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Night’s Black Agents won two silver ENnie awards for Best Game and Best Writing, and was nominated for Best Rules, Best Interior Art and Product of the Year. Find out why!

Night’s Black Agents puts you in the role of a deadly secret agent, taking down the forces of darkness.

Bring your favorite high-octane spy thrillers to the table with Night’s Black Agents from legendary designer Kenneth Hite (Trail of Cthulhu). Have friends who love console shooters? This is the tabletop RPG for them! Access the eyes-only Resources page for blank agent dossiers, quick-reference sheets, a 20-minute demo and more — but sweep for tracking devices first.

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The Cold War is over. Bush’s War is winding down.

You were a shadowy soldier in those fights, trained to move through the secret world: deniable and deadly.

Then you got out, or you got shut out, or you got burned out. You didn’t come in from the cold. Instead, you found your own entrances into Europe’s clandestine networks of power and crime. You did a few ops, and you asked even fewer questions. Who gave you that job in Prague? Who paid for your silence in that Swiss account? You told yourself it didn’t matter.

It turned out to matter a lot. Because it turned out you were working for vampires.

Vampires exist. What can they do? Who do they own? Where is safe? You don’t know those answers yet. So you’d better start asking questions. You have to trace the bloodsuckers’ operations, penetrate their networks, follow their trail, and target their weak points. Because if you don’t hunt them, they will hunt you. And they will kill you.

Or worse.

Night’s Black Agents brings the GUMSHOE engine to the spy thriller genre, combining the propulsive paranoia of movies like Ronin and The Bourne Identity with supernatural horror straight out of Bram Stoker. Investigation is crucial, but it never slows down the action, which explodes with expanded options for bone-crunching combat, high-tech tradecraft, and adrenaline-fueled chases.

Updating classic Gothic terrors for the postmodern age, Night’s Black Agents presents thoroughly modular monstrosity: GMs can build their own vampires, mashup their own minions, kitbash their own conspiracies to suit their personal sense of style and story. Rules options let you set the level of betrayal, grit, and action in your game. Riff from the worked examples or mix and match vampiric abilities, agendas, and assets for a completely custom sanguinary spy saga.

The included hook adventure gets the campaign going; the included city setting shows you what might be clotting in Marseilles’ veins even now. Rack silver bullets in your Glock, twist a UV bulb into your Maglite, and keep watching the mirrors … and pray you’ve got your vampire stories straight.

Designer’s blog entries

An interview with the publisher

Free downloads and resources for Night’s Black Agents

Listen to Ken Hite talk about Night’s Black Agents on the Fear the Boot podcast

 

 

Review Highlights

Read all the reviews here.

As good as the toolkits that Night’s Black Agents provides are, the rules and advice deliver on the game and genre that they promise. Whether it is blood pumping action or heart stopping shocks, Night’s Black Agents is probably best shaken, and definitely has the “Vampire Spy Thriller” staked. – Matthew Pook

Vampires and spies – once you’re past the initial surprise, you’ll see that they work tremendously well in tandem. Well, I think they do, and I think the book’s an absolute knockout. – Sidney Roundwood

 

Stock #: PELGN01 Author: Kenneth Hite
Artist: Alessandro Alaia, George Cotronis, Chris Huth, Phil Reeves Pages: 232pg hardback

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In our third Pelgrane Video Dispatch, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan reveals his favorite GUMSHOE ability. Robin’s was obvious. Many guessed Ken’s. But can you predict Gar’s answer? Only a click on the video will tell the tale!


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in the Pelgrane Shop.

Our new Pelgrane Video Dispatches series continues with Ken’s favorite GUMSHOE ability. Robin’s was easy to predict. Will Ken’s choice come as a surprise?


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

by Adam Gauntlett

In Night’s Black Agents, the Network ability represents your network of professional contacts. It works something like Cover in play; at any time, you may reveal or remember the existence of a member of your network in a given city …

Walther PPK, 7.65 millimeter. Only three men I know use such a gun. I believe I’ve killed two of them … Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky, GoldenEye.

Fibber felt ice trickle down his spine as he looked at the corpse of his friend Rico Marcelli, laid out on a morgue slab, the autopsy Y-incision a brutal reminder that, this time, it really was the end of Rico.

Fibber wasn’t just mourning the death of a friend, a colleague, a comrade in the fight against the Conspiracy. When Rico went, he took 4 of Fibber’s Network points with him. Those would be difficult to replace. Plus, Rico was supposed to be finding out as much as he could about the vampiric killer Sweetie-Face, the Conspiracy’s number one killer. Now all Rico’s work was gone – or was it? Maybe, before the Conspiracy caught up with him, Rico had time to load up one of his special dead drops; if he did, Fibber could salvage something from this disaster.

Network, and by extension Contacts, are special tools which the agents can use to help them out in a tight spot. In story, they represent old friends, professional colleagues, people whose skills and talents are vital in obtaining whatever McGuffin needs to be obtained this time. Mechanically, they are floating pools of Investigative and General points and boosts, which can be drawn on to overcome an obstacle.

What is an obstacle? Well, it’s whatever happens to be blocking plot progress in the moment. It doesn’t have to be a threat to life and limb. It can as easily be an invitation to that exclusive party, underworld gossip, or that all-important, difficult-to-obtain, Bane or Block.

Why use a Contact to overcome that obstacle when you have Investigative pools to spend? Perhaps your agent doesn’t want to spend their own points, or hasn’t got them to spend. Banking points in a Contact is a good way of ensuring there’s a way round every obstacle, no matter when or where they occur. Think of a Contact as the Swiss Army Knife of NPCs; a tool for every conceivable occasion – and reusable, so long as the Contact has points left.

In the Bond films GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, Robbie Coltrane plays one of Bond’s Network contacts, Valentin Dmitrovich Zhukovsky, a former KGB agent turned entrepreneur and shady dealer in questionable merchandise. In their first meeting, Bond offers Zhukovsky a benefit – cash from an arms deal gone wrong – in exchange for a meeting with the shadowy Janus, boss of the crime syndicate that snatched control over a powerful, experimental weapon. In their second, Zhukovsky is much more involved with the plot, and saves Bond from a death trap with a carefully aimed bullet from Zhukovsky’s cane gun.

So in their first meeting, the obstacle was information, and an introduction. In their second there are several different obstacles, culminating in a final confrontation in which only Zhukovsky’s intervention gets Bond out of a situation that would otherwise have ended the story prematurely.

If this were an NBA campaign, Bond’s player probably didn’t invest that many Network points in Zhukovsky to begin with. After all, Bond doesn’t need Zhukovsky for more than one thing. So let’s say the player puts in 2 Network points, creating the character, giving Zhukovsky just enough points that Bond can buy that introduction to Janus. The arms deal gone wrong is flavor text; it means nothing to the overall plot, but it provides a reason for Zhukovsky to get involved. It represents that initial Network spend; Bond gives Zhukovsky pool points, and in exchange Zhukovsky overcomes an obstacle for Bond.

However it later becomes clear Zhukovsky’s more useful to Bond that he appeared at first glance. Bond’s player therefore invests more Network points, boosting Zhukovsky’s pool and thus allowing Zhukovsky to do more things for Bond. Network points don’t refresh, either for the contact or the agent, so every time Zhukovsky intervenes, he gets one step closer to burnout. In the story, Zhukovsky exhausts his pool and dies, but not before getting Bond out of the mess Bond’s in.

A Network spend is a big investment for the agent. The agent has to keep paying on the installment plan, with hard-won experience points, or have their Contact repossessed. Even that has its advantages, for the Director. In NBA, losing a Contact to the vampires means a potential cameo later on.  Zhukovsky returns! As a hungry ghost, a ghoul, a vampire, who knows … For Fibber, this might mean Rico’s about to get up off the slab and put the bite on him. That Y-incision could be the perfect decoy!

