Friday, March 27, 2015

Rifts Misadventures: Session 12

RIFTS. PLAYED IT. FUN. If you need a refresher, click here.

The Roster (with Fate "high concept" aspects, followed by traditional Rifts O.C.C.s)

Arisis Solstice, Radiant Daughter of Atlas (female titan Cyber-Knight), played by Felix
Katrina Mansfield, Mutant Psi-Stalker P.I. (female mutoid Psi-Stalker), played by Chris
Max Parkinson, Runaway Teenage Mystic (male human Mystic), played by me
Valerie Cain, Amazon Cyborg Wildchild (female Praxian Headhunter), played by Kent

Session Recap
Our heroes, still stuck in Big Heap until the Sunstar Aegis is repaired, have tried to open the stasis box that contains the twins they were hired to rescue -- and failed. One of the defenders of Big Heap, the young woman called Nina, informs the group that a restless spirit is interfering with their attempts to release Asha and Annejah. Nina, a psychic spirit medium, asks Max about the ghosts that attempted to contact him earlier. Max recalls that the ghost of a small child that gave her name as "Maria" sought him out, and admits that he regrets being unable to help the girl. Maria, Nina informs Max, was the name of her older sister, who died "badly" when she was very young. She suggests that the two of them travel back to Death Gorge to resolve the issue. Max is initially reluctant, but Nina is an attractive, intelligent young lady, and her romantic interest in him is increasingly apparent. His Raging Hormones eventually get the better of him: he agrees despite his concerns about the encounter with the Hard Repo mercenaries earlier, and his focus on the group's mission (and eventual return to Serendipity). Nina happily links arms with him.

Valerie tells Max that she's confident he can handle his mission on his own if he feels up to it -- a vote of confidence which Max deeply appreciates. As he prepares to leave on his "date", the dwarf woman Grooma (the techno-wizard that has been repairing the Sunstar Aegis) asks if she can inspect Kat's no-dachi rune sword. The psi-stalker consents, and after a painstaking examination, Grooma informs Kat that the sword is a weapon of great importance in her home dimension, and tells Kat that if she ever wishes, she can take her (and the sword) there.

Max and Nina depart, and Arisis, Kat, and Valerie decide to hit the pavement of Big Heap in search on information on Hard Repo. Having learned that Bastille Impenetrable has posted a bounty on them, they eventually find themselves in an underground hookah bar called the Caterpillar's Cocoon, where various shady characters imbibe in substances both known and unidentified, the majority of them scavenged from the surrounding Pile. (Arisis' radiance is deeply out of place in this venue, and she is not received warmly.) Valerie notices the presence of two juicers in the colors of the notorious Wild Hurricane mercenary company. The pair, a married couple, soon wave our heroes over and introduce themselves as Mister Payne and Infinity Payne. They share a fairly jovial (if somewhat shouty) conversation with Valerie and her friends, repeatedly asking "where's the kid?" Valerie steers the discussion towards the subject of Hard Repo, and Mister Payne relates the story of "the time back in Iron Heart a blue guy and a Glitter Boy-lookin' thing" appeared out of nowhere and repossessed a jump bike that Payne admits was "ripped off from the Black Market". In the end, the group doesn't get much about Hard Repo from the Paynes that they didn't already know. Valerie evades the Paynes' question about her group's current base of operations, Kat avoids the Paynes' offer to "come home" with them, Arisis buys them another bowl of whatever they're smoking -- presumably something quite potent, to cut through their default combat-drug-enhanced state -- and the trio leave the Cocoon to find more concrete intel.

An unfortunately oily-looking local computer hacker named Jorge is able to provide them with data captured from Bastille Impenetrable's local "bounty board" using his custom hacking rig, assembled from pre-Rifts and interdimensional computer equipment. Jorge informs the group that the board connects to something called the Intergalactic and Megaversal Justice Network (or IMJN) -- apparently, some kind of information schema based in another dimension. He finds that the bounty on our heroes was a special type, where certain established groups have the opportunity to bid on the exclusive right to pursue it. The bounty in question, he finds, was claimed before it was ever posted to the general public. Interestingly, the wanted posters use only our heroes' professional aliases (not the "true names" that the Hard Repo agents used when they accosted them) and are clear that the group are to be taken alive. Their crimes against Bastille Impenetrable are enumerated, accompanied by images and video clips taken from their recent actions in and around Isla de Juventud, as well as supplementary files detailing "persons of interest": the young goblin Gia and the Tisch vigilante called Objection among them. Valerie, intrigued by the apparent existence of a headhunting network that extends far beyond Rifts Earth, asks if Jorge can provide any further information, but he demurs, saying that he's provided her with everything that he could translate from the alien language in which the initial bounty files were written.

