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Actual Play: Buffy - The Watch House

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
Seeing a good thing, the BBC have launched a spinoff of Buffy spinoff The Night Watch (website here) concerning another group of Watchers in training, set in King's College, Cambridge. After the unaired pilot tested well but one of the cast departed, a new cast member was recruited and the pilot partially reshot...

Essentially, it's a variant on the TNW premise, Watchers in training (Prentices) and other interested parties at an Oxbridge university. I'll be using TNW as a sourcebook for ideas, but not for episode plotlines directly, so that a crossover is possible without dimensional travel.

Currently confirmed main cast:

Mekhi Phifer as Ziggy Roots, dispatched from Jamaica by Kendra's former Watcher Samuel Zabuto after seeing something, er, Watchery.

A young Lori Petty type as Millicent "Milli" Blackhurst, former star pupil of the Watchers' Academy who took a year out that lasted over two years, and came back with pink hair and a stud in her nose. Is this the extent of her rebelliousness? We'll see...

A purposely nondescript young actor as William Grove, former Hall Monitor of the Watchers' Academy. Socially uncomfortable and bookish. In some ways the ideal Watcher. Just not any of the ways that involve dealing with people.

A rather athletic and laddish type as Jack Stevenson, lock of the Cambridge freshers' rugby team and group Cordy.

Alfred Molina as Michael Henry Escher, the group's Invigilator (Watcher trainer). Rather gruff so far. Will he warm to his charges, or remain distant?
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Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
Watch House 1.1 - Our Sword And Our Shield

We open on a shot of Cambridge by night, then three men in dark clothing watching another cross a road...
"Yes, he's doing it!" one of them whispers.
"Don't speak too soon," another growls.
"No, look, he's there!" the first points.
"Good," the second smiles, fangs gleaming. "It works. Now our hopes rest with him."
Across the road, the fourth man... the fourth vampire smirks as he passes a sign marking the boundary of pre-industrial Cambridge, and takes out a chain necklace to look at it - a splinter of stone and a glowing crystal. He heads further into town, finally reaching a small house. Opening the door with a lock taken out of an envelope, he heads inside. Waiting in the front room is a shortish, slight man with thinning hair, wearing a dark suit.
"So, proof enough?" he asks. The vampire nods.
"Yes. Now, what about these?"
"Oh, they'll open when you want them to," the smaller man says with a nod to the four coffins lying on the floor...

Credits to be inserted here. Theme: Ash, Evil Eye.

After the credits, a shot of King's College with a voiceover by Ziggy going over the touristy details... and a few that the Watchers have added. Founded in the 1440s, it has been a base for Watcher tutelage since a few decades later. The shot moves to Ziggy looking at a map, surrounded by tourists and fellow pre-Freshers' week freshers. Eventually, he finds the private office of Mr. Escher, and inside he hears metal clashing against metal. Knocking harder, he is greeted by Escher.
Escher: Mr. Routs?
Ziggy: Roots.
Escher: I see... Well, how is Mr. Mbotu?
Ziggy: Zabuto.
Escher: Good. Come in.

Inside, Ziggy is slightly perplexed to find William and Milli in fencing whites, Milli prodding William with her epee as he struggles to his feet.

Some rudeness follows:
Milli: You know what this is, right? Right?
Ziggy: So this is a special class then. Riiiight.
Milli: Perhaps not the one you're looking for.

This is interrupted by Escher somewhat wearily explaining that Mr. Zabuto is a well-respected Watcher, and then handily expositioning to Ziggy (and thus the audience) that the Watchers ensure that their main centres of tutelage (Oxford, Cambridge, Cologne) are safe to study in:

Escher: We are protected by a warding shield. It essentially grants the same protection to an area that the dwelling ward does to a home. Vampires and other "ungodly possessing demons" cannot enter within an area bounded by leylines marked by a series of standing stones. Now, the city has expanded past the boundaries since the Industrial Revolution, but we should be largely safe from the Watchers' main foes here..."

He then receives a phone call from the coroner at the city hospital. A body has been stolen.

Fade to black here, so that advertisements can be added when the Americans show the series.

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
We quickly establish that Ziggy hasn't sorted out a bus pass yet, and doesn't have exact change. Milli is good enough to front him the price of a ticket.

According to the preliminary report, the late Matthew Cobb was 18, in good health, and didn't have a mark on him. "The last seven bodies disappearing were stolen by med students... and the one before that by a Biology student... but since term hasn't started yet and the death was suspicious, I thought I'd better let you know."

