Saturday, June 5, 2010

Springing the Trap

This past Wednesday, I finally sprung a trap that had been set in a game since December. In my Continuum game, the PCs had been carrying around for quite some time a set of tickets to a stage show for a particular one-night-only performance by a mentalist (hypnotist/magician). They were fairly confident that their elder selves had been to the show. They knew for certain that an allied NPC had attended it, and that sometime thereafter that NPC had been fragged very badly.

They'd done a lot of fruning trying to find out exactly what had happened to that NPC, but essentially asked the wrong questions, and missed one really important clue because they focused on one particular "crime scene" at the expense of another one. His fragging had happened at a second location, and most of the PCs inquiries were about that other location and what had fragged him. What they never quite put together until it was too late was that he only ended up at that location because of hypnotic suggestions given him at the mentalist's show. They had solved all sorts of other mysteries tangential to and growing out from this, but hadn't quite figured out what the catalyst for the whole string of events was.

There was a long scene at the lobby of the theatre, and then they went in and sat down. The house lights went down, and the next thing they knew, they were at a third location. The entire audience were at a restaurant, and no one could remember getting there. Nor could anyone really remember anything about the mentalist's show beyond that it was really good.

Clearly, they'd been hypnotized and lead elsewhere, and made to forget the intervening hours. For a spanner, this is especially bad. Time-travelers in the Continuum setting lead regimented lives, with detailed "span logs" of where and when they've been, so they don't frag themselves. The rest of the session was spent trying to piece together what had happened, and the next session will involve a bit more of that. Amongst the great moments were:
  • One of the players had taken a really bizarre "hobby" skill of "Memorizing lists of words/names" for his PC. At the start of the restaurant scene, the only thing anyone could remember about the show was a list of memorized titles that had no context. They didn't know why he felt it was important to memorize this list, but he'd done so, and they pieced together some pretty big reveals out of it.
  • The revelation that the big bad they'd been investigating all along was probably in attendance at the event, and that they'd noticed her, mis-identified her, and chosen not to interact or interfere.
  • One of the PCs had brought along earplugs, in case there was a run-in with a hypnotist after the show, and chosen not to wear them at what was, unbeknown to her, the point of no return. Just a tiny bit more paranoid caution would have saved her.
  • The big-bad had hired a bunch of off-duty cops as extra security for the show. The PCs talked with the theatre manager, and found out how he was upset and flustered by the unexpected arrival of uniformed security. This tipped them off that something was amiss, but they failed to realize (until it was too late) the point of the cops was to provide witnesses with guns and security cameras so that it would be really difficult for time-travelers to sneak around and undo the events of the evening. It's going to be really tough to fix this now.
  • The scene at the restaurant afterwards was hilarious. The PCs were surrounded by other audience members at the show, in various stages of suggestibility, and only the PCs were suspicious enough to figure it out. They got into some pretty hilarious arguments with bit part NPCs that were adamant that they could remember the show, but could only regurgitate whatever little snippets the PCs threw at them.
It was a great session, with the players repeatedly exclaiming "if we'd only just done things a little differently!" They were really close to escaping the trap at two different points during the night, where a single simple action they almost took would have prevented all harm to them. To my player's credit, they did a great job of rolling with the punches, and accepting the consequences of the situation. I'm blessed to have such great players. You guys rock.

As George Peppard used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together."

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