Max, meanwhile, has taken to the air in his crystalline power armor, cradling Nina superhero-style in his arms (with her permission, of course). As the pair fly toward Death Gorge, they notice a number of partially cybernetic, chimeric beasts vaguely similar to those Max and his allies have faced sporadically since they arrived in Serendipity, which seem to be on the move as if they were migrating. A pair of flying hybrid creatures speed towards Max, intent on tearing him and his new female friend apart. Max barely avoids their attacks, weaving, spinning, and dodging in midair -- even having to let go of a startled Nina at several points. Eventually, he is able to outrun the monsters and recover his date from freefall, and he and Nina reach the apparent source of the ghostly disturbances that plague the Gorge: a small black stone etched with arcane symbols, presumably some sort of artifact disgorged along with countless others from the rifts that created the Pile.

At around the same time, Max notices that he and Nina are being followed: they have been tailed by Kat's feline drone, as well as Arisis' robotic T-Rex mount, both remotely controlled by their owners. Arisis, via radio, tells Max of her respect for him taking the mission on his own, which briefly flatters Max until Nina points out that they have essentially been chaperoned. Max doesn't have time to express his disappointment: the apparition of Maria soon materializes, joined by a chorus of other spirits, who insist that the pair should leave. Nina senses that the ghosts are anchored against their will to the strange stone, prevented from moving on to the afterlife. Max rebukes the ghosts with an octagonal mirror, which keeps them at bay long enough for Kat and Arisis' robots to shatter the stone after he discovers that his psi-sword has little effect on it.

Nina realizes that with the anchor stone gone, the spirits, who have been maddened by their long and tortuous linkage to it, will be free to haunt and otherwise wreak havoc across the land. Desperate to aid the spirit of her departed sister, she offers to tether them to her own soul and pledges to help each of them find peace. Max is both moved by Nina's selflessness, and saddened that she has shouldered this tremendous burden, which will surely overtake her life for a long time to come. Nina and Max's eyes meet, and they silently realize that whatever small romance might have been blooming between them is, at least for now, not to be. Nina quietly curses her decision, and kisses Max.

Valerie, Kat, Arisis, and Max return to Grooma's workshop and find the matter of opening the newly non-haunted stasis box much simpler. The apparatus soon opens, steam and fluid streaming forth, revealing the sleeping, nude forms of Nysa's twin sisters, Asha and Annejah. The machine slowly awakens them, and Max offers them blankets to cover themselves. After some brief introductions, the group explain that Nysa hired them to rescue the twins, which seems to relieve them. Our heroes' questions about Prince Osange are not answered in detail, but the twins assure them that they want to return to Serendipity and to Nysa.

The mayor, Mrs. Velasco, arrives to inform the group that she has visited Bastille Impenetrable's local outpost and bought them some time, but that they must leave Big Heap as soon as possible. Hearing this, they and Grooma work doubly hard to get the Sunstar Aegis seaworthy again, and succeed in doing so. Our heroes say their goodbyes to Big Heap and its defenders and set out for Serendipity.

The twins largely keep to themselves as they recover from stasis, the side effects of which prove beyond the capability of Max's minor healing spells to quell. The return voyage goes smoothly until the Sunstar Aegis finds itself simultaneously under attack from a band of ogre pirates and in the grip of a sudden, fierce D-storm. The group, now quite familiar with the ogres' tactics, handle them with aplomb, hurling them into the sea and blasting them from the lightning-wracked skies. When the battle haze and the dimensional tempest clear, however, they find themselves badly off course. After a brief moment of confusion, the group sights land, and by sailing around the small island, are able to triangulate their location. They learn that they are nowhere near Serendipity. Instead, they have found themselves off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula.

(For those who are regularly following these posts: if you are detecting a shift in tone in the last couple of recaps, that is probably because I have started GMing certain parts of the sessions. For example, the Hard Repo material is me setting up the conflicts that will be in play during my stint as GM. So, in this session, almost anything that didn't involve my character, Max, was at least partially GMed by me.)


  1. So very, very looking forward to your continuing Hard Repo GMing. Woo!

    1. Wow, thanks! I hope I can live up to your expectations. The good news is that I can always make myself look awesome after the fact, since you'll only be reading recaps.