JoJo's Bizarre Storytime
The Original Post
Hello /tg/. Is any of you guys interested in a rather long, rambling storytime about a Jojo's Bizarre Adventure game I ran last summer (summer 2016, for record's sake)? If yes just keep reading I suppose and if no, just click that 'x' or that backspace.
For some extra and perhaps uneeded context: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is something which goes way back for me, having read the manga back in mid highschool in the early 2000. Beside a few references sparkled here and there over the years, it and tabletop had remained fairly separate for me. The sudden and unexpected popularity of the anime adaptation changed that and I decided to ride that sudden surge in popularity and recognition. Now I could have been a grumpy old man ranting about how its ruined now that its popular and the average reddit retard spam Jojo memes (and to an extent I do) but instead I used the fact it was fresh in people's minds to do something I couldn't have done back then. Run a game set in the universe (or rather a universe, as the case maybe, you'll see later in the story) of JJBA. The game system was Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition. It lasted eight sessions of 5 to 8 hours and...oh man, it was crazy. Crack fic-tier of crazy. Care to join me on this ride?
The game setup was fairly simple: alternate Part 3 (Stardust Crusader) set today in 2016. I could have done something more ambitious but this was very much an experimental game and I prefered to stick, at least for now, to a simpler concept and see if I could execute it. Right away we hit a problem: who is going to be the game's Jojo? Fortunately, there was a simple solution. You see, my game only had two players: this is because I handled stands as a completely separate character, albeit one which shared the same pool of health as the Stand user. What this meant is that each player acted twice in combat: one round for the stand user and one of the stand itself. With only two players, it was decided they would BOTH be the game's Jojo as cousins.
One important thing to understand of the game is that the players didn't design their own Stands. Now the reason for this was simple: neither of them had experience with M&M. Instead, they chose how much points they'd put in the Stand, its range and its general combat role (punchy thing, shooty thing, support and so on and so forth). Beyond that their powers were unknown at first and they had to figure out on the fly how to use their Stands properly. Now on to the characters:
>Joshua Johnson (Stand: Manowar): Basically? Jotaro. Yeah that's almost it. The player wasn't exactly the most creative, at least in term of making characters. Certainly creative in other areas as the story will later show, its just he like to keep his concept simple and clean I suppose. His Stand, Manowar, was a fairly typical 2meters range punchy stand akin to Star Platinum and Crazy Diamond. Not anywhere as strong, fast, precise or tough by itself, mind you, but that is where its power kicks in: Manowar can manipulate propabilities on its own actions. In game terms, it has Probability Control (a power that functionally mean you can't roll lower than the rank its at) and several feats which require the useage of Hero Points, the 'luck point' of the system.
>Joséphine Joestar (Stand: Electric Eye Act 1, 2 and 3): Short, physically weak, primarily relying on skills to trick oponents and contacts to acquire resources. Could certainly pull some near-Joseph shenanigans what with her Bluff skill, including a feat which let her bluff her oponents into hitting their allies. EE Act 1 is basically a stand that is a camera/spy drone: it has a suite of sensory powers, can cloak itself (even to other stands). Act 2 is more combat-capable (still rather weak) but its light powers allow it stun, dazzle, create illusions and cloak others. Its a very utilitarian stand. Each Act lose range but gain overall an increase in powers. Its light-based powers make it much more efficient versus vampire and zombies, obviously. And Act 3? Well, you'll see later.
I admit I will be skimming many details in this story, both because of how long it is (these games moved at a very quick pace so a lot could get done within a single session) and because my memory isn't perfect. That said, the highlights more than make up for the parts where my mind gets fuzzy.
The initial setup was fairly simple: their stands awaken when DIO use the Stand Arrow to awaken his Stand (well, not quite but you'll see later...again!). The PC's parents become affected by DIO's curse. After some shenanigans on their respective end, the two meet at the hospital, realize they both got a Stand and their family is in danger. Meanwhile, their exausted family sleep. A weird, creepy nurse arrive, start stufing random shit in a syringe and goes "Time for your medicine, mister Joestar...." Manowar stops her, crit his grapple and rips off the nurse' hand, which horrifies Joséphine. The nurse goes "Wryyy...", revealing that she's a zombie. Not that the PC knows that at this point, even if the players certainly know what is going on. After a fist spamming attack from Manowar, which reduce the zombie nurse to still-moving goo, Joséphine show her quick thinking when she take the bedsheets and stuff the nurse goo into it. When the real nurses arrive, she says her parents got sick and that this should get thrown into an incinerator. Given the awful smell of decaying flesh, the nurses agree. And that is how they kill their first zombie.
