The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 14 - Is There A Doctor In The Building?

Three large,  bulbous warforged-like constructs (one of which identified by some of the PCs as Detroit Steel - I couldn't think of a good analog for the name, so I kept it the same, with it being a descriptor of the type of steel used) manufactured by Hammer Corp., a direct rival to House Cannith in weapons manufacture, and an unknown man radiating flames and heat descend from the busted skylight, weapons and spells at the ready, firing into the mass of gathered heroes, obviously intent on attacking Irons. Our heroes burst into action, engaging the attackers, but Irons is slain within seconds.

Though their goal is apparently achieved, these assassins push their attack on the heroes, but things turn for them when Dr. Crane issues forth a dark sense of dread and the two auxiliary Hammer drones flee from the fight. Connor and Kurt engage the fire mage and quickly contain and defeat him, while the rest of the team engages Detroit Steel. Bennet has had a bad spate of luck with his powers so far and exits the fight, going back to the front of the building and sitting in a waiting area, looking at table literature and pamphlets available.

Before long, the rest of the group has managed victory, snagged a bit of loot from their enemies, plus the suit that Irons was working on, and also make to leave from the way they came, collecting Bennet in the waiting area and making awkward statements about getting help to the already panicky staff.

Out the door and on their way via Orien coach, they made Zolanberg in good time and straight to the manor of Dr. Pym, a vast structure carved into the side of the mountain, furnished and accented with touches that would befit most nobility, yet devoid of any signs of life.

The band made down to the lower levels, into a work area filled with shelves that stretched far too high for a man to reach. At the back of this room stood a man, standing at a workbench, apparently poring over notes. As the PCs approached, he began to make conversation, explaining that "Janet was a distraction" and "just had to go, as did Simon." This is when the group noticed the coppery taste in the air and the bodies lying at the feet of Dr. Pym in cooling pools of blood.

Bennet addressed Dr. Pym, having the most connection with the man, since they had met a few years ago. Dr. Pym made small talk, as if oblivious to the bodies beside him, or to the fact that he was speaking to an actual man, and not just some disembodied voice. The scientist had cracked, it had seemed, and was seemingly only interested in "the work."

During this time, the room was periodically shaking and loud booms could be heard. Pym explained that it was caused by mining efforts in the nearby mountains, but his statements were soon to be proven as lies when the actual Henry Pym, grown to enormous size, burst backwards through a wall nearby, the Halfling assassin, Bullseye, standing behind him in the adjoining room. As soon as this happens, the figure they had been speaking to spins, revealing himself to Bennet to be Bill Foster, a long-time research assistant to Dr. Pym. Foster begins to shrink and lift into the air telling them that this is not their business, and they must leave. Here, we leave our heroes with a decision to make!

Next issue: Moving Targets!

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 8|Wilder 8  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 8|Spellthief 5/Cerebrex 3 -Taylor
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Lesser Tiefling Rogue 3/Fighter 7|Totemist 2/Wizard 3/Telflammar Shadowlord 7 - David 
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Human Wizard 7|Ninja 7 - Sam
Connar Kent [Superboy], Kryptonian† 6|Fighter 6 - Paul
Dr. Isaiah Crane [Scarecrow], Sorceror 6|Cleric 6 - Jon
Johnathan Blaze (Phantom Traveler) [Ghost Rider], Flaming Bone Creature 2/Warlock 4|Fighter 5/Lasher 1 - G2


The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 13 - The Riddle of Steel

When the group disembarks at Sharn, T'challa - the hero Black Panther, ruler of the Xen'drik nation of Wakanda, and friend to the Extranormal groups known as The Defenders and the Avengers - awaits them on the dock. His friends, The Avengers, have come up missing following the Defenders' trail in search of the great missing heroes the League, and he hopes to gain information and stick with this new band to possibly aid them, if only a little, in their quest.

T'challa is surprised when the first few of the companions brush past him as if he were standing there, in costume, for his own good. The king is able to get one of the girls to stop and talk to him, but Bennet and Kurt both walk right by, separately, on their ways to see Magnus.

