innocent_man: (Default)
Oy. OK, so, where the hell has Matt been?

I've been sick. Caught a flu from my son, I think, and I have been functionally dead for the last few days. As such, these game notes started Saturday when I thought I was running Changeling on Sunday and Leverage on Monday, but now things have changed a bit since both games were cancelled.

Changeling, obviously, continues, once we set a date for the next game. Leverage, I think we're calling the last session our cliffhanger finale, and I'll post a bit on my thoughts on the game at large at a later point. For now, though, I do want to have some notes on Snowblind, and then points and weight stuff.

OK, now for Snowblind. )

OK, now for points and weight. )
innocent_man: (leverage)
So we had all our players and we might, in fact, have them all for the next (and final) game in the Leverage series, so in the interest of doing this while it's still fresh in my mind, here we go! )

<lj-cut text="Points." Bun: 4 Brat: 5 Chicken: 7 Sauce: 1 Cake: 3 Sauce: 3 Total: 23 or so Banked: 0
innocent_man: (eliotcooking)
Points before the good stuff. )
So, I'm running Leverage next Monday, and I only have two Jobs left in this series. I wanted to use the "random Job" system once, and since I know what I want to do with the last one, that leaves this one. So join me on this journey into random! Unless you're a player, in which case, y'know. You'll have to wait. Taste the random! )
innocent_man: (Default)
Points first. )

Anyway, last night was Leverage. Only two more Jobs, and then Max is moving and the series is ending.

Things went much more smoothly last night. I'm not sure if it was the nature of the Job (which was less social than the others I've run and more "go steal shit"), or just that folks are getting more used to the system. I do know that the cats didn't resist being herded quite so much, people seemed to stay more or less on track, even with Leo having digestive issues (don't ask, for the love of god).

Anyway, the Job: Mike and Selma Vedder are the Clients. They own a cleaning company called Mighty Scrubber, and they occasionally agree to test new products. In this case, they were testing a product called Mold-Off from a company called Sparkle. The product was supposed to take out black mold, and it does...but it also makes people and animals sick. Several dead pets and sick kids later, the Vedders are involved in a class-action lawsuit. Their ironclad NDA and gag order make it impossible for them to indicate who is really responsible - Sparkle (and their parent company, CommuniChem). Selma Vedder, as it turns out, is a friend of Philippa Fulbright (whom you'll recall from our last job), and she does some analysis. Turns out, yes, this stuff will make you sick, and it should never have been on the market.

The Crew does some research, and comes up with Herman Wolf, the PR director for CommuniChem. He was responsible for letting Mold-Off into the wild, and he knows it isn't ready yet. He's also a micromanager and megalomaniac extraordinaire. The characters figure him to be the problem; if he becomes a liability, the company will make of him a scapegoat, and getting the proof of what he did into the public eye (and past the gag order) will make that happen.

But how? He doesn't keep anything incriminating online, and so Jessica can't hack it. The Crew shares intel (Gil is on the phone with them, as his player was sick last night and couldn't physically be here). Gil tells them that there are security guards in the lobby of the building, both uniformed and not. Frederick outlines the tech security - extensive and hard to beat, including Faraday cages at the entrances that the science folks use. Jane points out that there's a protest at the building coming up, which would make for good cover. And at this point, Gil starts coughing and the line goes dead.

Turns out when Gil interviewed one of the folks who worked for the Vedders, he must have gotten exposed to the product. Now he's sick - not really in danger, but out of commission. The characters spring into action. Frederick has stolen a keycard, which Jessica hacks to make it work for any floor (they're normally keyed to specific floors).

Cut to the protest. Jane is out with a sign, blending in. Frederick goes in as a young exec and heads to the lounge floor (he's there as backup). Horace and Jessica go in as techs to upgrade the server (Jessica creates a fake website and company, and then makes an appointment for them). They get upstairs and into the server room, but there are cameras. No matter - Horace blocks them with his body (while pretending to work) while Jessica hacks.

This doesn't work as planned. Horace fails to block the right camera, and the computer shuts down. The security guard comes in and brandishes a taser. Horace tries to fight him off (Horace is, you might recall, a fan and participant of mixed martial arts) but fails and gets Taken Out. Jessica steps up, brains the dude with a keyboard, and then pushes the cart into him, knocking him down. Horace is OK, only his pride is injured. He mimics the guard and gives the all-clear.

Jane asks Jessica to hack the guard frequency so they don't get surprised again. She does, and Jane notices some weird static in the background. Jessica amplifies it, and hears, "...closing in on her office now. She's there. Take her."

The Crew has a collective "oh, crap" moment. They figure this is happening in the building. But the Jessica traces's at Berkely. Philippa Fulbright! (Cut to commercial.)