Joshua goes to the bathroom as they take shifts on keeping guard on their sick parents, Joséphine keeping guard. And that is when I introduce the first Stand user of the game. Next to Joshua is a big man. Joshua is already built like, well, a Joestar so this guy is even bigger. I think I recall describing him in some way which ended with them imagining some sort of uber-buff Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. "Say, that birthmark." he says, while looking down on the already-huge Joshua. "I know a guy who has one just like this...." I think at this point, DIO's existence had been hinted, I forget how exactly, sorry. Point is, this is enough to make Joshua freak out. He finish taking his piss and zip his pants off. Same for the big guy. He might be a monster of the week but nobody want to fight with their dicks flopping around. At this point, Joshua thought he could overpower any foe thanks to his lucky streak pummeling the zombie nurse so he decide to try and grapple the big guy in the bathroom (George Takei: "Oooohhh mmmmmy"). The guy pop out his stand which GROWS HUGE, take control of the grapple and proceed to toss Joshua and his Stand through the bathroom door. "Hahaha, did you really think you'd be able to pin me down? Me and my Stand..." He assume a flexing pose and so does his stand. "POWERMAN 5000!"
>Danger Dave (Stand: Powerman/Powerman 5000): A huge mountain of a man with a matching stand. Powerman is essentially a 2m punchy stand who is roughly similar in power and speed to Manowar, minus the bullshit part. That is until it transform into its 5000 form. Imagine if Bane or Super Trunks was a Stand. For those of you who haven't read or seen Dragon Ball, Trunks use a transformation which immensely increase his physical strength, making him enormously and ridiculously buff...at the cost of his speed, agility and precision. This is more or less the principle behind Powerman: as it grow in strength and durability, it lose speed and precision. Its basically impossible to out-damage or outlast Powerman 5000.
And this is where the first session of the game end. <====To Be Continued
Joshua's player spend an entire week with a big grin on his face, going "I know how to beat him!". He has, and I quote word for word, a 'murder boner'. I suppose I really should feel happy and proud I made a player so excited to continue a campaign he seemingly has an erection. Wouldn't be Jojo without some homo-erotic subtext now wouldn't it?
The next week I'm ready to continue the game. I've planned that the Powerman 5000 fight is probably going to last an hour or so. Oh, how wrong I was! Still, I'm not going to tell you just yet how Joshua defeat him. So the game resume and Joshua vs Dave begin for about a round or two where Powerman 5000 miss Manowar and Manowar fail to even dent Powerman 5000. I don't exactly remember when in the fight this happen or how but I recall that there is a moment where Joshua realize that Powerman 5000 is so bulky it can't even block attacks aimed at its user. So Joshua's player spend a hero point and ask me if he can bullshit that there is a defibrilator nearby. I say yes because, hey, its an hospital. Plus I want to see what his plan is. Manowar, using its Stand speed, grabs the defibrilator and starts it...and then attack Dave, whose Stand is too slow to flick aside the attack (a built-in weakness of the Stand, just not one I expected to be used like you are about to read). Grinning, Joshua's player explain he basically did his research and knows what zapping someone with a beating heart will do. Suffice to say its going to hurt.
>Dave roll his toughness save. >Dave rolls a 1 and crit fail. BZZZZZT >Danger Dave: RETIRED!
Well shit. There goes my boss battle, huh? That said I'm more than proud of the player as that was, in my mind at least, a very Jojo-esque moment and its the part where I got sold and knew this game could work. Examining Dave's unconscious body, Joshua notice something on his forehead: its a fleshbud, not that he knows IC what that mean. Unfortunately, Joshua really wants to pull it off. I explain to his player that this is nearly impossible, since he lack the absurd precision of Star Platinum. Joshua spend a hero point to active the Beginner's Luck feat, gaining temporary ranks in Medecine. And then crit. It would have taken a miracle to remove that flesh bud AND HE FUCKING GOT IT!
I forgot to mention a sub-plot at this point, I realize. There is some strange woman who was asking the PC's parents about some family heirlooms, without precising what it is. She's clearly tied to DIO, althought what exactly she is looking for and why won't become relevant for a while. To cut a really long part short, Joséphine trying to find out who that woman is end up with a Vampire attack on the hospital where their luck runs out and a near-TPK happen. Woops. At this point I pause the game and explain I have to deus ex machina or the campaign end here. Joséphine's player propose one Deus Ex Machina. I say I got another in mind (which isn't even an asspull, it was in my notes I was just not expecting to use that NPC just yet). Finally its decided BOTH are going to be used.
