Actual Play – Issue #4: Mustafa’s Madness (11/11/09)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Omar, Travis, and Eric
System: Silver Age Sentinels (Tri-Stat)

The game started with resolving a few fiddly bits.

1. We determined that while Lady O believes she is Mustafa’s father and Mustafa believes she is his wife, at most one of these beliefs will be true, possibly neither. This was addressed in game by a few unnamed characters talking to each other about Lady Osiris and identifying the ridiculousness of both statements being true.
2. We talked some about the balance of powers, which looked like there were written without much awareness of each other. Little stuff, but annoyingly inconsistent.

After a recap of last issue we started into the game.

Act 1 – Meeting Mustafa (Group Conflict Scene)

I feel that often my bad guys approach with guns blazing and really eliminate any cool dialog that could transpire between them and the good guys, so this time I specifically set up a fight where a) the bad guy didn’t want to win and b) the bad guys wouldn’t incite violence.

The players added in the scene elements of an a place accessible to Lady O’s helicopter (fully equipped with mounted machine gun) and that it would be in his place (so that any collateral damage would be to his stuff. Good call. I added some details to turn it into a afternoon pool party, filled with Empire City’s rich and scummy, some goons, Jellyfish and of course Mustafa.

His greeting was cordial, probably too cordial, as it gave the player a hard time figuring out how to incite violence against him. Eventually, enough verbal banter was exchanged that it seemed appropriate and a brawl ensued. It was a pretty easy fight, Mustafa wanted to be captured with the hope that it would end the heroes investigation and they wouldn’t go any further. A couple cool powers were flung around, and LOTs of collateral damage was done (woot for it belonging to the bad guy), but in the end Mustafa was captured.

Act 2 – Interrogation and Groundbreaking

This scene opened on Lady O’s speed boat where they interrogated Mustafa who pretty much admitted everything he did (using the spell, killing a lot of people in El Paso, rewriting history, etc), except leaving out one niggling detail that the players knew were missing, but couldn’t press out of him. I felt a little awkward in this scene as I wasn’t quite ready to tip my hand, so I held out information. See Act 3, but I felt a little Deus Ex Machina about it, when I had an NPC show up with the info later.

After turning him over to the authorities, the Heroes heard about the ground breaking for the League-o-lopolus. A giant Mall/Stadium/Motorcycle race track approved by the League Act several months ago. Promised to give new jobs and opportunity, the League-o-lopolus was front page news. As was the League being there to speak at the celebration. Well, no League endorsed affair can go off without the Heroes crashing the party, so they arrived, Lady Osirus took the stage and told the public the League AND the Heroes of the Institute had been working together on this, Liberator gave the scoop about downing Mustafa and El Cubo started the El Cubo institute. Good times.

Act 3 – A little Exposition on my Part

Frantic Jellyfish arrived, trying to get the help of the Heroes to break Mustafa out of jail. He was apparently worried that the villain was you know, in trouble. At first he was dismissed until he offered them enough incentive to at least go back to Mustafa’s mansion and see what he had to show them…

Which was stacks and statcks and stacks of records, all of which had been stolen, all of which that vividly described the League as not the cities protectors, but a bunch of good for nothing villains! They had used the mind magic to make everyone forget and think they were the good guys! Dun, dun, dun!

What rocked

We had some great scenes; mostly I felt that little nuances were more fun that big KA-BOOMs. Things like Jellyfish in the olive tray, Lady-O’s swagger that could have sailed 1000 ships, Mustafa’s Fez, etc.

The comic format continues to provide useful tropes for storytelling. It is much easier to break the 4th wall and keep internal consistency in a comic then in most other games.

What could have been improved

I needed more foreshadowing of the League setting things up for themselves. I meant to introduce the League-o-lopolus earlier as a fixture to be annoyed at but not immediately suspect.

The information I parceled out in a fairly heavy handed way. I meant for Mustafa to fold easily and later have the Heroes wonder why the fight was so hard after putting him in prison, not interrogate him. Thinking back, I probably just should have had him break down and say that if he told them the truth, he’d be a dead man, etc, etc. From which they would have found out he was in cahoots with the league. Again, I held out so I could introduce the League-o-lopolus and the League Act that made it possible. Poor planning on my part.

I’ve been trying to find Lady O’s heroic motivation, what makes her an actual hero, and so far the bait I’ve thrown her has flopped. There have been several people that appealed to her that they would respect her if she used her power for good, NPCs and PCs, which essentially just turned into incentive to “appear” to be a good guy. I took another route last night. I decided that since she has at least some connection with Mustafa, who is a master of mental manipulation, I would bring on some low grade telepathy, allowing her to sense emotions. As it was presented last night she couldn’t really control it and just picked up everyone’s feelings around her. This worked about as well as a bone marrow transplant with the wrong t-cells. The system rejected the infusion.

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