The Alternates Episode #31 Recap - “Looking Forward to It”

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The Alternates Episode #31 Recap - “Looking Forward to It”

Here's a recap of the latest session of my Sentinels RPG campaign "The Alternates"! As per usual, there's a narrative recap (written as if it was in-metaverse) and then I go over the actual running of the game, and any lessons I learned as the GM.

If you're lost, you can catch up with the previous Game Recaps! There's a lot of them, but they're all in this forum!

The Premise of Our Game: In the meta-verse (where Sentinel comics is a published comic book multimedia empire), there is a premium cable animated television series (in a style similar to “Into the Spider-Verse”), which itself is based on a comic series called "The Alternates." This RPG campaign represents that show, with each game session (ideally) representing one hour-long Episode of the show. The recap below is written in-metaverse as if it was an article on a popular website that posts recaps of episodes.

Player Characters/Protagonists:

  • Cytoblast: Dr. Douglas Hemlocke can control plants, including transforming himself into a plant form, all thanks to his mystical knowledge and his ancient magical staff.
  • Dr. Comet: Possessed by a demon that travelled to earth inside a comet, Dr. Diana Aster can magically control fire and ice, though her powers often go often out of control when her emotions flare up.
  • Jersey Devil: A barely human cryptid of mysterious origins, "Mr. Leeds" is both man and monster, able to teleport by way of a parallel dimension.
  • Kid Radical: A highly skilled autodidact with a strict code of behavior, Kid Radical has a superhuman ability for following trends and learning new skills, although it often seems like he can't quite connect with modern society.
  • Quasar Kid: A superhero teen from the far future, Quasar Kid has a cosmic metabolism, super strength, and the power of flight, but he hasn't yet adjusted to being in "the past."

Recurring allied NPCs/Supporting characters:

  • Starshadow: A retired intergalactic adventurer, Starshadow possesses mighty cosmic powers that he is reluctant to wield. 
  • Bouncer: An invulnerable action movie star, Bouncer is also super-strong and capable of mighty leaps (hence the name "Bouncer"). Affected by traumatic stress during the Oblivaeon Crisis, Bouncer spends less time "in the field" but remains an auxilliary member of the team.

A Very Quick Story Synopsis: In an alternate timeline where Baron Blade was killed decades earlier (causing countless changes to the world of Sentinel Comics), the heroes of the Multiverse are almost all killed in the "Oblivaeon Crisis." The few remaining heroes, especially the Alternates, are left to deal with the villains and interstellar threats that still endanger the Earth!

I've also done some very amateur sketches for the game! You can see them in this Google Photos album.

And now, an imaginary recap of an imaginary episode of an imaginary television show about an imaginary superhero team! 

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The Alternates Episode #31 Recap
“Looking Forward to It”

By Eddie Jaczerkowski

The Alternates is back for Season 3, and it’s off to a fun start! Let’s hop right in to Episode #31, “Looking Forward to It”

Episode Recap

The cold open for the show starts on a distant planet - we can tell by the strange purple sandstone terrain and the giant red moon hanging in the sky.

In the darkness under these distant stars, lanky, light-green-skinned aliens in robes gather in a circle. They prostrate themselves under the stars and chant. “Asteraxxal! Asteraxxal!” From nearby, an alien decorated with multiple bead necklaces and an ornate headpiece approaches the circle. Suddenly, the chanting stops. The aliens all sit up and look at each other.

High priest!” one of them shouts at the ornately-dressed alien. “I sense nothing! He is gone!”

“I feel it, too,” says the High Priest. “Our god, Asteraxxal, is gone. I sense that he is no longer on this plane.”

“What shall we do?” one of the aliens asks nervously.

The elder pauses. “We shall celebrate our freedom,” he says.

The opening credits begin.

-----

After the opening sequence, the episode doesn’t join the Alternates, but rather it opens on a dark, foggy landscape. A subtitle reads, “Nottingham, England, 1879.

It is night. A woman in a long black cloak enters a ramshackle stone cottage as a heavy rain pours. Inside the cottage, four other cloaked figures wait.

Madame Collywobbles?” a voice asks from one of the cloaked figures.

“Yes,” the woman says, pulling back her hood. “Who now is gathered here?”

A man pulls his hood back. “Master Quockerwodger, at your service,” he says. “Along with me are Madame Hugger-Mugger, Master Carriwitchet, and Madame Skilamalink.”

“What of Master Dollyshop?”

“Not here yet,” says one of the cloaked women.

“The ritual can wait no longer,” says Madame Collywobbles.

