Our adventure opens up at high noon on Friday the 13th, 2012. Events happen in two different parts of the Metroplex simultaneously.
Ross Avenue, Dallas
Conor and Elena are at Jorge’s Autos on Ross Avenue in Dallas to help Conor buy his first car. Suddenly, Miranda steps out of the Nevernever, looks directly at Elena and says “I’m so sorry Elena, I had no choice!” Her face is streaked with tears and she slumps to her knees as Ghouls come bursting forth – directly at Elena!
Elena’s first instinct is to shove Jorge into the little blue Ford Fiesta Conor was looking at and yell at him to stay in there!
Even Elena’s ability to avoid getting hit is stretched to the limit as four of the monsters try and carve themselves a steak from her hide. She leaps behind a Toyota Corolla to avoid the first, ducks under the swing of a Ghoul that had lept onto the car’s hood, and rolled beneath the talons of another that was standing on the roof. She tries to roll under the vehicle to avoid another, but it guesses correctly and slashes Elena as she scrabbles beneath the car.
Unfortunately for them, they were so focused on Elena that they didn’t notice Conor coming up from behind. One Ghoul is completely looking the wrong way as Conor punches its ticket – permanently – one way. His fist ruptures the creatures skull and it collapses after leaving a head shaped dent in a Hyundai Civic’s fuel cap side rear fender.
One of the remaining Ghouls focus on Conor as the other two continue their original attack plan. Elena is again raked, but her vest is able to mitigate some of it. She rises up and with a steady hand, puts a bullet through the forehead of one. Meanwhile on the other side of the Civic, Conor drives his fist so far up into the Ghoul’s solar plexus that he hits its spine… it doesn’t get back up again.
The final Ghoul flees with Conor in hot pursuit as Elena stops to clean up the crime scene as best she can (the three Ghouls already beginning to dissolve into ectoplasm). They flee with Miranda in the car, where they found out that the Ghouls had eaten one of Miranda’s “chorus” (Ceres) and had kidnapped Juno and threatened her with the same if she didn’t help them find Elena.
Meanwhile, the entire fracas was observed by a lesser known member of The Confederacy and (who is hanging out with Ren discussing various things) is tasked to relay a message to the members who might be in the area. Quickly Dona Esmeralda’s place of work is offered as a shelter, and the few members in the Ross avenue area flee the streets to safety… the only truly stressful moment came when Dona Esmeralda sends her reply to the relay… via Ghost.
Grand Prairie, Mid-Cities
Matthew is headed to a nearby church as he encounters a violently sobbing/crying adult female sitting on a park bench near a school. It’s Alice Jones, who works for Jaime. Within moments she conveys the horrible news… that Raven, Jaime’s ex-wife, and a Goblin had kidnapped both Jaime’s son Jake as well as Kaely (Alice’s daughter). They both immediately head to Jaime’s home.
Now about this time, a magical guardian that Jaime had put over his son, arrives with the dreadful news – his son has been kidnapped by his own mother. Needless to say… Jaime doesn’t take it well and sets out to use magic to determine the location of his son. By the time he has a fix on them (fleeing via a Fae Trod in the Nevernever on the backs of Hellhounds), Alice and Matthew arrive.
A few cell phone calls and via judicious use of Conor’s Worldwalking ability, the heroes are able to meet up near Plano (Erica’s home) and head out to find Jaime’s son… who appears to be somewhere in Lafayette, Louisiana and heading east (Jake clutched by his mother Raven who rides on the back of one beast, and a dangerous looking Goblin who is clutching Kaely on the back of a second). En route, Elena relates the events of January, when she last crossed paths with Eric McCulloch.
Again, taxing Conor’s Worldwalking gift to its very maximum, they are able to find trods that lead them very quickly to Lafayette, hot on the heels of the Goblin Hellhounds and Raven. From Lafayette they are able to track Jaime’s Ex-Wife as far as Manchac Swamp just outside New Orleans and there interference of a magical kind shuts down Jaime’s divinations.
Open Up a Can
As they enter the Nevernever again to go quickly from Lafayette to New Orleans, following a Trod resonating with the sounds of Storyville Jazz music (at Erica’s detection) they reach the borders of the swamp and face a wildfae welcoming committee of a fat-Goblin named Coonazz Bob, two Hobigators named Chuhe’d and Boudic (Fae Hobs…with Aligator parts), and some saltwater-poisoned Cypress tree chlorofiends!
