Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t be blogging about this game at all, right now: the last anyone would have heard about it would have been Session 3.
That doesn’t mean the game is going poorly! Far, far from it. However, there’s a ton of other stuff going on at the moment (work stuff, writing stuff, audiobook stuff, end of semester stuff, kids stuff, family stuff), and the simple fact is this: if the only way I had to record what happened in this game was writing down a detailed actual play, then nothing would be getting recorded.
Luckily, that’s not the case, since we’re playing the game on Google Hangouts “on air”, which automatically records it to Youtube. A bit of tweaking, settings changes, and playlist adjustment, and we get an excellent record of everything “previously on.”
This is everything so far:
I don’t think having these video recordings have made me any more or less likely to write down an actual play, but it does make me very happy something is being recorded, even when I’m stupidly busy.
Also, there are a few other nice benefits:
When I have time to ‘do stuff’ related to the game, I can prepare things for the next session, instead of writing about the last one.
I can rewatch prior sessions (or play them on my phone during drives and just listen to them podcast-style) to remind myself of stuff I’d introduced that I want to reincorporate.
The roll20 app is WONDERFUL for giving me a central place to both store and organize all the random stuff I’ve pulled together for the game, while at the same time providing means for sharing it with the players.
So: sorry for not writing things up in detail, but for real detail, nothing works much better than listening to exactly what happened in the session.
I will certainly have a post-game analysis of the good, bad, and ugly for both the game and for the Hangouts/Roll20 gaming medium. At this point, I would guess that we’ll have about eight sessions in total (tonight’s will be seven). Eight was my first estimate, then I’d started to think it would run to nine, but last session (after some hemming and hawing) the players sprang into action and pretty much skipped right over a whole subplot that didn’t grab them, so we’re back on track for eight.
The big challenge tonight? Everyone kind of split up, so we’re going to be splitting the camera time between three different scenes for awhile, which may or may not slow things down – we’re splitting up the camera time, but covering three times as much ground? Maybe? My guess is it’ll be a wash, or possibly lose us a bit of time on an additional scene where everyone gets caught up to everyone else.
I’m excited: this is the most consistent and continual RPG thing I’ve been able to run in over three years – as far as ‘online tabletop’ gaming goes, the tech has finally arrived in my opinion – I don’t know if it’s a golden age for online tabletop gaming, but it sure feels like it.
After a week off for illness (mine) we’re jumping back into the Demolished Ones tonight, with session five.
While checking up on my notes, I realized I’d never posted an actual play for this session and, with thirty minutes to play time, it’s a bit too late.
Thankfully, there is at least a complete audio and video recording of the entire session. Phew.
Below, I’ve embedded a playlist for the entire campaign’s recordings thus far – the last two are for session four (we had a technical issue that necessitated restarting the hangout). Enjoy! My next write-up will try to sum up both sessions four and five.
“But first, I believe formal introductions are in order.”
The statement hangs in the air for more than a few moments, bringing silence to the booth at the late-night public house.
Finally, [Dave] speaks up: “Victor Edwards.”
I held up a Fate point. “I will give this to you if you now finish the sentence: ‘I think I was…'”
“I think I was…” says Victor, “someone in Her Majesty’s service.”
“Ah,” replies [Kim]. “I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m Ophelia Stevens.” (A name Victor seems to associate with the scandalsheet-populating hijinx of the youthful nobility.)
“Just call me Red,” says Red, and turns to their large companion.
“Barnaby Cornelius Crispin,” he murmurs. Seems he’s got a name that matches his stature.
Once introductions are done and everyone basically shares what they are willing to share. From there, they decide to check out the boarding house for which they have a key.
Situated just south of Eden Park at the northern tip of Merchant’s Gate, the Cassius is an old and respected boarding house fallen upon hard times.
The building itself is a three-story affair with a common room, six guest rooms, and indoor plumbing.
One of the rooms here was apparently rented out by Jack Smith.
Smith’s boarding house room is a humble affair: bedroom/living room/table/everything else. It contains a bed, dresser, wardrobe, table, chair, and lamp. Objects of note:
A small, snub-nosed revolver sits on top of a dresser, next to a few playing cards. It’s not loaded. It doesn’t match the holster that Smith was wearing.
