Actual Play – One Step Away from Iron Bars (6/20/2011)

Players: Steve, Chris and Fattig
GM: Sean Nittner
System: Dresden Files

This game started with a really fun intro. Namely a bunch of cops that Rose and Remington didn’t know finding them in the middle of a blood bath, trying to resuscitate the single survivor of a brutal attack. From the cop’s perspective they found a crime in progress and these were the obvious perps (one holding a gun, the other with a sword on his back). From the player’s heroes perspective, this was not a time to negotiate, this was a time to run (thanks to some handy compels).

We started off their scene with a chase. Each party inflicting stress on the other (physical, social and mental stress) on the different participants (four cops vs. Rose and Remington) with the goal to “catch” the other. This worked like a mix of a fight and a chase. Some of the moves were offensive (knocking a gun away, plowing through someone), some were defensive (running full speed), and some were in the middle (like creating a block by slamming the door shut behind you).

The chase broke down a little in the end. Remington turned on his super speak and bolted. I had him make an athletics roll (giving him +2 like he would have gotten as s dodge bonus) and decided the cops would a) but a little stupefied by how fast he ran and b) have trouble perusing him in cars (at least for long). He finished off with a stealth roll to fit in the crowd and though he hadn’t stressed out the two cops following, we called the chase over for him.

Meanwhile Rose ran to the top of a building and got taken out by an intimidation “threat” I made in the form of a hail of bullets hitting the fire escape beneath her.

Across town we visited Raoul, possessed by Kalfu. My presentation of possession, especially the possession of a character who’s high concept is “Papa Legba’s Saturday Night Special” was pretty light. Essentially Kalfu was just there, standing next to Raoul, whenever he wanted to speak with him, bolstering his own ego, giving him instructions on how to do things and generally giving him bad advice. As needed I offered a few compels but I never says “now Kalfu makes you do this”. I did this for two reasons. First off, Raoul is marked by power. Kalfu knows that if he fucks with him too much, he’s got Papa Legba (his brother) to deal with. Second, taking away a player character’s free will in a game is LAME. Agency is what playing is about, at least for most people and without that, why are you playing the game.

So, instead Kalfu had a light touch and Raoul responded by being very congenial with him, acting in a very unhealthy way of his own accord (sleeping with hookers, drinking rum with gunpowder mixed in, and beating up old men in jail cells). I was tickled pink. When it came time for Raoul to want something from Kalfu, I thought it was entirely reasonable for the Loa to help him, especially as his goal was traveling and Kalfu’s domain is the cross roads. They traveled from one intersection (near the 42nd precinct) to another, exactly where Remington was.
Together Remington and Raoul decided they needed everyone on board. They caught VC up to speed, told him the Loa were unhappy and that they were going to round up Rose.

Well… rounding up Rose ended up being an earth shattering proposition. They came to Daiske for help, knowing he (or at least Roses’ father) is well connected. He visited her in the cell and asked how she wanted to be freed, the legal way which would mix her father’s name up in her affairs or the no-so-legal way. Rose gritted her teeth and opted for the not so legal way, she didn’t want to mess up her father any more.

Last scene of the game. Daiske (the Wizard who specialize in earth magic) created a seismic event under Rose’ cell and literally ripped the floor out from under it so that she fell into the unused BART tunnel under the precinct.

What rocked

I was really pleased with the way Chris and I negotiated his possession. It felt like something that was great for the story and still fun for the player.

Both rituals so far (Raoul’s and Daiske’s) have involved getting ritual materials that everyone could help out with. On this one, Remington secured blue prints of the original precinct, VC was able to update the records (he worked there) and Raoul pick up some other bits (I’m not remembering now)

What could have improved

It should have been an active BART tunnel (way to create the pressure)

I didn’t like the way I handled a gunshot as Intimidation (threat) vs. Discipline for a mental stress attack. The problem is that most people don’t have discipline, so it really jacked Rose much harder than it probably should have.

3 thoughts on “Actual Play – One Step Away from Iron Bars (6/20/2011)”

  1. I must disagree with you. I think Discipline is a very good skill to test against for a mental stress attack.

    It seems to me in Dresden, more than any other FATE variant, that a skill like discipline gets pegged for doing one thing and one thing only, spellcasting. Thus, if you are a spellcaster, you have a high discipline. If you are not a spell caster, you don’t.

    If someone chose not to put any points into discipline as a skill, it means that there character is essentially a coward. Having a hail of bullets slamming nearby is really going to crank on the “surrender or die!” lever, and it should take a lot of discipline (pardon the pun) to ignore that reaction and keep your wits about you.

    Wow, that was a really long way of saying I think you made the right call there skipper.

    1. Well, thanks for the vote of confidence. Funny you should mention the few uses for Discipline. Our Red Court Infected has a Great [+4] Discipline to resist his hunger, and we have two spellcasters in the group (Winter Knight and a Houngun priest) so we’ve got high discipline all around.

      1. yeah, that is just it…. discipline is not just for spellcasters. It’s for getting your butt off the couch and going to the gym, etc.

        In fact, right in the book it lists one of the trappings as Mental Defense.

        It seems to be more of a fact that mental conflicts come up so infrequently, and the only real mental stress that gets inflicts on characters seems to be self-inflicted spell casting stress, it is seen as a “dump skill” that you can get by without having it as a non-spellcaster.

        I like to dissuade my players of that notion from time to time.

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