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  • EPISODE 21: Goodbye, Avalon (Continued)

    Act Two: A Busy Saturday As Well

    That Saturday, Holly disguises herself using Stolen Face and goes to the cops. She (looking like a he) says she’s the hacker who created the video for “Principal Borgen,” but Borgen stiffed her on payment and she didn’t know the plan involved high explosives. She lays on all her Epic Manipulation and Presence to convince the cops, but it really isn’t that hard: The cops want to believe insurance fraud, because that’s something they can understand. It will take time for the cops to investigate, find the rest of the frame in Guibourg’s office and arrest him, but the Scions feel confident they have deflected the cops, deflated the video and made life difficult for their nemesis. Sure, Guibourg can probably Social Fu his way out of a trial, but it will tie him up for a while.

    The Scions also ponder what to do about Acacia. Holly is almost certain that Acacia put the whammy on Vanessa, possibly as a way to remove Maynard from the Scions’ assets. (Though they remember that Guibourg is also skilled at subtly implanting suggestions.) Jaeda suggests they simply delegate. Holly has another card with which to order an assassination; call the number and put a hit on Acacia! The other Scions think that sounds pretty good, though they’ll need to wait a few days for results.

    That afternoon, however, the Scions learn that Guibourg is not done with them. They receive a call from Gary saying that they now have much worse than the Tatenen video to worry about.

    Various journalists have pestered Gary about his appearance in the Tatenen video. He’s done his best to play dumb (not hard for a giant) and deny any involvement. This afternoon, though, a sniper shot him in the head with a high-powered rifle. Which he survived using Solipsistic Well-Being, just as he did back in episode 10. On camera. It’ll be on the evening news.

    The Scions decide they cannot wait any longer. They need to deal with Guibourg and his witches and warlocks now, before he does anything more to expose the supernatural. The Band calls up the other Scions and brings them in. Over the past week, Jack has used the magic-sensing aspect of Sense Tapu to identify the four witches in the locations he found using math, so the Scions can start by taking them out. The Band decides to attack Guibourg, while the other Scions hunt witches. For this, even Marshall agrees to work with the others again. Leo, however, accompanies the PCs: He wants to confront Guibourg more than anything. Landon agrees to accompany the other Scions to make up for Leo.

    Since his house blew up, Guibourg is living at a Holiday Inn with police protection. The Scions hatch a plan to remove the cops: Holly will use Stolen Face to disguise herself as a cop and say she’s part of the relief shift. Then she’ll just Social Fu the two cops out of the room. Gus, Jaeda and Leo will wait in a nearby hall. Jack, meanwhile, will lurk outside with Maynard’s suicide vest and a shabti monkey created by Gus. When Jack gets the signal from Holly, he will throw the vest through the window into Guibourg’s room; the monkey will pull the string to detonate the vest and blow up Guibourg! Since the vest is primarily incendiary, not high explosive, it should not harm people in nearby rooms.

    That much of the plan works. The cops answer Holly’s knock at the door. She points down the hall and says something cop-like, such as “He’s got a gun! After him!” and her massive Presence and Epic Manipulation make the cops join her in running down the hall. Jack throws the vest, which detonates on cue; Gus and Leo dash into the burning room to finish Guibourg, trusting their Epic Stamina to protect them from the flames. Jack, who has just learned Wind’s Freedom, starts running through the air up to the burning hotel room.

    There’s someone on the floor, already burning to the point of being unrecognizable. (Failed Perception + Investigation rolls for Gus and Leo.) Just as Holly reaches the elevator with the two cops, though, she realizes that the clever and devious warlock certainly prepared for the Scions’ inevitable attack — and the best way to escape it was to be one of the guards they would surely try to rescue first. Sure enough, the Unlidded Eye reveals that one of the cops is actually Guibourg using a cunning (but non-magical) disguise! Holly shouts a warning to the other Scions. Guibourg Overt Orders Holly to flee, while he activates Lightning Sprinter and dashes in the other direction.

