Spell Bound - A DFRPG Story


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    Spell Bound - A DFRPG Story

    This is a retelling of a one shot Dresden Files RPG I GMed on May 27th with three of my regular players two of which I've been playing D&D with for over a decade and the last I'm married to. I love the system, and I think the game captured some of the feel of the novels, although their characters are nothing like Harry Dresden!

    I considered writing this in the 1st person, but it really wouldn't fit with the three characters. So, its in third person, fairly omniscient.

    Cast:
    Jack - Uses magic to enhance his physical abilities. He can hit harder, run up walls, jump really high, and so forth. He has training in thaumaturgy so he can do wards, conjurations, divinations, that kind of thing. He's impatient and easily goaded. He has a soft spot for those who can't protect themselves.

    Emerald - Uses air magic. She's self taught and has a big problem with organized crime, who also has a problem with her. Sometimes she operates as an assassin against criminals, sometimes she just ruins any plans they might have. Often they try to kill her, and eventually they're going to succeed. She's given up any pretense of a semblance of a normal life. She can't stand an innocent being hurt.

    Max - Pure mortal. He has no supernatural powers or abilities, but he's highly trained in most weapons, and he doesn't talk about his past. He's good with a swords, axes, hand guns, shotguns, rifles, grenades, and just about anything else you can think of. He works freelance for the highest bidder. He's best known as a bounty hunter for prowling supernatural baddies. He has a short temper. He doesn't really care much about others.

 

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    The three people currently gathered in the run down old warehouse on North Park Street had worked together on several prior occasions. In fact, they had defeated more than their fair share of monsters, mobsters, and miscellaneous madmen. Their noteriety preceeded them by a sizable margin in the last couple of years, with all the good and bad that comes with it. Jack was the first one to hear about the disappearing practitioners. He got his word through Paranet, who were a kind of neighborhood watch for the mortal supernatural community. For the most part they had to look out for their own simply because of their vast unimportantce in the overall scheme of things. He had collected the others, Emerald and Max, and they set about looking into things.

    In two weeks they had turned up one thing: that people were disappearing. This wasn't one of their most awe inspiring moments so far. Spells had turned up nothing. Contacts had turned up nothing. Whoever was doing this was either operating so far under the radar that nobody was talking, had enough magical clout that they could hide their proverbial tracks, or both. Or the three of them were just looking in all the wrong places, that happened too on occasion. Jack and Emerald were members of Paranet, practitioners on the higher end of non-apprenticed spellcasters, and Max was a freelance mortal who they worked with on occasion. It was late, they hadn't gotten much sleep that day, and they had gathered at Jack's place: an old warehouse he used as a place to sleep and train.

    The phone rang. It was an old rotary one that had the numbers that spin on its face. Anything newer than that didn't last long. Practitioners had this aura or something that hexed technology. And even this one had to be replaced every once in a while. And it isn't so easy to find one of those things that works. A bleary Jack rubed his eyes and picked up the reciever. "Hello?" He slured the two sylables into one.

    The voice on the other end was shakey. "Um... I got your phone number from a friend... I need help. They said you can help..."

    Jack's brain sat up. "What happened?"

    Her voice got a little more frantic. "They took him! I told him not to go out, but he wouldn't listen to me. I watched him leave, and they grabbed him as soon as he went outside."

    "Where are you?" Jack motioned for a pen and paper, Emerald passing them across the table giving him a What? look, but he held up his hand. "I'll come over right now. Give me your address."

    She gave it to him. "Hurry... I don't know what to do. I really don't know," and the phone line cut out.

    "Max wake up," Jack growled, throwing an empty Coke can at the sleepign figure, "We've got a lead."

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    The gibbous moon peered out from behind rain clouds as they drove up the street. A light rain splashed on the windshield for a few minutes before subsiding. The two practitioners hoped they wouldn't have to deal with any rain tonight. Running water has a dampening effect on magic. It's like a threshold that way, when there's water around you, especially moving water, it becomes harder to hold onto the energy needed to cast and maintain a spell. Looking out the window and up at the moon, Emerald could tell that the clouds were fairly sparse now, but more were coming in from the sea. If they wanted to beat the incoming rain, they'd have to move quickly.

    Max cursed as he pulled into a metered parking spot. He scowled at the others. "If you wanna pay, go ahead. If we get a ticket, its on you guys." Nobody took him up on his offer. It was late, and there probably wouldn't be any meter maids coming around. They hustled the rest of the way, about a block, to the apartment complex. The phone had cut out, and the woman on the other end of the line could be in trouble. It was late, almost midnight at this point, and nobody was on the street, although they did notice a few curtains quickly closing when they looked up. About half the street lamps were out, and it smelled like urine.

    Making it to the apartment, they headed up quickly. There were no rails on the stairs, and the lights flickered, but that could have been caused by the two practitioners. At the room, they stopped. If there was much of a threshold, that could hinder Emerald and Jack. It wouldn't stop them cold like it would some other creatures, but it would make it more difficult. The stronger the sense of home, the more of a threshold. It didn't look like the kind of place you would call home, but you never knew. Max didn't care as much, and he was about to simply kick in the door when it opened.

