Noir Nights Session 3

image from ArtBreeder

filed under actual play on 06 Dec 2016
tagged noir, scarlet heroes, cross, and noir nights

This one’s pretty combat heavy so it runs a bit longer; just read the dark text if you’re not interested in my terrible math skills. Or read both and bask in your superior ability to add things together correctly and not forget to add in damage modifiers. It wouldn’t be so bad if I forgot to do it consistently, you know?

I also forget to use Perilous Intersections completely, experiment with my “CAGE” system which morphs into “iGM” and then “iGMsr” over the course of the game, and then I completely forget to use anything at all after that. I’m seeing a trend here…

[New Actor] Claire West, mid-twenties, something amiss. Wears a totem/talsiman, has been bitten/clawed, negative, teetotaler, disapproves.

So he's out; going to wake up at sunset in whatever accomodations were provided.

The farmhouse is built over tunnels?

[probable: 4 2 6 2 ] Yes, and...

They're extensive and unmapped. His room is under the living room floor but has a trick entrance.

From this point forward I'm going to differentiate between 'oracle' answers and 'CAGE' answers by using FU for the former and the "How's It Going" yes/no oracle for the latter.

Oracle being world-building stuff and CAGE being direct player-GM interactions regarding the outcome of a character's actions.

I could use CAGE for both but just an oracle is quicker because you don't need a statement of intent.

Also, I am REALLY bad at following structure. I meant to use Perilous Intersections and ended up just sort of throwing a seed out whenever it occurred to me. Not PI. Not even close.

Well, let's tote up what we know so far (and then do a little figuring out of what happens while Cross is unconscious).

First, Cross wasn't supposed to die and he really wasn't supposed to come back. It was Gray's job to prevent the first part, and only coincidence (and a wild youth) brought about the second.

We know Nicolas, one of whatever Gray is, is the one behind killing him -- possibly even the one who actually killed him.

And we know that Cross stole something shortly before he died, one last job he was forced into. And that Nicolas is willing to risk his official standing to achieve his goal.

Which is to wipe out Cross, a witness who knows what was stolen, out?

[0: 6 ] Yes, and...

[New Actor] Nicolas, a fate hagspawn, dapper, powerful mage, working for the Anakes but possibly himself.

And blocking or killing Gray was just icing. So whatever was stolen, Cross was one of the few people who could steal it.

Was that why Gray was watching him?

[0: 5 ] No, but...

Not entirely, but it was part of it.

So, the big things we need to know are what did Cross steal, from whom, and why did Nicolas want it so badly.

[New Thread] What did Cross steal?

[New Thread] How did Cross die?

So it seems pretty likely that the next scene will be about figuring out what Cross remembers, and determining what Gray wants to do about it -- contact the Anakes, contact her patron, and so on.

So, first. Cross was starving and unconscious. Did they feed him? Seems likely.

[likely: 4 4 3 ] Yes. ...and 1 extra 'ands'!

... which is basically a 'yes, and'.

And your style and panache are duly noted.

Did Gray donate the blood?

[0: 1 ] No, and...

Well, that's good at least. Not that figuring out what happened after an unconscious, starving vampire was infused with fae-cocaine-everclear-blood doesn't sound interesting!

And it’s quiet … too quiet.

So, Gray used whatever influence she had to get Claire to be the donor. Vampire feeding is a euphoric experience, and Claire was affected by the process even though she wouldn't admit it. Now she's resting, exhausted, because he knocked her down to 0 HD and probably would have killed her if Gray hadn't been there.

The effect of being hit with wood, in the head, starving, and being poisoned all combine to keep him out until sunrise, and thus until the next sunset. But he does get his blood tokens refilled, so that's good. And the 'need to feed' timer resets for three days.

I also rewrote CAGE a little to make it simpler/easier to run. Main change is to 'intent'; 'but' now indicates unintended consequences, and 'and' indicates an unintended intensifier.

I'm not going to set any triggers right away.

I sat up. No transition between sleep and wakefulness, no lingering doze or longing to sleep just a little longer.

The room was dark, but a faint yellow light seeped in from cracks in the ceiling. Looked like planks -- a floor, maybe?

[Room] extreme, stone [Purpose] planning [Size] negligible [Shape] square, oval

The room was barely big enough for the cot I was lying on. It was an old army job, just canvas over a metal frame, and designed to fold down. The walls were bare stone and earth, and I could smell water somewhere nearby.

