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La Main de Dieu — Down the Rabbithole

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  • La Main de Dieu — Down the Rabbithole

    I recently built a 3E character, La Main de Dieu, based off of the Crime-Fighter Quick Start. I figured I'd run him through a mini-adventure to see how he worked out.

    Mark leaned against a wall in his warehouse and sniffed loudly, trying to stem the flow of his running nose as he perused the dossier in his hands. Alice Banks, former Emerald City Community College student, later a member of the Looking Glass Gang after getting caught in the Silver Storm, now on parole while the court tried to determine what charges could be brought against them for the latest heist. Well, rather, she seemed to have skipped bail. One missed meeting with her bondsman and a thoroughly tossed apartment later and Murray "Moe Mentum" Wolowski had called Mark up to offer him a job. Mark wasn't initially interested in the relatively paltry cash payoff — superheroes were dangerous quarry, even the more harmless ones — but Moe had offered to let Mark look over Moe's collection of confiscated artifacts and as well as the celebrated cable box that had led Moe to a life of crime. And now, here he was, trying to track down a disturbed young woman with size-changing abilities who liked to based her persona off of centuries-old literature.
    Well, nothing to it, but to do it, Mark mused to himself as he walked over to a map of the city on the wall. He traced his finger over it and contemplated where to start off his investigation. Lessee... I can check her apartment out, or maybe Callahan's Bar. A lotta lowlives there, my kinda people really, and someone mighta heard something. Yeah, cops've probably already trashed the apartment more than what was already done. With a nod, he slipped out of the warehouse, through the hidden door, and into a dark side alley.

    He takes 10 on his Expertise (Streetwise) check for a total of 23 to figure out the best place to look.
    Callahan's Bar had formerly been Callahan's Saloon until an irate author with the unlikely name of Spider sent a cease-and-desist letter. It was... an interesting place. It wasn't known as a Bad Guy Bar, but the occasional group of henchmen would show up for a post-gig celebration and it boasted a very eclectic clientèle. You were never entirely certain who — or what — you might run into there. There were laborers just getting in from the factories, cocktail waitresses from Golden Calf, the aforementioned henchmen, monstrous shapes who might be metahumans and might be mythological creatures, and one time, Mark was sure that he saw The Tick Tock Doc downing a glowing purple liquid before pulling out his watch, clicking a button on it, and disappearing. Mark approached the barfront casually, hands in his trenchcoat pockets, snorting up some excess mucus from his running nose and baptizing a beetle in the gutter with it. Inside, it was quiet at the moment. He sighted just the man he was looking for, a black man named Louie who sat at the bar, nursing his drink and looking glum.

