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

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First Post
My apologies for the lack of updates - My group is currently on vacation. You'd think this would give me a chance to catch up on the FIVE episodes I owe this thread, but work has been particularly busy. I will get one episode up tonight.

@Commited Hero - Yes, I'll get you a copy of the spreadsheet.


First Post
The Aruba Connection, also called "Crossing The ArubaCon"

[Mechanics are in braces]
((GM Comments are in double parentheses))

The Team For This Episode
Mace Hunter
Father John Iago ((brand new character, testing out a new Pool I'm calling "Faith"))

(([Faith, will, if this works, operate similar to Stability, and in the face of the Damned may act as a floating spend-pool to draw upon to turn back the tide of evil. To reduce the mechanical advantage I passed 2 House Rules:

1. Faith will be called upon only in direct confrontation with evil or its consequences - you can't just summon it up when you're in line at the post office
2. Usages of Faith have to be completely acted out, with full descriptions.]))

Desdemona met Father John before he was Father John, when he was pro-golfer John Iago, who was a very strong twelfth-ranked golfer in the world, making a good push for the top ten. However, their love affair ((which I have players trying to produce as a web-comic)) wrecked his swing ((Desdemona was more interested in his....putter)) and he left the circuit to pursue her. He found Faith along the way.

For months now The Man had been telling Mace that a lot of Conspiracy activity was coming through tourist destinations [CORE CLUE], playing a sort of loose three-card monte game with resort properties. Mace did some digging [2 point Research spend] and found the following.

((The following are ALL [CORE CLUES]))

  1. A condo company called Absalom Properties has offered vacations to newlyweds and parents of children born in the last year.
  2. Six couples who took the offer all disappeared within months of each other (first one adult, then the other), and within weeks of taking this vacation.
  3. The children, all under 2 years of age, were sent into foster care programs, and were all adopted within 30 days, a statistical improbability.
The court records are all sealed and Mace did not have the immediate resources to dig deeper, but he could assign a Cloud Agent to the task. Sifting through dossiers, he selected Ezra Corvus, a Czech data analyst (with combat experience, in case field work was needed). Ezra would get briefed shortly ((Look for that update soon)).

But Absalom Properties was offering another vacation package, this time in Aruba, and Mace needed [Drive - Atonement] to stop this from happening again. But he didn't fit the profile, and since he had already been captured, he reasoned it was likely he'd get spotted.

Other agents would have to be put into play. Desdemona was an obvious choice. She'd want to work with Nick, but Nick was unavailable, and as much as he regretted it, Rossini was a better choice. He had Contacts in the area and more familiarity with escapes if things got dicey.

So with a quick bit of work [2 point Forgery and 2 point Digital Intrusion spends], Desdemona and Rossini became Mr and Mrs Julia and Oscar Wild, an engaged couple, looking to get married in Absalom's newest package "The Isle Getaway Extravaganza" -- all he needed was a priest.

The coincidence was delicious. Desdemona would run smack into her past AND help him out along the way. Perfect.

Father John greeted them at the airport, and Rossini even offered to drive so the good Father and Desdemona could talk.

It's hard to talk when Rossini drives. Either because the man is deranged and experiences paranoid delusions or because he's the absolute best driver when you need to get away from a tail.

No one was sure which was the case as they left the airport, but [4 point Driving Spend] Rossini shook 2 tails on the way over to the resort.

Mace, thanks to a phone call to Margie [3 point Network spend], could spend the entire episode on a yacht, suntanning and tracking the field work. Oh, and getting to know Margie.

Father John was equal parts happy and angry with Desdemona, and she was equal parts shocked he remembered her and shocked that she still had feelings for him. At the condo, after an intense discussion ((I should point out that the players BOTH INSISTED on acting it out, even though both players were male and not dating each other)), Desdemona gave Father John the hard news....

((I prepared for a very cagey, slightly comedic lie, but Desdemona's player didn't))

"John, there's something bigger than the both of us going on here. You're a member of the Church now, surely you've heard about it. What's the worst case scenario they prepared for in Seminary? Now the truth is a thousand times worse."

And that's how Father John was told about the Conspiracy. And after a quick phone call to the yacht, how he was quickly brought in as a temporary Agent.

Absalom Properties arranged for a wedding out by one of the resort pools, under a moonlit sky and candle light. The agenda called for everything to happen on Night 2, meaning the team had time to prepare.

