Critical Hints Episode 7: Pummeled by Foam

CHpod

In this episode Curtis and I discussed LARP vs. Tabletop, as well as, the first session of our new V20 Chronicle, changes to our D&D 3.5 game, and Shadowrun 5E.

To submit your thoughts for next time, or an item for the Community Talk segment, just talk to us either on our Facebook page or @CriticalHints on Twitter.

Download https://archive.org/download/jon_Ch7/ch7.mp3 Size: 41.0 MB Running Time: 44:48

Discussed in this show:

D&D (5E) books

AD&D (3.5) books

V20 (Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition)   book or pdf

Shadowrun Fifth Edition book

Shadowrun Beginner Box

Critical Hints Plays: Vampire Preludes

CHpod

This is our first episode of Critical Hints Plays. I have recorded the Preludes that we played out over Facebook Messenger. Please excuse any uneven audio levels or horrible Germanic accents. This narrative brings all of the characters together in one place and sets the stage for our first session.

This game is run using Onyx Path’s Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Rulebook. Character types and Systems are their intellectual property.

Download https://archive.org/download/jon_Vdn0/vdn0.mp3

Lucianna

It was some time in winter, some time in the 1400s. Time in the box has made it abundantly clear, that Lucianna didn’t cherish the individual nights like she should have. Weary of her studies and needing to feed she wandered out into the Roman night.

Hunting had become much more dangerous in these nights, as each victim of the kiss, becomes a possible way of being tracked. Lucianna have opted to go further between feedings, making the kill herself, rather than leaving the decision to fate, so she could properly dispose of the leftovers.

On that night, she focused her hearing to try to pick up the patterns that point to a lone straggler walking away from the herd. Soon, she caught a pattern of boots on the cobble stones a few alleys away. The step pattern indicated a heavy limp on one side and the assistance of a cane.

She quietly approached the alleyway, being careful to approach her quarry from their rear. A figure in monks robes was limping away from her, leaned over and laboring forward.

Up the alleyway she looked, cautious of any interruptions that may spoil her dinner. Opting for both simplicity and strength she followed close behind, and once they met the center of the alley she struck, aiming to pull the man’s cane free before simply grabbing him and setting her fangs to skin.

As she spun him around, she realized the mistake immediately. He turned to face her, standing as he did, his eyes laughing at her as he cried out into the night. “I found it!”

The alleyway was filled with an inky blackness as she could hear the muffled footsteps of his conspirators converging. Suddenly there were hands all over her, lifting her from the ground

“Do not touch me!” Frantically she flailed, her focus upon wrenching her arms free to take out those coming for her.

A voice from behind her. “Ahhh, a feisty one.” His voice was mesmerizing and majestic, draining away her edge and her instinct to fight.

Fading from her very bones she gradually stilled. “What do you want?”

The blackness lifted and she found herself face to face with a woman from the barbarian lands to the far north, her Latin carried a Germanic lilt to it but remained recognizable. “We represent the Protectorate, a name you have probably never heard. If you are not the last of your bloodline, then any others remaining are far better at hiding than you.”

She paused to pick her words carefully. “I’m sorry for what we must do, but to stave off Gehenna your life must be saved. Please, do not resist as we do what must be done.”

“Gehenna?” Struck to the core Lucianna did not as they asked but instead edged backward, aiming to place distance between herself and the strange woman. “I am but a misplaced warrior, left with nothing to defend. What would you need with me?”

“We need you to survive. Something that warriors have a history of not doing. Please… Your blood must not be brought to extinction.” The barbarian begged as if for her own life.

Halting, her eyes narrowed, Lucianna knew that her nights of running may have been numbered anyway. “What is your proposal?”

“You must disappear. You must go away until your line becomes a myth and a rumor, when all is forgotten.” With those words four hands reached out encircling the Lamia and pouring blood on the ground at her feet.

“Has that not already taken place?” She seethed while instinctively squirming against their firm grips.

