Vanguard Roll Call!

Vanguard Roll Call!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Issue 47: Escape From Beneath Big City!

Big City, Lonely Town. Night.

To recap: Vanguard had become pawns in the battle for control over Big City’s underworld! The Five Bosses (through their thug Spider Girucci) sent Vanguard to eliminate their enemy Morgue for them. Knowing this, Morgue sent Homicide for Hire against Vanguard who eventually routed the extranormal executioners!

Now, deep beneath the world’s largest graveyard, on the trail of Morgue, Vanguard has encountered a charnel house of horror: the very cream of Hell, poisoners, murderers, madmen and traitors, have returned from the dead and stood in Vanguard’s subterranean path! The undead, rotting revenants surged forward with unholy strength and endurance, intent on dragging Vanguard back down to Hell with them!

Forester expertly fired a Smoke Arrow into them to cover Vanguard’s retreat. Black smoke billowed out, filling the catacombs around the walking dead, blinding them as they tried to cross the body-strewn ground.

As Vanguard withdrew, figures emerged from the smoke! The first was the reanimated corpse of Happy Jim Hacker, his Tommy gun ready to squirt hot lead.

Symbiote launched an enlarged rubbery fist at Unhappy Jim Hacker! SMASH! The gruesome gangster was knocked back into the chaotic crush of the sightless horde.

The skeletal remains of the Quickdraw Kid (see art above) also emerged from the mists and got off two shots at Forester! “Hold still, ya Injun lover!” BLAMM! KABLAMM! The dead-eyed dead man put two into the amazing archer’s abdomen and Forester fell to the dusty ground, unconscious!

With Kairos guarding the rear, Sentinel deployed a glowing energy tendril to retrieve the valiant, fallen hero.

Clone merged impossibly into one being and got out of the way as Slingshot slammed two giant fists into the earthen ceiling above the Quickdraw Kid. KER-SMAASSHH! A cave-in erupted! RRRRRUUMMBLE!! The undead were re-buried in the noisy, dusty collapse of ancient earth!

The beacon of liberty’s personal shields melted downward to form a large, glimmering disc, big enough for Vanguard to stand on. The disc hovered back toward the main shaft and then upward, out of the haunted warren!
On the elevating energy disc, Kairos spied other forms in the darkness, coming from other tunnels!
Likewise, Sentinel detected more negative energy readings, signifying more undead closing in from all angles!

It was a trap! Ghastly creatures from beyond the grave had them surrounded! With sickening realization, it all became clear: Homicide for Hire softened up Vanguard for Morgue, whose undead gang now ambushed the weakened heroes!

Lightning Strike, standing on the disc, desperately fired down one of the catacomb tunnels that crawled with undead life! SHAKOW! He struck a decaying revenant and momentarily illuminated the tunnel, revealing many more of the grisly monstrosities lurching forward relentlessly!

Kairos swung his staff as the things swarmed in and knocked one head clean off its shambling shoulders!

Sentinel formed the disc into a glowing orb that surrounded and protected Vanguard as they kept rising toward the surface world. Undead fists slammed against the energy bubble. Teeth gnashed and bony hands grasped to find purchase upon the living! Faces of the dead pressed against the spherical chariot, as cracks appeared across its surface! Darkness and dread like only the dead could bring! Kairos’ special power bolstered the morale of his friends but Vanguard was surrounded and all seemed lost.
(OOC: 38 points of damage to the sphere construct!)
Yet the dead could not get in! The globe accelerated and finally broke free!

Vanguard burst from the manhole onto street level just as Sentinel’s construct came apart, no longer able to support Vanguard’s weight! They had escaped with their lives from Morgue’s death trap, but now what?!

Forester was unconscious and bleeding. Desperately needed CHESS medics were radioed and on their way!

None of the walking dead had yet to emerge from below, save one…

The Ghost rose from the broken cobblestones of Butcher and Barber. The young hero reported what little intelligence his scouting had accrued: “There might be fifty of them. Maybe more, when you consider the raw materials available. Now that we are aware of them, I might be able to guide us in on a less crowded path using my vision ability.”

Lightning Strike’s cold intellect weighed in: “It’s clear we need rest. We’re not prepared for a final confrontation with our quarry, Morgue. No doubt he knows we’re here, so there’s no element of surprise to risk losing. But every minute we wait is time for him to further bolster his defenses, or perhaps even escape. We might never have another chance at him.”

