Friday, February 19, 2016

Getting Past Doors: Modern Options

Dungeon Fantastic has had a preoccupation with doors lately, and I figured I'd throw out some ways of defeating doors in the TL 6+ world. Most of these apply to generic locked doors that are largely intended to keep the honest person honest- not your high-security fare. Truth be told, almost all of these focus on the lock, not the door.

Bump Keys

bump key is a key that has all of the teeth at the shortest possible length- 0. Most locksmiths or hardware shop folks will look at you really funny if you request one of these. Depending on jurisdiction, Bump Keys could be illegal, probable cause for a search, or an item that can be confiscated by police.

Using a bump key is simple- insert the key one notch out, apply sideways pressure to the key in the direction the lock opens, and bump the key into the lock making sure the motion engages the teeth into the lock. 

Bumping is fast and relatively quiet. Bumping doesn't leave many signs of forced entry, especially done with a light touch. Less careful bumping can leave telltale marks on a lock, although your normal beat cop might not pick up on them- I figure most detectives or locksmiths would.

Bumping is limited largely by needing the correct key base to put into the lock. Countermeasures almost all rely entirely on the quality of the lock involved, and generally involve needing specific extra precautions be taken.

For use of a proper bump key in GURPS I'd give a hefty equipment bonus to lockpicking skill- on the order of +5 to +7. This assumes that the bump key is suitable for the door in question, and that the lock doesn't have any countermeasures against bumping.

Credit Card

My workplace is a shared complex with multiple businesses, many of them with dozens of employees. For the longest time, there was a single men's and a single women's room, and the men's room had one stall.

Lines were frequent. Trips to other buildings nearby to use their facilities were common.

Luckily, an old tenant gave me a tip about the location of a hidden bathroom, behind the mysterious door K.
Door K has a very simple lock, no deadbolt, and the lock doesn't have any covering or shield preventing you from sliding a credit card between the latch and the door frame.

Using a credit card or other shim on a door is about as quiet as bumping a door. Success really depends on having good access to the latch, and an appropriate shim (my friend has used a spatula when I wasn't around to bump key open her room for the second time she locked herself out).

The most common counter measure to this method of cracking a door is a plate that hides the latch from outside interference (See example to the right).

Against doors that are vulnerable to being opened with a Credit Card or Shim, I'd give a bonus of +2 to +4 to Lockpicking skill.


The company that has started to glob up the majority of the vacant rooms in the complex I work at installed keypad locks on all of their doors lately. Sadly for them, Keypads are weaker to social engineering and bad operational security than a physical key.

With time and the inclination, opening an electronic keypad and creating a short is definitely within the realm of possibility- although it will be obvious and time consuming, and higher quality locks won't open with loss of power/a short. Electronics Operation (Security) and/or Electronics Repair (Security) are both really useful here.

Alternatively, getting the key code from someone is far simpler in most cases. All it takes is overhearing one person telling someone else the code during orientation, or seeing the right email.

Some locks with keypads don't actually proof against bumping- they only offer an alternative path to opening the lock without removing the original key mechanism already present. Often times manufacturer documentation can provide master passwords and the like that can circumvent security measures.

The manual listed the default password- which had never been changed,
allowing me to change the sign to whatever I wanted


Want to get into an apartment building? Loiter around the front until someone comes in or out, and slip in while the door is still open. If needed, claim that you forgot your key, that your girlfriend is late, or that you forgot your wallet. Piggybacking is easy, requires no tools, and the only risk is that whoever opened the door for you doesn't get suspicious.

College campuses are by far the best location for piggybacking through locked doors.