    Frankly, Louie deserved the occasional moment of glumness. When he'd been a teenager, he had gradually gone deaf. It took him a while to catch on. At first, he assumed that he has some form of late-onset ADHD because he kept missing things. Items would fall and he wouldn't notice. He limped a little from having not noticed an oncoming car as he crossed the street. People talked around him... a lot. Or so he'd thought. His deafness increased even as he instinctively started pulling thoughts out of the air. He was picking up thoughts, conscious and unconscious, and automatically converting them to heard speech. When people were around, he got warnings of incoming danger as well as all of the gossip his heart could desire. What he really desired was silence, and Callahan's provided. Between psychic damping charms in the corners of the room and the influence of alcohol, Callahan's provided him a few hours to let his aching head empty itself of all of the accumulated voices. Hank saddled up to the bar and rapped it twice hard and once soft, knowing that Louie would pick up on the vibrations through the wood. Louie's head jerked up from his mug of beer and his eyes crinkled into a smile as he saw Mark. Mark smiled back at him and waved his hands through the motions of ASL.
    *Beer. Beer. You want? I've got money enough. Work.* Mark crinkled his brow in a mildly aggrieved expression to flavor the latter sign. *Fugitive. I'm searching.* He fingerspelled Alice's name and added *Metahuman. Grow. Shrink. A little crazy. But not fighter.* Louie nodded and jerked his head to the bartender to indicate that he was dividing his attention before he signaled for another beer. He turned and raised his eyebrows with a slight glance in front of Mark. Mark shook his head. *Trouble maybe. Drinking bad bad.* Louie nodded and waited for the next beer to arrive and for Mark to put down the money for it. He took a deep draw while it was still cold and sighed with pleasure. He then set it down to free his hand and began signing.
    *Grow shrink girl, A-L. I listen.* Louie snorted a laugh at his own joke before continuing. *Criminals. Family. She runs from them. Rabbit, white. Lizard, big. Two brawlers, those new. Stick together. A-L, move here and there, hide, has plan, staying ahead, barely.* Mark frowned and looked off to one side, lost in thought, Not good news... four of them? Louie bobbed his head to catch Mark's eye and added, *Fairy tales. Explanation... don't know. Clue. Map. Don't know. Important. Beer more?* Mark chuckled and signaled the bartender again and put down more money. He turned back to Louie.
    *Hearing aid. You, help not hear. I'm working on that. One week?* he signed. Louie smiled more broadly and clapped Mark on the shoulder, singing with the other hand. *Good man, Godhand* Mark winced slightly at the custom sign Louie had assigned to him, but he grinned ruefully and clapped Louie on the opposite shoulder before heading out.

    Rolling Investigation to gather information. 12+13+2 for the synergy with the Streetwise check gives him a total of 27 for a detailed clue as to where to look for Alice, plus some extra information.
    Also, his Well-Informed kicks in on the Looking Glass Gang. 19, 30, and 25 for his checks for the described members.
    Next stop was the apartment. It was likely picked apart, both by the Looking Glass Gang and by the police. He shook his head. The Looking Glass Gang was relatively benign as superpowered criminal groups go, but could still be incredibly dangerous. The two obvious members were the White Rabbit himself and Bill the Lizard. The two bruisers could be anyone... something tickled for attention in Mark's brain as he made the connections. Tweedledee and Tweedledum were the most prominent matched set in the Wonderland mythos. And the Battle Brothers have been oddly quiet lately. Damn it... that makes three really tough guys and one guy who can twist my mind like taffy. He shook his head and summoned White Lightning, his pookha, and galloped off to the scene of Alice's former apartment, ignoring the curious glances he got from the passerby.

    At Alice's apartment, it was as messy as he'd expected. Fortunately, the door sported a cheap Yale lock that yielded to the appropriate torque on the doorknob and he was in. A quick visual canvas of the area turned up a pile of scattered books. Fairy tales... that could fit. He quickly sorted through them, stopping when he found a copy of Perrault's tales which still smelled faintly of a feminine hand cream. He let it open on its own and check the pages that opened where the spine had been more forcibly cracked open by use. The Fairies, Ricky of the Tuft, and Donkey Skin were the tales that the books opened up to. It seemed that Alice was a doodler by nature too. Little drawings and footnotes had been added to the page. Several fancy cursive N's graced the title page of The Fairies. Notes had been made of the usefulness of Ricky's abilities and speculation on possible metahuman backgrounds in Ricky of the Tuft, and Alice had filled the margins of Donkey Skin with a lengthy diatribe about intrafamilial sexual abuse. There were other drawings and comments, but those ones immediately jumped out at him. Original title of The Fairies was Les Fées... the Ns are all clustered around a point that overlaps the middle of the word. The Fens? He paged through it and looked at where she'd noted thematic ties to the moral of Donkey Skin. He frowned and pocketed the book. That... that doesn't match up at all. Hmm... well pounding the pavement solves all kinds of problems. He left the apartment and tried to shake the feeling that he was being watched... He stopped, and tried to focus on perceiving additional clues, getting a hint of an astringent smell, but his nose started running again and the lengthy sniff and spit eradicated all evidence. He shrugged and continued on to The Fens.

