Actual Play – Return to the Sea (10/23/2011)

GM: Sean Nittner
Players: Chris Vincenti, Joe Harney, Steven Dunn, Alec Ransdell, and Eric Fattig.
System: Dresden Files

This is the first time I’ve had all five of the current players at Dresden. As adults are schedules are wonky and so we’re often missing a player or two, since Joe came on board this is the first time we’ve had all five. And it was good timing, this was the final game in our story of Catarina and her sisters.

We started with a few flashbacks, one of which resulted in Raoul being owed a favor by the troll of the bay bridge for removing the cold iron pipe that had been shoved through his knee. The other involved Remington maintaining his “grim reaper” status by not being willing to let Rose’s father die.

The game started with way too many people (all the PCs plus three wardens) in a single recovery room (Thomas Caine, after having jumped off a bridge). The discussion was pretty headed, regarding what to do with Catarina, some wanted to kill her, others wanted to capture her and Raoul thought she could be reasoned with.

After a while the conversation went from fun antics to what was looking like a stalemate and I stepped in with Carlos Ramirez making some downright lies (and doing wonderfully on his deceit roll in the process) to assure everyone they would get what they wanted, when his intention was very simple: kill the monster.

Before finding here there was some fun interstitial scenes. Monroe got arrested (again) and was being hauled off to FBI headquarters when he dropped the bomb that he knew where the kidnap victims were. His confidence got him an entire convoy of FBI agents heading down to treasure island.

Daiske, Rose and her father had a pow wow, that started with pow (Daiske destroyed ANOTHER hospital room) and ended with a wow (APEC, the company they all work for, is actually at odds with itself and Rose had been manipulated by a member of it that is part of the Jade Court. Oh… and there is a Dragon on Alcatraz guarding monsters and selling them off to the highest bidders. Wow!

The fight itself was pretty brief. Raoul tried to reason with her and when it seemed that she couldn’t be reasoned with (she set the building on fire), Caine popped in with a one liner (something along the lines of “yeah, but I can”) and let loose hell on her. I gave Catarina an Alertness roll but failing that she was torn apart by Caine’s spell (to the effect of the Extreme Consequence: Hideously disfigured, she can no longer take a human guise and her catch has been permanently activated).

After that she tried to flee and make it to her power source (the seven victims under water) but was frozen in her tracks by the Winter Knight. VC despite hating water (bad infections he still remembers from Vietnam) swam under the surface to find the intended spell energy source and free them.

In the last moments, the Winter Knight opened a portal to the Never Never (appropriate I thought by the bay) and disappeared with the hag, working towards his oath to “capture” her.

There was lots of confusion about whether or not Raoul was using necromancy, whether Rose really wanted her dead or captured, and how much she could use that to manipulate Ramirez. Also Daiske is a warlock… I mean he’s worked with the Red Court, he must be a warlock, right. And he’s got a soldier of the White Council chasing him down.

Thoughts on the game.

To complicate matters further with Mr. Itsuaki, rose and Monroe, I totally should have made Remington drop Mr. Itsuaki in order to make sure the chill of death didn’t pass on to him. Ah well. It was good as is.

My players love SF General. Collectively, I think they got rid of four or five consequences there. Serious stuff. Lacerations, cracked ribs, burns, you name it. I need to make a couple doctors as NPCs, someone to give the place some flavor.

I should have dinged some more consequences in the last fight to give Catarina a little more help. Caine came up and sucker punched her with a 14 stress lightning bolt. I gave her an alertness roll to be prepared for it (he did deliver it after an awesome one liner after all) and when she failed that he tagged her really hard. I should have taken all his physical consequences into account when considering how much that might slow him down and give her a moment to react.

You know it’s hard for me to play characters bound by nature. Like, as a hag, her motivation was simple, free her sisters from an arcane prison. I don’t think that makes her unable to work with people, or show something resembling human emotion. It’s just hard for me to consider someone so alien they can’t be talked to.

Steve played this VERY smart. He both impressed Agent Hayes with his knowledge and intentions as well as infuriated her by disappearing again. He kept his oath to “capture” the hag alive but is going to make a deal with her to kill her captor, and out of that I’m pretty sure he can get information on the location of the Jade court’s intended gift.

I don’t like playing canon characters, especially ones I’m not very familiar with. It’s been while since I’ve read anything with Rameirez in it and besides remembering that he’s a “virginal ladies’ man”, I really can’t say I remember much about him. My performance was disappointing.

For the sake of not antagonizing players, I really need to give the Warden of the White Council a head he can chop off, and or show just how messed up breaking the laws of magic can be. I mean Donald Morgan is fine in the books, but Joe didn’t sign up to play Morgan, and he shouldn’t be pigeonholed as the “Magical Cop.” Wait… that is exactly what he is… a magical cop. Damn!

I dislike squabbles that don’t seem they can go anywhere. I want to find a better way to put concrete wedges between the players and have them hash it out. What I should have done was call for a social conflict, but with eight people involved and at least three different agendas I didn’t know how to handle it. If I had been playing Burning Wheel, this would have been a clear cut duel of wits. So, why does a social conflict feel different in Dresden? Part of it was that I knew the discussion would go from a discussion to a formulaic decision about what actions to take. Like the flow of conversation would break. Hmm, more to think on this.