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Mage: Pentacle City (Actual Play)

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  • #16
    Interlude, the Trovato Crime Family
    Sharing some notes while I prepare for tomorrow's session

    I prepared a document for Aaron, who plays Scipio Tonelli, with the details about the crime family that he works for. While I'm going over my notes I thought that I'd share this with people reading this actual play in case the details are important later on in the story, or just for added depth.

    First of all a chart of the chain of command.

    The Boss: Joseph Trovato. (Picture).

    Great grandson of the original Don Trovato who came to America, Joseph has faced the challenges of steering the family into the new millennium. He is generally respected for balancing the values of modernizing their practices while preserving the core of what it meant to be a 'Gentleman of Respect'. Joseph worked his way up as an under boss while his father attempted to rule the family from prison. His father died in prison before his release and Joseph stepped into the position easily.

    While he is a tough man and has survived through a great deal of violence he is known more amongst the family for his intelligence and planning. He has no objection to resolving problems through diplomacy, negotiation and compromise. While he preserves the family honour he never treats it as fragile or at risk.

    Even the other criminals of the city respect him and he is often seen in a guiding position of leadership and coordination.

    The Advisor: Lorenzo Mastrangelo. (Picture).

    Joseph Trovato's uncle. Lorenzo has worked with the family for a long time and despite being well respected and knowing every aspect of the business has always been content to serve the current boss loyally. When Joseph's father died, Lorenzo's support immediately had the family's backing completely behind Joseph and his inheritance was unquestioned. Lorenzo is quiet and rarely seen by most of the family, his advice is usually for Joseph alone. When he needs a message sent to a member of the family it almost always goes through Damiano Sinagra, the underboss. Beyond his position most of the family know nothing about Lorenzo. He
    never speaks of family, friends or of much in the way of interests. Whether he lacks them or simply is good at concealing his secrets still isn't known.

    The Underboss: Damiano Sinagra. (Picture).

    Sometimes called the statue, Sinagra is cold, uncaring and endlessly patient. He seems a dark mirror to the warmth and charm that Joseph has as a boss. While no one within the family really likes him, they usually end up respecting him and just as frequently fearing him. There are all sorts of rumours about Sinagra but none have been confirmed. His reputation includes being accused of sexual deviancies of one form or another, a lust for violence that thaws his cold demeanour or even plotting against the boss. Joseph however appears to trust his underboss to remain loyal and continues to run most of the organisation through him.

    The Priest: Nicolo Patroni. (Picture).

    If you're part of the family, you're a catholic. This is a matter of definition and a catholic must confess their sins. Nicolo is another uncle of Joseph Trovato and provides a vital service to every single member of the family. He is the priest that will absolve you of your sins and offer you redemption for those dark deeds that you must do in the name of the family. How he deals with the sins that fall upon his own head is a matter he doesn't discuss, but he provides comfort and counsel to anyone who follows the Trovato. He may not seem like part of the crime family but he is the one who guards their immortal souls.

    The Wife: Celestino Trovato. (Picture).

    When Joseph's first wife became pregnant, her over protective husband insisted that she should have the best of care and attend all the classes and best clinics possible. She accepted, possible to get away from his excitement for a little bit of a break and met Celestino. The two immediately struck up a friendship and eventually Celestino met Joseph. Rumours about what happened next go wild but not so wild as Joseph's response to anyone he catches spreading them.
    In rapid succession Joseph's wife (while still pregnant) and Celestino's husband died. Soon afterwards Joseph married Celestino and she appears to be the love of his life. She avoids direct engagement with the family's work, maintaining a more traditional and conservative gender role in the family.

    The Stepson: Gianmarco Sartori. (Picture).

    Although Joseph raised Celestino's child by her first husband he was never the favourite. It is clear to everyone that he is the stepson, down to keeping his father's surname. Despite this Gianmarco has worked with the family and proven himself to be eager to help and useful. Most of the cappos and soldiers of the family
    like working with him, even though he has a lot to learn and is still considered quite 'soft'. This dedication appears unnoticed by his father though who very rarely pays much heed to his wife's first child. The lack of attention has not stopped Gianmarco seeking his stepfather's approval.

    The son: Martin Trovato. (Picture).

    Even his father, clearly blinded by family affection has noticed that his only son has become quite spoiled by years of receiving almost anything he wanted. This might be why Joseph has never tried to declare Martin as his heir. Regardless Martin likes parties, drugs, drag racing and anything that can give him a wild night. He's charming in the short term but most of the family no longer fall victim to his smile and instead tolerate him and his frequent embarrassments only out of loyalty to Joseph.

    The Cappo: Alessio “Lardo” Pappalardo. (Picture).

    Not your typical Cappo, Lardo is an accountant and bureaucrat through and through. However his complete dedication, loyalty and talent has put him in charge of running a team of “soldiers” who themselves are more along the lines of lawyers, businessmen and bureaucrats. Their efforts though make sure that the family has all of the money it could ever desire and thus Lardo won a certain amount of respect with the family. A lot of that was respect was lost over his weight. Formerly he was obese but even now that he's lost almost all of the weight the family continues to mock him with the nickname “Lardo”.

    The Cappo: Domenic Lupo. (Picture).

    This captain rules over the sex industry of the Borough almost completely. He has one of the largest teams of soldiers and even more associates under his command. Despite only being a Cappo, the size of his portfolio shows the power he wields within the family and many believe that he is a strong contender to one day become the boss. Competitors who enter his turf discover that he is ruthless, brutal and tolerates no competition whatsoever.

    The Cappo: Ricardo Arico. (Picture).

    Despite a cheerful and unassuming demeanour Ricardo conceals a razor sharp intellect in the scientific fields. Where other criminals may be cunning or clever, he is without a doubt a true genius. From a poor family he supported his way through university with his job as an enforcer for the family. He became a made man at around the same time he became Dr Arico PHD. It didn't take long for him to be placed in command of the drug import and manufacture branches of the family and made a Cappo. However he still remains more suited in some ways to academic uses of his intelligence and struggles to master the cunning leadership his position requires.

    The Cappo: Sebastiano “Il Generale”. (Picture).

    He may be a captain in the family however everyone knows him as the general. While every other Cappo rules a particular easy to establish area of the family's
    interests, the general is considered in charge of all acts of violence that the family needs. Underneath him are enforcers, hitmen and soldiers ready to go to
    war when needed. The family sometimes sells these services to outsiders, although the cost is always high. He is quiet, direct and to the point. Despite his gruff demeanour he is often friendly until something switches him into work mode. Then to the most observant it seems like something behind his eyes shifts and you are no longer looking at Sebastiano but the general himself instead.


    • #17
      Session Two: Locating the Target

      Important NPCs

      Lincoln Grant: Number one associate Kept out of becoming a Made Man by not being of Italian heritage, Lincoln has been an associate of the Trovato crime family for quite a while. His talent and dedication sees him given a great deal of respect. In some ways he's the fifth Cappo, in many other ways he's not. Lincoln coordinates the large number of people who are mere associates of the family.

      Liljiana Lassila: Sigrun's true friend The daughter of the former head of the Lassila family. Rescued by Sigrun from an attempted coup and smuggled to America, she's a mostly innocent fifteen year old girl. Quiet and still just a touch unwell from childhood illnesses she hasn't had the chance yet to live an ordinary life.
      Part One, Celebrating New Year's Eve
      In which the one night off for all the characters falls apart catastrophically.