    Taking 10 on the Investigate check nets him a good clue, the book of Fairy Tales. A further Investigate check to decipher the clues. A roll for the check yields a 20... 33 is a really big result. He not only gets the clue as to the most likely first location, but also an additional one to help him narrow down the location. His Perception check of 9+13 lets him know that he's being pursued, but the GM fiats to keep him from realizing the source
    At The Fens, he found his mounting paranoia had eased. Maybe he'd outrun his troubles. Maybe he simply was keeping ahead of them. One step ahead of the shoeshine and two steps away from the county line... now I just need to figure out which customers to satisfy. He began humming Simon and Garfunkel as he strolled down the streets. The Fens was ever-changing and yet ever the same as old slums were demolished or succumbed to mysterious fires and were replaced with buildings slightly updated for the times, but just as lousy. Even with his eyes peeled, he almost missed the monument. It was a low stone, made of highly polished marble, and had gotten covered by a fair amount of debris. He walked over and brushed it off, feeling it call to him.
    "In honor and recognition of the Scarlet Spectre, Protector of the Fens, from its grateful residents, 1997." He nodded and tapped on it twice in an unconscious gesture. [I]Heard about her... two guns and attitude was all she had. Sold out the Liberty League to HUAC. Guess your hometown never forgets you... he tidied the flowers scattered at the base, removing a few which had started to mildew, and then stood. Before his eyes was a rundown boarding house, a few steps above a flophouse, really, titled the Smilac Center. He cocked his head to the side.
    "But why would she leaves clues for..." he muttered to himself before stopping and giving himself a light dope slap, "Because she's crazy, Mark." He walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell.

    A frumpy middle-aged woman with her hair escaping a bun answered the door. "Sorry," she said in a voice which indicated she wasn't really all that sorry, "But all of the rooms are full up. Try tomorrow." As she attempted to close the door, Mark managed to catch it with his hand.
    "I'm sorry, ma'am, but I must insist," he said, his voice slightly nasal as the back of his throat started itching. He cleared it and continued. "Pursuing a skip wanted by the police... I'm sure you don't want trouble, so if I can just talk to whoever has their doors open..." She looked reluctant, but a folded Andrew Jackson led her to give him a grudging 30 minutes. Right inside the door, he hit paydirt of a sort with a group of tenants clustered around the television, watching a UWL brawl with great interest. Mark sidled up and peered at the TV. Sandstone was facing Gustav "The Brawler" Mahler and seemed to be getting the worst of it. Great clouds of sand plumed from her skin as the oversized man in a conductor's outfit played percussion along her bent back. One massive blow seemed to put Sandstone all to pieces, which tumbled to the mat. Gustav raised his arms in triumph and started bellowing out a surprisingly competent rendition of "Der Abschied", not noticing as a trickle of sand began to move up his pants-leg... two minutes later, and many cries from the couch for Mahler to "stop hitting himself", Sandstone was being recognized as the winner, and still victor, of the match. Mark moved to the TV and switched it off as it segued into a commercial for Black Avenger malt liquor, remastered footage of Billy Dee Williams portraying the superhero winking out into blackness. He forestalled the groans with an upraised hand.
    "I won't keep you long. I'm looking for..."
    "AlIcE... yOu WaNt aLiCe," the residents of the couch suddenly said in unison, their eyes unseeing, "YoUr PrInCeSS iS In AnOtHeR CaSTle." They then all closed their eyes and a second passed before they reopened them and began blinking furiously.
    "Aw man... did I fall asleep through the end of the match again?" one member off to the side said, rubbing at the corner of his eyes, "These UWL matches get suckier every time..." He began to get up, with the others about to follow before he stopped and cocked his head off to one side. "Macleod... I dunno why, but I feel like you should really talk to him. Something... yeah." The group shuffled off to their respective rooms, the doors closing in unison. Mark sighed. [I]Telepath? Seems more like White Rabbit's schtick. But why would he... right, crazy." He shook his head and walked out. Any other info that the men might have had was likely tainted. Macleod... I should know something about him. He racked his brain, but to little avail. He pulled out the book of fairy tales and it opened on the story of Ricky of the Tuft. He scanned, but the notes on the margins didn't seem to help much this time. Ugly. Smart. Curses and blessings. Marriage... no. But smart guys... Ah, Dr. Macleod, I presume? He'd never met the good doctor directly, but Dr. Clarence Macleod was a scientist at Astro Labs, brilliant in many fields, but lacking in common sense. Mark reopened the book and noted references to the clever sister, with notes in the margin about her story not being answered. This, he was certain, was a clue, but he was uncertain as to how to interpret it. He shook his head and walked out of the door and into two fists.

