Dresden Files in Birmingham UK

Adventure 01 Murder in Chinatown

Long Zhu, Daughter of the Dragon, is aware of a double homicide last night in Chinatown but not directly involved yet as it was not obviously supernatural.

WPC Lyra Trescothick is also aware of the crime, and that it was particularly brutal, but not directly involved.

Beaker, lab assistant to the missing Wizard, checks his phone messages as she does every day, and there is one from a Wizard’s Council guy, she recognises the voice but doesn’t know his name . He sounds very authoritative.
“Bill, there is a Shadow Council meeting tonight. It sounds like something pretty big is going on. Get yourself along to it.”. She hops on her moped and goes over to Bill’s tower to see if she can do 1471 and call him back. Unfortunately the only number stored is her own from when she dialled in to get the messages. Bill’s phone is a very old model, rotary dial with a separate ear piece. It’s a miracle she was able to attach a cheap answer phone to it at all when he left town.

Beaker calls Lyra to ask if she knows anything. The only big story is the double murder. They agree to meet to discuss it in a Starbucks. She then rings Long Zhu and asks her to come too as the murders took place in Chinatown and Long Zhu is the Chinatown representative on the Council. All Zhu knows is that Colin (the recently-appointed representative of the local Fae) has called the meeting at very short notice and some minor background info on the Chinese boy – Mark Wong – he was 22 and living with traditional parents in a flat above their newsagents shop.

Meanwhile Ezio, working at the hospital, hears of the murders and decides to have a quick look at the bodies in the Coroner’s lab. Security is tight at the lab (Great +5). He uses Investigation to make an assessment that the Coroner always leaves for lunch at 12:30 so can place an aspect on the scene that the door will open at 12:30. He will be able to tag that aspect to help his Stealth roll to slip in. He manages to sneak in before the door closes. The risk was that he would be spotted and would take some Social damage (not his strong suite). He earns a Fate Point for self-compelling his “driven to investigate” aspect.

Inside, Ezio examines the bodies with his Investigation skill. The target is Great as the coroner has already examined them and begun autopsy. He has a “monster hunter” aspect he pays a fate point to invoke to help. He is sure that the disembowelling of the girl was done by a monster with a big mouth and two prominent teeth or fangs. Maybe a giant spider, snake or sabre-tooth tiger? He also spots a tiny tattoo on the girl’s ankle – a skull in a top hat.

Investigating the boy, it appears that the internal organs and many of the bones have been crushed. The tyre tracks have an unusual zig-zag and have crushed in two different directions. Possibly the truck reversed back over him?

Ezio took photos with his phone and called Long Zhu as the murder seems supernatural. He sent the photos and agreed to meet Zhu later. He finishes work early on Fridays.

The ladies meet at Starbucks to discuss the case and the Shadow Council meeting. Between them (and the local newspapers) they know that Clara Jones, black dancer, 21 from Edgbaston and Mark Wong, chinese, 22 from Chinatown were found dead in a narrow alley at the edge of Horsefair behind an all-night convenience store at about 9:30 last night (just after nightfall). Examining Ezio’s photos, they decide that the tattoo suggests a link to the Yardies and their Voodoo leader, Mr Nancy. He is known to have links to spiders, so the idea of a Giant Spider seems likely but doesn’t explain the crushing and marks on the boy’s body. There is some discussion of Mr Nancy killing them out of jealousy.

Beaker’s extensive knowledge of monsters and magic suggest that the creature would either be a Demon manifesting in a monstrous body or an ectoplasmic construct created and controlled directly by the caster. Judging by the strength of the creature, either of these things would be a massive overkill for two mundane humans.

They all head for the crime scene. The alley is narrow, too narrow for a big-wheeled truck. There is still black and yellow tape across the alley entrance but Lyra is in uniform and Long Zhu exudes confidence. There is a lot of blood, an awful lot of blood!

Lyra makes a Legendary Investigation roll and finds a pregnancy testing stick, showing positive, much further up the alley. It is a type sold at the shop at the head of the alley. it is new.

Zhu decides to use the Sight to examine the scene on a magical level. In a place where such a terrible crime recently occurred this is a dangerous thing to do, but Zhu feels it is her responsibility to get to the bottom of it (gaining a Fate Point for self-compelling her “With Great Power…” trouble aspect).
She opens her Third Eye and is overwhelmed by the horror and evil that floods over her. There are waves of terror, screams and the smell of blood.
She tries to understand what she sees. Although typical uses of the Sight are of only Good intensity, the level of magic, evil and horror here makes it Superb – this will be very dangerous!

Zhu has to use Fate Points to invoke 2 of her Aspects to understand what is going on. It was a Demon. It was hunting a specific target. It took the souls of both the girl and the boy. It was a very powerful demon. Zhu only just manages to tear herself out of the Sight (having to use her last FP). She knows there is more to discover but dare not risk longer exposure to such raw power.

