1879: Actual Play: Session 0.3: Parker and Yang

Parker, like Rachel and Thomas, has decided to dig into his ancestry a bit. Although he’s a fourth generation descendant of Chinese immigrants who settled in San Francisco, he opts for a character whose parents went much further east when they immigrated than his own great-grandparents did.

Jiang Yang Cheng is a first generation New Yorker, born to immigrant parents Jiang Ling and his wife Jang-Lu, who came to America in 1864, toward the end of the Taiping Rebellion. Their home village was in Kwangtung province (modern day Guangdong), near the border with Kiangsi (modern day Jiangxi), and was overrun multiple times by both Taiping and Qing forces. There came a point where they gave up trying to rebuild, and left, arriving in California during the War of Secession, at a time when Chinese immigrants were not particularly welcome except as cheap railway labor. Moving on, they crossed the continent and ended up in New York, where Ling was hired as a mechanic with the Brooklyn City Railroad, his skills as the village tractor repairman coming in handy. Jang-Lu found work at a hand laundry in Chinatown, carrying the newborn Yang to work with her, his first bassinet being a laundry basket lined with worn-out sheets.

Twenty-six years later, the Jiang family owns a small industrial laundry, bought partly with money Yang has brought in, partly with the help of the Hap Sing tong. Yang’s older brother Kiang is a collections agent for the tong, not a protection racket, just taxes levied to run the neighborhood and make small business loans. Uptown whites don’t want to invest in Chinatown, either in municipal funds or commercial loans, so the tongs take care of that, and provide the functions of local government. Yang’s younger sister Su Yuan does the books for the laundry and is studying for a degree in accounting. The laundry takes in bedding and shirts from hand laundries, doing the work at the back end with heavy machinery and sending it back so the hand laundries can put their wrapper on the items and charge hand-wash prices to the customers at volume. The hand-wash tubs are for delicates and for show. Yang’s automated presser and folder requires frequent maintenance but still does the work of ten people. If he can get it a little more reliable, where it doesn’t have to be fixed and adjusted every week, other laundries will buy one.

With all of this in mind, Parker begins character build. He opts for points buy, and starts with a human character, and Attributes of DEX 16, STR 11, TOU 11, PER 16, WIL 12, and CHA 13. Learning about machinery from his father, Yang becomes a Brassman, delving into the mysteries of clockwork and finer mechanical devices. Parker begins building the Skill structure for his character.

He starts with Clockwork as his Professional Skill, and takes all ten possible starting Core and Optional Skills. Ling’s example shows Yang that you don’t know what will be useful tomorrow. For his initial Free Skills, Parker takes Knowledge (New York City) and Knowledge (Chinatown Politics), on the idea that Yang will be paying very close attention to his environment, and to the rules by which it operates. He adds Conversation, so that Yang can try to talk himself into work and out of trouble, and Sprint because sometimes talking just doesn’t work, and a young Chinese man is going to be better off running like hell than trying to fight. His base language is Cantonese, learned at home, and he spends a couple of his free Ranks to pick up English.

At PR 2, Yang learns Haggle and Melee Weapons, trying to balance social and combat Skills. He picks up True Shot, having discovered something of a knack for Firearms, even though that’s an Optional Skill for his Profession. Parker’s beginning to see a direction he could take Yang that would differentiate him from the usual gadgeteer Brassman. He adds Forgery as his other Free Skill, which gets Yang into the shadier side of business in lower Manhattan. For PR3, Parker takes Craft Firearm as his Core Skill, continuing the path by evolving Yang into a gunsmith. He takes Avoid Blow for his Optional, again following the idea that the best way to deal with a fight is to not get hit. For his Free Skills, he takes Eagle Eye, pursuing Yang’s evolution into an urban gunslinger, and Knowledge (Chinese History) as Yang develops more of an interest in where he came from, and how Chinese culture and history continue to affect him living in New York’s Chinatown. He also raises his Speak and Read/Write Languages Skills, adding Mandarin so that he can understand both official and technical documents. At PR4, Parker puts his Core and Optional picks into the social side of the Brassman Profession, taking Slough Blame and First Impression, both very useful for an up and coming technician and gunsmith who’s started picking up work from the tong. He adds a Free Skill of Knowledge (Firearms Industry) so that Yang is conversant with the makes and models of handguns and rifles, and with the economics of firearms as well, knowing what his own work is worth on the open market.

