SWADE Dresden Files Summary and Impressions

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SWADE Dresden Files Summary and Impressions

Post by Venatus Vinco » Sat Dec 29, 2018 8:31 am

SWADE Hot Take

This week we ran a one shot on Roll20 using the Savage World's Adventure Edition (SWADE) ruleset in a homebrew Dresden Files setting. What follows is a summary of our game and impressions of the new edition of Savage Worlds.

Setting Info
For setting information we used the free preview of the The Dresden Files RPG by Evil Hat Games set in Baltimore (aka Nevermore). The adventure was based on the free case file entitled Neutral Grounds from the same publisher.

To capture the feel of the novels, we made use of some new settings rules found in SWADE: Dynamic Backlash, More Skill Points, Hard Choices, and Unarmored Hero (which we renamed “Hardboiled”).

Additionally, each character started out with a GM-assigned hindrance. These were largely done to link the characters to the story in one way or another.

Characters
We had four characters who began play at Seasoned rank:
  • Gary with a G, a slovenly wizard/detective with a passionate dislike of all things Fae.
  • Gregory, an amatuer monster hunter who became infected by a Red Court Vampire but hasn’t yet fully turned.
  • Nyx, an old Winter Court Sidhe who deals in favours and subterfuge.
  • Sammy, a half-fae and thief for hire who can transform into small animals.
You can view our setting info and full character sheets here

Opening Scene
The game opens in Neutral Grounds, a coffee shop and bookstore that caters to the supernatural crowd. It is also “accorded neutral territory”, much like McAnally's Pub in Chicago. As the players enter the shop they find the place riddled with bullet holes and two dead baristas behind the counter. The owner, Dianne, is nowhere to be found.

After a few minutes of investigating, Nyx heads to the back room, where a thug with an uzi is waiting for the group. He opens fire at point blank range, Shaking Nyx. A comedy of errors ensues as the group tries to take the thug alive for questioning. Gregory closes and attacks with his sword, shaking the bad guy. Nyx recovers and uses the new test rules, causing the target to be Distracted. Meanwhile, Sammy turns into a raven and claws at the target's eyes leaving the thug Vulnerable as blood runs down his, face obscuring his vision.

With their target on the ropes, Gregory tries a non-lethal attack, but hits more of the door frame than the thug. After taking cover behind a flipped table, Gary with a G goes for a headshot using a smoke grenade (with the pin still in) like a baseball to try and knock out the target. Gary crit fails! The grenade hits Gregory in the back and it goes off filling the cafe with smoke! The thug can't take advantage, though, and remains Shaken. No one wants to go into the smoke blind and instead Nyx and Gary block the exits so the thug can't flee and Gregory uses his addictive saliva (puppet) to enthrall the thug.

An awkward interrogation ensues as the thug is conflicted between being enthralled by his master and Gregory's mental control. As a result, the thug does what he is told but is not very forthcoming with information. When asked to write down his master's name, for example, the guy uses blood from his bleeding eyes and writes on the wall “M-A-S-T-E-R”. Somewhat frustrated, the group orders the thug to go back to his master and then follows him.
SWADE reflections wrote:The new states were handy and gave a lot more combat options, especially as the group was trying to apprehend and not kill. My original intention was for the thug to burst out of the back and spray the group with bullets before taking off and, hopefully, initiating a chase, but the players blocked his exit really well.
The Apartment Block
The thug leads the group back to an apartment building and into a unit with a kicked in front door. One of the character's recognizes the building as the home of Frank - Dianne's boyfriend. The group sends Gary in first “since he's the fattest”. A man is tied to a chair in the middle of the living room surrounded by a series of magical wards and symbols. Meanwhile, the thug takes off out of the window. Sammy shapeshifts into a bloodhound and follows the thug, leaving the others to deal with the ward trap.

Gary takes the lead on a Dramatic Task using Spellcasting, supported by Nyx and Gregory using Occult. Success is set at 3 tokens for Gary plus one for each supporter, so 5 total over three rounds. Difficulty is -2. In the first round they manage one success! However, on round two Gary critical fails - again! This takes away their one success token and leaves them needing 5 in round 3. They only get 1.

Nyx uses his Fae strength (a really great roll with a few Aces) to just grab the victim, chair and all, and dive out the window. Everyone manages to get out just as the apartment blows to kingdom come. Escaping with some Bumps and Bruises, they stand in the street for a minute with Frank - who is still tied to a chair. Frank is out of it and only mutters one word: “Eric” .

