Tabletop – DFAE Playtest – Session 1 write-up

I have no idea who might be interested in this other than my players, but 4 readers is equal to 4000 (ha! as if!) in my estimation.

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kira__were___crow__o_o_by_nagare_boshiDFAE Playtest – Session 1

Characters present:

Cieran Muldoon, Wyldfae Undertaker to the supes of Seattle

Korbin Stevens, Irascible Chaotic Good Wizard

Jeremiah Tooms, Small-Time Mortal Street Criminal

Sasha Travis, Streetwise EMT (and were-Crow)

Euphorium for the masses (Seattle)

It’s a quiet October Monday night in Seattle, apart from the fact that the weather has been unusually – some say unnaturally – hot and dry for months. A couple of cool days at the end of September raised hopes that the weather was breaking, but instead an Indian Summer of epic proportions has settled in. Daytime temps are in the 80s and no rain has fallen in months. Tempers are fraying among both the mortal and supernatural population of the city. Denizens of the Summer Court strenuously deny having any part in the weather (this time), while the local Native American population does the same (it’s not called an Indian Summer for nothing, right?)

Here 4 The Beer (H4B), a bowling team composed of a misfit crew of supernatural and supernatural-adjacent people (the PCs), is meeting at the Lois Lanes to play, as they do at least once a week almost every week of the year. [See The Lois Lanes venue at the end of the post.]

Also present on this Monday evening are the Gutter Girls, the Bowling Stones and the Holy Rollers. All three teams are in the league quarter-finals on Tuesday and all three are practicing hard. Here 4 The Beer is not in their league (at least in terms of skill) and was eliminated several rounds ago. As far as the PCs know, all three teams are made up of muggles.

Not bowling but occupying their usual table away from the lanes are four or five members of the “Chess Club”, which plays far more mobile and computer games than chess these days and spends a great deal of time arguing about nerdy things nobody else understands (or admits to understanding).

A few muggles have come in for a beer and some food.

As the PCs play they notice that the people around them seem to be especially short-tempered this evening. A couple of increasingly heated arguments are defused by liberal applications of mai-tais (thanks to Cieran) and threatening bouncers… after having been fanned by liberal applications of Jeremiah’s DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD and Korbin’s I DO NOT SUFFER FOOLS GLADLY. The especially cranky types include the Gutter Girls, the Bowling Stones (though that was almost entirely Korbin’s fault) and the Chess Club boys. The latter are arguing about who is the best Star Trek captain ever.

[This leads to a brief and fortunately not angry exchange among the PCs, who apparently all have a bit of a nerdy tinge to them, concerning who is really the best Star Trek captain.]

At any rate nobody comes to blows. The Gutter Girls finish their practice and go home.

Sasha is contacted by her work – she’s on call this evening, as she has been for weeks. The heat wave has predictably driven up the crime rate, and the EMT teams have had their hands full keeping up with a wave of physical injuries due to everything from domestic disputes to bar brawls and outright murder on the streets. The call location is not far from the Lanes and her colleagues will pick her up on the way.

While Sasha is gone, Korbin ponders the fact that Devlin, one of the Chess Club boys, appeared to remain calm – even happy – during the entire nerdy argument; in fact, the more his friends yelled at him, the happier and calmer he seemed. He mentions this, and Cieran remembers that Betty (one of the Gutter Girls) also seemed weirdly calm and happy while her three friends were arguing with each other.

Korbin decides to use the Sight on Devlin. [No roll called for, partly because the GM forgot to ask for one and partly because the GM was hoping the mage would do exactly that.] Sight-seen Devlin appears mostly normal, apart from the weird purple-black smoke coiled around his neck, tendrils drifting off into the ether. (Korbin sees a number of other things about the Lois Lanes and its denizens which aren’t currently relevant.)

Meanwhile, Sasha discovers that the victim the EMT team was called to is Betty, one of the Gutter Girls. She appears to be dead, although there are no obvious signs of trauma.

