Friday, October 1, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: Episode 6

Episode 6: Tainted Love


Xander: You know what, prophecies are really beginning to piss me off!
- Willow and Tara: The Dragon and the Phoenix, Episode 6 "Tainted Love"



February 14, 2003. Friday

The cast becomes the guinea pigs of a Governmental psychological experiment. The Cast learn of the Bureau, another Initiative like operation whose goal is to control demons and vampires via a means of psychological conditioning. Spike learns he, like all former Initiative subjects, has a remote controlled explosive buried in his head.
Story arc elements: Deal with loose threads involving love. The stress in Willow and Tara’s relationship forms because of her return. Buffy feels she is loosing sight of her own humanity and that everyone around her is moving on and growing up, but she is stagnant. Learn more about the Slayers and their relationship to the fallen angels.
Willow and Tara each discover something about the final battle, but keep it from the other since it involves either the death of Tara or the eventual return to evil for Willow.

Game Design elements: Retcon the scientifically ridiculous Initiative control chip into something that makes sense.
Soundtrack: Marilyn Manson’s cover of “Tainted Love”, Elvis “You Were Always on my Mind”


Notes and Comments:

The first of the "unpublished" adventures. This one should be obvious, it was full of information from Military Monster Squad. We could not get the episode out for the longest time while the material was being written and then longer when the book was further delayed.  Of course we hated "the chip" so I decdided to use something I knew very well, psychology, and say Spike was submitted to a Clockwork Orange like treatment, only with cattle prods.

This was our "dark Valentines Day" epsiode. Everyone's love life was in a lull in the story and we wanted to make it a bit darker. There were a lot of gues stars and really a lot of stuff going on here. Almost too much really. The episode is big, so we decided it was the first "mid season sweeps" episode. Lots of enemies to deal with especially some older ones. Dru comes back and I gave the Cast the opprutunity to stake her if they wanted, but she got away. The first clues on Spike's role are revealed here as well. Plus we wanted to confront the issues of his attempted rape. While all of this was going on the players of Spike and Buffy discovered a means of defeating nearly any foe thrown at them with various combo moves. So much so that when we went to work on Ghosts of Albion it was one of the things we wanted to address.

Here are some more crunchy bits for you.

Revised Initiative HST Control Chip3-Point Drawback (Psychological) The HST Control Chip, installed into many demons, vampires and other non-human lifeforms is a ruse. The chip itself is nothing more than a small tracking device connected to a small, but efficient explosive.
The behavior modification works not because of high-tech nonsense and techno-babble, but rather old fashioned psychology. Through a combination drugs, imagery and liberal amounts of electroshock torture and what is termed “aggressive behavior modification therapy” the HSTs are classically conditioned to not harm humans. While the Initiative was happy to leave it there, the Bureau went the next step and conditioned many HSTs to become a fighting force. Strong, nearly deathless, immune to bullets and an array of natural weapons the idea seemed foolproof. And it was. While eventually the Initiative controlled HSTs would begin to exhibit often dangerous psychoses, the Bureau controlled subjects maintained their conditioning over long periods of time.
Wired into each chip is a locator device, capable of sending and receiving signals up to 100 km with a handheld locator and globally with the use of GPS satellites.
The signal is constant, using a small LiION battery with motion recharge abilities, and a masking signal to cloak it’s true purpose.
Each “chipped” subject also has a small package of a controlled explosive, not enough for collateral damages, but enough to remove the head of the chipped subject. Treat as an automatic decapitation.
The conditioning associated with this chip is a 3 point drawback.
Removal of the chip was never a design feature. Once the chip is active any exposure to oxygen will cause the explosive device to trigger.  Once the frequency is discovered (getting past the cloak) constructing a remote detonator can be easily built with parts from any local Radio Shack.

Next episode I blow up the Bronze. For good.

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