Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Most Wanted Conspyramid 4: Vindicator's Fiasco

Trickshot trusted some interesting people and funded an interesting project. The lower part of this column in the Conspyramid definitely tells its own Cohen Brothers story of bad decision making, but it is linked enough to the Buzzard’s Boys nodes for them to be part of a single narrative.

Level Three Node: Top Asset Runner and Asset

Vindicator and Vibron: Madge Eagleton was Alexander’s best post villain recruit. Vindicator, burned by the mob and now a free agent, saw Alexander’s sincerity and took a chance. She changed sides and started running assets for Alexander’s organization – she’s charismatic and perceptive as hell and made it work for a while. Unfortunately for Mr. Alexander her morals are still very loose, has an ‘victory at all costs’ mindset, so her assets have freer rein than they ought. (if you want, make her pistol have a paralysis setting like Bandit’s, which makes her more of a threat to the PCs).

Recently added minor hero Jeffery “Vibron” Mathers as an asset. In a happier story his innocence would have saved her. Instead she’s spending more time in bed with him than doing her job and then making cocky decisions – such as the Bandit op that netted Madge her disintegration pistol - to keep him engaged. Mathers is young, brilliant and self-centered; how this plays out is anyone’s guess.

* Increase Vindicator’s level to 8; Vibron is unchanged
* Increase Vindicator’s A to 15 and I to 14; Vibron is unchanged
* Give her a security clearance of 14

If the PCs are nosing around here it’s either because they’ve back-tracked from Bandit’s bad raid through the Cross Station to the people who ran it, or because they’ve cottoned to what’s happening with the prisoners at Tartarus, the superhuman containment facility that’s the home base for Psi-Phon’s Freakshow. Tartarus is where Vindicator selects possible recruits (who have since been shipped overseas unless you add the next column to the Conspyramid).

While Alexander is comfortable playing out a lesser charge, Eagleton isn’t – if the PCs come for her she will hit back. She’ll get deep into MEDUSA files and do field work in disguise trying to suss out secret IDs. She’ll send Vibron to scout out their bases and break into their computer files. She’ll use her natural skills and charisma to approach them to look for weaknesses. She’ll maneuver to bring Stigmata after them, or activate a bionic cadaver program from Cross Station. She’ll free Bandit if he’s in custody and send him to do something high profile and visible outside the country, so the players can chase after him in a Fast and the Furious side quest to buy her time.

If all else fails she’ll try to pick them off one at a time and store them in the same off the books holding facility the Freakshow would have used. In the end she’s not even above killing them.

What she won’t do is involve Alexander. She may undo everything Alexander worked for but she won’t implicate him in attacking super-heroes. Which means that if the PCs climb the pyramid this way they have a better chance of catching the level 4 node unawares.

Vibron, for his part, is a bit player. He’s 22, lazy in the way of naturally brilliant people, has an older, beautiful super-spy lover and thinks life is just cool as all hell. It’s not until things are about to fall apart that he’ll apply his intellect to the problem and either commit to helping Eagleton, skip out himself or take her to a hidey hole in La Paz.

Level Two Node: Cross Station

Stigmata: John Harker was an asset runner; reporting up through Eagleton he was in charge of Cross Station super-human creation. Cross Station was the remnant of the MEDUSA project that Frank Kmilek mind into a robot body, code named Stigmata. Alexander re-activated the project to see what it could do with more advanced technology, including synthetically altering cadaver muscles and grafting them back onto living humans and other feats suitable for a modern Prometheus.

Harker, seeing Eagleton lose her focus over Mathers and facing an aggressive cancer diagnosis, realized things were falling apart. He ordered the lab to put his brain in Stigmata and promptly went chiroptera-guano nuts. Cross Station is scrambling to decommission while the Stigmata Vampire hunts them.

This is a level two node because if the PCs find it early they can recover quite a bit about MEDUSA, the Cross Station projects (and people further left on the Conspyramid if they exist). Alternately, if they debrief Harker through his vampire psychosis he’s a wealth of information.