I wasn't hungry, and nothing hurt. How had I ended up down here, anyway? The last thing I remembered was one hell of a kiss. Found myself rubbing the back of my head. No knot, but a patchy spot of dried blood.

Someone had hit me, I figured. Maybe our enemies had followed us.

Didn't make much sense, though, because I was still alive. I pushed the door open so I'd have enough room to swing my legs over the edge of the cot. The room beyond was a cellar, lined with shelves that held jars of jam, bags of flour and apples, and various other foodstuffs.

I catfooted it up the stairs as quietly as I could -- which was pretty damn quietly.

Is Gray awake?

[likely: 3 1 1 ] No.

He'll move through the house, looking for anyone else. It doesn't matter too much, but I'll roll to see who he runs into first.

Claire's room?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

The door is locked.

The house was dark and quiet. A glance out the window showed the last light of sunset over the trees, the sky almost too bright for me to look at. I couldn't hear anyone breathing from the base of the stairs.

As I moved down the hall I heard quiet breathing from behind the first door, locked.

Is Gray's door locked too?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

As I hesitated, a door farther down the hall unlocked with an audible click and swung open. Gray slipped out into the hall.

Does she see him?

[0: 3 ] No.

I waited, intending to ask her what had happened, and she walked right into me like she didn't even see me. I caught her arms so she wouldn't fall.

She's no damsel in distress, no timid ingenue.

Does she use offensive magic?

[0: 3 ] No.

Defensive, then. Let's see if OSR Boring Spells has anything suitable.

So it looks like the options are 'blind', 'light', and a handful of spells like fear, charm, and paralyze that wouldn't affect him.

[List Options] blind, light, unaffecting,

[Choice] unaffecting

She twitched, letting out a hiss of surprise.

"Whoa, there," I said, mildly. "It's just me."

So maybe I was a little amused. She made a frowny face and an exasperated sound, then shook free. "You scared the daylights out of me," she said, shoving past.

I trailed after her, down to the library, where she settled into one of the big leather arm chairs. I felt restless, my amusement fading. "So what happened last night?" I asked abruptly.

I think this scene needs a trigger! Maybe a few!

"Our hostess felt that perhaps you were being..." she hesitated. "A bit overly attentive," she said very delicately.

I resisted the urge to rub the back of my head. Felt a little nettled. I might not always be a saint, but I was always a gentleman. Well. At least as far as women were concerned.

"And what did you think?" I asked, prowling over to the window to glance out. She didn't answer right away, and I glanced over at her.

Is she truthful?

[0: 5 ] No, but...

She soft-pedals, trying not to hurt his feelings.

"I think you've had a difficult couple of days," she said diplomatically. "You're dealing with a lot of changes. It would hardly have been fair of me to take advantage."

I shot her an incredulous look. "Isn't that supposed to be my line?" I asked, leaning back against the window sill.

This was a novel situation for me. I honestly couldn't think of the last time I'd tried to sweep a girl off her feet and been turned down. Maybe I'd just misread her. Or maybe I was some sort of horrible monster now and everyone was just too polite to say so.

[Trigger (QSEV82A8)] Test of Listen, difficulty, standard

DC10, -2 for "sucker for a pretty face", +3 for vampire, +3 for jewel thief.

Rolling 2d8 1 times.
[ 3 7 ] 10

So now I set up a follow up trigger.

[listen, library] There's something there!

I updated the messaging on triggers so it makes more sense if you succeeded.

What kind of noise was it?

[Seed] first clean

Surely their foes haven't tracked them here yet.

[somewhat unlikely: 5 2 6 ] No, but...
... and something unexpected happens!

[Random Event] Context: Action! Someone looking for a fight appears. This is bad.

No, their foes haven't, but someone has. Claire's, maybe?

Either her enemies... or her allies?

That's an interesting thought -- someone who thinks Gray and Cross are interlopers or harmful to Claire.

[List Options] enemies, allies,

[Choice] enemies

Or not. Her enemies have found her. Hm, werewolves?

[possibly: 5 3 ] No, but...

No, not werewolves, but something similar.

Are they in the house?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

Yikes. Yes, but they haven't gone upstairs yet. Claire has wards against them in her room, and usually sets them around the house too but didn't because she was nearly killed by Cross.

I scrubbed a hand over my face. Still felt like the same long, straight nose. Same square jaw, new stubble, big mouth, nope,nothing seemed like it'd changed. I was pulled out of my thoughts by the faintest sound, like paper sliding against skin. "What was that?"

Did Gray make her listen check?

[0: 1 ] No, and...