Yet what had she to lose? After the Giovanni had swept through all was lost for her.

A tree grew up around her, molding to her body and entombing her. This would be her new home until the world forgot.

Lucianna could do nothing but listen as her wooden tomb was loaded onto a cart and pulled by horse for hours. She felt herself being lifted from the cart and heard the splash as she hit water, followed by weeks of ebb and flow.

As the hunger and pain took over, so did the beast. Lashing out against her prison until she finally lost consciousness to the ages.

Then came the Nightmares.

The darkness of her consciousness slowly morphed into a blood red sky… Clouds swirling at unnatural speeds. Her gaze shifted from the turbulent skies to the cracked, dry earth below.

The earth began to tremble and lift as something began to emerge from below…

Then darkness

Some time later, maybe a day, maybe not… Hard to tell really… An eight headed beast rose from the ground. Looking around, he started picking up smaller versions of himself and devouring them. The ground had become a field of these tiny creatures lashing out at each other, battling to the death.

And darkness.

Time…

She could see herself from behind, with the snake hair of the gorgon, walking amongst the battle unscathed and unnoticed as rage and death surrounded her. The multi-headed monster towered over the battlefield.

And darkness

Time…

Lucianna looked up to see a hurricane raging over the field of death. Screams and cries of war surrounded her, but the numbers that were still moving was dwindling and the monster above was grabbing handfuls of the Dead and devouring them whole.

And darkness

Time…

The eye of the storm opens up, and what seemed like concentrated light pierced through, hitting the monster, which cried out in pain as it collapsed to ash. Those below continued to rage and devour…

And darkness.

But she was awake in the darkness.

The hunger still had its grip on her, but she was able to will herself awake.

She reached out with her senses and found language.. Managing to piece together some of it with Latin roots, and there was a fair bit of barbarian mixed in.

Could this be the land of that Barbarian who put her in this prison?

She lay there awake for a week, taking in the talking around her.. By the time the light came in she could understand it. By the time the light came in she could speak it…. Whatever land she was walking into, she would be able to communicate with it.

Rozenn

December of ’96 was a bitter cold. A dry cold, so not the ice or snow that plague Detroit so often. Instead of taking in the night air as she had done throughout the fall, Rozenn was forced into the library.

When you’re used to one, the other just sucks. Sure, some people prefer a dry cold, but when the skin is cracked and the air is sharp… it’s just not something you can enjoy. No, it’s spent trying to find places of shelter. So there she sat, studying. Really, it was probably for the best. It had been hard enough to keep up with any sort of classes, only able to take them at night. It’s doable, but it takes longer. So much longer. After a few years, one wondered why, but she was nothing if not dedicated. Or so she kept telling herself. At least the library was quiet- or this corner, with its lone table and quad of chairs was.

Her hope for solitary study time was dashed pretty quickly. As she poured through her text, her focus was interrupted by another student sitting down on the other side of the table. A quick glance revealed a short haired brunette bending awkwardly to pull books from her bag.

Rozenn had seen her around before, standing about 5’4″, with a slender build and usually dressed comfortably. That night was no different, as she had on a band t-shirt and jeans.

Another glance, trying to decipher the name of the band. It might be seen as creeping, but hey- who wears a shirt with a logo or wording if they don’t want someone to notice it? After a moment, Rozenn decided, might as well not be weird. “I hate to discuss the weather, but you’d think it’d snow already or something.”

The shirt was probably a reprint of an old MC5 concert shirt, the originals were almost non-existent by that point. Good classic Detroit punk. She plopped a sociology text book on the table. “Yeh, this dry cold gives me nosebleeds like you wouldn’t believe.”

“I know the feeling.” Rozenn feigned, but it sounded better than anything else that came immediately to mind. Likely the band was something heard in passing; there hadn’t been the time for music. Not to an extent that keeping up with anything outside of radio stations requires. “You can cover everything except your nose, unless you go around in a ski mask. Failure of evolution, really.” It was a joke. Except the laugh that followed was more of an awkward chuckle.

