Dia de Muertos came out for iHunt and blew me away. It is amazing. And it got me wanting to play the game again, even though Fate Core is not really "my game." Though, I want to like it. So, I'm trying it again. Alone. By myself. Solo, if you will...
So, I'm going to play myself in a kind of "what if" scenario. What if I had lost my current job? What if iHunt was real and I decided to try my hand at those gigs? This is probably a terrible idea... but it seems like fun, so I'm going to try it.
I made myself as a character in the game. It was an interesting exercise, and it was hard to come up with some of the Aspects. But, I think this is a good representation of myself in the game. Does it all match up perfectly? Probably not. But no game is ever going to model an actual person exactly. I think it's close enough, and looks like it's going to be fun.
All right, I'd like to get things started, so I'll use the job generator, the first few steps, anyway. I don't want to ruin the surprise too much... The Client: The Upwardly Mobile. Oh, that sounds fun... The Mark: Hungry Dead. The Trouble: Romantic... Rivalry? That's weird, but honestly my kind of thing. The Place: Self-contained Community. The Charge: The Macguffin. The Scope: Wildly Miscategorized. Listed as a 4-star. That means it's likely on the low end, a 1-star individual. I won't roll for Hangups or Aftermath. I want that to develop as I'm playing. It's late now, I'll continue this another day.
Have you ever lost a sure-thing job? Who am I kidding? You're iHunters; of course you have. Or maybe you've never had a sure-thing job, I don't know. I'm new to this Gig Economy thing. I've been working for the same company for over 17 years. I thought I was indispensable. How was I to know that refusing extra duties for no extra pay would get me kicked out of the "family" they so touted? Fuck them. And the horse they rode in on. And that fucking horse's shoes. And now, "I'm not a team player," so no one else wants to hire me for the job I've performed so faithfully for them for the past decade. In short, they fucked me. It was a good job, but the pay was only enough to keep me paycheck to paycheck. And, now I've missed two paychecks and the collection calls have started.
I stand in the doorway of my son's room, watching him sleep. I want to give him everything, but I have nothing to give, right now. A friend recommended I try this iHunt app out and I've got a gig lined up. I'm going for it tonight. It's dangerous, but I'm out of options. And this is going to pay enough to keep the A/C on and food on the table. I smile at him and wave silently. I don't want to wake him up.
I lock the house up and get in the car a buddy loaned me. I used to drive a company car, but that was taken away when they canned me. And I can't afford one, myself. So, now I'm driving a car that's ten years old and has all the power of an tired donkey. I can feel the anger bubbling inside me and it quickly turns to shame and sadness. My eyes burn and I blink it away as I start the car and hit the road to the hunt's location.
Enough with the emotional intro. It's making me sad and anxious. I think I'm going to offer myself a compel on my 'Pleasant and Proficient...' aspect.
My phone buzzes and I tap the screen to see what's up. A DM, from the client. He says, "Hey, I know you said you were going to do the job tonight. I need you to video call me when you get there. I need to see this..." I grit my teeth. I really don't like working for micro-managers. I force a smile and swype back my reply, "Sure thing. I'm heading to the location now. Expect a call within the hour." I stare at the screen for a few seconds after hitting 'SEND', then curse loudly at the steering wheel.
"Just what I fucking needed," I mutter. I hit the lever for the blinker and turn out of my neighborhood and onto the main street. The sun is down, but the sky is aglow with all the light pollution from the city. Vegas is great, unless you wanna see stars. Headlights pass by me as I make my way across town.
I'm going to say that the job location is a security guarded and gated neighborhood. We have a lot of those in Vegas and makes sense with what was rolled. Ha, it's a golf club.
After about half an hour of driving, I make a right off of the road, pulling into the golf club's entrance. I get into the left lane and approach the guard shack. A middle-aged man steps out and I roll down my window as I come to a stop. I give him my best smile, "Hi, my name's Devon and I'm here with [Insurance Company Name], going to [gig address] for a vehicle inspection." I hold out my driver's license and a business card for him to see.
He could be really lazy and wave me through, or he could have to log me and probably question what a vendor is doing there so late. I was going to ask the Oracle, but I think I'll make a skill set roll. This is Influencer, I'm pretty sure. The difficulty is +3, I think. It's a golf club, he's probably not very lax in his job duties. I have Influencer at 0. Roll: -2. Yikes, I'll spend a Fate Point for a reroll, invoking "Pleasant and Proficient Car Damage Appraiser." Roll: -2. I'm doomed to fail this roll, so I'll roll with it.
The guard looks at my ID and card and then looks at me. Yeah, he's taking his job seriously. Handing the cards back to me, he steps into the guard shack and picks up the phone. Welp, I know he's not going to let me through, because no one is expecting me. After a minute, he steps back out and delivers the news. "I'm sorry, sir, I can't let you through. They say they're not expecting anyone." I give him a frown, "Really? Hrm, Ok, I guess I'll have to call them to reschedule." I give him a small smile and a wave and turn around before the gate, exiting the driveway. Looks like I'll have to do this the hard way.
"Fuck, fuck, fuckfuckFUCK!" I yell at the steering wheel as I start to drive around the golf club, looking for another way in. Yes, I like my swear words. Gimme a break; I lost my job, am broke and I'm going to kill someone. A monster, sure, but I've never actually killed anything person-like, before.
I'm going to start looking for a place to sneak in. It shouldn't be too hard. This is definitely a Spy roll, which I'm not skilled in. Difficulty is +1, I believe. Roll: +1. Excellent.
