Jim’s Group: The Bus Rolls On

Matt’s Notes: So, here we introduce a concept in Demon that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet: Interlocks. In keeping with our ongoing policy of not waggling our fingers and going “It’s a spooooooooky seeeeeeecret!” when new stuff comes up, I’m going to leave this text largely unaltered, but I’m not going to provide a lot of context for Interlocks – yet. That isn’t because I want to keep them secret (I’m not a secretive guy), but because they’re going to get some revision this week and I’d rather not tell you something that I then have to tell you to ignore next week.

With that in mind:

Jim’s Group – Playtest 4 May 2013: Putting the Pieces Together

This was actually a shorter playtest session in terms of actually playing. At the start of the session, we did some housekeeping, as I like to call it.

Specifically, after finally reading the section about Interlocks more closely, I found that I really should have been handling that from the beginning. I suppose a combination of trying to learn the basics of the setting, the subsystems, and so on just pushed Interlocks to a backburner in our heads. To be fair, they are something that you could, if you really wanted, just not bother with and express the characters’ evolution in their free will some other way I suppose.

In any event, we messed around with Interlocks for a while; I had already gotten most folks’ initial Embed in their Matrix through messages during the week, so it was a matter of explaining and talking about it to the rest of the group and figuring it out. We still ended up with questions (see the Notes section below), but we did end up sorting things out, and Brock successfully figured out his first Interlock, gaining the first Interlock power and a lovely dot of Primum. Of course this was not on his first try, so he also ended up with some damage and a glitch, but hey, that’s what happens when you use the “plug and pray” method of figuring out your Interlocks.

Anyway, once the game got underway, the ring got back together the next morning at Marv’s church. They brought each other up to speed on things that happened to each of them separately at the police ball the night before. They also saw the news, which made mention of the ruckus that occurred, and had police sketch artist depictions of both Brock and Dice (who had been asking about Detective Fenton right before he was found). Conspicuously absent from any finger-pointing was Marv, even though Officer Florence definitely saw him quite clearly well before he adopted his demonic form.

Puzzling over this omission, the ring mulled over their investigative options. Brock pushed forward the idea that they could attempt to get someone on the police force and turn them into an asset of some persuasion. Knowing that Eliza had some sort of supernatural ability, they discussed attempting to use her as that asset, but were unsure as to her present mental state or desire to help out.

In addition, they had phone numbers for “Mr. Grey” and “Mr. Silver.” They were fairly certain that Mr. Grey was an angel or other operative of the God-Machine, but they didn’t know anything whatsoever about Mr. Silver.

Talk of options and what to do at this point got fairly heated here – the ring knew that the God-Machine (or its agents at least) was aware of their presence, the police were looking for some of them, they had a loose end with Eliza, and they seemed to be out of good leads or options. The discussion got fairly heated and devolved into a bit of an argument as some members of the ring saw value in different ways to approach their problems. Things came to a head when Anya finally had enough of Dice and pointed a gun at her, causing Dice to leave until everyone calmed down.

The one thing everyone had agreed on was that if they needed to do anything to draw on some of their abilities, they needed refueled. So they all split up to go hit up various hidden stockpiles of Aether they had, in order to replenish their supply.

Meanwhile Dice hit up her runner contacts, and discovered some interesting information. First, that Mr. Silver happened to own a pawn shop located between downtown and North Las Vegas. Secondly, that one of the runners had made a delivery to Sunrise Hospital and noticed a few cops around – and eventually discovered that the body of one George Ramirez was missing. She texted this information back to the others, and everyone collectively had a minute or two of “well….damn.”

With the rest of the ring reconvening at Marv’s church again, they first did some heavy research into Eliza to see if they could find any clues about her personality, any cases that had strange notes (to indicate when she may have encountered the supernatural), or anything of the sort. Victor’s computer skills coupled with Anya and Brock’s investigative skill to put disparate pieces together managed to retrieve some interesting information on Officer Florence. A driven, ambitious woman, she has risen through the ranks fairly quickly, pushing herself far above and beyond what she needs to in order to succeed. She’s a good officer, although due to her driven nature (perhaps a drive to succeed in a “man’s job?” or maybe she just thinks she’s better than everyone else?), she’s not well liked around the precinct. Perhaps the ring had found a weak link indeed, but they decided that investigating Mr. Silver was the more pressing matter at hand.

While the research was going on, Dice decided to go investigate the one hideout of Mr. Grey’s the ring knew about. She looked around the area, knocked on the door, and so forth, but got no answer. Texting back to Brock, she got Mr. Grey’s number that Victor had ended up getting the previous afternoon.

Finding a payphone, Dice called Mr. Grey’s number. A man answered, and a short conversation ensued, although midway through it Dice realized she hadn’t actually thought out what she wanted to say before calling, so ended the conversation. On the other hand, she did find out that the number was functional, even if the man on the other end of the conversation never acknowledged his identity.

Before going to Mr. Silver’s shop, both Brock and Anya switched to their alternate Covers – a contractor named Arturo, and a small-time criminal named Darryl. As such, they are delayed on the way over to the shop, as they spend some time talking strategy on the way over.

Marv arrived first, and found a small pawn store with a wide variety of goods within it, stocked in a manner to fall just between “cozy” and “cramped,” although perhaps leaning a touch closer to the cozy side. The proprietor, Mr. Silver, appeared to be an older gentleman with long, stringy hair but a keen, penetrating gaze. Marv pretended to be looking for some crosses, particularly any with an interesting story behind them, and discovered that Mr. Silver knew the story behind each and every cross he had in stock.

