The Legion returns from France to Rhode Island, where Major General John Sullivan is preparing to assault the British stronghold of Newport. Sullivan is awaiting a covert message from the French which should be smuggled in via Newport, but the courier, Reuben Sacker has disappeared. He was scheduled to arrive in Newport two days ago aboard the merchant sloop Aunt Bess. General Sullivan asks Godot, Francis, and Jacoby to infiltrate Newport and find the message and the messenger; he holds Suzanna in reserve in case the British make an assault on his fortifications.
Francis and Jacoby's skill with small boats allows them to reach the island of Aquidneck unobserved, and the trio sneaks into town, dodging redcoats and inquiring about Sacker. An hour or so on the streets leads them to the White Horse Tavern, and some ale bought for local fishermen reveals that Sacker was seen leaving the tavern with a non-descript but well-dressed man. Without much more to go on, the heroes find lodgings in an inn in the more prosperous part of Newport.
As Francis enjoys a breakfast of oatmeal, an attractive woman approaches him and subtly questions him about his allegiances. She hints that she has information about Sacker, and Francis opts to bring Godot and Jacoby into the conversation. When Jacoby identifies himself as "The Boston Lobsterman", she recognizes them as Legionnaires and draws a map for them on the table in spilled ale. The map indicates a house that the woman, Damaris, indicates would be wise for them to visit. Godot mindwipes Damaris, leaving her with the impression that she gave them the information without identifying themselves.
After dark, the Legion continues their successful and stealthy transit through Newport, arriving at what appears to be an abandoned house on the outskirts of the town. They find the door unlocked, but when they enter, they hear the sound of a pistol being cocked and a voice asking them how they convinced Damaris to give up his location. The man identifies himself as Barnabas Mabbet, and says he has Sacker tied up in the cellar. Mabbet says he is an Order operative who wants to defect. He offers up Sacker and his message as well as his own knowledge of Order workings if the group will protect him. Just as Godot agrees, a twig snaps outside, and an unseen force attempts to take control of Francis's mind.
Order henchmen crash through the windows to engage the heroes, although one is quickly put down by Jacoby's claws. Francis is controlled by an unknown superhuman outside and opens the door for him, but then manages to shake off the control before he can attack one of his comrades. A melee ensues, with the henchmen firing pistols and Jacoby engaging the enemy super. The superhuman's powers prove inadequate to damage Jacoby, but one of the henchmen shoots and badly injures Mabbet. The super flees, as do the three surviving henchmen, and Francis is able to patch up Mabbet enough for them to make their escape.
Mabbet proves a useful source of information, identifying several superhumans in the employ of the Order, including at least one that they heroes have yet to encounter.
More Malifaux goodness this Friday with the LaCroix crew, featuring heavy hitters Ophelia and Francois LaCroix (plus gremlin mooning).
Recently, the Wild Die podcast reviewed the Children of the Apocalypse setting book. I thoroughly enjoyed the review (presented below), and thought that the Wild Die crew had some great ideas for adventures. The result is the new Pay-What-You-Want adventure Disks of Chaos, which follows the adventures of Sir Dave ("It's pronounced dah-VEY") Bearington as he attempts to secure these powerful artifacts (actually ancient DVDs) against the opposition of the heroes. Enjoy!
With the real George Washington on his way back to the colonies, the Legion heads for Paris to assist Benjamin Franklin in negotiating for an alliance with the French crown. Louis the XVI is wavering in the decision to go to war, and Franklin believes that the presence of the Legion, led by a French Canadian, will help sway the decision. Franklin greets the heroes with enthusiasm and provides them with new clothes and accommodations at Versailles in preparation for their presentation to the king.
The following day Franklin summons the Legion to a private conference. With him is Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes, Louis XVI’s foreign minister. Gravier informs them that his wife and three children are missing, having disappeared from his mansion in Paris the previous night. He received a message at Versailles saying that if he did not convince the king to abandon any idea of alliance with the colonists, he would never see his children again. Franklin asks the Legion to see if they can track down and rescue Gravier's family. Gravier provides a letter of introduction to the major-domo at his house, as well as a copy of the ransom letter he received, and gives the heroes a carriage with a coachman and footman to return them to Paris.
Enroute to Gravier's home, Godot questions the coachman and footman about their service to Gravier, but finds nothing surprising. When they arrive, Godot asks to search the wine cellar, while Francis examines the back gardens. Suzanna shapeshifts into a bloodhound to examine the house, accompanied by Jacoby. Jacoby and Suzanna find signs of disturbance in both the childrens' rooms and the wife's, and Suzanna detects a number of male human scents in the area that do not match up with the household staff, as well as a scent she recognizes but cannot quite place.
Meanwhile, Godot uses his mind-wipe powers to pilfer two vintage wines from the major-domo, concealing them for later sale. Francis discovers disturbed greenery on the back wall of the garden, suggesting someone climbed the wall; he does so as well, finding a small, locked garden gate and footprints from a child's shoe in the mud of the alley. Suzanna's nose confirms this is the trail of the abductors, and she follows it through Paris to a Left Bank tenement, seemingly unoccupied.
To provide the team with a stealthy approach, Suzanna transforms all four into rats, allowing Jacoby to activate his armor and claws and Francis his speed and deflection first. The four rats (one very oddly shaped) sneak into the tenement and determine that the first, third, and fourth floors are empty; on the second, however, four thugs guard the wife and children in one room, four more are sleeping in another, and two thugs and Kahwihta are awake in a third.