There’s really no time for snappy banter. The two groups slam into each other like titans! When it’s concluded, Matthew’s sprawled out on the Nevernever turf with a tree shaped knot on his head and figurative birdies flying around his noggin. Coonazz Bob has fled (shouting something to the effect of “He ain’t payin’ me enuf fo dis!”), the Hobigators are dissolving into ectoplasm…. and the Chlorofiends are asleep… lulled by Erica’s golden voice.
The heroes enter the swamp and after slogging through the Nevernever’s equivalent of the Bayou… they arrive at the end of Conor’s ability to track. So, they step through to the physical world and arrive at a macabre location in the heart of the Manchac. On a rising hillock in the heart of the Bayou is an old abandoned fishing cabin; built amidst an abandoned and flooded old Cajun cemetery. Alligators are swimming and have made their dens in old graves and tombs as waters of the bayou freely flow throughout the area.
Eric is clearly finishing some kind of spell – Raven is holding her son as his arm is outstretched and Eric is doing something strange. Jake cries out in pain, and Raven says “There, you have what you wanted, now I’m out of here!” … those are some of the last words Jaime remembers hearing as the rage causes blood to rush forth into his ears.
Here, at Eric’s lair are the last of his “gang.” The goblin, its two hellhounds, two ghouls, and worst of all… an Uberghoul. As the ghouls and hellhounds leap at the heroes, Eric “calls out” Jaime … spellslinger to spellslinger to see who’s the best.
At this stage, one of Eric’s “goons” betrays him and flees with his “prize” – Kaely – on the back of his Hellhound steed.
In the ensuing titanic battle, the heroes are bloodied but due to a combination of blessed and iron jacketed ammunition, magical defenses, and raw chutzpah, the heroes are able to fell the Uberghoul, dispatch the other ghoul, hellhound, and most significantly… Jaime is the one left standing with Eric at his feet – beaten and broken. Unfortunately, with the words “He’s my son too Jaime!” Raven uses some enchanted item to flee the scene back into the Nevernever.
Jaime and his son are reunited; however in the wreckage of the fishing cabin.. they find the bodies of Eric’s former girlfriend Diana (and her current boyfriend Frank), clearly ritually sacrificed. They also find the remains of two of Miranda’s “chorus” – Iris (devoured), and Juno – who’s nearly been bled to death from wounds caused by the Ghouls eating the major muscles of her lower body.
Amidst the blood and carnage… the heroes realize that Kaely and her goblin abductor are headed one way… Raven another… as the first half of season 1 ends.
- Game date 4/12/2012 GM Wolfhound
- As customary, I leave sparse combat descriptions so that if my players wish to more fully describe them, they can.
- Major Milestone
Fate System Highlight
The Fate system highlight of the night was when Erica’s player ponders the six (SIX!) Chlorofiends facing the party. Now a Chrolofiend (even as a “nameless goon” power level) is a piece of work… it’s physically just nasty: lots of stress boxes, lots of armor, and so on.
Erica pondered her magic and some of her Aspects and asked if her Sonomancy (which was basically a little bit Spirit and a little bit Air – energy, waves, sound, the soul… and via Spirit… light) combined with a Fate point spent on her Aspect: “Midas Voice” (as in, golden) could allow her to sing a song of pure sunlight and warmth and try to lull the Chlorofiends back to sleep… they were basically angry tree-ents after all (a la Lord of the Rings).
I thought about it and said “why not” (the usual reply in a freeform system like FATE) and that game mechanically it would count as an Evocation spell, spending two shifts to gain a Zone effect, against their Mental Stress. The player rolled the dice, spent the Fate point, inflicted enough Mental stress to “take out” the beasties… and in the scene… Erica bursts forth with golden song and entrances the trees to sleep.
It was awesome.
(Erica’s PC notes: I created “Midas Voice” as a way of phys-rep’ing that her voice is Magical in it’s own right, not neccessarily based in her Sonomancy. It allows her to blur that line between pure sound and Music, specifically the inherent magic-y-ness that sung music would have in the Dresden Universe. (But like ‘ole king Midas, that seemingly wonderful thing can be a problem, too…) In this instance, I spent the Fate point to blur the line to not be limited to literal sound-mancy, used a Lore tag to convert the damage to mental (sunlight’s effect on trees) and sung “You are my Sunshine” as a weapon:5 Discipline vs Discipline mental whammy lullaby with “Asleep” as the Chloro-cajun’s taken-out condition. I love this system.)
