Saturday, February 11, 2017

Penumbra Alliance: Investigating Disappearances in New Bedford (Setup)

Later tonight I'll be going through character creation for a new IRL Monster Hunters campaign. It tentatively looks like I'll have:

  • A Commando who's been possessed or otherwise in contact with spirits (I'm going to push for Diabological Phantom Voices as one of their disadvantages)
  • An Experiment
  • A Sage/Techie
  • One person is undecided.
They're all going to be operatives working for the Penumbra Alliance- a ragtag collective of supernaturally aware organizations that have decided that stopping demon incursions and such is the best course of action for everyone.

Even if these organizations don't all actually get along very well, or have matching goals.

New Beford, MA

Population: ~95,000
Notable Locations: Numerous Projects, Waterfront District (whaling predominant historical influence), Buttonwood Park Zoo, New Bedford Regional Airport, University of Mass. Dartmouth (UMD) nearby.

Three islands in the harbor:
Fish Island (Fishpacking warehouse)
Pope Island (shops, a marina)
Crow Island (Inhabited with a few houses)

Nearby Law Enforcement: 4 New Beford Police Stations, Mass. State Police has a barracks nearby in Dartmouth. Fire Department is acknowledged to be among the best in the state. One hospital- St. Luke's.

Penumbra Alliance Presence in the area:

New Bedford has a large Syndicate Presence. The Syndicate cell in the area is primarily concerned with their illegal operations, and only really pay attention when events harm the bottom line. Their local Lieutenant, Jake Schneider, recently stole a grimoire from Larry and Kenny.

The Librarians of Alexandria and Warehouse 23 both maintain a library/storehouse on the premises of UMD. They're severely lacking in resources, consisting only of a two man team, Kenny and Larry, who are primarily engaged in research.

Veilwatch has a representative in the area, Damien Pulaski, a Massachusetts State Police Sergeant. Pulaski is a good cop who believes he's descended from Casimir Pulaski. Damien is deeply concerned about the disappearances and is the one who initiated the investigation, resulting in the Players being asked to travel to New Bedford.

The Locust Order has a single Locust Priest in the area, Ba'dur "Buddy" Shawn. Shawn has an undeserved nasty reputation within the Alliance involving dark research and horrible rituals. In reality Ba'dur is just a gentle old man who happens to be made out of a sentient swarm of locusts who enjoys gardening and teaching young pupils the fundamentals of magic. 

The Church of St. Germaine has a congregation in the area. Having noticed the supernatural disappearances, they believe they stem from Ba'dur Shawn's presence in the area. Father Norton is fair about this assessment, admitting that it's largely based on Shawn being a Locust Priest, and not any proof that's beyond circumstantial.

None of the Alliance members in the area besides Pulaski or some Syndicate members are really able or willing to engage in field work that involves risk. Pulaski is invested in solving the disappearances and will likely volunteer his services if the group conducts themselves well. Convincing the Syndicate to help will likely be frustrating, as they really don't care.

Buddy might be convinced to help out, especially if it provides a chance to clear his reputation within the Alliance.

The Disappearances:

  1. Transients and homeless individuals have been disappearing- about fifteen have been noted over three months. Damien believes this to be a low figure.
  2. A few (2-3) children have been snatched. Normal investigation proved fruitless when forensics teams ran into spectacularly bad luck- one team had a smartphone battery catch aflame, fouling a crime scene, another was pushed off the road by a drunk driver into the harbor, and the last team's evidence was destroyed when a short circuit fried the testing device. 
  3. One teenager may have escaped an attempted kidnapping- but he's currently in St. Luke's, unable to talk coherently and babbling the lyrics to Little Drummer Boy. 

Available clues:

  1. Both Father Norton and Ba'dur have detected the presence of dark magic used within the city, although they don't know the caster (and Norton suspects Ba'dur). (Deduction: Rogue Witch)
  2. The Syndicate recently fulfilled a special order for a magical grimoire, stolen from the Librarians of Alexandria/Warehouse 23. Good luck getting them to admit to it though. (Only local lieutenant knows the specific nature of the order, -3 at attempts to get him to talk about who bought it.) (Deduction: This gives away the Witch's identity immediately.)
  3. Fish, Pope, and Crow Islands all seem to be experiencing unusual amounts of strange activity over the last few months. (Deduction: Witch is likely setup on the Islands, Witch also frequently uses boats to access Crow Island, might live there)
  4. The owner of Duncan Fishpacking is adamant that nothing strange is happening, even when confronted with evidence. (Deduction: He's in on it.)
  5. A few people will report that some employees of Duncan Fishpacking have been acting strangely. (Deduction: It's connected somehow, provides more avenues of investigation)
  1. Kenny and Larry had a Grimoire useful for opening gateways and portals stolen from them. Both aren't terribly excited to admit to it happening since it makes them look bad. (Deduction: Rogue Witch is attempting to open a portal of some kind.)
  2. A man was attacked by a strange dog near the Dunkin Donuts on Pope Island and managed to fend it off with a pistol. (Players can find the corpse if they search near the Dunkin on Pope Island. Deduction: Rogue Witch has summoned a few members of the Endless Legions already.)
  3. Human remains have been dumped at Fish Island, among the offal produced by the plant (See Clue #3 under where). (Deduction: They were sacrificed to provide energy for a ritual.)
  4. The bad luck of the police investigations is not natural. Should be easy to indicate it stems from a supernatural origin. (Deduction: Rogue Witch)
  5. Children provide more magical energy than adults. (This ties into clue #3 of What.)
  6. Attacks Decrease during the full moon (Rules out Lycanthropes)

  1. Most of the disappearances have happened closer to the harbor. (Deduction: Boat accessible)
  2. Police have investigate numerous reports of strange activity near the Pope Island Marina. They consistently find nothing and believe a prank caller is at work. (Deduction: Pope Island Marina is a place to investigate)
  3. The teenager in St. Luke's, if he's able to recall anything, remembers hearing that the 'trash' was disposed of on Fish Island. (Deduction: Witch has been dumping the dead bodies of his victims on Fish Island) 
  1. Attacks have no correlation with a set date (timing appears random based on days passed, etc)
  2. Attacks increase during periods of bad weather and reduced visibility
  3. Attacks decrease near the full moon
  4. The kidnapping of the children occurred most recently, as did the police investigations. (Attempts to ramp up progress)

Deduction Penalties:

Who: -4 to area knowledge/current affairs to identify locals (Scope penalty, I doubt players will have applicable area knowledge, although Lore! of course wouldn't.)
-8 (reasonable precautions to thwart identification by perpetrator), +1 (status 2 Individual as prominent business owner), +2 (known bibliophile and antiques collector)= -5 to deductions

-4 (takes basic measures to cover his tracks) (For learning it's a Rogue Witch)

-2 (Endless Legion Demons don't really count as sapient)

-8 (Plan involves no special timing)

-8 (Intelligent foe who didn't think he needed to pick an unobvious location), +3 (small local cult of ~15 members has been assisting the Rogue Witch)

What's actually going on:

Sid Duncan, owner of Duncan Fishpacking, is a Rogue Witch. Having been raised by an aunt who was deep within the Dark Arts, Duncan was initiated into summoning demons at a relatively young age- 11. Duncan has made a pact with the Demon Lord Drumer for magical power- in return for attempting to summon Lord Drumer to Earth. Drumer is the source of the bad luck curse that affected the investigation teams- Duncan lacks the skill in the relevant paths to cast such a spell.

Duncan is aided by a few of his employees at the Fishpacking Plant. Most have had spells placed on them to force their compliance. Some early sacrifices were conducted to make these spells easier.

Drumer has instructed Duncan to fill a gem he's fashioned into a reservoir for magical energy via conducting human sacrifice. He's been unhappy with the slow progress, pushing Duncan to bolder attempts to find fresh victims- which is why the young children were targeted. 

Duncan is capable of summoning up to two Impalers at a time, or up to four demonic canines. He also has his followers, although most are little more than meat shields and distractions for him to have time to accumulate energy. One or two might have pistols.

Duncan has numerous (23) charms that he has prepared for emergencies, cast and gathered over a long period of time:
  • 5 3d lightning bolt charms (He prefers lightning over firebolts because they short out cellphones)
  • 1 Gift of Gab Charm (Used sparingly because he has to resort to spending FP to make it possible to cast)
  • 1 Hush Charm 
  • 3 Necrosis 
  • 8-round pistol magazine with additional 6d of crushing damage for each bullet.
  • 3 2d healing charms
  • 1 100 yard emergency teleport (Quirk: Loud bang upon arrival)
  • 1 charm for DR 4 (Quirks: Painfully obvious that he's covered in a shield of energy or similar, sparks super obviously when hit by an attack)
Duncan lives in a manor on Crow Island, uses his Fishpacking Factory to dispose of the bodies, uses the Pope Island Marina to move his sacrifice victims, and generally conducts his rituals at home. The gem he's filling can ONLY be used for the summoning of Lord Drumer, and currently houses a great deal of magical energy.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Aeon C-Team S304: We Leverage Nation Security to get Free McDonalds

