In game time it’s the 8th of September, barely a week since the Unnatural Storm on the 405 and the beginning of the Endday Campaign. Our Heroes have fought Rupture Demons in ’60s Vietnam, battled Neldrazu made of snow in an abandoned junkyard, conversed with a dying angel and confronted Runespiral Demons in LAX. It’s been quite a week, all told.
Now, they’re on their way to Chicago to confront none other than Jack Frost himself, demon lord of winter who has set up his own private hell-on-earth in the Windy City.
But first they need to get there, and that means a return to Los Angeles Airport. Unlike their previous fog-bound visit it’s a bright clear day and there is little evidence of their previous adventure – just a cordoned-off door awaiting repair and a few scorchmarks on the runway. Human nature has kicked into overdrive and wiped clean the evidence of anything it doesn’t fully understand.
Departure is quick and efficient (hey, this is fantasy, right?) and Oscar, Annette, Daniel & Caroline are soon cruising at 30,000 feet sipping cocktails – Daniel has generously paid for 1st class tickets for them all. Hey, it’s not every day you set off to save the world.
That’s when IT happens.
IT, in this case, begins with turbulence. Bad turbulence – the kind which makes those little yellow masks fall down like underfed jellyfish. The kind which make you think you’ve boarded a rollercoaster and not an aeroplane. The kind which makes you look out of the window and see a completely otherworldly vision of a grey and torn landscape filled with unnatural spires and a blasted orange sunless sky. Yes, that kind.
Dude, this isn’t even Oz any more.
There’s a thump on the outside of the plane, then another. And another. Then a smash from the front and the sudden swift rush of air. Panic, predictably enough, ensues. Our Heroes valiantly make for the front of the plane – no mean feat in itself. It’s a level 1 (4 before 3) Skill Challenge to get there which demands a subtle mix of Athletics (leap the drinks trolley), Perception (find a path through the crowd), Insight (convincing the Shouting Man to get back in his seat), Intimidate (forcing the Angry Woman outta the way) and Heal (calming the Hyperventilating Man and fixing his mask) to get there.
They make it (just!) and open the cabin door to find themselves staring face-to-face with five Vrocks who are merrily chowing down on what’s left of the Captain, Co-pilot and a Stewardess. Oh, and the plane is plummeting to the ground. Nice.
Vrocks are normally Level 13 but I’ve dropped ’em to 8th Level and one at 10th as the bigger, slightly smarter leader. Does this make them Vrocklings or Vrockettes? I dunno. Either way it’s a fairer challenge for my humble 8th level Heroes. Or it would be, if they weren’t about to die a fiery death in an aeroplane hurtling toward hell itself.
But I digress.
“Can anyone fly a plane?
Does anybody want to learn really really quickly?!?”
In the close confines of a plane at least the Vrocks can’t use their Flyby attack, which is handy. Unfortunately they can use their Spores of Madness which affects the closest two rows of seats – and Oscar. The chaotic swell of people blocks the other heroes’ path as one of the Vrocks grabs Oscar in his beak and flies out of the plane. He’s last seen when one small speck on the horizon (the Vrock) drops another tiny speck (Oscar). Does being dropped thousands of feet onto the plane of Hell count as a Very Messy Death? Why, I think it does.
What can I say? There were a lot of poor rolls. At least the Vrock (which Oscar had at least managed to seriously injure) didn’t return to the fray. Four Vrocks remain and Annette is cursing herself for not taking Spectral Ram as her 7th level Spell. That does decent damage, knocks the foe back 3 squares and sends them prone – a perfect Spell for those times when you’re stuck on a crashing plane with demons and you need to get them outta there, quick. Alas, she took Fire Burst which isn’t nearly so good at the whole Pushing thing.
Things are not looking good for Our Heroes. They’re doing (and taking) damage, but nothing they try is able to get those motherfreakin’ demons off their motherfrerakin’ plane.
That’s when Daniel strikes one for the Home Team. “If this was Mutants & Masterminds I could spend a Hero Point to gain a one-off use of a Power. Can I do the same with an Action Point?” he asks. “Don’t see why not.” I reply, figuring they need all the help they can get, and it’s a great use of an Action Point. I’m all for that.
“Mob Mentality! I’m going to sway this crowd of passengers to work with us and force these Vrocks off the plane together!”
Mob Mentality is a Very Cool Power indeed. Page 120 of the PHB. Look it up. That’s 50 square feet of crowd control right there, and in the tight confines of an aeroplane that’s an awful lot of passengers. I grant them a DC10 Intimidate check to help Heroes giving them a roughly +20 on their Intimidate rolls, each. The passengers are right behind the heroes all the way, and the Vrocks…. well, they know when their food supply is about to turn ugly. They fly out of the cockpit window with their demonic tails between their legs.
There is still the matter of the crashing plane though.
They are now at 6,000 feet and cabin pressure is critical, calling for Endurance checks all round. I figure Pilot is an INT-based skill so Daniel and Annette take the controls while Caroline tells the passengers that the “terrorists” (non-heroes can’t see demons, remember) have been dealt with and they’re to return to their seats.
How do you stop a crashing plane? Page 42 of the DMG is your friend. A DC19 skill check should do it. Annette is at the controls with Daniel using Aid Another to lend a hand. He makes the DC10 check and Annette rolls a total of 26! The plane stabilizes, blue skies appear and they’re back flying over normal land once more.
The radio crackles to life and Our Heroes are successfully talked through landing procedure on a remote airstrip where they are later shuttled into Chicago by bus – all local air traffic is suspended due to intense cold weather.
But more about that, next session.