“The ritual requires six,” says Master Quockerwodger.

It is too late!” a raspy voice cries out from the shadows. A figure shambles from out of the darkness - it is an animated human skeleton in rotten priest’s robes. The skeleton stumbles toward the gathered individuals.

“Ka-caw! Ka-caw! Ka-caw!” it shouts at them. “The Rotting Crow comes! And he brings your doom with him!”

The skull of the skeleton alights with green flame as it cackles madly.

-----

Back in the present, the Alternates are aboard a small private jet. A short conversation reveals they had just been in Brussels, at a European Union conference concerning superpowered individuals and law enforcement. While there, the Alternates met the Golden Stars - the official superpower team of the European Union.

And of course, we get a brief introduction to the Golden Stars. First, there’s La Sorcière Sarcelle (“The Teal Witch”), a French woman who is the new Virtuoso of the Void. With her is Uhtwerk, a German woman with power armor, and Techn-Odin, a Swedish man who combines technology and blood magic. Finally, there’s El Águila Dorado, a Spanish man who can fly on golden wings and wields a golden spear, and Spring-Heeled Jack, a British man with a monstrous appearance, who can leap great distances and breathe fire.

During the flight, Bouncer and Jersey Devil both complain about Spring-Heeled Jack their gimmicks - jumping around and being a monster.

The Alternates land in Ibiza, where they are mobbed by fans - an obvious indication of their growing celebrity status. Each of the Alternates are handling this celebrity a bit differently. Kid Radical is uneasy, but is keen to use his celebrity status to spread his various messages about responsible behavior. Dr. Comet avoids the trappings of celebrity, and Jersey Devil seems to be immune to them altogether. (There’s a montage where fans are taking selfies with the members of the Alternates, but all attempts to take a selfie with Jersey Devil end up being a picture with a nearby statue or coatrack.)

Quasar Kid, on the other hand, remarks that superpowered heroes are supposed to be celebrities - “This is what heroism is supposed to be like!” he says as fans swarm the group. Cytoblast, too, embraces his image as a hero, but he is a great deal more awkward than Quasar Kid as he goes about it.

The group meets again with the Golden Stars, and they take a limousine to a nearby eatery as fans line up outside the restaurant’s door. La Sorcière Sarcelle tells the Alternates that they plan to take them to dinner and then to a local club, but then there’s business for which they ask the Alternates to join them.

During dinner, the gathered heroes talk a bit about their various exploits, with Kid Radical engaging the Golden Stars to learn more about them. It’s revealed that the Golden Stars stopped a villain named Gran Toro, a man in a bull costume (who looks like a bovine version of Hippo), from robbing the Vatican, but were recently defeated by the Elocutioner during a jewel heist. “His words were like weapons!” describes El Águila Dorado. Apparently, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain!” is a phrase the Elocutioner could twist into a rain of sound bullets.

Afterward, the heroes head to a nightclub, where Bouncer and Dr. Comet are clearly ready to party. There’s a dance montage. Soon, La Sorcière Sarcelle tells the Alternates it’s time to go. The Golden Stars and the Alternates leave surreptitiously (losing the paparazzi in the process).

Soon, the heroes are outside of the city at an archeological dig site. There, they are introduced to Dr. Agarwal from the British Museum, who is heading up the dig. She takes them down into an excavated pit and shows them a piece of ancient pottery.

The urn is from about 500 BC, when the Phoenecians were using Ibiza as a trading port. Dr. Agarwal asks the Alternates if they understand the writing on the urn, and explains that she had great difficulty translating it... until she realized it was not in an ancient Semitic language, but rather was “Alternates” written phonetically using ancient script. Under “Alternates” there is further writing which reads, “Segment Three" and "Top.”

Quasar Kid tells the Alternates that he believes this is clear evidence of time travel. “We very well might will have put that here,” he says.

Kid  Radical tries to assuage Quasar Kid's time travel concerns as the former begins to talk to the team about the important rules of time travel. During the conversation, they discuss the fact that Bouncer didn't leave with them.

“Where’s Bouncer, anyway?” asks Kid Radical. Jersey Devil poofs away for a moment, then returns with arms full of chips and cookies.

“You couldn’t find Bouncer?” Kid Radical asks him.

“Bouncer? I didn’t look for Bouncer. I just wanted snacks. This is taking a long time.”

The Alternate speak for a moment with Dr. Agarwal about the urn, but - to her disappointment - cannot clarify where the urn came from or what the words mean.

