1879: Actual Play NYC: The Knicks vs. The Heat

GM: So when we last left our intrepid explorers, it was morning, Rivka is at the Knickerbocker Hospital, known locally as the Knick, with Tsilla, and the rest of the party are racing across from Brooklyn to get there, having realized that they might have made an error in judgment.

Parker: Dude, we split the party. Noob mistake and we had to have you point it out to us.

Abraham: So yeah, do I need to make a Pilot Vehicle Test?

GM: I could make you do that, now that you’ve suggested it.

Rachel: What have we said about giving the GM ideas?

GM: But it could interfere with the story, so we’re going to let that slide this time and just say that you had a few adventures but pull up at the Knick undamaged.

Parker: Physically, anyway. How long does it take to get my knuckles to unclench?

Abraham: They do that? Thought that was your natural state.

Parker: (visibly lets that one go by)

GM: So you pile out of the car, into the hospital – actually not a bad place as hospitals go, big solid building, large windows, well maintained, carbolic acid and hypochlorite actually keeping down the smells of sepsis and blood.

Bethelie: I make a dignified entrance, not hurried, and ask the young woman at the front desk where I might find the Women’s ward.

GM: She glances from you to Yang and Abraham and back.

Bethelie: Professional associates. We are working with Tsilla? I drop the name in the hope that it is recognized.

GM: The young woman becomes visibly nervous, and gives you directions up the stairs and to the left, pointing that way without ever taking her eyes off you. As you walk away, you notice her sending a runner off with urgently whispered instructions.

Yang: Says something about the company Tsilla keeps.

Abraham: They think we’re here to finish the job. Keep your hands where the guard can see them.

Yang: I button my jacket so my pistols aren’t readily visible.

GM: You walk into the Womens’ Ward, and a stern matron in a nun’s habit puts herself in your way. I don’t care who you’re here to see or what you’re here to do, she says to Bethelie, those men are not coming in here. It’s not proper.

Bethelie: First Impression Test?

GM: Go for it.

Bethelie: I have an eleven, will that suffice?

GM: Her Social Defense is high but it’s not that high. Speak your piece.

Bethelie: We are professional associates of Tsilla. We believe that she is still in danger from the entity that caused the injury to her.

GM: The matron’s eyes narrow. That woman’s brought her fight into this hospital again, hasn’t she. It’s not a question. She spins on her heel and marches off, throwing a well, come on, let’s get this over with, over her shoulder.

Bethelie: I shrug and follow.

Yang: Right with you.

Abraham: Keeping an eye out. There’s going to be a big guy in a uniform show up, maybe a couple of them, maybe armed.

GM: She leads you down the hall and into one of the smaller wards – there’s no private rooms here.

Abraham: Not that fancy a joint.

GM: It’s a charity hospital, not a private one, so no. There’s only one other woman in the ward besides Tsilla, although it’s got eight beds, four down each side. Patient Q is in the bed to the left as you go in the door, an old, obese woman who probably shouldn’t be lying on her back given the obvious difficulty breathing she’s having. The matron gives her a brief annoyed glance, doesn’t break stride, and marches down to the far end of the room, where privacy screens block off the last two beds.

Abraham: I glance down the hall. Is there a nurse in view? Maybe one that’s not the ward sister?

GM: Awareness Test. You’re looking not just for a person but for specific information.

Abraham: Okay. Four on the d12, one on a d6, that one’s going in the shame corner, six on the other, trying to pick up the slack. Eleven so far. Four on the rollup, total of fifteen.

GM: You spot one of the junior sisters, obvious by the pile of blankets she’s carrying, and past her, you see a really big white guy, well over six foot and probably over two-eighty, just got that pugnacious Irish thing going all over him, bristly beard and mustache, fancy blue uniform with brass buttons and a cap with a badge on the front, and he’s carrying a truncheon. Not one of those slender black nightsticks you’d see nowadays, no, he’s got something the size of a chair leg, turned wood, no mucking about with stain or paint, just a coat of cheap varnish to shed liquids. He’s moving like he’s got a purpose, and heading your way.

Abraham: Aw crap. Do we need to go to Initiative?

GM: You know, that might be a real good idea right about now.

Rachel: (throws Cheetos at Thomas) What did we tell you about giving the GM ideas?

Thomas: But it’s more fun this way. (Eats one of the Cheetos)

Parker: Charlie Brown voice. I got a one.

Rachel: Five.

Jennifer: Two.

Thomas: Six.

GM: And the good NPCs go on five and the bad at three.

Thomas: Maybe a chance here.

GM: Abraham, you are batting lead off. What’s your move?

Abraham: I gotta do something about this uniform moving in on us. Play rear guard while the others deal with what’s behind curtain number one. Has the Knick been equipped with sprinklers?

GM: Good question. Let’s roll a ten sider, odd yes, even no. For once, be glad you got a one. Yes, there are fire sprinklers and exposed pipes hanging from the high cielings.

Abraham: Confusion is your friend. I’m going to pop off a Control Device and try to open the valve nearest this guy and in front of him, so he walks into it. Step 16 on the Spellcasting, do I have any buffs or advantages I can play here?

