Notes 9/17, 9/24
We got started in the middle of a car chase and didn't blow up with a giant bomb. Then we started tracking down some mysterious art thefts.
Agents of SWING notes Run 1
Our next assignment begins in media res…we are screaming down a mountainside in Genoa, Italy. The bomb in the back seat of our 4x4 is bouncing wildly.
Cost: Groovy +5
Speed: Hip +2
Manovre: Yawn +0
Physical Stress: 6
System Stress: 6
The Italian National Front, an extreme-right governmental faction. (Borgese). The guy who planted the bomb is also bouncing around in the back seat, but he’s unconscious. The bomb is *not* unconscious…its timer is dropping as we speak. Deep inside the mountain someone was trying to disarm this bomb, and when they were shot, the countdown is stuck.
Genoa is on the northern edge of Italy.
We’ve got 10 minutes or so. If the bomb had gone off inside the mountain, the avalanche would have destroyed half the city. If it blows up on the streets, it takes out a few blocks. Options would be to get it out of the city, put it into the ocean, or get to the airplane.
The bad guy’s lieutenant and his thugs are following us in their own jeep.
What do we know about the current politics? We make rolls, like for Academics. Simon is at 5, Morris -3, and the others in the middle.
Simon knows a little something…in ’67, the National Front was getting tired of the leftist Italian government. They were lead by Junio Borgese (in our truck) and were very anti-Red. He got his hands on a very large bomb that he wanted to set off in the mountains, mostly to cause trouble. We went into his underground fortress (cave for the bomb)…Morris was doing an admirable job.
We have a discussion about Stress Boxes and stuff. The book does not discuss Taken Out well, and the book is worthless WRT Conceding. We need to think about whether we can Concede in this game as per the Fate Core rules.
So, at any rate we are getting the bomb out of the city before it blows anything up. We have not attracted the attention of the police but it’s just a matter of time.
Morris is driving. Simon will hold the bomb.
Yawn Academics or Cool Drive: best is 3. Morris knows a good way to the ocean.
Fate point – can either power a stunt, add +2, make a declaration, or tap an aspect (which can allow you a reroll).
The guy is 2 behind us. To lose him, get to 8.
Morris is driving and should make a Speed Roll…difficulty is 1, on city streets.
Speed: +4/-2, +3 drive, +2 vehicle = +9.
The area: Innocent Civilians, Mild Traffic. We’re on a wide thoroughfare.
Morris tries to weave in and out of Mild traffic. Morris succeeds at a +4.
Rene attempts to yell at people on the road, in Italian, to get the hell out of the way. He gets -4 shifts and makes it worse, so the crowd is gawking at the noisy Frenchman. Next round’s Drive check at +2, not +1.
Ana will try to shoot out the tires on the vehicle. She gets +4 vs the driver’s +2…so she hits for 2+2=4-2 armor = 2 box.
They made their roll and closed some of the distance...Morris squeals right through a red light and we watch them in the rear view scream straight through. Looks like we’ve lost them for now.
Rene looks down at the harbor through his camera, which sees everything (Alertness +4). On the west side of the convention center he sees a collection of personal boats and tells Morris, “Go that way!”
The cops are going to be on their way because shots were fired. Good Drive and/or Alertness Cool.
Morris’s drive was -1. Ana’s Alertness+7. Simon has Criminal Mind so he gets a +1. Morris is distracted but they guide him away from the cops.
Four or five minutes later, we’re halfway down the mountain. We probably need about ten minutes to get this done quickly. Morris tromps on it, spending a Fate point.
We get to the docks west of the Convention center where there are some brand new docks not shown on the map.
As we approach the boats Rene saw empty, there are lots of people down by the boats.
We’ve got six minutes left.
Morris: Rene, can you get us a boat?
Rene: Oui. Ana, come with me. You grab the stuff.
They run to an occupied boat.
Rene: Honey, get into the boat. You bring the equipment now!
Rene: Do you know who I am? I am the famous fashion photographer Rene (whatever), and if I lose this light, a million dollar contract will be lost!
Rene gets like a +7 and gets a blue die.
Owner: Money? Sure! I would be delighted…where do I sign?
Morris brings his case and his “equipment”. Simon wraps up our friend in a tarp and carries it onto the boat.
We take off in this ski boat into the harbor. Simon knows how deep this harbor gets, and we scream off at full speed. We shove the bomb overboard and continue to speed away just as the bomb explodes…there is a fountain of water and the shockwave rocks the boats ashore, but everyone is unhurt.
