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  1. One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the slime-strewn terrace of a monolithic edifice of unimaginable proportions and unthinkable geometry. A shadow loomed overhead, quivering in the sickly-pale moonlight and flickering in the periphery of his vision. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. Or perhaps not his life. It was hard to tell what was real and what was not, what were his memories and what were someone else's. Clarity of any sort was elusive. In many of the scenes he saw two sets of footprints: one belonging to him, and the other oddly irregular, suggesting a stagger or limp and hinting at feet of inhuman shape and number. When the last scene of his life (or someone else's) flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the slime. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. The slow, steady, eternal lapping of the black water across the slimy balcony had smeared them beyond recognition, so he was uncertain whether they were his or not. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he turned to the shadowy presence looming over him, crawling around him, and occasionally caressing him with its chilling tendrils his spine. "The fell tome through which I learned to beckon you into my presence promised that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me." The shadow replied in a guttural, throbbing, and oddly shrill cadence that only peripherally aped human speech. The crushing bass in the voice, if it could be called a voice, turned his stomach. The incessant piping stabbed at that part of the brain just behind his eyes, as if he had just compounded a migraine with a stroke, while being struck from behind with broken two-by-four. He fell to his knees, scrabbling in the sand and mud and slime. He understood rather than heard the answer, as the shadow communicated at some blasphemous, eldritch level far below the conscious mind: "Human, mortal, insect. . . . I did not even notice your presence until just now. I move through your world at my leisure, bound by neither time nor space nor physical law. If you were more significant in the cosmos, you would be merely insignificant. That you moved in my shadow during your life, indeed that you served me slavishly through hideous rituals of unspeakable horror, does not stir my interest. Where you see two sets of footprints, those are the times in your life when you trailed me at a distance, begging my attention. Where you see but one, those are the times I walked alone, for you had been spirited off to the stars to sate the never-ending hunger of my interstellar progeny with your psychic energies and your blood." The man twitched and gibbered, pissed himself, and stared longingly into the darkness.
  2. America is also the home of the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG), a semi-secret private organization funded by the powerful Knight Industries. Knight Industries is a military and technology corporation that benefited greatly from Vietnam- and Cold War-era design contracts. In late 1980, Knight Industries participated in a very top secret UFO recovery operation somewhere in the American southwest. Their prize was a small, badly-damaged three-man spaceship and its three robot pilots. The robot pilots were also badly damaged, but technicians managed to salvage the computer core out of one of them, including its optical sensor, which was a small glowing red receptor that moved back and forth as it surveyed the landscape. The Knight Industries Technicians and FLAG did what any true American would do: they installed the computer brain and the optical sensor into a car. The experimental car (named the Knight Industries Two Thousand or KITT) was an experimental prototype built on a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird chassis and armored with a revolutionary composite that was was also reverse-engineered from the salvaged UFO. Within moments of being brought on-line, the car spoke in a metallic voice and said the cryptic phrase "As you command, Imperious Leader" and then immediately shut down. The technicians reprogrammed the car immediately and gave it a friendlier, more soothing voice and a disposition to obey FLAG and Knight Industries personnel instead of the "Imperious Leader." A short time later, KITT was united with a police officer who had been brutally assaulted and left for dead in the desert. The cop, now named Michael Knight, and KITT traveled around with a FLAG semi-tractor trailer truck support team to fight crime. It is not entirely clear what happened to the other robot computer cores. It is suspected that one was installed into an earlier prototype called the Knight Automated Roving Robot (KARR) and the third was dismantled in order to be copied and used for multiple vehicles in the future. Some critics within FLAG suspect that the original programming in the computers is not entirely gone and that at any moment, they could revert back to whatever it was that they were supposed to do. One technician claims that at the moment of the activation of KITT, there was a highly compressed radio signal burst aimed into space that might have indicated the location and status of the robot core.
  3. Except this is the kind of gaming I detest. Instead of being able to stock a scenario with theme-appropriate encounters (like a truckstop full of maenads), "hosing someone's DV" requires figuring out how to hose that DV and then writing that onto whatever's in the encounter, no matter how off-theme it might be (yes, it makes perfect sense for this old woman to have the strength of one of those super-giants from Demigod just because one PC is immune to everything else. . .). And then the player learns that I know how to hose his DV and comes up with a way to avoid having his DV hosed again and I need to come up with a new way to overcome that. This is the arms race in which story takes a backseat to numbers and my NPC is less a character in a story and more a collection of Epic Attributes, Knacks, and other add-ons designed to do damage and have DVs.
  4. Does Aberrant have a problem with PCs who cannot be hit, instantly succeed at anything they try, and in general make the game no fun at all because there is absolutely no dramatic tension or chance of failure? Does Aberrant have lists of powers overpopulated with the words "always," "automatic," and "never"? If the answer is "yes," then Scion is like Aberrant and Aberrant also has a case of the Suck. I am much more interested in the "story" part of storytelling games than I am in playing an escalating arms race with the PCs. Within about three sessions, our Scion game had one character who could not be hit by anyone, two who could not be lied to and could make anyone believe anything, and one who could defeat just about anything. As Storyteller, I just wasn't interested in putting in the rules lawyering needed to figure out how to challenge them — not beat them, but merely challenge them. I'm not the kind of GM who needs to win the RPG and kill the PCs, but I do think when it gets to the point that we don't need to roll most things because the outcome is inevitable, it's not interesting anymore. And this was only three sessions in. The future was easy to see: Epic Attributes would increase, they'd get more Knacks, and they'd get more Legend to manipulate the dice even more. They had one character each to study, so they could stack X onto Y and then add Z and end up with unbeatable combinations. I had a whole cast of NPCs, and I didn't have the time or interest in figuring out how to make them challenging. Even if I did, I'd end up with an NPC who could stand up to the physical PC but would kill the social PC outright. I love the world of Scion. I hate the mechanics.
