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Old 03-01-2017, 07:35 AM   #51
evileeyore
 
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Default Re: Bye, Bye, Blackbird

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
In what sense?
In that there is now no way that the Deputy Warden can let Taylor live. At one point you could have maybe (longshot) talked your way out of being killed, maybe.

Now? his manhood is on the line. If he catches Taylor he'll have to have him beaten to death. No mano e mano, just a ring of guards delivering a curb stompin.


Granted, I agree with the decision to try to get his attention focused there. It's what I'd have done.


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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Holding hands, Cherry and Anderson start to climb up the stairs as stealthily as they can.
Oh Anderson, that girl is getting deep in your head. Deep in there.


Seriously, are O'Toole and Burr the only ones being at all suspicious of her mental powers?
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Old 03-01-2017, 08:45 AM   #52
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Default Re: Bye, Bye, Blackbird

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
In that there is now no way that the Deputy Warden can let Taylor live. At one point you could have maybe (longshot) talked your way out of being killed, maybe.

Now? his manhood is on the line. If he catches Taylor he'll have to have him beaten to death. No mano e mano, just a ring of guards delivering a curb stompin.

Granted, I agree with the decision to try to get his attention focused there. It's what I'd have done.
While consciously, Taylor justified his decision as offering a tactical advantage, subconsciously he wants Tyrrell to try to kill him at all costs. That way, it won't be murder when Taylor kills him.

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Oh Anderson, that girl is getting deep in your head. Deep in there.
Our Dr. Dreamweaver has already caught Ms. Bell trying some mental power through touch. He warned her to stop and wants to see if she listens. He's pretty confident he'd detect another attempt and with Will 17, Mental Strength 23 and three levels of Mind Shield, he's certain that she won't be able to mess with his mind.

Of course, that's slightly arrogant, but even if she tries multiple times, the odds are pretty heavily against her winning each Quick Contest, while he has decent odds of noticing her attempts.

Psychologically, Dr. Anderson also judges that she's about a thousand times less confident than she pretends to be and will be really hesitant to try again after she has failed against someone, especially if he noticed her attempt. And while she isn't weak-willed, she does have a weakness for masterful, older men* who project absolute certainty that they know best within their areas of expertise. He senses that she'd be somewhat reluctant to confront him directly, at least while he continues to maintain a moral advantage by treating her as he did when she was his subordinate long ago and his position is one that appears reasonable.

*No, Chase Taylor absolutely does not count. He's only a few months older and they met at age nineteen. A 19-year-old girl, especially one with a lot of life experience for that age and a definate direction in life, will usually consider 19-year-old boys barely a step up from toddlers and dogs when it comes to maturity and intelligence.

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Seriously, are O'Toole and Burr the only ones being at all suspicious of her mental powers?
Well, no. Townsend has been terrified of her from the start. Even before there was any reason for us to expect any such thing. Even knowing all that was included in the briefing about Project Jade Serenity wouldn't do that, as nothing we were told about the former subjects suggested that any had demonstrated powers beyond physical improvements and cognative enhancements that could theoretically be explained biologically somehow.*

Cam Townsend knows more than we got in our briefing. Which is fine, generally, but if Onyx Rain had any clue about Cherry Bell specifically or the cluster---- that Manhanock Asylum had become, we're going to need some pretty good explanations for not briefing us better and sending a tactical team with us.

As for anyone else, the orderlies and guards are all terrified of her coming near them. So is Vicente Berrocal.** Dr. Anderson isn't so much suspicious as he is extremely curious and as he feels secure in his own powers, is quite happy to learn more through observation.

Taylor... well, he actually detected her attempts to invade his mind when he touched her hands back in the cell. He's just making a conscious choice to treat her as the person she used to be. In his experience, treating someone as a dangerous monster doesn't leave them with either the chance or inclination to be anything else. He asked her to trust him and trust needs to go both ways. Expect the worst from people and they'll find a way to oblige you. Try to reach their better natures and while you may suffer a lot of disappointment and heartbreak, at least you'll give them a chance to be better.

Taylor is essentially making a leap of faith in the belief that redemption is possible for Sherilyn Bell, as his preacher and momma taught him it was possible for anybody willing to ask forgiveness. Granted, truly believing that is easier in this case than some others, as Taylor is certain that he knows the person Sherilyn used to be and wants to believe that good person is still in there, no matter how much mistakes, wrong choices, trauma or other influences have changed her.

His momma might be disappointed by Taylor's haphazard grasp of Bible study and how little of the Good Book he can quote, but she did manage to teach him the essentials, which to him mostly boil down to loving his neighbour and treating them accordingly, as he'd wanna be treated, trying his best to leave judgement to God.