A Network Contact is usually unplanned, so, unlike every other Director-controlled character, the Contact is the player’s personal project. This does mean the Director needs to keep an eye on what the player creates, and offer advice or guidance, as needed. Zhukovsky’s a brilliant example of a good Contact; an ex-KGB with a sideline in arms dealing can have his fat fingers in all sorts of pies, and be seen anywhere in the world, from Macau to Manchester. On the other hand, Irene the hotel front desk attendant is less useful. Sure, she can overcome that one obstacle at the Paris Ritz, where she works, but she’s probably not going to be at the Ritz Dubai next week, or the Ritz-Carlton Moscow the week after that, never mind the 2020 Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection next month. Irene is pretty much stuck in Paris, along with all those Network points someone invested in her. Moreover she’s only useful in hotels; she won’t be arranging illicit gun sales, or breaking the agents out of prison.

Fibber and his somber team discuss their options. Rico’s death almost certainly means Sweetie-Face is tracking them, possibly even preparing an ambush. Fibber thinks Rico may have left some intel in a safe house that Rico set up, so they decide to go there first.

Sure enough, it’s a trap – but not a very well-planned trap. ‘Sweetie-Face is getting sloppy,’ says Fibber, as the team stacks dead mooks in the bedroom of a La Busserine apartment, in Marseille.

Belulah thinks that was the point. ‘There’s a lot of cops hanging around,’ she points out. ‘Plenty more than I’d expect, given how tough this neighborhood is. Almost like they’re waiting for the Go order. Did you see those stacks of cash and whatever that stuff in the brown bags is, in the bedroom? I bet Sweetie-Face set this up so she can hang some kind of major crime on us, maybe terrorism or drug smuggling.’

The team starts to sweat, particularly bang-and-burner Fibber, who’s in enough trouble as it is. Belulah grins. ‘I can call in my old pal George,’ she says.

Belulah’s player initially thought of a Marseille gangster Contact, but the Director pointed out that someone closely tied to Marseille wouldn’t be much use in, say, Japan. Not that next week’s scenario is set in Japan, but … [discreet cough]. Instead Belulah puts 4 Network points into George Gamble, founder and CEO of Worldwide Forensic Experts LLC, a small, specialized humanitarian forensics company. George used to work in war zones; a Marseilles apartment stacked with corpses is probably not even the goriest thing he’s seen this week.

Meanwhile, hacker and cracker Gildersneeve puts the backdoor he installed on the cops’ network to good use. Sure enough, the cops are planning a raid on this very apartment block, searching for some big, tough, organized crime types. A few more keyboard taps, and Gildersneeve delays the raid for a precious few hours, by laying a false trail. It won’t last long; Belulah needs to act now.

Of course, the team could cleanse the apartment with Investigative spends. However nobody has a lot of Technical points to burn, and Belulah’s concerned this could end up with bags of suspicious chemicals in the trunk of the car, corpses on the back seat, and Fibber in the passenger seat playing with C4, while she’s driving down La Canebière with sirens howling in the background.

No. Better to make this problem go away. No fuss, no muss.

‘Hiya, Belulah,’ says George. He has his equipment in a carrybag, and Noddy suits for all the gang, so they don’t leave any more forensic traces.

‘No time for small talk, George.’ Belulah’s busy gathering the team’s guns in a bag, for easy disposal. She’s burning Streetwise to discover if dumping them in the Canal or the Harbor is a good idea. ‘We need this whole place cleansed, as if we were never here.’

‘Can do. It’ll be just like that time in Rome. It’ll cost you, B.’ Mechanically, a point spend from the Network pool Belulah invested in George, but in narrative it could be anything. Bond used cash from an arms deal gone wrong to lure Zhukovsky. In game, Belulah uses her High Society connections to get George access to exclusive parties.

‘Sure. Back room of Insomnia, Berlin?’

‘Done, and done.’ George starts laying out the tools of his trade.

‘Oh!’ Belulah remembers Rico’s dead drop. ‘Fibber thinks there’s something hidden here, but he’s not sure where.’

‘If it’s here, I’ll find it.’ Sure enough, George pulls out the intel file Rico hid on a data stick stuffed behind a false power socket. Rico’s last testament is now in Fibber’s possession.

‘You’re a doll, George. Do you speak Japanese?’

‘Hai!’

‘That’s good to know. See you round, George!’

The team scarpers. They have evidence, and their clothing, to dispose of, and Fibber has the clues Rico gave him. It’s time to give Sweetie-Face a taste of her own, bitter medicine …


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

 

by Adam Gauntlett

In Night’s Black Agents, Trust provides a modular system for tracking and modelling variable trust within a team of agents … Being trusted by a fellow agent lets you help her out in a pinch – or betray her far more effectively.

TRUCE, n. Friendship.

TRUTHFUL, adj. Dumb and illiterate.

TWICE, adv. Once too often. [Ambrose Bierce, Devil’s Dictionary]

Some players, little cherubs that they are, like to scheme and betray. To recreate that old Le Carré magic, where nobody knows quite where anyone else stands, but everyone knows they’re going to get killed, or worse, if they guess incorrectly. Le Carré, you may recall, based a good deal of his own writing on his experiences with his con-man father, whose continual scheming and money woes scarred Le Carré’s childhood.

Fix that in your mind from the start: when using Trust, you’re playing a con game – a spy’s Big Store, where nothing is as it seems, and you might get the blow-off at any moment, forced to flee without so much as an empty satchel, once full of secrets, to your credit.

Mechanically, you start with 5 Trust points, and spread them around your fellow suckers – forgive me, your fellow agents. This might be in secret or out in the open, but if you’re playing Trust at all, it’s probably better done in secret. Those points can be spent as needed during play, either to help your comrade in a difficult moment, or to hinder them.

There are two unspoken assumptions in that statement. The first, scarcity. The second, benefit.

In order to spend points at all, there has to be opportunity to do so. There has to be a moment when somebody could really use a boost, or cannot afford to be betrayed. This implies they have no, or very few, Investigative or General points of their own – that points are scarce.  Perhaps refreshes aren’t easily had, or the players are encouraged to spend points quickly in-game. That further implies that Difficulties tend to be high, and consequences for failure severe. Why spend points if the Difficulty stays at 4, or 3? Why spend points if failure isn’t painful?

Second, there has to be benefit. Or, as Bierce puts it:

CUI BONO? [Latin] What good would that do me?

When Fibber McGee spends Trust to help Molly interrogate a raving, Renfielded Wallace Wimple, Fibber isn’t doing that out of the kindness of his withered cinder of a heart. Fibber’s doing it because it benefits Fibber. Either getting Wimple to talk is in Fibber’s best interests, or it encourages Molly to put her Trust in Fibber – a mistake that could prove costly later, when Fibber uses those accumulated Trust points to destroy Molly.

All of which skirts round the biggest Trust issue of all – that Trust is about secrets, and therefore story. It’s right there in the opening sentence – this provides a modular system for tracking and modelling variable trust. A mechanic for expressing the consequences of story actions in-game. Trust means nothing without Story. As Director, you shouldn’t focus on Trust as a points mechanic. You should focus on Trust as a means of expressing Story. The points are there to help you do that, but Trust does not begin and end with a point spend.

Fibber might be secretly working for his ineffable, unknowable master, the Johnson Floor Wax Company. Molly might be an Edom mole. Wetworker Belulah might be helping one of Dracula’s Brides kill Dracula, so the Bride can take over the Conspiracy. Hacker and cracker Throckmorton P. Gildersneeve might have been secretly a CIA plant up till that failed break-in, where he was captured by Conspiracy goons and forced to turn to the other side, or die.

