“Glassworks” Session 3: Alley of the Devil Dolls

Fellow role-players, here are the notes for Jason E.R.‘s latest face-to-face game, which Brian W. hosted at his home in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 25 June 2012:

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.‘s “Glassworks” Bronze Age/noir superhero scenario, using the “Marvel Heroic Roleplaying” game (based on Margaret Weis Productions Ltd.’s “Cortex” system, originally using DarkPages), as of spring 2012:

-“Kyle Martins/The Cloaked Quarrel” [Gene D.]-male human college student and legacy crime fighter with mystical crossbows

-“Eli Wasserman/the Amazing Mr. Fantastic” [Brian W.]-male metahuman with shadow manipulation, semi-retired superhero and private investigator

-“Rain Tomotowa/Thunderbird” [Sara F.]-female Native American metahuman park ranger, able to change into an eagle

-“Matthew Shanks/Merlin” [Josh C.]-male incubus sorcerer and occultist with an ancient family legacy

-“Tim Gray/DarkStorm” [Bruce K.]-male metahuman super soldier, experimented upon by the government, amnesiac weapons designer for Oryx Industries, and armored vigilante

-“Summer Winters/Santanica Pandemonium” [Rich C.G.]-female human nurse and mother/demon with flame powers, newly aware of her dual nature

-“Ezra Goldman/Daedalus” [Beruk A.]-male metahuman with the ability to temporarily imbue machines with personalities

>>Session 3: “Getting the Shaft” or “Alley of the Devil Dolls

Abandoned warehouses
The scenic warehouse district

In response to a rash of arsons and mysterious murders, a strange group of people gathers in Hamilton, Delaware. Kyle summarizes what he and his newfound super friends have learned so far for Eli:

-The Case of the Masked Arsonists: The masked and wrapped women known as “Devil Dolls” have been setting incendiary devices around the city.

Devil Doll I was caught setting fire to properties belonging to the White Magus, leader of the mystical Conclave to which Matthew belongs. She was later revealed to be Eva Ball, former partner of Richard/the White Magus, and was taken for treatment to Rain’s grandmother, the shaman Kittaguka. Mute Eva recalled escaping from some institution.

Devil Doll II was captured while setting fires in a line leading to a factory in the Glassworks neighborhood. She turned out to be Maggie Orex, daughter of James Orex, the founder of arms firm Oryx Industries.

Maggie was also Tim’s girlfriend, who was believed to be dead, and both Eva and Maggie suffered from serious physical and emotional/mental injuries.

-The Case of the Glass Woman: Upon foiling a Mancari Security armored car heist by the costumed Palmetto, the Cloaked Quarrel had discovered a glass woman in a metal casket. She was Mora Burch, wife of the missing Boyd Burch, a chemist at tobacco firm D.J. Sharrif.

Eli had been hired by Faisal Marzoug on behalf of Ms. Sharrif to find Boyd, who had been kidnapped from D.J. Sharrif’s facilities at 54 Tennant Street in the Annex — a neighborhood that Sharrif wants to rename “Fatima.”

Meanwhile, DarkStorm had gotten a tip from fellow vigilante the Red Right Hand about Burch’s former CalTech classmate, Oryx scientist Albert Boyle. Boyle had been found murdered near a warehouse at 315 Mycroft Ave. in Fairmont. Burch had been working on something called “Project Jabberwock,” which involved “reverse-engineered DNA” and “umbral matter.”

Near where Russian mobsters (led by a man named Ozerov) had been watching Burch’s apartment, the Cloaked Quarrel had found primal runes later translated as “Little Jack Horner.” Kyle also made contact with the Red Right Hand and believed that the D.J. Sharrif and Oryx Industries cases were somehow connected.

-The Case of the Dragon Pearl: Merlin and Thunderbird had been assigned by the Conclave, a group of about six mages, to search the South Market for the “cintamanni,” a.k.a. the “Philosopher’s Stone” and the organ responsible for certain dragons’ flight. While apprehending the Devil Dolls, they had encountered Santanica Pandemonium.

The fiery winged woman had fought Erichtho of the Coven over a jade dagger at the Ramsaeir Museum of Natural History. Summer’s ex-husband Bobby Galati, of the Galati crime family and Mancari Security, eventually surrendered the dagger to her at All Saints Hospital.