The Crew races out there, but she's gone already. The office is a mess, which is not atypical, but to Frederick's trained eye, it's been ransacked. The Crew searches and finds a paper, page 6 of 10 of a report that Dr. Fulbright ran on Mold-Off, as well as a sealed bag with what looks like spoiled pudding in it. Jane, as she has One in Every Port, finds a prof who can interpret the results. He says that this stuff interacts with the mold and makes it much more serious a health risk. The characters also note that security is coming.

They leave, and discuss their options. Obviously this group, whoever it is, nabbed Fulbright to keep her quiet. The one who would most directly benefit from this is Herman Wolf. They know from talking to his employees that he enjoys a daily game of racquetball, so they head to his gym.

Herman walks into the locker room and finds some pudding-like stuff in his locker. He recoils, and Horace is standing there with a vial of it. He threatens Herman with it, and then rattles off a bunch of legal and technical reasons why Herman should just come clean and tell him where Fulbright is (Clark Kent Distinction). Wolf agrees, and tells Horace that the group was called TM Security. CommuniChem contracts with them for nasty jobs, but he doesn't know where they took her. That's all Horace needs, though, and he splashes the vial on Herman, who flees to the shower. Cut to Horace licking his finger. "Licorice."

Jessica looks up TM Security. They're a private defense firm, used to do work in the Gulf until recently. They have offices by the wharves, and so Jane and Horace go there. Jane barges into a boss-man's office and reveals that they have the bag of "black pudding." They'll trade it for Philippa Fulbright, at the protest, in an hour.

And indeed, an hour later, a van pulls up. Gil is in the crowd, looking sick, with a sign saying "Look What CommuniChem Did to Me!" Jane approaches the van and Philippa is there. She hands over the stuff, they let Philippa out the back...and then cherries.

The van starts to peel out, but Horace points at the van and yells, "CommuniChem! Right there they are!" The crowd surrounds and blocks the van, and the folks inside are arrested. In one of the police cars, handcuffed, is Herman Wolf.

Flashback to...

...Frederick, tailing Wolf into the gym, slipping the page from the black pudding report into his bag...

....Horace on the phone with all of the folks who had samples of Mold-Off but were bound by gag order, and all of them agreeing to testify...

...Jessica calling a journalist at the Chronicle. "Trust me, you want to cover this protest."...

...Gil, giving an interview in the crowd about how sick he got from Mold-Off...

...and finally Jane, faxing report to CDC with Gil's test results from the hospital.

Cut to the wrap-up. Gil is feeling better, the Vedders are off the hook, Wolf copped a plea and is going to jail (CommuniChem cut him loose, and paid off the folks who were suing the Vedders). But then a bailiff friend of Horace's calls him up. "Yeah, remember those dudes from TM Security? Some high-falutin' lawyer met with the DA, DA comes out looking sick, and they all got off with probation and time served! Someone's looking out for these guys, someone with some deep pockets."

The Crew considers. Who do they know with that kind of pull?

And then Frederick figures it. Tyler Madison.

Roll credits.
innocent_man: (Default)
Trying to get ahead of myself before heading back to work tomorrow. Oh, and starting on this book thingie I'm working on. And writing curse the darkness. Probably other things in there, too.

Everybody's busy. )
innocent_man: (leverage)
Oddly appropriate or utterly inappropriate that this was the game I ran two days before getting married? You tell me.

Well, the characters took the job from one Drew Fulbright, wildly successful author of the Walker series (Icewalker, Firewalker, Shadow-walker, and so on). Seems he suspects his wife of being unfaithful, and there's this pre-nup thing they have going where, if either partner is unfaithful they forfeit any right to the others' assets. But mostly, Drew just wants to know - partially for that, partially because he doesn't a blow-up and scandal).

In doing some intel, the characters learn that Philippa Fulbright spent the better part of month (during which Drew was away) at hotels, starting cheap and getting really expensive by month's end. She's also recently signed over a big check to cash, noted with "Retainer," which Jessica suspects might be for a lawyer, but that Gil confirms is for a PI named Olaf Samuelsson. Maybe she suspects Drew is cheating, too? Frederick found a notebook in Philippa's (very cluttered) office during which she kept track of all of Drew's comings and goings for a week, but then it looks like she lost the notebook.

Looking into the hotels, Horace has learned that Philippa was there with a very attractive man, and there was something of a blowup there. Jessica also notes that Philippa was talking with someone on a drop cell during that time, but the number is no longer in service and there was no online contact. Smells like an affair.

Gil is hesitant to get into this - seems like a domestic issue and not something the Crew really needs to worry about. But Horace and Jessica are both rabid Walker fans (Jessica more so), and Jane has met them. They seemed a lovely couple, very successful and very much in love.

Gil goes and visits Samuelsson's office to, ostensibly, ask for work (they know each other), and takes Frederick to snoop around. Frederick sneaks into the office and finds another guy in there having a smoke, but manages to grab some papers from Olaf's desk before the man notices him. Gil, meanwhile, convinces Olaf to toss him some work, and Olaf has Gil head to a club in the Tenderloin to look for "this guy" - whereupon he hands Gil a blurry picture taken outside the Hilton. Which was, by weird coincidence, the last hotel Philippa stayed in during her weird month. The papers that Frederick swiped turn out to be copies of the notebook that he'd found in Philippa's office, with new notes and further investigations. Philippa definitely has Olaf following Drew.

