Experiments in tinkering and thought

Dresden Files Session 2 – Betrayed Chapter 1 – Part 1

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To recap the first session, we fleshed out the city of Paris, some of its inhabitant groups, and mostly finished our characters.  Our group consists of Jean-Guy, a stealthy changeling with speed and toughness; Sylvestre Leroy, a gritty private investigator with an alcohol problem; Sarene Kholin, a reporter with desire for retribution; Adolf Wisemannn, the most awkward White Court vampire alive; and Xiao Lee Chan, the only surviving member of an ancient order of monks.

A significant chunk of this session was spent completing the characters. Most of what we had left to do was related to the guest appearances that needed to be done before starting the game.  I feel like this time, we wanted to try to get all of the things done so that we could start the adventure immediately, but next time around, I think we may take our time more.

While this is a tabletop game, the story is written as a narrative.  I will try to capture the events in sufficient detail, while skipping the uninteresting arguments discussions we had during the game (those of you that play these games know what I am talking about).  And so the story begins – Betrayed Chapter 1:

Our story begins with Xiao, sitting at his favourite tea house under the mid-afternoon sun.  This Asian man of indistinguishable age wore simple clothes that were mismatched and shabby.  He always kept a shaved head, as the traditions of his order dictated.  One would certainly not mistake him for a member of upper class society.  He sat on this cool fall day, enjoying his tea from a table overlooking the garden when the server walked over to him.  “A message for Monsieur.” he said, as he handed him a small, neatly folded note.  Xiao picked up the message, and read:

Council business.  Meet at The Jack in the Box, at 9 pm.

Xiao considered the note.  Having not had contact with the council for a while, this note was not completely unexpected.  Being in the middle of a war tended to increase the frequency of communications, but despite this, he had not been called on very much in these past months.  The server stood next to him, subtly rubbing his fingers together.  Xiao dug in his pockets and took out what little change he had left, handed it to the server, and started towards his destination for the evening, despite having hours more to go.

Later that evening, just after sunset, Xiao stepped out of a taxi that dropped him off at the mouth of an alley.  The alley was dark, but directions from the driver indicated that The Jack in the Box was a bar, part way down the way.  He walked down to find a sign of mostly burned out neon letters intermittently flashing in red light.

He stepped through the door to a large common room with low lighting.  There was a low hum in room, in the style of traditional pubs with an air of camaraderie.  There were enough people for the place not to feel empty, but not so many as to be crowded. So he settled into a chair at a free table and waited for the waitress to come over.  He ordered a tea, earning a sideways glance from the waitress.  He sipped it slowly, taking care to enjoy it, and waited for his appointment time.

A short time later, a man walked through the door.  This man had short brown hair, light skin, and wore a long brown trench coat that hung open.  His appearance was unremarkable, but his manner was quite hurried and rough around the edges, like someone that had only slept a few hours in the last three days.  The man quickly scanned all the patrons until his eyes settled on Xiao, and he walked towards him with purpose.  The man quickly drew a circular chalk line around them and then sat down without speaking .  Xiao felt a faint buzz of energy, and then the faint buzz of talk died out to a low hum.

“Hello wizard Lee, I am Kent Wilson. The White Council requires your aid,” said Wilson, in a dramatic tone.  Having been raised to help those in need, Xiao did not need to be convinced to help: “Wha you nee?” he asked.  “Since I assume you are aware that the Council is at war with the vampire Courts, it will come to you as no surprise that there are regularly casualties,” started Wilson.  “Recently however, there was a significant and tragic event: there was an emergency meeting of the White Council concerning the current state of the war.  Since you were not there, I assume that they just failed to contact you?” Wilson asked. Xiao made to speak, but Wilson did not waiting for an answer. “This meeting started as usual, but before long, power went out in the building, and all the doors locked.  There were Red Court vampires everywhere.  The only reason I did not get caught was that I was in the washroom,” continued Wilson.  “I hid in there when I started hearing explosions.  I was too terrified to go anywhere, but when I started to smell smoke, I knew I had to get out.  As far as I know, I am the only survivor,” said Wilson, almost out of breath at this point from speaking so fast.  Xiao sat, listening patiently, and considered the story he had just heard.  “This ambush was a tragedy that will greatly weaken the White Council’s position in Paris.  Their presence will be almost completely gone for the forseeable future.  That is not why I came to you though,” continued Kent Wilson, looking intently at Xiao.