You see, Joséphine's father is perhaps the least affected by DIO's curse. He's still weak and feverish but spend most of his time resting by choice. The guy notice both Joséphine and Joshua are not guarding them anymore so he stumble his way downstair. When he arrive in the entrance hall he find a vampire sucking the life out of his daughter, which piss him right the fuck off and ignite the RESONANCE IN HIS HEART, THE BEAT OF HIS BLOOD RAZOR SHARP! In a fit of rage, he temporarily manage to fully summon his Stand and proceed to deliver a beatdown on that Vampire. Meanwhile, the second deus ex machina arrive: a wounded man in tibetan robes. Lets just say Joshua's player squeed when I described the man breathing in and glowing before unleashing some Hamon techniques on those zombies.
>Franky Hollywood (Ripple User): Unlike the other allies of the player characters, Franky has no Stand and relies solely on Ripple. While that would technically make him OP against zombie and vampires, in practice he's severely weakened by the fact he can't even see Stands and only act once per turn. Still, he's pretty strong on his own and can function as a healer of sort, which is what they badly needed when he arrive.
Franky save their lives, stabilizing them with Ripple Breathing. That is when Joshua has an idea: if this guy can speed up healing then they might have another ally. Franky's ripple is used on Danger Dave, who is revealed to be a good guy after all. This is why we jokingly called him Kakyoinareff. The motivation and history of Kakyoin but the buttmonkey comic relief status of Polnareff. Mind you, much like Polnareff he wasn't a useless joke and could genuinely pull his weight in a fight. He also had the best Drive skills, meaning he primarily spent his time acting as a driver which was a good thing because Joséphine couldn't drive.
They evacuate the hospital, Dave carrying their unconscious parents. Using her contacts, Joséphine find them somewhere they can be safe, at least for the time being. Franky also provide a lot of exposition so their IC and OOC knowledge can match up. Turns out he's the last Ripple Master alive, the others having been hunted down by DIO's Stand-using assassins. They've been watching over the Joestar family ever since Joseph passed away. I'm skipping parts here and there but basically it become eventually clear that DIO is looking for Joseph's mechanical hand or rather something inside it, which is eventually revealed to be coordinate. In the arctic. It also contain the location of Joseph's real tomb. From there, the game move on to its next act. Things which happen along the way include: -Fighting a pair of assassins, Mister Brownstone (Stand: Rocket Queen) and his buddy whose name I forgot (Stand: Bad Apple). Basically the Hol Horse and J.Geil of the game. Brownstone is a sniper with a stand that control air (a good counter to Franky) and Bad Apple is basically an army of flesh-eating ants. Highlights of this battle include Manowar headbutting Brownstone into a coma and Franky accidentally setting Dave on fire with his ripple. -Facing off against one of DIO's minion, a vampire Stand User. His Stand, Nightcrawler, could temporarily erase traits/attributes of things. Imagine The Hand but more powerful at the cost of being only temporary. He was kind of a dumbass but smart enough to erase light around him to move around in daylight. He survive the battle and will become (slightly) relevant later.
I forget exactly what the choices were, but at this point it had become clear DIO was going to raise Joseph as a vampire and needed him since the only way to learn the coordinates beside that piece of paper the PC had was inside Joseph's memory. I distinctly recall give them a chance to run the fuck away and NOT confront DIO this early on (we are at session 4 at this point). The players aren't having any of it. They got a plan! That plan? Well lets just say it involve gasoline. A lot of it. They set out for where the tomb is and using Electric Eye they scout ahead and there he is.
Lying in wait, surrounded by zombie minions while in the freshly-dug tomb, Joseph is being revived as a vampire. You will recall that it is known and canon that long-dead corpses can be brough back, since Tarkus and Bruford are evidence of this and were around 300 years old when Dio brought them back. Bringing back Joseph is child play for him. Right away, OOC, the players notice something odd in my description of DIO: its the look he is sporting near the end of the fight with Jotaro. When he is almost completely healed. This will become important later.
Franky stays behind fending off hordes of zombies. Joshua and Dave fight DIO: not to win, but merely to keep his attention while Joséphine, cloaked by her Stand, will set Joseph on fire and destroy him before he is fully revived.