Santanica/Summer also later mentioned that she had been seeing the face of Dr. Ben Nitten (who had summoned three demons to question her) and some peasant flickering around other people. Is he a shapeshifter, some spirit possessing victims, or a figment of her fractured imagination?

The “jade warror’s panoply” apparently included the jade dagger and the Cloaked Quarrel’s crossbows. Other mystics from the Conclave and Coven, including Shard, were hunting for the cintamanni.

-Making connections: While the Red Right Hand may have killed Albert Boyle for his involvement in shady Oryx Industries research, Boyd Burch was likely also searching (or had even obtained) the dragon pearl to try to change his wife Maura back to flesh and blood.

Because of his gambling debts, Burch had apparently turned to Ozerov for protection, even as Mancari Security had his wife, and Bobby Galati ended up with the jade dagger that Erichtho had taken from the museum.

How were the jade warrior’s panoply and the cintomanni connected? What were the Dragon Dolls trying to flush out with fires toward Glassworks, and for whom? Who wrote the primal runes, and what was Dr. Nitten?

-Back into the field: Rain and Tim go to Kittaguka’s to check on Maggie. The Native American shaman tells her granddaughter that Devil Doll II’s wounds were caused by science, not magic, and that she needs herbs from Kunzang Tenzin, a member of the Conclave, from which she was expelled. Matthew and Kyle plan to visit the White Magus to check on Eva/Devil Doll I.

Summer is upset to find that her ex-husband Bobby is missing, along with her son Timmy. Now aware of her Santanica Pandemonium identity, she asks her former mother-in-law about Timmy. Apparently, the Galati crime family is angry that Bobby has gone into the witness protection program and fears that he may expose the family’s leadership to law enforcement.

Eli calls in his “science guy,” Ezra Goldman/”Daedalus,” to track down Palmetto. However, the “Amazing Mr. Fantastic” and Daedalus, as well as Merlin and the Cloaked Quarrel, are sidetracked when Santanica Pandemonium calls for backup as she, Thunderbird, and DarkStorm go to the warehouse in Fairmont where Albert Boyle’s body was found.

An alley connects Mycroft and Pallas Avenues, running between an apparently abandoned factory and a warehouse whose security DarkStorm found was still active. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic believes that the warehouse is a decoy or trap and that the best way to any subterranean hideout is through the factory.

Thunderbird and Santanica fly to the roof of the warehouse and use their wings to buffet security cameras out of position. Daedalus reroutes other monitors near the doors, then he and DarkStorm join the others at the factory. They easily break in through a window.

The Cloaked Quarrel finds machinery under tarps that has been reassembled in a strange configuration. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic looks for clues and sees scratch marks in the floor. Santanica Pandemonium keeps watch outside.

In a dusty office, Merlin and company find unused “Indian”-brand candy wrappers belonging to the defunct Hamilton Candy Co. He and DarkStorm also find a cargo elevator that leads to a lit shaft.

Daedalus and the Cloaked Quarrel find that some of the devices can be moved to slots in the factory floor, but as they interact with one, it pierces a barrel of fluorescent goo. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic contains it with his summoned shadows, even though the private detective doesn’t like using his powers.

Armored DarkStorm and the magical Merlin descend and find a corridor with about 20 Devil Dolls! The masked women stand in rows, seemingly inert. Closer examination determines that they are inhibited by pieces of “magic candy.”

Merlin hits all of the Devil Dolls with a Lightning Storm spell, forcing the lozenges out of their mouths. The wrapped saboteurs then begin advancing toward the two metahumans!

In avian form, Thunderbird flies down but tells the Cloaked Quarrel that everything is under control. Gadgeteer Daedalus and the young Cloaked Quarrel are curious about the machinery, while the Amazing Mr. Fantastic recommends caution and notes the commotion down below.

Santanica Pandemonium enters and is drawn to the devices. The Cloaked Quarrel draws his mystical crossbows in alarm, but the fiery woman comes to and identifies the devices (later confirmed with Merlin’s divination) as components of a “mystic dragon cage.”

Winged Thunderbird knocks down some of the Devil Dolls, and Santanica flies down and pulls out DarkStorm, who doesn’t want to harm the women, and Merlin. The group narrowly escapes the factory, despite Merlin and Santanica’s desire to destroy it.

