Sunday, 31 July 2016

Edom: Side Missions (Dracula Dossier, Night's Black Agents)

So you've bought the Dracula Dossier, and are hooked on the idea of running an Edom-centric campaign. Great!


'Hmmm,' thinks the cunning Director. 'I need to run some small-scale Edom-centric stuff before moving on to the main meat of the story. That way I can introduce the group to all the things Edom has to offer, before Dracula turns up and makes salsa out of the Dukes. That's a bit of a problem, because it needs to be small-scale otherwise characters and important NPCs are going to end up dead before the story arc payoff. Some of the adventures in The Edom Files could be useful here, but not all of them. What to do?'

Well, what you really need are some small scenario seeds that showcase parts of Edom you want to develop in more detail later in the campaign. If E Squadron's going to play a big part in the showdown, then you need to have a few story moments where the characters interact with E Squadron before anything story significant kicks off. Same goes for the researchers, the support staff, the Dukes and all the other peculiar things that go to make up Edom as a whole.

These scenario seeds needn't be very large. In fact it's best to think of them as the opening sequences in a Bond film, just after the iconic score kicks in but before the title sequence. The Bond people got away with a lot in those moments, up to and including killing Bond, which happened at least three times to my knowledge and I wouldn't be surprised if it was more often than that. Though they could be forgettable at times; if you'd told me ten minutes ago that the opening sequence to Goldfinger involved heroin flavored bananas I'd not have believed you. Thank heaven for YouTube, I guess?

So with that in mind I'm just going to focus on the Hook, the Main Scene, and the Thrilling Moment, which is broadly the pattern those Bond intros aimed for. In each instance I'll state which Duke or aspect of Edom this is meant to illustrate, which means this is best read with a copy of the Basic Field Manual handy.  

In play, don't sweat the details. By which I mean that this isn't meant as a series of mini scenarios. It's an introduction to a particular part of Edom that might not otherwise get screen time, which means attention needs to focus on Edom interactions. If this scene is meant to introduce the agents to the Archivist, then let it. Don't get bogged down in mechanical details; it's perfectly acceptable to montage most if not all of the elements between the Main Scene and the Thrilling Moment.

Let's go back to Goldfinger's Banana. That scene involves Infiltration, Hand to Hand (twice), Flirting, Explosive Devices, Sense Trouble, Athletics for the wall climb and probably Athletics again for the scuba dive. If all of those pools were depleted in this scene and then the adventure proper starts, the player's right to feel aggrieved, since the character starts at a disadvantage. Even if you decide that the Flirting is a 0 point spend, everything else is a General pool, and theoretically failure in say, Hand to Hand, Sense Trouble or Athletics results in Health loss, while failure in Explosive Devices could be very embarrassing. [Incidentally if anyone can explain why they needed several containers worth of nitro in the poppy growing facility I'd be delighted to hear it.]

So instead of using dice, let it be a montage sequence of automatic successes, except for the Thrilling Moment. Describe the situation, let the player describe how the characters get through the situation, and then move on. Which is probably how Bond ended up with a seagull on his head; it's a throwaway moment, not intended as a major plot point. Brief chuckle, then on with the show. For a reward, if a reward is needed, use the Achievement system, as follows:

My Name is Bond: When the player provides a colorful bit of roleplay or hot-dogging in the opening montage, the character gets an extra 1 point of experience at the end of the session.

The Thrilling Moment is a bit different. This is the point at which there is some tangible threat, and it shouldn't be montaged away. Admittedly the opposition are never any more threatening than mooks or low-power Renfields, but even so there's a chance of failure. Here's where point spends become relevant again, so spend away. In the Goldfinger scene, that final fight with the mook in the dancing girl's bedroom is the Thrilling Moment.

E Squadron: One of the Boys. Hook: E Squadron is on emergency scramble, objective a freighter delivering a suspected high-value target (Dracula?!? probably not, but you never know) to the UK. Agents are to accompany E Squadron, verify the target, retrieve if possible and eliminate if not. Ship's crew and any others on board considered expendable. Main Scene: on board the freighter (Axel Logistics?) in a firefight with mooks and Renfields. Thrilling moment: escaping the burning freighter before its highly explosive cargo goes off.

