[Actual Play, NSFData] Marvel's Agents of STRIKE - S4 FINALE: "Secret Invasion, Part 2"

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
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    Elise has arrived in Attilan. She brushes off her coat and sighs. She's not looking forward to this conversation with Crystalia.

    She makes her way to Crystalia’s - her - manor house. It's...quiet. She can hear that Gorgon is missing. He's loud. But she can hear Valeria, laughing.

    The tension drains out of Elise. "I'm home, baby girl!" she calls, taking long strides down the hall. It's too rare for her to spend time with Valeria these days, she thinks. She'll have to come home often from Tarnax.

    When she walks in the door, she sees Crystalia and Valeria in Valeria's nursery. But Crystalia isn't the one holding their daughter.

    Maximus is.

    Elise instinctively reaches for her sidearm. "You --"

    "Shhhh...Don't do that," he says. "You don't want to do anything dangerous." Maximus holds up Valeria.

    Elise's hand dangles at her side, her eyes darting nervously. She doesn't want to do anything dangerous.

    "So, I've been monitoring STRIKE's activities and communications carefully," he says.

    "Oh, fuck," she says.

    "Clay isn't just a Skrull, but the Skrull Emperor? How surprising," he says. "I suppose he'll be leaving for his homeworld then, to assert his claim. Is that true, Elise?"

    "Yes." Elise blurts out. "Fuck!"

    Maximus nods slowly. "Crystalia, does that upset you, to hear that?"

    Crystalia nods. "I'm...I'm scared for her."

    Maximus shakes his head. "You shouldn't be. You aren't."

    Crystalia nods her head. "I'm not."

    Elise is standing in place, quivering with energy she can't unleash. "Come on, man, don't...please. That's my wife."

    Maximus puts up his hand. "You see Cyrstalia, Elise is extremely powerful. She's a cosmic being. She's the one who gave me this new face. And she's the one who is going to be giving me another new one.

    "I can't stay here. Your Skrull Emperor, he sent assassins after me. I convinced them they were successful, of course. That's what they'll believe. And after we're done here, that's what you'll both believe too."

    "No. No, no, no." Elise is shaking her head, trying to summon her astral form, trying to do something. "I'm Captain Universe, you can't do this to me."

    "Elise, I'm not going to hurt you. Or Crystalia, or Valeria," he says soothingly. "I care about you, all of you. A great deal. When you asked me to stand up for our kingdom, save our people, that is exactly what I did. And now, my task done, I'm going to leave this place behind. I have no further designs on the throne, or any of that."

    "What about Clay?" Elise growls. "Do you have any plans to hurt him?"

    Maximus smiles, "No, no not at all. I think the new Emperor will very much need me."

    Elise's eyes widen. "You're not -" she stammers. "You can't."

    "I can, and you will." He holds up a tablet. "I've been reading that, among the Enemy, there's a sub-class known as the Chitauri. An under-folk, unable to shapeshift, lacking in telepathy, a lower caste because they lack the powers of those above them. A guise I know all too well."

    "Maximus, you could go anywhere. I will take you anywhere you want. Any dimension! Any place! You could wear any face! Don't you think it's a little tacky to pull the same scheme twice?"

    He smiles. "Trite, perhaps, but I've also learned from my mistakes. More importantly, I think I can do a far greater good this time. The galaxy is at war, Elise. The Enemy, the Ancestors, I've been reading all about it. And your Emperor...well, he's going to be my Emperor, I suppose," he chuckles, "he needs good counsel and he needs those at his side who can do what must be done. That is not just you and yours, but those who can work in the shadows, speak the right words. I will do what I have always done; for the greater good."

    "STRIKE will find you again," she says. "They'll stop you again."

    She shrugs. "Perhaps, but by that time I hope I will have done so much that I have proven my place at your side. After all, you take in all manner of miscreants and broken souls. What's one more on your misbegotten sojourn?"

    Elise makes a noise of frustration. "You have to - you can't just -" she splutters. "They apologized first!"

    "And should a day come that I need to, I will do so," he says. "Now, to the matter at hand...rather than risk putting myself through being shifted at your imagination again, I've spent a bit of time designing the face I wish to wear..." He hands Elise a tablet. "This, you will make me look like this.