Fearing the worst, Milli suspects Matthew could have left under his own power. Establishing that he was in one of the body drawers rather than on the examining table, she decides to test a theory.

Milli: Could you do me a favour?
Ziggy: No.
Milli: Go on.
Ziggy: What is it?
Milli: Get in the drawer.
Ziggy: I'll... think about it.
Milli: You owe me sixty pence.

It's quickly established that you can't easily get out of a drawer, as the coroner lets Ziggy out to stop him denting the metal as he kicks it ineffectually...

Milli: Were you trying?
Ziggy: Yes!

And so the class go to investigate the victim. Visiting Matthew's landlady under the pretence of needing a room - "It's just a single, I'm afraid" - they learn that he'd arrived a week early to settle in before starting a course, kept to himself...

Going over his personal effects at the pub after dark, they find that he didn't have anything unusual - no phone numbers with purposely vague descriptions suggesting drug dealers, for example - and what he looked like. Milli looks at the victim's bus pass... then looks up and sees him at the bar.


Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
Milli attempts to gain the others' attention by surreptitious elbowing and making an alarmed noise without opening her mouth.

Ziggy: Hey, quit it!
Milli: Bvv...
Ziggy: Huh?
Milli, nodding at the bar: Bvv! Bv-bv-bvbv-bvv-bvv!
Ziggy: Oh, I know that guy. Where from... (as Milli holds up the dead guy's bus pass) Ohh. That's...

Matthew, looking a little poorly but rather less than a corpse should be, chats with various already-in-town students including the freshers' rugby team. Apparently there's a house party tonight...

Meanwhile, our heroes discuss what to do in quiet hissed tones.

Milli: We should go and talk to him.
Ziggy: What do I say? "So, how is being dead?"

This quandary is resolved when one of the rugby freshers, one Jack Stevenson, heads out by himself to go to a cashpoint and Matthew follows him. Sneaking after, the Prentices watch Jack head into an alley - and be grabbed by clawlike hands!

Spending a Drama Point to have a stake in her bag, Milli rushes forwards, just as Jack throws the vampire Matthew over his shoulder and slams him against a wall. Milli dives to stake the snarling horror, but Ziggy pulls out a cross with less than perfect timing and repels the vampire away from the stake. Matthew growls and grabs Jack by the shoulder, trying to drag him away.

William dithers with a phial of holy water, Jack flails at Matthew, Ziggy holds his cross as far away from his body as possible and smacks Matthew with it, and Milli spots an opening and EEEYYYAAA WHOOMFF vampire scream and exploding effects.

Milli: Well, I guess they won't be getting their body back...

In the struggle, a key fell out of Vampire Matthew's pocket. It's for 37 Barns Street. The house where the party is happening, Jack dazedly confirms.

Jack: The rugby team's heading down there.

A vampire rugby team. That could be, like, a bad thing.


Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
Jack: So, uh, what happened with... uh...
Milli: Oh, we're, uh, the medieval staking society.
William: Yes.
Jack: Oh, okay.

Dragging Jack along with them to receive first aid for the nail marks in his shoulder, they had back to Escher's office to re-equip and inform him. He isn't there, so they confirm no sign of a struggle and re-equip anyway.
Milli gives Jack her mobile number, in case he was a specific rather than opportunistic target.

Milli (Attractiveness 2): This is for emergency use only.
Jack (Att 3 but not her type): Suuure.
Milli: This. Is. For. Emergency. Use. Only.

Collecting an axe, a short sword, more stakes, a heavier bottle of holy water and the like, the Prentices step out and prepare to do battle, leaving a message for Escher in hopes that he hasn't been kidnapped.

"Please call. Gone to 37 Barns Street. Matthew gone with the wind."

Arriving at 37 Barns, they find a seemingly abandoned detached house. Unlocking the door, they find darkness within.

Milli's player: Do the lights work?
Me: Are you reaching in to check?
Milli's player: That's a very Cthulhu question.

Overcoming her player's years of Cthulhu playing and GMing, Milli leads the team inside, eventually finding a hint of light and noise from under the stairs. Opening the basement, they come face to face with the vampire from the pre-credits sequence charging up at them, while they can hear screams from below.

Milli pushes forwards to try and stake him, Ziggy hides behind his cross and gets past, and William realises that he much prefers the academic side of being a Prentice to the vocational training.

Ziggy gets a good look at a basement full of earth and coffins, then returns his attention to the vampire as it lifts Milli off her feet with one hand around her throat. As well as choking her, this gives her a good view of the little glowing light around the monster's neck.

