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The Alternates Episode #36 Recap - “Under the Guise of Friendship”

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mistergone
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The Alternates Episode #36 Recap - “Under the Guise of Friendship”

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! 

========================

The Alternates Episode #36 - “Under the Guise of Friendship”

This week, the Alternates go on a little side jaunt to help out The Scholar and… well, Guise tags along, and antics ensue! Join me now for a Recap of Episode #36!

Episode Recap

The cold open of this episode takes us to Washington, D.C. in the year 1865. Inside Ford’s Theater, the mysterious man in black, who we’ve seen throughout the cold opens this season, is speaking with actors backstage. They’re ecstatic about President Abraham Lincoln visiting the theater that night to see “My American Cousin.” (Of course, this is the night President Lincoln is about to be assassinated.)

The man in black hands over an envelope to one of the actors, who responds, “Thank you for your generous donation, sir!”

“You’re very welcome,” the man in black says. “I am happy to fund this production.”

He turns to leave (his face hidden from us all the time) and says, “Break a leg.

-----

The episode opens with Guise trying to impress the Alternates in an attempt to join the team. He performs a variety of tricks, including spinning plates while doing the Can-Can. He then places a console in front of the Alternates with three buttons - one is labelled, “Yes, you can join immediately!”, another reads “Yes, and you get to be the leader!”, and the third is labelled, “Yes, and we can’t wait to have you!”

In conversation, Guise mentions that he had already scoped out the Guardians of Freedom, but decided they weren’t cool enough for him. He also asks a lot about how many time the Alternates have killed Baron Blade.

The Alternates are not amused by Guise, nor enthused to have him hanging around. Quasar Kid seems particularly annoyed. Nonetheless, Kid Radical eventually tells Guise, “You get to be Bouncer until he comes back.

The team is interrupted by a call from the Scholar, who asks the Alternates to take care of a problem in Europe while he’s working deep in the Ruins of Atlantis. There’s a remote village where the elders keep guard over magical relics, and the Scholar has learned they were attacked by Bugbear. While they successfully repelled his attack, they fear he’ll return soon and they need reinforcements. The Alternates agree to help.

-----

Meanwhile, Bouncer leaves the church in France where he fought the Cultists of Gloom. As he walks out, he says to himself, “I better tell the team about this!”

“Not yet!” a familiar voice rings out. It’s the voice of the mysterious man in black, who is now revealed! Clad in black sci-fi armor, he floats several feet off the ground, and is surrounded by crackling purple energy.

I can’t have the Alternates finding out about this... yet,” the mysterious man says.

With a flick of his wrist, Bouncer is caught in a bubble of purple energy, stuck in stasis.

-----

The Alternates leave for Europe, and try to ditch Guise. However, he latches onto the outside of the Alternajet and gets dragged through the sky behind them. When they land in the Ural mountains, Guise bounces off the jet in the form of a giant ball and rolls toward them.

"I'm Bouncer!" he says. "Get it?"

Inside the village, the Alternates meet the elders who are the sacred protectors of a set of ancient magical relics. Among the relics are an ancient sword, a feather from the bed of Genghis Khan, a stone carved with the runes of the dark god Czernobog, and a locked silver book case which belonged to Grigori Rasputin (who was born near the village).

The elders explain that the mystical defenses of the village have been weakened in the attack by Bugbear. They don’t believe they can survive a second attack, and they believe Bugbear will be back within the next few nights. The team insists they can help, and that they won’t let the townspeople down.

In a lengthy montage, the Alternates perform a variety of tasks to reinforce the town:

  • Kid Radical draws up plans for the town’s defenses. Guise then draws an X on the map, connects two other Xs in a line like Tic Tac Toe, and raises his arms in the air victoriously.
  • Cytoblast uses his plant control powers to set up walls of trees and brush outside the town, when Guise shows up to help. Guise comes away with a thorn in his comically-oversized thumb.
  • Quasar Kid is training the villagers to fight in hand-to-hand combat during the montage when Guise jumps in and starts showing off his fighting moves. Later, we see Quasar Kid training the villagers by using Guise as a punching bag.
  • Jersey Devil keeps touching the relics kept inside the village’s central building, and the montage shows the elders constantly stopping and scolding him. Eventually, he sneaks in and takes Genghis Khan’s feather. In another scene of the montage, the elders blame Guise for the missing feather.
  • Dr. Comet uses her powers of ice to create barriers and obstacles for anyone entering the town. She also happens to create some ice under Guise while he’s walking toward her, causing him to fall on his backside.

Finally, the preparations are finished, and Kid Radical gathers the villagers to give a rousing speech.

“A bugbear is a thing that causes fear. We all have our own personal bugbears. To move forward, we must all confront our bugbears,” he says. “This time, however, our bugbear is literally a monster-man who calls himself ‘Bugbear.’