    He tries Persuade to get her to treat him favorable. 16+1 gets him from Unfavorable to Indifferent. It's really not his skill... he then rolls a bare Intellect check for the name. 7+7 doesn't give him anything from that bare hint, but a further perusal of the fairy tale book gives him the minor bonus he needs to think of Dr. Clarence Macleod of Astro Labs.

    That's the first part done. He's limited in ways I hadn't thought of... not certain how he's going to do in this upcoming combat either.
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  • #2
    La Main de Dieu — Tweedledee and TweedleDum agreed to have a battle...

    The Battle Brothers get a surprise round by fiat with La Main de Dieu getting a Hero Point, bringing him up to 3. He'll likely need it... I pulled the Battle Brothers from the Threat Report, dropping their Strength, Stamina, and Fighting by 2 each to take them down to PL 9 to make this slightly more fair (The Hatter's mind control process leaves them impaired). Rolls of 8+9=17, 20+2=22, and 12+2 = 14 will put Jack up first, then La Main de Dieu, then Malcolm, that is, after the Surprise Round.

    They're going to do a combined attack on the Vulnerable La Main de Dieu. 16+8 and 5+8 will hit and miss respectively. That's a DC 25 Toughness save. 16+4 just barely reduces him down to 1 Ouchie. The follow-up save versus the reaction damage of 19+4-1 takes him down another Ouchie.
    There are moments when time stands still. Having two fists incoming to your face can incite such moments. La Main de Dieu drew upon his study of capoeira to immediately drop back into a queda de tres. The first punch flew wide, but the second skimmed his face, knocking him off balance such that the follow-up blow picked him up and tossed him a few feet. Nonetheless, he rolled with the impact and came up in a fighting stance. The blow to his head blurred his vision for a moment, leaving him with two large blobs moving to attack him, one after the other.
    Ah, right... Tweedledee and Tweedledum would fit in just right with The Looking Glass Gang... Mark mused.

    Up at the top of the initiative, Jack will try to grapple La Main de Dieu to immobilize him. 10+8 will miss.

    La Main de Dieu does a free Investigation check on the pair due to Well-Informed. 19+13 gives him everything including their shoe size. He knows that they're fighting under-strength and that they're surprisingly well-rounded in their defenses (unlike most brutes, they're not sporting a low Will save and they've got decent defenses) and that he definitely doesn't want to get stuck between the two due to their reaction damage. He'll move away from them and drop his stinkcloud in place, hoping to get lucky. Dodge saves of 9+8 and 16+8 mean the effect is halved. Fortitude saves of 8+11 and 11+11 would have passed even if the effect was not halved.

