Saturday, January 30, 2016

Prohibition Mob: The Players go to DC, Get Backstabbed

Precis - Mistreating your contacts leads to them screwing you over.

The Crew:

Sam: The diplomatic and sociopathic leader of the crew. Sam has been the driving force behind the group's actions since day one, and his feud with Three-Fingers Moran has been a consistent issue for the group.
Red: A 16-17 year old thug whose brother's work in the liftskirt industry got her into organized crime. Red is tenacious, has a fiery temper, and has a lot of maturity issues to work out.
Vinnie: Another thug in the 16-17 year old range, Vinnie is a skulk and thug. Raised on the streets from a young age, Vinnie enjoys gambling, slicing throats and good cigars.
Tony: Tony made sergeant in WWI and made sure that a BAR fell off a truck for his own personal use later. The triggerman of the team, Tony's found himself in the sights of an intrepid bombshell reporter- Rachel.

Supporting Cast:
Teddy: Sam's brother-in-law and the group's wheelman. Teddy enjoys loud explosions, fast cars, driving fast cars, and causing loud explosions.
Rachel: Possibly the best journalist in the city, Rachel immediately found herself smitten with Tony and is more than happy to dig up information for him. Rachel figures the book she'll be able to write in a decade will be a best seller.
Ben Kincaid: The leader of the Kincaid Outfit, Ben is the boss of the group the players are currently working under. Ben is a smooth operator who would probably be a better fit in an intelligence agency than running a criminal organization.
Senga: Owner of the bar the players use as their base of operations. Legitimate businessman.


Three-Fingers Moran is believed to be on a steamer heading for DC. The players suspect he's with the US Senator from New York, and they're looking to learn both what Moran is doing talking to a senator and put the dog down for good.

It's roadtrip time.


The players drove down in a large van. Despite Teddy's crazy driving, there were no incidents. Nobody in the group except Teddy has any valuable area knowledge, and Teddy's knowledge is purely driving based.

Sam failed to spot the sticks of dynamite Teddy decided to smuggle 'just in case'.

Relying on streetwise, the group was just about to enter a seedy looking place that a few of them had pegged as an Italian speakeasy when two patrons were rudely shown the door.

One via window.

The first one out (via window) was Petey, the son of Bran, one of Red's contacts back in Boston. Bran is the patriarch of a small time crew of Irish thugs who hire out as guards for booze shipments. Red's relationship with Bran has been strained- what she sees as friendly banter and joking has come across as aggressive and racist.

Petey, hugely drunk and having just been concussed in the middle of a fight, decides it's a good time to hit on the cute chick he's just met. Red socks him in the face and Petey is introduced to unconsciousness for a minute.

Doyle, Petey's partner in crime, is more politely shown the door, although it's clear he was involved in whatever scrap got them thrown out in the first place.

The players eventually (after Petey wakes back up) learn that they know Petey's dad and they tell Doyle and Petey their mission- kill Moran. Petey and Doyle are both on board with this as Moran has been aggressively pushing Irish gangs in NYC to join up with him- or pay the price.

Doyle sets the group up in a hotel and promises to arrange a meeting with some sympathetic locals who also hate Moran's guts.

Scouting out DC the next morning, the PCs find it far less blatantly criminal than NYC. The presence of the federal government and the overwhelming Pinkerton presence in the area has squashed crime in the area- at least on the surface.

They meet up with Fat Tony, a money launderer and the guy bankrolling a group of 15 or so thugs. By this point the players have made multiple checks (empathy, body language, etc) to make sure Doyle and Petey aren't leading them into a trap.

Sadly, it's hard to read someone's body language when their face is mangled and they're coming off of a massive hangover and head trauma. Petey has contacted Moran via telegram and agreed to alert Moran's people.

A firefight ensues where both sides of the fight dig in and refuse to advance, knowing it means death. The garage the players are in is a decent defensive position- three entrances, no windows, brick construction. The attackers tried a few approaches:
  • When the players refused to try and exit the van, they booby-trapped the back door with a trip wire and a grenade in a can.
  • They rammed the front garage door with the player's van. Although breached, the attackers refused to try and insert themselves through the gap.
  • A grenade thrown in through the back door (taken from the trip wire trap once they realized the players were aware it was there) was thrown back out by Teddy (5 second fuse time, the NPC didn't attempt to cook the grenade)
Ultimately, the players were able to take out a few guys with potshots.

The fight ended dramatically when the driver of the van found Teddy's dynamite in the back (his concealment wrecked when the back of the van got crunched into the garage door)- and botched a demolitions check at default while trying to insert the detonator cap.

The explosion turned Petey into paste. The players were far enough away from the blast that the concussion wave didn't do much damage- but shrapnel and fragmentation nailed Sam (4 points of damage to his arm) and Red (2 points to the torso).

The ambushers decided that now was a good time to leave, and they left the players to pick apart what had happened.

Rushing Fat Tony to get medical attention, they grilled Doyle and reached conclusions:
  • Petey had accepted $1000 to lead the ambushers to the group. Between Bran's deteriorating friendship with Bran and Red deciding to punch him, Petey felt Red getting killed was well worth the money.
  • Fat Tony and Doyle were supposed to die with the rest
  • Moran knows the group is in DC
Sam decided enough was enough- he was going to take Fat Tony's thugs and strike back at Moran.

All said, the fighting was one of the least exciting bits I've experienced. Both sides were all too aware of the other group, and nobody wanted to play hero and get shot. It lead to a lot of taking aim at locations and shooting anybody who crossed lines of fire- on both sides.

My players ARE getting slightly more genre savvy, as they all suspected an ambush at various points or another. Sam's failed rolls definitely made the situation much worse, and at one point Sam's player keyed into the fact that I don't go into detail describing locations that aren't going to potentially harbor fights.

Next session should involve a bunch of Moran mooks getting ambushed trying to ambush the group at their hotel. So that should be exciting.


  1. Although there are plenty of switches to make GURPS gunfights more survivable, I do kind of like the default: any day you're getting shot at is a bad day.

    1. There's no pulling punches here- the players are cautious because they know I won't go easy on them.

    2. It does lead to cautious rather than cinematic gunfights, as you mention relatively unexciting, but I tend to regard that as a good thing.