Sunday, 12 April 2015

Deadlands Noir: A Case of Courovisier (part 2)

New Orleans, 14th August 1935, approximately 4.30pm to midnight

The detectives are joined by Lee De Ville, the Harrowed private eye. Now with a full posse they proceed to seek the houseboat of the Red Sect bokkor, Bon Bon Lescartier, whom the luckless Jean-Michel Bascon told them had organised the brandy heist. Driving up and down in the rain near the Charity Hospital Cemetery in Lakeview, they spot four men loitering in the rain near one houseboat, and pull up nearby. De Ville approaches them and tries to persuade them to let him onboard to speak with Lescartier, but they refuse and tell him to beat it.

De Ville turns away, having identified one of the men as the missing Black Hand hoodlum Tommaso Friuli. At a signal from De Ville, Le Ralf and Ramsey Gordon open fire on the three Red Sect goons, killing all three before their guns can clear their holsters. Friuli now begins to advance on the detectives and does not seem to be responding to them. A large black men in a top hat pops up on the house boat, opening fire with a .38 and winging Nukara Vestal. The detectives return fire, wounding the man, whom they presume to be Lescartier.

"I'll put a spell on you..."
Lescartier is not done yet, however, and manages to put a confusion hex on Le Ralf before he is hit and killed. Friuli immediately comes to his senses. He cannot remember anything since he arrived at the docks in Algiers to pick up the brandy over a week ago. He agrees he will help the detectives to recover the brandy from the Red Sect.

The detectives scamper on board the house boat, removing weapons and ammo from the bodies while a confused Friuli stands watch with the wounded Vestal. Le Ralf takes an ornate sacrificial voodoo dagger from the dead bokkor, and also finds a ticket to the performance of jazz singer Ann-Marie Duchamps at the Angel's Rest bar that very evening. They also find the deeds to a townhouse in Bayou St John along with a handwritten note to Lescartier, asking him to keep the house away from someone called the 'Jazzman'. De Ville remembers this as the nickname for a local assassin who carries out jobs for the Black Hand.

The detectives find some cash on the house boat and then decide to scarper before the police arrive. They drop Friuli at his home in Lakeview - only a few blocks away - before they split up to return to their respective abodes and prepare for a night on the town. Vestal decides to stay home to nurse her gunshot wound.

At approximately eight in the evening the posse arrives at the entrance to the Angel's Rest bar on Baronne St. Here they are able to buy some additional tickets and are seated at a table near the back of the bar, in the shadows. Eventually they are treated to a singing performance by the remarkable jazz singer Ann-Marie Duchamps, who puts on a world class act and leaves the detectives breathless with her talent. During the performance, Gordon sees a black cat lounging at the back of the stage, eyeing the singer speculatively. It gets up and walks away as her set ends.

No sooner than Duchamps has departed, the detectives head backstage, using their Black Hand connections to intimidate their way past a bouncer. Entering her dressing room, they start to tell her about the deaths of Father McNelis and Matthew Sanderson. Although shocked, she tries to deny all knowledge of the men.

It is at this stage that someone opens the door to the dressing room, and rolls a hand grenade into it. The quick thinking LeBoeuf slams a metal waste paper bin onto the grenade before it can explode, absorbing much of the force of the detonation, while De Ville hustles Duchamps out of the dressing room. As he enters the corridor, however, De Ville and the singer are fired on by a man in a trench coast with an SMG and a scarf over his face. De Ville's undead body shields the singer's and he and Le Ralf are soon in hot pursuit.

Le Ralf tries to stab the would be assassin with his dagger, but fails, and the assailant escapes out of a fire exit into the rain dark backstreets off Baronne. While Le Boeuf stays with the girl, the others set off in pursuit. I imagined this as something like the chase scene in the back alleys with Brad Pitt in Se7en. De Ville slipped in a puddle, and Le Ralf was forced to take cover when the man they were chasing opened fire on him. Eventually only Gordon was left in the chase, but he eventually crashed into one dustbin too many.

GM Note: We used the chase rules in the latest iteration of Savage Worlds, and I think these work the best I've seen so far. I've seen some pretty unwieldy chase mechanics in SW, but this one seemed to function quite well for our purposes. The GMC did burn up most of my bennies during this scene, however!

Although empty handed from the pursuit, the detectives make haste to leave the bar before the police and head back to their office. In the car, a shaky Duchamps confesses that she and Father McNelis were part of a group that blackmailed someone into giving them what they wanted. It turns out that this someone has been trapped against his will and forced to provide his captors with their hearts' desires. In Duchamps' case, she wanted to be the best singer in the South.

McNelis used his knowledge of demonology to trap someone or something in the cellar of a house in Bayou St John. He was assisted by the bokkor, Lescartier, the occult bookstore owner, Sanderson, Duchamps, the police detective Mike Brandon, the hit man William James (aka the Jazzman) and none other than Le Boeuf's comatose wife! [At this stage Le Boeuf had to make a Fear check, but passed.] Of the group, only three are left alive. The rest have all died in the last 10 days.

Back at the office, they find an envelope on the door mat addressed to Le Boeuf. It was hand delivered. He puts it in his pocket unopened as he races for the door.

Taking Duchamps with them, the four detectives drive through the night to Le Boeuf's apartment. Here they find his wife still in her iron life support capsule, a revolutionary device that Gordon recognises as experimental medical technology from Hellstromme Industries. But how did Le Boeuf get his hands on that?

Le Boeuf (De Niro) and Le Ralf (Rourke), perhaps?

While at the flat, Gordon sees a black cat lying on the sofa in the living room, and starts speaking to it. The cat says that it wants to be free, but it has been trapped. It needs those who trapped it to die before it can be free again. It offers Gordon his heart's desire if he will help it to achieve its aims. Nobody else sees or hears the cat.

Duchamps tells the detectives that it was McNelis who knew the most about demonology. She doesn't know how she can help to resolve the situation as her occult knowledge is paltry. She just wanted to be a singer! At this point there is a knock on the door. A grey-haired man in a rain-drenched mackintosh is standing in the corridor. Using the peep hole, Duchamps confirms it is not the Jazzman. When the door is opened on the chain, the man produces a police badge. "We have to talk," he says to Le Boeuf.

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