No, and one of them is right behind her! For some reason this is creeping me out.

"What was what?" Gray asked, looking puzzled. Something pale and white and vaguely human slithered in the shadows right next to her chair. I didn't think twice, moving with my new inhuman speed into it at full speed.

It was squirmy and boneless and strong, and it had no face--

[Trigger (4ZJGNYWR)] Random Event, Social

[Random Event] Context: Social! An unexpected ally makes a move. This is bad.

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 6 ] 6

I drew back to throw a punch, and Claire scrambled in, shouting something, and a wave of searing light burst from her upraised hand, filling the room with light so bright and white it hurt.

I dimly heard thin screams from the creatures, many of them, as I scrabbled backwards, stumbling blindly like a drunk away from the burning light.

Rolling 2d8 1 times.
[ 5 4 ] 9

Made his evasion save, he'll only take half damage.

Ouch, 2d4 per level (5) against undead. Good thing he saved.

Rolling 2d4 1 times.
[ 3 1 ] 4

Rolling 2d4 4 times.
[ 1 4 ] 5
[ 1 1 ] 2
[ 4 1 ] 5
[ 4 2 ] 6

6 points, ouch. Only 3 stick though.

Blood-mad check, DC9+3, - 3 for current tokens.

Rolling 2d8 1 times.
[ 7 3 ] 10

I fell behind the arm chair Gray was in, drawing my long arms and legs in, covering my head as I tried not to bolt. Something about that light filled me with terror, an unreasoning panic even the fog yesterday hadn't inspired. My skin felt raw and sunburned.

[Trigger (MIHF2T16)] Test of Intelligence, difficulty, hard

Rolling 2d8 1 times.
[ 1 8 ] 9

In SH 10 is my adventure target DC and a challenge; next bracket harder is 13. So a 14 should suffice. Don;t need a trigger, since this is likely for Cross to figure out her light is basically sunlight and that it'll kill him if he's exposed too long.

"Stop," I shouted, feeling the light creeping around the chair and over my skin. I couldn't see anything straight on, just a fuzzy black, and a little around the edges.

Does she? Let's try CAGE. SoI: Cross wants to talk Claire into turning the light off.

[Drama] Yes, but...

So she does; the 'but' indicates a change, drawback, or complication. Maybe his eyes are damaged by the light, and it's uncertain when they'll recover?

I'm out of triggers for this scene; won't set more right away.

And adding a -2 temporary penalty to sight based stuff to Cross's character sheet.

That kind of damage takes 3x longer to heal, too. Yuck.

Gray shouted something and suddenly the edges of my vision went dark too as it felt like a soothing cloud of darkness dropped over me. I went limp with relief.

Gray can totally cast darkness. It's in her playbook.

I heard Gray talking soothingly, risked peeking my head out from behind the chair. The room was pitch black, darker than anything I'd seen since my change. I thought maybe I could make out a couple of shapes by the door, backlit from the hall. Gray and Claire, I figured. I groped my way over to the couch and fell onto it, feeling toasted.

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 7 ] 7

Good roll, but only a third as effective (minimum is still 1) giving him back one point.

Which means he's still under 70% max HP, which means spending one more token.

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 7 ] 7

Down to my last blood token already, wow.

A warm hand patted my shoulder. Gray, from the hint of faint, spicy perfume. "Are you all right?"

I blinked up at her. She was pretty much just a fuzzy shape. "I think there's something wrong with my eyes," I said calmly, trying not to panic.

Maybe she has healing magic?

[0: 3 ] No.

"I'll give more blood," Claire said. Sounded reluctant, and tired.

"You've given enough already," Gray said crisply, and moved out of my field of view. I sat up, still blinking hard.

"I think it's getting better," I said, more hopefully than anything else. Gray leaned over me, pressing her wrist against my mouth. I pushed her hand away. I was hungry but not that hungry.

"Sorry, sweetheart, but that ship has sailed," I said, squinting a little. I thought it really was getting a bit better.

She made an annoyed sound and offered her hand again. "Just bite me before I change my mind," she said.

I shook my head, avoiding her. "No thanks," I said. I'd been called stubborn a time or three, but in this case it was purely a matter of pride. She'd made her opinion on the idea -- and me -- very clear. And I was starting to feel a little nettled about being treated like a distasteful chore.

"What were those things?" I asked, addressing my question to the vaguely Claire-shaped figure to the left. She sighed.

Are they after her totem?

[0: 1 ] No, and...

She specifically sought it out to protect herself against them. They must just be after her directly.