“Is that reference to something?” Guise asks Quasar Kid, who only shrugs in response.

Finally, night falls, and as anticipated, Bugbear attacks! At his side are two of the vampires who the Alternates fought way back in Season One in Rook City - specifically, the one in the flowing black dress, and the one in the Hawaiian shirt and sandals. (Their names in the credits are "Witchy Vampire" and "Buffet Vampire".)

A fight ensues, but the Alternates are well-prepared. Bugbear displays greater strength than before, and the vampires interfere with blood magic, but the Alternates counter with their defenses and teamwork.

Quasar Kid decides to take out some frustrations on Guise during the fight when the "witchy" vampire attempts to dominate his mind. Quasar Kid feigns full mind control and slugs Guise in the jaw. In response, Guise shouts, “I, too, am mind-controlled!” and punches Quasar Kid right back.

During this fight, Cytoblast reveals a new ability, where he sprouts a smaller version of himself (“Sprout-o-blast”?) that aids him in fighting off the attackers. Also, at one point in the midst of the combat, Jersey Devil teleports high into the air and releases Genghis Khan’s feather to “be free.” 

At the very end of the fight, the vampire with the flowing black dress (the "witchy" vampire) manages to nab Rasputin’s silver book case, and flies off with it. However, Jersey Devil has no problem “catching up” to her and stealing it back. Curiosity, of course, demands that Jersey Devil crack open the silver case and look inside.

The silver case is empty, it turns out, but there’s an inscription inside the lid:

"To my Devilish friend,

Five. Queen.

Love,
Rasputin."

----

Back in Megalopolis, a news broadcast is covering live footage of a spaceship of unknown design landing at the memorial site of Freedom Seven tower. The journalist says the government has cleared the landing, but has not revealed who is in the ship.

As the ship finally lands, the doors open and reveal The Southwest Sentinels have returned to Earth! As the press clamor with questions, Dr. Medico steps forward and speaks. “We have finally returned from our unexpected trip to space!” he says. “We’re here to help Earth, although now you can call us The Void Guard!”

-----

Back in the village, the Alternates say farewell to the elders and board the Alternajet. Inside, they receive a message from Unity, who tells them, “The Southwest Sentinels are back, and they’re asking for our help!

The Alternajet launches into the air and flies back over the Ural Mountains… leaving Guise behind jumping and waving, chasing after them on the ground.

The credits run over “Tears of a Clown” as covered by The English Beat.

Final Thoughts

I loved this silly side jaunt with Guise, who obviously annoys all the Alternates. If you love Guise, then you were probably happy to see him on screen. If you hate Guise, then you probably loved seeing him get punked by the Alternates over and over again.

But this episode wasn’t just a funny side jaunt - it also revealed a new clue in the unfolding time-travel puzzle that’s being set up for the team. First, there was the clue at the dig site in Ibiza. Second was the clue written on the Constitution in cosmic radiation. Third, there’s this clue from… Rasputin?

Well, whatever’s going on, it’s not any clearer now.

Interestingly, none of the cold opens line up with any of the clues. In fact, the only crossover of the cold open “time-traveller” scenes and the Alternates is the first episode, which featured a meeting with the time-traveller and Ms. Collywobbles and Mr. Quockerwodger. Otherwise, these things don’t cross over at all.

This is only the sixth episode of the Season, so I expect it to get stranger before it gets clearer.

That’s all for this week! Be sure to join us next week for Episode #37, “Space Invaders.”

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

============

Running the Game

Making Guise jokes is fun, so I recommend it to everyone. For a GM, it's a great extra feature that Guise is kind of a powerhouse.

Nothing too exciting about running this episode - it was pretty much a standard encounter, with combat and a Challenge involving activating the magical defenses of the village. Pretty boring.

This Season is the most insane as far as its larger plot arch, which involves time travellers, Cultists of Gloom, that demon that Dr. Comet ditched a while ago... and guess what, Dr. Vitruvius is coming back, too!

So mostly... uh... I just hope it all makes sense when I'm done with it. I'm not convinced yet.

Thanks for reading!
 


I live to meet expectations!
 

TakeWalker
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Oh shit, the man in black appears as a modern threat! :O But not yet to the full team, how exciting!

Quote:
Guise then draws an X on the map, connects two other Xs in a line like Tic Tac Toe, and raises his arms in the air victoriously.

Now that's comedy. :D

Quote:
In response, Guise shouts, “I, too, am mind-controlled!” and punches Quasar Kid right back.

Top-tier Guise shenanigans. XD

I'm sorry but, "Love, Rasputin"?

Wow, from one canon hero team-up straight to another! :O The Alternates are gonna be too busy to find out what's going on behind the scenes!