Actual Play – Introducing Gabe and Barry (10/1/2010)

GM: Shaun Hayworth
Players: Kevan, Joe, Gabe and Sean
System: Dresden Files
Setting: Atlantic City

Here’s the sitch. We’ve got two new players and here are their characters, Gabriel Underhill and Baron Ithilandalar of White Haven (aka Barry).

Gabriel Underhill (Kevan) is the son of Kalfu by birth, but adopted by Osiris and now his scion in the mortal realm. Gabe has all kinds of soft spots to poke at, which make (and made for) some great compels. First off, his heritage… bad news there. Kalfu is the dark loa of the Crossroads (the evil brother to Legba). In this world he’s the pimp, the crack dealer, the scary guy on the street. He’s temptation and all the wrong paths. And his blood courses through Gabe’s veins. He’s also got a soft spot for kids, which is delicious because the adventure we’re on is all about child kidnapping. Finally, he’s got police connections which are good at getting him in the door but they are also good and hanging him up with little details like something being “legal”.

Baron Ithilandalar of White Haven
(Joe) came to us by way of Saul’s accident. He’s here, either on the Summer Lady’s agenda or on his own, we’re still not sure, but he’s a Baron of the Fey and is helping us find children, so he’s good people, er thing, in Saul’s book. Saul doesn’t know that he’s human yet, which could cause some fun should he realize that the divide between fey and man can be indecipherable. He had the horrible misfortune of being introduced to the group by Saul, which is how he ended with the moniker Barry. I know, channeling a little Harry there, but it wasn’t as an insult, it was just Saul’s way of trying to make him fit in… despite being wreathed in living flame.

Our Adventure

The adventure was fun, and a bit chaotic and a bit not what Shaun expected, I think. Though he rolled with it really well. Power went out all across Atlantic City. Something big, really BIG happened… and it wasn’t SAUL! We should have looked into it, followed up on the police chatter, looked at a power plant, etc…. but what did we do? We stole some motorcycles and rode south into the forrest, to find a wizard completing a ritual at the seed of the World Tree… 9 children sacrificed over nine days to keep this unknown horror at bay.

During all that fun, we had three cool fights.

1. Polly’s mooks came to inform Saul that he wasn’t’ working fast enough. Luckily, nobody in my little posse likes mooks, so they ended up getting chased off. Of course the way Barry chases people off is by running them through with a sword. But that’s something we’ll work through another time… like when he’s not holding a flaming sword!

2. Afterward Gabe was torn between following up on police leads (regarding the power outage) and heading right to where a child might be held captive. Torn because I responded to Shaun compelling his “Paranormal Profiler” aspect and I followed by compelling his “Overprotective Big Brother” aspect. Good times. So Saul, representing his sympathy for the child and Gabe fought it out with a brief social conflict. Gabe gave easy and earned himself a swell stash of fate chips (3 total due to two compels and taking a minor consequence).

3. In the forest, before finding “ye old wizard” we found “ye old toad monster” protecting him. It was a demon, it spit acid…. We totaled him!

What rocked

The character dynamics are fun. I had a good time banging on Gabe’s aspects and I’m sure next session we’ll see even more of this.

The tension and points of disagreement were great as well. Baron Ithilandalar was all about preserving the supernatural status quo and if that cost nice children’s live so be it. He was unanimously outvoted however by the rest of the crew who were not down with this shin dig at all.

The fights were tough and interesting… when to bring out the big guns is always a tough question for the supernatural. I am glad that Saul can handle his own in a shouting match, because it means he doesn’t need magic to get his way… which leads to…

What could have improved

I was really disappointed at my own instant leap to set the damage dial to Nuke! For a couple reasons. One, it was obvious in my mind, that I wanted to make sure that the Fey’s magic didn’t eclipse mine. He’s got inhuman beauty, speed, toughness, glamours and command over the fey… All Saul’s got is his magic… that had better be worth something. So when I saw Barry throwing fire around, I had a knee jerk reaction of “oh yeah… look what I can do”…. Which, is pretty lame. Also, it felt a bit like we were bringing a shotgun to a baseball bat fight (a previous scene aspect) in that even though the tough was tough as hell, we wiped it out pretty fast with stress 6 and 7 magical attacks.

Also I duplicated the same effect as one I’ve used before (a knife of kinetic energy), which is pretty unoriginal. Thankfully, I’ve got a REALLY good idea for how to swing my kinetomacy around next game.

There were some balance issues that I wasn’t keen on, but I’m going to work on those offline.

3 thoughts on “Actual Play – Introducing Gabe and Barry (10/1/2010)”

  1. It’s interesting that you should mention it, as I was worried as well that my character’s might overshadow Saul in a bad way as well. I was trying to balance that by literally just “throwing boom”, which summer court magic is pretty good at, leaving the “flexible and zany” stuff to saul.

    I was kinda irritated a bit that I didn’t get to have the opening intro scene that I wanted, only because I had played it out in my mind many times in the anticipation leading up to the game. I had an awesome time, and am definately looking forward to next session.

    Found some rules gaffs that hopefully will allow “barry” to cast some veto power to your unanimous decision to overrule the status quo.

    1. I keep thinking about this and a few things come up for me:

      a) Magic sets some of the pacing for a game. There are lots of situations where Harry doesn’t use magic because it would not only be overkill for the situation, but for the level of desperation that Jim wants to set in the books. This scales a lot as the books go on. Storm Front is filled with plenty of conflicts where Harry doesn’t use magic, even if he talks about it a lot. Later books tend to be more full of fuego.

      I was used to setting the pace for when magic hit the board. Even if the other players were like “Saul, cast a spell already”, I was able to hold out until using magic satisfied my particular aesthetic. Sometimes I goofed it and hit the mojo to early but in general I was happy with my particular pacing.

      I think this is something I need to get over. I am a player, not a writer. Games are consensual, not dictatorial and I’ve got no ownership of magic primacy over pacing in the game.

      b) The most fun parts about Saul have nothing to do with his magic. He’s a troubled guy who likes to follow his gut because frankly when he digs to deep, he always wishes he hadn’t. He kind of lives in a fantasy world (go figure playing an imaginary character who lives in his own imaginary world) where he doesn’t need to confront things like the fact that Polly is using him, that he still hasn’t moved out of his mom’s house, or that Jameson kills people by feeding off their greed. While he has some of Harry’s “epic wise ass” he’s actually more like Butters than Harry in his desire to keep his knowledge focused in ways that he can accept. I think regardless of effectiveness, I need to remember that “Saul the mama’s boy” is ultimately more interesting than “Saul the Thaumaturgist”.

      About that conflict over the status quo, I think that is something we should bring up more, and perhaps could be a way to introduce some of the elements you wanted to bring in during your intro scene, which I agree got cut short by dint of having two introductions at same time as well as the black out.

  2. By taking just Seelie magic for Ith, I’ve left the actual “Thaumaturgy” to Saul. For the most part I’m using magic in a way other characters use a gun. It’s just that 2 of our 3 major scenes last session involved physical conflict, where throwing boom was the “best” use of magic.

    I think you’re right about the conflict over the status quo will be interesting to explore. It is my hope that via Ith’s “fae mindset” will be the tool in order to try to achieve that.

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