All of them have secrets, all of them have Story, and it is that Story they are trying to fulfil when they spend and receive Trust. When Fibber puts 1 point of Trust into Molly, it’s so he can use that Trust for Johnson Floor Wax. Because none of the crew can get what they want on their own, but each of them wants to be the last agent standing when the smoke clears.

For that reason, in a Trust game, players should specify their Story objective right at the start. That objective isn’t carved in stone, and can change in play, just as Gildersneeve changed allegiance from the CIA to the Conspiracy. However, the agent has to be true to their Story objective, as they understand it in the moment. So Fibber is always working for the greater good of Johnson Floor Wax, and if Johnson Floor Wax is actually a Conspiracy front, that doesn’t matter – at least, not until Fibber discovers The Hidden Truth, and has to make up his mind what to do about it. Up until that point, Fibber was being true to his objective, without realizing his objective was wrong-headed. Now he knows it’s wrong-headed, will he stay loyal to Johnson Floor Wax, or find a new Story?

Now, an example.

Fibber and the crew had to flee across national borders, after their last escapade ended in a flurry of explosions. They’ve all had a chance to rest and refresh pools, and Gildersneeve’s injuries have healed. Fibber, the bang-and-burner, has 3 points Trust in Molly, 2 in Belulah, and none anywhere else. Molly the black bagger has 3 in Fibber, 2 in Belulah, 2 in Gildersneeve – she’s been buying extras with experience points. The other team members have Trust investments as well, but for the purpose of this example they don’t affect play.

The wild card here is Gildersneeve. He’s working for the vampires now. That means he can’t be Betrayed; as an agent of dark powers, Gildersneeve expects to be betrayed by his fellow, human, agents. However, Gildersneeve can betray them, so Gildersneeve’s 7 points of Trust (like Molly, he used experience points to buy more) could prove toxic later on. It won’t, in this example – but the Director should remember ticking time bombs like these, because they have a nasty habit of going off when everyone least expects it.

Belulah, working for the Bride, may be in a similar position, but doesn’t have to be. Belulah’s player may know the truth, but Belulah the wetworker still believes she’s working for an elite and secretive band of Vatican vampire hunters. She has yet to discover that her contact, the Enigmatic Monsignor, spends his weekends licking blood from the Bride’s toes. So Belulah can still Betray and be Betrayed, as well as spend Trust to help her comrades.

Fibber and Molly have just come out of the interrogation room. Fibber spent some Trust to move the interrogation along, which helped Molly. Now they know where Wallace Wimple’s mistress in darkness, Sweetie-Face, is hiding. Fibber is all for staking the vamp as soon as possible. The team agrees, and begins to suit up.

That poses a problem for Molly. She knows what nobody else knows: Sweetie Face used to be Edom, and Sweetie Face knows all about Molly’s secrets. If she and Fibber are in the same room, the vampire will tell all, to save her neck – and that Molly cannot have.

She has to distract Fibber. It’s time for Betrayal.

It needn’t be a full-scale Dust-and-Ashes Betrayal – she just needs Fibber distracted, not wallowing in his own gore. However she does have those 3 points Fibber invested in her …

Betrayal can be used to harm or hamper Fibber, or to boost Molly in a conflict with Fibber. During the Betrayal scene, only Molly can use her MOS (not relevant in this particular example, but worth remembering), and Fibber can’t use the 3 points Molly invested in him. Any points Molly spends are gone forever; she’ll have to persuade Fibber to invest more, somehow.

Betrayal doesn’t have to be obvious, nor does it have to end with Molly zipping over the horizon in Fibber’s tricked-out BMW.  All Molly needs is an opportunity to stick Fibber in the rear. She could Betray Fibber by using 1 point to warn Sweetie-Face. That could prove lethal later, when the agents move in on Edom’s former asset. Does Molly have other options?

“I’ll call my good buddy Rico Marcelli, the law enforcement bigwig and my Network contact,” says Fibber, “He’ll make sure there are no cops in that neighborhood when we make our move. That should keep our Heat down.”

Bingo.

“Rico’s dead, Fibber,” says Molly. “Looks like foul play!” She spends 2 points to make it so. Molly’s using Trust as an Investigative point spend – 1 for the basics, 2 for extra benefits. Molly’s getting as extra as she can.

“Dead!” Fibber’s aghast. “But there’s no way they could have known about Rico … unless …”

“Unless it’s a trap! We could be walking right into an ambush!” says Molly.

Now, the players can all see what just happened. They know, mechanically speaking, how Rico really got his – but mechanics aren’t Story. This is improv. They have to yes, and, just like the Director does. An alternative version would see Molly arranging all this in secret, with private Director conferences, or passing notes. That preserves the illusion of secrecy.

As the Betrayed, Fibber can’t prevent what just happened, and he certainly can’t spend Molly’s 3 points to Betray her in turn. He has to roll with the punches.

“We’d better investigate Rico’s murder first,” says Fibber. “If Conspiracy goons did him in, we need to know!”

Everybody smiles. There’s a dagger behind every toothy grin, of course, and Fibber’s already planning for the day when he can use Molly’s invested points to burn her down.

Still, everybody smiles.


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

“I said to him, ‘What disguise will hide me from the world?’ … He looked at me with his large but indecipherable face. ‘You want a safe disguise, do you? You want a dress which will guarantee you harmless; a dress in which no one would ever look for a bomb?’ I nodded. He suddenly lifted his lion’s voice. ‘Why, then, dress up as an anarchist, you fool!’”

— G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

I’ve been reading a pair of books by the pair of spies who consecutively headed the Disguise Section of the CIA’s Office of Technical Services (OTS), Antonio Mendez and the then Jonna Goeser (now Jonna Mendez). The Master of Disguise (1999) is a relatively straightforward memoir by Mendez; The Moscow Rules (2019) re-tells some of the stories in the earlier book but ties in some now-declassified missions such as the CKTAW weapons-lab tap, on which Mendez ran the disguise-and-evasion component.

Antonio Mendez meeting Jimmy Carter in 1980

Antonio Mendez meeting Jimmy Carter in 1980 — OR IS IT?

A long-time fan of stage magic, Mendez also pioneered the re-introduction of illusion and misdirection as key techniques of disguise and evasion. Ever since 1953, when the CIA recruited the magician John Mulholland to train its agents in (and write a manual of) sleight-of-hand for brush passes and covert drink-dosing, the Agency has paid at least some attention to its flashier brethren. (Mulholland stayed with the Agency as a consultant through at least 1958, developing a set of covert hand signals and investigating ESP.) Mendez specifically adapted stage techniques such as “keep them comfortable” — let the audience think they’ve seen through the illusion — and forced aversion — a reverse of the gorgeous assistant drawing the viewer, something unsettling that viewers instinctively avoid — in counter-surveillance techniques.

 

In Night’s Black Agents, the Agents use Filch for brush passes and the like. For evasion through misdirection, allow a one-time 3- to 4-point refresh of Surveillance for a clever description of how you accomplished the task right under the enemy’s eyes (“keep them comfortable”) or how you got them to look away for just long enough (forced aversion).

Spy Gear: Disguise

To hear Mendez tell it, at least, CIA disguise tech made a giant leap in a decade under his direction, mostly the result of his decision in 1971 to consult with Hollywood makeup genius John Chambers. Chambers, who designed Spock’s ears and the apes in Planet of the Apes, was also a diehard Cold Warrior, always up for experimentation. Here’s a quick rundown (using Mendez’ terminology, which is almost certainly bogus) of the developments in disguise between 1971 and 1981.

FINESSE: Agents can use this quick-drying liquid flesh to paint on any new facial features they like, available in varying skin tones. Available in the early 1970s, and possibly earlier if DELTA GREEN went to Hollywood before the Agency did. Requires a Disguise test to apply, but lowers Difficulty of tests against being recognized by 1.