Meanwhile, Horace, Jane and Jessica go to the Hilton to check the bar staff. The bar tab was pretty elaborate, and wait staff remember big spenders. Jessica overhears two waitresses arguing over whether a man who was here in the bar was or was not Drew Fulbright, as he claimed to be. Jane learns that this man (who was decidedly not Drew, as he was out of town at the time), also was with Philippa Fulbright and racked up a really expensive tab, and then she kicked him out. And Horace learns that one of the bellhops got a signature from "Drew". (Jessica tries, but fails, to track him down.)

Later, the Crew reunites. Jessica enhances the photo, and it's not Drew. It's a very pretty, model-built man that they can't identify. Closest they get is a photo on someone's Facebook identifying him as "George."

That night, they go to the club. Frederick dresses Gil for the occasion (and I apply a Complication: Frederick Dressed Me d6). Frederick works the crowd, and winds up with a Complication himself (Surrounded by Pretty d6). Horace sneaks in and talks the bouncer into leaving, replacing him.

Gil spots their mark in the corner, cozying up to an older gent with lots of expensive jewelry. Frederick approaches and slips in, and gets into a social fight with George for who's taking the gent home. He wins, so they go to leave together and the gent goes to get his car. Gil, however, has Horace distract him and steals his car, and picks up Frederick and George.

They interrogate George a bit, and he identifies himself as George Haigh. He claims, however, that he wasn't even in the country on the night in question. And Jessica confirms that - he was in Mexico and came back the next day. But something's hinky, since that's obviously him in the photo. They let George go and he makes a phone call, which Jessica taps.

Whoever he calls, he doesn't identify himself. He tells the man that the they're blown and they need to ditch this job. The man cuts him off and says that he'll come find him, and George goes to the parking lot and gets his car. The rest of the Crew gets in the van, and takes off after him. He stops at a convenience store and Frederick and Horace go in, to discover Drew Fulbright leaving - but George is cheating so his face doesn't show. What gives?

As Drew leaves, Gil goes to follow him, and Frederick and Horace figure they'll just steal a car and follow George. But then another car pulls out and is following the characters following Drew - Olaf.

Back at the store, Frederick and Horace see George get into another car with a man who looks just like him. Holy cow, there's two!

The car chase gets intense, and Jane calls abort. The characters split off and regroup. Jessica, doing a little research, learns that George Haigh came to America as a baby with his mother, Alma Haigh. Jane remembers that name - she met Alma when she was very young. Alma was pregnant at the time, and was also a grifter. And so there it is - she smuggled both babies across, made it look like there was only one, and then trained them in the Grift.

Jane emails Drew and tells him what they've found. But then the next morning, he calls and asks if she's sent anything. He's just realized that his hard drive is utterly fried.

The characters met with Drew at his apartment the next day. Gil notes Olaf watching the place, while Jessica (after heavily geeking out) goes to work on his computer. Someone has fried his hard drive with a virus that Jessica programmed - it destroys the hard drive when a particular file is opened, or a file containing certain triggers. They ask if Drew has accepted any jump drives lately - and yes, he borrowed one from a fan in Mexico.

Mexico? Yep. Drew was there at the same time as George, he just left a day earlier. Frederick cracks Drew's safe and finds his pre-nup (already open to the relevant passage, as though he's been looking at it) and a valise full of cash. The Crew confronts him, and he admits that he had an affair with George, and that George has been blackmailing him ever since. He's meant to drop this money off at a nearby park in a few hours.

Jane intuits that Drew really loves his wife and is sorry for what he did. He's willing to talk with her about it and confess, but he wants George off his back. The Crew, of course, can help with that.

Cut to the park. Drew makes the drop, George grabs it, and suddenly there are cops everywhere. "What the hell?"

Flashback to...

...Gil putting a camera in the car before picking up Frederick and George at the club, and recording him saying that he was never at that hotel.

...Frederick packing the valise with a container of ink pellets that burst when the valise is opened.

...Jessica talking to someone in immigration records who, as it happens, is also a huge Walker fan, and learning about the birth records of both George and his brother, John.

...Horace finding the bellhop who got his book signed by "Drew" and getting him to the park, to identify the man who claimed to be Drew Fulbright.

...And Jane, talking to her friend the DA, giving him a big fat fraud and illegal alien case.

Some time later, the Crew is relaxing at a cafe, while Drew is signing books across the street. Philippa is next to him, apparently they've worked out their issues. Jessica glowers at Philippa a bit (she wants Drew), but she copes.

"I'm totally getting tickets for the premiere of the movie," she says.