    A woman, perhaps fifty years old, dark circles under her eyes, in an evening gown looked back at them. The skin around her eyes was red and swollen, and she had a handkerchief in her hand.

    "I was so worried you wouldn't come... Come in, come in. Have a seat..." She fumbled the door closed after them and tried to slide the chain lock on the door back, but it fell and she ignored it. Her hands were shaking. "Can I get you anything?"

    Emerald frowned. "It's okay," she said quietly. "Tell us what happened."

    "I'm sorry about the mess..." She looked pale. In shock. "I must have messed up the phone. It happens sometimes-"

    "Never mind that," Max interrupted. "Your husband."

    The woman looked as if she were about to break down again, and Jack helped her to her seat. "We had a fight. He wanted to go out to clear his head. I told him it was a bad idea, that people like us had been disappearing, but he didn't listen, just grabbed his coat and went out the door. I watched him from the window, and that's when it happened." Tears started pouring from her eyes. The clear, quiet ones that once they start just keep coming. "They were in a black van. Took them maybe ten seconds to drive up, jump out, and pull him in. I couldn't do anything. Nothing at all..." She looked down. "Can you find him?"

    The trail was fresh. Maybe they wouldn't be able to do it with mundane means, but Jack knew a thing or two about divination spells, and in this particular place one that could help him find her husband.

    "Do you have anything I could use to track him?" he asked quietly.

    She nodded and went to her bedroom. She was a practitioner, a minor one in the grand scheme of things, but there were a few things that Paranet helped its members understand. One was how dangerous bits and pieces of you could be. Someone with those could do anything from find you to kill you, depending on how strong they were and what they wanted. So, its members were careful about that kind of thing, cleaning hair of brushes and burning used Band-Aids. Sometimes, though, it was worth it to keep maybe a few bits hidden away. This one of those times when it paid off. She returned with several hairs in a Ziplock baggie.

    "Thanks," he said, taking the bag.

    "Do you have anywhere you could go? Someone you could be with?" asked Emerald.

    She just shook her head. "No one. All I have is my husband."

    There was an awkward silence. No one said anything for a few moments, then the three of them filed out of the room and back down toward the street without looking back.
    Last edited by ThirdWizard; Friday, 3rd June, 2011 at 03:31 PM.

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    They pulled their car over to where the grab had taken place, taking a quick look around in case any obvious signs remained. The job they had described to them was quick... professional. They knew there wouldn't be anything mundane to find, but they looked anyway. The van had been staking the place out, after all. They knew he would be coming out, but how? That was the million dollar question.

    "You guys sense any magical mumbo-jumbo here?"

    Emerald shook her head. "Not me."

    "Nothing with me either," Jack replied.

    "If there was some at one time, it's been washed away by the rain," Emerald added.

    "What are the odds they were plain, ordinary, mortals?" Max asked.

    Emerald and Jack swapped a look of uncertainty.

    Max sighed. "Alright." He wagged his fingers in the air. "Well, do your stuff."

    Jack focused his mind and held the hairs of the kidnapped man. The hairs would act as a link for his tracking spell, a necessary component in order to form a bond for the spell to take hold. There had been pictures of him in the apartment, and he formed an image in his head. He pulled out a piece of chalk and drew a circle on the sidewalk to help contain the energy and serve as a construct to hold the spell before he released it. The ground was wet, but he managed to get it done without too much difficulty.

    As he started performing his spell, Jack and Emerald noticed the dark figure of a man across the street in an alley way. He was short and stocky with a sparse head of hair. His nose was broken, and he had a scowl that looked like it was sculpted perfectly to fit onto his particular face. As soon as they saw him, he backed into the shadows and disappeared into the alley. They exchanged looks, and each grabbed a shot gun from the car. Emerald quietly slid along the walls of the building as Max walked straight down the alley in full view. They had some questions to ask. Jack saw them go, but continued his spell. He would join them in a minute.

    "What do we have here?" Max called out as the man came into view. There were some others with him, but they were in the shadows and he couldn't see them very well. They fidgeted constantly with their hands.

    Looks like some druggies, Emerald thought to herself, as she crouched, shotgun at the ready, not having been seen. She counted. One... three... five. Hopefully Max would get some information out of them, but she figured a little backup never hurt.

    The short man deepened his scowl at the sight of Max, if that were possible, his frown sinking. They couldn't see any weapons on him or the others. "I could ask you the same thing. What brings you around here?"

    "We're investigating a kidnapping," Max replied matter-o-factly, giving no inflection or sign of emotion behind the words. "Now, I've answered your question. You answer mine."

    "Never said I would." He licked his lips. "So, I suggest we just go our own ways."

    Max shook his head. "Just tell me if you know anything, ugly. Your hanging out here is awfully suspicious. I think you know something, and I think you're going to tell me if you know what's good for you."

    The man's eyes narrowed. "No more suspicious than you. Maybe I shouldn't take you at your word." He growled a bit. It was deep and guttural, like an animal.

