It's all in the name of science.
Adventure Log: Exposition available before start of adventure
It's summer of 2009 and a special conference is planned in Hartford, Connecticut on the topic of "Metahumans and Medicine".Invited speakers will talk about
- determining special medical needs in metahuman patients;
- advancements that metahuman abilities have brought (and can someday bring) to general medical knowledge and technology;
- the modern "superbug" problem;
- whether a near-future generation will be a different species completely;
- and the keynote speech will be "We Have Isolated the Metahuman Activation Genome".Jean-Claude Gironde has summoned certain specialists who work for his staff, who are part of the "Special Projects" covert team called Wyldfire. He has an uncomfortable feeling about this conference, from a professional standpoint and from a personal one. He does not want to influence the minds of his operatives; he wants you to investigate, observe, and report back.Dr. Steven Reynolds will attend as a representative of Nykvist Labs, which is a biophysics research startup owned by Phoenix Industries.Since they both will have their hotel bills and conference tickets paid by Phoenix Industries, they will share a corporate-provided driver (who will be Martin Prinz in disguise. He's wearing a driver's cap with a Phoenix Biotech patch on it.)Meanwhile, Thomas Jordan will disguise himself as a technical support specialist for Kothar Medical Design. Which is a pun, see, because Kothar was the god of Windows and Technical Support in the Middle-East. He's bringing in and setting up the demo booth for KMD.If this conference is completely legitimate:take a lot of notes! Especially during that keynote speech! If there is a common genetic fragment in all people who have active metahuman genes — whether they're mutants, scientific enhancements, or what have you, then we need to know! And why are disguised aliens not being exposed in this test? OR ARE THEY?!If this conference is some kind of cover for villain activity:INVESTIGATE and remember that you are part of an Elite Counter-Espionage Team! Prevent innocents from being harmed, but try (really, really try!) not to expose Wyldfire to the public. We would be just as happy for some more public “supergroup” to get credit, if credit absolutely must be given at all.So, gentlemen, you're off to Hartford, Connecticut, and ultimately the Connecticut Convention Center. Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Blake will share a suite at the Avon Old Farms Hotel. The disguise identities for Martin Prinz and Thomas Jordan will have more modest rooms at the much smaller Twin Spruce Motel. and will each have a separate "fleet vehicle" appropriate to his role.Won't this be a nice, quiet, educational trip?
Startup Chapter 1
(shut off background music)
- Clue check 2/2: mixed bag of protestors with a lot of competing messages, more annoyed at each other than the cop/the security, frustrated that none of the attendees are stopping dead in their tracks to get shouted at.
- Clue check 6/6: The protest groups identifying themselves with custom signs or hats or something include "Friends of Humanity", something maybe from a college group called the "Metahuman Research and Defense Agency", three people (cosplayers??) dressed up as Freakshow, a very serious looking little group with printed flyers to hand out called "Bio-Investigations LTD" (don't they do free clinics?), plus there's a random scattering of definitely cosplaying Watchmen fans.
- Clue check 11/11: Those are some very healthy looking FoH. And some very punk looking Freakshow.
- Clue check 15/15: The "MRDA" people are actually from the Mutant Underground ... and are trying to keep the Freakshow between them and the FoH.
- Clue check 18/18: The FoH know damned well that the MRDA is trying to avoid them.
Boxed Text 2
Three of you had to pass through metal detectors. The doctors had to present their tickets and ID, which were actually checked to make sure they match; a discreet sign outside the big, not-yet-open showroom points to a coat check where people can check in their cellphones and other recording devices before they enter the Demo Room.Silverwing, your ID was checked against a list that a couple of security guards have, your equipment was looked over and swabbed for chemical residue, and you got directions to your booth location PLUS a breakroom for demo techs, PLUS they locked off a hallway so the demo techs have their own shared restrooms which the conference attendees can't access.Amythyst, if you leave the garage to head for the men's room or the chauffeurs' breakroom, you do not have to go through metal detectors -- but you can see a security station just a little further inside the Conference Center, in the tunnel that leads into the facility proper. The two young guys manning it look desperate for a chance to scan someone, anyone, oh God so bored.
Inside the Conference Halls
Silverwing:undercover as Kothar Medical Design flunky
Amythystundercover as a Phoenix Industries executive chauffeur
Dr. Steven Reynoldsundercover as the Nykvist Labs representative
Don Blakeundercover as the Gironde School representative
Possible additional Character Secrets, depending on how the investigation goes:
- Clue 8/8: None are on Mercy Graves' level, which makes sense since you're not seeing any Lex Corp vehicles here. A woman with short black hair and a couple of facial scars near her right eye (which is covered by an eyepatch) is glaring across three parking rows at a taller woman with a ponytail. There's a guy with chin-length wispy dark hair who is taking this opportunity to watch a hockey game, but he shifts his position every time someone walks around so he's obviously not oblivious. A couple of slightly older men currently heading toward the breakroom remind you of costumed characters from your world: "Comanche" and "Shades".