    "Not just in appearance, but fully in body. I will become Chitauri. But still possessing the full use of my abilities."

    Elise tries her best to fight it. "I won't. I won't." She's already raising her hands, gleaming with astral power.

    She shifts Maximus' shape.

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    "Clay will know you're a fraud," she tries again, desperately. "He's a psychic. It's not too late. C'mon, man, we don't...we don't have to do this."

    The new Maximus dismisses this with a wave. "Oh, I have a plan. Now, kiss your wife and child goodbye, and take me to the Skrull ship, and your memories will erase my presence or this entire conversation. So far as you will know, Clay's assassins killed me, and you had a tearful goodbye with Crystalia and Valeria."

    Elise's face goes blank and she moves to Crystalia. "I'll miss you. And I'll visit as much as I can."

    Crystalia hugs Elise, "I know. I love you. But I'm not worried. You're Captain Universe."

    Elise laughs. "Yeah I am! I got this." She kisses their daughter. "And Valeria. I'm gonna miss you too, you little bug." She touches her forehead to Valeria's. "Stay safe, both of you."

    Maximus smiles warmly, watching them.

    "If she walks or talks, I want to know. Call me on the tachyon ansible. I'll pick up," Elise says. "Or I'll just blink back. I'm Captain Universe, I don't care!" She turns to Maximus and her face goes blank again. "I have to take you to the Skrull ship now."

    Maximus nods. "Afterwards, you will leave, and return to Clay, and tell him you said your goodbyes to Crystalia and Valeria. Your memory will have no traces of my existence."

    Elise nods. Maximus puts his arm around her shoulder and squeezes her tightly. "Oh, we're going to have so much fun."

    "We're going to have fun," Elise agrees with a grin.

    He grins too, and the two teleport away.

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited December 2019
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    The team has assembled on board the Ryb'ik, the Skrull Imperial Battleship. STRIKE-1 is there, along with Longbow, Excalibur, Chimera, Nebula, Mantis, and Captain Marvel.

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    All the Dard'van infiltrators from Earth have been put in prison cells aboard the ship. The Skrull and Chitauri personnel that are working aboard the ship are, in fact, part of the invasion fleet but they operated under the orders of Empress Veranke without the knowledge of Z'reg's existence, and have since sworn their loyalty to the Emperor. They, specifically, state themselves as being part of the military and not the Dard'van, and have come under the command of General Kl'rt.

    Miles is wearing a yellow Star Trek t-shirt and looks slightly rumpled but in a very good mood. Elise sidles his way and nudges him. "Hey."

    "What's up?" he smiles.

    "Do you have any, like...books?"

    "...Yeah? I take books everywhere. You never know when you might be bored. It's like a joint...for the mind," he says in a jokingly patronizing tone, then squints. Elise doesn’t read books. "...Why?"

    "I want to read about like...warfare, and uh...governments. Mostly political structures and stuff? Like Clay's really into, y'know, God Save the Queen," she says. "But there are other ones out there, right? Like, a lot?"

    "I..." Miles tilts his head. He couldn’t be more surprised if she had started doing calculus while eating health food. "Sure, I can recommend some stuff. If you wanna pop me down to my apartment real quick, I've got my old Western Civ textbook. That's a good place to start. Uh, what else. John Locke, Sun Tzu, Wealth of Nations...but what I'm curious about is why."

    "Well, y'know. Valeria." She shuffles her feet. "Maybe she doesn't necessarily have to be...Queen?"

    Miles' mouth makes an o. "...I see. I see. Okay, yeah. I can put together a little curriculum for you. We've got a long trip."

    "Cool. Cool, thanks," she says. "For now, though, I'm gonna enjoy being a princess.” Something occurs to her. "Hey, actually. Dad! Hey, dad! Do I get a second title now? Like, 'cause I'm the Emperor's daughter?"

    Z’reg furrows his brow. "I don't...I don't know. Put a pin in that."

    "Mini-Empress," Elise whispers.