    A mad chase through the hotel ensues as the Scions try to catch up with or intercept Guibourg. Just as they close on him in a stairwell, though, a wisp of fog coalesces into Acacia. As Guibourg races past, the young vampire reaches out her arm, nails extending into claws, and rips out his throat. Guibourg has already used Deus Ex Machina to escape death once in this scene, and the Storyteller doesn’t give him a second opportunity. Acacia smiles at the stunned Scions and says the fun is only just beginning. Then she turns back into mist.

    Well. Cops and hotel security are running around, fire alarms are blaring, and their nemesis is bleeding to death on the stairs. Leo crushes Guibourg’s skull just to be sure — and Holly feels a flash of powerful magic as a signal passes from Guibourg to a place outside the World, and an answer from that Otherwhere. Then they grab the body and run.

    The Scions then call the other Band to find how they’re doing at hunting witches. Landon answers: The other Band is down. Marshall’s army brat posse suddenly turned on him, snatched away his Relic rifle/shotgun/bayonet combo and shot and stabbed him. They also shot Delia. Barbara took to the sky but was clubbed unconscious by a flying skinhead with a baseball bat. Landon is hurt too, but he and Marshall managed to incapacitate the (unnaturally strong and tough) army brats before Marshall was clubbed like Barbara and lost consciousness. The flying skinhead retreated before Landon’s shinobi shuriken barrage, and Landon is now taking the Scions to the hospital.

    The Scions quickly rendezvous with Landon. Jaeda uses Health to heal some of the damage to each, saving their lives, but they are still thrashed. Leo blames himself for going after Guibourg instead of staying with his team, but done is done. Marshall will heal within a day or two, but Delia and Barbara still need medical attention; Landon resumes his trip to the hospital.

    Well, crap. Holly decides that it’s finally time to invoke Mystery and find out who’s doing what and why. She learns:

    What was the flash of magic? Summoning.
    What was summoned: A Gyuki. Only, it didn’t appear right at Guibourg’s body.
    Who does Acacia work for? Tuoni, primary avatar of the Death-Titan Tuonela.
    Who does Acacia work with? Technically, Guibourg. Until she killed him.
    What’s the plan for Guibourg’s witches? Currently, kill Scions.
    Who made Marshall’s crew turn on him? Acacia.
    Name of a witch not yet identified? Reggie Storm.
    Name of another witch not yet identified? Ray Soliz. Leo puts his head in his hands. Ray leads the Youth Group at Glory of God Ministries, his church.
    What is Acacia’s plan? Kill the Scions, humorously.
    What is Acacia’s lair? <Fzzzz.> Something is blocking this information.
    What does Delisle plan to do to the Sobeck family? Feed gorgon blood to Gus’ father.

    At that final answer, Gus freaks. It isn’t hard to figure out Delisle’s plan: Turn Gus’ father into a medusa so Gus will be forced to kill him. Gus immediately calls his father. His father says they are just pulling up to Delisle’s house — they were invited to a party. Gus pleads with his father to turn the car around and leave, NOW, this is the most important thing he has ever asked. The other Scions are flummoxed: They’ve never heard tough-guy Gus sound this scared. But the elder Sobeck agrees. Gus further convinces his father to take his stepmother out of town for the night. It doesn’t matter where, just far away!

    The Scions decide to continue their Night of Long Knives. First they go to the home of Ray Soliz. They find the young Evangelical accompanied by his parents and ten members of the church youth group. Leo demands to know why Ray betrayed God and Christ to join the Titans. Ray responds that he found God, and His name is Aten. Now, KNEEL TO ATEN! Leo cannot resist the Overt Order, but Holly and Jaeda catch him under the arms so he does not actually drop to the floor. Battle is joined; Ray sends his young acolytes charging toward the Scions, shouting “Submit to Aten!” and exploding when they come within reach. Their suicidal explosions of sunfire, though, are too weak to harm the Scions. Outnumbered 5 to 1, Ray does not live long. His parents try to defend him, announcing their willingness to die for the Prophet of Aten, but they are not cultists yet — merely Social Fu’d into madness. The Scions merely knock them out. Leo closes his eyes and whispers, “Forgive them.”

    As the Scions approach the home of Reggie Storm, this young warlock attacks them first. He is the flying skinhead with the baseball bat, bound to the Air-Titan avatar Aegir. Reggie swoops down and nearly knocks Holly’s head off… but just barely misses (thank you defensive do-over!) Again, he is vastly outnumbered and Jack can fly. He too does not live long.

