Into Oblivion

Mission 3: One Takedown Deserves Another

(Minor spoiler alert: This is an adaptation of Starfall Jungle)

A few key changes from module to this campaign:
• Hi-Jinks = unidentified hackers (connected to Axiom)
• Dib-Dob = Dib’s Cantina
• Silver Scarab = SKR III “Scarab-class” spy satellite.
• House of Snow = Casa Los Altos
• Persian Cult of the Owl = The Exmoor Covenant

Also several of the encounters were edited out.

This mission began with Agent Walker meeting with Ms. Ariel Damiani, Regional Executive Officer of Paranormal Ops, O-West. She was a diminutive brunette whose toughness belied her stature. Over the course of a few days, she helped Agent Walker develop a Psychic Path tracking spell. She also sent him to search through musty public library annexes for a antique tome called Zamanin Descinda (Turkish translation “Staring into Darkness” from Arabic wizard Abdul Al Azif). The search was interrupted however when he was recalled to the office and then sent to Laredo for an urgent new mission briefing.

Arriving at a ramshackle cantina he met two new agents, Alicia Jackson and Michelle Ning. They were briefed by Mr E. and Nil himself made his first appearance. They were informed that an SKR-III Scarab-class spy satellite had been compromised. The hack-job was severe enough that the recovery program was corrupted. The chutes deployed early and the satellite was lost in the Guatemalan jungle. Since the area was being jammed by the local drug lord, Don Caliente, they could not pinpoint the unit’s location. They suspected that Caliente would be delighted to claim the satellite as a trophy. The team was instructed to contact “White Raven” and get details on Caliente’s complex, Casa Los Altos. And so the new team was taken to a remote airstrip and they took off for Central America in a modified stealth jet called The Harbinger.

They conducted a successful night drop, parachuting into a clearing on the shore of Lake Peten Itza. In the nearby village, they treated the ailing White Raven overnight and got the info they needed in the morning. Just before departing for the drug lord’s realm, they were joined by another agent from Paranormal Ops, Grace Tomsson; a pacifist water controller. Interesting…

The agents trudged through the jungle in the muggy afternoon hours before getting their first look at Casa Los Altos. It was an intimidating ultra-modern mansion/fortress built into the top of hill and surrounded by an 8-foot wall. The top level was a round observation deck with an antennae array on a shallow domed roof. The lower level was built mostly into the rock of the hill with a couple wings jutting out.

The agents approached very carefully. Agent Jackson was the first to reach the wall. They worked together to time the patrolling guards, before Jackson activated her anti-grav belt to quickly, quietly get over the wall. She and Agent Ning managed to cut the barbed wire on top of the wall and secure a rope to allow the others to climb over. Agent Walker managed to monitor the only open frequency with his comm-link and as the guard shift changed, they started their raid on the Observation deck. Agent Ning was the first in. She took them by surprise and mowed down the control center with her silenced MP5! The team wasted no time getting to the sublevel where they each took a wing in search of Caliente and the SKR-III. They individually encountered several more guards and took them out quickly. Agent Tomsson had a funny altercation with a guard and one of Caliente’s girls in which the unconscious bikini-clad bimbo squeaked as she slid down the glass and slumped over at poolside!

When the team realized that Caliente was escaping in his helicopter, they gathered in the north wing, took out the fortified windows, and opened fire on the chopper as it prepared to liftoff. A guard next to the helipad returned fire with a rocket launcher and missed! The rocket sailed high and flew way off into the jungle! (Critical miss! That was a tense moment that looked like we were about to lose an agent or two!). Just as it appeared that the helicopter would escape, one last burst of gunfire hit the aircraft where it counted! The helicopter rolled over and crashed into the thick canopy just a couple hundred yards to the north!

As the few remaining guards fled the complex, the agents further searched for the SKR-III to no avail. They did manage to find Caliente’s hidden vault – a triangular-shaped room tucked away behind his office. Agent Tomsson did a nice job of cracking the rigged safe, but she still suffered a jolt for her efforts! Among many things they found photographic evidence that he had the satellite in his possession. At one point, they also used one of the drug lord’s SUVs as a battering ram to bust through the door of a subterranean garage. In the process, they crushed Caliente’s Lamborghini inside!

Knowing that they didn’t have time to linger, and being satisfied with the evidence from the vault, they called for the Harbinger. The agents were extracted from Casa Los Altos with the sounds of several dirt bikes approaching up the hill and circling around the crash site. As they flew off, the heroes could only assume that Caliente and the SKR-III both met their demise in the helicopter crash…

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Episode 2, Part 5

The Downward Spiral – Conclusion

Agent Tanner Daine Walker was trapped. He had followed Dr. Garwood and Cobb (Dr. Pope’s intern/assistant) out onto the spiral jetty in the dark of night with no cover, save the jetty itself. And he was surrounded by the extremely briny water of the Great Salt Lake. Behind him, a silhouette had followed him onto the jetty, sealing him off from the shoreline. He assumed it was Collin Rogers, Garwood’s bodyguard. Back on shore, behind the paleontologist encampment, Agent Singer rifled through Garwood’s briefcase.