Does she know why they're after her?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

"It's a long story," she said, a bit shortly. "I usually set up wards but I was so..." She stopped. "I slept through. Sorry."

I didn't need it spelled out for me; it was my fault she'd been too weak to do what she needed to do. "Then I guess I can't complain too much about being toasted," I said.

[Trigger (YV1PVXTP)] Spot Test, difficulty, hard

The Trigger Gods are just jumping all over today. Hahaha. Hard would be a 13 in SH.

Rolling 2d8 1 times.
[ 8 7 ] 15

Nice, made it on roll alone! Now to set a trigger to see if anything was really there.

[Trigger (spot, library)] There's something there!

I should point out that's even with the -2 for being partially blinded. And it's a hard check, so it's something that's not particularly obvious. Something even a trained observer might miss.

Something the faceless left behind?

[0: 6 ] Yes, and...

Hm, something magical, intended to drive them out of the house?

[0: 4 ] Yes.

My first thought is fire, maybe the equivalent of an incendiary device?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

But is it not by the path you thought?

Behind Gray, I could see something. Wasn't sure what it was -- it looked like fire. I could feel the heat on my face, but there was no smoke. "Is the wall on fire?" I asked. Couldn't see the looks on their faces.

Maybe it's magical fire, but won't burn the actual house, just the people in it?

Gray twisted around and let out a yelp of surprise. "Witch fire," she said grimly, and grabbed my hand, pulling me to my feet.

If I kept my head turned I could see enough out of the sides of my eyes to not fall over the furniture. Mostly. "What is that?" I asked as I let her pull me down the hall.

"We're being driven," she said grimly. The witchfire was licking at the walls and racing along the ceiling, just behind us.

"Probably right into a paper-man ambush," Claire added. She sounded resigned.

We tumbled out of the front door just ahead of the licking flames. The night air was cold and clean, and full of the scent of the paper-men.

Is there an ambush waiting?

[0: 6 ] Yes, and...

There are lots of them. Claire could just use her totem and Gray could use light and wipe all of them out, but there's no way Cross could survive two blasts in his current state.

There were dozens of them, slithering and creeping and crawling through the shadows, white blobs to my damaged eyes, but coming closer by the moment. The heat behind us from the house was intense. I pushed forward, putting myself between them and the girls.

"You have to run," Gray said from behind me.

"What? I'm not leaving you," I said, offended she'd even consider it, and she grabbed my arm.

"We can't use light with you here," she said. "Another blast like earlier will kill you."

I shot her a look. "I'm not going--" Claire raised her hand, and light began seeping from between her fingers. I cursed and made a run for it.

So, how far are the trees? Expecting about 100 feet or so.

[More or Less] A bit more than expected.

So, he's pretty fast. Can he make it deep enough into the trees to get some cover before the light goes off?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

Some of the paper men split off to confront him.

I sprinted for the trees, feeling the heat of the light -- worse than the fire -- rising on my back. Then I was in the cool darkness under the trees. Abruptly, the ground fell away under my feet, sending me tumbling down a hill. I skidded to a stop in a shallow ravine.

My clothes were a bit worse for the wear but I felt pretty okay, considering. Didn't even need to catch my breath.

I rolled to a crouch, scanning with my limited vision. Some of the paper-men hurtled out of the darkness at me.

Rolling 1d12 1 times.
[ 10 ] 10

Revulsion horror, sounds about right, they're pretty revolting.

I'll run them as ghouls. Four of them.

Nobody's surprised, so Cross, as PC, gets to go first.

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 19 ] 19

Nice! He's hitting them bare-handed since he's unarmed, but with vampiric strength that's still a pretty hefty blow.

Rolling 1d2 1 times.
[ 2 ] 2

Actually, I don't need to roll for it, he'll always do 1 point unless he's spent tokens to augment. A vampire who was built on strength instead of dex might do more, though.

I'm considering, given how much combat this game is seeing, grabbing the two special abilities from the elven nightblade -- acrobatics and sneak attack.

Seems pretty reasonable than an unarmed vampire will always kill a regular human in one blow if they want to, though!

These guys are HD3, so one of them is now HD2.

And Fray die.

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 8 ] 8

Well, that takes one down.

Reflexively, I threw a punch, and my fist went right through its blank, featureless face. It crumpled.

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 10 ] 10

Let's see, they have a +3, two attacks, his AC is ridiculously good (he's a Dex-based vampire, it's what he does!). They need a 14 or better to hit.

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 7 ] 7

So one misses.