I drive around the golf club, looking for another way in. Of course, I could jump the wall, but it's got some lovely iron spikes on top of it. I could probably get over it, but I don't really want to risk it. Soon, I see what I'm looking for. A section of the wall has been broken, probably from a vehicle collision, and is roughly boarded up with plywood. Yep, that'll do just fine. I park my car down the street from it, and pop the trunk. I take out my backpack with my tools: a short baseball bat, a throwing knife, some rope and a half cinder block. Yes, I know, who walks around with a half cinder block in their backpack? I'm new to this, OK? And the ad said "zombie."
I don't think I need to make a roll to get through the wall. I can't think of interesting opposition here. On the other side, however, maybe there's some security guards wandering around. Speaking of, I should probably come up with some scene aspects. WANDERING SECURITY sounds like a good one, along with LARGE, OPEN SPACES, because that might be important in the future. And, it's a golf club, with a golf course.
I quietly make my way through the plywood barrier. It's a tight squeeze, but with some huffing and puffing and sucking in of my gut, I manage it. I come out in a dark field with trimmed grass. I pull out my phone and open up the maps app to find my way to the address in question. Once I have my route, I walk it, quietly and quickly, trying to stay out of the pools cast by the streetlamps.
So, I'm looking at another Spy roll. I think the Wandering Security is going to be providing opposition for me and it will have a +2 to the skill set, because it's an Aspect. Their roll: 3. My roll: +1. I'll spend 2 Fate points to invoke 'Army Trained, Never Deployed' and 'Large Open Spaces' to get a +5 total on the roll. That brings me down to 2 Fate Points, which isn't good. I'm going to have to earn some or risk going up against the monster underpowered.
It's a bit of a walk, but I can walk forever. Once, I have to duck behind a small utility box to avoid a security guard cruising slowly by in his SUV, but I'm able to make it to my destination. It's a large house and several of the lights are on. It's GO time. I pull my phone out and turn it on, silencing the ringer and dropping the screen brightness down to the lowest level. Then, I video call the client.
"Hello?" he answers. He looks rich, or like he wants to look rich. Whatever, he's out of my economic circle, either way. "Hey," I whisper back. "I'm at the location." His face gets really close to his camera and the bridge of his nose fills my screen. "Where are you? Why is it so dark?" I suppress a sigh. This guy's a tool, an idiot, I'm sure of it.
"It's dark here," I whisper. "I'm going to mute my phone so it doesn't make any noise. I'll try to carry it so you can see what's going on." I don't wait for him to respond, muting him and the whole phone.
I haven't created the opposition, yet. I should probably do that since I'm down to brass tacks. I don't know what the McGuffin is, either. I should figure that out. So, this zed is a one-star, and the problem is Romantic Rivalry. Ooookay, maybe it's not a physical relationship. We'll go with that. I'll say the client is envious that his girlfriend is spending all her time with this zed, probably because he's her brother and died too soon. This is his breakup notice, and he wants the necklace back that he gave her. I really should come up with all this before play starts, next time.
The Zed: Hungry Dead Brother, Small and Slow Body, Essence(Sated), Refresh: 2, Fighter 3, Survivor 3, Assassin 2, Athlete 1, Spy 1, Features: Alien Thought (2), Flesh Eater: Hunger Mode (1), Inhuman Potency (3), Propagation: Infectious (1) Gifts: None Banes: Deadly Weakness: Headshots (U2, P2), Hunger: Flesh (U1, P1)
I approach the house, keeping an eye out for any weak points I could use to get inside. Maybe there's an open window, door or something.
Rolling Investigator to find some place to get in. This is a Create Advantage use of the skill. My stunt of 'Eye for Entropy' probably applies here. Difficulty will be 3, I think. This is a well-kept area, so it won't be super easy to find a weak spot. But, there are people inside, and people are always the weakest point. Roll: 3. That's a tie, so will give me a Boost, I guess? Is that how that works? Looked at the rules and, yes, I get a boost, which will give me another free invoke in an Attack action. No, maybe it doesn't apply.
As I begin walking on the side of the house, I spot a window cracked open. I quietly move over to it and peek inside. I don't immediately see anyone, this looks like as good a spot as any. It's covered by a screen, so I'll have to pull that down and climb in.
Another Spy roll to quietly make my way in. The Zed and its sister will be my opposition, since I'm trying to sneak up on them. Their roll: 2. My roll: 2, with the boost. So, I succeed at a minor cost.
I crawl through the window, being as quiet as I can. Something catches on it, and I quietly shift around, trying not to make any noise. With a whisper and a soft thud, my baseball bat falls out of my backpack and onto the soft, grassy ground outside the window. Great, that was my best weapon. I'll have to improvise, now. I can't risk climbing outside, then back in. I move to the door of the room I'm in, crouching beside it and slipping off my backpack. I pull out my throwing knife, the only other weapon I brought. With my backpack back on, I stand and peek outside.
Rolling Spy (which is getting a serious workout here) to try and hear where my targets might be. If I succeed, I think they'll be watching TV and I hear that. Otherwise, I'll have to keep searching every room until I find them. Difficulty is 1, I think. They're not trying to hide. Roll: -1. I'll invoke 'Army Trained, Never Deployed' to tie. That means I have to figure out a minor cost. I can't think of anything super interesting narrative-wise, so I'll give them a Boost. Perhaps I make a little bit of noise that half-way alerts them to my presence.