GAMBIT: This thin face mask and long gloves allow an Agent to appear to be of a different race, complexion, or facial type (with FINESSE inserts). Available ca. 1971, used by the CIA in Indochina. Requires no Disguise test to apply, allows Agents to blend into a crowd. Lowers visual-recognition Alertness Modifier of non-expert (Alertness Modifier <+1) spotters by 1. This is what Agents should use if they don’t plan on encountering active surveillance.

SAM: Stands for Semi-Articulated Mask. This half-face mask composed of several small pieces of latex joins up with the eyes using FINESSE. It allows full mobility of and use of the mouth; it often incorporates a beard (less conspicuous behind the Iron Curtain, or infiltrating student movements). Debuted ca. 1977, based on the ape masks in Planet of the Apes (1968). Requires a spend of 1 point of Disguise to apply; provides a pool of 3 points to spend avoiding being recognized (usually Disguise or Surveillance tests). Pool is 4 points if a beard can be inconspicuously incorporated into the SAM.

DOTR: Stands for Disguise-on-the-Run. The CIA uses a New England tailor to create specialty clothing, in this case fully-reversible clothing that by itself allows the agent to re-roll a failed counter Surveillance test after donning it. The full DOTR developed in the late 1970s incorporates compressed garments that can be put on (or put themselves on) over the Agent’s clothes while walking, in about 45 seconds. The late DOTR changes cut and type, even going from a diplomat’s trench coat to the fuzzy pink dress of an elderly lady. Changing into the full DOTR requires a spend of 1 Disguise point but provides a 3-point refresh of your Surveillance pool against a spotter or tail.

DAGGER: This thin face mask fits into a small paper bag, and can be applied by touch and while walking. Development began in 1978; it becomes available in 1981. By 1989, a DAGGER mask is completely paper-thin, can markedly change your appearance, hold makeup, and appear natural even to trained observers. A Dagger mask is one-use, and cannot stand up to rain, heavy physical activity, or being punched in the face. It provides 5 pool points (3 or 4 for earlier models) of Disguise or Surveillance to escape enemy searchers; when the pool is empty, the mask is too badly degraded or sweaty to keep using.

If the CIA had all of this gear by 1981, they very well might have straight-up Mission: Impossible face mask technology (Double Tap, p. 64) by now. At the very least, between 3D printing and micro-thin fiber materials, the ability to print a skin-thin, photographically realistic (passing video surveillance and anything but up-close examination), self-adhesive DAGGER face mask to resemble a specific target almost has to be off-the-shelf tech by now. That would lower Disguise Difficulty for specific impersonations by 1 or 2, as well as providing the other benefits of a DAGGER.

DELTA GREEN might well have looked into such matters earlier, so Fall of DELTA GREEN Agents could justify FINESSE and GAMBIT, and perhaps specialty SAMs intended to provide the Innsmouth Look.

“A disguise is only a tool. Before you use any tradecraft tool, you have to set up the operation for the deception.”

— CIA agent “Bull Monahan”

TFFB: Just Don’t Look

The Agents use Intimidation (to spot a psychological weak point) or an Investigative 2-point spend of Shrink (to identify a phobia either from a psych profile or surveillance) on their future watcher. An Agent under surveillance by that watcher then pushes that weak point or triggers that phobia by their actions. For the next round, the Difficulty of their Surveillance test to escape watch (or their Disguise test to suddenly don a DAGGER or similar) lowers by 2.

TTTB: Know Your Audience

Europeans rest their weight on both feet; Americans usually favor one or the other. Americans and South Asians make eye contact with the opposite sex at different speeds. And so forth; knowing tiny cultural details allows you to blend into a crowd of foreigners. By spending Human Terrain, the winger can add pool points to the striker’s Disguise or Surveillance pools to blend into such a backdrop.


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

The Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook (DH) covers the present-day Legacies of the main members of the Crew of Light – Billie Harker, Tabitha Holmwood, Thad Morris and the rest, the descendants of the original group who battled Dracula. However, Dracula Unredacted reveals the existence of several other members of this fellowship who, for reasons sinister or editorial, were excised from the narrative. Once the players discover the existence of Kate Reed or Inspector Cotford, might they not try to track down their present-day heirs?

Here’s the first in a short series covering some other Legacies…

 

Anna Marshall

She’s in her early 40s, but looks and dresses younger; she lives in departure lounges and hotel lobbies. Her accent is transatlantic; her personality buried with her conscience. If you ask, Anna says she works in public relations, but she won’t give you her card. She’s employed by a small firm, ReVu, that specializes in crisis management public relations. They’re the people you call when you’re a celebrity who was just caught with a dead prostitute, or a tech company who just broke democracy. ReVu has a portfolio of special assets – they’ve got private detectives and hackers to dig up dirt on your detractors, botnets and troll farms to spread disinformation, and lots of blackmail material. The firm exists in the same space as companies like Black Cube or Cambridge Analytica; it’s headquartered in London, and definitely wasn’t founded by any ex-spies.

Marshall’s role is handling the traditional press (she has lunch with the Tabloid Journalist, DH, p. 134) regularly, and trades barbs on twitter with the Journalist (DH, p. 120), but she usually stays under the radar. She tells herself that any day now, she’s going to leave all this behind her, maybe move into the charity sector (maybe Heal The Children, DH p. 150), but she knows she’s made too many enemies to just walk away. Also, damningly, she’s good at this.

She has no idea of her ancestry, although she might recall seeing a photograph of her great-great-grandmother Kate Reed in her parents’ place. Optionally, she inherited a brooch like the Westenra Brooch (DH, p. 284). She sleepwalks, especially around mid-March.

Innocent: For certain values of ‘innocent’, obviously. ReVu might get hired by any well-connected Character or Node to deal with trouble caused by the Agents. Likely clients for Kate include either Holmwood (DH, p. 43/44), the Hungarian (DH, p. 94), maaaaaybe the Psychic (DH, p. 96), the Art Forecaster (DH, p. 103), the Drug Boss (DH, p. 113), the Petroleum Executive (DH, p. 127) and a bunch of Nodes like Nox Therapeutics (DH, p. 163).

Anna’s conscience isn’t completely dead; if reminded that objective truth and genuine goodness still exist, she might be motivated to assist the Agents. Getting her to read Kate Reed’s Diary (DH, p. 272), showing her the true extent of Dracula’s evil, or just a hefty Interpersonal spend might convince her to help the Agents.

Another possibility: Marshall hires the Agents as freelancers to track down dirt on some political foe; if the Agents need ready cash, a simple little breaking-and-entering side job might appeal. From there, they can discover the truth about their employer.

Asset: ReVu is an Edom cut-out, possibly founded by a retired ex-Duke (a previous Timnah, DH, p. 53) or the MI5 Deputy (DH, p. 95). The company handles cover-ups and media monitoring, and occasionally employs vampiric mind control to flip a witness or guarantee a story gets buried. Marshall’s too junior to know much about ReVu’s connections to the Secret Service, although she does know the higher-ups sometimes have urgent meetings at Ring (DH, p. 173) or Exeter (DH, p. 167). If she knew about the Reed file that marks her as a Legacy, she might flip on her employer.

Minion: Marshall’s family have been part of the Satanic Cult of Dracula (DH, p. 55) for generations; she was initiated as a priestess of Dracula at the age of 13, left alone in the Red Room (DH, p. 187) overnight to bathe in the psychic influence. ReVu covers up the cult’s excesses; once Dracula makes his move, the company may be ordered to expose or discredit Edom, distracting “D” with political pressure and scandals while the vampire breaks free. This version of Marshall is likely irredeemable (assuming she’s not a full-on vampire); she expects to be an immortal handmaiden of the Count once he takes over the world.

