Chicago Lightning

You Wanted a Showdown at 110 feet...

Our stalwart trio indeed surges up the gangway, spiraling up an ornate staircase that wends its way to a point at the peak of the building and the docking parapet. The staircase itself is adorned with elegant carpet, velvet covered handrails and even crystal sconces on the wall illuminating the path. As our would-be heroes reach the apex of their journey, they break out into the open air of the Chicago Skyscape, careening to a halt on the boarding parapet. Above them, a crewman is desperately attempting to loose the moorings at the spire which hold it in place, while another crewman – directly in front of our men of action – frantically works at a hand crank to raise the boarding plank and retract it into the ship’s nose. They have only a moment to act before the airship cuts loose its bonds and drifts painfully out of reach.

Comments

Even by the standards of the Awakened World, the airship is awesome, dwarfing the building itself and throwing three city blocks into shadow.

Azog ignores the vista and charges the crewman raising the plank, roaring.

This will probably scare him off. [Troll: 2d6+2=5+5+2=12]

 

Jamison snarls, and rips a round into the man trying to free the moorings!

[Gunplay, with his trusty .38! Roll(2d6)2: 3,2,2 Total:7 Good thing he’s not moving…]

 

GM:

Jamison’s shot is off. Very off, in fact. The crewman does not even flinch as he looses the mooring. [Crewman rolled 10]

Azog charges onto the gangplank and collides into the crewman, a massive slab of a man who has clearly spent the better part of his life crewing dirigibles. [NPC rolls 12 as well. Neko, you can either activate a technique, spend a style die, or be locked “corps-a-corps”.]

 

[edit: Azog and the Stevedore are at an Impasse.]

 

GM:

[If you’d like to switch your forte, then we’ll call that round a draw, you’ll end up corps-a-corps, and can make a hand-to-hand roll with that intent. As far as manipulating this roll, you’ll have to use the assets available to you with the forte you started with.]

 

Jamison snarls a particularly obscene word, and charges the raising gangplank as quickly as he can!

[Law enforcement, 2d6+2:
Roll(2d6)2:
2,5,
2
Total:9]

 

[Azog adds his hand-to-hand forte to Jamison’s effort, bringing the total to 13!]

Azog grapples uselessly with the grizzled human stevedore, whose massive arms have caught him by the waist, holding him in place. But Azog manages to maneuver himself close enough to the crank to kick the release latch, and the gangplank drops back into debarking position.

The mooring line was already loosed, and the Michigan Star is getting underway. The gangplank scrapes noisily on the deck as the ship throttles back at 2 knots. In a few seconds she will be clear away and out of reach.

Azog is still pinned.

 

Mugsy pulls his gun and addresses the burly man hugging the troll. “Look here, son. You can do this the nice way, or the hard way. There are three of us, a few pieces and one of you. Our quarrel isn’t with you. You admirably freed the dirigible but alas, were unable to prevent three brutes from leaping desperately onto the gangplank. After all you were outnumbered and they were brandishing pistols. Do we have an understanding?” [Con Man 2+5+6=13]

 

GM:

[Mugsy mysteriously teleports from the Parapet to the Dirigible…]

The mook meekly looks down the barrel of Mugysy’s 1911 and let’s go of Azog. Shouldering his way past the massive troll, he sprints down the gangplank and barely makes the leap to the docking parapet, catching the edge of the railing and hauling himself up to safety.

 

Azog straightens himself and self-consciously adjusts his necktie.

“Yeah, thanks Mugsy fer gettin’ that guy to lay off me.”

He looks pointedly at Chambers. “Let’s not shoot people unless we have to. Not everybody here is goons. Some is just reg’lar guys doin’ their job, you know?”

Azog looks down at Chicago from high above, gets a little dizzy, then looks back at the hatch.

“OK, with luck they won’t be taking tickets anymore. Here goes.”

 

“Yeah, okay Zog. Do me the favor of telling me what guys are on the lady’s payroll, huh?” With that, Jameson scans the room, and follows the others, keeping an eye out behind the group.

