Posted by: lordkyler | January 18, 2014

Radiance: Part I – Heroes for Hire

In our previous entry, I shared the basic setting of the story and introduced our main characters. This week, the adventure begins!

•••

Part One: Heroes for Hire

Ian, Aria, Connor, and Lilly, each a stranger, have independently received word of a well-paying job and have been asked to come to the manor of Harry Partridge, a wealthy banker and businessman living in the heart of Republic City.

The manor was impressive, built of red brick and white trim, several stories tall and surrounded with high fences and thick, strong hedges. The grounds are tranquil, and little can be heard beside the gurgle of fountains and the shriek of peacocks. However, those with trained eyes—such as our heroes—can pick out armed guards carrying pistols and hellhounds on leashes stationed around the perimeter.

They pass inspection at the gates and are ushered in to the house, passing stables housing fine-bred horses and drakes, and a garage full of fancy cars. Soon enough, they are indoors and in the luxurious office of Harry Partridge.

He wears an expensive suit, but his hair is long and wild. There are dark circles under his eyes and a scowl on his features. He looks to be in poor condition. He gestures his guests to sit, and they do, although Connor and Ian seem uncomfortable in such opulent surroundings.

“I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve called you here,” says Mr. Partridge. Some of them had been, since the banker had a reputation for being quite close to the government, while they were somewhat the opposite.

“Three days ago, my eleven-year-old daughter was kidnapped by unknown forces. The kidnappers left no trace and none of the grounds or staff saw any sign of intruders.”

“That’s awful,” sympathized Lilly. Ian frowned. Connor was already frowning.

“Have you tried contacting the police?” questioned Aria.

“Of course,” said the banker. “But they have been unsuccessful. No one has claimed credit for the deed, and there have been no ransom demands. We suspect that one of the gangs may be behind it, either for ransom or revenge. Most likely the Mongrels.”

The Mongrels were a very wide-spread gang, famed mainly for their numbers and consisting mostly of beggars and thieves. Aria nodded thoughtfully. The Seven Sisters were not on good terms with them. It sounded like something they might do.

“The police do not have the manpower to launch the sort of investigation I desire, much less the ability to battle the gangs. I have tried contacting federal forces, but they have refused to respond. I do not know if they are unable or unwilling to assist me, but I find it extremely upsetting considering my long involvement with them.”

“So what are you willing to pay?” asked Aria.

“Ten thousand dollars to each of you, half up front and an extra 25% if she is unharmed.”

Lilly raised her eyebrows. “Wow, you’re rich!”

Partridge turned to her and fixed her with a stern glare. “No, I am desperate, madam. I have exhausted my connections and powers, and nothing is sufficient. And so I find myself forced to turn to a different path. I have heard of you over the years. I believe that if you combine your skills, talents and connections, you can find my dear daughter Evangeline.”

Aria stroked her chin thoughtfully and thought of trying to negotiate for a higher price, but discarded the thought. The man was a banker, but he was desperate, and had probably offered as much as he was able right off.

Partridge pulled four large stacks of cash from his desk and pushed them towards his guests. “What do you say?”

The four of them nodded. “Can we see the bedroom where she was taken” asked Aria. Partridge nodded.

“There is little to see there, but you are welcome. I only ask that your refrain from touching anything. I still have hopes to convince the governor to send in a thaumaturgical team to investigate the room for residual magic.”

Partridge tossed the bundles of cash to each of his new employees and led them through the halls to his daughters bedroom on the third floor.

“I put her to bed around eight,” he said as they climbed the stairs, passing gorgeous statues and chandeliers on the way. “And when I went to check on her before I went to bed around midnight, she was gone. Nobody saw a thing.”

At last they arrived at the room. Light streamed in from two windows on the right, illuminating a small table with a china tea set and an intricate carpet. On the opposite wall from the door was a large picture window with curtains drawn. On the left was an enormous four-poster bed with the blankets sloughed off to the side, and a dresser covered in combs and jewelry and the like. Lastly, to their right was a walk-in closet stuffed with various dresses and hats.

“None of the windows were broken,” said Partridge. “The large window doesn’t open. The other windows do, but they were both locked. And nobody could have come through the house unnoticed.”

