Demigods Session 2 - The Tale of the Underworld

Pre-Session

James (Surya) gets a thread if they fail Awe. <== not right
Dave (Damien) gets a thread if he fails Sway.
Mike (Lex) gets a thread if he fails Bend Fate
Margie (Haruki) gets a thread if he fails Smite.
Doyce (Kamaka) gets a thread if he fails Perform Under Pressure.

[Don’t think any of these were failed during the game.]

Kronos Corp HQ

Lex … was kind of off at Dad’s.
Has an ibex. Epic steed.
Goldhorn puts in a call from Triglav (dads). “Did you get back okay? You left something, we’ll ship it to you. Oh, and bad things are happening.” “Get your little friends, put them on the phone.”
Waiting on hold.
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“Heard off the grapevine (Bacchus) that, gods of the underworld, something is happening, and …”

Earthquake!

“Bad things will really start happening at sunset.”

Goldhorn gets some head scritches.

Aya points out that the sun is going to set very soon.

Sphinx tells us to go to hell. No, literally. Will escort us to the volcano. Triglav sent them. Aya waves to us, with emergency supplies atop the Wrangler.

The Wranger gets driven into the volcano, the Sphinx bailing out at the last second.

The Underworld

Crimson, ash, and we land in a featureless plain of dust, ash, and gloominess. Urkala (sp?), the Babylonian underworld. We are on the Road of Bone, leading to the city of the dead.

Damien - Bend Fate -> 7!
1 boon - #Blessed works beyond normal limits (making a mundane object)
1 bane - 1 harm, but #Blessed deals with this.

Kamaka snarks at Damien, maybe Kronos is teaching you a valuable lesson.
Damien provides an unmistakable gesture.

Rabasa - vampiric spirits or demons

Haruki - Pierce the Veil about the Rabasa -> 12!

  1. Greatest danger - probably the Rabasa.
  2. What’s the safe path through this? - The Rabasa can be held back by sea salt. Like on the Sea Salt Potato Chips.
  3. Who is responsible for this? - Nergal. Babylonian god of winter, war, one of the underwold gods. (Consort Laz. Associated with a lion. Fiery aspect. Mars.)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nergal
    image
    Slow down, screeching from the skies and ground. Rabasa spring up.
    Chips!

Surya throwing chips.
Damien aids with driving. -> 13! (6+6) Thread! And aid! (Smooth ride!)
Haruki makes sure there are plenty of chips. -> 5! Thread! (Several bags go out the window)
Lex uses TK to recover the chips, spell -> restrict movement, instantly. Cost: flung hard back at Haruki, 1 Harm.

Surya smites! -> 6 + 2 = 8!
Wants to defeat them. Polyarmory move, weaponizing chips. 4 Harm. And they are already an Epic weapon. They just explode into a mist.
Hit like a Chinese Fighting Muffin.

The surviving Rabasa flee, muttering about those darned kids.

City of the Dead

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“Parade” procession – shades … not ghosts, but projects of what that person would be here.

Rituals. Priests in robes and veils. Relics escorted through streets. Lex says it looks like a big magical ritual in early stages of prep.
Lex - Pierce the Veil -> 7!

  1. What is the purpose of this? - Summoning one of the Ersog … Bashmu. That’s … bad.


Oh, and over the City of the Dead … you can see a ghostly image of the Kronos Corp. bldg. in the sky.

  1. What is the greatest danger of this ritual? - No single point of failure. But everyone doing it are just shades in the City of the Dead.

Sway them?
Damien chides Surya silently but vehemently over still having his voice.
Surya takes it poorly, and throws a key at him.
Damien starts to go into Sway mode, is so busy “talking” … he doesn’t realize it was that key for a moment.
Picks up key.
Bows.
“It’s about goddamned time”

Kamaka jumps out of the car. Swipe Left -> 10!
Assyrian troops charge.


Giant hammer out of stone.

Big, loping bounds. Big swings. Collateral damage.
2 Harm to all the soldiers, knocked prone.
Clears path to a raised area where the priests were.

This people will be wiped out of Bashmu is brought here.

Haruki lights up a cigarette, blows that over people, recalling their lives. So … fate’s favor for the next roll!

Divine Charm.
Damien - Sway!
Trying to convince he cares about them, that this summoning will destroy them, think what you’re doing, down tools!
Sway
(6+6)+2 = 14!

Not an uprising, a strike … and a …
Block party (“Throw a party!”)



Haruki - Aura of Celeb.
Damien - Turn it up

Lex flinging out bags of chips … extends it around the city.
Bend Fate -> 7! Beyond normal bounds + stunned.

Deep rumbling … and from the temple at the center of the city … stories-tall lion-headed creature.

Turn It Up … ward the party from violence.
The party keeps moving around. HE just can’t find it and stomp on it.

And it seems likely that the party/disruption will continue long enough for Kronos to return. Plus, y’know, the temples getting munched by Nergal’s stomps aren’t helping.