As you'd expect, DIO is no pushover. He taunt Joshua and begin mocking him, saying he's a poor replacement for the other Joestars he's fought: Jonathan, Joseph and...Jotaro? How could he have fought Jotaro if I said that Jotaro does not exist in this timeline? For now it doesn't matter as Joshua and DIO face off. DIO summon his Stand and it isn't The World even if it is similar.
Holy Diver: "MUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDA!" Manowar: "TORORORORARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARARA!" This is not a fight Joshua can win. Holy Diver is simply way stronger, fast and tougher than Manowar. Not helping is the fact that DIO, by *himself* can easily kill any of them. This version of DIO is comparable in power to late part 3 DIO, but using the vampiric bullshit powers of his Part 1 self (This is because his Stand is, ultimately, weaker than The World but more on that later). Joshua does fine but that's because his entire shtick is 'rolling well'. Meanwhile, Joséphine is crying and is all 'I'm sorry great grandpa!' as she set the poor, confused vampire Joseph on fire and begin emptying the clip of a 9mm pistol she acquired.
Joshua's plan is to also set DIO on fire. Which he suceed. How? Well, lets just say it involve taunting by DIO and, surprise, some lucky rolls. So now DIO is on fire AND vampire Joseph is one fire. That's a lot of fire, really. Abdul would be proud. DIO freaks out because he need Joseph 'alive' so he rip off one of his arms (Jonathan arms, really, you'll recall.) and use the blood in hope to stop the fire. The other arm is aimed straight for Joshua's chest.
And then Franky sacrifice himself, taking the hit. Because of course someone has to die. In his last moment, Franky use the Deep Pass Overdrive to gift his Ripple to Joshua and Joséphine. Except when I describe this I realize I fucked up because DIO's arm is still in the guy's chest. Now DIO has to remove his other arm using his head and teeth (and his stand's head) before the Ripple consume.
So, what's the end result of this clusterfuck? -Franky Hollywood is dead. -Joseph is a very confused burned vampire. -DIO is badly burned and has no arms. Great. Just great. The most (in)famous Jojo villain, reduced to a near fucking joke. At least he survived and the secret of his Stand remain intact.
From there a race is on: they need to reach the Antarctic before DIO and his minions. Along the way their adventures include: -Fighting a guy whose Stand is basically switching people's body. Joshua having to badly rake a piss again is relevant in this 'battle'. -Fighting a Stand-powered mercenary with a Stand which enhance his body. He's killed by having his grenade belt detonated after being pushed off a plane. -Danger Dave chasing a black cat which he believe grant him bad luck. Turns out he was right and the cat really WAS a Stand user. This never hapenned, it was just used as an explanation for what hapenned during a week where the game did not run and became canon as a Dave-centric chapter/episode. -Vampire Joseph crashing the plane DIO is on. Because Joseph and planes are cursed.
The setup for the game is eventually revealed when, starting a session I play the second opening to Stardust Crusader, saying it 'replace their usual opening', kinda hinting that if this was an anime, the fourth wall would be getting destroyed by DIO. Again. I describe the battle in Cairo, Kakyoin dying, Jotaro facing off DIO and then DIO drinking Joseph's blood. When Jotaro is about to attack DIO, he unleash the power of his Stand.
"HOLY DIVER! JUMP IN TIME!" And DIO dissapear...and appear in Battle Tendency. That is DIO's power in this game, this alternate timeline/universe which exist somewhere and could have been accessed by Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. The more powerful/healthy, the longer DIO can remain 'inside' someone's timeline. When this time expire, DIO is snapped back in time. What prevent this power from being abused is that DIO himself find his own timeline altered, even if he retain his memory. Turning Battle Tendency into a 'bad ending' from behind the scenes (somehow) meant he would not awaken until 2016. it also mean Joseph never had Holly or Josuke. Likewise, Jotaro was never born. Part 3 never hapenned in this timeline and likewise no other Part, in fact, beside Part 1 and some version of Part 2. "Holy Diver! Time snap back into place."
Long story short they eventually reach Antarctica just as DIO has already arrived and its a race to the...whatever it is they are looking for. What they are looking for, as it turns out, is a massive, Stone of Aja-charge iceberg. Inside it is a figure: a humanoid figure with long, purple hair, horns and bird wings, frozen in ice so cold it could never adapt.
In the ice is Ultimate Kars.
