Sunday, 3 June 2018

Playing With Real Toys: Monaco Yacht Show (GUMSHOE, Night's Black Agents)

This post is partly inspired by this Guardian piece about the perils of crewing a super yacht.

To start with, what is a super yacht?

Though luxury yachts have been around since the 19th Century, the number of super yachts has spiked since the 1990s and the rise of the mega rich. There’s no set rule for what is or is not a super yacht, but generally they have to be more than 45 meters long. That's for your ordinary rich person. The 100-meter gigayachts tend to be the exclusive preserve of Russian oligarchs and Gulf royalty.

They always have a permanent crew and luxurious accommodation capable of handling many guests. They can accommodate as many as they like while in port, but at sea  they're limited to 12 passengers unless they have specific permits saying otherwise. They have at least four decks above the waterline and two below. They are built to commission, which means no two superyachts are alike.  This one might have a gym, pool and sauna, and that one might have a working medical lab, a movie theatre, or massage parlor. It all depends on what the owner wants.
The industry is very gendered. As a general rule the deck crew will be exclusively male, and below decks crew exclusively female. This also means there is a strict age limit for female crew - "late 30s, and you're off," says one yacht captain
The biggest risk – and least recognized, at least by their owners – is cybercrime. The yacht’s Wi-Fi network is typically designed to be very strong; the owners like to be permanently connected. This means a super yacht’s network extends over a very large area, which lets people in the ship moored next door, or on shore, infiltrate it. Since most of the ship’s systems are interconnected a good hack team can get everything from the security camera feed to control over the navigation systems. Those with Data Analysis or using Digital Intrusion as an investigative ability know this as a 0-point clue. It bears repeating - the weakest link is always the internet of things. If you can crack any one device on that yacht, odds are it's connected to every other thing. It doesn't matter whether it's a projector, a fish tank, or the toilet. Once you're in, you're in.

Image taken from the Guardian, photographer Mark Thompson/Getty Images.

I've discussed Monaco before.

The annual Yacht Show began in 1991 and is organized by British events and publishing company Informa. It is held at Port Hercules, an ancient anchorage that dates to the 6th Century BC, Monaco's only deep-water port; the next event is scheduled for September 25th to 28th. The Show always lasts four days and includes over a hundred yachts and at least three times as many events. To give you an idea of the kind of event I'm talking about, when Informa bought the rights to the Show from the previous holders, it paid $1.4 billion. That's how much Informa thought it was worth in 2005.

It's a toy show for those who have the cash to afford the latest in marine architecture, prestige cars, and private jets. Whether you're interested in hardware, design, or accessories, you can find what you want at one of the hundreds of display stands dotted around the show. The most revered marine architects show off their newest creations, and discreetly deal with prospective clients in between chaperoning visits to their showcase yachts.

As with all things in Monaco security is heavy but discreet - the MYS site makes a point of thanking "the 35 security agents" who made the show a success. "The Monaco Yacht Show has identified 16 possible points of entry and access to the Show. One or several security agents will perform visual checks of bags of all types, and will ask those wishing to access the Show to open their jackets." Given there are 16 possible entry points and 35 security agents, it suggests that the heaviest security is at the entryway and there's minimal security presence once you're on the Show floor.

There's well over two hundred hostesses and support personnel whose comings and goings are controlled with access passes, for those agents wishing to make a more discreet entrance. There's a barrier for sea craft, limiting entrance to Port Hercules to those vessels with the appropriate security clearance sticker. Even then all passengers aboard need their own security passes. Sounds like a job for the Forger, though it should be noted that access to the best berths often depends not so much on the yacht's owner as it does on its captain. Seniority counts, even in Monaco.

Map taken from MYS.

Thrilling elements:

  • Polite but persistent security agents converge on a less-than-well-dressed attendee. Whether it's last night's liquor or natural talent that's making the attendee balky, this offers a chance to bluff past distracted security.
  • Glamorous twentysomethings in revealing outfits and stilettos breeze through the crowd, hoping to catch the eye of a super yacht's owner - or their more impressionable freewheeling children.
  • Calm and collected hostesses corral boisterous attendees, smiling at every less-than-funny joke.
  • Crowds gather around an impossibly cool thoroughbred car, eg an impeccably restored Shelby Cobra. The exhibitor discreetly takes the details of a potential customer.
  • Laughter and music from one of the yachts, as its architect hosts an impromptu cocktail party on the upper deck for potential buyers.
  • A brief flurry of excitement as an heiress' small dog escapes its leash and skitters through the crowd. Its owner, a couple minders and an embarrassed MYS official are in pursuit.
  • [Supernatural campaign, possibly an Occult spend] As has become traditional ever since the 2002 disaster, a special sacrifice of food and beautiful women is made at the opening ceremonial party in honor of Hercules whose port this is. Not that anyone dies - the women are ceremoniously dipped in the harbor. Tradition has it that Hercules, or his less-than-heroic twin Iphicles, attends the Show in secret, and any offense given to the God shall be repaid a hundredfold. 
Finally, a Scene:

A Network contact or similar go-between wants the agents to infiltrate the Show and hack the yacht Mantra-Mukta, owned by Indian billionaire Lakshmi Jindal. The contact is very interested in obtaining documents concerning a takeover bid Jindal may be contemplating against an American Biopharma company, and believes that Jindal will have the information on the ship's server. Jindal will only be in port for a few days, and after the Show will sail away. The agents will need to be quick.