Numerous power tools have uses in defeating locks/doors. All of these are loud, with some being EXTREMELY FUCKING LOUD.
  • Many locks are vulnerable to being drilled
  • A circular saw appropriate for cutting metal can cut through latches/hinges. This is slow, extremely loud, and potentially dangerous for the saw operator.
  • Thermal torches can cut through latches, or can be used to make holes in doors
  • Jacks can be used much like rams, except instead of swinging a log you allow pneumatic or hydraulic power do the work for you


Shooting a lock can be a really hit or miss proposition. Most breaching done these days is done with a shotgun loaded with a breaching round. The muzzle of the shotgun is placed between the lock and the latch, pointing downwards at a 45 degree angle to minimize the chance of the round hitting unintended targets, and then the round is fired.

All told, if you're going to use a firearm, go with shotgun slugs or a rifle, and be prepared for the possibility of shrapnel.

This is backed up by the stats given in High Tech for Locks. (HT 203). A standard lock has DR 6 and HP3, plus unliving injury tolerance. A 9mm pistol will take 2-3 shots to break such a lock- rolling max damage each time.

In Closing:

Modern breaking and entering definitely has more subtle options available for bypassing physical security, especially once magic is no longer an option. Most of the very loud options are gratifyingly loud to boot, which can really amuse players.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tales of Symphonia: Expheres in GURPS

I purchased Tales of Symphonia for myself after my birthday back when I was 12 or 13- I remember it being one of the few gamecube games I bought new for $50. It's a dollar amount I still pause before dropping on a new game, and back then it was a serious amount of money.

Needless to say, I love the game and have played through it many times. My most recent play through (thanks to the shaky PC port) got me thinking about the expheres in the game.

Expheres are a gem attached to an individuals flesh, usually held in place by a piece of jewelry known as Key Crest that acts as both a mount and a safeguard.

Expheres greatly increase someone's agility, reflexes, and mobility. They allow for low-powered super human feats such as:

  • Aerial back flips after being thrown ten feet into the air by an enemy's attack
  • Surviving extremely long falls
  • Projecting waves of kinetic energy as attacks
  • Olympic record breaking leaps and jumps
  • Exbelua has trouble finding nail clippers
  • Recovering from injury very quickly
Expheres have downsides, most of which are related to not having an appropriate key crest:
  • They change their host's Mana Signature, which can be detected
  • Improper removal can cause the host's mana to surge out of control, monstrously transforming the host into an Exbelua 
  • The host's psyche and personality can be suppressed, eventually leading them to feeling no emotions at all.
  • Expheres can absorb an individual's personality and memories, persisting after their body has died- trapping them until the exphere is destroyed.

Exphere User: 85 Points

Catfall, Combat Reflexes, Exphere Talent 1 (+1/lvl to Acrobatics, Climbing, Hiking, Jumping, Running, Swimming), Increased Basic Move 4, Increased Basic Speed 4 (+1 to basic speed), Rapid Healing, Super Jump

A totally average person (10 ST, DX, IQ, and HT) who uses an exphere will enjoy a 2-yard step, a dodge score of 10, and athletic skills covered by the talent at skill level 9-11 with a single point in each skill. Super Jump allows for a standing broad jump of 11 yards, or a standing high jump of 8'. An exphere user takes no damage on falls smaller than 10 yards (5 yards from catfall, another 5 yards given by the maximum high jump from Super Jump), and a successful acrobatics check makes that 15 yards with no damage taken.

Additionally, an exphere user has a 95.4% chance of regaining 1 HP per day of rest instead of the 50.5% for an HT 10 individual.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Prohibition Mob: Dead Man's Party

Precis- Everyone's favorite criminals crash a campaign donor event to kill Three-Fingers Moran.

I am still looking for gang ideas and participants for a meta-game level of play I want to try out.

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.
Isaac: A former cop who has turned into a fixer for various corrupt individuals. Isaac is scary perceptive and would make an ideal serial killer if he were inclined.

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.

