Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Night 3 -- The World Around Them

Night 3
Monday, November 9th, 1992

The main characters (Daron, Trent, and Maya) are finally reunited, and starting to come up with some sort of plan for how to handle the changes that have befallen them. While they remain the “PCs” in this game, there are a number of other characters at play as well, with their own motivations and plans. In a standard Solo game, I wouldn’t worry about these, instead zeroing almost exclusively on the PC and letting the GM Emulator worry about the rest. Likewise, in a typical table top game, I would either follow the module or just hand wave, based on the needs of the story. However, I’m really enjoying using Mythic to guide the characters, so I intend to work with the tools I have to see how everyone is responding to what has been going on.

It’s Monday night, roughly two days since the character’s fiery rebirth. The police investigation is in full swing, and the media is currently running with the story. None of the characters involved has a full picture of what is happening, and each are reacting as best they can to what little they know. For each character or group (I’m not following every member of the Denver Police Department, just for the “police investigation,” for example), I give a Mythic Event Roll, and we’ll see where they are as of Monday. In this situation, “PC” refers to the character in question, and NPC refers to someone else.

Suzanne (PC negative -- Mistrust/Power). The cops don’t trust her, and few seem willing to believe her story. Granted, they know she was kidnapped, and they know she was found in the basement, and they certainly don’t think she killed anyone. But the rest of her story? They attribute it to drugs and the weird experiments the crazy man who captured her had done. Her shock and near catatonia when they first found her make it easy for them to dismiss her story.

For now, she is being kept away from campus, and away from the media, much to their chagrin. Her parents (divorced) both flew in, and they are currently staying with one of her father’s friends in Aurora.  She doesn’t know what to do. She knows what she saw, she knows that something horrible happened to her friends, and she knows that no one believes her.

Zoe (NPC negative -- Imprison/Outside) She believes him, Daron that is (the NPC in question). She actually, honest to god, believes him. She might have made a mistake, she knows. She’s not a nurse or an EMT, just a pre-med undergrad. But, she believes him. She felt his skin, his lack of pulse, remembered seeing him not breathe, his dead eyes, and the way his voice compelled her. Oh, yeah, she believes him.  She knows better than to share what she knows with the police, of course. Not without actual, physical evidence, at least. But, does she tell them that she spoke to him? No.  She’s not exactly sure what Daron is, but she intends to find out.

Has anyone ever won the Noble Prize before they completed their Bachelors?

Audrey (Move towards a thread -- Ruin/Intrigues) There are actually three threads that dominate the module (Police Investigation, Dealing with Local Vampires, Discovering What Happened to the Characters), so exactly which thread is a question. I roll a d3 and get a 1, so it ends up being the most obvious. She went to the police on Sunday, after her encounter with Maya. She doesn’t remember seeing her roommate, but SOMETHING happened to her bed, and she believes Maya is still missing.  After she heard about Suzanne and the other students, she had to do something, after all. The cops came, gathered the sheets as evidence and did a quick search of the room. They’re not sure what to make of what they have, but this is an “all hands/investigate everything” sort of case.

Unlike Zoe and Suzanne, she has no reason to be afraid of Maya. At least, none she remembers. She is still worried about her, and will do whatever she can to figure out what happened.

On Monday, during the day, Zoe meets up with Audrey. Realizing the girl has no idea what’s going on, Zoe pretends to also just be a concerned friend, and she’s able to draw conclusions that Audrey can’t.

The Police Investigation (PC negative -- Communicate/Environment). The cops can’t quite figure out this case, and it looks like they won’t have time too, anyway. Word is coming down from the Mayor, City Council, Church leaders, anyone and everyone of importance in Denver, to wrap things up. The whole media firestorm is just too much. And honestly, they’d love to. This crazy guy Prestor kidnaps a bunch of kids, does weird things to them and then gets himself killed. They’re not sure how he died, but Suzanne says there were more with them in the basement. Granted, she’s crazy, but that doesn’t mean she’s entirely wrong. Maybe they killed him? That’d be nice.  He grabs a bunch of kids, kills some of them, a couple get out, kill him in self-defense…all nice and neat and case closed.  Hell, there are even some older disappearances and deaths they’d love to be able to pin on this Prestor guy, make everyone’s life easier.

But it’s not so neat. Daron, Trent, and Maya are nowhere to be found. They’re not sure if they’re dead or alive. Hell, they’re not sure they are even involved, really. Granted, they knew the victims, and Suzanne said they were there but…but they can’t find them. One officer spoke to Daron, or at least someone claiming to be Daron. Trent’s roommates said he was home last night. And Maya is still unaccounted for. Still, they are under a lot of pressure to wrap things up, fast, which means certain things are going to be ignored or overlooked.

The longer Daron, Trent, and Maya stay on the run, the worse things will look for them. Right now, they’re “persons of interest.” In a few days, they’ll be either suspects or assumed victims, depending on what the police learn.