The crime fighters regroup and discuss what to do next. Thunderbird goes to Kittaguka and asks about the dragon cages. She learns that her ancestors were known as dragon slayers (Unktehila), a history that seems related to the hunt for the cintamanni.

Merlin has one of the candies chemically analyzed and contacts White Magus. Summer/Santanica wants to send a bloody message to the Galati family but decides to leave her ex-husband and son in the relative safety of witness protection until she can solve her cases.

Eli uses his psychology experience to help Maggie remember her time as a Devil Doll. She writes that the fires were set to drive something out of the buildings. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic theorizes that Faisal may have hired him on behalf of a real dragon.

Despite the Cloaked Quarrel’s misgivings, DarkStorm brings Maggie to her father James Orex. Summer accompanies them as a nurse and is alarmed when she recognizes the butler as Dr. Nitten!

James seems happy to be reunited with his daughter, but his house goes into security lockdown as Santanica and Merlin look for Dr. Nitten. Metal plates drop in front of windows, security guards scramble through the mansion and its grounds, and the outer gates close and lock.

The rest of the would-be superheroes borrow one of Matthew’s vehicles and get past the outer perimeter’s security measures. Santanica blasts through doors and walls and pursues a nearly invisible man.

Matthew’s secret identity as DarkStorm is blown before his boss, but James says his first concern is Maggie’s safety. The CEO of Oryx Industries claims that Project Jabberwock was mothballed as a failure and that he knows nothing of the Devil Dolls’ arson scheme or Albert Boyle’s murder.

The Cloaked Quarrel manages to pin the man fleeing Santanica Pandemonium, who redirects her attention at new arrival Erichtho. The flying witch casts fiery snakes at berserk Santanica and Thunderbird. Merlin and the Amazing Mr. Fantastic try to block Erichtho, but she, Rasayana (the man with the invisibility suit), and Dr. Nitten teleport away.

DarkStorm tries to do damage control with the Orexes and calls for law-enforcement backup for the candy factory. He also makes plans with the Cloaked Quarrel to contact the Red Right Hand, mainly about the corporate espionage and organized crime. Daedalus analyzes the candy sample, which uses a neural inhibitor and “reverse-DNA” to control the nearly dead women.

Furious Santanica Pandemonium and Merlin want to track down Erichtho and Dr. Nitten and to find out more about the cintamanni and jade warrior’s panoply. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic, the Cloaked Quarrel, Thunderbird, and Daedalus plan to head to the second factory in Glassworks….

While we didn’t have quorum to continue Rich C.G.’s Way of the Wicked adventure path last night (Monday, 2 July 2012), we did enjoy a School Daze one-shot. I also plan to post an update for the first FATE 3e “Vortex” space opera session with the latest telecom team this past Sunday.

Next week,  I look forward to continuing Jason’s “Glassworks” game, and in the meantime, have a happy Independence Day! -Gene

“Glassworks” superhero miniseries, Session 1 — Born in flames

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for Jason E.R.‘s first full “Glassworks” session (originally using DarkPages), on Monday, 21 May 2012. Note that they may eventually be edited and posted to our Obsidian Portal site. Josh C. also plans to write up his notes.

Metal Month of May
Glassworks in flames

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.‘s “Glassworks” Bronze Age/noir superhero scenario, using the “Marvel Heroic Roleplaying” game (based on Margaret Weis Productions Ltd.’s “Cortex” system), as of spring 2012:

-“Kyle Martins/The Cloaked Quarrel” [Gene D.]-male human college student and legacy crime fighter with mystical crossbows

-“Eli Wasserman/the Amazing Mr. Fantastic” [Brian W.]-male metahuman with shadow manipulation, retired superhero and private investigator

-“Rain Tomotowa/Thunderbird” [Sara F.]-female Native American metahuman park ranger, able to change into an eagle

-“Matthew Shanks/Merlin” [Josh C.]-male incubus sorcerer and occultist with an ancient family legacy

-“Tim Gray/DarkStorm” [Bruce K.]-female metahuman super soldier, experimented upon by the government, amnesiac weapons designer for Oryx Industries, and dark vigilante

-“Summer Winters/Santanica Pandemonium” [Rich C.G.]-female human nurse and mother/demon with flame powers, unaware of dual nature

-[Beruk A.]-male metahuman with the ability to temporarily imbue machines with personalities

>>Sometime after “The Gate With the Dreadful Faces” incident, college student and would-be superhero Kyle Martins goes skulking in the Fairmont neighborhood of Hamilton, Delaware. The scent of smoke alerts “the Cloaked Quarrel” to a possible arson, and he runs to an apartment complex where he sees a stairwell on fire.