“For such an ambush to have occurred, the Red Court must have been tipped off about the Council’s meeting time and place.  They were betrayed,”  Kent paused after that, waiting to see Xiao’s reaction.  Since it took him a little bit of time to process English in the best of times, a frantic Englishman made it somewhat more difficult to understand.  Kent waited longer, hoping to see some sort of reaction, but that never came.  “There is one individual that is most certainly responsible for this tragedy.  During our meeting, a single warden was mysteriously absent.  Beginning a short time before the meeting, his superiors were no longer able to find him.  He was presumed missing in action, but recent events suggest a more sinister cause for his absence,” Wilson waited again for that to sink in.  “I need you to find Warden Charles Hugo and try him for his crimes against the White Council.  You are the only one left that is able to stop him,” finished Kent. Xiao considered everything Kent had just told him.  “You kno whe he is? Wha he loo like?” asked Xiao.  Kent described a man in his mid-fifties with greying hair, of a medium though athletic build, with a scar across half of his face.  “Is the anythin mo you can te me?” asked Xiao.  “That is all the information I have.  Give me a call when you find him,” said Kent, as he handed Xiao a scrap of paper with his number written down on it.

They both stood up to leave.  Kent kicked the chalk circle, that went out in an audible ‘pop’ and the sound of the room came rushing back in.  “We should leave together, you never know what might be waiting for you,” said Kent all the while throwing a paranoid glance about the room.  Xiao dropped the remainder of his money on the table, and followed him to the door.

They stepped out into a dark alley, lit only by the partly-functional neon sign.  “Wait, what’s that down the alley?” exclaimed Kent.  Xiao turned around to see two dark figures at the closed end of the alleyway.  They were humanoid in shape, but a dark blood-red colour, and instead of a nose was a misshapen bat-like muzzle.  Their slanted eyes focused on the two wizards. One of them walked over and picked up a nearby dumpster like it was a box of feathers.  “Ah, uh, we shou prob run!” exclaimed Xiao as he started towards the mouth of the alley.  The vampire hurled the dumpster through the air at the pair of them.  Xiao shoved Kent out of the the way, and desperately dove to avoid the dumpster, which landed mere inches from him in a cacophony of metal on asphalt.  Both Kent and Xiao stared at the vampires with eyes wide, as they both continued to approach.  “Can yo ge yosef ou o he?” said Xiao, standing up.  “Yea, I should be fine,” replied Kent.  There was a brief moment’s pause before Xiao said “OK,” and then vanished, leaving behind him only the sound of running footsteps.  He thought he heard a voice behind him saying: “Wait for me!”

Xiao dove into a store near the mouth of the alley, and waited by the door, looking outside.  A moment later, an unnaturally thick fog spilled out into the street, and a figure furiously ran in front of the store.  Xiao quickly stepped out the door, and grabbed Kent before he ran past.  Kent panicked momentarily, but realized that he was standing in this store, a startled shopkeeper looking at him with a worried look, and tried to calm down while looking outside intently.  As the shopkeeper kept looking at Kent, Xiao reappeared and the shopkeeper almost jumped out of his skin.  “Tadaa!” said Xiao, looking at the shopkeeper, and then turned back to the front windows of the shop.

After a few minutes without activity outside, Xiao turned to examine his surroundings.  They were standing in a small tourist shop.  It was brightly lit and had many wooden shelves laden with miniature Eiffel towers and Arcs du Triomphe, as well as many other sights that he did not recognize.  While he had studied much about the world in the monastery where he grew up, he had never had the habit of exploring his surroundings.  He walked around the small shop, looking for a back door, but there was none.  “We should go now, before they realize that we hid in here.” said Kent, still looking outside.  “Alri, I ca you when I fine im.” replied Xiao.  Kent stepped out of the store, and disappeared into the fog.  A moment later, Xiao exited the store and headed home; it was time to find Charles Hugo.