GM: Nope. Straight up roll.

Abraham: I try not to be too showy here, keep the hand jive down to a minimum, and let fly with a rollup on the twelve, nine on the second, five on the eight, and a one on the six. Go sit in the shame corner with the other guy. 27 total.

GM: Woohoo. Make an Effect Test at plus four Steps. It’s not warded or anything, got a Mystic Defense of a 6.

Abraham: Eight on the twenty, five on the eight, and one on the new d6. It’s a conspiracy. That’s still a 14.

GM: The sprinkler head itself unscrews, flies off and bounces on the floor right in front of the guy. Water sprays out in all directions. Dude tries to make a recovery, gets a rollup on the d8 but only a one on the second, total of nine. He dodges aside, but his gaze is on the bouncing sprinkler head. He gets in the way of the sister with the blankets, who’s given a little bit of a scream and jumped.

Bethelie: She is afraid she will be to blame when the blankets are getting wet.

GM: Probably. She doesn’t down-end her Test, but at a six, she’s not graceful, and gets in the way of uniform dude. He tries to catch her, rolls a 2 on the d12, and they collide with a complete lack of aplomb. She starts to drop the blankets, he tries to grab them, knocks her on the shin with his truncheon in the process.

Abraham: If I could remember the music from the Keystone Kops I’d be doing it right now.

GM: The blankets are half tumbled out of her arms, he’s trying to figure out how that part came off and why there’s water all of a sudden, and then he and the nurse both realize that he’s got his hand on her waist to steady her. There’s a lot of blushing and awkward shuffling, and him picking up the dropped blanket and holding it over her while she gets her act together.

Abraham: Yeah, those two are bangin’ in the ambulance.

GM: In the meantime, and we pan away from that scene really fast, Rivka, you and Tsilla and the Matron –

Rivka: Oh yeah, Mother Charybdis.

(Brief pause while everybody sees what she did there.)

GM: (deep breath) Rivka, player characters win in a tie with GMCs. Your move.

Rivka: All I know so far is that there are hurrying feet heading toward me, right?

GM: And oddly the sound of running water nearby, and some associated confusion.

Rivka: I have my revolver already out, along with my knife, is that okay?

GM: That’s reasonable.

Rivka: Okay, I have my gun in my hands, properly gripped and braced, and the safety off, but pointed down at the floor by the foot of the bed. I have my knife in its sheath on the bed where I can lay hands to it quickly. I hold my action.

GM: Okay. Holding, ready to fire or change weapons. Matron (deep breath) pulls the privacy screen aside, takes in your position, and steps aside and into cover really fast. They say they’re associates of yours, she calls to Rivka. Those of you outside the curtain, in the ward, can see that the matron has clutched her rosary and is muttering very rapid prayers.

Abraham: I’m busy or I’d scope her astrally.

Yang: Didn’t know you had a thing for nuns. Goes with that car your drive.

Abraham: You and me gonna fight.

GM: Tsilla manages to crack one eye open, mutter briefly in Hebrew, something about socks, you’re not sure, then she’s out again.

Parker: They gave her the good drugs.

GM: This is the era of chlorodyne, over the counter cocaine, and so on. Yeah, they hit everything with a really big hammer. On three, big uniform guy tries to extricate himself from the situation, rolls a one and commits a mild impropriety. Young nurse blushes so hard you could light a fire off her, and whispers something to him while pretending to finish getting the blankets together, might have been a suggestion to continue being improper somewhere else.

Abraham: They’re busy and gonna get that way. Got it. Rear guard action successful, achievement unlocked.

GM: Also on three, the window bangs open, and a sulfurous, dirty wind blows in.

Yang: Aw crap. The bag didn’t hold it.

Bethelie: I fear for the life of the conjurer.

Rivka: He dug his own grave.

Abraham: Harsh but true.

GM: Doesn’t seem to be anything manifesting yet, could just be a grand entrance, or it might be weakened.

Yang: I’m not putting any money on that.

GM: Probably a good idea. Bethelie?

Bethelie: I draw my uncle’s cavalry sabre, cry Vive le France, and take a broad swing.

GM: Okay. Make a Melee Weapons Test.

Bethelie: Fourteen.

GM: You’re looking for a 26.

Bethelie: Merde.

Yang: Okay, then it’s down to me. Yay. Guns aren’t real useful here. Kind of my thing. I’m a Brassman. I don’t have a specific Profession ability that allows it, but it seems logical I’d know how to swing a spanner in a fight. Can I avoid the Improvised Weapon penalty?

GM: I’ll allow it. Make your Melee Weapons Test.

Yang: Okay. Not much of a chance with a Step 12 but you never know. Got a ten, little below average there guys. (glares at dice)

Rivka: I go on and take my Action, since we’re at the end of the turn. I safe my gun and swap it for the knife, and get up out of the chair.

GM: Okay, one simple and one complex and your turn is over. Which puts us to Initiative again.

(all roll)

GM: Ten or better? Nine? Eight?

Yang: Eight. I’m going to keep swinging, so we can gang up on this thing and maybe run it off. Melee Weapons with a fourteen. Swing and a miss.

