slinks toward the side passage.

The hawk-headed Horus statue glances around at the people surrounding it. The crocodile head of Ammit swivels on its mighty lion chest toward Will. It judges him as unworthy.

"Firecracker, you fool!" Malcom's gaze oscillates wildly between the two walking gods. "You all can just die here and rot for all I care: Firecracker, the workers, Crazy Laser Nun. All of you. Me, I'm heading back to Cairo and hopping on the first plane to Moscow for my next Eternity Shard." He pulls the envelope out of his shirt pocket to display triumphantly. "Then I'll come back here after the walking gods return to their slumber and finally free the ring. With two Eternity Shards, I won't even have to share with Mobius, that pompous fool. Mwahahahaha!" A tremor knocks him backward a couple of steps, and he drops the envelope. He contemplates picking it up but decides to hasten his exit as large stone slabs slowly lower in the three doorways threatening to seal everyone in the room.

After Firecracker presses the correct tiles, the floor between the three Christian knights opens, and a stone pedestal rises to chest level. Atop the pedestal is a copper bowl wreathed in flames. A ring lies inside the fire. As Firecracker contemplates how to safely pull the ring out, Will feels the call of the gods--his god, the gods these statues represent, and even gods he's not familiar with. He closes his eyes for just a brief moment and lets himself be cradled by his god in this hour of need. A moment of serenity cocoons him, and when he opens his eyes, a sense of purpose fills him. A glow envelopes him, faint at first but becoming more intense as the flames die down. Finally, the flames vanish, as Will shines as a beacon. The ring is remarkably cool to the touch.

As the walking gods prepare for another onslaught, the remaining Storm Knights dive under the descending door into the less chaotic hallway, but even the hallway trembles with tiles and bricks tumbling from the ceiling. The Biblical Plagues puzzle is incredibly easy to solve now that much of the ceiling and the hidden blades have collapsed into rubble. It takes time to cross the trap without nicking oneself on an exposed blade, but most of the rumblings have abated.

Past the trap, the Storm Knights find a hole in the right wall just large enough for someone to squeeze through, and judging by the bloody handprints pressed into the wall, someone had. Farther along, a larger hole in the left wall is near the group of six laborers who cower when you approach but relax when they recognize you. They explain to you that Firecracker led them through the tunnel that ended in this wall. She studied the wall for some time to ascertain its weak spots and then punched it strategically in four places, causing the entire wall to collapse. As they climbed out, they didn't see Firecracker again.

Outside the tomb, you notice that one jeep is missing. Machine gun fire perforated most of the tires of the other jeeps, but you are able to swap the tires around and salvage four of the jeeps. You know where Malcom Kane is heading, but he has a head start on you.

Contents of the Malcom Kane's letter

My dear Mr. Kane:

You may be wondering how I know who you are. The abilities at my fingertips are beyond your feeble comprehension, but know that you and I share the same goal. I know you're going to seek the Eternity Shard, and I know you're going to fail. Come seek me out at the Boneyard in the Blasted Lands of Russia, and I will explain more. I too will find an Eternity Shard, but I won't fail. I'll let you join me in bringing pain and ruin to the people here.

I can feel the darkness within you growing. Do not squander your talents in the land of Mobius. Come find me and unleash your full potential. You'll recognize who I am when you see me.

Marta's bloody and split lips crack into a painful smile. "Ah yes, Sandy," she croaks, "I was there at her interrogation. That is how I recognize your picture from the search the monks performed, Miles. I suspected that there was a logical reason you predicted the Living Land invasion, but Father Davalos insisted you were a witch. Then Sandy Johnson confessed and confirmed Farther Davalos' hunch, and that was the end of that investigation. You were not within the boundaries, so you were not high priority--until I saw you in that tomb and now possess a holy relic of His Eminence."