Vanguard felt like they were being watched by Lonely Town. The desolate and decaying, smoky, forlorn spread of ancient slums, that encompassed Dickensian slaughterhouses, tenements, poorhouses, workhouses, bars, wharfs and the largest graveyard in the world, seemed to close in around them.

A full moon limned the ground’s mist with pale milky light. The shadows seemed alive with menace but the streets remained unnaturally quiet… for now.

OOC: Responses, Actions?

Current Conditions:
Kairos: Hit Points: 20, Power Points: 55
Lightning Strike: Hit Points: 22, Power Points: 44
Sentinel: Hit Points: 12, Power Points: 22, Creation Points: 44, Current Creation: 6
Slingshot: Hit Points: 22, Power Points: 49, Invulnerability: 6
Symbiote with Slingshot’s powers: Hit Points: 17, Power Points: 29, Invulnerability: 8, Harness Charges: 9

Remember that Power Points heal back at your healing rate per minute of total rest. So the team could be at full Power Points in about 35 minutes. Also, don’t forget your CHESS stim-shots!

Also: James / Forester had to leave the game again, due to real-life time issues. Please excuse Forester’s quick departure.
Ye Ed


As the dust clears, Symbiote will move towards Forester's inert form. As a geneticist he may have a little basic knowledge of medicine and first aid, he'll try to help the valiant archer until true CHESS medics arrive.

Once a quite moment finally settles in, it'll finally be time for introductions. "Hello, I'm called Symbiote," Hal says to the assembled members of Vanguard. "Why I'm here is a long story, but I can copy most superpowers from one subject for about ten minutes. I've read about and admired most of you from the newspapers, and I'd be happy to continue helping with this case if you'll let me."

Specifically to Slingshot: "Sorry about copying your powers without permission back there in the fight with Homicide For Hire. When I started this I was determined to not do that to a law-abiding metanormal unless I had his or her consent, but it seemed like an emergency. No hard feelings, I hope."

If any CHESS security people show up, Symbiote will speak to them for a moment. "If you're going to be detaining Hyena, you might be interested in a few things I learned while copying his powers. He's vulnerable to silver, just like a lycanthrope from the old stories. Silver bullets, silver tipped tranquilizer darts, silver plated truncheons, they all might be handy in helping to keep him in line, if it's within your budget," Hal says. Looking at the CHESS vehicles, he'll add. "And I assume budget isn't much of a consideration for you folks."

If Doc Rocket shows up (or if Hal meets him at any time in the future), Symbiote will be all but star struck. As the original scientist/superhero, the Doc is Hal's hero.

As for where to proceed from here--Hal definitely recommends resting long enough to get our power points back up to full. He'll take that CHESS healing shot before going back in, he wouldn't turn down a wrist communicator if somebody offers one, and this time he'll mimic the powers of Lightning Strike, assuming 'Strike is willing.


When Kirk realized his construct was starting to come apart from the damage inflicted on it, he had shifted the defenseless Forester to his arms in a last ditched effort to protect his unconscious comrade.

As they emerged from the manhole onto the street level Kirk was stirred, but not shaken. He immediately began to render first aid to Forester (again if anyone seems more knowledgeable about this then Kirk would let them take the lead). As Kirk spied the area (and scanned for energy readings) unless Chess is literally seconds away he'll check the look of the buildings in the area and suggest that they move to the rooftop of one of them so that they aren't out in the open and can keep a better eye on the area until Chess arrives.

“We need to move to a more secure area. It’s not smart waiting here out in the open.”

They’d already been involved in enough attempted ambushes for the day. It should still be within Kirk’s power to fly to the rooftop and he can likely carry Forester (and perhaps one other), and with Slingshot and Symbiote-Slingshot we should have no problem relocating to a more secure area than the open street within a few seconds.

Once that’s done Kirk will reply to Strike’s last comment.

“We can keep a lookout on the general area up here while we rest and prepare for our assault. If Morgue’s plan is to escape via some underground route, then he’s gone already anyway. We need a moment to gather our energies and come up with a plan. I don’t want to lose Morgue either, but we had no chance back there in our current state.”

