Thursday, June 2, 2016

This technically counts for GURPSday, darn it

Prohibition Mobsters Recap.


Sam Licari: Capo-in-charge of the Soldati D’ombra. A wise-talker and money maker. Sam would rather be talking to people or drinking scotch and working over an accounts book than getting his hands dirty.
Tony Calabrese: Made Man of the Soldati. Veteran of the Great War, may be hiding any number of guns under that trenchcoat of his. A fighter at heart, gang warfare is just another battlefield to him.
Rosseana “Red” Biancardi: High-ranking member of the Soldati, despite being a teenage girl. Brought up in the mob life, she really does see the mafia as a family, which she defends with extreme prejudice. Equally capable of dressing up in a ballgown or breaking someone's kneecaps with a bat.
Vinnie Gambino: Trusted affiliate of the Soldati. Likes gambling, pickpocketing, fine cigars, burglary, garrotes, and more gambling. What teenage orphan wouldn’t?


Teddy Katz: Sam’s brother-in-law and frequent partner in crime. Teddy’s tastes run to fast cars and driving away from big explosions.
Jack Benedetto Jr: Red’s boyfriend, a college boy mob-scion turned “fixer” for the DiGlados.
Vivian: Secretary and mistress to Kyle DiGlado, former secretary to Senator Larson of Vermont.
Pumpkin: Once a shot-caller in the Grave Men hitman group, now on the run from Polat Atalar and being sheltered by the Soldati, along with her bodyguard Tex.
Ben Kincaid: Kincaid came to New York with a small fortune in his pocket and dreams of assassinating his way to the top of an Italian crime family. Now the Kincaid Outfit is recognized player and ever the PCs acknowledge Ben as the boss.
Justin Grant:  Formerly of the Baker Gang, until he betrayed them to the Soldati D’Ombra for money and power. He probably won’t do that to us. Unless someone offers him enough.


Fritz Austerlitz: Nephew of a certain German attache. Comes off as impossibly hot headed and vain.
Lennard: Fritz’s Polish adopted brother and minder. Seems surprisingly decent.
Polat Atalar: Turkish assassin currently gunning for a position as the fifth horseman. Notable kills Three-Fingered Moran, the entire Grave Men gang, and (nearly) Tony.

Last Time on Prohibition Mobsters: The group went wedding shopping for a chance to talk to Germans Fritz and Lennard, and stole a note off of him.

The game opens with the reading of the note that Jack Jr caught Fritz trying to pass in the store. It reads “Muriel Gladstone” and lists a Brooklyn address. Tony and Vinnie go to pick up Sam before investigating. The address turns out to be a graveyard, and “Muriel Gladstone” turns out to be a woman who died twenty years ago

Hidden behind her headstone is a package, containing a pistol, ammunition, and letters with directions to kill three people:
  • Jack Jr
  • Pumpkin
  • Chester Malone, a new name who turns out to be a massively important money launderer who recently fled Chicago

Examination of the directions reveal that the intel is pretty bad. They have Jack confused with his late father, for instance. But they seem to get that Pumpkin is dangerous and surrounded by dangerous people. Also, Muriel’s coffin has been filled with equipment (explosives) to get the job done.

We go back to Senga’s and call in Pumpkin, Kyle DiGlado’s secretary/mistress Vivian, and Justin, Sam’s new henchmen of questionable loyalty. Sam proposes altering the documents to lead the assassin into a trap, but this is voted down as too likely to fail. Justin proposes land mines, and Sam suggests that the landmine be placed in the coffin that the assassin will be digging up. This is met with general approval. It’s decided that Tony and Teddy will go set the trap, while the rest of everyone present (minus Pumpkin and her bodyguard Tex) will go look into Malone.

Tony and Teddy make quick work of digging up Muriel’s grave, stealing the rifle and binoculars left for Polat in the coffin. They rig both the explosives left for Polat in the coffin and some that Teddy just had lying around to blow as soon as the lid is lifted. There’s discussion of putting surveillance on the grave, but we decide that this would tie up too many resources, as we don’t know how long it will take for Polat or someone else to drop by.