Fire truck sirens can be heard in the distance and the group books it, taking Frank with them, to lay low at someone's apartment. Meanwhile, Sammy follows the thug to Fort McHenry - a historical site in Baltimore that has a tunnel system which runs along the city's ley line. The fort is closed for construction but the thug gets past the park Ranger at the gate and goes inside. Sammy meets up with the group so they can compare notes.
SWADE Reflections wrote: We forgot to deal cards for the dramatic task, which meant a Club draw could have made things even worse. Given how bad the results were it didn't matter much. The dramatic task system feels better. Assigning tokens, with guidelines for how many you should have per leader and helper, is very helpful. It also seems harder to blow through the task in one round like it did before. To make this even less likely you can mix up the skills needed for each round. For Sammy, we used a quick encounter roll, opposed Athletics, for him to successfully follow the thug. It got the job done.
Pounding the Pavement
After comparing notes, the group determines Frank is speaking about “Eric McCollough,” a creepy stalker/wizard who is obsessed with Dianne. Gary, Nyx, and Sammy use their connections to learn more about Eric while Gregory stakes out the Fort to see what's up.

Gary and Nyx use the “Busting Heads” approach. Gary hits up the local Wizarding community and finds out that Eric is into dark magic and love potions. Nyx screws up calling in a favour among the Winter Fae and ends up getting punched in the face by a troll for another level of Bumps and Bruises. He calls in another favour to find someone to cast relief (I just charged him a benny for that; remember, in this setting player bennies go into the GM’s pile).

Sammy goes the Persuasion route and is able to find out where Eric lives and other personal details.

At the Fort, Gregory realizes it's a real happening place for the supernatural community. The tunnels seems to be a superhighway to the NeverNever. He tries getting in, but Park Ranger Smith sends him packing. After some searching, Gregory finds some other entrances (all alarmed) and waits for the team.

Before meeting up with Gregory, the rest of the group stops by Eric's apartment. It is protected by wards, but to avoid another fiasco we handle it as a quick encounter opposed by Eric's Spellcasting. Gary, supported by the others, succeeds - barely. Inside, the apartment smells like death and the walls are covered with pictures of Dianne and maps of the tunnels under Fort McHenry. There's also a dead guy lying on the couch!

Nyx tries to search the dead guy, who pops awake. He's a zombie! A quick encounter ensues with Gary and Nyx distracting the Zombie while Sammy beats its head in with a staff he found in the apartment. Turns out, Eric is planning on using a ritual on the ley line at Fort McHenry to make Dianne his love slave. After grabbing a map of Eric's location in the tunnels, the group gets into a “heated” debate about setting the apartment on fire - really it's just the other two trying to convince Gary that's a dumb idea. Cooler heads prevail, and everyone rendezvous at the Fort.
SWADE Impressions wrote: The new networking rules are really great. They created an entire scene built around investigation and role play. In fact, so far there has only been one real fight scene (in the opening) yet there's still been a lot of adventure. Quick encounters are very handy for resolving conflicts and moving the story forward. They also are flexible enough to handle a variety of situations.
Dungeon Crawl
At the fort, the team debates bypassing the alarm on a locked door or getting past the park ranger. They ultimately use a very clever solution: Nyx uses the disguise power on Gary to make him look like a park ranger. Gary then uses Persuasion to convince the guard her boss needs to see her. After she takes off, the group heads into the fort and down into the tunnels.

Gregory's player had to bail at this point, so he stays outside. The rest of the group eventually comes to a long, narrow tunnel full of zombies waiting in the dark. Sammy shape changes into a cat and sneaks past them to get a head count and see what lies ahead. The only way in is through the zombies.