Xiao walked a few blocks to arrive at an old apartment building.  It lay near a four-way intersection whose corners featured a funeral parlour and a hospital, among other things.  As he walked to a small, ordinary door, an ambulance whizzed through the intersection, sirens blaring.  Xiao turned to the buzzer, found “102 – Sylvestre Leroy, P.I.”, and pushed it.  There was a moment’s pause before the door buzzed open without any greeting or questions.  He stepped into a short hallway with a door on either side, that ended with an elevator and a stairway.  A sign across the door of the elevator indicated that it was out of order;  the dust on the sign suggested it had been that way for a while.  The door to the right read 102 in chromed lettering and had a wooden plaque below on which was written “Sylvestre Leroy, Private Investigator”.  The door was already partially ajar, but Xiao nonetheless stood in front of it and knocked a few times on the door frame.

“Come in!” resonated a voice from the apartment.  Xiao stepped in to a dimly lit office where the scent of smoke and whisky saturated the air.  There was a couch that was directly to the right that partly obstructed the door, with a coffee table in front of it,  but otherwise, the room’s main feature was a desk facing the door with a work light and a computer, behind which sat a middle-aged man wearing a mostly clean white shirt with a loose dark tie around his neck.  “Oh, it’s you.  Stay there for a second,” muttered Sylvestre, turning to his computer.  A moment later, the light from the monitor died out and the fans whirred down.  “Hey there Chao, it’s been a while,”  exhaled Sylvestre.  “Goo to see you too Syl-ve-tah,” replied Xiao, “I nee yo hep.”  Sylvestre narrowed his eyes and sat forward, “Was it not enough that I got you out of that sticky situation with the Chinese mafia?” he asked.  “I gay you the infomation to alest dem fo lon time,” replied Xiao defensively.  “I nee to fin a man call Cha Hoogo.  He big, not too young or ol, sca on cheek.” continued Xiao.  “What did he do?” asked Sylvestre settling back into a relaxed position.  “Maybe ee cau big explosion, lot people die.  He disappea a few wee ago” replied Xiao, emphasis on die.  “Alright, go over there, I’ll see what I can dig up,” said Sylvestre, gesturing towards a door on the side.

Sylvestre had Xiao go into the next room; he had learned that technology, computers in particular, tend to die in his presence if you were lucky, and explode if you were not.  Xiao walked through the door that led into a small hallway with a with three doors.  He went to the one nearest to him that was a kitchen, and sat down at a small table to see what Sylvestre could come up with.

After Xiao had gone out of the room, Sylvestre hit the power button on his computer and the fans whirred back to life.  He picked up the phone and pushed a few buttons to call a number stored in its memory, though he could have dialled it just as easily.  The police department was an invaluable source of information, particularly to find someone that had disappeared, but he did not like to call the the police for help.  After what had happened with his partner and his wife, he just could not look at police officers the same way.  Besides, it was well known that integrity was not the most prominent virtue of the Paris PD. However, if anybody close to this Charles Hugo had reported him missing, they would have a record of it, and, if he was lucky, an investigation locating him or what was left of him.  After a short conversation with some detectives, there were no leads: no missing persons file, no criminal file, no Charles Hugo.  If Xiao was asking about him, there were good chances this guy was a part of the supernatural community, and those folks did not deal with the police.  Period.  Perhaps an astute reporter would know something about this Charles Hugo.

Sylvestre picked up the phone, and dialled from his phone book.  “Hello?” answered a female voice.  “Hey Sarene, I may have a story for you, but first I need to find someone,” said Sylvestre.  “Hi Sylvestre.  Alright, I’m listening,” replied Sarene.  “I knew I could count on you.” Sylvestre gave her the details of the missing person, and asked her to comb through the newspaper archives for the last few weeks, hoping to find something relevant.  It would take her a while to look through them, so otherwise it looked like he had to contact some of his less reputable sources.

