Monday, April 30, 2012

Prometheus Institute Ep 1.5 – Pennville

Prometheus Institute Ep 1.5 – Pennville

This session was very different from the others in the game. It took the form of a flashback into the late 1980s (1989 to be precise) and formed the revelation of what, exactly, the Pennville Incident was and why Tempest went rogue (amongst other things). It was, essentially, a good bit of campaign exposition turned into a game session. The conceit was that the players knew that certain truths had to occur – something happened at Pennville, Tempest did go rogue, certain characters had to survive etc. – but beyond that, the gloves were off. This included ‘the secret’ that has been eluding everyone since the start of the game. I didn’t even know what it was. That was left in the hands of the players.

So, our cast of characters was:
Professor Thorne (played by the player of Joshua Thorne) – genius, visionary and creator of gods
Tempest (played by the player of Seth Adams) – the most powerful woman in the world
Weapon Two (played by the player of Project Ares) – newly spawned clone super soldier
The Lone Gunman (played by the player of Thomas) – conspiracy theorist extraordinaire

The first scene was a recap of the end of the previous game, with The Lone Gunmen telling Thomas, as he kneels in a square in Jo’burg surrounded by a guard of power-armoured Project Ares clones, that this all started in Pennville…

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey

Pennville is a small town in New Mexico, next to Thorne’s experimental area – jovially dubbed ‘Area 50’ by the locals. Think the town that gets trashed in ‘Thor’? We start the game with Tempest having a drink in a dirty bar, the Gunman driving into the town in his battered old dodge dragging his silver trailer, Weapon Two moving towards the town in a green bubbling tube in the back of a secured lorry with a military guard and Professor Thorne in his underground base doing experiments

Tempest puts some music on the juke box and is immediately chatted up by two sweaty fat truckers. She uses her superspeed to just keep out of their reach but they are persistent in their advances and begin to become quite abusive. Before she has to resort to violence, a cowboy enters the bar and flashing a badge and gun at his hip sees off the truckers. He has a small girl with him. He introduces himself as Jason Meyer and his daughter Jessica (known to us as Agent Orange and Jessie Meyer, Joshua’s fiancĂ©). He chats with Tempest, joking with her that his job is as an exterminator – its unclear whether he is being serious or not…

Weapon Two is unloaded and unpacked into the Area 50 underground base. He is a perfect physical specimen, cloned by Prof Thorne from Tempest’s DNA. He stands, naked, dripping in green goo and is rubbed down and oiled, given some black lyrca shorts for modesty. Thorne comes and inspects him and then sets him loose on some tests to see how he operates. Weapon Two proceeds to beat seven colours of crap out of multiple soldiers. At the same time Tempest arrives and furiously berates Thorne for daring to bring that abomination into the base! She is the greatest weapon the USA has ever had and why did they need … this. Weapon Two asks for more soldiers to beat and Thorne suggests that Tempest should spar with his newest creation. Tempest powers up her plasma powers – setting off alarms in the base and in Pennville as a security precaution – and the two supers battle, first with fists, then with slabs of concrete and then with plasma bursts. In the end Weapon Two beats Tempest, shocking her to the core as she realises that she is not power incarnate and is instead beatable! At the end of the fight, the FBI agent who brought Weapon Two to the base demands to speak with Thorne. Thorne is livid as he set Tempest against Weapon Two to prove that his original creation was the better one, and she lost!

Back in Pennville, the Lone Gunman meets with his lover, Dr Thorne (Professor Thorne’s wife) and over dinner they discuss the matter at hand – what is the reason for the activation of Weapon Two and the inevitable order to use the genetic trigger to close down the Prometheans as the rest of the world embraces Promethean disarmament. The Gunman also accesses his man on the inside of the Area 50 base and receives a video taping of the battle between Tempest and Weapon Two.
The FBI agent, Agent Cantebury, orders Professor Thorne to use the genetic trigger to close down Tempest, as the first decommissioning of the USA’s prometheans. Thorne was less than impressed and the two argued. Cantebury laid it on the line – Tempest is closed down or Thorne goes to jail as a traitor! Joshua sits, aged 5, in the corner of the room and plays with the computer and equipment he made himself…

Thorne summons Tempest and starts off still angry about her loss to Weapon Two. Thorne confronts Tempest and tries to convince her that it is in her best interests to surrender to the government programme and be depowered. Tempest does not take this easily and shakes Thorne around a bit in a fit of fury. Thorne tries to convince her that she absolutely must stand down but with her belief in Thorne and the government shaken to the core, Tempest flees the base and heads into Pennville. In the corner of the room, Joshua has been experimenting and he shows his father that he has created an antidote to the genetic trigger. He can neutralise it. Thorne is not pleased by this, rather he is intimidated that his five year old genius son can out-think him and sends him to bed!

Agent Cantebury goes to Weapon Two and hands him a titanium tipped cestus embedded with an injector filled with the genetic trigger. He orders him to neutralise Tempest … and if he cannot neutralise her, kill her.

Tempest flees to the bar where this time she is seen by the Lone Gunman. They know of each other and they sit and drink. The Gunman reveals the nature of Weapon Two as part of a wider government cloning scheme to remove the Prometheans. Tempest is livid and is ready to head off to the Factor II base (where Weapon Two was made) and destroy it when the police and local army reserves arrive to bring her in. Surrounding the bar they demand she comes quietly … which amazingly she does! The Gunman is joined by Agent Orange who comments that he has just lit the blue touchpaper. Orange is also appraised of the situation and complains that he has been put out of a job (as he is the promethean with the power draining power!). The gunman also explains that they cannot let Thorne close down the Prometheans … but he does not reveal why. They decide to team up and head towards the base in Orange’s car, with Jessie asleep in the back seat.

