Monday, January 14, 2013

Game Notes and Spies

I ran the first session of Night's Black Agents yesterday. Rather than letting the write-up bounce around my brain's to-do list for a week like I have of late, I'm gonna do it now, and then take some notes for the MHR game I'm running tonight, and then probably build a fire in my kitchen because it's fucking cold in here.

Moving on!

Well, although my last entry was some notes on the game itself, I realized that I didn't talk at all about the characters. So:


  • John Smith, ex-NSA spook, trained as muscle, bag-n-burner and an asset handler. Smokes a cigar at the completion of a mission (Symbol), sees his landlady Rossa (in Barcelona) as a source of Solace, and has a Safety refuge in his summer house in Zurich. 
  • Wolfgang von Hanover, formerly of the BSI, trained as a cobbler and bagman. Carries a silver mark (Symbol), has a brother named Fritz (Solace), and a nice family hunting cabin in the Alps (Safety). 
  • Delia Lockwood, formerly with the IRA, a black bagger, cuckoo and hacker (the player is trying very hard to keep her distinct from Clarice Focault, her character in my Edge of Midnight  game). Delia carries her mom's rosary (Symbol), has a younger sister named Sharon (Solace) and a beach house in the south of Spain (Safety). 
  • Amelie Rousseau, formerly of the French Police Nationale. Amelie is an investigator, analyst and watcher. She holds on to a label from her father's vineyard (Symbol), has an 8-year-old niece named Jacqueline in Normandy, and enjoys staying at a hotel in Morocco (Safety). 
  • Saul David, original of Moussad. Saul has a photo of his dead brother (Symbol), confides in Samuel, a bartender (Solace) and has a condo in Punta Cana (Safety). 
As I mentioned in the notes, I ran (S)Entries, the starter in the NBA book. An aside: I really like it, because it assumes that you're going to write up your own vampire conspiracy and leaves room to tailor things accordingly. 

So we start off in Croatia, as the characters arrive at a little motel to take a meeting with a fixer name Georg Rudek. They arrive severally, and the folks who hadn't met introduce themselves (most of them know Wolfgang, as he's prepared papers for them in the past). In retrospect, I wish I'd milked this scene a little more and had the players be more specific about how they were contacted and so on, but hey. 

So then Rudek arrives, and presents the operation: The characters are to steal a laptop computer from Brigadier-General Malcolm Lennart, a Canadian working for NATO. He's leaving Sarajevo in six days, flying home to Canada, and Rudek's principals want it stolen before then. After that, they make contact with Anton Dedopovic and travel into the Serbian zone of Sarajevo to deliver the goods and get their remaining cash. They don't want Lennart killed, necessarily, because that will put scrutiny on what he was doing.

And what's he doing? Rudek doesn't know (and it isn't relevant anyway). Some of the characters speculate Lennart may have stumbled upon a Bosnian or Serbian war criminal and he's playing it close to the vest, for whatever reason. But Rudek notes that he's taking that laptop home every night and he hasn't filed any reports, so that's a breach of protocol. 

Rousseau calls up a contact she knows in the area for dirt on Rudek and Dedopovic. Rudek, she says, is pretty much a standard fixer; in the pocket of the Russian mob, but sticks to his word. Dedopovic, however, is a killer, rapist, war criminal and all-around bastard, but he does stay bought, at least for the duration of a given job. This does not fill Rousseau with joy, but the operation continues. 

The characters head to Sarajevo and do their intel. Lennart is pretty clean; not much money, steady girl in Alberta to whom he remains faithful, and a pretty boring life. No addictions or unsavory appetites, and no way to buy him or pressure him easily. Smith notes that he was supposed to finish out his NATO training in Naples, but requested a transfer to Sarajevo (the characters guess this may have had something to do with his investigation). Rousseau obtains a nondescript delivery van and spies on his house, noting the security system, while Smith reactivates an old Cover identity of his (William Hayne, an American solider working for NATO) and has Hanover forge him some new papers. He goes on base to watch Lennart there. 

From all this, the team builds up a pretty good picture Lennart's schedule. Lockwood breaks in one morning before the cleaning lady gets there and plants bugs and cameras, and hacks his Internet connection so they can see what he's looking at. They find that the data on the laptop is locked up pretty tight, but he seems to be using online searches for information about a variety of topics, many of them energy or electricity related. 

The characters decide to build a clone of the laptop with some identically named files, but corrupted data. They accomplish this (and I gotta say, I love Tactical Tag-Team Benefits), and then David mixes up a knockout drug and has Lockwood put it on Lennart's toothbrush. He falls asleep in bed, Lockwood breaks in, swaps the computers, washes the place for all her bugs, and leaves.

They watch him the next day (making sure that he doesn't have any copies), but Lennart leaves work in the middle of the day, comes home and makes a call, which turns out to be an order to move his flight to Canada up. The team initially suspects he's got copies stashed with his girl in Alberta, but nothing else supports that - he doesn't have the training to do online stash safely, and he hasn't sent anything overseas in a long while. The characters decide they're done (and figure if Dedopovic wants to have them go to Canada to follow up, that's a new deal they can negotiate). 

They look into the area where the dropoff is supposed to happen - it's a cemetery, and a good place for an ambush. Rousseau half-heartedly reminds everyone that Dedopovic supposedly is good for the job, and they make contact.

Next time, we'll run the drop. 

And now, notes for Marvel

Well, last time, the characters went through a portal to Inquis, discovered it was overrun with plants, found the temple of that world's Sorcerer Supreme, fought a bunch of robots, and then triggered something at the end, there, by revealing that Pink absorbed the invigoration ray. 

I have to be mindful of time, here. I want two Action Scenes, but I don't want to box myself into rushing the last bit of the game. I also don't want to make the game about Pink specifically, because she doesn't really carry the power to fix everything (despite Arcanix' belief that she's the chosen one). I think, then, that the opening scene should be escaping from the temple, just to get the characters some plot points and building the doom pool a little more (right now it's 3d10, 2d8). So let's say that the "wave of moss" coming in has:

Solo 3d8
Giant Wave of Moss
Can Strike from Anywhere!
Hungry for Invigoration

Power Set: 
Superhuman Strength d10
Stretching d8
Spore Cloud d8
Superhuman Durability d10

SFX: Area Attack, Invulnerable (Mental Stress)

So then, after they beat the wave of moss or escape, they need to find a way to reverse the process on Inquis or cut Inquis off from Earth. So I figure they need a brief scene of investigation (if they manage to save the Sorcerer Supreme dude, he can help), and then they need to find a central power source.

The Phylum probably doesn't have a central, "head moss," as much as I'd like to make it easy for the characters. As such, they're probably best served by attacking this by freeing the Inquis, coming up with an antidote. The Inquis medical center, where all of their healing tech was developed, has been untouched for years (the machines that sterilize the place are still working, and so the Phylum found it easier just to avoid the place). The characters can find their way there, and come up with some technology to cleanse the Phylum from the Inquis. And then it's just a matter of distributing it over the whole bloody planet, but I'll let them figure that out. 

I think that if need a final battle, I can use the stats from the Inquis guards from last time. I think we can make that work.