      The group decide that New Year's Eve is not going to be a good day to get much information or reach any of their contacts, so they all decide to take this day off from the heist.

      Also some of the players weren't able to be there until later and so events don't focus on their characters much until they get there. Both Mandy (Playing Martina the Forger) and James (Playing Darren the Driver) arrived towards the end of the session.

      Sigrun is concerned about how Liljiana has just been cooped up in the hotel room for a lot of the time they've been in America. She hasn't had a lot of opportunity to make friends or build a life for herself. While she can't fix everything now, she decides to at least make sure she gets to go out and see some of New York's landmarks for a good New Year's Eve celebration. However with her life potentially in danger, Sigrun is determined to find a safe place to celebrate with her. As it turns out though, her search for a good Sniper's nest with a view of Principia House has also given her a chance to spot places with a good view of Time Square and the famous New Year's celebration hosted there. She discovered that a veteran's charity was assembling a New Year's eve party for servicemen and their families who have been separated from one another due to death or overseas postings. It seems like a safe party to attend, if only she can find a way to get in.

      Sigrun asks Matty for help and he suggests that both Sigrun and Liljiana could organize some dates with people who are going. He helps to arrange for the two of them to go on a date with a pair of brothers who were glad to not have to go alone.

      After that Lin Wu meets up with Matty and gives him a small amount of drugs that she was able to prepare knowing that New Years is a popular time for people to celebrate with recreational drug use. Some to sell, some as a personal gift for his own enjoyment.

      Lin Wu's family doesn't observe a lot of Western holidays, however with everywhere in the city so busy for New Year's Eve they have a family gathering anyway. Lin Wu plays Mahjong with her father while they eat they some snacks. Her mother is in the kitchen doing dishes and asks one of Lin's little brothers to help.

      He complains, "But that's women's work"
      Lin's mother doesn't agree. "That's only because men work hard in other ways. Lin paid for the table we are eating at, she works hard enough already. Maybe if you work harder at school you'll be able to get a good job like her."

      The rest of Lin's family, unaware of how much of the money she makes is actually from selling drugs, may have a slightly exaggerated idea of how prestigious her job is.

      Scipio Tonelli receives an invitation to a party with some of the other Trovato family employees hosted by Lincoln Grant. The host of these parties usually provides some party favours, in terms of drugs and alcohol, however most people bring a little extra depending on how hard they want to party. Scipio invites Matty to come along to help him make some contacts with the family and in exchange Matty brings some drugs to give out for free or severely reduced prices to make a good impression.

      Matty doesn't stick around for very long, before making the rounds to different bars and clubs. Matty plans on selling some of the drugs, but without worrying too much about making money. It's more about the contacts and helping some of his friends out during the big occasion. Before too long he realizes that a lot more people than usual are contacting him trying to obtain drugs. He starts reaching out to his contacts both to get some supplies for people and also to find out some more information. As he looks into it he discovers that a lot of people are having difficulty finding any drugs for sale. His contacts in two different gangs each tell him the same thing, that some people who were meant to be doing a drug delivery went missing and no one has been able to get in touch with them. However in both cases, despite the similarities, it's a different person who went missing and they were each on opposite sides of town. He contacts Lin with a coded warning, someone may try targeting her.

      Sigrun arrives at the party before it opens, checking the building out of habit (and a little paranoia) to make sure that everything's okay. She finds no problem with anything at the party but just gets a bad feeling about the town itself, nothing she can pinpoint though for certain. She considers listening to her inner paranoia, since it usually keeps her alive, but decides for Liljiana's sake to stay and let her have a somewhat ordinary night. Sigrun remains fairly alone and isolated at the party, but Liljiana manages to find a few people her own age and seems to be starting to make a few friends.

      Matty's been getting more and more calls from people about drugs and he's noticing something strange, a lot of people aren't just asking for drugs, they're asking whether he has any "normal drugs". He starts to investigate and soon finds out that all across town people have been purchasing drugs with a strange property, when they're held up to the light people can see rainbow sparkles of light. He immediately worries that the drugs may have ground glass mixed in, but when he checks on people who have taken the drugs nothing seems out of the ordinary. They're definitely intoxicated but only how they normally would be.

      He warns people off the drugs anyway, giving some friends more of the untainted ones that Lin Wu made. He buys a small amount of the strange tainted drugs that other people are taking and gets in contact with Lin, asking her to meet him at her laboratory. Lin makes some excuses about an early start at work and gets out of the family engagement. At her private laboratory where she manufactures her drugs she tries to test the tainted drugs to find out why they're sparkling. Despite running every test she can think of and being certain she's not missing anything there appears to be no natural or scientific explanation. Lin Wu refuses to accept that though and decides to go into her work laboratory, despite the potential risk of being caught, in order to use the lab's mass spectrometer to analyze the drugs thoroughly.

      Scipio Tonelli notices that a lot of people at the party have been getting phone calls and there's that look to events liks something is going on. A few moments later the host, Lincoln, asks "Tonelli, are you busy? No? Great, come with us, I'll explain on the way."

      Tonelli climbs into a minivan with Lincoln and six other associates of the Trovato crime family. As they're driving to their destination Lincoln explains that they just received a call from the guards at one of the warehouses where the Trovato family stores some of their drugs. The guards said that they were under attack but didn't have time for more information before the phone call ended. The attack came just as a group of couriers had arrived to make either a pickup or delivery (in the confusion no one was sure). Tonelli, as the highest ranking man there, takes charge of the situation.

      They arrive ten minutes after the first call came through about being attacked and they can see that the building is on fire. The fire must have been recent but is already burning high from what they can see, and they decide there must be some gasoline or something similar fueling the fire.

      At this point I asked Aaron, Tonelli's player, to make a Wits + Science roll. Unfortunately this was not the character's strong suit, he didn't even have the Science skill, and he was reduced to a chance die which failed. He then chose to turn that failure into a dramatic failure for a beat. This... made things interesting.

      Tonelli set two of the men on crowd control and another two on lookout, then went inside the building with the remainder of the men to investigate the scene as he worried that the fire would destroy all the evidence of what happened.

      There's no sign of the attackers when he enters the building. The nine men from the Trovato family who had been inside though were ripped limb from limb, with blood and gore scattered across the building. There's no evidence of the attackers using any guns and it seems like the defenders had only managed to get a few shots off each before being ripped to pieces. All of the drugs stored in the building arestill there but were covered in gasoline and set on fire. If the attackers had stolen any drugs they certainly hadn't stolen very much.

      Tonelli decides to remain within the building to try to memorize as much of the scene as possible so that he could report exactly what happened.

      In terms of the system here, I told Aaron that it would count as an extended roll. Each roll was remaining inside the building for one minute, the more successes the better but an exceptional success would mean he'd taken note of everything.

      He has some of his men gather up the guns and ammunition to leave no evidence for the police. He checks the building downstairs as thoroughly as possible but goes upstairs to a gantry to get a view from above. He starts to feel confident that he's memorized everything there is to see, of course he has since he's amazing, he couldn't fail, he can do anything, he's a god...

      He recognized the feeling from some experimentation when he was younger, he was getting high on heroin very very quickly. He suddenly realized that the burning bundles of heroin had been pure enough to smoke and he was standing right inside a thick plume of it. The last thing he remembered from the warehouse was hands picking him up and carrying him outside. The dramatic failure on the Wits + Science roll had finally had its effect.