 

“Well, until a week ago, me. Look, I know you used to be a law man, but youse running in the shadows now, and we got rules here. You can’t just shoot your way out of every situation. Now, let’s’ee…”

The trio are walking in file inside the body of the airship along a rail. Two paths diverge, one to the passenger cabin, the other to the control room.

 

“No worries, troll-kin. Its getting to be old hat, you saving me, me saving you. Now we have to get those kids. I’m tempted to crawl through these maintenance areas to lay low and explore the ship but I don’t know that we’ll all fit.”

 

GM:

It’s a big ship, designed for a fully metahuman crew. Trolls can definitely make it through the catwalks, though they’ll be more squeezed than others.

 

“Golden,” Jamison grumbles. “I’m off my footing, here, you gentlemen take point, and I’ll drag.”

 

“Alley-oop!” says Azog as he lifts himself onto the aluminum support lattice. The passenger cabin is right below, separated from the cathedral-sized volume of the airship body by a thin layer of light wood and canvass.

He begins to crawl lightly toward a service hatch near the sitting room. [I’m going with images given by Google in reply to “airship interior.”]

Suddenly, disaster! He slips and nearly crashes into the roof of the passenger cabin [Thief: 1+1+2=4], but at the last moment he catches himself crawls back up to the support beam. [Use of technique: evasive and 1 style die to reroll: 2d+2=2+5+2=9.]

Once steady, he offers a hand-up to his partners. The plan is to listen for activity in the common area and passenger berths from above.

 

“Nice catch but maybe you’d better let me take point.” Mugsy says as he clambers into the inner workings of the ship.

 

Taking the oversized mitt in his, Jamison gets hauled into the service catwalk. “Not much to these things. Where do you suppose this one is headed?” he asks, scanning the surroundings.

A sudden chill hits him, and he makes a point to flip the collar of his jacket up, the second he gets a decent grip on the metal supporting him.

 

GM:

You make your way down the catwalk, the fabric of the giant gasbags making a tent-like canopy over you. Looking up, you can dimly see through the gasbag canyon up to the structure for the dorsal supports, and perhaps to another catwalk there. There is dim lighting along the way, reflected off the silvery skin of the gasbags – giving the whole area a dim and eery ambiance. Dimly you hear the roar of the motors, but apart from that it is quiet, Azog’s footsteps ring loudly on the catwalk.

Eventually you come to an intersection. A ladder heads up to the dorsal area and down to the cabins, while the catwalk continues straight ahead, to the left and to the right. As of yet you have seen no other crew.

 

“So, gents, you know the lady. Is she going to be in the captaincy, or with the rest of the passengers? "

Jameson looked behind him, because that’s what you do, when you’re on drag.

 

“She’s wherever the babies is at,” Azog says simply, cursing himself for succumbing to the temptation to splurge on a new pair of Cuban-heeled shoes.

Remembering their encounter on a train to Gary, he adds, “She likes an audience, so she wouldn’t mind hobnobbing with the swells in the passenger cabin. Let’s put an ear to the hatch and see what we hear, okay?”

 

“Alright, lets see what we can hear.” Mugsy says. He crawls down to investigate while trying to maintain clandestiny. [Con Man 2d6+6: 6+3+6=15]

 

GM:

Mugsy makes his way down the ladder and presses his ear to the hatchway, sounds coming through it are muffled, but he clearly makes out the timber of Mr. Kluwe’s voice. As the Troll finishes speaking, there is an uncomfortably long pause. Finally another male voice speaks, and Mugsy cannot help but note the pronounced irish lilt with which it speaks. Much closer to his hatchway, he is able to make it out, “Find out what happened to Thompson, then. And have the cap’n take us higher. I’ll burn that buildin’ down again if I have to. Nerve of those ruffians.”

 

((Goddammit, we threw Kluwe out the side of a skyscraper, and here he is. I’ll see the pug-faced schmuck eat lead, or my name isn’t Michigan Tate.))

 

Mugsy climbs back up the hatchway. “Well gentlemen, we appear to have found something that will interest us. The troll we were grappling with dirt side is below and just might be talking to his boss.”

 

“Kluwe’s down there? And his… Boss? You don’t mean O’Hanlon, do you? Ho boy. We’d better find them kids and figure a way off this crate quick!”

