GUMSHOE: Night's Black Agents - Tinker Tailor Vampire Die

log in or register to remove this ad


First Post
When we last left our team, things weren't looking so good. Most of the team was missing, unreachable or dead.

Before we talk about the adventure of tonight, here's an update on who we know is alive and kicking.

Mace Hunter & MikeSmith - sitting on the curb watching Headquarters burn
Dr Carter Byers - at home, having just been fired from the hospital

Nick Darter, Rossini - captured, sitting on a second floor cell of a disused oil derrick just off the coast.

Desdemona - also captured, also in the cell with Nick and Rossini, but also about halfway into the transformation to take her from mortal spy to immortal bloodsucker.

So that's where things stand. We begin Season 2: Tinker Tailor Vampire Die in the cell with Nick and Rossini.....

As always GM comments are in double parentheses and mechanics are in braces.

Nick didn't have much on him, but there was always the stake. [1 point Preparedness spend]. And sitting there in the cell, watching his would be executioner hunger and prepare to reach such an animalistic point that she'd

likely fly across the room faster than he could blink and tear out his throat, he remembered a conversation he had with Mace.

"Always keep a stake."
"In what?"
"No. I mean keep one close. It will mean the difference between life and death."

And that stake he kept in a dive knife sheath against his left calf, under a sock.

It was that stake, he knew, he'd have to drive into Desdemona's heart to keep her from killing him or Rossini.

Or both.

(([Staking a vampire won't kill them, it simply paralyzes them. Beheading, dissection or exposure to other material will destroy them. Staking a vampire is like pressing Pause. Removing the stake at any time depresses Pause.]))

Rossini held her down. It wasn't hard, she was in and out of consciousness at this point, so it was more a matter of just keeping away from her mouth. And Nick drove the stake into her. She squealed, a sick orgasmic sound he didn't want to have echoing in the cold room for very long. She twitched and sputtered, locking her face into a rictus somewhere between pleasure and terror. But she held, frozen, muscles tense, the buds of fangs just starting to break through the gumline.

(([Killing a teammate cost them each HALF their Stability]))

But it wasn't enough to leave her staked. If they slept, a guard, anyone could easily come in, remove the stake and they'd be toast. So, with a nod, they knew what had to be done.

There was a plate of food the guards had brought Nick earlier. He didn't eat it, but he kept the plate. He shattered it against the wall and gave Rossini a crescent sliver.

"You can't be serious." said the lunatic.
Nick sighed. "Either cut her or cut your wrists. Your choice. But I know what I'm doing."

Were this an op, they'd call Carter and have him talk them through dissection. Or they'd ship the body off to whatever lab he sequestered and leave him to his power tools and splatter shield and apron. But it was just them, and all they had was a broken plate for a knife.

The blood didn't splatter. Rossini thought it would, but the stake must have paused everything, so instead it was like cutting through flesh-with-a-gelatin-core. Messy. Smelly. Unbelievably intimate.

Desdemona died, though Rossini and Nick agreed that she likely died the moment she was infected, and all they were doing now was disposing of another fanged corpse. Part of Rossini, part not claimed by insanity, faux
insanity or some other part of his hardened criminal mind, wasn't sure if she died from the stake or when he took her head off. He hoped she didn't feel or remember it. He didn't want to think about it.

In a crude game of basketball, they lobbed the parts out the window, just in time for sunrise. They heard a few chunks catch fire like old logs in winter fireplaces as they tumbled out to the ocean. They wept as the sun rose.

MEANWHILE ((this is where we took a break and ate food))....

Mace and MikeSmith picked themselves up off the curb before the fire trucks arrived. Mace boosted a car [1 point Filch spend] and the two of them drove as far as they could on whatever gas was in the tank. Turns out, counting
the cash MikeSmith had in his pocket, they got all the way out of the state. They reached a small town in Vermont and found a truck stop.

Step one would be to contact the agents. At least that's what Tradecraft said. But Mace counted on the fact that everything he was doing was monitored, so it was time to cheat the system.

When your enemies know all your moves, the only smart thing to do is do everything they don't think you capable of.

So, from the counter of a greasy truck stop, Mace Hunter and MikeSmith launched a new operation - Operation Cuckoo.

Cuckoo would turn them from agents to criminals, from prey to predators and from food to hunters.

Mace gave the order to Mike to get them a new vehicle, by any means necessary. Mike "found" a set of truck keys in a guy's pocket when he went to the bathroom [1 point Filch spend]. They didn't even pay the tab on three cups of coffee and a piece of apple pie.

Via CB Mace left a message for Carter's ex-wife, who was a radio enthusiast and would get Carter a message without raising too many eyebrows. He told her to get Carter to Burlington Vermont, a place Mace chose because he once drove through there and hated it.

MikeSmith knew a church that would grant them a little leeway and asylum there. [3 point Network spend]. It wasn't much, but it had beds, showers and supplies. They were able to get cleaned up and even changed into new clothes before Carter arrived.

But Carter didn't come empty-handed. Although he had been fired from the Hospital on charges that he was smuggling drugs to local kids, he was able to walk out with boxes full of material from his desk. Boxes that security guards didn't really look too closely at. A trio of handguns, some flares, some silver ingots and a whole gallon of holy water all made Operation Cuckoo a little more comfortable.

