The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – Issue 3, Vol. I “Radioactive pt. 2”

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At the end of the previous issue, the League had traveled to a new recursion with the help of the head of the Estate, Katherine Manners. Stepping through the gate they found themselves in a place called New Centropolis, a recursion based upon the combined mythos of comic book superheroes. The four men, as the gate closed behind them, discovered that they had adopted personas that fit within it.

John Clayton, Tarzan, had turned into Silverback, the powerful hero who could climb any wall. Jay Gatsby had become the Green Gatsby, able to fly and create objects from solid green light. Victor Frankenstein transformed into Dr. DeLightning, a superhero with the ability to teleport within sight and control lightning. Finally, Hiro Protagonist had become Hiro, a true hero with the power to fly and control electricity.

As the group took in their new surroundings and abilities, their reprieve was interrupted by the sound of an explosion, cries from frightened citizens and a stampeding crowd running from certain danger. Leaping to action, the League raced into the street and found a skyscraper with it’s tenth floor damaged and on fire. Using the reflection off the opposite building Dr. DeLightning teleported into the floor and moved to foil the two women who were attempting to break into a vault in the science laboratory.

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The battle that ensued would culminate with Dr. DeLightning stabbing the villain Nightmare Chill in the side with a knife and shooting her with his revolver. Realizing that their plans had been foiled, the ice-coated woman unleashed a terrifying snow storm within the science lab, leaving visibility at near zero and allowing them to escape. It would be the Green Gatsby who would foil them. Racing to the broken window, utilizing his ability to create an object from solid green light, he created an arm to grab Fission, as Dr. DeLightning shattered the ice path Nightmare Chill was sliding upon to flee.

On the ground, Dr. DeLightning’s nature would come to the fore. With Nightmare Chill laying on the ground, unable to escape, he would draw his revolver and end her. The mad scientist in him would reach out, scooping the villain up and teleporting away, just as the Department of Superhuman Affairs would arrive on the scene.

The League fled, searching for places to hide, and changing into street clothes, thinking that the would be imprisoned for their actions. It would finally be in a warehouse outside of the city that the DSA would catch up with them, and offer them aid if they registered. Each agreed, except Silverback, who expertly hid from the agents, clinging to the underside of a SWAT vehicle, while the others entered the DSA headquarters and registered.

Here the Director of the Department, Alicia Reardon, would give them a tour, introducing them to Warden Hughes and their containment unit called a Quantum Collapse Arch. They would also be directed to the Spectacular’s Sanctuary, the primary superhero team in New Centropolis, as a place to seek aid.

Finally leaving, the group headed to New Centropolis Square in search of their contact, a man called Corvid. It is there that they would learn the story of the city’s heroine, a woman called Radioactive Girl, who sacrificed herself to save the city and it’s citizens from a terrible, alien virus. Her explosion was what created the massive crater to the east of the city. In the square, Hiro would speak with a young girl at an outdoor cafe. From her he would learn that Corvid, a birdman, was the caretaker of Radioactive Girl’s memorial, but had been missing for the last three days. Gaining the young girl’s confidence, she whispered to him that he had gone into the crater and had not come out.

With no other roads to follow, the League gained the wall and entered the crater in search of Corvid.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Issue 2, Vol. I “Radioactive pt. 1”

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Having been fished from the pool in his luxurious mansion in East Egg, NJ, Jay Gatsby finds himself rescued from certain death by the mysterious Jacob Marlowe. He explains that his organization has put together a team, a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, that Marlowe believes Gatsby will perfectly round out. With the notion of helping defend not just his world, but multiple worlds against terrifying creatures and threats, Gatsby signs on to the League.

The morning after the League has faced the strange, eerily powerful “Everyman”, and prevented him from murdering MI6 Agent Ralph Ansley, with Gatsby in tow, they head for the Lowther Lodge, home to the Implausible Geographic Society in Kensington Gore, London. Here Jacob Marlowe gives them a tour of the organization they will be working closely with, the Lodge and finally the head of the order, Dame Amanda Wallace.

It is in Dame Wallace’s office that they are brought face-to-face with the incredibly nauseating portrait of Dorian Gray, MI6’s head, “M”. She explains to the League that because of unknown information leak, that they believe resides within MI6, the IGS has taken the responsibility of safeguarding the portrait. It was moved from a secure location to the Lowther Lodge the previous evening, and she has devised a plan to hide it from the Everyman.