    It was then that Jack, having completed his spell, arrived to see what was going on. He took one look at the man, his first good look, and lost his breath for a moment. It was unmistakably a bad job on the disguise, but he was the only one who had experience with this particular creature before: a flesh eater of the worst kind. "Ghoul!" he shouted out as soon as he saw it, his finger extended.

    That one word was all it took to set everything off.

    The ghoul was fast. Max was only halfway through bringing up his shotgun when the monster was on him, its muscles bulging in strange places, claws extending from its fingertips, and its teeth sharpening. He barely had time to fall back, almost tripping over his own feet at the sudden onslaught, two of the sharp talons raking across his arm in a sharp burst of pain, but he managed to put some distance between himself and his attacker.

    Emerald hadn't been seen. She let loose a shotgun blast right at the ghoul. Ghouls might be fast, and they might be tough, but a shotgun fills them with holes just about as good as anything else, and it howled in pain as its sides were ripped and torn by the buckshot, blood spilling out onto the street. The monster looked directly at her burning with rage.

    With a word and a motion, Jack tried to take this opportunity to catch the ghoul off guard. He launched himself directly at the ghoul, aiming directly for its head. The ghoul saw him coming, though, and ducked under his flying kick, sending Jack further through the air than anticipated. He landed on the figures in the back, knocking himself and two of them onto the ground in a heap. Getting the first look at them, he caught his second surprise of the night.

    He had never seen this before, but he knew what it was. They were human, mortals, but enthralled to the point where they had no mind left of their own. They were merely shells of rage, waiting to be aimed wherever they could find a target. He could see it in their eyes, they were gone. They were completely and utterly empty.

    Max caught his footing, and finally got his shotgun up, pointing it directly at the beast perhaps five paces in front of him, and he fired. It tried to move out of the way, but it was too late. Its arm was nearly ripped off and fell into an unusable swing, the ghoul letting out a howl of pain that echoed through the alley.

    Behind it, the enthralled mass came down on Jack, who was on his hands and knees. They moved around, trying to surround him, to keep him from getting away, but he backed himself into a corner and slipped toward Emerald, keeping an escape route ready for himself if he needed. One tried to grab him, but he threw the guy off. Then they started kicking at his head, chest, and legs. They were wild, though, and Jack managed to fend them off while pushing himself up against the wall. Grabbing one, he threw it into another, slamming their heads together with a slight crack, both falling to the ground unconscious.

    The ghoul decided it had had enough, and jumped up to a fire escape to make a break for the rooftop. Unfortunately for it, Emerald was ready. Closing her hand into a fist, she focused her power through a ring, an item to to help power her air spells. With a thought she formed a quick buffet of wind that threw the ghoul against the building hard. There was the sound of glass breaking and a scream from somewhere inside the building. "It's just unconscious. We need the information, Max."

    "Yeah, well, we've got to get out of here." Max yelled out to the others, as he mounted the fire escape to grab the ghoul. Saying this wasn't a nice part of town was an understatement, but the police would show up eventually. There had been enough gunshots and screams that somebody was bound to make a call to 911. As he reached the ghoul, he grimaced. He was going to get black blood all over his clothes... and his car. "The things I do for the job," he muttered under his breath.

    At street level, while Max was doing that, Emerald went over to Jack. He had mopped up the opponents there, who were on the ground, still breathing.

    "They're beyond help." He said. "They're just going to wake up in a couple of hours, and with no one to tell them what to do, they'll go on a rampage. Maybe on the cops." He frowned. He didn't say what he was thinking, because he couldn't be sure. But, he knew that one of the creatures that did this were Black Court vampires. They created their thralls by destroying any shred of humanity in them with black magic and used them as foot soldiers. The three of them were unlikely to be able to take on a Black Court vampire. The alternative, that these were the handiwork of a warlock, was almost just as bad. Anyone who could do this to another human would surely be driven completely insane by the darkness of the intent. Black magic wasn't something one toyed with.

    Emerald didn't hesitate. She shot each of them in the head with her pistol.

    Jack looked at her. "That won't look good for us if somebody points the cops to us."

    "Then we'll just have to get out of here really fast," Max replied as he hit the ground, ghoul all over his shoulders and back.

    "What's that smell?" asked Emerald.

    Max didn't respond. He had a trash bag in his trunk, which he tried to stuff the ghoul into, and they tied him up in the back seat as Jack drove away.

    "Still have that tracking spell up?" Emerald asked.

    "Yeah. I'm headed that way."

    Max sat in the back with the ghoul. "Wakey wakey," he said slapping him around a little as they hit the on ramp to the highway. "We've got some questions for you."

