Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's that time again - game prep!

Holy cats. Lots of gaming this week. I'm running Night's Black Agents tonight, Promethean: The Created on Monday, Demon: The Diatribe on Wednesday, and Interface Zero on Saturday.

Now, I don't need to do prep for Demon, 'cause it's already done (beyond rereading what's already happened). I do need to prep Interface Zero, but mostly that means I need to read the pdf, and that's not happening today. That leaves the other two, yeah? Let's gooooo!

I ran Night's Black Agents last week, of course. The characters had a shootout, escaped Budapest, and took the very proactive measure of going back to Osijek to find Dr. Radovan Macan, whom they know is involved in all this, because he got on the train when it stopped in Osijek. They know he's a doctor in radiology, and that he recently got a grant from a big medical company. The company in question, of course, is Tasse Medical Supply, but I don't want the characters to find that out just yet, I think. I don't mind pointing them toward Paris, because Rousseau already perked up at that mention, so I think that the next op is probably going to be there.

Now, I put a researcher on tier one of the conspyramid: Luc Lemarque. I never specified him beyond that. Let's say he works at a testing facility in Paris, doing effectively bottom-level research on "enriching agents." Basically, these are supplements that the puppeteers are planning to use as food additives for the vampires - you give them to a person, vampire feeds on the person, vampire stays functional and smart longer. Lemarque's job is basically putting the additives into rabbits and rats and recording their responses, and shipping the blood samples back to Macan. Lemarque isn't in on the conspiracy in any real sense.

OK. So. Macan is a puppeteer. The PCs took out his vampire guards last week, but a week is plenty of time to get some more. So we've had a couple of disappearances of Hi-Klass johns in the Osijek area (which the characters can find if they look into missing persons; Cop Talk, I guess, maybe Human Terrain). Vampires around here die easy, so I think I need to boost their Health up a bit (seriously, for all this waffle about how guns kill in the book, maybe so, but they don't kill PCs, since PCs have to drop to -12 Health to die).

Anyway, if they're smart, they'll do some research into the guy. Macan was hired in 1976, right after the university was founded. He was a young doctor then, interested in doing research into radiology and x-rays. His first published work was focused on the effects of x-rays on soft tissue at various intensities, and led to a restructuring of how calibration was done on x-ray machines. This research also had the effect, though, of showing the conspiracy that x-ray machines could be tuned to stimulate cell growth in the puppeteers; basically, they could tweak an x-ray machine to heal them in minutes. Macan was made a puppeteer in 1977.

He's been doing research ever since, but for the most part it's been off the books (the conspiracy doesn't get office politics, and they find it more expedient to bribe the university into keeping Macan where they want him than to have him keep up pretenses). He's occasionally showed up as a co-author on a paper or two, but mostly he's been trying to refine the process, building a portable regeneration device. He hasn't managed it yet (mostly because he can't figure out how to power it with Earth technology), and advances in biopharmacology has him looking at these additives instead.

Macan's day: He arrives at work at 5:00AM (when the building opens), and works in his lab all day. He attends departmental meetings when they are scheduled, and keeps office hours for students by appointment only. He teaches one class a semester, and when it's time for class, he walks there, teaches it entirely formlaically, and walks back to his lab. He carries a brown bag with food. It tends to be pretty boring, cheap stuff - Macan needs to eat, but he doesn't take any particular joy in it. He tends to work until his building closes (9:00PM) and then goes home. He lives in a small apartment near the university (he walks everywhere), and often stops by the library on the way. He reads late into the night (his reading habits encompass everything from fiction to medical textbooks to pornography to Harlequin romance), and then sleeps only about two hours.

At present Macan has three vampires acting as bodyguards. They shadow him in class and follow him home, but while he's in his lab they wait in the morgue freezers. He takes them home at night, then sets one free every night (it rotates) to go and feed (hookers, homeless, tourists, etc.).

