Dec 252009

Greetings to those of you in the Sunset World. I was hoping to have another Diaspora writeup, but circumstance conspires against us. (Doesn’t it always?)

But, no matter. Our next Spirit of the Century adventure followed some reading I did about San Francisco and its Barbary Coast district. I highly recommend The Secrets of San Francisco by Chaosium for details of this peculiar era of Old Frisco’s history.

Again, my littlest player came through for me. What would I do without her?

Union Jane – UJ

The Hunter – H

Suddenly UJ and H find themselves in San Francisco in 1927. There’s going to be a memorial service on Thursday for the first victims of the Petrifying Wind, in which there will be an official unveiling of commemorative statues. UJ and H are to represent the Century Club. But since H took the silver coins from the ship in the last adventure, he and UJ decide to get them appraised and sold. So they go to a coin appraiser, who tells them they’re worth twenty dollars apiece. He can’t buy them (he can’t afford to), but he knows someone who will, so he sets up an appointment for them with this guy in a few days. Outside the building UJ and H hear a commotion and see that there’s a man beating up an old woman, and they’re surrounded by a crowd of women. H dramatically jumps out a window to save her (he lands stylishly on top of a car, blowing out all its windows), while UJ runs down some stairs and out of the building to help. H attacks the man, who is tattooed, strangely. Eventually the man decides to run, and H chases him. The women carry the old woman to a building marked “The Gray Swan,” (turns out to be a brothel) and UJ follows them. In the meantime, H attacks and kills the guy. He searches the body and finds some papers written in Chinese. Also of note was that the guy had tattoos on his hands. One hand with a sunrise and the other with a sunset. H heads to the Gray Swan to find UJ. When UJ enters “The Swan” she sees the old woman being tended to by a white woman (all the other women are Asian). They’re all naturally suspicious of UJ and H, but UJ convinces them that they don’t mean any harm and want to help. Turns out the white woman is their madam. She implies that the old woman (Mama Han) was targeted by a tong, and that the tongs have become increasingly hostile to anyone who defies them. She also said that the Asian women were “slaves” who’d been brought from China. There are three tongs: Dawn Fist, Axe Gang, and One Thousand Fists. Mama Han (a former “slave”) has “the sight,” says the madam, and she keeps murmuring that “The hunter is coming.” She has also said that a “Doctor Jin” (Dr J) is coming. UJ and H take “the hunter” to be H. Dr J is apparently a very evil person from China that no one likes to speak of. The madam gets one of the Asian women who can speak English (named Rosie, because why the hell not?) to tell UJ and H about him. She said that Dr J makes “demons,” (think she was also the one who mentioned that he traveled with “the Seven”) and that when he comes, something bad is going to happen. She also thinks that maybe one of the tongs has insulted Dr J, and that’s why he’s on his way. The Axe Gang has heavily fortified their headquarters. The madam also took UJ and H down into a secret room to show us a bunch of women sewing, who she said would be in danger when Dr J came. H wanted to find the Axe Gang’s headquarters, but the women wouldn’t tell us. (They might not have known, actually.) Turned out that a union acquaintance of UJ’s had mentioned the Axe Gang, so UJ and H went to talk to him. He said he’d met a coolie who knew about the Axe Gang, and told us where to reach him. The coolie was found in a bakery, where UJ and H were first greeted by a Chinese woman. UJ had to bribe her to get her to let them see the coolie, and then UJ had to bribe the coolie to get him to talk, since he was afraid of the Axe Gang and Dr J. Of Dr J, he said that a tong in China had killed Dr J’s “grocer boy,” who was actually an old man (even though it was said that Dr J doesn’t eat like normal people, among other horrible things), and that afterward the tong’s hideouts started getting destroyed. The coolie wouldn’t tell us how to get to the Axe Gang’s headquarters, so UJ asked if there was a back way or secret entrance. He mentioned a sewer, and said that the leader here of the Axe Gang was fond of mussels and noodles. The coolie mentioned Pier 9. (This pier happened to be in the same location as the Petrifying Wind memorial statues.) He mentioned more than once something along the lines of “When they torture you to find out who told you about them, don’t mention me!” In gratitude for his help, H bought a cake. As he carried the cake through the city streets, urchins started following him. He gave the cake to them to get them to stop following him. As UJ and H headed to the pier at night (H said to look for noodles and mussels as a gift), they were confronted by five guys. One seemed to ask for beer money, and UJ said, “What?” He said “Screw it,” and they attacked. UJ and H killed them, after which they went to the beach where the pier was, but it was high tide and they couldn’t detect anything that looked like some kind of entranceway. They decided to hang out on a park bench. H didn’t have to sleep, but UJ rested on the bench. A policeman named O’Houlihan (O’H) confronted