Abraham: I know it’s a really bad idea to fire into a melee with a bow or a gun, but magic targets precisely, right? Either the spell hits the target or it doesn’t go off?

GM: Well, area effect spells can hit someone without them being the target, but that’s the nature of the spell. Something that’s line of sight with a single target wouldn’t have stray fire, that’s true.

Abraham: Okay. Galvanic Arc it is. Spellcasting of 16 and I’m throwing karma up in that. Twenty four.

GM: That’s two attacks already this round, and Bethelie attacked it last round, you’re going to do so again?

Bethelie. Mais oui.

GM: So it’s Harried. That’s minus 2 because you just stepped in and let fly, which makes its Mystic Defense a 24. You hit.

Abraham: Sweet Christmas. Okay, Rank is 9, Willforce is 13, rolling a Step 22, and Willforce is a Core so karma on that as well.

Yang: Karma on you, karma on your house, karma on your cow.

Abraham: You got that right. Adding up the dice, 18.

GM: That gets some points past its Mystic Armor. Not a Wound, but you got its attention there.

Abraham: Which may or may not be a good thing.

GM: Time will tell. Bethelie, you had a five?

Bethelie: I am on five, oui. I rain a flurry of blows on the intruder, crying out Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite.

Rivka: I had not taken you for a revolutionary.

Bethelie: Not all of the aristocracy supported the crown. I have the 17, not enough alas but I am sure I am quite diverting.

Yang: Um, I think maybe you mean the diversion? Double entendre there.

Bethelie: You think it is not the intentional?

GM: Moving on, Rivka.

Rivka: A 13 with no karma possible.

GM: Nice try. That does put four people on it. Harried doesn’t stack, but keeping the pressure on is good. If nothing else, it has to decide who to hit each round.

Yang: I don’t like being the target rich environment. Can we do something about that please?

GM: Smokie only got hit by one person this round.

Abraham: Uh oh.

GM: It streams into a a swirl reaching for you, pouring more and more of itself into it, and rolls a 13 against your Physical Defense of 8. It’s successfully grappled, with one extra success. You’re going to need a Strength or something analogous against a 13 to get loose. You take 30 points from the Engulf attack.

Abraham: Is that Physical or Mystic?

GM: This thing is effectively an air elemental, so that’s Mystic.

Abraham: Okay, three points is three points. I take 27. That’s a Wound, I’m not even gonna bother rolling Knockdown, and with that and the Strain from the casting, I’m over halfway to unconscious. Little help here guys?

GM: All that’s left are GMCs. Tsilla makes her Willpower Test to fight off the drugs enough to sit up and open her eyes. She can’t see what’s going on, there’s a privacy screen, but she can hear it. Rivka, you’re the only one who can hear Tsilla. She says, it has to manifest to smother people.

Rivka: Brief communication?

GM: Sure.

Rivka: Hey, everybody, it’s manifested. I hope they know what that means.

GM: The matron’s face clenches. She’s obviously Had Enough Of This. She grabs a bedpan off one of the empty beds, probably empty, strides up, yells Hail Mary full of grace, and whacks the spirit. There’s a bright flash, the spirit recoils and eddies, hang on Abraham you have a Strength Test coming up, and the matron looks really freaking surprised here.

Bethelie: Never get in the way of an angry nun. They can bring the Wrath of God with nothing more than a ruler.

Abraham: Yeah, I don’t think a one is going to do much on that Strength Test. I’m too busy realizing there ain’t no air all of a sudden.

GM: And initiative.

(all roll, many complain)

GM: Leading off with a big 17, it’s Smokie. It ripples for a second, still recovering from the Holy Bedpan of Antioch, then releases Abraham and goes woosh out the window. Exit combat.

Yang: And there was much rejoicing.

All: (quietly) yaay

GM: Big Mike has disappeared with the nurse, a custodian has got a ladder up and the water shut off at the nearby valve, and the matron looks over Abraham and calls for an orderly. They get you to a window, and help hold you up while you cough out all the crap Smokie left behind.

Abraham: Hope there’s nobody below the window. This’s gonna be ugly.

GM: Yeah, we’ll leave you there for a minute.

Rivka: I think we have something here.

Bethelie: Oh?

Rivka: It’s force of will, not strength of arms, that’s needed. Let’s get the sandhogs’ wives and the troll and snark women from the dig together and have them beat it to death to save their jobs and husbands.

Yang: Angry housewives with rolling pins and angry big women with shovels. I’d be terrified.

GM: Tsilla gets both eyes focused on Rivka with a bit of an effort. It’s a meshuggah idea, she says, but it might actually work.

Bethelie: We should find something for the men to do. Organizing this is going to be women’s work.

Abraham: Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here hacking a lung out.

Bethelie: But we need you to drive.

Abraham: The chicks only love me for my ride.

Yang: You gotta step up your game.

GM: Okay, let’s break here for the planning session, as there’s going to be a lot of discussion before the next scene. We’ll pick up after the planning session next time.

Will this idea actually work? Can a smoke demon be defeated by a gang of angry women? How will they get everyone to the right place at the right time? These and other questions will be answered on our next thrilling episode of Actual Play!

Tally Ho!