Fight the Power! Close the Hellmouth!
Urban fantasy gaming using Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG rules
The session characters and a little about them:
Victor “Vic” Creed, 6’6 ex-paratrooper, hideously scarred, built for combat. Last session he picked up the Dependents flaw, and he has added “help out Pop Creed without him knowing it” to his season storylines (making a total of one because his previous one had ended).
Roosevelt “Arby” Brown, 5’7 skinny grifter, built for dodging work, the draft, out of the way, you name it. His main season storyline is “get closer to my moms” although his player wasn’t specific whether he is thinking of his adoptive moms or his biological moms.
Steve “the Cutter” Cutter, 6′ ex-boxer, built for fast-hand combat. He’s conflicted about storylines and is focusing on “the plot” whatever that is.
Together with their colleague Jon “Doc” Samedy these are the White Hats.
Part One: Cards on the Table
Scene: Soul Food Diner, near Brother Gloves
Theme: Ball of Confusion
The Cutter has just finished updating his fellow white hats – or at least Arby and Vic – with the revelation sistah Asha laid on him: her idea to get the white hats to rise up against the Corridor Boys came from the CIA.
“B’ why fo’ CIA be messin’ wit’ us?” Vic wants to know. “Ain’t no Nam. Ain’t no Cam-bo-dee-ya. This Cleveland.”
“What I ast,” Cutter agrees. “On’y thing sistah say is, she agent workin’ freelance, don’ get to be mastermindin’ this thing.”
They are interrupted. Arby and Vic both recollect Emily Phan before Cutter does, but it’s him she aims to see.
She wants out of the endless blackmail loop, which hasn’t gone away just because the white hats busted her and let her off. So she’s finally willing to part with some names. She’s pretty sure the blackmail is out of the CP’s office. The go-between, who actually puts the heat on her, is T-Bone, a brother who also talks to Curtis Silverman, Farmatec’s CEO. The latest gig, the one that’s pushed her to the Cutter, is T-Bone getting her to organize a couple of younger girls to get hot n’ heavy with the white hats.
Cutter leans back in the booth and tries to make sense of all the bits and pieces. Arby produces a deck of cards and Cutter fishes a Queen of Diamonds, a Knave of Hearts, and a Joker out and lays them out face up.
“Le’ssay the Queen there is the Corridor Boys, or Asha’s mission or what. An’ the knave be T-Bone, messing wit’ little girls’ hearts.”
“Gon’ kill that f***er,” Vic decides.
“An’ the Joker be weird shit up above the reservoir, feet on the ground, that shit. We gots to get busy on one two three. But which is the one, the two, the three?”
The three agree that they can spoil T-Bone’s game for a while at least, by not being around night spots like Little Haiti, Boneyard, Euclid Club or wherever. Whilst avoiding that trouble, they can find out more about this T-Bone. According to Emily he’s some Jock type, so Cutter’s confident he’ll unearth his real name and history.
“But first, yeah, feet on the ground up in the heights.”
“Yeah, seein’ how they payin’ us.”
“An’ tryin’ to help us stop the crazy-ass stuff.”
“Then we can decide what-all we do ’bout this chump T-Bone. Oh, an’ speakin’ of Jocks minds me to say, I dug out the Spartans coach name. Man name of ‘Wash’ Grover. Joke is he got the handle from washing so many off the squad, but I hear tell it’s his right name, short for Washington.”
“Sound like a blood.”
“Yeah he be. Real pergess, porgass, uh, go-‘head that Case Western be.”
“Then finally we gots to get up on the Corridor Boys shit an’ see where that leads.”
Scene: Woodhill heights
Theme: Walk on by
Doc’s been ruled out of this gig because of his limp. The three white hats are in DeNaRes gear, including caps, and obviously animal control officers – two of them have catchpoles and Vic wields a net.
Fairhill Hospital – the mental institution – is a good landmark to start with and right off the bat, they notice a small, recent-vintage industrial park backing right onto it. The board outside says one of the main tenants is the Wilson Clinic. The upstairs tenant is some kind of technology company and a dental laboratory setup holds the wing that they aren’t in.
