Fight the Power! Close the Hellmouth!
Urban fantasy gaming using Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG rules
The session characters:
Victor “Vic” Creed, 6’6 ex-paratrooper, hideously scarred, built for combat.
Steve “the Cutter” Cutter, 6′ ex-boxer, built for fast-hand combat.
Jon “Doc” Samedy, slight and stooped Haitian ex-medical intern with powers of Voudun in his coco macaque. He would like to come to some conclusion about Asha Barkley, the foxy mama who seems to have taken up residence at Jon’s Maman’s house, but who freelances for the CIA. And get his old job back.
Scene: An anonymous bench Downtown
Theme: Get Ready
The Cutter meets Boddington. The weather is distinctly colder now, with occasional chill showers, so they end up in a bus shelter. Sitting down, because Steve’s showing the full hand – all of the bits they juggling like weird patterns in a tunnel, a reservoir about to be spiked with some curse, crazy white chick poisoning the Farmatec crew but she not the mastermind, a green machine in a basement, evil lawyers, demons in people, and now Haitian people split down the middle so the exorcism ain’t so likely to work.
Boddington is less clued up about exorcism than Cutter expected, but he gets the idea. He agrees to put some research into some of these problems.
Meantime the CIA-Corridor Boys problem ain’t goin’ away. CBI ain’t moving like Cutter hoped. What a brother gotta do? T-Bone Bennett’s Quail plan forcin’ brothers offa street, man.
Boddington says he’ll look into that too and offers to bump fists in farewell. Feeling uncomfortable, Cutter does so.
[Agent Boddington is the local Department 7, a one-man squad with little time or resources. He does have many contacts though, and can give the white hats information about what’s going on inside The Man’s machine.
T-Bone Bennett is some kind of vital cog in the bad guys’ machine. He manipulates the Spartans Football Squad, runs the Corridor Boys, and liaises between the CP’s office, Farmatec’s Curtis Silverman and WKCY’s Charlie Stone.]
Scene: Maman’s house, Fairfax
Theme: Cold Sweat
Jon pulls the Plymouth into the driveway, fast, hitting the brakes hard as there’s three other vehicles ahead there. Vic and Cutter roll out and pimp-roll confidently round the back – they know their way around now! Jon follows in his usual anxious way.
It’s chill, and squally, and only a couple of people are out in the yard. Jon stops to talk to them and Vic and Cutter watch as they, Haitians all, greet Jon as the favoured son and wish his studies well.
“I just realized – we his coat-holders, man!” – Steve Cutter watching this exchange
“Ain’t nothin’ but a thing” – Vic
Vic finds himself swiftly left alone once in the house. Or, alone with much smaller people, who feed him. It’s all good. But he’s alone because Cutter has headed off to talk to Clarice, the legal secretary who’s also Jon’s older niece; and Jon has headed upstairs to say hi to Maman and give flowers to Asha.
The flowers are Cutter’s idea. He’s experienced when it comes to dealing with women, or at least, getting them to like him.
Cutter sets up a probable date with Clarice. She’s heard the Boneyard will have a Swing set this Friday night that’s to die for. All going well, pick her up here. Blithely confident he can avoid being targeted by the Corridor Boys, Cutter agrees.
Scene: Upstairs sitting room
Theme: Oh Girl
Asha is wearing white, with African-styled brown relief inlays. And considering how cold it is outside, she’s showing a lot of glorious mahogany skin. She’s pleased with the flowers but throws out some mixed signals, to put it mildly. Once he’s snuggled up with her and they are both sipping red wine, Asha puts a lot of pressure on Jon for results.
When he gives her a holding-pattern answer the temperature drops inside too. Jon shrivels out and back down to his two ‘coat-holders’.
Scene: Downstairs: a private room
Theme: Green Onions
The three white hats put their heads together. Another ‘target’ they have is Arby’s mom, the Reverend Brown of Euclid AME. Cutter wants her to tell them where Radio Preacher Charlie Stone comes from, what his real daytime job is and so on. The only time he’s really run across her, she frosted him. It could be a challenge. They need to strike the right note, and that includes not invading her home.
On the other hand another target is little Emily Phan. Cutter recollects she interns at WKCY – that’s where T-Bone put the heat on her. She might know about Rev. Stone as well. The best way to find her is when she’s coming off-shift from one of her jobs. The nearest being The Clinic. That means, pre-dawn.
They decide (after due hesitation) to sack out in Jon’s sleepout. It smells kinda funky and there’s a lot of student clutter. Maybe even some older stuff. Vic can sleep anywhere and Steve gets enough of a clear space, and after a supper of leftovers they settle for the night.
Scene: Diner opposite the Clinic
Theme: Pick up the Pieces
Emily zombies in at the expected time. It takes Cutter a second or two to get her attention, but when he does she brings her bagel-and-something through the funky smoke-filled diner across to their table and picks at it. She seems to be so tired her appetite is gone.
But she does recall that back when Charlie Stone first started his Hour of Power some law firm, Wolfgang something, set up a fund so he didn’t have to rely on sponsors for the first months. And the same fund seems to go back to Alderman Creed’s office too.
They offer any help, and she asks if they mind dropping her to her next job, Marymount hospital up in Garfield Heights.
Well, it’s early enough that the cops up there won’t have prized themselves away from their desks and over to the donut shop, so Jon doesn’t mind if Cutter and Vic don’t mind. So off the four of them go.