Where do we go now? Turn Junio over to SWING? We may not want to give him back to the Genoa PD…
We know SWING has a safehouse in Monte Carlo, so we head there. Do we know anyone here who could help us? Rene knows of a party here and he remembers a guy…+2 contacts…
Rene: No one will question a passed-out guy at a party like that.
Everyone is partying in Monaco the weekend before the Cannes Film Festival.
Rene has something in his pocket stashed that will get Junio upright but not talking. We flag down a taxi and head for our Safe House where we let Junio sleep it off.
Will SWING take it from here, or should we interrogate him? Well, he’s not making any sense right now. Presumbly he’ll be black-bagged and taken to London where he’ll be subject to questioning. We may be called upon (at least Simon) to help with that.
We spend a fun week in Monaco. Eventually we get Junio back to London where we’re debriefed…Aunty is pleased with our work because we managed to limit the collateral damage and we weren’t really noticed. No one knows what happened other than an explosion out in the harbor.
A while later, our black taxi drops us off at the base of the Downtown London Bridge. It turns out that the piles have fancy magnetic locks and lead under the Thames River. An eye pops out of the door, scans us, then admits us past the steel door.
We all recognize Miss Deeds, who greets us with a tray of tea and biscuits. After a bit of time, she lets us in to see Aunty.
We enter an old British library, somewhat out of place under the river, and Aunty ushers us in. Over a slice of cake, he briefs us.
A: Several museums across the world have been hit by a master criminal, probably the same one. Each item is irreplaceable…the Mona Lisa, Hermes and Dionysus, and a copy of Shakespeare’s first folio. (In their respective museums). It appears the same thief risked capture at all of these rather than have teams hit each one. Each piece is from a different discipline, so we suspect more targets will be hit. We suspect Pain. Eric believes you to be the best team to deal with this, and I expect you to give it your utmost effort.
Us: Of course.
Simon: I’d love to find out who could pull off this kind of job.
What do we need to know?
Mona Lisa: Taken at night. The alarms were turned off at the main switch. None of the guards remember anything. The painting’s case was neatly cut open and the painting removed; the frame was left behind.
Praxiteles’s sculpture was brazenly carried out on a forklift, but the guards still don’t remember anything. The pickup was driven in and out, then abandoned. The thief left a fake sculpture in the place of the genuine article, so it wasn’t noticed until the curators came in.
The first folio was taken from inside the pressurized vault at night. The British Museum has no guards in that area, but a lot of scholars work late and none of them remember seeing anyone or doing anything. They also can’t remember much from the whole weekend.
Memory problems – seems to be drugs.
The locks were bypassed; we would have to go there to check them out directly.
The Mona Lisa is protected by an armed guard at all times. There are more guards at night and no one saw anything.
Some of us know that Greece recently was the site of a military coup. The Regime of Colonels has taken over, and things are still in flux.
Well, we need to learn something…Simon thinks about it a bit and uses his Criminal Mind stunt. We figure there’s something afoot…an inside man, perhaps…or some secret weapon.
These items are all priceless, so they weren’t stolen to sell. Someone commissioned this.
Contacts – best is +3 (Morris). Clearly no one’s been trying to fence these because everyone would be talking about it.
Rene: If no one remembers what happened, how do they know it was a forklift?
Simon: Exactly. These notes are not up to my standards. We need to go.
Rene knows things will happen when items like this are stolen. It will upset museums and the public, but especially wealthy patrons of the arts. Anyone who owns fine art will be afraid to show it.
What’s next? Music? Film?
The Quartermaster has a few trinkets that may help us.
Rene: For this mission, I will need Miss Deeds’s phone number. It is of the utmost importance!
We’ll start at the Quartermaster next week. We have one Plot Stress scratched off...identifying that the items couldn’t be sold is special.
+1 skill point.
September 24, 2017
We need to get a better look at the crime scenes…but first, Miss Deeds escorts us to Uncle, the Quartermaster of the London section. We pass to the tower on the other side of the Thames and meet with Uncle. He claps his oil-stained hands on someone’s shoulder and ushers us into the lab. He appears insanely brilliant at making things blow up.
He’s got a few toys prepared for us. First, an infrared spy glass – smaller than usual, and it allows us to see in the dark nearly as clear as day. It doubles as a regular telescope and he promises no lampblack on the eyepiece. It will also attach to Rene’s camera. (fate point).