She motioned at Rozenn’s medical text books. “Guess you would know.” And she managed an awkward smirk.

It was sort of a ‘snerk’ in response. A glance down to the collection of books. Anatomy, for the most part. The ‘best’ part of one with a goal to be a surgeon. Funny how life works. “Pretty much. We lose a lot of heat from our heads, but it’s one of the hardest parts to keep warm. Maybe another millennia or two will solve that.”

“I guess guys are evolving in that direction. Always thinking with the head that’s closer to their bodies.” A little snort.

That brought out a slightly more realistic smile. More of a smirk, really. The predator was there, always there. No matter what you do, right? “Most of them can’t help it. Not the college boys at least. Takes longer to adapt to all those hormones and most of them are too young and dumb to even try.”

“The older ones aren’t much better in my experience.” Then her expression shifted to serious. “You aren’t studying to be a shrink are you?” Followed by a big grin.

“Well, some men just never stop the dumb part.” It was jocular in tone and suiting, right? Rozenn had forgotten how to be properly social. Her life didn’t lend well to it, those days. There was a glance up from her book… not that she was actually reading. Words blurred together, with the distraction the other girl represented. “No. Surgeon someday, I hope.”

“Name’s Sam, by the way. It’s rare to find someone I actually want to talk to around here.”

“Rozenn.” The smile faltered only a little. “Nice to meet you, Sam. The library isn’t bad for that, not at this hour. The troublemakers are out at the bars or parties.” There’s a glance over to the textbooks across the table. “Anthropologist? Or just filling up requirements?”

“Yeh… Core courses. No idea what I want to study.” The smile left her as she pondered this.

Huffing slightly, there was only a shrug at first in answer. Pages turned, turned, still not wholly seeing the words. “Wish I could help. This is what I’ve wanted for a long time. Now that I’m here, though… Well. Sometimes I worry if I’m making the right choice, but I’ve got too much debt to change my mind now.”

“Yeh… Speaking of which, I’ve really gotta get this studying done so I can go to work…. Ugh.”

“Work, this late?” Surprise, there. Not many people pull third shifts while in school. But then she was waving a hand slightly before dropping it back to her own book. “Sorry, sorry. Ignore me. I should be studying, too.”

“Bartending gig… Pays for the incidentals.” And she buried her head in her book

“Oh.” Not much else to add to that. Rozenn bit at her lip, frowning at how cracked it was. There was a glance around, thoughtful. Considering. For that moment, opting to study. Or at least for a moment before she got up to step away in the direction of the bathrooms.

Simon

As Simon walked out of Elysium, having dutifully checked in with the Prince, the Keeper of Elysium, Gabriella Zolotav,  inconspicuously said in his ear “Meet me in front of the Scarab Club in an hour.”

The tall Germanic woman did not break stride and continued on her way.

Simon acknowledged her command with a nod. He decided to use the interim to find a secluded piece of earth and Become One with the Land, a ritual that allowed him to synchronize with the local earth energy, so his Sielanic Magic would work properly.

Jabnit

The Prince sent a text to Jabnit Hiram, an eager kindred who had expressed his fealty and eagerness to assit in the past. “Come to my office. Time is of the essence. Proceed calmly.”

Jabnit excused himself from the business matters he was working on and proceeded to Elysium directly. The Keeper of Elysium mets him as he enterred. “What’s your business?” She asked with a slight Germanic accent.

“‘I am here to meet the Prince. He summoned me.”

A quick flash of distrust crossed her face, soon replaced by a more neutral expression. “Let me check with him. Please wait here.” She walked off to the Prince’s chamber

Jabnit looked after her quizzically, wondering why there was a look of distrust. He made an aura check that revealed her distrust and concern to him.

A minute later she reemerged. “He is indeed expecting you. Please proceed.”

“Thank you.” Jabnit proceeded through the door and calmly walked to the chamber of the Prince looking about for anything out of the ordinary, and finding nothing unusual. The Prince looked him in the eye as he enterred. “Please close the door behind you.”

“Yes, my Prince. I came as quickly as possible.” He slowly closed the door behind him, looking about the room in awe at once again being in the presence of the Prince. Jabnit was careful to hold myself upright and true, straightening his coat and calmly putting his hands behind him to walk forward.

The Prince asserted “My Seneschal has brought some information to my attention that needs to be looked into.”

Jabnit, ever eager. “Do you need me to personally see to this task, or do we need to have others accompany me, my Prince?”

“There is no time to assemble a group. The Keeper is meeting someone at The Scarab Club within the hour. Keep your distance, but see if you can find out what’s going on.”

“I will keep my distance and observe all that comes into play. Is there anything you need me to pay close attention to, or anything you may be looking for Prince Vanderbilt?” Jabnit made an effort to keep his speaking very calm and measured.

“Just remain calm and give no indication to the Keeper on your way out.”

“Understood. I will see that all information is relayed back here. If that is all, my Prince, I will take my leave and prepare.” Jabnit gave a bow out of habit from his days in the noble courts.

The Prince gave a quick wave, trying to conceal his irritation. “Close the door on the way out.”

Jabnit walked from the room and shut the door quietly, proceeding to a desk that the Price had set up for him in Elysium, giving a Nod to Gabriella as he went by.  As he returned to the desk Jabnit checked the time and figured out how long it would take for him to get to the club from there and made a phone call to one of his retainers to be his eyes on the inside.

When the time was right, Jabnit positioned himself across the street. Keeping an eye on the man that his retainer had marked because he appeared to be waiting on someone and kept looking outside.

That man was, in fact, Simon, who had taken a seat near the window to keep an eye on the outside and entryway.

At the one hour mark, precisely, Gabriella walked up to the front of the club, glanced around quickly and kept walking.

Simon tried to proceed inconspicuously, though he had already been marked and Jabnit had no problem following his movement as he got up and followed her, coming out of the club just in time to see her turn down an alleyway

Simon followed, leaving Jabnit’s range of vision. The Prince’s agent had to change positions to keep an eye on his quarry.

Simon cleared the edge of the building and looked down the alleyway in time to see Gabriella walk to the end of the building and turn, descending down stairs, leading under the building. He glimpses her Aura of determination and caution as she descends. Simon followed her down the stairs, following through an earthen tunnel bore out of the wall between patchy brick work.

There’s a break in the brick walls that opens into an earthen passageway. As he stepped onto the earthen path, the stone wall closed up behind him, leaving in darkness, with a faint light ahead.

Jabnit proceeded with caution, taking care not to be seen. As such, the wall to the earthen tunnel was completely closed by the time he descended the stairs and entered the club’s kitchens. He quickly backtracked, choosing to watch the outside of the building rather than risk being detected, leaving his retainer as his eyes within the club.

Simon heard Gabriella’s voice come from the light. “Well, come on, now.” The Germanic accent showing through. Simon proceeded. A gas lantern lit a small room at the end of the passage. Gabriella sat on the earth awaiting him. “I said to meet me out front. Work on following instructions.”

Simon regretted his mistake. “My apologies, madam. Julius sends his regards”

She was not impressed “Ahh, his regards. How…. Refreshing. We must be brief here and after this we will not meet again.”

Simon had known this would probably be the case. “Understood”

Her voice was thick with importance. “I am well entrenched in the city politics. Where you are needed is the underground.”

Simon knew it would be something like this. “What am I needed to do?”

She was succinct. “There is a German bar in Midtown called Nächt. Rumors are that a lot of the less desirable kindred dealings revolve around it. Start there and feed the info back to your contact in Cincinnati. Just get the lay of the land and let us know what we’re dealing with.”

“Is there anything, in particular, that I am looking for?” He wondered.

“Nothing that we know of. I have gotten in to Elysium, but have had little time to look into the rest of the city.”

