Monday, June 23, 2014

Firefly RPG, Episode Four: "Breakout" (aka "the Adventure Turducken") Part One: Synopsis

Following is a synopsis of yesterday's Firefly RPG session.

When we last left our heroes, the good Doctor was captured by the Alliance while the rest of the Serenity's new crew had escaped the mining facility. Over the past several weeks, our heroes crossed the 'Verse looking for their captured Doctor. They finally found him, deep in the Core...being held prisoner in the Academy, the very facility Q had been abducted and brain-washed in several years before.

Thus began "Breakout," the fourth episode in my season of the Firefly RPG. As I've mentioned before, every episode features one of the cast members, and I use a new mechanic/mini-game along with the story. Yesterday's episode focused on Q, the young boy who was abducted by the Alliance and turned into a killing machine. Yesterday's special mechanic was something especially wild...I ran two adventures concurrently. The "present" and primary adventure revolved around the crew breaking into the Academy and rescuing their Doctor. The second adventure was a flashback adventure about the fateful night Q escaped from the Academy. So in one adventure, the PCs were moving into the facility, and in the other, Q and her friends were moving out of the facility.

To pull this stunt off, I enlisted Stephen, the player who controls the Doctor. With his character captured, he wouldn't have much to do, so I offered him the opportunity to GM the flashback adventure. To my relief, he agreed, and worked with me throughout the prep process to make this episode shine. If you're reading this, Stephen, thank you again, good sir! I could not have pulled this one off without you!

We involved the entire group by creating Q's friends, and then assinging those friends to each player when the adventure began. Q's friends were as follows:

-Yankee, a cryokinetic;
-Echo, a telekinetic;
-Whiskey, a pyrokinetic;
-Zulu, a techno-empath (could influence electronics with her mind; could also access the Cortex without a computer)

As you can see, we stuck with the one-letter naming convention Q's player made for herself when making her own character. We extended it slightly by using the phonetic alphabet. We also expanded Q's powers to make her a full-blown telepath, since this was before she blacked out and lost memories of who she was and what her training was like.

Early on, the kids had to do battle with India, a prefect in the Academy who repeatedly tried to stop Q and her friends from escaping. An empath, India tried to incapacitate and confuse Q's friends by manipulating their emotions. In the present timeline, Jack bumped into an older India (going by his given name, Ira). Ira had gone on to become a faculty member of the Academy. He brought Jack into his office, and after working him over with his powers of empathy, discovered that Q has returned to rescue their friend. He immediately sought out Q, found him, and the two of them began an epic battle through the halls of the Academy.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew tried to sneak in as a culinary company delivering cupcakes for the kids. Surprisingly, this was working until a senior administrative official rounded up Kitt and Cricket (Cricket is the new pilot; Sally's player had dropped out of the game) and brought them into the security office for questioning. Enzo was supposed to be captured as well, but he ran off. As the other two were being questioned, a hilarious scene broke out where the guards were really about to put the screws to Kit and Cricket when they got distracted by watching Enzo, in his faux-baker's uniform, sprinting across the courtyard and getting dog-piled by four guards. This distraction allowed Kit to Cricket to escape, but their efforts were for naught as they were recaptured by the guards.

The crew had been captured, and things were looking grim. While Q and Ira/India fought, they gripped each other and blended minds and emotions together. In that moment, Ira learned of everything Q had been through; his struggles with the horrors the Alliance committed on him, his attempts to live a free life since, and, most importantly, the friends he had made. Ira realized he was missing out on all of that, and was living his life as little more than a tool for the Alliance. He turned on his former masters and became the newest member of the crew. Quickly going to work, Ira used his empathic powers to incite a riot amongst the guards. Everyone escaped and proceeded to the headmaster's office, where they finally found their Doctor, along with Colonel Kensington, the villian revealed in episode two, "The Kill Switch."

The crew was ready to rescue their Doctor...only to discover that the Doctor didn't need to be rescued. Colonel Kensington had managed to convince the good Doctor that his efforts were in vain, and that the only way to really help these children was to stay with the Alliance. And so he agreed. The crew was betrayed. Whiskey...now William...entered the room. The Doctor whistled a tune that triggered Whiskey's Kensington Protocol. He began to attack the crew. In the ensuing battle, Kit killed the Doctor, shooting him down as they attempted to battle Whiskey, hold off the guards, and escape the Academy.

Through the help of some Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure -style time manipulation, the crew discovered Whiskey's kill switch and deactivated him. When Colonel Kensington discovered this, he pulled a pistol and shot Q's friend to death. Q, overcome with emotions, flew into a rage and nearly murdered Colonel Kensington. Doing so might have cost her her freedom as the guards descended upon the room, but Jack, along with a little empathic boost from Ira, convinced Q they needed to go. Peaches swooped onto the Academy with the Serenity, the crew jumped on, and they flew off to safety.

In part two of this play report, I will go into the more technical/logistical process of running this adventure. Stay tuned!

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