They armed themselves, and honestly, didn't know what to do. They'd need money. They'd need resources. Mace's notebook laid out some possible targets - a church in Mexico, a shipping company in Seattle and this Adoption
agency all looked like good started points. Carter checked them out on the laptop and they started planning. [a 2 point Research spend] A route existed, and they could, if they planned to hit the Adoption Agency in California, could drive right down the coast and take them all out.

That's when the beeping started. Carter had GPS trackers running constantly on Agents, he used them to give data to Mace or Nick, whoever was running the Op. Each agent's tracker was pretty high-end, and Desdemona's flickered
on for just a second. The trackers run off body heat and pulse, but are built to give one last great burst of info when they go offline. And hers just went offline.

They'd need a boat.

Carter and MikeSmith became Tom Jacques and Jerry Cousteau, [2 point Cover and Disguise spends] two fisherman looking for the next big catch. Mace became Stephen Strange their navigator.

((Mace has ZERO navigation or piloting ability, so of course, he's going to set the course and steer it))

They left Vermont just after midnight and found a small Connecticut town with a boat for sale. Well, it wasn't so much for sale as it was poorly secured. [1 point Filch spend, 1 point Traffic Analysis spend, 1 point Preparedness spend]

And with the last of their cash they picked up two shotguns, sandwiches, a case of beer and a bottle of rum - all the things a good pirate needs. ((Arr.))

Carter's computer logged Desdemona's GPS tracker to an oil rig off the coast of NJ.

((Yeah I made it up, deal with it))

They stowed the boat and boarded the rig without so much as an "Avast" or "Ahoy there". The sun was rising at this point.


Nick and Rossini were frantically trying to wash the blood off their hands when they heard the engines of a boat approaching. Rossini was even certain he heard the racking of a shotgun. It was either a rescue or a death squad, and either way, they were ready to die. guard, half-asleep, staggered on deck to see what the ruckus was. Mace, without thinking, shot him. Yeah, Operation Cuckoo was now serious.

Shooting one guard invariably brings more. So MikeSmith put down another two while Carter got off the boat and began looking for a map or a sign [1 point Traffic Analysis spend, just to make sure]

Carter figured they'd keep prisoners in one of the storage rooms near the sickbay [1 point Human Terrain spend], so the team headed that way. All the while making pirate jokes.

They found Nick and Rossini. And MikeSmith took the door off its hinges.

It was good to see Nick again, thought Mace, but there was little time for reunion or satisfaction. The plan was

now to escape. Rossini explained to Carter all about the torture, and Mace explained to Nick what happened at home. No one talked about Desdemona.

Then genius fell on MikeSmith. Surrounded by sea water, baked in sunlight, what this party needed was fire. It wasn't hard to re-route the kitchen gas lines through the fire sprinklers [Mechanics 2 point spend, Explosive Devices 1 point spend] and fill the whole rig with a going away present.

The team boarded the boat and Mace let Nick fire the flare into the window of the cell that kept him.

The explosion and shockwave rocked the boat, and even as they sped off into the now noon-day sunny waters, they could see the flames and smoke as a sad tombstone for their fallen teammate.

Operation Cuckoo has the following team members:

Mace Hunter
Nick Darter
Dr Carter Byers

They also have nothing to lose.


First Post
Initially, they didn't make enough use of it, and after word spread throughout the playerbase that Preparedness was useful, everyone lobbied for huge Pools of it.

And then the story picked up momentum, and the players were okay NOT being Prepared for the sake of the story.

It's interesting to overhear them talk about how much they think 1 point is worth. Before I even have to step in and adjudicate, they've narrowed their plans down considerably - deciding for themselves that 2 points of Preparedness is not the be-all, end-all of Master Plans.

Here's to hoping they continue


First Post
Sorry for the delays. I promise the update(S) are coming. I've just returned from a week-long conference in Anaheim, and am neck deep in preparations for the DexCon tournament next week. But I give you my word you'll get an update from me in the VERY near future (like as soon as I weed through my inbox and eat some lunch).


First Post
For the curious, I'm co-running the DexCon Night's Black Agents Tournament with Ken Hite tomorrow afternoon.

I just wanted to lay a little teaser out there for the interested.

1. There's a new kind of monster, called a "Spider-Zotz".
2. There are 6 preliminary scenarios....they are named:
a) Doctors Without Border OR SAVIORS
b) The Ship of Souls
c) Die Hard In A Hotel With Vampires
d) The Long Night At the Clinic
e) Weekend At Byron's
f) The Ghost Train

3. This Conspiracy is tournament specific, although players in my 2 scenarios (Die Hard in a Hotel and The Ghost Train) may meet characters from TTVD.

4. There are no car chases in any scenario (because I'm still not comfortable adjudicating them, and they eat up precious time).

If you want updates on the event, check me out on twitter (awesome_john).


First Post
[Mechanics are in braces]
((GM Notes are in double parentheses)

In his dreams, Rossini was often either the center of attention -- everyone in his dream would stare at him, no matter what he did -- or he was a helpless observer to bad things: a school burning down, a monster eating kittens, a war breaks out.