((This is a full list of what they did))

  • Father John dropped a clear lucite rosary into the pool, and blessed it [2 point Faith spend, 1 point Preparedness spend] "I consecrate this pool, that it might be a liquid vessel for His greatness and allow us security against what's coming."
  • Rossini faxed bogus invitations / encoded messages to Mace [1 point Cryptography spend]
  • Desdemona bought a dress and stitched a pocket into it, putting a small vial of holy water inside. [1 point Preparedness spend -- because I couldn't think of what else to call it))]
  • Father John rigged the windows and doorways in the condo with silver bells and crosses [2 point Faith spend] "Beyond this threshold, let only His Grace and Goodness enter, all else be repelled."
All through Night 1, the team stayed indoors, communicating only with Mace on the yacht. They ordered Room Service and waited for problems to happen.

((It occurs to me now that I could have poisoned the food or rigged the cart to blow up or something, but this was NPC with food))

The first problem was around 3am, when Rossini heard something scratching at the condo's patio door. The patio was on the second floor, and overlooked a sheer cliff to the ocean. He threw on the light and found two dozen rats scampering around the patio, and going up the walls. They didn't enter, just roamed the perimeter. Testing it.

The second problem came at 9am, when Desdemona opened the door to pick up her wedding dress, and the hotel attendant tried to claw out her eyes. A Renfield, a bloodmonkey, a human on their way to Corruption. Father John kept the girl in an ice bath for most of Day 2 before realizing there was no saving her. Rossini put a bullet in her and dumped her off the patio just before sunset.

Night 2 came and the wedding began. Desdemona looked great in her dress, Rossini looked...decent in a tux jacket and shorts. But he also had a holster with two machine pistols ready to go. And Father John stuffed a flashbang into his pocket. [2 points Preparedness]

To put it mildly, this was a trap. It was a private ceremony, with several guests of the resort coming out to welcome the new wedding. But it didn't take a genius or even a lot of [Sense Trouble] to realize that for a beach resort, these guests were not tan. At all.

The odds were not in the agents' favor - 2 trained Agents and 1 Priest against 2 dozen Vamps?

((The players at this point began talking of replacement characters))

But Faith is a tricky thing. And just before the first invoking prayer, the attack came. And Father John might as well have been called "Wall John" because Faith kept the creatures back.

(([I treated this as a roll-off, and ticked off the difference in points against John's Faith pool, treating this more like a force field or barrier.]))

And when his Faith waivered in a moment of exhaustion, John pulled one of the creatures into the pool.

The blessed pool.

And then Desdemona and Rossini jumped in, making huge splashes.

From within the center of the pool, they destroyed two-thirds of the "wedding". A few of the more crafty ones realized they couldn't stay in the pool forever.

((The scene is written here as it was delivered))

Vamp: Poor mortals. Are you going to live there? You have to come out some time, and when you do --
Father John: I pray for our souls, and offer the creature a chance to repent --

Rossini: I empty the machine pistol into the Vamp. I'll spend [4 points in Shooting].
Father John looks at him, in disbelief.

Desdemona: If he runs out of bullets, I'll lay down more fire after him [3 points of Shooting worth].

It got messy, Eventually, the Agents outnumbered the Vamps and they could make it back to the Condo for round 2 of the fight.

((Which didn't happen, because the egg timer on the table buzzed, meaning it was sunrise)).

The sun did a far better cleaning up the scene than the Agents ever could.

The agents met Mace on the beach for breakfast and Father John was inducted in as a full-time Agent.

((In our next thrilling episode, learn about what happened to Nick....))

Committed Hero

Father John dropped a clear lucite rosary into the pool, and blessed it [2 point Faith spend, 1 point Preparedness spend] "I consecrate this pool, that it might be a liquid vessel for His greatness and allow us security against what's coming."

Too cool. The synergy of a good GM, compelling ideas and invested players cannot be surpassed in any other media.


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

Episode: So What Happened To Nick?

((The episode was played out with a smaller-than-usual group, so this is truncated version built around one mechanical conceit - [What if another player was in charge of your spends?]))

Nick is a proud vegan. Not one of those convert-anyone-he-meets-types, but definitely someone not shy about extolling the virtues of good diet and clean living.

[Research 2] He was spending what was more or less a day off doing some digging around a city zoning meeting where the local journalists reported some strange goings-on. The lights flickered, they had a funny sense of time and the recording devices didn't always function properly. So...

[Disguise 1] He went down to the records office to watch the footage. It was static-y, it looked years degraded despite being a brand-new recording. He took notes and made himself a copy of the tape [CLUE].

On the tape, there were two items on the agenda worth noting:

1. There was a vote to re-zone a whole area by the waterfront into an industrial park. [CORE CLUE]
2. When he cranked up the volume to hear the conversations better, he heard a raspy voice speaking just off-camera, whispering his name. His name, Mace's name, and the name of that nice Doctor they rescued from the Hospital. [CLUE] The words were just floated out there, with just that right sense of menace to crawl under your skin and wriggle into your ear.