Gary uses the wizard edge to put smite with a lingering damage fire trapping on everyone's weapons (we called it magic napalm). I gave a synergy of +2 damage to zombies from fire to help account for a missing player. We had an awesome quick combat heading down the hallway where everyone succeeded and had great narration of the scene. This lead us to the antechamber and the final showdown with Eric the Evil Guy.
SWADE Impressions wrote: Again, Quick Encounters shined here. Also, the Wizard edge is very handy, and allowing Gary to choose the trappings for his smite power meant he could tailor the damage type to the opposition. Power Modifiers also added a neat touch, as the lingering damage was not only beneficial, but a fantastic visual for fighting zombies in a dark narrow tunnel.
Big Bad Evil Guy
In classic fashion Eric, has Dianne tied down on a platform while his mooks engage the players. The group gets pinned down in the entryway by zombies and thugs with uzis. Unfortunately, the zombies prove unable to hurt anybody (GMs, give them weapons or at least claws) and the smited weapons are deadly. Sammy makes some amazing Double Tap headshots on zombies while Nyx uses the arcane protection power on everyone before Eric can join the fight. Eventually, Eric fires a massive blast into the entryway, catching Sammy and Gary for a wound. Both heroes soak (with the unarmored Gary getting a boost from our Hard Boiled setting rule) The arcane protection power is massively helpful here, otherwise the blast would have been very deadly. Gary gets up close with Eric, who shrugs off a blow from a bangstick, then puppets Gary. Meanwhile Sammy shape shifts into a bird and flies toward Dianne (and behind Eric and the remaining uzi-toting thug).

Enthralled Gary is commanded to go after Nyx - not requiring another roll since Gary hates Fae anyway. He doesn't manage to use his cold iron smite power to hit Nyx, but does use the new grappling rules to entangle him. With Gary enthralled and Nyx entangled, Eric turns his attention to Sammy, attempting to puppet him as well. Again, the arcane protection power plays a huge role in saving Sammy from enslavement (and the group from a TPK). Sammy steps out from a pillar and double taps Eric for a massive hit. While Eric is wounded Sammy, holds the gun on him and forces surrender.

Beaten, Eric backs down. Dianne is freed and Gary takes her back to Frank (much to Sammy's disappointment; his GM-assigned Hindrance is Jealousy of Frank over Dianne’s affections). Nyx volunteers to take Eric to the Winter Court to face trial for breaking the Accords (although the old dealmaker does so with a twinkle in his eye). But Dianne is free and Eric contained, for now at least. So the day is saved.
SWADE Impressions wrote: The new powers played a big roll, particularly arcane protection. As the GM playing the big bad, being able to put a lot of “oomph” behind the blast power was great. Also, with no option to evade the group was stuck once they were lined up. The Hard Choices setting rule made this fight hard as the GM was sitting on a stack of bennies and each time the players used one during the scene I got it to use against them. Nasty stuff. It was great to see options for non-combat characters to contribute. Nyx only killed one zombie but his magic and support rolls contributed to a number of successes. Double Tap was a great edge for our pistol packing thief and Gary's magic also upped the damage done by everyone.

One thing I found kind of cheeky was switching weapons as a free action. Generally I think drawing guns or readying a weapon is fine as a free action. However, in melee a player was able to switch between a gun and a melee weapon without any penalty. Good for the player but kind of takes away some impact from the unarmed defender rules.
Conclusion
Overall, the new rules played fast and gave this investigative/procedural game a lot more texture beyond fighting. I like how it felt and the number of options in the GM and player toolboxes made for multiple ways to approach a scenario. First impression was a good impression.
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Re: SWADE Dresden Files Summary and Impressions

Post by Venatus Vinco » Sat Dec 29, 2018 3:05 pm

Added this Epilogue to wrap up some loose ends for the players.

Epilogue
After an awkward conversation with her supervisor, Ranger Smith returned to her post to find it abandoned. Shaking her head she just mutters, “Asshole” , while vowing to castrate the fake Ranger if she ever saw him again.

No one heard the fighting deep in the tunnels under the fort. Any noise was chalked up to the construction underway at the site. Eric's goon showed them a hidden way out, which would come in handy the next time the tunnels were needed.

The murders at the coffee shop didn't even make the front page. The newspapers said it was a robbery gone bad. A meth head with an uzi shot up a local establishment. In Baltimore that's not very unusual. No mention of a deranged wizard, a damsel in distress, or zombies. As usual the world only saw what it wanted to see.

The so-called gas explosion at an apartment in Hamden didn't even make the mainstream media, but a local blogger picked it up. Apparently, everyone in the building was at work, and the security cameras were on the fritz. The occupant declined to comment. Good old Frank, he never did say much. In fact, he never really spoke again after his ordeal and drifted away from Dianne - hopefully leaving the door open for Sammy to catch her on the rebound.

At Neutral Grounds, everyone knew how a local stalker-wizard violated the accords. Although no one knew what happened to him. Some said he was executed by the White Council for violating the laws of Magic, others said Queen Mab was showing him what happens to people who break her agreements. It was hotly debated which result was preferable. Nyx knew that the Queen had Eric and that she was grateful for having first crack at him, and second and third cracks as well.