THIS is what DIO is looking for. His plan? Time dive into Kars' timeline and get a second chance at acquiring the supercharged Stone Mask, which he failed to do when he jumped into Joseph's timeline. If he jump into Kars' timeline, he'll have a much better chance to get the mask at the right time. What he would become I have no idea and we never find out. Its not really important because the game is about to get even crazier.
Joshua decide that 'Hey, if DIO want this thing lets destroy it'. And then some 'bad' rolls later, he shatter the iceberg in half and end up freeing Kars. What an idiot. Upon hearing the name 'Jojo' when Dave address them, Kars fly into a rage because he got dicked over by Joseph. He turn his arms into killer polar bears. They survive this but Kars is still on the loose and they are saved by Joseph, returned to his youth (and cockyness) thanks to vampirism. The situation is so fucked up that they end up allying with DIO and his minions, if only because both sides are pragmatic. Fending off an attack by Kars (by slowing him down...barely...with the expendable zombie and vampire minions) they escape in that large cargo plane DIO took to drag his vampire army. And...Joseph is piloting. Uh oh. What ensue is something very familiar to anyone who has seen or read Battle Tendency. It involve piranhas and other hostile sea life.
Joséphine end up fighting Kars using Act 3, which is basically the way she express Ripple combined with her Stand: Electric Eye become a construct of hard light functionning more or less like a battle suit or mini-mech with her inside, able to shoot light beam or create constructs of hard light, sort of like a Green Lantern. Unfortunately even that is not enough to stop Kars. Joseph and Joshua go on the roof of the plane to face off Kars and then throw that minion I mentionned a while ago, planning to use his Stand to temporarily drain Kars of his immunity to sunlight. It work just barely, but Kars escape by turning into a faaaabulous merman who is then chased off by Joséphine. What ensue is an underwater chase and battle. Kars still manage to surivive and escape.
At this point I admit I don't really have any clue how they can win. My solution to this mess is one which I'll admit is questionable but the players ultimately agreed it was fine. Who save the day? DIO. You see, DIO had at some point asked for some blood from Joséphine to finish healing his wounds. When he has the chance, he time dive into her timeline and appear on a nearby cliff in Antarctica as they approach the iceberg. He punch the ground, causing an avalanche which slow and trap them for a few minutes before their Stands clear the path. In those crucial minutes, DIO near-decapitate Joseph with the laser-eye thing because, you see, during his time on the plane it hadn't taken much for Joseph's nature and....I don't know, Jojo-ness to reassert itself and DIO eventually figured he wasn't worth the risk keeping alive now that he had the iceberg in range. When DIO snap back in time, well, the last session has been undone and Kars is still in the ice and DIO arrive there at the same time as them ready for the final battle.
The final battle is intense but there isn't much to say about it beyond its resolution. This is the story of how Dio Brando met his death. Twice. And I don't mean twice as in having died in canon, here. A wounded DIO use his Stand to thrown himself at Joséphine. Joshua says he wants to push her out of the way and he does. DIO, in freefall, time-dive into Dave a split second back in time. So from Dave and the PC's perspective a second DIO appear while the first disapear. For the sake of coolness, I let Holy Diver and Powerman 5000 both roll an attack, secretly hoping to kill off Dave in some dramatic way.
This is not what happens. Holy Diver miss. Powerman 5000....gets a crit.
Powerman 5000 *never* hit anything in that form and now it gets a motherfucking critical. I did the maths, btw: in this form, max bulked out, Powerman 5000 consider an AIRCRAFT CARRIER to be a LIGHT LOAD. And DIO just took that in the head. He 'dies'. Then he snap back in time and....promptly 'dies' again. Joshua gets everyone to gang up on DIO's headless body and pummel him Stands and Ripple until he's nothing but ashes. I'd feel bad for him, but this is Dio Brando we are talking about after all.
On their way back, they find the wounded Vampire Joseph. "Is it done?" "Yes. DIO is dead." "G-good...and the thing in the ice?" "Still trapped. We buried the iceberg" "Heh. Good job. I'm glad to know the Joestar familly still got it. Would have been disapointed otherwise. Now destroy me." Joseph ask, aware that he is a blood-sucking abomination that shouldn't exist. During this scene, I had an orchestral mix of 'Sono Chi No Sadame' playing and the music decide to cooperate with me as I describe each of the game's Jojo taking Joseph's hand and using Ripple to destroy him as he smile, proud. As Joseph fall to ashes:
"SONO CHI NO SADAME, JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOJOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Manly tears ensue.