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    For anyone curious about mechanics, I'll put those in sblock tags.
    Spoiler:

    Scene Aspects SMELLY AND CRAMPED, LOOSE BRICKS, DARK SHADOWS
    Zones
    * Street
    * Alley
    * Fire Escape
    * Rooftop
    Borders
    * Ladder (Average Athletics) - Alley/Fire Escape

    Ghoul
    Aspects GHOUL MERCENARY, IN IT FOR THE MEAT, ANGER ISSUES
    Skills Good Athletics, Fair Deception, Fair Driving, Good Endurance, Superb Fists, Good Intimidation, Good Stealth
    Powers Claws, Human Guise, Feeding Dependency (flesh), Inhuman Strength, Inhuman Speed, Supernatural Recovery, The Catch (holy objects, dead is dead)
    Physical Stress OOOOO
    Notes Weapon:4 claws&strength, Superb Attack, Good Defense, Epic Initiative

    Thralls
    Aspects CONSUMED BY RAGE
    Skills Fair Fists, Good Might, Good Weapons
    Powers Inhuman Strength
    Physical Stress OOO
    Notes Weapon:2 fists, Good Attack, Fair Defense, Mediocre Initiative

    Events
    This wasn't a bad fight for the PCs. They got some really good shotgun hits on the ghoul, putting him out fast. Oh, and when Jack did the flying kick at the ghoul and missed, I let him spend a fate point to instead land in the thralls on the other side of the ghoul, hitting one and knocking a few down in the process.
    Last edited by ThirdWizard; Monday, 6th June, 2011 at 06:30 PM.

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    It was approaching 6am, nobody was on the road, and they were tired and hungry when the ghoul finally woke up. It's blood was everywhere, despite Max's attempts to keep his car clean. The smell was starting to make them sick and they had to roll the windows down. Jack was following his spell as calmly as he could, any anxiety and the car might just break down from an accidental hex. Emerald had her pistol trained directly at the ghoul's head, and Max had one at his side.

    "Good to see you up. Have a nice nap?" Max intoned sarcastically.

    The ghoul was groggy. "You blathering idiots. Go to your Hell."

    Max had to muster all his will not to blow the brains out of the thing's head right then and there. But, they needed the information. So far they didn't have much, and he couldn't give up what they had. That, and he didn't want to mess up his car more than it already was. That last part was probably more important to him.

    Emerald sighed and wagged her finger. "Ah ah ah. Play nice or we'll decide we don't need you."

    The ghoul looked around, assessing its situation. "Why am I alive?"

    "Because you were there for a reason, and we want to know that reason," responded Emerald, waving the gun around to make sure he understood it wasn't a question.

    "Same reason you were." He smirked. "Tracking people grabbing humans."

    Max and Emerald looked at each other, blinking a few times. Max raised an eyebrow.

    "Why would a flesh eating monster give a second thought about some missing humans?" asked Max.

    The ghoul gurgled a laugh. "Don't. I was hired. I followed them; lost their trail, though. Then I saw you." He moved uncomfortably. He was already healing from the injuries, but what he had would still leave him hurt for days.

    That was more plausible. Ghouls were hired muscle, and they didn't think a ghoul would be able to pull off what they had described to them. Well, he could, but he wouldn't. It simply wouldn't be in the nature of a ghoul. They tend more toward violence. That also said something about the one who hired him.

    "Tell us about your employer." Emerald waved the gun around.

    The ghoul growled at her. "Can't do it. But, we're on the same side. No point in shoving your weapon in my face. I can tell you what I know. Maybe you'll handle it for me."

    Jack cut in. "Guys... problem."

    "What is it now," asked Max, looking out ahead of the car.

    "Tacking spell went down."

    Emerald blinked. "Sun won't be up for a while..."

    "Yeah, it wasn't that." He grimaced. "Could be dead."

    "Could be behind a ward..."

    "That too."

    "Well, what do we do now, then?" Max asked.

    The ghoul smiled. "Now you just got me."

    "Okay, why should we let you live, and why should we trust you?" asked Max.

    "I know who's taking them. Not where he takes them, though. So, I was trying to follow. Then you come along." He licked his lips, decidedly inhumanly. "I give you his name, you let me go."

    They weren't technically enemies at this point. And, they needed the information. He was a human eating monster, but there were plenty of those around.

    "Deal," called Jack from the front. He had pulled over off the highway and was looking for an open Burger King for some breakfast. Also a reason to get out of the car.

    "Tony 'the Wolf' Roberts. He's-"

    "I know who he is." Max cut him off. "Contract. Works for the mob sometimes. Does security work. He's a professional. He won't talk."

    The ghoul smiled, blood dripping out of the corner of its mouth. "You made me talk."

    Jack stopped, and they pushed the ghoul out. It made a popping noise when it hit the ground, and they drove off.

    "Think we can trust him?" asked Emerald.

    Jack frowned at her. "We'll have to. What else do we have?"

    "I know just where to start looking. Guy owes me a favor. But, we'll need a plan. We'll need a way to get him to talk. It won't be easy." Max said, scratching his face.

    "Shock and awe?" asked Emerald.

    "Shock and awe," Max responded.
    Last edited by ThirdWizard; Friday, 3rd June, 2011 at 08:52 PM.