Seeing the look of determination on Miles' face, she says, "You're thinking of going after her, aren't you? You think she's in need of 'rescue.' You can rest assured that she is doing quite well. Her confessions were noted, and her penance set. She was well on her way when I left the Confession Chamber in Valencia. Once her Piety Score hit the positive numbers, she would've been given a job. So, Mr. Kenny, your friend doesn't need rescuing."
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:20 pm

Malcom Kane Must Die - Act Two

Cast of characters:
Miles Kenny, a Core Earth journalist who discovered the invasion long before it happened but nobody believed him.
Mika, a female ninja from Osaka who's not afraid of a face-to-face fight but readily engages in espionage, sabotage, and infiltration.
Angelo "El Conejo" Ortiz, an ex-convict apocalypse survivor who escaped the prison bus in the invasion.
Xinyi Sung (Firecracker), an accomplished Nile mathematician who has mastered an outrageous and noisy form of martial arts.
Johnson "JT" Thomas, zombie survivalist who knows his homemade weapons and armor.
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:24 pm

Scene 1
============================================
Nile Empire dominant zone (currently in Core Earth hardpoint)
Standard scene
============================================

Cairo: The city that rarely sleeps. Though the city streets are riddled with crime, it can still be a welcome reprieve of days spent in the desert. And days it was. The trip back from the unmarked tomb took far longer than expected. Sandstorms erupted along the way, forcing you into a circuitous route. It was as if the gods themselves set out to ensure you would suffer excruciating delays.

But here you are now. You managed to speak with your Cairo contact, Ammon Fire Eater. After some discussion, it was decided that William Simms would escort Sister Marta to the Delphi base in Germany. For her part, she had been an accommodating prisoner, though you could tell she pondered on a way to get the ring from you.

After you said your goodbyes to Will, you follow Ammon Fire Eater to the Temple of Wadjet, which houses a safehouse for the Delphi Council. The rooms underneath are spartan in appearance but serviceable. The Core Earth hardpoint feels more familiar to most of the group.

Ammon high-fives Spook, his spider monkey companion, as he enters. Spook dutifully pours Ammon a glass of wine and offers to pour wine for anyone else willing to drink from a monkey. He sits at the large dining table with a lone man. Ammon says in broken English, "This one, he is T. J. Fresh meat, I think the term is. Fresh meat for your team." He smiles broadly at this. In response, Spook screeches and gives the same toothy smile.

Ammon nods at Miles and leads him to an isolated room. After unlocking the door, Ammon leads Miles into the stuffy room. Inside are two computers that may have been cutting edge at the turn of the century. The stacks of paper next to the inkjet printer indicate that many other Storm Knights have used this as their temporary headquarters. Ammon barks, "Spook, stay outside!" The monkey hangs its head dejectedly in the open doorway. Ammon apologetically gestures to the teeth marks marring one of the keyboards, as well as the missing V key.

Ammon peruses a typewritten page studiously and prepares himself for the difficult and monumental task ahead. Finally he reaches around the intact computer, utters a prayer to at least three gods, and flicks on the machine. With a triumphant grin, he spins the chair to face Miles. "The ones who set this us warn not to contact the outside world for too long in case we could get sliced. These instructions help you." The instructions given to Miles are extremely rudimentary, but clearly they are of use to people of lower tech. Ammon clasps his hands and bows to Miles, shooing the monkey back into the hallway.

Hello, Miles. We are pleased that everyone is safe. Having an Eternity Shard is a win. HQ would like you to bond with the ring and learn more. If you feel the ring may be compromised in your next mission, you may leave it with Ammon. Use discretion.

We will arrange for pick-up for Will and prisoner. He is being reassigned. We think that TJ's skills will be a good fit for your operation. Please tell Mika we have no progress on Takeda right now, but we are still searching. Communication is harder in that region.

HQ strongly suggests following lead of Malcom Kane in Tharkold before he and his correspondent can claim an Eternity Shard. Use your judgment if other missions should take priority. Stopping Professor Pain could win favors with Mystery Men. Sandy Johnson obviously survived being in Living Land, then Core Earth, and now Cyberpapacy. She might be lucky, or she could be a latent Storm Knight. If she is working for them, then she is safe for now. HQ suggests low priority, but use your discretion.

Let us know how the ring fits in Core Earth. It sounds useful for our teams. Good luck out there.

Now armed with a communication hub, primitive to Mika as it may be, Mika places some calls with her contacts. The Delphi Council may be politically sluggish with its stretched resources, but she has eyes and ears elsewhere. Finding fast transport outside of Cairo at first seems hopeless.

