Dresden Files in Birmingham UK

Session 4 Diamondback

Session Three – Diamondback

Under the forensics tent, Beaker prepared her magical ward. The bridge from Faerie would emerge at the south side of the stream, so the Ward need only be a semi-circle as the running water would block the other side. She wanted to leave the demon with one exit, back into Faerie, in the hope she could thwart its mission and send it back against its summoner.

The last few hours before sundown were pretty frantic, gathering components and drawing up the power. Her teacher (she didn’t like the term “master”) would not have approved of all her choices, but time was short! Lyra was sent off,on her scooter to collect a few items from Noreally, Beaker’s hippy/geek shop.
A bottle of Cobra.
A diamond earring (well, probably diamond, zirconium was a kind of diamond wasn’t it?).
A snakeskin pouch – a new line of ethical snakeskin, harvested from a shed skin.
A smear of the demon’s blood scraped from an arrow head from one of the Fae hunters.
She also tried a 20 pound note, thought to have belonged to its summoner (Mr More).

The final ingredient was power drawn down from the sky by Long Zhu. The young woman concentrated for almost an hour, gathering clouds overhead and then calling a mini lightnig strike to sizzle and spark along the barrier. Lyra rolled her eyes as she watched the sparks singe the corners of the tent. The Stores sergeant was going to go ballistic!

When darkness fell, the nearby streetlights began to flicker and the portal from the faerie realm shimmered and, from the ruins of the brick bridge in our world, the ghostly image of the ancient stone bridge in Faerie, came into view.

The huge snake slithered over the bridge and into the Mortal World, crashing into the flaring barrier and bouncing off. (Beaker’s Lore, boosted by preparations, significant symbolic elements narrated into the story and by Long Zhu’s lightning was sufficient).

Behind the great snake, a hawk, two huge hunting hounds and two Faerie huntsmen on white horses came to join the fight. The hawk was crushed by the giant snake, shattered against the flaring barrier. One of the dogs was torn apart by the enormous fangs.

Then it reared up, flaring its hood and tearing the tent roof open. Its black, glittering eyes stared down at Beaker trying to overcome her will. She may have been “Out of her comfort zone” but she managed to hold on.

The first rider galloped over the bridge to spear the demon but horse and rider were swiftly torn apart. The second rider reached the bridge, drew a bow and called across. “What would you have me do?”. Beaker replied that they wished to repel the Demon and track it back to the summoner. The handsome young knight waved and withdrew out of sight.

Just as the Demon drew back for a final effort to breach the barrier, a little old lady with a small dog peeled back the flap of the tent and peered inside. Ezio and Lyra moved to keep the intruder out while Long Zhu tried to distract the snake. Fortunately Beaker managed to keep her concentration as the old lady turned out to be a simple illusion cast by the demon to distract her. It flailed against the barrier but was held. Glaring with hatred, it hissed at Beaker, “Give me a Name!”.
Thinking as quickly as she could she said, “Your summoner” and the creature turned and fled back over the bridge. It was only a few moments later that she began to wonder if she had just inadvertently used magic to send a demon to kill a mortal – one of the big no-nos of the Wizard’s Council. Ezio stooped to taste the blood of the slaughtered faerie knight, it was sweet and its power tingled and energised him.

They pursued the demon into Faerie but it was too quick for them, even Ezio and Lyra. Long Zhu spoke with the spirits of the air, asking them for help against their mutual enemy. She summoned a mighty wind to pick them all up and hurl them through the forest at breakneck speed surrounded by a cloud of autumn leaves. Lyra transformed into a glowing winged pixie, 6 inches tall, her police uniform, and other, more personal, items of clothing blown along beside her. Some way into the hectic flight a long green arm reached out from the bushes to snatch her panties. It withdrew with an evil cackle.

After a few miles, following the trail of devastation and decay, and drawn by the hunting horn of the faerie knight, they reached a huge thorn hedge. The thorns had drawn back into. A circular passage, just wide enough for the snake and its tail was just vanishing into a long, dark corridor with white walls, a red carpet and many doors. The young knight saluted them as they passed through. He had been one of the Earl’s court but there had been no time for introductions.