For her part, Dianne appreciated being saved and Greg, Sammy, Gary, and Nyx enjoyed coffee on the house anytime they visited. She also threw some work their way from time to time. Stuff that was better kept under wraps and away from mortal eyes.
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Re: SWADE Dresden Files Summary and Impressions

Post by Venatus Vinco » Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:09 pm

Savage Dresden 2nd Roll20 Session (March 29, 2019)

This week we held our second live session using Savage Worlds Adventure Edition (SWADE) rule set in a homebrew Dresden Files setting. We play our sessions once a quarter with intervening narrative play happening via play-by-post.

Characters
We have four characters:
  • Gary with a G, a slovenly wizard/detective with a passionate dislike of all things Fae.
  • Gregory, an amatuer monster hunter who became infected by a Red Court Vampire but hasn’t yet fully turned.
  • Nyx, an old Winter Court Sidhe who deals in favours and subterfuge.
  • Sammy, a half-fae and thief for hire who can transform into small animals.

Setting Info
You can view our setting info and full character sheets here.

Set-Up
The group has come together after getting individually embroiled in a problem of potentially epic proportions - two Fae, one summer one winter, have been killed and their hearts removed!

The Queens of both courts are irate and want the culprits found and the hearts recovered. Fae hearts are extremely powerful magical components and the dark magic they unleash could have far reaching consequences. The Summer Knight has given Gary 48 hours to figure it out, or he takes the blame. On the winter side, Lady Maeve has tasked Nyx with finding the culprit.
Meanwhile, Sammy and Gregory have stumbled upon the conspiracy through other avenues.

Read the lead up adventures here.

To help keep things straight I gave the players a notebook summarizing clues so far.

Opening Scene
The session opens with the characters gathered at Neutral Grounds, the accorded neutral territory in the city of Baltimore. Each of them took a turn to give an in character account of what they have seen so far. This was really well done by each of them and generated a lot of cross talk, speculation, and interaction. In the end they decide to go back to the Italian bakery where Sammy last saw the Red Court vampires and start following leads from there.

Investigation
Each character spread out to follow-up on various leads, bringing the info back to Gregory - their lead investigator - to try and piece together what is going on.

Sammy beat the streets and found a low level criminal contact. The contact was super nervous, but did say there was a high level of Russian mafia activity lately. Before he could get too much more in the way of details he got shot at by some mob enforcers and had to beat a hasty retreat.

Nyx did some magical research going to occult shops and local magic users to try and find out what kind of ritual could be done with Fae hearts. He discovered Fae hearts were powerful objects of glamor and binding meaning they could be used in massive illusions or mind control type rituals.

Gary staked out the Italian bakery watching it and asking questions of the staff and proprietors while eating an ungodly amount of their world famous cannoli. He managed to determine that the bakery is neutral grounds for the criminal underworld. It's used for meet-ups, exchanges, and other interactions between various factions of the underworld. Unfortunately, someone got wise to him and slipped something into his food, giving him a level of fatigue.

Gregory, armed with information from the others looks into the kidnapping of the woman name Aspen. Interestingly, there is no mention of it in the mainstream press. Only the local Arcane Reporter seems to be asking what has happened to the girl. This suggests someone is making an orchestrated attempt to cover their tracks, even with the media and police.

Moving on from the bakery, Gary wanted to check-in with Dr. Ralston at John Hopkins who is clued into the supernatural. He pulled his Desert Eagle and asked someone to shoot him so he could have an excuse to see the Doc in the emergency room. The others convinced him that just asking for her at the front desk would be easier. Turns out she worked with dead bodies in the morgue, so the Desert Eagle approach may not have been effective. The doctor gave Gary the lowdown on how to sustain a Fae heart in the human world to keep it from turning to ectoplasma. Keep it pumping. In this case using magic instead of blood. She also searched the hospital records and found two heart transplant boxes were missing from inventory. On his way out Gary grabbed a random pill, popping it with the hopes it would relieve his stomach pain from the cannoli incident.

Following-up on the Russian mafia angle Sammy tried to find someone he knew with ties to them. He succeeded in tracking someone down and discovered that a lot of the activity centered around the old dockside and someone big-time was pulling the strings. Of course, Sammy didn't have time to find out much more as the gangsters who were tailing him gave chase and he had to run away (again), ending up fatigued after his daring parkour get away.