Defining Quirks: (1) Carries an antique umbrella (2) At least three phones (3) Sleeps with the lights on

Investigative Abilities: High Society, Traffic Analysis, Negotiation

General Abilities: Network 15


The Dracula Dossier reveals that Dracula is not a novel. It’s the censored version of Bram Stoker’s after-action report of the failed British Intelligence attempt to recruit a vampire in 1894. Kenneth Hite and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan have restored the deleted sections, inserting annotations and clues left by three generations of MI6 analysts. This is Dracula UnredactedFollow those clues to the Director’s Handbook, containing hundreds of encounters: shady NPCs, dangerous locations, conspiratorial nodes, and mysterious objects. Together they comprise The Dracula Dossier — an epic improvised, collaborative campaign for Night’s Black Agents, our award-winning vampire spy thriller RPG. Purchase the Dracula Dossier starter kit bundle in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

“They say much of blood and bloom, and of others which I comprehend not, though I guess what they mean; but nevertheless they tell us all things which we want to know.”

— Abraham Van Helsing, in Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Through the persons of writer-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the BBC (and its pals at Netflix) has vouchsafed to us in this year of our Lord 2020 yet another tilt at the Dracula windmill, this time in a three-episode limited series. (Hereafter, “D2020“. Also hereafter, spoilers.) The specific merits of this iteration aside (which include a rich, Hammer-inspired camera palette and a credibly terrifying Dracula when he shuts up) it also — as with every version of Dracula, or of Dracula — provides a fair few gameable spins on the myth, and on vampires. For example, the bite of D2020 Dracula creates revenants (they look like zombies, but probably use mostly Feral stats (NBA, p. 150)); only a few of his victims survive Infection with enough personality to become true self-willed vampires themselves. The many, many boxes and crates (and habitrails, and fridges) of ferals work very effectively on screen, and likely works well at the table — it makes those warehouse fights more interesting, that’s for sure.

So let’s settle in and dip our fingers in the BBC’s goblet, shall we?

Dracula, hungry for learning

New Power: Drain Knowledge

When Dracula drinks any blood from a human in D2020, he knows their name and something of their background almost immediately. When he drains them, he picks up their entire knowledge base, possibly even including physical skills. (In episode 3, he complains of the taste of a physicist and a professional tennis player.) His language patterns shift, and he even (briefly) picks up a meaningless exercise habit from modern Londoners. Even by smell, he can detect members of a familiar bloodline and something about them.

Vampires with Drain Knowledge gain immediate, surface knowledge of any human whose blood they taste. A big sip (at least 1 Health) gives them the equivalent of a 0-point spend, or a few minutes’ Google search: name, background, emotional state, family connections, etc. Bigger drinks burrow deeper, uncovering closely held secrets; when the amount of Health consumed equals the target’s Stability (or kills the target), the vampire knows every aspect of the target’s thoughts and memories, including buried traumas or brainwashed secrets. (An Agent can resist giving up a secret with a successful Stability test against a Difficulty equal to 4+ their lost Health.) Even a quick gulp (2+ Health drained) provides language and social skills that allow the vampire to briefly blend into the target’s society (the equivalent of 1 point in High Society or Reassurance or another relevant Interpersonal ability); completely draining a suitable target provides technical skills if needed (e.g., a Transylvanian warlord can suddenly use Skype). As a rule of thumb, each point of Health drained past the first provides the equivalent of 1 point in an ability.

In D2020, this seems like a free (almost unavoidable) power; if the vampire can control it, it costs 1 point of Aberrance per target or per scene.

Node: The Jonathan Harker Foundation

The third episode also shares a liter or two of DNA with The Dracula Dossier, not least its covert vampirological operation. In D2020, this secretive medical charity operates out of (and beneath) Cholmely House, a crumbling Victorian building in Whitby near the Abbey ruins. Named for the dead fiancée of Mina Murray, built on the infrastructure of the nuns’ order at the Hospital of St. Joseph and Ste. Mary (DH, p. 230), and backed by mysterious financiers, it conducts hematological research and searches for the body of Dracula, presumed lost at sea with the Demeter. Its staff includes doctors and mercenaries, and its facilities include a glass-walled prison with a remote-controlled sun roof.

EDOM: Obviously, this was the first version of the vampire prison, before EDOM built the holding facilities on HMS Proserpine. In some campaigns, this might be the only vampire prison, or a staging area for Proserpine transfers (DH, p. 178). This also fits a much smaller version of EDOM (even Dustier or more Mirrored than on EFM p. 58), one that has to contract out mercenaries (via a shell corporation) for security instead of depending on the SAS’ E Squadrons. Either way, its guards use the Special Operations Soldiers stats (NBA, p. 70).

CIA: Or the Russians, or the Chinese, or whomever. Some other agency runs the Harker Foundation, tasked to steal a march on EDOM by trawling the seas off Whitby for lost vampires — either prisoners escaping from Proserpine, or vampirized sailors from the Demeter crawling anoxically over the bottom of the North Sea. Or perhaps, as speculated on DH p. 178, Whitby is one of the magical gates to England, so anyone looking to snare a vampire does well to set up shop here. Either way, they have to keep things to one building and use deniable mercs to avoid MI5 or EDOM noticing.

Conspiracy: Boy, Dracula got ahold of a WiFi-enabled tablet pretty easily in that show, didn’t he? What looks like an idiot plot is actually the action of Dracula’s sleeper agents, left behind in Whitby to infiltrate just such a facility. He funds it through cut-outs, and allows it to operate on the “keep your enemies closer” school of thought, and as a way to release useful blood samples or lore into the British medical stream.

Connections: At one point, the Foundation canonically has a Vial of Blood (only a single tube rather than the jar on DH p. 284), and a Legacy (Zoë Helsing instead of Dr. Jacqueline Seward (DH, p. 47) but you can switch those out). Given the number of vampiric revenants lying around (nine in Highgate Cemetery alone), the Foundation may have synthesized any of the Seward Serum (DH, p. 51), Serum V (DH, p. 162), Blomberg Serum (DH, p. 282), or Luria Formula (DH, p. 114). If it’s EDOM, it’s part of Dr. Drawes’ operation (DH, p. 50); it may also employ the Pharmaceutical Researcher (DH, p. 128). Its charity work could overlap or partner with Heal the Children (DH, p. 150). Its mysterious backer might be the venture capital group (or government black budget) behind Nox Therapeutics (DH, p. 162), which might have memos or (apparently) even regular Skype session logs documenting their connection. Since we know it runs human trials on the surface, its tunnels potentially even hold Camp Midnight (DH, p. 252) or the British (or private-sector) equivalent. Given its connections to the Budapest hospital, the Hungarian (DH, p. 94) likely knows enough to set Agents (or the Journalist; DH, p. 120) on its trail.


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

 

a Night’s Black Agents adventure seed, by Adam Gauntlett

The Sacred Temple of the Paparo, founded in Naples, 1579, by three noble daughters of Giovanni Paparo, has been abandoned by those supposed to care for it. Once bedecked with ornaments and liberally endowed with treasures, it has been ransacked in recent years, down to the last candlestick. Now it is an empty shell, four walls and a waterlogged roof.

If only the dead stayed quiet …

The Director should pick and choose which elements she feels are useful.

Ways in:

  • The Paparo Foundation shares responsibility for the Sacred Temple with the Municipality of Naples. One of the trustees of the Foundation, Emiliano Paparo, has recently been caught in an antiquities smuggling sting in France. The odd thing is, when arrested he had several vampire blocks on him, and according to the arresting officers he became very agitated when they were taken away.
  • An English firm, Canter Antiques and Salvage, has been caught with several artefacts belonging to the church, and the Carabinieri are pressing for the extradition of the head of the firm, Maggie Canter, to answer charges of theft and antiquity smuggling.
  • An important figure with connections either to the Church, historical study or spiritualism (the Psychic, Online Mystic, Medievalist, Enigmatic Monsignor), goes missing and is found, dazed and confused, several days later at the church. This person has no idea how they got there, or where they were during the missing time.

