Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mutants & Masterminds

My buddy Eric ran a sample game of Mutants & Masterminds for a group today and I really enjoyed it. Sitting around a table with a couple of guys rolling some dice...well, it isn't just that. Eric ran for a couple of us in the South Bend gaming group. It's a nebulous group. I know a lot of them, know some of them on sight but don't know their names, and there's a few I don't know at all. Today I got to play with one guy I didn't know, and one I know by first name only. We played in a nice little attic room with two gaming tables placed side by side. It was fun looking at a new system and comparing it to the one I already know. The combat worked out pretty smoothly despite the fact that it was also Eric's first experience with the game. It's similar enough to Dungeons & Dragons that it didn't give him too much trouble at all.

The game setting was in the Top 10 world created by Alan Moore and South Bend native Gene Ha. Eric went to high school with Gene, and he's kind of a local hero to many of us. Anyway, the game was set in the Top 10 world of Neopolis, where supers are called "science heroes" or "science villains" and the world is just full of them. So many that there are too many to fight crime and they all have to get jobs. Our group was a set of US Marshals assigned to prisoner transport, pre-created by Eric. I played Astro Hound, a robot ("Post Organic") dog who was formerly the sidekick of the Silver Space Hawk. I was drinking a can of Cherry Coke and when it was time to speak in character, I drained it and talked into the can so that my voice had a metallic sound. It cracked the new guy up. The new guy, Jason, played Waypoint, a character who could teleport and phase through objects. Steve played Nightwren, a darkness-based character.

The story opened as we were transporting a science villain named Captain Seven to Neopolis from San Francisco. Captain Seven had run a church called the Order of the Sept and had been convicted of tax evasion. We were just outside of Neopolis in a rural area when the bus had to stop because of a downed tree. When the driver stopped, a 15-foot tall red guy overturned the bus. We quickly got out of the vehicle and confronted the bad guys who were obviously there to break out Captain Seven. We lost the initial fight as the bad guys cast some kind of impenetrable mist and made off with the prisoner, leaving us blind in their wakes.

As we made our way to the station house to file our reports, we started doing some research to find out who these guys were. A couple of names were quickly called up and we used some good old-fashioned detective work to find out some of the formerly imprisoned bad guys' unusual habits. We discovered that the big red guy was called Blood Envoy and that he actually had to absorb blood to survive. The church that Captain Seven had run was located in San Diego, so we started there. We found out that a slaughterhouse had experienced a break in recently and there had indeed been blood stolen. We went to the church itself and discovered a Kirbyesque machine in the basement that was transmitting illegally wired cable television into another dimension! Assuming that was the source of the untaxed income that Captain Seven was imprisoned for hiding, we took the device and removed it from the church to a place of our choosing for the rematch, thinking that they would be on the way to find out what happened to their revenue source. Sure enough, when the bad guys arrived, our new plan and choice of opponents paid off and we defeated them, recovering the prisoner.

The game itself moved quickly and we had fun playing it, but that's hardly ever the most fun that gamers have. It's the fun of the comments made in between combat turns and the in-jokes that only we would get. One such joke was when we would make our "you're under arrest" statements and someone would throw in a Firefly reference ("You are bound by law"), bringing laughter to the whole table. It's this kind of humor that binds people like us and separates us gamers from the everyday crowd. I value this kind of camaraderie and I'm looking forward to having a regular game to play in with guys I've known for many years.

Posting might be irregular here for the next few days. I'm getting my wisdom teeth pulled tomorrow and I'm told that the medication can make you a bit loopy. I sure hope so! I don't want to hurt like I have this past week.

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