[Danger Patrol] Zombie Kong and the Lightning Zombies

edited August 2009 in Story Games
DANGER PATROL ALPHA URGENT MESSAGE *stop* NEW EMPIRE MONUMENT SKYDOCK IS UNDER ATTACK *stop* ZOMBIE KONG AND A HORDE OF LIGHTNING ZOMBIES ARE SCALING IT EVEN NOW *stop* YOUR SERVICE IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO KEEP ROCKET CITY SAFE ONCE AGAIN *full stop*

I like writing down my conflicts and placing them on the table. It feels tangible and the act of writing them out just helps flesh out the scene's framing. It is also neat to be able to take home the conflicts in neat piles, each pile a scene's worth of conflicts.

The first scene started with them flying a Hawk 5000 into the midst of the New Empire Monument Skydock (the locals call it the N.E.M.S.D.). The conflicts are as follows:

The NEMSD will collapse due to Zombie Kong's eldritch lightning emissions (countdown, 2).

When Zombie Kong was done in, I just took this conflict off of the table when I should have let the energies by their own beast. Ah well, live and learn.

Zombie Kong!

A careful combination of Doc Cannon's sharp shooting and Mr. Vanish's daredevil driving did the big undead ape in.

Lightning Zombies scaling the building.

They joined Kong in doom. I threw them in with him as his minions.

Lightning Zombies on the docks, about to devour a little girl.

Scarlet Blood swooped in and saved the girl along with her stuffed bear (a teddy bear in the shape of an Albino Barsoom Bear to be exact).

Lightning Zombies crawling on Air Yachts

FLAT! Especially after the previous batch attempting to devour a little girl!

And a conflict created due to the rolling, only one because I didn't grok the conflict system in the first conflict:

Careening towards Mars...gravity strikes!

When Zombie Kong landed on the hood of the Hawks 5000 it was only Doctor Cannon's fast thinking and gadgetry that saved him and Mr. Vanish from a crashing doom.

Little Girl: Can I be like you when I grow up?

Scarlet Blood: Yes, you can...if you stay in school.

Things to think about:

Conflicts that inherently threaten something other than just the PC's generate real weight and bad guys stumbling around are just kind of flat. I will notice this again and again tonight.

Interlude

I asked them each to say where they were when, back on pre-Atomic Destruction Earth, King Kong fell from the Empire State Building and was killed. The responses did not generate the kind of feedback I needed and I ran the next scenes out of little things they said during chargen and when introducing their characters.

I should have just done Last Time on...Danger Patrol, rather than trying to get fancy and tying them all to Zombie Kong. I think Last Time on...Danger Patrol would have been more fruitful.

Speaking of which, the characters are:

Dr. Thaddeus Cannon a.k.a. Doc Cannon, two-fisted professor: inventor of, among other things, the Cannon Calisthenic Regimen, an academy drop-out who is known for "taking science by the throat."

Agent Scarlet Blood, psychic agent: mysterious secret agent who changed her name so none would know of her shameful family, the prominent Crimson Republic clan whose name is simply - Red.

Mr. Vanish the Fantastic, mystic daredevil: when his on-stage dealings with the Prestidigitation Guild turned ugly, Mr. Vanish turned to the Danger Patrol for the thrills he craved, turning his love of the mysterious into heroism.

Comments

  • The next scene was them returning to Mr. Vanish's house, the Vanishing Manor where the following conflicts awaited:

    Crooked Rocket City Cops

    Done in through a conflict with Agent Blood and Mr. Vanish but not before their ray gun blasts set the Manor on Fire. As I got a grip on the conflict rules and realized how they worked, one conflict begat another. Ah, I gots it now.

    The Butler needs help; he's been shot!

    Girard, the Saturnian mutant ended up dying. I should have put a timer on this conflict, just like a bomb.

    A Null Bomb is set on the manor's pillar/island foundation

    Vanishing Manor, we decided, was built in a wind canal surrounded by mists, the explosion of this bomb would have destroyed the manor entirely. Agent Blood flew down to the bomb and disconnected it, recognizing it as her family's make of munitions.

    Mysterious Burglar in the Manor who turns out to be the Undead Shadow!!

    Mr. Vanish's chlidhood hero has been brought back as a cunning undead creature, stealing the famous magician's piece of King Kong collected when he first fell on pre-Atomic Earth (as established during the prelude).

    The Undead Shadow and Mr. Vanish engage in a brutal conflict, and eventually the magician's turbo pistol is used to spray the undead beast's guts all over the fire, destroying the creature and putting out the flames that threatened his house.