But then there is one possibility: An arms smuggler named Ronin. He stole the Wave, an Oda Hornet, from Kanawa directly and fitted it to his liking. He's spent the last month flying from realm to realm selling weapons to High Lord and Storm Knight alike. His ethics are questionable, but word is that he is honorable in his dealings. Mika learns that he is arriving at the converted Maadi Military Hospital Airport in 4 hours. How the Insidious Wu Han will react to a realm runner zipping in and out of southern Cairo is anybody's guess.

The airport is half a mile from the office building where Kofi is being held--half a mile through Copper Khopesh territory. Using the rest of her money and her favors, Mika buys a "liberated" Daimler-Benz and a motorcycle with sidecar.
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Kuildeous
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:33 pm

Scene 2
============================================
Nile Empire dominant zone
Standard scene
============================================

After you clear the checkpoint, the police presence drops off dramatically. There is still a façade of order in this neighborhood, meaning that the Hidden Asp gang is effective in its role as protector/extorter. The office building in Professor Pain's notes shares a block with another, shorter building. Professor Pain's building stands 10 stories high and towers over the 4 stories of its neighbor.

The streets here are a little wider and less crowded, providing your vehicles easy access to the building.

The four Storm Knights move expertly though the streets of Cairo with Mika taking the lead. It's clear she knows what she's doing, and it's easy for everyone to follow her stride. After ensuring that any onlookers would lose them as they flit through the alleyways, the group walks down the final alley with the side door directly in front of them. It's only 25 meters away. 20 meters. 15 meters. The Storm Knights stop in their tracks as a box truck pulls into the alley right in front of them. Mika quickly presses herself into a nook (presumably), but everyone else stares directly through the windshield.

Two men stare out from the cab in annoyance, and the driver blares the horn, snarling at you to get lost. The passenger squints at you and yells out, "Hey, those are the people Boss told us to look out for." You hear two other people jump onto the street from the back of the truck, and the side door opens. One of the women behind the truck says to someone, "Don't go anywhere." From inside the truck comes a familiar voice, "Where am I going to go? Bunch of engineers in the realm, and trucks still don't have ramps."

The two in the cab lean out the windows. Two other people in back lean around the corner to get a look at you. All four have Thompson guns pointing in your direction. A commotion from the building suggests that more are coming.

With the last of the gunmen taken out of the fight, the action switches to the sudden incursion into official Copper Khopesh business. Mika fills the room with smoke and works her way deeper into the building. The three gang members blink blearily but are able to find her. "Keep her away from the still," one of them shouts.

The illegal still heats up under pressure and explodes, showering the room with flaming debris. A half-second later, the truck's fuel ignites, causing the truck to explode as well. A taillight hurtles straight for Ibrahim's head and is deflected by JT's shield. She breathes a sigh of relief and realizes her arms are wrapped around him for safety. She pushes him away roughly and says, "Get your mitts off me." As she examines his face and glances at the conflagration next to them, she softly says, "But thanks."

The Copper Khopeshes have fled the scene, and alarm bells ring down the streets, signaling the need for firefighting personnel. Curious onlookers emerge from nearby buildings and chatter excitedly about the the fire. Once again, the streets of Cairo are drowned in a cacophony of noise--except for the lair of the Crimson Claw. The alarm is eerily quiet.

Shortly after a priest of Set arrives to call down rains to douse the fire, you delve deeper into the building. JT leads the way with his shield raised, though the opposition beyond the people within the lobby is worryingly absent. As JT and Ibrahim open the doors, you find yourself in a concrete-lined hallway.

This looks nothing like what you would expect from an office building. The hallway runs parallel to the wall. Given the number of windows you saw outside, you would've expected doors to the offices, but you see none. The hallway continues down the length of the building with walls that stretch to the ceilings 10 meters up.

The hallway continues to follow the building's perimeter and turns a corner. It ends at a metal push door. Judging from your assessment of the building's exterior, this door should open up into the garage.

Ibrahim keeps one hand on the gun and pulls open the door with the other. The door opens into a vehicle bay. Crates sit in the corners of the room, and two jeeps sit in the middle. A large elevator rests near the back with a large control panel bolted to the floor. Crouched behind the control panel is a man wearing a combination of flowing robes and a necktie. His round spectacles perch precariously on his nose, as he points a pistol in your direction. As the door opens, he looks quickly at the open garage door and the cloud of dust. He shouts up the elevator shaft, "They're here! The Undertaker made it out!"

