Friday, November 21, 2014

Rifts Misadventures: Session 9

One thing I worry about when running a game is keeping momentum. In my experience, if a few weeks go by without convening to play, a campaign has a tough time getting back on its feet. Happily, that hasn't been the case with our Rifts campaign, which started roughly 20 years ago and has "died" several times, but always bounces back with everybody on the same page. The recap of our group's last session is here if you'd like to catch up.

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 meet with the Tisch vigilante that calls himself "Objection" to review their plan of attack. Realizing that a running battle is about to begin, Gia, the young goblin woman that Max has taken a shine to, excuses herself -- a decision which the young Mystic cannot fault. (Max, for his part, asks Gia to look him up if she ever visits Serendipity.) Kat and Arisis are looking forward to starting trouble with the ogre pirates that are hanging around outside the Neuron Beast Zaal's embassy, and Valerie confers with Objection: the Headhunter will pursue Zaal, and the vigilante will capture Phket, the middle-man whom Zaal has been using to smuggle his captive.

Though Max trusts his old comrade Valerie implicitly, he is apparently hesitant to leave the infiltration of the embassy in the hands of Objection. When Max proposes an alternate plan, in which he will use his transformation magic to shrink down and sneak into the embassy to gather reconnaissance, Objection shoots him down, assuring Max that his original plan will work. Max, still dubious, questions the Tisch on what he intends to do if Zaal and Phket don't fall for their ruse, and Objection stares Max down, insisting that he knows "his city". Max, who has seen and done more than his sixteen years might suggest, wordlessly locks eyes with Objection. After a long, tense moment, the vigilante turns away, muttering an apology. (Valerie silently mouths her approval of Max's refusal to back down.)

Kat decides to initiate the goosechase by walking up to a trio of ogres, asking who the toughest among them is, then knocking him out with a single punch. A high-speed chase through the back alleys of the city surrounding Bastille Impenetrable ensues, with Max maneuvering the twists and turns (though not always successfully) in his flying power armor, Arisis riding her giant mecha-mount, and Kat simply running full-tilt away from the ogres' motorcycles and ATVs. The trio successfully hit several known ogre hangouts with hurled garbage and insults, luring the bulk of the pirates back to the city docks and simultaneously avoiding being apprehended by the Bastille police force (who now on high alert). Valerie is in constant contact via encrypted radio, confirming that Objection caught his quarry: Phket, who had successfully turned the "stasis box" containing one of Nysa's sisters over to the Neuron Beast. She also informs her comrades that Zaal has left his embassy with the stasis box, and that she is in hot pursuit, heading towards the docks.

Arisis, Kat, and Max reach Nysa's stolen ship, the Sunstar Aegis, still chased by ogres and police. The ship is occupied by a number of ogre pirates, one of whom is the shaman that thwarted the group's attempt to reestablish contact with its sapient "rune CPU" earlier. As the trio race toward the Aegis, Arisis (invoking her status as the Radiant Daughter of Atlas) issues a stern, shouted ultimatum to the ogres: abandon ship, or forfeit their lives. All of the pirates, including the captain, decide that discretion is the better part of valor and flee -- with the exception of the ogre shaman, who moves to activate one of the ship's weapon turrets. Max, somewhat uncharacteristically, elects to engage the shaman physically, and (invoking the Golemite Vigorizing Frame aspect of his techno-wizardry power armor) hurls the ogre overboard with a suplex before he can open fire. A hover-truck carrying the Neuron Beast Zaal and several armed minions appears on the coast across from the docks, with Valerie giving chase. As Arisis, Kat, and a large number of ogre pirates rush to engage Zaal, Max heads to the Sunstar Aegis' bridge, where his magical power armor interfaces with the techno-wizardry-powered ship and starts its engines.

More of Zaal's troops appear, and a full-scale battle is soon underway on land, sea, and air with ogre pirates (using jetpacks, jetskis and small watercraft), minions of Zaal (on the ground and in flying harnesses), and our heroes all engaging each other. Before long, the chase has taken the combatants away from Bastille Impenetrable and into Big Heap, a settlement on the outskirts of an area known as the Pile. This part of the island is a literal dumping ground from some off-world war, with spent shells, wreckage, waste, and bizarre weaponry regularly disgorged from dimensional rifts.

As the chase weaves through half-submerged piles of extradimensional detritus, the Neuron Beast psychically influences all of our heroes (save Kat, who resists), filling their minds with doubt and resentment toward their comrades ("your teammates are always getting in your way"). Despite this distraction (and Max's constant badgering), Kat is able to remove the armed thugs guarding Zaal from the fight, creating an opening for Valerie to slice at Zaal's tendrils and wound the beast. Max opens fire at Zaal with the Sunstar Aegis' armaments, to no effect, but Arisis uses her peerless titanic strength to wrest the stasis box from the pain-wracked demon's grasp.

Almost simultaneously, a heap of alien wreckage explodes as a trio of mecha and a pair of individuals in strange, ectoplasmic armor burst forth. Zaal cries out that he'll let the newcomers have Nysa's sister for free if they can save his hide, to which one of the interlopers replies: "A bargain... I'd pay nearly any price for my aunt."