    Saturnian Mind Meld

    This conflict grew from Girard being shot, as Doc Cannon was drawn in to a conflict on his own due to excessive danger. He manged to resist the siren call of the Saturnian afterlife and return to Rocket City where there was work to be done.

    Danger Dice: We made really cool use for this. We'd establish shit about each other's characters.

    When JJ's Mr. Vanish was squaring off against The Shadow, someone offered, "You were a big fan of his as a kid."

    When Pete's Doc Cannon was caught in the netherworld of the Saturnian Mind Meld I tossed out that the good doctor was susceptible because his 2nd wife had melded with him when she died in his arms years ago.

    If someone didn't like the addition they could just turn the danger die down but none of us ever, ever did. Using Danger Dice to add to the scenes was really awesome and led to really fun conflicts.

    Next time on...Danger Patrol:

    The adventure continues as the Crimson Republic's own Red family rears its ugly head and mysteries raised by Zombie Kong and Undead Shadow are answered.

    Saturnian Super Soldiers, Frankenstien Doc Savage, and the evil communist witch-science of Ivanna Red, mother of the republic.
  • FIERCE!

    Judd, was this your first time playing DP?
  • I'm glad you got to resurrect Zombie Kong.
  • Overall, I felt this game rocked hard! Playing Doc Cannon was nifty. I was able to put into play a lot of obscure knowledge type shit. I fashioned Doc Cannon on Doctor Jonas Venture Sr. from the "Venture Brothers" cartoon series.

    I see the problems that Judd had from the first interlude from the GM's POV. But, I think some good stuff was established then also. We discovered that Agent Blood is the youngest member of the team. We discovered that Mr. Vanish the Fantastic began his "darker" rituals around the time that the original Kong fell off the Empire State Building. His "salvaged" piece of Kong came into play later. However, the big clincher that sold the first interlude for me was that it gave us (the players) the feeling that this was our first episode. That was cool! I liked that.

    SPOILER ALERT!

    I know that Judd hasn't gotten to this yet, but I think the way this ended was a perfect way to wrap up a "serialized epic." OK, I was going to spoil it, but I like to read what Judd has to write. I'll hold off.
  • Posted By: Matt WilsonFIERCE!

    Judd, was this your first time playing DP?
    Yup, first time.
    Posted By: Bill_WhiteI'm glad you got to resurrect Zombie Kong.
    Yeah, I like Zombie Kong as a pulp threat.
  • I described the characters sitting down to eat dinner in the Vanishing Manor and all of them being unable to eat because of the mysteries afoot, gnawing at them. All at once they threw down their utensils, suited up and went out into Rocket City to investigate on their own.

    I threw down the following questions as conflicts:
    • How were these undead beasts created?
      Why did the Prestidigitation Guild have Girard shot?
      Why did they break into the Vanishing Manor?
      How are the Red Family connected into all of this?

    Pursuit of these questions led to the following conflicts:
    • Neptunian Agents on your tail.
      Fedor Red is on your tail.
      Wild jet pack causing fire!
      The Vanishing Manor is burning down!
      Wraith of the Shadow is haunting the Manor!
    By the end of these conflicts we had a suitably vague idea of what was going on and honestly, I don't at all remember the logic behind it all but it worked out and led to the players capturing Scarlet's brother, the Jet-pack ace, Fedor Red. They interrogated Fedor during the in-between scenes and this led to the final set of conflicts.

    More on this later...
  • Zombie Kong!!! Fantastic. Also, it's nice to see Fedor getting some work.
    Posted By: JuddConflicts that inherently threaten something other than just the PC's generate real weight and bad guys stumbling around are just kind of flat.
    This is one reason I called them "Threats" and not "Conflicts." I think it's very important to cast the opposition as a tangible threat not just a problem to solve.

    I really like how you introduced questions as a bridge into the mystery/investigation phase of the game. I'm thinking a lot about how to facilitate that part of play, and your method is giving me ideas.

    Looking forward to the next installment....
  • Posted By: Judd
    I threw down the following questions as conflicts:


    How were these undead beasts created?
    Why did the Prestidigitation Guild have Girard shot?
    Why did they break into the Vanishing Manor?
    How are the Red Family connected into all of this?

    I'm scratching my head a little on this:
    How did this work mechanically?
    Did you put the conflicts on the table as threats?
    How did resolving them lead to the question posed being answered?
  • Darren,

    Yes, the questions were threats.

    The conflicts represented the character's investigations into answering those questions.

    Does that make sense?
  • Posted By: JuddDarren,

    Yes, the questions were threats.