    Chimera, who is still in her human form, whispers to Elise. "It'd just be Princess. And that's if Z'reg acknowledges you as his daughter, and that's...complex."

    Elise isn’t listening. "Double Princess," she whispers.

    Ryann clears his throat. "Clay, a word? I'm concerned with some things I recently uncovered and you're all gonna want to hear this."

    Z’reg waves Freedom Force into a circle. "Go ahead."

    "So this is going to sound crazy but I think the Parliament has been infected with evil Klyntar."

    Z’reg nods, his face betraying nothing. "You don't say."

    Elise turns from Anelle and stares at Z’reg. I saved your life like three times. Do NOT tell him. He will be INSUFFERABLE.

    Ryann nods. "Yeah, after the invasion I went to go speak with Doom personally about him recruiting my son."

    "I take it that went well," Z’reg says.

    "As well it could have, I suppose."

    Dad. Dad, come on. Come on. Don't narc on me.

    Ryann continues. "But then, out of nowhere, in Doom's throne room, we were attacked by what seemed to be some kind of Symbiote-Doombot hybrid, as nuts as that sounds. Doom is studying their memory banks in order to find out how this is possible."

    "I have an idea," Z’reg says, gesturing for Ryann to go on.

    "So I then tried to find out what I could get on the Klyntar from Agent Venom. Turns out they had a vast ancient empire type deal but now their race is split into two factions or subspecies or whatever. The Pure and the Corrupt. And the Corrupt match the description of the infectious kind we encountered on Mojoworld. I just don't know how the Corrupt got into the Parliament. I'm hoping Doom can find out."

    "I didn't know about the Pure/Corrupt bit,” Z’reg says. “That's news to me. But I know how they got in."

    NO, Elise thinks. C'MON, MAN.

    "Rabum Alal showed up at Reed's place to swing his metal-plated dick around and threaten-beg us for help. As you suspected, his house is rotten with black-slime-monsters. Told us that Kristoff got jumped by some Klyntar-infested Doom, and now Kristoff is leading some group of symbiote-Dooms in a Parliament coup. Rabum Alal wanted our help in taking his place back. We told him to blow it out his ass.”

    Elise exhales.

    “He can't fight a two-front war,” Z’reg concludes. "And nor can we."

    "Yeah, I told him to eat hot shit!" Elise crows. "Reed Richards laughed at one of my jokes. It was great."

    "So the Parliament screwed up and one of their little science experiments go out of control? I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not..." Ryann muses. "Puts them on the back foot, I guess."

    "It's a problem for later," Z’reg says. Ryann nods.

    Thank you for keeping this between you and me.

    Oh, I'm going to tell him,
    Z’reg transmits to Elise. Just not right now.

    Oh come on! He's going to be like, buh buh buh! This wouldn't have happened if you hadn't taken the Enigma Force.

    And he'll be right,
    Z’reg reminds her.

    Elise is scandalized. "What the fuck, man!"

    Heads swivel to face her. Julian’s voice appears in her head. So it was you, Elise?

    Busted, Z’reg thinks with a laugh.

    I'm no rat. But only because it fucks over Kristoff and that's funny, Julian adds.

    "God. Damnit!" She stomps her foot. "Fucking telepaths!"

    Ryann looks confused. "...kay..."

    "With their bullshit!"

    Michael tilts his head. "Elise, why are you randomly cursing out loud? Is it Red Skull again?"

    Jacobkosh on
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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    "Alright, I got a speech to make." Z’reg snaps his fingers and Elise jumps. He clambers up to the top platform, overlooking the assembled group.

    Miles snaps straight to attention. Julian straightens his posture and looks upward.

    "All of my subjects, clear the hangar," Z’reg commands. The Skrulls leave the room. Among them, Elise sees a Chitauri that she...she's not sure. For some reason, she thinks she recognizes him? She dismisses it out of hand.

    Z’reg shifts back into his more familiar form. Clay looks at everyone. "Alright, so, here's how it is.

    "It's going to take us a few months, relative to real-space, to arrive on Tarnax. But for us on the ship, it's going to feel like a day or two. FTL, it is what it is.