While the members of the League who faced the Everyman, Tarzan, and Victor Frankenstein, are skeptical, they agree to hear out her plan. She explains that they have made an arrangement with an organization from Earth called The Estate. Dame Wallace and the head of the Estate, Katherine Manners, have created a plan, that would keep any one side of the equation from knowing the full plan to hide the Portrait of Dorian Gray. When the League is ready, they will travel via Inapposite Gate to Earth where they will be met by operatives of the Estate. Once in Manners’ custody, they will be given the final information on their journey to protect the head of MI6.

The League agrees to follow the plan, and using the gate, find themselves on Earth, in London. They travel via private jet (a unique experience for all involved) to Seattle, Washington, where they are met by Agents Wells and Langford who will escort them from the private airfield, across the sound to the Estate’s campus in Seattle. The initial part of the journey is uneventful until they begin to draw close to a bridge over the narrows.

One of the League, from his position in the SUV, notices a strange event happening to the north out over the dark water. A black spiral begins to spin in the sky and soon it opens up, allowing several dark shapes to fly out of it that begin racing towards the bridge at break-neck speeds. Realizing that they will be attacked, the League prepares to defend the portrait and themselves. The creatures draw closer to the bridge, and they can be seen to be small children, dressed for Halloween astride witch’s brooms, brandishing lit jack-o-lanterns. Three break formation, hurtling towards the SUV while two others begin bombing cars on the bridge, causing a devastating accident and preventing the League from escaping across the bridge.

Three fly over the SUV as Tarzan climbs out of the vehicle’s moon roof brandishing his sword. As he does, the gleeful creatures pelt him with candy that begins to explode. Making hairpin turns they fly back for another bombing run, two passing over Tarzan while one drops behind the SUV and works at trying to pick the lock to the back door. The accident has forced the Estate Agents to bring the vehicle to a halt, and Tarzan takes this opportunity to jump down on the creature, stopping his lockpicking and pinning him to the concrete roadway.

The League and the Agents begin to climb out of the SUV, and Gatsby offers several encouraging words, lifting their spirits as they work to fight against their attackers. Victor, reaching out with his will, shatters one of the brooms sending a creature spiraling to the ground. The Estate Agents draw their weapons and begin firing and Tarzan works to move forward hacking at the remaining flying trick-or-treaters. It is at the far end of the bridge that the true threat emerges. The two creatures who caused the accident begin piling pumpkins together, and from it grows a massive, ten-foot tall Pumpkin Golem. On spindly vine legs, it trundles forward to engage the League.

As the two flying creatures follow their creation, they pull out small, black crossbows and begin firing upon the League. It is Gatsby who steps forward, halting one in mid-air with his voice. Unfortunately, one of the other hobgoblins launches a poisoned, rotting apple at his feet. The gas and the stench reaches up, clawing at his throat and he begins to vomit over the concrete. It is at this time, using a one-use cypher, given by the IGS, that Hiro Protagonist joins the group. In a flash of golden light he appears, katana brandished, looking for enemies.

Tarzan rushes forth to the Pumpkin Golem, slicing at it with his sword, before launching himself onto this back and attempting to behead the creature. With Hiro and Tarzan working in unison, they defeat the remaining creatures, keeping the portrait safe… for the time being.

The Estate agents continue escorting the League to the Seattle Campus. In the Security headquarters, they are introduced to Katherine Manners. They discuss the final plans to safeguard the portrait, and she explains that she has selected a recursion for them to take the item. To ensure that they cannot be followed, she will not tell them or describe the recursion, and has taken it upon herself to operate the gate that will allow them to travel there.

Satisfied with her precautions, the League takes a short time to recuperate and rest before finishing their journey. As they step through the Estate’s Inapposite Gate, they find themselves standing in a short alleyway in the recursion of New Centropolis, one based off of the myriad tellings of Superheroes.

A Hiking We Will Go!

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In the last year, I have been reacquainted with an old flame: hiking. To thank for that I have the Wounded, Ill and Injured Warrior Clinic at NMSCD San Deigo, led by the spectacular Marla Knox. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in Western Michigan, where hiking was a daily occurrence. Whether it was to get to school, to get across a farm, to get to the deer you were hunting, or to get to the Big Lake, we hiked every day.

After being referred to the pain management clinic at Balboa Naval Hospital, part of my therapy 1924368_10203596259418430_8553166031141360104_nwas being evaluated by the WII Wellness Clinic. They gave me a lot of options from swimming, Tai Chi, Yoga and the one that truly caught my eye, hiking. I signed up for all of them, and soon every Wednesday at 7 a.m. I was standing outside in the cold, my trekking poles under one arm, my camelback slung across my shoulders and a protein bar for breakfast, ready to hike.