History of the Sacred Temple

The conservatory with attached church is dedicated to the liturgical celebration of the Presentation of Mary at the temple, as depicted in the Protoevangelium of James. The feast day celebrates the birth of Mary, destined to become the mother of Jesus. It was home to many wonders, including rich furnishings, tapestries, mosaic flooring, a Caravaggio painting, and over seven hundred altars.

All of these have been stolen. The worst damage came from a 1993 smash-and-grab raid, but there have been plenty of robberies since. A fire in 2012 and a ceiling collapse due to water damage in 2014 sealed the deal. Now there’s nothing left but the four walls and façade. Even the mosaic floor has been dug up and stolen, to decorate some mafia boss’ mansion.

  • Archaeology, Architecture, Law and Streetwise, Core: This is nothing new. Naples’ proud history and at least a third of its magnificent churches have been ransacked, particularly over the last two decades.
  • Architecture, Law, Streetwise, Cop Talk 1 point: the Sottosulolo tunnels run under the Temple, and there’s supposed to be an access point somewhere in the crypt. One of the raids on the church came from underground, Camorra thugs stealing altars and statues of the Virgin, only to be murdered as they emerged from the tunnels two streets away, presumably by rivals.
  • Archaeology, Architecture, 1 point: The layout of the main hall is distinctive, and among its peculiar signature points is a whispering gallery, with two parabolic dishes used to create the effect. Anything said in that church can be heard by anyone in the church. Nobody knows why the church was designed this way, except that it was at the specific instruction of the church’s three noble founders.
  • Vampirology, 1 point: After the 2012 fire, when damage assessors tried to work out whether the building could be saved, three so-called vampire skulls were found in the damaged crypt. Each had a brick stuffed in their mouths, to prevent them biting others. Preliminary study suggested all three were female. The skulls were stolen soon afterward, and have never resurfaced.

What Do They Want?

Supernatural

The Temple was once, and still is, home to three Strix, linked to the Paparo family by blood and custom. The Temple was built to honor them, and in exchange the Strix promoted and protected the Paparo. Time passed, rituals and honors were forgotten, and the Strix became angrier by the decade. The Temple’s recent misfortunes are a direct result of this fit of supernatural pique. The Strix want the Paparo destroyed.

Damned

The three Paparo noblewomen became damned vampires, and built the Temple in their own honor. They perverted the honors due to Mary, directing it to their own glory. However they were put down in the 1600s, their remains hidden in the crypts below the temple. Without their protection, the Temple faded, collapsing altogether in recent years. One of the Paparo has been resurrected, and is looking for her sisters. She wants her sisters back, and her Temple restored.

Alien

The Paparo women intended the Temple as a vampire/Renfield detection and imprisonment system, which is why those Architectural anomalies exist. They wanted to protect Naples, and encouraged their descendants to do the same. Edom has an architectural study of the Temple in its archives, for that reason. It featured in several Gladio operations, before its unofficial decommission in 1980.  The vampires want to completely deactivate the Temple, and discourage any further study.

Mutant

One of the Paparo family became afflicted, and the Temple was built as a home for that dissident family member. There are hidden secrets in the crypt that throw further light on that family history. The vampire abandoned the temple shortly after the War, but still considers it part of her territory and will be annoyed at any incursion.

Telluric

The worst of the damage can be traced to a 1980 start point: the Iripina Earthquake, November 23rd. It undermined the structure of the building, and caused a dispute between the Paparo Foundation and Naples Municipality over who had to pay to repair the Temple. It also awoke the vampire, possibly a Bride or a by-blow, imprisoned in the crypt. Since then it’s spent its time creating the Temple it wants to live in, and extending its control over the Neapolitan underworld by selling its antiquities (it considers the Temple its property).

Conflict: The Detti War

The Detti clan, part of the sprawling Camorra network that controls significant parts of Naples, has been part of the Conspiracy ever since that unfortunate raid via the Sottosulolo tunnels. The raiders fell foul of the vampires, which is why they were massacred shortly after exiting the tunnels. Their capitulation has, over the years, given the Detti new honors and success.

The Detti have become so successful, in fact, that they have tried to expand by incorporating a Nigerian drug gang, an offshoot of the Neo Black Movement. This brand new alliance fractured as soon as the Nigerians realized the Detti were in bed with vampires, as the Nigerians hate vampires like poison. Blood soon flowed, and many of the street battles center on the Temple. That’s where the Detti meet their vampire paymasters, and that’s what the Nigerians want to destroy once and for all. Streetwise or Network spends forges a relationship with the Nigerians, that can get the agents in on the ground floor on the next raid on the Detti.


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

An adventure seed for Night’s Black Agents, by Adam Gauntlett

The Agents are hired for a simple babysitting gig in Monaco, playground of the idle rich, and find themselves in the Conspiracy’s crosshairs.

What Came Before

A group of hackers hoping to make a big score cracked a billionaire’s superyacht Wi-Fi system. The hackers downloaded everything they could get their hands on, thinking that there would have to be something in all that worthy of blackmail. Then, to add sauce to the roast, they locked up the ship’s systems and demanded a ransom in bitcoin.

The hackers got more than they bargained for, as the superyacht is owned and operated by a major Conspiracy asset. The asset was on board at the time, conducting delicate negotiations with a would-be business partner. The deal was ruined, and the asset is outraged.

The hackers realized they were in over their heads. The new plan is to hire some bodyguards – the Agents – while some very intense negotiations take place. Then they’ll run for it – or so they hope.

Monaco

The Principauté de Monaco microstate is on the French Riviera, with France on three sides and the Mediterranean on the other. This constitutional monarchy is currently governed by Prince Albert II of the House of Grimaldi, a Genoese dynasty that has ruled Monaco since the 1200s. Art, culture, high-stakes gambling, the famous Grand Prix, tax assistance, a balmy climate, and everything else a multi-millionaire could possibly ask for; Monaco has it all, in a package about the size of New York City’s Central Park..

Though technically ten wards, Monaco is often thought of as four quarters: Monaco-Ville, La Condamime (which includes Port Hercule), Monte Carlo, home to the famous casino, and 1970s newcomer Fontvielle, made from reclaimed land.

Population

A little under 40,000 people. The Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California could accommodate all of Monaco twice over.

The native Monegasques, all 5,000 of them, are outnumbered in their own country; over a quarter of the population is French, with strong minority populations of Italians, British, Belgians, Germans, Swiss and US nationals. The official language is French, but English is widely spoken. The local language, Monegasque, is little used.

Special

Social norms are rigidly enforced, and tourists may be prosecuted if they walk around without a shirt on. Would-be residents need to deposit at least €300,000 in a Monaco bank account before the government will issue a residency permit. Meanwhile the wealthy drop their usual paranoia and drive around in open-top vehicles, with expensive jewelry on display, certain they will never be robbed or molested.

The Agents’ base Heat, usually 1, is 2 in Monaco due to stringent security protocols.

Further, any Heat-gaining action gains 1 extra Heat if that action involves overt lethal or potentially lethal violence. Getting into a fistfight is one thing, but guns or explosions provokes a rapid response.

Gambling and Spending Excessive Funds gains no Heat. Monaco’s seen it all before.