He never told anyone about these dreams, because, well, who would listen to the dreams of a lunatic?

But one morning, as the team was figuring out how best to send a group of men into an adoption agency, Nick spoke to Mace about a nightmare:

"I was in Rossini's dream."

This simple sentence started a two-hour conversation about how dreams are doors for things to enter.

They'd have to find a way to keep some doors closed.


First Post
[Mechanical notes are in braces]
((GM Notes are in double parentheses))

While the team worked at keeping the "doors of their minds" closed, they were treated to this scene - revealed to them as a shared dream experience...((meaning they were all observers within this one particular dream-state))

The food was cold. Again. And Billy Thompkiss was tired of cold food. He was glad to be off the streets, sure, but everything he ate here was cold. Not cold like it was frozen, not even cold like it wasn't done thawing, just cold like everything got cooked and then sat in a big fridge for ten minutes before it got handed out.

He looked around the cafeteria, and saw all the kids eating, oblivious to the fact that the food was cold and it shouldn't be. He consoled himself with the thought that most of these kids were used to starving, so they didn't look a gift cheeseburger in the mouth.

But Billy wasn't used to starving. He was a good kid, at least by his own standards and he was used to food being warm when it was supposed to be, cold when it should be, or no food at all. Your cheeseburger shouldn't be this chewy, and he knew it.

((After this scene, I explained that Billy had a VERY low-powered character sheet, so I'll include the spends when we get to them.))

He ate and chewed and watched. Billy loved to watch. He wasn't social like Katie or really good during sports period like Chris, but Billy excelled at watching.

Now he didn't know much about orphanages, but since he came into the Ephraim Adoption Agency For Lost Youth four months ago (he traded two sticks of gum for a pocket calendar), he realized that within the walls of the building, the kids were pretty much free to do whatever.

A morning bell rang at 8:30 to wake everyone up.
They were given thirty minutes to pick out clothes, brush their teeth and get dressed.
At 9, another bell rang and they were lead from their rooms to the cafeteria, where food was served from 9 until 10.
At 10, another bell rang and you could either have a play period, a reading period or a sports period. The periods lasted 2 hours.
At 12, the lunch bell rang, and lunch was served for an hour.
At 1, and then again at 3, you could have another play, reading or sports period.
Dinner was served from 5 to 6
Dessert was served from 6 to 7. It was also during Dessert that kids routinely went to the nurse or the clinician for interviews and check-ups, especially if they were due to be adopted or visited by possible parents.
From 7 to 8:30, you could do whatever. Most kids used this time to clean their rooms, hang out with friends or watch TV.
Between 8:30 and 10, you had the option of taking a shower or bath.
At 10, the double bell rang, and that meant you had to be in your room, lights out. There was a bedcheck at 11:30.
The whole process repeated every day. Except Sundays. On Sundays, the food was warm and constantly served. And there wasn't a bedcheck or a nurse visit. Billy wasn't even sure that more than 5 adults were in the building on Sundays.

Billy knew the names of the adults who were around to help him. Mrs Washington, his assigned nurse. Mr Jefferson, the sports period teacher. Mrs Madison the reading period librarian, Mrs Jackson, the play period supervisor.

A lot of other kids envied Billy for being assigned to "Стадо N" which Mrs Madison said meant "Herd N" and that Herd was another word for "group of Orphans" but Billy knew she was lying. [BS Detector 1 point spend]

Herd N wasn't so bad. They had the laxest rules of all the Herds, and really the only time Billy even got in trouble was the night he wasn't feeling well and couldn't sleep. See, the rule was you had to be in bed and before midnight at the absolute latest, but Billy's tummy hurt, so he was coming back from the bathroom (he didn't like the one in his room, he liked the one at the end of the hall, because he liked hearing the people talking that strange language on the other side of the air vent)

He had been sneaking out to the hear the conversation ever since he was in the bathroom just before dinner and heard someone scream "Mace Hunter!" which Billy thought was like the coolest name ever, and he thought maybe it was like a television show (but he could never find it) or like an Internet thing (but Mrs Madison was always watching him when he went online), but if it was a person, it had to be a cool person because every time the name was said, people reacted.

So today, after his cold burger and soggy fries (Billy was starting to think that the people who made the food had a magic power to suck all the heat out), he told his lunchroom advisor Mrs Coolidge that he was going to a play period.

At play, Mrs Jackson asked him what he would like to play, and Billy said, "Today, I'm going to be Mace Hunter."

And then something happened. Mrs Jackson, who was already sort of pale, the way someone is when they sit under the umbrella all the time at the beach or the way someone is when you spill flour on them, got paler, and she hissed. She hissed like someone was letting the air out of her. And then she had to go lie down and left Billy and all the kids alone.

She left her laptop and her purse there though.

It didn't take very long to get the laptop turned on, and to find the password she kept in her wallet [Digital Intrusion 1, Filch 1], and Billy fired up Google and went looking for Mace Hunter.

