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  1. I don't have a character I can test this on, but if I remember from Live, this problem also occurs on MM > Dark Miasma > Darkest Night.
  2. In back of the house was a wood, tall stands of old oak with bushy shrubs over a thick moss floor. In a clearing stood the Doll, spade in one hand, brushing dirt off her brow with the other. No, not the Doll. That was not right. She was Real; she should have a name. She thought back to the books that lined the Nursery. A book of fables; a statue that had also come to life. The grim job done, Galatea began walking, slowly, out of the wood, down the road. Many hours passed, then she was in the City, then she was in the old place, the first place. There were others; they were not Real, but some followed her anyway. Further on, she came across a Man. The Man had taken what was once alive, then was not; he tried to make it real again, but nature abhors such things. The Man asked her for help, and she agreed. 1) The contact is Godwin Blaire, a Vahzilok Reaper, who says that someone else is doing the same thing as the Vahzilok are, but the other guy is even less nice. Seeking information, Galatea and her squad of not-quite-reals bust into a warehouse and encounter the "Anomaly". who look like Vahzilok zombies, but smell even worse. After pummeling them, she finds a machine entitled "bwah", which appears to transform corpses into zombies automatically. 2) Godwin joins us in the unique warehouse used in the Snake arc, wherein we bust heads and find a copy of Dr. Vahzilok's book, "All Flesh Must Be Eaten". 3) Dr. Vahzilok has been kidnapped, so of course we need to rescue him. Off to the "mad science in the sewers" map, where we find the doctor and then beat the head badguy, who is a necro/nature boss. He uses Carrion Creepers, which prevent the mission from ending until the effect ends. Anomaly is a nice, short, well written arc. Give it a shot.
  3. Hey, kids! Welcome to another thrilling episode of the Freedom Phalanx Power Hour, featuring Paragon's favorite hero, Incredible Man, and his high-kicking sidekick, Kyksie! Join us for a full hour of intergalactic adventures and crime-busting fun! ...is what you would have heard if you had tuned in six months ago. Now, after she "left to pursue other opportunities", Kyksie is scrambling to find ways to make rent. Cutting the ribbon at Mad Mike's Mattress Mayhem didn't pay enough, so now she's doing odd jobs for various Rogue Isles types, this time Psimon Omega. Psimon has discovered that some Freaks have psychic powers, and he can't allow this, so he sends Kyksie to investigate. She encounters the "Psychic Freakshow", a custom group with with about half a dozen types plus a few regular Freaks thrown in. The Freaks have some kind of cybernetic implant which gives them the ability to read tarot cards or something. Kyksie decides to betray Psimon and take the tech for herself, so she steals it, then blows up a warehouse, then pummels Psimon, then discovers that the tech is from a woman named "Braintease", so she pummels her too. Both are only boss level, so no major challenge. After selling the tech, Kyksie not only has enough money for this month's rent, but for an actual hot meal at Major Flanders instead of hanging around back as they close. The Psimon Omega SF is a decent story, although not really remarkable. The only real complaint I could raise is that it hijacks the character's inner monologue; that is, it tells you what your character is thinking. The arc states up front that it's for villains, but still, there are no doubt players whose character possesses a code of honor that forbids them from breaking their word even to villains. Other characters are cyborgs who would keep the tech and implant it into themselves, while others are techno-organic aliens who would adopt the implants and raise them as their own, enrolling them in a boarding school for lost implants until they're old enough to get jobs as alarm clocks or blenders.
