Saturday, January 26, 2013

Campaign: Gotham Knights

Okay, so this post is a cameo appearance by my good friend and fellow gamer Bill.  A while back he presented us with a very cool campaign teaser.  The game is based on the Batman series wherein the PCs are orphans raised by Bruce and Selena Wayne, now returned to avenge their deaths and rescue Gotham.  There are notes at the end about character creation for the campaign (we're actually using the new Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition); I'm going to present my character in a future post.


Lightning flashed across the sky, briefly illuminating Gotham cemetery. There was no roar of thunder, though, as if the heavens knew the noise would be unwelcome to the throng of visitors to this solemn place. The rain had not let up for the past three weeks, nor had it increased. It was a steady downpour, as if the city wept for the lives now being remembered. Lives extinguished in a flash of fire. Commissioner James Gordon stood with many others, umbrella in hand, sheltering those nearest the coffins. Though it was years ago, Gordon vividly recalled a similar event with the same devastating consequences. Though these lives were taken in a fiery crash, rather than a mugging, it still left the city in a state of shock and turmoil.

Gordon glanced down the line of chairs before him, three rows of five, all but seven filled by those in their late teens, early twenties. The 'children' of the deceased. Their eyes looked lost, hollow, much like those of a younger child so long ago. Another flash of lightning illuminated a high hill out of the corner of his eye, throwing jagged shadows of the other seven huddled close together near a mausoleum. They had refused to join their 'siblings', their silence shouting a denial of everything. The fact that their 'parents' had died of an accident. That 'pilot error' was blamed on the crash of the private plane. They hadn't listened to the evidence, refused the insurance investigation, and scoffed at the final report. Denial, Jim knew, was hard to overcome.

He turned to the priest, Father O'Riely, as he wound down his benediction. Two city officials stepped up the cranks and began to slowly lower the coffins into the their graves as the line of mourners took their turns in dropping flowers on them. Gordon looked up into the rain, wondering if he'd ever feel warm again. While the name lived on a city's most notable bloodline had just ended. Gordon turned to Bullock, grinning at the dress blues he had pulled from somewhere, and nodded. With crisp commands the sergeant ordered the twenty-one gun salute, the crack of the rifles causing the family members closest by to shudder. After the third volley the rifles were lowered and the officers marched away, leaving Gordon alone with the eight children. One by one the children, last of the mourners, stood and dropped their flowers into the grave then strode away to the waiting limo.

Gordon hunched closer into his overcoat and shoved his hands into his pocket. He stood there while the last of the children came down the hill to the grave. They said nothing, simply stared into the pit where their parents had been lain for several minutes. Then, one by one, they dropped a flower into the grave - and, Gordon noticed, a drop of blood as well. They turned, then, and left, still without saying a word, and made their way to join the others. Gordon felt a small chill go through him and the wind rustled his coat. He watched the limo pull away with the other vehicles, surrounded by a police escort. The report has said that the crash was indeed an accident, however the escort made Gordon feel better. With a small sigh the Commissioner took one last look at the statues that marked the graves, and the plaque that went with them:

Here lie Bruce and Selina Wayne
Taken from us at a young age
May God comfort them in their new lives

Gordon wondered if God was still watching over Gotham. Another flash of lightning lit the cemetery as the caretakers began covering the graves.

This time thunder pealed in its wake.

* * * * *

You were the last ones to be summoned into the living room, having been asked by Prudence to wait in the reception room until you were called. Running hands idly along familiar furniture, you reminisced about the time you spent in this mansion. About the couple that took you into their lives and off of the streets, or out of the shelters. They were lively, fun, and - admittedly - a little enigmatic. However, there was always Alfred, who was surrogate father - or grand-father, butler, confidant, and all around presence. It was a sad day when you left, though a happy day too. You left to make something more of the life that the Waynes had given you, with promises of visits during the holidays and birthdays (which you may or may not have kept). It was a long wait, but soon Prudence entered the room.