"You know that's in, like, a year?" says Gil.

innocent_man: (Default)
Let's steal a GM. )

Whew. Now I just have to write up blurbs for the players.
innocent_man: (goodguys)
Monday night was Leverage. Let's watch, shall we?

We cold open at the home of Emilio and Anna Marquez. They moved to San Francisco from Mexico 20 years ago, and are now happily retired and living in the Outer Mission district. They have an urban garden that they help maintain, and recently went to the city to try and get it expanded. There, they learned that an upcoming law is up for vote that, if it passes, would subject any addition to an existing property to a hefty fine - even retroactively. The law is densely written, but obviously would screw them and anyone else owning such a garden. The Marquezes try to fight the law...

...but a city councilman named Jonah Tanner fights right back, and he fights dirty. He (and his conservative backers) make ugly noises about green cards and immigrants, and Emilio gets scared and backs off. Anna, knowing how much this pains her husband, asks Jane Spenser and her Crew for help.

And into the opening titles.

The rich and powerful etc, etc, we provide Leverage. )

In other news, we're still having trouble with this game. We talked about it, and part of it is that we're all used to investigative games, which this isn't. I'm also apparently not giving the players enough hints about where to go (evidently my brain is more obtuse than I think). And the other thing is that most of the players aren't used to games in which the players have some creative control.

So what we're going to try for next time is for me to send out information to everyone, including the intel that they're particular characters would dig up. That takes the pressure off the Hacker to do all the briefing, and lets everyone percolate on ideas before the game proper.
innocent_man: (Default)
Not that I think any of my players are going to get on LJ before the game in, oh, an hour, but still. )
innocent_man: (goodguys)
So, once again, the Crew comes That's the first of many, many innuendos in this particular Job. SEX. Bet I have your attenion now, yeah? )
innocent_man: (eliotcooking)
See that? Doin' it the next day.

Pork tenderloin, kale, dark chocolate spread, macaroni, cave-aged cheese.

I made a thick sauce with the chocolate, some cherry wine, and some fennel and (after salting the meat) rubbed it on the pork, then threw it in the pan to sear and finished in the oven. (That pork was amazing, too.)

I cooked off the macaroni, and then melted the cheese, mixed it with goat's milk and some margarine, and made a sauce for the pasta. Mac-n-cheese. This cheese didn't melt especially well, but it was still good.

The kale I just sauteed in sesame oil with a little bit of white truffle oil. Yum.

Running Leverage on Tuesday, so let's do some notes! Notes. )
innocent_man: (mentak)
So! Finally played our second session of Leverage on Wednesday!

The Client was Ernesto Morales. Ernesto spoke to a priest who had, some years back, given confession to a man who claimed to have worked on the Winchester Mystery House. According to this man, another worked named Jesus Morales (Ernesto's great-grandfather) had died there in an accident on the same day that Sarah Winchester died. Unsure of their status and freaked out, the workers buried him on the grounds and never spoke of the incident (except, perhaps, in confession).

The priest made for an unreliable witness, suffering as he was from Alzheimer's. Ernesto tried to pursue the matter legally, but the CEO of Winchester Investments, one Lucas Bilski, wasn't having it. And the DA for the area wasn't going to go digging up a historical landmark on nothing but an uncorroborated story.

Ernesto probably would have let it go, but then a new "Ghosts of Winchester" tour was set to open, including a ghost story about a "carpenter murdered on the grounds"...named Ernesto. This jab was just a bit too much for him, and he wanted some justice. As it happens, his cousin works for Marcus van der Wall, for whom the characters did a favor some time back.

So Jessica worked her magic, and learned that Bilski was more or less a normal rich guy, if perhaps a little more directly involved in the day-to-day of the House than one might expect. The only weird bit in his finances was his personal assistant - one Emma Laveau, born Emma Richter, with a record for fraud and a former profession of "psychic adviser."

The characters decided that the Ghost Tour was their best in. They took the normal tour, asking questions and trying to use Notice Actions to get some advantage. They also rolled a bunch of ones, which wound up as This Place Is a Maze d12+2, which I planned on springing on them as the Twist (but read on). Frederick also used his charms on Joanne, a young woman working the shop, and convinced her to give him a "private tour" later on.

Meanwhile, Jane and Horace went to a fund raiser for Historical Society members and Jane met with Bilski. She flirted and asked if there was a way to get tickets for the opening of the ghost tour, which was set to include not only the Daisy Room (the room where Sarah Winchester was sleeping when the quake hit in 1906, which isn't generally open to tours) but the courtyard where Jesus Morales is supposedly buried. She banked an Asset Smitten d6 for later. She also met Emma Laveau, who was definitely fishy, with her Barbados accent that sometimes migrates into Irish because shut up that's why.