    The Scions end their sweep through Avalon and Etna with a stop at George Delisle’s house. He might not be a witch, but Gus vows to kill him for the sadistic threat to his family. The party is over; the house is empty. They race to the Sobeck residence. It too is empty, but Gus knows his parents got away. George Delisle, however, is also gone.

    Where did Delisle obtain gorgon blood? Holly checks the sample the Scions obtained from Dr. Sosa, that she had weaponized into a dart. As she expected, it’s gone — replaced with an inert duplicate. It would not have been difficult to steal if someone knew it was there.

    Dean Shomshak

    Comment


    • EPISODE 21: Goodbye, Avalon (Continued)

      Act Three: Early Graduation

      The next day, the story of Gary Vetterson surviving a hole blown through his head is washed away by a media frenzy over the firebombing of a Holiday Inn and the spasm of home invasions that left almost 20 people dead or disappeared. Most of them were students or faculty at Etna High, including Principal Borgen. This is too much, coming on top of earlier waves of disappearances: The school district superintendent closes Etna High for the rest of the school year.

      Avalon High, however, is still open and the Scions go to school as usual. At homeroom, they receive word that their parents want to talk to them during lunch hour. The meeting takes place at the same conference room where they met each other months before. Sure enough, everyone’s divine parents are there — even Louhi (and the other Gods stay well away from her). Lono, however, does not look like Hunter S. Thompson. This time he looks like, well, a Polynesian warrior-king in a business suit.

      Huitzilopochtli, Sobek and Nergal congratulate the Scions on their murderous rampage. The Aztec War-God grudgingly admits that Jaeda became quite a warrior even though she’s a girl. To Jaeda’s gratitude, Tlazoltéotl points out that Jaeda has done far more, and greater, deeds than killing things. The other Gods are more subdued. Louhi stays coldly inscrutable.

      The Gods tell Gus, Holly, Jack and Jaeda that they cannot continue at Avalon High. They are on the verge of becoming Demigods; it is time to put away childish things and join their pantheons as special agents in the World. It is also too dangerous to keep such a concentration of Legend in one place for long! Louhi notes, in a tone of icy disapproval, that Holly will not become part of her organization, but Vainamoinen expressed an interest in becoming her patron.

      From the Gods’ point of view, the Scions have no unfinished business. Louhi’s assassination service will deal with Acacia. The Gyuki is a powerful and dangerous foe — now one of the most powerful titanspawn loose in the World — but it left town. Someone has to find and kill it, but not the Scions, here, now.

      The Scions do ask if they have to become Demigods. They learn that no, they don’t. They can choose to remain at their current Legend. The Scions also ask if they can stay a Band. Not if they become Demigods; they will be too valuable to their individual pantheons.

      The Gods grant the Scions a recess to discuss their options. By the end of lunch period, the Scions make their choice.

      Gus will go with Sobek. He loves the thought of joining his true father as a hatchet-man for the Pesedjet, using his strength and skill to the utmost. That evening, he says goodbye to his mortal father and explains the truth about Scions and the family’s long involvement with Sobek. His father is shocked, of course, and sad to see his son go, but admits that a great deal of family history now becomes clear. Gus also celebrates his immanent ascension to Demigod by belatedly accepting Reese’s past propositions to him — to Gary’s anger, but the giant hasn’t a moral leg to stand on.

      Jaeda, Jack and Holly agree they cannot stay in Avalon. They remember Barbara’s bitter comment that her Legend seems to be that of backing their plans and cleaning up their messes. If they stay, they will overshadow the other Scions and might prevent them from developing powerful Legends of their own, and maybe learning to become a real Band. The three also agree that their ruthless killing of the witches marked a conclusive break from childhood. They can’t continue being kids when they have acted as soldiers — or assassins. Jack and Jaeda have effectively said goodbye to their mortal parents already.