“Has there been cause for concern?”

“No, just doing our due diligence.”

“Forgive me, if I seem brash, but I was hoping for a bit more direction.”

“That’s your in. Make your own path. Any more than that and your actions will feel disingenuous. Make your niche in the underworld and pass on what you learn. Go out the way you came, and proceed with your mission.”

“Very well. Have you any messages to pass along?”

“No, our reporting networks are separated for a reason. Just don’t sell me out and we’ll be good.”

“Then I will take my leave. Good evening. ”

“Good evening.”

Simon left through the wall, but rather than return the way he came in, he continued down the main passage wandering into the kitchen area of the club. He gave no reason to question him continuing through the kitchen, and heading outside.

No one questioned Simon as he exited Club Scarab, but he was spotted by Jabnit’s retainer who passed on the alert to his master. Jabnit spotted him instantly as he came out and started walking away, seemingly with a sense of urgency.

Jabnit  followed him to a bar labeled Nächt, it has a bit of a seedy reputation as a place for kindred to get things done away from the prying eyes of the Prince… Simon went in

As Simon entered Nächt, the industrial lines of the exterior gave way to a much more Old Country interior, with exposed mahogany beams spaced across the sealing. A bar stretched the length of the left side, as one enters, with floor to ceiling wooden booths lining the right wall. Tables were spaced sporadically in the center space.

There were several taps of German beers on the bar and an assortment of liquors in front of a large mirror which stretched from front to back of the space, a Warsteiner logo etched in the center.

A small girl, maybe 5’4″ and slender with dark shoulder-length hair was manning the bar. She appeared to be college aged, but moved confidently, stocking the coolers just out of sight.

Security cameras view down over the room from the corners, not at all hidden from view. It is clear everything is being watched.

Simon walked in through the door…. Simon was 5’10”, medium build, perhaps carrying a few extra pounds, wearing faded blue jeans, black work boots, and a white button-down, with a black, leather duster.  He walked with an obvious limp, leaning on a dark, wooden, walking staff.

“Have a seat wherever you want. I’m just opening up, but I’ll be with you shortly.” The words come absent-mindedly from Sam as she continued prepping the bar for the night

Simon took a seat at the far end of the bar, facing the door.

Sam continued her work, glancing up at Simon through the mirror and nodding slightly.

Simon caught a glimpse of her aura which showed her as rushed, determined and mortal, but there was something a little off about it. The lines of demarcation were just a bit too crisp, the colors just a bit too vibrant.

She washed her hands and started his way.

“Sorry about that. The guy who closed up this morning is a monster. Left half the dishes in the sink… So, what can I get for ya?” Her aura had shifted to normal… Maybe she was just agitated and that affected it…

“I’ll have a Warsteiner.”

“You sure? Seems a little weak.” Then she corrected herself. “Sorry.. I like my drinks strong… Coming right up.” And a minute later, considering his choice. “American or European?”

Simon spoke up.”European”

She headed to the mugs, pulled out a non-frosted mug and put it under a tap, expertly filling it with beer. “You want to put that on a tab?”

“No, thanks. I’ll pay cash. ”

“Your choice. That’ll be $5.50…”

Pays with $7. “Keep the change. ”

“Thanks.” She goes back to the middle to wipe down the bar.

“So, when does this place usually pick up?”

“Never can tell. Sometimes it never does. Anybody in particular you’re waiting on?”

“Nope”

Sam apparently was done playing games. “Okay. Let’s cut the shit, man. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t looking for something. Don’t make me do this song and dance all night. We both have better things to do with our time.”

“Aggressive. So endearing. You’re telling me that people don’t just come here to relax?”

She shot him a sideways glance. “Sure… Some PEOPLE do…” Then, sarcastically… “You gonna drink that beer or do you want me to go ahead and dump it out? I can pour it out a little at a time in case someone comes in.”

Bo walks in from the back with a determined look and a raised eyebrow, “Sam, are you bothering the guests… again?”

