A Hopeful Ending and a New Beginning

We played our final session of The 23rd Letter play test this week, and wrapped up the story of Poppy and her baby.

After recuperating overnight (under Joy’s watchful care, and a handy saline drip), Poppy recovered enough from her ordeal to tell the group about what had happened, which really just confirmed all their suspicions from the previous sessions.

She was a telepath, recruited to be part of The Third Project, a government organisation that worked to keep the public safe from Espers. At first she had thought she was doing the right thing and using her talent for the good of her fellow countryment, but she came to realise that the folks running the Project (or at least her field office in Topeka) were actually working against the best interests of Espers in general, and about a year prior she had started working with a couple of Cells in the Network to supply them with Psilence so that they could avoid capture or detection by the Project.

While pregnant, Poppy realised that the double agent thing really was too much for her to handle along with a baby, so she decided to get out of the Project altogether and slip away into the Network. Her last act was to grab the entire stockpile of Psilence that her office had and bring it with her, but before she could get away, she went into labour. She had the baby, whose name is Anna, but the missing Psilence was noticed and questions started being asked. As soon as she was able, she slipped away. Leaving the Psilence where she’d stashed it, she traveled to St Louis where she was supposed to drop the drugs. Instead, she tried to meet up with the Cell, but the Third Project tracked her down and snatched her. She was able to hide the baby, knowing that help was on the way (and wanting to keep her obviously psychic child out of government hands).

The media was filled with accounts of the ‘Terror Attack’ on the highway from the day before, and Jenny had a meeting arranged for her with Internal Affairs the next week. However, at this point I asked the group if we could go into Downtime to test out those rules, which we did. I’ll handle the open plot points narratively at the start of next session (i.e. what happened in the Internal Affairs meeting, any developments on the location of Clark, etc.)

During Downtime, everyone has the opportunity to spend the Experiences they earned during play, adding new Qualities or Talents, or improving existing Skills, Talents or Attributes. Each member of the group got 12 XP (2 for each session, which is the middle of the road for our guidelines of 1-3). This led to some interesting discussions and changes in how we structure both XP and character creation, so I’m really glad we got a chance to do this part. For example, we discovered that the two very powerful Espers in the group had no real way to improve their Talents, which felt a little disappointing. Both players said they’d rather start a bit less powerful and become better through play. We also discovered that the costs of things was off, so glad we got to address that too.

The Cell used their downtime to shore up their Hideout, choosing to make it large enough for four people to rest in (it starts only large enough for 1, but luckily Bryce has the Builder Quality, allowing him to make an extra upgrade during Downtime). Stress and Heat were reduced for the group (another mechanics discussion and improvement resulted from that!).

A big thank you to my five players and their characters:

  • Stefan – the precog hippie and Cell namesake Richard Moonglow
  • Ellie – the nurse (and Cell mom) Joy Mary Smith
  • Fintan – the pyrokinetic cook/builder Bryce Collins
  • Eve – the mind-reading ‘medium’ and con-artist Vonbella Alexander
  • Sarah – the overworked and overlooked Detective Jenny Blake

The Moonglow Cell will continue to function after a couple weeks break (giving me time to write some more story hooks!) and now has a channel on our Discord to help track actual play.

About AJ

Gamist: 14%, Simulationist: 29%, Narrativist: 57%. Ah, the irony.
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