    "Once we arrive on Tarnax, asserting my reign is going to be...tricky. Kl'rt has made it clear I'll have the military’s support. While the military loved the idea of going to war with the Kree, the genocidal commands of the Dard'van never sat right with them. There's generally a distinction made between military officials who are Dard'van and those who are not.

    "There's so many people in the Dard'van that I'm going to have to be choosy on who I prosecute. I've actually roped Jen Walters from SHIELD legal into coming with us, her shuttle should be getting here in a minute. I'm planning to set up something of a...Nuremberg Trial when I get there.

    "The worst of the worst, commanders of the genocides, that sort of thing, there's going to be a reckoning. But I'm also going to be handing out a lot of amnesty to a lot of very bad people, because...I have to.

    " I want to institute a lot of serious reforms. And I know damn well there's going to be assassins nipping at my heels. It's going to be dangerous, but danger is what all of you do. You've saved the universe. Saving one empire should be easy.

    "Also, as a final note: from what I understand, you're going to be the first non-Skrulls on Tarnax in years who aren't slaves or subjects to be executed for bloodsport," he adds. "So...people are going to be weird about it."

    Elise pops into looking like a Skrull. "It's good, boss, I got it."

    "Don't do that," Clay frowns. "We don't do that. Not to each other." He pauses thoughtfully. "Or at least...not in my time, we didn't."

    Elise pops back to looking like Elise. She nudges Faiza and Chimera. "Hey. Guys. Sister road trip." Faiza smiles at her warmly, Chimera politely.

    "We'll try to be good ambassadors of Earth and not embarrass you, sir. ...Or ourselves," Miles adds, with a glance at Elise.

    Michael raises a hand. "Just so you guys are aware, King Thor asked me to check out a way to save Asgard while we're in space. It's a place called Nidavellir, the Forge of Stars. So if anyone hears anything about that, let me know."

    Clay nods. "We'll look into it, Westin."

    "Forge of the Stars sounds baller as hell, Michael," Miles grins at him.

    "Here's hoping!" Michael throws up the horns, and Miles shoots up horns of his own.

    Clay smiles. "I'm so glad you're all here with me. I don't think I could do this without you."

    "You definitely couldn't, boss," Miles smirks. "We've got your back."

    Elise raises a hand. "Do I still get to razz you?"

    Clay shakes his head. "No, that's treason."

    "Bullshit, man!"

    Clay grins. Behind Elise, Ryann smirks.

    "You need a speaker of truth in your court," she declares. "Someone who's funny and smart and can say all the right things."

    "If only we had someone like that here," Miles chirps.

    Clay pretends to consider it. "Okay, Elise, I make you a deal, you can be speaker of truth but you have to wear a jingly jester hat," he says. "With bells."

    Elise opens her mouth and then closes it again and glowers.

    Miles raises a hand. "Ooh! Ooh! If we're handing out court positions, I want to be the guy shaking the abacus full of bells when you have the Ponn Farr deathmatches."

    Elise’s head whips over to face him. "Woah, what, there are deathmatches?"

    Michael raises a hand. "I call Royal Headsman!"

    Clay shakes his head and laughs. "I really hope this is going to be the fun kind of overthrowing an empire..."

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    NEXT SEASON ON:

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    "Carol Danvers, are you prepared to swear fealty to the Skrull Emperor?"

    "I am."

    "Then rise, Warbird."
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    "Alien invasions. Galactus. What we needed was a suit of armor around the world. I called it Ultron."
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    "Freedom Force is the most dangerous threat to our goals in the Multiverse. Find them and destroy them."
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    "Atul, you have been found guilty of violating your sacred oath. You have done the one thing that a Watcher must never do: You have interfered."
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    "So let me be clear on the plan here: we're going to infiltrate Hala, the homeworld of the Kree Empire, and assassinate the Supreme Intelligence? That's bad-ass."
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    "I think it's time that these meddlesome interlopers come face to face with…the Maker."
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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod


    So that brings us to the end of Season 4, and currently the end of the game! The thread is now fully caught up with the game, which had its final session (for now) on August 25th.

