Friday night was the latest Feints & Gambits session. I had four players for this one, and by Thursday, I had no idea what the scenario was going to be, but I wanted it to be quick enough to run in a single session, but still fun. I mentioned this on Twitter, and got this reply from @HarriedWizard:
@Neal_Rick Look up my “Last Call” case file. Pretty good stuff there.
I’d been avoiding drawing too heavily on the source material for scenarios, because most of the players have read the entire series. Also, as the game is set in Dublin, it takes some tweaking to make the (very American) stories fit the city we had created for play.
But this story was about beer, and if I can’t work a story about beer into a game set in Dublin, I’ve got no business running games at all.So, I yanked the basic premise of the story ((Beer that makes people go nuts.)) and the complication ((The beer is going to be distributed at a football game.)), and twisted them around a little.
First off, I decided to go for a very Irish ((At least, as “very Irish” as a Canadian boy who’s never been to Ireland can get.)) replacement for the football game, and made it a hurling match, held at Croke Park. Then I had to decide on the beer. The first instinct was to make it Guinness, but Guinness has a very special place in this game, and I didn’t want to mess with that. I decided it was a microbrew, called Forth Ale. And I had to change the villain behind the plot – well, I didn’t have to, but I wanted to make things a little different from the story as to involved parties and motivation, and I had a great candidate in the offing.
AmadÃ¡n na Briona, the Fool of the Forth. This is a nasty legend of a powerful, cruel, trickster faerie, who is known for driving mortals mad on a whim. He’s also the ancestor of Firinne, our changeling player character ((Firinne wasn’t at the game, and I’m interested to hear what her reaction to this is.)). This is a departure from what the characters seem most preoccupied with, right now, which is the whole ghosts-are-free thing they caused, but I did that very deliberately for a few reasons:
- First, during city creation and character creation, fey politics and game-playing was, far and away, the most prevalent element that came up, and I don’t want it to fall by the wayside.
- Second, I want to make the point that the freed ghosts are causing problems on top of all the regular problems the characters deal with.
- Third, I didn’t want to get in a rut with a whole bunch of ghost stories. They tend to lose their impact if grouped too close together.
Now, AmadÃ¡n is someone I want to be scary, mysterious, and too powerful for the characters to go after head-on, so that meant I needed to give him some catspaws, and that easily fell to the Snowbirds, the Winter Court street gang. I was working that stuff out, when it occurred to me that, if I kept using Winter as the antagonists, Summer would come across as too much the good guys. Besides, making the Sunshine Boys (the Summer Court gang) the bad guys here would keep the group guessing a little longer.
I also wanted a different climax from the story ((Go read the story if you want to know what that is.)). I thought it would be fun to have the characters actually helping the Snowbirds destroy the beer, fighting against the Sunshine Boys.
So, with this fleshed out, we started Friday evening with a bar brawl ((We pretty much had to, because Nate wasn’t there. It’s become traditional to have a bar brawl when his bar-brawl-loving character isn’t with the group.)) at Cohen’s which is the pub that Aleister lives above. I decided I wanted to give him a chance to use some of the combat skills he’s invested in, so I had him hear the beginning of the brawl, rather than just see the aftermath. He waded into the fray, and managed to save the life of the barman, though he got beat up a bit in the process.
He also managed to call the other characters for help in the middle of the fight, which I thought was pretty groovy. They showed up in the aftermath, of course, when the bar was surrounded by police. Kate wrapped herself in a veil and went in to check on Aleister, while Mark and Rogan went chasing off after some young fellows who were watching the bar wearing Sunshine Boys colours. The fey gentlemen in question weren’t very forthcoming with information until Rogan shifted to smilodon form, knocked them into a dark alley, and sat on them. Unfortunately, they didn’t have much in the way of information to give, but Mark managed to exact the promise of a service from them in exchange for letting them go.