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    In a couple of hours the sun was starting to come up. You couldn't see the sun itself, but the clouds were back lit in the east. Max's tipoff had told him that they could find Tony up and working already. They had hoped that they would be able to surprise him at home, scare him into talking while he was alone. But, things never worked out that way, and he was already on the job, at a warehouse not far from where they had started with the call. The informant didn't know why he was there, but he had heard from a reputable source. So, the group rolled up a few blocks from the factory, and Emerald scouted it out.

    Tony was with five other guys, barking orders at them while they pulled boxes out of a black van and carried them into the warehouse. They probably hadn't been at it long, because one van was still full of the unmarked boxes, and the other one wasn't half empty yet. Tony himself was an imposing guy, tall and built like a wall. His eyes darted to the men, flashing around with acute precision. On a loop around his shoulder hung an PDW, a nasty gun, and he touched it every once in a while subconsciously, making sure it was right there where he needed it. The others had pistols at their sides. Emerald watched them for maybe ten minutes, but didn't see anyone else. If there were others inside, they weren't coming out to help.

    She still had no indication if this was the place they were looking for or some moonlighting Tony was doing on the side. A guy like him had his fingers in multiple pots, and it wasn't unlikely that this had nothing at all to do with the missing people. Just to check the situation out a bit deeper, Emerald called up a bit of her power. It wasn't enough to do any real damage to anything, just enough to use a focused stream of air to knock a box out of one of the goon's hands. His eyes opened, and his arms and hands flailed around the box, but too late, and the box hit the ground. Its contents spilled out, individually wrapped packets of white powder scattering around the parking lot. Tony lost it on the guy, who looked positively terrified as he gathered the objects back up and into the box, scurrying into the warehouse while Tony glared daggers at him. Emerald took the opportunity to slink back to the others.

    She told them what she saw.

    "Yeah, I don't think we'll find the people here," agreed Max.

    "So, we hit them, grab Tony, and get out of Dodge?" asked Jack.

    "Hit them hard," added Emerald.

    "Remember to take Tony alive..." said Jack.

    Max was already surveying the area. He had a sniper rifle in the back of his car, and if things went south, he'd be far away and ready to run. He didn't say that, exactly, though. "I'll give you guys gun support with my sniper rifle from up there." He pointed to the rooftop of a rundown old warehouse across the street where he would have a clear shot at Tony and his guys.

    "A-L-I-V-E," emphasized Jack.

    Max rolled his eyes. "I won't kill him. Scout's honor." He held up his right arm.

    Emerald looked at him dubiously, and shrugged. "Your shot will be the go ahead for us. Give us ten minutes once you get in place, and start it off."

    "I'll try to grab Tony," said Jack, "and get out of there. If I can do that, we can take off and interrogate him at our leisure."

    "Worth a try," said Max.

    The three of them split up. Max broke into the warehouse and headed up to the roof, rifle in hand, while the others snuck toward the parking lot where Tony's men had just about finished unloading boxes from the first van. Emerald was much better than sneaking up on people than Jack. She managed to take advantage of the shadows and quietly work her way around the parking lot until she was within hearing distance of them. Jack, on the other hand was across the street. He'd have to move through the whole parking lot to reach them. He had a trick up his sleeve, though. His particular brand of magic allowed him to pour magic into his legs, letting him move faster. He'd be on them only a few seconds after Emerald could make a move.

    They crouched, waithing for the signal.

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    Sniper rifles make a lot of noise.

    It isn't like the movies, where there's a little "ppphhht" sound and people fall over dead with a hole in their head. They're big guns with big bullets. Max's MK11 weighted over fifteen pounds empty and fired 7.62 mm caliber bullets. That's a projectile larger than a Duracell hitting you at supersonic speeds. It also had a range of over 1000 meters and hits within half an inch of the scope if you're good, and Max was nowhere near that far away and was highly trained. One other thing about sniping. You don't go for the head. It's a small target and the large calibers involved can hit a man straight in the chest and blow a hole big enough that it doesn't matter if you technically miss the vital organs, because the giant gaping hole there will make the guy just as dead. Of course, as Jack had pointed out, they needed Tony alive, and taking out the biggest threat first with lots of overwhelming force was a big part of a rapid dominance strategy. So, the first shot was going for a less vital area. Max was going for his left leg, the largest non-completely-immediately-lethal target on Tony's soon to be very injured body.

    The rifle boomed to life and the shot echoed in the street. It could have been mistaken for coming thunder from the storm, except for the gaping hole in Tony's leg spewing blood from his femoral artery. He collapsed in a heap, screaming in pain. His lackies turned immediately, agape, dropping whatever boxes they were carrying. If that wasn't treated in minutes, he would bleed out. One guy started toward him, while the others went for their guns, looking around in horror. It's not easy to pinpoint a sniper shot, not with the distance it puts between you and it. Plus, the echo had left them spinning in circles. It was perfect.

    Emerald was already on them, and much closer than they could have imagined. With a quick focus of power, she held out her hand, sweeping it across her vision while saying "Aeroga", and three of the men flew backward through the air and slammed against the side of one of the vans, leaving dents and collapsing unconscious on the ground. That wasn't exactly an easy use of magic, throwing three large guys fifteen feet, but it was expedient and better than getting shot at. She felt it a little more difficult to concentrate. She pulled out her pistol to deal with the other two men. They still didn't know if there were others inside. If five more came out, she'd have a bit of trouble with them. If more came out, then they'd have to run.