      Coming Next: Part Two, Some answers just leave more questions.
      (Part Two won't be up until tomorrow as it's already quite late over here)
      Last edited by Michael Kenner; 01-12-2016, 11:22 AM.


      • #18
        That's amazing.


        • #19
          Originally posted by Mrmdubois View Post
          That's amazing.
          Thanks. Things were definitely starting to move by this session and we were able to get into things much quicker now that the characters were all established.


          • #20
            Session Two: Locating the Target

            Part Two, Some answers just leave more questions.
            Is this magic stuff... real?

            The players have been very good with roleplaying an ignorance of the strange magic of the World of Darkness but their characters are starting to reach the point where the strangeness is becoming hard to ignore. No one outright accepts things yet but it's certainly becoming very troubling.

            Also in the previous part Tonelli saw nine men ripped apart and made a breaking point check. He succeeded, but we chose not to apply a condition here due to the character's previous experience with violence. This was also partly just because I knew about the narcotic smoke and didn't want to complicate things too much. For the rest of this session though there were a lot more breaking points and those times we did apply the conditions.


            Lin Wu has no difficulty getting into her work laboratory, her after-hours access card gets her inside the building and security don't seem to be there at the moment. She asks Matty to wait outside anyway while she runs her tests. While many of her tests that evening would have normally taken a lot longer, because of her good time management she's running a lot of tests at the same time and getting things done fairly quickly. Despite doing some of her best work in analyzing these drugs she cannot identify any reason why they sparkle in the light. It appears to be completely defying every law of chemistry. A complete molecular breakdown shows the drugs to contain their normal narcotics and some fairly standard things to be mixed in to dilute them. There's nothing else. She even considers the possibility that it may be some sort of psychological effect but is able to document that the sparkling is real physical light that machines are able to detect.

            She comes out to share her results with Matty, who never took any science subjects during his schooling. He comments that the printout looks "very official and scientific" but otherwise just relies upon Lin's interpretation. They're both quite perplexed and decide that they need more information, although they checked in on a few people who had taken the drugs they decide to try to find a larger group. Matty decides to check in with one of his bartender contacts who works in a local fetish club, he decides to put on an outfit more suitable for the club and to his slight surprise when he tells Lin where they're going she asks to go past her house and gets changed into a suitable outfit as well.

            Matty picked this location, knowing that the New Year's celebrations in this particular club always involved a lot of drugs. It gives them a lot of people under the influence to observe but at first they don't seem to find anything out of the ordinary in terms of narcotic effects. Finally though a woman in a red corset, (who gets dubbed "Jessica Rabbit" from here on in) walks up towards them with an unfocused look. She says "Odin rides tonight. His hunt is coming." However when they ask her about what she just said, she simply looks confused "Wait... Ben who?" she asks, clearly not recognizing the name Odin and mishearing it over the loud music. She wanders off back to her group of friends.

            A theory occurs to Matty at this point, that when they saw the male twins accompanying Odin who played the roles of Geri and Freki they were wearing collars and leather which all looked rather like fetish gear in some ways. He wonders if maybe Odin attends this club, but when he asks around no one seems to recognize the descriptions. They continue to watch Jessica Rabbit and her friends but finds nothing out of the ordinary. They seem to be a rich group of mostly airheads who have spent a lot of money on their outfits and drugs who while they're watching just have a fairly vapid conversation.

            They don't understand why she started talking about Odin but it gets them concerned enough to start making phone calls to their friends to warn them of their danger. They can't get through to Martina, Darren or Tonelli but they do reach Sigrun who has had a strange experience herself.


            Sigrun's evening, despite the paranoia has mostly been quiet. To her surprise though an old man, in perhaps his eighties, wheels over towards her in a wheelchair. He suddenly says, "Valkyrie, why are you here? You should be with your Lord Odin. He raises the horde of the Einherjar and rides on the hunt to bring brave souls to his hof Valhalla in preparation for the Blót."

            For those not so familiar with Norse mythology I'll translate. The Einherjar are the souls of dead warriors, brought to the Norse afterlife by Odin and his team of Valkyries (angelic warrior women). Valhalla is the name of Odin's hall in the afterlife, although here it was called a hof which in modern Norse occultism often refers to a temple. A Blót is a term for a sacrifice, not necessarily human but it certainly could be.

            This almost makes her draw her gun from her purse, as Valkyrie was her code name within the Lasilla crime family. However she holds herself back and realizes that the man looks confused after speaking, making no sign that he even remembers what he said. She also looks a bit closer at how dilated his pupils are and a few other signs and realizes that he's clearly quite high on something.

            Despite her desire to let Liljana have a normal night, this is just too much for her not to give in to her paranoia. She goes over and explains that they have to leave. Liljana is well practised at this and after just a few seconds of excuses and goodbyes they leave the party. Sigrun arranges to meet up with the other members of the team soon but has to get her ward to safety first.


            Mandy arrives and we bring her character Martina into events.

            Martina brought Lucas along with her to a New Year's eve gathering with a group of avant-garde artistes that she knows. The party intends on collectively painting a mural to celebrate New Year's Eve, with the details on what they're going to do with the piece afterwards vague and badly planned. Lucas is obviously a little uncomfortable, especially once some of the people at the party show a lot of condescending pity about the wheelchair. This really isn't the social circle that he's used to being much more of a computer geek himself. Martina keeps him company though and tries to keep his spirits up, turning down any offers of alcohol while she just stays with Lucas. She's feeling fairly happy though, earlier that day she managed to sell one of her own personal painting that was only partly copied from a famous historical work. This has given her a lot of confidence and a little spending cash.

            She missed the first call from Matty because one of her "friends" Gina had stolen her clutch in order to pry loose the sequins and use them on the mural. After an angry discussion about the real meaning of "found object art" Martina recovers her bag and phone, then gets another call from Matty which she answers.

            "Someone might be trying to kill you." This is how the conversation starts. She blanches instantly and starts babbling.
            "Look if I've offended Sigrun I didn't mean it. I know I got her order wrong for the dinner but she can't be coming after me for that, I mean come on it's just a schnitzel."

            The entire group then has to spend a little bit of time recovering from laughter here as Mandy delivers this with perfect comedic timing and total sincerity.

            She then gets an explanation of events so far, which didn't make a whole lot of sense. She then tries to explain this to Lucas, managing a bit more tact but not much more sense. She agrees though to bring Lucas and meet up with the rest of the group. They decide on Central Park as a good location for them to all meet up since they're at radically different parts of the city.


            Scipio Tonelli wakes up in what looks like a hospital, he quickly recognizes it though as one of the mob's private clinics. A nurse is checking on him to make sure that he's alright. They were able to give an injection that neutralized the drugs in his system. He feels terrible, but not at all high anymore and he's able to get up and move about. He asks the nurse for a drink of water, a phone and a gun. The nurse is able to supply all three.

            He reports in to his superior, Il Generale first. The other members of his team had already been in contact, so Il Generale knew the rough events that had occurred but gets a few more details from Tonelli before explaining what the family is doing. Since they don't know who is responsible for the attack, they are going onto the defensive, reinforcing all their strongholds and closing down operations for the evening. Tonelli suggests that this might involve Charles Bowles, the client who hired them for the heist, since apparently he'd been investigating the family's drug operations. Il Generale agrees that it's a strong possibility and tells Tonelli to continue on his original mission, that this is the highest priority for him while the rest of the family deals with the attack itself.