Ibrahim pales at this and says, "You didn't tell me the Undertaker is involved!" Terror grips her as she swivels her head and sees the four gospog perched behind the jeeps with four rifles pointing directly at you.
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Re: Malcom Kane Must Die (a PbP campaign)

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:43 pm

Scene 3
=================================
Nile Empire dominant zone
Dramatic scene
=================================

With a tortured squeal that wasn't there before the fire, the cargo lift rises through the gap in the ceiling, emerging into a blood-spattered hallway in the upper levels.

The levels above the garage look nothing like the outside of the building. Sheets of muslin stretch along the outer wall of this hallway. Through holes in the fabric, you can see an office façade with a window facing outward. Whoever designed this building took great pains to make it look like an ordinary office building.

The hallway stretches along the muslin wall, roughly mirroring the hallway along the build's perimeter down below. The inner wall is composed of a mixture of concrete, brick, and steel with several steel staircases leading up to various doors.

All too aware of the potential pitfalls in a building like this, Miles scrutinizes the maddening arrangement of hallways and staircases. The claw marks in the walls give him an idea of where to go and also where to stop following. The entire complex seems to be centered on a large central chamber with scaffolding and hallways crisscrossing along the outside, just inside the office façade.

Miles finds a narrow concrete hallway that seems to be free of danger. More importantly, it doesn't seem wide enough to easily accommodate whatever creature is lurking the corridors outside the chamber. After a tense 5 minutes of squeezing through the corridor, the Storm Knights question if this is the best use of their time. Is it worth taking another 5 minutes to backtrack, or do they keep pushing and risk disappointment?

Angelo smells something familiar: Stale sweat, unwashed toilets, and desperation. His regrettable time in prison has let him recognize another prison when he smells one. It's a slim hope, but it's one worth holding onto.

The corridor opens up into the ventilation system. In the floor are steel vents looking down into four prisoner cells. Two of them are empty. One has a woman absent-mindedly reciting numbers in a seemingly random fashion. The last one has a man matching Kofi's photograph.

Facing no further resistance, Mika easily makes her way out of the detention area which opens up into a vast chamber 40 meters across and 36 meters high with eight skylights looking down. Scaffolding and ledges line the walls and criss-cross above a large work area, filled with large mechanical devices Mika cannot recognize though some parts of them look to be in the shape of a giant cat's paw and one is clearly in the shape of a human face.

Scattered throughout the room are several dozen gunmen like the ones downstairs. Their focus rests on the exits and not the detention area, making Mika's stealth a trivial matter. Nearby, a man in a red and orange costume paces restlessly. Affixed to his left arm is a large shield in the shape of a lobster's claw. His domino mask does not hide his frustration. "Where are they? Heroes never take this long to reach me. This is most inconsiderate of them!" The henchman he turns to only shrugs helplessly, and the Crimson Claw shoves him aside to grab another henchman within the oversized claw. "And where is the gospog we purchased? The Undertaker assured me that it would be under my control."

The henchman stammers, "I-I-I-I don't know, Master. It caught the scent of one of the heroes and is trying to find them." The response earned him a free flight painfully into a stack of oil cans.

Shortly after, the exits fill with Cairo police with Ibrahim standing next to a higher-ranking officer. She commands, "Crimson Claw, you're under arrest for malfeasance regarding the Pharaoh's resources. Submit to our authority and hand over all your assets to Wu Han for judgment."

The Crimson Claw trembles in rage at being addressed by mere policemen. Where is the hero? Is this his final fight? This is not how it's supposed to be. The Crimson Claw bellow, "Never! I will never let Wu Han steal my work. Activate the Robo-Sphinx!"

One of his henchmen blanches, "Master, it's not operational. If we send power to it, it'll explode and take this city block with it." A harsh glare from the Crimson Claw silences him, and he obediently flips switches and presses buttons on a control panel. A motor near Mika starts up, and her eagle eyes trace a conduit from the motor to the disassembled clutter. All around the room, gunfire erupts as the policemen engage with the Crimson Claw's henchmen.

As power flows through the conduit, Mika slices through the wires, ceasing all further power. What power did get through was enough to make the disassembled components hum menacingly. The Crimson Claw turns toward the interruption. "Finally. I don't know which hero academy you dropped out of, but I shall enjoy making you suffer." Holding the giant claw in front of him, he charges at Mika.