While the Black Panther explains to the remainder of the team that his companions, the Avengers, went missing in search of Dr. Strange and his Defenders, Kurt makes it to Magnus' floating base first and questions the powerful Extranormal about the Conclave that took place before Cyre was destroyed, including who was being held captive, who was there that he doesn't know about, and what the Conclave's purpose was about. Magnus gives guarded, but useful answers, and Kurt - satisfied - leaves, walking out the door as Bennet arrives.

Bennet, in contrast, gives Magnus a status report as to the mission, noting that his companions are not those he might otherwise have chosen. Magnus, in so many words, reminds him that no one would search harder for Xavier than his own students, and that is why things have happened how they have. Bennet then asks Magnus if he might contribute more knowledge to the leads they have thus gained, but Magnus points out that he only knows what has been shared and reiterates again (the last time nudging when the group was in Aundair) that he thinks their best bet is finding the metallurgist that helped construct the component that caused problems at the start of their adventures.

Both having returned to the rest of the group, Bennet and Kurt then hear T'challa's tale, and when the group further discusses their plans, the foreign king offers them a ride aboard his airship to Trolanport, to save them time, since it might be the only aid he will be able to give. The heroes agree and, after informing the captain of the ship they had traveled to Sharn in, make for the tower where the Black Panther's airship is docked.

As they approach the boarding ramp, something slams against the docking tower, shaking the thing slightly. When everyone looks, they discover it to be a young human male, perhaps still under 20 years of age. He slowly picks himself up and wipes his mouth as a hideous purple monstrosity that once was a troll, but has been modified, magically or biologically, to something much more disturbing and dangerous looking. Both exude an air that lets the band know that they are Extranormal, and they leap to engage each other as soon as the purple one lands.

Though neither one of these new arrivals are known to anyone gathered on the docking platform, the youth sports a distinctive 'S' symbol on his clothing, prompting the PCs to jump to his aid, in hopes that he may be able to shed light on the whereabouts of the man who is more well known to wear the symbol - the Super Man.

With the combined might of the heroes, including the Black Panther and this new young man, the purple troll-beast is taken down quickly, and while the group stands about discussing what to do with the thing, guards wearing odd-looking uniforms show up on a large soar-skiff and claim the thing, explaining that it was simply an escapee of a laboratory facility, and will need to be returned to its rightful place. Though dubious to the purpose of this laboratory and its practices, the heroes wish to reach Zilargo soon, and brook no resistance to the guard's right to claim the beast, but stand close with the young man, who has already explained that he, also, had made his escape from a facility sounding similar.

Our heroes board the airship and make for Trolanport, arriving much earlier than anticipated, and T'challa wishes them well and good luck on their quest, excusing himself so that he may return to his nation and his duties. The PCs give thanks and then immediately proceed to the local Cannith Guildhouse, so that they may meet with Irons.

After some awkward exchanges with reception, the group make entrance to a grand workshop, featuring many of House Cannith's greatest wonders, including Warforged titans! On a small workbench just inside the room, Irons is caught off-guard and awkwardly covers up what he is working on, failing to keep the heroes from seeing what, at first, appears to be a Warforged, but the guildsman recognizes some of the heroes and uncovers his work, revealing both visually and verbally, a suit, complete with weaponry and sporting the S-shield of the Super Man, whom Irons explains was his spiritual inspiration for the suit, with Dr. Pym, a former Cannith artificer living near the mountains in Zolanberg, as the technical inspiration.

The heroes are impressed and intrigued, but steer the conversation toward the component and what role he had in its manufacture. The metallurgist tells the band of the alloys used and why they are important, as well as what else he knows about the thing, bringing up Henry Pym again. Before the conversation can go any further, however, the skylight of the workshop hangar is busted open and several figures begin to descend into the area!

Next issue: Hammer Time!

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 7|Wilder 7  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 7|Spellthief 5/Cerebrex 2 -Taylor
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Lesser Tiefling Rogue 3/Fighter 3|Totemist 2/Wizard 3/Telflammar Shadowlord 1 - David 
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Human Wizard 6|Ninja 6 - Sam
Connar Kent [Superboy], Kryptonian† 4|Fighter 4 - Paul
T'challa [Black Panther], Catfolk Noble 4|Fighter 4 - Steve
Johnathan Blaze (Phantom Traveler) [Ghost Rider], Flaming Bone Creature 2/Warlock 3|Fighter 5 - G2

Kryptonian is a race that can be leveled up, based on rules presented in the Savage Species. The chassis for the race was the Astra Deva, with abilities and powers altered to better fit the theme of a hero from Krypton, or a clone thereof, in this case. The Kryptonian may be presented in detail  as a bonus feature when I catch up with action reports.