I went into this clinic with the idea that I was there to work on strengthening my back. I set myself to focusing on pushing myself, getting a vigorous workout of the 3-4 hours each week. As it continued, as it became a routine, a habit, I discovered something else. I wasn’t just working on my muscles; I was working on my mind as well. So many of those who were on the hikes each week, weren’t there because of a physical disability, they were there because they had experienced psychological trauma, and the Recreational Therapist to ran the clinic, Marla Knox, used the hikes as a way to integrate them into a group, a community and society.

I made a lot of friends during these weekly hikes. I met a lot of great people that have inspired me 10675564_10203849430587551_4065154531802597514_nto continue not just my healing, but my hiking. Spending 20 years in the military, I’ve hiked around the world. From the mountains of the island of Crete, to jungles above Busan, South Korea. From Diamondhead on Oahu, Hawaii, to the mountains of Southern California. The one thing that I have learned, that the WII Wellness Clinic helped remind me of, is that when life gives me challenges there is only one response:

“Put one foot in front of the other, and just keep hiking!”

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Issue 1, Vol. I – “A Portrait of Everyman”

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Since the day Monte Cook Games launched the Kickstarter for The Strange RPG, I have been itching to run a campaign. Like most RPGs, the players create characters that they make decisions for during the game. Unlike other RPGs in the Strange you are not tied to one specific genre. In fact, the amazing aspect of the game is that you can play through a variety of genres in several or even one session.

The basic premise of the game is that you play a person, called a Recursor, who can translate through this mysterious, dark web called the Strange that surrounds our world. All of our myths, legends, stories and tales feed into the Strange can create recursions based upon them. For instance with all of the revitalizing attention that Sherlock Holmes has received in the last few years, there is a recursion called “221B” based upon the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As a recursor, you could translate to it, and find yourself living inside the “Sign of the Four” or “Reichenbach Falls”.

This part of my blog is going to be dedicated to detailing the story of the campaign that I am running, stolen from the long-running comic book and movie, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” pays homage to their stories, while working to be new and unique. Let me know what you think in the comments below, like and share on social media, I’ll send you $5… ok, no really, but I’ll love you for it.

Cast of Characters

To be able to follow any story, you need to know who the good guys are, who you are going to support. The game currently has four players, and each of them was tasked with creating a cypher system character, based upon a literary character. Like the comic books and movie, the idea is that, in the Strange, these literary figures have become self-aware and are now working to save not just their world, but the entirety of the Strange. When creating a character in the Strange, there is a simply sentenced that is used “I am an Adjective Noun who Verbs”. This is the basis for every character and gives a whole host of options to make someone unique.

John Clayton “Tarzan.”Tarzan

Taken from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Clayton, or Tarzan as he is best known, is the most physical character of the group. He is direct, blunt and protective of those he is involved with. He is a Strong Vector, who Excels Physically. He was found during his search for the scientist Jane Porter, and because of his new insight into the Strange, translating, recursions and cyphers has come to the notion that Jane may also have been a recursor.

Dr. Victor FrankensteinFrankenstein

Pulled from the pages of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s masterpiece, Dr. Frankenstein is part of the intellectual side of the group. He is a smart, quick, intelligent scientist who fits well into the story. He is a Mad Paradox, who Conducts Weird Science. Tieing into the book, Victor is concerned that his creation may have awakened as he has and has been able to traverse the Strange.

 

Hiro Protagonistmed

From Neal Stephenson’s 1992 cyberpunk novel “Snow Crash” comes the character of Hiro. A counter-culture hero, hacker, and fighter, Hiro brings a skillset to the group that the other characters do not possess, or in some cases may not understand. Hiro is a Lucky Spinner, who Works the System. Despite his computer and technology background, he finds himself, with the others, thrust into Victorian England.

 

 

 

Jay Gatsbyjay gatsby

The final and fourth member of the group is none other than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby. Found nearly dead in the swimming pool of his West Egg mansion, Gatsby is returned to life, and shown how to travel the strange. While the rest of the group is strong, intelligent, crafty and combat inclined, this character brings a social side to the group. Jay is an Appealing Spinner, who Entertains.

 

 

 

“A Portrait of Everyman”

Having not yet been fully formed, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, currently consisting of Tarzan, Dr. Frankenstein and Hiro Protagonist, under the wing of the mysterious Jacob Marlowe, brought together in a Victorian London recursion. They are given a base of operations in the highest levels of Big Ben and allowed to acclimate themselves to the city. One morning. However, Jacob comes to them with a request. The British espionage agency, MI6, has suffered a rash of employee home break-ins and attacks. The most recent, the home of a Mr. Derks was broken into, and a local constable chased the would-be thief through the home and into a closet, where he vanished. The League agrees to investigate it and heads to 1894 Ecclestone Square.