Sylvestre spent an hour calling his ‘alternative’ sources: homeless people, low-level member of organized crime, some of them simple waiters at restaurants frequented by some of the shadier elements of society.  Most of them did not  decide to help him because they liked him; it was safe to say, in fact, that most of them disliked him.  However, they all liked having intact faces, as well as being able to use their fingers, so they complied with his demands.  Even if they were safe themselves, Sylvestre had a habit of starting in brawls in the fine establishments of Paris, and that could also be a great way to exert the right kind of pressure.  A few phone calls were enough to learn that somebody else was looking for Charles Hugo, none other than the Werewolves of London: the English Mafia in Paris that were rumoured to secretly all be werewolves.  That could be a problem… or a solid lead to follow up on.

Xiao sat down at the kitchen table and looked out the window.  There was a small playground across the street, completely empty at this hour.  There was no reason to stay here, Sylvestre could give him a call to let him know what he found out.  Xiao quickly stepped through the office and stopped at the front door: “Thank you fo hep, cah me when you fine sometin usefu.”  Sylvestre was still on the phone; he nodded his way, and waved off Xiao as he left the office.  Xiao hailed a cab and headed home.

 Xiao stepped out of the cab in front of a white four story building.  On the ground floor was a large restaurant with a burgundy sign that read “Villa d’Or” in bold yellow lettering, alongside the Chinese translation.  Xiao walked up to a green door next to the restaurant, and unlocked it, revealing a stairway. On the second floor, he unlocked the apartment door, greeted his landlady, stepped into his own room, and closed the door.  Even though there were no lights on in the room, there was a flickering neon sign just outside his window announcing the restaurant below, that maintained a soft yellow glow during night time.  He whispered “plamya“, and a few candles lit across the room as he sat down at a small desk with a phone and a neatly stacked pile of papers.  He pulled out a small address book from the top drawer, and opened it to ‘D’.  There was a single entry written there: “Jean-Guy d’Hiver – DO NOT CALL 4AM-12PM”.  Xiao picked up the receiver on the old rotary phone, and dialled.

The phone rang a few times, and then a voice answered: “Yea?”.  As usual, there was static on the line.  As disciplined as Xiao was, there was no way for a wizard to truly have no effect on technology.  The technology of the Western world was foreign to Xiao; he had grown up in an environment where meals were cooked over burning wood, and candles lit rooms at night.  It was not until the monastery was destroyed that he had experienced modern technology, and he was already in his early twenties by then.  “This Xiao,” he said, “I nee you hep.” There was a moment of empty static on the line.  “Alright, what’s up?” asked Jean-Guy.  “I lookin for wahden name Cha Oogo. He disappea a few wee ago, and counci thin he kih peepo”, said Xiao.  “His name is Cha Oogo?  What kind of name is Cha Oogo? What is he, like, from Congo or something?” asked Jean-Guy, trying to decode the Chenglish.  “No, no, Cha, like Cha de Go.  Oogo, like Victo Oogo,” replied Xiao, trying to enunciate as clearly as possible. There was a brief pause on the line as Jean-Guy processed the speech.  “Oh! You mean Charles de Gaule and Victor Hugo.  So you are looking for a guy called Charles Hugo,” finally said Jean-Guy.  “Ya.  Is wha I say, Cha Oogo.” replied Xiao.  “Right. So what else can you tell me about him?” asked Jean-Guy.  Xiao filled him in on the remaining details, and thanked him before hanging up.  It was well past midnight at this point.  Time to sleep.

I was going to write all of the first session in one piece, but as it turns out there is still a fair amount left to add.  It is looking like most of the sessions will have to be divided into multiple sessions if they are to be of a reasonable length.

This is the narrative of the first part of the second session of our Dresden Files RPG tabletop game.  For more information on the characters and the city, see the blog post from the first session, where they were created.



Author: Tinker

I am finishing a PhD at Université de Montréal, following a bachelors in Biochemistry as well as a Masters degree in chemistry from McGill. I have many hobbies that are centered around experiments of some sort (either electronics, coding, cooking, construction, plants, acrobatics, etc.). I also have been doing tai chi for the last decade, and intermittently doing kung fu as well.

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