He found news clippings of a building fire in New York, and old photos of a man who was always drinking with pretty ladies. And he found a nice French lady's blog who mentioned him in kind of sappy sweet ways, the ways Billy thought adults in love talked about each other. So he wrote her an email.

"Dear Lady, My Name Is Billy And I Am Looking For Mace Hunter. I Live At The Ephraim Adoption Agency in Bartlett Tennesse. I would like to Meet Mace, I Think He Is Very Cool. Can You Have Him Come Meet Me? Billy"

Billy felt this was a particularly mature email, and sent it from one of the free email sites he read about in the newspaper.

About an hour later, just as play period was starting to wrap up, and Billy didn't see any adults, he checked the email to see if he got any responses.

He got one - a phone number - and he quickly wrote it down. Then he got offline and started deleting things off the computer the way Mrs Madison taught him. He deleted the Internet Browser, the folder labeled "Email" (Because he wrote one and didn't want anyone to read it, duh) and then because he used the computer, he deleted it too. It took a few times of figuring out what to delete, but he thought "Format" sounded a lot like "Laundromat" and that's where clothes go to be cleaned, so Format had to be what you do to a computer to keep it clean.

He formatted the computer, wiped it all down with a tissue and was in line to leave play period when the 3 o'clock bell rang.

------------------------DREAM ENDS HERE-------------

It was around 9pm when Mace finally sat down on the small recliner of the motel room and poured himself a watery whiskey. He had emptied his pockets on the nightstand, and was waiting for Nick to come back with a few books on dream theory and psychology when the phone rang.

The voice was young, eager, male and innocent.
"Who is this?"
"My name is Billy Thompkiss..."
"Hello Billy. How did you get this number?"
"I'm at the Ephraim Adoption Agency."

There was a pause.
"Where, Billy, where are you?"
"Bartlett Tennessee."
"Billy, I'm on my way. You need to stay out of trouble and keep this phone number handy. Can you do that?"
"Yes sir."
"You'll have to be brave, and you'll need somewhere to hide. Billy, is there a church nearby?"
"Um...yeah, But tomorrow's Sunday."
"Okay, Billy, listen to me, can you make one more call for me? I need you to call Father Craig in Memphis [3 point Network spend] and tell him exactly this sentence 'I think it's time for dinner.' Can you do that? Promise me you'll be careful, call Father Craig and get to that church ASAP. I'll meet you there and I'll have friends with me, okay?"
"Yeah Billy?"
"You really are the coolest."

Mace's drink never tasted better.
Last edited:


First Post
[Mechanical spends are in braces]
((GM Notes are in parentheses))

Father Craig was midway through Paul's second letter to the Corinthians when the phone rang and that sad little boy called. Craig knew he was sad, the tone was so clear, but it lay buried under excitement.

"I think it's time for dinner." the boy said so clearly, and Craig agreed, asked one more time for the address, and then told the boy to make his way to the church and to sit in the first pew until Mace showed up.

The phone call ended and Craig went to his closet. He pushed the suits to one side and drew the sheet back on the large gun safe. He tapped in the code

11-17- his daughter's birthday.
05 the year that monster tore off his daughter's head and threw it through their living room window during Thanksgiving.

For the last seven years Father Craig did two things every night before going to sleep - he prayed for strength and he cleaned his guns.

Joanna wasn’t coming home for Thanksgiving. Too much snow on the ground and too many hours of work at the hospital. She had a new job, and she thrived in it. Her absence hurt Craig and Linda, who had planned a great holiday of togetherness and delicious food.

When Craig and Joanna talked that morning, she made him promise not to tell Linda she was coming to surprise her for dessert. So Craig kept the promise, ending the call as always with “I love you, be safe, be blessed.”

Craig and Linda tucked into dinner and ate slowly, talking about the snow and the Miller twins who spent all day shoveling walks in exchange for cocoa and pocket money, and of the lack of reasonably priced produce. Craig checked his watch discretely, never letting on that there was anything worth expecting.

You see because at this time Craig was sort of a believer. He attended church on holidays and on random Sundays when it wasn’t too hot or too cold or when they had a special fuss – he liked special fusses because they always brought doughnuts and coffee.

But his faith was far from perfect. At least until the phone call.

The phone rang just before he tucked into his third helping of stuffing. It sounded like someone was playing a skipping record while riding a roller coaster, the background noise of yells and breaking glass mixing into panic and the tiny voice on the phone.


He could hear his little girl, scared and hurt.

And then the phone cut out.

Right there on the kitchen floor, Craig fell to his knees and prayed. He prayed for strength. He prayed for Joanna. He prayed for forgiveness for every Sunday he slept in and for every cheek he didn’t turn. Linda found him on the floor and with one teary-eyed look, they prayed together until dinner was as cold as dessert.

The waiting was interminable. Linda packed up dinner. Craig did all the dishes. And they tried to watch TV, but everything sounded like Joanna screaming.

When it happened, they didn’t expect it, because the doorbell rang first. Linda went to the door, and saw a man she didn’t recognize standing on her front lawn. He was thin, short, and she thought maybe he was a junkie or a homeless person. She read about them last week in Today magazine as being a problem. He asked to be let in. He even knew her name.

But Linda didn’t trust him, so she told him to go away.

