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Converting New York to Fate

HidingFromMyPlayers

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Later this week I will be running the sixth session/episode of my "secret" Pulp-Fate conversion of the new 7th edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep. That means that just as I did for the Peru chapter, I need to convert the content of the chapter to Fate rules, however I've tweaked some concept about how I'm doing things, particularly cults, since then.

 

Location Aspects and Language

Like any primary location in Masks, New York will get its own set of aspects on the expedition sheet: Location Concept, Trouble, and Hidden Issue.

 

Location Concept: The Roar of the 1920s New York

Manhattan in 1925 should be the perfect place to show off the Jazz Age/Prohibition setting. Flappers, gangsters, speakeasies, etc.

 

Location Trouble: Short Snowy Days and Long Cold Nights

New York in January 1925 is actually one of the coldest on record with high snowfall and even a blizzard. That seems like far too interesting a historical detail not to include, and a potentially interesting location detail. Tracks or blood in the snow, people hidden behind bulky clothing and scarves, slipping, snowfall making vision difficult, the obviousnous of someone "lurking" in nasty weather, etc.

 

Location Hidden Issue: Evil Is Afoot

The New York chapter is when the players first get to discover that their is a world wide occult conspiracy, hopefully finding clues pointing to several continents. It's also a setting where the local cult is up to no good, having bribed the police, framed an innocent man, and undertaking illegal activities including ritual kidnapping and murder.

 

Language: English

Although several languages can be heard in New York depending on which burrow or neighborhood you are in, the common language is still English, and there aren't too many locations in this chapter with other languages would be important. All of my players know English so I won't be offering a compel on it for this location.

 

The New York Branch of the Bloody Tongue

I will be depicting the cult using the Bronze Rule meathod I talked about here. The cult itself is treated like a character, with all its members using the larger cult stats, and some special members getting extra features.

 

The New York branch of the cult of the Bloody Tongue was setup some 8 years ago to support M'weru in locating patsies for Nyarlathotep's plans, a search that resulted in the Caryle Expedition, and the departure of M'weru from New York and of the New York branch from the larger plans of Nyarlathotep. Mukunga M’Dari has been left in charge of this branch of the cult, and he seeks to grow it in size and power, as cult leaders are wont to do. His method is largely through gaining wealth through criminal smuggling, and then using the drugs and money to gain recruits and buy influence with corrupt police. Note that Captain Robson isn't a member of the cult. He thinks he's being bribed by smugglers, not crazed cultists. The two listed leaders for the cult are M'Dari and N'Kwane. M'Dari as the cult leader, master of rituals, and potent combatant will get his own character stats, but N'Kwane makes a useful front man to aid the cult in keeping itself secret so I will be depicting him as a VIC. There are three more named cultists in the chapter: the three that attacked Jackson. I've decided to make one of them a combat related VIC, an eager killer for the cult who is leading the lesser cultists on this mission. (He'll have a leather headband instead of a cloth one). Lastly, I'm turning the pack of zombified humans into a single horrific VIC.

Skill wise I'm giving the New York cult a step down on the pyramid. For skills the specialty is violence, which actually gets them in trouble enough that they have to use their wealth to keep the local police captain on retainer. For a third skill I'm giving them Scrutiny, as they were able to track down Jackson Elias. It might seem odd to give them a Faith of +0, but as a new cult of mostly new recruits from the dregs of society, they aren't likely as faithful or as knowledgeable as cults that have seen an avatar of their god summoned over the mountain of The Black Wind. As near as I can tell, none of the cultists know magic or perform rites beyond the M'Dari. The book also describes the cult having about 30 cultists, so I've set the cultist track to 30.

 

Concept: Worshipers of the Bloody Tongue Drawn From The Dregs Of High and Low Society

Instinct: Solve Problems With Panga and Blood

Turf: We Run the Harlem Underworld

Objective: Expand In Influence, Wealth, and Power

Ratings:

+2 Violence

+1 Scrutiny, Wealth

+0 Authority, Fear, Faith, Subterfuge

Stunts:

  • Face In The Crowd: Gain a +2 to Defend with Subterfuge when attempting to blend into the crowd.

Cultists:

[0] [0] [0] [0] [0] | [0] [0] [0] [0] [0] | [0] [0] [0] [0] [0] | [0] [0] [0] [0] [0] | [0] [0] [0] [0] [0] | [0] [0] [0] [0] [0]

VICs:

  • Name: Silas N'Kwane
    • Aspect: Little Old African Shop Keeper
    • Condition Track: [2 Out]
    • Stunt: Front Man - Gain a +2 to Defend with Subterfuge when concealing cult activities as shop business.
  • Name: Jomo "Jimmy" Jepleting
    • Aspect: Big Man With A Big Knife
    • Condition Track: [2 - Upset/Angry] [2 - Weakened/Injured] [2 - Out]
    • Stunt: Panga Expert - Gain a +2 to attack with Violence when using a large bladed weapon.
  • Name: Ciimba Guardians
    • Aspect: Pack of Zombified Human Victims
    • Trouble: No Mind of Their Own
    • Condition Track: [2- Reduced In Number] [2- Out]
    • Stunt: Horrific Visage - When seen for the first time, make a free +2 Horror (2 Madness) attack.