  4. Sensing a electrical disturbance in neighboring Steel Canyon, Synapse gathered together eight heroes to investigate. They battled through a warehouse of bizarre but deadly wind-up robots, then another, and another. And another, and another, and... there were a lot of robots, is the takeaway here. But at long last, the evil Clockwork King was vanquished, and the heroes gathered around Synapse, tired but exuberant. All this happened, more or less. Princess Punchy went off to train, while Hot Prick and Lady Blackstar slowly walked off to his base, hand in hand. Mystress Yiffstress smiled at Synapse, who met her gaze, and soon the two were in a disused restroom in the basement of the nearby hospital. Less than two minutes later, however, the restroom door opened again. "So, um..." "Hey, it's no biggie." "But..." "T'sokay. I mean, you are the fastest man alive, right? Comes with the territory." 1) Synapse has decided that being super fast has some, uh, disadvantages, so he wants to go back in time and prevent Crey from doing the experiment that gave him super speed. Because he has access to Ouroboros from attending Manticore's wedding (really), Synapse jumps back in time and bonks the Crey scientists on the head, then returns to the present and is surprised to find that things have changed, so he asks Mystress Yiffstress to accompany him to see Manticore. At this point I need to mention that the player did not, in fact, go back in time for Crey-bonking. All that happened in dialog. The mission itself consists of the player arriving at the Manticore's Merry Mansion map, meeting a depowered Steven Berry (that's Synapse), then meeting with Manticore who attacks you because he doesn't know you, then speaking with Manti afterwards, who gives you an infodump on how a whole bunch of stuff is different. Gee, turns out that going back in time and making changes can affect the present! Whooda thunk it? 2) Indigo has been kidnapped, so Mystress goes into a warehouse filled with Battle Maiden's troops, meets up with Crimson, then rescues Indigo. We exit the missions and... This guy's style of storytelling seriously rubs me the wrong way. People want to do stuff, not be told they did stuff. Like, for the Penelope Yin TF, imagine if you clicked Penny and text appeared saying "You clobber some Freakshow, then more Freakshow, then some Council, then defeat Clamor and save the day. Here's some merits." And that bit is even worse, like if you completed Penny but a popup after the last mission said "Oops someone sneezed on the sonic device and it destroyed all of Paragon. You suck." 3) We need to rescue Dr. Aeon from the Circle for some reason, so we yiff into the Infernal map, pummel the Baphomet EB who summons swarm of demons, and rescue Aeon, who gives us another infodump, then... ...sigh. 4) Now we need to rescue Statesman from Crey, so we go to a lab that's filled with Malta, find him and three heroes, then defeat a security guard who is a Warwork and summons huge waves of Malta ambushes. Yiffstress and her swarm of fluffy, cuddly beasts are unable to take down the huge swarms of Malta, so I log off and switch to Spider-Kitty, slog through the previous waves and take care of business. This should give you some idea of the lengths I go to provide quality AE reviews, and should not be taken to mean that I spend sixteen hours a day in front of the computer playing CoX and swilling Night Train, honest. Oh yeah, did I mention that you have to lead Statesman back through five floors to the exit? Yeah. That mission did have one bright spot; before being repeatedly obliterated by the massive Malta ambush, Mystress Yiffstress got a Fury of the Gladiator -res proc as a drop. Back on the Live server, that recipe consistently sold for two BILLION at the auction house. And that's only because 2 billion is the most a player can have, so it would have sold for more if that were possible. Apparently the people at The Secret Server That No One Knows About were responsible for this change, so thanks guys. 5) Statesman can't help us, so it's up to me to finish the war (what war?). Off to the destroyed Atlas map, with three heroes as allies and eight to beat. Most are EBs, but Malaise is Hero class, making him pretty much impossible for non-Incarnates to solo. At the end, Synapse goes back in time again and hits the History Eraser Button, returning everything back to normal. This arc has big problems. First of all, the dialog is very blah, with no quotes or indents. The writing is incredibly exposition heavy, with the player told 'this happened' more often than doing stuff. On top of that, there's a lot of spelling errors, and I mean a LOT. The gameplay has problems too, with several very tough spots. Finally, Synapse and the player are forced to carry the Idiot Ball, with both seemingly surprised that going back in time will change the present. About the only good thing about this arc is that the mobs have a chance to drop PvP recipes.
  5. Emmert had some great ideas, but he also had a very poor grasp of what players want. I mean, at launch. Adrenaline Boost stunned the user for 20 seconds? And Elude left you unable to attack for two minutes? Who would possible enjoy that? And yeah... Dean McArthur was awesome (especially how he hits on female chars) but Who Will Die sucked a big one. It should have been a player villain who killed Statesman, not a two-bit nobody.
  6. Or if not that, just allow Banes to fire Venom Grenade from the mace. My Bane on Live *would* have been viable if not for that. Well, maybe not viable, but at least not horrible.
  7. I've been following City of Titans from the start, and it's quite obvious that they really do want to create a true spiritual successor. If they were going to spend the Kickstarter money on hookers and blow they would have done so long ago. Sadly, I strongly doubt their ability to actually do it.
  8. I dunno. In one of the AMAs I asked Matt Miller if killing Stateman was a way of extending the middle finger to Emmert, and he said "no, not at all".