Anyway, Frederick went back to the House. He'd been given an ID badge for an actor who'd quit that morning (Joanne took the call and hadn't told her bosses). He walked past security and snuck in with her, asking to find the Daisy Room, but she got lost. They wound up in the basement, and the Complication Hasn't Had it For Weeks d8 showed up, when Joanne was a little too aggressive for Frederick to get any information out of her (do note that Frederick doesn't generally dig women, either, so this whole scene got lots of over-mic commentary from Jessica and Gil). I was going to use the Complication here, but Jane used a Talent and got rid of the damn Complication. From this I learn not to put all my eggs in one basket.

Frederick eventually did learn that Lucas Bilski is a true believer in ghosts, not just playing. The crew decided they could use that. Jessica went a-hacking and got a full schedule of the Ghost Tour, the cast, the stories and the special effects. Perfect.

Fast forward to the night of the tour. Gil has infiltrated security. Jane and Horace (in his persona as "Viktor," the psychic) were on the tour. Frederick was still part of the cast (and had spent a Plot Point to add Duped d6 to his interactions with Joanne, making her a willing participant), and Jessica was in the van.

Emma Laveau was there reading Tarot cards. Jane walked up and had her cards read, and Emma cold-read her. And then the last card was a photograph of the team planning their con, and Emma revealed that she was, in turn, conning Bilski. She wanted to move on and drain his offshore accounts, and she wanted the Crew to help her do it - or else she'd out them (so this, then, is the Twist).

Jane agreed, but as she walked away Horace approached and said, "We're taking her down, right?"

"Oh, of course we are," she said.

The tour started. In the first room, the characters heard the story of the ghost and were supposed to hear tapping on the walls. "Viktor" stepped forward claiming to feel spirits. Gil was going to tap the walls a bit harder and in different places, but then two real security guys saw him. He tapped their heads against the wall, and the group shook. Emma, under the impression that this was part of the deal, advised him that the spirits were restless and something bad was happening tonight.

Next room - the stairway to nowhere. Footsteps going up, but Jessica hacked the sound system and added a scream, and had already rigged a candlestick to fall down the stairs. "Viktor" and Emma worked on Bilski a bit harder, and now he was convinced he was going to die soon.

Daisy Room - pneumatic jackhammer rigs that made the room quake. The Crew just re-rigged them to make more of it shaking. At this point, Lucas got out his PDA and started transferring funds, but then the room shook and he dropped it, and it shattered (Complication!). Now the tour had to progress to the courtyard.

And then, Viktor stared at one particular corner and started shaking. The voice came up (Jessica, again) and identified itself as Jesus Morales, and then started reciting the Latin last rites (which Jessica had to find and figure out quickly (Timed Action, y'see)). Bilski fell apart, borrowed Jane's PDA to transfer his money to Emma so she could donate it or use it appropriately (for charity and stuff). Of course, on Jane's PDA, the Crew figured they could set Emma up no problem.

Bilski, having heard all of this, called the DA and said that he'd changed his mind, he would agree to the exhumation and investigation. The DA asked if "Emma" had put him up to this, but he said she hadn't (which was true).

Jane spoke with Emma, and she mentioned Bilski might just be right about dying soon. And Bilski sipped his drink, and started to cough. Poison.

Emma started to leave...and then the police arrived, looking for Ms. Laveau.

Flashback to Gil tending bar, switching drinks and removing the capsule that Emma slipped in.

Flashback to Horace slapping Bilski on the back and giving him a stronger drink (to make him cough).

Flashback to Frederick swiping the SIM card from the shattered PDA and giving it to Jane.

Flashback to Jessica intercepting the 911 call, and assuring Laveau that the police were on their way to arrest the Crew.

Flashback to Jane giving a file on Emma Laveau to the DA a day prior, starting his investigation. And then calling Laveau to tip her about the Crew's planning dinner...posing for the photo, as it were.

When all was said and done, Jesus' body was exhumed. Ernesto learned that his great-grandfather had not abandoned the family, as was commonly believed, and Bilski donated much of his money to preserve historical sites around the San Jose/San Francisco area. Emma Laveau was arrested - fraud tampering with her boss' finances, carrying poison around, that kind of thing.

Wrap up at the funeral of Jesus Morale, with Ernesto thanking the Crew for giving his family some peace.
innocent_man: (leverage)
OK, so I'm running Leverage on Wednesday. Finally. I have a scenario written up. The issue is this: It ain't sexy enough.

I mean, the Job I came up with would work just fine for an episode of the show, but for an RPG, I just feel like it's not...I dunno, kewl enough. These are cool characters, and I think that I focused too much on making the scenario something "real" and not enough on making it fun. (I also think, if I'm honest, that I'm so used to running games with supernatural elements that, without them, I feel a little lost.)

So, with that in mind: Killing my darlings. )
innocent_man: (eliotcooking)
Running Leverage tomorrow. I guess I better put some notes together. Yup. )
innocent_man: (leverage)
Last time, the characters stole back the grapestock that the Mark (Tyler Madison) had stolen from the Client (Marko van der Wall). This time, they put their collective noodles together to figure out how to take Tyler down (missing Horace, sadly, as his player was sick).