The Cloaked Quarrel slips past firefighters and police and enters the building, shouldering his way past evacuees. The costumed crimefighter’s attention is divided between devices on the walls and a woman wearing a mask and cloth wrappings….

Meanwhile, across town, Tim Gray is relaxing in his King’s Gate pad when he gets word about a blackmail meeting from the “Red Right Hand,” a fellow vigilante. The weapons inventor suits up as “DarkStorm” and drives to warehouses at 315 Mycroft Ave. They’re supposed to be abandoned, but electronic security is active.

The Red Right Hand’s methods are relatively brutal, so DarkStorm isn’t too surprised to find the body of Albert Boyle with an envelope bearing a bloody handprint. Apparently, Boyle worked at “B” Branch of Oryx Industries, an arms firm that is also Gray’s employer. DarkStorm finds a file mentioning “Project Jabberwock,” which stirs fragmented memories….

In Germantown, the metahuman once known as “The Amazing Mr. Fantastic” gets a well-dressed visitor at his private investigator’s office. Eli Wasserman asks Faisal Marzug to state his business. Marzug explains that he needs Wasserman’s services on behalf of Ms. Sharif, the owner of D.J. Sharrif (a tobacco company) whom was recommended to him by former colleague Whistler Johnson (a.k.a. “Harrier,” now deceased).

Mr. Marzug says that Boyd Burch, a chemist working at D.J. Sharrif, was kidnapped from its offices at 54 Tennant St. in the Annex. Company security cameras caught footage of two men. Eli reluctantly agrees to take the potentially lucrative case, and after Marzug leaves, he calls Sgt. Larry Barley to see what he can find about Burch….

Not far from Kyle’s apartment in Fairmont, student Matthew Shanks hears a scratching at his window. A talking cat summons him to “the Conclave at Spring Unity,” a fountain in Germantown and the site of a secret gathering of mystics.

The heir of Merlin grabs his Irish walking stick and finds other local notables already there, including Rebejah DeJardines, Papa Chango, Kunzang Tenzin, and Metion the Windlord. They are soon joined by Soul Mage, Kerbala, Nethryk the Whisperer, Arcane, Alpha Draconis, and Zodiac, and Shard teleports in. Each represents a different tradition, and there is much posturing. Notably missing are the White Magus and Rainer Burroughs (the latter is M.I.A.).

In the absence of the White Magus, DeJardines leads the Conclave, saying that a “cintamanni,” or “dragon pearl,” the organ responsible for certain dragons’ flight, is missing, as is Rainer Burrows, a protégé of the White Magus….

Nurse Summer Winter is at All Saints Hospital when two patients are rushed into the emergency room. Their uniforms indicate that they were working at the Ramseir Museum of Natural History, and their symptoms indicate that they’ve been poisoned. Nurse Winter calls for toxicologist Ben Nitten.

However, when the doctor arrives, he seems more interested in getting the comely nurse alone in a room than in treating the poison victims. He tries to place her in a circle of containment, but Summer transforms into Santanica Pandemonium. The succubus is surprised to find that she isn’t as powerful as she is used to being….

Rain Tomotowa spends time with her grandmother, “Kittaguka” (a Metinuwak or shaman of the Lenape tribe), who is banned from the Conclave. Kittaguka asks Rain to serve as her representative, so the young woman transforms into “Thunderbird” and flies to the meeting….

Back at the burning building, the Cloaked Quarrel realizes too late that the second stairwell is also set to explode, and he chases the masked woman across the roof. She easily leaps across an alleyway, but Kyle finds himself barely hanging on. He pleads for the woman’s help in an attempt to slow her down. She releases a fire escape with a thrown dagger, which he later retrieves.

The Cloaked Quarrel doesn’t have time to rest or analyze clues because he hears of a “211 in progress at Charlie and 8th” — an armed robbery. After checking his crossbow bracers, Kyle jogs to the site and finds an armored car and the bodies of two guards….

Eli finds that he’s not the only one watching Boyd Burch’s apartment on 54 Tenant St. in King’s Gate. Since nobody notices an old man, Wasserman can get close to two thugs at a coffee shop as they complain about their work for the Russian mob. He recognizes the tattoo on one of them from the security footage of Birch’s abduction….