Five playing cards. The cards are Jacks of five different suits: spades, clubs, hearts, diamonds, and… crosses?
There is a flyer for the Society of Free Thought on a small table, just like the one at Smith’s house, except this one is covered with scribbles from Smith.
Also on the table with the Society flyer is small a collection of photographs. One photograph is a picture of a symbol carved in stone above a door: an eye in a circle (the same symbol as the one carved in the handle of the supposed murder weapon).
The other three seem to be surveillance-style photographs of two men meeting.
Off to the Cherub
Once the group feels as though they have found everything there is to find, they get out of the boarding house and head (at Barnaby’s request) to the Cherub, where he remembers being fairly often. Turns out the Cherub is a fairly nice place… where not-nice things are arranged for. Barnaby has the other three taken to a private room, and meets up with a petite blonde woman named Cassiel, who is the Cherub’s ‘fixer’ – someone who sets up wealthy patrons with just the right person for an unseemly job. She’s also ostensibly the sous chef. Life is funny that way.
Cassiel knows Barnaby and seems to have a bit of a thing for him, and is quite willing to help him out with his questions. She recognizes the younger man in the photos – some politician nicknamed “Velvet” – though she only knows that the older guy in the suit and robe is one of the more prominent members of the Society of Conscious Thought, though she can’t say what his name is.
Barnaby gets a few more questions answered and arranges to make contact with Cassiel later, then gathers up everyone else and heads toward the Society of Conscious Thought, with a brief stop to pick up some ammunition for Victor’s recently acquired handgun.
As befits the hall of an ostensibly secret society, the Hall of Free Thought looks small and unassuming from the outside, with only the Society’s symbol (an eye in a circle) outwardly marking it.
No doorman guards the door, though there is a desk with a receptionist of sorts just inside the door, in the foyer.
The inside of the Hall is considerably more opulent than the outside. As much of the Hall is underground, it is a much larger building than it seems to be from the outside. The Hall contains a vast common room furnished with couches, chairs, tables, and a bar. This is where members of the Society gather to see and be seen, and to engage in stimulating conversation. The occasional card game is played here, though high-stakes gambling is strictly prohibited within the Hall.
The four, escorted in by Carolyn, immediately notice the large portrait prominently displayed in the main room, obviously the robed gentleman from the surveillance photos. Carolyn informs them that is “The Beneficient One” – head of the Society.
The Beneficent One is around, but probably will not be out in the common area tonight, explains Carolyn. Mr. Tock, another senior member, will very likely be out soon, following a meeting, however.
The four basically kill time for a bit, with Mr. Crispin casing the place, Victor sitting down with the younger men playing at cards, Ophelia poking through the bookshelves, and Red getting a drink from the bartender and the other end of the room.
Victor’s learns from the junior members playing poker that only a few rooms past the common room are open to members of their level, with private rooms available to those that live in the House, and even more secure chambers reserved for the senior members who run the Society, such as Mr. Tock and The Beneficent One.
Ophelia spots all of the “six books” she saw at Jack Smith’s house, but not repeated in any suspicous manner. She also spots (and secures) two pages of a rather odd little test, apparently left behind on a small side table.
Mr. Crispin verifies that all the doors out of the common room are locked.
Red is having a frustrating conversation with the barman, who is on his guard and not likely to chat with a patron of the Society, or share secrets about his employers.
An odd thing happens as Barnaby comes over to check in on Red.
First, Red tries to convince him that he really does want to help her and, in the same way she likes to take apart the mechanisms of things they’ve been finding, it seems as though she actually does that – take the man’s head apart a bit and put it together in a way that’s more suitable to her needs.
Something sort of rings in Barnaby’s head when she does this. He leans against the bar, nods to the barkeep, and says “Hello, old friend,” and – just like that, the barkeep is an old friend of his – has always been an old friend of his, in fact, and how could he have forgotten something like that?
Ophelia and Victor notice … something… when this happens, and both turn toward the bar, just as a door into the room opens and a well-dressed man steps through.
Good evening, he says, smiling at Ophelia. “I am Mr. Tock. I hope I can help you.”
