MASKS #20 - THE FROST ... AND THE FURRY! [Recap]

Recap! (by Margie) Circle of people looking at their own bodies. Mercury looks terrified. Both of them. Jason looking at "his" breasts and blushing. Charlotte is has a continuous chat with Numina and Pneuma and Otto. Concord is bouncing up and down because he's so *tall*. Harry's eyes continue to widen as the Sol talks to him. Leo keeps trying to access the brain chip. For the record: Leo is in Quill Harry is in Concord Adam is in Mercury Charlote is in Link Jason is in Ghost Girl [Charlotte: -Afraid ] That was the cover teaser. But right now, in the present ... Into the action! Same shot. But everyone's expressions have changed and body language. Standing over the collapsed HHL. Vigil: "Okay, boys and girls, it's time to go to work." Jason in GG: Fists clenched, mien grim and angry. Leo in Quill: Calm, placid, eyes-half-closed, "same shit as always" look. Charlotte in Link: On his knees, looking down at Blackbird, trying to figure out what to do with These Stupid Solid Hands. Adam in Mercury: Mute confusion, we didn't do this, the adults are all ... Harry in Concord: Looking at Streak and Tempest, both of whom are out (slumped forward onto table, slumped backward in chair). Vigil: "I'm sorry, are you done doing your session recap? Can we talk? I don;t have much to add -- you're going to be mostly on your own. It's up to them to apologize for their actions." Jason: What's happened to them? "They've fallen asleep." Jason: Why? Who? "Nobody knows that right now, so I can't tell you. Oh, right. Vyortovia." Why are those three people out there still awake? Charlotte: because they're kids. ( Spell was set for adults as the limitation .) Social media! Leo: (Phone is blowing up.) Charlotte: (unread messages are shooting upward) Harry: How widespread? Leo: How do we maximize your answers? "City is under attack, but doesn't feel that way, they are sneaky little monkeys." Flying monkeys? "In ... some sense." Leo goes out to find the other kids. "You will deal with magic first. You will deal with not-magic later. If you are very clever." "I assume everyone's frustrated and has walked out because I have no more on the transcript." Messages about subzero blizzard and people passing out. Kid Kelvin by the window, protesting it's not anyone he knows, not his dad-er-anyone. Demurs doing anything about it. Harry browbeats him. A-10 comes over to Quill. Are they awake? Leo tries to get them aboard with the program and come into the other room. She shoos everyone into the main room. Jason wants to try and wake them up. Some sort of magic on them. A BIG whammy. Powered by country-wide Oestre celebrations, Superbowl parties nation-wide. It's tapping onto baseline assumptions of millions of people. It's simple ("Everybody grown-up sleeps") but has tremendous weight. Harry -- any sign of where Hecate went. Jason: Looks like some sort of scram spell, in her Sanctum ... but could be asleep. Does Stingray have access to the tower, weapons, facilities. Starts to equivoc-- A-10 punches him, and "No, I don't." Nor does A-10. Harry -- "Concord" goes over and manages to login as Silver Streak (since Dad always uses the same passwords). Give guest access to a war room two floors down. Adam looks out at the streets. No vehicles. Fires. Weird flashes. Something ... big. Charlotte is letting the Ponies know what's going on. Help people. Get Kid Kelvin to help vision to the "big" thing. Big black thing, walking around ... quadrapedal, the size of a factory ...? Underlit. GG-vision: Heavy concentration of the same sort of magic that put everyone to sleep. Paladin shows up. But he's obviously "young." Leo asks him to help access communications stuff. Otto: Trolls vandalizing things, maybe grabbing people and stuffing them in sacks. A-10 to Mercury.: what can I do? Ask her to  call her friends . Leo, Jason, Harry ... and Stingray (who knows computers) go to comm center. Scanning Twitter hashtags -- the snow is all over the place, but targeted on Halcyon City. Videos -- someone running down the street, 15, and this big duded 7' tall, loping after her, looks like his tongue snags her, pops her into a bag (but it's a small bag!) People calling for help. Military can't fly in. Jason: Not sure what to do. [Stuck in Charlotte's head] Leo: We are the voice of what's going on: conference call the interns at the TV station. No-No did a research paper, need to get that. We need to tackle the social media -- get home stay off the street stay secure ...but report in where the bad guys are. Harry: Adam's younger sister! Adam: Need to be planning this, but cryptic dude said we have to deal with magic, which seems to be the big thing. Jason: ... Holiday magic? St Nick down chimneys. Krampus. No-No says no. Some other traditions? Ice-Land-ick traditions? Harry: At the HHL HQ -- junior HHL, and the A-Team. Jason: Jaguar? Charlotte: AEGIS? No-No's research comes through : Gryla Rides a 'yule goat' made