            He then gets in touch with the rest of the heist team and starts to find out about what's been going on. He doesn't really understand the strangeness of it either but makes a few phone calls for more information. He learns that some of the family do know about Odin, but in a different context. Apparently this "Odin" figure runs a very small gang, no one quite knows what they do or where they're located. However every New Year's eve, they go out and kidnap a couple of gangsters. They don't seem to target any gang in particular and have no known motive behind the attacks. Tonelli keeps on calling around to find out whether anyone from the Trovatos has gone missing. He reaches Lincoln Grant who lets him know that a young associate named Rico went off to investigate what was happening with the strange drugs turning up in Manhattan and disappeared. He missed the last check in and no one has been able to find him or get in contact with him.


            Matty calls Emilio to warn him and discovers that their patron is exceptionally drunk and quite high. They panic at first that he might have taken the tainted drugs but he admits that these were some of the drugs that Lin made which he bought off Matty at Christmas and had been too busy to take ever since. A lot of complaining followed about how this was meant to be his one day off. They ask where he is but he refuses to say, drunkenly admitting that it's embarrassing. They attempt to talk some business with him but as sometimes happens with exceptionally drunk conversations at a party, someone else comes on the phone.

            "Hi, this is Brittney. Oh my god, like Emilio says you're so hot Matty."
            "Thanks Brittney."
            "Do you like Rachel? She's such a ******, she stole my panties. She's going to tell you some other stuff but it's not true."

            This had been a running joke all through the evening, based on one of the players telling a story about a drunk women he'd seen having a similar conversation on New Year's Eve.

            Matty puts on his best drunk interpreter voice and tells Brittney, "hey, do you really want to prank Emilio? You should kidnap him and bring him to meet us before midnight. I'll give you your panties and drugs, if you don't make it in time though they're getting sold over the internet."

            Brittney accepts but no one is quite sure whether she's even going to remember the conversation in a few minutes based on how drunk she sounded. They don't hear from her or Emilio again that night though.


            The plan is simple, Sigrun is going to get in position with an overview of a spot in Central Park where everyone else can meet to discuss what's going on. Like so many simple plans, it doesn't quite work out that way in practice. Sigrun takes a while getting Liljana settled away safely. The rooftops that can be easily accessed are filled with people gathering to watch the fireworks. Sigrun decides she's going to break into an empty loft apartment but the first one she tries she triggers a silent alarm that she doesn't know how to disable. She then has to go to a different building before trying again. Eventually though she does manage to get into position.

            Likewise the rest of the group have a bit of difficulty crossing town to get there but they all manage to meet up in the park, on a little hill by a pond where Sigrun has a clear line of fire. They all gather together and start sharing their information and speculating while around them the crowd is counting down to midnight.

            They speculate on the strange messages that they received from the two people who were high on the tainted drugs but eventually realize that it may not have been related to them after all. Lucas finds some people talking on different social media platforms about similar events happening all over New York City that night. They find thirty different mentions online and that's after only a couple of hours, there were probably a lot more that haven't found their way onto the internet yet or that Lucas was unable to find. In each case people affected seemed to have some sort of "psychic vision" and knew something they shouldn't have been able to know. Then afterwards they forgot all about it and were just confused. Some of the people affected even started speaking languages that they shouldn't know and other strangeness.

            With Tonelli's information about Odin and his gang, they realize that the warning may not have been about them being in danger personally but simply a description of future events. Tonelli asks Lucas if he can do anything to find the missing gang member Rico. Lucas manages to remotely turn on a lost-phone tracking app that very luckily Rico had installed on his phone.

            Just to note, the things Lucas has managed to do have been the results of lucky dice-rolls and a lot of successes, he's not intended to be a plot device.

            They look at the GPS map and discover that the phone is outside of New York City, sitting stationary just outside Palisades Interstate Park in Stony Point. As the last song before midnight comes on, the group decides that they're all going to go up there to investigate. Over the loud speakers the song Final Countdown by Europe begins to play.

            Coming Next: Part Three, If you go into the woods today.


            • #21
              Session Two: Locating the Target
              Part Three, If you go into the woods today.
              Where everything turns into complete chaos and nothing goes the way I'd expected.

              No plan survives player characters, and how I'd imagined events turning out was very different to the actual results. The breaking point system was working rather well here as people's decisions about their "spooked" conditions motivated a lot of the action.
              After Midnight

              The team decides that the danger may not have been directed towards them after all, so after the countdown and a little bit of the fireworks display they begin to move off wondering how they're going to get to where they need to go.

              With absolutely perfect timing, James arrives who plays their Driver Darren. He manages to borrow a friend's large taxi with disabled access, exchanging it for his own smaller one for the next few hours. He meets up with them, receiving another confusing summary of events. It's worth noting that Darren has extraordinary skills at driving with a large number of merits, when some of the driving stunts get a little crazy later on this is worth keeping in mind.

              Despite the New Year's traffic, Darren manages to get them out to the spot in a little over forty minutes although this did involve driving like a complete maniac. Once they get there, they reach a much quieter area with very little traffic going past, even just after midnight on New Year's.

              The area of the map where the GPS shows the phone is sitting turns out to be a rough dirt carpark with small wooden barricades around it, surrounded by grass, trees and the beginning of the park. The GPS can't pinpoint the phone exactly, but a quick search finds it lying in the grass just outside the barricade. Lin puts on some gloves to examine it carefully and finds some bloodstained fingerprints on the phone. She determines that someone with slightly dried blood on their hands handled the phone and that it was probably around an hour ago, but can't get much more from the examination.

              The phone however isn't locked, so they're able to access it and see that the camera was used at 11:04pm. The same time that the GPS app recorded the phone arriving here and stopping moving. A very blurry image from a bad angle, shows just the ground and some legs. However they see that the person taking the photo is wearing the sort of fine suit that one of the Trovato employees would wear and standing next to him is someone in sturdy jeans and hiking boots. They can't find anything else though, it doesn't look like the man was able to call for help or manage anything else.

              The carpark also had three rental cars sitting there, currently abandoned. Darren very quickly manages to break into all three, opening them up for the group to examine. They look very clean and with no personal touches, however one of them had a small blood stain in the back seat. There isn't a lot of blood which suggests that the injury wasn't very extreme, but they guess that it was probably the reason for blood on the phone. The rental paperwork doesn't seem very convincing that the identities are genuine with names like "Sven Svenson and Bjorn Bjornson" which Sigrun points out is possible but not a very common thing to do and that it's about as likely as every car being rented out to a 'so and so junior' in English.

              Lin Wu, Tonelli and Sigrun start searching for trails, Lin using a UV flashlight and Sigrun using night-vision goggles. They discover a trail of blood droplets, but unfortunately the blood is dripping fairly slowly making it hard to follow. However they try to go out into the grass and follow it. They can see that it leads inside the park, but it's going to be very slow and difficult to track it that way.

              Meanwhile Matty, Martina, Darren and Lucas are searching for information around the cars. Martina looks online for a map of the park, committing the details to her eidetic memory. Lucas looks up information to find out if any strange events had happened in the park, but aside from the occasional bear attack or lost hiker, none of which seemed connected to their case, there didn't seem anything out of the ordinary. Martina does notice though that the park contains an area that was considered a sacred site to the Lenape Native Americans.

              Real world note: This was a completely made up detail and (to the best of my knowledge) is not true in our actual history. However in Chronicles of Darkness, this spot was a Locus that was recognized by the Lenape before Europeans arrived.

