In Which we Introduce a Psycho and a Sentry

Our latest adventure was an attempt by me to actually create a credible threat that the heroes couldn’t simply punch away. I don’t feel I succeeded, but I think the germ for what I envisioned has been planted.

It began with the heroes in Chicago helping Impulse out with some trouble. The trouble was left vague and assumed to be completed already. As they relaxed a messenger found them and delivered a telegram from Cobalt City; a cop was requesting help, having heard of their exploits. Quickly they headed north to heed the call.

Cobalt city is one of corruption, riddled with crime and built on the backs of the dead. They were not aware of the rarity that a cop in this city would actually reach out for help. Using their typical bravado they made a beeline for the local police station and asked to see their contact, Officer Blue. They expected a police captain and got a beat cop.

Blue informed them that a dangerous man has just recently escaped police custody.  The man’s name is Jamie Roberts; he had been moved from prison to a hospital following claims of pain. While there he killed the guards assigned to him and seems to have escaped out the fifth floor window. The heroes asked to investigate the hospital. This investigation revealed that the patient’s doctor has not turned up, and in fact doesn’t seem to have left the night before.

Our heroes decided to split up. Impulse and Aviator went to check on the missing doctor’s home while Freedom and Liberty perused the prisoner’s cell. At the prison Freedom noted that the cell was very clean, and all items were squared away, including a hidden chess set apparently carved by the prisoner. He inferred that the prisoner was detail oriented and a thinker, probably with a strong head for tactics. However, opposed to the neat details were the multitudes of book pages glued to the walls. Each page seemed to hold random content and in addition to its original content also contained scribbles and drawings. Freedom took these and headed to meet up with the team.

At the doctor’s house Impulse discovered that the front door was ajar. Heading inside he soon confronted a strange man in the upstairs study. Aviator quickly entered and began negotiations. The stranger did not seem to care to face them, his face constantly hidden by the shadow of his fedora. Both sides refused to back down and a minor fight broke out. Luckily it defused itself and the matter was solved with discussion, the stranger announced himself as The Sentry, self appoint ted champion of Cobalt City. The three men ransacked the house and eventually found only one clue: a piece of yellow note paper containing a unique series of numbers.

Impulse decided to check in with the police and discovered that the Mayor had just been kidnapped from City hall. The group declined to investigate the area assuming the clues assembled would be more helpful. At this point Wildfire arrived and informed Impulse that he was needed back in Chicago (Translation, players were switched between sessions).

When Freedom and Liberty arrived both groups compared notes. It was eventually discovered that the mathematical calculations on the assorted pages created a map of some kind, detailing routes or roads. The presence of four pages of shark information suggested a connection to the water so they checked the data against Lake Superior water routes and found a match. The heroes decided to investigate the local harbor, with Aviator searching from the sky. At this point it began to rain, a large storm on its way. Noticing something strange about the boats Aviator asked Freedom to check the number found at the doctor’s house against shipping logs. The result came up as a ship docked a couple days ago. The group quickly searched the boat and encountered armed thugs. The thugs were easily bested, with Sentry falling from the boat while taking one out (that player had to leave). The mayor was grateful but confused, he told them that the killer had seemed surprised to see him, and indeed took the time to actually map out city hall. Feeling that the Mayor was not the true target the heroes left and soon arrived at city hall.

Their hunch was confirmed as City Hall had been trapped. They easily navigated the few traps and found a trail leading to the roof. As they emerged the midnight storm truly kicked in. Across the roof the psychopath Jamie Roberts, now calling himself “Mako,” stood holding onto an ADA. The heroes tried to reason with him but failed causing him to hurl the ADA from the roof.

Aviator acted quickly, seizing initiative to fly and catch the hostage. Meanwhile Freedom and Liberty assaulted the villain. Freedom got Mako in a hold and Liberty landed a square him but he was able to break through the pain and instead of trying to free himself he used leverage to try and launch he and Freedom from the roof. A small scuffle arose and they three found themselves in a face off. This allowed Wildfire to attack, but the downpour was affecting her flames so she used too much power in her attack. A small explosion knocked out Mako but also sent Freedom from the roof. Luckily Aviator was able to catch him.

In the end the psycho was captured, and the ADA who had tried him was saved.

Comments: This adventure, as I have typed it, reads better then it went. The players stumbled with many of the clues, and in truth maybe I didn’t present them clearly enough. I like the notion of a mystery, it breaks up combat and force s people to get involved. Unfortunately my players have trouble with mysteries so this problem will probably rear its head again. On the bright side the player playing Aviator did actually spend his hero point to save the ADA so that’s good.

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4 thoughts on “In Which we Introduce a Psycho and a Sentry

  1. I will provide a link describing this more in detail, but from what I’ve read, mystery games tend to go much smoother when there are multiple clues for the players to find and analyze in any given scene or “step” of the adventure.

    Going on the rule of three means they’ll be much less likely to overlook or misinterpret what you’re giving them, and it’ll flesh out the crime scenes and story as you work to include more details.

    More here:

    http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/three-clue-rule.html

  2. But yeah, from how you wrote it, it sounded pretty good and a nice change of pace from what they had been doing.

  3. Hmm, pretty useful article. I have taken steps to do this in the past but having a clear way of doing so is very helpful. Sort of focuses the creative process.
    I do have an addition to it however, it is stated “The players are not Sherlock Holmes,” but I would add that sometimes the GM is not Arthur Conan Doyle. Writing a mystery is difficult and involving, scrapping one together in the span of time between games is much harder and some people aren’t up to that task.
    That’s how I feel sometimes.
    Occasionally I think I can’t string a good plot together, other times it’s hard for me to provide the failings that get the npc caught.

  4. Conceptually — I’ve never designed or run a mystery campaign — I imagine you could just boil it down to its base, mechanical components, or “steps.” Basically, these things have a normal progression and, as a fan of Castle, you should be pretty aware of how these things usually play out.

    They find evidence at the scene of the crime. From there, they can either interview relations of the deceased, and/or follow up on the clues they’ve gathered. This either leads them to new people to talk to, or to re-interview the initial bunch. At this point, something happens to override how they’re currently interpretting the situation, but provides additional information. Lastly, they put it all together just as the villain is leaving town, celebrating his victory, etc.

    In that sense, you design clues that will get them from scene to scene, leaving out that which would allow them to skip scenes. If they deduct enough to do that themselves, however, go for it.

    From what you told me about the adventure:
    From the crime scene, they might deduce that some kind of explosion or sound-based weapon was used, based on the seemingly concussed corpse and the broken windows.

    From there, they interview the scientist’s rival and his girlfriend, hopefully bringing up something about the sound-based weapon that was deployed. He may try to deflect or lie about how that relates to his research. Alternatively, the GF may be missing somehow.

    From there they may search additional holdings of the deceased, finding schematics for sonic weaponry that came from the scientist’s girlfriend.

    From there, they interview the GF to find that she is no scientist, and has been stealing information from him. This leads them to the scientist. Or, given that he may be holding her hostage, they begin to look more closely at her disappearance, questioning if he knew she was feeding the other scientist data.

    There may be additional steps; they may use governmental contacts to discuss the type of weapon being used; there are possibly military contracts at stake here.

    In this case, the failing is that this is ultimately a crime of passion with someone too arrogant for their own good. He’s going to make alot of mistakes, reactively covering his tracks rather than proactively. He’s clearly a bit unhinged, so when certain topics are brought up you can easily have him snap to provide an end to the merry chase.

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