Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Armies of Mars: Final Chapter

Monday night we played the last session of Spirit of the Century: Armies of Mars. Good times were had by all.

The group split up again, and it was really useful that they did, because Michelle was late getting home. However, because of the way the group was split (Gar/Justin, Elitza, Reana/Xax) I could run the segments without delays.

I wish, in some ways, that we could have had a final scene with everyone together that used dice, because we kinda glossed over mechanics for the Siege of Xenon. But by that point, it was getting late, we knew what we wanted to do and I didn't see any real value in stretching it out. I have mentioned, in various other posts, that it annoys me when GMs through challenges and dice rolls and fights in just to keep things from being "too easy" for the players. I rather the story come to a satisfying conclusion. And it's not like we didn't have risk. To wit:

After the last session, the characters had split up. Justin and Gar, riding skimmers that Xax had modified to be faster, sipped after Mar'ik and his remaining troops. They caught up with him and attacked!

They engaged in some dogfighting, and things looked pretty grim for Justin at first (he doesn't have any Pilot skill to speak of). And then he started fighting like an Earth-man, jumping from skimmer to skimmer and crashing them into each other. Mar'ik, for his part, attacked Gar, and came within a single roll of killing him (he had mild, moderate and severe consequences, no Fate chips). What saved him was his ability to defend using Guns, and Justin's assistance. Mar'ik wound up plummeting to his death, like all good villains, and Gar landed his skimmer and collapsed, wounded.

Elitza went on to Xenon and took audience with the Master of Chains, engaging in a subtle dance of lies and seduction. She wound up sitting on his lap and assessing one of his Aspects (Where was he keeping THAT?, which is ever funnier in context), and finally moving the social "combat" into a contest of a very different sort.

Sex. Talking about sex. Got it? She won, and gave him the "Duped" consequence.

Xax and Reana traveled to the Sea of Tranquility with the bomb and a contingent of Green Martians, looking for a spot to set it. And then the Red Martian Air Force attacked! Xax set the bomb and jury-rigged a timer, and everyone climbed out of the trenches and made it to a minimum safe distance as the bomb blew, filling the canal with water. The water was rising far too quickly for the characters to escape it, but Reana's Crystal started to glow blue, and he dead friend Ka'Brek appeared and pointed her back toward the water. She dipped the crystal under the water, and saw the humanoid shapes - the Blue Martians were awakening

One of them swam up and spoke to Reana in an odd language, but Reana is good at such things (and has the Stunts to prove it). She pointed at the Red Martians war-ships, and the Blue Martian submerged.

And then the ship appeared, breaking through the canal floor. The Blues gave Reana and Xax restraints to keep them in place, and the ship - which Reana identified as a "Leaping Dragon" - flew from the water with a boom, fired ion cannons at the warship and downed it. More of these ships appeared as the waters rose, and Reana brought them forth under her banner...making her, in a way, the Mother of Dragons.

Now fast forward a few weeks. Xenon has sealed itself up. The canals are full of water and the Leaping Dragons are outside the eastern gates. The White Apes, traveling with a siege engine made from a downed warship and led by Xax and General Garus, are outside the southern gate. And the Master of Chains and Elitza stand on a parapet, watching it.

Elitza tells him to open the gates to the armies, letting the battle end quickly. The Master of Chains, somewhat sadly, acquiesces, and Elitza and some of the Black Moons sneak down to the eastern gates. The Master of Chains drops his mask from the parapets, musing, "Well, it had to end."

The Black Moons open the gates, and the Greens and Blues storm the place, with the Leaping Dragons downing Red air support. The White Apes fire on the city, smashing the southern gates. The Armies of the Empire prepare to fight...but Justin calls up the spirits of the dead, asking them to force the Reds into submission. The city of Xenon falls to the Green, Blue and White armies.

Some time later, the characters have all found their places in the New Mars. A Grand Council with representatives from all the races leads the planet. Gar has taken over the Fifth District of Xenon, acting as a military leader. Xax has assumed his mantle as King of the White Apes, but spends much of his time on missions of diplomacy. Justin lives in Xenon as a spirit medium and spiritual advisor to the Council, while Elitza has taken over the Black Moons as the Mistress of Chains. And Reana still searches the ruins of the old world, learning all she can of the Red Planet's past, becoming its greatest scholar.

And somewhere in the distance, a blue planet looks up at what it thinks is a rust-covered, dead world, and wonders.