of straw. Devours children as her favorite snack. Mother of the Yule Lads Some of the Yule Lads * Stekkjarstaur - Sheep-Cote Clod - stiff peg-legs. * Giljagaur - Gully Gawk - Hides in gullies, waiting for an opportunity * Spoon-Licker - Long tongue, extremely thin * Hurðaskellir - Door-Slammer - slams doors, especially during the night * Bjúgnakrækir - Sausage-Swiper - Hides in the rafters * Gluggagægir - Window-Peeper - a snoop * Gáttaþefur - Doorway-Sniffer - scent-based hunter * Ketkrókur - Meat-Hook - Hooks meat. * Kertasníkir - Candle-Stealer - steals light Yule Cat Huge black cat the size of a three story building. [From a 1950s book of Vyortovian holiday tales. Got it from Taz.] [Why does Taz have that book?] Charlotte's helmet is ringing. Agent 1337 from AEGIS. Gets a contact number to get in touch. Anything we should know? Sends over information on  all team capes . Telekinesian is en route. Alloy is out punching people. Magic people? Armiger. Old enough she's probably asleep. Get people on the streets, fight Yule Lads, save people, fight fires, look for a guy on a goat. Need someone to coordinate support people. Stingray? A-10: we'll do the street level guys, beat the crap out of them, bring them back here. 1337 will try to get magic folk in. Leo: Teen villains? Harry: Alycia? Jason: She can't see me like this. No, wait, forget I said that. Vyortovia Island must be nearby. Leo calls up Taz to get the book. Send Stingray off to get the book. The Menagerie heads out to the cat. On the Quill hoverdisc. (grab handsful of ear buds to hand out to others) Go after it. Not finding it. Everything goes dark snow stops, lights get harder to see and ... And we're in the shadow of the Cat. Leo is watching for Yule Lads. Assess: - Most vulnerable? Element of surprise! - What here is in the greatest danger? The people in the house the cat is bending over. Into combat: Leo is in the lead. Purpose: Whup the cat? No, defend people. Trust the leader? Yeah. Not off-balance. Leo tries to  pilot the disc ONTO the cat , distracting from the people below. Harry flies, with unhelpful suggestions from Sol. But has problems, and Charlotte uses Link's cable to reach out and wrap around the flailing Concord. Swinging toward the cat, Harry wants to defend with a force field, and is distracted / aggravated by the contact prompting by Sol -- but Adam: don't get resentful! Leo: "Potato chip [shape]!" Dome shape over the house, as Harry bang against the cat, and takes the claw takes a powerful blow. (Leo finds the yowling of the cat scary -- and now he's beginning to feel the nanobot stuff starting to work.) [Harry rolls a third 5] - the cat's swat seriously tag him, blocks with the arms, force fieldy thing pops up all spiky, explodes when hits, Concord goes down hard, even though it leaves the cat off-balance and vulnerable and lurching back. Concord flies in a straight arc back, slamming into a house. Link is still attached, flying/falling. [Harry: Guilty over hurting Adam's body and how sister will react, also Insecure] Adam is mostly paralyzed in fear, not knowing what he is doing. No powers are kicking in, no voice is directing. The Concordance asks -- then initiates Agent Override.  MOMENT OF TRUTH! It's Adam's moment of I'm-not-cut-out-for-this, but it's the Concordance's moment of truth. Harry is shoved into the back seat. Teleports up to Mercury, apologizes, hand into chest! (Swaps bodies back.) Jason/GG does the primal scream / fear. It yowls back, but the Anger sustains Jason. Create an opportunity, as it flinches and crouches ... Charlotte -- shoots a cable over at the cat ... to counterbalance the fall, swinging around onto its back with a cable wrapped around its neck. Adam: Concordance has the power source, and flies in mid-air in front of the Yule Cat. "Yule Cat, your presence is unwanted. Leave now and nothing will occur." But the Concordance can tell that the cat wants to leave, but it's not allowed to -- sense the goad that leads it to lunge forward (ignoring Charlotte) and it turns out to be an energy duplicate. About a block away, one finger pointed, "Understood." Laser ... connects ... feel the connection to the people who sent it to the city. Room, a weird mix of tech and magic, full of guys, overseen by a terrifying woman, a large group of people doing different rituals, and ... ... THE ATTACK ON THE CITY IS NOT THE POINT! It's a distraction! The cat "pops". Ah! Harry is back in Harry's body. Drop into snow, but super-heal. Adam is Adam-ish body. But they are still in the spell. Adam passes on the info. "MIss Charlotte, please extend your arms." Adam falls and Charlotte-in-Link catches. Book is en route to the HHL tower. The A-Team had two Yule Lads, then Gryla showed up, and they lost one. A-10: but if it's adistraction ... from what? Or is it preliminary to swapping out Halcyon City they way Iceland was? Charlotte / Link uses Otto to fly over to the graveyard. It looks like Elliot's house in ET -- all lit up with spotlights, etc. Calls in the team. Aftermath Charlotte: Closer, influence to Adam (experiencing the different aspects of him).  Leo: Closer, influence to Charlotte (went in there swinging). +Freak [maxxed -> Anger], -Savior == influence to A-10. Harry: Closer, influence to Adam (Hands). Potential!  Jason: Closer, influence to Charlotte (scream!). Potential -> Advance! ... +Danger -Mundane Adam: Closer, influence to Harry (respect for not having someone in his head telling him what to do). [Savior locked.] +Freak, -Superior