Suddenly, Cytoblast, who has been seeming somewhat under the weather for the entire episode, falls to one knee and says, “Look out, everyone!

Wind howls through the dig site, and a strange green light appears. Reality itself opens to reveal a thorny, green forest (which keen viewers will recognize as The Green Path, the dimension of plantlife which we glimpsed in Season 2). Vines erupt from the portal and grasp Cytoblast around the leg. Other vines reach for other members of the Alternates.

“Just jump into the portal!” Cytoblast exclaims. “It’ll hurt less.”

As the Golden Stars and Dr. Agarwal watch in awe, the Alternates leap willingly into the thorny world of the Green Path. They are left standing in the dig site in the darkness as the portals close behind the heroes.

On the other end of the portal, the Alternates are deposited in a dark swamp. An old man stands between mossy mangroves as the heroes tumble on the muddy ground. Cytoblast tumbles out at the old man’s feet, and we see that the normal green hue of Cytoblast’s skin has faded to a very human color. Cytoblast clutches his magical staff tightly.

Dere’s dat boy wit’ mah stick!” the old man yelps, indicating Cytoblast and the staff he carries. ”Who’s da Hell’s da rest of ya?”

“Who are you?” Kid Radical demands.

“I’m Lucas Clay!” the main shouts back. “And dat dere’s mah stick!”

 

Final Thoughts

Season 3 starts off with at least two new mysteries, of course - what is up with that urn, and who is Lucas Clay? Interestingly, there’s no seeming mention of the mystery that ended Season 2 - who is Dr. Vitruvius and what is he up to? And what about the "Recursor is Parse" reveal? And what were the "uploaded" versions of Omnitron-X and Unity up to?

In this episode, we also meet some of the other heroes of the world, and we see that now, the Alternates seem to be the foremost superpowered hero team in the world. During dinner, the Golden Stars are awestruck by the stories of the Alternates, and are even starstruck by the famous survivors of the Oblivaeon Crisis. Initially, after the defeat of Oblivaen and the death of all the world’s biggest heroes, it seemed like the world barely recognized the Alternates, but time has really propelled them to stardom.

Finally, here are a few additional highlights in the episode:

- Backstory for Ms. Collywobbles and Mr. Quockerwodger? Yes, thank you! Let's see where this goes!

- Dr. Comet once again shows she’s a party animal at the club. When it’s time to go, she floats stylishly off of the dance floor to the exclusive private room set aside for the heroes, where she changes into costume.

- While the audience have seen the Elocutioner in action before, the Alternates haven’t. Clearly, though, they’ve heard of him, as Bouncer describes him as “the guy who took too many acting classes.”

- The episode examines the fame and celebrity of heroes in this world. It’s clear that heroes like the Alternates are treated like the biggest of big deals. The crowd outside the clubs in Ibiza are huge, and they go absolutely crazy when the Alternates step out of the limo. Most of the Alternates are very uncomfortable with this stardom, but Quasar Kid seems to bask in it. Already a celebrity, Bouncer handles the crowds of fans coolly, but the others are clearly not used to screaming fans.

That’s it for this week! Be sure to join us next week for a recap of Episode #32, titled, “Dessert Possum.” Yummy!

Eddie Jaczerkowski is a staff writer who loves comic books and writes about television.

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Running the Game!

Hey, we're back! We took a week off after the end of "Season 2," and then I was sick, etc, etc, etc, but now we're back! We've also run Episode #32, so I'll post that Recap soon!

So I tried to write some more "metaverse" content - namely a transcript of a "ComicCon" style panel. I mentioned this before. I wrote it. I read over it. It was not interesting, except to me. So... it's not ready for prime time yet. I might try a rewrite or a re-think, but uh... yeah.

The metaverse component of our campaign is really vital to how the game unfolds, and it works really, really well for us. That means any content I add to it needs to be of the very top quality! But instead, it just read like Starshadow meta-fan fiction. And - let's face it - I am a Starshadow super-fan, but I figured to make it better for my players, I need a little more content about the rest of the cast and stuff.

However! I do have a good write-up of the publication history of the characters (i.e. the comic books that each Alternate appeared in before they were eventually pulled into the Alternates comic book, and then animated series), and that reads pretty good, so I will post that here for you all to check out.

Thanks for reading!


I live to meet expectations!
 

TakeWalker
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Season 3, yeahhhh! :D

Interested to see a lot of names coming back from brief mentions earlier, not to mention the suggestion of time travel and a story spanning centuries. And then they jump through a portal to another dimension, okay, why not. :P

Jersey Devil once again entertains with his antics. :D