Friday, June 19, 2015

Sky High 2: Sky Higher

We ran the first installment of what will hopefully be a long-running superhero campaign. This one was very short, and mostly just served to establish the setting and the characters. Lily was pretty good for the whole thing. She was very excited to be playing with grownups, and she wanted to co-GM (“How about he says this instead?!”) but she settled down when I told her that I’d do most of storytelling, but I’d listen to what she said after I described something and we might incorporate her embellishments.  (And like every new role-player, she wants to roll for every action, no matter how trivial.)

Dramatis personæ

Amethyst “Amy” Midnight, aka “Night Glory”: Player character. Fourteen year old Freshmen at Sky High, and inheritor of her family’s secret ninja techniques. When she was five years old, her superhero parents (Golden Moon and The Shadow Flame) fought off a pair of supervillains (Crimson Thunder and Winter Rose) They saved the city, but heroes and villains alike were hurled into another dimension and Amy was paralyzed from the waist down. She was sent to a maximum security evil orphanage, but managed to escape. She wears a mystical ninja uniform that heals all wounds suffered by the wearer prior to the donning of the uniform. Consequently, she can walk when wearing it. She is a master martial artist, to the extent that she can paralyze her opponents and nullify their powers by blocking the flow of their chi. She is enthusiastic and upbeat. Her pet peeves include DJs, snobs and Chihuahuas.

Dru-Zod Periwinkle, aka “Zod”: Player Character. Fourteen year old Freshmen at Sky High.
Gangly, pimply, emo teenage version of General Zod, fostered by the Periwinkle family. Like Supergirl in the upcoming TV show,  he spent several years in the Phantom Zone, and is thus several years younger than his Kryptonian peers. It’s unclear why he was in the Phantom Zone in the first place, and Zod doesn’t like to talk about the subject. He is conceited and bombastic, and has a ridiculously one-sided rivalry with Superman, who barely knows that he exists. His parents are well-meaning, but clueless. They dote on their talented biological son, and can’t understand why Zod can’t be more like him. (It’s always Neil before Zod at the Periwinkle house) They’re constantly lecturing about how he should get out, get a little more sunlight and start applying himself, instead of sitting in his room all day, listening to the Cure and painting his toenails black.

Summer: Non-Player Character. Fourteen year old Freshmen. Younger child of the supervillains banished by Amy’s parents, and Amy’s best friend.  She has control over heat and fire, but lacks the confidence to make full use of her powers. One of the nicest kids on campus. A little bit naïve. Close friends with Night Glory. She loves her parents, but understands that they were criminals, and doesn’t blame Amy for what happened.  She has strawberry blonde hair that becomes more red the more emotion she feels.

Winter: Non-Player Character. Seventeen year old Junior. Think Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls, the villain in every Disney Channel TV movie. She controls cold and ice. She would probably hate Amy even if their parents had no history together, because Amy is kind and sincere, and Winter hates that kind of thing. She places full blame on Amy’s parents for what happened to her parents and will stop at nothing to make Amy’s life miserable.

Neil P: Non-Player Character. Nineteen-year-old graduate of Sky High, and student teacher. He was the valedictorian  and captain of the Sportsball team when he was at school, as well as Prom King. Beloved by staff and students alike, with the exception of his foster brother, Zod, towards whom he is loving, but patronizing. Has vaguely defined energy control powers, and might have some luck powers, since everything always seems to break his way.

Ursa: Non-Player Character. Fourteen year old Freshman. Kyptonian, like Zod, but can never remember who he is. The most popular girl in school. She’s a member of Winter’s clique, but not as nasty.

Vice Principal Nairn Hodor: Non-Player Character. Nearly seven feet tall and built like a vending machine. Super strong and nearly invulnerable. His hobbies include DJing, snobbery and teaching his Chihuahuas how to be DJs.  His detention is thing to be feared. The student body suspects that he was (or is!) a supervillain. (Kristian Nairn, the actor who plays Hodor, is a DJ in real life, thus the reason for a name that may otherwise have seemed completely random. No word if he is also a snob, a Chihuahua maestro or a supervillain.)

President Dog: Non-Player Character.  Super-intelligent cairn terrier, but no one knows it because he can’t talk or build things with his stubby little paws.  Everybody loves President Dog.


We open with Amy eating breakfast before her first day at Sky High. She was raised by her aunt after her parents disappeared. Her aunt has some super-powers of her own, but she gave up heroing to take care of Amy.  She made Amy her favorite for the first day of school, buttermilk pancakes with Andes mints.  She meets up with Summer and they head to the bus stop.

We then turn to Zod at the Periwinkle family. He wakes up to a giant pimple on his forehead, and it joins the constellation already there. He wants a milkshake for breakfast, but his parents remind him that milkshakes always make him break out, so he has banana pancakes instead. His mom gives him a bagged lunch, reminds him to be more like Neil and sends him on his way.

The kids meet up at the bus stop and make small talk for a little while until the bus arrives to pick them up. Their bus driver is named Steve.

When they arrive at the school, Zod strikes up a conversation with Ursa, prettiest girl in the Freshmen class, and Zod’s fellow Kryptonian. Zod is doing pretty well until Ursa notices that Zod’s mom had written a note to him on the outside his lunch bag: ”I love you, little man”

Vice-Principal Hodor arrives and gathers up the group and takes them to Summer’s sister Winter, for orientation and a tour of the campus. This passes uneventfully, though Zod uses his X-Ray vison to scope out any areas that might be restricted. Winter nicknames him “General Zit.”

Then it’s on to power placement. Coach Boomer wants to relegate Amy to sidekick status, but she activates her costume and impresses everybody with her ninja skills. President Dog is automatically promoted to hero status without the need for an assessment, because, hey, he’s President Dog.

Then it’s off to lunch, where we get a couple cameos from superheroes from other shows, including Robin, begging to be upgraded from sidekick status, which will probably become a running gag.

After lunch, the kids picked out their classes. Zod is very excited to learn that Professor Doctor Victor Von Doom would be teaching a class on the History and Application of Mad Science. He quickly signed up, and rushed off to the class, but when he got there he saw a sign on the door that announced that the class would be taught by a substitute for the duration of Doom’s confinement in the Negative Zone.

He was disappointed, but still interested in the class. When he entered the room, he heard the teacher call out to him. “Hey, baby bro? Did you miss me? I picked up some credits over the summer. I’ll be student teaching here!”

That’s where we wrapped up for the day. Like I said, just a short introductory session. I’m pretty happy with it, though. We’ve set the stage, and we got most of Star Wars out of the way, so now we can jump right in with The Empire Strikes Back. J

Final Thoughts:

I think that Young Zod is a brilliant idea which promises to be a huge amount of fun, and the concept has a ton narrative hooks.

I’m surprised how committed Lily is to the idea of playing a character with a disability. She’s always had a lot of empathy, and she’s putting a lot of thought into the difficulties such a person would have with tasks that most people can do without a second thought.

I’m really into this.  Yeah, it’s a bit goofy, and painted very broadly, but I think it will be a lot of fun for everyone.  That’s what I like about role-playing games. You get together to tell a story with your friends that none of you would have come up with independently, expanding and riffing on each other’s contributions.

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