The man, this junkie, this animal, didn’t go away though. Instead he backed up to the middle of the lawn and lobbed a box, one of those boxes you pack papers in when you move, through the front window.

The mess was terrible, but fixable. And when Craig looked out over his lawn, the man was gone. But Craig opened the box.

Joanna. In pieces. Tucked neatly into a box.

Linda screamed for five straight minutes, until neighbors came over to see what was wrong. Craig fainted.

Five months later, Craig bought his first gun, a shotgun, and thanks to a video on the Internet, sawed off the barrel. Linda started taking ill after that, and it wasn’t long before she passed. The doctors all say it was a weak valve. Craig knew though that it was a broken heart.

He went back to school the day after Linda’s funeral, and within 3 years was in Seminary. He took vows and found Faith, with a capital F. And when he asked questions about the horrors of the world, his teachers told him only not of the sins of man, but also of the monsters that probe the darkness. The beasts with fangs. The tentacles. The hideous eyes. All of it.

Craig came out of Seminary reforged. He committed himself to a Navy SEAL regimen of training. He mastered the parang, the kukri, the machete. He became an expert in ammunition-smithing and all the wards and banes he could find across a multitude of culture.

Father Craig became a one man army.

His goal tonight was to get Billy out of the orphanage. He didn’t really like the setup: too many innocent bystanders and the building was likely a killbox. So rather than go for the heavy guns – the AR-15, the shotguns - he grabbed two sawed-offs, a big tin of salt, some spray paint, the combat knife, the machete and a few silver chain garrotes.

There were no adults involved in this, he told himself. Just monsters and children.

Craig loaded up his car, filled up at the gas station down the street (including the spare tank he kept in the trunk in case things went south) and took the twenty-minute drive to Bartlett. He kissed the pictures of Joanna and Linda that he kept his wallet before going to war.

The Ephraim Adoption Agency didn’t have a lot of external security. [Notice 2] Sure there were cameras over the door and bars on the windows, but roof access was a matter of squeezing past a bush and climbing a ladder on the far north side.

On the roof, Craig’s objective was easy. The large sprinkler water tank had no lock on it, just a spring hinge. With a little muscle he popped it free and dropped in one of the rosaries he kept in his pocket. A few quick prayers and the rosary flickered blue as it sank into the water.

Back on ground level, he walked up to the exterior camera, gave it a dousing with spray paint and entered the building, making a beeline for the office.

One security guard was standing in the room, waiting for him.

“Good evening sir.” The guard said.

Craig was praying when war broke out.

Our Father, who art in Heaven. The sawed-off shotgun burped fire and the blast took the guard off his feet. The stink was intense.

Hallowed be Thy Name. Craig walked into the hallway, found it empty and began laying salt in thick lines across all the doorways.

Back in the office, he found the public address speaker and cranked it on. His voice was soothing and mellow.

“Kids. My name is Father Craig. I’m a priest. The fire alarm is about to go off. Stay in your rooms. Do not, I swear, do not leave your rooms. I am here to kill the monsters.”

He left the mic hot as he left the room.

Thy Kingdom Come. He pulled the fire alarm. No doors opened. Good kids. But coming down the hallway came three women, moving faster than Craig thought they should be. Out came the machete and [Hand to Hand 3] he carved them up finer than the Thanksgiving dinner they took from him.

Your Will Be Done. The sprinklers hissed and popped to life, and he heard the excited shrieks of children.

And then the smell started rolling towards him. It came in waves. A burning fatty smell, like frying something in a pan that’s too wet. This was followed by howls that silenced the kids down. Animal howls, both literal and figurative echoed down the halls.

On Earth As It Is In Heaven. He strode down the halls, and reached the Church’s doors when three wolves came at him. He dropped the first one via shotgun [Shooting 1], and the second with the machete [Hand to Hand 1]. The third bit and tore at him, but nothing a visit to an ER couldn’t patch up. Eventually it too met the business end of a machete.

The door presented no resistance to a size-11 combat boot. And there Craig was, in Church. He checked his watch.

He even made it to Church on a Sunday.

“Billy!” His voice caromed off every surface. “I’m Father Craig!”

Billy Thompkiss was curled up in the fetal position in the first pew. He ran to the Father, and the two embraced.

Craig handed him a crucifix and gave him instructions. “If anything that isn’t you or me come at us, I want you to hold up that crucifix, can you do that? It’ll be scary, but we’ll be brave together, okay?”

Billy nodded. The crucifix was solid metal, and the lower stalk was round. It felt natural and easy to hold.

The duo marched down the hall and back to the office. Craig found a phone, and made himself sound panicky.

“Hello, 911, please you have to help, I’m the night security guard at the Ephraim Adoption Agency, please, hurry, there’s a mad man here with a shotgun. Oh….”

He then put another blast into the already dead guard and let the phone clatter to the ground.

Billy and Craig walked out into the cold night air, then into Craig’s car, where they drove to a small convenience store. Billy polished off two roast beef sandwiches and was into a third when a Jeep pulled up. A man Billy didn’t recognize came up to Craig, handed him a gym bag, and came over to Billy. He knelt down.