*Though so far, no biological explanation seems plausible.
**Who probably isn't a Special Agent at all. Anderson, Burr and Taylor all peg his DHS-issue ID as phony. Not even the good kind of phony, like we get from Onyx Rain, where they are identical to real ones, but may not be on file, but just a fake ID made by someone with a good printer, decent Forgery and either a basic familiarity with the real thing or the know-how to find good pictures to use as models.
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Old 03-01-2017, 09:54 AM   #53
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Default Re: Bye, Bye, Blackbird

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
While consciously, Taylor justified his decision as offering a tactical advantage, subconsciously he wants Tyrrell to try to kill him at all costs. That way, it won't be murder when Taylor kills him.
Oh, it's still murder. I mean not legally, but you know.


Quote:
Of course, that's slightly arrogant, but even if she tries multiple times, the odds are pretty heavily against her winning each Quick Contest, while he has decent odds of noticing her attempts.
That's very arrogant. Unless he knows by how much he beat her first attempt. And knows that the GM didn't roll very poorly.

Quote:
Well, no. Townsend has been terrified of her from the start.
I keep forgetting he exists. But then that's to be expected as you're focusing on the actions of the PCs and the growing disagreement between Taylor and Burr.


Quote:
Even before there was any reason for us to expect any such thing. Even knowing all that was included in the briefing about Project Jade Serenity wouldn't do that, as nothing we were told about the former subjects suggested that any had demonstrated powers beyond physical improvements and cognative enhancements that could theoretically be explained biologically somehow.*

Cam Townsend knows more than we got in our briefing. Which is fine, generally, but if Onyx Rain had any clue about Cherry Bell specifically or the cluster---- that Manhanock Asylum had become, we're going to need some pretty good explanations for not briefing us better and sending a tactical team with us.


**Who probably isn't a Special Agent at all. Anderson, Burr and Taylor all peg his DHS-issue ID as phony. Not even the good kind of phony, like we get from Onyx Rain, where they are identical to real ones, but may not be on file, but just a fake ID made by someone with a good printer, decent Forgery and either a basic familiarity with the real thing or the know-how to find good pictures to use as models.
That's all very suspicious, but that bold part? That really makes me suspicious of what he's doing there if he couldn't even get issued the same type of fake ID as the rest of the team.



Oh, and I wanted to highlight how much I enjoyed the tale so far. Especially the ckiffhangers you keep leaving off on. Well done.
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Old 03-01-2017, 05:10 PM   #54
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Default Re: Bye, Bye, Blackbird

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Oh, it's still murder. I mean not legally, but you know.
Oh, I know. So does Taylor, if he stops to think about it. But while Taylor might be described as a modern-day Paladin*, he's far from perfect. In theory, right is right and wrong is wrong and never the twain shall meet. Killing for vengeance is murder, plain and simple. In practice, it's a lot easier to leave judgment to the Lord when there's no personal emotional stake.

Ironically, Taylor is much better at forgiving transgressions agains himself than he is at forgiving those who hurt people he cares about. Avoiding any spoilers, but as you'll see when my lazy bum manages to get further along, hopefully catching up to where we are in about five or six posts, murder is an awfully slippery term, when you really get down to it.

Take the Trolley problem, for instance. Who is the murderer there? And who is the righteous man? Is it the guy who takes action to limit the harm by killing one to save others? Or the guy who chooses his own peace of mind over the lives of others by refusing to make a choice, resulting in more deaths?

*Though I guess he might not rate Lawful Good, as he's considerably more concerned with the spirit of things than the letter.

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
That's very arrogant. Unless he knows by how much he beat her first attempt. And knows that the GM didn't roll very poorly.
It is arrogant, but Dr. Anderson caught her first two attempts. Which means he won the Quick Contest to resist and won the Quick Contest to detect that she made an attempt. He knows he's won four QCs in a row against her. That's enough for him to deduce that her skill is a less than his resistance by a wide margin.

There's also the fact that Dr. Anderson believes, with some justification, that he might be in the top 1% of the top 1% of the top 1% (ad infinitum, depending on if he's had his morning coffee) when it comes to intelligence and willpower in the human population. Add to that his certainty that he's one of a handful in the world who truly understands the import of some of the drugs tested in Project Jade Serenity and the changes they have wrought in him. Logically, he deduces, anyone he meets has an overwhelming chance of being less capable than he is at employing mental powers.

Dr. Anderson might accept that there are one or two people in the world who could match up with him in a mental contest. But a former teen runaway with a high-school equivalency diploma, someone who's been locked up in semi-isolation for the past seventeen years, trying to learn how to use her gifts without any understanding of them, without a frame of reference, without the ability to experiment because she was constantly watched, drugged and sedated? No, I don't think he really believes that she is a serious challenge to him, mentally.