    The conflicts represented the character's investigations into answering those questions.

    Does that make sense?
    So if one of these threats generated danger, what did it do? What level of threat were they. It would be interesting to have more detail as to how these type of threats worked. I can see how you use Detective or Agent trait to wear them down, but can't see how they 'hit back' at you.

    Thanks.
  • Judd, I'd like to see one of those conflicts broken down into steps showing what sorts of things the player said and the GM said.

    I understand the basic concept, but I'm not grasping how the question is answered through the conflict, when neither player nor GM know the answer at the time the conflict is thrown down.
  • edited August 2009
    Posted By: demiurgeastarothJudd, I'd like to see one of those conflicts broken down into steps showing what sorts of things the player said and the GM said.

    I understand the basic concept, but I'm not grasping how the question is answered through the conflict, when neither player nor GM know the answer at the time the conflict is thrown down.
    I don't have time for a blow by blow.

    I narrated a scene where they were all eating dinner in the Vanshing Manor but were restless with all of these questions looming and with that I threw questions onto the table.

    People put their character's index card on the question that interested them and as they rolled I asked what they were doing to investigate. The danger generated from their investigations were things that went wrong or things that came out to keep the answers hidden.

    By the end of the rolls the questions were answered but Dr. Cannon had Neptunian Agents on his trail and Scarlet was being followed by her brother, Fedor Red, Crimson Republic Jetpack Ace.

    One question was left unanswered and I just took that one off the table. If I could go back, I would have put each answer on the table with a countdown of 1 on it and if anyone left a question unanswered or didn't spend considerable resources to answer one question in a hurry and then jump to the other question, it would have been left unsolved.

    Make more sense?

    I left the conflicts for the final stage of the game at home. I'll post it up later. It involves a Frankenstien Doc Savage and a Crimson Republic citadel in the clouds above Rocket City, using undead versions of earth's pulp heroes to destroy the capitalist pigs' hearts through their beloved icons.
  • edited August 2009
    Posted By: JuddIf I could go back, I would have put each answer on the table with a countdown of 1 on it and if anyone left a question unanswered or didn't spend considerable resources to answer one question in a hurry and then jump to the other question, it would have been left unsolved.
    This is really cool, along with the whole concept of Threats posed as questions. They can prioritize which questions are important to them, and it is all obvious and up front which mysteries may go unsolved for now before all hell breaks loose and they're jumped by the next group of ninjas.
  • The following is a response written by Witt, a third player in the game:

    I really enjoyed the question/detective encounter when we played it. I remember a bit more of the blow by blow than Judd.

    As we left to go investigate, first my character Agent Scarlet Blood (aka Olenya Red) looked into the "How are the Red Family connected into all of this?" Using her Agent attribute with her disguise kit to impersonate a Crimson Republic Agent she was able to find out why a bomb made by the Red family had been sold to the Prestidigitation Guild. The dangers I remember were "impersonating a CE agent" and "there are other CE agents in town". The result was 3 or 4 successes and 3 or 4 danger.

    I got to narrate the answer: "The Prestidigitation Guild is a front for the Crimson Republic!" And a new threat was generated: "Crimson Republic Agent on your trail!"

    Next Dr. Cannon investigated the question: "How were these undead beasts created?" He broke into the Academy and took a part of Zombie Kong to investigate what was animating the dead. He rolled Professor skill and added a number of bonus dice, the dangers included "Crazy theories like this are why you were kicked out of the Academy" and "Breaking into the Academy" He scored 3 and 3 as well. Pete's answer, I think, was that a Neptunian parasite was used in the animation process (Edit: The answer was that Neptunian parasitic insects fed off of Eldritch Lightning and were able to animate dead tissue - Pete) and all the needed was a part of creature/hero to be animated to reanimate/recreate it entirely. The threat generated was Neptunian agents on your tail.

    Finally Mr. Vanish, the Fantastic, used his second sight to investigate the Vanishing Manor to figure out "Why did they break into the Vanishing Manor?" Don't remember all the dangers in this one but a roll of Detective, bonuses, and danger lead to a roll that generated no danger. JJ narrated that Mr. Vanish, the Fantastic, had the large collection of pieces of heroes from Earth, including an untouched piece of King Kong, and that the guild had broken in to steal these.

    The Danger Patrol then started to finish their dinner when the door was broken down by Feydor Red and a group of Neptunian Agents.

    Neptunian Agents on your tail becomes Neptunian Agents attack

    Dr. Cannon took on this threat first he threw a table at them and then shot at them. He knew that Neptunian's always jump to the left (obscure knowledge) so he was able to get them.

