SHC GM-free session 22: An enigmatic mercenary, an unconsidered complication, and a way forward

Scene: Daffodil lawn

Charles has made contact again. Here in the city, he seems a faded old hobo, but the blooms around the group perk him up a little. Birkby, Cliff, Dan, Hitch and Sandi are all paying close attention to him as he speaks:

“Someone you saw recently, in prison… has set in motion a new course of events. A soldier comes.”

“Dammit! I knew I should have done a memory wipe!” Birkby comments bitterly.

“Which would be evil,” Hitch reminds him firmly.

“Do you know who this soldier is working for?” Dan asks Charles politely.

“That is not clear. Perhaps someone in this city that trembles under the undead’s gaze seeks to balance things anew.”

“All right, we’ll swing by the ‘joint’ again, find out who it was and toss his place,” Cliff decides confidently.

“That’s a barrel-load of assumptions, but I suppose we ought to start somewhere,” Hitch agrees.

Scene ends

Mechanics

This stems from an Interrupt: NPC Action, which in turn throws up a random event. I use the Universal NPC Emulator (UNE) to flesh out an ‘unconcerned mercenary’ but that in itself throws up things like ‘enigma’ and focus is ‘adversary’ so it does not reveal much.

Chaos rises to 6.

 

Scene: Investigation montage

Various Peers (other than Sandi) re-question contacts in the prison and jail, and between Dan and Hitch a great deal of information is picked up.

Montage ends

Mechanics

Although this scene involves an Alteration it is ‘expose possessions’ so questions of the Emulator point to quickly finding out a great deal. Dan and Hitch both make DC30+ checks.

Chaos drops to 5.

 

Scene: A crummy (but secure) basement

Sandi throws herself back in time as a deadfall-rigged blade crashes down.

“OK, I guess he did set a trap,” she confesses.

A short time later the other Peers hear her check in:

“I’m totally drawing a blank here, and like, maybe Dan could help search?”

“Why don’t we all head in… inconspicuously.”

The search takes a long time and the final outcome is a double surprise.

The Peers find some notes, and the notes are on them! And especially, on the weapons they carry.

And a descent downwards into the sub-city!

Scene ends

Mechanics

There is no chaos change. I check that Sandi is doing the infiltration. I check if it is trapped. Sandi does not find the trap but avoids it. (The trap is randomly generated using a card draw.) I check if there is another trap. There is not. I check if Sandi needs to search, and she does. Sandi is not the greatest searcher. It takes a long time and brings in the whole party. One of the Emulator questions throws up a random event. This comes to light in the next scene. Another throws up a new element, which I can only make sense of by including a descent-point.

Chaos rises to 6 since there are more questions building.

 

Remote Scene: The Peers’ Hideout

Shadowy but military shapes rifle through the Peer’s rooms, removing certain long objects that clank. They remove most traces of their presence and leave quietly.

Scene ends

Mechanics

The random event thrown up last scene was NPC Action meaning Malice [of] Possessions. Given that the Peers were only snooping around and not heavily armed, I ask:

Q: Are the possessions in the Peers’ base? Yes.

Q: Are the possessions the tankbusters? Yes.

Q: Has the mercenary’s affiliates stolen the tankbusters? Yes.

Now I really need that affiliation. There are a limited range of options, so I can’t just roll a d10 on the NPC list. One could be the gangsters, another could be the Olympians or some other rival agency, another could easily be the current Fed/G-Man version of the ‘G’. Still another could be some time agency.

Q: Are they gangsters? No.

Q: Are they military? Yes.

I may have misread this and if I’d been playing back to back with last session I probably would call this as tying back to the ‘waste magic’ result there. But this seems a fair way of doing it.

Chaos rises to 7.

 

Scene: A gloomy tunnel and chamber below the city

The Peers have descended for ‘just a quick look’ to get the gist of what the basement leads to. Light is very limited – Cliff is carrying a storm lantern from the basement and Dan Hitch and Birkby have arcane ability to see in limited light. So by this odd circumstance it is Hitch and Dan as lead scouts and Sandi as rear-guard.

Hitch’s arcane lore is great, but he knows exactly what’s approaching them: he’s seen much the same grouping on Third Fish Island. At about the time he and Dan spot them in the adjoining chamber, the Deep Ones spot the Peers. They are numerous and unafraid.

Birkby summons a great rolling wave of Fear and (somewhat to his surprise) more than half a dozen of the group in the chamber check, visibly affected.

“Wait! No kill spells!” Hitch yells.

“Are these legit targets?” Sandi yells. She’s got her Glocks out, of course, but she can switch to CS.

“Unknown!” Hitch responds, before Birkby can say otherwise.

“Are we backing them off?” Cliff asks, bringing out Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.

“Let me try talking,” Dan suggests, but even as he does so Hitch casts a powered-up version of Confusion, and most of the Deep Ones are affected by that as well. Only two are left unaffected, and seem uncertain what to do since the Priestess is clearly confused.