I hear the TV playing, though the voices are low enough that I can't hear what's going on. Well, that's advantageous. Though, in what scenario is a zed watching TV? I decide to check it out, anyway. I creep into the hallway, walking towards the sound quietly, at the edge of the hallway. I move to the entry of the room with the noise and peer around the corner.
This is where I'd normally consult the Oracle to see if the target is there. I thought I'd get away without using an Oracle, but I really don't want to just decide if the target is here like I've assumed. I can probably just use the Edge die for an Oracle. Even odds are 1-3 No, 5-6 Yes. Poor odds would be 1-4 No, 5-6 Yes and Good odds would be 1-2 No, 3-6 Yes. So, Even odds the target is here. Roll: 2. No. But someone is. It's gonna be the woman who's got the necklace.
There is indeed someone watching the TV, but the person in question has long, clean, healthy looking hair. Probably not my target. But, she probably does have the thing I need.
I'm going to try and sneak up on her, and I think the best way of doing that would be to Create an Advantage and put an aspect on her of 'Surprised'. Or something like that. Fate does require a bit of a shift in thinking. She'll obviously provide the opposition. Rolling Spy, both of us. Her roll: 3. My roll: 0.
I sneak up on her, but the floor creaks under me before I get very far and she whirls around. Her eyes go wide as she spots me and she demands, "Who are you? What are you doing here?!" This is not what I expected and I hesitate for a second, glancing down at the knife in my hand.
"I need the necklace," I say. "Where is the body?" I ask.
This is definitely an Influencer roll. I'm using all the skills I don't have... And this woman is probably a bit of a Socialite, hanging around with an Upwardly Mobile guy like she was. So, she's probably Good. Her roll: 2. My roll: -1. I suppose this was an Overcome action so she wasn't really Defending, just providing opposition. So, I fail. Or, succeed at a major cost... I think the major cost could be that the zed is right behind me and gets a free shot. That sounds suitably horrific.
Her hand flies to her neck and with a yank and a quick flick, she tosses me the necklace. "There's the necklace," she says, a tremor creeping into her voice. "And the 'body' is right behind you." I whirl, but the zed crashes into me from behind.
He gets an attack first. IT will get an attack using its Fighter skill set. I'll defend with Fighter. Its Superhuman Potency is definitely going to apply. It has the Edge. Its roll: 9. Shit. My roll: 1. I'm going to spend my last Fate point to invoke 'Gamer Dad Who's Been Around'. I've been an athlete at various times, so my reflexes are decent. Total of 3, which means I take 6 shifts of damage. I'll check my 2nd box and take a Moderate consequence. Taking Dislocated Shoulder. It will get a free invoke on it!
"Shit!" I roar in fear, stumbling back a couple steps as the monster, because it is a fucking monster, grabs my arm in too-strong hand and twists and wrenches. My shoulder pops and my vision flashes white and my head swims with the pain while the necklace falls from my limp fingers. The fear clears my vision and I kick out at its shins to keep it away before swinging my knife at its temple. All the stories say head trama will kill this thing, but I've never heard of anyone using a throwing knife against one before.
Ok, I'm rolling my attack. My roll: 2. It'll use Athlete for its Defend action, since it doesn't have the mind for defending with Fighter. Its roll: -2. That's 4 shifts with another 4 added for its Deadly Weakness for a total of 8. I could spend Fate Points to invoke, but this thing ain't smart and I already took some serious harm. That's interesting. It doesn't really have any aspects that would narratively help it, either, not enough.
With a wet sounding crunch/thunk, my knife slams into the thing's temple and it collapses bonelessly to the ground. I stand there stupidly for a second, then the woman behind me screams in agony. I whirl towards her and she has fallen to the ground on her knees, her hands trembling on her cheeks as if she were trying to claw out her eyes. I watch her for a few seconds, but she doesn't appear like she's going to be a threat so I pull my phone out and glance at the screen. The client is saying something on the screen, but I can't hear because he's muted. I look at him and, in a pained voice, say "Job's done. I'll submit the selfie shortly." Then I hang up the video call and find a pose above the body that isn't pure agony from my hanging arm, and snap the selfie inside the iHunt app. I mark it done, then put the phone in my pocket and lean down to yank my knife free. I also grab the necklace from the hardwood floor and shove it in my pocket. I glance at the woman sobbing on the floor and mutter, "Sorry," then I walk away. I stop at the door with the window I used to enter, but shake my head. There's no way my arm is going to let me exit that way. I go to the front door and open it, covering my hand with my t-shirt, then wander around the house to pick up my baseball bat.
Every step make me gasp in pain and it's all I can do to keep moving one foot in front of the other. I don't watch for the patrols.
Does one pass me by? I'm going to compel the Wandering Security aspect and say yes...
One of the patrols spots be, because of course it does, that's just my luck. She creeps to a crawl next to me and her window rolls down. "You doing all right?" she asks. Obviously I'm not doing all right. "I'm fine," I insist. I'm sure my voice sounds strained and in pain and I'm probably gritting my teeth, I can't be sure. "You don't look like you're fine," she says, glancing at my hanging arm. I've got to get rid of her.
I smile, maybe it's more of a grimace. "No, really, I'll be fine. I was at a friend's house just down there and we were goofing around and I hurt my shoulder. I'm Ok, but thanks for checking up on me."
Ok, I've got to sell this. This is definitely a Grifter roll, which I have at +1. She'll roll against me and she's at +2, which I've already established before. Her roll: 1. My roll: 5. Wow, great roll for me!