A few minutes behind Marv came Victor, looking for some computer parts, which of course Mr. Silver had in stock. Showing him to bins with parts, Mr. Silver returned to Marv and continued talking about the crosses.

Midway through these investigations, both Marv and Victor activated their Aetheric Magnetism in case their suspect did anything untoward, but that turned up empty. Marv bought a cross and left, while Victor kept going through the computer parts.

Arturo (Brock) and Darryl (Anya) entered the shop, with Darryl posing as a guy just wanting to get his girl some jewelry and bringing his buddy along for a second opinion. They looked over the jewelry selections, the Arturo deliberately insulting the quality of goods while watching for a reaction from Mr. Silver. After looking at a few pieces and getting quotes on prices, Arturo declared that Mr. Silver was ripping them off and otherwise acted like an obnoxious customer as they both left. However, of important note to them was that Mr. Silver didn’t have any reaction whatsoever to Arturo’s jibes – meaning that he wasn’t human. Narrowing that down between angel and demon was going to take more investigation, but they did have things somewhat narrowed down.

Victor ended up changing his mind and buying some jewelry before leaving the shop, commiserating with Mr. Silver about Arturo’s behavior. Mr. Silver claimed that he’s “seen worse,” and that bad customer behavior really didn’t affect him anymore. Victor nodded in agreement then left to do some personal things.

Brock and Anya switched back to their initial Covers and called everyone back to the church. Marv arrived quickly (as he was going there anyway), but Victor didn’t show up at all and Dice took a while before she showed up.

Brock asked Marv quietly to distract Anya while he (Brock) talked to Dice about something. Marv did so as Brock took Dice aside for a quiet conversation about the need to find out more specific information quickly, as well as presenting Dice with a plan for how to get that information.

Brock eventually brought Dice around to his way of thinking, and then tested some surveillance gear that he installed in Dice’s shoe as a way of listening in to what was going on around Dice. Once Brock was satisfied that everything was set up properly, he nodded to Dice, who mentally prepped herself to head to the police station to turn herself in.

End Session


–          First off, Interlocks. In the text, it seems that the terms “Interlock” and “Embed” are used interchangeably, so there was some degree of confusion there as we tried to figure out at which point the risks and rewards of the “plug and pray” method started, with some folks thinking it didn’t start until the second Interlock power (believing the “First Interlock” section referred to the entire first set of three – Embed, Interlock Power, Embed). Some clarification might be good here, or solidifying the use of terms. (Matt’s Note: Yes, the whole section needs clarification. It was the last thing I wrote before I turned this draft loose upon playtesters, so I bear the blame for anything that makes folks go, “huh?”)

–          This brings up a question: the player determines the first Embed in the Interlock Matrix, but does that mean the character knows it automatically? Or do they have to figure that out just like any other step in their Matrix? I ruled for now (because I wanted to test the system faster) that the characters did know what the first one was regardless of if they knew it, but I don’t know if that is right or not. (Matt’s Note: Yes, your First Interlock is supposed to be drawn from one of your starting Embeds. I’ll clarify.)

–          Once the confusion was cleared up, things seemed to go a little smoother, although Interlocks still remain the one thing about the game I’m least sure about, in terms of proper implementation. Thematically, I really like them, and they’re interesting in terms of the themes of the game and setting. Mechanically, I like them a little less, but I’m more of a settings person than strict rules person, until I get familiar with a system or game. I can play with rules in Werewolf: the Forsaken all day long because I’m ridiculously familiar with that game having run it in the Camarilla (now MES) for pretty much the past eight years. Demon is still a bit new to me, though.

–          Also, the issue of separate Covers came up – we assume that any and all Covers always start at 7 unless the player specifies otherwise for story reasons (the God-Machine didn’t make that detailed of a cover because it wasn’t meant to last long or whatever), but thought to double-check as we have now used other Covers. I put them at the starting 7 on the assumption that that should be exactly what it is. (If you take the Merit that lets you start with a second Cover, it starts at 7. If you gain it in play, well, it depends how you gain it. There’s been some revision on these rules, and I need to review them.)

7 thoughts on “Jim’s Group: The Bus Rolls On”

  1. I don’t know what an “Interlock Matrix” is but it makes me extremely excited. I’ve been enjoying the different methods of developing abilities in World of Darkness games. Mummy’s Utterances are great because they make you think about your character differently. I’m also a fan of slightly more complex systems so I’m on the edge of my seat to see what this is about.

    • Thanks! The name may change, but the concept will stay. Might even become a more important part of the game.

      • I kinda like the name. I dunno if it’s necessarily appropriate for the effect/process, but I think it fits with the techy themes.

        Though I suppose that creating a situation where you can semi-legitimately say “Activate Interlocks” could be problematic, depending on how much Voltron your players have been watching.

    • Honestly, I think this is the most complex part of the game, especially for the ST, but I also think it will be a very rewarding thing – and not just because of the mechanical benefits one can get from it.

      I really like how this game ties its thematic pieces in with the mechanical ones, and they each reflect the other. It’s very well done.

  2. Hmmm… Is Play on Words an Interlock Power?

    From the descriptions above, it sounds like you take a basic power and stick it into a combiner/upgrade system to which you later add more compatible powers. If you choose wisely or research properly first, this gets you extra powers and/or increases in core effectiveness. If you choose poorly, you get hurt, but you can try again.

    Is that anywhere close to accurate?

  3. This brought up so many questions for me right now.

    I kinda wish I could find some Infrastructure and bring a finished copy back from the future.


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