  5. I appreciate all the interest, but I just don't have time for something like that right now! ::sad I'm not even tabletopping with my local group. ::sad . . . although in part, that's because we discovered that Scion has a big case of the Suck.
  6. Over in the "Why do you like A! Ab and T?, Seriously" thread I made mention of how one of the characters in my Adventure! game seduced Baba Yaga's robotic daughter. Folks were interested or amused, so here's the story. In real world folklore, there's this Russian witch named Baba Yaga who lives in the woods in a hut that walks around on a pair of giant chicken legs. Baba Yaga also flies through the air in a magical mortar and has iron claws and teeth. She may also have a daughter or three, or maybe I just made up that detail and it's not really part of the traditional lore (I can't remember). Adventure! has Dr. Hephaestia Geary-Wexler (a.k.a. The Machinatrix) and my Adventure! game was set in 1999. I and my players love all kinds of sci-fi, so after pasting together all of the above information, here's what we ended up with. In 1975, the Machinatrix suffered a lab accident that left her disfigured and scarred. Her Reptilian Regeneration nanites healed her, but only at the cost of her physical appearance. She was left looking haggard with much of her skin shot through with silvery lines and her teeth and nails taking on a distinct metallic look. This didn't bother her at all, because after all, she's the Machinatrix and she's all about scientific logic. She's more efficient now—better, faster, stronger—and physical appearance is irrelevant. Certain of her Russian contacts felt differently about her appearance and suggested that she looked like Baba Yaga. Always enterprising, she used that to her advantage, especially when she went out traveling in her spherical Kath-Yal corvette UFO (see the Conspiracy X RPG). At least one vodka-soaked witness described seeing "Granny Yaga in her flying mixing bowl" to my players' characters. This led the characters to Gora Pobeda, a mountain in northern Russia that has been home to the Cherskogo Gulag (a.k.a. the Victory Collective.) And finally, the bit about seducing Baba Yaga's daughter. Baba Yaga/the Machinatrix also built herself three stunningly attractive female assistants to use in "negotiations" with the powerful men running Russia and other nefarious agencies, like the Disney corporation. These should be imagined as Metropolis' Maria and Austin Powers' femme-bots all rolled into one. During our game, Toné "Big Air" Black—an exxxtreme athlete/supermodel—romanced one of the daughters. Toné romanced female NPCs all the time, so this was nothing new aside from the fact that the woman in question was a robot. Toné didn't know that she was a robot (although several of the other PCs did) and went ahead with his impressive game. Spending some Inspiration, the player rolled a spectacularly successful Dexterity + Perform check and Toné gave the robot the best night she'd ever had. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she went totally still for a second as her system rebooted and for just an instant, Toné saw the Blue Screen of Death scroll across her eyes. So, in short, Metropolis + Mount Nevermind + Baba Yaga + The Machinatrix = Sexy robot reboot.
  7. Which game do you like the most? Adventure! Why? Do you like the Power options, the world, the system? Do you like playing someone world shaking, flawed, interesting? I like the infinite importability. I have not found anything that I can't import into Adventure!. Once I jettisoned the Z-Ray thing, I was left with a set of Knacks with limitless versatility. Four characters can have Reptilian Regeneration and one can have it because he has alien physiology, one has nanites, one has alchemical potions, and one is a mutant. Characters can be magical, scientific, cosmic, or whatever, and it all fits under one system. What kind of game do you like the most? Politics? Social? Combat? A little of each, with plenty of room for characters to show off whatever they're good at. What's the most interesting character you've played or seen / read played? Why? I'm pretty fond of all the characters that my players have run, although I have a special fondness for Toné "Big Air" Black, the exxxtreme athlete/supermodel ("He's so hot right now!") who was as handsome as could be and as dumb as a post. The player played him dumb, and not with that situational stupidity that too many players have in which the character is dumb but only when it's not important or dangerous. No, Toné's stupidity got him in serious trouble several times, including the time he seduced Baba Yaga's robotic daughter.
  8. Yaaaaar. . . 'tis four years straight, but methinks the wind be outta these sails.
  9. D&D helped us all with math. Was there ever a more important reason to know how to compute spherical volume from a radius than to make sure your magic-user didn't catch himself (or the party) in the blast of his Fireball spell? Sure, there was that geometry class exam, but spellcasting. . . that had consequences! Here's your two gold pieces for the ferryman, Gary. Don't pay him—don't even fix a price—until he gets you to the other side.
  10. Agents can't abide honesty. It's like garlic to vampires or soap to hippies—they're repelled by it and they run screaming. (And using a John Wilkes Booth as the next picture would just be boring.)
  11. Dana Carvey's career, right around 2001.
  12. Run, kids, run! Here comes Britney and Paris! They're going to take away your drugs and cigarettes! . . . and use them.
  13. DE-NIED! That's a rough one for Andy.
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