Awaiting the Swell

Boy, surfing attire sure has changed since the 14th century.

First thing that came to mind when I saw this image, depicting a line with bowmen waiting for engagement at the battle of Crécy, in 1346, was how it resembled surfers relaxing on the beach. I also like how the guy in the white armor in the foreground seems to be giving our foreground "surfer' some tips. Dude, you've got a boogie board at your feet, along with a single ski. I don't think you're qualified to tell anyone how to do anything.

The 'surfboards' you see in the pic are bow cases, usually made from oiled leather, meant to keep your bow and bowstring protected from the elements. This was especially important in the sea-sprayed coastal areas in France and Britain where many battles took place, as too much exposure to moisture will warp and weaken wood.

If anyone is interested, I had seen this image a few places before, but I snagged it from Beyond the Black Gate. Go read the blog. It's good, especially if you are interested in older editions of D&D and the sword and planet genre.

The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 12 - This Ship Is DOOM-ed!

Not long after setting sail, a lookout in the crow's nest spots sails to the aft, calling out frantically "Green sails! Green sails!" Everyone in the crew seems to rush in controlled panic, doing all they can to put speed to their vessel and making sure weapons are at hand. The captain instructs the PCs to go belowdecks and let him handle the situation. When questioned, he states that they are beset by the piratical Lhazaar Prince Doom.

The name having no more than escaped the captain's mouth, Doom appears on deck and demands the ship furl their sails and prepare for boarding, laying claim to the ship and crew as his, to serve under his mark. Bennet challenges Doom's right and strength and the pirate lord disappears from the ship, apparently driven off by the presence of Extranormals unafraid of him.

Presently, however, five devils - two barbazu, two hamatula, and a cornugon - appear on the deck and begin to slaughter crewmen. After shrugging off a few blows, the cornugon rises into the sky to watch, the battle transpire. The fighting is hard, with all the heroes using all their resources, but seemingly barely scratching the devils. Bennet goes belowdecks, ultimately unconcerned with who controls the ship and not seeing this battle as his.

The first devil falls, then another, but Beast has suffered a grievous wound from the corrupt weapon of a barbazu, and Kurt is battered. Jean pushes herself beyond her limits and awakens a primal force held deep within her, unleashed in an inferno in the shape of a great bird beast! None have seen this from her before, but are horrified at the sheer destructive power it holds. Her psychic powers become much stronger and she destroys another of the devils, then immolates in a dramatic explosion, but not before the cornugon teleports away. Kurt manages to rescue Henry from the deck of the ship before the inferno rips across the deck of the ship, but the Beast succumbs to the foul wound inflicted by the devil before aid can be delivered.

Taking stock of the situation, Kurt finds some of his companions (barely) alive on deck and Jean weak, but seemingly unharmed by the frightful transformation. Bennet returns to the deck to find it charred, but not damaged beyond repair, thanks to the quick actions of the surviving crew and the saturation of sea water. Only the sails have been destroyed completely.

The Phoenix by IsoBan
The party discusses who captains the ship now with the remaining crew and retrieves the body of Henry and gives him a short, somber funeral aboard the ship while the crew do the same for their fallen. During these ceremonies, Doom appears again, this time with a large chest at his side. He gives his condolences for the lives lost, and again enforces his claim to the ship, now enhanced by his crew having taken the life of the captain of the ship. Doom tells them their passage will not be interrupted, since he does not interfere with brokered deals, and though some muttered challenges to his power are put forth, no real resistance to the claim is to be had and he presents the new captain of the vessel with the chest he has brought, that is filled with fine green sails. The Lhazaar Prince departs, leaving the crew to hoist their new sails to complete their journey.

We leave off with the ship arriving for their layover in Sharn, the captain requesting three days to repair and restock.

Next issue: Stalked by a panther!