She buys it, with a nod and a genuine smile and well-wishes, she rolls up her window and drives off. Thank God! I'm dying here. I gingerly put my limp hand in my pants pocket to try and keep it still, then shuffle quickly across the dark field and through the plywood barrier. I make it back to my loaned car, then fall into the driver's seat, breathing hard through the pain and anxiety. I don't know if I can do this anymore. This may be my last gig.
I make my way to the rendezvous with the client to return the necklace. He doesn't seem very happy. Because of course he doesn't, but I smile and accept his criticisms and tell him I'll do better on the next one. He docks me a star. Because, of course he does. I guess I should have let him yammer in my ear through the whole gig. If I keep doing this, I'm going to avoid gigs from this asshole. I gotta do something about this arm, so I make my way to a 24-hour Urgent Clinic and sit in the waiting room, filling out the paperwork. I list the injury source as 'Accident' and refuse to go more into it, but the doc hands me the business card of a personal injury lawyer that he says can help me out. I wonder how much the attorney is paying him for this "service." I don't really care and make it home just as the Eastern horizon is starting to lighten up.
The house alarm beeps as I come in and I turn it off and reset it and stumble my way upstairs. I stop by and look in on my son. He's in a different position than when I left, so I know he's still alive. Good, that takes a burden off my shoulders. I awkwardly brush my teeth and wash my face with one arm, and lay down in bed. Just as I'm starting to drift off, my alarm goes off and I moan, but I get up anyway. Time to make breakfast and make sure my son gets up on time and gets ready for school. I wonder how long it will be until I get the money from iHunt?
OBSERVATIONS: Well, that was fun and I was really excited to finish this mission. I think I need some kind of tabletop to list the scene and situational aspects, as well as consequences. I forgot about mine and the zed could have used its free invoke on that and a fate point to have another action. Possibly. Live and learn. I think I'll actually get a paper or small whiteboard or something to list them all on for the next mission. Not having to scroll around in the document will be a big help. But, it was fun! I really enjoyed the Edge die. It really packed a punch and got me really scared for my character self. This is a game I definitely want to keep playing.
I took a selfie, manipulated it and added it to the character sheet section, along with the notes for what I did for the Big Mood selfie from the last gig. This weekend, I plan to start and make a lot of headway on, if not complete, the Halloween gig.
While I enjoyed the Gig generator, I think that it's a better tool for a GM prepping for players at the table. I want some more surprises in the game for me, so I'll go back to using Story Cubes to generate ideas. That's what I use in most of my other solo games. So, I'm going to do something with ghosts, because their inclusion in the Dia de Muertos zine was what started this whole adventure. What's the gig? Gonna roll a couple story cubes: Lightning Bolt & Bee. Ooh, the client is a beekeeper. One of his hives was killed by electrical discharges. Why does he think this is a monster situation? Couple more story cubes: Sad Face & Magnifying Glass. Hmm, this is tough... He was investigating and actually witnessed its spectral face. Yikes! Now, I'll have to stat up the ghost. I'm going to go with a 2-star monster, because a 1-star hit me hard last time, but I think I learned a lesson regarding research and prep. We'll see.
So, I've got a dancer who died from a bee sting and he's really upset about it and destroyed the hive. That makes me think that the client just moved here with his hive business and it's going poorly, now. He's desperate. The ex-girlfriend still has his car, for some reason which I won't decide now, and he's tied to that and roaming the city. He hates bees and kills any he finds in his roamings. Poor Zap Hillman.
It looks like I'm all set up to run this gig! That's exciting.
It's Halloween. This is normally my favorite holiday, but the pandemic has put a damper on that and... well, everything. The past couple weeks since my last gig have been rough. My son asked lots of questions about my arm and wondered where I got money from. I told him I was doing some side jobs, but that he shouldn't worry about it. I'm doing what any father would do to keep providing for his kid. Though, that's probably not true. I know a few people who wouldn't resort to something so dangerous.
Anyway, the money has run out. I honestly thought it would last longer, but I was behind on a few bills and then stocked up on food and other necessaries and it just didn't go as far as I thought it would. Not that I should really be surprised. Money never goes as far as it should. I keep remembering back to my childhood when $100 felt like a ton of money. Not so much, anymore.
Plenty of jobs showed up in the app for tonight. I checked a couple forums where other iHunters chat about gigs and apparently the 31st of Halloween is a night to make bank. That's pretty exciting and kind of makes me want to find a few other iHunters to run with. If it were more than just me, we might be able to do a couple jobs. But... I just can't. I'm not sure why. I've been painfully shy in the past, but I'm not sure that's it. Maybe I'm ashamed... but, of what? I shake my head. No time for introspection, I've got tonight to get this job done.
A local beekeeper got one of his hives zapped by an electrical discharge. He says he saw a bloated face floating in the air and needs someone to look into it. I'm surprised no one took this job before me. It's only a 2-star and the pay is pretty good. I shrug as I finish loading up my tools in my backpack. I've rigged up a kind of holster with paracord to hang from my belt to put my baseball bat in it. I don't want to get left without it like I did on the last job. I grimace as I flex my shoulder. It smarts, still. A lot.
I check in on my son before heading out of the house. He's still up, playing his Switch. I tell him it's past bed-time and he needs to go to sleep and that I'll see him in the morning. Since he's still awake, I have to tell him that I'm leaving to do some work. He's a little concerned, but I reassure him that I'll be back before he wakes up. I know for sure he's not going to get to sleep soon. We stayed up a bit later than normal, watching some crappy horror movie and eating Tootsie Rolls. Some Halloween...