 

“O’Hanlon?” Jamison hissed. “God above, what I wouldn’t give for five minutes in a dark room with that one!” Taking a breath and trying to visibly control himself, he continued. “So. What’s the plan, gents?”

 

“Well…” Azog thinks hard a moment. "We could get the drop on him when Kluwe leaves. Youse get payback for all he and his done to you and yours. But then the witch just takes the babies and jumps ship. Maybe we should find her first. Maybe she’ll lead us to the babies.

“Onna udder hand, I got no plan for getting away after that. So maybe we gotta take ’em all on anyhow, and one-by-one beats all at a time, right?

“What do youse guys think?”

 

“I think we need to find the kids and an escape route but not necessarily in that order.”

 

“I’ll tell ya, kid, I’m all for mowing through them like a mulcher. But we need to take care of the kids first.”

Jamison nodded at Mugsy. “We don’t know anything about the layout, and if we go down there without a plan, we get cut off and cut down. Keep going, guys, and when we know everything we can, we’ll come up with something.”

 

[If I read the GM’s description correctly, our choices are forward, left, right, back the way we came, up and down. We seem to have eliminated down.]

Azog hopes to catch a whiff of Rose’s perfume to get a clue to her whereabouts.

[Troll: 2d6+2=4+5+2=11.]

He puts his nose to the air and wags his head left, right, and forward before deciding.

 

GM:

The airship is a massive space, but it is also enclosed. Azog detects a faint whiff of her perfume, but not clearly enough to discern direction with any confidence. Did it come from below? That certainly makes sense, but maybe it also came from further astern down the catwalk?

 

“Rose is on board too, but I can’t pin her down from here. Maybe further down.” He gestures to Mugsy to proceed.

 

“Forward, march!” Mugsy motions from behind to the front with his hand and proceeds straight ahead.

 

Jamison waits for the others, and then makes his way, in the drag position.

 

Azog brings up the middle.

 

GM:

For the uninitiated (such as this trio of PCs) the inside of a Zeppelin is an alien world full of inexplicable mystery and surprise. Massive tarpaulins tent the catwalk and provide the massive gas bladders with a layer of protection. The odors of canvas and camphor hang heavily in the air, and every corridor along the catwalk carries a breeze in its own direction. The PCs can feel in their feet that the airship is ascending, and an ever-so-slight wave of dizziness washes over them the zeppelin begins to maneuver towards its next destination.

Drawing from his experience in the War, Mugsy will instinctively know that the airship is maneuvering more aggressively than is standard for vessels of its size and mass.

Every 10 feet or so you have a catwalk branching off in one direction or the other – some up, some down, some left or right. It will be a full 50 feet of travel before you arrive at the next “nexus” where the catwalk branches on all axes. Your assumption is that you are on the main catwalk, which likely runs from bow to stern.

 

Some daylight seeps in through the canvas, but it’s dim and cold inside the airship. As they walk, Azog nervously opens his cigarette tin [see inventory page], sticks the lone cigarillo into his mouth, and begins feeling his pockets for a light.

 

“Hold up, there, Zog. Hey, Mugsy, these things burn pretty quick, don’t they?”

Jamison’s wasn’t entirely sure, but it seemed there was something about lighting up on an airship.

“Smoke it on the ground, friend-o. You know. Like a victory lap.” He reached over and slapped Azog on the back.

 

Mugsy looks back at the talkers to shush them and sees Azog’s intentions. “If you want us to all go up in a ball of flame, keep on doing what you’re doing. Otherwise I suggest you save it for dirt side.”

 

Azog obediently puts away the cigarillo, but he scoffs and says, "If smokes was that dangerous, somebody would say so.

“Okay, another way down. Do we have a look-see?”

 

Mugsy again attempts to creep down and listen at the hatch. [There is a hatch down there, right? Again ConMan forte 2d6+6 5+5+6=16]

 

GM:

More of a bulkhead, but yeah, there’s a door.

Mugsy makes his way down to the doorway at the bottom of the ladder. He listens intently and hears nothing for some time. Eventually he hears footsteps approaching the door, but before he can react to move away they seem to head away from the door moving parallel to it.