Cast of Characters*
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 7|Wilder 7  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 7|Spellthief 5/Cerebrex 2 -Taylor
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Rogue 3/Fighter 2|Totemist 2/Wizard 3 - David 
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Wizard 6|Ninja 6 - Sam
Henry [Beast], Artificer 6|Anthropomorphic Ape 2/Monk 4 - Paul (Deceased)

*Starting from here until I catch up with things, levels and cast appearances will get murky, as I don't take note of that during sessions. I'm working off memory for appearances, but will increase character levels as seems appropriate as the posts continue.


The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 11 - To Traffic With A King

And so our heroes made southerly passage downriver to Newthrone, the capital of Q'barra, with the hopes of finding something resembling civilization and acquiring goods and services to help them upon their quest. They decided to stay fairly low-key, not pushing or causing disruption in the everyday bustle of the city, and instead went about their work quickly.

The first order of business was finding an inn with private rooms and bathe and have a decent meal. Then, Kurt decided to see if he could search further on various events that had piqued his interest and that he thought might be connected to their quest to find Xavier, even if tangentially. Bennet went about purchasing a wand of Scrying and a few other things, while Jean and Kitty stayed behind.

Once Bennet had gotten the wand of Scrying, he gathered the group and they went about Scrying first the Toyman and then the White King, who was seen with the baseline he was in the company of previously, standing on a walkway above more of the Sentinel Legion, some seemingly three or more times as large as those the party had faced before.

Bennet communicated with Pierce through Message while scrying and they brokered a tenuous peace in which both parties agreed to not interfere with each other's machinations. The White King assured the party of Winslow's well being via the Scrying window, and the communication ended on a somewhat bittersweet note; the party knowing the Sentinels would be used for ill toward Extranormals, but an ally was safe and they would not have to worry about encountering the Sentinels, themselves, while this peace lasted.

The group took stock of all the things they knew and decided their earliest lead, the metal apparatus they encountered in Karrnath, might still be a strong clue to what or who could be behind the disappearances, and found out what they could about the metallurgist Magnus had indicated, a man named Irons, who could be found in Trolanport, Zilargo.

Agreeing to ship passage, with a layover in Sharn, the group set to embark on what seemed the most promising path toward their goal.

Next issue, the heroes see green sails on the sunset!

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 6|Wilder 6  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 6|Spellthief 5/Cerebrex 1 -Taylor
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Rogue 3/Fighter 2|Totemist 2/Wizard 3 - David
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Wizard 5|Ninja 5 - Sam


Dark Heresy, Session 12: Dead Stars

And so we conducted ourselves far into this frozen prison on Mara. We suspected more warpspawn and such at every turn, growing suspicious of every creak, groan, or movement around us.

Indeed, here we were, great saviours of  the Imperium, jumpy and frightened, but with conviction in our hearts, our hands taken in His, that He may guide us.

Before long, we heard the chatter, roar, and snap of firearms and made to see if we had found another island of Imperials afloat and in danger in this Hell. We did find a woman, wearing finery more appropriate to a dining hall or ball room, and her retinue. She introduced herself as a Miss something-or-another, a Rogue Trader who had come seeking the fortunes of Haarlock.

She knew we held some of the man's corrupt treasure and demanded it from us, but when we refused, she and hers attacked. We quickly tore her retinue apart, but we had great trouble with the lady, finding mid-way through the engagement that she was of some accursed xeno race.

I begged the Emperor to give me and my companions strength, but one fell, then another. We gave it our all that this alien not sully and bespoil our precious Empire, but in the end it was just me and one of the others I had not the notion to gain the name of. A shame that I think he knew not mine, either. We could have vouched for each other in this glorious afterlife given to those who serve Him.

We fell together, and that was the end and all of the service I could provide you. Would that it could have been more, my Emperor....my God.

Cast of Characters
??, ?? (??) ?? (??) - Angela
??, ?? (Hive World) ?? (??) -  Paul
??, ?? (??) Magistrate (Arbiter 7) - Taylor
Mohrdecai, Cadian (Fortress World) Lieutenant (Guardsman 6) - Me
??, ?? (Forge World) Mech-Deacon (Tech-Priest 7) - George
??, ?? (Feral World) Nihilator (Assassin 7) - Sam