Sunday, October 28, 2012

'Kill Bill' Meets 'Escape from New York'

The third and last adventure in the Year of the Phoenix Adventure Guide has the title 'Beneath the City.'  In the prior adventures, the player characters learned of an impending Zoviet attack against the Nonnewaug Tribe of rebels.  This adventure is predicated on the PCs attempting to find and warn the rebels.  New York City was abandoned during the cataclysm and the Zoviets do not consider it cost effective to reclaim.  Thus, New York has become a city of ruins occupied by various small groups that are (normally) beyond the reach of Zoviet authority.  Because of increased rebel activity, the Zoviets have chosen “to make an example of the Nonnewaug rebels.”  As a result of “newly discovered discovered electronic detection methods,” the Zoviets know that the Nonnewaug are based on State's Island (formerly Staten Island).

The Nonnewaug stage a “test of loyalty” for the PCs.  Assuming they pass, the PCs are brought to State's Island where they attend a rebel War Council.  The Nonnewaug don't have time to evacuate before the Zoviet onslaught and – although they are “masters of guerilla warfare” – the rebels cannot hope to survive a direct attack from the assembled Zoviet forces.  While discussing options, the war council receives a report that the Zoviets “have set up a command center on the roof” of the Trade Tower.  Dietrick's illustration above notwithstanding, in Wixted's version of 2197, only one tower remains.

Anyway, the rebels devise a plan wherein the PCs journey – primarily via subway tunnels – through the wasteland of New York and destroy the Trade Tower with explosives they are to plant in the subway beneath.  The rebels will mount a diversionary attack to coincide with the collapse of the tower; therefore, timing is very important.

To get to the tower, the PCs must travel through the territory of someone Wixted has unfortunately named “Mac the Knife.”  Wixted doesn't provide much information about Mac – he's friendly with the Zoviets and he killed another NYC 'leader' in order to annex his territory.  The PCs don't encounter Mac during the adventure (at least there is no provision for meeting him); however, the PCs are ambushed by Mac's bevy of assassins.
          The Mac prefers using female assassins as they are, on the whole, more nimble and they are smaller so that they can fit through places that men would have difficulty going.
          The Mac also expresses a personal preference for female beauty, and his assassins are indeed beautiful.
          They are not stupid, and prefer flight to dying.  If outnumbered or losing, they fade back into the shadows, into the crawlspaces, and into the darkness, never to be seen or heard again.  The subway tunnels, especially, are their private domain.
          The assassin hides along the path of her intended victim.  At the appropriate moment (i.e., the target is within range, but hasn't yet reached the assassin's perch) a crossbow bolt is loosed.  Immediately afterwards, the assassin silently drops her crossbow and draws her knife, prefering [sic] the element of surprise.
Although only four assassins are present when they ambush the PCs, apparently there are a total of six – all of them represented by a single write-up.  Wixted does not provide them with names; the PCs are unlikely to learn their names.  For 'gamemastered characters' of this sort, Wixted recommends assigning a descriptive word for each.  “This reduces the tendency for the players to think of their opponents as numbers on a piece of paper,” Wixted notes on page 40 of the Adventure Guide.  The six assassins are identified as:  Silent, Tall, Blonde, Nimble, Deadly-looking, and Slender.

One of the ways Wixted tries to have Phoenix characters “come to life” is by means of a 'Personality Profile.'  A detailed examination of this concept is reserved for a future post; however, since they have the same write-up, Mac's assassins share an identical Personality Profile.  Their profile is:  Always Silent, Always Proud, Sometimes Sadistic, Never Cowardly, and Always Thorough.  They also share a passion for killing.

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