A running gag all night was Adam Sandler’s “Cajun Man”
- Tracking my bennies for game-start here:
- Conor 0 + 6
- Elena 2 + 2
- Jaime 1 + 4
- Erica 0 + 3
- Matthew 2 + 4
- Ren 1 + 0
- (before plus is end of last game, after plus is postgames)
- Persistent Bennies at game end
- Conor 4
- Elena 2
- Jaime 3
- Erica 3
- Matthew 4
- Ren 0
GM Postgame Email 4/18/2012
So, now after having played the DFRPG system for over half a year (7 months, minus 1 month “break”) I’m going to make a tweak.
It’s fairly clear that Dresden started out as a 10 refresh and now, after so many novels (depending on your point of view) he’s either a 16 or maybe 18 refresh character. That’s 13 grand epic stories, spanning 12 years of books, netting say 8 Refresh points. Obviously a tabletop game is different from written novels, but my gut reaction is that we’re advancing a little too quickly in Refresh points, but I’m pretty happy with the rate of skill point gain.
Currently our Milestones “Roll up” at the rate of 3 to 1. This was a number we arbitrarily chose based on a couple sentences in the book suggesting a skill cap rise once every 2-3 major milestones, and that every 2 or 3 scenarios would warrant a major milestone… so we picked 3 (not knowing any better and being new to the system). But I think that’s a “house interpretation” that’s running away with things a bit.
However, I don’t feel too bad about the party power levels!
As I started everybody out at 8 Refresh and now we’re 12. If we had started out at Submerged (10), we’d still probably be around 12 or so after these same six months.
So the change is… no more “roll up” milestones.
A Milestone is a Milestone and stays that way. Based on feedback/threads on the Dresden forums and my own observations, this is the way it was intended. The sentences that alluded to the “2 or 3 for 1” mechanic, was just to help convert “novel” plots to “game” scenarios and I read too much into them.
This is to accomplish a couple things:
- Big Reason: Make PCs initiators of grand story arcs rather than always reactive. RAW (Rules As Written) state that you only get a Major Milestone when you change the city. That means you pick a Face, a Group, a Location, whatever… and change it. Either make it worse or better or in some way shake up the city forever (make the the Winter Court triumphant, make Pleasant Grove an urban renewal project, execute The Witch of White Rock Lake… whatever).
- Lesser Reason: Encourage Players to create brand new significant Faces, Groups, and Locations so they CAN change them later (and get Major Milestones out of it).
Mid-Season Power Up:
Per the book, the GM gets to jack stuff around at a Mid-Season. So I’m flexing that muscle. :)
If I had created everyone as Submerged Power level characters (which I initially wanted to do, but we wanted to play around with 8 to test out the system), we’d be 12 Refresh now anyway.
- Actual “city changing” story arcs were the Christmas story arc (changed LINC location forever), and the one that just happened (though you don’t know the fallout yet, that should be resolved after Goblintown).
- Technically the Midori story arc might have been a Major, but you guys worked hard to put things right back to “status quo” … Midori healed, the Yakuza still around, as are KBZ. Which is kinda funny. :)
So using my GM “Mid Season Power Up” option:
- I’m giving Ren and Matthew 1 Refresh (bringing them up to 12 – as if they had started Submerged and then the 2 “legit” Major Milestones)
- I’m giving Erica 2 Refresh (bringing her up to 11 – as if she had started out as Submerged and then was here for the most recent Major Milestone)
- Skill points I’m leaving alone, they were earned appropriately – more games played = more skills. Jaime, Conor, and Elena should have “something” to represent being in more games. Skills do this well.
We’ll do the “power up” in the actual down time after the Goblintown adventure next week. It’ll (hopefully) be a short session as it’s purpose is to introduce some city changing Face(s), Group(s), and Location(s). If you wish to exercise the “Completely Revise My Character” option from page 91 in the book, we can look into options for that after Goblintown. I’m certainly making changes to the city, so it’s logical on many levels.