Ziggy empties a bottle of holy water down the vampire's back, and he convulses and steams. As he's distracted, Milli snags the necklace and pulls it off him.

The glowing crystal fades. The vampire looks at it, and at Milli, twitches... and then flies backwards. Ziggy has to duck as the vampire smashes into the floor above and explodes in a shower of dust.

Ziggy: What did you do?
Milli: I, uh...

As William elects to guard the door rather than going into the basement, Ziggy and Milli open the coffins with crosses and holy water at the ready, duly splashing three kidnapped freshers and a French tourist.

Student: I'm awake! What the hell happened?
Milli: Oh, uh, the rugby club. Some sorta prank. You know what they're like.
Student: Yeah. Bloody rugby club! Bastards!

Just then, Jack phones.

Jack: Yeah, um, just checking the number works. I don't need stitches apparently. So, are you at the party?
Milli: I think the party's been cancelled.
Jack: It's only like nine o' clock.
Milli: Yeah, well, it was dead shortly after we got there.

Next day, Escher taps a map of the city with blue lines drawn on marking the boundaries of the shield, and holds up the necklace.

Escher: It's a chip from one of the standing stones, bound to a portal crystal. It allows any barred demon to cross the shield. Then, he could sire vampires inside it safely. When you removed it, the barrier threw him towards the nearest boundary.
Milli: Splat.
Escher: Quite. What really concerns me is where he acquired it, because it seems we face a cult of vampires who know our secrets and how to strike at us inside our refuge... as well as the panoply of demons, creatures and magics not held back by the spell. Many of which will doubtless join an attack against us... This may be the gravest threat the Watchers' training has faced for decades, even centuries. But face it we must. The world is counting on us. The Slayer is our sword, but we are their shield.
Ziggy: Go to Britain, they said. Have a good time, they said. Learn safely, they said.
Escher, quietly: The Earth is doomed.

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
Next time on The Watch House:
Milli and William sitting at a freshers' fair stall.
Ziggy looking at a flat.
Jack looking bemused as half of the rugby offensive line slam into each other clumsily.
Ziggy looking at a different flat.
William glaring at a fresher couple in the library.
Milli trying to convince a girl that she wasn't making a pass at her boyfriend.
A drink being thrown in someone's face...
Which leads to a punch...
Which leads to an all-out bar brawl.
Escher V/O: The next episode of The Watch House is Envy. Sunday at Six.

And now the Actual Play bit:

Two of the players - our own Joe Dizzy, playing Ziggy, and David, playing William - knew the game beforehand, Cat (playing Milli) is on her second session and Jack's player was still adjusting his character after he was written in. Nobody had a hard time picking anything up.

I used the Drama Point for Dramatic Editing and two DPs for a retroactive Heroic Feat houserules, so fails became passes after rolling and Milli happened to have a stake in her bag and Ziggy had a cross. Indeed, Milli and Zig burned through three or four DPs apiece in the two shortish fights.

I borrowed the game setup page from TNW and let the players read it. This lead to Jack being a fellow student entirely out of the loop. We'll have to tie him in more closely, sooner rather than later, because having him occasionally sniping from the sidelines and being kidnapped like first season Cordelia doesn't give his player very much to do.

I also prepped a poster showing King's by night and a gallery of the college School of History, casting all the supervisors (Cambridge for "lecturers") and possibly dropping hints for later. Or possibly not. Anyway, I'll carry on and cast NPCs as I introduce them. Next week, lots of students... And I mean lots. I've already started...


Platypus Rises
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Damn. Now I know why some people find it hard to comment on TNW. Everything there is worth commenting on. Every joke is hilarious, the plot is cool, the images perfect. It's an episode I wish I could have seen from a show I wish was real.

Don't bring Jack in too quickly. A few contrived reasons for him to be there a small sacrifice to have an outsider type.

Was this online, as I thought Dizzy was German?


Professor Phobos

Sweeper of Arcane Lore
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Nice work. We should organize some sort of League of Buffy Actual Play report writers, compare notes, or somesuch.

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
Validated User
SteveD said:
Damn. Now I know why some people find it hard to comment on TNW. Everything there is worth commenting on. Every joke is hilarious, the plot is cool, the images perfect. It's an episode I wish I could have seen from a show I wish was real.

I'll gladly take a bow, and lead the applause for my Cast.

Don't bring Jack in too quickly. A few contrived reasons for him to be there a small sacrifice to have an outsider type.
I don't plan to, but I'll have to find a fair few contrived reasons...

Was this online, as I thought Dizzy was German?
He's actually Greek raised in Germany, but he's in Edinburgh studying.
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