"Glassworks" Session 3: Alley of the Devil Dolls

Fellow role-players, here are the notes for Jason E.R.'s latest face-to-face game, which Brian W. hosted at his home in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 25 June 2012:

>>Player Character roster for Jason E.R.'s "Glassworks" Bronze Age/noir superhero scenario, using the "Marvel Heroic Roleplaying" game (based on Margaret Weis Productions Ltd.'s "Cortex" system, originally using DarkPages), as of spring 2012:

-"Kyle Martins/The Cloaked Quarrel" [Gene D.]-male human college student and legacy crime fighter with mystical crossbows

-"Eli Wasserman/the Amazing Mr. Fantastic" [Brian W.]-male metahuman with shadow manipulation, semi-retired superhero and private investigator

-"Rain Tomotowa/Thunderbird" [Sara F.]-female Native American metahuman park ranger, able to change into an eagle

-"Matthew Shanks/Merlin" [Josh C.]-male incubus sorcerer and occultist with an ancient family legacy

-"Tim Gray/DarkStorm" [Bruce K.]-male metahuman super soldier, experimented upon by the government, amnesiac weapons designer for Oryx Industries, and armored vigilante

-"Summer Winters/Santanica Pandemonium" [Rich C.G.]-female human nurse and mother/demon with flame powers, newly aware of her dual nature

-"Ezra Goldman/Daedalus" [Beruk A.]-male metahuman with the ability to temporarily imbue machines with personalities

>>Session 3: "Getting the Shaft" or "Alley of the Devil Dolls"

Abandoned warehouses

The scenic warehouse district

In response to a rash of arsons and mysterious murders, a strange group of people gathers in Hamilton, Delaware. Kyle summarizes what he and his newfound super friends have learned so far for Eli:

-The Case of the Masked Arsonists: The masked and wrapped women known as "Devil Dolls" have been setting incendiary devices around the city.

Devil Doll I was caught setting fire to properties belonging to the White Magus, leader of the mystical Conclave to which Matthew belongs. She was later revealed to be Eva Ball, former partner of Richard/the White Magus, and was taken for treatment to Rain's grandmother, the shaman Kittaguka. Mute Eva recalled escaping from some institution.

Devil Doll II was captured while setting fires in a line leading to a factory in the Glassworks neighborhood. She turned out to be Maggie Orex, daughter of James Orex, the founder of arms firm Oryx Industries.

Maggie was also Tim's girlfriend, who was believed to be dead, and both Eva and Maggie suffered from serious physical and emotional/mental injuries.

-The Case of the Glass Woman: Upon foiling a Mancari Security armored car heist by the costumed Palmetto, the Cloaked Quarrel had discovered a glass woman in a metal casket. She was Mora Burch, wife of the missing Boyd Burch, a chemist at tobacco firm D.J. Sharrif.

Eli had been hired by Faisal Marzoug on behalf of Ms. Sharrif to find Boyd, who had been kidnapped from D.J. Sharrif's facilities at 54 Tennant Street in the Annex — a neighborhood that Sharrif wants to rename "Fatima."

Meanwhile, DarkStorm had gotten a tip from fellow vigilante the Red Right Hand about Burch's former CalTech classmate, Oryx scientist Albert Boyle. Boyle had been found murdered near a warehouse at 315 Mycroft Ave. in Fairmont. Burch had been working on something called "Project Jabberwock," which involved "reverse-engineered DNA" and "umbral matter."

Near where Russian mobsters (led by a man named Ozerov) had been watching Burch's apartment, the Cloaked Quarrel had found primal runes later translated as "Little Jack Horner." Kyle also made contact with the Red Right Hand and believed that the D.J. Sharrif and Oryx Industries cases were somehow connected.

-The Case of the Dragon Pearl: Merlin and Thunderbird had been assigned by the Conclave, a group of about six mages, to search the South Market for the "cintamanni," a.k.a. the "Philosopher's Stone" and the organ responsible for certain dragons' flight. While apprehending the Devil Dolls, they had encountered Santanica Pandemonium.

