Friday, 17 February 2017

Sovereignty (Part Three)

More actual play from my dining room, as we continue with our short campaign of The 'Hood, despite being a man down.

The Cast: A Quick Reminder

  • Mr. Benson the Bastion: caught in the undercover war between a merciless FBI agent and a psychopathic rival gang boss, he has to question whose side he is on; played by Elaine.
  • Daddy Longlegs the Matriarch: his children have been caught in the cross-fire once too often, now he's getting down to business; played by Guy.
  • Vince the Shark: with business looking very bad, a stay in the hospital to recover from food poisoning seems like a holiday; played by the absence of Dan.

Before this session, Dan had let us know that he might not be able to make it, so we were prepared to have a possibly-final session without his character. During the week between sessions, I'd had some ideas for the way the story could develop, but I needed the players co-operation in these things, even if they didn't really know what they were co-operating with. I asked them some questions about NPCs in their backgrounds (The family of Mr. Benson's henchman Turk, the mother(s) of Daddy's children and Vince's family members) and sent them each a Love Letter for their character, reproduced below.

Another day but this one is not typical: we have arrived at the vote on rezoning in the 'hood, which the Cleaner had pushed Mr. Benson to fix for him so that his business interests were protected. The boss sends his last loyal lieutenant Mercer to go and keep an eye on the proceedings for him, to avoid any unpleasant surprises, while he considers the offers he has on the table from Taft and The Douche. Daddy also goes to the Council Hall seeking Officer MacCaffrey to settle some debts with him from their past dealings and also to pump him for more inside information: minutes later, the Council Chamber is rocked by a bomb blast! Patchwork is shocked; Daddy leaves her in the care of MacCaffrey as he heroically heads into the scene to help the survivors. One of the people he manages to get to safety is Mr. Benson's right-hand man Mercer.

Back at his crib, Mr. Benson catches up with Daddy, but their meeting in interrupted by a call on Daddy's phone: the number is Juliette's but the voice is The Douche's! The psycho-bastard has Juliette and is demanding "the drive" from Daddy in exchange for her: Daddy bluffs his way through, assuming the drive is something they might have picked up when they stole the computer gear and comics memorabilia from Frank's place, so he sets off to get it all back.

Isolated from his crew, Mr. Benson decides now is the time to sort things out with Turk and goes hunting for him; luckily, he finds out from Jo at the auto-repair shop that Turk had brought in his car for servicing and she gives him the address she has for him, which will take Mr. Benson out of the 'hood. Jo also lets slip that she's closing down and selling up after receiving a very generous offer from a 'Clearwater Holdings" to give up her lease on the property (she really ought to mention this to Daddy soon, as he is renting the space above the garage from her.) Mr. Benson wastes no time in hunting down his rogue crew member and arrives at a squalid apartment ready to settle things, but it isn't Turk he finds there at first: it's Sarah, Frank's supposed girlfriend, and she's wearing a wire!

Daddy arrives at the Pawn Shop and squeezes Brian for a description of the customer who bought the computer hardware he brought in the other day: he gets one that matches Samantha Lincoln, the drug-dealing daughter of the Councilman that Mr. Benson made a deal with, who was caught in an explosion just hours before. The day is turning into quite the errand for Daddy...

Having the drop on her, Mr. Benson milks Sarah for what she knows: it turns out she's an undercover cop who was using Frank as an informant, as he was allegedly close to The Douche. Turk comes back to the apartment in the middle of this and is forced to choose between his old boss and his new girlfriend who has been keeping some big secrets from him: Mr. Benson makes it an easy choice for him, but he begs his boss to leave Sarah to him...

Image result for police tapeDaddy calls the gang boss to update him on "the drive" and they both head to the Lincoln place to see about recovering it, but as there has recently been an attempt on the Councilman's life (which we still hadn't established was successful or not) the police are at the front door guarding his daughter. Mr. Benson uses his sway over the 'hood to talk his way past the cops, but Samantha is furious to see him, especially when he puts his foot in it by offering his sympathies for "her loss." She freaks out and accuses Mr. Benson of being the one behind the bombing, spilling what she knows about his business dealings with her father in front of the cops: they are left with no choice but to bring him down to the station, along with Samantha, to take statements. Daddy makes use of the distraction to look for the hardware, but all he finds is an exchange of messages between Samantha and her friend Brad about setting up a new office for their dirty work in the slum district at the other end of the boulevard.

