A quick update on Children of the Apocalypse - hardcover and softcover proofs are in, and so far everything looks good.
The playtest of Legion of Liberty has begun! In this new setting, it is 1774, and tensions between the American colonies and the Parliament and Crown of Britain are rising. The colonies are strategically important to Britain not only for their economic potential, but also because in North and South America, a small percentage of children are born with superhuman abilities. Since the discovery of the Americas, these superhumans have become an important military asset to the European powers, and most are immediately drafted into their home countries' armies.
Samuel Adams, one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty and the resistance to British oppression, has been assembling young superhumans to keep them away from the British Royal Superhuman Regiment press gangs. He has managed to bring in four young people:
With the trailer-park senior citizen zombies neutralized, Mariana returned to the park manager, to find him dead as a result of her SUV hit and run. The SUV itself suffered only minor damage. The strange skull amulet around the body's neck clearly seemed magical, but investigation of the manager's trailer found only a large pile of empty envelopes from the Social Security Administration. This discovery really pushed the team into thinking the park manager was no great loss. CP and Matt collaborated on the Banish the Darkness ritual to remove the power from the amulet; this left the students with the problem of explaining the large collection of dead bodies. CP hit on the idea of forging a suicide note and torching the manager's body in his truck, which proved successful; the only repercussions from the incident were Brittany from Pizza Barn picking up a nice inheritance, which she planned to use to attend ETU in the fall.
Marco became aware of a pattern of strange incidents involving a college radio talk show host. Wes, the host of "Shock Therapy", was making outrageous suggestions to students about how to handle their problems - suggestions that seemed to be followed regularly. After hearing about an assault prompted by the show, the team agreed to investigate. Digging into Wes's background determined that he was generally considered a nice guy on campus; his producer, Dave, confirmed the idea, and also mentioned that he didn't like working with the previous host, Hannah. The team split up - Ryo and Mariana went to check out Hannah, while the others planned to attend that evening's broadcast of "Shock Therapy". Mariana plied Hannah with liquor, and got her to confess to casting rituals on Wes, first to curse his recording booth, and soon to unleash a demon on him. Mariana took her back to her dorm room and kept drinking until Hannah passed out, then searched the room, finding her spell book and stealing it.
Meanwhile, Troy noticed an aura of evil around the microphone Wes was using, and CP and Matt used their banish the darkness ritual to destroy it. As soon as they did, Wes's demeanor returned to normal, and his charisma on-air vanished. Later in the week, Wes's show was canceled; Hannah decided to both ask Mariana out to dinner and to apply for her old job back. Meanwhile, sophomore year finals were approaching...
After finishing midterms, the sophomores were celebrating at the Pizza Barn when one of the servers began flirting with Troy. The server, Brittany, said she'd overheard the team talking about the weird stuff they investigate, and asked if they'd look into something odd that happened to her when visiting her Memaw at the Quiet Rest Villas. When she arrived, she found her grandmother apparently dead on the floor, and the manager of the trailer park kneeling over her. The manager asked her to call 911 and flag down the ambulance at the gate; when she returned, however, Memaw was peacefully gardening. The manager explained that she had fallen while trying to unclog the toilet, but Brittany said that Memaw hasn't been the same since, and actually told her never to visit again. The group agreed to investigate.
The Quiet Rest Villas were a cluster of old FEMA trailers repurposed as a retirement village. Upon entering, the group noticed a number of loudspeakers mounted on posts throughout the village; CP also caught the fact that almost none of the air conditioners were running on a hot, muggy spring day. The residents seemed all to be in their trailers watching TV. Memaw's trailer turned out to be unlocked, and the group entered, seeing her sitting watching TV and not moving. Their efforts to attract her attention were in vain, and when Matt touched her she seemed to be room temperature. Troy, CP, Marco and Matt carried her outside while Mariana called 911 and Ryo investigated a neighboring trailer. The sounds of approaching sirens abruptly stopped, and did not resume; Mariana decided to check out the gate, and drove down to discover the park manager in the process of sending the ambulance away. Seeing her, he grabbed a walkie talkie and yelled "Intruders, get 'em", echoed by the loudspeakers throughout the park.
Geriatric zombies erupted from most of the trailers; in Ryo's trailer, an elderly couple tried to kill him, while Memaw attacked CP and more converged on the group. The park manager attacked Mariana with a tire iron, but didn't manage to connect before she pulled away, plowing over several zombies with her SUV. Matt managed to grapple MeMaw while CP and Marco engaged with fists and baseball bat, supported by Troy's wrist rocket. Ryo dispatched his two zombies fairly quickly, and Mariana ran down the park manager, killing him. She grabbed his walkie talkie and told the zombies to stand down, which they fortunately did. Checking out the body, she noticed a weird amulet around its neck...
With no sign of ghosts in the theater, CP decided it was time to go hunt down a severed human finger for his new ritual. He managed to talk his way into the ETU cadaver lab, only to discover that the one body that was supposed to be stored there was missing. However, Troy spotted a scrap of paper on the floor that listed a number of ritual components, including a severed finger and fresh human lungs. All except the lungs were crossed off, and a note next to that last entry mentioned leaving a cooler at a gravestone. The team traced the gravestone to Pinebox Memorial Cemetary, the site of a recent interment. According to the note, the person seeking the lungs would be there at Wednesday moonrise. While visiting the cemetary, the group was unnerved to see bark flaking off a tree to reveal human skin, which then hardened back into bark.
CP returned to rehearsal, only to have an experience of extreme cold pass over him, while Marco, monitoring the team's ghost hunting gear in the audience, saw a sudden spike. CP was unable to follow up on the lead at that evening's rehearsal, not being able to trace the source of the feeling.
Wednesday night saw the investigators back at the cemetary, setting up to surprise the body thief, when a voice cried out for help. CP investigated, discovering a disheveled young woman who claimed to have been drugged and abandoned in the cemetery as a sorority hazing ritual. She also said a man had attacked her, which the group assumed was the body thief. Marco took her back to Mariana's SUV while the others set up to catch the thief.
After 20 minutes, however, no thief was forthcoming, and the group returned to the car. As soon as they headed back to campus, however, the young woman attacked CP, stabbing at him with a knife and demanding he give her his "stash". Thanks to some quick work by Marco, the team subdued the young woman, and determined that she had ritual books and was trying to raise the dead. She had left the note for the team as a trap to lure them in. The investigators ransacked her dorm room, finding a cooler of severed fingers and the ritual book, and then called in the police to take the woman for psychiatric help.
At CP's next rehearsal, ghostly fingers clutched his shoulders, and a voice whispered "For Darla". The ghost hands choked CP, but released him after moderate injury. Looking up, CP saw a dead man hanging from the ceiling and pointing at the stage.
A bit of Troy's sleuthing determined that Darla, the ghost (Joe), and the new drama professor had been in a play together in the 1970s. Joe had committed suicide, leading the professor to take on the lead role. Just days later, however, a lighting stack collapsed on the couple, killing Darla and injuring the future professor. The team, aided by Joe's ghost, confronted the professor, who eventually cracked and confessed to murdering Joe to get the part and Darla.