Aria moved over to inspect the bed, moving reverentially. The covers had been pushed aside, lying half-off the bed, but she could find no signs of anyone being pulled or forced from the bed. The faint outline of a small body was still pressed into the sheets and pillows like a small crater. Nothing else seemed out of the ordinary. By all appearances, the girl appeared to have gotten out of bed on her own.

Meanwhile, Lilly went to inspect the small windows. The term small was a relative one, as they were actually the size of the average door.They had handles and sturdy locks, but only on the inside. They were locked.

Connor idled over to the closet and poked through the contents, accidentally knocking several off their hangers.

“I said not to touch anything, you buffoon,” snapped Partridge.

“You hired me to fight, not to be a detective,” growled Connor, but hung the dresses back up haphazardly, and stood in center of the room toying with his swords.

Ian, ever the detective, was examining the doorknob for signs of tampering. However, the knob was an antique, and in a stroke of bad luck, as he was twisting the handle, something snapped in the lock, sealing them in the room. Everyone turned to look at him. Partridge looked livid.

“Don’t make me regret hiring you,” he scowled. Ian looked chagrined.

“My apologies,” he said. “I’ll have this fixed in a moment.”

Aria, seeing her paycheck in jeopardy, tried to distract Partridge with questions. “Was she close to any of the guards?”

“She was friendly with them. They often kept watch over her while she played outside. I wouldn’t say she was close friends with any of them though. They were always professional.”

“Do you think it’s possible she could have left on her own?” Lilly piped up. Still angry, the banker replied that this was impossible. “Well, the signs certainly seem to point to her leaving. Perhaps some form of mind control is to blame.”

Partridge frowned, clearly disliking that scenario.

“Well, had she been acting strange lately? Anything out of the ordinary?’

Partridge paused for a moment, going through his memories, though the task was clearly painful. “A few strange things, perhaps. She was remarkably perceptive. Always seemed to be able to tell what sort of mood people were in. And quite a few times she managed to guess things in an uncanny fashion. She was always very clever, excellent memory. But otherwise she was just a normal girl.”

Ian made a few final adjustments and pulled the door open smoothly. “I suppose now we’ll never know whether the lock was tampered with,” sniffed Partridge. “I pray the rest of your investigation will be more… proficient.”

“I assure you they will,” jumped in Aria. “We’ll search the streets and see what we can turn up.”

“Excellent,” said Partridge. “I would suggest investigating the Mongrels first. I have given them a good deal of grief over the years, and I believe they are the most likely culprits.”

“Very well,” said Aria. “Thank you for your business.”

“Thank me by retrieving my daughter,” said Partridge, and summoned a butler to escort them out.

•••

Once the heroes were free of the manor grounds, they turned to each other to introduce themselves and decide on their next course of action.

“My name’s Ian,” said the mechanic. “Engineer, firearm specialist, and pilot.”

“I’m Lilly!” she gushed. “I came from a rich family, but I decided to work on my own, and I’m half Oqidan-“

“Yeah, I’m Aria, captain in the Seven Sister band,” Aria interrupted.

“What’s our course of action?” asked Connor. Aria scowled slightly, but then put on a cheerful face.

“We introduce ourselves,” she said. “I’m Aria.”

“No need to repeat yourself, darlin’,” drawled Connor. Aria narrowed her eyes and blushed with anger.

“Fine. There are two good places for information in this part of town, the Twisted Tavern and the brawling clubs down by the tracks. I figure we’ll check those out.”

“Why don’t we just confront the Mongrels directly?” asked Connor.

“Let’s not tip our hand yet,” said Aria. “No sense letting them know we’re coming.”

Connor shrugged. “Fine. Let’s hit the tavern first. I could use a drink.” He spun on his heel and started walking, followed a few seconds behind by the rest of the group.

•••

The group headed downtown, several blocks away. Partridge’s manor was something of an oasis in the area, situated on a high hill. As they descended deeper into the city, the buildings became more decrepit and the people rather more unsavory.

The Twisted Tavern was somewhat neutral grounds as far as the gangs were concerned, and it was a popular spot for men of ill repute. As such, someone with a sharp ear or a large purse could learn a great deal of rumors.

It was still early evening, and so the tavern was somewhat sparsely populated. Two men played cards at a table, another man was having a low conversation with the bartender, and a few other patrons were seated alone at various tables, alone with their thoughts.

