Dracula Dossier – Session 3 – Edom’s London


This session starts digging into the Dossier in earnest. While there are likely some spoiler elements to this write-up you are likely safe from major spoilers for a Dracula Dossier game.


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Days after our near-disastrous encounter with Edom (and possibly Dracula), the crew learns of a news report for the Murder-Suicide of Gary Malloy and Father Malcolm McMann. It is clear from photos that Gary Malloy was the man we knew as Harker, who brought us into this insane plot.

Based on the news report, we do some digging and learn some interesting facts about Malloy:

  • Malloy worked as an IT professional for an Environmental Group
    • [Reading between the lines, it’s clear that the Environmental Group was a cover for British Intelligence, in which Malloy was clearly an anayst]
  • Malloy was 29, placing his work record for GCHQ between 6 and 8 years.
  • Over the last month, Malloy’s spending patterns are erratic. It appears he had been financing his investigation into the Dossier all on his own.
  • Malloy had not been trained as a field agent, as his tradecraft was poor.
  • Malloy was survived by a mixed ethnicity girlfriend, Emma Rossini.

Svetlana and Beryl both have a line of investigation to follow up on. Beryl decides to go to Malloy’s apartment to see if there are any other traces of his investigation or information on his pursuers. Svetlana follows up with the morgue to try and see if there is any other physical evidence on Malloy at the time of his death.

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Beryl:

Malloy lived in a gentrified apartment complex in Soho.The apartment has no real security and infiltrating the apartment is very simple. A quick tossing of the joint finds a decent amount of information:

  • Notes pertaining to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels in Belgium.
  • Postcards and pictures of a Malloy and a woman (assumed to be Emma) in Sibiu Romania.
    • Kurt, being relayed this information investigates the implications of these pictures and postcards. Sibiu had an older name, Hemeschtat. Hemeschtat is mentioned in the Dossier, in relation Scolomence, the Devil’s School – Fabled school of black magic run by the devil.
  • Malloy’s computer, which on cursory inspection has several recent search terms that look familiar to us from reading the Dossier.

However, after a few moments with the computer, Beryl realizes that she has tripped some type of monitoring software embedded in the computer, alerting those watching Malloy’s flat.

Beryl rushes out the window to the fire escape, flying off its frame, the door to the flat hits the wall as a combat-booted operative enters the apartment. She scales the side of the building making it to ground level. Just as she reaches the street, Mr. Combat-Boots leaps from the window, landing in a three-point superhero landing.

Attempting to rush to the opposite side of the street, Mr. Boots lunges forward, grasping Beryl’s arm, throwing her with superhuman strength towards the brick wall of Malloy’s apartment building; deeper into shadow and away from the faint rays of sunlight.

Recovering quickly, Beryl runs into one of the shops at the ground level of the apartments. Leaping over the counter and rushing through the back room, she emerges into an ally; Mr. Boots crashes through the shop, closing the distance to Beryl.

After turning a corner onto the opposite street from the ally, Beryl scales the side of the wall and proceeds to parkour along the second story ledges and patios. It takes Mr. Boots a while to notice that Beryl is not at street level.

At Beryl’s behest, some urban youth distract Mr. Boots long enough for her to scale up to the roof of a tenement building, allowing her escape.

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Svetlana:

Svetlana arrives at the MET, where their main morgue facilities are located, under the guise of Dr. Zubova. Svetlana is equipped with a pair of eyeglasses that have a camera feed broadcasting back to Kurt. An unhelpful desk clerk  tells Svetlana that Malloy’s body was suspiciously transported to another post-mortem facility outside of London. However, Father McMann’s body is still in cold storage on site.

Svetlana requests an observation room to examine McMann’s cadaver. Reviewing the autopsy reveals that the injuries and condition of the body have been extremely downplayed.

Upon examination, Svetlana notices a post-mortem injection, just as the corpse begins to move. The appendages jerk and spasm and the torso goes rigid and the body sits up on the table.

From the feed, Kurt sees this happen and recognizes some kind of Vampiric revenant… at least it’s not a newly arisen vampire.