E Squadron: Publish and be Damned. Hook: A tell-all book is about to be published by 'a former Special Forces veteran' that allegedly dishes dirt on past Edom operations. Unlike other veterans turned novelist this one hasn't cleared any of his work with the DoD, and his (foreign) publisher is very cagy about his true identity. Current E Squadron members need to be screened to ensure none of them have contributed to the book or met with its author. Meanwhile someone needs to find out who this person is and whether the information is genuine. Main scene: confronting the author in his Spanish hideaway. Thrilling moment: breaking into the publishers.

Chain Home Deep / Operation Piper: BIP (Burglary in Process). Hook: one of the patients the Social Worker looks after has been burgled. Although it seems nothing has been taken, standard protocol says the incident needs to be investigated by Edom personnel, and this time the Social Worker's insisting standard procedure be followed. Main Scene: tracking down a half-demented patient through the streets at night, as the patient tries to find the criminals who broke into her apartment. Thrilling moment: a confrontation with the burglars, who may or may not have links with a low-level Conspyramid node.

Archivist: Provenance. Hook: a reclusive European collector of occult grimoires is about to sell some of his rarest items at Stockholms Auktionsverk, the oldest auction house in the world. The Archivist wants first look, hoping to secure some impossible curiosity, but the Archivist can't travel without bodyguards. God knows what would happen if Dracula's people got hold of him. Main Scene: the auction house at the height of the auction. Thrilling moment: avoiding capture by Conspiracy goons after the auction.

Serum Researcher: Biohazard. Hook: A European biopharma company claims to be about to make a breakthrough with a compound whose effects sound suspiciously like Seward Serum. The biopharma's results, and testing laboratory, need to be thoroughly investigated, and only the Researcher has the skills. Main Scene: infiltrating the research laboratory with the Researcher in tow. Thrilling Moment: dodging the laboratory's suspiciously well trained security.

Pathologist: Great Aunt Nelly. Hook: The pathologist is convinced, thanks to a spate of suspicious autopsy reports, that a police forensic pathologist has been turned and is helping cover up vampire activity. Main Scene: confrontation with the police pathologist in a SOCO lab, possibly involving a new-fledged feral vampire. Thrilling Moment: dodging or dealing with the vampire's criminal goons, all of whom have high Driving pools.

Logistical Support: First Class Lounge. Hook: While retreating from a bad situation, the agents turn to Logistical Support to get them out of a hostile foreign country. Main Scene: getting through an armed cordon to a military airbase where a transport plane is waiting, as Logistical Support advises best route. Thrilling Moment: Renfield sniper tries to take plane out on takeoff, by shooting the pilot.

Phlebotomist: Dead Man's Hand. Hook: Edom's captured a Renfield, and the Phlebotomist is called in to help with the interrogation/incarceration. Main Scene: in a dark, anonymous cellar with the Phlebotomist and the target. Thrilling Moment: the Renfield somehow breaks free and tries to escape, possibly through unorthodox means - rat swarm attack, mesmerism, or similar.

Duke Tyler: Silent Night. Hook: Each year the Metropolitan Police are honored with a carol service at Westminster Abbey, but this year Tyler wants help; a senior member of the Met may have fallen under Vampiric control, and Tyler wants this person checked out discreetly without arousing suspicion. Main Scene: surrounded by cops and carol singers at Westminster Abbey. Thrilling Moment: the senior member hasn't been subverted, but the spouse has, and unless the agents move quickly this person may escape.

Duke Tinman: Stitch in Time. Hook: An old friend of the Duke who stayed in the Middle East building houses and hospitals has been snatched and held for ransom by bandits, and Tinman needs help getting him back. Off the books, of course. Main Scene: covertly infiltrating the bandit stronghold.  Thrilling Moment: racing for the exfiltration site where Tinman waits with a chopper.