Lyra led the way through, her glitter illuminating the 7th floor hotel corridor stretching away into the dark. The Demon’s presence had killed all the lights. From some distance ahead it crashed through a fire door. Ezio and Lyra raced after it leaving Long Zhu and Beaker to follow. The Daughter of the Dragon calmly smashed a Fire Alarm so that, once the Demon was out of range, the alarms would start and the building would be evacuated.

The pixie caught up just as the snake bashed down the door to the penthouse suite. In the large, well-appojnted room beyond, many candles illuminated the scene. A glowing silvery dome, 8 feet in diameter, was in the centre of the large room. The furniture had been dragged to the edges and the carpet rolled out of the way to allow the preparations. Thru the translucent dome the figure of an old man, sat cross-legged and wearing only a loose robe of grey silk, was dimly visible. His wrinkled pale skin had many tattoos and other, temporary markings covered his face, including a triangle with an eye in it drawn on his forehead. On his lap was a small flute.

Thru a door to the left was a bedroom and a large man was groggily rising, eyes wide with confusion and fear. He had clearly been asleep, fully clothed in a crumpled black suit.

To the right, rising with inhuman speed from an armchair, was a handsome well-tanned man with hair greying at the temples. This was probably the guy who had bought the supplies from Beaker’s shop last week. He drew a handgun and emptied a clip into the giant snake, dodging and weaving as he fired. The shots mostly hit the target, clearly stinging the monster but a few flattened and bounced on its scales, dropping back like silver rain.

In the confines of the room, the shots boomed, even over the tearing of the doorway and the smashing of furniture as the huge snake thrashed about, trying, and failing, to reach the summoner.

Ezio, sword drawn, ran along the serpent’s writhing body, ducking through the door and leapt at the gunman. In the instant that their eyes met, he knew he had seen the man before. He was a senior member of the Italian mafia and a Red Court Vampire. Not one of the Scorsayzes but one of their senior lieutenants. The magical sword struck down, powered by Ezio’s inhuman strength and cut deep in the vampire’s side. The man’s face twisted in a horrific grimace, mouth opening wider than it should and the fangs flashed white as it bit down on Ezio’s shoulder ripping through clothes and flesh. The vampire was stronger and faster than Ezio and had honed his skills over more than one lifetime.

Lyra switched back to her human form, naked and beautiful. She tried to wrench the gun from the vampire’s hand and managed to distract him long enough for Ezio to run him through the chest. As he died, a flash of recognition and he gasped “You!” then fell and turned to dust as his armani suit fell to the floor. Lyra grabbed the gun, took aim at the snake and pulled the trigger but it was empty.

The summoner managed to remain calm and began playing on his flute, swaying rhythmically. He was clearly struggling to regain control over the demonic assassin.

Beaker and Long Zhu arrived in the hall outside. behind them in the corridor, lights were coming back on and a fire alarm began to sound. Doors were beginning to open and people were stepping out.

With great style, the Daughter of the Dragon drew her own magical blade and hacked at the serpent’s tail, cutting off a huge chunk and causing it to twist around to face her, ignoring the frantic attacks from the big guy from the bedroom who was now armed with a baseball bat. They saw that the Summoner had regained some control and the demon was now firmly focussed on killing them. It smashed down, wounding the lithe swordswoman badly, and rose to deliver the finishing blow. beaker had been pressed against the wall trying to stay out of the way but she screamed, “Close your eyes” and threw one of her flashbang potions. Long Zhu was ready and closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them as the flash faded and skewerd the dazzled serpent thru the back of the mouth. It exploded in black ichor, drenching the room and everyone except the summoner and was suddenly gone.

Sessions Two and Three

As we are resuming the Dresden Files game, here is the write-up of the second and third sessions as a reminder of what went before.

We began at the extraordinary session of the Shadow Council called by Colin, the young and charismatic yuppie property developer (who happens to, reluctantly, be a Prince of the Autumn Court).

Long Zhu is here as the representative of the Chinatown community.
Beaker is here, representing her absentee boss, the Wizard, Bill.
The other PCs (Ezio and Lyra) are here as unofficial guests.