I was eager to get to the shooting bits, but my players were very intent on going through the motions of preparing for a mission. This involved a few different things:
  • Sam acquired tickets for him and Tony to the event by posing as a Veteran's Advocacy group member who wanted to make a donation to Cedric O'Brien's next campaign.
  • Isaac located the headquarters of the catering company handling the company and broke in. There was a short fight with a guard dog, which he put down with a silenced pistol.
  • Red and Vinnie both attempted to hit the streets for info. Red didn't locate the right company and Vinnie only found a poker game.
  • Tony cleaned guns. Lots of guns. 
Isaac, Red and Vinnie all infiltrated the catering company. They'd hired a lot of extra help due to the sheer size of the event being thrown. Only Red completely escaped detection, her experience working at her family's bakery in the going a long way towards looking like she belonged. Isaac and Vinnie both had a few close calls, but artful lying got them through the day.

The three of them eventually made their way onto the Trident with the catering company. Isaac managed to sneak a small crate of weapons on board, stashing them on the bottom deck.

Once security, ran by Three-Fingers Moran himself, showed up, Vinnie and Isaac were told to leave the ship. Both pretended to comply before sneaking below deck and stowing away.

Tony and Sam arrived very fashionably late, intentionally showing up well after the first rush of guests arriving. They didn't mingle very much, putting a lot of effort into avoiding Moran and the security goons he had on the ship.

Everyone met on a lower deck right before O'Brien was to begin his speech. They took their sweet time trying to plan their next move.

Virgil and crew, sent by Larson to kill the Senator, had no intention of letting him even begin his speech. The second the senator stepped up onto the platform they had setup on the top deck Virgil shot him in the head with a Mauser T-Gew that had been modified to be much more friendly to fire. The shot passed through O'Brien and took out the poor schnook behind him as well.

Pandemonium broke out on the ship with civilians and various socialites running for cover. Virgil and crew continued to throw down covering fire, largely concentrating along their sight lines- the extreme back and forward of the ship.

The players ran for the top deck, exchanging gunfire with Moran's goons. The crew took down those towards the top of the stairs with little difficulty. The fight started to spread out across the top deck of the ship, with Moran's men moving behind a storage room and the players setting up on the opposite side of the room.

They exchanged gunfire through windows, as Tony flanked Moran's men. It wasn't long before most of Moran's men were down, with Moran's leg mangled by a M1903 Springfield shot (7d+1 pi, average damage is in the ballpark of 22 damage).

Isaac took an unlucky Colt Government .45 shot to the head right towards the end of the session. The damage was 7 on the initial hit, being reduced to 5 by skull DR. 20 damage wasn't enough to reduce the HP 12 detective to -1xHP, although it totally knocked him on his ass. Isaac didn't actually lose consciousness, although it definitely took him out of the remaining fight.

Vinnie finished off the guy who shot Isaac, and the last of Moran's men jumped overboard after slicing Moran's throat.

The group escaped via motorboat, which Teddy had acquired (and used to spray tourists near the waterfront while waiting for the signal to pick up the group). A boat that attempted to pursue them discovered that boating materials of the era weren't much protection from rifles meant to pierce tank armor.


  • Sam is strapped for points and likely isn't going to be able to buy off his enemy just yet. I'm working on a replacement. Originally Ben Kincaid was going to be that enemy, but I later changed my mind. The guy who jumped overboard might be the new Moran. Still deciding
  • Special elections to replace an assassinated senator is going to be a major campaign event. Everybody and their grandmother wants their man in that seat.
  • There's likely going to be an in-game timeskip to move past winter and for the elections to really start up.
  • An assassinated senator is definitely going to draw attention, although why Larson ordered the hit in the first place is still unknown to the players.
  • Isaac is looking at almost three weeks of recovery for a 20 damage injury, although medical care will likely reduce that a fair bit.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Prohibition Mob: Open Call, Looking for Gangs

I've whipped up a google form to allow people to suggest gang names and other information about them. There's a good chance submissions might actually get used in the game, and in the connected meta-game I'll be explaining below.

Gang Submission Form

Now, in addition to soliciting ideas from the twenty or so people who reliably view this blog, I'm also considering opening up a meta game of sorts within the game where individuals might take over the between session actions of the NPC gangs in NYC. You could say, attack another gang and attempt to steal their booze. Maybe bribing your way into local politics is more your style. Maybe your gang tries to start a protection racket on someone else's territory.