Reacting quickly, Svetlana grabs the fire extinguisher off of the wall and sprays the dry chemical powder into the eyes of the risen priest, followed by a swift blow to the head. In response, the revenant grabs hold of Svetlana’s arm. Svetlana pivots and turns the grab into an armbar, slamming the monster into the steel viewing table. After a breath, it stops moving.

Svetlana straightens her attire, pulls the fire alarm, and calmly exits the MET building, pilfering the sign-in logs and transfer paperwork for Malloy, who was transported to Cross Angel Cold Storage earlier in the day.

From Svetlana and Beryl’s encounters and Kurt’s research, we have a couple of leads to work on. We could try and follow up with Malloy’s body at Cross Angel cold storage, but the ring agrees that is likely a dead-end, trap, or both.

The most promising lead is from the Sibiu references in Malloy’s apartment, which clearly had something to do with his investigation, as the trip was quite recent. However, in the Dossier linked to the passage that references Hermeschtat an annotation mentions a figure in contact with Doctor Van Helsing called Arminius of Budapest. Other references in the dossier indicate that Arminius is actually Armin Vambery, a Hungarian Turkologist living in Budapest at the time of Dracula’s writing. Other Van Sloan annotations indicate that the notes from Arminius were used by the British during their 1940’s operation while  Arminius’s grandson was still in Budapest at that time.

With the intent to track down Arminius research, notes, or descendants, the ring plans for a trip to Budapest.

[End Session]

Dracula Dossier – Session 2 – The Harker Intrusion [Part 2]


Warning: Spoilers for the finale of The Harker Intrusion. For the first installment, read my previous post.


 

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The shot cracks the air, the witch crumples into a heap, bloody and lifeless onto the ground. The camp is momentarily frozen before pandemonium erupts.

Using mining explosives found in one of the prefab tents, Beryl throws a stick of dynamite, lobbing it at the cooler of blood. Using the same explosives, Svetlana circles around and blows up the generator.

Chaos engulfs the camp, the trained military SAS maintain discipline, fanning out to establish a hard perimeter of the camp. While the SAS fan out from their position, Beryl uses the cover of the now darkened camp to move towards the lead coffin, sneaking past a technician in doing so. Placing a small plastic explosives payload on the exterior and quickly moving extricating herself from the blast range.

Meanwhile, Svetlana moves to secure one of the digs vehicles in case we need to make a hasty escape. However, she is interrupted by one of the SAS sergeants.  Drawing his gun just a fraction too late, Svetlana darts in, making a disarm with her extendable baton, flinging his gun off into the darkness.

Using the chaos as a distraction, Kurt moves from his snipper’s perch and relocates, avoiding the SAS sweeping outside of the camp.

Rushing from the main camp, Beryl gives a three count warning; “3…2…1 Fire in the hole”.

An immense boom follows, not only catching the lead coffin and the personnel surrounding it but also catching the tent with the mining explosives in it. As an unintended consequence, Svetlana and her assailant are hit, getting hit with the blast wave and shrapnel. She rolls with the explosion, taking only minor abrasions.

From his new vantage, Kurt disables the remaining SUV’s of the dig personnel, securing the team’s escape without pursuit.

When we get in back in contact with Harker, he is relieved that we “took care of” the dig in Romania, saying “Thank God, we couldn’t let Edom get another Vampire…” His contact is more paranoid and erratic, believing that Edom is watching him closely and he can’t leave the country. He requests that we meet him in London and that the line of communication we are using might be compromised soon, we are only to use it once more to arrange our meeting when we arrive in London.

c116bf7bb2e73f11f2753c0a29c39edaAfter landing at Heathrow, and securing a high-quality Mercedes SUV, we make all due haste to Harker. Our last response to him includes the location to meet: Curch of St. Mary the Virgin in East London. The Church looks gothic but was built much more recently than the architectural style suggests.

An initial casing of the meeting location tells us two things. Kurt’s occult lore indicates that this is a very safe location if Harker is worried about vampires, as the church (holy ground) is situated between three of the rivers of London, the Theme, Lea, and Fleet. Svetlana, on the other hand, realizes that this location is awful as a location for a meet, it’s remote, easily surveilled, is indefensible location against hostile attack.