Transistorized tracking device. It works up to about 8 km…looks like a cigarette case. The tracker is the size of a bottlecap.
A compressed air dart gun in case we need to take someone alive. One shot and it’s night time. It has five shots – make them count.
Last but not least, he shows us the Bentley – it’s been armored and the engine has been beefed up to compensate. Morris put the engine in himself!
We hear something go *whump* nearby. There is smoke and soot in the air…don’t need to spent a fate point to say clean yet.
Rene takes the IR spyglass. Simon takes the tracking device. Ana will take the dart gun, and Morris takes the keys for the Bentley.
What might be other likely targets at this point? The pinnacles of their respective arts? Well, it’s going to be difficult to predict.
Do we want gas masks? Well, probably no need to worry about the old crime scenes. We can get gas masks anywhere if we aren’t hell bent on getting them miniaturized.
The first place to go is the British Library.
We make rolls and know that the loss of the First Folio is a cause for concern, but there are other copies so no one is *that* concerned. This library has other copies already.
How will we go in – as Official Swing Agents, as scholars, or what?
To review: the document is in a pressurized book vault. It was taken at night. No guards around; all of the scholars who were there late remember anything – and some of them remember nothing about the night at all.
Simon wants to know where the scholars were as well. Rene will play this one slow…Simon will use his “I’ll take it from here, officer” aspect as needed. He flashes a fake badge at the front desk. Rene and Morris will be part of his entourage; Ana will enter on her own.
The receptionist gets Simon an appointment with Prof Alderson, a small British professor. He’s small, wringing his hands, and already apologetic. Simon attempts to put him at ease. Morris tells him to relax; he’s not under investigation himself.
When Simon starts to ask about the vault, he gets nervous again.
Alderson is beside himself, and starts to express his frustration. He forgets us until we remind him. He doesn’t know why *this copy* was so important.
Simon: This was one of your favorites, then?
Alderson: Yes! It shaped the English language more than the King James Bible! Everything we speak owes a debt to that man.
As we travel to the vault, we pay attention to the hallways and layout. What about the vault? Once we get inside, the locks are electronic. Only a handful of people have both the keys and codes to get through the locks. The thief must have hacked their way in and disabled the electronic locks.
Look at the locks: Burglary or Investigation…Solid (2 shifts over Cool). Simon’s pretty sure that there must be forensic evidence available because you have to break into the vault. The police were already here.
Or…someone else went and got it for him.
Right now the vault’s empty and compromised. Defeating the locks clearly required some significant skill.
Simon asks the archivist if they took fingerprints. He’s not sure; the policemen did police things.
It is obvious here that someone *did* have to break in. We’re not sure that anyone helped this guy. We’ll have to stop by the local precinct (or wherever).
The other contents of this vault have been moved since this one is now compromised. They are certain that everything else in here was left behind, even things with greater value.
Nothing else of note in the vault. The compartment seals are all good.
We ask about the scholars who were working that night. The vaults aren’t near the door…how likely is it that a scholar would have to be incapacitated, or could you have snuck by? Well, you would have to pass offices but it’s not in the open.
Simon paces the corridor and looks around…Neat alertness. Nothing was left behind to suggest where poison gas was used, etc. The place is clean. There is a service door somewhere. Alertness to check the door…no idea if it was tampered. 4 shifts to the bad.
Morris tries to keep Alderson distracted and calm. He gets a list of people who were here; Alderson was not. Simon looks around for things that would have knocked people out. He finds a door with a lock and announces proudly, “I think I know where he came in!” Then he opens the fire escape. Alderson seems to regain his confidence and asks us if we found what we’re looking for.
Simon thinks he’s done here, mostly because he screwed this up. Time to talk to the police or in this case, Scotland Yard.
We head to the Yard and Simon gets us to Detective LeStrad. We get a copy of the report, such as it is. This includes fingerprints of someone who shouldn’t have been at the lock. The detective doesn’t know who the prints belong to, especially because it’s an incomplete set. But, we do have their evidence and we can get Section 6 to look.
We’ll get to Paris and stay at Rene’s flat. There’s already a party going on.
We land and the Bentley is waiting for us. Rene directs us to his place for the night.
Some of us decide to party. Rene is nowhere to be seen. He’ll have the aspect “nauseous” all day.
To the Paris metro PD…
Ana and Morris stay in the car. Rene and Simon head inside and he uses his “I’ll take it from here” aspect.