them and told them that they weren’t supposed to be there, and did they know anything about these five guys who’d just been killed nearby? UJ and H said they didn’t, but O’H continued to harass them, so they showed him their Century Club membership cards, which finally caused him to let them go about their business. Since it was almost daylight but too early to find noodles and mussels, and it was almost time for the appointment with the coin buyer, UJ and H went to a coffee vendor and UJ had some coffee. They eventually met the buyer. H and the buyer haggled a bit, and eventually the price of ten dollars per coin was agreed upon (because he couldn’t afford to buy them all for twenty dollars each, he said.) They all went to a bank nearby so he could pay H, which he did. There were one thousand coins, by the way. All of a sudden there was a really loud noise outside. The buyer left in the opposite direction of the noise. H jumped out a window, again, to see what was going on. UJ rolled 4 pluses and impressively jumped off a fire escape after him. Turned out that a boat had plowed into the pier (Pier 9, of course). There was fire, debris and screaming people. Firefighters started arriving. UJ and H went to help, and heard a woman screaming, “My baby!” Turned out to be a kid in the water, hanging on to a piece of debris. H and UJ swam out and H grabbed the kid. Somehow UJ helped him swim and/or hang onto the kid as they tried to get back to shore. ( I nearly accidentally killed the entire party here, oops.) They actually got pretty burned before they got back onto the beach, but the kid was safe. They approached the boat, which was flying a Greek flag. O’H came up to them and “asked” if they wanted to board the ship. So they did, followed by O’H and a few of his men. (H jumped onto the ship, UJ nearly fell trying to get on but was pulled up by H, then the total dork policemen went up on a ladder.) First thing that was noticed was the two Chinese symbols probably painted in blood on this door of a cabin on deck. O’H got an elderly Chinese man who was their translator, and this guy said the symbols meant “Dr J arrives” or something like that. Two of O’H’s men opened the cabin door, which was unlocked, went in and then ran out in a state of almost-puking. UJ and H went in and saw that the “steering wheel” or whatever it’s called on a ship had been mostly torn out and replaced by something that was partly made out of human muscles. UJ and H searched the rest of the ship. All they found of note (other than that there was no one and no bodies on board) was that the galley was bloody and appeared to have been used as an operating room. Wait a minute, there was something else, which was that there seemed to have been cushioned pod-like areas that looked like they were meant to protect seven things that were now no longer in evidence. At some point UJ and H left the ship and O’H and his men, and found these kids on the beach, who said that one of their number (named Billy) said that he saw monsters leaving the ship. The other kids thought Billy was lying, but UJ and H questioned him, and he said he saw flying creatures and “a lady with one red eye,” and that (at least some) of them had entered this hole, which UJ and H hadn’t seen before because of the high tide (uh-oh). The kids said they weren’t supposed to go in there because of high tide. H bought the kids some noodles and mussels from a beach stand. Then he and UJ entered the hole, which was a tunnel with burn marks (with the magic of Fate points, they miraculously found that they had flashlights, which they needed to see in the dark tunnel). Eventually they found (a) room(s) with bodies and more burn marks. At some point, they found a door, inside of which were the remains of some damaged stairs, which they had difficulty climbing. They then entered a room that was on fire, and there they were attacked by 25 tong members with axes. At the start, fifteen attacked H and ten attacked UJ. Eventually UJ and H killed them all, although they sustained quite a bit of damage. They then reached a room where they saw a “man” wearing strange, Asian-looking armor who had fire instead of eyes and who was killing the leader of the Axe Gang. The creature jumped out of a window. H attacked and did so well that he severed one of the creature’s arms. Some other people showed up–firemen? But they didn’t stay long. UJ and H kept attacking the creature, and were doing very well, in sharp contrast to when they had to fight the 25 tong members. At one point the creature had trouble turning its head. Eventually H got the idea to attack the creature’s armor. He rolled so well that he clawed off a piece of its chestpiece, revealing a clockwork mixed in with human organs, including two eye stalks. The thing then burst into flames, and some fluid spilled out of it, and it was no more. Later it was determined that if UJ and H could understand Mandarin, they would have known that the creature said “Thank you” when it died. It turned out that that wasn’t Dr J (as H thought earlier), but one of Dr J’s “Seven.” And then that annoyance O’H showed up, accused UJ and H of being suspicious and tried to handcuff them, but UJ intimidated him into not doing so.

And the session ended there.

’till next time. Enjoy the Holidays.

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