One thing they did mention was that whatever was going on must have been big, because the Black Cat was involved. Rogan had heard of the Black Cat, a sort of boogeyman the fey used to scare each other. He was supposedly a nasty that showed up when mortals were being messed with and slapped down anyone taking advantage of the poor, magicless folk.
Inside the bar, Aleister answered some questions from the police, and met Inspector Gene Hunt ((Yeah, he’s patterned after the character from the UK TV series Life on Mars. It’s just such a good character, we decided to use him.)), who had taken charge of this case. Mark recognized him when he left, and filled in the rest of the gang on his reputation as quite possibly the hardest and most cunning copper in Dublin, and someone to steer well-clear of. Rogan began suspecting that he might be the Black Cat.
Once the police had cleared out, the group cheerfully violated the crime scene and began snooping around. They quickly discovered the enchantment, and tracked it to the beer, and then found a single unbroken bottle of Forth Ale that had rolled under the bar. Mark looked at it with the Sight, and got a good look at the nightmares that had been poured into the bottle. He also saw that the label said, instead of Forth Ale, A. na Briona, and worked out what that meant.
Snooping in the pub’s office turned up a flyer, advertising Forth Ale, and showing that the brewer (whose name, address, contact information, etc., was nowhere t be found) had provided ten cases as free samples to Cohen’s, and was planning on distributing thousands of free samples at Croke Park the next day at the hurling match. With the kind of thing that had happened at Cohen’s, and what Mark had seen in the bottle, they decided that would be a very bad idea.
They split into two teams, then. Aleister and Rogan went to tell Inspector Hunt about the threat, while Mark and Kate went out to Croke Park to see if they could forestall things before the game the next day. Rogan and Aleister tried to play on Rogan’s family name and her position in society, which did not sit well with the good Inspector, so he made things difficult for them – right up to the moment Rogan decided he couldn’t push her around, and shut him down. He backed off at that point ((But this is Gene Hunt. He’s keeping score.)), and said he’d look into things. At that point, Rogan and Aleister headed out to Croke Park to meet up with the others.
The others had found the loading doors at the park, which was apparently being watched by mysterious figures in the shadows. As they were trying to decide what to do about that, there came a tapping at the car window, and a pixie in Snowbird colours asked if they were there to get the beer, too. Mark arranged with the pixie that the rest of the Snowbirds hiding off in the darkness would charge the building when Mark approached it to draw out the defenders. At this point, Rogan and Aleister showed up ((Thanks to a Fate Point spend from Rogan, invoking her Right Place, Right Time aspect.)), and everybody decided to head for the doors at once.
Well, a swarm of pixies came in out of the dark, while the loading doors started rolling up and an army of leprechauns came storming out. Other fey from both sides came crashing together, a total of 150 to 200 faeries, and the characters decided that maybe they were a little outmatched to fight their way through. Mark and Kate collaborated on a fast thaumaturgical veil ((They’re getting pretty good at working together.)) and group slipped through the melee to get inside, where four semi trailers were parked, each marked with Forth Ale signs.
Cowering down behind the trailers, Mark worked a ritual with the bottle he still had from Cohen’s, and shattered all the bottles in the trailers. Unfortunately, that pretty much gave away the fact that the characters were there, and everyone turned on them. Aleister and Rogan held off the angry Summer fey while Kate used a potion to dissolve the locked door into the stadium itself. As people started escaping, Aleister shot one faerie dressed in silver armour through the eye, prompting another to challenge him to single combat. Before Aleister could reply, Mark filled the air with shrieking, grasping spirits ((Basically the Whirlwind spell, modified to use Spirit instead of Air.)), letting everyone make a clean getaway.
That’s where we left it. I’m pretty happy with the session; it’s left some interesting questions to be answered, and I managed to do a little better than usual at keeping the Fate Points flowing. All in all, fun stuff.
So, thanks again to @HarriedWizard for pointing me in this direction. I owe you one.