Game terms, Dr. Anderson has Hidden Lore (Conspiracies) with an Optional Specialisation in secret drug experimentation and Expert Skill (Psionics). Using his skills, he has estimated Cherry Bell's likely abilities and the good Doctor calculates the absolute ceiling on her potential skill scores, i.e. ability to use her powers to force her way into a resisting mind, as being low enough for him not to be worried about her. As it happens, I think he's right. Cherry Bell has the potential to be truly formiddable. But she lacks education, training and life experience. At the moment, she might be able to kill Dr. Anderson, but I don't think she could brute force her way into his mind with mental powers.

Of course, that does not mean that he's immune to her social engineering... or even just the fact that she's almost impossible to remain indifferent towards. Even men not normally suspectible to crass sexual wiles may nevertheless develop a bad case of protectiveness, paternal or otherwise, toward our Cherry Bell. Charisma 4, Pitiable, Smooth Operator 4 and Very Beautiful are a lot of bonuses to Influence skills. And she does have a deep-seated need for constant validation that she seems currently to be feeding by trying to have everyone wrapped around her little finger.

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I keep forgetting he exists. But then that's to be expected as you're focusing on the actions of the PCs and the growing disagreement between Taylor and Burr.
To the best of my recollection, I've reported every single thing that Townsend has said or done. Taylor wasn't in the car with Townsend on the drive up to Maine and Dr. Anderson's player isn't playing him as nearly as chatty as Chummy, personable Taylor, so there wasn't much conversation there.

And as far as I can tell, Townsend has been pretty subdued and withdrawn since the sitation got violent. I don't think he's a coward, necessarily, but he seems to be very aware that for all his intelligence and education, he lacks the training and experience to have much to contribute in what is essentially an unplanned SERE exercise gone wrong.

About the only thing Townsend has been assertive about is telling Col. Burr to listen to Taylor, probably because Townsend is good enough at reading people* to know that Taylor is genuinely trying to get them out alive and that Taylor's skill set is pretty much tailor-made for the situation. Hell, Taylor has played the OpFor and/or acted as the trainer in more than twenty large-scale SERE exercises over his career, teaching US, South American or Afghan special operators how to survive, evade, resist and escape superior forces.

*Especially when he's had days to familiarise himself with extensive files on them, including psych evaluations from Project Green Serenity, court documents in 2011 and intelligence estimates from agent runners and psychologists made before he was approved for Onyx Rain.

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
That's all very suspicious, but that bold part? That really makes me suspicious of what he's doing there if he couldn't even get issued the same type of fake ID as the rest of the team.
To be certain that there's no misunderstandings, that asterix with the note about a fake DHS ID was referencing the ID carried by 'Special Agent' Vicente Berrocal, the man we found tortured and beaten, naked in his own faeces, in the cell next to Cherry Bell in J Wing. We noticed his name in the log book by the ferry when we arrived and he'd been signed out too, but in a different handwriting.

We've been carting him around in a wheelchair. Most of the time, he's been unconscious, sleeping, actually, thanks to Dr. Anderson's patented touchy-feely sleep holds (that he's keeping a secret from the rest of us). He hasn't yet said anything, but he screamed a lot when Cherry Bell tried to help with washing him in the showers used by the guard force.

Aside from torture and beatings by the guards, either Cherry Bell, or someone else who can utterly break a man's mind, has subjected him to such massive psychological trauma over a long period that at the moment, he is disoriented, lacks full awareness of his immediate surroundings and needs help with all daily activities. He may recover, but then again, he may be more or less a vegetable for life. Dr. Anderson can't really tell at this stage.

Cherry Bell said* that Berrocal claimed to have been sent by one Raul Vargas, wanted felon, suspected drug baron, former Green Beret, escapee from Project Jade Serenity in 'the Incident' of 1999/2000 and the object of Cherry Bell's obsession for the last seventeen years or so.

We'd like it if Berrocal is able to talk at some point, because all of us would like more information on Raul Vargas, his current status and precisely what the connection is between the defection of Col. Ortiz's detachment of Green Berets and Vargas. Of course, what Onyx Rain wants done with that information may not be what our characters want. Not to mention that our characters may have quite different ideas about what to do with Vargas, Col. Ortiz and his men.

Townsend has immaculate papers and ID, as befits the personal assistant of Director Vani Gujarat, the most senior person belonging to Onyx Rain that we know about and the one who seems to be running it. We met Townsend in Washington and have no doubts that he is actually with Onyx Rain.

Of course, that doesn't mean that we believe he is friendly towards us. Onyx Rain wants the former test subjects contained. If they come to believe that controlling them (or us) is too difficult or dangerous, we have no illusions that Townsend will object when space-suit clad commandos are sent in to kill us.

*In the post 'Bells for Her'.