Having a general sense of what the ritual was about Nyx popped into the Never Never to talk to an old Fae to try and zero in on the specific nature of this ritual, where it involved not one but two hearts. The old Fae suggested that by having hearts from the two courts the ritual was definitely about power and control rather than an illusion. Moving in and out of the Never Never to meet his contact took its toll and Nyx ended up Fatigued but informed.

Gregory used his encyclopedic knowledge of lore and inquired if the red cross markings on the box might has referred to the crusading knights of the Hospital and the mystic Templars. Everyone stared at him awkwardly for a few minutes to figure out how exactly that helped.

With the knowledge of a magical box used to sustain the heart Gary returned to the bakery and used magic to track the Red Cross box to the docks.

At the docks, Nyx beat up a homeless person to find out about any strange activity. The street person claimed he is only homeless because some hipsters and gangsters took over his home, an old abandoned dockside warehouse where he was squatting. Nyx promised the old guy he would get his house back and dropped him a dollar bill.

Knowing the building Sammy flew over the warehouse in the form of an owl, spotting a guard on the roof and some faint lights leaking out from an intentionally blacked out window. This looked like the place.

With the group's Intel confirming his research Gregory gave the okay to move in and the group prepared to breach the warehouse.
Mechanics
We set this up as a modified Mass Battle between the players and the perpetrators. One player took the lead and was supported by the actions of the others. The culprit was supported by their minions. Gregory had the best Research skill so he took the lead. Because the players are up against a powerful well resourced enemy they started with 7 tokens and the bad guys had 10.

As each player took their actions we narrated the results and then I wove in the actions of the enemy to show how they were work against the players.

After about three rounds we had a tie in number of tokens and felt like we narrated ourselves to a critical juncture, so we went Quick Encounters to a full Tactical level encounter at the warehouse.
Warehouse Showdown
With good evidence that the warehouse is where the Russian mafia, and maybe Red Court vampires, were holding Aspen - the magical component expert who went missing the same time as the hearts - the team decided to move in.

Sammy used his shapeshifting power to turn into a rat and confirm six suspected Red Court vampires. He located the girl and a half dozen zoned out Russian gangsters in a storage room with no additional exits. Outside, Gregory briefed the group on how to fight Red Court types. A briefing Sammy missed while on recon, which may factor in later.

Woefully unequipped to fight vampires Nyx used his connections in the faerie world to summon a pixie who agreed to go and find holy symbols for the whole group. Each person, except Gregory who is a half vampire himself, put on their symbols (Gregory did get a charm that granted +2 armor). The group decided to use the disguise power to approach the warehouse while Sammy snuck back into the storage room to free the girl. What they couldn't agree on was what to disguise themselves as. It came down to Russian gangsters or prostitutes. They took the compromise position and disguised themselves as Russian prostitutes!

With the ladies of the night knocking on the door the greedy Red Court immediately let the girls in, and Sammy made his way to the room. Without wasting any time Gregory, Nyx, and Gary started a fight with six red court vampires.

The initial round was powering up, Gary used smite on everyone's weapon so they could hurt the vampires and Nyx used boost trait on everyone's fighting to help hit the agile bloodsuckers. Meanwhile the vampires tried to grab the three prostitutes but failed their Spirit tests and were held at bay by the holy symbols. The next couple of rounds were a stand off as the holy symbols prevented the vampires from attacking in melee and their two pistol shooters were largely ineffective. Gregory, who was unprotected, took a wound from his vampire. None of the three heroes could hit or hurt the vamps.

In the room, Sammy got the girl free but had to break the grip of the gangsters who were zoned out but asking to be freed as well. Sensing the commotion in the room the lead vampire moved to block the only exit. Sammy promptly double tapped him in the chest - to no effect. Trapped in the room and with the team in a standoff it looked like Sammy might have no way out.

Seeing trouble the group tried to fight their way toward Sammy but to no effect. Gary critical failed! Remember that little pill he took for his stomach ache earlier? Well it worked. His fatigue went away but the pill made him crap his pants!