It would involve bookkeeping, stuff I'd likely farm out to one or two of my players to help me with since it would be almost strictly an OOC thing when two small gangs decide to come to blows in a way that doesn't directly affect the player group. This would likely involve maps of dubious quality denoting territory and such.

That said, it does open a fun element when/if any of these small independently controlled organizations DO come head to head with the PCs... there could be opportunities for more direct cause and effect as you try to react to game events. Chances are my PCs will also be running groups not connected with their own interests at all.

There will probably be random power rankings assigned by 3d6 at the start, with a scoreboard. Rat piling the individual on top is definitely suggested and family fun for all.

Commitment will be minimal- probably get an e-mail Monday with 5 days to get me a response with what you do. Frequency probably won't be weekly for the meta aspects as in-game time tends to crawl along fairly slowly. Heavy engagement might increase frequency, I'm open to seeing how it goes.

Anyways, part of this will hinge on response. If I get one or two responses, I'll probably scrap the overall idea and see about more involved control of influential NPCs for those interested.

If interested, I suggest leaving a comment below or otherwise getting in touch at vilobion at gmail

Saturday, February 6, 2016

GURPS: Vehicle Hit Locations for Cars Analysis

Precis- I explore some of the wonky oddities surrounding Vehicle Hit Locations

First, this post on explosives is excellent (didn't know Roger had a blog until an hour ago).

I'm going to take a look at vehicle hit locations. This is something that has come up before in Agency 17.

Compared to helicopters (control surfaces), planes (ditto), spacecraft (who wants to inhale vacuum?), and boats (water), cars don't care too much about damage to the exterior. Shooting up the side panels, passenger compartment, or the trunk of a car does jack shit towards disabling the vehicle. The way I see it, a car only has a few real vulnerabilities:

  • Engine
  • Wheels
  • Fuel Tank
  • Driver
  • Drive train (really starting to get pedantic here)
So let's look at the actual table, piece by piece. I'm going to focus specifically on cars. That means I'll be ignoring things like superstructure, wings, exposed riders, etc.

Body: Powered vehicles that take a major wound must check vs, HT or suffer halved move.

Guinea Pig:
The TL6 Roadster (B464) has ST/HP 42, HT 9f (flammable), SM +2 and DR 4, and counts as unliving.

A piercing attack needs to deal 21 points of injury to cause a check for the major wound. That would be 63 points for a piercing attack (unliving reduces incoming damage by a 1/3rd), 42 points for a large piercing attack (1/2 reduction via unliving), or 21 points of damage for huge piercing or impaling attack.

A quick look at TL5/TL6 rifles in High Tech shows a few that could manage to knock out a car in a single body shot, accounting for -4 damage due to DR:

The TL5 Greener Elephant Rifle (although admittedly extremely rare in Prohibition Chicago) can  pass the test with 6d+2 pi++ damage, a maximum of 34 (after applying for DR 4), 8 points of damage shy of the threshold large piercing attacks have to hit to cause a major wound. A quick look at shows that 6d+2 will deal 21+ damage 36.31% of the time.

The TL6 H&H Royal Double-Express, .600 NE (also extremely rare in Prohibition Chicago) also easily does the job with 5dx2 pi++ damage, doing at least 21 damage roughly 3.24% of the time- before figuring in the x2 portion of the damage text which makes it a much more likely 77.65% chance.

The Steyr-Solothurn S18-1000 is more or less a souped up H&H Royal Express with 6dx2(2) pi++, dealing 22 damage 99% of the time.

As for machine guns:

The Maxim 1-pdr is an interesting case due to the armor divisor of (0.5), giving our poor roadster effective DR 8. Still, with 5dx2(0.5)pi++, it can manage to cause a roadster a major wound 39.97% of the time! This isn't even accounting for the followup explosions (which will wreck any occupants extremely fast).