 

Mugsy climbs back up. “Might be a hallway down there. No real action I could discern.”

 

“No sign of Rose or the babies? Okay, try the next ladder down. Sooner or later we’ll hit the jackpot.”

 

Azog doesn’t wait for Mugsy to return to his place on the catwalk before shuffling ahead another 50 feet to the next junction. He begins crawling head-first down the ladder into the gloom.

[He stacks Troll and Thief, bringing in techniques Evasive and In the Dark. 2d6+2+2+1+1=5+4+2+2+1+1 = 15.]

 

GM:

Azog heads quietly down the ladder, almost wraith-like in his movements. Mugsy and Jamison make their way towards the junction but behind by nearly a minute. They arrive just as Azog arrives at the bottom of the ladder and in front of a bulkhead door. It seems silent on the other side.

 

“Whats the word, big guy?” Mugsy whispers.

 

Azog places his ear against the metal bulkhead and listens. Then he operates the door with surprisingly cunning hands, very much like a safecracker. With the door open a crack, he listens again, smells the air, and finally takes a peek.

 

GM:

Again, Azog smells Rose’s perfume, but is unable to pinpoint its proximity. The door cracks into what appears to be a utility hallway, in that it is not very well appointed. Azog can both hear and smell the signs of a nearby kitchen.

 

[Temptation!]

Azog swings open the door to its full width and moves in the direction of the kitchen. He does not float forward on the trail of the aroma, like a Looney Tunes character might, but the effect is similar.

 

GM:

Mugsy and Jamison see Azog step through the door without responding to Mugsy’s query.

 

“Great Scott! Looks like we’re entering the belly of the beast right here.” Mugsy mutters under his breath as he moves to follow Azog.

 

GM:

Azog makes his way to the kitchen, across the hallway and down a bit. It is mostly empty, still in early prep for what would be tonight’s cruise, but there are a few workers glazing a ham and baking bread.

 

Azog hides in the doorway and stares longingly at the ham while his companions catch up.

Suddenly, jackpot! [-1 die] An indicator lights up and an automated bell chimes on the instrument panel. One of the galley stewards removes a quart of milk from the icebox and places the glass bottle into a pneumatic capsule, then drops the capsule into a tube hopper. The tube is clear, and the party can see the milk bottle travel up the kitchen wall and into the hallway, scooting above their heads! It’s traveling at a good clip and they could lose sight of it easily, but it appears to be headed toward one of the passenger cabins.

Just then, a loud rumble like a giant Diesel engine sputtering. No, that’s Azog’s stomach grumbling quite audibly.

 

“Are you gents thinking what I’m thinking?” Mugsy asks his compatriots.

 

Azog doesn’t respond. His jaw is slack and a puddle of drool is forming at his feet.

 

“Follow that milk!” Mugsy jabs an elbow into Azog and points to the traveling milk bottle.

 

Mugsy’s elbow jostles Azog from his reverie. But he lacks the Motivation to return to his mission in the face of glazed ham!

[1 die to recover ranks, 1d6=5. Motivation restored!]

Azog snaps to and chases after the milk bottle like a race hound after a mechanical rabbit.

 

GM:

The pneumatic tube quickly become brass, rather than glass, but with a keen eye it can be followed heading back down the service hallway towards the front of the zeppelin.

 

Azog does follow.

[So we’re headed back?]

 

Following the pneumatic tube towards the front of the zeppelin, Jamison starts pacing Mugsy. “Hey, pally. Don’t you think it might be better to not rush in headlong, like ’Zog’s about to do? We need a plan, or the witch is just gonna magic us right off her blimp.”

 

“Don’t we need to know where they are first? If you have a better idea, I’m all ears.”

 

Azog pauses. His head darts back and forth at the men, then at the opaque tube. The canister clanks as it rounds a corner.

In a voice more feral than usual, he growls, “When you see her, use Gimbel’s gewgaw. I’ll scoop up the babies. Faster now.” He races to catch up to the milk.

 

“Fine. Now, we have a plan.” With that, Jameson races after Azog. “Only, how do we get off this party ballon?”