Undeterred Gary intimidated the vampire leader from across the room, making him vulnerable as he turned to see who dared speak to him that way. Seeing an opening Nyx hit the leader with a massive ice bolt, right in his stomach (the weak point of Red Court vampires). The ice froze the blood in its belly and the vampire howled in pain (3 wounds, failed two soak attempts). The vampire shed his skin suit and tried to retreat. As he did Sammy zipped by and out a window with the girl. Seeing the leader run, Gregory made a one in a million knife throw and killed him outright. With their leader down the other vamps fled leaving the group in an empty warehouse with a girl, a room full or Russian gangster cattle, and no heart boxes to be found!

More mystery and adventure awaits.
Mechanics
This was a straight up fight using SWADE. The new states (Vulnerable) were critical for success here.

For the vampires I used the the basic Vampire from the Bestiary adding a special weakness that called shots to the stomach could bypass their invulnerability.

The mechanic for keeping them at bay with holy items pretty much saved the day for the group and bought enough time to take down the leader and get the victim.
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Re: SWADE Dresden Files Summary and Impressions

Post by Venatus Vinco » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:17 am

Savage Dresden 3rd Roll20 Session (July 12th 2019)

On Friday night we had our third Roll20 session using SWADE in a homebrew Dresden Files universe.

We were down to three players:
  • Sammy, a self described dashing and fearless changling thief
  • Gregory, a Red Court Infected monster hunter
  • Gary (with a G), a wizard and thuggish private investigator
Since our last session we continued playing by post to keep the story moving. The group managed to get clear of a cross fire between an unknown assassin and Baltimore Police Department patrol boat after rescuing Aspen, a ritualist who knew the purpose of the two hearts spell, from Red Court Vampires and Russian gangsters. All of these people were supposed to die in the warehouse to cover up loose ends for the real culprits behind the missing hearts - White Court Vampires.

Questioning Aspen revealed that the spell is designed to give control over places of power and influence. She was working for a low level city councilman named Nate Fisher to set the spell at city hall. Fisher was from Sandtown and known to hang out at a local dive bar called, originally enough, “Sandy’s”.

Knowing the target (City Hall) and patsy (Fisher) the group took some time to rest. Afterward Gary and Sammy went to Sandy’s to shakedown Fisher while Gregory (unavailable at the start of our session) went off to use his janitorial access to scope out city hall.

Go Pound Sand
Sandy’s is a dive bar whose main menu items are desperation and despair. Smoke hangs thickly in the air and most people look like they are there to escape life in one way or another - drinking, carousing, gambling, you name it. This is the ugly side of the city to be sure. In classic fashion Fisher is in a booth at the back surrounded thugs. The incorrigible Sammy offers to make a business proposition and Fisher sends the thugs over to the bar. Unfortunately, as soon as the conversation turns to the missing hearts Fisher clams up and the signals the thugs back over.

Four tough guys surround Sammy and Gary itching for a fight while Fisher bolts out the back door into the alley behind the bar. Sammy manages to keep a couple of thugs busy while Gary beats them down with his blackjack. We used a Quick Encounter for this and Gary rolled really high making quick work of the bandits and good narration of the fight.

With the thugs subdued Gary and Sammy run after Fisher. Instead of a chase we use three rounds of quick encounters using opposed Athletics rolls (Sammy vs. Fisher with Gary supporting). In character Sammy shape shifts into a Rottweiler and begins running after Fisher. Gary recognizing he is much too fat to chase anyone down supports Sammy with his spellcasting. First round Sammy closes the gap and nips at Fisher’s heels as the slumlord politician exits the alley onto the sidewalk. Next round, Fisher rolls amazingly well and crosses the street just head of a slew of oncoming cars forcing Sammy to pause before giving chase. Last round, Sammy wins and takes Fisher down. People on the street see the dog attack but Gary comes huffing up and convinces everyone to go into an all night diner to talk a little more. With Sammy the Rottweiler baring his teeth Fisher agrees.

Mechanical Note on the Pseudo Chase: The Acrobat edge came in real handy allowing Sammy a free reroll on his Athletics checks. It fit well with the narrative as you could imagine him in dog form ducking, weaving, dodging, and leaping to catch up to his opponent.

Unwilling to reveal his ability to transform, Sammy stays as a dog. The waitress makes a stink about no pets but given the look of everyone lets it go. The group orders coffee and a plate of bacon for the dog. Meanwhile, Fisher spills his guts. He is working for “some pretty looking dude” who wanted a room underneath the council chambers at city hall. In exchange, Fisher would get reach and be given a prominent position in the administration. Gary convinces Fisher to take them to the room underneath city hall...in Fisher’s car!

