Friday, 14 May 2010

The Ministry of Blades : The Case of the Jade Dragon (an Untold Tale of the Ministry), episode 1

Marsh encounters a dragon, Prentiss swings a boathook.

Played

8th April 2010.

Dramatis Personae

* Lady Antonia deVore - a Heavily-armed Aristocrat.
* Captain Benson Curruthers - a Military Policeman.
* Jack Prentiss - a Dodgy Pedestrian.
* Rodney Marsh - a Partially-reformed Thief.
* Mr Erasmus Rooke - the Boss.
* A Mysterious Chinese Gentleman.
* Several Burly Guards.
* Eight Tong Gangsters.

Plot

A couple of weeks before dealing with the Highbury Horrror, the team (who had yet to encounter Miss Sharpe and Miss Spit) were assigned to watch the unloading of, identify and possibly secure, a package from a ship newly-arrived from the Orient. Although Mr Rooke seemed to know which ship and when and where it would dock, he was not forthcoming with the nature of the cargo.

Heading into Limehouse as night fell, the group quickly located the target dock and Marsh quietly broke into a neighbouring warehouse. They climbed the interior staircases and took up residence on the flat roof, from which they could watch the unloading of the Orient Star.

The ship was not long in arriving, and a number of Chinese dock workers appeared as it tied up at the wharf. Gangplanks were run out and a steam-powered crane brought into operation under the bright arc-lights of the dockyard. The team watched as thirty crates of varying sizes were removed from the hold, and also took note of the presence of a tall, elegant individual in Chinese dress watching from the bridge of the ship, flanked by heavyset guards. Marsh attempted to get closer to the ship, but was nearly spotted by the guards and had to leave rapidly. Eventually, the dock workers finished unloading the vessel, were paid and left, along with most of the guards and the observer. Prentiss decided to follow the observer, assuming he was some sort of boss, as he got into a carriage and was delivered to a luxurious hotel nearby.

When he rejoined them, the team crossed to the roof of the next warehouse, in which the goods were being stored, and descended to explore. They found the crates on the ground floor and while Lady Antonia kept watch, Prentiss began examining them, discovering a quantity of souvenirs, food and other trade goods.

Curruthers and Marsh checked out the office overlooking the ground floor and found a cabinet full of papers written in Chinese, of which some bore a mark also found on one of the crates being unloaded. Deciding this was significant, they returned to the floor and located that crate. Levering it open, they uncovered a statue of a Chinese dragon carved out of a single huge block of jade; as Marsh examined it, a pale replica, apparently made of mist, coalesced above it and struck at him, knocking him out. The others leapt in to help and Curruthers forced the lid back down on to it, just as the doors banged open and a gang of eight Chinamen ran in brandishing wicked-looking meat cleavers.

Battle began following a shouted challenge and the team shot half the attackers before they reached the crates. A confused meleé broke out, and the heroes prevailed, despite the attackers' spectacular high kicks. Marsh recovered in a timely fashion and used his rat amulet to sneak up behind one of the attackers, who had an injured Lady Antonia at his mercy. Wielding a boathook in an impressive fashion, Prentiss managed to force one to surrender (the others died of their injuries).

Notes

I ran this story because two of the players had the temerity to take a two week trip to Japan. The flashback story has no bearing on the current Pyramids of Hertfordshire storyline, but is more of a Marvel-style ‘untold story’. The plot itself reflects the kind of things these people do when they're not chasing vampires and is derived from the unused tong/underworld war plot I wanted to use in the Temple Vampire. This was intended to be a one off, but the Eyjafjallajökull volcano had other ideas…

4 comments:

  1. I really like the Untold Tales idea, although one difficulty is the players realising that they have Plot Immunity; however, if they're good, they play along. I did something similar a while ago for my defunct Call of Cthulhu game, and we had a great time.

    I also have to love the details here. My inner fuzzy middle-class liberal weeps at the cultural stereotyping, but it's so fun and evocative!

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  2. I can see what you mean about the "Plot Immunity" but you have to remember, this is a pulp game - the players are meant to survive! It simply becomes an exercise in exploring the player characters' past.

    Regarding the stereotyping, I agree 100% and I was running it! On the one hand, you want to avoid any stereotypes, on the other, they're important to the feel of the whole thing. It's much easier with orcs... If it helps, these are out-and-out gangsters (as will become clear in later instalments), not run of the mill residents of Limehouse :)

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  3. Good point; since it's a pulp game, Plot Immunity is much less of an issue. And if someone dies, you could always have the "modern" version be a twin brother, or run a story where they come back from the dead, or some other pulpy twist.

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  4. The "bennies" system allows for alot, but mostly it's just a case of "this is the genre", let's run with it. The players know (I hope) not to take too much advantage!

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