This time around, I wrote up a basic time-table to remind myself when we needed to start heading towards the climax, and we actually managed to finish on time! I tried to keep my prep-work fairly minimal, but ended up extrapolating a few extra potential plot devices. In the end, one was only just introduced, and another didn't get a look-in at all. I'll definitely be looking to bring both of those to the fore in the next Episode (as foreshadowed in the Webilogue).
Episode 3: Going Deeper
Starring (in alphabetical order):
- +Lloyd Gyan as Aki Enoki, graduate student of biological anthropology on a gap year.
- +David Miessler-Kubanek as Tony Pearson, the apartment's maintenance man, and an ex-hacker from California.
Aki receives a call from Blake Thompson, Odyssey Tech company man. He has the stolen whalebone statue to return to her, but wants her to give him something else first. She puts him on the back-foot by refusing, but they negotiate and he agrees to return the statue if she can find out the state of the prison site that lies underneath the building. That way, she doesn't actually have to steal anything.
Tony finds out that the building's been sold to the Yamamoto Historical Foundation, but that he still has his job and that it will continue to operate as an apartment building. He uses Aki's wi-fi balcony and his hacking skills to research the foundation, and discovers that while Michiru Hasegawa is the director, Takeshi is their major financial backer.
Normally this would have entailed a Contest against Takeshi, but as his player was absent and the investigation was being performed against an Extra by a former class-A hacker, I just ran it as a Test against the Trouble pool.
Tony visits Zoe, to check she's OK and hasn't had any more trouble with thugs. She tells him that she used to work for Odyssey Tech in the UK, but witnessed them performing a strange ritual which may have involved human sacrifice! She fled but has been trying to figure out what they're after in Australia so she can stop them from getting it. This completely endears her to Tony, and he tells her a little about Sheila and how special the complex is. Zoe asks if she could meet Sheila, and Tony asks how open she is to the supernatural. She claims to have had her share of experiences, so Tony invites her to dinner at his place this evening, which is totally not a date.
Aki visits Tony in the Dungeon while he's cleaning the place and preparing for dinner. It takes a few tries to get his attention, as he has a "Do Not Disturb" sign up - in the end, she has to call him "Warden" to get him to open the door. Aki asks Tony to show her the sub-basement. He refuses because he's busy, because it's dangerous and she could get hurt, and because it's not her 'jurisdiction' - but she's very insistent and wears down his morale. In the end, he tells her she needs to prove she can 'play with the big boys' by finding out what Michiru Hasegawa's intentions are with the building. If she can do so by 10am the next day, he'll take her into the sub-basement.
Aki immediately dashes off to investigate, recruiting Aomo to help with research. Aki finds out that Michiru is the director of the Yamamoto Historical Foundation which now owns the building, but Aomo manages to also uncover Takeshi's connection to the Foundation. Aki gets Aomo to drive her down to the Foundation's offices so she can grill Michiru.
Zoe arrives for dinner at The Dungeon, and is amazed at how neat and tidy Tony keeps the place! She seems a little taken aback by the meal that's been laid out, but Tony's set a third place for Sheila, with no food on the plate but a glass of wine poured. Once Zoe's taken a seat he turns off the music and puts the old TV onto a static station, asking Sheila if she'd like to meet Zoe. He feels some reluctance, but manages to coax her out. She actually manifests as an apparition, standing on the far side of Tony so she's hiding from Zoe, who's watching intently but anxiously. Sheila doesn't like Zoe, saying she's tainted, and connected to one of the 'bad ones.' At this, Zoe gets up and leaves the Dungeon.
Before Tony can question Sheila further, Aki turns up, catching the door before it swings shut. Tony invites her to sit down and share dinner with him, and they chat and de-stress each other. Tony tells Aki about Sheila. Aki tells Tony what she's found out about Michiru Hasegawa - that she doesn't really have any plans for the building, because she's a front for Takeshi.
The next morning at 10am, Tony introduces Aki to Sheila. While she doesn't show herself this time, Aki senses her spiritual presence. Thankfully, Sheila takes a liking to Aki, so Tony consents to show her the sub-basement, with Sheila tagging along in spirit. They explore a maze of access tunnels, until they find a hatch in the wall secured by a colonial-era padlock. Tony manages to open the lock without breaking it, revealing a sandy floored hallway lined with old sandstone blocks. Aki starts taking pictures for research, but also mentions Odyssey. Tony's incredulous that he brought her this far when she's working for Odyssey, but she assures him the photos are for her personal research and she won't be passing on physical evidence. Tony confiscates her camera-phone, and makes sure to take the padlock with him as well. Further discussion is cut short by strange thudding noises and muffled sounds coming from inside the hatch, so they press on to investigate.
They found a series of tunnels, many of which have been sealed by concrete poured into the foundations, or by rock-falls. The floor is made of sand-covered flagstones. As they get closer to the sounds, Aki presses ahead. She rounds a corner and kicks a wooden cell number marker on the floor, quickly pocketing it before Tony arrives. It's a long corridor with cell doors lining the walls. An eerie sobbing comes from one of the far cells; Tony wants to leave whatever it is in the cell because it deserves to be there, but Aki thinks he's crazy to leave someone down here. They scuffle; Tony drops Aki's phone, but Aki drops the cell number tag and breaks her flashlight. In the confusion, Tony loses track of Aki, who grabs her phone and goes to the cell door. She discovers Alex Miller, the thief who dropped through the floor in Tony's workshop, trapped in the cell. He's exhausted and weakened, and has lost his ability to phase through solid objects. Aki manages to bust the cell door open and help him out of the basement (picking up the cell tag on the way). Tony closes the cell door behind them, and Sheila nods at the empty cell, saying "You stay in there!"
After getting Alex to a safe place, Aki returns to the prison and confronts Tony about trying to keep people locked up in this place. She thinks he's being crazy and irresponsible, and storms off after giving him a piece of her mind.
Lloyd changed Aki's Duty to "DUTY to those who have respect", her Power to "POWER is coming. I have to find out where", and her Relationship with Tony to "TONY is freaking crazy, watch for him".
Tony finds the Warden's office. Standing in the middle of the room, he opens his mind and hears the raucous yelling and banging of the convict souls still housed in the prison. He senses some are missing, and that others may soon break free...
David changed Tony's Truth to "You can't handle the TRUTH!" He also kept his Duty stepped down to d6, and stepped up his Justice to d8.
Crickets chirp in the heat. Business shoes crunch over a drying lawn. Brett Leeding, in a sweat-stained business shirt and braces, trenchcoat over one arm, looks up at the back of the apartment complex.
VOICE-OVER: "This building. It all leads here. Everything's coming together..."
He walks across the lawn and the camera pans up. Halfway up the building, on this sheer straight side, "The Lizard" has been scrawled in giant spray-painted letters.
Another good episode, although I'm looking forward to having all three players together soon. The meta-plot is advancing nicely.
I've noticed that Distinction Triggers aren't kicking in very often. I think there are probably too many of them, and you need to really know them well and keep them in mind. I don't think I've given out a Plot Point for an Earn trigger in two sessions. David did use his Shoulder To Cry On trigger to help erase his own Stress, though, and people are getting the hang of using Ability Special Effects.
>>> Episode 4