So, another episode of Teen Titans has aired, and you're just in time to catch the rerun!
By this point, we're starting to wrap up 'Act 1' of the first season, as far as Marvel Heroic terms are concerned. This episode is going to be a lead-in to a big two-parter episode to close off the first act. Yeah, I'm throwing a lot of television and Marvel Heroic terms together, but that kinda makes it more badass, in a way.
Without further ado, grab your popcorn and your remote, and let's watch!
Episode 8: Shutdown
Things begin with a dream sequence, which is a wonderful way to set the atmosphere for a session. We are in the head of young Ray Kord, the Blue Beetle, as he is heroically beating bad guys by the score, only to be interrupted by a giant Solomon Grundy who lifts him from the ground and roars into his face before swallowing him up. In the darkness of the inside of the zombie giant, Ray finds his father, the past Blue Beetle before watching his head explode. Turning around, Ray finds Deathstroke holding a sniper rifle, having just killed his father before his eyes before taking aim for the son!...
Such a nightmare is interrupted by an urgent message on Ray's sub-dermal communicator from Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow. The rest of the team is called as well down into the basement where the 'Arrow Cave' is located. Dressed for action with Black Canary at his side, the emerald archer informs the team that they are needed. Three separate vehicle factories around Detroit have been broken into at the same time, and the body count is mounting up with the police hardly able to contain the threat. They decide to split into three groups to take each site.
James, the Dullahon, and Johnny Thunder, driving his high tech car, arrive at their site first to find a police barricade erect around the factory. Driving through the barricade with little regard for the police, the pair find a rather strange set-up. In the middle of the main factory floor, a group of men dressed as 18th century revolutionaries armed with muskets were assembling some sort of missile silo. Using the turret on his car, Johnny began to mow down the strange thugs while James did his best to gather some intel with his tentacles. Those that remain try to focus on finishing the missile silo, but that becomes increasingly difficult as the attack continues. Johnny liquidates a few with a rumbling sonic boom, and James finishes off the last two by wrapping them up in his mind tentacles, pushing them through the skylight, and bringing them back down again, absorbing some interesting intel.
It seems that these are members of a Neo-Luddite gang led by the mysterious Bane. They are targeting Detroit as a place to make a significant demonstration, since it is one of the most industrial cities in the United States.
Before James can relay this important news to the other teams, Ray and Juan arrive at the second factory. They find a similar set-up, except for the fact that all of the police in the barricade are dead and the assembly lines are churning away. Additionally, they meet an odd figure, gangly in appearance and tall, dressed in the 18th century apparel with one significant addition, a horrible gas mask. He announced himself as Bane, and as a show of his power, he tossed a car off the line into the empty police cars outside, causing an explosion. Juan got to work teleporting inside the missile silo, trying to dismantle it from within, while Ray tried to return fire by tossing a car to Bane, who punches right through it without effort. Trying to keep the men from working on the machine, Juan lets out a series of shuriken that each hits their target, taking down their numbers significantly. However, the situation changes immediately when Bane lumbers up to Ray, spouting off how he is an abomination for relying on technology to make him strong before lifting him into the air and breaking the boy over his knee.
Juan scrambles to rescue Ray, and succeeds in teleporting the both of them away, but not before a truck crashes through one of the entrances and Bane presses down on a plunger, releasing a wave of energy that wreaks havoc on Ray's system. Before more damage is done, Juan takes Ray to a local hospital. James and Johnny try to arrive on the scene to help, but they are compounded by police traffic and make it only to see an intimidating look from Bane which makes them both drive off.
At the hospital, they learn that Ray's back isn't broken as they had feared. In fact, he seems perfectly fine, despite the gory details. However, Ray informs the team that he can no longer feel a connection to the Blue Beetle suit embedded in his spine, and a scan from James confirms that the 'scarab' that contained the suit seems to have flat-lined. They return to the cave to inform Green Arrow and Black Canary, who were in the middle of some... post-heroic... calisthenics. They quickly end such exercises in order to better asses the situation. Ollie, having some medical and technical knowledge, recommends some slight invasive surgery to check on the scarab. Though afraid, Ray accepts, and the rest of the evening is spent going through the operation.
However, Ray seems to have miraculously healed from the invasive surgery bit. Unfortunately, Oliver is not entirely familiar with the tech, and is unable to give Ray more information beyond the fact that it seems to have been deactivated. Oddly enough, Juan has found that his sub-dermal communicator was also damaged after their encounter. This seems to make sense with Bane's modus operendi, as the pair of older heroes informs the team about Bane's neo-luddite group and their past acts of terrorism against major centers of technology and progress. Ollie mentions that it looks like LexCorp technology, and the only person who would know for sure would likely be Lex Luthor himself, who is currently on death row.