The inchoate Robo Sphinx has just enough power to pop and spark, igniting much smaller explosions than the Crimson Claw would've liked but still filling the workshop with smoke. Ibrahim's eyes widen at the imminent collapse and orders the police to evacuate the building. Outside, the Storm Knights wait by the car and motorcycle and see scattered explosions blowing out the windows of the building. The far corner starts to collapse in on itself. It is clear that if Mika survives this, she will not make it in time, and the helicopter is only mere minutes to the west.

Seeing the truck crossing the intersection, Miles slams on the accelerator in order to head it off. Something warm and fuzzy and screechy blocks his vision, as Spook leaps up from under the seat to argue with anybody about the jolts and jostles that interrupted his nap. Upon seeing the imminent collision, Spook catapults himself off of Miles's head out the passenger window. Angelo catches him in mid-flight before the monkey splatters against a different truck.

Free of obfuscation, Miles turns the wheel hard and scrapes the side of the car along the front of the truck. Everyone inside is rattled, including Spook who chides Angelo for manhandling him and throws his flashlight out the window. As the car crashes through the gate of the hospital, JT loses his aim on the leaping mummy. It might be frustrating, but it also means it's not right behind them.

Miles easily finds the sleek helicopter sitting on a garden that used to be a helipad. Three people unload crates and don't even bother to look up when they hear the screech of tires. The man supervising them glances up from his tablet and rolls his eyes at Miles' entrance. Of course his fare would be madly careening at the last minute.

Meanwhile, Xinyi ducks her head under the row of lights and bounces her way off the trucks and into an alleyway. The gospog lands in front of her and lunges at her. Reflexively, Xinyi slams herself to one side and forces the bike horizontal. The sidecar pivots into the air and splinters across the gospog's face. Now free of the excess weight, Xinyi rights the motorcycle and heads toward the hospital.

Xinyi turns onto a major thoroughfare and nearly loses control of the bike as something small slams into her chest. She catches it before it falls to the street and recognizes a Core Earth flashlight. It looks familiar somehow.

Finally, Xinyi finds an angled push cart and throttles the motorcycle toward it, launching the bike over the fence and toward the helipad. Ronin rolls his eyes a second time before verifying that all of his packages are unloaded.

Ronin nods curtly, "I just need to confirm your identities." A bestial roar interrupts him, and he looks up to see the gospog several blocks away vaulting from rooftop to rooftop. "Right, you all seem to be who you say you are," he says ushering the four of you into the helicopter. Inside is a luxurious lounge that looks at odds with the 20-millimeter cannon on the side. "Akira! Gun!"

A man joins you in the helicopter and sits at the gun placement as Ronin rushes to the cockpit. Rising into the air, you see the gospog run across the rooftops, and Akira points the heavy machine gun at the charging mummy. A staccato erupts from the gun as Akira peppers the area with lead, much of it puncturing the gospog.

As the helicopter rises to 30 meters above the ground, the gospog hurtles through the air against the stream of bullets and wraps its gnarled, dead fingers around anything to allow it purchase. Unfortunately, what it grabbed is Akira's leg. Akira turns toward you fearfully and reaches out his hand. As you reach out to save him, the weight of the gospog pulls him down, and both plummet into the Nile River.

"Damn," Ronin says bitterly, "He hasn't been my machine gunner for long. Well, as long as it's smooth sailing, that won't be important.

The radio crackles to life, and an unctuous voice fills the cabin, "Ah, Ronin. Did you think you could sneak back into my city after your betrayal?"

Ronin closes his eyes briefly and speaks into the radio, "Wu Han, I swear I'll have the replacement goods. I just have to make a quick detour, and I will come right back."

"YOUR FUTILE PROMISES MEAN NOTHING! PAY THE PRICE FOR BETRAYING THE INSIDIOUS WU HAN!"

What sounds like a swarm of bees closes in on the helicopter as the air fills with single-person fighter planes gunning for you.

The helicopter skims close to the river and then rises suddenly. The spray blinds one of the pilots, his plane crashes into another. With a triumphant grin, Ronin points the helicopter northerly and disappears into the reality storm.
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