Friday, May 31, 2013

Rurik I 901-905 (King of Gardariki/Rus) 905-927 (Jarl of Novgorod)

(Rurik is the second Rurik I, because he's the actual first Rurik to be King of Rus.)

Rurik born of Rurik's son, Rus-king and reaver
Wily and wise and cruel
The throne bore his thin frame, though heavy it was with doubt
None saw Novgorod's throne as sure

From far to the east, Muromians became foes
Seeking the sacred seat of Gardariki
Betrayal became thick, bastard Kiev did strike
The thunderous tribes of Perm followed

Rurik read tactics, ran forth with his blade
Gardariki's foes were too grievous
Parush Pauper-lord, his people loved him so
The throne of Rus became him

A bargain became Rurik's savior, Parush bore his debts
Rurik remained in Novgorod
Duke Rurik did rule wisely, years of peace to his name
But Rurik remained unsated

Red-haired Ragnarr, brother of Rurik
His home was in Tver
Til Rurik twisted a carriage wheel, sending Ragner to a canyon floor
Tver nestled next to Rurik's breast

Parush Muromid perished, poor child-king dead in his grave
Shkay his brother's brother became Rurik's lord
True truces held in Novgorod, Duke Rurik reigned well and good
Monoliths and monuments to his majesty spread far and wide

Still Rurik schemed and plotted, the throne of fair Rus so far away
With Shkay withering slowly on the throne Rurik wished for
Rurik's loins left no issue, left barren and bereft
Rurik's royal line remained fallow

Til sons sprang quite suddenly, from wife and concubine alike
Six sons in beds sleeping soundly
With succession secured, Rurik seemed pleased
But gavelkind grows ever unkind

Ivar his heir had claim to Lithuania, Rurik had reason to push
Warrior woman Malusha was unrelenting
Thrice the chieftess threw Novgorod back, til the men were broken and bleeding
To an oubliette Ivar was thrown

Jarl Rurik yelled to the heavens, yelled to Odin for his son
Yet the Jarl heard no reply
Stupid and simple Frirek stood to inherit, Rurik sank to despair
Ivar died in an oubliette alone and afraid

Rus, fair Rus, ran red with blood, young ruler Setyamka was spent
The kingdom came crashing around him
Old Rurik assumed command of Rus forces, Asgard and Valhalla in his eyes
He fell in fields of Muscovy as his father's father had before

Out of Character

Apparently it was time for a demotion. As soon as I inherited, Kiev and Perm declared war on me. More alarmingly, the Finnish tribe just south of me, a big one, decided to subjugate Rus. This meant that I was going to be demoted right back down to Jarl of Novgorod if I lost. And I lost. Badly. My vassals hated me, so I had fewer troops to begin with, and it just snowballed from there.

Weirdly, I had really good relations with the Muromid dynasty which took over. They never tried to strip any titles or shove me around, despite my Norse paganism (there was one offer of conversion, but screw that), and generally supported me.

Just as last time, I set up a plot to kill my brother and retrieve the Duchy of Tver. This was a double-edged sword, as I ended up with two civil wars trying over the title with other families. I held out, but they really put me in bad positions elsewhere.

As mentioned in the last entry, Rurik came to the throne at 33 with no wife and no kids. This freaked me out, particularly when I hit age 40 and still had no kids. Toss in a dead brother and a sister (who could inherit) with no husband and I was staring at the end of the Rurikovich line.

So I, of course, freaked out. In addition to my wife, I took three concubines. Must have sons. Well, they started popping up left and right. I suddenly had a problem in the opposite direction: six sons and gavelkind coming up.

This was really not good. To make it worse, the only one worth a damn (Ivar) died in a dungeon after his claim on Lithuania was denied by some vicious defense. We're talking me outnumbering the defenders 3:1 and losing repeatedly. I still have no idea what triggered this.

So Ivar's dead and I'm trying to shunt as many inept sons off to the priesthood as possible to narrow things down. It's going fine until all hell breaks loose for my liege. In my reign, I had lost Rus to a six year old, seen the six year old murdered by his uncle, and had the uncle die, leaving his son. That's four kings of Rus in 26 years, if you're keeping score. This was all too much for the kingdom and basically everyone but me rebels.