After a few days of recovery, Ray is well enough to go back to school. His humiliation compounds during gym, where the coach, who is extremely biased against meta-humans, arranges a game of dodge-ball with regular humans against metas. Johnny is not involved, as he is outside of the gym, making out with his college aged girlfriend and fellow vigilante Firebird. James lets off some frustration with the assholes in his gym class, and Ray gets pummeled. Juan savors the final blow, knocking the last kid out with vigor.
We have a rather... awkward scene following in the showers, the main conversation piece being the size of Beast Boy's... equipment, comparing it to that of a horse. Yes, in this group we have the range of maturity of deep character actions and roleplaying... to jokes about the kind of equipment Beast Boy can have as a shapeshifter. Quite the group, huh?
Well, that conversation shifts into one about metahuman rights and how it should be illegal for them to be persecuted in such a way. See what I mean about this group?
Anyway, out in the hallway, Ray has a scene with his heart-throb, Tori Anders (Starfire), who actually shows a bit of sympathy for his condition. Offering her support, she gives him her actual phone-number, which brings a little light into Ray's life.
When Ray returns home, after attending German Culture Club, getting dressed in lederhosen and eating sausage, he goes to the Arrow Cave to find Ollie, who is incredibly concerned. They have a heart-to-heart, with Ollie admitting that a part of him sees himself as a father figure, and that Ray needs to snap out of this funk and get his life back in order. He arranged for Ray to have twenty minutes with Lex Luthor to try to figure out the suit issue. James goes alongside him, as he is the only one who can drive the jet they had stolen from the League of Assassins several episodes earlier.
They arrive at the secret facility in the middle of nowhere in which Lex Luthor is being held captive until his execution. Ray is escorted deep into the bowels of the facility into a small interrogation room where the powerful bald man is seated. Lex Luthor begins politely but cannot keep his rage in check for long, showing his anger that Ray's father had stolen his special suit that was designed to fight Superman. However, he offers to help Blue Beetle fix the issue with his armor if he vows to stop his superheroics forever. Holding his ground, Ray refuses. Impressed with his loyalty, Lex lets a word of advice slip, saying that if he truly wanted to be the Blue Beetle again, he could.
With a show of willpower, Ray summons the Blue Beetle suit back to his body. He learns that the suit has bonded to him as a defense mechanism and is now permanently linked to him, using his body to supply the energy. Lex Luthor vows to get the suit back, even if Ray has to die, but he quickly writes that off and tries to return home with James.
The session ends with Johnny and Juan playing video games when a televised message overrides the signal, as often happens. It is Bane, announcing that he will cleanse the city of technology with a specialized EMP, forcing the people to either die or adapt. Before anyone has a chance to react, in true Ozymandias style, he announces that the EMP had already been launched before the TV shuts down.
Bum.. Bum.. BUM!
This session showed the good and bad aspects of having the TV show format with an episode centering around one character. In that sense, it was a great way to test these things. Of course, experimenting in this fashion does have its negative effects, which I will elaborate on below.
On the plus side, the action scene at the beginning was really cool and worked for everyone. Trying to mix things up a bit, I had the team split in two, but all being in the same action scene, trying out that sort of system. Also, I was doing my best to build the Doom Pool to 2d12 in order to end with the catalyst that will set up the main problem for the episode, hence Ray losing his powers. This involved a lot of grandstanding, which I haven't done before, and that was pretty fun. Especially playing with the narrative, such as working on the missile silos or throwing a car to create some chaos.
One thing that perplexed me was that, when Bane attacked Blue Beetle, he refused a reaction due to the fact that Ray was still pretty traumatized by being beaten up by big guys with super strength, even if this universe's Bane is a bit more scrawny with the Venom effect being less obvious physically. I wasn't exactly sure how you would handle a non-reaction, so I simply let it be that the effect die was applied immediately.
Now, one major failure of this session was that I was expecting Ray and the team to go on a search for the one who created the Blue Beetle suit. However, Ray's player wanted some scenes at school to emphasize his powerless-ness, so I incorporated that, and things never really went on the tangent that I expected. Unfortunately, that meant that I had less for the rest of the team to do while Ray tried to deal with his lack of powers. There was some RP here and there, but the second act kind of deflated for everyone but Ray. Again, my fault, but the others did have fun, as evidenced by my post-game wrap-up that usually lasts until the wee hours of the morning with this group. Still, this emphasizes the need for B-plots in episodes like this.
Not much more to say besides that, except that I really need to figure out this two-parter. Should be good!
Oh, and my Bane voice is awesome.
Hope you enjoyed this session summary! If not, here's a funny picture.