The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 1 - Every Story Has Two Sides

This is the first session recap for my superhero game set in Eberron. Angela had just placed her game on indefinite hiatus and we had to choose something else, so I stepped up to run something, presenting the players with the list of all games I want to run. Only Taylor had no opinion on what, exactly, we played, and the other three skimmed the list and all had included the the following in their short list.

The Pitch

28. D&D 3.5 - The Defenders, vol. II This game will be a continuance of sorts for a former gaming buddy’s gestalt superhero campaign using the D&D 3.5 rules. The idea is, using a combination of classes, races, and equipment, you create as close as possible, a rendition of an established superhero – or villain (from any comic book source) – and take on and team up with other supers who want to shape the future of Eberron for good or ill!

That is all they had to go on, but Paul and I filled in some details and character creation got started almost immediately. While this was taking place, a little bit of backstory was doled out, as well as the list of restricted and prohibited characters as it stood at that time.

A Little Background
During the Last War, extraordinary circumstances including the mixture of various magics, advances in sciences, and the unpredictable effects of experimental weaponry, led to the advent of extraordinary beings upon the face of Eberron. 

These beings came from all races, all stations and walks of life - and in some cases - other worlds. Each is an individual, with their own motivations and goals, and each has the power to see those goals to fruition. These Extranormal beings, as they have come to be called, lent their power in whatever way they saw fit during the Last War, and like the nations that waged that war, left their machinations during it behind when Cyre was destroyed on The Day of Mourning.

Since, these beings have begun to paint a gray world in strokes of black and white. There are those who have arisen as great villains and those who have become heroes in their defense of the common people.

However, it seems that a great evil is afoot and those who could help the most have been removed from the playing field. The League (JLA) have disappeared. Individually or as a group, they have either removed themselves from the concerns of Khorvaire, or have been targeted and removed so that they may not interfere. Likewise, the Iron Lord (Iron Man) has been slain in the skies above Sharn. Many witnessed his death, but none saw his attacker.

Strange, a professor of magical theory in Sharn, gathered a group of Extranormals, which he dubbed The Defenders, to his side and set off in search of Kal, the Super Man. No one has heard from or seen these heroes in months.

Likewise, another team assembled to right the wrongs of the League's disappearance, calling themselves The Avengers. These heroes were more recently active than Strange's Defenders, but have also not been seen in weeks.

Our Story Begins... 
This is where we pick up, with many of the world's most heroic Extranormals missing or dead. Magnus (Magneto), having been targeted early on by a kill squad, then attacked again during a misunderstanding with The Avengers, has only his youthful students, The Acolytes, and a few of his Brotherhood left at his disposal. He entrusts his most promising Acolyte, Bennet du Paris (Exodus) to the mission to find his friend, Xavier, who was taken recently, presumably by the same people who tried to get Magnus and has already gotten to The League and the Iron Lord.

Exodus traveled to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, really a training grounds for Extranormal youths, and recruited some of the students there to his mission. Kurt Wagner, an animal-like man appropriately calling himself Beast, and Jean Grey all agreed to Exodus' mission, then meet with Magnus, who tells them to seek the 'Scion of the Bat' in Karrnath.

During their preparations, we learn that Beast is connected to the more radical Cannith South faction, headed by Baron Merrix d'Cannith, when he asks the House for transportation to Karrnath. Perhaps for assuming he could meet with the Baron, himself, Henry and companions are granted only travel via House Orien coach.

Once in Karrnath, the group immediately travels around gathering information at the circus, which Kurt is familiar with, and where they know the Knight Wing (Robin I/Nightwing) performed before his adoption by Bruce ir'Wynarn (Bruce Wayne/Batman), whom they infer the identity of quick enough. This information leads them a slight ways out of the city of Korth, to ir'Wynarn Manor, where they are met by the manservant, Alfred, and told the the Master of the house has been on holiday for quite some time. When asked, Alfred directs them to the Low City district of Korth to find Master Grayson.

Once in Low City, the band encountered a rampaging group of cultists of the Religion of Crime, who are methodically looting and pillaging each building down a row. A small group of cultists engage the heroes, testing them for the first time, but are defeated despite serious injury sustained by Beast.

Perhaps by no coincidence, during the fight with the cultists, Abra Kadabra and Abner Cadaver show up. They, like the cultists, break into a building, but seemingly find what they are looking for. Abner comes back onto the street after entering the building he smashed into, holds his hand out to show Abra a small, shiny, metal sphere. Jean moves to engage the villains and Abra sends her hurling into a building from afar with but a wave of his hand. A warning is issued and our heroes stand aside as Abra and Abner make their escape, vanishing into thin air.

The Knight Wing shows up just minutes later, apologizing for being late, explaining that he was busy with some of the other cultists. He leads them to a safehouse he keeps in the district, then asks them to tell all they know.

Next issue, information is shared and a powerful hero (re)emerges!

Cast of Characters
Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler), Lesser Tiefling Rogue 3|Totemist 3 - David
Jean Grey, Elan Psion 3|Wilder 3  - Angela
Bennet du Paris (Exodus), Human Psion 3|Spellthief 3 -Taylor
Henry d'Cannith/Beast, Artificer 3|Anthropomorphic Ape 2/Monk 1 - Paul

Another important point in this game is the Extranormal Check. It works like Bardic Knowledge, as a basic Int check, with Collector of Stories and other, similar abilities applied. This works only for Extranormals, and first tells their name, then abilities, known national headquarters (focusing the higher one gets), and aliases or real names, dependent on which is used.

I like this mechanic, but I don't have it fully codified, and it seems like I'm giving away A LOT of information. I originally wanted it used like the stereotypical "You're the Jackal, I presume?" lines that supers deliver to each other. One has to wonder how they know about each other before they meet?

Anyway, I'm probably going to be looking toward setting down strict mechanics for this check soon, and I'll post them as bonus content with a session recap.

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