If the characters talk to any of Macan's co-workers or students, they learn that Macan is cold, distant and aloof. The going theory is that he's autistic. The students have an impression of his odd speech (basically he distorts his velar sounds because the tentacles lift his tongue too much). The bodyguards haven't gone unnoticed; some folks think he's mobbed up).

Macan has no criminal record, very little online presence, and a university credit union account with a lot of money in it (his rent is cheap, he spend very little on food, and he doesn't drive).

Now, what can the PCs learn? Getting access to his lab, they can learn what he's working on: nutritional additives that make blood more rich in nutrients, but that doesn't seem to benefit the person much; x-ray technology that plays merry hell with the lymph system but that his notes talk about as though it were a miracle cure; miniaturization of said technology. They can find correspondence from the lab in Paris, all signed by Lemarque. There's no correspondence from the conspiracy's leaders directly, but the good doctor's passport shows trips to Hungary, Serbia, France, and Switzerland in recent months.

Of course, if they kill him and examine the body, they can learn about the tentacles and lose some freaking Stability. They can also (with a Diagnosis or Chemistry spend) develop a blood test to identify puppeteers in the future.

OK, now Promethean.

Feather died and went to the Underworld last time, and drank from the River of Woe before she came back.  This means she gets to remember sad stuff, so let's have her remember New Orleans. She remembers that she was created to protect a child, and that during Katrina, she saw her demiurge drown. She swam through the waters to save the child, took her to a rescue boat, and was swept away. But perhaps the more immediately relevant information is that she remembers the Promethean camp - and the Wasteland that came with it. (Also she winds up with the Depressed Condition for the rest of the day; -2 to initiative and Perception rolls, resolve by letting out her grief in some destructive or unpleasant fashion).

But as far as the main plotline, that's as may be.

Last time, they killed Dennis Odell and Red Odell. Red's in the River of Woe, and I may revisit him at some point (I think it'd be cool if he became a geist and then made the Bargain and came back as a Sin-Eater, but that's something for later in the chronicle). Byron Odell Jr. is still alive; the characters put him in the basement.

Byron's only 15, and I think this is too much for him. Let's have him electrocute himself with the house's wiring, using the chains as conductors. That'll plunge the house into darkness. We'll say he leaves behind a ghost (it's a theme in this story, and "Devil Song" has pretty perfect lyrics for it). His ghost can help the characters a little, and can tell them about the black lady that hid out here - we'll say he knew where she was, but didn't want his father to kill her. If they need help with the "three become one" thing, he can tell them she was from Trinidad.

OK, so that just leaves putting some God-Machine kinds of things down there in the hole, because that'll help with Enoch's milestone. But I want this to have some teeth, so we'll do this. Let's say that this place was a Shrine, but the God-Machine has overrun it and used it as part of ongoing Infrastructure. There's a lot of waste heat down here (Aether), and...holy shit, this is a good place to introduce the 7th Angel.

Because yeah, the first six angels are qashmallim. This one, the 7th one, is a God-Machine angel. So this angel is human-looking, and connected to a Linchpin (brittle chunk of sheet rock with weird angelic script). The angel tells Enoch that if he keeps this a secret, he can visit the Shrine. If he tells the others, the angel will rescind any knowledge he obtains. I can sell that. (This might also lead to "lie to the throng," actually.)

OK, and from there, the plateau in Trinidad (Fisher's Peak). Getting up there is going to be the hard part, I think, and then they can meet Astira's ghost. She's mostly insane, isolated from people for years, but she remembers Encoh (whom she calls "Valentine"). When she gets laid to rest, the Third Angel, called Acerbum Lucem, appears and asks "What are the angels?" The appropriate response here is something to do with the qashmallim, so otherwordly beings, unknowable messengers, something like that. Then starts the Firestorm.

Type: Pontiae
Level: 4
Aspects: Azothic, Blinding (Stamina - 4 or Blind Tilt), Hurricane-Blown (Dex + Athletics each turn to avoid getting thrown off the mountain), Stone-Struck (level three extreme environment).