Alien Hunger leaves the exact course of the investigation pretty open, and each groups actions and reactions will determine a lot about things play out. For this Play, the characters made some BIG mistakes, but this is what happens when you’re operating in a panic mode and not thinking things through. Granted, it’s really the luck of the dice in this case, but I like to think they’re short-sighted mistakes are more “realistic” than a typical veteran players cold reason. Not everyone gets to read the rulebook before the game begins…
The Media (PC positive -- Harm/Masses) They’re just in it for the ratings, and this story is damn sexy. Kidnapped college kids kept in a torture basement, suffering unspeakable cruelty. Mysterious and dangerous pycho-killer.  And, to top it all off, a beautiful, blond “final girl” to be heroically rescued. It’s got everything! They don’t care about facts or reporting what actually happened, so they’ll gleefully call random rumor and gossip as “sources close to the investigation” and the like. Once the story dries up, they’ll move on to the next grisly murder or teen star sex scandal or whatever will get them ratings, the truth be damned.

Basically, so long as the characters can stay off the radar for a few days, the media will dissipate, and with them, most of the pressure for the characters to be found.

The Vampires of Denver (PC negative -- Abuse/Death) Man, sometimes these Mythic results are just TOO perfect! Ok, the Prince of Denver was behind the hit on Prestor. He didn’t know him personally, but he had solid intel the man was crazy, and up to experiments that threatened every vampire—not just in Denver, but throughout the world. So, he had his enforcers take him out and burn his house to the ground, to make sure no evidence survived. They all knew there would be a police investigation. It’s hard to avoid when you go that loud, after all. But they weren’t prepared for this. He was grabbing college kids? Couldn’t he have grabbed homeless people or…hell, bankers? But no, it had to be a bunch of nubile teens, and then the one who makes it out is straight out of Central Casting. And now the media is crawling all over town, poking their noses everywhere.  And the cops are right behind them, launching major crack downs and shows of force and racing all over town with their sirens blaring.

It’s a bad time to be a bad guy.

The Prince issues his orders to the vampires…stay low. No one is to feed, no one is to do business, no one is to do anything that might, no matter how slightly, draw any sort of attention to anyone. They figure this will all blow over in a few days, but until then, everyone is on lock down.

Bothwell (Move away from a thread -- Carelessness/A plan) Bothwell is the only member of the Court (those actively loyal to the Prince) to be aware of the characters. And he wants to find the punk who “sucker punched” him and poached his meal. Of course, he’s a very junior member, and with the recent crackdown by the Prince, he has no way to get in touch with anyone. Secondly, he doesn’t associate Trent with Prestor, instead thinking he’s part of a new gang from Boulder coming to muscle in on Denver. And he has a completely reasonable why this would be the case. Of course, he’s wrong, but that won’t stop him from heading out on his own to find Trent.

Tony (No roll). Tony’s role in these nights is actually pretty well established in the module, and I don’t really want to mess with him too much. He’s watching the character’s, trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing. He knows about the fire and the college kids, but as an outsider in Denver, he doesn’t know that the Prince ordered the hit, and therefore has no idea they’re linked. Still, he’s a positive ally for the characters. He has no real reason to help them, but he’s old, and bored, and they’re something different and interesting. Also, if they keep screwing up, the might be a threat to the Masquerade, so by helping them he also helps himself.

So, this is where everyone else stands as of the third night. I’ll be tracking the various NPC’s and groups, but offline.  If something interesting happens to them, or they directly interact with the main characters, they’ll show up. Until then, the stay to the background.

Night 3
Monday, November 9th 1992

CF roll 5 – Ambiguous Event, Abandon News

The coterie wakes up in their motel, having slept undisturbed. They’re all hungry, but not overwhelming so. The previous night, they had agreed that the first thing they need to worry about is learning and understanding their new forms—what they can do, and what they can’t. They check out of the motel, and drive off to a park, officially closed after dark, which will hopefully provide them the privacy they need.  Despite Trent’s plan the night before, he doesn’t even bother checking the Post or any other paper before heading out, to distracted by his friends and their new sense of focus.

They once again go over what they had done, at least physically. Daron describes his mental command of Zoe, Trent his speed, and Maya her strength and stealth. They push and challenge each other, testing what they can and can’t do. The quickly find out that Daron’s mind control doesn’t work on them, and presumably other vampires in general. But how much do they learn? I decide to make a group check, each rolling Wits + Occult at a difficulty of 8. 3 Success will let them get the basics—what Disciplines they have and what works “automatically”—they can’t do anything that requires blood expenditure. Except for Trent and his Celerity. If they have 5, I will allow them to learn how to spend blood points to increase physical attributes and heal. However, any usage of “vampire powers” will require a Willpower point be spent, to force their bodies to behave in bizarre and unnatural ways. If they get 10, I will allow them to use their abilities “at will,” just like the book says.

Daron (2 dice) 1 Success
Maya (3 dice) 1 Success
Trent (6 dice) 4 Successes.