The other Shadow Council members present are…

Lady Lacedon, queen of the local ghouls.
Peter Devereaux, white court vampire presenting a group of night-club and casino owners.
An older guy from the Order of St Giles, a mortal, wearing a theatrical mask (Tragedy). His name is not given, but Ezio knows it – he is Ezio’s local handler/contact.

Colin is irritated. An ornate door knocker, shaped like a goblin face, animated on him this morning, puked and slobbered on his best suit while delivering a message from a local Autumn Fae Noble. A monster crossed through his realm, leaving a trail of destruction and corruption for about a mile. It passed from Outside, through the woods of Faerie and then into the Mortal Realm. After a few minutes, it returned the same way. Colin has been commanded to “do something about it” as the Fae believe it is the work of a Mortal.

Colin feels that, having raised the matter with the Shadow Council, and finding that Beaker and Long Zhu are already investigating it, his responsibility has been met. He gives Beaker a cocktail stick with a tiny flag on it in case her investigations lead into Faerie. It should turn into a pennant declaring the bearer to be under the protection of the Autumn Court.

Beaker presents their findings so far and the link between the demonic snake and Mr Nancy. It seems likely that either Mr Nancy is the summoner or is the intended target.

At this point, Lady Lacedon declares it is not a matter that concerns the Ghouls, and leaves.
Deveraux seems interested. It appears he would like Nancy to be taken out. Nancy’s Voodoo Child night-club and Medusa are the only two clubs not under White Court Vampire control. However, he has no idea who is behind it and also chooses to leave, as soon as it becomes obvious that Beaker and Long Zhu are going to investigate.
The St Giles guy declares that it seems to be outside the remit for his organisation (not related to Red Vampires) either and leaves, after privately warning Ezio to be careful not to expose himself unduly.

Meeting adjourned!

There is further investigation. Beaker looks into the Lore of the Summoned Demon Snake and concludes it is a particularly powerful creature called Diamondback. Part of the ritual requirement for it is a specially-treated form of quicksilver. As it happens, she sold some earlier that week to a mediterranean-looking guy.

They visit Faerie, Beaker is able to open a Portal where the Snake ripped through. There are Fae hawks, hounds and huntsmen patrolling in a state of alert but Colin’s pennant grants them safe passage to meet with the local Earl – Imric. A few of the Earl’s servants fought the Snake demon as it returned to the Down-Below last night. Some were killed or wounded but the creature was focussed on just passing through.

Through medical and police channels, Ezio and Lyra manage to track down 2 other young dancers who have been made pregnant by Mr Nancy. A girl called Shelly is also pregnant and due in a few weeks. The other is Becky Smith who has a two and a half year old son called Martin.

They are delayed in their investigations and don’t learn about the two other women until after dark. There is a second horrific attack and Shelly is killed. Lyra comes to the notice of DS Fox as she is caught sneaking about the crime scene. He calls her “Tesco” and sends her to fetch coffee “for the real policemen”.

They visit the Voodoo Child club during the next day. It is not open but there are some staff there cleaning up and they call Rasta Joe – Mr Nancy’s second in command. Joe is outwardly friendly and flirts with Lyra. He explains that Mr Nancy is away on business, out of touch. He assures them that Nancy is not responsible for the attacks and he will certainly take revenge when he gets back. The girls, and their offspring are very dear to Nancy.

As dusk approaches, they locate Becky Smith and her son Marty in a flat above shops on Dad’s Lane, Stirchley. They search the area and find a half-demolished bridge over a stream nearby that is a portal to Faerie.

Lyra borrows a forensics tent and they set it up over the missing end of the bridge so Beaker can construct a magic circle to imprison the Demon Snake should it come through. Even if the circle doesn’t hold it completely, it should seriously weaken the creature. She believes that if it fails to kill its target, it will turn on its summoner. They decide to wait in ambush.

Meanwhile Zhu and Lyra spot a transit van full of Yardies waiting outside the shop. The intend to drive off with Becky and the boy, Marty, if anything dangerous turns up. They wer going to take her away immediately but are convinced to wait and see. If they move the boy too soon, the Snake might come through in a different place.

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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