We'll update the logo... eventually
The Team:

Marsh Langston (Maverick): A blond, smiling hacker that will rip the most secure files out of your mainframe while convincing you that he's just downloading more RAM. Marsh is a technical wunderkind and social engineer with a shadowy background in intelligence. PROHIBITION MOBSTER

Mikhail Kovalenko (Alex): Measuring 6'4" and weighing about 230lbs, Ukrainian-born Mikhail Kovalenko was a former special agent in Eastern Europe and is extremely competent at drinking vodka, making friends with random people, piloting, field action, reminding others that he's from Ukraine (not Russia), field operations, and handling firearms. TOTALLY NIKO BELLIC

Agent Veracity (Me): The Subway's resident spook and dumpster diver, Agent Veracity is a highly skilled investigator, tradecraft expert and conspiracy nut. HE'S IN YOUR TRASH!


We learn that the Cavalry made some serious wins based off the plans and information we gave them.

Of course the chairman of the board was the last one to not get nabbed by AEGIS. 

We start setup outside the Chairman's location. Zephyr has been helping us with scouting. A man in a black suit stepped inside and then there was a bunch of screaming. 

Veracity's gut doesn't think the chairman would use PURPLE DRANK on himself without it being perfected given the risk of it killing him. The guy in the suit is definitely NOT the chairman.

Using a hyperspectral camera, we see what we assume to be the man in the suit inside killing more people.

Mikhail asks for permission to shoot. 

We have Marsh try to spoof an alert to all Blue Skies operatives in the area, trying to mimic a message that Artillery, badass motherfucker asshole supreme, is on his way. The goal is to cause chaos, maybe give the guy in the suit pause when he learns that a bigger fish might be on the way.

Veracity's gut feeling is that the man in the suit is aware that the Subway team is in position.

We then try to place a call to the man in the suit. The man's voice has a slight German accent. 

Veracity tries to convince him to delay a bit so we can get information from the Chairman, or better yet, allow Gabriella to scan his mind.

The man says that he can't do that.

Some kind of teleportation attack hits the group- only Veracity is affected. He's pulled into the 19th century house where the man in the suit is going about his business. He's unaffected by the blood and gore.

Veracity does his best to defuse the situation without outright requesting that Mikhail open fire. The Man in the Suit is pouring shadow from every patch of exposed skin. 

Mikhail takes a shot with the Barrett .50, hitting the man in the suit in the head- without being able to see him, through the intervening house. Alex spends 2 Karma to make it a critical, and another to reroll the critical headblow table twice to get us a better result.

The man's head develops a huge hole in it, but he's still standing and regenerating.

Veracity doesn't wait around as the man in the suit is knocked off balance, pulling out a stun grenade and dropping it behind him as he runs. Veracity runs upstairs- onto the second floor. He almost trips over a sprawled out Blue Skies bodyguard at the top with a severely busted shoulder. Veracity helps the man up and stops to spray slip spray- D&D's grease spell's TL 9 cousin in a can- over the stairs.

Outside, Mikhail is continuing to take shots at the Man in the Suit, going for the knees. Both knees are obliterated by anti-material rifle fire.
Mikhail and Marsh both suddenly find themselves falling. Mikhail crits his Move! roll. Both somehow keep their feet, but are inside a stone cell. It's a round stone hole, with a window looking into where they were, and then it closes.

Inside the house it's loud- among explosions, the flashbang going off, and then radio silence.

The Blue Skies goon has busted out the window and Veracity grabs him, using Mr. Gunn (his grapple gun) to latch onto a tree nearby.

Veracity helps the Blue Skies guy run away once they get outside the house.

In the cell, Mikhail's entered the astral realm. He explores a bit, eventually hitting a barrier with strange symbols on it. Mikhail SOMEHOW manages to recognize them as Norse Runes. It looks like a sphere that surrounds the prison.

Horizontally out from the cell, there's nearby tunnels and what looks like super old tracks. There's a lab, including a guy who is chained in place, working. The man is looking through a microscope.

Veracity and the Blue Skies operative are picked up by Zeus in another VTOL unit.

Mikhail concentrates, willing himself visible and able to talk while still in Astral Form. Mikhail talks with the chained man, who indicated that the man in the suit is the Devil, and that talking about him might make him aware of it.

Mikhail asks what the man is doing. The man asks how Mikhail got past the barrier. Upon hearing the answer the man says that Mikhail will be dead soon, likely subjected to unholy experiments. The man holds up a vial of purple liquid.

