Before our depression-break, the entire structure of the coastal metropolis of Danton had collapsed; everything magical had stopped functioning in a city that relied upon it to approach something close to the comforts of our own modern age. It was a catastrophic equivalent to all technology permanently failing across the width and breadth of our own world. Things got tense, and the PCs took this time to split up and investigate exactly what was happening in the city.
Jun Xi and Snow went to market to purchase supplies, and encountered the new character of the returning player of Tyranis, a monk by the name of. . . well, honestly, I can’t remember any more. This new character brought news of a foreign army approaching through the mountains, however, and joined with Jun Xi and Snow when they were accosted by a street gang known as the Redarms in an attempted mugging.
Meanwhile Eli, Sed and Gandrake went in search of Ricky, the slimy informant that had tried to sell Gandrake out to the syndicate and had been less than forthcoming with Sed. They both had things to do in town, old grudges to settle, and they needed information. Unfortunately they failed, although they did pick up quite a few rumors during their long search. A man in a tattered green robes still wielding magic, a wildman of immense strength being held in a local prison, and rumors of the mystical “rail tracer” that had scattered the remains of Evard’s Dogs boss Petran Dula across a mile of earthcarriage track. . . the last being a Baccano! reference that developed into a nickname for Eli, who’d done the deed in the previous session.
The two groups reunited outside the militia’s headquarters for a meeting with Captain Trenton, but found their approach blocked by the seething masses of worried citizenry. As they waited, a man brought himself above the crowd and began delivering a speech most definitely intended to start a riot. At first the two groups, still not united, ignored the danger, scoring four of five automatic failures on the skill challenge. At the last moment, Eli stood above the crowd and started a debate. Things quickly got heated, as one by one new complications entered the challenge.
First Snow was identified, and her ties to her family were used to discredit them; every round she failed to hide would give a large penalty on checks. Then the guards tried to get involved, their presence putting the people on edge and giving penalties on checks if members of the party couldn’t talk them into leaving. They blew through their action points, scored 9 successes in a row, and finally came upon that final roll. Snow failed to hide. Sed failed to dissuade the guards. And the rest of the party failed “Aid Another” rolls. It literally came down to Eli’s Diplomacy bonus alone versus the entire list of penalties accrued against them, and the table fell silent as his player let that d20 fall. . .
He rolled a 2.
The group was immediately swarmed by the mob, the most dangerous enemy they’ve faced to date. Double damage makes a swarm attack very, very deadly, but that’s just what a mob should be. With characters falling unconscious all over the place, several NPC guards dying, and a very near total defeat, the PCs finally managed to disperse two of the three mobs, and fled to lick their wounds while the guards finished the third. As for the man who’d started it all. . . well, his podium stood empty, and of him there was no sign. And the session ended there.
Reflecting back, the skill challenge at the end made a great climax. It was easily my best work yet in that field; every 3 successes, I threw in a new challenge that would require extra actions from the PCs, robbing them of Aid Another bonuses and adding the potential for higher DCs from penalties on these side checks. Snow’s flight, the guard’s entrance, and the activity of hidden agents seeding the crowd ended up splintering the group through the challenge, and what was a breeze on the first check became a real trial by the end. The PCs all fondly remember how the tension built, although in the end they only failed because they entered the challenge so late. Of course that was with the use of all their action points, which I let them use to re-roll checks or take actions in both the main roll and side event. That certainly hurt them when it came to the big throw-down at the end.
To avoid becoming too verbose, I’ll end this post here. Our most recent session picked up a few days after the riot, after Captain Trenton and his militia had declared martial law with permission of the city parliament. In conjunction with Alex Iroe, the governor of Danton, Jun Xi, Eli and Sed were deputized by the militia and given both wages and lodging. Snow and Gandrake’s position was less official, although they were given a share as well. And I’ll continue with that some time tomorrow.