Studying the parked cars and who’s name is on each space, Cutter picks out a comfortable wagon belonging to Dr Wilson, a dark red sedan belonging to Dr Spenser, a newish but forgettable sedan belonging to someone named D Ernst and lastly a bland sedan that seems part of the Wilson staff parking.
And about that time Blackhand Security rolls up on them.
While the white hats are showing their DeNaRes credentials to the pair of low-grade security goons, a thickset, very plain woman scuttles out of the Clinic and gets in the bland sedan and drives off. She doesn’t make eye contact but they get an impression of goggles.
Scene: Ambler Heights
Theme: Move on up
Today it’s the local cops. A cruiser grinds slowly up kerbside and they use a spot, even th0ugh it’s daylight. And a loud-hailer. Arby makes a real show of hunting some kind of varmint in a bush, while Cutter shows the DeNaRes ID. Just a sniff of the paperwork associated with County problems and the cops head away.
[I grin evilly and ask Arby for a Perform roll, a skill he lacks utterly. Forcing a Drama Point to be spent. He walked into that one.]
The area seems clear, so they head back to the ranger station.
Scene: DeNaRes ranger station above Baldwin Reservoir
Theme: Don’t you worry ’bout a thing
By this time the white hats have some T-Bone information to share round the table.
T-Bone is Tyrone Bennett. He attended East Tech, but had troubles. His moms sent him to his Aunt up the heights somewhere, she got him into a clinic, and he became quite the star athlete. He even got on a scholarship track to Case Western. Seems as though he washed out of the Spartans not too far back. His folk live in the south-west corner of Fairfax, near the Central ward border. Exactly where he lives isn’t known yet.
The mention of the Spartans football squad filters something through Arby’s subconscious:
“Say, a body might think they be more o’ them jocks, workin’ aroun’ the track out there.”
No-one around the table can explain that, but it turns out Laura, the young part-time ranger, knows all about it. She is a keen observer of the studly men of the Spartans, who are now using the old naval? marine? grounds as their training track. And it’s really, really close to the ranger station.
So that gives them something to worry about. But they also have to move on the “dead crow” dime-bag (so called for the black mark printed on it) and the Corridor Boys’ source.
Flashback scene: CWRU Med-lab, dead of night
Vic’s safely away in a van parked near a payphone. Arby and Cutter have navigated Doc through the grounds along the route Doc figured would be safest, this time of night. Some difficult work on the locks gets Doc in and with plenty of time to do the analysis. He cuts the dime bag into nickels, and analyzes one of them.
“This is really good quality… it’s most likely based on medical supply morphia,” is Doc’s verdict.
Part Two: Days of Surveillance, Nights of Danger
Scene: just south-west of University Circle
Theme: theme from Shaft
The three white hats, plus Danny Castro acting as their work gang boss, are dressed in County maintenance crew outfits. For three days they clean, trim and manicure the area between the Farmatec sales office and Case Western.
The reasoning is, the most likely place Corridor Boys are re-upping from is a place the white hats already suspect as being part of the dark powers, with access to medical-grade shit.
Each evening they head back to the ranger station, shower, change and keep their lives on track, though they avoid night spots.
Day three the stake-out finally pays off. The re-up vehicle is a Blackhand Security truck, and they catch a flash of purple in the cab as an anonymous lab guy from the Med-lab area hands over the packet. That’s Snicky-bo, they figure. He favors purple.
But meanwhile this has happened…
Scene: Pop Creed’s place
Theme: Just enough for the city
Vic knocks softly, his niece answers the door. Pop doesn’t hear, and there’s a certain odor about the place that makes Vic think he hasn’t stopped drinking. Vic makes his way through to his sis and explains he’s laying some bread on her, and pops don’t need to know about it. She takes it. They agree she’ll keep discouraging pops from taking up with CC – Boss Creed that is.
[Vic deals successfully with his new Dependents drawback and cuts his Wealth to -1.]
