Thursday, 2 June 2011

MAID: A Space Oddity


Since my players felt that MAID one-shots were somewhat insubstantial, I decided to try a short mini-campaign with most of the first group. The Mansion was a space station called Neo-Elba in orbit around a desolate world. The Master was an exiled war criminal; the self-styled His Royal Highness Emperor Shardin I - a 21 year old member of the Imperial Household who had been imprisoned in Neo-Elba with a small staff after a failed coup attempt. However, his ambition still burned strongly, and he planned to return and claim victory using his military might and spiritualist powers.

His Royal Highness Emperor Shardin I

By this stage, I had a pretty good handle on how to get characters that weren't just a random jumble of stuff. Rolling five or six attributes and keeping two or three allowed people to pick combinations that were thematic or appealing, while still throwing out quirky and unpredictable options.

  • +Andrew played Betty, a nymphomaniac ghost who was physically unable to consummate her desire for the Master.
  • +Melysa played Kei Okami, a princess sharing her relative's exile because she had been tainted by lycanthropy during the coup, for which she blamed Shardin.
  • Rohin played Burinko, a vampire albino catgirl.
  • John played Susan, a bandage-laden mummy with an overactive imagination and a history of tragedy in love.

I originally intended to run the campaign over four acts, with each act in a different genre - a primitive world, a fantasy world, a horror world, and finally a sci-fi world. I ended up cutting out the horror arc, partly because I couldn't think of anything particularly exciting for it, and partly because the story to that point offered me a better alternative.

Despite being stuck on an immobile space station in orbit around a derelict world, HRH Shardin I had not been idle. His "military strength" lay in the fact that he'd built a warp drive into the station, linked to the fusion reactor. To generate the extra power required, he was using the water in the outdoor swimming pool as a source of deuterium.

Neo-Elba

Yes, that's right - I rolled up a space station with an outdoor swimming pool. I decided that the station was toroid, and the pool was a sphere of water in the centre, held in place and kept liquid by a force field.

In addition to that, the station was armed with several remote-control battle drones, and Shardin had been working on an ultimate weapon - the "God Cannon!" This was the main driving force for the game - the Cannon required three powerful spiritual items to power and complete it. Using his power as a spiritualist, Shardin would home in on each one and then warp the whole station to the appropriate planet, sending the Maids down to find and return with each artefact.


The first world was a primitive jungle planet, and I pretty much ripped off Avatar for most of the look and feel... which most of the players hadn't seen at the time! The maids were warped to the surface while Shardin stayed behind. They fought some alien beasties, and were then mistaken for sky gods by the natives. It turned out the artefact was underneath the natives' tree home, so the maids asked to speak to the tree god. They got as far as the god's chamber, where they saw the artefact was a medium-sized statue of strange bluish-black stone. The natives realised something was up as the maids tried to make off with the statue. The maids asked Shardin to beam them up, but he couldn't get a lock on them that far underground, so they had to fight their way out a bit. Finally, the maid with the statue drank a potion that increased her size 20 times, and she bust out the side of the tree. With her now massive strength, she easily fought off or ignored the natives, striding off across the jungle with the statue until Shardin could warp them all back to the station. One of the maids (Susan I think?) also ended up with two or three alien "dogs" as loyal pets.

I have a hazy recollection that the station was attacked by pirates or parasitic aliens or both, but I don't remember the specifics... Also, Betty attempted to seduce the Master on more than one occasion, but was either shut down as though he hadn't noticed, or was unable to follow through because of her lack of physical substance. Over the course of the next story arc, Susan began a physical relationship with Shardin, much to Betty's disappointment.

The next world was a fantasy kingdom, which was being ravaged by a legendary creature known as a Dai-Tora (Great Tiger). Shardin declared that the heart of the Dai-Tora was the source of spiritual energy he needed. Unable to pinpoint its location from space, they were forced to track it across the countryside by following the trail of burned villages. Some flattery managed to persuade Shardin to accompany the maids this time. After various trials, including competing in a pit fighting competition that was broken up by the local knights, and having to deal with the locals despite being a group made up of a vampire, werewolf, mummy, and ghost, they eventually confronted the Dai-Tora - an enormous flaming black-and-red tiger at least ten metres at the spiked shoulders, with an appetite for destruction! They fought valiantly, but the beast was ferocious and it looked as though they may not prevail. In one final gamble, Betty used her ghost ability to possess the monster, beating it on a Will roll. While in its body, she made it lie down so the others could kill it and remove its crystallised heart.

Back on Neo-Elba, the God Cannon only required one final component! Shardin came to Betty, and told her that she was the most important person on the station to him - for her recent demonstration of spiritual power had convinced him that she was, in fact, the third component of spiritual power needed to complete the God Cannon. Shardin also put the moves on the ghost-maid using his power as a spiritualist, and Betty was convinced to serve her Master for all time as part of his greatest weapon.

However, the Imperial Fleet had noticed Neo-Elba's disappearance, and had been tracking them down! As the armada approached, Shardin and the maids scrambled to defend the station and finish the God Cannon. Betty fused with the weapon and Shardin unleashed a wave of destructive energy, annihilating the fleet. As he stood on the bridge, laughing in triumph, a single shot rang out. Kei finally got her revenge, felling the evil Emperor with her sniper rifle. Somehow (was it Betty's love? Susan's use of the spiritual binding ritual she'd used on Betty? Burinko's use of a World-Changing Song? Shardin giving up his own power as a spiritualist? I don't recall), Shardin's soul was also bound to Neo-Elba, and he and Betty were able to be together for eternity. The others left, although I can't remember if they decided to live on the fantasy world below or go off to find new jobs in the Galactic Empire...