Emerald City Knights: Chapter Two

Warning! The following may contain spoilers for Chapter 2 of the Emerald City Knights Heroes Journey. Those intending to play in the adventure should avoid reading it if they want to avoid any foreknowledge of the adventure’s contents.

This past Sunday, I ran the next chapter of the Emerald City Knights adventure series for my gaming group using the Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition rules.

After the cliffhanger from Chapter 1, the players were eager to pick up the adventure where we left off: with the heroes and Max Mars confronted by members of the Freedom League! Dr. Metropolis flips out and attacks Mars, leading the rest of the Leaguers (Johnny Rocket, Bowman, and Seven) to back him up and it is on.

The fight with the League was a good one: Metropolis’ area effects made him formidable against Tesla’s gang of minions while Johnny’s high defenses made him difficult to hit. Action Man nearly takes down Bowman before Johnny knocks him off the wing of the Pegasus jet (then rushes to break his fall). Tesla protects Mars from Metropolis while Arcane goes up against Seven, then manages to make the Pegasus malfunction with his “anti-technology” aura. The heroes’ willingness to help the Leaguers out of danger encourages a truce between the teams. Arcane’s psychic powers reveal something is wrong with Dr. Metropolis and the Freedom League leaves matters in the locals’ hands so they can look after their teammate.

The heroes accept Maximilian Mars’ offer to fund their operations as a team, adopting the name “Emerald Knights” and a new headquarters in a nearly finished, but abandoned, old subway station from the early years of the 20th century (and Emerald City’s failed flirtation with an underground). Lord Etheric asks Arcane to come meet with him in prison, offering some cryptic warnings about a “coming darkness”.

Summoned to their new HQ by a message from Mars, the Emerald Knights face an ambush in their own training room by the Chessmen. They manage to fight off the team of Knights and Pawns, but Arcane is badly hurt in the process, and the Chessmen self-destruct after Stratus’ whirlwind scatters them. Stratus thinks Mars recognizes the Chessmen’s tech but is keeping something about them from the team.

There’s no time to consider as the Knights are called to assist with an attempted breakout: stormers have ambushed an AEGIS prisoner transfer. Rushing to the scene, the heroes confront Captain Oblivion, Tarpit, Gator, and the infamous Epiphany Jones, whose probability powers quickly make her one of their most disliked new foes! They manage to prevent the stormers from freeing Death Magnetic and Lord Etheric from the disabled AEGIS transport, adding four more prisoners to Emerald City’s growing population of super-powered convicts.

Behind the Scenes

My own series continues to diverge slightly in places from the as-written adventures. The Emerald Knights are okay operating as an overt team, but preferred having a secret headquarters, rather than something like Emerald Tower, right out in the open, thus the subway station HQ. Similarly, Mars has been more up-front with them in some regards about his technology and its relationship to the Silver Storm than is the case in the adventure series thus far, but the heroes also know he’s keeping some things close to the vest.

I ended up leaving Raven out of the Freedom League scene, since the heroes managed to prove their bona fides to the Leaguers by behaving like heroes during the confrontation: Bodybag helping to rescue both Arcane and Bowman from the lurching Pegasus plane and the heroes demonstrating some restraint in their actions. They didn’t really need Raven to swoop in to call a stop to things or save their butts.

Circumstances also provide interesting opportunities: for example, Arcane’s player needed to leave the game early, so I made plans to potentially “write him out” for the later part of the adventure. Then the dice intervened and he rolled really badly on a Toughness check during the fight with the Chessmen. So it was easy to leave Arcane out of the last fight scene, since he was fighting for his life in a private clinic due to his injuries! The rivalry between Arcane and Lord Etheric (who have similarly spooky mystical motifs) also wasn’t planned, but is evolving in interesting ways.

Actual play experience at this point is letting the players fill-in some minor gaps in their characters using earned power points to buy-up some skills or  turn power stunts into regular Alternate Effects of existing arrays, along with a few minor re-designs for a more “comfortable fit” for some character stats.