Friday, May 17, 2013

Universal Comics Movieverse 9


9: the first film sequence, part 2

Now to detail the other movies in the first sequence:

Phoenix, the Movie!

As discussed last time the PC structure of this movie, along with the basics of the Phoenix stories, is a parallel story that focuses in one part on Amanda and Freddie and the other part on Robinson and Sun. In both cases the threat is Manticore, one of the classic Phoenix villains from the NYC era. To make sure these tie together Abrowski can be Freddie’s uncle (not his father – that might reveal that he has a last name!).


We can have our opening scenes be Amanda at a bus station in Knoxville, saying goodbye to her family and heading north with a guitar on her back. We see her have some comedic moments of dislocation in the big city – not least of which is learning that the woman she meant to room with is suddenly on tour with a dance company, leaving her with matchbox apartment occupied only by Freddie, who we first see as incomprehensibly drugged out. She has the first of several calls with her folks that makes it clear they’d rather she come home.

In the parallel story we see Sun working at his small but high tech lab on his new project for harnessing energy from other dimensions into living organisms. Dr. Robinson is there because of the potential medical power of the procedure – a 50 year old but still ruggedly handsome and incredibly fit Dr. Robinson, who is now head of the As Astra think tank’s medical wing. The two men can interact however the players prefer – does Robinson think Sun is going too fast? Too slow? Doesn’t matter! – since there is an inevitable incident with of sabotage from the man who will be Manticore (Maxwell Poor). The man thing is to introduce the PCs and do the exposition about power sources and the Ad Astra think tank being potent.

That sabotage causes an explosion which engulfs the future Manticore and Amanda, who is visiting the site with Freddie to take advantage of the free dinners that Sun provides to his nephew, but sends ‘rays’ of some sort all over the city. Robinson and Sun find Freddie unconscious but unhurt but not Amanda, as she has apparently been obliterated until she flickers back into existence in a spot they already checked. Only Freddie sees this and unconsciously makes an excuse to his uncle to protect Amanda’s changed state.

That takes us through plot point one and as far as we want to do any pre-scripting. The rest of the movie should be pretty clear from here with Amanda spending the second act learning to use her powers (perhaps with help from Freddie) and stopping random NYC crime with her speed protecting her identity. Between her and Freddie she even develops a costume and a scrapbook of newpaper stories of her exploits. Dr. Robinson and Sun meanwhile, are exploring what went wrong and eventually discovering that it was sabotage and not a failure on Sun’s part, so the pair start tracking down Poor. We also see asides of Poor learning to use his new powers just as Amanda has, and of him attacking and killing the rival firm (ONI) that had paid him to disrupt Sun’s research.

Things come to a head when Sun and Robinson find Poor, who is now super-powerful and around the twist, desiring vengeance. Warned by Freddie’s hash-based premonition Amanda is able to intervene, but gets poisoned saving them.
The men, specifically Robinson (with an assist from a called in Astran, Dr Sun, a UC comics character) , are able to save her from Manticore’s extremely toxic venom but Freddie manages to arrange things to keep Amanda’s identity secret (including wearing her clothes to be seen at distance). When Amanda wakes up she flees back to her apartment and is unsure of whether to face Manticore again. Then Manticore comes after her, having deduced her identity, but accidentally kidnaps the Freddie-In Drag instead. This pushes Amanda into action for a big fight scene. She rescued Freddie and is assisted in the end by Raymond and Sun, who have rigged a device to remove Mantiocre’s powers. The ray starts a cellular overload, forcing Phoenix to fly Manticore into space before he explodes.

Everyone is left thinking that Phoenix is also dead – except Amanda and Freddie, who obviously know that she outraced the shockwave and returned to Earth in time to help ‘save’ Freddie.

Again, this is just a hypothetical sketching ended at act 1

Doc Toltec, the movie!

This is theoretically the last film in the sequence (if we wanted to completely ape the Marvel movies I’d do a second Aeaea movie that moved to the next stage of his arc and introduced Glenda, Fairy Princess (more on her later). The opening is focused on West Side General Hospital, where we see the Dr. Robinson/Nurse Betty/Ralph Crabtree triangle play out a bit and get some exposition about how Ralph, a funder of the Ad Astra think tank, wants Robinson’s advice on a current project. That  project turns out to be a Time Platform, the holy grail of the Ad Astras. Robinson and Betty are astounded by it but before we can learn too much the secure site is attacked by ONI agents. Our heroes are forced to use the time platform to escape. The ONI agents seem comfortable with the working of the time platform and reset the controls before using it themselves.