 

Mukunga M’Dari

The leader of the local chapter of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, M'Dari is a threat on many levels. He is physically dangerous, mystically capable, and cunning enough to have bought the protection of the local police force. I expect that when the players face off against him he will be using ceremonial claws, surrounded by cultists, and backed up by zombies. In other words, I'm going to teat him as a Boss level foe as per the Fate Adversary Toolkit. However, there is a possibility that the players will meet him before they fully know what is going on the with the cult, so I need to make sure his public facing High Concept and Trouble aren't explicitly cult related. The rest of this aspect can be initially hidden from the player as needed. Of course, if they meet him under the Ju-Ju Shop, dressed in a lion's hide with metal claws, performing a sacrifice to the monster in the pit, very little will still be hidden.

 

Aspects

  • High Concept: Muscular African Dock Worker
  • Trouble: Aggressive and Petty
  • Hidden Aspect: Violent Leader of a Bloody Cult
  • Hidden Aspect: As Dangerous As A Rapid Lion
  • Hidden Aspect: My Friend The Corrupt Police Captain

Skills

+5 Fight, Provoke

+4 Physique, Deceive, Notice

+3 Lore, Occult, Contacts, Athletics

+2 Empathy, Investigate, Will, Stealth, Shoot

+1 Burglary, Crafts, Drive, Rapport, Resources

Stunts:

  • Dread Clutch of Nyogtha: You have memorized a very rare quick casting spell that can potentially kill a target in seconds. As an action you cast a ritual invovling making a disturbing clawing formation with one hand, and squeezing it closed like you are crushing the target's heart. The target must be present and they must know they are being targeted or the spell has no effect. Use Occult to make an attack for mental stress, which the target Defends against with Will. This spell is known to inflict chest pains, heart arrhythmia, and cardiac arrest.
  • Shroud of Fear: When a cult member invokes your Violent Leader of a Bloody Cult aspect to resist interrogation, they get a +3 bonus instead of a +2 bonus.
  • By Rote: You know the following rituals by heart and do not need a book to cast them: Awaken Ciimba Slave, Contact God of the Bloody Tongue, and Lesser Doom of the Devoured Moon.

Stress Track: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Consequence Slots: [2 - Mild] [4 - Moderate]

 

The Monster in the Pit

The Chakota, as described in MoN, is a a deadly monster, but it's also not particularly mobile. As long as the players stay out of the pit, the most they have to deal with is the sanity draining noise. I was tempted to write it up as a Hazard using the Fate Adversary Toolkit rules, and not really even treat it as a full creature. However, I imagined the cult loosing control of it during a ritual the players interrupt, and it getting out of the pit, and now I've decided to make it a Threat, as per the Adversary Toolkit.

Aspects:

  • High Concept: Elephant Sized Worm Made Entirely of Screaming Human Faces
  • Trouble: Bound By Magic

Skills:

+4 Physique

+3 Provoke, Fight

Stunts:

  • Terrifying Form: When someone sees your for the first time, make a free Horror +4 (Madness 2) Attack.
  • Screams of Madness: Spend a Fate Point and make a single Provoke Attack dealing Mental Stress against all sane targets that can hear you.
  • Immune to Conventional Weapons: Add a Fate Point to the Expedition Pool to make the Chakota automatically succeed on all defense rolls against attacks from conventional weapons for the rest of the scene. Vulnerable to Fire (Defends at +0, no immunity)

Stress: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Consequences: [2 Mild Physical]

 

The Harlem Police

The cult isn't the only organization the players may have to deal with in New York. The Harlem police captain is in corrupt and paid off by the cult, but isn't actually part of the cult. I'm going to try depicting him and the corrupt officers he has at his disposal using bronze rules like those for the cult. In this case, I plan on making the Captain himself a VIC instead of a full NPC. The Police operate largely on Authority backed by violence, but as a team of detectives they are also capable of investigating, trailing, and searching. As an organization, they seek wealth for its own sake and are unwilling to spend money when authority or violence will work just as well.

Only Robson is named in the book, I think there should be a pair of officers that act as Robson's trusted agents for various purposes. The police's actions described in the book are mostly geared towards violence, blackmail, and framed crimes, so that's what the VICs focus on.