“I’m Mace Hunter, Billy, how about we get out of here?”


Two things:

1. This is a fantastic update.
2. This should probably be in the story hour forum, so I'm going to slide it over.

Great stuff!


First Post
Billy was a special kid afterall. But it wasn't discovered at first. It took Carter three different batteries of tests [Medic 2 point] to figure out Billy hadn't been drugged, chemically altered or implanted with any devices. He was a healthy kid.

His special talent came up after the tests were done and the team was sitting around the safehouse eating lunch. They were amusing Billy with stories about the exotic cities they worked in. That's when it kicked in -- anytime someone mentioned a city, Billy rattled off its population as well as three landmarks [CORE CLUE].

"New York City, 8.2 million. Grand Central Station, Penn Station, Central Park"
"Los Angeles, 12.8 million, LAX airport, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Griffith Park"
"New Delhi, 17 million, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Secretariat Building, Laximinarayan Temple"

He didn't enter a trance to rattle off these facts, they were said casually. When Mace named smaller cities, the details were just as clear.

"Pocatello Idaho, 56, 813 people, Pocatello High School, Idaho State University, Heinz Factory"
"Orleans France, 116490 people, Orleans Tram, George V bridge, Park Floral de la Source"

When pressed, Billy explained somewhat emphatically that he didn't know how it happened - he was just a normal kid. He didn't read these facts in any school programs, he didn't read them in a book. He just woke up every morning with these new facts in his head.

It took some digging but after a few trips to a few libraries [Research 3, Occult Studies 1 Shrink 1] the team was able to figure out that these facts were seeping into Billy's mind either in dreams or through the television. Billy remembered the one day a boy Charlie got angry and threw the remote through the TV, and how Mr Fillmore and Mr Johnson immediately went out and replaced it, so he guessed it was more a matter of sleep.

Nick found [CORE CLUE] an obscure pyschology text book from the 1920s - Dreams and Education: Pairing of Two Sciences which had several passages about using mesmeric abilities on sleeping patients to induce a last recall -- in short, programming their sleep with teaching.

Things were starting to come together.

And then lunch was served. Billy had a case of giggles when Rossini served hamburgers, as Billy said he only ate hamburgers on the days when someone turned 16...everyone just sort of assumed that when you turned 16, the staff at Ephraim ground you up into food.

The team would have to go back to Ephraim to find out.


First Post
[Mechanical notes are in braces]
((GM Notes are in double parentheses))

Time to break out the usual war chest. Stakes, grenades, flashbangs, sharp blades and lots of ammunition. Thanks to Mace's friend [3 point Network spend] at the local police supply depot, they had access to body armor, but only 3 sets. It went to Nick, Rossini and MikeSmith. Mace would coordinate intelligence from a truck in the parking lot - a truck ringed in salt.

At least that was the plan until they arrived on scene.

The bastards had called the police and the press, citing "an unknown gun toting vigilante who wanted to kidnap perfectly defenseless children". The press came from three counties to cover the story. Mace knew immediately that many of them wouldn't be coming home. At least not in the same shape they arrived.

So the strike force was called off. Regroup, redistribute chess pieces on the board, right?


It was time for their side to move, and it came out of the trees as the team circled around the building and started to drive away.

At first it was a light thud, something like a pine cone hitting metal. Then a second, then a third and then, hundreds. Rats. Rats of all sizes, but all with ruby red eyes poured over the truck as if coming out of a faucet. The rats swarmed and began scratching and tearing at the truck.

It didn't matter that Rossini floored it and the tires bit into the asphalt and the truck plowed over rat after rat, they seemed endless. So endless in fact they scuttled down the truck and were all over the tires, dozens of hungry evil teeth chewing at rubber. The truck didn't have a prayer.

The people inside though, had a prayer. And ammunition. And a plan. [3 point Mechanics spend + Mechanics cherry] Sticky bombs made out of road flares, rock salt, socks and tire-sealant adhesive came sailing out of the truck's windows. Rats squealed and cried as the fire and salt took a few of their number.

But the team had no plan for the Voice. The keening screech of nails on a chalkboard brought everyone to their knees and the truck to a halt. The rats writhed and snaked around the fire bombs, and began, like an evil Voltron, to merge into one creature - about man-sized, but covered in pelts that seemed to wiggle as he moved [1 point Stability loss]

"I know your secret." it rasped, sounding simultaneously far away and right next to each man. "And soon you will know the truth."

Then Rossini's foot "slipped" and before the creature spoke again, Rossini put a truck in its midsection.

A surprising thing happens when a truck, even at low speeds, hits a stationary object. The creature took a spill, knocking back some fifteen or so feet, getting good distance on its arc. The truck gave a tremendous groan and sagged, the axle cracking under the strain. They'd have to fight.

((Mace Hunter + Nick Darter + MikeSmith + Rossini vs The Creature))

The fight was ferocious, and messy. Not even combined could the foursome match the beast's raw strength or speed, but they could out maneuver it, leaving it victim to tactics and strategies.

Ultimately it was [2 point Preparedness spend] that gave Mace a silver dagger to pin the creature's foot to the ground so that the guns could be brought more fully to bear. [3 successive 3-point Shooting spends + the Bigger Bang cherry] reduced the creature to a husk of ash just before the police arrived to check out the "strange flares and gun shots".