    But this is not the end! Which, I mean, you may have guessed from the big NEXT TIME ON preview. STRIKE has gone on hiatus so our GM can recharge his batteries and regain some SAN points. You've already learned some of what season 5 is going to entail, and we the players have learned more and begun laying our plans. I think it's going to be cool, you guys.

    But you don't have to take my word for it! Because Matt, the GM, is gonna do an AMA for y'all. He doesn't post here, but ask literally anything that occurs to you and I'll see that it gets to him and put his replies here. He and I talk a lot so I can answer some of your questions fairly authoritatively but others I have no idea and in fact I am very eager to hear what he says. I don't know if we're officially kicking it off yet because holidays etc etc, but go ahead and start thinking of your questions now. Ask them here, or PM me if you want to ask something non-publicly.

    So yeah. Like James Bond, STRIKE will return. And in the meantime, the STRIKE crew (plus some new friends you will recognize) have embarked on season 1 of an all-new, all-different game, GMed by yours truly:

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    jurnerNytewarriorFencingsaxMsAnthropyRear Admiral ChocoMatev
  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    Maximus noooooo

    Have there been any issues, either from your side or Matt's, with the uneven EXP gain between players? Back in the bad old days of early DnD editions it became a recognizable predictor of a shitty game if they enforced different levels of PCs. I know there's no levels in STRIKE, and you guys have obviously done a great job of having single-PC sessions and stuff, but did it take any extra work to avoid differing power levels becoming problematic?

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  • jurnerjurner Registered User regular
    If I recall correctly the GM doesn't roll at all, correct? So how bad does Julian have to roll to actually die? He's gotta be getting pretty close at this point!

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Answers incoming!
    Maximus noooooo

    Have there been any issues, either from your side or Matt's, with the uneven EXP gain between players? Back in the bad old days of early DnD editions it became a recognizable predictor of a shitty game if they enforced different levels of PCs. I know there's no levels in STRIKE, and you guys have obviously done a great job of having single-PC sessions and stuff, but did it take any extra work to avoid differing power levels becoming problematic?

    Under the homebrew game system we have been using from Season 2 onwards, the only source of XP is failed rolls. So, the XP gains are always inconsistent and out of my control, regardless of how much solo or split content gets done. An individual PC could have an entire solo adventure and if they didn't fail any rolls at all, then they don't earn any XP.

    This isn't really a balance issue, since the system doesn't use XP as the only form of progression. If a character tries something new with their powers and succeeds, or increases their bonds with other PCs/NPCs within a game session, or acquires something new that can still be progression of their character that isn't XP-driven.
    Game balance in a game like AoS isn't a principle concern anyway. Fact of the matter is, even from the getgo it is fundamentally impossible to "balance" characters like Michael and Elise against each other. It is my opinion that a mistake many superhero games try to make is "balance Batman against Superman". So a character at Superman-tier might have all these incredible powers, but the Batman-tier dude has... bonuses and gadgets and skills and it's all supposed to work out?

    imo the solution is to not try. Superheroes aren't "balanced", they're superheroes. So instead of trying to make sure Miles (a guy who basically is on-par with say, Iron Man power wise) feels "balanced" with Ryann (who can toe-to-toe with Silver Surfer or Hyperion), I just make sure everyone has niches or things that are fun for them to do. Elise, prior to her Enigma Force upgrade, was objectively the weakest member of the party and yet there were things she would perceive that made all the difference in the world.

    So, the short answer is, nah.


    (Jacob here. I would add that since XP is awarded only for failing rolls, your rate of earning XP levels off significantly once you've advanced your stats a bit and get successes and partial successes more consistently. Also, players who are a little cleverer in seeing ways to apply their best stats to a roll, or better at persuading the GM that an approach is valid, or who just find non-rolling solutions to problems more often, will find their XP gain tailing off pretty hard.

    This personally happened to me with Miles. He almost never gains XP, both because I bought up almost all my stats early on and also because I often pursue talking solutions that don't require a lot of rolling.)

    ----
    jurner wrote: »
    If I recall correctly the GM doesn't roll at all, correct? So how bad does Julian have to roll to actually die? He's gotta be getting pretty close at this point!