I half considered it, too. Instead, like an idiot, I decided that the Muromids had been good to me and it was better than the Tengri kingdom which had invaded on top of everything else. So I sallied forth in support of my king, where I promptly died in battle, leaving my worse son, Frirek, on the throne at age 17. There are honestly seven year olds with better stats than him.


The world. Denmark is a little bit OP.

Helgi I 881-903

Helgi the Hated, first ruler of Rus
His brothers have never risen
Children oh children
One fell off a tower wall, one ate pheasant and turned blue
Away to Asgard for Anlaufr and Ormr

With Swedes wood-swimming, where Ingria meets the sea
And villainous Veps nearing Novgorod
Helgi the Hated gave his land, never to return
Hills and heath never to return

For poor Faste af Ostrov, steward and friend
Peasant-hate pulled him from horse and home
Torn and twisted, Faste's body faltered
Til two pieces of Faste, littered the ground

Thus the rebels came, war never waned
For Helgi the Hated knew no peace
Twenty two turns of the year, he knew no peace
Moskva and Mozhaysk left in cold blood

Still Helgi the Hated bore on, placing crown upon crown-seat
King of Rus the Red
Gardariki the Grey, with great forests and water-roads aplenty
Hail King Helgi the Hated

The new king with crown and cape of ermine, made haste to Smaleskja
There battle was borne to the heavens
Kupala laughed lightly, while new king led his men onward
Smaleskja smoldered as Helgi strove on

An arrow from afar, pierced Helgi's arm
Barbed and bleeding arrow scarring poor Helgi
Rust-water ran from the riven wound, Helgi's health did fester from then
Eleven years ere his death

Smaleskja soon fell, as Norns had foretold
But Helgi the Hated slept in Holmgardr
Weeping was wanting when Helgi passed on, no peasants wept for what was gone
But Rurik returned from away to the west upon Helgi's death

Out of Character

Helgi was kind of a disaster but still ended up being first King of Rus (or Gardarkiki; the names change depending on your ethnicity and maybe religion, which is way cool). From day one, the nascent kingdom was rocked by invasions and rebellions. I'm rethinking that the Norse are inherently overpowered. Some of them certainly are (I'm looking at you, Ynglings and Denmark), but the constant wars really grind your forces down. There were a couple wars which I was forced to yield immediately, since I had to prioritize which places to fight (I was always at war with multiple parties, large and small). In 22 years, Helgi saw 5 of peace.

The first thing I did to consolidate was have my two kid brothers killed via intrigue plot. They were eight and six but they were also the Duke of Tver and the Duke of Belo Ozero, respectively; the game's tough. One of the attempts failed and I was outed, which is partially what started the rebellion spiral; my vassals were not pleased at all.

Weirdly, Helgi latched onto Slavic paganism. My son, Rurik I (he's going to be the first because he's actually the first king of Gardariki, not the legendary Rurik), stayed at his mother's court in western Norway, so he'll be properly Norse. Still, I'm sitting on a barely stable powder keg of ethnicities, religions, and power struggles. Which is, I guess, a lot like the real Russia of the time. Still, I'm eyeballing the upcoming second bout of gavelkind and considering conversion to Christianity just to have stable inheritance laws.

Rurik's coming in unmarried and 33 years old. This could be a big frigging problem, since his brother is, too. Conceivably, due to not having control over their marriages when they were young since they were at a foreign court, this could go very badly for the Rurikovich dynasty if the zygotes don't align properly.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rurik I "The Noble" 862-881

Fire-haired, father, foe
Rurik Ring Giver
Do the stones by his passing, sing his name still?
A man of away west

Battle-bells tolled long and low, beside the Volkhov banks
Norse, Slavs, Finns, scythed low
Oh old Nygardr, oh years past gone
The thane-seat still strains from Rurik's weight

Ravens tell and relate, the wars of Rurik
Ransom and ruin brought down upon the clans
All for fair Rus, Rurik's dream of Rus
A vision Odin's oracles foretold

