Thursday, August 15, 2013

And Fear and Paranoia will be out watchwords / Disturbing players sleep with Night's Black Agents

I'm currently running Kenneth Hite's Night's Black Agents, a Gumshoe game focusing on investigation, spy thriller tropes and vampires, over Google Hangouts. It's a fantastic game.
It sounds a bit weird at first: Jason Bourne alikes vs vampire conspiracy in a high octane thriller setting that focuses on investigation. Actually, it sounds a bit confused.
It doesn't run like that. It runs like a classic spy thriller, with an added level of scary shit at every level.

The core book is mostly a toolbox with every component needed to build and run a custom game.

  • Design your own vampire - satanic, supernatural, alien or mutant
  • Build your own conspiracy, with a step by step guide on how to move from street/gang level to world spanning mega conspiracy
  • Move through Eastern Europe like Liam Neeson through a gang of human traffickers
  • Support and ultimately betray your friends and allies
  • Different modes of play from ultra realistic Dust to hyper paranoid Mirror, psychologically damaging Burn to high action Stakes

Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria
I've set my game in Bulgaria, one of the poorest and newest members of the European Union. It's an ex Communist state once part of the USSR. It's a gateway to Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It's government is incredibly corrupt. Border controls are virtually non existent. Organised crime is unchecked and run by ex members of the Communist Olympic Wrestling Team who found themselves suddenly unemployed and with the only marketable skills of being able to hurt people. Assassinations are common in Bulgaria, often happen in broad daylight in public places and can involve rocket launchers.
Honestly, as a setting, it's a gift.

I'm loving the creativity and verve that my players are bringing to the game. It's the first time that I've played with four of them, so there was a lot of unchartered territory as far as the group dynamic goes.
So far the team have:
  • Extracted an informant and hurt a number of Bulgarian Mafia goons in the process
  • Watched a human trafficking deal go bad, killed a load of surprisingly agile and hardy Germans and crashed out a bit when one got up again after having his head virtually severed
  • Blown themselves up when they placed a propane canister and an M60 in the same confined space they were in
  • Followed a trail of death and destruction as they played catch up to a sadistic killer who was tracking them down
  • Blown up some cop cars as they fled from the scene of a brutal murder they didn't commit
A genuine Bulgarian Mafia
boss and ex wrestler

The players have been writing up the sessions as In Character journals, which I'm very happy with.
The notes of paranoia in there make me feel like I'm doing a good job.
We're seven sessions in now, which is much further than I thought we'd get. Often these things lose momentum, but we still seem to be going strong. It'd be really good to see this game through to the bitter end.