And that’s where things ended. Next session: Tonight!
“Anyone know where Beacon Street is?” He looks around at the quiet, fog-shrouded night streets. “Or where we are?”
That’s where we ended session one of The Demolished Ones and, surprise surprise, where we picked up with session two.
I opened this up by informing the players that once [Dave] asked the question, the characters realize they do kind of know where they are, even if they don’t really know why, or have much context.
I played around with this a bit, by asking everyone what specific areas in the city they remember, even if it’s without context.
I also asked everyone (but Dave, who’d already defined this) for a notable item on their person.
Dave: A richly appointed sitting room, with dead men lying on the floor.
Kim: Carries a parasol. Remembers a very richly appointed sitting room, deeply shadowed, and [Kim]’s feeling here is that she was more a host and less a guest. I add a bit more ‘color’ here, because this plays in really well to my own diabolical plans.
“Red” (Amanda): On her person: a derringer in her handbag. Location: A small cottage in a garden.
Reggie: On his person: a nice pair of brass knuckles that say “Lucky” along the side. Place he remembers: a shady sort of club – “a place where proper gentlemen go to get improper things done.” I tell him he remembers the name of the place – Old Bollards.
The four of them are somewhat lost in their own thoughts, remembering what they remember (or checking their weapons) as they drive to Beacon Street.
They notice quite a few more people walking the street in this area, and a higher police presence. The civilians are dressed fairly well, top hats and tails, mostly, with [Dave] dressed in probably the high-middle range of what they’re seeing in the area, and [Reggie] somewhere near the low end of appropriate, as a well-dressed day laborer (albeit an enormous one, noticeable for other reasons).
They get to 615 Beacon Street but, seeing two uniformed police officers milling about the front door of the house, they keep right on walking, then turn down a side street and take a moment to assess the situation.
Dave wants to have taken a ‘read’ on the policemen, so I have him give a value to his Empathy (and an associated Aspect). He writes down Empathy: Good (+3) and the Aspect “We Are All the Children of Adam and Eve.”
Reggie wanted a quick scan of the actual physical details with the cops, so I have him define Alertness and an Aspect. He selects Alertness: Fair (+2), and an Aspect “Don’t. Trust. Anybody.”
Kim wants to get an idea of how the house might be able to be gotten into, so I have her roll Burglary, which she already has.
Here’s what we get:
Dave: The officers are Distracted and Tired, and Dave rolls well enough he’ll be able to take advantage of these aspects, once, for free (no Fate points).
Reggie: The officers are armed with Revolvers and Nightsticks, and he’s fairly sure that, while they are trained, he could take them – though he might not want to fight two at once, he could.
Kim: She feels she could get in a second story window, but also that there’s probably an alley that leads to a back entrance. She’s quite sure – already – what the interior of a house like this will be.
A bit of planning goes on as they lurk in the side street, and ultimately what they decide to do is have [Dave] go chat with the Police (hoping they aren’t looking for them, specifically), to keep them distracted while the other three sneak into the back of the house and have a look around.
This goes well enough, with [Dave] using the Distracted and Tired to beef up the roll he makes with his (third) new skill – Rapport: Fair (+2), which also leads to him adding a third aspect “The masks go on so easily.” (Love it!)
Meanwhile, [Kim] has led the other two around the back, down an alley. She takes this chance to pick up Investigate: Average (+1) while searching for laundry left hanging out to dry behind a house, which she uses to replace her bloodstained jacket (and adds the aspect “Find out about Others before they find out about You.” Once at the back door of the house, she unleashes her Burglary again, then leads the trio sneaking into the house (picking up Stealth: Good (+3), and the Aspect “Nobody Notices a Child.”
615 Beacon Street
Aspects: Lived In Feel; Something’s Not Right.; Small, dark, and Cramped
The lower floor is mostly just the eat-in kitchen and a front sitting room. Upstairs, there’s a bedroom, study, and bathroom.