Thrilling Elements

As per European Tourist City, with the following additions unique to Monaco:

  • A-list celebrity, Hollywood star or similar, walking with her personal assistant or driving in a very expensive open-top car.
  • Major racing event. The streets are packed with competitors and cheering crowds. The Monte Carlo Rally takes place in January each year, the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco is held every two years, two weeks before the Formula One, and the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco, one of motorsport’s Triple Crown events, takes place each year in May. Setup for each event takes six weeks and demolition three, so even without the race itself the streets are impacted before and after the event.
  • Coastal roads with hairpin bends; the least mistake will send your car crashing to its doom. All the more troubling, then, that so many petrol-heads in expensive cars seem keen to reenact the Bond-Onatopp chase from GoldenEye.
  • Confusing, narrow little streets surrounded on all sides by concrete, glass, and the occasional Belle Epoque masterpiece not yet destined for a date with a wrecking ball. Cramped, for Chase purposes.

Adventures in Babysitting

The Agents are brought in by a ‘Ndrangheta fixer, who puts them in a room with Maxim Ivanov, leader of the hack team.

The meeting takes place in the penthouse suite of a luxury Fontvielle apartment building, with an ocean view, three beds, two baths, living room and terrace. This, Maxim explains, will be their base of operations for the next few days.

He wants them to take care of Viktor Morizov. Viktor is to be treated with every possible courtesy, but he is not to be left alone nor is he allowed to leave the apartment. The job’s supposed to last from today, Friday, through to 9am next Monday. Anything Viktor wants, Viktor gets. So long as he never leaves.

Maxim gives them a burner phone to contact him, and five thousand Euro for expenses. It’s not a lot, not in a place like Monaco, but it should last a weekend.

Viktor Morizov: Civilian with high Digital Intrusion and Electronic Surveillance pools. Viktor’s a terrified twenty year old manchild. He speaks Russian, German and atrocious English, and behaves like a hick – which, to be fair, he is.

A Criminology, Research or Streetwise spend discovers Viktor’s criminal history. Viktor is linked with the Russian government sponsored group APT28, also known as Fancy Bear. Viktor, along with a handful of others, is supposed to have broken ranks and left the group in order to make money for himself.

Viktor has an external hard drive containing all the data the team stole. Treat this as a 4-point dedicated pool, Vampirology, and anything and everything to do with the Conspiracy asset and its links to other Nodes. The other hackers have been sent out of Monaco. Viktor’s here to sit on the data, and the Agents are here to make sure he doesn’t run.

Maxim Ivanov: Former Military Intelligence operative who thinks he has everything under control. A Criminology, Research or Streetwise spend discovers Maxim’s former life as an OMON special police operative in Moscow; he has several awards for bravery. He quit two years ago.

Maxim’s Plan:  Maxim has resigned himself to sacrificing Viktor and the data. However he wants to sacrifice Viktor on his own terms, so he’s trying to get as many bidders as possible, with this inducement: if you want the data I stole, pay me, and I’ll tell you where the guy who has it is.

This means it’s not just the Conspiracy the Agents have to worry about. Maxim’s contacting anyone he thinks will pay. Director’s choice as to who that might be, or what forces they might have at their disposal.

Maxim doesn’t care what happens to the Agents. Ideally he’ll cut them loose with a hefty payday, if all goes well. However he hired people he doesn’t care about because that way, if things go wrong, he doesn’t have to feel too badly about the corpses he’s leaving in his wake.

Except for Viktor, of course. Tough luck for the kid.

The Building

The penthouse is well-stocked with the basics, and has a massive flatscreen television with a Blue-Ray player and a huge library of movies. The owner, if anyone bothers to find out, is a midlevel Hollywood exec who comes to Monaco for a few weeks in the year in festival season, and rents it through an agent when it’s vacant. The other apartments in the building are likewise owned by absentee landlords, rented short-term to well-heeled tourists.

The building’s moderately secure, with concierge and security cameras throughout; Infiltration Difficulty 4 to break in. There is maid service. As this is the penthouse suite there are no neighbors on this level. Directly beneath are two vacant apartments, an owner-occupied apartment, (Aimee Charron, a very well-heeled socialite who ‘works’ as a personal assistant), and a tourist apartment currently occupied by a German gay couple, the Fenstermachers, here to gamble and have a good time. The rest of this six story building is occupied by about two score people total.

Avenues of Attack

Maxim’s plan goes belly-up shortly after he puts his advert on the dark web. The Conspiracy asset snatches Maxim off the street, and tortures him until he gives up Viktor’s location. This takes a while.

The Conspiracy asset also goes after the other hackers, hiding outside Monaco, and grabs them up one by one. Viktor’s in touch with them via social media, and some of the snatches are spectacular enough to make the news. As each happens, Viktor gets more and more despondent.

Meanwhile other would-be buyers gather in Monaco. They know they have to act quickly if they want the data. They can’t get hold of Maxim, so they do the next best thing: they buy the Agents’ location from the ‘Ndrangheta fixer who set all this up. It takes them time to find the right fixer and make a deal.

The Agents may discover this through Tradecraft, Streetwise, Digital Intrusion as an investigative ability to find the dark web advert, or similar. If they find out quickly, they can pick up as much as 2 pool points Preparedness, to use during their escape. If they don’t find out, then they lose 2 pool points Preparedness, since the first sign of trouble is probably when some goon puts his boot through the penthouse door.

Running Away From Home

Viktor becomes increasingly miserable as time passes. His friends are all dead or dying, Maxim is nowhere to be seen, and he’s surrounded by people he doesn’t know or trust.

If the Agents use Shrink, Reassurance or similar on Viktor then this scene does not happen. If they did not, Viktor tries to escape.

Viktor reaches out via his online connections to find someone who will help him. His attempts are intercepted by one of the data buyers, but Viktor doesn’t realize this. Digital Intrusion as an investigative spend spots Viktor’s attempts to find help, or traces his attempts after the fact.

Then he uses the pharmaceuticals in the penthouse’s medicine cabinet to whip up a quick knockout cocktail, to use on the Agents. He gets this to them however he can; maybe in their drinks, maybe in takeout food.

The homemade drug cocktail can be detected with 1 point Chemistry or Medic as an investigative spend, and purged in one round with 1 point Diagnosis.

Those who ingest it need to make a Difficulty 6 Health test. Success means they act as if Hurt for the next 6 rounds. Failure means they act as if Seriously Wounded for the next 6 rounds and Hurt for 6 rounds after that. This may provoke Consciousness checks.

Then Viktor makes a run for it. He thinks he’s arranged to meet friends at a coffee shop ten minutes’ walk away, but in fact the data buyers hired an extraction team to snatch him.

The Grand Finale

The Agents can hold out, or run for it.

Holding out isn’t helpful. Maxim’s not coming. His plan backfired, and he’s spilling his guts. Eventually the Conspiracy asset or the data buyers will get into the penthouse.

The Conspiracy asset prefers heavy tactics; bust in, bust heads, get out, use lawyers with buckets of money to cover the damage. The data buyers are more discreet, and may attempt negotiation. However they all want the same thing: Viktor, and his data.

The difference is, the Conspiracy asset doesn’t care whether Viktor lives or dies, and considers the Agents acceptable collateral damage. Also the Fenstermachers, Aimee Charron, the maids, and pretty much anyone and anyone else that gets in the way.

Leaving Monaco is tricky. The microstate is very small, but it’s one of the most heavily surveilled places in the world. The OPFOR can track the Agents’ movements, and intercept them before they get far. Consider this a Thrilling Chase at minimum, possibly an Extended Chase if you want this to track across France to some hideout of the Agents’ choosing.

What happens next is up to the Agents …


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

by Adam Gauntlett

This Thrilling Chase scenario comes courtesy of Ian Fleming’s Octopussy, in which a dead body found frozen in the mountains near Kitzbühel leads to death for a former wartime hero.

Location: Kitzbühel

Demographics: 3,200 (1890s), 5,500 (1939-45), 8,000 (1970s), 8,200 (2014). The majority are Austrians, often with Italian connections; in the modern day about 24% are foreign born, with Germans, Turks, Bosnians, Serbs and Romanians being the largest foreign born demographic groups. Standard Austrian German is the common language; English is uncommon.

