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Arcanum_V

Adventure! RPG - Baba Yaga's Robotic Daughter!

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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.)

VICTORY COLLECTIVE (CHERSKOGO GULAG)

Baba Yaga’s base of operations is an old Soviet gulag in the Cherskogo region of eastern Russia. The gulag is built in the valley near Pobeda (“Victory”) near Ust Nera. It’s shielded from aerial observation by a hologram that causes it to look like a normal valley, when in fact it’s a fairly industrialized city of about 2,500 people.

The Machinatrix took over the valley in the 1960s, after Stalinist Russia had shut it down in 1956. In exchange for technological advancements and the output of her factories, she was allowed to run her utopian experiment as she pleased. She was provided with a steady stream of new inmates.

Timeline

Gold discovered in Kolyma c. 1910.

Mining began c. 1927.

1930s-1950s (Stalinist Russia) used forced labor in the gulags. Stalin ruled 1929-1953.

* 1956 — Victory Collective is “shut down” under Nikita Khrushchev, but remains a secret gulag used by the KGB.

* 1960s — The Machinatrix rents the gulag from the KGB and begins to build her technotopia. In exchange for raw materials and finished goods, she’s allowed to do pretty much whatever she wants. The KGB continues to send her “disappeared” dissidents and criminals, and even begins filling her requests for specific ratios and specific descriptions of men and women.

* 1965 — By the mid-1960s, work on hollowing out Gora Pobeda is well underway.

* 1971 — Russian and Chinese agents recovered a crashed UFO in North Vietnam. The UFO was a Kath-Yal corvette. They ask the Machinatrix to examine it.

* 1975 — A lab accident severely injures the Machinatrix. Her nanite metachinery saved her life, but only at the cost of shooting her skin through with visible silver lines, converting her nails and teeth into metal, and leaving her badly scarred. She doesn’t really care; in fact, she’s more machine than human now. She begins using the Baba Yaga cover story to disguise test flights of the reconstructed corvette.

* 1984 — The Machinatrix stages an avalanche and erects the shield that makes the camp and mining operation invisible. While the rest of the USSR is struggling with the transition between Andropov and Chernenko, her technotopia is assumed destroyed.

* 1991 — Soviet Union falls. The Machinatrix continues her work uninterrupted.

*Fictional

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.

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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.

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Whatever do you mean? How is Scion the Suck? Isn't it basically like Aberrant with Mega Atts and powers and such only with a gods/mythology backstory/rationale?

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Whatever do you mean? How is Scion the Suck? Isn't it basically like Aberrant with Mega Atts and powers and such only with a gods/mythology backstory/rationale?

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.

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Thank you for the insightful capsule review! I bought Scion Hero but have been holding off on buying the next two. Think I will pass now.

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Eh, the problem is exaggerated. For example, while its not hard to boost your DV to the point where being struck is unlikely, there's also a whole bunch of things you can do to hose someone's DV.

If there is any balance problem, I'd say its the new soak system. Soak-after really is too defense oriented. However, changing over the whole system to soak-before wouldn't be particularly hard.

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[. . . ] there's also a whole bunch of things you can do to hose someone's DV.

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.

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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.

::laugh I agree with you Arcanum. Systems that get in the way of the story are just broken.

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