“Red” investigates the kitchen, which has no overt clues as to Smith’s identity, though there are some things that don’t quite add up. There are plates in the cupboards, but no dishes. The only drinking vessels are teacups – forty-five of them. The cutlery drawer is all forks. The refrigerator (!) has a bottle of half-spoiled milk, four bottles of ketchup, and stacks and stacks of collard greens. The pantry has one shelf of nothing but canned green beans, and three overstuffed shelves of canned dog food. (There is no other sign of a dog in the house… and no can opener in any of the drawers.)
[Kim] checks out the front sitting room, and finds a flyer for Society of Free Thought, though the unexpected dust in the room makes her rush back to the kitchen for a barely-muffled sneezing fit.
[Dave] barely manages to cover up the sneezing from out front, asking the police about why they’re out here in the middle of the evening. One of the police snags a recent newspaper off the steps of the neighbors house and folds it open to the bottom front page.
[Reggie] creeps upstairs and, spotting nothing of note in the upstairs sitting room, moves on to the bedroom, where the wardrobe gives him more than a bit of trouble – the door sticks and he pulls it across the wooden floor somewhat loudly, trying to open it. (Botched untrained Investigate, which he didn’t want to put points into.)
“Red” (and, in a few seconds, [Kim]) rush upstairs as quickly and quietly as they can. “Red” sees what she can do to help [Reggie], while [Kim] checks the study again (noticing that the three bookshelves in the room only have four copies each of the same six books, arranged randomly: Ulysses, Brave New World, the Bible (KJV), Flatland (all used and dogeared identically), and the M-Mi volume of an encyclopedia set.
[Kim] then moves on to check the bathroom, but only has time to note that the room is bereft of any toiletries before the Cursed Wardrobe Strikes Again. “Red” tries to open the other door, which shrieks its unoiled protest so loudly that the police outside decide to investigate.
The three inside race (quietly, mostly) to the back door and manage to get outside just as the police unlock and open the front. They warn [Dave] away and proceed inside… [Dave] makes himself extremely scarce, and the four meet up a few blocks away.
The set out on foot, “Red” (walking with [Reggie]) unconsciously guiding them toward a neighborhood pub. [Dave] and [Kim] bring up the rear, and fall much further behind when [Dave] spots someone in one of the houses along the street watching television in the front room. Black and white television but… yeah. That’s television.
What’s weirder: that there’s a television, or that they know exactly what it is?
… or that they know it’s wrong.
“Red” whistles for them to catch up and, turning back down the street, nearly collides with a wild-eyed man, reeking of fish. “Red” lets out a startled sound, and [Reggie] interposes himself.
After a few moments of Edward’s rambling (he’s clearly not well) they decide he’s harmless and, given what they’ve seen in the last few hours, must have noticed how odd everything in the City is and, quite understandably, went off his head.
After a few minutes of mad, cryptic comments (*points at [Dave]* “You used to work for them, and YOU” *points at [Kim]* “You didn’t work for them, and that’s even worse…”), he runs off down the street, hollering about brain juices and green beans.
Bemused, the quartet makes it the rest of the way to the public house and, holed up in a nice booth with pints all around, share out all the odd clues they’ve discovered (except for the bloody knife, which [Kim] mentions but keeps in her handbag), noting the key and the recurrence of the Society of Conscious Thought (on both the flyer from the house and the “Orphan” news clipping from the warehouse).
A bit stumped, they ponder the key “Red” found on Jack Smith. [Dave] uses a drunkard act and a bit of Rapport to get the bartender to tell them the key engraved with CBH 5 is probably from the Cassius Boarding House. Since it was obvious (to [Kim] at least) that Smith didn’t actually live in the house they just visited, it seems a visit to the Boarding House is in order.
“But first,” says [Kim], “I believe formal introductions are order.”
And that’s where we’ll pick up for Session Three.
Finally, for those who’d like to watch the whole recording, here you go:
Because I didn’t have enough going on, I decided to start an online game of Fate, using a combination of Google Hangouts, Roll20, and (after the fact) YouTube (to share the recorded game sessions).
This is what I sent out to a long list of potential players:
You wake up in a room.
The floor is cold, stone, dry. The lights – three bare bulbs dangling from the rafters – do little to dispell the gloom. It takes time for your eyes to adjust.