    Malcolm closes in and attempts his own grab, using AoA 2. 10+8+2 is still not good enough to land the grab.
    The first blobby figure stepped in and tried to sweep Mark up in a bearhug. He swung a quick one-two combination to the figure's face, neither blow carrying much force, but distracted the figure enough that Mark was able to duck out from the arms. He danced back a few steps and shook his head to clear his vision. What he saw after he blinked away the fog wasn't much better. The Battle Brothers... Jack Bryce and Malcolm Manning were two thugs up for 30 years hard time for armed robbery. They escapes, picked up some alien tech, become superpowered thugs like these guys do... He drew a stogie out of his pocket and puffed out a thick green cloud of cloying smoke, hoping to get lucky. He didn't. The Battle Brothers advance in on him, the black brother, The black one is Malcolm, I think... tried for a tackle, but Mark was able to side-step the relatively clumsy attack. The two are brighter than your usual set of thugs. No obvious weaknesses. They share thoughts and feelings, so they're harder to fool. On the other hand, if I can drop one...

    Jack steps in and attempts Startle to Setup Malcolm. 2+8 is nowhere near La Main's 10+10, so no dice.

    La Main de Dieu moves back another 30 feet and attempts a PA 5 with the Mega-bounce Balls against Malcolm. 12+16-5 easily hits for DC 24 Toughness. 12+10 is enough to reduce it down to 1 Ouchie.

    Malcom moves in and tries for the grab, using AoA 2. If at first you don't succeed... and 17+8+2 will! But La Main de Dieu rolls 20+12 and easily slips the grip. Jack isn't in range to make use of the 1-2 Punch Reaction damage.
    Jack, the white man of the two, grinned and crossed his arms over his chest. Mark noticed that Jack's eyes were slightly glazed, and he was moving a bit jerkily. Jack's mouth opened, worked a moment, then spoke in a warbling childlike voice that sent chills up Mark's spine.
    "Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreed to have a battle. With fist and wrist although we missed, your brainpan we will rattle". Still, talk was better than fighting.... Mark fished out a handful of Mega-Bounce balls and released them at Malcolm, the black guy. The balls ricocheted off of the huge black man's face, bloodying one lip, but not removing the wide grin as he charged in and tried for another bearhug. Mark ducked to the right and came up just outside Malcolm's guard.

    Jack delays his action to after La Main de Dieu.

    La Main De Dieu steps in and hammers at Malcolm's ribs with his Blasting Rings with PA 5. 3+8-5 will miss entirely. An HP Reroll gives him 18+8-5 which will hit for DC 26. 4+10-1 is enough to leave Malcom Staggered and with another Ouchie. He then backs up another 15 feet to keep out of swinging range.

    Jack forgoes his planned Aid action and instead takes a swing at La Main de Dieu with PA 5. 18+8-5 would hit, but La Main de Dieu uses his Ultimate Defense to spend another HP to force a reroll. 9+8-5 will miss.

    Malcolm is down to a single action. He'll use his Move action and Leaping to jump to the other side of La Main de Dieu to bracket him.
    Jack seemed content to stand there, arms crossed, so Mark swung his fist into Malcolm's back, landing a solid blow on the kidneys which was followed by a sharp shock down Mark's arm as the kinetic energy stored in the rings on that hand, multiplying the force of the blow. Malcolm fell to one knee and Mark loped several steps forward, reflexively ducking at the last moment to avoid a massive haymaker from Jack that would have taken his head off. As he rolled up to his feet, a shadow passed over him and suddenly Malcolm was on the other side of him, cutting off one avenue of escape.
    Right... smarter tactics than the usual set of thugs...

    La Main de Dieu knows that he can't take much more of this, but also knows that the Achille's Heel of these thugs is that taking out one means taking out both. He'll pelt Malcolm with Mega-Bounce balls with another PA 5 attack (the low damage of the Crime Fighter archetype means Power Attack is virtually a necessity...). 18+16-5 will again hit for DC 24. But 13+10-2 makes it only another Ouchie. La Main de Dieu will use Extra Effort to attack again. 17+16-5 will also hit, but Malcom rolls a 20 to avoid all damage. La Main de Dieu uses a routine Streetwise check to spot a narrow alleyway and he quickly runs in. Acrobatics of 4+5 takes him down to half speed in the clutter of the alley, which means he doesn't get far.