I hit the road and head up to the North part of town, where the client lives. I won't include his name, to protect him. I'm surprised to find that it's in the city. I thought for sure that his location would be outside the city. Though, now that I think about it, there's not a whole lot outside the city for bees. Huh. I drive up in my borrowed car and shut the vehicle off and walk up to his front door, slinging my backpack on. I slip on my face mask and knock on the door. He answers immediately, without a mask. I take a step back to maintain some distance. I'm hunting monsters. I can defend myself from monsters. But I can't defend myself from a virus.
"Are you Devon?" he asks. I nod in the affirmative. "I'd like to see the hive that was destroyed," I say. He looks me up and down and points at the baseball bat hanging from my belt. "That's not going to do you much good." I look down at it and shrug, replying, "Can't be too careful." He grunts and then steps down out of his front door and leads me to the destroyed hive.
The hive is blackend and scorched on the top and the bottom from electrical discharge. The tiny bodies of the bees lay on top of it, on the ground around it and fall from the cracks in its side. I crouch down, turning on the flashlight on my phone to take a good look.
I'll roll Investigator here and, what I'm really trying to do is Create an Advantage that I can use later. In a traditional RPG, I'd be trying to get some clues from the GM, but I can create my own clue in this game. I think this is probably a Good(+3) difficulty task. Roll: 5. That is a success! I honestly have no clue what this clue might be. Let's roll a Story Cube and see if that sparks an idea. Roll: Magnifying Glass. Footprint. So, maybe light tracks in the area. I added the aspect to my Whiteboard section farther up.
Peering around the hive, I spot something on the ground. It looks like a footprint, but it's too shallow to really be a footprint. That's odd. I snap a photo of it with my phone and straighten up. Turning to the client, I say, "Do you have any other hives? Have you checked on them?"
I think I'll offer myself a compel, which I will gladly take, on the scene aspect 'Erie Solitude'. He is creeped out and going to return to the house, leaving me out here all alone.
He shakes his head in the dark and says, "Nope. I've been shook up and I'm not going to go wandering the dark with a... whatever that was around. You're the expert; you go check on'em." He waves in another direction, indicating where another hive is, then turns around and makes his way back to his house. It's so dark out, I'm not completely sure I got the exact direction he pointed, but there's no help for it, now. I watch him go for several seconds before a chill creeps its way up my spine, and gets my legs moving, one before the other, hopefully in the direction of the other hive.
It would be an easy thing to get lost in the dark and in unfamiliar territory. Of course, if I do get lost, something interesting happens. Making it over there may be a Guerrilla roll... This is probably Fair(+2) difficulty. It's dark and I don't know the territory, but nothing else really makes it problematic. Roll: +1. I'll spend a Fate Point to invoke 'Neophyte Modern Paganism Practitioner', because I trust my gut and if I make a decision and roll with it, believing in it, it will usually work out.
After a couple minutes of walking, my anxiety kicks in and I wonder if I am going in the right direction. I'm sure this is where he said to go. I pause and look around, trying to determine what feels right. I make a decision and keep walking. I stumble a bit as a rock trips me up, but before long, I hear a buzzing noise coming from in front of me and to the left. I pull out my phone and click on the flashlight again. If I hear buzzing, it's all right. Right?
This would be a really great time to have a preliminary encounter with the ghost. Do I notice the ghost before it tries some kind of action? That's probably my Investigator v. his Spy. My roll: 5. His roll: 2. The roll may have required Guerrilla, but either way I beat him. We both have Athlete at 0, and Fighter at 0, but he beats me on Assassin. So, he'll go first.
I flash my light on the hive and see a cloud of bees around a painted wooden box. Then a light flashes on to my side, glowing with a soft, blue light. I turn toward it. A face! It's a bloated face! It opens its mouth and a crackling scream comes out as the eyes bug out and cross in a disturbing way.
It's using Terrorize on me! Oh no! What a surprise! It rolls Influencer v. my Survivor. His roll: 1, My roll: 1. I'm going to spend a Fate Point to invoke 'Gamer Dad Who's Been Around'. I've seen some stuff and been in some frightening situations. I can handle a little ghost.
I stumble backwards in surprise and yank my baseball bat from its makeshift holster and swing it at the face, yelling in fear.
I would totally do this. For realz. Devon the GM knows this won't work, but Devon the character doesn't. My roll: -1. He doesn't roll.
The baseball bat passes right through the glowing and floating head and I feel a little tingle as the end of my metal bat flashes through the electricity arcing out of the thing's mouth. I leap backwards in alarm. "Oh, shit! You are a ghost!" I yell.
What does this thing do? It's a ghost, so it can communicate. Does it? Probably even odds... Lower than a 4 on a d6 and he will talk. Five. Nope!
The floating head grins and a haunting laugh fills the space around me. It opens its mouth and bolts of electricity arc out, flashing towards me.
I forgot to set intents for what has clearly become a conflict. It honestly started out as one. He probably wants to run me off. I wanted to dissipate him, if it was possible. It's not. He's shooting electricity at me and I am not prepared to take him on. I'm going to concede. That gives me a Fate Point. I didn't take any consequences (thank the Universe), so I won't get more than one FP.
