Kevin Mowery's Ad Hoc Adventure

By Kevin Mowery.

Since Kai's pretty burned out on GMing until summer, I ran today. I had a nice small group, which I liked, since one person ran off to play Magic and another left when I said I wanted new characters. Blank slates for my game.

Anyway, with four players, the characters were a Killer, a Gambler, a Techie, and a Magic Cop (street preacher, really).

The adventure I had written started in media res, with the characters caught in a dust-up between the Russian Mafiya and the cops on the streets of Chicago. Thinking better of this, I wrote a bit of an introductory adventure leading up to the opening gun battle. Since none of the characters could have been fit into that without a shoehorn, I decided to start like I'd planned before.

The characters mostly sat out the gun battle, not taking sides at all. When the mafiya bosses ran for alleys to get away, a couple of characters saw them get wasted, or saw the aftereffects of the wasting, at the hands of a Chinese sorceror and maybe something else.

All the characters answered police questions and went on about their lives. A couple of hours later, they were called by a man named Roland Knight, who invited them to his mansion north of town where they were invited to join a select organization that would battle the creatures of the night trying to take over our world. He wanted them to find out what the sorceror was planning, but he couldn't say much about how to find him, except that he was brought from mainland China by the Smoke Ghost gang, which is funded by the 14K Triad. (The 14K Triad is a real organization, the Smoke Ghost gang was thought up by me, but sounds a lot like Ghost Shadows, which was a real gang in Chicago's Chinatown, which I didn't find out existed until I'd used the Smoke Ghosts in an earlier adventure for a different group.)

Anyway, this is the point at which thing really deviated from my game plan. I'd expected people to go do some legwork in Chinatown, intimidating the locals or bribing them into telling them where the sorceror lived (one of the characters had seen the old guy in an alley during the shootout). Instead the went to a gambling den run by the Smoke Ghosts and the gambler got everyone in to see the boss.

They claimed to be people looking to help finance the Smoke Ghosts. The gang leader, Chiang Li, told them that if they had such a good organization, they could surely do him a favor. There was a man, Kwan Chang, being held in Customs at O'Hare airport. If they could get him to Li by sunrise, he'd be impressed.

After the street preacher tried to con someone into letting the guy loose and making the situation worse and worse (the guy had been caught with 25kg of heroin), the characters argued about how to get the guy out. They didn't particularly want to call Roland Knight, even though he'd hinted that he had connections everywhere. The gambler got fed up with the planning and left to implement his own plan, which involved getting detained by customs and busting out. He booked a flight to Canada and an immediate return flight, after which he'd be caught as an illegal.

The rest of the group threw together a sort of plan, which experienced heavy adaptation as it went along. The street preacher disguised himself as a Secret Service agent, with the help of the techie, who disguised himself as a flight engineer, and the killer disguised himself as a janitor (with a vacuum bag full of guns).

The preacher managed to bust Kwan out of holding, even though he had to kill a guard and get shot by a bunch of others to do it. He took his "hostage" and jumped into an airport truck taken by the techie, who drove through the fence where the killer was waiting with his Jeep Cherokee. The killer and the techie came up with this part of the plan when they saw that the feces had hit the fan and the preacher was coming out under fire.

While this is going on, the gambler, on his return flight, fails to seduce a flight attendant in first class, so moves back to coach, where he doesn't fail. Then the plane arrives at O'Hare, but is in a holding pattern because there's a car chase going on down there....

Thinking swiftly, the gambler grabs a chute and jumps out of the plane. He pulls his chute and when he sees what's going on down there, he pulls out a razor-edged card and tries to bust the tire of the lead cop car, which is only half a mile down. He muffs it and cuts the lines on his own chute. He pulls the back-up chute and tries to steer himself to land on top of the Jeep. He makes it, sort of, and falls through the closed sunroof, leaving a twisted chute dragging behind the jeep and himself barely conscious (35 Wound Points).

The lines to the chute were cut, and it stopped pursuit (at some point someone suggested rolling for Divine Intervention and having a plane drop out of the sky onto the cop cars, then thought better of it) as it obscured the vision of the lead cars and everyone behind them piled up.

That was the end of the night's adventure. Afterwards, I was told that it became obvious that I was off-script, since I had to pause more often to figure out what would come next, but that the pace kept accelerating the further out of hand things got.

So there's something for improvisation. Good players helped immensely -- no sitting about waiting for a clue to drop into their laps when they got stumped.

Last modified: May 31st, 1997; please send comments to