Tabletop – DFAE Playtest – Session 2 write-up

With the need to get at least 3 sessions in before November 20th and my DERPing out on the rules being in my inbox, we’re trying to pack the sessions in a little more snugly than I would usually do. So here’s the write-up of session 2.

Two players were absent at least part of the session, but the low-level, low-action, roll-lite pace I’m setting to keep my players sane (since they’re new to Fate and/or the Dresden Files) means it’s pretty easy for characters to come and go. It’s working. And as an aside, I’m really liking the Virtual Tabletop (in this case Roll20) experience. Sure, it’s not direct face-time tabletop, but it actually does work. More on that some other time. (In other words, probably never. My regular readers know what that means by now…)

DFAE Playtest – Session 2

Characters present:

Cieran Muldoon, Wyldfae Undertaker to the supes of Seattle (present for 2nd half of session)
Jeremiah Tooms, Small-Time Mortal Street Criminal
Sasha Travis, Streetwise EMT (and were-Crow)

Euphorium for the masses

We left our doughy doughty adventurers having just purchased a vial of Euphorium from Devlin MacNamara, the not overly bright trust-fund kid. Session 2 starts where session 1 left off.

Cieran gets a call from work and has to leave [the player was going to be late]. Similarly, Korbin is drawn away to deal with something off-camera. [We may play this as a flashback at some point because Korbin’s A WARDEN IS WATCHING ME trouble could use a little in-play definition and hate-building (if that’s what happens).]

Left to their own devices, Jeremiah and Sasha ponder what to do with this vial of swirly purple stuff. Jeremiah is about to chug it when he realizes (with Sasha’s help) that a) he doesn’t know what it’ll do to him, b) he might not want to bogart the only sample they have, c) it could kill him, it’s killed other people, d) it’s a pretty safe bet it’s got some supernatural mojo in it, and if it doesn’t then it’s got some pretty advanced chemical effects in it, which comes to the same not-good-news-thing (see c) and e) Korbin and Cieran might not be too happy, and they can both probably break him like a twig if he makes them mad enough.

What they can do, however, is try to climb up the dealer ladder to Devlin’s supplier and so on up. Sasha is keen to do this because she is concerned at the number of people Eurphorium could be killing (directly via the ‘embolisms’ and indirectly via the anger and violence it seems to cause). Jeremiah suggests stealing Devlin’s cellphone and trying to figure out which one of his contacts might be the supplier. After all, says Jeremiah, “He’s a dumb-ass trust-fund rich kid and he doesn’t strike me as overly bright. For all we know the supplier is in there as Joe Schmoe Euphorium Supplier!”

[Because I had portrayed Devlin as exactly what Jeremiah assessed him to be, I went with this being a compel of Devlin’s NOT OVERLY BRIGHT aspect and Jeremiah handed over a FP for Devlin.]

The pair thus decide to steal Devlin’s cellphone. However, since Jeremiah just lifted Devlin’s wallet not one half hour ago, J can’t exactly walk back up to him and try it on a second time – even someone as NOT OVERLY BRIGHT as Devlin would be suspicious.

Sasha decides to create a diversion while Jeremiah sneaks around to approach Devlin from behind. The diversion consists of Sasha loudly and vociferously playing pinball – this is mostly designed to attract the attention the Heckel & Jeckel and the bouncer twins, but as it turns out her Distraction Via Pinball roll is epic and ends up attracting most of the patrons in the Lanes. (As a side result, Sasha racks up the new high score for that machine and the player notes on her sheet that she seems to be quite competitive when it comes to games.)

Jeremiah successfully makes his unobtrusive way over to where Devlin was sitting, only to see that Sasha’s distraction is *so* good Devlin has left his seat to watch the game… and has left his cellphone lying unguarded on the table. Jeremiah grabs it. He ponders grabbing other stuff, only to realise it would be a little too obvious who the thief was, considering recent events.

Phone acquired, he ambles over to the bar, nonchalantly buys a drink (with his own money!) [It seems Jeremiah is a perpetual “I forgot my wallet” kind of guy], then signals Sasha that he’s got the goods. Sasha finishes her game and joins him outside.

Aware that Devlin is likely to figure out pretty quickly what might have happened to his phone, the pair leave the Lanes and head to a nearby coffee shop to examine the phone. As expected, one of the first entries was: Angel R – E sup.

Jeremiah decides to tap his contacts to see if he can find out where Angel might be found. He’s heard the name before, connected to a mid-level drug dealer in town, but that’s about all. The cover story agreed-upon by Jeremiah and Sasha is that they’re trying to get in on the Euphorium trade – which, given Jeremiah’s mantle, is not a bad idea. Cut to the PCs meeting up with one of his contacts on an outdoor basketball court.

It’s Jeremiah’s turn to roll epically and said contact, Ebenezer Duckworth (who clearly must hate his parents) [and which explains why the GM will never ask the players to name an NPC ever again], crumbles under the onslaught of a success with style. He not only tells the PCs exactly where Angel can be found that evening, but also calls Angel ahead of time to vouch for them.

So Jeremiah and Sasha make their way to the Hot Lips, a strip joint on the seedier side of town. It’s still early in the evening so there are few patrons, but those include several off-duty cops (bought and paid for, the PCs wonder? [Seattle has DIRTY COPS…]), a handful of average joes, and a flashily-dressed Hispanic man with a brace of muscle guys who can only be Angel.