As we make our final approach, the night is cold without the onset of London fog, very unseasonable for this time of year. The driveway of the church as a single car next to an open side door shining a bright light onto the pavement. Throwing caution to the wind in order to get our answers, we enter the church.

Before us is the gruesome sight of a recently killed priest bent backward over the church altar, blood pooling on the floor. Softly we hear the sound of panicked footsteps moving up a set of stairs, from the main sanctuary to the choral balcony.

A cloud of mist visible coalesces outside the steepled windows of the church’s second story. The rushing individual exits onto the balcony just below the misted windows, we can only assume that the pale mousy middle-aged man we see is Harker, clutching a steel briefcase with all his life. All at once, the mist stretches breaks the glass and manifests into an outrageously tall monstrous figure. The figure brings to mind every depiction of the myth of Dracula, only infinitely more terrifying.

Beside himself in panic, Harker stumbles back, falling over the edge of the balcony, breaking his neck as he impacts the marble church floor. The steel briefcase goes skidding across the floor, wedging itself under a pew.

We act quickly, Beryl dashes for the package, Kurt pulls out a flash-bang from his satchel, and Svetlana grabs Kurt, pulling him forcibly towards the exit. Kurt throws the grenade at the looming figure as it undulates in shadow toward the ground floor. Beryl, slides past the case, snatching it, and sprints towards the second side exit, while Svetlana rushes Kurt towards our SUV.

We can hear the wine of high powered motor engines approaching the church, attempting to box us in. This is exactly the situation that Svetlana warned us about. These must be the Edom agents that Harker was so worried about. Bright lights of military SUV’s illuminate our Mercedes as we peel out, racing towards the graveyard behind the church, our only means of escape.

Beryl, taking possession of Kurt’s remaining flash-bang grenades, uses them to distract and gain distance from our pursuit. Kurt assists Svetlana navigating the streets of London, crossing additional churchyards in an attempt to throw off both Dracula as well as the Edom agents. Our zig-zag pattern keeps our distance, but the Edom agents are difficult to shake. A stroke of inspiration hits Kurt, and he tells Svetlana to take a sharp swerve into a parking garage. The team rushes out of the garage right into the midst of a crowd of football enthusiasts after a game breaks up. Blending into the throng of people, they manage to board a tube train, escaping their pursuers.

Later, at a safe house Beryl secures, we examine the contents of the briefcase. It contains a single item, an old manuscript from century-old paper. It appears to have been bound and rebound many times, it’s most recent binding appearing to be from a 1970’s public library.

The manuscript appears to be an original copy of Dracula, annotated by British agents…

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[End Session]

 

Singularity Syndrome – Session 0 – Upload in Progress

One of my game groups – which meets every other week or so – is just starting up a Transhumanity’s Fate game, Posthuman Studios Fate adaptation of their Eclipse Phase role playing game.

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Because the start of this game parallels nicely with my work on this blog, I am going to post my musings, house rules, conversion stats, and actual play recordings.

For those who would want to listen to the recording of this session, you can find it here. The recording quality is pretty good with the assistance of Audacity’s noise reduction, leveling, and normalization effects.

Players/Cast:

  • Bryan – playing the role of X-137 (Xiet), Exsurgent Virus experiment gone rogue.
  • Jes – playing the role of Kharma, an Ego that doesn’t know where it came from, but was likely a part of the great migration from Earth.
  • Joe – playing Shokushu-san, Uplifted Octopus Engineer. He is also angry and likes to fight.
  • Aaron – playing the yet unnamed Synthtaur freedom fighter.

Like most of my games, I like to have fillable character sheets, I took this Fate Core Google Sheet as my template and made this sheet for Transhumanity’s Fate. Enjoy!