Duke Prince: Tiger Team. Hook: Prince wants the agents to pose as a security Tiger Team acting under her direction, the idea being to penetrate a suspect organization (possibly a subsidiary of one of the larger players, like Leutner Fabrichen) using the pretense of checking the organization's security. Prince will be in constant contact via VOIP and email. Main Scene: the hack, as the agents penetrate the company's systems. Thrilling Moment: escaping the facility before security shuts the place down.

Duke Pearl: What's Yours Is Mine. Hook: Edom's black bagger needs someone to cause a distraction while he, and possibly some or all of the agents depending on Infiltration pools, breaks into a facility in Dubai to steal a well-protected computer hard drive. Also a Degas painting, but Pearl doesn't think the agents need to know that. Main Scene: the CEO's office in a fully automated office complex, including robot security. Thrilling Moment: slipping through the streets of Dubai in top-end sportscars, with the facility's security in discreet pursuit. Nobody wants to get the police involved if they can help it.

Duke Osprey: Graduation Day. Hook: as Edom's best-connected Lamplighter Osprey is always on the lookout for new talent and thinks he has a candidate; a mathematical genius about to graduate Oxford. However the genius has a former lover who's threatened to dump revenge porn on the net, which would overcomplicate Osprey's chances of getting the candidate to cooperate. Main Scene: in the Sheldonian Theatre at graduation, confronting the lover. Thrilling Moment: dealing with a bunch of Oxford yahoos who think the agents are getting above their station.

Duke Oakes: Cleanup. Hook: Oakes needs a team to hot-foot to Berlin on clean-up duty after a SBA asset got a bit too enthusiastic taking out a target. Oakes wants to be on-hand for this one, as the SBA was supposed to retrieve some data from the target but never did. Main Scene: a blood-spattered crime scene at silly o'clock in the morning, before the cops show up. Thrilling Moment: dealing with an IED the target thoughtfully left behind, and which the SBA didn't bother to mention.

Duke Nails: Glorious 12th. Hook: A Saudi terror financier is meeting confederates in Brussels on the 12th August, and it's Nails' job to clear the path for the kill team. Nails needs reliable hands to make sure the cops and Belgian State Security stay as far away as possible. Main Scene: in the Grand Place / Central Square, surrounded by baroque buildings, as the kill team makes its move. Thrilling Moment: foiling a bunch of mercenary vampire hunters who want to terminate the SBA.

Duke Ian: Obbo. Hook: A high priority target is in the UK for a few days, and Ian needs a surveillance team to keep an eye on him the entire time. Main Scene: watching a meet between the target and one of the target's network (the Investigative Journalist, perhaps?) in a crowded public place, like the Tate Modern. Thrilling Moment: keeping the surveillance going as the target slips out of the Tate and tries to escape using three identical vehicles, each with a highly trained (8+ Driving) driver.

Duke Hound: Crashing the Party. Hook: A suspected SBA is active in Iraq, and allegedly attacked US troops aiding Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIL. Hound needs to sooth some ruffled feathers, but also wants to make sure first, that it was or was not an SBA, and second, that if it was the American Vampire Program doesn't get hold of it. Main Scene: infiltrating an alleged ISIL stronghold after a drone strike, to check the identity of the survivors. Thrilling Moment: discovering that the remains of the SBA have been eaten by dogs, who are now infected and roaming the bombed-out camp.

Duke Fort: Penny for the Guy. Hook: Fort has to burn down a particularly sensitive or difficult target, and wants to use November 5th as cover, pretending that the fire's been caused by faulty fireworks. The characters are tasked with keeping the targets busy while Fort does her work. Main Scene: In a burning building, just before the main charges go off. Thrilling Moment: keeping the targets in the building, ensuring they can't escape.

 Duke Elvis: Blabbermouth. Elvis thinks his current safe house and office in Belgrade is bugged. That's no surprise; the real question is, who's bugging it? The characters have to find out. Main Scene: In Elvis' office, sweeping it for bugs. Thrilling Moment: chasing down the spies, foreign nationals posing as aid workers who wanted to get information vital to a foreign vampire program, eg. China's Room 452.

That's it for now! Enjoy.

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