Sam, quick on her feet, “Bothering is such a strong word. We both know he wants something and he’s not man enough to ask for it.”

“Man enough?” Bo sized the customer up. “Some people just prefer to be a bit more… shall we say ‘discreet’. “.

“Whatever… You deal with him.” She goes back to washing last night’s dishes.

“She always so pleasant?”

“No, usually she’s worse… she must like you.” Bo looked around at the lack of patrons. “Is there anything else I can get you sir?”

“No wonder the place is empty.  I’m really not looking for anything, in particular. New in town, and just trying to get a feel for the place. ”

“Well, there isn’t much really. It isn’t like Detroit is Paradise or anything. Apparently, Sam has marked you as somewhat special though, so maybe it could be a bit better if you know the right folks.”

 

Two businessmen entered. Regulars… They took a seat in the first booth along the wall and Sam went to take their order…

Jabnit got tired of waiting outside and entered the bar, standing about 5’10”, light brown complexion, wearing a black suit with a red Tie. He stands tall with his shoulders rolled back and square.

The bartender, done taking the businessmen’s orders, walked back towards the bar. She glanced at Jabnit quickly. “Have a seat where you want. I’ll be with you soon.” And she continues on her way.

He replied, “Thank you.” And bowed slightly.

She does a little half-hearted wave over her shoulder

Jabnit sat a couple booths down from the businessmen, who stopped conversing at that point.

Simon turned back to Bo “Might you be able to introduce me to some of these folks? ”

“Not that they all like me a lot, but of course I can…” Bo stopped and seemed to mull something over a bit before continuing, “some of them are still somewhat hesitant around me since a bit of ugliness in Europe a few years ago.”.

“I’d love to hear about it. By the way, I’m Simon. ”

Jabnit pulled out his phone and called his retainer to get him en route.

“Boaz, Bo for short”, Bo grabbed Simon’s hand and shook it, “Good to meet you.”.

One of the businessmen turned to the end of the bar. “Hey, Bo. Can we have a minute?” He motioned Bo to come over.

“Of course!” Bo walked over and sat down next to them, his back away from the door. “Everything alright, gentlemen?”.

“Well, we had some business to do, but I don’t know either of these other guys… Any way you could accommodate us with a quiet space to talk?” He slid a hundred dollar bill Bo’s direction.

“You can use my office if you’d like” he motioned behind him, “in the back.” Bo took the money and dropped it in the Jewish Federation of metropolitan Detroit’s charity box on the counter.

“Much appreciated.” They went to Bo’s office.

Jabnit walked up to the bar and asked Bo to come over when he has time.

Bo shifted his attention. “Sure, friend, what can I get you?”

Sam took drinks back to the office

Jabnit spoke humbly. “My apologies for making your customers uneasy.”

Simon, lowly, chuckled to himself, drawing Jabnit’s attention, who slowly looked in the direction of Simon.Then turned his attention back to Bo.

“They just aren’t used to it being so busy in here I think.” Bo smiled and cocked an eyebrow, “Have you met my new friend, Simon?” he gestured to Simon, “He too is a vampire, like yourself. Perhaps I can introduce you to the same people, yes”?”.

Simon caught a glimpse of the other’s auras. Jabnit was curious and untrusting and kindred

Bo was calm and helpful and a MOTHER FUCKING BLOOD MAGICIAN! Clearest markings of blood magic he had ever seen.

Sam came back out to the bar.

“Interesting you say that. Didn’t know he was a vampire.” Jabnit said, looking back over at Simon”

“We all are,” Bo looked towards Sam, “Except maybe our dear Sam here, but she knows more about us than we do.” Sam waved quickly without looking up. He looked back at the two vampires at the bar with a polite smile, “There, now we are all on level playing ground, yes?”.

“Now that we have that out of the way, I have one rule here,” Boaz held up a single finger.
“While this is not Elysium, I will tolerate no fighting; it makes Sam angry. And you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.” The bartender shrugged.

