“Strange Tales From Chicago,” Session 4 — “Earl of crime”

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for our fourth “Drop Squad” telecom session, which was held on Sunday, 10 November 2013:

Player Characters for “Strange Tales From Chicago,” Geoff C.’s street-level superhero game, using FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE), 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, “4 to 6 October 1982:” After chasing leads across the city, the flamboyant private investigators had connected a case of tainted drugs to a mysterious shapeshifter named Earl and the Giovanni crime family.

The team discusses its next moves at the “Drop Spot.” Capt. Grommet contacts Officer Fine, who says that he can hold Earl only temporarily because of circumstantial evidence. Fine also explains that the police can’t raid a mob warehouse because of some “prior arrangement.”

The “Drop Squad” still decides to return to the warehouse where guards had shot at the Angel of the Night. The crime-fighting consultants suit up, with Fightin’ Fritz and Dr. Occult putting on capes and their companions grabbing guns to end things “the Chicago way.”

The team stops for “cheezeborgers” at the Billy Goat Tavern on the way. The Crocodile parks a block away from the warehouse in question so Grommet and Angel can scout ahead. The gargoyle-themed adventuress stealthily climbs to the roof, while the machine whisperer interferes with security cameras.

Capt. Grommet uses a grapple gun to follow Angel. He then uses a yo-yo to ensnare a sentry, dangling him over the side of the building before tying him up and gagging him. The daring duo then peeks into the Giovanni warehouse and sees about 20 men inside. Some are in suits and head into a meeting room, while others wait near parked town cars and a truck.

Fritz, Dr. Occult, and Croc wait out in the car and listen to Grommet and Angel’s progress via walkie-talkie. Angel creates a diversion by climbing up to a smoke detector and setting off a fire alarm and sprinklers.

The Crocodile and Fightin’ Fritz shove some dumpsters to try to block vehicles from leaving the warehouse. The Angel of the Night searches crates but finds only packing peanuts. Capt. Grommet jumps onto the moving truck, as goons pull guns.

The men in suits start to drive off, and clever Dr. Occult throws powder onto their windshields. Croc happily hurls cinderblocks to slow the getaway cars, and mighty Fritz pounds knuckleheads, who soon surround him.

Gadgeteer Grommet throws marbles, but the mobsters evade them. Agile Angel ducks under one auto to slash its tires. Fritz gets winged but uses one henchman as a shield against potential gunshots. Dr. Occult ends up on top of the same car as Croc, who is unable to pull a criminal out the window.

Several felonious minions tackle Fritz, and Capt. Grommet takes out a gunsel with his ball-bearing pistol. They overhear a radio squawking that “the canary has left.” Fritz throws off one of his attackers and radios Angel to search the area.

Meanwhile, Croc and Dr. Occult try to hang on as one Mafioso tries to drive off. Dr. Occult manages to choke him out, and Croc throws rocks at the remaining guards. Capt. Grommet grabs a car and runs down some of the goons.

Fritz switches “dance partners” and is grateful when Capt. Grommet and Angel come to his aid. Croc and Dr. Occult drive in with another seized vehicle and knock down the last batch of bad guys.

The “Drop Squad” ties up the suspects and leaves them in vans for the police. Luigi Giovanni reveals under Dr. Occult’s hypnosis that the five of his men who got away are heading to a major pharmaceutical factory with Earl and high-grade toxins.

Dr. Occult calls Officer Fine, and the P.I.s pile into the “Dropmobile.” Capt. Grommet burns rubber to get to the facility. There, they find Earl ranting about how the entire city must suffer because his friend, a well-known philanthropist, was shot by police in a raid gone wrong.

Fightin’ Fritz engages Earl in conversation while the Crocodile circles around. Capt. Grommet shuts off a valve on a vat, and Dr. Occult looks for more mobsters or local security. The Angel of the Night tries to sneak up to the catwalk, but Earl grabs her and slams her down.

Fritz flips up, but Earl tosses him aside. The shapeshifter drops vials into the vat, which is secure but still starts emitting noxious fumes. Croc kicks Earl in the chest, but the man, who alternates in appearance from a burly blond to a slight Asian-American, seems unaffected.

Capt. Grommet finally figures out how Earl keeps changing his appearance and disrupts his hologram generator. Earl is revealed as a blobby green alien! Mostly unfazed, the “Drop Squad” tries to capture the malefactor.

Croc hits Earl with a wrench, but the creature easily dodges it. Fritz drops to the floor and kicks out the catwalk support in the hope of dumping Earl into the vat. Dr. Occult tries to swing clear but gets caught on the edge of the vat. Angel heads to his rescue with a salvaged pool cue.

Dr. Occult feels the chemicals burning through his shoes, and Angel helps him to safety. Croc tries to block Earl’s escape and is slimed for his efforts. Fritz kicks out a second catwalk, but Earl slithers out a second-story window toward blinking lights.

Croc dives after the alien and into its spherical, liquid-filled craft. Fritz crashes out a window, as Dr. Occult throws a rope around the spaceship. Unfortunately, both it and Croc pass through the gelatinous mess.

Good nyborg, dude!
Spherical space ship

Earl swears revenge and flies away. Officer Fine arrives to take custody of the mobsters, and the “Drop Squad” goes to the police station to talk to the Earl in lockup. He — or more properly, his suit — melts away.

While the vigilantes have solved the mystery of the adulterated drugs and prevented the city from being poisoned, they have little to show for their success. Their reward money goes to pay for damages at the pharmaceutical factory, and though there are fewer mobsters in the warehouse district, they have made an alien enemy….

Thanks again, Geoff, for the fun scenario! I thought it was a good demonstration of the “FAE” rules, and the retro feel worked well. I wouldn’t be surprised if we returned to these heroes at some point….

In the meantime, I’ll see some of you at tonight’s “Star Wars: Dark Times” game, and I look forward to starting our “Vanished Lands: A New Dawn” fantasy telecom campaign next Sunday, Nov. 17.