A teleportation shimmer happens near Mikhail, and he's shooed away by the man working in the lab. A butler-looking individual teleports in. The butler asks the lab tech if the formula is ready- if not, the butler will be back real soon. Evidently the Americans have done most of the work for them, and Blue Skies is mostly dismantled. The Butler is pleased as this means his organization gets to keep all the rewards.

Legend gets a sitrep from Veracity. Veracity attempts to Stunt his power to wipe machines of information to implant his memory of the man into a nearby computer. (3 Karma spent to make a power roll at -4 a crit success.)

Marsh burns through some gizmos to get access to chemicals commonly used by airliners in the oxygen bag masks that drop during an emergency. He succeeds on Science!, buying Mikhail and Marsh another 30minutes of breathing time.

Arguments are made that Mikhail can use Shooter! to cover Breath Control since he can just meditate by looking down the scope of the rifle that he had. Marsh burns some karma to gain access to the skill, and another to make it a success.

Marsh also tries to modify their radios to function on ultra-low frequencies, allowing them to phone home from the cell. He manages to establish a line out, and establishes that he and Mikhail are both deep underground in NYC.

Marsh manages to get a text out to Veracity's phone.

Buried under old NY subway, not ours. Suit's Lab working on purple drank. 2 hours of oxygen. Magic rune bullshit blocking Mike.

Back in the hole, a teleportation door opens, and the Butler is pointing a gun at Mikhail. Mikhail draws his pistols and wins the opposed fast-draw contest that results. The dude pointing a gun at Mikhail is wielding a strange blocky black gun of some kind.

Mikhail goes to shoot the gun in the Butler's hand, rolling a crit to hit. The gun falls to the ground, and the Butler vanishes.

Mikhail and the Butler contend for the black gun. Mikhail rolls poorly, spending Karma to keep possession of it. Mikhail tests it on a wall to see if it causes teleportation effects.

There's a McDonalds on the other side of the wall after Mikhail shoots it. The brothers dive through as fast as possible. They appear in the middle of the street, briskly walking to the other side before traffic gets disturbed by their presence. While Mikhail goes inside to get a superfluous amount of food (about 15 happy meals), Marsh establishes that he and Mikhail are in downtown Manhattan. Mikhail fails to convince the cashier that he should be given free food, and then has to enlist Marsh's aid to pay. Shit goes sideways and Mikhail breaks his phone.

Zeus flies the VTOL with Veracity and the Blue Skies operative (whose shoulder is both broken and dislocated until Veracity pops it back into place) on it to go pickup Mikhail and Marsh.

Veracity gets sick of the delay with payment, shouting into the VTOL loudspeaker that Mikhail's transaction is endangering national security. The McDonald's clerk showers Mikhail with food and the team regroups on the VTOL.

Veracity does his best to find a location suitable for a PURPLE DRANK lab near old subways located in NYC, and thinks he knows of one. He sends a request up the AEGIS flagpole for more info.

The Teleportation Gun does direct neural interfacing, and it has actual bullets (.50 AE) in it as well, but Marsh can figure out much more than that.

We work out a plan to try and take on the lab:

  • Mikhail calls up a friend who used to work for the Subway System who provides old maps
  • Marsh gets Gunther
  • Veracity puts in calls to see what support he can rope in
  • The group grabs a man-portable LRAD unit and extra beefy hearing protection
  • Dirt Bikes
The Lab is located in a spur that was abandoned after it was decided it didn't need to be used.

We take the dirt bikes down into the subway tunnels and have Gunther peel back the metal that they welded over the entrance.

The lab looks abandoned. Lots of stuff is missing, paperwork and books are on fire, and we don't run into anybody.

It's obvious that they deployed teleportation to evacuate the entire premises. Marsh goes to check their stuff and almost breaks an extremely thin vial of glass holding some blue liquid from lot 26.

Marsh comes to the conclusion that it's some kind of bioweapon. Veracity is able to pull four different partials from it. 

Searching around we find a journal. It contains scientific and occult notes, personal notes, and actual magical formulas. It's written in old Norse.

Veracity spends some time experimenting with the portal gun. Veracity's gut feeling is that the gun is low, but Mikhail can't grok the actual number of shots.

While Mikhail and Marsh pack up the lab Veracity stalks some Columbia professors that know Old Norse, using Telepathic Learning, Speed Reading, and another Stunt to migrate it all into digital data Marsh can use. 

We end there. Mikhail is voted MVP.