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Oh, and I wanted to highlight how much I enjoyed the tale so far. Especially the ckiffhangers you keep leaving off on. Well done.
Thank you.

Credit for the cliffhangers goes to the vBulletin character limit, though. :-)
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Old 03-02-2017, 06:30 AM   #55
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Default The Sound of Silence

O'Toole, alone inside the abandoned office in the cellars, sends out tendrils of telekinetic power in the area around the guards at the T-intersection in the main tunnel for what seems like an infinity. He doesn't find any handy metal objects to use for an impersonation of Terry the Minotard, though, and the guards are getting increasingly impatient when he doesn't answer their demands to produce Cherry Bell.

Townsend asked the guards what guarantees they could give for good treatment about half a minute ago, but hasn't said anything else loud enough for the guards to hear. O'Toole can hear him whispering encouragment, though, presumably to Burr, who is moaning curses as his wound is inexpertly tourniqued. All the guards seem to be promising in return for turning over Cherry Bell is not to kill them immediately.

Guard Vaughn: "If you send her out unhurt, the Warden won't make us kill you. We'll put you in cells, maybe, but you'll be alive."
Guard Arden: "If you make us come in there, you won't like the results."
O'Toole: "Wait, wait! Just take it easy for a minute."
Guard Arden: "We aren't interested in waiting. Give. Us. The. Girl."
O'Toole: "Lookit, I'm coming out alone. If I'm safe, she'll come out next."

Agent O'Toole takes his captured M9 pistol and sticks it in his belt at the small of his back, adjusting his shirt and suit jacket to hide the outline. Then he takes his flashlight and widens the beam as much as he can, holding it in his left hand as he puts both hands up and walks out of the room. Outside, he can see four or five flashlight beams shining at him from both corners of the T-intersection in front of him, with indistinct shapes of men holding guns at the end of the beams. O'Toole sneaks a quick glance to the side, making out the entrance to a side tunnel about forty feet backward and to his right. He takes a few sideways steps in the corridor, until the guards shout at him to stop and drop his flashlight.

O'Toole: "Cool it. Don't shoot, man."
Guard Arden: "Hands on your head."
Guard Vaughn: "Drop to your knees."

Pretending to be confused as to which he should do first, O'Toole concentrates for a few seconds as he drops his flashlight and then raises his hands slowly to put them on his head. He's looking for a flashbang on hanging on the web gear of the guard closest to him, a guy who hasn't spoken yet, but has stopped a few feet forward from the T-intersection and is holding his rifle steadily aimed at O'Toole's center mass. Once O'Toole can feel the flashbang with his telekinetic tendrils, he pulls the pin with a pickpocket's smooth touch and makes sure to hold on to the pin to avoid warning the guards with a tell-tale tingle if it hits the floor. Then he waits, squeezing his eyes shut and covering his ears with his hands.

Guard Arden: "On your knees, now!"
Guard Vaughn: "Don't make me shoot you, boy."
Guard3: "Do it!"
O'Toole: "I'm surrendering, I'm surrendering!"

In the tunnel, the flashbang explosion is an all-encompassing force. It's not a noise, it's the cessation of all sound embodied as a physical blast. Even with his hands over his ears and his eyes closed, O'Toole is blinded and deafened. He's less than fifteen feet away from the overwhelming wave of force. The guards are closer, much closer in the case of three of them.

O'Toole lets himself drop to the ground, raising a PK shield between himself and the guards. O'Toole can feel rounds hitting the shield as he dives, probably fired reflexively and at random. He turns his dive into a roll and comes up further from the guards, on the right side of the tunnel, running for the side tunnel opening.

After the initial, probably accidental, burst, only one guard seems to have the presence of mind to fire his weapon in the direction of O'Toole, perhaps because he was partially shielded by the wall he was sheltering behind, but is clearly firing blind. O'Toole is frantically trying to blink afterimages from his retinas so he'll see something, anything, but keeps running blind even when that doesn't work. He dives for the tunnel opening as ricochets throw stone fragments around him.

Once O'Toole has scrambled to his feet again in the side tunnel, at least two more rifles and one pistol have begun firing down the main corridor that O'Toole came from, though O'Toole is hardly in a state to estimate this. All he hears is ringing in his ears and all he sees are afterimages of blinking white spots in the darkness. The guards are almost certainly unaware where he is at the moment, but O'Toole is not interested in waiting for them to recover enough to start following him. He runs straight ahead into the completely dark tunnel, which he realises might be a bad idea as he trips over something.

The fall is painful, but not dangerous, and O'Toole runs his hands over what tripped him to figure out what it is. At first he thinks it's a sack of something heavy, maybe supplies, but then he realises that it's someone's leg and the outer surface is trousers. Shocked, he runs his hand upwards, looking to touch the rest of the body. As his hand touches something sticky and a sharp hard surface sticking out of it, O'Toole realises that there is no rest of the body. Just a severed leg.