Sasha decides to invoke her STREETWISE EMT aspect to do what she can to save Betty, even though it seems to be too late. With the help of her team-mates [and a great roll], she manages to revive and then stabilize Betty, and her team-mates drive the unconscious Gutter Girl off to the hospital while Sasha returns to Lois Lanes to let her friends know what happened.

Back at the bowling alley, everyone is shocked to hear what happened to Betty but relieved to hear she is not dead. Sasha gets the number of another Gutter Girl from the contacts list maintained at the bar and informs the ladies. Cieran buys her a well-done beer.

At this point, shaken and tired, the PCs decide to head home.

[More was planned for this scene but the GM failed her prep roll. As it was, I think it worked out as an intro scene to let everyone get into character and meet each other.]

Over the next couple of days the PCs try to find out more about what is going on in the city, because they’re not sure this heat wave and violence thing is natural.

Sasha keeps tabs on Betty in the hospital but Betty remains comatose. Her doctor is stumped as to what might have caused her to collapse in the street – perhaps an embolism? Sasha does find out that ‘embolism’ and ‘heart failure’ seem to be common causes of death in the last few weeks, which implies to her that the medical examiners have no idea what’s causing the deaths.

Cieran, meanwhile, is tapping his Fae contacts just in case Summer is dissembling (not lying, of course) and does have a hand in the heat and crime-wave. The Summer fae repeat that as far as they know, nothing is going on. His rather more distant contacts among the vamps in town report that there’s a high muckety-muck from the White Court in town, visiting Geoffrey Vermeer (Seattle’s White Court head honcho), but that they don’t see how that could cause the heat or the violence.

For his part, Korbin hits the books to find out more about the purple-black smoke stuff he Saw around Devlin’s neck. The Sight being what it is, that could mean anything (anything bad, at any rate). He wonders if it has anything to do with possession, but Korbin tends to think in that direction and does not find direct confirmation in his books. However, he does establish that the color and the shape of what he saw does usually indicate some sort of symbolic (if not direct) control or possession, though it does not relate to any entity he can find. [He hit the Restricted Occult Collection at U-Dub and therefore owes Linda the Librarian a favor.]

Uneasy but unsure why, the PCs meet up at the Lois Lanes on Wednesday around lunchtime in order to discuss what’s been going on and compare notes.

As they eat they start to argue about the various theories that are being proposed, mostly egged on by Jeremiah who thinks these supernatural types are full of crap (clearly it’s the heat). Cieran suddenly leaves the table and disappears into the restrooms. (Cieran suspects the arguments might have something to do with him, so Cieran carefully inspects himself for signs of… anything weird, and then reapplies his Glamour.) [GM note – it would have been helpful, Fate-wise, if Cieran’s player had told the table where and why he was going, but it takes a while to realise that Fate expects/encourages players to play on both the meta- and the character level.]

When one of the PCs spots Sally (the waitress) leaning beatifically on the bar as she watches them yell at each other and points this out to the others, the group realizes that something weird is going on and that being inappropriately happy might be more than just a weird personality trait.

Sasha already mooted the theory that it might be some sort of drug, driving people to unusual levels of anger and subsequent violence, but the lack of marks on Betty sort of stymied that line of thinking.

Now, however, the theory is back on the table. Jeremiah steps away to call his contacts and see if a new drug has hit the streets. [Current table rule is that a wizard’s hex isn’t going to mess with all electronics around him unless it’s dramatically appropriate for that to happen, but the GM did rule that uneasy wizard + nearby cellphone wasn’t going to be good for the cellphone.]

Meanwhile, Korbin decides to use the Sight on Sally. [And the GM decides that using the sight on every Tom, Dick and Harry is eventually going to bite Korbin in the ass, if he’s not careful – I’m far more inclined to use the books as a guide than the rules, which turn a possible Cthulhu-esque SAN loss experience into a more watered-down skill roll.] Unsurprisingly she too has this wispy, tendril-releasing purple-black smoke around her neck. Other than that she is actually a rather pleasant sight – clearly not human, she appears as a sort of epitome of apple-pie, middle-aged, motherly concern, which is pretty much how she treats everyone who comes to the Lanes.