 

“What do I look like, the brains of this outfit?” Azog calls over his shoulder as he pulls away from the humans.

 

GM

Azog actually manages to keep pace with the capsule, careening to a halt as the pipe suddenly disappears into the wall right next to a stately door. Looking down, he will see that the carpet has changed to something more stately.

 

Azog is staring at the door as the other two catch up.

“Let’s see now,” he says, perhaps to himself. “Is it Rose, Boots, Kluwe, or all three?”

 

“Well, we’ve got a good lead on the location of the kids. Shall we look for a way out and come back?”

 

Azog’s yellow eyes bore into the (enchanted?) Art-deco leaded glass door. At last he says, “Yeah. We best wait ‘till we get we get where we’s going. Or we find another way down.”

Azog turns around to face his companions and says, “Well, let’s not stand around. Kluwe’s due back any minute, if he ain’t already in there.”

 

Mugsy looks around for room numbers, floor numbers or any other identifying marks.

 

GM:

The doors are all lettered. The door to which the pipes took you is lettered AA.

 

“Alright, fellas. We need to make ourselves scarce. Whos for heading back to maintenance?”

 

Azog grunts assent. “You first. Anybody you can’t talk us past, me and Black Bag’ll pound ’em.”

 

Jameson nods, making his way back to the catwalk. "Maintenance sounds good, " he says.

 

Mugsy leads the pack as they try to get back into the innerworkings of the zepplin.

 

GM:

The three of you make your way back through the bulkhead and up the ladder to the catwalk. Now what?

 

Welp, the way I see it, we’re waiting for all the bad guys in one place, right guys?

 

“Alright fellas, we know where the kids are and now we need to find us a way outta here once we get the kids. We can either try to see where this thing is headed or search for some alternate means of escape.”

 

[It’s possible that with luck, brute force and a little cheating we could beat Boots and his lieutenants all together, but I wouldn’t go looking for it unless there’s no other option. Rose and Kluwe are each about as strong as our PCs, but Boots is probably an Arch-villain, about twice as strong as any of us.]

“Well there’s no sense just waiting. We might as well look for some way down. Or a way to make ’em land the ship sooner.” Azog looks up at the great sacs of lifting gas overhead.

 

After a long moment of thinking, Azog asks, “You think we could pop one or two of them bags without hurtin’ nobody?”

 

“We need to find out how many people are on board. Maybe this is Boots’ own personal pleasure cruise. I’d like to make a get away with as little complication as possible. Putting one of these babies down in the middle of town wouldn’t really do anyone any good, especially if there are other people aboard.”

 

“Lessee… This crate shoved off in a hurry after we trashed Enzo’s room. Ten-to-one this ain’t a regular scheduled cruise, so it may just be Boots and his gang, plus the regular crew.

“You know, Boots ain’t flyin’ the ship himself. Mugsy, do you think you could get on the blower [Azog indicates a nearby speaking tube] and order the ship down, like you was him?”

 

“I could but its an all or nothing thing. Maybe we should go have a look at the passenger manifest.”

 

“Beats standing around. C’mon, Black Bag.”

 

The Trio about faces and retraces their steps from whence they initially came. [Roll to have a decent idea of where the manifest is kept. Private Investigator 2d6+2 4+4+2=10]

 

GM:

Mugsy believes that the passenger manifest should be kept just inside the passenger area where an attendant would check people in as they arrive. You all will make it back to the nose of the craft without incedent, and Mugsy will be able to deftly snag said manifest, which will be sitting upon a Maitre Di’s podium. The manifest indicates a full compliment of guests, and a departure time for much later tonight. Additionally, Neither Boots, nor Kluwe, nor Rose appear on the manifest.

 

“So this whole thing is doctored!” Mugsy slaps the manifest with the back of his hand. “I should have known this wouldn’t help any. I bet the only people one this ship are crew and the three not listed.”

 

“Yeah.” Azog nods, then asks, “You mean us, right?”

 

Azog reaches out to take the manifest from Mugsy.

“Are the kids’ names in there? Who’s staying in the swanky room we just saw?”

 

GM:

The kids do not appear to be on the manifest. The room is booked under the name Prescott Snell. Further review indicates that none of these passengers have been marked as boarded, only expected at this point.