Kirk then keyed in his communicator to update Chess on the situation and to hopefully get information to help them formulate a plan.

“Ajay, has your team been able to pull up the schematics for tunnel layout down below? Surely the plans were filed with the building departments at some time; usually those sort of things have been scanned into the computer system... They were ready for us and we can’t afford to grope about blindly down there.

My thoughts are is that whenever these underground systems are set up, there is usually an area down there used as a base of operations in keeping equipment and supplies and coordinating the rest of the work being done. If we can find it in the schematics, that’s likely the area that Morgue has converted to his stronghold.”

At some point, Kirk would inquire from Ghost about his “vision ability” and how it works and its range in the tunnels since that seems to be one of the few pluses on their side right now.

Kirk continued with the Chess link, now more to Grey or Drake.

“We’ve got undead or raised from the dead or some sort of zombies down there. We’ve seen Morgue take a life by touching a person, but we haven’t seen him raise the dead. Is that in his known abilities?” Kirk continued, “Forester had mentioned a mystical group activity connection when he first rejoined us, could these walking dead be connected to that? If so, who do we know has the power to pull something like this off? Even if Morgue does have such ability, it would seem it should take a massive power source, even if a mystical one, to make the beginnings of the army we fought down there. What does the Chess files say regarding past phenomena of this sort? Do these sort of creatures have any weakness we can exploit?”

Does Kirk know of any cases from the past or from Lancaster’s stories about this sort of thing that might be of use here?

OOC: Forester seemed to be the only one with any sort of working knowledge of what we are dealing with and currently he won’t be sharing it with us.

Kirk added, “It might be worth a shot asking Doc Rocket if they experienced anything of this sort back in the day, since this is the type of thing that wouldn’t have gotten documented back then.”

If we do locate a “working area” that might be the base of operations for Morgue in the tunnels, Slingshot’s (I think it was him) idea of causing a cave-in to prevent these creatures from following us might be a workable strategy to use in our attack to try to block them in the tunnels and stop them from preventing our capturing Morgue.

That’s all I got for now… not much, sorry.

Should we get to the point of reentering the tunnels in the next issue, Kirk would take the stim-shot just before they reenter (and hopefully he’ll have his power points back fully).

To Symbiote:

“Thanks for your help back there, things would have been much worse without you… and we’d welcome your continued support on the mission. Any hero looking to fight the good fight is welcome addition in my book.”

When Kirk hears the description of how Symbiote’s power works and his words to Slingshot, he says with a smile “I appreciate your giving thought to the moral implications of your power, and just so you do know,” he continued with a more serious look, “I can’t give you my consent to your duplicating my powers at any time,” his smile returned, “but if I can help you in any other way, I certainly will.”

If Symbiote gets to talk to Chess about Hyena, Kirk remarks, “Great, so we've got a werewolf and zombies, all we need are some vampires to complete the collection.”


Lightning Strike:
Lightning Strike surveys the surroundings just to make sure this is not a two part ambush.

"Retreat is never a pleasant experience but one that appears necessary at this time. Once Forester is stabilized we can plan our next course of action. What is the ETA of the medics?

Unfortunately the undead are not my specialty but it would appear that fighting these zombies is ultimately fruitless. Morgue could in theory have a limitless supply. Obviously we need to take out the source but Morgue won't reveal himself needlessly."

OOC: Did the zombie that was decapitated stop fighting like the George Romero zombies? That may give us a strategy.

Strike asks the group about the approximate age of the dead. "It would seem that some if not most were killed pre-Morgue which would indicate that the dead are not directly killed by Morgue and unless
Morgue suddenly discovered a new ability he may be working with someone else. We need to cross-reference the undead in the Chess database. It may give us a clue to our next step. We may need to stake out the morgues or graveyards where those recently killed gangsters are."

Strike agrees to let Symbiote have his powers on the condition that it makes sense in our overall strategy.


Slingshot smiles at Symbiote. "Well if you had done so and pounded me into the ground, then I would be less than impressed, but since you did so to give me a hand, then no harm done. You might want to ask in the future." With that he slaps a meaty hand on the scientist's shoulder. "I'm sure glad you stepped in and helped."


OOC GM Replies:
Hi all. Lightning Strike, the one undead creature that was decapitated DID stop moving. Also...
Lightning Strike said: "We may need to stake out the morgues or graveyards where those recently killed gangsters are."