Scene: Cleo’s apartment
Cleo’s place is well away from the Corridor Boys’ turf but taking no chances, Vic rides along with Steve and they take the Mystery Machine – the DeNaRes van. Steve skips nimbly up the steps, but not so nimble he steps clear of Vic’s bulk. He got shot at from the building roof opposite, after all.
Cleo’s kids are pleased to see the big ugly monster they climb over, though Jomo, Cleo’s eldest, is too cool for that now and just watches TV. In between being lectured about how he don’t have the time to keep up with his kids’ lives, Steve hands over some bread and finds that Jomo is aiming for the little league next season.
Afterwards, seeing how Cutter is slumped over the wheel like he taken a 12-round beating, Vic dozens with him and the ex-boxer cheers right up. By the time they get back to the ranger station they are both laughing.
[Seeing Cleo triggers Cutter’s fear of commitment and will prevent him using drama points. ‘Dozens’ is the Cleveland Darkens version of the group hug. It’s lighthearted barracking and repartee, designed to make a brother feel right. Vic’s player roleplayed this from beginning to end and earned himself a drama point.]
Until they find broken furniture, spilt coffee and Gunnarsson being bandaged up.
Flashback scene: DeNaRes Ranger Station
Arby and Captain Kelly fetch their coffee out of the common room and into the kitchen for a private talk. It seems to Arby Kelly isn’t smoking as much and she’s quit the smoky, coffee-smelling common room for the smaller, more private kitchen to spend some quality time with him.
Their coze is interrupted by Laura’s scream. Heading back into the common room to see what the problem is, Arby sees Gunnarsson, bleeding from a head wound, stumbling in from outside and falling. And two big jocks step right in after him!
Well there’s a big table running down the room, so Arby leaps atop it, mocking them and distracting them from Gunnarsson and Kelly. As they swing he leaps above them. They decide to book-end him with flying tackles, and he is ready for it – he is vanished and they collide violently!
Then two more jocks step on in, and one’s got a ball bat.
Arby feels his confidence rise. He eggs the bat-guy on and ducks out of the way – and Kelly flings the coffee-pot contents into the dude’s face! And as he howls in agony she smacks him with the empty pot too. Then the fourth guy is closing in on her, but Arby’s already swinging his legs around, catching the guy in back of the knees and he folds backward. Grabbing the bat Arby makes a great golf-swing into the fallen one’s groin, and he’s out of the fight.
As the original two get to their feet Arby faces them off and warns them he got more where that come from. They grab the two more severely injured and stumble away.
[Arby spends eight drama points winning this but his status rises sharply with the fighting pair of white hats!]
Part Three: The common threads weave together
Scene: Soul Food Diner near Brother Gloves, and Brother Gloves
Theme: Pick up the pieces
It’s a somber time for the white hats. Little Haiti will close. It’s like their pop told them not to climb up into the treehouse no more. That’s why Doc’s been distracted this week.
“Setro’s happy as a clam, and he got his piece of following rejoicing along with him. They way they tell it the club’s nothing but an embarrassing tourist trap. Most of the others are with me, not happy ’bout it.”
“Man, you in wrong joint,” Vic sympathizes with the barkeep. “I got a real club, me, you get to hear real music.” (He actually intends to follow this through, too.)
“Can’t you hold on two more weeks?” Cutter asks desperately. Things are coming together. Boddington is turning into a key contact. They are sharing information and even as Cleveland evenings get shorter and darker the view is clearing.
Arby sells this information to smoker man, Malcolm Lansing of the CBI. It’s the white hats’ best angle on breaking up the Corridor Boys supply. They considered giving the bust to PD3’s honest Polacks, but the corruption in the precinct seems too deep. They thought about PD5, but it would be too easy for the Corridor Boys to escape any link. It’s still an option. But CBI, though drugs aren’t their ball, has the power to make the bust stick. And cynically they believe Lansing will enjoy having something over the local police.
“We got T-Bone runnin’ between the CP’s office, WKCY, an’ Curtis Silverman. An’ we got a team he tried out for, makin’ surprise yards and points. An’ the same team attacked the ranger station and works out on the field tucked right back of Wilson Clinic.
“And T-Bone the Corridor Boys boss.”