“No quarrel here.” Simon replied. The office door shut down the hall and the businessmen emerged.

“Apparently, we’re still disturbing your friends”

“Speak of the devil!”

One headed to the door while the other walked up to the bar.

Bo addressed his regular customer. “Can I get you anything?”

“Thanks for the accommodations. They worked out quite well.” He slid another hundred to Bo and both businessmen left.

Bo cashed after him.”Anytime friend…”

Sam mumbled. “Just hope he swallowed.”

“Ha!  She’s got jokes, too!” Simon choked a bit.

She curtsied, smiling sarcastically and headed back to the office to get the glasses…

“Fighting is for those who are weak of mind, and unwilling to seek that a civilized recourse. Your rule sounds fair Bo.” Jabnit nodded with a gesture of understanding.

There was suddenly a quick scraping sound followed by a Boom! coming from the kitchen. It was loud enough where you can feel it slightly and some glasses and bottles clanked together behind the bar.

Simon looked down the hallway. “Did something make Sam angry?”

Sam returned to the bar area shaking her head.

Simon to Bo. “What the hell was that?”

“Do any of you know what that was?” Remaining calm Jabnit looked to Sam to try to catch a glimpse of her aura. What he found was a chaotic tapestry that was completely unreadable

“Not a damned clue… pardon me a moment.” Bo walked to the back to investigate.

Sam stared at the back hallway jaw open… Then shook it off and pulled out her phone and started texting.

Three years of small encounters had led to tonight… A chance encounter here, an exchange of numbers there… Nothing ever too formal… Nothing ever planned… Then came the text… “Call ASAP… 911”

Rozenn was within the stacks. Hovering around. Debating. It’d be so easy. It was why she sticks around here. It was a convenient place to feed and they were all so young and full of life. She stared at the text for a moment before she delved further into the recesses of the library, dialing.

The phone only made half a ring and Sam answered, breathless. “Something’s happened, Rozenn.” There was a shakiness in her voice, not the awkward kind that was the mainstay of conversations between these two. There was a substantial fear in her voice. “I’m at the bar. There’s been an explosion or something. I think we need your help.” She had talked about her job at Nächt before and Rozenn had made the journey out there a couple of times only to turn around and go home. With the crumbling state of the emergency forces in Detroit, a Med student might very well be any survivor’s only hope.

And all this time, a student was still what she was. All those television shows and movies, with uplifting stories of a person making it through night school? Utter BS. At least when you’re living it. She stared at the books she was searching for, having finally found the right place. A sigh and a twitch of fingers on the strap of her bag later and she nodded… though the voice on the other end couldn’t hear it. “I’m on my way.”

“Thanks.” Sam exhaled in relief as she hung up the phone.

It was about a 5 minute walk or a couple minute drive to the bar.

Bo entered the kitchen which was full of white dust and the door to the wine cellar was blown open from the inside, slightly askew of its frame.

Sam looked at Jabnit and Simon… “He might need your help.”

They took the cue, standing and joining him in the kitchen.

Jabnit turned to Bo. “Do you have anything down there that would cause this?,

“Nothing that I know of… Unless Sam’s been cooking again.” Bo joked.

Simon asked “What do you know about it, Sam?” Expecting the bartender to have come in with them, but she had remained in the bar area.

Jabnit raised an eyebrow, “Cooking again?”

Bo grinned, “She’s sort of famous around here… Thank the Lord I do not eat food anymore…”

Jabnit thought to himself. So she cooks in a basement? The nuances of humor were a bit foreign to him.

Simon tried to push forward. B”Is there anything, besides wine, down there?”

Jabnit told Bo, “You might want to check down there. If it was loud enough to shake your bar, something went wrong.”

“There may be a small weapons cache, but nothing explosive.” Bo reached for the door and gently pushed it open.

Jabnit… “Are you sure?”

“Very sure, only amateurs use explosives…”

As he reached for the door, Bo’s holocaust tattoo became visible to the others who both appeared to take note of it.