              Sigrun suggests that since the cryptic message about Odin had used the word "hof" rather than "hörgr" they should be looking for a roofed structure (hörgr is a temple without a roof). They discover that there are five buildings on the map that aren't very far away, one of them was an information center about the Lenape sacred site that was closed down ten years ago. They decide that this is the most likely location, but don't want to jump to conclusions.

              Lin Wu, Tonelli and Sigrun make faster progress when they start treating the way towards the old information building as the most likely destination, while still attempting to follow the trail. As they follow it further they get a clearer view of the footprints a couple of times and realize that there were several prisoners being led along by guards and that there was around ten to twelve people (including the prisoners).

              Then people started having some unusual ideas.

              Matty suggests, "Could we hotwire their cars and drive them into the park, doesn't matter if they get scratched up and then we've got a get away prepared."

              And thus they decided to drive two cars across uneven wild terrain, without lights, in pitch back darkness in order to sneak up on the people in the building. Darren took the lead vehicle, placing a reflector on the rear bumper to help guide Martina who was following in the rear vehicle. They drove slowly and carefully and despite the tricky situation managed to very quietly pull the cars up on a walking trail a short distance from the building, hidden behind a hill.

              Meanwhile Sigrun, Tonelli and Lin Wu scout out the building. They see that it's a single structure, built as a sort of long rectangle. About three yards wide and twelve yards long. There's only a single door at one of the narrow sides of the rectangle. Up the top of the building are little privacy windows, narrow slits designed to let light in but be difficult to look inside. They can see flickering orange firelight from inside and hear voices though. They realize from the volume of voices inside that there's more people than just the group they followed and decide that some of the other people must have parked elsewhere. They also spot a single small motorbike parked just outside the building.

              Sigrun conceals herself with a line of sight to the door, getting ready to cover them with her rifle if need be. Tonelli and Lin Wu sneak up to the side of the building and Tonelli lifts the much smaller Lin Wu up to the window. She gets out her cell phone and starts filming what she can see inside. Five naked corpses hang upside down from the rafters. Their throats have been cut but there is no sign of the resulting blood. At the back of the room Odin, Huginn, Muninn, Geri, Freki and a blonde man that she doesn't recognize seem to be officiating over the event. There are ten men, all looking like they have Norse ancestry, partying inside the room. Whatever ritual they were performing appears to be over. She also sees that there's a cage up the very back of the room with a wolf-pup inside. There are glowing braziers of hot coals lighting the room, but familiar rainbow sparkles glisten among the hot coals.

              The site of the dead bodies and strange ritual troubles Lin Wu and counts as a breaking point. Alex succeeds on the roll and chooses that Lin Wu will suffer from the "Spooked" condition.

              Lin Wu brings Sigrun and Tonelli back to the cars insisting that they leave at once, but eventually people talk her down and get her to share what she saw. Everyone looks at the video she took. Tonelli confirms that one of the men was Rico, he recognizes the face. Sigrun confirms that the ritual seems to be following a lot of old traditional Norse elements but also includes a lot of what she guesses are modern innovations of some sort. None of it corresponds exactly. However she can confirm that the unknown blonde man is ritually playing the role of Thor. Matty recognizes some of the other victims. They're all gangsters, one from each Borrough of New York City. Most of the ones that they recognize had a reputation for being good in a fight. They decide that this does seem similar to the Valkyries gathering up the bravest warriors to bring to Valhalla and a lot of the occult symbols seem to match, however there is the strange element that there are no women present other than the two "ravens" Huginn and Muninn. No one seems to be playing the role of the Valkyries in the ritual.

              Tonelli isn't really interested in the occult elements. He's more focused on the fact that one of his colleagues has been murdered. He rings Il Generale and explains the situation. Il Generale says that they'll need to take reprisal against anyone who thinks that they can target the Trovato family and says that he'll be there with an attack team in an hour. He asks Tonelli to watch the building until then in case they try to leave.

              The team knows that things are likely to get messy from here on in, so they talk about who wants to leave. Eventually, despite a couple of people considering the option, only Lucas decides he'd rather not be there. Darren carefully drives one of the rental cars back out to the carpark, gets Lucas set up in the driver's seat of the taxicab and gets him a long stick to operate the peddles in the case of an emergency. Then he returns the car and rejoins the others.

              Then all hell breaks loose.

              Once again the plan is fairly simple:
              Sigrun and Tonelli are going to sit in a hidden position near the building and watch the door.
              Martina, Darren, Matty and Lin Wu are going to sit in one of the rental cars facing towards the building, ready to drive up if anything goes wrong.
              The other rental car is empty and parked facing the other way, for them to run towards if they need a rapid retreat.

              About twenty minutes later, the door to the building opens and one of the men from inside emerges and walks around the building. They can hear him relieving himself in the bushes. As he's walking back and just reaching the door the man suddenly calls out "****!" as he spots Sigrun pointing the sniper rifle at him.

              Despite stealth being an asset skill for Sigrun's five ranks of professional training, despite having concealment as a specialty, despite spending willpower on the roll... there was still only one success on the stealth check which was beaten by two successes on the poor fellow's penalized and not too good perception score. Probability apparently decided to go completely out of the window today.

              As a reflex Sigrun squeezes the trigger, dropping the man with a perfect shot to the heart. It's a silenced rifle with subsonic ammunition so the shot is fairly quiet, but none the less the people in the building were certain to hear some of the commotion. Sigrun notifies the rest of the team on their radio that they've been discovered, Tonelli sends a quick prepared text message to Il Generale saying the same.

              They see no one come out of the building but a few moments later something happens. Sigrun hears a flapping of wings and scrabbling of claws, out of nowhere a raven seems to scratch a long bloodly line over Sigrun's cheek going after her eye and might have blinded her if she hadn't dodged back in time. In a moment though the raven has gone, Tonelli just sees the bloody wound appear with no cause. A few moments later Tonelli hears a growl and from nowhere a wolf seems to bite his ankle before vanishing. This counts as a breaking point for both of them, being injured by a supernatural phenomenon and they gain the spooked conditions.

              Darren speeds up his car and aims it for the building, without any sign of slowing down he calls to everyone else in the car "Buckle up" as he puts his foot down hard on the gas and speeds towards the door. Martina buckles up. Matty buckles up then turns the stereo on, having spent the time waiting setting it up to play Ride of the Valkyries just in case. Lin Wu sees where the car is heading and throws her door open, diving out before the crash (this was to resolve her spooked condition). Fortunately she hits the ground rolling and doesn't get hurt.

              The car smashes through the door and breaks the wall, rather than slowing down, instead Darren flicks the car into a sideways slide down the middle of the room. There are sickening crunches as most of the men in the room don't dodge to the side fast enough. The car's momentum carries it down the room and looks like it's about to crush the collected "gods" against the back wall of the room. Then Thor steps forwards, reaches out a hand and catches the car. After witnessing a blatant use of supernatural power, Martina and Matty both gain the Spooked condition. James considers Darren gaining the Guilty condition after the mass vehicular homicide but after looking through the description didn't think it fit so he joined the rest of the group in taking Spooked.

              Outside Sigrun can't quite see what's going on, but she does get a clear shot on Thor through the smashed remnants of the wall and takes the shot, aiming for his head as the rest of his body is covered by the car. At the last moment he jerks his head to the side, almost dodging the shot. It still grazes along the side of his head, blood spraying out and and a spray of electrical sparks along with it.