I stumble backwards, tripping and falling on my ass. I roll backwards as the bolts the ghost-head spit flash over my head, then scramble to my feet and take off towards my borrowed car. I glance backwards and see the floating head turn towards the beehive, and with a flash, the bees swarming around it all fall to the ground. As the light from the ghost's attack fades, I see a faint orange glow as one corner of the hive burns with the heat from the electric strike, but the flame quickly goes out. Shit, I can kiss a five-star review goodbye.
I am way out of my depth.
I hop in the car and start the engine, backing out of the driveway faster than is safe. I drive for a few minutes to get away from the location and, hopefully, from the ghost. Then, I pull over. My hands are shaking and my stomach feels hollow with the fear and adrenaline. I grip the steering wheel and shake my head and laugh, trying to burn away the nervous energy. "Oh, shit. What am I going to do, here?" I ask myself. After a couple seconds, I squirm in the seat, getting my hand into my pocket and pull my cellphone free. Ghost confirmed. What the fuck do I do?
I'm going to look online to find resources on how to banish a ghost. Being a basic Occultist, I think I know that's a thing that can be done, but I sure as hell don't know how to do it. That's an Academic roll and the difficulty is probably pretty hard. Not that it's hard to find people talking about banishing ghosts, but it's hard to find something that's REAL and will WORK. I'll say Great(+4) difficulty. My roll: 5. Nice. I think that opens up the Abjuration to the character, as presented in the Dia de Muertos zine. And, I'll definitely be using Occultist as the skill for it.
I spend the next hour researching on the internet. Many of the sites I have to close down because they flash ads and then send me to virus warnings. A few of the sites, I can tell are people trying to be writers and doing it in the first person. Nope, not useful. I find a couple occult websites that are light on information, and a few that are a little to Wiccan for my taste. After reading a few sites, a method of dealing with the problem begins to form in my head. I piece it all together and hope begins to swell in my chest. I can do this!
The first thing I'm going to do is to gather, or make, some occult supplies. I need something that is powerful, a charm that will resonate on a spiritual frequency and focus my will for this abjuration. That'll be an Occultist roll, for sure. It won't be easy, either, or everyone would be able to do it. Great(+4) difficulty? That sounds about right. My roll: +2. I'll spend a Fate Point to invoke my 'Neophyte Modern Paganism Practitioner' aspect. Hey! It came in handy! And, this is to Create an Advantage. So that gives me a Boost.
Another hour passes as I drive around, looking for something that seems right. I stop and pick up some salt and a candle, then do a quick ritual on the trunk of the car, melting the wax and working the salt into it and forming it into little balls. As I do, I work my intention into it, asking the Universe to imbue them with power. Once that's done, I heave a nervous sigh and brush the trash off the trunk. Something is stuck on the trunk... Nope, I scorched the paint with the candle. Just when I think things are looking up...
I'm heading back to the client's location. Is here waiting for me? Even odds. Less than 4 is Yes. Roll: 1. Yep. I bet the 1 means he's pissed.
As I pull up, the client's door bangs and he comes storming out and over to the car. I get out of the car, and reach into it to grab my backpack and supplies while keeping an eye on him.
"Where the fuck you been?" he demands. Oh, he's pissed. I bet he found out about the other dead hive. That's just great.
I stand back up, slinging my backpack on, and answer. "I encountered your ghost. I had to go out and get some supplies to fight it," I say. Is there a little defensiveness in my voice? Probably. Damnit.
"While you were gone, it went and torched another one of my hives!" he rages. This guy is getting a little close for comfort. I feel his breath as he's yelling at me.
I grimace. "Yeah, I know. It did that shortly after it attacked me. I'm really sorry about it, but I think I've got what I need to get rid of it, now." I look at him in the dim light, trying to sound sincere. I really am sorry. It sucks, but him getting in my face is not going to help me get rid of this ghost.
I'll try and make a roll to appease him. I think his difficulty is Good(+3). He's pissed, but still wants this ghost gone. This is an Influencer roll, which I'm WONDERFUL at! /s. Roll: -4. Oh, fuck. I'll spend a Fate Point to invoke 'Pleasant and Proficient Car Damage Appraiser', because I'm good at dealing with angry people! I'm going for a reroll of the dice. New Roll: 0. Shit. I only have 2 more Fate Points left. I'm gonna have to eat the failure, by succeeding at a major cost.
"You lost yourself 2 stars, at LEAST!" he roars. "Now, get out there and get rid of that goddamn ghost!"
I just nod my head and shut the car door, locking it up. I don't say anything because, there's nothing to say. Anything I do say will just make things worse. My heart slips out of my chest and lands in my guts. I was feeling pretty good about this gig when I was doing my prep work, but now I'm for sure going to get the minimum payment for the gig. I heave a sigh. Just. Fucking. Great.
Was that encounter a compel? That's likely... let's review my aspects to see if one fits. I'll take it for Pleasant & Proficent...
I dejectedly move through the dark in the direction of the second hive. I hope Mr. Ghosty is still there. I can't afford to go hunting for him anymore.
Is the ghost there waiting for me? Is he trying to get the drop on me again? Probably even odds... less than 4 on a d6 means yes. Roll: 3. Oh, he's there. He's going to try and strike at me again, which means he needs to be hidden. Let's see if I spot him. My Investigator roll: +3. His Spy roll: -1. He's no good at this spy thing.
Walking up to the charred hive, I see a glimmer of blue light and stop. He darts out of the darkness with a screech, lightning curling around his gaping mouth, his bloated cheeks glowing brightly.