Three sons he had, three thanes from his loins
Helgi with hair of spun silver
Anlaufr and Ormr, out of lust born
Rurik's burden became, a fear of sovereignty split

But Rus before then, before his sons would quarrel
Winds wailed as the kingdom was won
The dream discharged, Rurik decayed far too young
Rus, fair Rus, drank Rurik's life-water

A man of one hundred, would scarce wane as Rurik
But Rurik's bravery and boldness was too great
Rus, fair Rus, was within Rurik's grasp
Til Muscovy's meadows struck their blow

Meltskaya the Murderer, his name maintains its grasp
Smote Rurick savagely with sword and axe
Rurick tumbled to the turf, eyes closed tight
Meltskaya the Murderer, eye-closer

Olafr Odin-speaker spake Rurik's words
Rus, fair Rus, remained silent for Rurik's life
Wife Ingrjerdr went mad with grief, wailing and gnashing her teeth
Prince Helgi prepared for kingship

A year more Rurik moaned and lingered, Rus in his mind
Til no tomorrows would wake him
Rus, fair Rus, became a ravaged nightmare
Rurik passed too promptly to see his dream come to life

Out of Character

A mixed bag here. Rurik is a beast of a character, but he's in a surprisingly (to me) bad spot. Unlike the Norse rulers over in the British Isles, there is no Norse populace. Everyone is a Slavic or Finnish pagan, which makes all of your vassals crankier than usual. As such, I pumped my tech into Cultural Flexibility, which mitigates it somewhat.

Being Norse, I'm primed for war. So that's what I did. I took the Ambition to form Rus, which gave me a valid Casus Belli against anyone in that de jure kingdom. I expanded quickly as I could, picking off as many one and two county principalities as I could.

Rurik became Infirm at age 45 for no reason I could discern and it lowered his stats by two across the board. This was offset by his Quick trait, but it was still non-negligible. Maybe that's what eventually led to his head being caved in during a battle which I outnumbered my Slavic enemies by three to one. It was a totally freak accident but it screwed everything up; Spymaster Olafr af Pestovo took over, but the gains I'd made were hanging on by a surprisingly slim thread.

This is because I had to form the Kingdom of Rus before Rurik died. Once Rurik was dead, gavelkind succession was going to kick in and two-thirds of the realm were going to end up in Rurik's concubine sired sons' hands. Guess what happened? If you guessed that Rurik lingered as a mental vegetable for a year before dying with a scant month to go before I had the money to create the title, you're right!

Now King Helgi I is going to have to essentially start over to form Rus. He's also starting out at war with a rebelling Jarldom of Chud. It's a bad scene.

The Epic of Rurik and His Sons

About a year ago (almost exactly, actually), I decided to do an after action report for Crusader Kings II. Totally rad game which really lends itself to emergent stories.

It was a lot of fun. To keep my brain fresh over the summer, I'm going to do another one. The (probably) final expansion for the game, called The Old Gods, is out and it adds a lot of cool stuff. It allows playable pagans and is particularly Norse-centric, with lots of very neat events and rules changes involved. It also pushes the start date back to 876. While Dark Ages history isn't really my forte, I've always been enamored of the quasi-mythical rulers of the era. Ivar the Boneless, the Karlings, the Arpads, and (especially) Rurik.

Rurik was a viking raider who set out and founded Russia. The dynasty lasted into the late 16th century. That's the short version; go read up, if it sounds interesting.

Anyway, I'm going to do an AAR of the Rurikovich dynasty, starting in 876 with Rurik and going until I die out. Since the Norse are a teensy bit overpowered right now, I'm probably not going to die out, though the dynastic meltdowns which paganism is subject to should keep things interesting.

The format's going to be different this time, because I don't think I can churn out ca 30k words again. Instead of doing a straight narrative, I'm going to be doing alliterative verse a la the Eddas. I should stress that I'm not a poet and the only thing I know about how that particular form of Old Norse verse is structured comes from wikipedia and a couple scholarly sources I browsed. It's probably going to be brutal but fun.