Jabnit continued to survey all details. “Do you have anything that would be set off if anyone was to go down without you present?”

Bo shook his head. “Not at all, I keep everything of that nature elsewhere… Unless garou were to be here, but that would have gone off the moment they entered the premises and would only hurt them.”

“Ok. So, no explosives in the cellar. Shall we have a look?” Simon said cautiously.

“Okay noted. Let’s proceed with caution.” Jabnit pressed towards the open doorway.

There was a basic medical kit in Rozenn’s car, so she took that route. Plus, if someone had to be driven to the hospital… either way, it made her feel a bit more prepared and left her less likely to be out of breath. She was rushing and getting there fully capable was probably for the best.

There were only a couple of cars in the parking lot when she get there, must have been a slow night. As Rozenn walked in, she could see Sam standing behind the bar staring towards the back hallway…

Holding the bag that contained her ‘on the go’ medical kit, she sidled into the bar and looked around. Some of the tension in her shoulders released, but not much. It’s not as bad as she was fearing, but then… She took a slow, cautious approach towards the bar, with glances between Sam and the hall. “Sam?”

Sam glanced at Rozenn seemingly to barely register where she was. “It happened back there.” She pointed down the hallway. “It’s full of dust or smoke or something. I can’t breathe in there. Three men went back to look into it…. Been a little while.”

“Patrons, I take it?” Sure, it was survivable. Probably. But she was wary all the same. Playing vigilante off and on had taught her that. Even if she had left behind the blade and armor. “What happened? Do you know what exploded or what caused it?” As she asked, she moved slowly along the length of the bar towards the hallway.

“No idea….” Sam’s voice trailed off as she said it.

Taking a deep breath, Rozenn just nodded and tightened her grip on the bag as she headed down the hallway. “Hello? I’m here with medical aid. How many are injured?”

Bo flipped the lights on and began down the stairs.

As they went down the stairs, Bo was thankful that he had the wine racks built into the walls because the floor had fallen and crumbled about twenty feet below.

Simon asked from the rear. “Anybody got a flashlight?”

A voice came up from below. “W-what the h-h-hell?”

Bo, suddenly concerned “Hello? Is anybody hurt?”

Jabnit snapped a judgment. “It appears someone was digging below.”

“I seem to remember something about mines in the area, but I thought they were further out.” Bo thought out loud.

Rozenn walked into the kitchen, the air full of white dust that was starting to settle on the surfaces. A door on the far end was open and blown askew. She could faintly hear voices coming from that direction.

Bringing an arm up to cover her mouth, she squinted through the dust and started in that direction. The dust was heavier near the doorway. It looked like whatever happened was in there.

Squinting slightly, as if it might help to see, she delved further in. A clearing of the throat before calling again: “Hello?” She thought she heard voices. She made the call, then listened, as she stepped through.

A skinny teenager in jeans and a hoody walked out into the opening… “Who th-the fuck are y-you?”

“I believe you should be the one answering that question.” Jabnit quipped, looking at the teenager

Rozenn quickly found out that this was the way to the wine cellar. There were three men looking down where the floor once was. Crumbled debris covered a rock floor 20 feet below… A young man in jeans and a hoodie was standing in the hole looking up at all of you.

And scene… Prelude over

Critical Hints Episode 6: Character Clause

CHpod

In this episode Curtis and I discussed Character, both generation for players and as NPCs.

To submit your thoughts for next time, or an item for the Community Talk segment, just talk to us either on our Facebook page or @CriticalHints on Twitter.

Download https://archive.org/download/jon_Ch6/ch6.mp3 Size: 48.3 MB Running Time: 52:51

Discussed in this show:

D&D (5E) books

AD&D (3.5) books

V20 (Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition)   book or pdf

Shadowrun Fifth Edition book

Shadowrun Beginner Box

Edge of Empire Beginner Game box

Pocket Casts 

Jaro’s Customs

Kazhad Creations