The Browning M2HB makes the cut, dealing 42 points of large piercing damage roughly 50% of the time. The KPZ DShK-38 has identical damage numbers.

A 12-gauge 2.75" firing slugs (4d+4 pi++) can also hit the 21 damage threshold 2.7% of the time.


The body location mechanics make a good deal of sense- only a small handful of TL5-6 rifles can pump out enough damage in a single shot to potentially knock a vehicle to half move, and two of the three machine guns available are definitely WW2 offerings. Shotgun slugs can also do it, but with abysmally small chances.

Notably, some favorite TL8 anti-material rifles such as the Barret M82A1 don't pack enough wallop to disable a TL6 roadster with a single body shot.

 Glass windows, Large and Small

When you hit a glass window, you make an Occupant Hit check and if that succeeds your attack hits someone inside. Depending on if the window was up or down, they get half vehicle DR or no DR respectively on the attack.

First, there isn't much description as to the size different between a Large Window (a -3 penalty to hit, reduced to -1 for the roadster's SM) and a Small Window (-7 penalty to hit, -5 for the roadster). If a full windshield is a -1 to hit, would a normal car window really be at -5? I mean, the size difference between all the vitals for a human and the skull hit location is much smaller than a full-sized windshield to a car door window, right? It's a maddening bit of ambiguity.

Using our Roadster example, a single occupant would be hit on a 9 or less (37.5%), while two occupants have a 50/50 shot of either of them taking a hit on the 10 or less. Now, this is the straight attack, not the 5 points becoming 1d of cutting damage under Occupants and Vehicle Damage- your 7d+1 Springfield rifle shot plows into someone.

p.470 also includes the following on windows:
An attacker can sometimes target a
vehicle’s occupants directly. This is
only possible if the vehicle has an
exposed rider (E), glass windows (G or
g), or an open cabin (O)...  A rider has no cover; someone in
an open or glass-windowed vehicle
has partial cover (legs, groin, and half
the torso). There is an extra -1 to shoot
into or out of a window unless the
occupant is actually leaning out.

Verdict: Why shoot a window when you can shoot the guy behind it at a -1 penalty? Shooting through the vehicle DR and hitting your main target is a far better bet than relying on Occupant Damage.

Vital Area: 

Vital Area: A powered vehicle (anything with a ST attribute) has vital
areas: engines, fuel tanks, etc. The
wounding modifier for a tight-beam
burning attack is x2; that for an impaling or any piercing attack is x3!
This is where things get really wonky in a way that really rubs me the wrong way. The quote above seems to strongly indicate that Vital Areas do not benefit from Injury Tolerance: Unliving, a trait that most vehicles have. Hilarity ensues.

The M1903 Springfield rifle does 7d+1 pi damage. According to the entry for Vital Areas, it would receive a wounding modifier of x3. 14 damage after DR will hit the 42HP needed to reduce a vehicle to 0 HP immediately- 18 damage before DR. The M1903 will do 18 damage roughly 80.83% of the time with a single shot.

A 12-gauge 2.75" shotgun firing a rifled slug (4d6+4 pi++) will deal 18 damage before DR 15.9% of the time, also reducing the roadster to 0 HP in a single shot. 

I should also mention that dealing 42 points of damage to a vehicle in a single hit will cause 8d of cutting damage inside the passenger compartment due to the 5 points of damage -> 1d of cutting conversion as per vehicle damage and occupants.

Verdict: This is broken.


Damage over HP/(2*Number of Wheels) cripples a wheel. For the TL6 roadster, that's 6 points of damage. Effects of crippling a wheel are the same as a character with an equal number of legs losing one leg.

So uh, time to look up the rules for adding legs or losing legs in Characters? Because looking up extra legs to determine the properties of a vehicle losing wheels is intuitive and user friendly?

