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Rockwell Jones was a prizefighter before he was asked to throw one too many matches and quit the racket in disgust. Taking over his deceased father's accounting office at 114 West 86th Street, on Chicago's South Side, he reinvented himself as private eye, first helping out family friends, and gradually earning bigger and more well-connected clients. Now, among the gin-joints and meat-packing plants of the Windy City, he earns his keep as an Ace Detective; the tools of his trade are a keen eye for detail, a bloodhound's persistence, and his trusty .45 Automatic.
One hot afternoon, there's a knock on the door of his office at 114 West 86th Street. A knock that will change Rockwell's life.
Mrs... "Smith" says her husband's been missing for two weeks. Something about her story smells wrong, and Rockwell suddenly knows what a fish must feel like when the hook goes in. But it's better than being bait, and he needs the money. He presses Mrs. Smith for details about her husband's recent activities, and from her purse she produces a tattered piece of paper, which she carefully unfolds. Rockwell's gut feeling goes from bad to worse. It's a Map Drawn in Blood.
The card's themes (Occult and Weird) don't match the Hook's theme (Criminal), so the Arch Villain gains no theme tokens. But below the theme column is an icon (the skull) which indicates Rockwell must gain 1 Menace. After all, nothing good can come from a map drawn in blood.
Rockwell passes the "Decipher" test without using any bonus dice, and gains 1 Moxie, bringing his Moxie and Menace totals to 5 and 1, respectively. He has the upper hand, so he decides which link to follow on this Adventure. Since a map could lead anywhere, the links cover Locations and Destinations of all possible terrain types. If the Arch Villain had the upper hand, he could send Rockwell to the jungle, desert, or even one of Earth's frozen poles. But Rockwell's player has control, so he keeps the adventure local by choosing a City Location (the topmost link).
The scourge of the new century has not left Chicago untouched. Rockwell knows the place, and asks Mrs. Smith if her husband may have fallen under the sway of the poppy. She pleads ignorance; regardless of the truth, the gumshoe has no choice but to investigate the Opium Den. He grabs his hat and coat, sees Mrs. Smith out the door, and hits the streets in the dying light of the day.
The Opium Den's Criminal theme matches the theme of In Walked a Dame, so the Arch Villain gains 1 Criminal theme token, and such a place is part of the dark underbelly of the big city, so Rockwell gains 1 Menace.
Rockwell's player moves his pawn from his home base to the Opium Den card to resolve the "Question proprietor" entry. He can use either Might (roughing up the proprietor) or Wit (interrogating him), and chooses Might since it is his higher stat. He only has 2 Menace, so the effect of failing the test -- giving the Arch Villain the option to spring a Trap if Rockwell has at least 3 menace -- won't trigger even if he fails. Rockwell makes his roll without bonus dice, passing the test, and gains another point of Moxie.
Since Rockwell's Ace Detective Advantage gives him free bonus dice on Clue cards, he chooses a City Clue as his next card.
The proprietor clams up, but Rockwell notices one of the den's customers looking a little agitated, and turns his formidable attention on the nervous addict. The new card has a Criminal theme, which matches at least 1 preceding card in the Adventure, so the Arch Villain gains another Criminal token.
Rockwell can tell that this Stool Pigeon will give up some valuable information with a little encouragement. Unfortunately, this Clue card doesn't call for a test, so the ability granted by Ace Detective does not apply. Wanting to hold on to his Moxie lead, Rockwell elects to use the "Good cop" option, and spends 1 action (his first of 2) to interrogate the pathetic schlub.
Then, he resolves the next step on the Stool Pigeon card, "He squeals," and chooses to draw a Hero card. Hero cards represent allies, equipment, and twists that can affect various aspects of the game. In addition, each Hero card is worth 1 Moxie point, and may be discarded at any time to pay any Moxie cost (other than buying a new Advantage). A given Hero player can hold up to 5 Hero cards. Rockwell draws Burst of Speed.
So this card has 3 possible uses: 1) it may be discarded at any time to pay 1 point of any Moxie cost; 2) it may be played to give any Hero or Ally +2 to any Speed roll, or 3) it may be played to change the outcome of any engagement (in a fight) in which any Hero or Ally has won with Speed. Rockwell adds the card to his hand.
Feeling the urge to leave the hazy underworld and clear his head, Rockwell decides that the card to follow the Stool Pigeon will be a City Location.
The squealer points our dogged detective to a nearby, boarded-up Warehouse. The Arch Villain gains yet another Criminal token, and Rockwell's player moves his pawn onto the Warehouse card.
Casing the joint from a distance, Rockwell sees a night watchman making the rounds. He deliberates trying to talk his way in, but decides again to conserve his Moxie in order to keep a firm grasp on the upper hand. So his only other choice is a stealthy entrance. He's feeling confident about his progress so far, and thinks that his luck will hold out long enough to make a roll of 4 or higher (Rockwell's Speed of 2 + a roll of 4 = the test's difficulty of 6). He briefly considers using the Burst of Speed card for its +2 Speed bonus, but then decides that fighting a City Minion -- which he will have to do if he fails the test -- will probably be manageable.
He makes an unmodified roll of 1 die and gets a 2. He climbs into the warehouse through a window, and drops to the floor among mountains of stacked crates. But his entrance has not gone unnoticed! Suddenly, uniformed figures emerge from the shadows, and Rockwell finds himself surrounded by the...
Tune in next week for another exciting installment of Thrilling Tales of Adventure!