Because Aaron wanted a Synthtaur Morph, here is my conversion of that using the morph rules from Transhumanity’s Fate:

Synthtaur:
Sample Aspect: Elegant Mechanical Centaur
Traits: Essential Synthmorph Traits, Manipulators (6), Mnemonic Augmentation, Size (Large), Stigma (Synth)
Stunts: Shape Adjusting, Strength
Durability: Good (+4)
Stress Boxes: 4
Refresh: 1
Cred/Civ Rep Cost: Fair (+3)

Jes was interested in being able to adapt to multiple situations with her morph, including mental situations. Skillware was the obvious answer from the setting, however, is not replicated in Transhumanity’s Fate. Here is my stunt adaptation of those rules from Eclipse Phase.

Skillware: [Morph Stunt, 1]
Your morph’s brain is laced with a network of artificial neurons that may be formatted with downloaded information. When you refresh, choose a profession. Until you refresh you gain a +2 to Skill rolls involving that profession or specialty. You may spend a fate point during a session to change your chosen profession, provided you have time and access to a new Skillware module to upload.

Dracula Dossier – Session 1 – The Harker Intrusion

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We played our first Dracula Dossier game this past weekend. If you want to take a look at what characters we made and some of our campaign discussion, check out my previous post.

For the purposes of our first scenario, we assumed that our spy team has already established our trust and network, the details of which we will finalize as we play.

We started by doing some establishing questions, giving our GM more fodder for future tie-ins.

Our tentative connections include:

  • Svetlana and Kurt have a connection through some failed Syrian operations.
  • Kurt was a Stasi agent in Western Germany when Beryl’s parents were working for MI6 as a husband and wife team, some previous connection or favors pulled Kurt and Beryl together after she was burned.

Additionally, we learned about Kurt’s relationship with his Ex-Wife and his former Stasi compatriots.

When was the last time your Ex-Wife contacted you for a favor? 

Kurt was contacted by Ariana in 2010 before the conflict in Syria “officially” started. She asked him to create papers for some Syrian nationals who needed to get into the EU through Greece.

Are any of your former Stasi compatriots still active agents for powers in Europe?

Some of them were folded into the unified BND, however, are limited to analysis. Kurt assumes some of his other field agents also fled or defected to other countries. Sometime in the last few years, in Kurt’s ongoing search for Kava, Kurt came across one of his former associates. Details of this encounter to be defined in the future.


WARNING: The following contains at least partial spoilers for The Harker Intrusion from The Edom Files


Our session starts with our team receiving a cryptic email from an alias of ‘Harker’. At first glance looks like gibberish, however, upon examination, lists a number of details that lead us to believe that the author has pieces of the ongoing puzzle about Syrian medical shipments, Veronese black market shipments, and mysteriously missing manuscripts.

Harker has an asset, Olivia Liu – Investigative Journalist, which is currently in Marrakesh, Morocco. He expects hostile agents attempting to abduct her, and she needs to be extracted ASAP.

340c3793876582c0c0edce47620b2eb2After we assemble a contraband care package to ourselves, we land in Marrakesh. Talking to the local authorities in one of our covers gets us access to a police report that indicates that Olivia is staying at the Riad Rouge Hostel.

As we approach the hostel, we note that the front is being monitored by local street toughs with dirt bikes. Down the street is a British man at a cafe that is very out of places, and appears to be talking into an earpiece.

Beryl moves to infiltrate the hotel, Svetlana goes to engage the street toughs, and Kurt moves down the street to monitor the Brit at the cafe.

The toughs get into Svetlana’s face and attempt to bypass her to go after Beryl into the Hotel. Svetlana gets on one of their bikes and pretends to be a lost tourist looking for a bicycle tour and distracts the toughs long enough for Beryl. Kurt warns Beryl that he has hostiles inbound. On the inside of the hostel, Beryl distracts the attendant long enough to learn the room number and dashes to the room. Due to his proximity to the agent at the cafe, Kurt taps into their communications line and relays information to his comrades.

Beryl, bursts into Olivia’s room, just in time to see an enemy combatant crawl in through the window. Beryl rushes into the room and serves the second story man several vicious unarmed attacks. The toughs abandon Svetlana, who takes one of their bikes, drive around to the side of the hostel, parkour up the side of the wall of the wall and busts through the window into Olivia’s room. The second story man in the room retaliates, attacking Beryl, but Svetlana and Beryl swiftly dispatch the infiltrator. Svetlana shoves the bed in front of the door to prevent the toughs from rushing into the room. The two of them quickly toss the room.