They all pile into Fisher’s tricked out 1970s Impala and low ride it through Baltimore to city hall. Gary and Sammy both make Notice checks to spot a plain sedan following them. Gary uses boost trait to up his driving and we make opposed driving rolls to lose the tail. The tail car rolls a critical failure and ends up missing a corner and rolling up onto the curb allowing Gary a clean getaway.

Kids in the Hall
Rolling up to city hall Gary and Sammy meet up with Gregory, they use Gregory’s janitor pass and Fisher’s keys to get into the building and head downstairs. Fisher identifies the room, one Gregory recognizes from an earlier run in with Red Court vampires. Gary knocks Fisher out and stuffs him in a janitor's closet. Unfortunately, before they can open the ritual room Sammy (the impulsive thief) finds the Central Accounting room and breaks in. An alarm keypad beeps giving the group thirty seconds to disarm it. Thanks to Sammy’s amazing electronics/thievery roll and Gary’s magical assistance they manage to bypass the alarm. Inside the accounting office they break into the room where the parking meter money is counted and Sammy pockets a few rolls of quarters. Gregory looks for pre-1968 quarters to try and salvage them for silver weapons. He doesn’t find nearly enough.

While all this is going on Fisher escapes the janitor’s closet and calls his White Court handler. Sideshow completed the team enters the ritual room. It has obviously been prepared for a powerful spell a silver circle has been worked into the floor and two pedestals have been set-up. No doubt the resting place for the hearts needed for the spell.

Gregory gets the idea to mess up the ritual by making it look undisturbed using melted down quarters from accounting to replace the silver. Sammy and Gary head outside to buy him time. Thanks to Sammy’s recon, in the shape of an owl circling city hall, they get spot a single very attractive man heading toward them. Gary jumps in the Impala and tries to run him down but the super nimble man leaps on top of the car and starts pounding through the roof. Sammy lands and shoots out a tire trying to send the car spinning in order to throw the man loose. Instead Gary ends up dazed in the front seat and the man rips the car door off its hinges. Still firing Sammy pumps the man full of lead wounding him twice, but he takes the hit and plays on Gary’s despair trying to puppet Gary. They both roll stupidly low but it works and it becomes obvious this is a White Court vampire who feeds on despair. The vampire orders Gary to take out Sammy. Fortunately Gary breaks free but not before a whole convoy of expensive SUVs come rolling up to city hall. The group quickly decides to regroup at Neutral Grounds coffee. Gregory watches from cover outside City Hall and Sammy transforms again to watch the place while Gary waddles down the street trying to get away. They grab some license plate numbers and spot an attractive vampire, who they later learn is Alexandra Lagios, the power hungry heir apparent to the local White Court. The vampires check on their spell room then leave quickly.

As Gary puffs down the sidewalk the sedan from earlier pulls up and tells him to get in. Gary needs a ride so he takes the risk. Turns out the driver is Sgt. Jim Flannagan, the Baltimore PD boat driver who saved the group from would-be assassination the night before. Flannagan has seen some weird stuff and after watching the assassin jump off a building and run away he knew to follow Gary and learn more.

An Uneasy Truce
At Neutral Grounds the team starts comparing notes and gets some local occult information from Dianne, the shop’s proprietor and local font of supernatural knowledge, while Flannagan runs the plates. Flannagan links the plates to a company owned by the Lagios family while Dianne tell the group that Alexandra is known to be impatient for power. If she has the hearts then her intention is to use them to gain control of city hall and, quite possibly, use that as a sign of her father’s weakness so she can take over the White Court in Baltimore.

Unsure how to take on a powerful ancient vampire, Gary calls in Fix - the Summer Knight who gave him forty-eight hours to solve the case. They lay out the case to Fix who nods. He doesn’t want to see Alexandra running the White Court, especially given how willing she is to violate the Unseelie Accords. Fix arranges a meeting with Vasiliki Lagios the two hundred year old leader of the White Court in Baltimore.

The group, accompanied by Flannagan representing mortal law enforcement and Fix representing the Fae courts, makes a meeting with Vasiliki. The old man listens to their evidence and eventually agrees to reign in his daughter and destroy the fae hearts. He also generously allows Gregory, Gary, and Sammy to live. However, his daughter will quickly learn who foiled her plans. It is certain they have also made a powerful enemy.

The case is solved but the resolution is far from neat and tidy.
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