* Increase Stigmata’s level to 3; he is a former field agent. Increase is age to 55
* Increase I to 13.
* Harker had a Security Clearance of 17, but he can hardly access it now!

If the players are nosing around here it’s because Andromarkin has given up Harker as his handler, the heroes have used powers to ID Cross Station as where his operations took place –Or– the PCs have been called in as super heroes because there’s a freakin’ indestructible robot vampire on the loose.

If the former. the PCs will have the Cross Station person they’re interrogating yanked out a window and killed by the freakin’ indestructible robot vampire, which will derail their initial investigation. If they’re present because of the freakin’ indestructible robot vampire their search for him will be hindered by the people at Cross Station, and Eagleton, performing a cover up as they go.

If they get in his way often enough, or if any of them are beautiful women, Harker might decide to target them as well as his original victims. Vindicator ultimately knows Harker well enough to direct him at the PCs or some other target, with only a small chance that Harker will realize she’s a beautiful woman.

Level One Node: Hotshot Deniable Asset

Bandit: Bonn Andromarkin is significantly re-tooled. The accident did a lot of muscle and skin damage, replaced at Cross Station with synthetically modified cadaver tissue. His Ht. Str. and Speed Bonus are ‘bionic’ muscles, his Invulnerability from bionic skin and his Heightened Expertise comes from imbedded perfect balance and control (extend the bonus to any saves vs. A for super-Parkour)
* Reduce level to 2: Bandit is just starting out.

If the players are nosing around here it’s because Bandit has just committed another high profile crime. The PCs may have directly witnessed it and failed to catch him, have been alerted by the media or called in by their police contacts. In any event this node is meant as a likely Conspyramid entry point – Bandit stole his super pistolsin a daring daylight raid - leaping off the top of a bridge through the windshield of the transport van below, rolling through the van, grabbing the carrying cases and exiting out the back at high speed. Eagleton set this up to get herself a Disintegration Gun.  

Harker set up this op and then ‘moved in’ to Stigmata so Andromarkin is operating freelance. This means high speed, high stakes, low violence crimes that hopefully you can string out as long as possible.
1) The pistols theft, which the PCs can’t prevent so best to have them investigating it afterwards.
2) A second flashy crime that the PCs reach in time, but he likely will be able to escape with the surprise of his paralysis pistol (or EA appears, see below)
3) Another flashy crime where before the PCs can seal the deal Ebony Angel shows up, hopefully buying Bandit time to scarper. EA has been tracking Bandit, having him on her conspiracy board as someone who Buzzard’s organization brought back to life in their side deal with Dracula. As usual, she’s nuts but not far wrong.
4) A final crime where Bandit is out of tricks and the PCs finally corner him. Of course if they catch him in an earlier crime no harm, no foul, just move forward – though perhaps have EA show up and accidentally free him while trying to question him.

Once he’s captured they’ll find he kept two pistols but the remainder are gone, passed along to a buyer. Eagleton will tell Anexander the Op went south, and Alexander will lean on Cooper to clean it up. SHARP shows up to thank the heroes and ‘take over’ the missing gun investigation. This shouldn’t feel like a ‘get out of here, punks’ from SHARP, but a happy hand holding, knowing is half the battle freeze frame as the PCs pass off the boring stuff to the cops.

This should not work – the point of having Bandit be so annoying with his getting away is to get the players invested in him, so they keep digging. When they do they find SHARP’s investigation is cursory at best, but the ones doing the research just see it as not prioritizing a cold trail. Questioning Bandit reveals that this isn’t his first action – he’s bee being unknowingly run as an asset by MEDUSA agent. Harker slipped up and careful questioning Andromarkin will give them enough to track back to Harker, his recent “death in a car accident with the brain missing” and eventually Cross Station or, if they have powers that support super-investigation, back to Cross Station directly.

If the PCs fall for the SHARP story but you want to keep digging into this Fiasco (Pat Pend Jason Morningstar), no problem – they get called in for the freakin’ indestructible robot vampire and pick up at Cross Station.