    Crimson Republic on you tail becomes Feydor Red attacks

    Mr. Vanish, the Fantastic, shot his grappling hook into Feydor Red's rocket pack trying to subdue him but mainly succeeded in setting Vanishing Manor on fire. Agent Blood using her micro-gadgets remotely controls the jet pack causing Feydor to abandon it to fly wildly around Vanishing Manor causing more fire. Feydor was crumpled against the door he crashed into.

    Wild jet pack causing fire!

    I forget how this was taken out. But it caused a lot more damage before it was disabled.

    The Vanishing Manor is burning down!

    Mr. Vanish, the Fantastic, helped Dr. Cannon get to the kitchen where the complex freon cooling system for all the morbid "trophies" of Mr. Vanish, the Fantastic was housed. Dr. Cannon, using Science!, burst the water mains and froze the water causing the fire to go out.

    Danger Patrol Alpha then moved their headquarters to a Magno-zepp and interrogated Feydor to find out where the Crimson Republic planned to strike next.

    Pete again:

    This was also a lot of fun! This game rocks. As I recall, the jet pack was remote controlled out of the Manor and exploded over the River of Mist. We also took a moment to pick on Danger Patrol Omega who got the job of cleaning our stuff out of the damaged Manor and into the Magno-Zepp.

    All from me!
  • edited August 2009
    Thanks Peter, that was an excellent description of how the questions were resolved. I see that all of the questions were minor threats, but they generated fairly involved stories which is good. And I can see how they could develop lowere lever threat reactions as well.

    One question: When 'Neptunian Agents On Your Tail' became 'Neptunian Agents Attack' was it still a minor threat? And I assume that the threats generated from the questions being answered were all held back until a second sub-scene.

    Edit: Anotehr question; did the players generate the answers to the questions, or the GM? Or a combination of both?
  • Thanks, Alan!

    Actually both "Neptunian agents..." and "Fedor Red..." became major threats. It was kind of nice the way that actively finding clues and information generated the next threat level. And, yes, these were held back until the second sub-scene.

    We answered the questions ourselves, but did so off the prompting of the GM. Let me 'splain: Each player went about their own way of investigating the questions. In each instance, there was a scene generated by the GM to set up a conflict. This usually gave the player a spin on what their answer might be. Then, the dice came out. The Danger Dice given to us by the GM and other players plus the preceding scene helped us construct the final answer to the question. And, thereby, generate the upcoming conflict.

    I hope that made sense!

    Pete
  • Hi Peter, so to recap: you're saying there was an Interlude scene which was followed by the GM framing 'setting up conflict' scenes for each of the players. After those were done, you went into the conflict.

    That sounds cool, and probably would have helped deal with the problem my players felt, which was that they didn't spend enough time being in the story, in character.
  • Posted By: Steve Hickeythere was an Interlude scene which was followed by the GM framing 'setting up conflict' scenes for each of the players. After those were done, you went into the conflict.
    I really thought that's what page 15 said in the PDF. I clearly need to figure out a more useful way of explaining how to go about it.
  • edited August 2009
    It might well say that, John. I could easily have missed it, though: I ran my game based off the Alpha draft which I'd just downloaded the morning I played it. By the time I pitched it to my group and started running it I'd only read through it once.
  • edited August 2009
    Oh no, it wasn't you, Steve. That was just my weird way of saying I need to re-write that section. It's very slapdash right now.
  • Posted By: Stigg



    Actually both "Neptunian agents..." and "Fedor Red..." became major threats. It was kind of nice the way that actively finding clues and information generated the next threat level. And, yes, these were held back until the second sub-scene.
    Thanks for the reply.

    So the generated threats were held back, but were escalated a level when they did turn up?
    I hope that made sense!
    I think so; there was an interlude scene based around generating the questions and in which the players chose which ones they wished to investigate. This led to a short action scene in which the investigations took place, with the answers generating more threats Then there was a second, short, interlude scene, and anotehr action scene in which the fallout from answering the questions was actually resolved.

    From what I have read here it looks to me like the optimum structure for a Danger Patrol session is:

    Opening Action Scene (which includes the 'Previously On ... ' segment)
    Interlude
    Second Action Scene (Mostly investigation)
    Interlude
    Final Action Scene

    However in yours it was:

    Opening Action Scene (which includes the 'Previously On ... ' segment)
    Interlude (setting up questions)
    Second Action Scene Part 1 (Investigation)
    Very Short Interlude
    Second Action Scene Part 2 (Resolving issues arising from investigation)
    Interlude
    Final Action Scene

    Is that about right?
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