At PR5, Yang makes the jump to Journeyman, and learns Forge Firearm, a Skill that will allow him to improve his own weaponry and become much more valuable to his customers. This is probably the point in his life where his family buys their own business, as his income rises. He adds Exploding Ammunition for his own nefarious purposes, and Cryptography, because he’s now doing business with people who don’t write things down in clear language that anyone can read. His Free Skills go for Disarm, Munitions, and Second Shot, with the idea that ending a fight by taking the other guy’s weapon away is probably a good strategy, being able to throw a second round after the first with proper accuracy is also useful, and you never know when you might need to blow something up. He’s got access to a plentiful supply of gunpowder, after all. His final Skill picks at PR6 go for Bribery, Evaluate, and Etiquette for Core and Optional, continuing the focus within his Profession on the social and business side, and Trick Shot and Long Shot for Free Skills, further developing Yang into the urban gunslinger that Parker has envisioned.

Yang’s Attribute increases go for Strength, Willpower, and Charisma, bringing them each up by one, and Toughness for two points. This puts his Toughness and Willpower over the Step break, but not the other two. Parker is in this for the long game, and has a strategy in mind of keeping his character well rounded, with another two advances required before he hits a Step break for Charisma and one more for Strength. The Strength boost does raise his Carrying Capacity, which is useful.

After working out Ranks for his Skills, and paying for them, and spending APs for the Attribute raises, and buying 6 Ranks in Durability to align with what everyone else has done, Parker has 57,900 APs remaining of his base 210,000. This leaves him a nice buffer for later, for buying Karma points and raising Skills he uses in game. He looks up the appropriate Defense Ratings, figures his Karma, and does some other bookkeeping to get the front page of his character sheet done.

For Equipment, Parker goes with a silk ballistic coat, giving him a nice Physical Armor Rating with no Initiative penalty. He gets a price break on it buying it directly from a silk importer his brother knows. In consultation with the GM, Parker adds two weapons, and bumps their stats up with Yang’s Forge Firearm. Yang now carries a Medium Revolver with a Base Damage of 10, a Rate of Fire of 3, and a Capacity of 7, something that will earn him respect on the streets. His Heavy Carbine has a Base Damage of 13, a Rate of Fire of 2, and a Capacity of 6, with a 3-round burst mode that unfortunately exceeds his Strength, requiring a 15, so if Yang uses the burst mode, he’s going to be spraying and praying. Ammunition for the two guns, a field toolkit, a workshop in the back of the laundry, and a pair of speedloaders for the revolver, and Yang has his equipment done. His funds are a bit low between the equipment costs and handing most of his cash over to the family to help pay for the family business venture, so he’s got two pounds, 8 shillings and fivepence to his name. That’ll get converted into Union dollars later on.

Parker finishes writing up Yang’s character sheet, has it okayed by the Gamemaster, and is ready to build Connections. First up is Mr. Hua, the neighborhood overseer for the Hap Sing. He manages the collection agents, assigns tasks to the public works team, and rules on small disputes, the sort of disagreements that arise between neighbors in the course of business and daily living. Usually found at the back corner table at the Red Monkey, which has the best fried octopus in Chinatown, Mr. Hua may also be seen inspecting repairs to the street, observing from a safe distance while electrical wiring gets fixed, and attending all of the important social and religious functions in the area. Nobody would think of holding a holiday feast without inviting Mr. Hua, even if he gets too many invitations to possibly accept them all. Only his wife, Soong-Li, ever addresses him by his personal name, and even then only when matters have grown quite serious between them indeed. Yang has come to Mr. Hua’s attention on a few occasions, which is a risky situation, but thus far he has managed to show proper respect and earned some measure of trust in return.

Yang’s second Connection is Lok Bing, an unfortunate whom LGF changed into a snark. Bing has kept his job at the docks, as a foreman on an unloading and warehousing crew, but now lives in a room behind the warehouse office, as his wife refuses him entry to their apartment. Bing has been able to arrange a variety of supplies and special items for Yang, as well as a few shipments that went aboard without being on the official manifest, and appreciates the beer that Yang always brings when he comes to the docks.

Third is Tommy O’Shaughnessy, a labor organizer, Irish gang member, and semi-official liaison between the Hap Sing and the Irish who run the area west of Chinatown. Tommy’s attention was captured by Yang’s sidearm at a tong meeting some months back, and of course Yang took the hint from Mr. Hua that forging a similar arm for the Irish liaison would be appreciated. It cost Yang quite a bit in terms of time and materials, but the gift to Mr. O’Shaughnessy earned him respect outside of his usual community, and has begun to spread the reputation of the Chinatown Gunsmith. Yang now is one of the few Chinese who can safely drink at the Irish bars on the west side of Lafayette Street. If he can stay on the good side of Mr. O’Shaughnessy, Mr. Hua might recommend him for a diplomatic position with the Hap Sing.

With all of this in place, Yang is pronounced good to go by the GM, and with that, the party is complete.

Next: The Adventure Begins!

Tally Ho!