With a total of 6 successes, the characters figure out enough. They know how to increase their attributes and to heal wounds, and they know what disciplines they do have and a rough idea of what these limits are. All this practice, however, leaves them hungry. Granted, they had been hungry when they first woke, and the hunger seems to be an ever-present companion in their new life, but after expanding so much blood in practice, they are all near ravenous. None of them, however, are eager to kill again, and they once again fall into debates and discussions—do they need to kill their victims? Does the victim need to be a human? Must they feed every night? Daron’s experience seems to answer that question with a No, but how long can they wait?

They’re still focused on figuring out what being a vampire means, and so how to hunt and feed is the obvious next question. What do they decide to do? I roll against Mythic and get “Struggle/A Project.” This is one time where Mythic fails me, as I already know they’re struggling with the challenge. With the emphasis on struggle, though, I decide that they are going to wait, to see how long they can go without feeding.

None of them understand the concept of “Blood Points,” after all—just feeding or not feeding, and Daron has been able to not feed since Saturday. Which raises the obvious question of, just how much blood does each character have? I’ve been tracking it on the side, but now it becomes “story important”—the characters are going to do their best to not feed for as long as possible, and how much blood they have will determine how long can they last.

First, their generation, and how much blood they can have. They are of the 13th Generation of vampires, which means they can carry at most 10 blood points at a time. They each awoke on Saturday with 3 in them, the result of their transformation. Each human has, on average, 10 blood points for a vampire to feast on. Daron was able to kill Mavis, bringing him to a full 10. Maya and Trent shared Vince, giving them 8 each. But, Trent also unconsciously used one in his initial fight with Vince, so as of Saturday night, he only had 7. They all lose a blood point when they wake each night, so on Sunday, they were at 9/7/6, respectively. While this isn’t particularly unusual for a vampire, my own interpretation of vampires (see this post), and their utter inexperience with the cravings led them to many rash and deadly actions.

Daron spent 1 blood point showing off to Zoe, leaving him with 8. Trent burned much of what he had in the fight in the parking lot, but was able to feed soon thereafter, bringing him to 10. Of course, he immediately spent 2 of those blood points in the fight with Bothwell, leaving him with 8 as well. Maya successfully hunted, and spent no more, so she ended Sunday night at a 10. Monday night, they all lost one when they woke up. Their experiments and testing result in some blood loss, just how much varies based on what they were doing. I roll a die (d10, divided in half) to see just how much they all spend—Daron and Maya both spent 4 points, while Trent only spent 3.

As such, Daron currently has 3 blood points left, Trent 4, and Maya 5. Despite their intense hunger, they all agree to resist it for as long as they can.

The next issue in the “surviving as a vampire” agenda is to figure out where to sleep. The motel worked, but they will quickly run out of cash relying on such extravagance. And none of them feel like committing more crimes than they need to. Daron, of course, has access to plenty of more cash—a child of privilege, he has credit cards, a well-supplied checking account, and a trust fund to refill this when needed.  But, they’re also aware that they’re all, at best, “persons of interest” who can’t reliably stand up to even a cursory police investigation. With Maya being in particular danger. So, what do they do?

I roll Mythic, and get “Transform/Weapon.” I think for a while, but this does little to answer my question, no matter how much I twist it. I could roll again, but then I decide that characters already have a potential answer—Trent. While Trent doesn’t have many friends, his work and experience in the community outside of the school does give him a number of Contacts. In addition, as a part time home renovator, he might know places that are under construction, particularly those that are currently on hold due to the coming of winter. I decide to have him roll his Contacts background (4) to see if he knows anywhere the coterie can safely hole up. The better he rolls, the safer it is. And if he botches, well…that would be interesting.

He gets one success. Well, at least he won’t lead them to their sudden demise.

He knows a place, a home that the owner kept changing his mind on, that’s no longer being worked on. But, it’s only partially built, and it’s in a fairly populated neighborhood in the suburbs. The won’t have a lot of privacy, and neighbors very well might notice them coming and going, but no one should bother them so long as they stay in the completed basement.  They also won’t have any water or power, but they’re dead—the cold and dirt doesn’t bother them, and it’s not like they sweat anymore, so what do they need besides shelter from the sun?

They spend the rest of the night checking the place out, exploring various ways to get in and out of the house, hopefully without drawing attention. I decide that each night as they come and go they’ll need to make a Wits + Stealth roll to avoid being seen, difficulty of 6. If they fail, they get 1 “mark” as someone notices something. At 3 marks (or a botch) enough people are convinced something is up to do something about it. Most likely call the cops.  

They also head to 7-11 and grab some additional items—locks and the like. There is enough scrap laying around to be useful, and Maya has her Leatherman—more than enough for Trent to get the unwindowed “crafts room” decently secure, locking and barring it from the inside. The work helps distract them from their hunger, and after an hour or two, they’re as secure as they’re going to be. 

They have a locked room to hide in during the day. Daron’s car is safely parked in a nearby shopping center, and they should have everything else the need. Shortly before dawn, Trent secures the door.

“Great, locked in another basement.  Just what we need,” Maya thinks. 

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