Cursing under his breath, he scrambles to his feet again and manages to touch a wall with an extended hand. Using his sense of touch to navigate, O'Toole goes deeper into the darkness of the side tunnel. There is a foul odour in the air, but the air does not appear to be poisonous.

Once O'Toole thinks his eyes are a little less useless, he feels around in his pocket for a phone. He rejects his trusty old personal Nokia 3110 and keeps looking until he finds the Blackberry Torch he uses at work. Deftly working the phone without vision, O'Toole tuns on the light function. Holding his phone like a flashlight in his left hand, O'Toole then draws his pistol and moves on ahead with his light hand supporting his gun hand, the knuckles of which he drags lightly over the wall on his right side to back up his still limited vision.

O'Toole still doesn't hear a thing, so he doesn't know where the guards are, but he expects that they secured the office where he took cover and the other room with Burr, Townsend and Berrocal before coming after him. After all, they had no way to know Bell wasn't in there without searching the rooms. O'Toole figures he has some time to get futher away and presses on, taking care not to trip over anything, however. Before he has covered more than a hundred feet, he almost walks into a door which closes off the side tunnel.

Leaning against it, O'Toole sends telekinetic tendrils of energy to the other side of the door and feels around. It seems to be a fairly small room with lots of debris around. In one corner, there is something fairly soft, which O'Toole eventually determines to be a mattress. There's warmth emanating from the mattress, as O'Toole can find when he flutters his mental fingers around it, avoiding further touches for the time being. Slowly exploring the air above the mattress, O'Toole confirms his suspicions. Someone is breathing rhythmically on the mattress, asleep to all appearances. The breath is fairly weak and on the fast side for a sleeping human, suggesting a small person or a sick one.
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Old 03-02-2017, 07:17 AM   #56
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Default Re: Project Jade Serenity [Supers/Technothriller]

This is excellent stuff. It was fun doing bits of research for you anyway, but seeing what kind of game is coming out makes it really worthwhile.

The guard who had a flashbang go off on his webbing may well be on fire.
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Old 03-02-2017, 07:28 AM   #57
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Default Re: Project Jade Serenity [Supers/Technothriller]

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This is excellent stuff. It was fun doing bits of research for you anyway, but seeing what kind of game is coming out makes it really worthwhile.
Thank you very much.

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The guard who had a flashbang go off on his webbing may well be on fire.
I did some Googling and checked what happened to people who had flashbangs go off too close to them. Several tactical operators died on the scene when their flashbangs exploded in contact with them, about 50% of the sample of 7-9 in news reports I could find. I couldn't find a report where the injuries were minor. Most of the survivors suffered third degree burns, one lost a leg (went off by his foot) and one lost an arm (was holding it).

This suggests to me that the incidental damage of a typical flashbang, in addition to the affliction, might be around 1d-1 to 1d+1 burn ex. Pretty much harmless at any distance over a yard, but potentially dangerous if closer than that. Having a flashbang go off while strapped about an inch from your heart is probably an automatic critical hit to the vitals, in addition to the normal maximum damage of a contact explosive.

The poor guard might be on fire, yes. He might also have had burning magnesium or aluminum sprayed in his face and the outer layer of his heart instantly heated to some smaller, but still significant, fraction of 2900 F.
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Old 03-02-2017, 01:29 PM   #58
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Default Re: Project Jade Serenity [Supers/Technothriller]

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I did some Googling and checked what happened to people who had flashbangs go off too close to them. Several tactical operators died on the scene when their flashbangs exploded in contact with them, about 50% of the sample of 7-9 in news reports I could find. I couldn't find a report where the injuries were minor...
Telekinesis is deadly around grenades.

A realisation that the PCs have presumably already had, but took me until now:
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Old 03-02-2017, 07:07 PM   #59
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Default Don't They Know It's the End of the World?

Up in the barracks dining hall, Taylor has been talking to the three guards and two orderlies in a steady, non-confrontational voice. He's calmly explaining the inevitability of an overwhelming response by the authorities and the impossibility of defending Jewell Island from all the force that a national government can bring to bear.

Taylor spends a lot of time explaining about the difference between a part-time response team with old gear in a mostly mothballed facility and a top-tier federal hostage rescue team of elite full-time operators equipped with the newest and best of everything, from weapons and sensors to aircraft and satellites. From the body language of the four men in the dining hall, they seem to think that Taylor is making some good points, but there is obviously something other than the current situation they are very worried about.