  9. At 11 the next morning, Spider-Kitty rolls out of bed with a whiskey headache. She washes down two aspirin with a shot of Maker's Mark, then follows it with a quart of milk and some sardines. Feeling slightly closer to normal, Kitty thumbs her phone and reads a text from Kitty Rubyice. Sighing, she swallows another slug of whiskey and leaps off. 1) Kitty Rubyice has decided that there are probably more copies of the Angel Cats in other dimensions, let's go get them! We jump into the dimensional transporter that everyone in Paragon seems to have, and find ourselves in an alternate Paragon, which has slightly less Starbucks than our own. The mobs are a custom group called the 'corrupted', with about half a dozen types, all pink. We find the copy of Kitty Rubyice, and also Athena Bladeburn, who has SOME FEELINGS for Rubyice, huh huh huh. There's also Kitt Katsu, frantically eating candy bars to give her luck in the upcoming battle, and Agent Cutie, who is cute. All are catgirls. Also some bikini-clad enemy girls named ???, don't ask why. Then, we encounter Mike's Giant Robot, which is a very big robot. Even with four allies, players who aren't as awesome as Spider-Kitty might have problems. 2) Now we need to defend the hq from attack. Off to the PPD map to defuse bombs. Interestingly, that map has a glitch which prevents the mission from completing until we take the elevator. 3) And now to capture Mike, who might want to consider a more ominious-sounding villain name, like "Robomike" or "Ultramike". We hook up with the four allies from the first mission (no not that kind of hook up) and them pummel Mike, who isn't too hard. When the fight is over, two of the allies turn on us, although the mission is over so it doesn't matter. Afterwards Kitty Rubyice tells us that SuperMegaMike has decided to join us in our fight against the Entity. I'm kidding, it's still just Mike.
  10. 1) The contact tells me I need to test a simulation or something. Upon receiving her fee of $25K wired to her Swiss bank account and a pallet of tuna, Spider-Kitty enters the Matrix and encounters a bunch of dudes named after chess pieces, with no bios. Oh no, they escaped out to Atlas! 2) Off to clean up the mess in Atlas, which consists of more of those guys plus a Arachnos Flyer and the Clockwork Paladin. The flyer isn't too hard to beat (and it yields 6 merits) however the Paladin is impossible to solo. Spider-Kitty summons her Lore pets and spams Envenomed Dagger, but still can't get the monstrosity below 50% health. Even meowing a perfect 2600hz won't stop it. "Wouldn't You Prefer a Nice Game of Chess?" is probably a nice way for teams to test themselves; however, never in the history of Resurgence has a team ever gone to AE for anything other than farming or Mynx's Furry Adventure.
  11. "Six of the eight emitters have been installed and tested." The Arachnos tech spoke slowly and carefully. "The remaining two will be fitted by tomorrow at the latest." He faced Black Scorpion, even though Ernesto wasn't really paying attention, eyeing a YouTube video playing on a small screen in his armor. Only the high ranking or the foolish spoke directly to the real leader of Arachnos. Lord Recluse reclined in his chair on a small dais at the end of the conference room, at the very top of the vast steel tower that dominated Grandville. Black Scorpion, Scirocco, Mako and Ghost Widow each had their own corner, several attendants surrounding each. Recluse himself was accompanied by three cats, one on his lap, the others lounging on cushions at his feet. Like their master, they stared intently at the empty air in the center of the chamber, favoring no one. Arbiter Fluffy, Arbiter Blacktail, and Arbiter Snuggles were the sleekest, shiniest cats in all of the Rogue Isles. They were also the most terrified. ----------------------------------- It had happened less than three years ago. Project DESTINY was nearing completion; spirits in the vast tower were unusually high. Lord Recluse strode from the command center to his study, gazed at the cats purring serenely along the periphery, then pulled the chair back from his desk. He scanned the piles of paperwork, his coffee mug off to the side... then paused. A glance at the carpet, deep blue pinstripe, then at the cats lounging on the couch, then back at the carpet. A dark oval stain, less than a foot in diameter. A faint smell of ammonia in the air. Recluse stared at the cats again, more intently. Fluffy slept contentedly, Blacktail looked back at him lazily... there. A tiny flash of guilt in Arbiter Fuzzypaws's eyes. Guilt and fear. Most cat owners would merely scold the offending feline; the harsher ones would turn it loose on the streets, a few of the truly heartless would donate it to a Tsoo restaurant. Not Lord Recluse. The ruler of the Rogue Isles held himself to a higher standard; he knew that the only true way to rule was by fear, and that fear must be absolute, with no exceptions for fur and tails. Each and every subject must know that to cross Lord Recluse would not end in imprisonment, torture, or even death; those were for lesser rulers. No, to fall beneath Lord Recluse's feet meant a fate worse than death; he would twist his former foes into a cruel mockery of their former lives, transformed into the very thing they despise. Gripped by the scruff of her neck, Recluse first took Fuzzypaws to Vernon von Grun, who injected her with a huge dose of growth serum derived from the Devouring Earth. Strapped to a bed and force-fed nutrients, she grew four feet in one agonizing week, muscles and tendons screaming in agony. Then, the cybernetic backpack was grafted to her