We're tied for Athlete skill sets, so I'll just say he goes first, since he initiated things. I suppose that could have been a Create Advantage roll on his part to see if I spotted him. I did, so he gets NOTHING! Bwahaha. He'll attack with Assassin. He has the Edge. He wants to drive me off. I want to Abjure him. His roll: +8. Ouch. My Athlete roll: +0. I'll use my boost, then invoke Army Trained... for a +2. That leave me at 4 shifts of damage, so I'll tick off my #2 stress box and take a minor consequence (Singed on the Edges).
The lightning bolts shoot out of the ghost's mouth and leap across the darkness at me. I dive to the side, hitting the ground hard. It knocks my breath out of me, but I roll and scramble back up to my feet. My should tingles where his attack grazed me. I reach into my pocket and grab a handful of the salty wax pellets and throw them at it. They got a little melty and sticky in my pocket, and a few refuse to leave my hand, but I think most make their way to him. "Wax and salt were found, bind you to the ground!" I say, as they pass through its ethereal form. I've never been good at rhymes. Gimme a break.
I'm going for an Overcome action to seize the Edge from it! This is an Occultist roll v. its Survivor, I think. My roll: +1. I'll spend a Fate Point to invoke Neophyte Modern Paganism Practitioner and also use my free invoke on Light Foot Prints. If he leaves footprints, he's already connected to the ground and that will help. That leaves me with a +5. Its roll: +2. Yes! I have the Edge! This is slightly less handy that it would be if I had some additional players. Since it's just me, he gets to go now.
The wax pellets flare when they hit its body and melt, drawing downward. The ghost gets sluggish in its movements and bellows in frustration. Lunging forward, it tries to get its massive mouth on my arm. The hairs on my arm tingle and stand up as I try to get out of the way.
I haven't been tracking his Essence level. I suppose I should figure that out... It likely started at Sated and has used the blast twice that I recall, so it's down to Starving. And... rules say I get a free invoke of the aspect when it goes down, so I have two free invokes. Well, that's more power than I realized. Goodbye, Mr. Ghosty. I think you're going byebye, now. Anywho, he's attacking with Fighter, which he doesn't have. His roll: -1. I'll spend one of his Fate Points to invoke Zappy Ghost Face because... he's a big ghost face. With a big mouth. Total of +1. My Athlete roll: +3.
I jump backwards as the ghost's mouth snaps closed on the space my arm used to occupy. I square my stance and look it right in the eye and say to it, "You are not welcome here. Leave this place immediately. BEGONE!" I put all of my energy into it, just like the articles on the internet said to do. Hey, I read it on the internet; it must be true!
I'm rolling Occultist for this, using the Edge. He'll roll Survivor. My roll: 4. I'll use a free invoke of his Essence aspect for a +10. I'll spend a fate point to invoke my Paganism Practitioner aspect as well and make it an even +12. His roll: +1. I think I've got 2 more Fate Points I can spend on him. That would bring it up to a +5 roll... Yeah, worth it. He'll invoke Puffed Up Breakdancer, and the Eerie Solitude. He believes in himself and the environment is good for a ghost. That means he's got to absorb 7 shifts of damage. He'll take a Severe Consequence (Desperately Raging) and fill his 1 point box. I've also been forgetting to give myself the 'Siezed Muscles' lingering effect of his Energy Blast. I'll add that now, and he'll get a free invoke. Ooooh, I just had a nasty thought. Yeah, I'm gonna do it. He's gonna concede.
With a *pop*, the floating blue head disappears and I'm left in the silent darkness. Did it work? I think it worked. Yes! Job's done. I pull out my phone and open up the app and, oh no. There's no body to take a selfie with. Thinking fast, I turn and take a selfie with the burnt hive and mark the job as done. I walk back to the client's house, then past the client's house, heading towards my car. Well, it doesn't belong to me, but it's mine for the moment. I see the client looking out at me through one of his windows. I wave and give him a thumbs up and he draws the shade. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. I check my phone as I get back in the car. Still nothing from the app. Soon, I'm sure.
I think I'm going to take this chance to imperil an aspect. Thinking about it, I can't come up with a good dilemma. So, I'll stick with a compel. There was eerie solitude there, but I was being very noisy and there were flashing lights. I bet the cops were called and I'm going to get pulled over. Sound good, Player Devon? Sounds good, GM Devon. Taking the Fate Point!
As I exit the driveway and enter the main road, a dark shape swoops in behind me and red lights begin to flash. Adrenaline hits my heart painfully and my hands shake. I pull over and put the vehicle in park, rolling down my window. And I wait.
The cop does their normal thing of turning on all five freaking floodlights and taking five whole minutes to walk up to my door. I smile up nervously at them, squinting in the bright light. "Good evening, officer," I say. I should be asking why they pulled me over, but I have neither the courage nor the presence of mind to do so. The officer shines a flashlight in my face, making me squint even more and I try unsuccessfully not to flinch too much. I thank the Universe that I'm white, then feel immediately bad about it. I know I'm priviledged. I have a great chance of surviving this encounter, even off the beaten path and in the dark night. That knowledge blunts my fear, but doesn't get rid of it.
"License and registration, please," is all he says. I nod and slowly reach across and open the glovebox to grab the registration and hand it to him, then grab my wallet from the cup holder and open it to pull out my license, which I also hand over. He takes a few minutes to look it over and punch my license number into his little computer and then asks, "So, where are you headed, Mr. Kelley?"