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This was a fantastic session. I felt like everyone was operating on all cylinders and all had something to do. Scary bad guys, team building, moment of Truth at last. Doyce and everyone else, that was a blast. My only fear was me talking too much with the organization stuff.
Bill G. said: Doyce and everyone else, that was a blast. My only fear was me talking too much with the organization stuff. Actually, I found the Leo-in-Jason's-body taking-charge thing, complete with analysis and direct action, very fun to watch. 
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Another thing I really liked was how gentle and genteel Charlotte, while riding in Leo's body, was like "we need to go to the island and punch everyone to fix this!"
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*** Dave H. said: Bill G. said: Doyce and everyone else, that was a blast. My only fear was me talking too much with the organization stuff. Actually, I found the Leo-in-Jason's-body taking-charge thing, complete with analysis and direct action, very fun to watch.  Agreed.  I know I had similar fears about "oh man, I wasted my Moment of Truth on a less than perfectly dramatic point," but I think that's just over-self-analysis nerves talking.  Sure you (or anyone) could have done things differently, but if everyone had fun anyway what's the point of worrying too much about it?
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I really hope your Moment of Truth was satisfying for you. From my side of things I loved that you used it to, really, save Harry. You guys were all doing great but that was just such a neat thing to see. I know Katherine wasn't loving how bad her dice were, but it led to the perfect hand off to that moment of truth.
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Doyce T. said: I really hope your Moment of Truth was satisfying for you. From my side of things I loved that you used it to, really, save Harry. You guys were all doing great but that was just such a neat thing to see. I know Katherine wasn't loving how bad her dice were, but it led to the perfect hand off to that moment of truth. Oh no, that part was cool.  It was just that things really turned around for us between when Harry took a small beating and when Concord got to show off.  Quirk of the system and the dice rolls more than anything narrative-wise.  Went from "Alright, time to turn this fight around" to "Alright, time to finish off this kaiju cat before something goes wrong."
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I always found Charlotte genteel, but like Zhaan says in Farscape, "soft yes, weak no", and that's more than a few Southern belles I've actually met as well. And yeah, she crushed it. The Moment of Truth felt like one both for Mike (here's what's in my head about these mysterious aliens and how they work) and Adam in one sense (me projecting here: this is the power I have, this is the tiger I am riding, this is why my parents fear for me, I gotta be ready for it). So it was a blast to watch. Harry's janky dice were rough and I know that frustration, but I was glad we all found ways to push some of those rolls up, and I liked K's choice of advance and what that probably will mean for the family
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Bill G. said: Harry's janky dice were rough and I know that frustration, but I was glad we all found ways to push some of those rolls up, and I liked K's choice of advance and what that probably will mean for the family SPEAKING OF WHICH. One of Harry's moves is The Legacy Matters , which reads (in part): When you take Influence over someone from your legacy (or give them Influence over you), mark potential and take +1 forward. When a member of your Legacy successfully shifts your labels, take Potential and +1 forward. Harry totally got Influence over his Dad at the tower, when the revelation about the League's activities came out. Dad is guilty and really feeling he let Harry down as a role model and 'real hero.'  (Harry will need to work a bit more to leverage that whole reveal into influence over his mom, but the potential is there as well.) Anyway, that point of Potential is the last one Harry needs to take the "unlock the remaining two powers of your suite" advancement. Also, Harry has +1 on his next roll, since we didn't use that last night.