spine, four metal claws fitted with blasters arching above her head. When she was barely able to walk, Fuzzypaws was drafted into the ranks of Arachnos's most feared soldiers, the Crab Spiders. Months of brutal training followed, forced marches, workouts, endless weapon drills, lectures on battlefield tactics and strategy. They final insult came upon graduation, when Fuzzypaws was denied entry into the Crab Spider corps, but instead was turned loose upon the pitiless streets of Mercy Island. Taking the name Spider-Kitty, she fell into the life of a two-bit villain, fighting the Infected, Longbow and other villains for discarded scraps of tuna and bits of string. But she persevered. In the months that followed, Spider-Kitty clawed her way up the ranks of Rogue Isle's villains, working schemes for Mr. Bocor and Peter Themari, then robbing banks in Paragon City, finally taking on odd jobs for Arachnos operatives like Viridian and Shadow Spider. When she reached the highest Security Level, Recluse himself tried to use her to complete Project DESTINY, but she broke away, defeating him in the future and bringing back his bloodstained helm. Recluse gazed at his former pet unflinchingly, an evil grin flowing like mercury. "And it is done." And it was. Beneath the scorching sky, at the feet of the vast statue in Grandville square, Spider-Kitty realized that Arbiter Fuzzypaws was truly gone. Less than a year ago, a fat, lazy bundle of fur had purred for table scraps; today, she was a tall, muscular figure without a speck of fat, scarred by countless battles, hard eyes scanning the concrete square for her next meal. And yet, there was no time to curl up and rest. Her phone rang with an urgent growl, a ringtone she reserved for contacts with potentially world-ending scenarios. Kitty listened for a minute, then hung up silently. After purchasing a handful of hotdogs from a terrified street vendor, she leapt into the air and was gone. Moonstar ULTIMATE: Part 2 1) Spider-Kitty has been contacted by Sonic, an old acquaintance from her garbage diving days back on Mercy. Except that this is Future Sonic... from the future. Celeste and Sparkle have brought back people to help them against Dr. Nova, but we now need to find and resurrect Negative Sonic, who is like Sonic, but negative. "Meow," Spider-Kitty replies, squaring her shoulders. We venture into some caves and rescue Xena the warrior princess, and also Katt Rubyice, winner of the COSMIC CLONE WAR. Then we scoop all of Sonic's body parts and glue them together with paste and chewing gum, and Negative Sonic is reborn! Except he won't help us and wants revenge. Oops. 2) Now we need to tunnel into Shadow's empire to capture Negative Sonic. We find the security system and encounter Tails... no, it's Evil Tails... no, it's Evil Tails FROM THE FUTURE! There's also a custom group called the "Corrupted", who have about half a dozen types with varied costumes and powers. There's also some IDF, which feels a bit odd. We destroy Shadow's ship (an Arachnos Flier, which gives Reward Merits when beaten) but Negative Sonic gets away. 3) Now there's a world is filled with baddies, time for pummeling. We pummel a bunch of "blacklighters", who are another custom group with costumes and unique powers. We rescue Future Blaze and Future Marine, both catgirls. "Meow!" they smile; but Spider-Kitty continues to scan the horizon, eyes hard and cold. "Meow." is all she says. Negative Sonic is in the back room of City Hall, maybe taking a whiz or something, but he gets away again! 4) Negative Sonic is looking for something, what could it be? Off to a forest, where we find Cherry and Sapphire and Sky, catgirls who think I'm their dad? Also they have a crippling catnip addiction or something. Negative Sonic is there and he gets away again. The whole arc would have been shorter if we had just brought along a reliable hedgehog net. 5) Now we need to really, really capture Negative Sonic, so we can find other Incarnates willing to fight against THE ENTITY. Wait, what? The entity? Is this like Auntie Entity from Mad Max? Should I bring extra cans of gas along? Spider-Kitty returns to the forest and a horrible sight meets her eyes. It's her... and yet it isn't. A clone of her, spider-claws grafted to it's back, clad in a garish yellow copy of Kitty's party dress, the one she stole from the bargain rack at Wal-Mart so many years ago. Their gazes meet, and at once Spider-Kitty sees the pain in her clone's eyes; thrust into existence mere hours ago, the neural interface digging into her spine. "Meow," the clone gasps, bowing her head. Spider Kitty takes a hard breath, takes careful aim, and ends the clone's suffering with a single blaster shot. "Meow." she sighs, thumb white on the trigger. Striding grimly through the dark forest, she frees Cherry, Sky, and Sapphire, young catgirls not yet stained by the struggles ahead. Another clone appears, identical to the first; again, Kitty puts it out of it's misery. Then another. And another. Her eyes become hard, cold slits as kitty corpses pile up. She joins Sonic and Shadow, then the three corner Negative Sonic and finish him off at last, then smash his cloning machine. When they return, Future Sonic is excited about the new allies against the mysterious Entity, but Spider-Kitty has already left for her secret base, to drown her pain in Jack Daniels and sardines. Moonstar ULTIMATE: Part 2 presents a dark, brutal tale of one feline's struggle to defeat an impossible foe without falling to the darkness within. Despite a few minor flaws (no contact bio, a few spelling errors) this tells a compelling story that everyone should play.