    Jack took off like a sprinter toward Tony. His job was to grab him and get away. Then Emerald would escape, she was great at hiding, and Max would, of course, already be long gone. That way, if there were more people, they wouldn't be in a prolonged firefight. It didn't matter how good you were. Once bullets were flying, odds were you were going to get hit. Avoiding that kind of situation was far preferable to the alternative. He crossed the parking lot in a few seconds and was almost to Tony when he saw a shadow out of the corner of his eye and barely swerved in time to avoid being grabbed by one of Tony's men, a large man who probably played football in high school, who went down as his arms didn't make the contact he was counting on. Jack lost his balance for only a split second, but it was enough. The other guy he hadn't seen hit him from behind like a truck, throwing both of them to the ground. Jack rolled, cutting his hands on the pavement beneath, and came to a stop about thirty five yards short of Tony, who was looking at him with bewilderment and, even through the pain, reaching for his PDW. Jack cursed his luck under his breath just as the first guy growled and started getting up.

    Tony apparently wasn't about to go down without a fight, and even through the blood loss and pain and the high probability that he was going to lose that leg, pulled up his gun and aimed it directly at Jack. A sharp pain shot through his leg when he pulled the trigger and the blowback hit him, but he kept the muzzle trained on Jack, who had taken to a roll to avoid the incoming fire. Jack still had the magic speed enhancements for a few more seconds, and he managed to get out of the worst of it, but he still caught a bullet in his right forearm.

    Max watched the scene below unfold and he tried to get another shot off. Shock and awe sometimes had the effect of scattering your opposition, but in this case, they probably didn't have a planned escape route. So their fight or flight mechanism shot a serious dose of addrenaline in them and told them to go down swinging. That was okay. Three of them were already down, and Max had the guy who knocked Jack down in his sights. Another shot, and the man lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. With that, his job was done. He grabbed the rifle and started heading down to join the others.

    The spells that Jack had weaved into his leg were gone at this point. He had planned to get in and out fast, so he didn't pour any more power into the spell than he thought he would need. He didn't plan on being grabbed. Stupid mistake. Now he was in a tough bind. He had risen, and had a one man defensive line coming down on him while Tony was firing at him with an automatic. He decided to try and take out the unarmed man first, running for him at full speed. Hand to hand was his forte, but he was aching from the previous fall and had taken a bullet in the arm. With his right out of commission, he went with a left feit, which the guy fell for, and slammed his knee into the large man's testicles. Not a completely honorable move, but a quick and effective one. The opponent was down before he could say "Oh God, oh God, why does it hurt so much?" He turned to face down Tony, but the semi-automatic caught him as he turned, and he felt a dull pain hit him in the stomach. He looked down to see a clean hole starting to leak blood.

    Emerald was only a second too late to stop it. She was on Tony, and put her pistol to the back of his head. "Drop it." He did. She resisted the urge to cold cock him. He wouldn't live long enough to regain consciousness if she did. There was already a pool of blood forming all around him. She sighed, and ripped off a bit of his clothes to form a turnequit around the wound. It was right above the knees at the bottom of the thigh. She'd have to cut off all the blood to his leg. "Who are you working for?"

    Jack started treating the wound. Belly shots aren't immediately lethal, but he was going to need treatment soon. It didn't look like any major arteries or organs were hit, thankfully. He sure didn't feel right, though. He sat down and put pressure on the bullet hole, feeling on his back to see if it went through, but finding no exit hole.

    "Guy named Richard Hall." Tony grunted out the words as she tied his leg. She wasn't being gentle.

    "Where do you do the drop off?" She walked around and knelt in front of him. He eyes were cold and steady on his.

    He clenched his teeth. "Harbor. Barge called the Sea Horse."

    "Lotta guys?"

    "Some of mine. Half dozen maybe."

    She looked at him to try and tell if he was lying. She was good at reading people, and he didn't look like he had it in him to lie at the moment. She nodded satisfied, standing up and walking over to Jack. "What's the prognosis?"

    "I need to see somebody."

    She sighed. They'd have to put off the Sea Horse a few hours then. And, he wouldn't be 100%. Heck, he might not be 50%. He'd have to go at it post op. They'd need a good plan.

    Max drove the car up to the warehouse, having packed up his sniper rifle in the trunk, shotgun in hand. "You got everything you need?"

    Emerald looked up. "Yeah."

    Max's shotgun went off at the back of Tony's head. "Can't have him around any more." He went in to check out the warehouse and found a few more PDWs, some pistols, and crates of drugs. He also found some cans of gasoline. Pouring them out, he made a little trail out the door and lit it, stepping away as the warehouse lit up in an inferno. Seeing the others climbing into the car, he ran over. "Nope. We're going to need to switch," he motioned to one of the black vans, the one without the large dent in the side. "Camouflage."