At the Conclave, “Merlin” meets latecomer Thunderbird and offers to help find the dragon pearl. The group divvies up their search, leaving the South Market to Merlin and Thunderbird. But first, they stop at Kittaguka’s place, where they encounter Rain’s grandmother’s friend Richard, also known as the White Magus. He says that his properties have been victimized by arson, possibly in an attempt to find the artifact. Kittaguka also reveals that in ages past, the Thunderbirds slew many “Unktehila” — great dragons — and kept their cintamanni in a safe place….

Trapped in the summoner’s circle, Santanica Pandemonium rages. Three demon lords — Narasimha (a sphinx), Zhu Bajie (a boar), and Abezethibou (an ogre) — ask three questions:

-“Would you sacrifice the life of Summer Winters to protect a loved one?”

-“Who do you truly blame for your son’s tragedy?”

-“If you knew a crime was being committed by the Galati organization, would you interfere?”

Only Abezethibou likes his answer, so he reveals critical information that Mancari Security Co. is a front for the Galati crime family. Released, Santanica flies on leathery wings to the Ramseir Museum of Natural History.

Santanica crashes through a skylight into a large hall, where she sees a floating woman surrounded by snakes. Pandemonium blasts two guards under Erichtho’s control with hellfire. The serpent sorceress then animates a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, which Santanica smashes from the inside. However, Erichtho flies away….

DarkStorm drives his black sports car to Boyle’s apartment in the suburb of Blackbird, but it has already been tossed by the Red Right Hand. Tim finds that Boyle went to CalTech, and a safe rattles him with dim memories. DarkStorm then rushes to another fire….

Merlin and Thunderbird head to the same arson in Fairmont. A divination reveals that “Devil Doll” is about to set fire in yet another stairwell. The urban wizard helps evacuate the building, while winged Thunderbird chases Devil Doll, who uses parkour to get to a third-story ledge….

At the armored car and dead Mancari Security guards, the Cloaked Quarrel confronts “Palmetto,” a costumed criminal resembling a giant cockroach. As Palmetto threatens to shoot, the arcane archer fires bolts that jam his stink guns.

The Cloaked Quarrel finds a metal casket with a woman seemingly made of glass. He takes the vehicle and casket, which is labled with the name “Boyd Burch,” to an outlying parking lot of his college and heads to Burch’s apartment….

Santanica Pandemonium returns to All Saints Hospital and returns to human form. Without memories of recent events or clothing, the attractive nurse gets help from a janitor named Wally who assumes that she has a drug problem. Summer goes home, where she finds a parchment note note with incomprehensible writing.

Nanny Lucy McGillicutty hands over Summer’s son Timmy, who asks again about when he’ll see his father, Bobby Gallotti. Summer puts him off again and finds a TV news report about a jade dagger stolen from the Ramseir Museum of Natural History strangely fascinating [event milestone: jade warrior’s panoply]….

At Boyd Burch’s apartment, the Cloaked Quarrel is impressed to watch the Amazing Mr. Fantastic pull one of the Russian mobsters into an alley and interrogate him using his shadow powers. The surprised thug admits that he was told by someone named Oserov to watch Birch’s unit.

After the goon is released, the Cloaked Quarrel eagerly introduces himself to the Amazing Mr. Fantastic, who wants nothing to do with an “amateur.” Kyle tries to assure Eli that he is aware of the dangers that crimefighters face. He also says that he has found something strange that belonged to Burch.

Wasserman reluctantly accompanies Martins to the stashed armored car and the glass woman, and they agree that the D.J. Sharrif scientist was involved in something big as they head to Eli’s P.I. office….

DarkStorm arrives at a blazing building and sees a huge bird attacking a woman on a ledge. Not realizing that Thunderbird is trying to stop arsonist Devil Doll, he shoots at Thunderbird until Merlin arrives to straighten things out.

Thunderbird and Merlin later report to the White Magus and turn over Devil Doll to him….

P.S.: As you may have seen from discussions on the Yahoo/eGroups message board, Rich is willing to host a game tomorrow, 4 June 2012. OF course, you should touch base with him and the rest of the group, especially since Josh was wondering if he should try to move his FATE 3e “Spelljammer” game from tonight to Monday.