Sunday, 8 May 2016

Tale of Terror, Vampire Style (Night's Black Agents)

I've been buried in an Esoterror project, so I didn't post anything last week. I know, I'm evil. But then, so is Esoterror, so I guess that works out in the end. More or less?

If you're a Call of Cthulhu fan from way back then you probably remember the Tales of Terror. The Tales are short adventure seeds, with three possible outcomes. The intent being to let the Keeper and players riff on the basic premise, and use one of the three outcomes as the core of the encounter. The old Unspeakable Oath used to print these fairly regularly, but I've no idea what's going on with the Oath these days. I know there's a podcast, but I don't really follow the site any more.

However one quick glance over there shows that it does still publish Tales every so often, so if you're still unclear as to the concept then here's an example written by S Cogswill.

With that in mind, let's tear something from the headlines and use that as a basis for a Night's Black Agents Tale of Terror.

Here's a good one: Pile Up On French Road After 'People Smugglers' Shot At In Police Chase.

"Belgian police opened fire during a cross-border chase with suspected people smugglers driving a car with a British number plate, resulting in a pile-up on a motorway in northern France.
At about 5am on Thursday, a lorry driver in Belgium called local police saying that smugglers had tried to get 17 people into his truck and that he and other drivers had been threatened with a knife, the French paper La Voix du Nord reported.

When police intervened, the suspects sped off by car, first hitting a Belgian police car, then heading on the motorway towards northern France."

For the rest of the article, click on the link.

From there we get to:

Possibility One: Botched Rescue. The so-called people smugglers are actually trying to save the seventeen 'smuggled' victims. These people were being held at a Conspiracy site in Belgium, for reasons the characters don't yet know - blood banks, biological agent testing, Satanic ritual, something else - and their rescuers did their best to get them across the border. However it all went wrong in the worst possible way, and the rescuers panicked and ran. It did not end well. Now there's seventeen people in a detention center who may, at any moment, be stolen back by the Conspiracy, never mind their two would-be rescuers currently in police custody. What next? Character Link: One of the rescuers is a character's Network contact, or even Solace.

Possibility Two: Node Fratricide. Two Nodes within the Conspyramid are fighting, as described in Double Tap. One of those Nodes is in the people smuggling business, and its rival tips off the police. The result is much messier than anyone predicted, because the people smugglers panicked and ran. Now the characters are in an excellent position to exploit the situation, either keeping pressure on the damaged people smuggling Node, or letting the people smugglers point the characters at the other Node, as revenge. Character Link: Either one of the police is a Network contact, or one of the people smugglers is an already established dramatically important character, possibly a foil for one of the player characters.

Possibility Three: Blown Op. Among the people being smuggled is an operative on the run, who was hoping that the smugglers would be able to get him/her across the border after the operative built up too much Heat. However increased police vigilance, thanks to the Heat, led to the car chase and subsequent disaster. Now the operative is in real trouble, and the only hope is that someone gets the operative out before the opposition catch up. Character Link: The characters are gathered as an ad-hoc rescue team, or possibly a snatch team unknowingly working for the opposition, by a friendly Asset Handler. This op needs to happen fast; in a few hours the operative will be moved from a holding cell to somewhere much more secure. In an Edom Files game, the operative is Edom and so are the rescuers.

Why do this? Well, because it's fun, obviously. But also because it serves a useful purpose. There are going to be times when the Director is at a loose end, or the plot seems temporarily derailed by circumstances beyond the Director's control. While waiting for inspiration, the Director can use a Tale of Terror as an easy bridging point between the current impasse and the next significant plot development.

Besides, they're easy to do. All you need is a good headline for inspiration, and from that come up with three reasons as to why those events will interest the characters. After that, let the players go nuts. They're probably going to go nuts anyway, so what the heck.

On that note, since the headlines have been so useful this week, let's have another:

Oil Tanker Washes Up on Liberia Beach with No Crew or Lifeboats

"An abandoned oil tanker has washed up on the shores of Liberia in west Africa, prompting an investigation - and speculation over the fate of the ship's crew.

The Tamaya 1, which is registered in Panama, ran aground on a beach near Robertsport earlier this week, apparently without a crew or lifeboats. On Thursday the Liberia national police and bureau of immigration inspected the ship, days after local residents first discovered it on the beach.

The 64-meter (210ft) tanker's last known position was on 21 April near Gambia and Senegal, according to shipping site Marine Traffic - well north of Liberia along the west African coast. The ship was en route to the Senegalese port of Dakar, according to the site."

Panama registers nearly 20% of the world's merchant fleet. Panama is an open registry, also known as a flag of convenience, and has been since the 1920s. If your ship is Panamanian registered, Panamanian laws apply; this is often done by ship owners to reduce costs, particularly labor, but also the cost of keeping up with environmental regulations. Critics claim open flag jurisdictions are hotbeds of crime and terrorism.

Liberia, the Land of the Free, is still suffering from the effects of the civil war, and rebel leader Charles Taylor's excesses. As of 2005 the constitutional republic is led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but it's an uphill struggle. Trial by ordeal is not uncommon in rural districts, and corruption is endemic at all levels of government.

With all that in mind:

Possibility One: Asset On The Run Perhaps it's one of Edom's SBA's, a Conspiracy entity gone rogue, or an escapee from one of the other interested parties' weapons programs. Whichever it is, it's loose, and is doing its best to stay free. A lot of very powerful (and peculiar) people are suddenly very interested in Liberia, and agents are being sent in to see what happened to that escaped asset. Character Link: The agents have faced this particular asset before, but now the tables have turned the asset may be more amenable to moral 'suasion. Or, a Network contact in Liberia is very worried about some of the stories coming in from the hinterlands, and asks for help.

Possibility Two: Stage One of the Master Plan. The Conspiracy is planning something big, really big. The Liberian operation is either a test run, or the first stage in what amounts to a vampiric coup, taking out the democratically elected government and replacing it with a catspaw. Why? Well, Liberia's asset-rich, but perhaps there's something else out there that the Conspiracy really can't do without. Works best with Mutant or Alien vampire types. Character Link: This is it. If the agents are ever going to find out what the Conspiracy is all about, Libera's the place to be.

Possibility Three: Panamanian Shenanigans The Conspiracy's Node in Panama is shipping dangerous materials across the globe, and this time something went very badly wrong. Now that Node is scrambling to cover up the mess, and has hired mercenaries, or a science team backed up by mercenaries, to deal with whatever-it-is that's loose in Liberia. Character Link: One of those mercenaries is a Network contact, possibly a Solace. Alternatively one of the people the mercenary team comes into conflict with is a Network contact or Solace.


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