Citing engine trouble and a few dead rats, the team did their best to play off all the noise and confusion as happenstance, but the police weren't buying any of what even the mighty Mace Hunter was selling.

Into the back of the squad cars the team went. Mace was able to [1 point Preparedness spend] tap out a text message to Father Craig to retrieve the dumped weapons caches, but the team was taken into custody.

Nick noticed it first, at a stoplight.
MikeSmith noticed it at the second stoplight.

None of the police had reflections in the rearview mirror.


First Post
[Mechanical Notes are in braces]
((Director Notes are in double parentheses))

((This is what happens when the players ask about how far reaching the Conspiracy can be))

They didn't go to a police station. They didn't even stay within the city limits. The team was all [captured] and taken to a warehouse just near the old abandoned airport.

They were tied and chained to chairs, with only cubicle dividers between them. They couldn't see each other, but could hear each other fine.

Which is just what the badguys wanted.

They came to Rossini first, in the form of Desdemona, offering him sex and an ease of his mental burdens [a 4-point Stability test that he spent his way past]. He turned them down just before they began breaking his fingers and beating him with a baseball in a sock.

To Nick, they said nothing, pouring dirty water all over him and hooking a car battery to the chair. [a 2-point Stability test but a 6 point Health loss].

To Mace, they threatened, and tried to get him drunk. When he resisted ((quipping all the way)), they broke his arm with a pipe wrench.

MikeSmith was untouched. At least not physically. For MikeSmith they brought out the most devious of tricks - projections into his mind, perversions of his very thoughts, so that he would slowly unhinge. [a 3 point Stability test HE FAILED]

((This set of experiences repeated twice))

With only hours until sunrise, the team was split up, and locked in separate "rooms" -- small square cells where the walls didn't reach the ceiling. More isolation, though still able to hear the screams.

Most of the team was left alone to hear each other sob, ache and attempt to verbally fight back.

But it was to MikeSmith they came, with about three hours until sunrise.

One of them, he called himself "Wally", sat down in a chair next to MikeSmith and said, "You can make this all stop. Or don't, and we'll shoot you just before sunrise." Then came the screams.

They weren't real screams, but rather recordings of the earlier screams played back. But MikeSmith couldn't tell the difference. Or maybe he didn't want to. He was starting not to know.

They made the offer again, only this time they added a secret -- "It's not about the children, not really, they're just food." And they played the screams again.

[Another 3 point Stability loss, and MikeSmith broke]

((I have a "breaking rule" -- whenever you drop below 4 Stability or lose more than 6 Stability in a single night, you "break" and need at least night's rest and urgent care from a Solace or Symbol or Stability]

He begged them to release the team. He even said the magic phrase, "I'll do anything."

And what they whispered in his ear next....oh, it was unbelievable. But MikeSmith, begging to make the pain stop, believed, and agreed to it.

And so, the team was taken to the ER of the local hospital and left there to navigate everything.

Only MikeSmith knew the real reason. He had to live with it.


First Post
I've had some requests for the Vampire spreadsheet. It's attached below. I hope fellow Directors find it useful.


  • VampireHACKshts.xls
    21 KB · Views: 292


First Post
Garrett's bar is a quiet neighborhood's worst nightmare. It's grimy, dingy, poorly lit and looks like it should be condemned. Garrett was a war vet, though no one was sure which war.

MikeSmith liked the place. It was quiet. There was always something to watch on TV, and for eight bucks he could get two pitchers of beer and onion rings. And then he could unwind, maybe telling Garrett how his day was, or whether or not he was getting "too old for this nonsense".

On this particular night, the onion rings and beer weren't cutting it. He couldn't bring himself to lift the cup. He broke Mace's one rule - Bend, but never break. He did break, and he was sure that everyone knew.

From day one the rule was: Break, and you're out. Either the other side will kill you, or you should just shoot yourself, because a broken agent is no agent at all. MikeSmith knew this, he knew all the risks and there was a pistol in the glovebox of the truck waiting for him. Calling to him. He'd finish his beer and take care of business. Let someone else clean up the mess and sort out the pieces. There was a cover ID [Forgery 2 point spend, Cover 1 point spend] for people to find - Mike Smith, electrician, dead at the age of 39. He knew his cover obit well.

MikeSmith sat with his thoughts.

"It's not about the kids."
"The adoption agency."
"Kids with target information."
"Bend, but don't break."
"They're just food."

So, on a bar napkin, he began to draw one of Mace's diagrams. Mace was always drawing pyramids and string charts, the man was obsessive after all, and now in what Mike thought were his final minutes, he was doing it too.

'Why train kids if they're only food?' he wrote on a napkin when Garrett handed him a banana.

"You don't look so good." The old bartender gruffed, "You gotta eat better. You are what you eat, afterall."

And that was it. That's the plan.

You are what you eat.

Mike used the last minutes of his burner cell phone to call Mace and explain the theory. Mace told him to get to the nearest safehouse immediately. He was calling a meeting.