Our contemporary heroes find themselves in Theosophical Atlantis where they meet up with Rlaveg Askac, the future Doc Toltec. Rlaveg is dealing with troubles of his own as the ONI agents jumped back in time prior to our heroes’ arrival. Our heroes have to work together to stop them. That ends Act 1.

Betty is of course kidnapped by the ONI commander’s Atlantean partner, tied up and dressed in a metal bikini. At the mid-point they are victorious but hurled back to the present with Doc Toltec in tow, who now can’t return since the time platform is missing. Our heroes have to track the ONI base in the present and face the zombies they’ve made in the sewers (zombies made from the reverse engineered HIV demon remnants – Robinson will recognize that). Eventually our heroes manage to find them and defeat them, despite the high end martial arts skills and hyper-tech the ONI commanders have. And of course Betty is again captured, has her clothes ripped, is tied up, escapes and bashes one of the ONI people with her chains at a key moment.

It’s easy to see that Robinson might die at this point; we might also have an attack take off Crabtree’s hand. As a GM I’d like to set these things up, but as always I’m not wedded to them. If Robinson dies Doc stays in the present to carry on his work. If he doesn’t Doc Stys n the present out of his secret love for Betty. Anyway, Doc is here to stay. 

Frequency, part 2

I touched on Frequency when I was working out Captain Nostalgia but I wanted to come back to it for the actual movies.

In captain Nostalgia’s case it’s arguable that we can drop the Ad Astra society since they are the other player characters, even if they are an ability the hero leans on. If we take them out his frequency for the movie looks like this:
·         Uberjager Detective - Primary
·         Gravity Gear – Secondary
·         Eugenically Bred Human – Tertiary
·         Historian – Rare
·         Time Travel Device – Rare
He has mysteries to solve, his historical knowledge matters only for getting him to the right place/time to start things off and he still has to act like a detective through the second act. Likewise the time travel is a plot device, not a real power.

Aeaea’s powers and frequency for his film are
·         San Francisco Urbanite – Primary
·         Magical Force of Will – Secondary
·         Magical Spells (Transmute, force fields, flight) - Secondary
·         Magical Rituals (Growth, Astral, d-travel, etc) – Tertiary
·         Commercial Artist – Rare
For this film at least we spend sizable time on how Aeaea just knows the city, the people in it and how it works – this is how he contributes to the detective work in the first act and even later in the film as they track down the demon. Once he starts training he relies on the charisma his powers grant him to defuse conflicts and his baseline magic shortly thereafter if that fails. He doesn’t bust out the stuff that requires rituals unless it’s really important and nothing else has worked. His commercial arts career was really important at some stages of the comic but here it’s just chrome.

Phoenix Powers and frequency for her film are
·         Wings - Primary
·         Stellar Channeling - Secondary
·         Heightened Speed - Tertiary
·         Heightened Strength - Tertiary
·         Powers enhanced in Space – Rare
·         Musician – Rare
This is a little harder to track since her flight speed and her heightened speed are somewhat linked, but Phoenix starts by trying to use her flight to maneuver, evade attacks, rescue people and otherwise make use of her superior mobility. She then follows up with her stellar channeling (fire, light, gravity) to keep the fighting at a distance. It’s only if pressed that she breaks out the super-strength and speed based effects. Her musical skills exist only to make her a humorously struggling artist in NYC

Doc Toltec’s powers and frequency for his film are
·         Bronze Hard Skin - primary
·         Theosophical science- Secondary
·         Medical Skills - Tertiary
·         Vast Gold Supply - Rare
·         Vehicles – Rare.
Doc is one of the world foremost intellects, and he solves problems by punching people. He always leads with his bronze hard skin and the combat advantages they provide, and when that doesn’t work for this film he busts out his super-intellect and science skills. He might be called on for medicine, but the time vault and vehicles aren’t good fits for this film.