    It's somewhat relative and even kinda arbitrary. The system has a degree of success element, so every time Julian died it had to do with the player having a "hard fail".

    I wouldn't kill off say, Elise, with the same failed roll. But she would get injured. Possibly gravely. A good example is season 1 when Elise got blasted hard with radiation and nearly died. That was a "hard fail" roll.

    But it was also done for the sake of the plot; I wanted to push forward with the idea of Elise having a second Terrigenesis, an idea both Elise's player and I agreed on beforehand.

    So, why does poor Julian get Kenny'd so often? Quite simply, because he can survive it, and because he doesn't generally have a lot else stopping it from happening. Elise wears (wore) a kinetic harnass prior to getting the Enigma Force, and even prior to that had a degree of super agility.

    But Julian is kinda... just some guy? He doesn't even wear body armor as a rule. So when he fails a roll to get out of the way of incoming bullet-hails, he just gets shredded.

    And this is largely because he can take it, and because it makes for a better story. Ultimately, none of the PCs are at risk of being permanently unplayable purely as a result of bad dice rolls; it's not something I'm doing for this style of game. But that doesn't mean bad dice rolls don't have consequences, as you have seen more than once.

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  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    Did you go into this expecting some PC death? Did they have a few alts rolled up? Or was that agreed to beforehand?

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Did you go into this expecting some PC death? Did they have a few alts rolled up? Or was that agreed to beforehand?

    I don't expect PC death, but I do permit it and if the story leads in a direction where it's an inevitable conclusion, it's something that gets discussed with the player. For example, while not actually "killed", Vlad is a good example of a character who ultimately became unplayable because of decisions and choices in the game. This was after the end of the Secret Wars storyline in season 2, when Vlad tried to steal the Cube and failed. Jake and I decided that was Vlad's rubicon; at this point, he was at a slow and inevitable turn to villainy. Jake, if he really wanted to, could have found some way to pull Vlad out of that tailspin and I would have permitted it. But he wasn't interested and thought Vlad's turn was more interesting, even if it meant rolling up a new guy.

    By the time the next episode rolled around, where Vlad had a confrontation with Clay over using the Kree sat-net to destroy the Council goons, Jake and I had already created Ryann in secret (which is why he is referenced in the epilogue). When Operation Scalpel happened, it was a trigger pull on something that was decided weeks prior, and the end result was Vlad was "dead" to the player. He became a NPC. Ryann was his new character, permanently.

    So usually it's the kind of thing I'd prepare and collude with a player ahead of time on for maximum dramatic impact. That said, cards are on the table, and if a player wants to push their chips all the way in and put their character potentially dying on there, I'll accept it.

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  • jurnerjurner Registered User regular
    I believe Vlad risked dying against Hyperion? Were there any other scenes where someone risked PC death? Do you go out of your way to promote risky behavior, or do they manage that all on their own?

  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    jurner wrote: »
    I believe Vlad risked dying against Hyperion? Were there any other scenes where someone risked PC death? Do you go out of your way to promote risky behavior, or do they manage that all on their own?

    In S1 Miles jumps out a window before he can fly to grab onto some villain who particularly offended him, and i know that was a "hope the dice save my life" moment for Kosh.

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    Jacobkosh
  • Rear Admiral ChocoRear Admiral Choco Registered User regular
    There have definitely been times where Julian's had difficulty actually reviving himself, whether it's because his consciousness is somewhere unusual or his body is just too mangled

    And if our powers are suppressed I definitely get antsy

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  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    jurner wrote: »
    I believe Vlad risked dying against Hyperion? Were there any other scenes where someone risked PC death? Do you go out of your way to promote risky behavior, or do they manage that all on their own?

    As was mentioned, with Miles flinging himself out the window in S1. Jacob definitely knew, and risked, his character going splat there.
    A few times there was a chance Julian wasn't gonna come back, he was rolling some dice to resurrect under some specific circumstances, or he was opting to resurrect knowing that he might not like the circumstances he resurrects under. A good example is when Julian came back in the Big House and wasn't in control of himself for a bit. His choice there was either die, or relinquish control of himself to the Phoenix. He chose relinquish control, but he could have chosen death, and when he rolled to try to take control later he could have failed and lost control permanently, with Julian becoming a NPC and forcing the player to roll up a new dude.