I figure captain Robson probably has over a dozen officers of various ranks he can generally call on if the players do something that requires mass response (like attacking a police station) but typically a small squad is all they will deal with. The players are unlikely to take out the entire police precinct, but they might remove Robson and his corrupt agents, leaving a less problematic but still somewhat corrupt precinct behind.

 

Concept: Corrupt Harlem Police

Instinct: Arrest The Troublemakers

Turf: Keeping Harlem Safe

Objective: All About the Money

Ratings:

+2 Authority

+1 Violence, Scrutiny

+0 Fear, Wealth, Faith, Subterfuge

Stunts:

  • Hiding Behind The Badge: Gain a +2 to Defend with Authority when using official status as police officers.

Members:

[0] [0] [0] [0] [0] | [0] [0] [0] [0] [0] | [0] [0] [0] [0] [0]

VICs:

  • Name: Captain Robson
    • Aspect: Captain of the Harlem Police Precinct
    • Hidden Aspect: No Idea What the Cult Is Doing
    • Condition Track: [2- Upset/Angry] [2 Out]
    • Stunt: Once a Detective - Gain a +2 on Create Advantage with Scrutiny when digging up shady details on a target.
  • Name: Detective Harris
    • Aspect: Robson's Pet Detective
    • Condition Track: [2 - Weakened/Injured] [2 - Out]
    • Stunt: Crime Scene Engineer - Gain +2 on Create Advantage with Subterfuge when staging a crime scene.
  • Name: Sergent Callahan
    • Aspect: Robson's Right Hand Man
    • Condition Track: [2 - Upset/Angry] [2 - Weakened/Injured] [2 - Out]
    • Stunt: Crime Scene Engineer - Use Authority to make Physical Attacks when "working someone over" as a police officer.

 

Other NPCs

Everyone else the players meet should only need an aspect or two, and can be considered to have a +2 in anything related to their non-trouble aspects, and a +0 in everything else.

 

Lieutenant Martin Poole

High Concept: Dogged Heavyset Veteran Homicide Detective

Trouble: Seen the Worst NYC Has To Offer

Hidden Aspect: Suspects Adams Is Innocent

 

Joanna Kensington

High Concept: Editor/Owner of Prospero House Publishing

Trouble: "Don't Tell Me Where a Woman's Place Is"

Aspect: Good Friend of Jackson Elias

NOTE: In the book, the character is a male but I'm choosing to swap the gender for reasons of representation.

 

Carlton Ramsey

High Concept: African American Lawyer

Trouble: Nervous By Default

Aspect: Good Friend of Jackson Elias

 

Erica Carlyle

High Concept: Young Millionaire Businesswoman

Trouble: Most Eligible Woman in Town

Hidden Aspect: Really Did Love Her Brother For All His Faults

 

Joe Corey

High Concept: Erica Carlyle's Trusted Bodyguard

Trouble: Carries Himself Like the Ex-Mob Enforcer He Is

 

Bradly Grey

High Concept: Lawyer and Counselor to The Carlyles

Trouble: More Concerned with Appearance than Morals

 

Miriam Atwright

High Concept: Harvard University Reference Librarian

Trouble: More comfortable with the written word than people

Aspect: Good Friend of Jackson Elias

Hidden Aspect: Degree in Anthropology

 

Professor Anthony Dimsdale Cowles

High Concept: Cheerful Australian Professor of Anthropology

Trouble: Just Keeps Talking

Aspect: Penchant For Ghost Tales

 

Ewa Seaward Cowles

High Concept: Beautiful and Protective Daughter of Professor Cowles

Trouble: More Suitors Than She Can Shake A Stick At

 

Arthur Emerson

High Concept: Shady Importer/Exporter

Trouble: Plausible Deniability Requires Not Knowing

 

Dr. Mordecai Lemming

High Concept: Self Styled Expert on the Occult

Trouble: Living Off the Dwindling Family Fortune

 

Rebecca Shosenburg

High Concept: Persistent Junior Crime Reporter for the New York Times

Trouble: Exasperated By Bold Faced Lies

Hidden Aspect: Thinks Robson Framed Adams

 

Hilton Adams

High Concept: "An Innocent Man"

Trouble: African American On Death Row For The Harlem Murders

Hidden Aspect: Harlem Protector

Hidden Aspect: Harlem Hellfighter

 

Millie Adams

High Concept: Desperate To Clear Her Husband

Trouble: Nearly Given Up Hope

 

I'm actually going to skip all of Hilton's friends. When/If we get to that point I plan on covering the lot of them as a former Harlem Hellfighters now being blackmailed/threatened by Robson after they helped Adams investigate the murders, but I don't actually plan on introducing or interviewing each of them individually so I don't need aspects for all of them.

 

Art Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Pitcairn_autogiro_flies_over_Manhattan_Island_(c._1931).jpg


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