Monday, February 26, 2018

A Simple Plan, Scene 5

A Simple Plan

Scene 5

Leah hadn’t known much. Oh, she was willing to talk about everything she did know, which was mainly all the dirt she had on McGuire Woods. She just didn’t know much that I needed. She was another cog in the machine that had played me. But, she had known the cog above her.

Apparently, she had mainly been working with Preston Thurges, one of the senior partners at the firm. If anyone knew what they were after at Vulcan, and for whom, it’s be the good Mr. Thurges.

So, it only makes sense that he had vanished that morning. I’m sure that my visit to Vulcan had nothing to do with the sudden “family emergency” that took him away from the office for the first time in five years.

But men like Thurges don’t just vanish like you and me. They buy plane tickets, rent hotels, make sure people know how to reach them. They leave a trail, and I just had to pick it up. So, I headed over to his house. Something else Leah had known. It’s not my business to know why a paralegal knew the address of a senior partner.

He lived up in Covington Heights; because of course he did.  The partners at my own firm dreamed of having a place up there, where men don’t buy “houses” but “estates.”  And creatures like me are grateful just to be allowed to drive through.

Found his place easily enough. A sprawling architectural monstrosity looming over a hill, looking down on New Canaan. Left the car near the five-car garage. I’d rather have left it on the street, but this place didn’t even have sidewalks, and any car left on the side of the road would attract attention.  Other than a few lights left on to give the impression someone was home, the place was empty. I headed to the back and found the key Leah had told me about, and the code she had given me silenced the beeping alarm.

I suppose law firms were more fun than I had been aware of.

Terry’s challenge for the scene is:

Hunt up an Actor whom you have reason to suspect can give you a Clue.

He needs to find Preston (the “Hunt up”) part, which is the main difficulty. Once he does, he’ll probably need to make a pretty simple Social Challenge to get him to talk. He has a mansion to explore, and needs to figure out where Preston has fled to.  As this is an investigation, it will be a Mental Challenge.

I decide to go with my standard method of “He gets three rolls, and needs to accumulate enough total successes” for this challenge.  I figure he’ll first do a sweep of the house to find anything odd (Investigation), then try to figure out what they mean (Bureaucracy), and finally connect the various dots (Finance).  As the Mental Threat is 3, the difficulties for these rolls will be the standard 6 and the total needed will be five successes.

Giving the place a good once over:
Perception + Investigation [5] 7,4,1,8,2 for 1 Success.

Wait! Something here isn’t right:
Wits + Bureaucracy [6] 10,3,10,4,5,3 for 2 Successes.

Hmm, I wonder what this could mean…
Intelligence + Finance [6] 6,7,5,3,3,1 for 1 Success.

With only 4 Successes, Terry had failed the challenge.

Well, that was disappointing. I wonder if anything else might crop up while Terry is here, and maybe give him another shot—though, of course at a significantly higher difficulty. I turn to the Covetous Poet to generate a “mid-scene interruption” to see what I can come up with this.

Interruption: 2 A Very Unexpected Turn of Events
Action: 553 Invade
Thing: 597 Personal Responsibility
Plot Device: 157 Can You Trust Them?
Opposition: 002 Adventuress or Hired Muscle
Location: 046 Auction House

If I was playing this straight, I’d ask some questions of my Oracle to further flesh this out. But the Adventuress/Hired Muscle is just too good!

I was sitting there, combing through his trash, trying to piece together where he might have gone. It seemed like Thurges had headed off to his beach house, but that seemed almost too obvious. I was about to give the house a second look, when I heard the front door open. Well, “open” might be a bit of an understatement. It was really more of a “smash” type of thing.

I hid, obviously. Our first and greatest trick, right? Whoever had come in didn’t care about hiding though. They were flipping on lights, and walking around as if they lived there.

As they entered the living room, the beam of their flashlight showed me where they were. Why were they carrying a flashlight if they were just going to turn on the house lights? The thing was big, too. Big and heavy. Too big for the girl who was carrying it.

She was beautiful, almost like a model, with short dark hair and piercing eyes. What was she doing here? Was she another of Thurges “friends”? Or was she from the law firm? Or someone else? I waited until she had passed me, pulled my hood up, then emerged from my shadows.

“I think we need to have a chat.”

She didn’t agree with me.

She spun with a speed I had never imagined was possible and slammed the flashlight into my knee. Have you ever had a broken knee cap? Yes, it hurts. But not right away. First the leg just gives way, and you collapse, unable to move or even respond. Then ice shoots up through your body, chilling you to your core. Only then does the pain begin, sharp, harsh and overwhelming. Everything shuts down, and you pray you had just been shot instead. And then, the moment you think you can deal with the pain, you try to move your leg just a bit, just to see, and then the fires soar through a dozen times worse than you thought you were capable of.  I think only the dead can stay conscious through it, and I still would recommend just passing out.