Back at the cafe, Kurt calmly sits down at the Brits table. The Brit, named Hartness, instantly realizes that Kurt is the cause of his team’s distress. They talk quite calmly about Olivia, and he reveals that he was stationed at Gibraltar station when he was sent to Morocco to pick up Olivia for someone within MI-6. Watching the hostel and collecting Olivia’s materials from it were a formality at this point, another ops team is close to intercepting here elsewhere in Marrakesh. Kurt wishes the agent a good afternoon and leaves a card with a phone number on it.

The room contained:

  • Receipts from Romania
  • The impression of the name “Hassan Sophiet” followed by a phone number on the hotel note pad. Hassan is identified as a local fixer with the ability to get people into Europe.
  • A file with redacted documents, which include satellite photos of a mining / digging operation.
  • Notes on Romanian folklore, vampires, and mythology.

Within information from the hostel, it’s clear that Olivia is in transit to Hassan. On their stolen dirt bikes, the team advances quickly to intercept Olivia before the opposing ops team. Having tapped into Hartness’ electronic communications, Kurt zeroes in on the other operatives, which are weaving a net around Olivia as she travels to Hassan.

Kurt, using their communications network, disrupts their coordination providing false orders and misinformation. While doing so, Svetlana expertly carves a path for us through the Marrakesh traffic, closing the distance to Olivia’s position, and outpacing the opposing ops team. Within striking distance of Olivia, Beryl jumps off her bike and rushes on foot to snatch our target before the opposition. Meanwhile, Svetlana ditches our bikes, grabs a car large enough to serve as our getaway ride. Beryl reaches Olivia moments before the opposition close the distance, just as Svetlana screeches to a halt alongside our target; Beryl grabs Olivia and flings her into the waiting back seat as our wheel-woman peals out for our escape.

After some reassurance to Olivia, in which we relate our experience and cryptic email from Harker, Olivia lets us know what has been going on. She works as an investigative journalist, focusing on rooting out corruption. Harker had been in contact with her previously, providing accurate intel along with silly nonsense about vampires. The most recent intel provided was concerning a Romanian mining, owned by a series of shell corporations, had set up “exploratory” digging operation in the Carpathian mountains. While investigating the mining operation locally, she was discovered, threatened and fled the country. However, whoever is backing this mining operation is well connected, as she became wanted in Italy and was the target of an off the books MI6 operation in Morocco.

Olivia provides our team with all the intel she has about the mining operation and about Harker. Using her previous connection, and our initial contact, Beryl is able to trace a message back to Harker, allowing us to send him messages as well. Harker asks us to investigate the dig site in Romania, afterward, he promises to reveal all.

537e3c8ecfce70a1bb8e24a3b7d08e01Our journey to Romania is uneventful. Some quick research on the way reveals that the site is located next to a Cistercian monastery from the 11th century, and has been out of use since it’s dissolution in the 13th century. We are strapped for time, and thus decide to source any of our needed gear locally. After landing in Bucharest, Kurt makes contact with a man called Gent, a former contact with the Albanian Mob. We acquire guns, night goggles, some survival gear, and a 90’s land rover for us to drive to the dig site.

The location of the dig is remote, and we quickly leave the main roads in favor of seldom-used dirt paths. Arriving during the night at the site we pull off of the dirt road one klick out, camouflage our SUV, and hike to surveillance point of the mining site.

The work crews for the dig appear to have been working around the clock and are working well into the night as we arrive. The dig is being guarded by similar operatives that were hunting for Olivia, which might be former SAS goons. The leader of the dig appears to be a middle-aged Romanian woman. The actual excavation looks to be small in scale, with equipment better suited to major landscaping rather than a major scale exploratory mining or excavation.

The woman appears to be treating the excavation with almost religious reverence. It is clear that there they are digging for something unnatural, locked away when the monastery was abandoned centuries ago. Likely a long buried vampire.

