The Hangman Conspiracy
Some time ago I got to run my first session of Night’s Black Agents, which is a Vampire Conspiracy RPG featuring Bourne Identity and other spy thriller types engaging the supernatural. I was immediately in love with the book having read through it and I was extremely excited to run this, especially because I already have quite the sordid love tale with Trail of Cthulhu as it is. This also was a one-shot adventure, which meant that I could have high stakes right from the get go and not overly worry about the survival of characters whatsoever. It’s also worth noting that this was doubly special because it was birthday roleplay for one of my Trail of Cthulhu players, so happy birthday, here are some vampires!
I started off the scenario with some pregen characters and a selection of players from around the gamers club I go to, with of course the birthday player. I used a great collection of pregen characters from Pelgrane Press’ website, which let me focus more or less entirely on the actual Operation I was going to run. Eventually I settled for Berlin in Germany (partly to evoke memories of the Berlin wall) and the backstory being that an old contact, friend and asset (albeit a crazy one) called the PCs to him with “Important information” about a vast European conspiracy he had collected, but that he feared someone was after him. He needed to give it to them so the right people could get it before it could be buried again.
When the players turned up at the old East Berlin apartment bloc, it was clear from the get go something was dreadfully wrong with this Op. The building was shrouded in darkness and the assets room, on the fourth floor, was dark with only a small hole in the blinds peeking out. The lack of activity anywhere else, except for the high rise apartment on the Western side of the nearby river, gave them a bad and ominous feeling. Entering the building, they soon noticed that the security guard had been killed and wasn’t just blobbing out to an overly dramatic German sitcom. His spine had been crushed and the whole situation was getting worse, so they quickly got up to where the asset was and noticed someone had been there first. The door had been kicked in, the place firmly tossed and a foul smell of ammonia was lingering in the air. Nothing like starting something with a bang I say, as the PCs rapidly discovered the bomb hidden in the bedroom.
The bomb of course was the least of their worries and they soon discovered that the asset was dead, but many of his conspiratorial notes were left behind and whoever killed him failed to destroy the computers hard drive – leaving valuable evidence behind. The players quickly deduced the meaning of a couple of referenced Bible passages (referring to Judas hanging himself and the field where he did so, called “The Field of Blood”) to get access to the computer, while the Irish explosives expert ( :O) didn’t manage to disarm the bomb. When one of the PCs looked through the telescope to see what their asset had been looking at they were greeted by a woman in a black dress who, just as it happens, had a detonator to the bomb in the apartment.
Shooting out the window and throwing out the bomb later, still damaging most of the building and sending glass everywhere, the PCs made a hasty exit. Thankfully for them the woman who tried to bomb them was seen leaving from the other building and a dramatic high speed chase through Berlin was on. Chase scenes in NBA are intelligently done and work fantastically, with the chased party needing to hit a certain number (like 10) and the other group needing to catch up (reduce the lead to 0). It’s a bit more complicated than this in practice, but it is a simple, elegant and stylish way of working out a chase. A car full of henchmen didn’t phase the players much and eventually the woman crashed her car into a nighttime open fish market (just my sense of style I guess).
Here they picked her up and changed vehicle. For a taco truck. No, that’s not sarcasm that’s…. what actually happened. In any event they interrogated the woman, who despite the high speed crash was considerably still together (this is the result of being a ghoul, aka a human fed Vampiric blood). They soon learned where she had to go to meet her Vampiric masters contact and then they executed her… In the taco truck. Which they proceeded to clean up, put some bleach over and then take on a road trip to Paris. There were questions asked about what happened to the body and why the mincer on the truck had become rather…. broken.
And really, the vampire was the bad guy.
Once in Paris the PCs ambushed the vampires main ghoul and some of his cultist like worshippers in the park in a reasonably dramatic shootout (helped considerably by the enemies ability to roll over a 1). This eventually led the agents to the Vampires lair in the Catacombs of Paris (PS Paris is an awesome place for a horror game, those Catacombs have nigh infinite potential). After wiring up the entrance with explosives – let’s face it this was always going to end this way – they made their way into the crypt where the Vampire lord, Malovich, was reading through the notes of their crazed asset. Now at this point, one of the PCs went up to the vampire and talked to him and while I roleplayed this interaction out the other players took their die/tokens off the map. So when I looked back to ask what they had done while the first PC willingly submitted himself to be eaten by the vampire, who was most miffed at being disturbed, they were long gone.
It’s worth noting that one of the first things I did was establish just how resilient the ghouls and this guy were: In the apartment at the start fired bullets that had impacted something, yet done no harm to whatever it was were found in the apartment. So they knew the vampire was a death trap (it’s also a one off, where I have no qualms about murdering everyone and anyone for fun and profit) and got out of there, leaving their fellow PC behind (but again, if nobody sees you actually die on screen as they say….). This resulted in a very brief chase scene and then they detonated the mausoleum and the catacombs – but to no avail as the vampire still found his way out! It was then that they had to get to the truck, but one character got left behind and caught by the Vampire who nearly managed to down them – but then the rising sun drove the monster off….
Overall it was a very interesting session and while only a one off, I intend to run a NBA game in future. One where the players actions in this scenario – however short – are going to have huge repercussions indeed.