A quick look at B.54-55 shows that:
  • For 3-4 wheels, crippling 1 reduces move by half.
  • For 5-6, each missing wheel reduces move by 20% until only 3 or left (40% move at that point), and then any gone after that stops movement completely
  • For 7+, each lost leg reduces move by 10% until 3 are left (40% move at that point), and then losing another stops all movement completely.
Additionally, any damage to a wheel forces an HT check. If it fails, it's immediately crippled.

Hitting the wheel of a SM +2 roadster is just a -2 penalty.

Verdict: Wheels are a primo target for ending car chases, especially since 4-wheel cars are the norm for most modern settings.

Insurance Claims:

Of the hit locations, the body hit location does the best job of mirroring reality- very few weapons available at the same tech level as the sacrificial lamb can reliably knock it out in a single hit, which I feel is very true to life.

On the other hand, the "Vital Areas" hit location is an abomination that seems to completely ignore  that an engine would have Injury Tolerance: Unliving, just like the rest of the car.

Wheels are an interesting case, and I feel that having one become crippled should force a control roll or  give control rating penalties and that the move penalty should be reduced to 25% until two wheels are crippled. 

Windows are another strange case because you can explicitly aim for a window and take your chances that an occupant inside gets hit, or you can just accept a -1 (unless you want to hang out your window like a chump to fire your gun) to try and hit someone inside, who gets partial DR for half their body.

Fix 'er up (my thoughts on potential fixes/solutions and balancing):

Body: Leave as is.

Wheels: The first crippled wheel on a four-wheeled vehicle reduces max speed by 25%. A crippled wheel requires a control roll to prevent a mishap/accident (I highly suggest applying speed penalties using everyone's favorite table to the driving check). A second crippled wheel reduces max speed by 50% and requires another control roll. 

A penalty to handling would probably also be an excellent idea as an alternative to maximum speed reduction or in addition to a maximum speed penalty. 

Windows: Attacking a window directly is a -3 penalty while attacking an occupant directly through a window is a -5 penalty. Choosing to attack an occupant directly dictates who is hit on a success, choosing to attack the window directly means rolling for Occupant Damage on a hit. If that subsequent roll is also a hit, a random occupant is hit by the original attack. If the Occupant Damage check is not a hit, the vehicle sustains damage from the attack, but do not make additional Occupant Damage Checks for the same attack.

If random hit location is used for a direct hit on an occupant, the legs, groin, feet and half of the torso (1-3 on a 1d roll) are protected by vehicle DR. A closed window provides half Vehicle DR.

Vital Areas:
Reduce the wounding modifiers for piercing attacks to a vital area:
  • Huge Piercing: 1.5x
  • Large Piercing: 1.25x
  • Piercing: 1x
  • Small Piercing: .5x
Impaling attacks get a wounding modifier of x1, because who is going to stab an engine block with a spear?

Attacking the engine has a -3 penalty and may only be done from the front or sides.

Attacking the fuel tanks has a -6 penalty (Exception: Externally mounted tanks, -3)  and may not be done from the front on most civilian vehicles. Damage over Vehicle Max HP/5 cripples the tank, causing the Vehicle's range to drop by 75% of its max.

Overall Vehicle HP and Damage:

Gurps currently doesn't have any stated rules (that I've been able to find with a more than casual less than decent search of various source books) on how to handle when a vehicle is disabled from generic damage. I'm willing to bet I've missed something, somewhere, but until I learn about something, I'd probably go with the following:

Once a vehicle reaches 0 or less HP, it needs to check against HT immediately and every turn afterwards or immediately come to a stop.

Vehicle Occupant Damage:

I would make a few changes:
  • Called shots to the wheels and fuel tank do not check for occupant damage
  • Shots that hit the engine from the side of the vehicle do not check for occupant damage
  • Instead of randomly choosing who is hit, a GM may at their discretion cause Vehicle Occupant Damage to affect whoever in the vehicle is closest to where the damage to the vehicle occurs


I'd like to thank Douglas Cole for taking the time to read a draft of the post and getting in touch with David Pulver, who explained what lead to the vehicle hit table during development of 4th ed:

However, in the original draft of 4e, all hit points scaled with square root (like ST) rather than cube root. This had a significant
effect on vehicle hit points. A car, for example, would have had around twice as many hit points as it ended up with and a tank would have
about 3 times as many HP...  