- (( For the two women, vaguely describe Callisto and Mazikeen, don't get too specific unless a player tries to strike up a conversation. Otherwise, it's intended for flavor and filler if the player sticks to the "officially assigned" area. ))
Dr. Steven Reynolds
- Clue 5/5: Mostly the audience are medical professionals or researchers. You may not recognize most of these people, but you have probably read papers they have published in the same peer-reviewed journals where you publish.
- Clue 9/9: a couple of reps from Cadmus Foundation are here. They're very junior. They are not having a good time. One of them is taking notes on the talks like there is going to be a pass/fail midterm given afterward; the other one is sometimes interested, other times trying to persuade the note taker that they should both slip out of the room. (To hit the bathroom? To visit the Demo Room? To leave entirely? You can't tell from here.)
Dr. Don Blake
- Clue 5/5: Okay first, that wearable fitness thing that Doug Miller was talking about? You're thinking about the kids in the school as a sample patient pool, and you've got some concerns. Like, Raymond Killingsworth may be an excellent athlete, but he would offer to wear another student's monitor while doing his warmup exercises anyway if they would write his History essay for him. And in a more general sense: a lot of your patients, if a machine is deciding when they are "healthy", will actually stop sooner than they would if they had to rely on physical sensation.
- Clue 7/7: And second, that wearable fitness thing? *IF* it doesn't lead to cheating on one's own health, and *if* it doesn't discourage beginners, then how does it judge what's healthy for this patient without relying on BMI or similar nonsense? Doug Miller may be sincere, but you feel like you're being sold something.
- Clue 11/11: AND THIRD! Setting aside the whole patient thing. He's being a little vague on how his metahuman researchers were supposedly able to leap medical sensor technology forward with their "uniquely metahuman-powered vision". Has that been peer-reviewed? Tested? How do you do confirmation testing if you can't use the exact same metahuman in the manufacturing process? Is he saying that he has a single metahuman technician working in a factory somewhere, either creating all the specialized components or else performing Quality Assurance oversight all alone? Because that can't be healthy for the technician OR the reliability of the product. So, yeah, you think Jean-Claude Gironde, CEO, former metahuman rights activist, is probably going to want his Special Projects division to do an ethics check on Palmer Tech.
Note from GM to player: (( Please picture Dorky Sweetheart Ray Palmer's face when this goes down someday. ))
- Clue 5/5: Some other displays being set up include a tagging system for modifying targeted RNA; a better joint for an exoskeletal leg brace; and a more flexible computer memory film that will help create computerized implants.
- Clue 8/8: These aisles are set up kind of wide. Maybe somebody is going to be in a fancy motorized wheelchair or something?
- Clue 11/11: It's hard to feel your way around here. There's a lot of resonant metal in the Convention Center.
That's a fire alarm!After the first few seconds, one of the convention organizers steps forward to address everyone:"We think everything is probably fine, but one of the demonstrators was discovered in the service corridors a couple of floors below us. We want to err on the side of safety. We are going to evacuate to the ballroom on the other end of the building, hopefully to continue with our Keynote Speaker. I apologize, everyone. Please follow the staff in the green suitcoats to our temporary facility. If anyone needs assistance, our ushers would be happy to provide."
You arrive in a very nice ballroom that normally hosts weddings. (( If you look at the Convention Center website, and click on the Weddings page, it's that last picture with the long tables. )) Instead of theater seating, there are long rectangular tables drapped with floor-length white linen and sparkly blue topcloth. Convention technicians are hurrying to set up the projector screens on the sides of the room, so not everyone will have to crane their necks. Other people wire a speaker's podium up, and fuss with getting everyone comfortably seated. The demo technicians are brought in here, too, and it still doesn't fill the entire space.With the lights on normal setting, the walls are bright white, cheerfully solid-looking.So shiny.Can you imagine hosting a family event in this ballroom? So bright, even the walls and ceiling sparkle, like a promise of the future!===Martin Prinz, a fire alarm went off and the young guys down at the security post sprang into action. They come politely ask all the chauffeurs to please come along to a backup location on the other side of the building -- we're going to head upstairs to the main concourse first, actually, we need to get out of the tunnels.
