Thursday, July 2, 2015

Enter...Doctor Mordred!

We had our second session of our superheroes in high school game and it went pretty well. (You should probably read that earlier post, or this one isn't going to make any sense.)

We opened with Mr. Kent Clarkson teaching a class on secret identities. He’s a big guy with glasses and a spitcurl.

He announces to the class that there was a field trip with a few open spots, and the students who performed best on the pop quiz would be allowed to go along. Zod partnered with Raven (going by “Raveen”, because this was secret identity class) and Amy partnered with Summer. President Dog did it on his own, because he’s President Dog.

The field trip was in honor of a young archeological student who made first contact with a group of Durlans. He was receiving an award on the museum they had established on the dark side of the moon.

The quiz was a collection of trick questions. Do they have a Fourth of July in England? A plane crashes on the border between Canada and America, where do you bury the survivors? That kind of thing. I thought it would be fun, but Lily groaned and said “Do we have to take the test for real?!” She warmed to it somewhat, because she likes solving problems like these, and I’m happy for having attempted it, but it wasn’t received as warmly as I had thought it would be.

Our heroes perform well on the test and are allowed on the trip. Winter, the mean upperclassman, is a chaperone.

When they arrive at the site, Zod notices a number of Neil Bobbleheads and t-shirts with his brother’s face on them. He figures out several moments before the announcement that it’s going to be Neil who is receiving the reward. He’s right, and as an added bonus, the Durlans, a species of shapeshifters, all changed shape to look like Neil. Neil was equal parts articulate and humble in his speech.

After that, they walked around the museum, and Zod noticed something odd going on with the security system. This is where the game started picking up. I’m still extremely rusty, and the first part felt like me doing a lot of “This happened. Then this happened”, but it got increasingly interactive now that they had a mystery to solve.

At first they tried to inform the guards, who were initially willing to assist, and they paged Mr. Clarkson and told the kids to wait for him at the ticket desk. He didn’t show, so after a time they went back to the guards and asked them to page Winter, but they were much less receptive this time around. They were ready to tell the kids to get lost, when Amy threatened to activate her cloaking field and tell everyone that they lost a little disabled girl.

They page Winter and she arrives, annoyed. Amy is unable to speak to her without getting into an argument, so they start bickering, and their argument culminates with Winter telling Amy to meet her behind the bleachers after school, so they can have a little chat. Despite this, Zod manages to convince her that there is something amiss, and she tags along at a distance.

They travel through the museum, with Amy sneaking past the guards with her ninja skills, and then revealing herself so that she can taunt them, prompting Zod to exclaim "You're the worst ninja ever!"

As they’re making their way through the room of ancient weapons, some of the suits of armor spontaneous animate, and attack, but our heroes fight right past them. The arrive just exactly too late to prevent Doctor Belchin, the museum’s director and a mild-mannered professor of Mordredology, from stealing the Rod of Mordred, and claiming its mystical powers. He teleports away after issuing a vague threats.

The heroes return to their group and find out that someone clobbered Mr. Clarkson from behind, but when they suggest that it was Dr. Belchin, Clarkson's eyes go unfocused for a moment, and he appears unable to process what they're saying. I tell the players Out of Character that Dr. Mordred has an ability that prevents adults and most kids from connecting the dots and understanding that he's really the mastermind. I thought this was kind of a clever solution, because it averts the question of "Why don't they tell their parents/mentors/teachers?" always found in children's books, which is usually "solved" by making authority figures phenomenally incurious about the villain's paper-thin disguise.
Yes, Count Olaf. I'm talking about you.

We have two epilogues. The first is when Vice Principal Hodor introduces the school's new principal, who is, of course, Doctor Mordred. He's walking around in his full supervillain regalia, but no one seems to care.

The other is when Amy goes to meet Winter for their chat behind the school. When Lily said that Amy was going out there to talk to her, I was like "You know that she wants to fight you, right?" Realization dawned..."Oooooohhhh." I don't know how she missed this, because the child watches about twelve hours of Disney Channel zitcoms every day.

Anyway, she rolls out, and a large crowd had already assembled. I thought she would suit up, which would allow her to fight, but instead she baits Winter. "Do you really think it's going to look good fighting a little girl in a wheelchair?" Winter was already more ambivalent than she had been, because she witnessed Dr. Modred's transformation, and is one of the few who can understand the threat he represents. She would probably win the fight, but she understands that understand that the optics of being perceived as someone who would beat up a little girl in a wheelchair are...not good. So she storms off with a face saving "You just keep your nose clean!"

I do like those kind of moments that arise spontaneously in play. The other day, Lily was describing to our neighbor the argument her character had with Winter in the first session like it was the “Tomorrow” soliloquy from MacBeth, but for me, it had been a completely off the cuff interaction that I would have otherwise forgotten

I wouldn't have scripted either of these events, but I love that they happened but I love making them with people that I like.

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