The team confers with a combination of gestures and written notes and comes up with a plan. Jacoby will shift back into human form with Suzanna's help in the room with the sleepers and kill them, then hold the hall. The other two will shift into human form in the room with the hostages and engage the thugs while Suzanna chews through the wife's bonds.
Jacoby succeeds in killing three of the sleepers before the fourth awakes, and quickly finishes him as well. With the hostages, Godot uses his confusion power to strike all four thugs and Francis knifes one of them, taking him down. Francis and Godot continue to engage with the other thugs while Suzanna frees the wife and then, with her help, the children.
In the hall, Jacoby engages with Kahwihta and her two minions, trading heavy blows without immediate result. The minions fire pistols and Kahwihta her musket, alerting the others to her plight. Suzanna shifts into wolf form to provide cover for the hostages as Francis kills another, and Godot runs into the hall in time to see Jacoby go down under a massive strike from a minion's club and Kahwihta multiply into a second body. Godot hits the enemy with his confusion power as Francis finishes off the thugs in the room (after accidentally knifing Suzanna), and Suzanna shifts to grizzly bear form. The Kahwihtas flee to the first floor and set the tenement on fire, but the ever-prepared Francis has a length of rope with him, allowing everyone to escape unharmed.
With his family restored, Gravier convinces Louis to back the colonial rebellion, and the heroes set sail for home, followed soon after by a French armada.
If you like the idea of the Secret Avengers and love conspiracy theories, Titan Effect (by Knight Errant Media) might be the Savage setting for you! Titan Effect is a modern-era covert operations setting with superpowered agents throwing down for control of the future of humanity. I backed the Kickstarter and received the final setting PDF recently, so let's dive in:
The PDF is 140 pages at 7"x10" (graphic novel format). It begins with a grayscale comic that sets the scene of Afghani fighters with AK-47s trying and failing to fight off werebeasts. From there, the book provides a solid overview of the world, including the presence of psychic powers and bio-engineered super soldiers, as well as the various covert factions contending behind the scenes for power. PCs by default are members of SPEAR, an independent covert ops agency that fights to prevent chaos and preserve peace. Rival agencies include the Olympians, a sinister cabal of eugenicists and their corporate/military arm, ARES Corporation; The Directorate, a group of Russian psychics trying to restore the Soviet Union; TYPHON, a post-human terror group; and the Order of the Holy Mystery, a secret and ancient branch of the Roman Catholic Church.
Character creation is fairly standard for Savage Worlds, but does require use of the Super Powers companion. One thing I would have liked to have seen was an option to play a non-powered character - this could be similar to the MARS backgrounds in Savage RIFTS where non-supers start with more experience to compensate. PCs have certain mandatory skills from basic training, and the setting provides several new Hindrances and Edges. One of my favorite of the latter is CQB (for Close Quarters Battle), which allows use of submachineguns, assault rifles, and shotguns in close combat. This Edge fits thematically with the idea of special ops teams breaching enemy strongholds and moving in fast and hard a la the SAS or Delta Force. In the Skills section, Titan Effect uses the Athletics and Thievery skill combination from the Pinnacle Flash Gordon setting.
The setting also provides some new Powers for use with the Super Powers Companion rules, as well as a revised method for equipment selection based on the characters' seniority in SPEAR. The latter is an excellent method for representing a combination of a powerful sponsoring organization and realistic resource constraints. Multiple new weapons are provided in the gear section, maybe more than are strictly necessary, as many differ only in small ways from each other; however, the Tom-Clancey-esque flavor of the setting probably attracts players who would care about the minutia of firearms. Some nice espionage gear and modern armor rounds out the gear section.
Titan Effect uses several setting rules from both the Core Book and the Super Powers companion; making the companion mandatory isn't an issue for me, but may be for some players. The Setting Rules also include some basic rules for hacking and demolitions, as well as a "Psychic Surge" rule allowing characters to trade Fatigue for improvements to their superpowers. Certain powers that don't fit the theme of the setting (like Super Sorcery) are banned, and the remainder are grouped into four families - characters can only take powers from one family (or two with an Edge).
In the GM section, the book includes a more detailed alternate history of the world and a breakdown of the structure and personnel of SPEAR. Each rival organization also gets a lengthy background section, including details of how they relate to the others. This section taps into a LOT of conspiracy theories, so if you know who the Trilateral Commission, Opus Dei, and the Bilderburg group are, you'll have fun with this alternative take on them. The GM section also includes optional rules for things like psychic dampers that have the potential to be game-breaking, and therefore should definitely be used in moderation and for maximum effect.
A lengthy part of the GM section covers the various steps of a SPEAR mission, from briefing through kitting out to debriefing afterwards. Along with this description comes a really nice mission generator and a set of story hooks that should allow any GM with a modicum of experience to put together an adventure in short order.
The "Watch List" provides a bestiary of opponents both mundane and superhuman, with most of the key players in the various factions detailed out with statistics. One thing that I would like to have seen was more "middle manager" level characters in the rival groups, since those characters are more appropriate opponents for less-experienced PCs. The description of the key characters in the Watch List is excellent.
One thing that unfortunately didn't make the Kickstarter cut for Titan Effect is a Plot Point campaign, although there are certainly plenty of hooks that could form the basis for a long term story. Overall, I can definitely see the appeal of Titan Effect, and hope that Knight Errant comes out with more supporting material over the next few years.