Prudence, too, had been one of those taken in by the Waynes; however, instead of latching onto Bruce or Selina, she had found a comfortable place at Alfred's side and it wasn't shocking to find out that she had stayed on as his helper. She actually looked rather stately in her skirt-suit as she led you through the foyer into the living room. Their stood Alfred, looking far older than he had any right to be. The butler had seemed so full of British vigor and propriety, but now he looked worn - tired. As you entered and sat Prudence closed and locked the doors then returned to Alfred's side and waited.

"Forgive me, Masters and Misses." he began after a small silence. "Please forgive this old gentleman's gentleman his lack of proper propriety in this affair; however, I must admit to my emotions tangling up my decorum."

Clearing his throat, the butler took a deep breath before continuing.

"Now, onto matters. I have been instructed by Master and Missus Wayne's will to offer you a choice on the matter of your inheritance." Alfred said. He pulled seven envelopes from his jacket and laid them on the coffee table.

"Your parents have left you a tidy sum in trust for this day. At present accounting, even with the recent decline of the market, your holdings in this trust top the tens-of-millions. Each of you may take the envelope with your name upon them and depart."

"Or, you may accept a far riskier, and I dare say dangerous, endeavor. One that would make you the full heirs to the Wayne dynasty. However, before you accept the latter, I must inform you that if you chose it there is no guarantee that you will not become paupers down the road."

Alfred leveled his most penetrating gaze at you, judging your thoughts. After a few moments of no-one reaching for envelopes, he smiled albeit sadly.

"Of course. Master Bruce and Missus Selina were always shrewd judges of character. So be it." he said, nodding and picking up the envelopes. "Follow me."

With that the butler placed the envelopes into his jacket pocket then turned and led you to a grandfather clock. He turned the hands of the clock to 4:20 and pulled on one of the pendulums. You were shocked to see the clock swing open on a secret hinge and watch Alfred disappear into the passage beyond. Prudence gestured for you to precede her and, with nothing else to do, you followed...

... into the most shocking discovery of your lives. You followed Alfred through the passage and down the stairs. You followed across the bridge spanning the large lake below - and the myriad of ocean vessels there. You followed past an armored motorcycle and a car that would never be forgotten. You followed, past the hanger of an easily recognizable aircraft. You followed Alfred into the greatest secret in Gotham. You followed him...

... into the BATCAVE.

Alfred stood before a massive computer, currently off. He had turned on the lights to allow you to see the cave in its full splendor and waited patiently for you to absorb this. When you finally turned to him he wore a smile that was both happy and sad. He swept his hand to encompass everything.

"Welcome, to your legacy." he stated simply. Alfred and Prudence gave you a few moments of silence to take it all in. Bruce and Selina Wayne had been the Batman and the Huntress, Gotham's night protectors. It was too unreal, too unimaginable.

"I assure you, masters and misses, this is quite real." Alfred said, as if reading your thoughts. "The Waynes were very generous people - with their time, their money, and... well, and their blood."

Prudence laid a hand on Alfred's shoulder as the British gentleman choked out the last words.

"Forgive me, again. This computer has the last entry of Bruce Wayne... of the Batman, before the 'accident' took his life. Please, listen to it before you make any decisions on what you will do."

Alfred took a ragged breath then closed his eyes.

"I am afraid that I am far too old to become embroiled in the affairs of vigilantism and vengeance again. I have buried two sets of employers, both as dear to me as family. I have no wish to bury a third set." Alfred's eyes were sad, tired. Far sadder and tired than any of you had ever seen before. The elderly gentleman's gentleman bobbed his head once then turned, laying a gentle hand on Prudence's shoulder. After exchanging a small smile with her he made his way back into the mansion. Prudence watched him then turned to the rest of you. Holding herself with an air of crisp dignity and purpose, she walked over to the computer and switched it on. There was a small whine and hum as the large screen powered up and lights appeared on the console. The computer completed its diagnostics with a beep and suddenly the bat-symbol appeared on the screen.

"Entry: last."

The words emitted from the giant speakers at the side of the computer and the voice of the Batman was unmistakable.

"I finally found Selina. She was at the docks, warehouse thirteen."

