Last night’s session was super satisfying! We pulled in a couple of the players’ rivals and allies, brought some building tensions into focus, made the crew make hard choices (even to the point of PvP shenanigans as the Mystic tried to get right with his faction, the Nightspeakers, while the Muscle and the Scoundrel were busy stealing from the Nightspeakers because the Ghosts could pay them more). It took some time to lay the groundwork, but it’s feeling really tight now.
Mechanically, I finally made myself look for opportunities to use the Fortune Roll procedure. It was fun! Fun to be surprised by the outcome, fun to let myself off the hook for things that would otherwise look like I was fucking over the characters. The big use was after an elaborate flashback scene, in which the crew had gone to the Ghost scientists to concoct a non-lethal knockout gas. They pulled out all the stops for a greater effect outcome, i.e. enough gas to take out an entire drug lord’s palace. But when it was time to trigger the gas, I went to the Fortune Roll to see just how efficacious the gas turned out to be. The Ghosts are a Tier 2, and I couldn’t see any advantages or disadvantages, so I just rolled two dice and ended up with a high 3. Soooo it turns out they had plenty of gas…but it only knocked out half the drug lord’s goons while pissing off the other half. The badass half that could shrug off a lungful of gas.
Obviously it’s the rolling out in public that defers responsibility for that, yeah? Look man, it’s not me screwing over your plan. It’s the dice. Look. Right there. Not me. It’s great and I’ll be doing that a whole lot more often. It’s a little more work, you know, cooking up lesser/regular/greater outcomes at so many junctions. But it’s an instinct I’m developing nicely, and it’s fun to put the tension in the air. Is the gas gonna be super-strong and just drop everyone for hours or days? Or is it gonna be super-weak and leave you with less but different bullshit to deal with?
Since I had also finally read the “Science & The Strange” chapter, I introduced some Urbots — Precursor AI cores embedded in dumb human robots — and a whole vault full of artifacts. Kind of wish there was a better list of artifacts! The list that’s in the book is fine, and one of the Factions in fact has a list of their own cache and I think I’ll be borrowing from that. It’ll be fun to have them actually use the artifacts in public and see how that plays out. It’s how I’ve always imagined really good magic items in pastiche fantasy: one does not simply wave the Wand of Orcus around. In this case it’s the Cloak of NIght, second of three items in the Raiment of Night, one of the baked-in campaign threads of the book. Lots of mid-tier Factions want the Raiment, the crew knows where all the parts are, and now it’s just a matter of time before someone, somehow, puts all three together.
This was also the first time I had NPC Way users. That’s an interesting place to be, because there’s precious little coverage as to what’s actually possible with the Way. There are the powers listed on the Mystic playbook, and that’s good, and then there’s all the implications of how the Attune action works. Like good and correct Force use in Star Wars, I suspect it’s limited only by plot requirements. Our drug lord target had a Way using mercenary who went by Skulls, who looked like someone who would be called “Skulls,” and had an embedded Precursor artifact in his chest that super-juiced his murder powers. Lots of Fortune Rolls to see how his powers worked.
The book says that a S&V campaign will last around 12 sessions, and I believe that will be true. I think we’re through the second of three acts now, with the third and final act being set up by their last job and several of the Factions’ clocks filling up.