Taylor: "Like I said, I ain't seen you do nuthin' worth bothering the law for. An' if you figure something you done means you already doomed, mebbe you got it wrong. I reckon you been figuring there's something a-going on here. I guess not all of it's gonna be aired out in a courtroom and the press. Anybody helpin' us end this now might could discover that there's folk who can smooth over a lot."
Guard Lamb: "Who are you?"
Taylor: "Me? Nobody, really. My name is Chase Taylor, right pleased to make y'all's acquintance. I used to be a soldier in the 7th Special Forces Group, but I'm a-working for Homeland Security now. I ain't an agent or anything; I don't even carry a weapon, jes' a notebook I ain't written in yet. Tell the truth, the only reason I come here is that somebody figured Ms. Bell wouldna talk to no government lawyer without somebody she done recollect along. Ya see, I used to know her before she got sent up here. The thing is, boys, we really didn't come here 'bout anything to do with y'all. It's got to do with things before Ms. Bell was even sent up here. An' all we wanted to do was ask her a few questions."
[Taylor shakes his head, slowly and sadly]
Taylor: "Warden Tyrrell done gone ahead and riled himself up a whole heap of trouble. I reckon y'all know that, if'n we is being honest with ourselves. Carry on like him and y'all be left holding the short end of the stick. Him, I figure he's crazy as a loon anyway. You ain't. Not all the way. Y'all can see there ain't no need for killin' and dyin'."
Guard Randall: "Just shut up. It's no use."

Neither Summers nor Lamb have moved closer to Taylor while he talks, but Taylor has taken several small steps forward. The extreme distance everyone is trying to keep suggests that they are very afraid of Taylor for some reason. The dining hall is large, but it's not large enough for all of them to stay 21' away from Taylor and Summers doesn't back away as Taylor approaches. Summers' finger tightens on the trigger, however, and he hesitates, torn between not wanting to shoot a man for taking a step and the awareness that he is losing control of the situation. The orderlies seem to be wishing they were anywhere else and neither of them is even pointing his pistol directly at Taylor any more. Taylor can hear one of the orderlies ask Lamb if it's true that the Coast Guard is coming. Lamb snarls at him to stay focused, think about what happens if they disobey.

James, an orderly: "But what if there's another way..."
Randall: "Are you crazy? She'll kill them all! She'll kill my girl!"
Taylor [gently]: "Who is it gonna kill your girl, Randall? If'n I can help her, I will."
Randall: "Hell, you can't. I'm sorry, but we got orders."
James: "He's talking about Ms. Bell's guards. They've got his little girl. And others."
Gilbert, an orderly: "Stop telling him things!"
Taylor: "I'm very sorry to hear that, Randall. Any of all y'all who got kin at risk. But believe me, their best chance is if'n y'all help me and tell the tactical teams coming in here ever'thing. Rescuing hostages is what they do. An' if you're worried 'bout Ms. Bell harming your kin, she ain't gonna do that. She been tore up real bad, but she ain't gonna do that. I'll get her to agree not to hurt anybody. But y'all hafta work with me."

Randall paces back and forth, giving the impression of a tightly wound spring. Lamb adjusts his position so he can watch Taylor and Randall at the same time. Taylor is now less than 15' away from Summers. Lamb's rifle is no longer aimed directly at Taylor and as far as Taylor can judge, James and Gilbert, the orderlies, are unlikely to react to sudden violence with decisive resolution. That leaves Summers' rifle as the immediate threat and Summers seems to be extremely nervous. Nerves can lead to neglient discharge, which will kill you just as dead as the deliberate kind, but they'll also cause a man to make mistakes.

Taylor figures that a headfake to one side and a rush off the other foot has maybe one chance in two of causing Summers to miss him clean. Even if he hits, a round or two might not be immediately disabling. Say two chances in three that Taylor can reach Summers, hurt him bad and use him as cover from Lamb. Get the rifle from him and Taylor could put everybody in that room down hard in just over a second. Say one chance in two that Taylor could walk away. Get down into the tunnels. Save... save Sherilyn, Lord willin', but save the others, too. An officer, a bureaucrat, a rookie cop and the doc. Non-combatants and on Taylor's side. That makes them his charge, his responsibility.

If something were to distract Summers, the chances jump from possible to probable. Say, if Taylor were to move when the grenade in the kitchen finally goes off. Randall is well within the kill range and both Lamb and Summers would have a good chance of fragment wounds and near certainty of losing their composure. Taylor figures that he'd have better than four chances out of five to get his hands on Lamb's rifle and walking away. Leaving at least three men dead on the ground. Probably five, tight quarters and they've all got guns, even if two of them hold theirs like they might bite. Men with loved ones, men who don't want to be there, men who might be as much victims as villains.

Taylor: "Randall, could you kindly step away from the kitchen? I dunno when that doohickey will go off and you's well within the lethal range of an M67 grenade. I'd sure hate to kill anyone on accident."