- Clue 5/5: Over their muffled radios, you pick out just enough to gather that some protestors set off homemade gas cannisters in the lower levels. Might just be skunk bombs. Probably skunk bombs. But this IS a medical conference and some of those protestors ARE assholes. Get everyone up to one of the reinforced rooms. They can bring their coffee along, we don't give a shit, just GET MOVING!
- Clue 8/8: The cops outside should be taking over any second.
- Clue 10/10: You hear blast shutters being locked into place on the entryway from the street into the garage.
The whole crowd, including those two security kids, wind up in this room that's like a double-length freight container with both narrow sides open to the hallway to create a cross-breeze.. Good, sturdy, corrugated metal walls. Battery-operated lighting. Some stackable chairs and a few tables. This is not going to be comfortable for very long, but it would hypothetically do for ... say ... fifteen minutes?And the walls really ARE very ... very ... shiny.
You wake up. You have this taste in your mouth.
You have your clothes on. You have anything that was on you or in your pockets or whatever a few minutes ago, unless it was an obvious weapon, in which case you do not have that. You're still sitting in those chairs. Flat metal planes have been folded out onto the ground around the group of chairs. You think you were in a metal box and it has been opened up into outdoor air. It's a lightly cloudy day full of sea breeze and the smell of scrub pine trees.You are surrounded by armed thugs. Their weapons look like those energy ray things that Intergang had a few years ago in Chinatown: maybe lightning guns, maybe cold rays, maybe those strange energy fields that sapped all the energy out of you.Except one thug. He's wearing a "Best In Show" medal on a ribbon around his neck. He has a Hawaiian-style shirt on over his "jackbooted mercenary" duds.Where the stage should have been, there is a giant, IMAX-sized hologram of a man from the ascot upward. He has freckles. He has red hair. He is wearing a glittery white suit and a green shirt.He smiles out at the audience. He seems to see each of you, and all of the civilians, despite the lack of noticeable cameras in this area.There is a kiddie pool inflated on the ground in front of the "stage". It has water in it.
Keynote1 wav transcript:
Ladies and gentlemen! Flunkies and eggheads! Thank you for attending my TED Talk.
I am your keynote speaker: ARCADE
No applause? Fear not, you will get into the spirit of things right away. I have a little show-and-tell for you.
Sid? Sid, come on up here. Wave to the nice people, Sid.
So! Congratulations, folks. You have made it to The Big Time.
Now, I understand that many of you were not really ready for The Big Time. You were doing okay in your dull little lives at your dull little workshops. You hardly ever did any fieldwork under "live fire" conditions. It's okay! I know just how to motivate people like you.
Were any of you really the stuff that dreams are made of, it would not be necessary for me to make any unseemly threats. You would view this lovely remote island. You would examine the conditions of your new live laboratory. You would dive right into work! Wait. Maybe not 'dive'. Heh heh. Little joke there.
A clever middle-aged man, one of your colleagues, came to work on this island about three years ago. His name is ANTON GEIST. You may have heard of him? Maybe? I see a light of recognition in a few fragments of the population, yes, a glimmer.
Doctor Anton Geist spent the first twenty or so years of his professional career, trying to get the movers and shakers of the world to do something about global climate change. His nightmare scenario was that the polar caps would all melt, and humanity would drown. All in the name of capitalism!
But no one would listen.
So you know what Doctor Geist finally did? When he could not find a way to stop it? Geist studied metahumans who got their powers from special serums. He studied metahumans who were born with amphibious traits. He worked on a serum to turn average humans into amphibians!
Yeah, it mostly worked. Didn't quite. Little problem here.
Doctor Geist could not get the resources he needed to test things properly, see, because his colleagues - that is a lot of you out there, by the way! - his colleagues did not support him. Called his work a waste of time. Called his theories whack-a-doodle. Critiqued his research. Competed for his funding.
Yeah, that cut off a lot of ways old Anton there could keep moving forward. But his work is so important! The survival of the human race!
He did his very, very best.
And so will you.
Geist's serum is now inside each and every one of you, after all.
So listen: here is what happens when a patient with the Geist Serum gets salt water in their mouth, nose, and ear canals all at once.
(( Interrupted! ))
Tune in Next Session!
- John Evans, MD
- Doctors Without Borders
- Had a cousin named Jack who disappeared a few years back while on a DWB trip. Now part of the CCC crowd.
- Bitsy Klein, Convention Organizer
- Doug Miller, Palmer Tech Representative
- Doug Miller is the head of Applied Sciences for Palmer Technologies.
- He is not an engineer. He is not a scientist. He is a Public Relations flack. He looks like he is ready to invent a laser gun out of coconuts, using sheer determination and motivational speech to make it happen.
- generic Murder World Security goons
- additional "Convention Security" and pretend "Freakshow" who turned out to be more Murder World Security goons