              Sigrun, with five levels of professional training, some marksman and pretty much anything else that'll help a sniper is practically a perfect sniper. Once she shoots someone, that person is as a rule usually dead. However this is also the first time they've found someone who can apply their defense to a firearms attack. Between a defense of seven that was retained against the firearm attack, not having the time to aim and some natural "armour" what should usually be an almost automatic kill turned into something less. Still inflicted real damage though. I was a little nervous that one good roll could still turn this into a one hit kill.

              Lin Wu and Tonelli both run towards the building, hoping to get close enough to help their friends. Both Matty and Martina, sitting on the passenger side of the car, open up their doors and climb out to run away. Darren freezes up though and looks up at the 'gods', instead of reacting a wisecrack slips out instead (resolving his spooked condition). "A delivery for you from a Mr Low-Key?"
              Odin points his spear at Darren and without any apparent sense of humour says, "Your disrespectful tongue does not lie so well as Loki's. You are cursed." Darren feels some unnatural cold settle inside him but isn't sure what it means.

              Huginn, Muninn, Geri and Freki all seem to be concentrating on something, muttering underneath their breath. The spectral raven and wolf attack Sigrun and Tonelli again, but this time they're not caught off guard and manage to dodge out of the way first. Thor flexes his muscles and thrusts against the car, clearly intending to throw it quite far. The result doesn't seem quite what he had in mind as the car only gets thrown a couple of yards. None the less, this still sends the car hurtling towards Martina and Matty. Martina doesn't quite get out of the way in time, but although the bumper clips her side a little, it doesn't actually manage to hurt her beyond what will probably turn into a nasty bruise. Matty isn't so lucky and gets hit a bit more solidly by the car, although it still only just clips him. Darren however, sitting inside the car is flung around and hits his head on the steering wheel.

              Sigrun fires again, targeting Thor's head once again. The shot connects more solidly than the last, appearing to actually penetrate and go into his head but although it sparks like burning magnesium he doesn't show any sign of slowing down yet.

              Matty tries a desperate gamble (resolving his own spooked condition) and rushes towards the back of the room instead of the entrance, ducking past the assorted gods to reach the cage where the wolf-pup is sitting. He pulls a pistol, points it at the dog's head and calls out. "Stop or the puppy gets it".

              To pretty much everyone's surprise everyone stops. Odin speaks softly but in a voice that strangely carries even to Sigrun outside. "If your sniper shoots again I will kill you all."

              Sigrun holds her next shot, everyone freezes, there are groans from the injured and dying but the room as a whole comes to a stop.

              And with that cliffhanger, the second session comes to an end.
              Last edited by Michael Kenner; 01-13-2016, 03:31 AM.


              • #22
                I'm pretty sure the puppy is supposed to represent Fenrir - gods (especially Odin) are unlikely to be conserned for its safety.

                Simurgh, Mysterium Thyrsus in Mountains of Shadow (IC|OOC)


                • #23
                  I've only read the intro post, but this looks very interesting! I look forward to reading the rest. One suggestion from reading other Actual Plays: it may be helpful for you to take some simple notes rather than just going off of memory. It's a little bit of extra work at the table, but it makes writing them up afterwards much, much easier, especially if something comes up and puts you behind schedule.

                  Chris H | Patreon| He/His | Currently Writing: Daughters of Hera (Scion, Nexus) | God Companion (Scion, OPP)

                  CofD booklists: Beast I Changeling | Demon | Deviant (WIP) | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean | Vampire | Werewolf


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
                    I've only read the intro post, but this looks very interesting! I look forward to reading the rest. One suggestion from reading other Actual Plays: it may be helpful for you to take some simple notes rather than just going off of memory. It's a little bit of extra work at the table, but it makes writing them up afterwards much, much easier, especially if something comes up and puts you behind schedule.
                    Thanks, advice is always helpful. I'm still figuring out the best ways to write this. I'm still not sure exactly how much I should talk about the mechanics or the out of game stuff, I also don't know whether I should try to make it read more like an actual story or piece of fiction, rather than the way it currently is more like the minutes of a meeting.

                    Hope you enjoy the story so far.


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Michael Kenner View Post
                      Thanks, advice is always helpful. I'm still figuring out the best ways to write this. I'm still not sure exactly how much I should talk about the mechanics or the out of game stuff, I also don't know whether I should try to make it read more like an actual story or piece of fiction, rather than the way it currently is more like the minutes of a meeting.
                      I think if you find the mechanical detail interesting, so does everyone else. Part of the charm of an AP is that we know this happened at a table with dice rolling, even if that's metaphorical. If we want pure fiction, there are bookstores and fanfiction sites to trawl.

                      And also, if you lean too far into prose, stuff like Sigrun getting spotted starts edging towards inexplicability; we don't know if an event is due to an ST call or a die roll unless you tell us and that distinction disappears without the mechanical explanation. Personally speaking, I never get tired of STs and GMs and stuff heaving a sigh about the inevitable PC plan causing the train to not merely derail but actually take flight and turn into a swan through the sheer tenacity of probability.

                      I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
                      An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
                      Guanxi Explanations: 1, 2, 3.


                      • #26
                        Session Three: Distracted by a Thing

                        We're using the group beats optional rule for this chronicle. I haven't mentioned the group's beats much before now because it hadn't been fully calculated. However over the last fortnight we got a little more organized and calculated that the group had gained a total of 28 beats altogether over the last two session. Over the rest of this session the players earned an additional 14 beats, meaning that everyone finally gains an XP. (Lucas the hacker, as an NPC, is not including in the XP calculation. I simply award him the same XP as the rest of the group, to simply handling aspirations, conditions and etc for him.)

                        Important NPCs

                        Thor: A Norse god? Apparently a young man in his early twenties. Pale skin, short blonde hair, well-built and with a competitive streak. His claims of being a Scandinavian god, somewhat clash with a strong New Yorker accent (which for the record I can't do, so it was merely described rather than acted) , however he did catch a moving car.
                        Part One, Truces and Treaties
                        In which the most important question is resolved... will the wolf puppy get shot?

                        The brief moment of pause at the end of last session's cliffhanger is broken with an immediate decent into chaos. Three of the 'cultists' survived the vehicular attack, with painful but non-lethal injuries but as a parlay begins to set in they push their way to the sides of the room and lean on the walls for support to clear the path and move out of danger. While combat is over, we prove that sometimes peaceful discussion can be just as chaotic and wild. (I'll try to get this roughly into order, although it was largely everyone at the table talking at once).

                        Matty speaks first, "We came here on a quest for vengeance, but we've already slain many of your men."

                        Odin speaks up "Then do you take these seven as weregild? Seven for one seems to be setting the price high."

                        Weregild is the old concept of bloodprice, or paying for slaying someone's kin, Matty recognizes this historical concept from his background in law. "We knew all five." Matty claims, which is true only from a certain point of view however it seems to satisfy Odin.

                        Tonelli, who is just poking his head around the remains of the entrance now speaks up and states "I can't speak for my boss, but I can call him and see if this satisfies them."

                        Odin turns to look towards Tonelli and with Odin looking away Matty starts looking around to see whether he can slip away. However the two sets of twins both seem to be watching still. When he gives an experimental lift of the wolf puppy's carrying cage Geri starts a warning growl deep in his throat, staring straight at Matty.