Rolling 1d20 2 times.
[ 12 ] 12
[ 5 ] 5

Rolling 1d20 2 times.
[ 4 ] 4
[ 6 ] 6

Using 2d20x2 notation makes it much tidier!

Oops, I forgot to apply the blindness penalty! They still need a 12 or better, which means one manages to land a blow.

Rolling 1d4 1 times.
[ 2 ] 2

Should roll Slaughter die, too, for Cross.

Rolling 1d6 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

Do they have Slaughter dice?

[0: 3 ] No.

They were coming out of the darkness all over; I dodged the first couple of swipes easily but got nicked by the third. Didn't feel it. They were moving so slow it was almost comical.

Cross's turn to act.

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 18 ] 18

Another point of damage.

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 5 ] 5

2 points, not quite enough to take the second one out. So three more sets of attacks this round.

Rolling 1d20 2 times.
[ 4 ] 4
[ 20 ] 20


Rolling 1d4 1 times.
[ 3 ] 3

Another point of damage.

Rolling 1d4 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

Rolling 1d20 2 times.
[ 3 ] 3
[ 13 ] 13

Rolling 1d4 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

Still, only one point of damage.

They were swarming in, and there were lots of them. I ducked under one blow but a couple more landed. Just couldn't see well enough.

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 2 ] 2

Ouch. Need a 9 or better to hit.

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 8 ] 8

At least the Fray is holding out!

That's one point to the already injured one and a point on one of the remaining two. So there's one at full HD, one at 2 HD left.

Rolling 1d20 2 times.
[ 2 ] 2
[ 15 ] 15

Rolling 1d4 1 times.
[ 4 ] 4

Rolling 1d20 2 times.
[ 9 ] 9
[ 12 ] 12

And my turn. Down to five HP.

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 9 ] 9

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 8 ] 8

Huh, is that the third 8 I've rolled in a row? Nice.

Nah, just the second! Still awesome though.

So three more points of damage, taking out the wounded one and laying down a point of damage on the last one.

Rolling 1d20 2 times.
[ 5 ] 5
[ 15 ] 15

Rolling 1d4 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

Nice, no damage.

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 11 ] 11

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 1 ] 1

1 point from the attack, none from the Fray.

Rolling 1d20 2 times.
[ 3 ] 3
[ 15 ] 15

Rolling 1d4 1 times.
[ 3 ] 3

Rolling 1d20 1 times.
[ 5 ] 5

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 5 ] 5

Well, it was slow, and Cross took a decent amount of damage, but he took out four of them!

The next few minutes were a blur of claws and darkness and desperation. They seemed to tear like tissue paper, collaping in crumpled heaps at each blow, but there were always more moving in.

I staggered as one of them got through, tackling me to the ground. Kicked it off, scrambling back to my feet, to confront -- nothing.

A few bits of tattered paper scattered in the wind, but I was alone in the ravine. I didn't waste a lot of time looking for them. Scrambled up the hill, back towards the house.

Is the light show over?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

The house is still on magic fire.

Did the women defeat their foes?

[0: 2 ] Yes, but...

One of them was injured or drained of a resource in the process.


[0: 3 ] No.

So Gray, then.

Did she expend a draining resource?

[0: 3 ] No.

So injured then.

The house was engulfed in the strange fire, the flickering light bright enough that it hurt what was left of my vision. Claire was half-carrying Gray towards the car. I sprinted forward.

Is Gray unconscious?

[0: 6 ] Yes, and...

Bleeding; oops.

Couldn't tell if there was relief on her face or not. I helped her get Gray into the car. Her face was pale, almost as white as the paper-men's had been, and I could smell blood, just a hint of it. She was completely out.

Which reminds me, he's well under the auto-heal threshold so bye-bye last blood token.

Rolling 1d8 1 times.
[ 7 ] 7

So two points back.

I slid into the passenger seat. Claire hesitated. "Can't you drive?" she asked, her tone reluctant, and I shook my head.

"I can't see," I said bluntly. I was starting to feel a little funny. Like I'd felt last night. Hungry. She climbed in without another word. The engine turned over smoothly for her on the first try and we peeled out as if demons were after us.

I twisted around to check on Gray. Still out. "We incinerated most of them," Claire said. I only half-heard her. Thinking about how hungry I was. How good that blood smelled.

Rolling 2d8 1 times.
[ 5 3 ] 8

DC is a 9; he's just got the 1 for his class level, but that's enough.

... and that was an unconscious woman back there. I put myself firmly back in my own seat. "Where are we going?"