Jeremiah returns to the table, having discovered that yes, there’s a new drug on the streets, but it certainly can’t be having these effects. It’s called Euphorium and all it does is make the imbiber super happy. Not stoned, exactly, and certainly not trippy, just… happy. His contacts don’t know where it’s coming from, though they’re pretty sure it’s not coming through the usual distributors.

The group decides to head outside to discuss developments away from Sally’s smiling (and listening) presence. As they leave, Cieran stops to pay their tab – Jeremiah ‘forgot his wallet’ again – and, as nonchalantly as only a Fae can muster, asks: “Hey Sally, where does one go to buy drugs around here? I see you’re on something and it seems pretty cool!”

Fortunately Sally doesn’t seem to know drug protocol either, and happily tells him she got the stuff from Devlin, and that’s it’s awesome! She’s pretty sure Devlin will be around later – he’s there almost every evening.

The PCs theorise that a magically-altered drug might make the imbiber happy through some sort of funky magic, but that the cost for said effect is that everyone else around the imbiber is less happy, angry, violent, etc. That would explain the happy campers in the middle of the heated arguments.

They decide to reconvene later in the day to put the squeeze on Devlin.

This they do, having nominated Jeremiah (the criminal) as the most likely candidate for said squeezing. Sasha and Cieran wait over by the pinball machines at the other end of the building, while Korbin loiters incredibly un-subtly around the corner behind Jeremiah, ready to throw up a magical shield if Devlin turns out to be tougher than expected.

Jeremiah totally fails to impress Devlin with his criminal street chops [Rep stunt, no Heat used], but he does manage to lift Devlin’s wallet while they’re talking and that gets Devlin’s attention. Fortunately the kid isn’t exactly a hardened criminal himself. He explains that he usually only deals weed and Vicodin and stuff like that. (Judging by Devlin’s clothes and expensive gadgets, Jeremiah suspects he’s a trust-fund kid who got cut off and is trying to fund his expensive slacker lifestyle.)

At any rate, he recently started dealing this Euphorium and the stuff is awesome! He takes it himself, and it’s totally excellent and has no side-effects or anything!

Jeremiah rolls his eyes but asks Devlin if he has any on him for sale… then gulps when Devlin hands him a tiny vial (perfume-sample size, full of dark purple smoky, swirling liquid) and asks for $200. They dicker, and eventually settle on the return of Devlin’s wallet plus a stolen credit card (Jeremiah doesn’t usually have a lot of cash on him).

The transaction complete, Jeremiah strolls away, Korbin behind him (mocked by Devlin for his utter lack of sneakiness), and they rejoin the other two.

–End of Session 1–

The Lois Lanes (venue)

The Lois Lanes is an old bowling alley built sometime in the middle of the 20th century. It’s got space-evoking swoops of concrete outside and is decorated in vintage 50s red vinyl – and, of course, lots and lots of chrome. While it only boasts a dozen lanes, it does have a liquor license and the cook, Duke, makes one of the meanest burgers in town.

The Lois is the unofficial supernatural bowling venue in Seattle, for those who care for such pastimes, though muggles are allowed in to make up the numbers. The presence of muggles means the supernaturals are expected to behave themselves. This expectation is supported by the presence of the twin bouncers, Castor and Pollux, who are unnaturally large by mortal standards (and even larger by troll standards for those who know or can see through the glamour). Also somehow part of the enforcement team are Heckel and Jeckel, or Helter and Skelter, or whatever the patrons want to call the pair of mangy little yappy-type dogs that roam freely about the place. (No, they’re not dogs. But even the supernaturals aren’t sure what they are.) Heckel and Jeckel are apparently incredibly sensitive to any kind of non-friendly conflict, and Castor and Pollux are incredibly sensitive to H&J’s warnings.

As a result, people generally behave themselves at the Lois. Not behaving oneself results in a quick trip to the pavement out front. Repeated misbehavior results in banination, usually temporary. Those banned for good from the Lois Lanes are few in number and they are never spoken of.