                        Odin focuses on Tonelli though and says "Certainly, if you wish to ring Lorenzo then I will not stop you." Tonelli notices that Odin seems to be referring to the family's advisor Lorenzo rather than the actual boss Joseph. Unsure for a moment which to call he attempts to use his mobile phone to make a three-way conversation... however he is unable to figure out how to do it on his phone. Even with a +2 bonus for the ease of the task, Tonelli's Intelligence + Computers still ended up as a chance die which failed. He decides to simple call Lorenzo instead and has a quick phone conversation while everyone else continues the face to face conversation conversation.

                        Sigrun calls over their earbud radios "Delay for time". Matty over the radio signals for Martina to go towards the door. At the same time Sigrun tells her to stay where she is. Tonelli, while on the phone waiting for Lorenzo to pick up gestures for her to come over to him.

                        Darren ends up ranting to Odin, who still seems upset over the insult at last session and flings up a hand in annoyance, dismissing Darren from his attention. However when Darren mentions leaving, Odin simply says "any of you who wishes can leave." With this clear permission for people to leave, Martina heads out to where Tonelli is on the phone, with Tonelli watching over her to make sure she gets out alright.

                        Matty talks to Odin, talking extensively about ransoms and trying to delay for time.
                        After a little bit of this delaying Odin asks "Are we really going to negotiate all this under the barrel of a gun?"
                        Matty, not really expecting Odin to accept, offers to take the dog hostage and they can meet on January 7th at the docks (based on advice from Sigrun that the shore might be considered an appropriately sacred space for such a meeting while still offering a public venue and a sniper's vantage point). To his surprise though Odin accept and despite Geri and Freki clearly being upset by this development allow him to start leaving with the wolf puppy. Despite Matty being keen for everyone to take the opportunity to leave, the other members of the group delay.

                        Tonelli gets through to Lorenzo who says that Joseph has only just finished gathering the soldiers together and is still forty minutes away. After explaining the situation Lorenzo approves delaying the negotiation and calling the reprisal off until then, saying that he'll contact Joseph to make it happen. Tonelli also accepts the delay and tells Odin that they will discuss this further on January 7th. However he doesn't leave yet and points to where Rico's body is hanging upside down from the ceiling. "We'll need the body back too." Odin uses his spear to cut the rope free allowing the body to drop to the ground so that Tonelli can bring the body with him when they leave.

                        Darren doesn't follow. Instead he waits and apologizes to Odin for his earlier disrespect. Odin asks "Do you wish to atone for your insolence?" The rest of the group starts frantically signalling for him to say no while Darren begins to ask about the price.

                        All this is interupted Lin Wu, who has noticed some very early symptoms of shock from "Thor" who seems to be swaying on his feet a little, gone slightly pale and had his pupils dilate.


                        The almost clean get-away comes to an abrupt halt as Lin Wu interrupts proceedings by walking back into the building and announcing loudly that Thor isn't well. This seems to bring the problem to Thor's attention and he starts having more trouble staying upright. Lin Wu heads around to Thor and acting as a doctor, straight away begins to try to help him.

                        Odin steps out of the way to allow Lin Wu to take care of him and points the butt of his staff at Darren, "For your friend's charity you are forgiven" he announces and Darren can feel the unnatural cold sensation that accompanied the curse evaporate from his body.

                        Lin Wu notices that whatever the problem is it's extreme and happening quickly. Thor is beginning to rapidly undergo some sort of catastrophic collapse that will certainly be lethal very quickly. The process of leaving becomes even more delayed now as Martina walks all the way back in to the building and offers to help Lin Wu with treating him. Together they work quickly and effectively with Lin Wu performing the treatments and sending Martina off running looking for native herbs that she saw growing nearby while they were tracking the cultists to this building.

                        The roll for medical care ends up being ten successes here and despite my original expectation for Thor's collapse to not be curable... I just can't ignore a doubly exceptional success like that. I explain that Lin Wu can't diagnose the origin of the problem (since it's supernatural) however she is able to individually treat all the symptoms and sustain him even as his body seems to be tearing itself to pieces. This is also taking into account her holistic medicine merit which isn't a supernatural merit per se but it does suggest that her medical practice is a lot broader than most and includes a lot of unconventional thought that would help here.

                        Lin Wu tells Odin that Thor is dying and while the rest of the group mostly miss it, Martina's more empathic nature means that she keenly notices that Odin doesn't actually look surprised by this news. The one thing that does seem to surprise Odin is Lin Wu's exceptional skills at medicine and he watches her treat him with open admiration. Despite it all, Lin Wu realizes that without any knowledge of the causes she's going to need to maintain constant observation of Thor until whatever it is passes. She explains this to Odin as well who says, "Well it looks like you have an additional hostage. Bring him on the 7th."


                        So bringing Thor with them, the group return to the carpark and since they have a larger contingent make arrangements to drive the handicap equipped cab back and also to steal the last rental vehicle.

                        And to return to the original question, yes the wolf puppy survived. From here on out, since Odin refused to provide the wolf's name, the puppy will be referred to by our team of dangerous professional criminals as "Captain Snugglepants".

                        Coming Next: Part Two, Let's call it magic.


                        • #27
                          Just for anyone worried by the long gap, Parts 2 and 3 are still coming. Sorry for the delay, I haven't found enough time to finish the write-up over this week. As mentioned before this session turned out rather chaotically and so it's taking a bit longer to make sure that I'm covering everything.

                          Also while I'm writing I just wanted to bring up an amusing element from the discussion with Odin that was left out of the original write-up of Part 1 since it was far too complicated to try to remember the exact phrasing used through that scene. However throughout most of the conversation, Matty was referring to Thor as a 'robot' (much to Odin's confusion) as Misha decided this was how his character would try to comprehend the inhuman strength and electrical blue sparks.


                          • #28
                            Part Two, Let's call it magic.
                            In which the characters come to terms with their experiences.

                            A large part of this session was the characters trying to handle the mental trauma of encountering the supernatural and finding a way of dealing with it. It was telling that most of the characters had the aspiration "Take a day off" in one form or another. The characters were also beginning to realize that their wild adventure of the previous evening didn't have much to do with retrieving the journal of David Zeisberger.

                            The timing and pacing is a little bit odd this session. It was one of those sessions where you try to cover it as a rapid period of downtime but the characters continue to do actions that demand a bit more detailed coverage or the players want to roleplay something in more detail. It was fun and a lot of laughs were had here, but it also wasn't the most coherent in terms of plot.


                            Bronx Small and Large Animal Clinic "Large Animals" sometimes includes people. This several room veterinary complex doubles as an emergency hospital that operates outside of the law. There's a surprisingly large number of doctors working here as "vets" who can manage services up to and including surgery here. They only see enough animals to cover their paper-trail and most of them are animals that belong to their clients.

                            Very early morning, 1st January, 2016

                            Despite a bit of arguing about their destination, it was eventually decided that they needed to get Thor somewhere that Lin Wu could treat him properly and that they would all go together. Matty had a hard time getting through to his contacts on New Year's Eve but finally reached Dr Nguyen of the Bronx Small and Large Animal Clinic. After arranging a large payment, one just at the limit of Matty's resources, they organized to meet Dr Nguyen at the clinic. When it turned out that there was little they could do with surgery or traditional medicine, they used the payment to rent access to the building and supplies over the week rather than paying Dr Nguyen to perform surgery.

