After a few weeks of character creations we had our first game. That’s the upside. The down side was that I didn’t have any time to prepare for it. Between the minicon on the 15th and non-game responsibilities (I know… for shame), I barely had 30 minutes to figure out a couple crimes and some wedges (see how Smallville has affected me) to drive between the PCs.
We started of f with some questions, both to get the players into the game and also to give me a little fuel for my fire.
- So VC, how do you feel about your partner, Kyle Stone, a.k.a. Sergeant Nuts over there? He drives me fucking crazy. (A nice start)
- Monroe, when was the last time you heard from Alisha (you know the girl that you were dating but was actually a fed, and actually dating Sahad? We talked just before I went into the joint.
- Sahad, who amongst the squad is your “family”? Rose. The Rose that treats you like crap all the time and constantly tries to edge you out? Yep, that one. Very cool.
- The 42nd precinct is broke as a joke Rose. On a cold December night light tonight, how do the cops stay warm? We stand around in the server room. Awesome!
- Raoul, what has you coming down to the station tonight? They recovered a watch of mine, a Calais. One of a kind. And who was responsible for finding it? That fine officer over there [pointing to Monroe, you know, the crook].
That last one really started me off. I had intended to start the game with an art theft, something that Monroe would have some insight to and a few foreign dignitaries would have interest in, but Raoul handed me the crime on a golden platter. The just recovered the watch, with a tip from Monroe, but the watch they had to give back to Raoul was a fake. Oh, and the original that Raoul had owned for the last year or so… that was a fake too, made by Monroe, though nobody knew about that except Monroe.
Stage set, I open the game with a camera panning down over San Francisco at night, seeing the lights of the Golden Gate, the reflections off the mirrored glass of the skyscrapers and finally down to the 42nd precinct where as soon as a car pulls up to the lot two beat cops are already warming their hands over the still warm engine. I cupped my hands over my mouth and in my most naval voice opened up as the Dispatch. “42nd this is Dispatch. We’ve got a vandalism on Sutter and Polk. A man dressed as Elvis, who may or may not be wielding a Rod of Lordly Might.” (Yes, taken right from the Unusuals)
Two scenes, well three really, emerged from this. First we had Stone and VC out on the beat to catch Elvis. Then we had a publicity shoot right at the station where Raoul Rodriquez, famous pitcher for the Giants was coming to receive his stolen watch. And in the back of the station a scuffle between Monroe and Sahad, who were seeing each other for the first time since the “Alisha incident” (where she was dating Sahad but trying to seduce Monroe undercover).
- Sahad freaking out on Monroe and chucking Rose’s bonsai plant at him. That is coming back next session with daddy Itsuaki shows up.
- Stone and VC driving each other nuts looking for Elvis and eventually letting him get away because Stone has a soft spot for people that are broke. The “Rod” was taken into custody however.
- Sahad and Alvarez having it out with each other about who has jurisdiction over the CSI Lab. Alverez did let a known criminal inside it, but she’s got way to big an ego to admit when she makes mistakes.
- Rose stealing the camera spotlight and planting it firmly on herself so that there wasn’t coverage of the fight that was breaking out inside the precinct between Sahad and Monroe.
- Raoul’s publicist sending flocks of photographers and journalist to follow him… everywhere.
- Rose and Sahad having the PA wars, insulting each other over the intercom.
- Sahad inadvertently digging into Alvares’ unmentionables.
For having about twenty minutes to prep this game went off REALLY well. I largely give that up to the players, who drove home a lot of their own character issues (Sahad’s jealousy, Monroe trying to get free, Raoul wanting to be part of the force, VC and Stone just hating each other, Rose grabbing the spotlight), which caused some very fun chaos.
The “actual” crimes slowly starting to unfold. Currently we’ve got a potential death (no body or cause of death yet found), a missing watch (grand theft, forgery, and potentially other crimes) and vandalism. Still, wonder if I shouldn’t have been more direct (see below)
We had some good compels. I hurt a few of the characters in the spot they like to be punched in, which is good, and I have more plans to follow.
The little bit of time I did have to prepare I used to make wedges (taken from Smallville), designed specifically to bring conflict between the player characters, I think that worked pretty well.
What could have improved
I took REALLY liberal use of an aspect to compel a character who didn’t have any fate chips left, and who would have resisted it. I think that was an abuse. “File that paperwork” should not get someone stuck with having sex with co-workers in political positions. Looking back, that was pushing it.
As mentioned above, I did have a “serious” crime in mind behind the ridiculous “Who’s on first” game of finding Raoul’s watch, and that only got hinted at by the start of the first episode. I didn’t accomplish my goal of ending the first session with a reason for all the characters to be part of a “team”. I’ll keep working on this.
Alvares came off as too one-dimensionally pushy. She needs to show that while ultimately unfit for her job, she does care a lot about her station. Most likely, too much.
There was no supernatural elements brought up at all. I mean, I frequently told Sahad about blood in the area that only his fine-tuned hematomancy revealed to him, but other than that I never challenged Monroes role in the Winter Court, Raoul’s duty to Papa Legba, VC’s blood addition or Stone’s squirrel brain. I know they will come into play eventually but for being a “Dresdenverse” game it felt pretty darn mundane.
I need to start making more red herring characters. Folks that look guilty at first glance but have not only an excuse but also more information. Campbell was one of these, but even he was pretty clearly a pawn. It is part of the genre to know it’s got to be this person “for sure” and then to have that just turn into another lead.
Some fun leads for next time.
- Someone running background on “Olvido”
- Mr. Itsuaki showing up at the station
- Sahad examining the blood on Stone’s shoe and from the “rod”
- Alisha’s appearance on the set.
- Brining in a few more of the cops from the precinct. So far only Alveres has a face. Others will appear next session.