Order is restored among the Peers, then by strategically removing the Confusion from the Priestess, she is captured. Or at least, politely invited to negotiate. Dan dons the Language Enabler and begins the talks. As they come out of fear or confusion (or begin to act violently) the other Deep Ones are directed to sit and wait, or stunned as the need be.

After a time Dan takes a break.

“She has her own concerns and is not interested in allying with us – and I couldn’t name the priestess we did… ah, do, have a deal with sorry – but we do have a way forward. There’s another portal or gateway she knows about, that gives access to the Vampire chambers. I’m sure I got that right.”

“Look, let’s leave it there,” Hitch advises, “no harm no foul. We haven’t killed any Deep Ones and thus provoked the feud with the authorities we were briefed about at the Academy – yes we were Sandi – so that’s not on us. I hope. We should pull back and come back loaded for bear.”

Scene ends

Mechanics

This is a bit of a mess and springs from two question I asked about the mercenary’s quarters:

Q: Is this an encounter? Yes

Q: Is the whole party there? Yes

I probably should not have asked either, but I was trying to get to what the end-point of the scene was. Following in from that I do a card draw, factoring in APs on the table and number of Peers and suddenly they are facing a full-blown Deep One party.

Now the Peers know not to kill humans but so far monsters are OK to kill. But on the other hand the Deep Ones are a known element which ‘historically’ has a major confrontation with the 1920s authorities. But that was over New England way, according to the canon. So a lot depends on initiatives and card draws. By good fortune Birkby, though first up, draws a card that sends me to a Fear (the cone effect) and Hitch draws a Confusion type spell. I use the Emulator to check if the Priestess is immune (she is not) and that final question throws up a random event.

The event is Close a Thread and the meaning is Communicate Portals. Without leaping too far away from my current thread I can see where this leads. The brief exploration of the mercenary’s sub-basement has led the Peers to the answer to how to approach the Monk’s HQ, provided a good Diplomacy check is made. Dan makes DC34. (And to check response the Priestess rolls natural 20.) The ‘Investigation’ thread is closed.

Chaos drops to 6.

 

Threads currently open: there are now a number of footnotes to some

Destroy the Monk but survive

Destroy remaining lieutenants (a sub-thread really)

End the arcane barrier (if killing the Monk isn’t enough on its own)

Return (except possibly for Dan)

 

NPCs:

1.The Monk

2.Monk’s Lieutenants

3.Olympians

4.Cops

5.Fed predecessors of the G (including the unconcerned mercenary, who appears to be contracted to the military, see above)

6.Academy

7.PD predecessors of Black Cat/Unit 14

8.Great Spirits

9.Deep Ones

  1. The Prisoner (though he has probably ended his involvement and any new NPC will switch in here)

 

Scene: the Peers’ base

It is the aftermath of the return, and blame is being thrown about pretty freely. The effects on the timeline of souped-up tankbuster guns in the hands of someone is being discussed in between the general blame-throwing.

Dan comes down hardest. Along the lines of:

“All along you mages were the ones yelling loudest about not breaking the time line. And who produced fancy hardware? Birkby. And who failed to ward the area? Apparently mages.”

Sandi comes in from where she’s been avoiding the squabbling.

“Hey Cliffie, I got a note for you.”

Scene ends

Mechanics

I need to check the return-to-base-someone-nicked-my-gear scene. I get an Interrupt and it is Ambiguous, meaning is Adversity [for] Friendship. This will be a test indeed. No adventurer likes losing stuff. And Birkby is a prime candidate for not liking his stuff stolen. Using the Emulator I sift through who is blaming who and get an exceptional no for Sandi (so I rule her out completely – her personality is at odds with blaming others) and a yes for Dan. His Witchhunter class puts him at odds with the mages so that’s the angle I read into it. I’m thinking future talents will reflect this. The checks throw up the out-link as noted by Sandi as a random event.

Chaos rises to 7.

 

After-scene: Cliff meets the mercenary

“Mighty interesting pieces you had there, kid. War souvenirs?”

“Something like that,” Cliff replies awkwardly. Is this guy taking the mickey?

“You know if they had weapons like that, a lot of doughboys would have made it home for Christmas 1918.”

“Yes, err, amazing how developments… develop?”

“Sure is. Why I can think of some real strange wildlife, real DEEP wildlife if you get my drift, would have chance zip against those guns.”

“I see what you’re saying. Only too happy to help… Uncle Sam?”

“You’re reading too much into this kid. Let’s just leave it at that.”

Scene ends

Mechanics

The UNE is used to drive this. The mercenary “advocates racism” so the Deep Ones are the obvious choice there. Other than that I get mysterious and enigma. I don’t bother trying a Sense Motive for Cliff, though he does have the skill.

Session ends, because I need a full session to move on the new ‘portal’ underground uncovered this session.

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