Lex can open portals to places on the mortal plane. Big flashing lightning triangles.
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Back in the Mortal Realm

We head back to the Kronos Corp HQ … because there will likely be another attack.
Sun is rising.
Aya is there.

There’s been a bit of quake damage.

End of Session

Everyone was Epic.
Running through Tangles enhanced.
Running through Threads gained.

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Here’s some notes about the session as a GM, and some thoughts about how I ran this. Unfold if you’re curious, don’t unfold if you prefer to preserve the mystery.

A peek behind the GM screen

The overall game is pretty sketchily plotted: Capture the Flag, your side defending, the bad guys attacking. To showcase the game itself, after the first session, I decided I wanted three assaults: magical, physical, and social.

We have multiple sessions, but only one of them that I know of with Mike present. So I made this one the magical assault, to let the Arcane do his thing.

Almost everyone has some tie to earth, the underworld, etc. so I decided I wanted the underworld involved. Wikipedia furnished me with a list of underworld gods and I picked Nergal (for reasons which will become clear later). If this were structured like a video game, he’d be the final boss, so I needed lieutenants and mooks (the rabasa and shades). We didn’t have an opportunity for a fight against any sub-bosses, but that’s okay!

I had a list of several creatures from the mythos ready at hand. I chose the rabasa because someone (I want to say Margie) mentioned emergency provisions, and I knew from skimming articles that “sea salt” was a vulnerability for them, and I knew all about sea-salt chips (from work and elsewhere, everyone loves advertising it). So I put those things together to reward an apparently casual provisioning choice.

I did an image search of “Irkalla” earlier and saw someone was making a game with that name, so I pulled up those images. The second one I found was the procession in the streets, so I let that inspire me to figure out what was next: some kind of dark ritual? What kind? Probably summoning one of the other big bad beasts I had pulled up in reading. What are all those guys doing huddled on the street? Presenting a social opportunity. And thus we had an adventure.

I did about 30-40 minutes of prep, mostly image searches and pulling up lists of gods and monsters to use as fodder. What actually went into the blender was based on you folks’ character backgrounds, your choices (e.g. “let’s pack lunch”), and whatever paid off some kind of earlier setup.

For example, the rabasa were described in the text I found as “vampires”. Okay, so we’ve got the idea of draining life… sacrifice… hey, what if the shades in the City of the Dead are going to be a sacrifice of some kind to call forth the big monster?

Overall things I learned (or applied here):

  • Your prep is everything the buffet has to offer. The players and the PCs determine what goes on the plate.
  • Anything the players say is an opportunity. Listen and remember.
  • How fun something is has nothing to do with how important it is. Even minor stuff can come back later or pay off, and players love talking to Sam Smorkle.

Hopefully everyone had fun and felt in the spotlight for an appropriate amount of time. I did my best to swing the spotlight evenly. I feel of anyone, Surya got the least love, but only by a little bit, and that’ll change in coming sessions.

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I felt there was a good balance of “Here’s a thing, what are you going to do about it?” and flexibility in what that looked like. There were a few GM feeds of suggestions that felt a little superfluous, and, honestly, I’d have loved to have seen how we got around the salt thing without the chips being there (though Surya’s Killer Chip Attack was hilariaweome).

Some very nice pivoting with player ideas.

The normal course of things would have had us either talking with or fighting (or both) Nergal. That I had a way of short-circuiting that for a bit was fortuitous (and let us wrap the game on time).

I felt like Damien got a lion’s share tonight, through (a) grabbing the wheel (who’d have thought he was a Driver?), (b) dramedy over his voice, and © swaying the priesthood. I also wracked up an awful number of threads (helped with a pair of doubles, but, honestly, I also hit every potential Gain except seduction and urging to greatness), so huge night for me. Honestly, I would have let someone fix the final resolution in the City, but it was too perfect a moment not to do the Sway (and then the Party Protection).

Overall, good times.

As a broader observation … there are a number of potential comparisons between this and a Masks game (Young People of Power and How They Grow). We’ve been focused on external threats / challenges, from Kronos to Nergal’s schemes, which have been triffic fun, but have crowded out the personal bits, including the intriguing Tangles. With the knowledge that this is intended as a one-, er, limited-shot, I’d still love to exercise some of that soap opera that we codified. Just a thought.

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A bad habit of mine, and also an artifact of me staring at the clock, waiting for 9pm to roll around so I could get roommate from work.

The chips were absolutely meant to pay off the off-hand comment about provisions that was made earlier. I wanted to reward even the small details. That said, if I’d felt we had more time, I would have left their discovery to the players, yes.

My intent was always to let that happen, but also to get you folks some real events in-game to feed into that as well. Next time won’t be “here’s an attack, deal with it”, because I want to give you all breathing room to play your PCs.

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I was actually quite pleased we managed to stick the landing right on time, so well done.

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Graphic-of-the-Night. Not necessarily the most on-point, but definitely the most OMGTEHCUTEZ memorable.

Though I was pleased to be able to include one of my favorite Total Recall GIFs/lines for Damien.

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