Following the verse, I'll do a bit of fully out of character writing about how the game is going. Just like my Brittany AAR, each entry will be a ruler, so some will come faster than others.

That's Rurik's starting realm in the dark green. Holmgardr.

Now to go play.

Monday, May 6, 2013


The first real playtest of ACTION MOVIE WORLD: FIRST BLOOD went extremely well. It certainly exceeded my expectations. A non-zero portion of that is that I was running it for guys that I have gamed with off and on (more off than on after my move to Raleigh) for well over twenty years, but it’s equally true that a non-zero portion of it is just that rough spots I was concerned with weren’t that big a deal.

This is pretty long (about 3500 words) but I want to make sure the first actual play report touches everything important in a little more detail than maybe I otherwise would. Even then, there are still spots which could use MORE detail, so ask questions about rules and where things are going.

The players were John, Peter, and Scott. It was decided at the outset that Peter would get to be the Lead in whatever movie was chosen as it was his birthday shindig that this was all taking place at. Right now, it’s pretty nebulous how Lead is determined; that’s something to firm up, for sure, but it was easy enough for the first test.

Peter opted to play The Yeller, a Reb Brown, screams all the time, beefy sort of actor. John went with The Pugilist and decided  to go a little slapsticky with his martial artist a la Jackie Chan. Scott went with The Gunfighter, a Chow Yun-Fat gun-fu type.

The actor names were as follows:
Peter: Chet Bradford (Yeller)
John: Jack Sprat (Pugilist)
Scott: Chip Kaiser (Gunfighter)

Once the playbooks and actor names were picked, the group chose their moves. Chet picked “Just Yell”, which allowed him to roll +Muscles instead of +Drama for certain scenes, and “Move, Move, Move”, a move which allows him to egg his companions on when speed is needed. Jack decided on “Go for the gut. He’s soft there”, a straight +1 Agility, and “Sting Like a Bee”, letting him roll +Agility instead of +Muscles in close combat. Finally, Chip decided to go for “Gun Ballet”, granting –area to any ranged weapon he uses, and “This Is My Gun”, giving him a +1 to all Stunt rolls while a ranged weapon is in his hand.

These are the actors. You can think of the actors as brands and these moves as calling cards of each particular actor. Using Chet as an example, we see an actor who delivers heavy emotional scenes by screaming his lines and who tends to rely on screaming at his costars to hurry up. So, quite a bit like Reb Brown, actually.

With the actor playbooks chosen, it was time to pick a genre of movie and see what we could come up with. Right now, I only have the Cop Movie and Barbarian Movie Scripts (movie playbooks) ready. I’ve got plenty in the pipeline, but if I set a bar of “all the Scripts are done” as a minimum for testing, then this thing is never going to get tested because, ho boy, it’s practically limitless.

The guys decided to go with the Cop Movie. I was pretty happy with this, since I’d done a one on one with the Barbarian Movie once before.

The first thing you do is sort out what sorts of relationships the characters have with one another. Starting with the Lead and going to his or her left, you roll on or pick from a chart (or make something up entirely) to see what the relationship is. It’s deliberately reminiscent of Fiasco; one of my favorite bits of Fiasco is the way that it forces you to think about what the relationships between the characters mean.

We determined that Chet’s character and Jack’s character had a cop-informant relationship. We knew that Chet was going to be the Lead in this film, so it was pretty easy to sort out which was which: Chet was the cop, Jack was the informant. Jack was next to roll and he ended up with a relationship of precinct buddies with Chip. Problem: we already established that Jack was going to be playing an informant in this film. Easy solution: Jack was an ex-cop, disgraced but still of use to the force as an informant from his new vantage point from the docks. Finally, Chip rolled to see his relationship with Chet and got a 12. They had both seen something terrible.

We paused here. We had a slowly coming into view picture of what the movie looked like. We knew it was a cop movie (duh), that Chet and Chip were cops who had witnessed something terrible, and that Dusty was an ex-cop (and ex-partner) of Chip’s who had fallen on hard times. Nice. Time to drill down more.
Before we went any further, I wanted names of the film characters the actors were playing. This isn’t the same as the actor’s names; actor’s names won’t change, while film character names will change each movie (yo, this is meta: you are a real person playing an actor playing a character). Chet decided to play Sgt. Lance Anger. Chip, his current partner, played Rob Collier. And Jack played poor Dusty, a man who left his last name and badge behind him.