Things keep going south for Mr. Benson at the police station: after being kept waiting in an interview room for 15 minutes, it's Detective Sarah Vasquez who finally shows up to grill him! Bearing a grudge after their last encounter at the seedy apartment with Turk, she pressures him over the death of Frank and his involvement with The Douche: his attempt to play it cool does not impress her though and she arrests him on a stack of trumped up charges! With no-one else to call, he rings Daddy to come and help him out.

Things are hotting up for Mr. Benson, so he calls Special Agent Taft and informs him that he has heard from The Douche: they agree to meet up at  an Indian restaurant in the Social Enterprises quarter within an hour to make the hand-over. Meanwhile, Daddy heads down to the Slums looking for Brad, but gets pointed back up the boulevard to where Brad ought to be peddling his wares... in  a car park at the back of the Social Enterprises quarter. Mr. Benson meets Taft inside and they make their exchange: Taft gets the info about The Douche's potential drug-dealing in the 'hood and the gang boss gets Taft's protection in the matter (so Elaine took -2 heat for her character, as offered in her Love Letter.) Outside in the car park, Daddy is done negotiating and talking: when he finds Brad, he breaks his arm and he and his son Norville carry the stricken drug dealer back to the slums to collect the hardware.

The negotiations with Special Agent Taft have not gone totally in Mr. Benson's favour: Taft makes it clear that he considers Benson to be in his pocket now, which does not sit well with the gang boss. After Taft leaves to arrange an operation to catch The Douche tonight at the Santa Monica Pier, Mr. Benson call's Juliette's number... The Douche answers. The gang boss wastes no time in selling out Taft, giving The Douche a 'friendly warning' about the operation heading his way...

With the hardware finally in his possession, Daddy and Norville head to the pier, but Daddy gets a strange feeling of deja vu just moments before the Burger Bar he was instructed to deliver the goods to blows up! The pier collapses around them, sending himself, Norville, a lot of tourists and several members of a tactical assault team into the flaming, churning water...

In the early hours of the morning, a weary Daddy drags himself to Mr. Benson's place, which is now manned by Turk once again: the gang boss has a talk with The Douche again, the latter now assured that Daddy never had "the drive" or he wouldn't have waited so long to deliver it, so he agrees to release Juliette. By the time he gets home, Juliette is waiting for Daddy on the corner, but the last 24 hours have made him very paranoid and he frisks her for a wire... just as her mother Thureau pulls up!

Mr. Benson is still concerned over "the drive" and thinks that perhaps Sarah might have it: Turk pleads with his boss to let him ask her (though he does have to take Norville with him after Daddy insists on his son getting some 'work experience' with Mr. Benson's crew.) Turk returns later to assure his boss that Sarah doesn't have it but she does know about it: Frank told her that the one person he had trusted his whole life was looking after it and Mr. Benson realises he still has Frank's Mom's number...

Back at the auto-repair shop, Thureau angrily helps Juliette to pack her cases, throwing possessions randomly into the back of her car: Daddy decides the best thing he can do for his daughter now is to protect her from The Douche and the danger in the 'hood, so he lets her go (and Guy takes Juliette's name from his payback box.) After this, he heads to the hospital to collect Patchwork, who has recovered from her shock and minor injury by now.

Phoning Frank's Mom leads to an emotional conversation for Mr. Benson and breaching the delicate subject of stuff her son might have sent to her recently sets her off into a diatribe about clearing his things out of the attic, including the big collection of comic books that were the only thing he cared about as a child. The dreadful penny drops for Mr. Benson: the drive is in the Captain America bust! He calls Daddy, who is just about to race back to the Pawn Shop when Patchwork tells him that she liked the bust so much that she bought it back off Brian and put it in her room: the one she shares with Juliette. They race indoors only to find the bedroom virtually stripped bare and we cut to a scene of Thureau and Juliette driving out of the 'hood, with a backseat piled with Juliette's belongings, and there, proudly sitting atop them, is the bust of Captain America...

This may or may not have been the final episode: obviously, a lot of things are left hanging in the plot above, so if we feel like it, we'll carry on playing to see what happens next.

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