 

“Well, if no one else is on board, we could ground the thing. I’d rather it was a bit more innocuous than that, as it would make the clean up a bit easier.”

 

“Nobody checked in. This bird flew the coop early.” Azog scratches his head. “Still don’t give us a way down. Can we break summp’n?” He looks about for something smashable.

 

“I think some parachutes might be the best option. If this thing has some planes attached, there very well could be some in there. " [Soldier roll to see if Mugsy knows where there would be parachutes somewhere else on board. 3+5+2=10]

 

“A pair of shoots?” Azog looks about and feels for his gun.

 

“Well, I can’t think of any other ideas right now so lets head to the underside of this blimp and see if we can’t find the parachutes in the planes.” With that, Mugsy begins to lead the group down the nearest ladder that looks like it might head to where the planes are stored.

 

“Oh, a pair of chutes!” says Azog, elbowing Jamison. “I got it.”

He grips the ladder and slides down after Mugsy.

 

Perhaps unwisely, Azog cups his hand and shouts downward, “Mugsy, whaddya see?”

 

GM:

Mugsy makes a beeline for the hangar bays, which are located aft of the passenger compartments and the servants area.

The further back you go, the more activity you hear, as staff are yet busy readying for tonight’s cruise, in spite of the fact that the ship has already departed.

As Azog bellows after his friend, he catches sight of a lumbering sailor descending a nearby ladder. The man stops and makes eye contact wit Azog, “Hey, you’re not allowed up here. Back to the cabins with ya!”

 

“Oh, another one with disrespect for authority!” Mugsy purses his lips and his eyebrows knit together as he shakes his head quickly from side to side. “Dimitri, how many people does that make now who have yelled at us for trying to double check the safety measures on this ship?” Mugsy continues looking through his legs at Azog. He snaps his head around and addresses the sailor who castigated the troll. “You! I want your name!” Mugsy then yells to Azog again, “Make sure you write this one down!”

 

Azog is not so much playing along as taken in as he scrambles to obey. He reaches into his coat and fumbles for a notebook and pencil.

“Right away, Boss.”

 

GM:

The man now looks over to Mugsy, and narrows his eyes. Without so much as a word, he reaches over and begins ringing a bell hanging within arms’ reach. The noise rings clearly throughout the entire envelope, and immediately elicits the sound of feet pounding up and down ladders, as well as along catwalks. Shouting can be heard, and the sounds immediately begin to move towards the bell-ringer.

 

“Hm…” Azog says as he shoves his hands into his coat pockets and fits his fingers into brass knuckles (still hidden from view).

 

“Don’t expect a passing grade on this inspection.” Mugsy harrumphs.

 

“Looks like they’re wise to that one.” Azog grabs the ladder and gives it a firm jerk.

 

“It looks like we do this inspection up close and personal. I think we need the high ground, get that whistle blower off of his ladder.”

 

GM:

Neko, give me a roll for that ladder jerk. 10 or higher gets you some effect, the higher you role, the more dramatic.

 

[Hand-to-Hand plus Surprise technique: 2d6+4+1=3+4+4+1=12]

 

GM:

well, I was going to let you narrate your success, but since you are letting me do the honors…

Azog shakes the ladder violently, and with a yelp the bellringer loses his grip. Flailing he plummets down past the catwalk axis, landing with a solid thump right next to the hatchway for the passenger compartment. He appears alive, but momentarily dazed.

 

[Wait, so we have the chance to slip away unseen without pursuit? Let’s take it! We still haven’t tried the bridge. Maybe we can take control of the ship.]

 

[I believe we were headed away from the bridge and towards the perceived sure bet for parachutes.] Mugsy starts up the ladder heading to where ever the guy who just fell came from.

 

Azog practically throws Jamison up the ladder after Mugsy, then scrambles up himself.

“Get the lead out, Black Bag! We gotta find a pair of chutes, one for each baby to slide down.”

 

[Hey guys, I will be unavailable from July 5th-11th. You can play on and I’ll catch up. Also, does anybody want to try a live session, maybe over Skype, to cap things off?]

MadDogMaddux

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