                            Lin Wu manages to get Thor briefly stable, long enough for a group meeting to discuss the events and they go to a small office in the clinic for a private meeting. Matty focuses on the criminal aspect first, talking about the dead bodies and the fact that they killed people and were at a crime scene where other people had been killed. Although everyone thought it likely that Odin's group would cover everything up Matty didn't want to take that chance. He asked everyone for some personal details and information to lay a false-trail and create alibis. Tonelli declines, since he's already under the protection of the Mafia but everyone else accepts the offer. Lucas agrees to help with the online aspect.

                            Once that practical consideration is out of the way though the group starts trying to deal with what they witnessed. Thor dodging and surviving gunshots, impossible results from the scientific analysis of the drugs, the car being physically caught and thrown, the "psychic" experiences of people taking the drugs, Darren's experience of the cold energy of the curse hitting him. Everyone struggles with the decision of whether to accept whether they can call it magic, but Sigrun brings that debate to an end, "We're professionals. We can call it magic so that we have a way of discussing this just as long as we remember that we don't understand this phenomena and don't let that influence our actions."

                            Some other activities they get up to that evening.
                            • Sigrun remains on watch on the building across the road, taking advantage of the pause to ring her friend Liljiana focusing on the mundane conversation to try to recover her bearings. (Sigrun has the True Friend merit for Liljiana).
                            • Darren takes the stolen car to a chop-shop, selling it in order to remove some of the evidence of their activities.
                            • Martina talks to Dr Nguyen before he leaves about whether it's safe for her to take anything to calm her down and he recommends a drug that should be safe for her, providing some from the clinic's storerooms.
                            • Matty and Lucas both try to cover the group's tracks as much as possible.
                            • Lin Wu returns to watching Thor, still needing to occasionally intervene to keep him alive. Eventually Sigrun joins her and they both take shifts watching, giving Lin Wu the chance to get some books on Norse mythology and the occult in general from her university library expecting that they'll come in handy over the next week.
                            Finally they each try to get whatever rest is possible, especially with a lot of the group intoxicated on stimulants, before the next morning when Lin Wu thinks they'll have Thor a little more lucid.

                            Late in the morning, 1st January, 2016

                            She's right and the next morning Thor is awake and starts talking. Lin Wu tries to get through some medical questions, acting as a doctor while Matty interjects with a bluff asking Lin whether she's given Thor 'the antidote' yet. Matty's attempts to convince Thor that he's been given some form of slow acting poison would possibly have been more successful if Lin Wu wasn't completely refusing to play along with the bluff and instead trying to supply honest medical attention. The conversation becomes steadily more and more chaotic, with Matty and Lin Wu arguing over the top of Thor trying to get answers.

                            Thor ends up getting in the last word though, bolting upright and staring at Matty with flashing lightning glowing in his eyes demanding "What antidote?!" before Thor abruptly drops back to the bed, his entire body convulsing through an extreme seizure. Matty tries to carry on the bluff for a few moments longer but Lin Wu insists that Thor can't even hear them at that moment as he wouldn't be conscious. In the midst of his seizure Thor grabs hold of one of the metal support struts of the gurney he's laying on and crushes and twists the metal in his grip in a display of superhuman strength. After seeing that Lin Wu gets a powerful anaesthetic and injects Thor, intending to keep him unconscious for the rest of the day.

                            Sigrun, who had been watching up until this point, attempts to calm Thor by approaching the side of his bed and reciting some of the Norse poetic Edda from one of the books. She decides to avoid any of the violent mentions of war (which severely limits the options from Norse poetry) so instead decides to read a marriage poem. She doesn't speak old Norse but between her occult specialty in Norse Mythology and her experience with some Scandinavian languages from growing up in Finland she managed to get it close. This ended up being a strange dice-pool of Charisma + Academics with a +1 bonus for her occult specialty. The strange dice-pools continue as I ask those watching to roll a Wits + Occult to see what happens next. Alex rolled one success for Lin Wu, but both Mandy and Aaron critically failed for Martina and Tonelli.

                            As Sigrun is reciting old Norse marriage vows, Thor suddenly twists his head to look at her in the midst of his seizure and Lin Wu sees his eyes flash with blue flight. Suddenly the seizure completely stops and Thor drops unconscious to the bed. Martina and Tonelli, who had just been walking into the room at that moment to investigate the strange sounds, saw an angelic female figure floating above the bed, dressed as a Valkyrie. (Through complete coincidence though, these two characters happen to be the Christians in the group and thus 'Valkyrie' becomes 'Angel' when the player characters are discussing it for most of this session).

                            Sigrun (after a failed resistance roll) finds herself urged by a spirit that is now possessing her. Sam, who plays Sigrun, chose the new aspiration for that session to be finding bodyguard work (as a chance to have some time off from the strangeness). The spirit muddles her thoughts and she confusedly believes now that she has a bodyguard job and Thor is the client. This does count as fulfilling her aspiration however, even if it wasn't quite the way Sam had originally intended. Although Sigrun remains possessed for the remainder of the session, no one notices anything strange about her behaviour as Sigrun justifies the need to protect Thor for the exchange with Odin and ends up being very convincing.


                            Lin Wu and Sigrun spend the day watching over Thor. Lin Wu takes as many samples as she possibly can from Thor, intending to try to understand more of what's going on. Although she doesn't find much, she does find the same strange rainbow glints within his blood when she holds it up to the light. She also discovers that the bent piece of metal gurney has become magnetized.


                            Darren has found himself getting more and more depressed over the events that happened the previous night, especially how many of Odin's men died from him running them over with the car. (This wasn't a condition, just good roleplaying). He went to speak with Martina that morning, who tends to be one of the more compassionate and reassuring members of the group. He explained how guilty he felt, "I killed six people."
                            "You did it saving my life." Martina reassures him, "and the life of my child" she adds touching her belly.

                            No one out of character, other than myself and Martina's player Mandy knew out of character about the pregnancy which was part of Martina's back story and the reason she started taking the criminal jobs for more money. Mandy also managed to reveal this to Darren's player without anyone else overhearing, allowing another dramatic reveal of this later on in the session. It was a lot of fun to see everyone's reactions to this piece of news. Lucas (the NPC hacker) was the only other character who knows, because Martina had shared it with him during her backstory as well.

                            Darren starts seeing his actions in a whole new light at this revelation. Martina comforts him further by asking him to drive her around that day while she goes shopping for nursery supplies and he accepts, relieved to have something normal and wholesome to do instead. Lucas goes along as well, giving the three of them a little break from the activities of that week. This achieved both of their aspirations to have a day off.


                            The rest of the group rest and recover, waiting until that evening when they intend to speak with Thor again.

                            Coming Next: Part Three, Not what anyone expected.


                            • #29
                              Aaron, who plays Tonelli, just reminded me that in the original meeting it was his character who first finally broke and insisted that it was magic as a resolution of his spooked condition (which wasn't able to be resolved in the earlier scene). This was great because it got us past the moment where no one was willing to say it in front of anyone else.

                              This is the first Chronicles game that I've run and I was hesitant about the conditions at first, but I've found overall that they work wonderfully to keep the story moving and to give players an excuse to do interesting things that otherwise they might feel bad about doing. Especially with the group beats, even when one player claims a beat in a way that harms the rest of the group, they all benefit from it. It's usually the other players, when someone fails a dice roll that start asking "Oh, are you going to convert it to a dramatic failure?" It feels like the whole group are on board and happy to fail, which is something I've never seen encouraged by a system before.


                              • #30
                                I love that about the system. First time ever that the pressure to succeed or die was lifted.