The fiery winged woman had fought Erichtho of the Coven over a jade dagger at the Ramsaeir Museum of Natural History. Summer's ex-husband Bobby Galati, of the Galati crime family and Mancari Security, eventually surrendered the dagger to her at All Saints Hospital.

Santanica/Summer also later mentioned that she had been seeing the face of Dr. Ben Nitten (who had summoned three demons to question her) and some peasant flickering around other people. Is he a shapeshifter, some spirit possessing victims, or a figment of her fractured imagination?

The "jade warror's panoply" apparently included the jade dagger and the Cloaked Quarrel's crossbows. Other mystics from the Conclave and Coven, including Shard, were hunting for the cintamanni.

-Making connections: While the Red Right Hand may have killed Albert Boyle for his involvement in shady Oryx Industries research, Boyd Burch was likely also searching (or had even obtained) the dragon pearl to try to change his wife Maura back to flesh and blood.

Because of his gambling debts, Burch had apparently turned to Ozerov for protection, even as Mancari Security had his wife, and Bobby Galati ended up with the jade dagger that Erichtho had taken from the museum.

How were the jade warrior's panoply and the cintomanni connected? What were the Dragon Dolls trying to flush out with fires toward Glassworks, and for whom? Who wrote the primal runes, and what was Dr. Nitten?

-Back into the field: Rain and Tim go to Kittaguka's to check on Maggie. The Native American shaman tells her granddaughter that Devil Doll II's wounds were caused by science, not magic, and that she needs herbs from Kunzang Tenzin, a member of the Conclave, from which she was expelled. Matthew and Kyle plan to visit the White Magus to check on Eva/Devil Doll I.

Summer is upset to find that her ex-husband Bobby is missing, along with her son Timmy. Now aware of her Santanica Pandemonium identity, she asks her former mother-in-law about Timmy. Apparently, the Galati crime family is angry that Bobby has gone into the witness protection program and fears that he may expose the family's leadership to law enforcement.

Eli calls in his "science guy," Ezra Goldman/"Daedalus," to track down Palmetto. However, the "Amazing Mr. Fantastic" and Daedalus, as well as Merlin and the Cloaked Quarrel, are sidetracked when Santanica Pandemonium calls for backup as she, Thunderbird, and DarkStorm go to the warehouse in Fairmont where Albert Boyle's body was found.

An alley connects Mycroft and Pallas Avenues, running between an apparently abandoned factory and a warehouse whose security DarkStorm found was still active. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic believes that the warehouse is a decoy or trap and that the best way to any subterranean hideout is through the factory.

Thunderbird and Santanica fly to the roof of the warehouse and use their wings to buffet security cameras out of position. Daedalus reroutes other monitors near the doors, then he and DarkStorm join the others at the factory. They easily break in through a window.

The Cloaked Quarrel finds machinery under tarps that has been reassembled in a strange configuration. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic looks for clues and sees scratch marks in the floor. Santanica Pandemonium keeps watch outside.

In a dusty office, Merlin and company find unused "Indian"-brand candy wrappers belonging to the defunct Hamilton Candy Co. He and DarkStorm also find a cargo elevator that leads to a lit shaft.

Daedalus and the Cloaked Quarrel find that some of the devices can be moved to slots in the factory floor, but as they interact with one, it pierces a barrel of fluorescent goo. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic contains it with his summoned shadows, even though the private detective doesn't like using his powers.

Armored DarkStorm and the magical Merlin descend and find a corridor with about 20 Devil Dolls! The masked women stand in rows, seemingly inert. Closer examination determines that they are inhibited by pieces of "magic candy."

Merlin hits all of the Devil Dolls with a Lightning Storm spell, forcing the lozenges out of their mouths. The wrapped saboteurs then begin advancing toward the two metahumans!

In avian form, Thunderbird flies down but tells the Cloaked Quarrel that everything is under control. Gadgeteer Daedalus and the young Cloaked Quarrel are curious about the machinery, while the Amazing Mr. Fantastic recommends caution and notes the commotion down below.

Santanica Pandemonium enters and is drawn to the devices. The Cloaked Quarrel draws his mystical crossbows in alarm, but the fiery woman comes to and identifies the devices (later confirmed with Merlin's divination) as components of a "mystic dragon cage."