      But they do not want to join their parents, either. Unlike Gus, the three Scions feel they are still discovering who they are. Jaeda has been a fighter, a lover and an unexpectedly successful counselor, but she is still getting over the psychological effects of her gang years. Jack knows he cannot continue being the Goofy Slacker Dude, but he isn’t sure what he should become. A warrior chief, as his father hopes? A mathematician, which has proven surprisingly useful? Can you be a goofy warrior mathematician? And Holly has fought the manipulative and vindictive arrogance she inherited from her mother, but she knows she has not conquered it. Most of all, none of them want to become mere echoes of their divine parents, reliving Legends not their own.

      So they will leave Avalon, traveling to discover the wonders of the World and their place within it. Maybe they can hunt the Gyuki. And if Gary wants to come along — come on, there’s no way he can just go to Texas and become a football star — that would make Jaeda very happy. But that remains to be seen.

      The Scions stay in Avalon for the rest of the week, wrapping up their mortal affairs and finishing the cover-up of supernatural activities. Then they leave.

      Goodbye, Avalon. Roll credits. Play wistful, semi-relevant classic folk-rock song:

      Those were the days, my friend,
      We thought they'd never end,
      We'd sing and dance forever and a day.
      We'd live the life we choose,
      We'd fight and never lose,
      For we were young and sure to have our way…


      Dean Shomshak

      Comment


      • And that was Scion High.

        IIRC, a standard TV season has 22 episodes. I wrapped it up in 21 for two reasons. First, all the subplots seemed to be tied up at that point. More importantly, I just couldn't go one any longer, Scion High was the best campaign I ever ran, but it was also exhausting. Some of this was wrestling with the loosey-goosey Scion rules. More of it was just the work of juggling all the characters and subplots. (It didn't help that I came to Scion High immediately after finishing a lengthy D&D 3rd ed. campaign, which was a fair bit of work as well.) The effort broke me as a GM. I've barely been able to run anything since.

        (I might add that running an Exalted campaign broke one of my group's other GMs. He couldn't run anything for years, either. He's back in form now, though, so there's hope for me too. But we are not running any more White Wolf/Onyx Path games unless we know the game mechanics are rigorous, clear and not too complicated. At our ages, we are no longer willing to wrestle with balky rules. Especially considering what games cost nowadays, we expect designers to do their goddamn job and not make us do it for them.)

        But I have one question for people who've read through this Chronicle. If Scion High was a TV show, then a .pdf of the chronicle would be the series DVD. And DVDs need extras. The campaign précis, house rules and so forth would provide some extras. What else would people like to see?

        Dean Shomshak

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        • That was probably a good way to end it off. I understand that 1E's mechanics break down considerably at Demigod level.

          Dex Monkeys are the only effective class, and anybody who tries to play a different roll is going to rage-quit. :P
          Last edited by Nyrufa; 01-12-2017, 02:45 AM.

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          • Yeah, we thought the mechanics were showing the strain even at Legend 4.

            For one thing, by Legend 4 there is no reason to buy more than one dot of a new Ability. You'll get more suxx through Epic Attributes, channeled Virtues and Deeds than you will by raising the Ability rating.

            Incidentally, we all thought it was pretty funny that as the game went on, many of the times when the Scions pulled out everything to maximize dice rolls -- Legendary Deed, channeled Virtues, maybe even a stunt -- it was for noncombat activities that, objectively, might not matter much. Stuff like Gus' contests with Gary, the talent show, or Jack trying to figure things out through the Power of Math. But then, those often were the parts of the stories that the players thought were the most fun and character-defining. That's where their Legends developed.

            Dean Shomshak

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            • Gets even more tedious as one of the Dodekatheon, who's PSP is specifically designed to boost your Ability scores. :P


              By that point, your level of performance encroaches upon the realm of cartoon shenanigans. Somebody hands you three tooth picks, a bubble wand and some gum; you hand them back a tactical nuke.

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              • Man, I remember reading this whole thing back on the old WW forums. I'm vaguely teary-eyed and nostalgic getting to reread the whole thing after all these years. What a monster of a campaign.

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                • Yeah, I also enjoyed revisiting this group of imaginary friends. Like I said, it was the hardest campaign I ran, and it burned me out -- but it was totally worth it. I'm glad other people have enjoyed it, too.

                  Dean Shomshak

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