Session 2: Devil in the Details

Here are Gene and Jason’s notes for Session 2 of “Glassworks,” which Rich C.G. hosted at his apartment in Waltham, Mass., on Monday, 4 June 2012:

Player Character roster for Jason E.R.’s “Glassworks Bronze Age/noir superhero scenario, using the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game (based on Margaret Weis Productions Ltd.’s Cortex system, originally using DarkPages), as of spring 2012:

  • “Kyle Martins/The Cloaked Quarrel [Gene D.]-male human college student and legacy crime fighter with mystical crossbows
  • “Eli Wasserman/ the Amazing Mr. Fantastic [Brian W./ absent ]-male metahuman with shadow manipulation, retired superhero and private investigator
  • “Rain Tomotowa/Thunderbird” [Sara F.]-female Native American metahuman park ranger, able to change into an eagle
  • “Matthew Shanks/ Merlin [Josh C.]-male incubus sorcerer and occultist with an ancient family legacy
  • “Tim Gray/DarkStorm” [Bruce K.]-female metahuman super soldier, experimented upon by the government, amnesiac weapons designer for Oryx Industries, and dark vigilante
  • “Summer Winters/ Santanica Pandemonium [Rich C.G.]-female human nurse and mother/demon with flame powers, unaware of dual nature
  • “Ezra Goldman/Daedalus” [Beruk A.]-male metahuman tinkerer with the ability to temporarily imbue machines with personalities and communicate with them

Sometime after Santanica Pandemonium encountered snaky sorceress Erichtho at the Ramsaier Museum of Natural History, nurse Summer Winters sends an e-mail to her ex-husband, Bobby Galati. Their son Timmy has been asking about his father. Summer then goes to a local library to do some research into a dagger that was stolen from the museum, according to news reports. She isn’t sure why she is curious about this item.

The schizophrenic woman goes to the museum, not realizing that her demonic alter ego visited it. Summer finds only the gift shop open, and she buys a book cataloging a collection of Asian artifacts including the jade dagger. A picture shows a makara (sea-dragon) design in the hilt. Summer studies late into the night….

Meanwhile, three other metahumans have met and captured arsonist “Devil Doll.” DarkStorm drives Thunderbird, Merlin, and their prisoner to the “Little Baghdad” neighborhood of Kingsgate, a section of Hamilton, Delaware. They go to the stately manor of the White Magus.

A strange turbaned manservant greets the motley group, and they take the restrained Devil Doll to a sitting room. DarkStorm removes the woman’s mask and sees burn scars and that she is mute. Devil Doll seems to recognize her host, and after she is magically bound and given some writing implements, she identifies herself as Eva Ball, the former partner of the White Magus thought killed in a fire! Merlin divines that she escaped from a hospital-like institution….

Still excited after his first brushes with the superhero community, the Cloaked Quarrel leaves the private detective office of Eli Wasserman in Germantown and returns to the apartment of Boyd Burch at 54 Tenant Street in Kingsgate.

The Russian mobsters whom “The Amazing Mr. Fantastic” had met are gone, and a hopscotch board with odd symbols has been drawn on the sidewalk in front of Burch’s building. The Cloaked Quarrel quickly copies them into his notebook before going in to look for clues to the missing chemist.

Burch’s apartment has been thoroughly ransacked, but the Cloaked Quarrel does pick up some keys and pictures of Burch with his wife and a fellow CalTech grad. A sound in the bathroom brings the Cloaked Quarrel face to face with the Red Right Hand, a violent vigilante.

Kyle eagerly shares what he and Eli have found so far, and “Mr. Hand” gives him a manila envelope with more files and a burner phone in return. The Red Right Hand tells the Cloaked Quarrel that he believes the Russian mobsters were actually trying to protect Burch, possibly from the Galati crime family, because of his gambling debts and connections to tobacco firm D.J. Sharrif….

The next morning, Nurse Winters returns to All Saints Hospital. She confronts Dr. Ben Nitten, who had lured her into an examining room. Not knowing that she had transformed into Santanica Pandemonium, Summer isn’t sure how she got from there to waking up naked in an alley sometime later.

Nitten responds cryptically, gesticulating wildly. He denies any wrongdoing and takes Summer to the security office, where they find Wally, the janitor who had helped her the other day. The nurse’s vision blurs, and Wally somehow becomes guard Billy, and they review fragmentary camera footage.

Summer also glimpses Dr. Nitten flickering back and forth with a dark-haired peasant. She gets sleepy and is surprised to find herself back at home, with her alarm clock ringing for her next shift at the hospital….

White Magus isn’t sure what to do about pyromaniac Devil Doll, especially if she’s his former partner, but Merlin asks her to show him where she escaped from. DarkStorm drives the team back to the not-so-abandoned warehouses at 315 Mycroft Ave. in Fairmont. They find only police tape at the scene of the murder of Albert Boyle, a former colleague of Tim Gray.

On the way back to the White Magus, the would-be heroes learn of another arson. The leader of the mystical Conclave says it’s not one of his properties, and he reluctantly agrees that they should go investigate the blaze at 26 Orissa Street.