Lyra decides to use her Psychometry power. Sprinkling some dust on the scene, she easily views the events of the previous night. (it was only a Fair difficulty because the scene was so intense and recent).

The two young people were huddled together in the alley, heads close and looking down at the pregnancy test. Suddenly they spin round as the shadow of a huge cobra head falls across them. Their faces are contorted into horrified screams. Despite his obvious fear, Mark Wong steps in front of the girl. The cobra strikes, biting the girl in the abdomen, brushing the boy aside. It rips away a huge chunk of the girl. her arm flings backwards, tossing the pregnancy tester away into the dark. The boy bravely tries to fight, his fists bouncing harmlessly from the huge scaly body. The snake tosses a few coils around him and squeezes. The victims’ souls are drawn in through the creature’s black glittering eyes. It seems frustrated, its tongue flickers about, still searching, apparently confused. Then it slithers off up the alley and vanishes into the Nevernever.

Prequel 1

The first Actual Play was a session at UK Games Expo.

On the previous night we had done City and Character Creation.

We launched straight into a story about a missing boy. One of the PCs was a policeman and so it was easy to kick things off. The distraught mother kept on about how she was woken from a terrible nightmare and just had to run into her son’s bedroom to find he was gone. They lived in a posh new apartment block next to the Canal in Gas Street Basin.

The policeman called in his magically-gifted friends to check if there really was anything supernatural about the disappearance. He also found that there had been a few other kids gone missing in the area in the past few months. A common thread was that the missing kids were “naughty”, juvenile ofenders, truants etc.

The PCs for the Convention game were…

  1. The Policeman.
  2. Bill, the exiled ex-Warden.
  3. Colin, the property developer, Sidhe Changeling.
  4. Ruth, the university librarian who turns into a flock of ravens.
  5. The man who can’t exist – mostly ignored by all, only noticed by supernatural types.
  6. The wielder of Death’s scythe.

They took the mother to a lab at the University where Ruth investigated her dreams. Definitely a magical message.
They investigated the boy’s bedroom and uncovered magical visions of a beautiful young girl.
Through non-magical investigations they found he woul have climbed out of his room and gone to meet the girl last night.

Knowing that the canals are the hunting grounds of Ghouls, they decided to pay a visit to Lady Lacedon who lives with her pack of carrion-eating ghouls in a Flooded Cinema. The scythe wielder and the wizard were prepared to do battle with the ghouls but the “invisible” man talked things back down. After a bit of a face-off with the ghoul queen, she pointed them towards a possible Fae connection. Certain types of Fae are allowed to take “naughty” children.

Prequel 2

The final session of the convention game was played at UK Games Expo.

The PCs tracked the missing boy to a nearby bridge over the canal. The trees next to the bridge were beginning to turn to orange which indicated a possible portal to the realm of the Autumn Fae.

Colin realised that his company had replaced the handrails on this bridge a few months ago. They had used to have iron symbols of the crescent moon on them but he had replaced them with aluminium moons with no edges (in the interests of safety). Just after that date, the first of the kidnappings occurred. When he checked the other kidnap dates, they corresponded to something else he had done (it’s not known what it was but he was starting to feel a bit guilty). The bridge itself is mostly iron so it should not be possible for Fae to cross here!

The Wizard forced open the Bridge Portal and they went across into the Never Never.
On the other side the bridge had wierd bones wrapped around the handrails. The bones were the still-living skeletons of the missing kids. Another couple of kids and the entire bridge span would be covered. The magic of the living bones was surpressing the effect of the iron.

Not far from the bridge stood a pretty cottage. The harmless old lady who lived there turned out to be a hideous old bridge troll witch. After a savage fight in which the Policeman ignored the Wizards advice, accepted a gift of an axe from the lady and then tried to kill everyone, they finally managed to subdue her. In a wooden box in the house they found the three missing kids – still alive but completely filleted.

In exchange for her life, the Witch Troll agreed to stitch the bones back into the bodies. She was unusually polite to Colin, calling him “My Lord” and “Opener of the Way”!

After a while they realised she was delaying and they realised that the Portal that Bill had ripped open was still open (usually such portals only open for a few moments). Some Fae creatures (black hunting dogs) escaped into the Mortal World. Bill set fire to the jagged portal to prevent curious humans from wandering in then they all jumped through and Bill closed it behind them just in time.

The Policeman took most of the credit for the return of the kids but has since retired due to post traumatic stress. They put out the story that the kidnapper had a hidden cave under the bridge.

Bill the Wizard made a bit of a mess of the Portal. Reality is pretty frail around here and he is worried that emanations from even his most minor spells might make it worse. He decides to leave town for a while to let the rift heal. He takes the wielder of Death’s Scythe and the “invisible” man with him.

Colin and Ruth Jones (the raven librarian), are the only ones still around who can tell the story and Colin is not keen to reveal what he knows.


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