Randall stalks into the dining hall, moving closer to Taylor and Summers. As he does, Randall notices for the first time that Lamb's rifle is aiming more at him than Taylor. He stops abrubtly with a surprised look on his face.

Lamb: "It doesn't matter what this guy tells us. We do what we're told. It's the only hope we can give them."
Randall: "I never said any different."
Lamb: "You're thinking it, though."
Taylor: "Everybody's thinking it, Lamb. You ain't gotta do this."

There is a muffled thump somewhere underground. It's followed almost instantly by a short burst of rifle fire that only Taylor can hear. Then an assault rifle on three-round burst fired wildly, as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. A pause, long enough to reload. After that, two rifles and a pistol are emptied in wild shooting. Taylor's breath is caught in his throat. He closes his eyes. Desperately, he thinks: It doesn't sound right. Only one flashbang. No pause for the assaulters to enter before the firing starts. No aiming, no disciplined bursts, no pause between bursts to move.

There is no more fire from down below. And Taylor knows that no matter what he tells himself, the odds are excellent that what he heard didn't sound right because it was just a sloppy entrance by part-time guards. Even a sloppy tactical team is more than enough to overwhelm Burr, O'Toole... and Sherilyn. Killing them along with the Doc, Townsend and Berrocal. Unaimed rifle fire at close quarters is probably as lethal as it needs to be against untrained people stunned by a flashbang. No more fire means it's probably over. They are probably all dead down there. Because Taylor didn't come help them. Killed by guards. Men like these guards. Because of these guards. Taylor slowly raises his eyes upwards.

Gilbert: "Did you hear that? What the hell was it?"
Taylor [tired voice without affect]: "That was a flashbang. Tactical teams use them for assaulting fixed positions. Reckon it's too soon for HRT. Might could be Coast Guard tactical law enforcement, if they had a team ready to go immediately when they got the first call. Don't make no matter who it is. It's over. Any man with a weapon in his hand dies."
Lamb: "You're lying."
Taylor [moving toward Summers, eyes locked on his]: "Lay down your weapons. Y'all still got a choice. Don't let it end in more death. Please, all y'all, jes' lay them down. Choose to go on livin'."
[voice breaking]
Taylor: "Please help me... help me save somebody from this mess."

James the orderly drops his pistol to the floor. Summers lowers his rifle, no longer aiming at Taylor. Randall takes a step forward with a lowered rifle, but stops when Lamb aims at him in a firing position. Lamb's eyes keep flickering over to Taylor and Lamb seems terrified that no one has shot him yet. Gilbert, the other orderly, is still holding his pistol and tries to aim it at Taylor. Gilbert is white as a sheet and his gun is swaying, his finger straining at the trigger. Taylor ignores him and keeps walking, turning his back on Gilbert.

Gilbert: "Stop, man! Don't make me shoot!"
Taylor: "There's a fire in the kitchen an' the sprinklers ain't enough to put it out. Any moment now, a grenade goes off. If'n it do, we all still close enough for fragments. I'm fixin' to go in there an' disable the grenade. Cain't have us dyin' now. Jes' don't shoot me in the back while I'm a-trying to help you."
Lamb: "What the hell?!"

A single shot rings out.
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Last edited by Icelander; 03-03-2017 at 04:45 AM.
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Old 03-03-2017, 03:28 AM   #60
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Default Re: Project Jade Serenity [Supers/Technothriller]

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Telekinesis is deadly around grenades.
O'Toole the tool wanted to pull the pin of an M67 grenade. Primarily because his player thought it would be cool. Every problem, apperently, is to be solved with the psionic powers O'Toole is supposed to be keeping a deep, dark Secret (Possible Death). He only agreed to the flashbang as a compromise when I argued OOC that odds were that some of the guards would survive the blast and that their response would be to toss grenades back.

Negotiation, keeping them talking and not taking any risky action as long as the guards still thought Bell was in there, that was not cool enough. Even though O'Toole knows the Coast Guard will eventually arrive and there was every reason to expect that the guards would be extremely reluctant to assault a position where they thought Ms. Bell was in the line of fire.

Assuming that the character presumably didn't sleep through his training as a law enforcement officer, he should be looking to de-escalate, not massacre, especially when a massacre would not accomplish anything. O'Toole has all the sense, morality and professionalism of an action movie cop. Maybe even a video game protagonist. In other words, he's a violent solipsist with zero impulse control and a toddler's blithe disregard for causality.

The character didn't actually have any monstrous Disadvantages at the start of play. He did lack any relevant Sense of Duty or Code of Honour, but we somehow assumed his PC still had basic human instincts. O'Toole's player then argued that he should be allowed to 'upgrade' his Quirk-level Impulsive to the full-blown version, 'as he was playing that way anyway'.