[At this point Cieran’s player joins the session.] Cieran, meanwhile, has dealt with his work emergency. He’s also received a phonecall from one Rhonda McLaine, manager of the Hot Lips strip club, asking him to meet with her at the club. [Shocking coincidence!] Having taken care of a few problems and loose ends (i.e. corpses) for the White Court Vampires (WCVs) in town, he knows the Hot Lips is a WCV enterprise, belonging specifically to Portia Vermeer (aka Portia Starr, local ex-exotic dancer and porn idol), the daughter of Geoffrey Vermeer (head of the WCV in Seattle). One-on-one meets are not uncommon when dealing with not-entirely-legal business, so he agrees.

Jeremiah and Sasha have joined Angel at a table, with the muscle moving to a nearby table and paying close physical (if not mental) attention. Angel, primed by Ebenezer, is urbane and almost friendly. Almost. As he is asking what they’d like to drink, Cieran comes in and walks past their table on his way to the back of the club (where the offices are).

Jeremiah, with his DID I SAY THAT OUT LOUD? flaw, is unable to repress a “Fuck me, what are you doing here Cieran?!” Angel notes this and looks suspicious, but the moment is smoothed over. Nonetheless, the muscle are now watching Jeremiah, Sasha and Cieran. The tension goes down quite a bit when Cieran is allowed into the rear part of the club (the door is guarded by a bouncer).

Angel, Jeremiah and Sasha make medium-talk based on their cover story (How did you hear about me? What do you want? How much can you actually sell? You do know I’m a dangerous drug dealer and can have your arms ripped off if you annoy me… etc.). Some rolls are made and passed.

Meanwhile, Cieran meets with Rhonda McLaine in her office. She gets straight to business – she knows what Cieran is, he knows what she is (a mortal working for the White Court), there’s no dancing around. Given their long and successful business relationship, she says, she would like to emphasise that the Euphorium project is a White Court thing and that other parties (namely Cieran and any ancillary Fae) should kindly keep their noses out of it.

[A little heavy-handedly, the GM points out that Cieran’s involvement in ‘the Euphorium thing’ is only 48 hours old and that all he did was ask around discreetly among his contacts.]

Cieran, not best pleased internally, smiles charmingly as Rhonda (or at least his glamoured face does) and assures her that he’ll take her request under advisement.

Knowing her limits (or not caring?), Rhonda nods and dismisses him from her attention, returning to her ledgers.

[It should be noted at this point that a number of Cieran’s customers in town have been known to refer to him as “The Cleaning Lady” – which does NOT sit well with Cieran. It’s looking as though Rhonda might be one of those people.]

Cieran leaves the office. As he does, he notices a neat pile of smallish cardboard boxes at the other end of the currently-empty hall and decides to investigate. When he sees that each box is sealed with biohazard tape, he decides to simply grab one, throw a quick veil over it and calmly walk out with it in his hand.

This is accomplished. Business concluded, Cieran leaves the club.

Meanwhile, Sasha and Jeremiah have concluded their negotiations with Angel, who has a few requirements for prospective dealers – one of them being quotas, and of course payment up front for the ‘product’. He expects them to move 200 units a week, but as their first week will be a trial period, he decides to let them have 40 units (by ‘have’ he means ‘buy’) and see how well they do.

As nonchalantly as they can, the PCs explain that they didn’t come armed with that much cash. This does not score any points with Angel, but he agrees to give them until the club closes to come back.

Somewhat panicked, Jeremiah and Sasha leave the club and explain their quandary to Cieran, who is waiting outside. Cieran, to whom four grand doesn’t mean much, simply nods and says he’ll be back (he’s Fae, he’s got a lucrative business, and he has the MONEY MEANS NOTHING TO ME (UNLESS IT’S GOLD) aspect). (There’s a fun moment when he un-veils the box he’s holding and says “Is this what you were trying to acquire?”).

Having figured out that making a deal with Angel only to fail to show up/pay up might not be the wisest course of action, the PCs get their money, which they hand over to the bartender at the Hot Lips just before closing time. (Angel is long gone, but the bartender knows what they’re there for.) In return, they get a box just like the one Cieran ‘acquired’.

The 3 PCs repair to Cieran’s funeral home (“Muldoon & Sons”) to check out the boxes. As expected, each box contains 40 vials of Euphorium, neatly packed in foam slots.

As Jeremiah nods off in his armchair, the other two discuss theories and next steps. Sasha is adamant that this drug enterprise needs to be stopped if at all possible and that finding out more about how it’s made, what it contains, what it does and whether there’s some kind of ‘antidote’ is absolutely essential. Cieran doesn’t really care one way or another (it only seems to be affecting mortals), but he sees that it’s important to Sasha and decides that makes it somewhat important to him too.

He remembers that one of his contacts told him a high muckety-muck White Court Vampire was in town to visit Geoffrey Vermeer (the local WCV head), and suddenly wonders whether this whole drug thing might not be one huge all-you-can-eat emotional buffet laid on in the muckety-muck’s honour. [Note: White Court vamps feed off emotions rather than blood, which would be much too crass for them. Not to mention that it goes right to the hips.]

In any case, given the fact that the Hot Lips is clearly one of the distribution centers for the Euphorium, it seems a fair bet that the White Court is involved somehow, whatever their motives may be.

Tired, the PCs retire to ponder their next move.

–End of Session 2–