Tanner dropped to his belly to avoid detection and crawled on large rough stones to the outside edge of the jetty. It was the only cover available. He kept his head down and waited for a minute or two, before sneaking another peek. By that time, Garwood and Cobb had continued to walk the spiral to an interior ring, but the silhouette 400 feet behind him, held his position near the shoreline. Tanner had to get closer to Garwood to find out what he was up to, so he crawled across the jetty path and down the interior side into the water. As he entered the water, a small stone came loose and rolled into the water with a bloop. Uh oh… Tanner ducked under the surface and a few seconds later, two shots zinged through the water nearby! He stayed under and held his breath as long as he could. Just as he was about to inhale saltwater his rune bracelet gave him a surge of life, allowing him to hold out longer, but Tanner knew it would not last long. No more shots had come. He waited a few more seconds and unlocked the safety on his Beretta, hoping that it would still fire. He stood quickly and tried to acquire Garwood quickly as his eyes stung with the saltwater! Garwood waved a small pistol toward him and yelled for Rogers, “He’s right here! Right here!!!”

Tanner whirled around in chest-deep water. Rogers was fast approaching and taking aim at him while on the run. This was a dangerous customer. Rogers fired first. The shots were on the mark, but the power of Tanner’s bracelet deflected the deadly bullets just enough to avoid harm. Tanner could feel the heat of the shots that should have ended his life – and he immediately returned fire with two quick shots that jolted Rogers and knocked him backwards from the jetty and into the water.

“Eat shrimp” Tanner uttered grimly. (big laughing moment!!, to release a very tense scene…)

When he turned back toward Garwood, he only saw Cobb. Garwood had jumped in the water and was trying to get away. Agent Singer arrived on the scene and the two agents together were able to pulled Garwood out of the water and apprehend him. As they headed back to shore, the white van containing the crate from the museum’s paleontology lab came to life and tore off into the night throwing gravel and briny grit as it sped off. The agents took a couple pot shots but only harmlessly nicked the vehicle.

The agents decided to take everyone back to the city in Dr. Pope’s SUV. They drove for about an hour to reach the northern outskirts of Salt Lake City. On a four-lane divided highway, Singer noticed a dark gray Dodge Magnum speeding up behind them. It came alongside and a man with an sub-machine gun waved for them to pullover. Singer refused and a rolling shootout / car chase ensued! It was vicious, point blank gun play and both vehicles got torn up, before the ambidextrous Agent Singer managed to hit driver with a blast from his old .45 revolver! The enemy car drifted across the oncoming traffic and crashed on the opposite side! The agents drove on. O-West instructed them to go to a safe house in the industrial district to exchange vehicles with the passengers.

The aftermath of this mission was fairly messy, involving the interrogation of Dr. Emerson Garwood, who is legitimately the Assistant Director of the National Science Institute. The contents of Garwood’s briefcase revealed that he maintained a fake identity as well and he also had security credentials with UAC : Union Aerospace Corporation.

Further testing and questioning of Dr. Janet Pope (Wasatch Museum Paleontologist) revealed that she had been drugged with a neuroleptic agent derived from haloperidol and her short-term memory was reprogrammed. A couple days later, Pope and Cobb assisted agents in searching her office and paleontology lab where they turned up a couple photos of their find that is now missing. The photos looked like a gigantic crab – like nothing before documented. Cobb said that they originally thought it was some sort of Pleistocene-era crustacean that must have been perfectly preserved in the salty shoreline.

Back at the office, Mr. E shared some top secret archive photos with the agents. The first photo was a grainy black and white snapshot from Istanbul in 1958. It looked like a couple of blurred spiders charging toward the camera. The second photo was much clearer, from Singapore 2008. It showed a special ops troop in the foreground confronting a huge six-legged spider-looking creature. This seemed to match the remains found by Dr. Pope. Mr. E explained the this creature has been called a “trite” and is classified as one of the extra-dimensional invaders called the Hellborne.

Ultimately Garwood had to be released with a bit of special Oblivion reprogramming himself. O-East would watch him even more closely now.

A bit of research on UAC found that it is a subsidiary of Venvesco International; a corporate umbrella that has been linked to AXIOM activities for years.

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Episode Two: Part Four

When Agent Singer’s ride – the El Camino guy – left the scene, he was not discrete about it. The noise and dust drew attention from the camp at Rozel Point. An SUV charged down the shoreline to investigate. The agents scrambled to hide the company car in a gully and were narrowly missed by the passing vehicle.