GM Reply: Way back in Issue 43, Strike heard NYPD Detective Archer said, via communicator: "I’m on my way to the city morgue. Reports of a disturbance there and I’m in the neighborhood." -Your sneaky GM

PS: All other OOC requests will be handled in the next ish. Thanks.
Also, with Strike's idea already covered off and/or too late to act on... I see one plan of action identified by the PC's:

-Get onto a roof until Forester can be evac-ed to safety. Then, assuming you are not attacked on the roof...
-Contact CHESS and get info on history of undead activity and any known weaknesses.
-Ask CHESS if maps of Lonely Town catacombs/sewers exist. Get images.
-Re-enter the sewers/catacombs.
-Using maps and Ghost's X-Ray vision to avoid as many of the walking dead as possible, stealthily sneak down to likely location of Morgue's underground stronghold.
-Have Slingshot cave the exit in behind you to trap Morgue in, and his undead army of the damned out.
-Apprehend Morgue, assuming he's there.

Is this correct? Thanks!

Also, Strike: does this plan meet your requirement for Symbiote to duplicate your powers? (BTW, I love that this is a touchy subject. I once had a character with these powers and the other players were always hesitant. It made them feel less unique, I guess.)
Thanks everyone!


I say yes to this plan.
I'm interested in copying Strike's powers for the variety, frankly. Since we don't know if our enemies are more or less vulnerable to electricity (or anything else, for that matter), I figure it doesn't matter what I go in "packing," as long as I'm carrying SOME powers. If anybody can come up with a quick tactical reason why it should be anybody else, I'll listen. Note, BTW, that as I understand it Kairos's powers are magic based, and thus I'd be unable to copy them.


I'm for the stealthy sneaking using maps and Ghost's vision after getting Forester evacuated. I think that we should also see about having some CHESS people get city utilities to close off the sewers to prevent undead from wandering and then we can either have some sort of gas pumped in to then blow them up or, with less damage to infrastructure, divert lots of water into the blocked off areas to sweep the undead away.


Sounds like you have it straight to me.
The only thing that you didn't specifically list but I guess implied was that we'd likely wait to be back to "fighting" strength (ie power points returned) before reentering the tunnels if at all possible.
You might want to check on who was going to take the stimulant before going in (that already hasn't) - Kirk was also going to do that.


Lightning Strike:
OK, although I still think that we should head to the morgues but I will follow the group.


Let's go for it!
PS: I just checked luck points, to see if you allowed for any ways of getting a "second wind". I've seen some interpretations that would allow to recuperate some portion of HP and PP for expanding a luck point.Do you allow it? or maybe some variant?just checking


OOC GM Replies:
Four things:
1) Kairos: You said you are for the sneaky, stealthy, map-using, sewer crawl. And you also said you want to run water or gas through the sewers and close them off (which wouldn't affect the catacombs but would affect the sewers). To be clear, I think you mean that if possible you would have CHESS close off the sewers asap. And then run water/gas through them AFTER Morgue is found and captured?
Let me know. Thanks. (BTW, great idea.)

2) Sentinel: You're right. The plan includes the 35 minute wait so that all Power Points are healed, during which the rooftop activites I described will be handled, barring a second ambush of course.

3) Strike: Let me know if the plan meets your criteria to let Symbiote duplicate your powers, please.
Right now he can only duplicate Clone, Strike or Slingshot. Sentinel said "no." Kairos and Ghost appear to be uncopyable.

4) Slingshot said "Can we use Luck Points to increase our Hit Points or Power Points?"
GM answer: Yes, but only for hit points in this situation, because Luck points can only affect a die roll or event outcome. So players can use Luck Points to boost the stim-shot's healing properties, as if your character had a special reaction to it this one time.
1 Luck Point will double its effect. (So if you were going to get 4 hit points back, now you get 8)
2 Luck Points will quadruple its effect! (So if you were going to get 4 hit points back, now you get 16)
(Disclaimer: Stim-shot effects are based on your Healing rate, found on your character sheet, so you may get more or less than the example given, which was for a healing rate of 2.)
If you've already taken your stim-shot, I will grandfather this special effect in.


I'll use one luck point then.. and thanks for the retro change