    "We're going to have to hit a doctor first. Jack took a shot."

    "Bad?"

    "Will be..."

    Max emptied everything from his car into the van, shifted it into neutral, and pushed it into the blaze. Then they took off to find someone to treat Jack. Someone who wouldn't report a gunshot wound.

    Spoiler:

    Encounter
    Scene Aspects: TONS OF COCAINE, BAD PART OF TOWN

    Tony "The Wolf" Roberts
    Aspects Civilian Black Ops For Hire, "I get the job done", Realistic Expectations
    Skills Good Athletics (+3), Good Contacts (+3), Fair Conviction (+2), Fair Deceit (+2), Fair Fists (+2), Good Guns (+3), Fair Investigation (+2), Fair Might (+2)
    Powers Fast Reload, Careful Aim(+3 to Weapon on aim w/ fate), Wrestler (+2 grapple)
    Refresh 5
    Physical Stress OOOO (uses all consequences)
    Notes Weapon:3 PDW, Armor:1 bullet proof vest, Good Attack w/ Guns, Good Defense, Average Initiative

    Thugs
    Skills Average Athletics (+1), Fair Fists (+2), Fair Guns (+2)
    Physical Stress OO (thugs don't take consequences)

    Events
    Being one of the main NPCs, Tony had full use of consequences. Max rolled something like Fantastic on his Guns, plus invoked his high aspect, plus had a stunt that increased damage when he had surprise, plus used a stunt that consumed a fate point to increase damage. In the end, he did something like 15 physical stress, which is pretty much the whole point of the sniper rifle. With Tony's 4 stress boxes, he had to take an extreme consequence (Lost Leg) and a moderate consequence (Lost a Lot of Blood) just to survive.

    Now, to get the sniper rifle, at the start of the session I made Max roll Resources to buy it. It was a Weapon:4 military grade weapon, after all. But, Max has a freaking Good Resources! I figured he deserved the sniper rifle just for putting that many points into Resources for a one off game! And, hey, it really worked out well for him.

    After I gave Tony the consequences, the only reason he was able to keep firing was the 5 fate points he had, because I forced compels against the extreme consequence every round (the fight ended up being only two rounds!). He paid the fate to keep going, which I figured with his aspects that was reasonable. If it had been more of a brute NPC, I probably would have had him stop fighting instead of trying to take Jack out with his PDW. But, he is a professional, after all.

    Jack took a hard hit with that PDW because Tony invoked his "I get the job done" on his Guns vs Jack. He had to use a severe consequencet. That was rough! We went with Belly Shot. However, it was not the worst hit of the game. That has yet to come.

    Emerald used an amazing Intimidate on the guy, tagging his physical consequences. At that point, he was just too injured to argue about it. He was beaten. So they got their information. From where I'm sitting, they earned it!

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    I run Dresden Files for a group as well, in a campaign setting. I'm really enjoying the system and I'm loving what your group did with a one-shot!

    Looking forward to reading the rest.
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    They hit the highway on ramp eastbound at about 10:30 am, and Jack hurt like Hell. He was right, the bullet had missed his internal organs, so his stomach and kidneys were okay, as well as all those other bits of flesh floating in his abdomen. Missed his spine, too. But, the bullet hadn't gone out the back, so a surgeon had to dig around in his stomach to get it out, and every little bump in the black van was like someone was clawing out his insides. He bore the pain as they drove, having taken no meds. They would have muddled his ability to use magic too much. And they'd need whatever firepower they could muster. They didn't know what they were getting into exactly, after all.

    Of course, his injuries were a great aid for their plan.

    They were going to be making Mr. Hall a "delivery" on Tony's behalf: that being a very pale and beat up looking Jack. Hopefully nobody would know Tony's fate yet, and they'd get through without trouble. Two firefights in one day is just pushing your luck. They pulled the black van up to the pier where the Sea Horse was docked and looked out. There were six men on deck, all armed. Five of them were paroling the deck while one of them stood on the roof of the cabin with a rifle. Yeah. They definitely didn't want to try to take this group. At the warehouse, Tony had been otherwise occupied. These guys were just waiting for somebody to mess with them. Plus, they didn't want to alert Hall below deck.

    Jack took a deep breath. "You guys ready for this? Make it believable." His hands looked bound. It was really just a few loops with a knot tied to make it look like he was held. With a twist, it would just fall off.

    "I'd tell you to do the same, but you're a little too in character," quipped Max.

    Jack grunted.

    Max and Emerald hopped out and walked around the back while the men on the boat watched them. It had started to sprinkle, and they could see lightning flashing in the bay. They tried to act natural as they pulled Jack out of the back and marched him up on board the ship.

    "Delivery for Hall," Emerald announced loudly, not stopping as the three of them went for the cabin.

    Unfortunately, one of the men interposed himself between them and the door. "Where's Tony?" He looked the two of them up and down. "I've never seen you before..." He trailed off as his gaze went over the injured Jack. He prodded Jack in the stomach with his pistol. The reaction was a performance that couldn't be faked.

