DMing 101 – The Campaign pt. 4
After a particularly interesting vote, the party are following the van. First things first though, they’ll need a vehicle of their own. A dust storm is approaching, and the tracks could very well vanish if the group aren’t quick about it, so the best option is to talk kindly to some local criminals.
Scum and Villainy
Thanks to Kev who wrote two NPCs that could have been either villains or allies. That gave me an idea…
There’s a garage on the south side of Station – not far from the abandoned space-port – that’s also a fairly successful chop-shop and safe house for criminals in need. Owner and proprietor Rachael Manse trades in cars, parts and information. She does not, however, have a van of her own. There is however a client on site, Alun Strain, who has an estate car he’d be prepared to drive for a price.
Alun: If the players don’t have enough cash, Alun will not be helpful. The best the group can hope for is to talk him into a contract.
Rachael: At the slightest whiff of a missing person case, Rachael will leap into action, she’d even be prepared to steal Alun’s car so long as she gets to come along.
If the group fail to talk either of them into helping, they will have to choose another way to proceed.
In most games, a period of travel will take an adventuring party through some form of wilderness. In a sci-fi noir setting however, wilderness is likely to be hard to come by. So instead, we have the Wolf Gardens: about 120 miles of suburb, slum and ruin, mostly abandoned, but a haven for people who have no regard for being civilized.
Tracking the Van: Dust storms are a regular thing, and in Wolf Gardens, so are piles of trash. Tread marks and smashed junk make a very clear path, so tracking the Regency Van is no big deal to begin with, but when the tracks of a dozen other vehicles start crossing over the task becomes much harder. Rachael’s knowledge of vehicles will be useful if she’s with the party, otherwise it’ll be difficult trying to track the van without getting into a few fights.
Getting into a fight: Bandits have the run of the Gardens and will attack anything that looks fancy enough to have money. Bandits are easy to come by in any system’s rulebook, but remember your terrain, buildings will offer cover to ambushers and elevation to ranged attackers. Vehicles are restricted to the wide roads, which bandits may have blocked to limit the groups options. Alun would be incredibly handy in a fight, if only to protect his car.
If – and only if – the players are successful in finding the van, they will find themselves confronted by an insurmountable enemy. Gorgon’s precision is near-flawless, his guns are powerful, and he seems to have an almost prescient tactical mind, and worse, he seems able to counter psychic abilities. They cannot fight him normally, but they must discover that the hard way.
This is one combat where Isaac will be the most useful. There are some opportunities here to learn a few things about the mysterious stranger, and why he attacked Regency agents:
- If the players have not already heard the name Gorgon, this is the time to introduce him formally.
- Gorgon has information on Regency’s plans with the abductees, but will not share it with the group. He does not hide the fact that he’s trying to put a stop to them.
- Gorgon mentions that he was once employed by Regency, but was betrayed by them. They’ll likely learn this if they offer to ally with Gorgon, he doesn’t feel he can trust anyone anymore.
The offer of a truce is enough to make Gorgon leave the group alone, but he will not take the group with him, and to ensure that he’s not followed, will flatten the group’s tyres.
This being a noir universe, there are no real allies or enemies. At any time, one or both of the NPC’s who were “helping” could turn traitor, for their own reason, and in their own way. Having your players trust either character could be very difficult, especially across a short space of time, so choosing the timing of the betrayal is essential.
Rachael: Like Jack Clancy, Rachael is searching for someone who has gone missing. The moment it becomes apparent that the group know something that she doesn’t, she’s likely to turn nasty.
Having no combat skills, she’s likely to talk bandits into helping her kidnap a player for information. Or, if the players manage to talk Gorgon into admitting his true motives, she may well abandon them for him.
Alun: The Cleaner’s motives are clear, money. The group are not valuable, but they might prove detrimental to his future earning potential. The moment that they prove a threat, he’ll likely leave them for dead.
Gorgon on the other hand is a valuable target, and while Alun is not usually a bounty hunter, he’d be the first to get word to Regency, and pick up some coin for doing so.
Whether the group realize it or not, their next logical move should be to head for the city of Bullpen, although that’s likely to be on foot. This could lead to a survival-style trek across Wolf Gardens with a dust storm fast approaching. However the group are likely to have gained new information, and a potential new ally in the process. The characters of Rachael and Alun also have the potential to become emergency characters should you have guests in the group.
The Gardens are rich with rewards, and the group could find plenty of caches of money and weapons dotted around in abandoned houses and camps. However, by not gathering more information before acting, they will not have learnt that the lorries carrying the abductees take an underground motorway to the north.
NPC NAME – Alun Strain [Villain]
BACKGROUND – Cleaner (Cleans up crime-scenes and destroys evidence, including witnesses)
MOTIVATION – Money.
DESCRIPTION – Full-body clean shave, not a single hair on him. Wears gloves at all times. Friendly demeanour but refuses to mention his work, in fact closes up completely if the topic is brought up.
NPC NAME – Rachael Manse [Ally]
BACKGROUND – Fixer (Procures tools, vehicles and other items)
MOTIVATION – Information, leads on missing brother.
DESCRIPTION – Redhead, buzz-cut hair. denim overall and leather jacket. Bright green eyes, behind sleek sunglasses, and a wicked smile on her face.