Connor and Ian headed directly for the bar, ordering saké and beer, respectively. Aria ordered a saké as well, then went to talk with a bearded gentleman in the corner. Lilly sashayed over to the card-playing gentlemen.

“Hey there, good-looking’,” said one of the men, tipping his hat. “What’s a dame like you doing in this part of town.”

Lilly looked around and leaned in conspiratorially. “Have you heard about Harry Partridge’s daughter? She was kidnapped!”

“You related or something?” asked the man.

Lilly shook her head. “No. I’m trying to find her, though.”

“Good reward, I take it?” Lilly nodded, and the man set down his cards and leaned forward. “Well, I’ve heard some rumors… Tell you what. Join us in a game of cards. If you win, I’ll tell you what I know, and if I win, you let me buy you a drink. Deal?”

“Deal,” said Lilly. Then she giggled. “Deal me in.”

Meanwhile, Aria was talking things over with the bearded man. “Hey there,” she said. “Come here often?”

The man was unimpressed. “Yep.” He took a long drink from his mug. “What’s it to you?”

Aria turned serious rather quickly. “I’m looking for information,” she said brusquely. “Got anything worth knowing?”

The man raised an eyebrow but did not deny it. Aria slid a five-dollar bill across the table. The man raised the other eyebrow and shot her a disgusted look. She increased the amount to twenty dollars, and the man shrugged and pocketed the cash.

“There’s been a lot of government activity lately,” he said. “Federal, I think. They’re not in uniform, but I can tell. You can always tell. I don’t know what they’re up to, but there’s been dozens brought in the past few weeks. Can’t tell why. That’s all I know.”

Aria nodded solemnly. “Thanks,” she said, a flipped a few extra coins on the table before leaving. The man rolled his eyes at her.

Ian was also involved gathering information. He had just forked over a hundred dollars to the man sitting at the bar in exchange for what the man called “big news.” It wasn’t his best bargain, but the man was tight-lipped and he was in a hurry.

“The Mongrels, man. They’re up to something. Something big. I know. I’ve seen them running around at all hours of the night. Hangin’ out down by the tracks. I know they’re up to something huge.” Ian was slightly miffed by the vague report, but thanked the man and turned back to his drink.

Lilly displayed her cards. “Pair of queens,” she said proudly.

The man grinned. “Full house,” he said. He turned to his partner. “Beat it, Clancy. I’m going to buy this lady a drink. What’s your poison?” Grumbling, Clancy picked up the cards and headed to different table to start up a different game.

“Saké,” answered Lilly. The man smirked.

“A strong drink. I like that. Barkeep! Saké and a whiskey, over here!”

“Whiskey, huh? You’ve got taste,” Lilly said. The man grinned.

“I’m a dangerous man,” he said. “In a whiskey line of work.” He grinned to make the pun clear. Lilly giggled.

Connor and Aria joined the card game started by Clancy. Ian just watched. He didn’t gamble anymore, since he was still in massive debt for indulging in the habit previously.

The rounds were quick and to the point, with everyone staying mostly equal. Over time, they continued to climb higher and higher from the five-dollar ante until all the players had a hundred dollars at stake.

On the other side of the tavern, Lilly laughed loudly. The sake had rendered her slightly tipsy. “Come on,” she slurred. “You can tell me, can’t you, handsome. We’re working for the poor girl’s father and he’s just dying to find her. Please?” She pouted.

The man laughed. “All right, I’ll give you a tidbit.” he leaned in close, and Lilly responded in kind until their foreheads were touching. “All right. Here’s what I know. The rumors going around point to the Mongrels. But I know for a fact they didn’t do it.”

“How?” asked Lilly.

“The girl was taken three days ago, right? Well, I happen to know that the Mongrels were engaged in… something else during that time. They were all quite busy, and in a totally different part of town. Whatever they were doing, it wasn’t a kidnapping job, I assure you.”

A chorus of groans went up around the card table as Aria displayed a winning hand. Lilly turned back. “Hey, thanks a lot, okay?”

“Sure thing,” he replied. “Why don’t I give you my address, and maybe we can get together some time?”

“Sure,” said Lilly, and took the man’s scrawled note. She stepped over to the gambling table and looked over Aria’s shoulder, just in time to see her win the last hand and take the pot, some three hundred dollars. “I’m ready to go,” whispered Lilly.