As we argued OOC that his character's backstory had him infiltrating a secretive government conspiracy by successfully pretenting to be a boringly mundane federal agent type with an immaculate record for two years, without a single slip-up or ill-considered shenanigan, O'Toole's player said that he had obviously just been really lucky on his SC rolls over those two years.

As I'd written up the character based on input from the player, O'Toole's player's desire to have his PC be Impulsive won out and the change was approved. So now O'Toole runs around like a headlesss chicken, for all the world like a Chaotic Neutral character in D&D, treating NPCs as pixels on a screen. He doesn't seem to be running toward any defined goal and it's not clear how his cowardly* hide is safer running blindly through tunnels full of dangers than he'd been if he'd stalled for time, negotiated or even actually given up, to give help time to arrive.

If two of the 'pixels', Burr and Townsend, survive the events on Jewell Island, I somehow doubt probationary Onyx Rain agent O'Toole will be trusted enough to get any further on the inside of the secret task force/conspiracy. He is the most junior man of the actual Onyx Rain members on the mission, but unlike Burr and Townsend, he's a badge-carrying Special Agent. The security of the other DHS people, their rescued survivor/prisoner (Berrocal), as well as Burr, a DoD observer, became O'Toole's responsibility when Agent Banks went missing. And O'Toole spared them precisely zero thoughts before running away to leave them to be killed or captured.

*O'Toole has Will 15 and no Disadvantages that make him it difficult for him to think under pressure. It was not a fight-or-flight response where he was simply psychologically unable to act rationally because of adrenaline rush. No, O'Toole just apparently values other people, his duty and his responsibilities less than the chance to see how much mayhem his powers can unleash. He's a supervillain without an origin story who just wants to see the world burn. Maybe it's in his tainted blood. He is Raul Vargas' son and Vargas was always a prize prig, selfish to the core and utterly indifferent to anyone else's feelings, health or wellbeing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
A realisation that the PCs have presumably already had, but took me until now:
Spoiler:  
Yeah, that was pretty open from the start. As mentioned in his character background, Dr. Anderson spent 1994-1998 doing his psychiatric residency at Manhanock Asylym for the Criminally Insane and while he was there, he was part of a DARPA-funded research staff developing and testing many of the nootropic drugs eventually used at Project Jade Serenity. Other research teams were working on different drugs, some of them with perfomance-enhancing effects similar to steroids or blood doping, others with less obvious effects. See, for example, this post in one of the research threads.

The test subjects were mainly patients at Manhanock Asylum. There were also 'volunteers', most of them in the form of prisoners convicted at court martial, who were promised reduced sentences and earlier parole. Dr. Edward Vanderbert, the lead scientist, had been carrying out similar experiments for decades, with no one person other than him cleared for more than a fraction of what he was involved in.

Of course, at the time Dr. Anderson was there, the results were confined to barely statistically significant correlations between some of the drugs and minor improvements in cognative performance, as well as some promising performance-enhancing drugs that might have had incremental advantages over current steroids or similar. But if the subjects of Project Jade Serenity have demonstrated more dramatic psychological and physiological changes in reaction to their treatment years after it ended, it was hardly a stretch for Dr. Anderson to expect similar effects with test subjects from immediate precursor programs.

Granted, Dr. Anderson thought that after the Incident, Manhanock Asylum was reorganised, the labs and research programs closed down and anything of scientific interest removed. Which it officially was. Some of the paperwork was almost certainly sanitised to protect more senior figures from fallout over the messy ending of Project Jade Serenity and no doubt there endured for some years within the relevant government agencies and institutions a collective avoidance of signing anything that could connect people to specific knowledge of the experiments in case there were inquiries or trials ahead.

But Dr. Anderson didn't really expect that no one would have sorted things out properly and that many test subjects had just been left to rot on Jewell Island, ignored and forgotten by various bureaucrats who did their best to forget they ever knew anything about them. What happened to Dr. Vanderbert? Dr. Anderson hasn't really kept much contact with his former colleagues, some of whom are still working as government contractors on one classified research project or another, but he knows that no one has seen Dr. Vanderbert since the year 2000.

And bureaucratic neglect can't really explain things like Terry Amiti roaming the tunnels in the role of a monster in 2017, when Dr. Anderson knows that Terry wasn't a patient at Manhanock after 1998. Was he transfered back there? Why? By whom? Or was there always something more on Jewell Island than Dr. Anderson knew about? A secret facility hidden somewhere even deeper than the secret research labs in the cellars, somewhere Terry was taken when he was officially transfered and never left until his 'escape' into the abandoned tunnels, changed into something both more and less than human?
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Last edited by Icelander; 03-05-2017 at 06:28 AM.
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