Svetlana and Beryl use the cover of darkness to slip past the outer guards onto the site. During their infiltration, the diggers strike their quarry. The Romanian woman instructs the crew to bring out something from one of the pre-fab tents. Svetlana recognizes the equipment being wheeled out as a container used to keep blood cold in field hospitals. The officer in charge of the SAS detachment starts to argue with the woman, who wants to open the heavy stone coffin right away.

Kurt, watching from his perch on a hill overlooking the dig site, takes aim with his rifle and scope, exhales, and shoots the woman in the head.

*End Session*

Night’s Black Agents – Dracula Dossier [Prelude]

I played the first session of our Dracula Dossier this weekend. I will likely post a short actual play recap to outline what occurred. I am very much looking forward to this game.

Last week we met and built characters and discussed our campaign.

Our cast includes:

  • Svetlana – Played by Lesley – Russian Special Forces Medic
  • Beryl – Played by Tina – British MI6 Infiltration Specialist
  • Kurt – Played by myself – German Expatriate, Former Stasi Bagman (If you want to read more about Kurt, let me tell you more about my character)

dracula_unredacted_front_cover_350I also wanted to share a Google Sheet’s Character Sheet I built for NBA. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find and Spreadsheet Character Sheet, so I built my own. I now release it for the world to enjoy.

In preparation for our game, our GM directed us to an blog post from a Night’s Black Agents GM called A Fight Gone Wrong. In short, it suggests that Gumshoe games are secretly a diceless RPG. Essentially any action worth taking with General Abilities is worth spending enough points to automatically succeed. While I’ve played and run several Gumshoe games over the years, I must admit that this altered the way I look at this system.

Actual Play – Ascension: Reloaded

I’ve been recording my game sessions off and on for the last decade. I hope to round up various game sessions organized by campaign here, as I am able to collate and review them for sound quality.

What follows are the recordings that survived from my Mage: The Ascension campaign.

A little background. I ran this game from the Summer of 2009 to Spring of 2010, going a total of 24 sessions. Not all the sessions got recorded, and a handful got lost or corrupted. The game it self used my heavily modified house rules, which blended Mage: The Ascension’s setting with Mage: The Awakening’s rules, with dashes of other Storyteller games for flavor. If you are interested in what that looked like, you can find an updated version here, Ascension: Reloaded [2016-10-16].

This campaign did a lot of things, and I believe that it was one of my most successful campaign’s I’ve run. I had quite a bit of fun running this game, and have fond memories as I went over this audio. I ran the a modified version of the “classic” adventure Loom of Fate, from Mage 1st Edition. Using the seeds and fallout from that adventure, I started doing my own stories, with inspiration from various supplements from both Classic World of Darkness and New World of Darkness (long before they re-branded to Chronicles of Darkness).

During the game, some players changed, some characters changed, but there is a core group that stayed.

  • Catcher – Played by Kyle – was a Virtual Adapt anarchist.
  • Ben “Helios” – Played by Jarys – a struggling Akashic brother who’s destiny is tied to an ancient “highlander”  cycle to determine the age’s Avatar of the Sun.
  • Eli – played by Dylan – An elderly hermetic mage, who works primarily as an archivist and researcher.
  • Mathew – played by Brandon – A rogue member of The Syndicate, one of the founders of a counter-Syndicate group known as The Auric Combine.
  • Dr. Goldman – played by Aaron – a Son of Ether whose scientific thesis revolved around sound waves and thermal harmonics (or something sudo-science sounding).
  • Z – played by Dylan (after switching characters) – A hot headed Hermetic mage with a very demonic themed paradigm.
  • Kiway (joining in later sessions after Brandon left the game) – played by Jesse – a blind Dream Speaker, a little addled in the head from one too many drug trips.
  • Dr. Aeon – played by anyone – this was a side character I developed to allow some irregular players to drop in and play in the game. Dr. Aeon was a Son Of Ether lost in time, his memory gaps were and alternating personalities explained away by changes to his personal time stream.

[WARNING: contains adult language and dubious recording quality]
You can find the audio recordings here in this Google Drive folder.