  12. During Live, a GM once transformed players into a bunch of different models, one being the Avatar of Hamidon. The engine handled it poorly; the camera was inside the model, and it jerked around wildly when on uneven terrain.
  13. With the latest revision, Spectral Eclipse: Origin becomes the next Great American Novel. The protagonist receives a desperate message from a dying Spectral Eclipse, warning of the imminent resurrection of his arch-nemesis, Bologna Man. The player ventures into a war-torn hellscape, where vanquished Praetorian soldiers fight desperately against the ghostly remains of the dying army. Small groups of military specialists roam the field, beholden to no one, frantically trying to determine which forces pose the greatest threat. The player shuts down five portals, then destroys a malign Shadow Cyst, but in a shocking twist the player is infected with an unknown parasite, bending him to the entity's will. Now, the player is tasked with capturing five civilians and transporting them to the cyst, where their souls are extracted and used to fuel Bologna's resurrection. A series of clues chronicles the protagonist's inner struggle against the alien mind control, desperately pitting his last scraps of humanity against the insatiable hunger of an aeons-old beast. As the last man's soul is consumed and the ancient god reawakens, Spectral Eclipse: Origins becomes a dark mirror reflecting the harsh truth of the human condition, wherein- Ha ha ha who am I kidding, it's still a raging dumpster fire. Terrible grammar and spelling, sparse detail, no real story. The only real change is that there are now five glowies and five hostages instead of one each, making the arc five times as tedious. Stay away.
  14. "Hey-YASHOO!" Mopping her nose with the back of her hand, Jessica Thornwood gazed around the dimly lit attic. A dim beam of sunlight poked through a grimy window set in the sloped roof, bravely forced its way through the miasma of dust in the air, and settled wearily on a old cardboard box that once held a stereo, now scrawled with the cryptic label "878-932". Boxes lay atop boxes, boxes leaned against boxes, boxes within boxes poked out from inside other boxes. A thick layer of pale dust covered everything. "Hey-ASHOOO!" Jess wiped her nose with her sleeve, then her watery eyes. She was allergic to dust, pollen, fur, perfume, and detergent, but mostly pollen. Said allergy was the reason she was inside, nosing through a dreary attic, as opposed to being outside playing softball, planting flowers, running through fields, or all the other things that people did on allergy commercials after taking the sponsor's product. Snuffling wetly, Jessica looked around the hot, stuffy attic for the other reason she had come here. Another box, longer and sturdier than the others, dust clinging to it like a shroud. One by one, Jess moved the boxes atop it over to the side. The top was sealed with many, many layers of yellowed packing tape. A dark red magic marker scrawl read "Mumford". Jess sneezed loudly, sending a cloud of dust into the air. This, she knew, would soon make her sneeze again, filling the air with more dust, which would make her sneeze even more, kicking up still more dust, until she was sneezing helplessly. "Cascading Nose Failure", she called it. Trying her best to clench her nose shut, she tucked the box under her arm and slowly climbed down the aging ladder. After scrubbing her face and swallowing another allergy pill, Jess sat down on the bed in the spare room of her aunt's house, where she was staying the week. Carefully, she ran a kitchen knife along the ancient strips of tape, peeling them back like an onion. Another sneeze as she opened the box; yellowed, crumbly newspapers lay within, crowing 'Last Remnants of Rikti Invasion Routed!" She set them aside, revealing an expanse of sumptuous velvet, deep red the color of crushed cherries. Jessica's uncle had been known as The Amazing Mumford. He had been among the first wave of heroes to answer the call to protect Paragon City, back in April of 2004. Wearing a black suit with top hat, a scarlet opera cloak, and wielding his signature black wand, he patrolled the streets of Galaxy City for a year and a half, using his powers of illusion to confound street muggers and bank robbers, eventually reaching Security Level 23. When the Rikti invaded, he stood alongside Galaxy Girl for several days, simultaneously confusing the alien invaders and helping civilians to safety. After three brutal days, when it looked like the worst was over, a lone street punk took advantage of a distraction to shoot him in the back. With the mediport system overloaded, The Amazing Mumford bled to death on the pavement on front of an El Super Mexicano. The day after the funeral, his widow gathered his belongings into the attic, where they waited until now. Almost reverently, Jessica pulled out the long, scarlet cloak, gold neck chain, and stately black opera suit, a relic of a forgotten time. The top hat was gone; it had been lost on the streets of Skyway. A clutch of bundled newspapers, a few small award plaques, a handful of badges; and in the corner, wrapped in threadbare silk, his wand. It was heavy in her hand, very heavy. The