With names done, we returned to the setting. What was this terrible thing that Lance and Rob had seen? After some discussion, it was decided that they saw a terribly mangled body with its fingers snipped neatly off at the site of a diamond heist. Some sort of message, but what did it mean? Going further, the precinct (it was also decided that it was set in Los Angeles) was in a tizzy about the ghastly crime. Dusty, our informant, was a drunk fisherman with his ear to the ground in the dockyards. He’d been implicated in a prior, years ago jewel heist, so some suspicion was coming his way.

Next up were the Script moves. Each player picks a move from the chosen Script, exactly the same as with their Actor playbooks. Script moves only last for the duration of the current movie, however; they’re tightly tied to the genre being portrayed, while Actor moves tend to be more general, pan-genre action moves (experience expenditures can make Script moves permanent, though). Lance went with “Supercop” (+1 all stunts), Dusty with “Corrupt Is As Corrupt Does” (can spend holds to get access to illicit goods), and Rob with “High Speed Chase” (a demon behind the wheel).

The characters  picked their gear (Lance Anger loved his nightstick, Dusty still had a stash of teargas grenades, and Rob Collier had his assault rifle) and then it was time for the final step: picking a villain. In this stage, the Director (me) gets to pick, though the players have veto power. Each Script comes with a list which you can pick from. The entries all have associated impulses, familiar to anyone who’s made a Front for Apocalypse World. I’d heard Dusty talking about drugs with his Script move, so I floated a drug kingpin; the group wasn’t too keen on that and floated the police chief being the big bad guy. I thought that sounded cool, so I named him (Brent McGillicutty) and off we went.

We opened in the precinct office. Chief McGillicutty had a hot tip that Dusty had some information regarding the diamond heist and mutilation; he asked Lance and Rob to head down there, since Rob had a relationship with Dusty dating back a decade. Lance had to go, too; he was Rob’s partner and the best cop on the force. (Peter really played the yelling aspect of things to the hilt; he would yell borderline incoherently at random times and kept it up for around three hours) The partners grabbed their squad car and headed down to the docks.

There was an obvious break in the action so it was time to jump cut over to Dusty. He had an old fishing boat which he lived on now. His cousin, Nick, was fixing the motor for him and was wrapping the job up as we cut over. Nick and Dusty exchanged some pleasantries, with Nick expressing concern for his well-being, when Lance and Rob pulled up. Nick and Dusty greeted the two cops and Nick excused himself, stating that he had his kids for the weekend.

The scene shifted to a bit of heavy pathos, with Rob assuring Dusty that he was a good cop caught in a bad situation, while Dusty, reticent to help, insisted he wasn’t. Lance decided he wasn’t interested in this and decided to convince Dusty to help by making an emotional connection. This is a +Drama roll and varies from the more direct manipulation roll in approach. The emotional connection move is about delivering a stirring speech of some sort and trying to elicit an emotion or memory.

Lance rolled and ended up with a 12; obviously a rousing success. At this point, we ran into a small rules snag. Lance was going to punch Dusty in the stomach to snap him out of it before delivering a speech about how he was still a cop at heart; Dusty decided that he wasn’t going to go along with that and wanted to resist. Lance’s narration was totally valid only as long as the target didn’t resist. He could’ve narrated it differently, with maybe just a speech and no physical contact. The second physical contact was initiated, Dusty had the option to resist and cause a fight to break out. This isn’t currently adjudicated in the rules and was just a judgment call on my part; I’m inclined to keep it that way, as this particular situation strikes me as somewhat rare.

I gave Lance a chance to change the move. He definitely wanted to, as his in-character intention was to snap Dusty out of it, not start a fight. Rob jumped in here and suggested that he stop the punch from behind before it was thrown; Lance thought that was a really good idea and agreed. So Rob stopped the punch, shouting that this wasn’t the way. Lance huffed and relented.