I was halfway through the ice phase when her other hand shot out and grabbed me by the throat. I guess that should have hurt, but I was still distracted by my knee. She tossed me across the room, crashing into the Baby Grand that sat just so in the balcony window. I was just thinking about going ahead and passing out when I felt a weight press down on my and heard the sound of a gun being cocked.

She was on top of me, gun to my face. She had changed her mind.

“Ok. Talk fuckhead.”

Everyone, Hanson. Hanson, Everyone.

Well, I talked. Being the “strong silent” type didn’t seem to be my best play here. I didn’t know who she was or what she was after. Whoever she was, she was crude. And crude, vulgar people like to hear themselves talk.

Both Hanson and Terry are trying to get the OTHER to reveal what they know, without giving up anything of their own. This will be a simple social challenge, each need to roll Manipulation and Subterfuge—winner learns more than the other.

Terry [6] 1,7,8,10,1,3 for one Success.
Hanson [3] 3,3,5 for no Successes. Terry wins with one success.

“Where are the goddamn files?!” she yelled at me, as she grabbed my hair and slammed my head into the floor.

Why did she keeping hitting me?

“What…what files?” I sputtered.

She actually laughed at that. She had a lovely laugh. Shame I couldn’t really hear it over the screaming coming from my leg, as the blood rushed and did what it could with the damage.

“The quarry files, dumbass. Figured you Rats would care more about that, seeing as how it lists all the secret construction you’ve been up to over the past twenty years.”



I pleaded ignorance, lied, used every trick I could think of. I was never actually in court when I was a lawyer—never had to deal with a trial or anything like that. I think I might have missed my calling.

Told her whatever she needed to hear to let me up. Told her I was sent to keep an eye on things, that was all. Might have had to mention your name, Silas—sorry about that. She seemed, mollified at least. Stopped hitting me, so that was good. I tried standing, but my knee collapsed the moment I thought about putting pressure on it. She didn’t seem to care.

She turned her back on me and left me alone. I stretched out, did the best I could to keep my leg straight. It was healing, but if felt…off. Like the knee cap wasn’t quite knitting properly. There was banging and smashing from elsewhere in the house, but I didn’t care. She could tear the whole place apart, so long as she left me alone.

She came back carrying a metal door, something thick and solid like from a safe. “Sure you don’t know where he went? Seemed to have cleaned out his safe of anything important.”

“Haven’t seen him. I was trying to figure out where he might have fled, before you showed up.”

“Sure you were.”

I really, really, hated her. But I swallowed my bile and just said “He probably took the files with him.”

“No, he didn’t” she responded, absently, as she took a final look over the wrecked house.

“How do you know?”

“Go fuck yourself” was the last thing she said as she strolled out.

I waited till my leg was as best as it was going to get, then hobbled out. I hated her, but pushed her from my thoughts. The files were all that mattered.

Our kind are good, very good, at playing the mortals, to get them to build for us. With the simple tool of cost over runs and wasted infrastructure projects, we get our own tunnels and chambers and secrets ways through the city. But no matter how careful we are, there’s always paperwork. And if someone had put it all together, it wouldn’t take much to figure out the difference between what was there and what should be there, and then we’d all be dead.

And all this, because I was feeling bad for myself, I had just helped to paint a target on the only people who had even tried to be there for me. I had to get those files back, and had to expose whoever was after them.

I also had to avoid Knees McSmashy.   

He didn’t actually lose any blood or health from his encounter with Hanson, that was just something I threw in for narrative flavor. If it has been an actual fight, she probably would have just killed him.

Anyway, Terry still failed, but at least he knows not to keep going on the fruitless search for Thurges. Thank goodness, I didn’t bother making a character sheet for him. But, he did fail an Investigation Scene, and so Montrell gains a Victory point and gets to roll against the current Count (3) and gets a 3, giving him an extra one, bringing his total up to 4. Unfortunately, he’s out of leads, and so needs to try another Investigation scene. I roll and get

Trick an Actor into revealing a Clue. Roll a die; on an odd result you face a Fight whether or not you succeed on the check.

I roll a 7, so there’s a fight coming up. Guess we’ll see how Terry’s knees hold up after that.

NOTE: due to general life stuff, there will be a brief hiatus for Terry's story. But I'll be back soon, so we can see if he can con some folks, and survive another fight. 

Victory Points
Investigation & Action Scene Count
Willpower (6)
Blood Pool (12)
Health (7)
Scene Number
Infiltrate a Location
Stake a Location
Face the foes best warrior
Regain resources
Intimidate associate of foe
Hunt up and Actor
Trick an Actor

Rules and Mechanics
Not familiar with Vampire? Check out the Primer
Story StructureScarlet Vampire a variation of Scarlet Heroes

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