shaft was wood, but not any wood she was familiar with. Three metal prongs at the top encircled a sort of gem, but again it was like nothing Jessica had seem in the display cases at Wedgewood. She held it in her left hand, then her right, then both; in her mind, she was striding down the streets of Steel Canyon, evildoers trembling in her wake. Sighing, Jess opened her eyes and- ewwwww. A spider was crawling up the cracked plaster wall, one of those particularly icky breeds that seems to have a thousand legs. Grinning, Jess pointed the business end of the wand at the spider, imagining a bolt of lightning shooting forth to eradicate the offending arachnid. She squeezed the wand, waved it, and even chanted her uncle's battlecry, "A la peanut butter sandwiches!" Nothing. A familiar tickle invaded her throat, then her palate, then her nose. "Hey-YASHEW!" she sneezed. Jess wiped her eyes, and- The end of the wand glowed an evil purple, twin trails of radiance playing in the air around the violet gem. A dark spot smoked on the far wall, where the spider had been. The air smelled of ozone, and other smells, ones that most mortals had never encountered and a few prayed they never would. Jessica's heart leapt. Had she really... no that was impossible. She hefted the wand, willing it to fire again. Another spider, even leggier than the first, dangled from the opposite wall. She aimed the wand at it, squeezed the shaft and furrowed her brow... nothing. From what little she had gathered from paragonfan.net, magical devices generally required a talisman, or a code word, or a series of gestures, or- Something clicked in Jess's mind. Thinking back to her last sneeze, she pointed the wand at the spider again. "Yeshooo!" she shouted. The wand buzzed in her hand, alive yet not. With a whoosh like a river of clotted blood, a torrent of purple-black energy flowed from the tip, hurling the spider's soul deep into the depths of spider hell. The wall smoked black, the air breathed like a field of dead roses. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Congratulations, Princess Punchy. You've made it to Security Level 12!" it was a quiet day in Atlas Plaza, a warm-ish breeze playing beneath the legs of the huge statue. Lord KillerDeath shouted "dee eff bee!" into the air every few minutes, while Lady Galatea Ravenhair and Mistress Yiffstress stood under the great globe, staring wordlessly at each other. Ms. Liberty sighed. Isn't that what Pocket D was for? The young hero grinned, nudging her tiara into place. "Thanks, Ms. L!" I'll be back in a jiff!" She tightened the straps of her huge pink boxing gloves and sprinted across the plaza, no doubt in search of more muggers and Superdyne dealers. Ms Liberty idly scratched the small of her back, then saw her, walking across the plaza with the determined stride found only in a brand new hero. She was young, maybe sixteen, with a round face and brown hair tied back in a fat braid. She wore shiny black boots buckled up to mid-calf, and a 'party dress' that looked like it had tumbled from Macy's to J.C. Penney to Wal-Mart, bouncing off every bargain rack on the way. By contrast, the scarlet cloak draped over her shoulders looked like a relic from a more substantial time. In one hand, she clutched a familiar looking black wand. She came to within ten feet of Ms. Liberty, slowed, then stopped. "Um..." her confidence ebbed, "...hi?" "Hello there!" Ms. Liberty's meeting-a-new-hero routine took over. "What name are you going to be using as a hero?" Jessica's confidence returned. "Mystress Blackheart!" "Very nice," Ms. Liberty replied, knowing that there was no way in hell that name would be free. "And, it looks like you're using magic?" "Right," Mystress Blackheart nodded. "I have recen... eh... eh heh HACHOOO!" Embarrassed, she turned and sneezed gloppily toward the pavement, but recovered quickly. "I"ve recently learned to harness the powers of my ancestor's wand." Ms. Liberty looked closer at the wand she was holding, and sighed inwardly. The wand was a 'Blackwand'. MAGI enchanted them in bulk, and gave them to fledgling magic based heroes to help them out at lower levels. Once every thirty seconds or so, it would shoot a blast of 'negative energy', which felt like being drenched with evil, icy slush, like standing under the Slurpee machine in Satan's own 7-11. The problem, Ms. Liberty knew, was that Blackwands did not 'scale'. A hero's powers would become more impactful as they increased in Security Level, but the Blackwand would not. One or two hits would lay a common street punk out cold, but the Council soldiers lining Steel Canyon would shrug it off, and the Warriors in Talos wouldn't feel it at all. In short, someone who's only power was a Blackwand had no chance whatsoever of getting past Security Level four or five. Still, Ms. Liberty knew from experience that it would be impossible to talk her out of it. "Great!" she effused, pointing over her shoulder. "Go into City Hall, and talk to the New Hero Registrar. They'll get you all set up. And," she smiled a perfect smile, "welcome to Paragon City! We're all glad to have you!" "Thanks!" Jess grinned, then sneezed again. Over the next two hours, Jessica stood in line, filled out forms, and stood in