At the home, they interview the constable, one Belfour Bellamy, who explains exactly what he saw, what he did and the results. The aged constable seems quite flustered and upset, as he is now the laughing stock of Scotland Yard for chasing a vanishing thief into a closet. While Hiro continues to interview the Bellamy, Victor and Tarzan enter the home to see what they can find. Following Bellamy’s story, they find the closets, and after Tarzan unceremoniously empties the entire space, they find two footprints in the center of the closet, and no way to escape.

Hiro also enters the home and begins to search the area where the thief was first encountered. As he sifts through shelves of books, he finds a handwritten journal out of place that could very well have been the thief’s target. As he reads through, he discovers that the owner has foolishly documented several names of high ranking members of MI6, including it’s head “M”, who the writer notes as “Mr. Gray.”

It is at this moment that a strange sound can be heard upstairs. Victor and Tarzan investigate the noise to discover a mysterious hooded and masked man climbing out of a window and into the Everymannearby trees. Without hesitating, Tarzan follows him into the trees. Victor rushes downstairs to inform Hiro, who sprints out of the house in hopes of helping Tarzan. Meanwhile, the two men swing through the trees, as the masked man heads for the opposite side of the road and the rooftops of the houses there to escape. Victor tries to slow him down by mentally causing a branch in his grasp to shatter. The masked man is still able to make the eaves of one house and turns to face both Hiro and Tarzan. As they watch, the man grips his wrist, and right before their eyes, splits into two versions of himself. One running to the right, and one to the left.

The two Gentlemen split, following separate copies of the thief. At the corner of the buildings, as the man attempts to swing up to the roof, Hiro draws a pistol and shoots him in the shoulder, sending him tumbling to the ground. Upon hearing the crack of the pistol, Tarzan turns from his prey and runs to help Hiro. Working together they pin the man to the ground.

Back at the house, Victor enters the foyer. There he finds a third copy standing in the room holding the leatherbound journal. He draws his pistol and moves forward, but the man reaches out a gloved hand, and Victor is paralyzed, frozen in place. The man pockets the journal and leaves. As he does, the duplicate, pinned to the ground beneath Tarzan disappears.

The League regroups in the house, discovering a few items, cyphers (unique objects that can perform amazing, one-time effects) on the floor and take them. They head back to Big Ben to report to Jacob what they have discovered.

Jacob seems worried about the story they tell and leaves to search out more information. During this time, Hiro ventures across the city to search for his own at Kensington Gore. There he ties the owner of the home to a prominent MI6 agent known as Mr. Ralph Ansely. When he returns, he finds the Jacob has found credible information that Ansley may be the next target of the masked man. The League is sent to his home to protect him.

Arriving at the home, the League sets to work surveying the security of the home, interviewing Ansley and making a plan to protect him. They decide that Hiro and Tarzan will remain on the first floor hoping to catch the thief, while Victor and Mr. Ansley hide in a basement safe room. Hours pass, as they wait for something to happen.

It is during this time that Mr. Ansley confesses to Victor that while he does not keep documentation of his work at MI6, “M” had entrusted him with a codex for coding system he was creating. Pulling out one of the cyphers they’d found, a vial of purple liquid, Victor speaks telepathically for a short time to Hiro. He explains the oversight, and Hiro heads to the bedroom where the safe is. Upon returning, he finds the masked man standing in the foyer.

It is during this time that a rattle can be heard in the air shaft above the safe room. As they watch, what looks like a coconut, drops onto the floor and begins emitting a gas. Victor grabs Mr. Ansley and forces him out of the safe room.

Upstairs a fight breaks out, as the masked man once again, duplicates himself. Battling against Hiro and Tarzan. In the kitchen, Victor finds himself face to face with a third duplicate of the man.  Tarzan leaves Hiro to face the two opponents and rushes to the kitchen to help Victor. Hiro makes quick work of both, and Tarzan, through brute strength crushes the man to the floor.

The League heads upstairs to defend the safe, only to find their passage blocked by a fourth duplicate. They battle, Hiro stabbing the man through which his sword, and he vanishes, as all of the duplicates have upon death. In the bedroom, they find the bed moved, the carpet pulled back and the safe empty.

With everything was done, and no more leads found to track the mysterious masked man, Jacob brings a sleek carriage to take them home. Inside they are introducted to “M”, Dorian Gray,  who has a task for them, He wants them to take his portrait to a different recursion for safekeeping. He states that they will work with the Implausible Geographic Society to find a suitably safe one. With this information the League is dropped at Big Ben and told to rest up.