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My one hope after this session is that Adam gets a chance to interact with Kid Kelvin now that he's back in his body (not that Kid's going to know the difference).
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"WHO ARE YOU?!?"
Mike said: Agreed.  I know I had similar fears about "oh man, I wasted my Moment of Truth on a less than perfectly dramatic point," but I think that's just over-self-analysis nerves talking.  Sure you (or anyone) could have done things differently, but if everyone had fun anyway what's the point of worrying too much about it? It was not when I would have thought of a Moment of Truth , which made it a perfect Moment of Truth . And it was highly dramatic (it took me a few paragraphs to realize that Sol was actually grabbing Adam out of Harry's body, as opposed to going all Mola Ram on him for some reason, and his subsequent ED-209 moment against the Yule Cat was very nicely done.
Bill G. said: Harry's janky dice were rough and I know that frustration, but I was glad we all found ways to push some of those rolls up, and I liked K's choice of advance and what that probably will mean for the family They were appallingly awful, and in true PBTA fashion, helped make the events all the more exciting.
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*** Dave H. said: it took me a few paragraphs to realize that Sol was actually grabbing Adam out of Harry's body, as opposed to going all Mola Ram on him for some reason "Apologies, Subject: Gale-Tertiary.  Fortunately, your body was only clinically dead for a combined total of three seconds during the Core Overwrite Method procedure so brain damage is unlikely to occur.  Your regenerative capabilities are much greater that initially projected.  This will be useful information going forward." Solaris has such a way with words. :p
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*** Dave H. said: Bill G. said: Harry's janky dice were rough and I know that frustration, but I was glad we all found ways to push some of those rolls up, and I liked K's choice of advance and what that probably will mean for the family They were appallingly awful, and in true PBTA fashion, helped make the events all the more exciting. This is one of those things that will ensure the whole Body Swap thing will lie forever in Harry's "and we shall never speak of this again" zone.
Mike: Fortunately, your body was only clinically dead for a combined total of three seconds during the Core Overwrite Method procedure so brain damage is unlikely to occur. So ... Sol basically overwrote Adam back into his body (and, presumably, Harry back into his)? Does that leave the swap spell still intact, so that when it fades/collapses, they, too, will "switch back"? :-)
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*** Dave H. said: Mike: Fortunately, your body was only clinically dead for a combined total of three seconds during the Core Overwrite Method procedure so brain damage is unlikely to occur. So ... Sol basically overwrote Adam back into his body (and, presumably, Harry back into his)? Does that leave the swap spell still intact, so that when it fades/collapses, they, too, will "switch back"? :-) GM says NO. :) Also: GM says it was a proper move, except Sol prioritized getting Adam over first, then put Harry back AFTER, rather than simultaneously, so let's say there were a few seconds when Harry was ... unhelmed. Unless Mike was just joking, in which case ignore me.
*** Dave H. said: Actually, I found the Leo-in-Jason's-body taking-charge thing, complete with analysis and direct action, very fun to watch.  Bill mentioned last night the possibility of using the hoverdisc as an attack weapon (in the "Leo sets it on full speed toward the Yule Cat, then jumps out at the last moment" fashion). (Which would have been hysterical to watch, including Jason's reaction.) For the record (as Leo would have sussed this out pretty quickly): I have a vehicle, something from my home. When I am flying my ship, I can use it to unleash my powers, directly engage a threat, or defend someone using Superior. Flying Disk! [https://youtu.be/KlUAVaW0OUQ] Strengths: Fast & maneuverable, regenerating [self-repair facilities] Weaknesses: Unarmed, easily detectable [either the sound, or tracking its power source, or using its internal trackers] So, in theory, it could rebuild itself. That might take a while if it were exploded into flinders. Of more note is using Superior to use the hoverdisc for offense or defense. Just in case it comes up next scene.
