“Strange Tales From Chicago” Session 3 — Chasing Earls

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for the third “Drop Squad” telecom session, which was held on Sunday, 3 November 2013:

Player Characters for “Strange Tales From Chicago,” Geoff C.’s street-level superhero game, using FATE Accelerated Edition, Skype, and an online dice roller:

  • Fightin’ Fritz” [Gene D.]-male human, flashy Tank, wants to pound knuckleheads, knows all the brawlers about town
  • Capt. Grommet” [Beruk A.]-machine whisperer, wants to get back at the man; knows lots of techies
  • The Crocodile” [Byron V.O.]-old tough guy, wants to clean up the city and get paid
  • Dr. Occult” [Josh C.]-master of occult, seeking enlightenment; knows stage magicians
  • Angel of the Night” [Sara F.]-gargoyle-themed guardian of the city, lives above a library

>>Chicago, “3 to 4 October 1982:” The “Drop Squad,” an eccentric group of private investigators, had helped the Chicago police look into tainted medicine. Our would-be heroes had followed leads from a pharmacy to the warehouse district.

The team followed four goons from the “Salty Dog” bar and confronted them. The quartet claimed that someone named “Earl” had hired them. However, the well-dressed man proved difficult to find because witness descriptions didn’t match between official records of charity events, Bernie’s Diner, and the “Old Watch House,” a high-end brothel.

Men in suits
Men in 1980s suits

The Drop Squad finally catches a break, spotting Earl at Bernie’s Diner. Figthin’ Fritz and Capt. Grommet head to their car, while the Crocodile steps outside and throws a ketchup bottle. Unfortunately, he hits an old woman on the crowded city streets.

The Angel of the Night, who has been watching from a nearby rooftop, jumps and glides in pursuit of the man in the suit. Dr. Occult gives chase on foot, following Earl into an alley.

Croc hops into the “Dropmobile,” which weaves through evening rush-hour traffic in an attempt to outmaneuver the suspect. Dr. Occult throws a lasso, but Earl is slippery. Angel climbs a wall to get the drop on the blond man.

Fritz, Croc, and Capt. Grommet smash through a pane of glass, knock over a fruit stand, and catch some air as their car burns rubber through Chicago’s streets. Croc hurls a set of headphones at Earl, who simply slides over the hood.

Earl enters a building, and Grommet takes the wheel so that Fritz and Croc can get out. Croc rips open a door, and he and Dr. Occult head to the basement. Fritz circles around the block to keep an eye on rear exits, while Angel descends.

Despite sporadic walkie-talkie contact, the P.I.s tighten their noose. Dr. Occult briefly slows Earl, as Croc runs down a spiral staircase to join them.

Meanwhile, outside, Fritz finds an acquaintance named Steve who mentions that there is an off-limits door from the basement leading into the sewers. Fritz and Angel head down.

Dr. Occult and Croc jump on Earl and tie him up. However, he now appears to be a slight Asian-American, if in the same suit! Earl recognizes Dr. Occult from one of his charity gigs, but nobody can explain the shift in appearance.

Croc, Dr. Occult, and Capt. Grommet take Earl to Office Fine at the police station. Fritz and Angel follow Steve’s directions into the sewers. Their hunch that Earl knew of it as a getaway route prove correct when they reach an outlet into the bay.

Croc watches Earl’s interrogation, but the suspect isn’t communicative. Capt. Grommet confirms the sewer route after talking with some engineer friends, and he and Dr. Occult meet Fritz and Angel back on the street.

At Croc’s request, Officer Fine has threads from Earl’s suit tested, but they reveal nothing about his strange ability to change appearance. When Earl asks for his lawyer, the Chicago police have no evidence to hold him.

The Drop Squad picks up another lead and visits Irwin Reginald, a civil servant and the brother of accountant Irwin Regis. He admits approving incomplete forms for public events for Earl, who bribed him regularly. Irwin’s description of his benefactor is yet another version.

Mr. Giovanni escorts the suspect back to freedom, and Dr. Occult is disturbed by so many Earls. However, the Drop Squad soon learns that Earl’s lawyer is a member of a local crime family, at whose warehouse guards fired at Angel a few nights before.

In addition, Lucille from the “Old Watch House” contacts Croc. She says that Earl had been doing public relations for the mob and that he left a bag at the brothel. The group picks it up and finds medicine bottles, which it immediately turns over to the police lab.

The Drop Squad prepares to return to the warehouse district in the hope of tracking down the tainted drugs and the mystery of the multiple Earls….