As firefighters get the flames under control, Merlin collects ash and scrys upon a woman wearing a mask and cloth wrappings similar to Devil Doll. She is headed northwest. Merlin douses a necklace with a potion of stealth and gives it to DarkStorm.

Thunderbird flies to the roof and is shocked to notice a pattern of holes from vertical fires in a row of buildings leading to the Glassworks section, home of the Hamilton Harriers [see DarkPages one-shot]. Since Merlin’s spell tracking “Devil Doll 2” is still active, DarkStorm decides to follow that lead first.

The Cloaked Quarrel reviews the files he got from the Red Right Hand and is waiting to share with The Amazing Mr. Fantastic. Boyd Burch’s wife Maura died about five years ago in an industrial accident. Kyle recognizes her as the glass woman he found while foiling costumed villain Palmetto’s heist of a Mancari Security Co. armored car.

The other man in the photos from Burch’s apartment is Albert Boyle, a biologist at Oryx Industries, which supports D.J. Sharrif’s plan to take over the Annex. The Cloaked Quarrel sets out for the suburb of Blackbird to check on Boyle….

Outside All Saints Hospital, Summer meets ex-husband Bobby Galati. Dr. Nitten appears and encourages their argument. An orderly tries to interpose, and Santanica Pandemonium emerges and rips out his heart!

Horrified, Galati tries to run to his limousine, but Santanica blows it up. He admits that he stashed a jade dagger stolen from the museum in the car, and the succubus retrieves it and flies away….

On the way to Boyle’s house, Kyle is sitting in a city bus when he recognizes DarkStorm behind the wheel of his car (with Merlin, as well as Thunderbird overhead). The superhero fan jumps out, and once he learns that they’re also investigating the arsons, asks to join the case.

Merlin is frustrated when he realizes that he had been magically tracking a dagger that the Cloaked Quarrel got from the first Devil Doll rather than the second arsonist. DarkStorm notes that Boyle is already dead and agrees with the Cloaked Quarrel that their leads are connected.

Another fire erupts, and DarkStorm drives his new acquaintances to it. Rain transforms back into avian form and brings the Cloaked Quarrel to the roof, where he confronts Devil Doll 2. Merlin engages Santanica Pandemonium, who is curious about the inferno.

The Cloaked Quarrel fires bolts from his mystical crossbows, but Devil Doll 2 knocks them away and hurls a knife in return. DarkStorm stashes his vehicle a few blocks away and begins climbing the ornamented exterior of the old theater to get to the roof.

Thunderbird creates a thunderclap with her large wings, briefly weakening the fire. However, Santanica whips up the flames between the Cloaked Quarrel and Devil Doll 2, provoking an attempt by Merlin to banish her with a silver crucifix. The wizard is unsuccessful, and they begin trading verbal barbs.

The second Devil Doll is entagled by a second volley from the Cloaked Quarrel, and DarkStorm unmasks the arsonist. Tim is upset when he recognizes her as Maggie Orex, his former girlfriend killed five years ago by muggers! Her face is bruised, and like Eva Ball, she is apparently mute.

After a few minutes of sparring, Merlin and Santanica stand down at the request of the other crime fighters. The Cloaked Quarrel gets the demoness to go to Evergreen Park to talk. Thunderbird later translates the hopscotch characters as a mix of a nursery rhyme (“Little Jack Horner”) and primal runes.

DarkStorm drives Maggie to Rain’s grandmother, the shaman “Kittaguka,” for treatment of her physical and mental injuries. At Evergreen Park, the team reconvenes to finally compare notes, but Merlin and Santanica Pandemonium continue haggling over the jade dagger.

Arcanists Merlin, Thunderbird, and Santanica wonder about the connection between the Cloaked Quarrel’s ancient crossbows, the “jade warrior’s panoply,” and the dagger that Erichtho of the coven stole from the museum and that Bobby Galati had.

What’s the significance of the fires leading to Glassworks, and where is the “cintamanni” (dragon pearl or Philosopher’s Stone) that various mystics are hunting? Merlin and Thunderbird had promised the Conclave that they’d search the South Market.

DarkStorm, the Cloaked Quarrel, and (presumably) The Amazing Mr. Fantastic want to investigate the connections between the murder of Oryx biologist Albert Boyle, the disappearance of D.J. Sharrif chemist Boyd Birch, and the attempted theft of the glass corpse of Maura Burch.

The Cloaked Quarrel takes DarkStorm to the armored car. They agree that the mix of magic, science, corporate espionage, and organized crime is confusing. A burned-out house bears further examination, and DarkStorm also still wants to find the warehouse in Fairmont.

Further complicating matters is Santanica Pandemonium’s dual nature. Summer calls Tim from All Saints Hospital, and when he and Matthew explain what has happened, she begins to remember her activities both as a nurse and a demon.

In the meantime, DarkStorm and Thunderbird decide to go with Santanica/Summer to find her son Timmy. The Cloaked Quarrel and Merlin head to the White Magus to report on their findings and check in on the Devil Dolls. Kyle [+ 6 x.p. total] also hopes to talk again with Eli and the enigmatic Red Right Hand….