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*** Dave H. said: Mike: Fortunately, your body was only clinically dead for a combined total of three seconds during the Core Overwrite Method procedure so brain damage is unlikely to occur. So ... Sol basically overwrote Adam back into his body (and, presumably, Harry back into his)? Does that leave the swap spell still intact, so that when it fades/collapses, they, too, will "switch back"? :-) I asked myself this too when trying to figure out if this would work.  Here is  my answer , just replace all instances of "time" with "chaotic extraplanar energy/magic."  Alternatively,  the cruder explanation .
Doyce: Also: GM says it was a proper move, except Sol prioritized getting Adam over first, then put Harry back AFTER, rather than simultaneously, so let's say there were a few seconds when Harry was ... unhelmed. Let's just hope Sol doesn't use a lossy file copy method. There are enough memory gaps in this party ...
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*** Dave H. said: There are enough memory gaps in this party ... Pfft, why leave Harry out of the fun.  I think he's the only one at the moment.
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Mike said: Pfft, why leave Harry out of the fun.  I think he's the only one at the moment. I want Harry to be the one who got hit in the skull by a gigantic cat and be the only one in this group without brain damage.
Bill G. said: I want Harry to be the one who got hit in the skull by a gigantic cat and be the only one in this group without brain damage. K notes that it was Concord who got hit in the head by a gigantic cat.
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Fair enough :)
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*** Dave H. said: Bill G. said: I want Harry to be the one who got hit in the skull by a gigantic cat and be the only one in this group without brain damage. K notes that it was Concord who got hit in the head by a gigantic cat. Thanks K!
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I'm quite pleased to learn that Session 20 did not have the problem that session 19 did with no GM's audio track. Funny thing about session 19. I've been doing a little side project with converting the recordings to straight audio and cleaning out the dead air, possibly to repost as a podcast. Part of that process involves an automated script that truncates out any part of the recording that's below -40db - basically it cleans out dead air, and that in turn will usually chop about 15 to 20 minutes out of a 2hr30m recording. I ran the scripts on session 19, where the GM talking is just dead air, and the file dropped 2 hours out of a 3h15m recording. It unfortunately didn't make it any more... listenable, but it serves as a fine "good lord you talk a lot" reminder.
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I was doing a sound check of myself on that recording and could barely hear you. I haven't listened to 20 yet, but thanks for uploading it. I'm trying to do my part to not sound like a submarine skipper over the mic to you guys.
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Doyce T. said: It unfortunately didn't make it any more... listenable, but it serves as a fine "good lord you talk a lot" reminder. While I won't disagree, I would say that it is not an uncommon trait for GM's.  You are having to express to the audience (yourself and the players) a multitude more characters than any of the PCs (in most cases a single character, with a couple outliers in this particular game).  That means that you have a lot more information to convey. That also means that on average (would have to go through and actually track this manually for an accurate number, but that's way too much work for this anecdotal information) the rest of us only spoke for fifteen minutes each out of that 3.25 hours long session.  The engagement to listening ratio seems very low when put into those terms. But if you think of about it as equal division, given a 3 hour long session, each of five player would speak for about 36 minutes each if cutting that time equally.  But that leaves out the GM.  In a perfectly balanced engagement cycle, the GM would spend an equal amount of time listening and reply to each player.  That would cut that 36 minutes in half to 18 minutes each.  This would mean while each player would only speak for 18 minutes, the GM would speak for a combined total of an hour and a half.  Using this ratio, you actually fall pretty close to average. Now, I'm probably making a lot of assumptions here because there's also player to player engagement cycles and other things at play.  Basically, statistics are a lie and you can make them say whatever you want if you play with them enough (I think the point of this post got away from me somehwere).
Or, to put it a different way, "It doesn't seem like you talk a lot, given the role of the GM as the framer of the scenes and the shepherd of the direction for the episode." Also, you are quite entertaining. I've read novels  by you. So hush. Don't sound like Jason.
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In short, it feels like a time imbalance if you go by clock time allotted to each speaker, but feels very fair if you go by clock time allotted to each character's story.
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Thanks, guys - I wasn't fishing to reassurance, but I got some! :) I did manage a patchwork quilt commentary job on session 19, to get things to a listenable state.