Next the agents approached the camp on foot. Zero-Seven (Agent Walker) detected blue tooth devices and attempted to connect, while Zero Four-Two (Singer) stealthed around the tent. Singer heard a discussion between Dr. Pope and her field assistance Cobb about “the find”. Dr. Garwood and Rogers inspected a dig site. Agent Singer opportunistically accessed Garwood’s SUV and stole his briefcase. He broke into it and found some suspicious documents (orders and reports), a hand-full of oral capsules (black & white, and green & yellow), and some ID cards.

Garwood struck up a conversation with Cobb and the two of them walked out onto the spiral jetty. Agent Walker tailed them. At one point, Walker had to dive to the ground to avoid detection. A minute later, Colin Rogers came out onto the jetty, effectively trapping Agent Walker.

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Episode Two: Part Three

(Brief Summary) Zero 42 continued to drill the security staff and remotely assist Zero 7 in his search of the main floor and sublevels. Eventually, Colin Rogers was observed on the premise and he was tracked to the Paleontology Lab where Dr. Garwood was meeting with someone.

Later… Garwood, Rogers, and museum chief paleontologist Janet Pope left the lab with a large container on a cart which was loaded into a white van at the loading docks near the kitchen. Daine (Agent 07) made it to the company car in time and was able to tail the van and Garwood’s SUV out of town. Raven (Agent 042) bribed a ride in a rickety El Camino and eventually met-up with 07 on the shores of the Great Salt Lake near Rozel Point. Dr. Garwood and company’s destination was some sort of camp near the shore line a quarter mile away.

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Episode Two - Part Two

We spent some time discussing damage mechanics and the possibility of increasing firearms damage across the board as a campaign rule. No decision has been made on that point. Also Agent Walker selected 07 as his number. Nice… But he will be referred to as Zero-Seven as opposed to Double-O Seven! The agents also used their first equipment picks. 07 has two picks remaining and 042 has three picks remaining.

Meanwhile, back at the museum…

As Dr. Garwood’s SUV pulled-up in the circle drive, the agents peeled off into the parking lot and Agent 042 exited on a slow roll using parked cars and foliage as cover. He then followed Garwood into the main lobby. Agent 07 meandered through the parking lot and went up into the circle drive, but Colin Rogers and the black SUV were nowhere to be seen. 07 then acquired a University of Utah transportation cap for $5 and parked the “company car” in circle drive.

042 observed as Garwood was escorted deeper into the museum by a security guard. Then 042 posed as a Homeland Security Inspector and began questioning EVERYTHING… (Quote: “Is that erasable ink?” LOL!) and demanded to see the Head of Security immediately, much to the dismay of Misty at the customer service desk! 07 followed suit and presented himself as part of the inspection team and the two agents independently coerced their way into the basement of the museum. We left off with 042 at the interior monitoring station with Security Chief MacMillan and 07 has just arrived via a service elevator and is looking for an underground parking area. Dr. Garwood was also spotted via security cam in the basement. He is headed to the Paleontology Lab in the south hall.

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Episode Two: The Downward Spiral, Part 1

This session began with a discussion of the campaign concept of non-awakened rationalization.

Then we wrapped-up the Gateway Incident with the Agents planting a decog chip and getting picked up by Nighthawk on the roof of Gateway Tower along with the body of the demon-woman. Back at O-West, several staff members were there to congratulate them on their first mission. After a quick debrief with Mr. E. the agents were sent to Ms. Meyers to be “numbered”. Agent Singer is now “Zero-Four-Two” (or 042). Afterward, fellow agents Grant Simms and Phoenix caught up with them in the halls to excitedly discuss the events of the mission. Agents Singer and Walker were also tasked with filing their first O4s (Oblivion Field Observation Reps) which was tied-in with their Red Tape rolls. Then we began the next mission.

Episode Two: The Downward Spiral

Two days later, the agents were summoned to O-West before sunrise. Since the front office was not yet open, they entered Surface Dynamic (the cover business) through the rear access and made their way down to the O-West sublevel, where they were greeted by Mr. E. in the Ops Center. Mr. E took them to his office and gave a mission briefing introducing Dr. Emerson Garwood (Asst. Dir. of Paleontology for the National Science Institute) and Colin Rogers (bodyguard). These two were in Salt Lake City and the agents were assigned to relieve 013 (Agent Gibson) who had watched them overnight.

At the Salt Lake City Center Hilton, 013 had determined that Garwood was in Room 815 and had somehow gotten a copy of the floor master key which he gave to 042, before leaving the mission to them. The new agents had to quickly get in stealth mode as they tailed Dr Garwood’s Honda Pilot through downtown morning traffic and across the University of Utah campus where they saw them park at the Wasatch Museum of Natural History. Looks like routine business for the visiting paleontologist.