You stand, brushing grit and dust from the front of a tailored jacket you’re sure you’ve never seen before. There’s a red stain on the sleeve.
Don’t worry. It’s not your blood.
I’d like to run a short rpg game, via Google Hangouts. Somewhere between three to six sessions, once a week, probably on a weeknight, after dinner and the kids are in bed, and wrapping up in time for everyone to get to sleep at a reasonable time. Don’t worry about the system or anything – the scenario is set up to teach the game and create characters as we play – it’s a method that works particularly well with this system.
The italicized bit is the basic set up.
If you’re interested, let me know. If you’re not, for whatever reason, don’t reply. 🙂 Easy peasy.
If we get enough people (I’d say three), we’re good to go.
I ended up with four, we agreed on a good night (Mondays) and started play last week.
Now, as I said, we recorded the game session as we were playing (check out session one, here), but while it was a nice recording, it doesn’t capture what’s going on in the Roll20 window, so the handouts that I’m laying out in the virtual tabletop area can’t be seen by anyone watching the video later.
The upside: that means I’m still going to end up doing written play reports.
You Wake Up In A Room
I started with everyone unconscious and lost in unpleasant dreams. Each character’s dreams were different, and I slipped ‘notes’ to each player via Roll20 to let them know what sort of images they were struggling with.
Kim:A strange looking needle, coming toward your eye.
Reggie: The sound of a deadbolt sliding into place.
Amanda: Someone standing over you, shadowed, a knife in their hand.
Dave: The feel of something in your hand: a straight, hard handle, slightly curved and rough to the touch.
Reggie wakes up first, and after getting his bearings a bit…
… he turns his attention to the other three people lying on the floor nearby.
Still on his knees, he moves over and tries to wake up Kim who, upon seeing Reggie, freaks out – to her, right then, he seems a horrible monster – and crab-walks backward and right onto/over Dave, who starts to stir. All this ruckus (Dave trying to get out from under the scrambling woman, Kim trying to get away, and Reggie trying to calm Kim down) wakes up Amanda, who is furthers from Reggie and closest to the door.
The bare bulbs are bright enough to give some illumination to the room, but there are shadows and dark corners everywhere.
Along one of the long walls are a desk and chair. There are three steel drums in one corner; from here, they smell of oil.
I stop at this point and have each player give us the most notable physical feature about the character belonging to the player to their virtual ‘left’. Here’s what we got (with pictures that came later):
Reggie: (via Amanda) He’s huge. Hulking. Well over seven feet tall.
Amanda: (via Dave) She’s Irish – just definitively Irish. Red hair. Freckles. Et cetera.
Kim: (via Reggie) She’s tiny. Clearly a grown woman, but about the size of a ten-year-old girl.
The four, still a bit on their guard, start poking around. Their clothes are bit odd to them – Victorian style garb – comfortable, but not familiar. Kim is struck by the clothing in contrast to the electric light bulbs, and by the rotary phone on an old wooden table-style desk on one side of the large room. Incongruous.
Amanda messes with the phone a bit (the phone has a dial tone, but 911 yields no response, and she knows no other numbers), and heads to the other end of the room to check out a stack of fairly new and smelly oil drums while Reggie tries the nearby door (heavy, metal, and apparently barred). Dave’s trying to ask questions of everyone, but no one really wants to chat, at least in part because no one really remembers who they are, how they got here, or why they all seem to have a few bloodstains on their clothes, but no injuries.
Amanda Investigates the barrels and I have her tell me what rating she’d like the skill at. She selects 2 (Fair) and writes up a Character Aspect to go along with the skill.
“I investigate everything.” (Lovely, and nicely compellable.)
She discovers someone else behind the barrels, sitting an old wooden chair and asleep.
Or… no. Not asleep. She can’t say how she can tell with just a glance, but the mystery man is definitely dead.
Also interesting: Amanda doesn’t announce the dead body, and instead quietly searches him for clues and information, snagging a wallet from an inside jacket pocket, and a key from a pants pocket. Also: a very ’cause of death’-looking stab wound on the back of his neck that completely severed his collar and tie.
