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[Dead of Night] Salford's Lot

andrew_kenrick

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I ran a new Dead of Night scenario at Furnace the other week, named Salford's Lot (and yes, the name did come first!). The premise of the scenario was a simple one – the victims were all teenage members of a coven, dabbling in things that they do not understand. Last night they summoned something they could not put down. Tonight two of the coven have not turned up and riots are sweeping the town. Go!

Partly because I hadn’t had time to prep characters, and partly because the last time I had the players make up a relationship map to tie their characters into the story – Grendel, Alaska, from Indiecon a few years back – it created an awesomely compelling game, I had the players create characters to fit the premise. As they created characters, I made them tie themselves to each other on a relationship map in the middle of the table, to the two members who had not turned up, as well as add additional NPCs to the map too.

You can see the relationship map here.

As I’d hoped for, we ended up with a great cast of characters:

Raven (real name Rachel) Harris, who was Julianne’s best friend and heavily into the magic.

Josh Fellowes, Raven’s boyfriend, who is the only one with a job and a reluctant participant.

Alan “Carver” Harris, Raven’s cousin and Josh’s best friend, who is jealous of all the time he spends with the coven.

Ollie Freeman, a troubled teenager who has problems distinguishing reality from fiction.

Ann-Marie de Pouvre, Raven’s exchange student, who is convinced it’s all scientific, but can use magic anyway.

As I discuss in my post about players and cool powers here, I gave them the option of taking a supernatural specialisation to represent their magical knowledge but, interestingly, only two of them took me up on it. The others were happy to be non-magic using members of the coven.

They also created quite a few NPCs:

Julianne, the founder of the coven, now missing with their magic grimoire.

Simon, Julianne’s boyfriend, whose basement flat they meet in, also missing.

Louise, Raven’s little sister, who she often has to babysit for.

Billy Hunt, a hooligan who Alan looks up to and is beaten up by.

And a few others, who never came into it. I do like creating NPCs for a scenario like this, as the players all know who you’re talking about when you introduce one of them – no blank looks and people struggling to remember names – and I end up with a ready-made stack of victims to kill off that the players actually care about. Call me heartless…

We kicked off with the coven assembling in Simon’s flat, the door slightly ajar and neither Simon, Julianne nor the grimoire anywhere to be seen. And I’ll tell you what happened next in part 2!
 

andrew_kenrick

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I set the scene before character creation – two nights ago your teenage coven summoned something it could not put down; last night Salford was swept by a wave of rioting and looting; tonight two of the coven haven’t shown up – so we kicked into the game straight away. The coven scrabbled around Simon’s flat, determining that yes, the grimoire was indeed gone, before breaking into his bedroom where they found it crawling with cockroaches and a strange, sentient blood-like ooze that Ann-Marie insisted on taking a sample of.

They then fled the flat, where they ran into a group of rioters including the now-infamous Billy Hunt, who tried to bully Alan into holding the big tv he’d just nicked. This scene was great, as it set up Billy as a hard case, as well as putting Alan’s own bluster and bullish manner into perspective (Billy bullies Alan, so Alan bullies Ollie). Cops arrive, coven flees, only to find Simon’s body crucified in an alley, his phone filled with frantic voice mail messages from Julianne telling Simon she’s hiding out in the derelict flats.It’s about this time they first notice the car with blacked out windows and an Italian number plate following them.

After tipping the cops off, the coven catch the bus to the flats but are accosted by an elderly blind man who shouts “Witch! Witch” at Raven. The group respond with bluster and are all chucked off the bus, whereupon the man rounds on them once more, this time with a demonic voice. Raven pushes him over, accidentally killing him… or was he already dead, as his body is cold? Despite the horror of the situation, the coven remain teenagers and Raven takes a certain amount of pride in her violent accomplishment.

At the flats, Alan goes in on his own, only to find a smashed widescreen TV on the floor, a dead guy crumpled in the stairwell and Billy Hunt cowering in a corner, scared of something he’s seen. Alan talks to him, Billy persuades him to give him his knife, and then he slits his own throat! Alan flees, but tries to make himself look hard and tells the others he had to knife him.

The group then notice the Italian car is back and head into the flats together. They find Julianne in one of the empty flats, a pentagram on the floor and the book floating in the middle. She persuades them to help her cast out the demon, getting each of them to cut their own hands and bleed on the pentagram. Raven then hands her Billy’s knife and Julianne then cuts her own throat! The players can’t believe they’ve just fallen for the same trick twice!

The disbelief is brief, however, as the blood starts to pool unnaturally and the demon – now cast out of its host – starts to pull itself free of Julianne’s throat. The coven start to flee, but Raven desperately flips through the grimoire to find the proper banishment spell, and a tense combat ensues as the coven try to distract the demon long enough for Raven to complete the ritual. She does and the demon vanishes.

The group retreat back to Raven’s house where they fail to take much notice of the Italian car parked further up the street. They get in, and after Ann-Marie decides to go upstairs to get showered (she’s covered in blood at this point) she finds a well-suited gentleman wearing a large crucifix holding a silver gun to Louise (Raven’s little sister)’s head. He demands the witch be brought forth, at which point (no pun intended) all hell breaks loose. The witch hunter starts chanting, people hurl themselves at him, several people get shot and Raven tries to cast a spell. On the inquisitor. I blow through much of the tension accrued during this scene (mainly accrued by Elaine, Raven’s player, spending survival points to cast spells), bouncing Raven’s spell back on herself and nearly killing her, not to mention a few of the others too.

They finally manage to kill the inquisitor, after he tells them the demon was not banished but was cast out into a blood relative of the coven. He hints that his cane has a splinter of the true cross in it too. Cue Louise’s entry, full-on possessed. Survival points get spent to grab cane and silver gun and the coven wade into action. The demon is slain, finally, but not before I get my hands on a player – poor Josh has his head neatly screwed off.

We finish with an epilogue, as each player wraps up their own story. Raven goes back to being Rachel, magic well behind her, Ollie goes properly mad and ends up being institutionalised for his ramblings about demons, Carver gets to stake his claim on being a real hard man and takes over Hunt’s gang, and as for Ann-Marie? Well, we last see her getting off a plane in Paris, a rather weighty tome in her hand luggage…

… to be continued, perhaps?
 
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