Batman's voice sound pained and he often stopped mid-sentence. His labored breathing could be heard even through the recording.

"What they had done to her... God, what they had done to her..."

There was more pain in his voice this time, pain which ripped through the souls of those listening. You could imagine a tear-stained Bruce Wayne standing over the console, grieving.

"They had tortured her, perhaps for days. It had been over a week since she'd disappeared, and the GPS signal from her costume was not transmitting. Ironically, or sadistically, they had left her mask in place."

There was a fit of coughing before the recording continued.

"I knew it was trap but I couldn't leave her there. The bomb exploded just as I reached the doors, throwing us both into the river. I was barely able to make it back to the cave. Alfred and Prudence did what they could but there was just too much damage. The police had found evidence of both the Batman and Huntress being at the explosion. I couldn't risk going to a hospital and there was no doctor I could trust. I have to protect the secret, have to hold on long enough to do that."

"To our children, who should be hearing this, I ask one thing of you: find out who murdered your mother and bring them to justice. Everything that I have owned is now yours, make use of it. I understand well the drive of vengeance so I warn you to never let it rule you - you must rule it. Once you have found your mother's murderer, I will leave the fate of this place, and the city, to you. Gotham will need a new set of protectors - I hope that you will rise to challenge."

"Good-bye, my children."

The recording ends and Prudence looks to you with a raised eyebrow.


This is the main teaser for the DC: Universe campaign/adventure. If you're interested in playing then please read-on.

The campaign will be based out of Gotham city however anyone that has been following the Batman comic will need to note there are several changes in this continuum.

First, there have never been any super powered individuals seen in this universe. That isn't to say that there aren't any heroes, just that none of the heroes have inherent super abilities. There's no Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, or Martian Manhunter.

Second, no supreme races have shown up to bestow upon normal humans any superhuman abilities. So, Green Lantern does not exists nor does Starman.

What this means is that all of the heroes that have appeared have been normal human beings with either exceptional training, backing, and/or intelligence. So your character concepts will be limited to mechanical augmentation, training, or gimickers. Also, while there will be the requisite action, and a bit of detective work (don't worry, I'll be taking into consideration that you all are not your characters :) ), I want this campaign to be more character driven. I'm not looking for Angst-ville but some drive behind the characters would be nice. :)

Another note is that the destruction of Gotham has not happened - the city is fine. And by 'fine' I mean that it's still standing. For now. :)

If I haven't driven you off yet then please send me a character concept that we can discuss (don't reply to all unless you'd like everyone to know about your characters). Here's some background information for you:

1. All of the characters were adopted by the Waynes - Selina and Bruce never had any natural children. The characters were adopted at a minimum age of six to a maximum of twelve, and they were adopted as much from off of the street as they were from orphanages.

2. All of the characters left Wayne manor between the ages of seventeen and twenty. No one hung around the house looking for hand-outs or anything. All of your characters have some sort of drive behind them (none are slack-abouts).

3. During your time at the Wayne manor one of the parents saw to the physical fitness of your character. Selina Wayne primarily trained the girls while Bruce trained both (note: this comes into play for skills that your character may have picked up during their time at the manor).

4. Only one child was trained by Alfred and that is Prudence.

5. Using Prudence as a baseline, she was adopted by the Waynes fifteen years ago, at age five. I'll use the present year as the year of the Wayne's death, so Prudence was born in 1992 and she hasn't had her birthday yet (thus making her 19 and not 20). Your characters should be no older than 25 and no younger than 18.

Right now don't worry about the mechanics of your characters - just give me a concept we can discuss (as I seem to have the only book right now).

One more note: I would like to see characters that have a main theme for their powers. What I mean by that is this: most beginning heroes go one of two methods when they think up their powers: attack or defense.

Batman, for all of his gadgets and such, is primarily attack - remove them before they can come at you.
Captain America is mainly defense - use the shield to gain as much of an advantage before committing.
Iron Man (at the start) - defense: protect myself so I have more time to respond.

So I'd like you to think about your character first in that respect: do they attack or defend. I'm not going to accept any character that has major power in both without some major limitations.

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