Winged Thunderbird knocks down some of the Devil Dolls, and Santanica flies down and pulls out DarkStorm, who doesn't want to harm the women, and Merlin. The group narrowly escapes the factory, despite Merlin and Santanica's desire to destroy it.

The crime fighters regroup and discuss what to do next. Thunderbird goes to Kittaguka and asks about the dragon cages. She learns that her ancestors were known as dragon slayers (Unktehila), a history that seems related to the hunt for the cintamanni.

Merlin has one of the candies chemically analyzed and contacts White Magus. Summer/Santanica wants to send a bloody message to the Galati family but decides to leave her ex-husband and son in the relative safety of witness protection until she can solve her cases.

Eli uses his psychology experience to help Maggie remember her time as a Devil Doll. She writes that the fires were set to drive something out of the buildings. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic theorizes that Faisal may have hired him on behalf of a real dragon.

Despite the Cloaked Quarrel's misgivings, DarkStorm brings Maggie to her father James Orex. Summer accompanies them as a nurse and is alarmed when she recognizes the butler as Dr. Nitten!

James seems happy to be reunited with his daughter, but his house goes into security lockdown as Santanica and Merlin look for Dr. Nitten. Metal plates drop in front of windows, security guards scramble through the mansion and its grounds, and the outer gates close and lock.

The rest of the would-be superheroes borrow one of Matthew's vehicles and get past the outer perimeter's security measures. Santanica blasts through doors and walls and pursues a nearly invisible man.

Matthew's secret identity as DarkStorm is blown before his boss, but James says his first concern is Maggie's safety. The CEO of Oryx Industries claims that Project Jabberwock was mothballed as a failure and that he knows nothing of the Devil Dolls' arson scheme or Albert Boyle's murder.

The Cloaked Quarrel manages to pin the man fleeing Santanica Pandemonium, who redirects her attention at new arrival Erichtho. The flying witch casts fiery snakes at berserk Santanica and Thunderbird. Merlin and the Amazing Mr. Fantastic try to block Erichtho, but she, Rasayana (the man with the invisibility suit), and Dr. Nitten teleport away.

DarkStorm tries to do damage control with the Orexes and calls for law-enforcement backup for the candy factory. He also makes plans with the Cloaked Quarrel to contact the Red Right Hand, mainly about the corporate espionage and organized crime. Daedalus analyzes the candy sample, which uses a neural inhibitor and "reverse-DNA" to control the nearly dead women.

Furious Santanica Pandemonium and Merlin want to track down Erichtho and Dr. Nitten and to find out more about the cintamanni and jade warrior's panoply. The Amazing Mr. Fantastic, the Cloaked Quarrel, Thunderbird, and Daedalus plan to head to the second factory in Glassworks….

While we didn't have quorum to continue Rich C.G.'s Way of the Wicked adventure path last night (Monday, 2 July 2012), we did enjoy a School Daze one-shot. I also plan to post an update for the first FATE 3e "Vortex" space opera session with the latest telecom team this past Sunday.

Next week,  I look forward to continuing Jason's "Glassworks" game, and in the meantime, have a happy Independence Day! -Gene

4 Responses to "Glassworks" Session 3: Alley of the Devil Dolls

  1. Hey there! I'm the creator of School Daze and I wanted to drop a comment here since I saw you linked to the site. I'm glad you all enjoyed the game. I was wondering if you might be able to give me a few more details about the session and how it went. I'm always curious to hear about people playing my stuff. Thanks!

    • We enjoyed your game, which I'll try to write about more soon. I liked the combination of high school archetypes, rules-light storytelling, and flexible setting/plots. Our session felt like a John Hughes movie from the 1980s, which is when most of us were in high school ourselves.

  2. I haven't seen the Fiasco RPG. But as the game session went and we got closer to the senior prom, I got the growing feeling that our flawed but lovable high school kids were careening on a one-way ticket with disaster. Unfortunately in the interests of time we never got to the climax scene of the prom. Thanks to Rich G. for orchestrating a memorable game session! :-)