So cut to the base of operations, where Jessica has put together a little dossier. Turns out Madison imports from just about everywhere and got very rich doing so...up until recently. And suddenly there was a huge dip in his business. He used to import from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, probably guns, drugs, whatever...but then bam, he's not longer doing business any of those places. Why? Well, Jessica wasn't sure, but it looks like he either got caught or pissed someone off.

Jessica and Gil are going to break into the corporate offices - the information they want must be on a serer there with no outside access. Jane and Frederick decide to take a more grifty approach. Turns out the mayor is having a fundraiser tonight, and Madison will be there. Frederick says that he can attend as a guest, and Jane says, "Date?"

Cue flashback. Frederick attends a debutante ball, and by the end of the night, no one is even noticing the girl on his arm. Which is fine, because he barely does, either. Distinction: "OK to be Takei." (The player didn't realize this character was gay when he created him, but it's a good fit.)

Cut to the offices. We played more with the idea of beats, this time. So, one beat for Jessica to take down the security (she failed, but everything seemed to work), one beat for Gil to climb the wall (which he did), one beat for Gil to cut his way in (another Complication), and then he hauled Jessica up. "Don't drop me like you did that one girl!" she warns him.

Cue flashback: Gil climbing up a steel frame, carrying a beautiful woman on his arm. She slips and falls, and the camera pulls back to reveal that they're on the Eiffel Tower. She lands harmlessly in the net, but Gil is humiliated. Distinction: Never Work Without a Net. (He also took a Thief Specialty in Breaking and Entering.)

They get in, and find this room is full of boxes - empty ones, with packing material. They comment on this, walking to the server room, when the elevator door pings.

Cut to the party. Frederick and Jane note that Madison is talking with the sommelier of a famous local restaurant, which makes sense, as he's a wine enthusiast. There's another man hanging back and watching them - Frederick identifies him as an INTERPOL agent named Gleason.

Frederick rolls on Gleason, flirts, makes him uncomfortable and steals his badge. He then goes to the front desk and gets access to Madison's room.

Meanwhile, Jane is talking to Charlie, who is the mayor's chief of staff. They talk about upcoming initiatives, and he speaks with her a bit freely, since she gave a large donation to the campaign (revealed in flashback: Jessica funneling money from Madison's accounts for that donation). Charlie reveals that Madison is kind of persona non grata - he isn't sure why, but the mayor's staff has been forbidden from speaking with him and they're kind of embarrassed he's here (but kicking him out would be a bigger embarrassment). He also obliquely mentions Madison's wife. Why isn't she here tonight, Jane asks? Charlie says she's here, she's just upstairs. Tyler and Maria both love wine, but in different ways.

Frederick enters the room and here's a drunken, "Tyler? That you?"

"Fresh towels!" he calls. "Put 'em in the bathroom," she slurs, and drops off. He peeks around the corner and realizes she's passed out, and searches the place. Under the bed, he finds a briefcase with a serious lock (he picks it, no problem) and it has money. A lot of money. In bearer bonds.

Cut to him walking back to the elevator...and then match on action to the other Crew members. Jessica hides (picking "Hiding - The World is My Van" as a Thief Specialty). Gil fades into the shadows and watches as two guards walk around, talking about how Madison himself summoned them here because of his fancy new security system. Gil knocks their heads together, no problem, and Jessica gets to work hacking the keypad.

Well, she can't. Dice are uncooperative for Sarah tonight, and she can't get through it. Gil tries to kick it, but no good, it's reinforced. They need that key code. It's a five-digit maybe Jane can help?

Jane and Frederick get back to work at the party. They see Madison, now alone, mumbling into his glass. "He's on coms," says Jane, and tries to hack in, but she's got a d4 in Hacker (she decides) and all she does is give everyone a burst of static. Frederick rolls up, feign-drunk, and starts dissing on Madison's drunk wife. Madison slugs him, and then it hits Jessica: "Maria." His wife's name. She plugs that in and it works, and she goes to work on hacking (and picks the "Tune Out the World" Specialty for Hacker).

She learns that he was importing a lot of illegal shit: Drugs, guns, stolen goods, whatever. And then INTERPOL cracked down on him, and is squeezing him for information. And sure enough, Gleason has come back and is already talking Madison down - "You want protection, you don't do shit like this." Is the money for Interpol?

Jane talks with the sommelier, and learns that Madison met with a tough-looking man before the party. Another player? Jessica hacks the hotels cameras and finds the man in the parking garage, smoking a cigarette.

So Madison needs to get out from under, meaning he needs to feed INTERPOL a patsy. Who else do the characters know that regularly imports things? Marko. The bearer bonds are frame-up money.

Gil and Jessica head to the hotel, and Gil walks up to the guy in the garage and knocks him out. "Hey, Jane," he says. "He looks like that guy you used to date."

Cue flashback: Jane in Morocco, in a casino, on the arm of a very rich, ostentatiously dressed gentleman (and Gil in the background, working security). He hands her a lot of chips, and she goes off to have fun. Distinction: One in Every Port.

