Scene: the party
Paul Birkby’s Wraith is equipped with a complete evening-wear outfit and security pass for everyone, and a glamour that ‘switches off’ wariness of anyone looking at it. It will get them into the secure parking lot, and from there on the passes will help. They are a variant on the ‘magic paper’ the Academy uses extensively. Paul’s close-mouthed on when he worked on them. And why.
So in short order, the party roll easily through valet parking – where mysteriously no-one insists they get out – and through the parking lot and up a secure elevator.
Inside, they mingle with the crowds. There are all sorts of people there, the great and the good, the rich and the faking-it. Wolfgang & Hearst reps seem to be acting as ushers. No doubt they have their magic detectors out.
So where’s Ralph Hagen likely to be? If he’s planning on a show he may hold back until the early hours. Equally, if he’s taking private consultations he may be occupied until the early hours. And the team can’t just mingle indefinitely. Hitch manages to get enough information to point them in the right direction. They slip quietly back.
I’ve summed up three scenes here, because they all went according to the ‘script’ and as a result each time, Chaos drops. This is the first time this has happened! Up until now, Chaos intervenes almost every scene. So for the next scene, Chaos stands at 2.
Birkby’s earlier work threw up a description for the Rolls, or rather what the special reason is for bringing the Rolls, ‘peacefully mundane’ and ‘politely tranquil’ which was not at all what I had expected! So I interpret this to mean normal clothing suited to a ritzy party, and a special pass that acts as an anti-alertness talisman.
The other components of the initial three scenes were a natural 20 rolled by Birkby for acting, and a good (well over 20) Gather Info by Hitch.
Mechanics of the post-scene: the Lair Raid Draw
At this point I do some Location Crafter descriptions and find that the inner lair will be based around a science lab. But I can’t go to the big scene at the lab yet, because…
It’s time for the lair raid draw. This is a card draw system designed to fairly portray all the difficulties and defenses of a lair.
First draw: five cards, in order. The value drawn against is CR28, the ‘boss’ CR plus five points, one for each team member. That’s way higher than a maximum card value, so here’s how the draw works. Eventually seven cards are presented, in order drawn, face up:
From the initial draw of five, fold up to four and draw up to five more, to a max of seven cards held. Of those, fold up to four and redraw up to five, to a max of seven cards held.
The final draw of seven cards in order:
1: This merely denotes physical location. It tells me the lair itself is underground.
2: This expresses human guards as a CR. It translates as another team of wet-work agents with SMGs. Each is L9 but there are only 3.
3: This lets me know how tricky it will be for the team to detect subtle recording devices. It works out to DC14, and is a proximity-based system.
4: Traps (physical) CR26, melee range type.
5: Technical difficulty of bypassing traps DC36, and need not be done at the ‘pit face’ so to speak!
6: Monstrous defenses CR 2 – Blood Fiends and Thought Eaters, both using SV based attacks. Blood fiends require a Reflex SV, thought eaters are psionic.
7: Magical defenses CR29 (damage) and DC46 (detect and bypass); the magical defenses are close but not melee range.
The worst news out of all these draws is the magical defenses. If they can’t be detected with some enormous Spellcraft check then the team is going to take some serious damage. And Paul, Hitch and Dan have never put a lot of build into Spellcraft. On the plus side, Sandi is really good at both spotting problems and disabling devices. We’ll see how it all plays out, in order.
Layout and encounters
The next stage of the set-up exercise is a location card draw, where the cards relate to Interiors, and must include a Special. Cards that do not seem to apply will be ‘expected’ which is to say they may be landings or service rooms or simply larger hallways that act as assembly areas.
I bulk up my standard Interiors pack with some extras that include a science lab and command center, and simply deal them in a long line until I hit Science Lab, which happens to be well through the pack. Then the defenses are assigned to logical areas, partly using the Emulator. So far this seems a fair way of doing things, but I will need to include some random element in each location, to make sure the party can’t psychically know what it is dealing with, just because I can see details of an encounter. Generally, the Emulator is the simplest and most helpful tool for this. But if that does not seem to fit, I can check Chaos each single step of the way.
It’s also fair (to both sides) to reroll the deployment check (2d6) if and when the party misses a bypass or similar check. If the party is detected, there must be some foundation for feeding enemy reinforcements in. Conceptually there will be three deployments: ‘Away’ which means the enemy will have to chase the party from where they began; ‘Spread’ which means chances of encounter are simply 50-50 each new scene; and ‘Home’ which means the minions are hard-grouped around the ultimate objective and encounter chances double in step each closer scene.