What the Network contact doesn't know is that Jindal has been Renfielded by a vampire unconnected to the Conspiracy. This trip is a discreet meet-and-greet arranged by the Conspiracy in hopes of inducting a new member to the fold. Both Conspiracy and non-conspiracy assets are on site, including a Bhuta who may or may not be the non-Conspiracy vampire. The non-Conspiracy vampire stays on the Mantra-Mukta at all times in a specially constructed bane-free stateroom, but the Conspiracy assets wander the Show as attendees.

Hacking the Mantra-Mukta requires a Difficulty 5 Digital Intrusion test, reduced to Difficulty 4 if the agents can lift a smartphone belonging to Jindal's dissolute daughter Chandni and piggyback on her social media accounts to get access to the yacht's network. Of course the agents have to get into the Show first, and that will involve either High Society spends, an appropriate Cover, or some creative Forgery. The hack can take place from the dock but if the agents want to get onboard the Mantra-Mukta by all means let them; they might accidentally wander into that forbidden stateroom … If it takes place from the dock, someone will need to distract attention from the hacker otherwise bystanders or Show security might get curious.

There are two ways to do the hack. The hacker can try to sort through the reams of data - everything from the crew's social media to Chandni's porn and more besides - to get the precise information they need. That takes time. Or they can download every single scrap onto their own device to sort through later. That takes less time, but might require more sophisticated equipment since there's a lot of data to download. 

The agents will notice extra security on site not all of whom are what they appear to be; the Conspiracy is taking its privacy very seriously, and has infiltrated and replaced the Show's security with some of its own people. For that reason even a successful Digital Intrusion gains not 1 but 2 Heat. Moreover Monaco takes its security very seriously, and even more so when a prestige event like the Show takes place. Any Heat-gaining activity involving overt violence, even a punch-up, generates 1 extra Heat.

In a Supernatural game in this location, Heat doesn't just mean the cops. It also means Hercules, or his twin Iphicles. The God having been propitiated, He's willing to help His people if they get in trouble. That means in any Heat encounter involving non-Conspiracy cops, the God may choose to give one of them His strength. This gives one security personnel an extra 12 points to spread among Athletics, Hand-to-Hand and Health. If it's Iphicles giving the benefit then the boosted security can be Intimidated or bluffed, but a Hercules-inspired guard is immune to such tactics. Either Hercules or Iphicles can be delayed or stopped by a willing beautiful woman and an Occult spend to find the appropriate ancient Greek incantation. A boosted guard can be identified by the aureole that temporarily forms around his head.  

In a game where the optional Double Tap Familiar Foe rules (p 52) are used, the Familiar Foe should be the Conspiracy asset in charge of the meet-and-greet. The Director should assume the Conspiracy asset, Familiar Foe or not, has starting stats equivalent to Special Police or Special Operations Soldier. Conspiracy guards have stats equivalent to Gendarmes, and ordinary Show guards are Civilians with personal defense training. One in four Show guards are equivalent to Police - the leadership cadre. Not all the Show guards have been bought off by the Conspiracy, but a considerable number have and there's no obvious way the agents can discover who has.

Given the number of high value people at the Show there are bound to be Bodyguards, but as there are no guns allowed on site they won't have firearms. On that note, unless the agents can think of a really clever holdout they don't have firearms either. They might sneak in a small handgun, but anything larger is right out.  

Once the hack is complete the agents have to make a Thrilling escape from the Show. Assuming the hack was an undetected success, the agents need Lead 6 to escape and might begin at Lead 2 if the Digital Intrusion succeeded by 2 or more points. If it was not, then the agents need Lead 14. In this instance "chase" means "discreetly walk away" rather than run, though stealing a luxury car and driving through the Show is an option, as is stealing a boat. Remember that all exits including the harbor are monitored by Show security. The Show is Cramped for chase purposes.  

Once out the agents need to leave Monaco quickly, especially if the Conspiracy knows they're out there. A successful hack completely spoiled their meet-and-greet; the non-Conspiracy vampire is very upset that the Conspiracy's bungled security let hackers lift its data. An unsuccessful hack is still annoying, since any attempt is bound to upset the non-Conspiracy vampire. At a bare minimum a Tier 1 response is called for, especially if the agents are foolish enough to hang around in Monaco.


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