Tuesday, June 11, 2024

AG3NTS OF C0NTR0L: Operation Jarfly (Part One)

I did a little bit of an experiment for last Friday's game: I told the group that I'd run something, but the only thing I told them about that game is that they would be playing "special agents." All they had to do was come up with a name and a physical description of their character in advance. I wouldn't tell them anything about the setting, system, tone, or vibe. Massive thank yous are due to Ajustus, who--even though he didn't play in the session--sat in and took the notes from which this write up is born. 

Here's what went down in the first session of a little pick-up game I wrote called AG3NTS OF C0NTR0L.


At the start of the game, each agent was in absolute darkness, unaware of their surroundings. Each of them heard an androgynous, almost robotic, voice within their ear that said:

Hypnos protocol complete. Agents Romanov, October, Fauchon, Argo, and Vukovic have accessed deep slumber. Agents, proceed with Operation Jarfly: secure the cipher and exit the city of Red Vitriol. Clearance level currently chromia green. If you need assistance, remember that c0ntr0l is with you. Contact us through your earpiece as needed, operatives.

The darkness gradually brightened into black, white, and shades of gray–then color filtered back into the image before them. Each agent was wearing a tailored black suit, white dress shirt, black tie, and black patent leather shoes. There was a holstered gun under their jackets and they knew that there was a knife strapped to their leg.

They were standing in an alleyway between brick buildings. The smell of garbage wafted from the dumpsters clustered near the mouth of the alley. Light spilled in from a lone streetlamp. It was night and it was raining. At their feet, a body lay face down on the wet pavement. The person was wearing a tailored black suit that matched their own. A pool of blood spread beneath them in a rough semi-circle. 

Agent Vukovic searched the person's pockets and found a matchbook from the El Greco Lounge, an orange medicine bottle ("Four Thieves' Oil") prescribed by Dr. Legba, a library card, and a locker key. Agent October examined the body; when it was turned over, it was revealed that the man's abdomen had been carved out--his stomach and intestines were missing. Further investigation suggested that the murder had occurred in the alley.

When the agents emerged from the alleyway, they noticed that the makes and models of the cars, as well as the fashions on the people they saw passing by, seemed to belong to the 1950s. This struck them as odd, though they could not put their fingers on why. They located a phonebooth. Looking up Dr. Legba in the phonebook yielded nothing, but they did find the addresses of both the El Greco Lounge, the Ernest P. Lowrock Memorial Library, and a train station that was the likely location of the locker the key belonged to.

Agent Fauchon pushed for the El Greco Lounge, so that was their first stop. They piled into one taxi and sped uptown. There were two beefy bouncers manning the velvet rope out front of the El Greco; as soon as they entered, they heard the house band's sax player launch into a smoky solo. Agent Vukovic approached the bar to order drinks for herself and Agent Fauchon; she noticed that the bartender had a pitch-black tongue. Meanwhile, Agent October purchased a pack from the cigarette machine; inside the pack was a note listing "possible r3ag3nts": the man with the black tongue, the child with the third eye, the woman with the broken teeth, and the man with the lemon-colored gloves. 

Agent Argo spotted a woman with an asymmetrical haircut and a tattoo on her wrist repeatedly slipping into and out of a private room in the club with various patrons. Upon closer examination, her tattoo proved to be of a cicada. Over at the bar, Agent Fauchon described the dead man to the bartender with the black tongue, which caused him to ask if they were there for "the pick-up." When Agent Fauchon replied in the affirmative, the bartender asked for "the sigil." Unable to provide one, Agent Fauchon tried to bluff. The bartender told them to meet him around back.

Agents Fauchon, Romanov, and Argo went around behind the El Greco. The door was unlocked and they were ushered into a storeroom by the bartender. Three thugs--one armed with a crowbar, one with a sawed off pool cue, one with a baseball bat--entered and began to approach menacingly. Agent Argo rushed them, knocking one to the ground and wrongfooting the others. Agent Romanov held his knife to the bartender's throat, but the black-tongued man claimed he couldn't call off the muscle. Romanov rifled the bartender's pockets and found a lighter; using pyrokinesis--which seemed like a natural enough thing for the agent to use--Romanov caused the lighter's flame to expand and engulf one of the thugs. Agent Fauchon threw his knife at a thug, but missed. The room seemed to tilt and the robotic voice of c0ntr0l told that them Fauchon was "experiencing a rising ride of Melancholia." 

Romanov took a pool cue to the leg; Vukovic drew her gun, but missed when she fired on a thug. In both instances, the robotic voice noted their rising Melancholia. Agent Argo ended the brawl by knocking out the remaining thug. The bartended told them that he had no idea what a "r3ag3nt" was and that they had already delivered the package, which was about the size of a travel typewriter, to a man who was dressed the same way they were. He also told them that the package came from Dr. Legba, who operated a clinic out in the warehouse district. When asked, he drew "the sigil" for them: a stylized cicada.

What is going on? Mysteries within mysteries; as the wheel turns, tune in next time to find out how the agents proceed with Operation Jarfly. Spoiler: they aren't all going to make it out alive.