“You’re still on the force to me, Dusty! You’re still on the right team!”

Dusty relented and agreed to help. I asked Dusty what he knew, putting the decision in player hands. Dusty knew that the Pier One Gang (yes, that Pier One) was rumored to be involved in some heavy stuff. He used his “Corrupt Is As Corrupt Does” move from the Cop Movie Script to do this. It wasn’t a lot to go on, but it was something. Before the group could pull off, though, a cop car pulled up and out stepped officers Jane Lillard and Bob Thomas with a search warrant for the boat. Stand up cops and acquaintances of all three of the heroes. They presented the search warrant and said that Lance and Rob could certainly contribute.

Things took a weird turn here. For whatever reason, Lance and Rob decided to knock out the two searching cops. Dusty, for his part, wisely stayed out of it. We turned to some combat rolls, with punches thrown and pistol whippings galore. Dusty opted for a stunt move to get the hell out of there, tumbling over the side and into the water. Bob took a tumble down into the ship’s cabin, while Jane landed in the water. Dusty ended up dragging the unconscious Officer Lillard onto the deck; Rob searched her and found a crumpled note with the address for the Pier One scribbled on it. Lance, for his part, went to go question Bob down below. Bob was coming to when, out of the corner of his eye, Lance caught sight of an open briefcase of crisp, unmarked bills sitting on a table.

A series of accusations broke out between Lance, Rob, Dusty, and the still groggy Bob. A couple of read a person moves established that Bob wasn’t behind planting the money there. Only one person made sense: Dusty’s cousin, Nick the mechanic. Lance and Rob tried to talk Bob down from radioing in what, from their perspective, was a massive misunderstanding. That was obviously the persuade move and it was flubbed, badly. No dice: Bob was getting the still comatose Jane and radioing in backup. With no choice, the two beaten up cops were gently left on dock and the boat roared to life, course set for Pier One.

Rob decided to roll High Speed Chase, netting an 8; he opted to take a shortcut, but either he or the vehicle would take some damage. He narrated ducking between tugboats and eking every bit of speed out of the old boat, while I described the fishing gear getting knocked loose during a clip with one of the tugs. Not particularly crunchy, but it made for a cool narrative moment and was actually one of the most visually striking scenes when placed in my mind’s eye.

The heroes (I use the term loosely after the search warrant fiasco, but it’s also not entirely outside the source material) killed the motor as night fell and headed up to the Pier One warehouse. There’s no real stealth move, or acting under fire, so sneaking around unseen defaulted to a +Agility based stunt move. This brought up an interesting flow of play question: do I want AMW to be the sort of game in which a roll is needed by everyone to make what amounts to a group move or do I just defer to the most competent one? It felt more in keeping with the conversational tone to just ask for the one roll; that may be something I revisit, but it felt right last night.

Everyone climbed up to the top of the warehouse unseen, to a glass skylight. Peering down, they saw members of the Pier One gang unloading military grade weaponry from crates which had just arrived. Assault rifles, rocket launchers, grenades, land mines… the whole nine. And who did they see with Teeth (leader of the Pier One gang)? If you guessed Cousin Nick, you were right.

The climax was coming. Dusty decided this would be a good time to go for a Camaraderie move, a sort of abstracted move meant to revel in the friendship that most action movies have as a theme. You actually have a communal Camaraderie score, which goes up and down throughout the course of a movie. Before he did this, though, he decided to go for a killer one-liner move; one of the outcomes of a successful one-liner is a +1 to your Camaraderie score.

Dusty stated that it was “time to get a drop on these guys” as he prepped to toss out hi-fives before diving through the glass to kick some ass. Unfortunately, he missed his one-liner move. In this case, a miss taps into the meta, just a movie portion of AMW. The line elicited laughs mixed with groans at the table. In the movie, Dusty’s buddies were into it. But a miss on a one-liner meant the imaginary audience wasn’t into it; it fell flat. It was lame. It gave Dusty a -1 to his next move which was, of course, a Camaraderie move.