When Simon says he’s here to talk about the theft of the Mona Lisa, the flunky he’s talking to looks confused. He asks for more authority and eventually someone else comes in. Simon says he’s here to investigate the theft at the Louvre. The guy says he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
S: I’ll have to check my sources then. It sounds like I must have some bad information, if you have nothing.
Investigation – Hip. The officer is clearly making a mental snapshot of Simon.
Detective: Can I help you with something else?
Simon takes his leave.
Should we talk to the local Swing folks? They clearly knew somehow…perhaps we aren’t talking to the right people here. We are pretty sure that Auntie gave us information from some lawmen, but we don’t have any names.
Simon says that someone knows something, but now he’s known. If we need to go back there, someone else will have to do it. Or, did the Directorate Generale get involved right away? Maybe we talk to them. Does Rene have any good contacts at the DGES from his previous photography.
Use of SWING dice – you can roll the blue one AFTER you roll the other dice. This makes it more valuable.
Rene does not know anyone in the right part of the DGES who might be able to clue us in on the theft.
Kevin: 14, large, white rice
Scott: 5, large, white rice
Aaron: small house special fried rice and shrimp egg roll
Mitch: 19 chicken large fried rice
So, either the Paris police don’t have any clue about the theft of the Mona Lisa or they’re not talking about it. No one knows anyone worth talking to at the DG.
We drive to the Louvre…Morris drops the rest of them off and parks the car. We get into the museum.
We buy tickets uneventfully. Morris decides to take the tour and is shown a bunch of stuff. After about 45 minutes, we are brought to the Mona Lisa and it’s in its frame, roped off and protected with an armed guard just like it’s supposed to be.
Rene gets a Far Out art roll…he’s not sure, but he suspects it may be a fake. No one around seems to have even the slightest inclination…but he thinks something’s up.
About 10 minutes later, Rene leans over and whispers that he thinks the Mona Lisa is a fake. We fall back to talk.
Simon figures anyone who could cover this up would have to be in charge of that part of the museum or perhaps the whole museum itself. Perhaps a famous artist in his own right would be able to get the attention of the museum director…
Simon and Morris know something about the special curator for the exhibit is Miss Mimi Fontaine.
Is Miss Mimi Fontaine married? Sounds like no. She is single, successful, attractive, and the dedicated curator of that exhibit.
How can we find this Miss Fontaine? Simon claims to be a PI asking around, and he finds one of her co-workers can let on where she goes for lunch…after all, Discretion is his Middle Name. She usually goes at 1 pm.
Rene sips a cup of peppermint tea (which he’s never had before) and waits for Miss Fontaine. At about 1:10 pm a smartly-dressed, very attractive young-ish lady comes into the restaurant. Even as she walks in, she seems to be constantly wringing her hands like she can’t calm down.
The three of us case Rene when she walks in. The only one who can make a positive Empathy is Morris (+3) and Ana (+2).
Rene: What is a beautiful woman like you doing alone? I would not have you by yourself.
Her eyes pop open.
MF: Are you…
Rene: Yes, yes I am.
She invites him to sit.
Rene: Thank you. Why are you alone?
MF: I am on my lunch break.
They talk and flirt; she appears to be a fangirl of sorts. Time for a social conflict…if he can break her Resolve to zero, she will talk.
Rene wants to get information from Mimi. He goes first because he’s got the higher Empathy.
Rapport vs. Composure…+2 for Rene vs -1…tags the 3-box and gets a Swing die. She’s enjoying his company so far. Her resolve vs his Composure…she tags him for a 1-box.
It’s obvious to us that he’s trying to get this Mona Lisa thing out of her and while she’s not fighting his advances, she’s not giving this up easily.
Would it make any sense to send over a couple glasses of wine to the table? Morris’s French is too bad, but Simon can pull it off…as long as the wine is “From Rene”.
Next attack, Rene got +5 and she got +1, so that’s a 4-box. Shortly after his quip, the waiter brings the wine that “Rene ordered”. He rolls with it; she believes it. Thanks to the “I’m only as good as my team” he gets a +1 on his next roll.
Morris knows she’s got the aspects: I'm still a woman. The eye of an artist. A head full of history.
She’s still trying to hide something. Next round, she hits for a 1-box.
He returns fire with Rapport…and it doesn’t work. She attacks…and misses.
Next time Rene hits for another 4-box. She’s enjoying someone who takes her mind off her troubles. He blocks her and she’s -5. She’s got the aspect, “Infatuated”. He attacks and goes to far-out (using aspect and wine); she takes her 6-box.