    Jack is mad about what happened with his brother and goes for a Slam Attack. He doesn't have enough room to go the full movement, so it's "only" a DC 26 Toughness. 18+8 will hit. 20+5-2 for La Main de Dieu would normally net him another Ouchie, but rolling 20 reduces the damage by one for no damage. 19+10 for Jack easily avoids any damage from the Slam attack.

    Malcolm tries to break La Main de Dieu's spirit with an Intimidation check. 14+8 isn't shabby, and La Main de Dieu only rolls 5+15, which means he's Impaired.
    Pulling another double handful of Mega-bounce balls, Malcolm unleashed a storm of enchanted rubber on Malcom, only succeeding in raising a few bruises. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, and remembering that there was a crowded alleyway nearby, he turned on his heel and dashed for the head of the alleyway. He readily vaulted the first trash bin. He stumbled over a set of milk crates and skidded to a halt on his knees in what appeared to be the remains of a Happy Meal.
    "Yuc-" His disgusted exclamation was cut off into a sudden exhalation of breath as Jack barreled through the debris of the alleyway and speared Mark. Mark twisted with the impact and landed on his back, skidding back a foot or so, his trenchcoat dissapating the force and protecting him from road rash. He immediately kipped up, only to have his knees go weak for a moment as Malcolm, outside in the alleyway, let out a high-pitched, but gutteral, cry of glee.
    "Shit... I don't get paid for this," he muttered.

    OOC: La Main de Dieu is now Fatigued is going to try to move past Jack (DC 15 Acrobatics). 12+5-2 lets him squeeze by. He'll pelt Malcom with more Mega-Bounce balls at PA 5. 13+16-2-5 hits. 3+10-3 nets another Staggered and the two thugs are down!
    Feeling an ache in his bones that he knew would blossom into full pain soon enough, Mark darted forward and jinked left, the right, Jack easily following along in a wide grappler's stance. At the last minute, Mark baseball slid right under the gauntleted crook, just avoiding one swinging arm, and stumbled up to his feet, throwing his last handfull of the rubber balls at Malcolm, knowing that failing this gambit would likely lead to his skull getting pulped. The balls bounced chaotically off of the alleyway walls. Malcolm raised his arms in front of his face in a classic boxer's guard, but the ricocheting balls flashed in on either side of his side of his arms. Mark stumbled forward, searching for a second wind, and was straightening for a last stand as Malcolm's large form teetered and fell, echoed by a second thump in the alleyway. Mark took a few deep breaths, then sighed.
    Great... well, we survived. He carefully approached Malcom's fallen form, wary of traps, but finding none. He then set about an efficient but thorough search.

    16+13 nets him a wide variety of clues.
    The first thing he found was a wallet. The ID was obviously a fake, but the money inside looked real enough, as did the credit cards. Mark pocketed it. Never know when a little operating cash might help... The other contents of the pocket were less enlightening. Change, a set of generic Yale keys, a brochure for Astro Labs... The last jumped out at him. He furrowed his brow, then drew out the pocket book of fairytales. Johnny of the Tuft... a fairy tale character who could make others smarter. Seems useful enough, especially if you find the beautiful but dumb princess. A moment later, he was paging through the Astro Labs brochure. The creases are characteristic of someone reading one particular section repeatedly... Dr. McLeod? Mark shrugged. Egghead... seems smart enough, able to impart intelligence on others... could it be that he's helping to hide Alice? Worth a try, right? He quickly rolled Jack, applied enchanted Chinese finger traps to the Battle Brothers, then called in the local gendarmes. Much to his pleasure, he found an open bounty on the brothers raised by the family of a bystander victim. He grinned as he contemplated getting paid twice over.
    Hey, nice work if you can get it, eh? He then pulled out his pookha figurine and was soon galloping off to Astro Labs.
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