Dusty gave his hi-fives and everyone prepared to go in. He rolled the groups +Camaraderie (which was a 0; that’s where it starts in every film and it hadn’t been bumped up or down) with his -1 from the lame one-liner and missed. The consequences for a failed Camaraderie roll can be pretty dire. In this case, Dusty chose to have the Director make an immediate and very hard move against one of his compatriots (not him; important note).

Teeth glanced up and saw Rob at the edge of the skylight. The gangster whipped a grenade launcher out of his trench coat (the movie was set in 1992 so of course it was a trench coat) and took a blast at Rob. Rob’s body was shattered, near death. He coughed up blood as Lance grabbed him, swearing to return for him, asking him to hang on.

Lance and Dusty, tears in their eyes, jumped through the skylight. Dusty chucked tear gas down into the crowd via a successful stunt roll, opting to give the +1 forward the success granted to Lance. Lance put it to good use, diving right onto Teeth while Dusty handled Nick; Dusty nailed a combat move and opted to hit a whole ton of people in addition to disabling Nick.

The heroes handcuffed their quarry to the boat’s railing before running to the roof to check on Rob. Rob was definitely dying. When a supporting cast member dies, the actor gets two experience, while the surviving PCs gain the option to demand Vengeance; Vengeance is a hold which can be spent to gain a 10+ automatically on a move.

The death scene was great. Rob asked Lance to make sure his family was okay before reaching into his pocket with his last breath; he handed Lance adoption papers for a puppy he was going to get for his wife for their anniversary, along with a photo of said puppy. Then he was gone. Lance and Dusty swore vengeance before returning to the boat.

Once back on the boat, a few more emotional connection and manipulation moves had Teeth admitting that Chief McGillicutty had been behind the operation and that most of the police force was corrupt, while Nick repented and, for family ties, agreed to help out where he could. Sirens were heard.

One of the current holes is what to do with players of dead characters. I opted to try my current first option, which is to assign control of an NPC (starting with the main villain) to such players. Scott (Rob’s player) took over for Chief McGillicutty. I still set the scene as I would for most other NPC centered situations, but I granted Scott a lot of leeway in terms of how McGillicutty acted and spoke.

While McGillicutty and the cops were on their way for a final showdown, we cooked up a quick montage of the heroes and Nick setting a trap. Nick, being a mechanic, wired what was basically a gigantic powder with explosives (action movie logic, don’t ask). Dusty hid in his boat with a rocket launcher. Lance hid out at the door of the warehouse.

I loosely set the scene for Scott so he knew, generally, how to proceed with Chief McGillicutty. I narrated an army of cops pulling up, with him at the lead. He rolled with it, describing the chief getting out of the car with his bullhorn and doing a classic “give yourselves up” line. Lance shouted that he wanted to talk to McGillicutty, one on one, inside the warehouse. McGillicutty shouted back that he agreed, but remained by his car, motioning for the police to surround the warehouse.

Dusty figured this was his chance and he shot his shiny new rocket launcher at the now separated McGillicutty. An intersection of two rules occurred with this. One, the main villain has plot immunity from everyone but the Lead; only the Lead can kill him. Two, Dusty failed the roll. Badly. I sort of cheated here and shouldn’t have (though this did lead to an interesting potential rules change). McGillicutty caught a glimpse of Dusty in the boat and pulled his pistol, shooting poor Dusty between the eyes.

Lance lost it at this point and invoked his Vengeance move. The warehouse blew as Lance jumped out of the blast radius, propelled forward in a mega-tackle of McGillicutty (10+ on his stunt move from Vengeance). Lance bellowed that he was taking the chief in legally. It was time to fist fight. McGillicutty squirmed free after clocking Lance with an elbow to the temple. I gave Scott the option of how to react; McGillicutty ran like hell. Lance took this opportunity to hop in a squad car and run the erstwhile smuggling mastermind down.

The movie closed with credits rolling and wailing guitars. Lance was on the boat, heading out to sea. “I’ve seen enough of the city. It gets to you,” he said. “Time to try my luck out there. On the bay.” The sun was setting and a red sheen on the water paved the way for Lance Anger’s next adventures.