Jim Fairbanks, a tough but somewhat lazy treasure-hunter, has roped his ex-101st buddy Victor “Vic” Creed in on the heist of a relic in the shape of a hammer. Since Jim did them a solid standing up against the Rolling 40s, Steve “the Cutter” Cutter, Jon “Doc” Samedy and Roosevelt “Arby” Brown are in on the caper.
The first leg of the investigation places the hammer in the estate of Eva Schreibach, AKA Eva Schilding. It’s not easy to get into, but they boat to the island in the Cuyahoga and use bolt-cutters to get inside the fences. Stealth gets them past any sentries – they hope! And Arby’s criminal abilities and Doc’s Haitian Voodoo powers get them inside the kitchen.
Doc’s player fails to turn up and Doc is run as an NPC like Jim. Two NPCs make the action difficult but I think we are fair to everyone.
Scene: The Manor House Kitchen
Theme: Cold Sweat
Arby’s tools and quick fingers work their magic once he’s had the nod from Doc about weird defenses. The five slip through into the wet-room side of a kitchen area. Off ahead are a couple of passages, flagstoned and clean-looking, into the main areas of the manor. Hard right is a flight of steps… down!
Shining his flashlight that way, Arby confirm the steps are accessed through a door that’s still standing open. And he notices a security camera up to his left, where it focused on the back door.
At about the time he’s point this out to the others (quietly – he doesn’t panic at merely normal danger) Jim curses and slams the back door shut, turning the big old key in its lock. Silent figures are coming through the garden out back, closing in on the house!
The noise may have alerted any sleeping occupants. Time to make some quick decisions. The Cutter gestures down!
Scene: Cellar steps
Jim has slammed the cellar door shut but whoever is on the other side just pulls the trigger and pellets and wood splinters blast Jim down the steps to the sharp landing where the steps turn left and down to a smallish clean-looking cellar.
Arby’s already down there checking the big, solid wood door on one wall. He feels more than hears a call that impels him to push the door – which is not locked at all – open.
Doc, who is next down from Jim, wants to help the stricken vet but he does not want to get shot up. As he hesitates, BOOM! The other barrel goes off and Jim, slumped at the landing, gets all of it.
“F**k dis!” Vic exclaims, hauling out his big-ass pistol and leaning up and round, drives all five rounds through the cellar door. There’s a scream of pain – and he suddenly realizes, with a sick feeling, that he may have shot a civilian.
Doc, who has been mauled by Vic squeezing up past him, hasn’t got his next spell ready. He needs time and space to organize properly. “Drag Jim down here!” he echoes the Cutter’s advice and gets himself down to the cellar and starts fishing out his knife. He’ll need to cut himself to power up his coco macaque. Then he has to scramble out of the way as Vic drags Jim’s bleeding body bumping down the last flight.
The Cutter, who has just been poking the pile of lumber and junk under the stair, realizes Arby’s not there with them. He heads to the big solid door and hears an elderly female voice bidding him in: he clenches his mitt round his Saturday-night special .38, draws it and springs through the door!
Scene: Cellar and Ritual Chamber
Theme: Jungle Boogie
The big chamber beyond is way bigger than the cellar. Cutter has only time to notice that Arby is off to his left examining a corner, and way diagonally right the elderly woman is staring at him from behind three blank-faced workman-types. More zombies!
“Your behaviour has been reprehensible! Go stand in the corner with your friend!”
It’s a tricky shot but he’s got his piece out and fires: the first round drills her, the others spatter harmlessly into the wall or zombies.
Eva’s angry now! The three zombies advance around a well-mouth, and Steve picks up his battle-axe from where he dropped it. “Sh***t! We got a wakin’ Vampire here! An’ Zombies! Vic? Come he’p a brother my ABC!”
Back behind him Vic rushes in to help out, swinging his axe around too. Jim staggers in too, bleeding and waving a pistol. Leaving Doc to cope with the advancing servants, led by the Haitian Witch!
Vic feels the will of the vampire mistress beating on his brain but he glares right back and gets into it with the zombie attacking the Cutter. A good swing and its head comes pretty much off: it falls to the ground, scrabbling as though trying to get its bearings. Then he has to deal with the next zombie, that gets into a clinch with him. Damn its strong!
Jim finds that zombies don’t really care about gunshot wounds, as he is grappled then hurled down by the third zombie. The two roll round like drunken brawlers.
Steve, with a running line freed up, runs at Eva, hurdles the well, and throws his axe blade around. She weaves away, and he dodges desperately, finding his back is against the wall, literally.
A smell of burning alerts Vic to new danger: Arby has crept up behind him and has flamed a WD40 spray at him: and now his treasured black leather duster is afire!
“I ain’t got time for this shit!” Vic yells, swinging a ham-like fist at the little rat. But Arby ducks! And pulls out another can! Vic throws off his duster, cursing menacingly. The zombie he’s just hip-tossed away starts getting up!
A couple of shots from out in the cellar tell the Cutter and Vic that Doc is in trouble. Plus, there’s a lot of screaming and cursing in some foreign jibber-jabber.