Meanwhile, Reggie can’t get the door open, and Kim (perhaps trying to get further from Reggie) heads toward the same end of the room as Amanda, where there’s a large cargo-loading sized door all along the far short end of the room, chained and padlocked.
Kim pulls few bobby pins out of her hair and starts going to work on the lock (making some notes on her character sheet):
Aspect: I’m Used to Getting out of Tight Situations
Good (+3): Burglary
The lock is huge and stiff, though, and while the bobby pins can move the tumblers, actually turning the lock will require something a little more sturdy. Kim casts around for something like that and sees (over by the oil drums, but on the side away from crouching Amanda) a knife.
A bloody knife. Oh good.
Kim, like Amanda, is quite unfazed by the evidence of violence, picks up the knife, wipes it down a bit, and goes back to the lock.
Reggie, after struggling with the locked door and eying the windows fifteen feet overhead, growls to himself, stalks over past Dave toward the desk, and picks up the chair next to desk in one hand.
The phone rings.
Reggie stops, obviously nonplussed, but Dave reacts with little surprise, picking up the handset and answering with a cautious “hello?”
“The police are coming,” says a female voice. “You need to get out of there. They can’t find you with the body.”
“What body?” asks Dave, but the line has gone dead.
“Ahh… apparently the police are coming,” Dave announces, loud enough to carry. “And… is there a body in here?!?”
“Yes…” Amanda answers, waving distractedly back toward the barrels she’s now abandoned.
Reggie growls, turns, and whips the chair at the window above and to the right of the door.
Aspect: When I get mad I get REALLY mad
Good (+3): Might
The chair is destroyed, as is the window.
The two-tone sound of police sirens is distant in the foggy night air, but getting closer.
“Do you need help?” asks Dave? “Should I climb up on your sh– Oh. We can use the desk.”
He moves the phone to the side, starts to pick up one end of the light desk, but Reggie simply picks the whole thing up and carries it beneath the window and starts to climb up.
Dave climbs up after him, then takes the boost up to the now-clear window sill. The room – a warehouse, Dave realizes – is sunken a bit on this end of the building: it’s a fifteen foot drop inside, but only 10 to the street. He makes it easily – he’s surprisingly fit for a gentleman.
Aspect: Priest’s head on a soldier’s shoulders.
Equipment: A sharp pen knife with a rough wooden handle.
Good (+3): Athletics
From the outside, Dave is easily able to unbar the door (just as Kim finesses open the lock on the far end of the building and slips off the chain) – the door was bar, but the bar wasn’t locked in place – almost as if it was only meant to keep someone in.
Reggie heads out once the door is open, but Amanda stays for a moment, suddenly curious (Aspect Compel) about the lone drawer in the desk. She snags Reggie and says “Can you break this?” indicating the desk.
He doesn’t even pause. Once hammering fist and the desk is in two pieces. Amanda snags the two newspaper clippings inside and tucks them in with the rest of her collection of Odd Things.
Meanwhile, Kim has stepped out into some kind of loading yard at the back of the building and (after spending a Fate point to declare it’s there) hotwires a truck parked in the back.
The other three, gathered in front of “Warehouse 23”, hear an engine getting closer from the alley alongside the building (see crude map) and stare as the tiny woman in the truck lurches to a stop next to them.
“Need a lift?”
“Shotgun,” Dave immediately replies. Amanda grumbles. Reggie was already climbing in the back – the only spot he’d fit.
They pile in, and Kim instinctively heads away from the sirens.
I stop here and ask each player for the most notable personality trait of the person to their virtual right:
Amanda: (via Reggie) Scatterbrained – a flibbertigibbet
Dave: (via Amanda) Always looks like he’s plotting something
Kim: (via Dave) One damn determined woman
Reggie: (via Kim) Kind.
The players each note these observations on their character sheets.
They ride in silence for a few moments, then Dave says “So… where are we going?”
“615 Beacon Street,” replies Amanda. Everyone looks at her, sitting in the back seat, reading a card she’s pulled from a man’s wallet.
She holds up the card – some sort of ID for one Jack Smith. “I found it on the body.”
“Riiiight,” Dave says, then, “Anyone know where Beacon Street is?” He looks around at the quiet, fog-shrouded night streets. “Or where we are?”