In the trunk of the car, they find a briefcase full of drugs and a crate of guns. Gil on the com to Frederick: "Hey, what did that other briefcase look like?"

Jessica calls in a bomb threat, and everyone is outside. Maria is holding the briefcase from under the bed, and Madison snatches it from her. And then suddenly the police roll up on him.

"You need a warrant," he says.

"We have one," says the cop, and mayor hands him a paper.

Flashback: Gil hands the drug briefcase to Frederick, and then putting the thug in the car, removing his passport. Jane gets the Asset: Unconscious Terrorist d6.

Flashback: Frederick back in the hotel room, swapping the briefcases. Jane gets the Asset: Briefcase of Drugs d6.

Flashback: Jessica flagging the terrorist's passport...which doesn't actually happen (Sarah failed the roll, sadly).

Flashback: Jane talking to Charlie and tipping him off that Madison is carrying something that, if the mayor should expose it, would send exactly the right message to everyone about what side of the law they're both on.

Madison is busted for possession, enough for intent to distribute. The terrorist is, presumably, arrested. And as for the bearer bonds? Well, Marko needs the money to keep his little vineyard going.

Jane has just one request: When the grape matures, name the wine after her. The Spencer Zinfandel. Marko, of course, is honored.
innocent_man: (leverage)
So, recently I discovered what an awesome show Leverage is. Really, I discovered that because I knew there was an RPG based on it, I like the Cortex system, and I thought there might be a chance to write for it (that fell through, dammit). But I started watching the show, and I love it. I'm way behind - just finished Season Two today, so no spoilers for anything in Seasons 3 or 4, please - but I wanted to run the RPG. So last night, we made characters and started playing "The Recruitment Job."

Actually, Michelle and I made characters recently, but this was a full-group thing.

So, before we get to specifics, what I've learned so far:

  • The system is not as intuitive as I'd like. Rather, the system seems to work, and it seems to capture the feel of the show, but I need to read the book again and more carefully to make it make sense. Also, the book is not laid out as intuitively as it could be, and I found myself wishing for the pdf a few times so I could word search.
  • Playing this game is hard. You have to be able to think on your feet. Dialog actually drives the action somewhat in the Recruitment Job, and dialog is something a lot of gamers have a hard time with. I love it, personally, and I'll have in-character conversations for hours without breaking character, but it takes momentum and practice.
  • I have awesome players (I knew that already). Yes, we took a while to find our groove, and yes, we had to break not long after we did, but I think this chronicle is going to be fun. I want it to evolve from a series of basic jobs to learning more about the characters and have them develop, like the show does. And since we're going every other week, I think that's doable.


The characters:

Another list? Geez.

  • Jane Spenser (played by Michelle) is the Mastermind. Jane is an art model, a muse, a patron, a critic. She likes to get her hands on priceless pieces, but she doesn't want to keep them - just wants to make sure they're in the right hands. Secondary Role: Grifter. Distinction: Prima Donna.
  • Gibraltar (played by Matt) is the Hitter. A former circus strongman and movie stuntman, "Gil" is tough, ruthless and intimidating. Secondary Role: Hacker. Distinction: Even I Felt That.
  • Frederick Barltett III (played by John) is our Thief. Rich, pretentious and somewhat smarmy, Frederick (not "Fred," please) likes to say that his family founded New Hampshire. Whatever the case, he steals for the fun of it - he needs a way to stay busy. Secondary Role: Mastermind. Distinction: Flamboyant.
  • Horace Manilow (played by Max) is our Grifter. Another rich boy, but this one worked his way up, kicking ass at everything he did (including mixed martial arts), became the owner of a law firm...and discovered that fighting the big guys was a bigger (and more satisfying) thrill. Secondary role: Hitter. Distinction: Clark Kent.
  • Jessica Hunter (played by Sarah) is our Hacker. Sickly from childhood, she learned to hack as a way to interact with the outside world. She's known as "Affection" in hacker circles. Secondary Role: Thief. Distinction: OCD.

We tossed around Chicago and LA as possible locales, but finally decided on San Fransisco. The players liked the notion of house boats, Sea World, Napa Valley and Lombard as potential locales for Jobs. So with that in mind, we jumped into our first Job.

Now, the idea behind the Recruitment Job is to set up some flashbacks, set up the characters, and establish the characters being awesome...but also establish where they aren't so awesome. In retrospect, I think figuring out how they all came together would have been a better way to start, but too late for that now.

This Job revolves around the Client, Marco van der Wall. Marco is a vintner, owns a small vineyard in Napa. He's on the verge of getting bought out - wiped out, really - by the Mark, a man named Tyler Madison. Madison owns a giant corporate vineyard that produces shite wine, but Marco is importing a special grapestock from Germany, one that will allow him to (in a year or so) produce some amazing wines. And Tyler stole it, paying off customs and storing it in his warehouse.