He had to do something. But what? Mace had gone down to Aruba. He'd have to go back to his apartment and put together a plan.

[Driving 1] He took side streets and short cuts.
[Traffic Analysis, Streetwise 1] He made it to his apartment parking garage in record time.

2 things happened.

First, the explosion. ((This was the largest dice roll I've made in the game to-date)), The blast was huge, the pillar of fire tremendous. The building shook and shuddered. Gone were the top 3 floors. ((That's a 31d6 explosives roll if you're mechanically curious...that's Explosive Devices + Enemy MOS + gas lines + Preparedness + demolitions training + high quality explosives))

Second, the tazer. It caught Nick just above the kidney, and he barely felt the black silk bag slip over his head....

Next episode - NICK, KIDNAPPED.


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

((NOTE - This is our Season 1 TTVD Finale episode, after this session, we'll be switching things up for a few weeks with a different game (Call of Cthulhu) and a different GM))

Nick was in an out of consciousness for the better part of the four hours. He didn't know if they drugged him, but he wouldn't be surprised. In one of the longer stretches of semi-wakefulness, he took stock of his situation.

He was somewhere at sea, and the window of the room he was in was either on a boat or a shoreline. He could hear waves. But the room didn't sway or rock, so this couldn't be a boat, could it?

No one answered any of his calls, screams, or rude statements about people's mothers. In fact, he didn't hear any sound past that of the ocean and his own voice.

And he still had most of this things with him. He was dressed. He had his wallet. He had his watch. His shoes had shoelaces. His belt was still fastened. Gone was his phone (he expected that) and gone was the twenty dollar bill he had in his back pocket. (Not expected, but reasonable).

Two hours passed, his cell was large, and the sink and toilet were in working order. He walked the space, counting twelve by sixteen tiles on the floor. And he waited. At some point, a rubber ball was tossed into his cell from a slot in the door. Yes, he checked the door. It was heavy, likely magnetized and he didn't have the strength to loose it.

But he had a ball. And he knew a variety of games. Like catch-with-your-left-hand, and catch-with-your-right.

He took off his watch. Later, well not really later, more like at some point in the future, he'd smash it with his shoe and try to start escaping.

There wasn't a bed in the room, but he had taken to stretching out in the far corner under the window. If he turned his head, he could see out the window in the door, and he could, if he stayed awake, figure out who guarded him and what their schedule was.

Interrupting this plan was the door sliding open and two people joining him. Desdemona and Rossini were tossed into the room. The first thing Nick noticed was that Rossini was missing a finger. The second thing Nick noticed was the Desdemona was barely breathing.

Rossini explained that he heard from another agent (Chip Chesterton IV, now dead) that Nick was gone, and it was only thanks to Carter Byers' [3-point Preparedness spend] expert surgery that every Agent has a GPS stashed into their hip. Mace, who was also missing now, sent Desdemona and Rossini to retrieve Nick.

And they found him, on an abandoned off-shore oil drilling platform, owned by a subsidiary of MertCo Oil and Gas [CORE CLUE], a major financial backer of the Absalom Properties [previous CORE CLUE]. And they were surrounded just by ocean in every direction for about 30 miles. Rossini "borrowed" [2 point Network spend] a small boat from a fishing buddy and Desdemona was quick to sign on. The rescue mission was supposed to be this - find Nick, escape, keep the fighting to a minimum.

Well, they found Nick alright. They found him about four hours into Nick's captivity, but someone else also found them.

The boat reached platform pretty easily, the rock of the waves drew it right in. But no sooner had they moored that someone joined them on the boat.

This someone they recognized from Aruba. One of the hotel staff, a young guy, Ted or something. He still had on his uniform. It was stained pink with blood, and Ted looked pretty pale right now, but Ted still had on his uniform.

Rossini wasn't fast enough. Even with a neat tuck and roll [2 point Athletics spend], Ted was faster. And Desdemona didn't stand a chance. Ted bit her.

Ted then did something odd. He hocked a big fat lugie at Rossini. Hit him square in the arm. And everything got sort of fuzzy, Rossini swears. Fuzzy like he just chugged a bottle of vodka. Fuzzy like he was looking at the world through goggles filled with sea water.

((Although Ted still wasn't a full-on vamp he was 2/3rds the way through his transformation. He couldn't yet turn others, but his saliva was most certainly narcotic -- see Vampire Spreadsheet))

Rossini fainted [1 point Stability loss] and he came too with a searing hot pain in his hand. An older man, someone practically desiccated, lopped off Rossini's ring finger with red hot pruning shears, then cauterized the wound with a Zippo and a piece of metal. Rossini, in pain, was strapped down to a tilt-table and got to watch two things:

1. This old man shuffling around the room
2. Desdemona being bled out through a weird machine that he was sure he'd seen on TV.