Scene: Beside Marymount hospital, looking across the square
Theme: Playing your game baby
Emily zombies in, and is lost in the general shuffle of early-shift staff. Cutter’s attention is caught by one of the night shift leaving: Nicole, looking sexy in her nurse-intern uniform. She heads over to the diner across the square, and Cutter notices she’s meeting a hard-looking guy dressed in some nice threads. Italian features and mob-style threads.
It’s excessively interesting and Cutter gets out, eases around the square and peeks through the steamy glass frontage. Nicole seems to be having an ordinary meeting with the mook. That’s a nice suit. Tight across the shoulders, but enough room for a shoulder-holster. It’s impossible to say if he’s a detective with enough dirty money for a good suit, or a genuine Little Italy article.
Feeling they’ve worn out their luck the white hats roll back down and around to the ranger station. Where there’s a message been waiting for Cutter since last night, apparently.
It’s from Boddington: meet him at Euclid and 71st, at 9am.
They jump back in the Plymouth and Jon puts his foot down. 9am is gonna be tight!
Scene: Euclid and 71st
Theme: The Payback
Skidding cruisers, flashing lights, roaring bullhorns: the whole nine yards! 51st and Euclid is nice and bare: and no sooner have Vic and Cutter stepped away from the Plymouth when what seems like the whole of PD3 and the Riot Squad besides are all over them. Jon heads out tires a-squealing but skids to a halt in the next few yards, blocked off by cruisers and cops with riot guns.
Vic gets taken down hard: he figures there’s got to be an alley within a few seconds’ run but he’s built for slugging people and not sprinting. The first shotgun blast knocks him sideways and he hits the pavement: and wisely, stays down. Then he just gets beat and kicked as they take his pistol and battleaxe.
Drago makes sure he gets some payback-in-advance: he rides the riot van back to the Fortress along with Cutter, and by the time he’s dragged out to the holding cell Cutter is pissing blood.
Out of respect for Jon’s disability the cops take his stick off him and beat him bloody. And take his knife.
Scene: The Fortress, Downtown near Central
Theme: Take me to the river
The white hats sit around feeling too sorry for themselves to worry how come The Man got them. Twelve hours go by, and they are glad Vic is the biggest ugliest mutha in the cell. After which time they are all three summoned out of the cell by the older, grey-haired whitey Sergeant that supervised the honest Polacks that one time. He heads them into a grimy interview room. Seated opposite is Boddington.
“Sorry… it went down a little harder than I hoped.”
Boddington explains that this little betrayal of his was needed to convince key players that the white hats are off the board. Now the dirty cops, the Corridor Boys and their various rivals and affiliates are sure their enemies are buried in the system.
“I guess they took your money… I don’t have a lot but this should tide you over.”
Boddington (grimly, he is an honest and poorly-paid cop) eases $40 out of his billfold and slides it over, along with five singles.
“It’ll take a while for the Plymouth to be lost in the pound then finagled back out… so I hope you can make do with a loaner. We’ll move you out the back and you’ll be dropped down by the river, OK?”
Skeptically, but not seeing they have much choice, the three are ushered out to a paddy wagon and duly dropped off in Cuyahoga neighbourhood, down along the tracks. At night. They decide to walk through Downtown and make a call to DeNaRes from a pay-phone.
Scene: Ranger station
Theme: Ball of confusion
Gunnarsson has obligingly picked them up from the Euclid Club (where Blue-lips Monroe is playing with the band tonight) and now it’s time to recalibrate and work out what to do next. After finishing the ribs they picked up en route, then a shower and a good sleep!
The morning brings fresh counsel. The Plain Dealer’s front section is full of Street Warfare! It seems that a large-scale bust has scooped up the Corridor Boys three lieutenants – two alive and one dead – and the Commissioner is appropriately depicted supervising packs of heroin being tallied. Cindy Channel’s name is on the byline.
“You ought talk ‘a that woman” – Vic
“She… that woman bad fo’ me. Real bad.” – Cutter.
In the event they lay low at the station for three days.
Scene: St James AME on Cedar
Theme: Living for the city
Rev Mrs Brown is a handsome but severe woman. She is not a welcoming sort when it comes to men with a wandering eye. And she seems to reject the good word Cutter puts in for Arby. But Cutter persists and explains the problem of Charlie Stone and she agrees to do what she can to find out.
Some days later the three are back. Jon parks his now-returned Plymouth well out of the way and they walk to the church.
Charlie Stone has raised a prayer-meeting protest for the evening, outside Antioch Baptist just down the road. The three have tossed up various options for watching, and it seems to them they could get a good view off the St James’ tower.
Rev Mrs Brown is unexpectedly apologetic that she hasn’t contacted them. She’s been distracted. Harassing letters from some legal firm, raising issues about the Church’s title, and conformity to various city ordinances. Cutter nods knowingly and examples her the Phyllis Wheatley. Jon suggests that Esther Jefferson might get together with good counsel with the Reverend, so that is also welcomed.
So the three set themselves up to watch. Dusk comes early at this time of year, and vehicle lights are soon burning. An early crowd begins to assemble down the road, white folk by the look of it.
And they become aware that two separate sniper teams are setting up on rooftops overlooking the protest.
The white hats attending get a drama point for the beat-down, and another for creative investigation. And three xp each after some pleading. Unfortunately it was a very Cutter-centric episode, with lots of social gaming and some Perception checks. Jon had to burn a couple drama points just making sure he drove accurately.
If you are wondering about the damage taken in the beat-down, I narrated it then enforced a drama point spend on ‘wasn’t as bad as it looks’. If you don’t intend to kill the characters then don’t start handing out damage in numbers – at least, not in BtVS!