    "Watch it," said Emerald. "Need him alive. At least for now." She didn't know for sure if that were true, but it was very likely.

    "Tony's busy. We're subcontracting. We were just told to drop him off here," Max said, meeting his eyes.

    The man nodded a little, then called out. "Hey, Louis! We've got company!"

    A man walked out of the cabin, shotgun slung over his shoulder. He wore sunglasses and loose fitting clothes. He wasn't particularly large, maybe 5' 7" and lean, with a buzz cut. He looked over the situation, taking out a cigarette and lighting it, drawing it out for effect over perhaps twenty seconds. Max and Emerald didn't interrupt. He carried himself in a self-important manner that said I really don't care to everything around him.

    Eventually he walked up to them, taking a puff, and looked at the guy who called him out and said, "So what do they want?"

    Seriously? thought Jack. What does it look like is going on? Why do we even bother?

    "They say they have a delivery," the man pointed toward Jack, who tried to look weak and helpless. It wasn't difficult in his current state.

    "Where's Tony?"

    "They say he's busy."

    "As we were saying, Louis," Max cut in. "Tony subcontracted to us, and we're making the delivery. Tony's already paid us, and we agreed to complete the job. If you would be so kind, it won't take long."

    Louis looked him over from behind his sunglasses. "Max, right? I think I've seen your work before."

    His reputation preceded him. That was either good or bad. "That's right."

    "Sure, head down, then," he said turning away, and heading back inside, waving them after him.

    The man who had initially confronted the three of them let out a relieved sigh and went back to patrolling, immediately disregarding them as he continued his vigil. The man on the roof eyed them until they were inside the cabin.

    "Down the stairs to the lower decks, past the galley." Louis then pulled his sunglasses up to his forehead, sat down, and picked up a Playboy.

    They went down as he said. As soon as they put some space between him and them, Jack removed the rope from around his wrists.

    "I was worried you wouldn't be able to pull it off," said Jack.

    "We still have to get out," said Max.

    As they reached the bottom of the stairs, they could hear the rain picking up above them. They passed doors leading to some cabins and a mess hall then reached a door at the end of the galley.

    Jack stopped, holding up his hand. "I think there's some kind of magic here. Wait a second."

    The others stepped back and Jack Looked at the door with his Sight. The Sight is a special sense that some more potent practitioners possess. Jack had trained for a several years before he could open his Third Eye and perceive the world through the Sight. It was a powerful, but dangerous tool. The Sight reveals things as they truly are: it sees through all illusions, veils, and it exposes curses and other supernatural effects. However, what you see stays with you forever - it cannot be forgotten. It burns itself into your memory, so ten, twenty, forty years from now it will be just as vivid in your head as the moment you See it. And sometimes what you See isn't something you want to remember.

    In this case, however, it was fairly straightforward. Jack saw a land mine on the door. He held his breath, looking it over. "A ward..." he whispered to the others, as if he was worried that a loud noise would set it off, "and a deadly looking one."

    "Can you get rid of it?" asked Emerald.

    "I'm going to try." Jack licked his lips and examined it. He had to be careful how much power he put into his counter spell. Too much or too little and he might set it off. Finally satisfied, he nodded to himself and began drawing in energy and manipulating it, wrapping it around the ward, using his Sight to aid in his counter magic. When he had what he believed the correct amount of magic energy collected he released the it onto the ward, and the ward faded from his view. He realized he had been holding his breath the whole time and let it out in a long, groaning, sigh, as he closed his Third Eye. "It's done."

    The others let out their breath as well.

    They tried the door, but it was locked. Emerald looked it over and smiled. "Won't take long." Within a few second there was a click and the door was unlocked. "Try the same rouse, try to catch him off guard?"

    Jack nodded. "Might as well. You guys are armed, but that doesn't matter to me."

    "Lets do it, then." They stood on either side of Jack, opened the door, and stepped into the room beyond.

    Spoiler:

    It's a very good thing they talked their way onto the barge. This encounter could have rocked them, and almost assuredly would have alerted Hall below.

    As it is, they bypassed it with some good Deception rolls.

    Aspects ROCKING IN THE WAVES, COLD WIND, LIGHTLY SPRINKLING
    Zones
    * East Deck
    * West Deck
    * Cabin
    * Cabin Roof
    Borders
    * East/Roof - None (stairs) or Fair (+2) climb

    Gunman - Louis
    Skills Fair Athletics (+2), Good Fists (+3), Good Guns (+3), Good Weapons (+3)
    Physical Stress OOO (takes minor/moderate consequences)
    Notes Good Attack, Fair Defense, Weapon:3 shotgun, Weapn:1 switchblade

    Rifleman
    Skills Fair Athletics (+2), Fair Fists (+2), Good Guns (+3), Average Might (+1)
    Physical Stress OO (takes minor consequence)
    Notes Weapon:3 rifle

    Thug
    Skills Average Athletics (+1), Fair Fists (+2), Fair Guns (+2)
    Physical Stress OO (takes no consequences)
    Notes Weapon:2 pistol

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