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The Gateway Incident: Session 3

We picked up in the middle of the action. Agent Singer sprung on the big henchman, Officer Vincente, who fended him off. Meanwhile Agent Walker pistol-whipped one of the mind-controlled minions. Again, the resilient villainess emerged, bleeding from a slash above her luminescent right eye – in fact both eyes were glowing with shadow power. The villainess used a massive surge of telekinetic force to slam Agent Singer into the side of the elevator enclosure. Fortunately, he shook-off the damage and was able to defend himself against Vincente and another minion. Agent Walker managed to kick his minion off of the platform to buy some time and he trained his Beretta 92-O on the witch woman. Agent Singer also pulled his guns, but in a grapple Vicente spoiled his aim, causing a stray round to punch through one of the huge glass ceiling panels! The villainess refocused her telekinetic power and attempted to disarm Agent Singer, but he held on! Then the scene turned into a shootout. Agent Singer was able to take-out both Vincente and a minion. Agent Walker disrupted the villainess with gunfire, until she made a huge shadow-leap to reach a maintenance catwalk on the north wall. Walker (drew a Joker on initiative) made a great double-tap shot that jolted the villainess and toppled her from the catwalk. She fell 25 feet to the atrium floor, where Agent Singer found her face down; dead. He hog-tied the body anyway. They freed the hostages and bound the two remaining minions who have regained their wits and are terrible confused, though they don’t really remember much.

This was fun! Very dramatic action. We started to get a better feel for the flow of things in Savage Worlds. Our agents need to consider their exit strategy and we’ll wrap-up this episode next time. We will likely start Episode 2 in the next session.

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Session 2: Gateway Incident
All action and learning curves

Umby and I covered some SW basics to start this session. Lots of learning curve since we are using a new RPG and learning our way around Fantasy Grounds. I have to figure out how to efficiently use the combat tracker in FG. Here’s a summary of the action:

At the top of Gateway Tower… On the atrium floor and having spotted a lone man in business attire, Agents Singer and Walker stealthed their way through the dimly lit tropical garden. The could hear voices reverberating off the vaulted glass ceiling more the 40 feet above them. Raven threw a rock and distracted the stranger, which allowed him a chance to move a get better look around. Nearing the center of the atrium he could see a raised dias with two Roman columns, each about 20 feet high. Between the columns – three hostages appeared to be bound and gagged on the floor. There appeared to be guards standing watch over them as well. Meanwhile the lone “distracted” man had now begun to probe the area and was getting closer to Daine. Raven crept up behind him and dispatched the man with his bone-handled knife.

Raven went back to the center dias, crept low and slow along the base, and then sprung into action! He slashed the leather holster strap of the “big guard” causing it to drop to the floor and then drove a kick into the other guard that left him clinging to the side of the stone platform. Both guards attacked but he held them off briefly, until the big man (he was wearing a security guard uniform) slammed him to floor. Raven shook it off and regained his feet only to find himself face-to-face with an mesmerizingly disturbing woman calling herself “Danathoth”. She said, “You will join me in the 11th Ward.” Raven resisted mightily but fell to his knees as he slowly submitted to her will.

Meanwhile Daine had activated his protection powers and took aim with his Beretta. A single shot punched through the woman, knocking her backwards from the platform! The mind-control fog began to lift from Raven. The big guard scooped up his gun and engaged in a shootout with Daine, while Raven used his knife to attack the witch-woman (who was back on her feet after being shot in the chest!) and then kicked the big guard (Officer Vincente) off the platform! Meanwhile Daine was sucker-punched by the remaining bad guy.

We’ll pick it up again in the middle of the action!

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Session 01: The Gateway Incident

Session Summary: We wrapped up character-creation and had about 45 minutes of game time.

New Zeros, Agents Daine Walker and Raven Singer are assigned to O-West, regional headquarters in Provo, UT. After a couple weeks to get settled-in, they are called-in to see Mr. E (Regional Director). Mr. E gave them a quick mission briefing, describing a hostage situation at Gateway Tower in Salt Lake City and sent them on their way. Urgency did not allow for much prep.

They successfully conducted a night-time, low-speed, dead drop (no chutes or glidewings) with the Nighthawk special ops helicopter descending in whisper-mode. Situated safely on the observation deck of the 300 foot skyskraper, Agent Walker lockpicked a service door and they made their way to the atrium floor undetected. However, they are not alone.

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All Systems Go!
Fantasy Grounds Testing Complete

With players located in Illinois, Indiana, and Texas, we have been testing various apps to conduct the game online. Skype is preferred for voice communication. And since I like pulpy action, I selected Savage Worlds as the base RPG system, which fortunately has a commercial package for Fantasy Grounds virtual desktop software. Over the course of January, we tested it out and worked-up character concepts.

Looks like we’re ready to do this!

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