This is just a quick summary of our recent one shot for Night's Black Agents. This was an exercise in getting a better feel for the Gumshoe system, and the additional rules crunch elements that come with it in its NBA guise. Consequently, the home brew scenario was converted from its origins as a d20 Modern game I was writing a couple of years ago. I may run it as a one-shot at a con at some point, but then again, I may just bin it in favour of something more interesting.
The premise of the adventure is that the player characters are part of a unit of mercenaries employed by the Parasol Corporation to fly to the island of Devil Ray Key in the Bahamas as a hurricane is approaching. Parasol is concerned that any US Coastguard clean up operation will discover Project Prospero, a top secret biological weapons research facility that it has been hiding from view without even the knowledge of the local government. The mercenary team of four characters must fly to the island and retrieve the research data from the servers in the lab, destroy the facility with explosives, and hopefully also bring back two research scientists who have been running the project, Professor Melluish and Doctor Grainger. Other personnel will be left to fend for themselves in the hurricane.
The team consisted of:
- Major Mike Wohlraab, a mercenary from Zimbabwe
- Steven Saluccio, an American intrusion and demolitions expert
- Dana Stanilov, a Czech medic and back up pilot
- Jezz Valovich, a Serbian hacker, now a US national
The group inserted by helicopter, flying under US Coastguard radar, into the teeth of the hurricane. Valovich took the opportunity during the journey to review the records of all the personnel at Project Prospero. He noticed that deletions had been made from Professor Melluish's file, and recovered some of the data, including notes that the Professor had requested a transfer off-island, and had ethical reservations about the nature of the research being carried out there.
The players' first port of call was the beach house shared by Professor Melluish and his daughter Tara (I expected they would go to the lab first, but there you go - players are never predictable). Saluccio was almost stabbed by Tara, who was hiding in the kitchen of the house. She said her father was back at the main research facility on the other side of the island and that she had not been able to raise anyone at the facility for some time. Valovich spotted something in the jungle with glowing blue eyes, watching them. It may be he thought this was someone wearing low light goggles.
The team exited the house (without searching it properly) and boarded the helicopter again, heading for the research facility. While questioning Tara, it became evident to Saluccio that there were inconsistencies in her story and that she might be hiding something. The agents agreed they would take Tara with them into the lab, not trusting her enough to leave her on their beloved helicopter.
Upon arrival at the facility the team restarted the emergency generator on the outside the lab (good use of Mechanics by Stanilov). It was obvious that the weather was deteriorating. A large hole in the fence was also patently obvious. It looked like something had burned its way through the fence from the inside. Saluccio's player declined to use Chemistry for a further clue here. Valovich seemed to think the hole was caused by one of the jeeps known to be in the compound (both were later accounted for in the garage).
With no sign of any of the personnel, the agents entered the ground floor of the lab and checked the offices and some of the residential space, without finding anyone.
Noticing the ubiquitous CCTV cameras, they headed back out into the storm to the security hut on the other side of the compound. Here they discovered a dead security guard, who had been half eaten (Stability tests!) Stanilov deduced (using Diagnosis) that the teeth marks were human. CCTV showed no activity in the main building. Valovich discovered that most of the last 36 hours of footage had been deliberately wiped. Using the guard's walkie talkie, they made contact with an unknown person who was hysterical. Use of Shrink by Valovich persuaded the individual to reveal their position in one of the guard towers along the perimeter fence.
Wohlraab decided to check the nearest tower, climbing up the ladder. He could tell that the towers would not last much longer in the howling wind. At the top of the ladder he was attacked by a savage humanoid creature with long talons, little hair, preternaturally long teeth, a tattered white lab coat, and red eyes. It clawed his face, but Wohlraab used his Breakfall cherry to drop safely to ground. The creature pursued but was shot several times with automatic fire. Although badly hurt, it was still getting up again after multiple gunshot wounds, which freaked the operatives out (Valovich was losing Stability quickly).
Howls from across the compound announced the arrival of four more creatures, whereupon the agents ran for the helicopter ("Get to da chopper!") Human Terrain told Valovich that this had been an ambush and the monsters were intelligent. The team got safely aboard, despite Athletics checks to see if anyone slipped on the wet grass, but one of the monsters managed to grab hold of the edge of the door as the chopper lifted off. Wohlraab shot it several times in the head at point blank range, whereupon it fell limply to earth.
At this stage the other four creatures jumped on the dead one to tear it apart and devour the corpse. Valovich took this opportunity to spend Preparedness and produce some fragmentation grenades which he dropped on the feasting creatures, blowing two of them to kingdom come. The others staggered about in a daze, and were picked off by a relentless hail of small arms fire from the helicopter.
Another conversation via walkie talkie with the mysterious voice on the radio brought the team to the tower on the north side of the compound. Here they retrieved Doctor Grainger, who had been hiding in the tower. He was in bad shape mentally, and keen to get off the island. He claimed Melluish had been working on rogue bio-virus experiments without the knowledge of his colleagues or Parasol, and that Melluish had injected some of the personnel with it. The victims had turned into ravening beasts and began attacking other people at the facility. Grainger also claimed Melluish was one of the first victims. Most of this failed to get past Wohlraab's Bullshit Detector. Tara did not seem fazed by the news of her father's death, and indeed seemed very happy to see Grainger.
Despite Grainger's enthusiasm for a speedy exit, the group of mercenaries insisted on going back into the labs. Here they found the main computer room on the ground floor. Valovich hacked into the central server, and discovered all the research data, including obvious evidence that both Melluish and Grainger worked on a cutting edge biological weapon for the Parasol Corporation. In addition, it was discovered that Grainger had been having a romantic relationship with Tara behind Melluish's back, and that someone using Grainger's computer, had been secretly sending research results to another party off-island, using a small portable satellite dish near the lab. Valovich downloaded the data and wiped it from the server, while Saluccio wired the building with explosives. They decided against going to the basement level, thereby avoiding an encounter with a horde of rabid virus-infested monkeys, which I was quite looking forward to!
With less than 60 minutes before the hurricane made landfall, the team set further charges around the compound, and noticed two pairs of baleful blue eyes observing them from the edge of the jungle. These resolved themselves into two larger humanoid monsters, blessed with preternatural speed and which used acid vomit to burn through the fence. The mercenaries took one look at these and ran to the helicopter ("Get to da chopper - again!") Jumping aboard, they took off. The critters loped back into the jungle.
Wohlraab confronted Grainger, and Notice revealed the scientist's eyes were turning yellow, at which point Wohlraab threw caution to the winds, and tossed Grainger out of the helicopter, whereupon he fell to his death (I should really have asked him to make a Stability test for this callous act). This prompted an attack from Tara, who pulled out a hidden syringe, and tried to stab Wohlraab with it. Luckily, Stanilov was quicker, and tasered the girl before she could inject Wohlraab with virus. With Tara restrained, Saluccio radio detonated the charges in the lab, blowing it to smithereens, and with it poor Professor Melluish, who was trapped in the lower level of the building by the aforesaid rabid monkeys!
Returning to the Florida coast, the group debated the ethics of providing the research data on the virus to Parasol. Wohlraab was for throwing it in the sea, but given that they had failed to rescue Grainger or Melluish, the rest of the operatives wanted their pay day...