“After arriving at the hospital we found Brockhurst in a state of confusion, something had really spooked him; he claimed that something had happened whilst he’d been performing the autopsy on the murdered woman and that his surroundings had changed without really changing and that the Red Raincoat killer had appeared and attacked him, however, he’d squeezed of several shots at the killer (apparently with little effect). Combing the area near where he’d been in the hospital I was unable to find any shell casings or evidence of arms fire, but Agent Brockhurst’s gun had definitely been discharged recently, suggesting that there was some truth to his story; a lot of agents might have blown off the idea that someone could be somewhere one minute and elsewhere the next, sure it sounded crazy, but I worked for VASCU, crazy was our business.
Coaxing him back into the autopsy room and guarding him whilst the investigation continued, it was discovered that the victim Anna had red seeds placed in her mouth and that her tongue had been removed; according to Brockhurst’s medical skills she’d probably died of blood loss as a result of the injury, some sort of sharp instrument had been used to remove the tongue.
Realising that we were getting nowhere and that more people might start dying if we didn’t make any headway I decided that enough was enough, the local sheriff knew something (I had seen it in his face when i’d shown the plant samples to the local forester) and he wasn’t telling; i’d been playing nice up until now, but i’d do whatever it took to get this case resolved and see that justice was done, God help anyone who got in my way. Pushing my way into the Sheriff’s office I confronted him, explaining that I knew he was hiding something and that we were both working to see that justice is done, he could either work with us or tell us what he knew and get the hell out of our way; my tactics seemed to work and he confessed to knowing about a small copse of red coloured trees located near a communal cemetery.
Travelling to the cemetary we met Brian Strange the groundskeeper who showed us to the copse of trees; noting that they appeared to be of the same genus as our original red plants (and remembering that they had grown in corpses) we commandeered some spades and started digging around the bases of the trees. Eventually, to our horror (but not surprise) we unearthed a number of bodies tangled in the roots, some long dead, others more recent, the cult overtones of this case were becoming harder to ignore. I rang the local sheriff and was halfway through calling in our other two agents when my phone shorted out and it began to rain; Agent Brockhurst paled and said this is what had happened at the hospital.
Sure enough we glimpsed a red-coated figure through the trees, it appeared to be dragging some sort of large and improbably heavy axe behind it as it moved through the trees that, in the dim light, looked for all the world like shadowy figures reaching out their arms towards us. We fired off a few shots but it seemed to make no difference, Brockhurst wanted to hold off the creature whilst I made a run towards our other lead, the distant lumber mill but, realising he was faster, I volunteered to hold it off. As Brockhurst broke into a run I kept firing at the killer drawing it towards me and then, as it got closer, and I could see that there was no face below the hood of the coat, I grabbed the large axe, wrenching the heavy weight from its grasp with all my strength and heaved it over my head.
I had hoped that the creature’s (since I had no doubt now that this thing wasn’t human) own axe might be able to injure it where our bullets had failed, but I could barely lift it; I hoped that the fleet footed Agent Brockhurst had got away as the things hands closed around my throat and began to squeeze. Blackness rushed towards me, my heart pounded in my ears as I felt myself falling.”
Now you might say that a good GM can always fudge things so that the players come across a clue or that something happens to advance the plot; however if this is not done subtly and with finesse then it can lead to the players feeling railroaded as though, no matter what they do, the mystery solution will reveal itself, IMO once the perception of risk or failure has disappeared completely from a game then a lot of players lose their impetus and drive.
- Tell how long something has been buried and date of its construction.
- Identify artifacts by culture and usage.
- Distinguish real artifacts from fakes.
- Navigate inside ruins and catacombs, including finding secret doors and hidden construction.
- Describe the customs of ancient or historical cultures.
- Spot well-disguised graves and underground hiding places.
- Get your Investigator into a scene where relevant information can be gathered.
- Have the right ability to discover the clue.
- Tell the Keeper that you’re using it.
Both the use of Investigative Abilities to automatically locate clues and the spending of ‘points’ to gain additional information regarding the clues are both concepts that I think would be easily convertable to the FATE system; clues can easily be given out related to the skills possessed by players (possibly excpanding the list to include more detailed investigative abilities as per To) and either an additional pool of investigation point can be added or the existing fate points can be used to gain additional info in a FATE based ToC-style game.
Please note: This is a write-up from an IC perspective of my character in a game that I playing.