Now that the initial encounter is done, does PC me think to ask why he got pulled over? That's probably a Survivor roll and I think the difficulty is Good(+3). Roll: +0. I'd have to burn 2 fate points to beat it. I'll do it. Invoking Gamer Dad... and Army Trained... That's a total of +4.
Remembering the videos I've seen online, I respond, "I'm not discussing my day. Why did you pull me over?" I ask. My heart is a flutter and my guts feel wet and loose as my fear writhes and twists, growing as I confront this cop.
"We received a noise and suspicious character complaint here,"he says, looking meaningfully at me.
"I see," I say, trying not to gulp, "and the reason you're pulling me over?" Images flash through my mind of getting yanked out of the car for my smart mouth, but I try to give the cop a small smile to hide it.
I think we've come to the part where a roll is needed. Have I been convincing enough for him to let me go? This sounds like an Influencer roll. I think the cop is going to be rolling Socialite. I'd say he's Fair at it. My roll: +1, His roll: +3. I can only tie, but I think I'll save my last fate point. So, he doesn't let me go. Well, not immediately. I don't think there's anything he can hold me on, but I do think it would be interesting if this interaction means the cops are on the lookout for me and watching me. So, I'll create a Situational aspect called Cops' Watchful Eye, then he'll let me go.
The cop gives me some bullshit response that my taillamp is out and I should be more careful in the dark parts of the city and the only reason he's letting me go is because he doesn't have any evidence against me, but he knows I'm not clean. I give him a nervous smile, take my registration and driver's license back and leave when I'm allowed to do so.
So, life just keeps getting better and better.
I'm going to compel 'Afraid to Take Chances'. I took a chance on taking my selfie with the burnt out hive, and I think it doesn't pay off. That'll bring me up to 2 fate points.
As I pull back out onto the road, my phone chimes. It's the app's notification sound. I can't check it now, not until I'm in the clear. The squad car follows me for a bit, but I do everything right. Once I turn onto the highway to head home, he continues straight on the surface street. I drive down the ramp, merge into the empty lane, then hit my blinker and turn off onto the shoulder. Before the car is stopped, I've got my phone in my hand and am looking at the notification.
'Gig Payment Held - Pending Review'. Ah, shit! I just knew this was going to happen. The client disputed the job was done and my selfie doesn't have any evidence in it. God damn it, that's the last fucking ghost job I'll ever take. I'm pissed. I throw my phone down onto the passenger seat, slap the lever to turn on the left blinker and wrench the car back onto the highway, gunning it for all its worth.
I make it home in record time. Honestly, I have no idea how long it takes me; I'm too angry to pay attention to much. But by the time I arrive home, my anger has gone from a bonfire blaze to a red smoulder. I get out of the car and unlock the door, closing it behind me quietly, to not wake up my son.
NOW is the time to create a dilemma. I'm imperilling the ghost's 'Desperately Raging' aspect to give Player Devon a choice: Does the ghost attack my son? Or does it haunt my home? Ah, that's hard. I think haunting the home will create more drama for longer than if it attacks my son.
Depression crushes down on me. This was supposed to be a wonderful payday. This was supposed to be the second step to getting back on my feet. This was supposed to... I shake my head. I can't afford to go down that hole. I slam a fist into my other palm and the sharp pain brings some much needed clarity to my head. I shake my head and take off my shoes and work my way up the stairs.
I poke my head into my son's room and see that he's still asleep. Of course he is; it's incredibly early in the morning. And, it's time to get some sleep, myself. I'm tired, both physically and emotionally. I'll figure out what to do next in the morning.
I turn and I'm momentarily blinded by a flash of blue light. I stumble backwards. An evil cackle starts low, then builds into deafening reverberations assaulting my ears and my head. "Found you!" the ghost bellows, then it zip around me, into my son's room, out and down the stairs, then back up. "This is all mine, now!" he cries, then zips right up into my face. "RUN!"
Scant seconds later, I'm slamming the door of my borrowed car and backing dangrously fast out of the driveway, my sleepy and scared son dumped in the passenger seat. I left the front door open in my hurry to leave, but it closes in a flash of blue light as I shift into drive and hit the gas. The tires chirp as they slip on the asphalt, then bite, and we drive rapidly down our street. I see flashes of blue light in my house's windows in the rearview mirror as I pull up to the stop sign. I don't stop. I'm terrified, it's early morning and I need to get away as fast as I can.
As I pull out onto the main street, my son adjusts himself in the seat and pulls his seatbelt down, fastening it with a click. "Where are we going?" he asks.
"I don't know, dude. I don't know," I say. My eyes burn and my throat aches in quiet desperation. Where do we go, now?
That seems like a good place to leave Gig #2. I'll continue the story later, but this is a good stopping point. I wanted to get this gig done to be able to publish this by Halloween and I'm glad I was able to get here. This story has become an extremely interesting and meaningful exercise for me. It's a lot more personal and I'm actually experiencing the emotions as I play the game and write the prose. Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more!
Taking a Big Mood Selfie at the end of this session. I like the stunts I have, so I am not going to change any of them. I don't think I've used any, up to this point, so I need to remember to do so in the future. My Severe Consequence goes away. I think I'm going to rename my Drama aspect. I haven't used it once and my main source of drama now is that a ghost has kicked me out of my house. I'll name it 'Horrible Ghost Houseguest'. That sounds fun. Goodbye 'Afraid to Take Chances'! I don't think I want to change any of my skill set ratings. So, I just need to pose for the selfie and this gig is done!