line some more. After several tries, she finally settled on the moniker "Mystress Darky Dark11". The guy behind the computer assured her that trailing ones are all the rage among new heroes, honest. They fitted her with a security badge and mediporter, then made her sit through lectures detailing in agonizing detail who she was and was not allowed to use her powers on. Finally, she strode confidently into MAGI, gazing at the magical relics arrayed along the wall. "Hhhhmmgh." Azuria barely glanced up from her clipboard. "New hero? All right, I need someone to go recover... no, wait." She squinted closer at the clipboard, scribbling an entry out. "Okay, I seem to have misplaced my, er... no that's not it." Azuria looked over the clipboard and seemed to see Jess and her Blackwand for the first time. "So... why don't you head down to Prometheus Park and defeat, say, ten Hellions? They, uh, took my pen or something." "Sure thing!" Jess bubbled, but Azuria's attention was gone again. Jessica bounded across City Hall's shiny floor, down the steps, under the statue. "Hi Ms. L! I'm all registered and everything!" she gushed. "Now I'm off on my first mission!" "Go bring those thugs to justice!" Ms Liberty replied, knowing what would happen. The young hero would charge into a group of Hellions or Clockwork or something, take a few hits, and the mediporter would send her to the hospital before it got too bad. Repeat two or three more times, and "Mystress Darky Dark11" would go home, hang up her cloak, spend a few days in her bedroom sulking and listing the The Cure, then marry an insurance salesman and forget all about it. Sure enough, two minutes later, Jess found herself at the perimeter of a paved courtyard, hemmed on three sides by high-rise apartment buildings. Low wooden park benches clustered at the corners. On one of them lounged half a dozen men wearing the Hellions' outfit; dark jeans, white t-shirt, red vest, tattoos of fire and demons adorning their arms. They drank beer and listened to a blaring ghettoblaster. One was idly tossing a lit torch end over end. Mustering her courage, Jess strode up to them and planted herself fifteen feet away. "Hold, evildoers! Prepare to face the wrath of..." she paused dramatically, "Mystress Darky Dark!" She decided not to pronounce the 1s. The Hellions barely moved; they had been down this road many, many times before. One turned his head lazily. "Did your gramma buy you that dress?" "Yes, actuallTHAT DOESN'T MATTER!!" Angered, Jess pointed the wand at the speaker and chanted the activation phrase, "Yeshoo!" The wand hummed, and a stream of blackness shot from the tip, coating the offending Hellion. He fell to the ground shivering, clutching his head. The remaining Hellions stood, holding their ground, waiting for the next attack. When it didn't come, they glanced at each other, then took a menacing step forward. "Hey, girlie," the leader oozed a liquid smile, "looks like you made a, uh, strategic error?" "Tactical, boss." "Tactical." He nodded at his henchman and grinned harder. "That wand takes, what, half a minute to recharge, and there's six of us," "Five, boss." "Five. So-" "It'll be six when Higgs gets back up." "Six. Right." The boss looked over his shoulder at the flunky, then back. "So," grinning like a wolf about to sink his jaws into a Bic Mac, "what ever are we going to do for the next ten minutes?" The junior Hellion opened his mouth, then closed it. Best not to spoil the moment. Eyes wide, Jessica started to backpedal, realizing her error. The Hellions followed, spreading out to encircle her. Frantic, she retreated faster, and bumped into a waist high concrete planter filled with scraggly yellowish flowers. Clutching the wand, she shifted to the side, the hellions spreading out to- Oh no. An all too familiar tickle appeared in the back of her throat, crawling up her mouth. No, NO, not now! She tried to hold it in, but it was too much. Eyes clenching shut, she sneezed fiercely, then again, then twice more. Sniffing frantically, she opened her watery eyes to an impossible sight. Four of the six five Hellions lay scattered across the plaza, limbs askew, while the leader stared at her, slack jawed. The urge flowed through her nose again, making her sneeze explosively; when she opened her eyes again, the leader was sailing gracelessly through the air, like a washer-dryer set that had grown weary of life in a basement and chosen to take flight. As Jess watched, the Hellion flew up, up up, then down, down, down, landing squarely on the back of the bench, his spine snapping with a sickening crack. Jess stood for a long moment, eyes like saucers. Then, the tickle returned, and began creeping up the back of her nose again... just as another group of Hellions appeared almost out of nowhere, clustered around another bench. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Azuria shoved a pile of scrolls aside, looked behind the pair of stone hands, and peered into the depths of the ancient Mu urn which stood against the wall of the MAGI office in City Hall. Where was her donut? She had just put it down a moment ago. A snuffle, and Azuria looked up; Jessica was standing in the entrance, nose red and hair mussed. "Hi! I got that thing done. Ten Hellions." "Um... yeah! Nice work!" Azuria peered at Jess as if she was a Christmas trinket long since thought lost, only to turn up under one's bed. "I didn't find your pen, though." "Pen! Right! Um... don't worry, I'm sure it will turn up." "Soooo..." "Oh! Yes! Ten Hellions!" Azuria fumbled in her pocket, pulled out some expees and passed them over, wondering if she had enough left to get Jess to help find her donut. A few paces back, a throat cleared. "Ms... Darky Dark?" "Yes?" A tall man in a black suit extended his hand. "Antonio Nash, I'm from GIFT. I just got a rather... interesting report of your field performance. I'd like to run some tests, if you're interested." An hour of tests later, Mr. Nash accompanied Jessica back to the Hero Registration desk, where the clerk changed her origin from Magic to Mutant. The power of her late uncle's wand, coupled with the terror of her fight with the Hellions, had awakened her dormant mutant power... super powered sneezes. She changed her name to "Hayfever Lass", which for some reason had not been claimed yet. "So, what now?" Antonio fumbled in his pocket for his Blackberry, which he had picked up in '04 and refused to part with. "If you're interested, my friend Jose Brogan has been hearing reports of Skulls in a nearby office. If you'd like to investigate..." Grinning, Hayfever Lass headed down to Hyperion Way, found the dilapidated office building, and sneezed the Dyne-dealing Skulls into submission. Clues lead her to King's Row, where she broke up a huge Superdyne ring involving the Skulls, Trolls and Family. Then, she took the monorail to Steel Canyon, and joined a group of heroes working with Positron. Alongside three other Blasters, two Scrappers, a Controller and a Warshade, she sneezed on mages, zombies, and robots, culminating in a pitched battle inside City Hall. "Great work! Thank again, Jes...er, Hayfever Lass!" Azuria picked up a squeegee from the corner and began mopping the snot and mucus from her blouse. "Ah! There's my donut!" The group walked slowly through the atrium. Hot Prick smiled. "Great work, everyone." "Yeah," Jessica grinned. "We sure knocked 'em cold!" exclaimed Princess Punchy, bouncing on her toes as she always did. "Sorry I wasn't much help," Nonconsenticles sighed. They rest ignored him, as they always did. The group went to Ms. Liberty for training, then drifted apart. Hot Prick turned to Jessica. "I saw you at the registrar this morning. You used to go by 'Mystress Blackheart?' " "Uhhh..." she blushed, "that was... kind of a phase." "I getcha." He smiled, a few stray spines flying from the corner of his mouth. "But, ya know, if you're interested in doing something a bit less than heroic for a little cash on the side, I know a guy who knows a guy..." Arc #16016: Uninvited, levels 10-15 1) The contact is Operative Castillian, from Arachnos. He's lost contact with some operatives, and then lost contact with the guys he sent to regain contact. Hayfever Lass heads into an Arachnos base and sneezes on some Igneous. 2) We need information, so HL invades a Legacy Chain office. 3) We know where they're going to attack next, so lets ambush them. Hayfever Lass heads into an Arachnos base and blasts Agent Doobie and friends. 4) Now we need to destroy the Cavern of Trancendance so the do-gooders can't use it. The map is the Bat'Zul one, where she sneezes Legacy Chain and the archmage into the lava. Uninvited is a nice, quick arc for low level characters. Give it a try.
  15. Spectral Eclipse: Origin #19738 The contact is Spectral Eclipse, who tells you that he is now dead, and you're getting an automated voice message telling you to feed his dog or whatever. He must have been typing it with one hand while bleeding out, because the grammar is really, really bad. No contact bio, and the sendoff and still busy texts are all one sentence. For some reason, the player is sent to the ruined city map, where that dude's minions are fighting Praetorian ghouls for some reason. There's a custom group, 'military soldier' or something, with only one type and no bio. The player clicks a portal, then smashes a Shadow Cyst, which for some reason mind controls the player. I'm using the phrase "for some reason" a lot, but that's what playing this arc feels like. After that, the nav bar says "Bologna egg" or something... it's another Cyst Crystal, but it's being attacked, and if you don't get there fast enough the mission fails! Then you clobber a guy, then find a 'sacrifice', then lead him across the map to the egg. Congratulations, you've resurrected the Big Nasty. This arc is a dumpster fire: sparse writing, terrible grammar, missing details, tedious glowie hunts, possible failure, no real story. Worst of all, players do not enjoy being mind controlled and made to do the villain's dirty deeds. Heroes want to save the world, villains want to rob banks, and Praetorians want to, uh, I dunno, sniff Dominatrix's panties or something. An arc that isn't marked as villainous should have the player catch the bank robbers, rescue the girl, and vanquish the world-threatening archvillain, although you can throw in Dominatrix's panties if you really want to. I won't mind. Honest.
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