Feints & Gambits: Ye Who Have Bullied and Bribed

When last we saw our intrepid heroes, half of them ((Okay, just under half. Three out of seven.)) were in jail after breaking into the GPO and setting a fire. There was some discussion in the time between sessions about what to do about that, and the gang came up with two possible plans.

The first plan to surface was to stage a magical jailbreak, with Mark O’Malley trekking through the Nevernever to the three jails and snatching out their friends. The idea was to find a place on the Nevernever side of things that resonated with “jailness” ((I used the word “durance,” but then, I’m a word-whore.)), so that the three openings would be close together on that side. I pointed out that this would not be in a nice neighbourhood of the Nevernever, and the gang was okay with that.

What they were less sanguine about was that this would turn three of them into hunted fugitives – no matter how trumped up the charges they were originally held on, breaking out of jail pisses the police off, and they will chase you and make your life hell. Because of that, Safire proposed that she instead go see Rogan’s mother, who is a wealthy and powerful woman, and see if this could be resolved without breaking any (more) laws. The group decided that this was the plan to try first, followed by the original plan if things didn’t go well.

So, that’s where things stood at the start of the session. It was another full house, so I had seven characters to track in play, which made things fairly busy.

I started by framing a scene for each of the incarcerated characters. Rogan had decided ((All on her own. Not my idea at all.)) that she – as a were-smilodon – was in heat. I think she had some idea of whiling away a pleasant day or two with the all-female population ((Many Caged Heat references were made.)), but that doesn’t make for exciting play ((Well, I guess for certain values of exciting…)). Instead, her advances touched off a riot in the holding cell, she wound up almost killing another prisoner, and was stuck in restraints.

Meanwhile, Firinne passed me a note saying that she wanted to send a cake to Kate, who was in jail. This cake would contain a rubber file. As none of the players knew what the note said, this led to an interesting and surreal scene, where Kate was hauled into the DI’s office, presented with her “birthday cake,” and told to cut it, revealing the file. The gardai didn’t know what to make of it, and Kate had no idea what was going on, so she was just dropped back in the holding cell to wonder about the incident.

Aleister drew the short straw, having been hauled in by Gene Hunt himself. That meant that Aleister’s scene was an interrogation. There was some banter, some questions, some threats against Aleister, and some threats against Aleister, and some threats against Liam, Aleister’s bar-keeping friend. In retrospect, it might have been better to run this as social conflict than just as a conversation. On the one hand, it would have made the kind of pressure being brought to bear more obvious, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t have shown off Aleister’s cold reserve as well. I guess when the choice is between showing off how bad-ass a PC is versus how bad-ass an NPC is, going with the PC bad-ass is the better choice. Still, I felt this scene didn’t have much interest or life in it. Something to ponder for next time.

We jumped over to Safire then, for her conversation with Rogan’s mother. It went fairly well, and Safire got her to agree to help. Now, I had to decide how effective that help would be. I was torn, here, for a couple of reasons: first, the escape plan was pretty cool and, second, it felt like cheating to just let some NPC swoop in and fix the problem.

Then I remembered that one of the themes in the game is corruption in the system. And the idea of people owing Rogan’s family a favour – and potentially getting drawn in to whatever games they’re playing behind the scenes – was attractive. And then there was how much Gene Hunt would hate that his suspects were snatched away from him by someone with money and the right political connections ((When we created Gene Hunt, the idea was for him to be a potential ally. In all their dealings with him, the group has very nicely shifted him to a suspicious neutral character, and this should be enough to move him into determined enemy territory.)). Given all that, and the fact that the group actually had an idea for what they wanted to do next, it became apparent that the right choice was to let the prisoners out.

And so I let them out.

The next stage of their plan was to get back at the ghost of Padraig Pearse for having set them up in the first place. Mark came up with the idea that he could latch onto the power given Pearse by the True Guinness he had stolen, summon him, check to see if he was a real ghost ((Given Pearse’s history – his spirit trapped by the Fey to judge the Easter Battle every year, strengthened by decades of True Guinness, freed by a necromancer’s death curse, purified by the Martyr Ghost in Kilmainham Gaol – he’s showing more depth, personality, and autonomy than ghosts generally do. This has got the gang a little bit worried that he’s actually the soul of the man himself.)), and then lay a royal beat-down on his spectral butt.

The idea was to use the Guinness Brewery for the site of the ritual, so Mark went and asked Aengous Keogh, the big man who oversaw the brewery ((And is probably not the Dagda at all.)) if they could do that. Aengous said that, if Mark asked him, he would allow it, but that it would come at a cost. Mark asked, and Aengous agreed.

Nate, on the other hand, went to the Warden to make sure that they wouldn’t get in trouble for this ((It pleases me that they are so wary of the Warden.)). He was told that, as long as none of the Laws of Magic were broken, he would turn a blind eye. The truth of the matter is that Pearse’s ghost was getting to be a big enough threat to the mortals that the Warden knew that someone had to do something, and better to let these (expendable, non-wizard, pain-in-the-ass) guys have first crack at it.

So, the group as a whole worked to whip up the necessary things to offset the Lore deficit in the summoning spell, and Kate and Mark cast it together. They got Pearse to the brewery, and Mark soulgazed him – or tried to. There was no contact, making Mark certain that Pearse was just a ghost, and could therefor be kicked with impunity.

Which they proceeded to do.

It wasn’t as easy as they thought it was going to be. Pearse was able to use the eye contact with Mark to mentally shut down his optic nerves, and the ghost stood up to a full-bore blast of fire from Nate. On top of that, a strange figure crashed the party – a tall man in a track suit, ski mask, and sunglasses, swinging around a replica sword. He didn’t stay long, taking off after Pearse was put down for good, but when Rogan tried to follow him, she was shot by an arrow that slowed her down enough for him to get away.

Now the ghost of Padraig Pearse is no more. And Aengous seems to have left the brewery, which is no longer producing True Guinness. And there’s someone else out there who may have been allied with Pearse and has bad fashion sense.

We’re moving into end-game territory, now. Not deep into it, but enough that the threads that will lead to the end are all in my head ((This is a filthy lie, of course. I see the big threads, but things change when the players get involved.)), and I’ve got an idea of where we’re going.

It should be a fun ride.


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