First Post
The team assembled in the safehouse. Mace was holding court. MikeSmith's theory was a good one, and Mace knew it. In the time it took the team to assemble, he did some digging around [2 point Occult Studies, 2 point Research, 1 point Vampirology spends] and it was possible.

But first he had to sell the team on it. He ordered pizzas.

"Okay, we're used to fighting one type of enemy. It has fangs, it's fast and strong and it's a crafty bastard. We know they have chains of command, hierarchies and plans. But until now, we've always assumed that they're the only problem we'll have to deal with."

"Isn't that enough?" Nick said. Rossini nodded.

"But," Mace continued, "if their structure is like our structure, then all we've done is knock pawns off the chessboard. We've dealt with agents, not handlers, until now. And I think, and Mike thinks, we found a new tier, which we're calling Knights and Rooks. They have a few pawns underneath them, which we've dispatched, so now they're free to move."

Everyone was still in the room.

"So they're going to hit us, and hard. The Ephraim Agency issue is a food source for them. And we showed them it wasn't safe."

"Food source? None of the kids are marked." Rossini's question was a good one.

MikeSmith answered, "Because they're feeding psychically. A kid's brain is a data sponge, full of chemicals and brain waves. Load a kid up with info, which they absorb easily, then feast on the resulting thoughts. "

"What tools work against a psychic eater?" Nick asked.

This was the tricky part. Mace wasn't sure, and said so. "We're assuming that the usual ones still apply, but I've got a call into Father Craig for whatever he can offer, we're going to need protection and a lot of it for what we're going to do."

"Which is what?"

"We're going to capture one. Mike thinks he can build a cage out of iron, cypress and black candle wax. "

"And then what do we do with?"
"And how do we capture one?"

These were questions Mace didn't have answers to.


First Post
It took Mace a few days to work out a plan. But when he came to it, it seemed so obvious. He'd contact The Man.

[2 point Tradecraft spend] set up a time and place for the phone call to happen. And between now and then, Mace went to church, washed himself in holy water and set the phone in a circle of white candles and salt....just to be sure.

Father Craig was called in to observe the phone call, as well as keep an eye on the door.

The phone call happened 5 minutes after sunset.

"Good evening Mr Hunter."
"Dispense with the pleasantries and the fake voice, I know what you sound like."
There then came a keening screech that made Mace wince and shudder, almost dropping the phone. It was as though a million crickets chirped while nails dragged against glass.
"That is what I sound like, and since it would turn your brain to paste, I use this form to communicate to you."
"I need to set up a meeting. I know all about the adoption agency-"
"We are aware of what you know Hunter. Why should we meet?"
"We'll give you back the boy, and not bother your food supply."
"You surrender to us?"
"That isn't what I said. I said we won't bother your food supply and you can have the boy back."
"I do not care for the boy now, he is polluted. Give me your word, Mace Hunter, that you won't interfere with the food."
"You have my word."
"Then we'll meet tonight, 3AM, beneath the Exit 8 underpass of the old highway. And you will confirm our deal in blood."

The phone went dead.

Father Craig uttered a quick prayer, then pulled up the maps for the old highway. Exit 8 dumped off to the south, and was far away from the river - a good spot for a bloodsucker to hold meetings.

The cage was ready. MikeSmith would call some construction buddies [2 point Network spend] to hoist it up under the bridge so it could drop down on The Man, or whatever its name was.

Rossini and Nick cleaned and loaded every gun with silver bullets.

It was go time.


First Post
The Man appeared under the overpass exactly at 3 in the morning. Mace was already there. Rossini kept the car hidden and running. Nick was flanking a hundred yards downwind. Mike Smith was ready with the cage.

The Man arrived holding a small wooden crate, cradling it the way one would cradle an infant.

"You are ready to make a deal Mace Hunter?" The Man's voice was warm syrup.
"I am. First tell me what's in the box."
"You no doubt brought your team here with you. The young one downwind. The lunatic in the vehicle. The broken one nearby. I brought my team with me too." He let out of a laugh that shamed a donkey's bray, sounding forced and alien.

"How do we do this?" Mace asked.
"Where I come from, we each step forward, then you will cut your palm and place the open wound against the box. This will seal our pact."
"I don't sign anything?" Mace smirked.
"Penmanship is outdated in this digital age. We have...adapted. "
"Okay, let's do this."

They each took one step forward. Mace never broke eye contact with The Man, but The Man did look up to see the Cage hanging over head.

"Did you mean to cage me? Do you think a puny construct can hold me?"

Mace smiled. "It would be an insult to your intelligence. I didn't ask for a puny construct. I asked for a big one."

And with that he fanned his arms out, inviting The Man to look at his surroundings. It was a construction site. Stacks of rebar, bags of concrete, pieces of metal.

But The Man couldn't move. He just stood there, holding the box.

"This pentacle isn't puny. It's ancient. And you're in the center of it. I don't need a cage to trap you."

The Man dropped the box, and with a smash the wood gave way. An obsidian almond-shaped stone dented the ground. It lashed against invisible walls and scratched at them, its fingers scraping at nothing.

"Sunrise is in 3 hours. Let's have a chat." said Mace.

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

An Advertisement