    ----

    And some questions, asked elsewhere, in a similar vein:
    Glorious. The faster you can keep posting these, the happier I'll be. Although, then the material will run out faster...

    Incidentally, I have a system question.

    It seems like, even when the team is up against ostensibly superior opposition, the actual risk of outright defeat or serious damage in battle is fairly low. And here I'm thinking about the Galactus swarm, Hyperion and Virtue, Silver Surfer and the other Heralds... clearly the team is both powerful and experienced by now but they still seem like the underdogs in a lot of their fights.

    Instead it seems like the type of near-failure that leads to difficult choices and character development are far more common, and even outright failures more often lead to changed circumstances and mission parameters than direct danger. Would you say that's right? Or does the group just roll really well in the clutch? E.g how dangerous (for the PCs and their allies) was the Terror-Carrier evacuation, was there significant risk that someone wouldn't get out or was the issue more realistically that you didn't get to capture the flying fortress in the aftermath?

    Under this system, the actual existential risk to the player characters in terms of being rendered non-playable due to permanent death is basically not a thing unless the player really wants to put that on the board.

    That said, everything short of that is generally fair game. Severe and permanent injuries (like Michael losing an arm in season 3), lasting trauma (Miles losing a part of his confidence in season 2), or loss of a NPC (like the death of Vlad) are all potential options due to roll outcomes.

    With the Terror-Carrier, their results were... mixed. They ultimately failed in their goal of seizing the carrier itself, as Virtue destroyed it (in the end, Elise botched the roll to hit Virtue with the carrier's linear cannon, which was part of the reason for stealing the dang thing). But they did kill the HYDRA high command including Red Skull, seize Red Skull's magic amulet, capture Bullseye, and exile Virtue into space and put him out of action at least... for now...

    So... mixed bag? Which reflects the mixed range of successes and failures they got over the course of that encounter.

    Had they rolled catastrophically badly, they could have had outcomes like deaths of some of their allies, or getting captured, or both, or all manner of terrible things.

    Ultimately, the PCs are the protagonists of the story and I'm not going to kill them off or render them permanently non-playable without it being Important to the story, which generally involves some degree of consent and discussion with the player of that character. Nomad's death in the prologue or Vlad's turn to evil were both with the player's understanding that this was the road they were going down (also, same player, so lol)

    But that doesn't mean they can't lose. What happened to them on Xandar in season 3 was a pretty big L for example. Sometimes the dice go against them, or they make bad decisions, or both. Or sometimes I intentionally jerk them around for the sake of plot (in which case I generally give them XP as recompense, such as when they get involuntarily mind-controlled without even a chance to resist.)

    thanks for the answer! I did expect that actual character death was under player control (and rightly so in this kind of game) but as you said, there are many ways to lose short of that (or even worse than dying, in some circumstances). But it feels to me as a reader like the PCs generally accomplish their objectives with flying colors at the end of the day.

    Interesting that Miles' loss of confidence was caused by a roll, at the time I interpreted that as the player picking up a more short-term trauma and choosing to run with it.

    At the end of the day, they tend to accomplish the "big goals" and get the "big wins", but often they do have costs that might not seem like it, but did not necessarily have to happen. A feature of the system is that partial successes generally result in the players being given an "ugly choice"; usually between two options that have some kind of sacrifice, or between an option that does what they were trying to do at great cost, or a "safe" option that doesn't do what they wanted but doesn't cause any harm. When this sort of "ugly choice" is available isn't always obvious in the write-ups (sometimes it's explicit, like when you see "Miles has a choice...") but it's usually the source of the highest drama or some of those losses. Vlad jumping out of the plane to attack Hyperion in season 1 is an example of a partial success that had significant impact on the story for like, several seasons. Just from one dice roll!

    But for example, the "solutions" that got found to defeat Galactus in the end... didn't have to go down like that. Closing off the Celestials from the universe, Vlad's death, these things could have played out differently and they have had serious consequences as a result. X-51 is permanently changed, and there's other serious consequences, but yeah, they did beat Galactus. In the end, the heroes will probably "win the day"... but at what cost?

