Monday, January 25, 2016

Rifts Misadventures: Session 24

Artist unknown
Last session ended in mid-fight, with things looking decidedly bad for our player characters. Our final Rifts session with Felix in the GM's seat was a huge, knock-down battle that saw us thinking strategically, using our Qualities in creative ways, and spending all the Determination points we had to win. We really gave ICONS' combat system a thorough workout for the first time -- a valuable thing to do.

The Solutions @ Gun Pointe Roster (with ICONS "high concept" qualities, followed by traditional Rifts O.C.C.s)

Arisis Solstice, Radiant Daughter of Atlas (female titan Cyber-Knight), played by Felix
Fay, Demigod Super-Genius Smuggler (female demigod City Rat/Runner), played by Chris
Maximilian Park, Runaway Teenage Mystic (male human Mystic), played by me
Valerie Cain, Amazon Cyborg Wildchild (female Praxian Headhunter), played by Kent

What was intended to be a hostage transaction has now devolved into full-scale combat, with the Muluc vampire lord Inocente, his undead minions, and the carnival troupe of "la Princessa" Alexisandriath on one side, and the badly outnumbered Solutions @ Gun Pointe on the other. Fay yells for the recently released Biggers family to run like hell, and again opens fire on Inocente, missing him and setting the roof of the Biggers residence on fire in the process. S@GP's recently arrived ally, Nikomedes, leverages his titanic might to flip over the armored ATV Alexis and company travel in, an act which seems to shock the woman who currently occupies Arisis' body and her troupe. Her strongman, Hamilton Ponchartrain, leaps at Nikomedes, knocking the giant out with hammering blows to the torso, as Alexis' brother, Invictus, carefully recovers a battered and bloodied -- and bound -- elven woman from inside the upturned vehicle. Max decides engaging Alexis physically is a mistake, even with her inexpert use of her stolen titan body, and tries to psionically exorcise Alexis' presence from Arisis. Unfortunately, the young mystic finds hers to be one of the most formidable minds he has ever encountered, and is incapable of loosening Alexis' psychic grip.

As the battle rages, Valerie, whose power armor's controls have been compromised by the young hacker Jack Spade, manages to overpower her mecha's servomotors with her own considerable inborn Praxian strength. First, she stops it from punching through her helmet with its blades, then wrestles the missile launcher system's chest-mounted hatches shut, preventing the mecha from incinerating her friends with plasma blasts. Spade is shocked by her display of muscle and grit, frantically tapping at his datapad as she inexorably powers her way towards him, even as Spade's friends open fire upon her. Max tries to shield Valerie by telekinetically moving his unoccupied suit of crystalline armor into the line of fire, to little effect. Alien Ahmed, the driver of the ATV, uses his own telekinetic powers to lift and right the vehicle.

Fay, meanwhile, has squared off with Inocente and a pack of his vampire followers, deflecting their repeated lunges at her with ease, sending the undead sprawling into the dirt. Max -- still in the form of Quinn, whom Inocente wants for his own nefarious ends -- has considerably less luck fending off the vampires. He finds himself grappled by several of the bloodsuckers, who begin to drag the struggling Max-as-Quinn towards the waiting ATV. Inocente commands his minions to load "Quinn" into the vehicle, as Alexis' drug-crazed flunky, Joaquin, again attempts to cloud Max's mind and put him to sleep... and again fails miserably. Furious and confused, Joaquin tries to pour a bottle of liquor down the squirming and sputtering "Quinn's" throat. Alexis takes charge, staring intently at "Quinn", but like Joaquin, her psychic assault is easily turned away by Max's mental resistance -- not without cost, however, as in the process, Alexis senses that "Quinn" is not what she seems. She shouts that Inocente has been deceived, and the vampire lord instantly orders his progeny to drop Max and slay the fleeing Biggers family.

The atmosphere again fills with a now-familiar mist, and the vampires rush to slaughter their prey. Fay, unable to see the vampires, pragmatically decides instead to shoot the nearby Jack Spade, mortally wounding the young man and causing the exoskeleton-wearing Miss Tess to cry out in anguish. Having regained control of her mecha, Valerie transforms it to motorcycle mode and speeds into the fog, through and then past the vampires, cutting them off and preventing them from attacking the Biggers. Max, realizing his ruse is done, reclaims his empty armor via telekinesis and lets it envelop him. Alexis' troupe, realizing that Inocente's plan has been ruined, focus on loading into their ATV rather than prolonging the fight.

Valerie and Fay concentrate their efforts on stopping Inocente's vampires from slaughtering the Biggers. Max senses an opportunity, however, and uses his still-active spell of telekinesis to lift the ATV -- now occupied by nearly half of Alexis' troupe -- high off the ground, then furiously slam it into the ground in a nosedive, with as much force as he can muster (which turns out to be considerable). The occupants of the vehicle are, to a man, either badly injured or rendered unconscious. Alexis looks on in shock, and Arisis -- still in the bruised and hogtied body of Alexis -- takes immediate advantage, summoning all of her mental reserves and casting the usurper from her own body. Instantly, the titan's consciousness returns to its rightful place, as does the elven woman's. Alexis is rendered helpless, and though a few of her followers -- and all of the vampires -- escape into the night, S@GP soon take Alexis captive, along with the badly wounded Jack Spade and those that were aboard the ATV.

After the fog dissipates, our heroes speak with their captives, as well as the rapidly recovering Nikomedes and Pelagia, to piece together an account. Inocente apparently learned from Alexis' fortune teller, Reana, that Quinn could potentially engineer a cure to his kind's vulnerability to running water, and determined to capture the Black Fortress scientist. Alexis is adamant that she and her troupe were mesmerized and otherwise coerced into assisting the vampires, though admits that she possessed Arisis simply because the opportunity presented itself. Alexis demands that she and her employees deserve a fair trial, immediately threatening that if they don't receive one, her escaped troupe members, as well as her swamp-dwelling family and their subjects, will rise up and attack Serendipity. Max, infuriated by Alexis' brazen threats and unrepentant attitude, openly scoffs at the idea that someone "who's spent years making the dreams of half the guildmasters in this town come true" could receive a fair trial, but ultimately recognizes with disgust that S@GP have no other real options.

In the end, the court is sympathetic to Alexis' argument, despite Arisis' eyewitness testimony -- perhaps because of the influence the elven woman wields over the town's upper crust, or perhaps because of the still-fresh memories of vampires, pestilence, and maddened dogs attacking its citizenry and laying siege to Black Fortress' headquarters. The idea of solely vampiric responsibility is bolstered when Black Fortress operatives testify that vampires mesmerized their own men into ambushing Master Sergeant Jesse John Ross. When Alexis offers to monetarily compensate Black Fortress for their damages, the matter is declared settled. Max silently seethes, barely comforted by the fact that Arisis was not held responsible, and that Serendipity authorities promise to enact tighter security measures and begin an anti-vampire training program. The young mystic, angry that he and his friends have found themselves on the defensive since arriving in their new home, vows that Solutions @ Gun Pointe will not be victimized again.

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