Professor Thorne confronts his wife, Dr Thorne about her activities and her affair with … someone. He harasses her until she admits that she has been sleeping with ‘that reporter that follows you everywhere’ (i.e. the Lone Gunman). Thorne is generally abusive to her after she accuses him of caring more about his creations than his son, slapping her once and she flees the scene, vowing revenge. (This sounds like quite a trite scene, but it was very powerful and reminiscent of 80s dramas like Dallas! ‘What’s he ever done for you that I haven’t?’,’ He makes me feel like a woman!’ etc.)

Professor Thorne marches to Weapon Two and orders him directly to kill the Lone Gunman!

Cut scene to Dr Thorne leaning over a sleeping Joshua and injecting him with the Prometheus trigger, turning him into a promethean. Her dreams of marriage have been shattered by her husbands constant arrogance and hubris. She will show him that her ideals of giving the world the power of the gods, not just weapons, can live on in their son.

Tempest arrives with the police and army and seeks some level of conciliation with Professor Thorne. She asks him to tell her that everything will be OK after the treatment. He tells her she will be fine. She tells him that ‘after today, nothing will ever be the same again’ and then proceeds to incinerate a handful of army and police officers with her plasma powers.

Alarms sound in the base and Pennville and the Lone Gunman and Agent Orange agree to put their foot down!

Weapon Two rushes to attack the furious Tempest and engages her as she moves to destroy the labs in Area 50. They fight again, but this time Tempest is not as focused as before. The Gunman and Orange arrive and Orange intervenes, using his powers to ‘shut down’ Weapon Two but he is scuppered when Agent Cantebury orders his men to open fire on anything and everything! Weapon Two then gains the edge and plunges his spiked hand into Tempest, injecting her with it’s payload. However, instead of losing her powers, she begins to overload, spewing plasma energy around her and obviously about to go nova!

Orange tells the Gunman to get Jessie out of here! Weapon Two seeks to stop him, as he is still under orders to kill him. He shoots out the engine block, just as the car gets outside and confronts the Gunman. The Gunman avoids being executed by revealing that if he dies his secret dies with him. And what is that secret? Well, that was left to the players to decide – and they decided that the mumblings of the late Project Ares #56 before he died – that they had all come from the stars – was true. The Prometheans were borne from alien technology, gathered at Area 51 and the Gunman knew that the aliens were coming! Weapon Two was floored by this information – the revelation giving his tabula rasa existence some meaning, and with the Gunman’s promise that he would help him find the aliens amongst the stars ringing in his ears the pair leave the base with Jessie in tow!

Meanwhile Professor Thorne tries vainly to persuade Tempest to allow him to stop her from exploding, but he tries anyway and begins to reverse the process … only for Agent Cantebury to shoot him across the forehead and knock him out. As she overpowers, Tempest confronts Cantebury and he reveals that he put the overpower serum in the gauntlet because the world had to know that the Prometheans were too dangerous to be kept active. Sacrificing himself and Pennville would mean that the USA, through the Weapon Two project at Factor II, would have the only Prometheans on the planet and their dominance would be guaranteed! He has won and then his head explodes as Agent Orange shoots him.

Tempest tells Orange to get Thorne out of here, but Orange pulls him closer and tells her to just let go. He believes in her and what she believes in and he will look out for her. Using his neutralising powers, he throws up a power dampening shield around himself and Thorne and Tempest explodes.

Dr Thorne is vapourised as she stands over her son. Joshua is not vapourised however as his new power kicks in unconsciously and he teleports away. Area 50 and Pennville are destroyed in the explosion. It’s huge and cataclysmic but when the dust settles, Agent Orange and Professor Thorne are safe in the epicentre and Tempest is on her knees, clutching her stomach. Something has changed… has the explosion triggered some latent alien DNA? Is she pregnant?

And that’s where we left it, except for a wrap up of the consequences of the session.

Professor Thorne is taken back to civilisation and proceeds to take up the government order to decommission the Prometheans, establishing the Prometheus Institute to look after those that remain. He may even notice that his wife is dead. May.

The seeds of the rivalry between Joshua and his father have been sewn and now we know where Joshua got his powers from. We assumed it was his father, but it was in fact his dead mother.

Jessie is reconciled with her father, Agent Orange, but not before she has spent time with her two new ‘Uncles’ – explaining away Jessie’s ‘Secret Agent Brat’ distinction.
Agent Orange’s efforts to save Thorne allow him to become his primary security consultant whilst also maintaining contact with Tempest

The Lone Gunman works in the shadows, looking for evidence that the aliens are coming.

Weapon Two works along official lines, eventually becoming The Man in the Government (!) – his alliance with the Lone Gunman as strong as ever. He oversees the rebranding of Factor II into BioDynamics and the eventual program of supersoldiers which will be Project Ares. Officially, they are the government’s weapon against the Prometheans, but the Man in the Government knows they will have another role – against the alien invasion when it happens. He cannot leave his hatred of Tempest behind though and this is what drives him to frame her son as a terrorist and prior to that, send him to kill her!

Tempest, of course, goes on to set up the organisation of renegade Prometheans, fighting against the governments that would crush her powers and the person who would do this – Professor Thorne.

And in the skies, far off, the aliens forseen by the Lone Gunmen begin to move to recover their children and punish those that would harm them… but that, gentle reader, is Act 2.