Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Ministry of Blades : The Highbury Horror

Marsh provokes a brawl; April gains a stalker.

Played

25th February 2010.

Dramatis Personae

Lady Antonia deVore - a Heavily-armed Aristocrat.
Miss Constantina Spit - a Rebellious Debutante.
Captain Benson Curruthers - a Military Policeman.
Jack Prentiss - a Dodgy Pedestrian.
Miss April Sharpe - a Self-taught Inventor.
Rodney Marsh - a Partially-reformed Thief.
Mr Erasmus Rooke - the Boss;
A Large Gentleman.
Another Large Gentleman with a Short Temper.
Assorted Pub-goers.

Plot

It was three months after the case of the Temple Vampire. Following a dressing-down over their precipitous conclusion to the case, Professor Wyntermere and Doctor Crabb had temporarily withdrawn from active service, leaving Marsh and Lady Antonia to babysit a quartet of junior agents through a series of basic surveillance and information-gathering tasks.

Their latest mission took them out to Highbury, where there had been reports of a brutal individual of great stature terrorising the local inhabitants. Several women had gone missing and the Metropolitan Police, as usual, were at a loss to stop the attacks. The Ministry was taking an interest because the descriptions of the attacker bore a great resemblance to the perpetrator of the Hyde Attacks a couple of years before. The team were assigned to survey the situation, gather intelligence on the attacks and, if possible, identify the attacker so that a task force could remove him from the public arena.

After briefly exploring the area, the team decided to try asking the locals what they knew. Spotting a public drinking establishment on a nearby corner, they divided into two teams: Miss Sharp, Prentiss and Marsh would enter the bar, while Miss Spit and Captain Curruthers would ask questions in the more genteel surroundings of the lounge. Lady Antonia decided this was not the place for an aristocrat and remained outside, prepared for trouble. Things went well for half an hour or so: buying the occasional drink, Curruthers, Miss Sharpe and Prentiss spoke to a number of the clientele, while Miss Spit rapidly found herself at the centre of a group of admirers. Marsh toyed with starting a game of chance, then decided on a more direct approach, asking if any large ugly types had been seen in the area: at this point, it all went downhill, as he found himself standing next to a large ugly gentleman.

Lady Antonia was briefly shocked by the sound of breaking glass, then realised that Marsh had joined her in the street. The rest of the team decided discretion was the greater part of valour and they met up to compare notes. Four attacks had taken place in an area a quarter of a mile square, all but one fatally; the lady in question was in shock and seeing no-one, but had spoken of being grabbed by a large, well-dressed man with calloused hands. All attacks had taken place late at night and had involved individuals, except in one case where a couple was murdered.

The team decided to try to lure the attacker out to see if they could identify him and divided into three teams: Miss Spit and Curruthers, Miss Sharpe and Prentiss and Lady Antonia and Marsh. In each case, the female member walked apparently alone while her colleague followed at a discrete distance. The plan worked: Miss Sharpe was promptly grabbed from within a shadowed alley by a huge figure. She screamed for help and pulled out her pistol as Prentiss rushed to the rescue; the others, all operating on nearby streets, also raced to the scene. Miss Sharpe was finding that her pistol was having little effect, the bullets getting lost in her attacker's voluminous cloak, while Prentiss began trying to club him over the head. Marsh arrived and laid into him with his knives, before Curruthers and Lady Antonia were able to take potshots with their own weapons.

The attacker proved to be incredibly tough, but eventually they brought him down through sheer persistence, drugged and cuffed him and then dragged him back to the Ministry. By the time they had arrived, the attacker had mysteriously shrunk and was now a scrawny young man. Prentiss remarked that he had seen something similar before and Mr Rooke confirmed that there had been a small number of sightings of creatures bearing similar abilities and appearance to the mysterious Mr Hyde of several years previous. The monster was taken away for examination and the team commended for their success, before being asked to return the following morning for their next briefing.

Notes

This mission was intended to perform the same role as the battle with the rat-men at the beginning of the Temple Vampire: shake-down the new characters and give the new players a chance to get used to the combat system. The investigation seemed to get a little involved as I was expecting the team to explore the streets first and just get attacked, but the final version allowed for another classic Marsh foot-in-mouth incident so was a definite improvement. The new characters got a chance to show what they were made of and establish their personalities, but as usual, the fight went on slightly too long, partly because I forgot the monster was an Extra, rather than a Wild Card, and gave it too many wounds.

I'm getting better at this, though!

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