I have to hand it to my players: They came up with all of this set-up. So we started with Jessica, Gil and Jane in the semi, with a special false back for Jessica's computers (Jane was hiding with her). Meanwhile, Horace and Frederick (goddammit, [ profile] danieltallon, I keep wanting to spell it wrong, like you do, now!) went in the front. Horace had paperwork from customs showing that they were taking possession of the grape stock, and Gil had a key card to get the truck in to the loading dock of the warehouse.

Through all of this, we see Jessica furiously hacking to get Gil's key card to work (lots of 1s being rolled), and some flashbacks, where we learn that Jessica spent most of her childhood indoors and was nearly killed by misdiagnosis - but she hacked the hospital and found the mistake, saving her own life (Distinction: Oh, Yes, I can!). She also picks the Talent: PDQ Rembrandt for putting together that working keycard so fast.

Meantime, Gil is looking at these guards and the security system. It's much, much tighter than anyone thought (Talent: Threat Assessment).

In front of the building, Horace rocks up on the manager with some (forged) documents and demands the grape stock. Frederick doesn't say much, but Horace grifts the dude pretty well, and is allowed in. They find a refrigerated compartment inside the warehouse, guarded by dudes who look too tough to be working here. One of them pulls out a phone when Horace presents the papers, whereupon Jessica chooses her other Talent (Do You Have That Thing I Gave You?). Frederick pats the guard on the shoulder and lifts his keycard (Talent: Pickpocket). Horace pulls out his little signal jammer, cutting off the dude's cell service. Frederick points out that there's a land line in the other room, and when he leaves, Horace knocks the first guard out. Frederick asks, "Done that before?"

In flashback, we see Horace getting his ass kicked by bullies, and learning to fight, all the way up through his adult life, and getting into MMA. He knocks out a dude in his first fight the same way. "Once or twice," Horace answers. Distinction: Clark Kent.

Frederick easily opens the lock on the compartment and enters, dragging the guard (Horace knocks out the other with the baton that the first guy had). But as Frederick enters, there's a third guard in there, who snaps open his asp and isn't fooled by Frederick's line of bullshit. He cuffs Frederick, the door opens, and from behind him Horace hears, "Duck."

Gil swings (and Frederick ducks, too), and his immense fist takes the third guard down. Talent: Only Suckers Fight Fair. In flashback, we see Gil as the circus strongman, doing a "last a minute in the ring with Gibraltar!", fighting dirty. Distinction: Don't Know My Own Strength.

"Just like a job in Reno!" says Gil.

"I hate Reno," says Jane. Flashback: Jane on the grift, dressed as a cocktail waitress, hating it. Someone grabs her ass and she wheels on him, but she's too noticeable. Distinction: Prettiest Thing in the Room. She rolls up in a forklift (adding a "Driving" Specialty under Hitter, which is otherwise a d4 for her), loads the grapestock into the truck, and they head out.

Somewhere in here there's a flashback of Frederick on his family's European estate, talking with a master vintner but not actually doing the work. Distinction: Blue Blood.

As they're leaving, Jane spends a Plot Point to establish that Jessica has already muffled the security enough that they can get out (Talent: Stay On Target). Now all they have to do is get across the Bridge.

The truck gets pulled over - apparently the theft has been noted. Jane and Horace are now in the car, ahead of the truck, but if the truck gets searched, Jessica will get found out. A flashback: Jessica picking flowers with her family, which prompt a terrible reaction and gets her locked inside. Jessica looking wistfully at flowers out her window, not allowed to smell or pick them. Distinction: Mysterious Ailment.

"Time for the jumper con," says Jane, thinking quickly. She gets out and starts climbing toward the drop, all the while screaming at Horace, who plays the role of her boyfriend/husband. This distracts everyone, of course, the cops take their eyes off Gil and company, and they switch the trucks cabs of the trucks and drive the same compartment off the lot.

They head out to the vineyard, where Marco greets them. They've stolen back the grapestock. Now to deal with Madison (next time, the exciting conclusion of The Zinfindel Job)!
innocent_man: (devil)
Yesterday, I had Sarah and Michelle note three games each that they'd like to try out or play. I run one-shots fairly often, you see, and one of the discussions we always have when I schedule one is, "What to play?"

So Sarah chose: Paranoia, Fae Noir and Shadowrun (that last one, Michelle gets to run).

Michelle chose: Earthdawn, Monsters and Other Childish Things, and It's a Dog's Life.

I chose: Leverage, Hellas, and Whispering Vault.

Seeing as how it's my birthday, Michelle's done work and we have a bit of time to ourselves, we're going to make characters for the only one of my picks that I haven't already done. See?

Note the henna tattoo.

The Game: Leverage
The Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
Degree of Familiarity: Hell, I'm not even caught up on the show. It's awesome, though. I've played some Serenity, but that's about as familiar as I am with the game.
Books Required: Just the one.

Let's go steal ourselves an RPG. )


innocent_man: (Default)

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