Tuesday, April 26, 2011

7th-Day Stranger (One)

Ross is running a GURPS campaign set in a near future (2015) North America torn apart by civil war and suddenly invaded by Hell. For those who know what I'm talking about: It's the Earth of Obsidian, before it became [or "as it becomes"] the world of Obsidian.

Our characters are all members of a special unit of the U.M.F. (United Military Federation), a sort of corporate mercenary firm whose authority and jurisdiction crosses borders in the newly segregated North America.

I'm playing Mahdi "Captain Hadji" Qahira, a former Republican Guard turned military liaison turned mercenary for hire and now a Squad Commander (though I share rank with Edison). Mahdi is skinny and ugly; a devout (if progressive) Muslim who takes his duty to the U.M.F. only slightly less seriously than he takes his faith. He curses in Arabic, used to try to pass as Mexican by calling everyone gringo, and retains a great deal of the chauvinism (if not the bigotry) of his religion. Maddog is J.T. "the Iceman" Ickowski, a ginger gamer-turned soldier who volunteered eagerly for the burgeoning cybernetic augmentation program being tested by the U.M.F. He's a monster with an automatic rifle and really quite hideous with all the tech sticking out of his skull. Josh is running Professor Wesley Edison, an Egyptologist recruited by the U.M.F. intelligentsia who has since learned to handle a gun and obey orders. Edison's specialty might be in funerary rights, but I'm uncertain because the first session was a little combat-heavy and - though he killed 100% more baddies than Mahdi - he didn't really get his chance to shine.

In a massive fire-fight between the New California Republic, the United State of Texas, and the UMF, combat was suddenly halted by an apocalyptic manifestation - the sudden appearance of the Visage of Death, astride a massive horse-like monstrosity. Being the only three whose stories corroborated the appearance of the demonic spectre, we were pulled from regular duty rotation with our combat battalion and put on "Freak Show Watch," with no real mandate other than what someone once called "investigation and containment - or eradication, if necessary - of the supernatural."

Part One
Transported into the Unclaimed Territories lying between the N.C.R., Nova America (? - don't have map with me), and the U.S.T. Captain Hadji, Ickowski and the Professor (along with a possible 4th background-npc if Mark doesn't play the biker, Bill) were flown by helicopter to a drop-site somewhere in the ruin of Las Vegas. Our mission objectives were to 1) meet with our contacts (a biker gang that sent word for help), 2) discover the source of Vegas's power, as it was -up until recently, without electricity, and 3)recon the city and its environs.

We arrived to a smoke signal, marking our drop-point and saw the bikers as soon as the chopper dusted off. Almost immediately, we (and by we, I mean the bikers; I'm sorry to admit there were a few rounds of indecision mostly due to my inability to commit to any one course of action) were beset by a third party in a modified paddy-wagon (Mad-Max style), who opened fire on the bikers. In the ensuing fire-fight, 5 members of the Nomad Police were gunned down, along with a pair of bikers.

Bodies were loaded into the paddy wagon for looting, the surviving cop was treated and put in a rear seat, and we followed the bikers to their hideout, a pool-hall and garage a little ways from the drop-site. Along the drive, we saw a run-down city given over to hedonism and depravity (I'm somewhat disturbed that we didn't stop to do anything about some of the stuff we saw, but I was driving, so I only have myself to blame until that truck tried to run us off the road), as well as a strange obsidian pyramid jutting out of the pond in front of the Belagio, giving off sporadic rays of light and possibly powering the strip.

Mahdi crashed the paddy wagon into the front of the pool-hall, but the building was still intact. We stabilized the cop and entered the building to speak to the bikers, Bill and Ed(?) - the last two surviving members of this chapter of the Hell's Angels. Mahdi went out to get the cop and bring him in, once things seemed on the up-and-up; but as soon as he left...

A voice called down from upstairs, Bill and Ed relaxed immediately upon hearing their names, and adjourned upstairs, presumably to find the owner of the (feminine) voice. Mahdi was called back inside and the typical PC-paranoia found all of us spread out, with easy access to the door when they came back down with the "woman."

She was irrefutably beautiful, wearing what can only be Second Life Biker Chickdescribed as an Italian fashion-designer's best interpretation of a biker's old-lady's outfit, cut low and slinky. I think she was a red-head? And much hotter than this second-life image I've posted. Mahdi recognized her immediately for what she was(n't), an American whore of some kind.

She turned out to be quite adept at mind-control, though a few lucky rolls and some massive firepower from J.T. put an end to her sorcerous ways. During the fracas, Mahdi radioed back to H.Q. not to send a chopper for them under any circumstances, he didn't know what was going on, but the situation was out of control; and that he recommended quarantining the entire Unclaimed Territories and to carpet-bomb Vegas.

As he was transmitting, he cleared the area of her influence and almost couldn't remember why he was saying what he was saying, he added absently, "why did this all seem so important just a second ago..." Right after that, J.T. did his fireworks thing and "Oh, right," Mahdi said and then clarified his recommendation that the area be quarantined, but to hold bombers on stand-by until further updates can be transmitted. He and his team would make it out of Vegas on their own if possible, but he reiterated that no pick-up was to be attempted.

This probably still seems like over-kill; but you don't realize how fucked we were against that mind-control shit if we hadn't lucked into some good dice rolls, and J.T. hadn't managed to break control long enough to perforate her with his assault rifle. She had, during conversation, expressed great interest in accompanying us back to UMF and meeting with our superiors.

As soon as she died, the surviving biker, Bill, broke down crying, but stopped fighting. Mahdi brought in the cop while the Professor and J.T. helped Bill and investigated the corpse of the woman - which didn't seem human, so much as "put together according to a third-person accounting of what a human would look like on the inside." J.T. failed the first Fright Check of the campaign and developed a new Mental Quirk.

When questioned, the cop couldn't remember why it was important to attack the Angels, only that "she ordered us to." He couldn't divulge anything further (including whether or not "she" was the same she we'd just liberated Bill from), and the session ended there.

Oh yeah, J.T. and the Professor are a little drunk due to the mind-control shtick, and the Prof probably has a helluva hang-over to look forward to in the morning. XP was doled out and fun was had by all, I believe. I'm looking forward to exploring this world some more, next time.

I have no doubt Captain Hadji (and all the rest) are doomed, though I hope they survive to see things through to the end (the beginning?). I also have no clue who I would play as a back-up character. I'm thinking some kind of military "ghost" character, a stealth specialist / augmented human sent in to investigate the disposition of the Alpha Team.

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