“Just a few moments,” replied Aria, and went to exchange a few words with the barkeeper, the last man they hadn’t talked to.

“Excuse me,” she said.

“Hey there, ma’am. What brings a lady like you to place like this?”

“I’m looking for information. Know anything about the Partridge kidnapping?”

“I’m sorry, lady, but I’ve learned it doesn’t pay to pass on rumors.” he held up a hand with a missing finger as his reason. “Can’t help you.”

Aria gave him a steely look. “I wasn’t asking,” she snapped. “I’m here on official business, and unless you want to end up in a lot of trouble, you’ll tell me what you know.”

The man blanched. The lady was gorgeous, but she seemed all business, and he could see the multiple weapons on her person. She must be some sort of agent.

“Fine, I’ll tell you what I’ve heard, but after that, I’d ask that you leave immediately. It’s not safe for you or my customers.”

“Fine,” Aria agreed. The barkeeper shared the rumors he’d heard, but it was nothing they hadn’t already heard. “Thank you for your cooperation,” she said. “We’ll be leaving now.”

Having exhausted all the resources the bar had to offer, the gang picked up their gear, paid for their drinks, and left. Lilly threw the man’s address in the bushes on the way out.

•••

Well, that was the first session. I think it went fairly well, and we enjoyed ourselves. This is my first time GM’ing any sort of real RPG, and so I’m still working out some of the rules, but it worked out well.

A couple of meta-game notes: The part with the breaking doorknob occurred when Joseph rolled a critical failure (four negative dice in FUDGE) and thus botched up his investigation as much as possible. And Josh (playing Connor) shouldn’t have been poking around in the first place, as his listed rank for detective skills is Terrible.

I have tried to preserve some of the banter that took place in the dialogue, as well as some of the comments that may have been slightly out of character but were close enough. And of course in the process of adapting the improv theater/gaming atmosphere to a more narrative form, I have extrapolated and smoothed things out slightly, but not in any way that would change significantly from the actual session.

•••

Radiance Info: Magic

Magic is illegal to greater or lesser degrees in Radiance, with the exception of Faith, which allows magicians, although they are carefully monitored. Magic is powered by mana (for lack of a better term), a magical energy radiated by the earth and absorbed by the hearts of humans. From there, it is channeled into useful purposes, usually passing through the hands or head. Using magic drains this ability, although it recharges over time. Everyone technically has the potential for using magic, but most lack the talent for it and would struggle to develop any meaningful ability.

There are four types of magic in the world. Telekinesis allows its user to move objects with the power of their mind, although, like all magic, the effect is much stronger when they are in contact with the target. Thus, it usually seems more like super strength than telekinesis. However, it does have some advantages. For instance, while someone using strength to pick up a car would have to crunch handholds and have to worry about the car breaking from stress or their grips tearing out. A telekinetic could throw a chandelier without so much as shaking a crystal.

The second form of magic is psychic. Psychic magicians can access powers such as telepathy, and when touching a subject, can even read or control minds. They also have some ability to do things such as create illusions, sense the presence of others, or affect the moods of those around them.

Next is evocation, the ability to summon various types of energy. Branches of evocation include heat, light, cold, magnetism, electricity, and more. While not able to summon fire itself, for instance, they can set flammable items ablaze or even melt metal if they are powerful enough. Again, while they can cast their powers over a distance, doing so is much more costly than being in contact with an item.

Lastly we come to morphological magic, the ability to alter the body of themselves or others, including healing. Because of this, even Foundation, a strictly anti-magic government, allows some physicians to practice magical healing for emergency situations, viewing them as a necessary evil. Illegal uses of morphology include enhancements to speed, strength, or senses. Powerful morphologists can even accomplish such feats as growing claws, changing eye or hair color, or even altering their facial features.

Certain types of metals have curious effects when interacting with magic. Lead completely absorbs magical energy and even energy summoned via magic, rendering it immune to magical heat, telekinesis, telepathy, or any other form of magic. Gold reflects magic like a mirror, and silver conducts it. The uses for these materials is varied, being used to control or enhance magic in myriad ways.

As a last point of interest, the government does employ magicians as agents, primarily since they are the best way to combat other magicians, and the magical underground is wide-spread and active. They are typically the most powerful magicians in any area, and fiercely loyal to the Republic. If our heroes are not careful, they may run afoul of one of them…

Thank you for reading.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: