The Alternates Episode #39 Recap - “A Nest of Vipers”

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 #39 - “A Nest of Vipers”

This week, the Alternates head home from Mordengrad and run into a bit of trouble! Read on for our Recap of Episode #39 of The Alternates!

Episode Recap

The cold open of this episode takes us back to the mysterious, time-travelling man in black, calmly strolling away from the giant magma-monster Flame-Tor attacking Dallas in 1963.

Dressed in a black trenchcoat and wide-brimmed hat, the man in black shuffles down some stairs into an empty subway. He removes his coat and hat, revealing the armor and mask of Chronoclash!

Chronoclash blinks away from the subway station and reappears in a high-tech, futuristic base. Inside this base, we can see screens depicting different timelines of events, including a point in time labelled “JFK Assassination.” Chronoclash steps over to the screen and taps on the JFK Assassination point, turning it red.

“Chronal vertex removed,” a computer voice says.

“Another failure,” says Chronoclash, his voice muffled by the helmet. “Revert chronal reference point AQ-987.44 and begin a new analysis. Recharge tachyon batteries.”

“Affirmative,” says the computer.

“I’m close,” Chronoclash says. “I will find the chronal anomaly and eliminate it. And then… I’ll go home.”


As the episode opens, the Alternates are in the Alternjet, flying over the Atlantic towards Megalopolis. The team is discussing the recent events in Mordengrad (mostly a recap of events from the last episode) when an enormous behemoth of a flying vehicle descends from the clouds.

The vehicle is clearly decorated with a variety of snake-themed iconography, including a giant snake-head near the front. Clearly, this massive vehicle belongs to S.N.A.K.E. - the Secret Network of Assassins, Killers, and Executioners.

In fact, the massive airship has a name emblazoned on its side - “N.N.E.S.T. - Non-Newtonian Eigenvector S.N.A.K.E. Transport”.

The N.N.E.S.T. takes position just below the clouds, and a video transmission comes over the Alternajet’s screen showing a man in a metal mask embossed with serpents - it is S.N.A.K.E. Commander! The villain shrieks at the Alternates over the comms. “Alternates!” he says. “Your interference with S.N.A.K.E. operations is at an end! Surrender immediately, or we will blast you out of the sky!”

“Uh, sure,” Kid Radical says. “Give us ten minutes.”

S.N.A.K.E. Commander pauses, confused. “Very well,” he says. “We will prepare for your surrender in ten minutes!” The transmission ends.

Kid Radical turns to the Alternates and shrugs. “Let’s get `em,” says Quasar Kid. Quickly, Dr. Comet and Quasar Kid (who can both fly, of course) leap out the rear of the Alternajet and fly into action.


Meanwhile, back at Alternates HQ, we see a pigeon with an “intelligence helmet” on its head perched outside the window of the Alternates common room. Inside the common room, Unity is working on some robotics when there’s a clattering noise from the hallway. She puts down her tools and goes to investigate.

Suddenly, from out of the hallway, an enormous transparent purple energy bubble emerges with Bouncer trapped in stasis within it. Unity backs away quickly as the bubble enters the room, following by the floating, black-armored form of Chronoclash.

“Um, hello,” Unity says tentatively.

“Hello, Unity,” replies Chronoclash. “I’m very sorry to intrude, but I’m afraid the chronal vertex I require is location right under your workstation there.”

“It’s not a workstation, exactly,” Unity responds, back up slowly and looking back to slowly animate the tiny robotic arm she’d previously constructed. “I mean, sometimes we eat lunch on it.”

“Multi-purpose as it may be, I’m asking nicely if you could clean up your work so I can move the table and set up my equipment there,” Chronoclash says.

“You’re very polite for a villain,” Unity says, taking up a combative stance.

“I’m not a villain,” Chronoclash tells her. “I’m here to save your timeline.”


Dr. Comet hits a S.N.A.K.E. fighter jet with a blast of frost and quips, “I hope you solved that icing problem!” Meanwhile, Quasar Kid fights the jets in a wacky sort of hand-to-hand combat, including grabbing one jet and “tossing” it into another. He mumbles something about how primitive the jets are, and continues the fight.

Inside the Alternajet, Jersey Devil teleports away, leaving Cytoblast (who is stuck in a tree-man form due to something that went awry with his magic last episode) and Kid Radical holding down the Alternajet. As the S.N.A.K.E. jets close in, Kid Radical pushes a button to reveal a special piloting interface for the Alternajet - a small joystick that looks like a skateboard that he manipulates with two fingers.

While utilizing the special “fingerboard” interface, Kid Radical is able to perform evasive maneuvers to dodge shots from the enemy jets. Still, the Alternajet is hit by a few laser shots. “I need a faster connection!” shouts Kid Radical. He pulls two wires (which resemble old RCA audio-video cables) from his wrist computer and connects them to the Alternajet. A sequence of lights flicker on the wrist computer, and Kid Radical exclaims, “There we go!” The Alternajet takes another sequence of evasive maneuvers and emerges from a swarm of fighter jets unscathed.

Cytoblast, looking around for some way to help, finally decides to leap out into the fight as well. Using vine-like tendrils, he climbs out onto the wings of the Alternajet and leaps into the air. Extending his ropey appendages, he grasps a jet flying nearby and pulls himself to it. He stands atop the cockpit as his growing creepers feel their way inside the jet, then he wraps up the pilot and starts manipulating the controls using those same creeping vines.

Jersey Devil teleports inside a jet cockpit, squishing in the tiny space alongside the pilot. He presses a random selection of buttons on the control panel, then teleports out. The cockpit instrument panel goes crazy, and a small tube sticks out and squirts very hot coffee into the face of the pilot. We see his jet careen off in a random direction, smoking and whining, until his cockpit pops open and we see the pilot eject and pop a parachute.


Inside Alternates HQ, Chronoclash is putting away Unity’s tools carefully into a toolbox, and packing up her robotics work inside a box. Unity, meanwhile, is floating nearby in purple stasis bubble.

“I hope I don’t get your tools too mixed up,” Chronoclash tells her, although it’s not clear if she can hear him. “I wish you would have just cooperated, though.”


Back at the air battle, the fighter jets have been dispatched and the N.N.E.S.T. floats back up into the clouds, with S.N.A.K.E. Commander shouting over the comms, “Next time, Alternates! Next time!”

Before the N.N.E.S.T. escapes, however, Kid Radical hands Jersey Devil a tracking pog, and the Devil teleports inside the N.N.E.S.T. and sticks it to a wall in the cargo bay.

As the battle ends, the credits roll under “Union of the Snake” by Duran Duran.

Final Thoughts

As far as “side stories” go, this S.N.A.K.E. episode is a fun diversion while the Chronoclash plot is obviously coming to a head elsewhere. It’s a good old-fashioned combat romp with the Alternates bouncing around the sky and the comically underwhelming forces of S.N.A.K.E. losing millions of dollars in equipment every second.

In terms of “plot arc development,” though, there’s not much going on in this episode. We get a few hints of what Chronoclash is doing and what he wants, but it’s nothing definitive.

There was a pigeon with a brain helmet, though - did you notice that?

That’s all for this Recap, but please join us next week for Episode #40, titled “Time for a Change.”

Running the Game!

This was a nice run-of-the-mill fight scene… oh, except it was in the sky.

But I kept it pretty normal. When the S.N.A.K.E. fighters shot the Alternajet, someone inside the Alternajet had to take the damage. Other than that, it was a boring fight without any Skill Challenges or anything - sometimes, the basics are best.

I don’t thiiiiink I have anything else to add about running this game, but as always, questions are welcome!

Thanks for reading!


The “oh, except it was in the sky” part made all the difference in the game session.

It’s a good GMing tip that even though the mechanics were all the same as any other fight, just setting it in a different setting gave it a super different feel that was very fresh and fun. As a player sometimes when you’ve locked in to your abilities you kinda start thinking of them in a standard way and when the fights are similar, you describe them in similar ways. Changing up the environment bigtime is a great shakeup for that. You can, to pick a random example out of thin air, force a player who has gotten somewhat comfortable describing skateboard tricks to instead imagine bizarre skateboard oriented jet piloting interfaces.


S.N.A.K.E.! What a thing. :smiley: Have they appeared before? I don’t remember.

Skateboard. Joystick. Now I’ve seen everything.

Man, why do they have those “hot coffee directly in the face” buttons, anyway?

S.N.A.K.E. first appeared in Episode #33, “Snakes and Adders,” where they were attempting to steal the Constitution.

And obviously the hot coffee dispenser is meant to quickly administer caffeinated beverage to weary pilots!


Wait, if Chronoclash didn’t cause Flame-Tor, and he didn’t stop it, then what was he doing there?

Hmm, I wonder where Chrony’s base is. And for that matter, where (or when) is his “home?”

Yeah, S.N.A.K.E.'s back!

“We will prepare for your surrender in ten minutes!”

Of course they would!

Hmm, Omnitron-X is suspiciously absent . . .

How many people in stasis bubbles is Chronoclash going to have floating around?

Tracking them? This means that this isn’t the last we’ve heard of S.N.A.K.E.!

Next episode better have some time travel.

Your recaps are always quite entertaining. Keep it up!

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There will be answers revealed over the next several episodes about Chronoclash, and I will be sure to write things so that “The Flame-Tor Incident” (as I’m now calling it) is explained, at least in how it fits into all of this.

I’m actually not 100% sure my players know how the Flame-Tor thing fits into Chronoclash’s whole deal, but I think they do? (Hey, my players - since I’m behind on Recaps, no spoilers!) In retrospect, this was probably a thing I should have made clearer for them… but you, the readers, get the advantage of my hindsight! :smiley:

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