The Harker Intrusion

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the hook: The event, problem, or opportunity that attracts the agents. Takes place against one backdrop (see p. 170). Start the story as far into the action as you can, without making major tactical decisions for the players. Opening with a fight scene is always good.
„„The agents follow up a clue from a previous operation and insert themselves into an ongoing situation.
„„The agents proceed to investigate thenext item on their adversary map.
„„The agents receive or develop a piece of intel that indicates vampire activity.
„„The vampires threaten an asset of the agents, or make some other move that draws their attention.:
the curtain: The agents check out the hook based on their initial suspicions. The investigation yields a core clue (and possibly various red herrings) but no confirmation of their suspicions. The investigated individuals present a credible front of innocence; the opposition begins to respond. A good place for a chase or infiltration.
„„The agents pick a side and begin pushing.
„„The agents cast a broader net looking for connections.
„„Their suspect asks them for help against the vampires.
„„The agents infiltrate the suspect organization.
„„The authorities notice weird goings-on and start interfering.
[Red Herring]
the wakeup: The agents suffer a jolt of horror, most often a horribly mangled victim or attack by vampiric forces. If you haven’t had a fight scene yet, here’s a good place for one.
„„The situation escalates bloodily.
„„The agents discover something horrible.
„„The agents’ source turns up dead, turned, or otherwise informatively creepy.
„„The infiltrated agent discovers something horrible and must be exfiltrated while keeping her cover intact.
„„The vampires attack.
the stall: One line of inquiry goes cold, and usually dead. This is an optional floating element; only deploy it on B-plots or when the agents have enough clues to start another line of inquiry.
„„Political pressure clamps down on the conflict.
„„The subject of the agents’ investigation disappears or turns up dead.
„„The agents’ informant disappears or turns up dead.
„„The infiltrated agent harvests nothing but “chicken feed” and “chaff.”
„„The vampires roll up their operation and pull out of the city.
the first reveal: Usually as a direct result of the danger from the Wakeup, the agents gain information leading them closer to the true or main opposition. This likely leads to more investigative scenes, surveillance of a target, or an infiltration. The escalated situation makes someone nervous, who makes a mistake or seeks out the agents to switch sides.
„„The horrible sight links to another event, perhaps in another city; the agents investigate it.
„„The agents dig into their source’s background or recent movements.
„„The infiltrated agent develops her sources.
„„Analyzing the vampire attack indicates something about the vampires.
the blowback: The antagonists move directly against the agents, as a consequence of the investigation so far. This is an optional floating element, which can be inserted as needed into the action, often more than once.
„„The other side threatens or kidnaps someone the agents care about.
„„The investigation leads to an attack or assassination attempt.
„„The other side informs on the agents to the authorities.
„„ Something from the Vampyramid (see p. 189).
„„Thriller chase; the agents are running from the vampires or the authorities.
the twist: That further investigation in turn leads to an upending of the agents’ assumptions, and a switch in the chessboard. A common Twist scene eliminates a red herring. While not a core clue in itself, it helps clear the board for the true solution, and often adds in more bloody death.
„„The agents switch sides, or start pressuring their erstwhile allies into riskier moves; setting up a possible Yojimbo option (see p. 114).
„„The scope expands: the vampire conspiracy goes deeper in time, or wider in space, than the agents understood.
„„ Someone they now suspect has previously made contact with the agents’ allies.
„„The agents start developing a strike on the vampires based on this new revelation.
„„The vampire asset within the authorities reveals his existence.
the relief: The agents gain unexpected aid or information, putting them back on the path to victory. This may be as a result of their investigation (they dig up the hidden witness) or as a result of the blowback. (“Only Inspecteur Delarue knew we would be in the park that night.”) This is an optional floating element, which can be inserted as needed into the action.
„„The agents break into their increasingly distracted and overstretched enemy’s headquarters and dig up intel on their channel to the vampires.
„„Another enemy of the vampires offers to help the agents with intel or muscle.
„„A Network contact fills the agents in on a key piece of their old agency’s history; a flipped asset (see p. 112) begins cooperating.
„„The vampires overplay their hand, possibly killing someone the agents had wrongly fixed on.
„„The agents can hack into the authorities’ database now that they know who they’re looking for dirt on.
the final reveal: The agents learn what’s really going on — and it’s worse than they imagined. This reveal may happen during a running fight, or through a series of confrontations.
„„Both sides of the situation had vampiric influence.
„„The vampires prove to have some horrible defense, or an extra monster or ability previously unsuspected; the agents escape from this fight with their lives, barely.
„„The evidence for the Final Reveal comes from three or four separate assets, interrogated, sweated, bribed, or coerced during the scenario.
„„ If nothing from the Vampyramid has happened yet, something from the Vampyramid happens.
„„ The infiltrated agent shows signs of vampire contamination.
„„The authorities are hot on the agents’ trail; the agents need to keep moving while planning their counterstrike.
the setup: The agents carry out a necessary action before the confrontation can occur. This element doesn’t always occur; when it does, it’s usually driven by player ingenuity rather than Keeper pre-planning.
„„The agents have to socially engineer a final bloody showdown.
„„The agents scramble to accumulate enough mistletoe, Dragon’s Breath rounds, or other arcane gear to blow through the new defense.
„„The agents case, drill, and otherwise plan an assault on the vampires’ base.
„„The infiltrated agent sets in motion her plan to disrupt the opposition.
„„The agents flip one of the vampires’ key assets in the police force.
the confrontation: The agents clash decisively with the forces of evil, hopefully thwarting the vampires’ current operations in this city at least. The climactic scene occurs near another backdrop. The result should point the agents at two or more new operations.
„„Final bloody showdown turns into vampiric ambush.
„„The vampires pull out their horrible defense before it can be trapped and destroyed; the agents are left in possession of the field.
„„Major assault on the vampire base, possibly attracting more official attention in the form of cop cars and Heat.
„„The agents ambush a vampire asset, planning a snatch-and-grab followed by holy-waterboarding.
„„The vampires try to extract their agent from the police headquarters; the agents stop the attempt.

The Harker Intrusion

A Pain in the Neck dave_binny