The late change to cube root HP in the final draft, made after I had left the project and was thus unable
to comment, unfortunately affected some rules in subtle ways. The high multiplier for piercing damage was originally intended as a way of allowing
"golden BB" type effects, but with only half to a third as many HP in the final version produces some unfortunate overkill results.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Prohibition Mob: "Even if everyone else was deeply confused, I appreciated the Agency 17 appearance."

Precis - The crew from Agency 17 makes an appearance- and not just a cameo.

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.
Isaac: A former cop who has turned into a fixer for various corrupt individuals. Isaac is scary perceptive and would make an ideal serial killer if he were inclined.

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.


Having been ambushed by Moran, the group thinks its time for some payback. They've assembled a team and are ready to take out whatever might be waiting for them back at their hotel.


Things at their hotel seemed normal, sans the illegally parked car with a single wheel up on the curb by the entrance. Vinnie decided to scout things out.

Due to darkness penalties and a failed perception roll, Vinnie turned a corner and bumped right into someone skulking around.

A firefight ensued. Vinnie managed to avoid getting shot, while for the first few seconds his knife attacks failed to land or penetrate the leather jacket the guy was wearing. Assailant #2 got gunned down by Red before he could get a shot off.

Tony gunned down the remaining gun after he turned and ran. The two guys had been in the process of wiring the car to explode- nobody noticed the cable running to the car parked out front until Red tripped over it in the dark.

The crew decided to grab their stuff and bail.

Sam left the group to canvas capital hill to try and locate where Moran's senator- Cedric O'brien- would be docking once they arrived in DC via Cedric's steamboat. 

Sam found Isaac receiving his final pay for a job he had just finished for Nathan Larson- the newest Senator from Vermont.

Isaac and Sam speak for a moment, and Sam immediately realizes he could use Isaac's talents, asking him for a meeting the next morning.

Sam was then floored when Larson called out to him by name and wanted to have a conversation...

Larson knows Kyle DiGlado, knows that Sam is working for him, and wants to know what brings Sam to DC. It turns out that Larson and Sam's goals align- Sam wants to take out Moran, Larson wants Cedric- his fellow Senator- taken out of the picture.

Moran and Cedric are arriving in DC in a few days and then throwing a big celebratory bash over Cedric's successful campaign.

Larson puts Sam in contact with his team, and makes it clear that Sam shouldn't investigate or dig into the games going on above his pay grade.

Larson's team consists of Virgil, Jack and Johnny Trang, who were the PCs in my previous campaign, Agency 17. The three refer to themselves as V, J and M, respectively, to stymie any attempts on Sam's part to track them down after the fact. Virgil and co spell out their plan (sniping), their willingness to help (if it doesn't endanger them), and wish Sam and the rest of the crew luck.

The session ends with Larson's secretary giving Red a love letter to deliver to Kyle DiGlado.

Next Time:

I have more planning ahead of me than I usually do. There's the boat, the party, the guests, the security prep for the boat, and more to mull over and prepare for. I'm sure things won't go as planned for anybody present, except maybe the Agency 17 guys who will get their man one way or another.

Behind the Curtain

So what's Larson's game, and how is it he's acquired a team from what was a TL8 time and place and now has them in TL6 1920s DC? I'm not telling. The core of the campaign will always be the mobsters trying to make it big- and with the exception of Sam's player, the Agency 17 guys showing up wasn't anything out of the ordinary. What I do in the background behind the curtain to tie my various campaigns together is a side offering for the players I have who stick with multiple campaigns to see the threads connecting them, and for the readers who keep up on my games here.

I'm sure it will eventually lead to a campaign more devoted to exploring the topic as a whole, but for now my guys want to bury Moran for good, and so that's my main focus.