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    MatevMsAnthropy
  • MatevMatev Cero Miedo Registered User regular
    What goes into plotting a Season of STRIKE? How do you decide which characters you incorporate in a given episode or what arcs you want to explore with the characters?

    "Go down, kick ass, and set yourselves up as gods, that's our Prime Directive!"
    Hail Hydra
  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    edited January 15
    Matev wrote: »
    What goes into plotting a Season of STRIKE? How do you decide which characters you incorporate in a given episode or what arcs you want to explore with the characters?

    Ultimately, a lot of it comes down to what shit I find neat or I think would make for fun and interesting storytelling, or I have wicked art pieces I want to show off, or most importantly, I find satisfying to write about and tell as a story.

    If that sounds kinda egotistical
    you bet your ass it is. For example, why does Doctor Doom show up so much? Because I, Matt, the GM, think Doctor Doom fucking owns and I enjoy writing his dialogue. He's a fantastic character, a great antagonist, and makes for a good quasi-ally you can only barely trust in a very "the tale of the scorpion and the frog" kind of way.

    Why does the Council of Reeds and the Parliament of Doom show up? Because I thought that storyline in the comics was
    dope and wanted to explore it (fun fact: the Citadel of Ricks in Rick & Morty was directly inspired by the Council of Reeds).

    Why is Longbow still around, despite being a character who essentially originated on a whim because Vlad's player suggested it in the moment? Because I find Longbow fun and a good source of dark humor and playing off the PCs.

    So basically Agents of STRIKE is hugely biased by "shit I find cool" in the comics, the MCU, the various Marvel animated series, etc. It's also why some characters like... exist, but I don't especially feature them, because I personally don't like writing them or find them especially interesting or don't feel I can write interesting stories with them in the AoS context. Frank Castle exists in the AoS universe and has been name-dropped multiple times, but quite frankly I am not a huge Punisher fan and I don't really like the character much, so the only Punisher who has showed up "on-screen" is the goofy as shit Punisher 2099.

    Some, I might like, but I've never found a good justification or reason to slide them into a story in a way that wasn't totally out of left field. I fucking love the Living Laser (do not @ me) but it took until season 4 for him to show up and it wasn't even the "real" Living Laser but a War Skrull posing as him!

    The storylines are a lot the same. They're stories from the comics I think are cool (Secret Wars, Inhumanity, Secret Invasion) or stories I want to take a crack at and do an alternate take on (Civil War).

    So the short answer your question is "pique and fancy".


    I, Jacob, will also add that some stories have happened because we the players specifically requested or suggested them. The whole Invincibles arc with Vlad is a big example of that, and also the appearance of certain allies/villains/settings etc. Season 5's opening story, when it happens, is the outcome of a joke I had made to Matt in PMs that we started riffing on and ended up becoming an actual thing (and I'm really excited to play through it omg).

    Jacobkosh on
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    MsAnthropyFencingsaxMatev
  • GrogGrog My sword is only steel in a useful shape.Registered User regular
    No question here, just wanted to say this is a brilliant actual play thread. Even as someone who has very little interest in Marvel stuff, the players' buy-in and the enthusiasm for the source material you and Matt bring to it is infectious.

    JacobkoshMsAnthropyMatev
  • MsAnthropyMsAnthropy Our Lady of Perpetual Mazes The CageRegistered User regular
    edited January 17
    Grog wrote: »
    No question here, just wanted to say this is a brilliant actual play thread. Even as someone who has very little interest in Marvel stuff, the players' buy-in and the enthusiasm for the source material you and Matt bring to it is infectious.

    I hate admit it but I have only been able to partially follow the story since the end of S2 was posted, but the enthusiasm and sheer quality of the game really shines through in the write-ups. Probably the best APs I’ve read. (And I used to read a ton of them.)

    MsAnthropy on
    "The only real politics I knew was that if a guy liked Hitler, I’d beat the stuffing out of him and that would be it." -- Jack Kirby
    GrogPhoenix-D
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