“We all met up early morning in the dining room at the Grand Deer hotel to look over what informations we’d managed to discover so far; Ms Oxford was buzzing around serving us breakfast so we took the opportunity to fill in some of the details that she’d provided us with last night. The middle-aged woman told us again about the Stuart family and various logging concerns owning most of the land hereabouts; I was mainly interested (given the strange plants we’d come across) in finding out who looked after the local park lands, Polly was able to give me the description of a Jim Green (an old man who was friend of hers and often stopped in at the hotel) who was the local forrester.
Deciding that it was about time we paid a courtesy call to the local law enforcement (since the case wasn’t yet officially ours until we proved a link between crimes occurring in more than one state, and it never hurts to have the boys at the front onside) we drove past the crumbling, mostly empty houses of a town that had obviously seen better days to the Sheriff’s office where the receptionist Thomas McClane seemed surprised we’d responded so quickly to the report of the death in the area. Like I said, it never hurts to have the local knowledge onside and getting justice it’s what’s important at the end of the day, so I plastered what I hoped was a sincere smile on my face and made nice with them, eventually getting introduced to the Deputy Sheriff, Emily Wyatt.
One thing that did strike me as odd as we were lead into the offices; the whole place was decked out as though it had recently housed the trappings of a large investigation and yet the whiteboard at the head of the room (which would normally be used to map suspects and connections) was completely blank.
Deputy Wyatt took us through to meet her boss, the Sheriff, he was an older man with a deep, puckered scar on one cheek (which our research told us was from a gardening accident some years ago); although initially suspicious of federal involvement, my attempt to ‘play nice’ seemed to win him over and he confessed to having known the victim of the murder, a young local girl called Anna who had been found on the parkland by Jim Green’s grandchildren. Apparently the two young children had told their father that they had seen an angel in the woods and, when they had taken him to the spot where they had seen the angel, Anna had been found strung up to a tree with rope.
The Sheriff agreed to take us to the murder scene and contact Jim Green so that he could meet us there for questioning, we were assured that, aside from the removal of the body, nothing had been tampered with and we had photos of the original position of the body that showed the woman kneeling infront of the tree with her hands tied above her head. As we headed down the forest tracks I contacted Agent Brockhurst and explained that the local Sheriff’s office were a little short on medical personnel and that i’d got permission from the Sheriff for him to autopsy the body; as I put the phone down I wondered if I had made the right decision, Brockhurst had the medical knowledge and ability but he was hardly a people person, least I knew when to play nice with others when I needed to, still there wasn’t time to worry about it too much, we needed to find out what was going on in this town.
Arriving at the crime scene we met up with Mr Green and I showed the Sheriff a sample of the red plant seeds that we had discovered; although he claimed not to have seen anything like it before, there was something in his look that made me think he wasn’t being completely honest with me. Mr Green was extremely interested in the seeds, saying that the barbs on them resembled the seeds of several desert grasses or shrubs whose seeds stuck into the hides of animals to distribute them, but that normally the desert plants were much larger than this. Investigating the tree that Anna had been tied to we found it surrounded by the stumps of several candles, initially I though this was a local tribute to the dead girl (not an uncommon site) however, reviews of the evidence and photos showed that they were probably there when she died; I sent a call through to Brockhurst to tell him that we may be looking at some sort of ritualistic crime.
I examined the tree and discovered a symbol found in it, it kind of looked like that old hippy sign only upside down, our technical specialist remarked that it looked like a tree and began trying to research it, although she was having trouble getting a signal out here in the middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, Ironside had been asking the Sheriff about Anna; it was the usual story that she worked locally at a diner, was a sweet girl and well-like by everybody, it’s funny how no-one has a bad word to say about the dead. She had no boyfriend but apparently was very close to a girl called Becky Ames who also lived in the town.
It had started to gently rain and the Sheriff made some offhand remark about the locals all “heading inside”, something about it struck me as odd and when I asked was told that there was a local legend about a killer in the 50s whom the locals had nicknamed the raincoat killed, apparently when it rained the killer stalked the streets with an axe and wearing a red raincoat. A few years ago i’d have blown this off as local superstition, but given what i’d seen during my years with VASCU and our roadside encounter with the red clad runner I set the whizzkid onto researching it, although all the information she was able to find (despite her patchy net connection) seemed to suggest that it was nothing more than a gruesome urban legend.
We were about to ask some more questions when the Sheriff had a strange called radio-ed through from the hospital, apparently Brockhurst had been performing the autopsy there and was now waving his gun at people; jumping into the car we made our way to the hospital as quickly as possible. Much as Agent Brockhurst might be a bit rough around the edges, I knew that he wasn’t the type to just point a gun at someone for no reason, something must have happened.”
- Appropriate contacts & allies.
- Experience point breaks on skills related to the profession.
- Additional specialist skills.