She’s still trying not to spill her guts, but it’s not going well. She can’t attack him and her defenses are clearly failing. His next attack, he taps “Infatuated” and she’s taken out. She does not take consequences.
Rene: You seem to be working through some troubles. Care to share the load?
Mimi: You seem to know something, and they’re telling me not to say anything. The Mona Lisa was stolen!
Rene: That accounts for the fake hanging up there. I could barely tell.
Mimi: I wasn’t trying to hide anything…
Rene: Who is the inspector I should talk to about this?
She gives us a name of Closeau. This guy knows who might have done it…they have shared a short list with her:
Hank Grundy, a New York thief supposedly retired but specialized in these sort of jobs
Antonio Perez, a Spaniard catburglar known to work under contract
Abel Serafinowicz, a Polish ex-pat Jewish thief
Pierre Foucard, a career art thief and mercenary for hire
Gentleman James Snow, a flashy British art thief
Rene gets her address and says he’ll pick her up at 5:30 for dinner.
Meanwhile, we’ll go to see Inspector Closeau. Perhaps we have information we can collaborate on.
We’ll drop Rene off to call in to Section 6 and prepare for his date. The rest of us can go shake down Closeau…if he’s working for the bad guys we need to take him out of the picture.
Should Ana and Morris come with? Well, it may not make sense why the cop would bring a housewife and a chauffeur with? Discretion is his middle name…so he takes a fate point and shuts up. We drop Simon off at the same police station…Rene tells Simon to not drop Mimi’s name at all.
Simon says he’s an agent of Swing and he’s taken an interest in a little trouble with art in town. He’s hoping to assist in the investigation.
IC: We heard you’re in town. We don’t need anyone knowing that the Mona Lisa is missing…last time, there were riots. If you know, fine. But keep this quiet ok?
S: If you can share your information with Swing, we can help.
IC: We have our agents across the continent, so we got this. Your help is not appreciated.
S: There are other art thefts around with similar aspects.
IC: That’s great. We’re interested in the Mona Lisa.
They discuss sharing information…
IC: When you have something that interests us, we’ll contact London.
S: Perhaps the fingerprints from the similar thefts would be useful?
Suddenly Closeau seems interested, but pride is in the way.
S: If your pride is more important than getting it back, it would be shame if someone found out you didn’t do all you could.
IC: It would be a shame if someone found out non-governmental agents were involved.
S: You have more to lose if this gets out than I do.
Dude seems shockingly stoic. Simon knows he’s right, but dude doesn’t care.
Cold Read stunt – he’s pretty sure Closeau’s got stunt Quick Eye, aspects Dedicated to the Case, Hard-nosed investigator.
Simon taps the “Dedicated to the Case” aspect. If you really want to solve this, you’ll share. Kevin throws out one of the GM fate points to stop this. “Screw you, Yankee!”
S: I’d clearly like the Mona Lisa returned as well. Here’s what Swing can share…Simon tells him about the theft of the Folio and those fingerprints.
IC: Clearly I misjudged you. I’ll see what I can turn up.
They exchange contact information…Simon finds that the police are somehow frightened at what the public might do.
We all took the tour…anyone who rolled a +1 (all but Morris) realizes that the police and museum staff are unwilling to admit this…it wasn’t the burglar but the authorities who covered this up. Even if there was evidence at the scene, it was cleaned.
So, we have a date with Mimi to resolve, Simon needs a hotel room, we need to get to Athens, and we need to let Section 6 do their work on the short list. If the Louvre is cleaned and uninteresting, we’ll move on. The date goes well but provides no more information.
An interesting question is how the Paris police got their short list. There was a lot less opportunity for forensic evidence in Paris.
The next morning we do get some information back from Section 6 –
Hank Grundy – he’s known to have been staying in the UK countryside (the West Midlands) and not in New York.
Antonio Perez – maintains a residence in Bilbao, Spain.
Abel Serafinowicz – he’s been busy in Prague in Czechslovakia.
Pierre Foucard – he’s here in Paris, but hasn’t been seen in a while.
Gentleman James Snow – being held at Her Majesty’s pleasure. He’s been a BAD boy.
If Pierre is in town, great…but the Paris police are probably trying to shake him down already and they’re not helpful.
Aaron’s not here the next two weeks. Start of tonight he raised Contacts to Cool. We gain 1 skill point start and end of the night.
Rene will have 6 refresh start of next week.
The characters will know that a military coup just happened a few months ago.
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