But Cutter’s got his own worries. He parries off Eva’s slicing nails, losing a lot of cloth, skin and blood as her strike gouges his shoulder. Then he slams the axe blade into her neck! It’s nearly a legendary strike, but the old bird is tough and her head is still attached. It does put her off her own attack though!
Finally, making as though to repeat the blow, he feints her into position, drops the axe and slams a stake right through her heart! Eva explodes into dust with a last anguished scream, and the zombies all stop moving.
Arby dodges away, protesting he ain’t to blame. Seeing the zombie is down again, Vic turns to check on Jim – his man had more or less gotten the best of the zombie, and is now safe. Arby heads over to where he caught sight of some weapons stuck up on the wall.
There’s a huge flash outside and Doc comes stumbling in through the door, finally getting his knife ready. He cuts his palm and blood soaks into the staff.
Steve picks up a small key out of Eva’s ashes and checks around. There’s a very sturdy door behind where Eva and her zombies had been when he first saw them.
Vic helps Jim up and looks to see if Doc needs help. But Doc screams out an incantation and a massive fireball engulfs the Witch, who dies screaming and still firing blindly!
As a cry of anger comes from outside, Doc realizes they still have the servants to deal with. Jim slams the door shut.
“Dis yo’ hammer?” Arby asks Jim. “Silver, see? On’y too little.” It’s the only possible candidate among a number of unpleasant torture-type devices.
“Give ‘a here… yeah see, ‘a changes shape! We got it!”
“An’ I got us maybe a way out here – a tunnel!” Cutter calls quietly. The door was open already, but he tries the key and it fits perfectly. “He’p each other Jim, Doc – we gots to follow this!”
Scene: Yacht marina, downtown
Theme: Mercy Mercy Me
The boat is returned to where Jim stole it. The white hats aren’t attracting any attention, but there are some GSW and deep cuts to attend to. Doc offers to get them into the Clinic, which should be busy enough that he can scam them through A&E intake. Cutter agrees, so they limp off back towards Central.
Arby repeats his earlier, unheard offer to replace the duster, and Vic relaxes and agrees.
Jim, having been patched up, makes his farewells after checking the others are OK with him taking the hammer away to his client. Out of town.
“Man, when the Bi – uh, when they bi-itches gets it they be humpin’ with excitement! Payday at last!” he brags.
Jim doesn’t suppose he’ll be back this way. The others farewell him with mixed emotions.
Scene: Little Haiti
Theme: Are you man enough?
It’s some time later: Fall is deepening. Steve is restless, keeping away from Cindy Channel. He has a feeling she’ll come looking for the story and maybe a piece of him: but he doesn’t want a confrontation.
As a way of keeping occupied he’s meeting Vic and Arby at Doc’s favorite spot, Little Haiti. Only Doc ain’t there. Maybe the picket line kept him off – Cutter’s big enough they didn’t worry him in the least way – but either way the barkeep’s pretty lonely until they get there and belly up to the bar. They commiserate over their pads being tossed and weapons taken while they were away helping Jim – but at least, The Man didn’t plant anything on them. They’ve been careful not to be wandering out where the local police can collar them though. Vic shows off the new duster Arby got him: he’s real happy with it.
Asha Barkley, with Pico the granite mountain of a man doing security on her, walks in and the club takes on a much more interesting tone. This sistah is dynamite! Today she’s wearing knee-boots and a real short skirt, and when she slides her gorgeous behind up onto the stool the three white hats break out in a sweat.
Cutter slides a bill across to the barkeep as if it don’t mean a thing and buys her a round. He studies Pico, who don’t drink and don’t say nothing. Cutter guesses, some kind of golem. Not undead.
Asha on the other hand got a lot to say! The three white hats listen up, and agree to help.
In an unprecedented move I brought a battlemap with the cellar and kitchen drawn up, and minis. Cleveland Darkens works best (for me) without minis or sketches, but it seemed like a good idea since there were a lot of moving parts and two or three different battle areas. It seemed to work well enough and certainly helped the three players follow the layout and where doors and threats were, but I’ll need an equally good reason to repeat it.
Steve ‘the Cutter’ spent seven drama points taking Eva down. On behalf of Jon ‘Doc’ Samedy we spent six drama points making sure he didn’t die (‘not as bad as it looks’) and getting spells out. The 2-foot wide stair was a major terrain feature, as I thought, and Doc got bashed up pretty good just with Jim then Vic pushing past him. He also got blowback on one spell, and shot twice, so would definitely have died. By contrast Arby was not allowed to drama point once Eva enthralled him, and Vic had already been shut down by shooting a civilian (and -1 to everything). So their evenings were very economical on the points. With a bit of help, the players remembered how to “dozens” each other’s blues away and get rid of those pesky drawbacks.
XP was generous for those that turned up, since this marked the end of an entire secondary story arc for the campaign. I’ll leave it to your imagination whether Vic was right to speculate that the missing Troll hammer is the same as a small silver hammer that changes shape into what the wielder expects it to be. In the end he didn’t oppose Jim, so the arc ends amicably.
Steve’s Intelligence has doubled to a mighty 2, eliminating his normal Jock penalty. He is about to have a drawback added, owing to his complication with Cindy Channel. Vic has boosted Kung Fu up a further point (to 6?) and Arby has boosted Crime to 4.