Type: small mountainside medieval tourist town, heavily dependent on winter sports and skiing. In the summer there are mountain bike paths and hiking trails. There are over 10,000 guest beds, which means in season the tourists outnumber the locals, probably at a 2:1 ratio at least. The World Wars largely bypassed it, so its medieval heritage is intact. A river runs through it, the Kitzbüheler Ache, and there are rail connections. Before skiing and tourism took over, Kitzbühel was a mining town – silver and copper. Its ski season is mid-October to early May, and most of the tourists who go there are High Society 1 or more. The city centre is car-free. The crime show SOKO Kitzbühel, a modern police procedural, has run for 17 seasons since 2001. Recurring characters include a Michelin-star chef turned amateur detective, and a Countess.

Landmarks: Museum Kitzbühel located in former granary & medieval tower, comprehensive history of Kitzbühel from Bronze Age to present. Town Fountain designed in 1971 to celebrate 700th anniversary, with statues of town founder and famous Tyroleans. Death Lantern chapel in a cemetery, designed in the shape of a square death lantern, similar to wayside shrines. Built 1450. Lebenberg Castle hotel built in 14th century, has been a guest house since 1885.

Chase Scene elements: Road. Cows. Kitzbühel is still a farming community; cows outnumber permanent residents by 3:1. Horse-drawn carriages. Narrow, cobbled medieval streets with gaily decorated gabled houses either side. High-end classic cars, unblemished, as if they’d just rolled off the production line. Ski. Cable cars and ski lifts, over 57 of them. Snowcats, massive enclosed fully tracked vehicles designed for group tours. Treat as Speed 0 Manoeuvre -2. Over 32 km established ski routes, plenty of off-country opportunities and deep powder. Trails (summer). Gentle Alpine slopes. Hiker Huts and shelters. Adventure realms with dinosaurs, witches & spirits, perfect for driving through at high speed.

Inciting Incident

A corpse was discovered out on the mountainside, and best forensic evidence suggests the body’s been there at least ten years. The identity is going to depend on the era; 1890s, a Vatican exorcist and vampire-hunter. 1939-45, a German Communist and anti-Fascist suspected of having stolen information from the German vampire program. 1970s, a British pilot involved in flights in and out of Kitzbühel during the War. 2014, a Russian former KGB agent and fixer to the great and powerful. Whoever the person was, they had information on them when they went missing, and the question is, where is that package now? Was the McGuffin stuffed under a rock, hidden somewhere in Kitzbühel itself, something else? How did the dead man come to be there, and what killed him? The tip to the inciting incident can come from Tradecraft, Cop Talk, High Society.

OPFOR

The dead man was killed by a Conspiracy Node that is now non-functional or under new management. The reconstituted Node, or its replacement, is suspicious of this discovery, particularly since it comes at a time of crisis; one of its competitors is challenging its authority. The timing is too perfect to be a coincidence. It activates the Yojimbo option, sending an unaffiliated team to scarf up any information it can, and hopefully trigger any traps or ambushes. The Node also sends an agent of its own to monitor the situation, and step in if the Yojimbo team gets trounced.

Yojimbo Team: (N=agents+4) Thugs, all gym rats (expert skiiers/mountain bikers). Civilian High Society fixer with Athletics 6, Driving 6, effective Flirting 1, posing as a VIP. Led by former Soldier, Shooting 9, inhabited by an Adzeh who hates the cold and really wishes it were somewhere warmer. Armament will vary depending on era, but assume the Thugs have at least rifles and pistols, or the equivalent. The Soldier uses a crossbow, with the Sniping option.

Node Agent: Vampire, with Civilian High Society fixer, Athletics 4, Driving 4, Hand-to-Hand 4, effective Cop Talk 1, posing as a Michelin inspector and amateur detective working for a client who ‘prefers discretion over publicity.’ Equipment will depend on era, but their job is primarily surveillance, so they’ll have the best era-appropriate surveillance equipment. The Michelin Guide doesn’t exist prior to 1900, so in an 1890s scenario the Civilian is a travelling epicure.

It All Goes Boom Variation: Of course this wasn’t a coincidence. The rival Node placed Class 3 explosives at the target site, hoping to catch someone important. The Director may or may not use this variation, as required.

Arrival

Kitzbühel is, as always, full of life, but now it seems frenetic, frenzied, like something out of Poe’s Red Death. Mountains glower down on the little medieval outpost, and the shadows grow longer each night. The Ork, a Tyrolean ogre or demon, is supposed to live in those mountains, ever the enemy of man; on cold, dark nights like these, it seems plausible. The tourists seem happy enough, but the locals go home as early as they can, lock their doors, and refuse to come out till morning’s light. Tradecraft or Surveillance notices the Yojimbo team immediately; even with their fixer doing the best she can, they stand out. However they don’t seem to have realized the agents have arrived. A point spend sees that the Yojimbo team are being watched, by the Vampire’s Civilian fixer.

The Body

Cop Talk, Law, or Bureaucracy spends needed to get access to the body, or see the things found with it. Infiltration Difficulty 4 to get into the police morgue. The police station in Kitzbühel is close to the river and rail lines, far from anything glitzy or touristy. Autopsy notes can be found on computer (Digital Intrusion Difficulty 4) or the forensic medical examiner’s notes can be found at the station, in the doctor’s office. In any scenario at or prior to 1939 there are no notes; the body hasn’t been examined, and awaits an expert’s visit.

The dead man was knifed in a manner that strongly indicates military experience, possibly special forces. Medical report or Forensic Pathology study of the body needed to realize this. Some effort was taken to conceal its identity – face bashed, fingers cut off. However sufficient evidence remains (DNA analysis, giveaway tattoo, tailor’s marks, as needed) to tentatively identify the body.

Among the possessions is an Idaite fragment containing copper, iron and sulphur. Given the location of the shallow grave where the body was found, the likely source is a mine – Röhrerbüchel, one of the deepest medieval mining operations. It hasn’t been used in over 150 years. It isn’t a tourist site, though it is occasionally visited by geologists and rockhounds.

Chase #1: Yojimbo Rabbits

The Yojimbo team either interrupts or arrives ahead of the agents. It wants everything it can get its hands on, and will try to get away with something that seems valuable – the body, the autopsy report. However the real prize is the Idaite, which the Director should ensure ends up with the agents. How Yojimbo gets in depends on circumstances; Infiltration, or determined bluffing from the Civilian fixer, as she tries to smuggle Thugs through the front door. Road conditions: cramped, if the chase goes into historic Kitzbühel. The Thugs use an SUV, the Civilian fixer a sports car. The Soldier oversees this operation from a distance, and does not appear in the scene.

Röhrerbüchel

The abandoned mine shafts stretch on for miles, but agents spending Notice or Outdoor Survival find trail marks left behind by the dead man. Depending on the era this can be Latin tags (1890s), German (1939-45), old RAF marks (1970s), KGB symbols (2014). Not spending means the agents will have to follow the Yojimbo team.

The McGuffin is hidden deep in the mine, and may be booby-trapped with explosives that cause a cave-in. If the booby-trap option is used, an extra point spend of Notice or Outdoor Survival sees that the trail marks are too fresh to have been made by the dead man, warning the agents that the McGuffin is a trap.

Chase #2: Roger Moore

The surviving Yojimbo team pursues the agents down the mountain, either on skis or by mountain bike. The mountain is steep, with potential avalanche if the booby-trap went off. The chase ends in Kitzbühel, where the Vampire steps in to claim the prize. The Vampire will want either the McGuffin or a kidnapped agent to tell it what happened. If an agent is kidnapped, the Vampire can be traced via its Civilian fixer, allowing an escape attempt.

 


Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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