The old man hovered over Desdemona, watching her blood filter out, watching her basically die, and then would take a sharp thing (scissors, a file, a coat hanger, whatever was handy) and jab it into Rossini.

((By this time, each was down to about half their [Health] and half their [Stability].))

Rossini was only asked two questions:
1. Why doesn't he just surrender?
2. Where is Mace Hunter?

He didn't have answers for either, and eventually they were dragged up a flight of stairs and into Nick's cell.

Nick took off his shirt and did what he could for Desdemona [1 point Medic spend], but for the most part, she was a goner. But once Rossini better described the machine, Nick knew what had happened.

She was turned. Her blood pumped out, new blood, vamp serum, pumped in. He also knew [2 point Vampirology spend] that in order to make the changes stick, Desdemona would have to feed. And who better to snack on than the two guys she's held captive with?


Mace had just returned to New York, and was eager to activate as many agents as possible and really put the squeeze on everything.

Just as he was pouring the first afternoon Bloody Mary, his phone rang. MikeSmith on the other end said he was downstairs, and that he had just returned home to find his home in flames and his family dead [Solace lost, Security Lost], and he needed a place to go. Also, there were fifteen packages being dropped off.

Packages? Mace wasn't expecting anything. But he and MikeSmith worked to bring them all upstairs and eventually, after some tears and some drinks, opened them. Each box was addressed differently, to a different cover ID either for Mace, Nick or some other team member.

Inside each box was a head.

Some were Agents. Chip Chesterton IV, Samuel Foster, Ashywa Tarwilligar. Some were Nick's cousins. Mary and Judith.
One was even the girl Mace had a crush on in the eighth grade, Karen.

There was also a smaller package, an envelope, and inside a leather strap with what looked like a smartphone holstered to it. The note was addressed to Mace, from "your biggest fan", and written by someone who's handwriting duplicated Mace's exactly.

((Note - this is the link between this campaign and our Ashen Stars campaign, one of the things we'll be doing in the near future. This is Mace's "out", because I want to keep the character running through all our stories))

Under Karen's head (she didn't age well, Mace noted), was an mp3 player.

It had one track on it. Mace played it. The Voice was not The Man's.

"Good afternoon Mister Hunter. Hopefully with this message you've received our little gifts to you. Perhaps in the future, you'll be more thorough with your background checks of the cleaning company you hire to do your floors. It's a very nice office you have there, but tell me, do all the ladies know the truth? Which Mace Hunter do they know? The suave charmer? Or the haunted spy? It's not fair that you have the ability to pick and choose who you are when people like us have only the one face to show the world....albeit at night. So, Mister Hunter..."

Here the Voice transformed into the Man's.

"...we're going to make you choose. This message is ninety seconds long, leaving you about....twenty seconds to escape. Nineteen. Eighteen."

Mace and MikeSmith ran for the elevator, but not before Mace grabbed the Blue Notebook.

Seventeen. The elevator wasn't coming.
Sixteen. To the stairs they ran.
Fifteen. Mace left his phone upstairs.
Fourteen. All Mike could remember was the way his house burned.
Thirteen. Down the stairs, faster, faster.
Twelve. MikeSmith tapped out a quick 911 text to all Agents.
Eleven. Why the hell did Mace have to live so high up?
Ten. Where the hell was Nick?
Nine. Carter called Mike, saying he was being fired from the Hospital.
Seven. Mace didn't even finish his drink.
Six. Mike couldn't get the stink of gasoline out of his nose.
Five. Poor Karen. Her eyes glazed over.
Four. The first floor, finally.
Three. Screaming through the lobby, "Everyone get out!"
Two. Street level.
One. Mace looked skyward as the sun began to set.


Night fell slower than the building did. The explosion was huge, and shook the entire block. The building didn't collapse, it was built American strong, but the top crumbled and spit out across the street below in every direction.

All Mace had was whatever was on him and the blue notebook. Damn the Man. Where was the team?


Nick looked out the window at the last licks of sunlight, and then back to Desdemona, she was moaning now, these oddly seductive moans that were at once arousing and frightening. She didn't speak much, but when she did she only said,


((This concludes Season 1 of Tinker Tailor Vampire Die...we'll be switching to Ashen Stars (another great Pelgrane product) and Call of Cthulhu for a few weeks (I'm running Ashen Stars, Craig (who played MikeSmith) is running Cthulhu))

((I should also point out that if you like this thread, and like this game, you should come out to DexCon this July and participate in the $1,000 Night's Black Agents tournament, which I'm very excited to have a role in.))

((Season 2 will begin in June, more or less. I have some work to do throughout May, which is why I'm playing rather than running as busy a schedule))

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