As luck would have it, the bellboy at the swanky hotel Malone is staying at is an old Soldati associate on friendly terms with Vinnie. He’s happy to take us up to see the man, where he’s attending a late night wedding reception. Vinnie is under-dressed for this crowd, but Sam peacocks happily in his $10k suit, and makes a good impression on Malone. He ushers his wife Francine away while the men talk (with all parties pretending that she’s the vapid party girl she poses as), and explains his situation.

Malone was forced to flee Chicago after his friend, the Don of the Nelson family, was shot. This happened after a few months of finding that their old governmental connections were no longer taking their calls. Malone used Unpleasant Methods to acquire some numbers books (still in Chicago) and information that led him to believe a clique of Old World, Old Money families from Germany and Italy were collaborating to take over business of getting around the American Prohibition. Acquiring senators is simply incidental for them.

No, not that gangster named Malone
Sam suggests that maybe these old European families are more interested in political power than a little booze money, as backed by everything he’s seen in New York. Some theorizing suggests that if these Europeans are worming their way into Chicago and New York, Washington is also a likely target for its political power. It’s decided that Malone will make for the capital, both to investigate proceedings there and to dodge the assassins on his trail. He asks Sam to fetch his papers. These might be vital to the mystery, but he was forced to leave them behind in Chicago, which is too hot for him to return to.

At this point, the GM is gauging player consent for a week’s timeskip. Most of the players are on board, but I actually had time-sensitive plans, so I lay them out to everyone, and get permission to take things slow.

The plan Sam outlines to the other members of the crew turns on two things 1: Polat’s elimination of the Grave Men has turned the crime world upside down in roughly the same way that stealing all of the world’s nukes in the 1980s would do. Everything is chaos right now. 2. Several months ago (game and real time), Old Man Sal Costello was released from prison. His organization had splintered into the warring Vespucci, Zambito, and Bonanno families. He took over the Bonnano faction shortly after release, and even though the Vespucci and Zambito both hate him, most people agree that he’ll probably bring them in line soon enough. That would be enough to put him in the same weight class as the DiGlado family, which is a sight more powerful than any other group in the city.

As it happens, we’re allied with the DiGlados, and of course we have independent reasons to not want our competitors to outgrow us. So here comes the plan: The Soldati will ally with the Zambitos against the Vespucci, hastening to wipe them out while Old Man Costello and everyone else is tied down with post-Grave Men chaos. The Zambitos will be given the lion’s share of the spoils, and the Soldati D’Ombra make a tidy profit for themselves while blocking a rival’s main avenue for growth.

The next day, after Malone leaves for Washington, Sam calls a hasty meeting with George Costello, the head of the Zambito family and son of the Old Man. The entire crew sits down for lunch, but Sam does most of the talking. The initial proposal doesn’t go smoothly (George actually thinks that Sam is trying to shake him down at first), but then they get down to dickering over the details.

  • Sam wants to take only a few properties outright, and collect a 15% consideration from the Zambitos on the Vespucci territory they take. George is worried that leaves him open to backstabbing later, if the Soldati claims they’ve been shortchanged. Sam assures him that the main reason he’s doing things this way is to cock block George’s father without coming into direct conflict with him. (And gets a solid success on Diplomacy here)
  • George is worried about the Old Man hitting him while he spars with the Vespuccis. Sam knows that the Zambitos have been continually hassled by the Kincaid Outfit, so he promises arrange a temporary truce, for at least a few weeks. George wants to bump that up to a few months, but Sam slaps him down.

That’s good enough to get George’s backing, if Kincaid personally assures him he’ll lay off for a few weeks. So the crew scurries off to get that. As a matter of fact, Kincaid has just received a massive bill for $60k in weregild for wrongful deaths, from one Chester Malone. Looks like Chester Malone calling Kincaid a bastard last night wasn’t just an accurate observation, but a real sign of bad blood.

Regardless, Kincaid is happy to take a break from beating up on the Zambitos, after taking a few seconds to remember that feud was even a thing. The PCs are concerned, and are blaming the boss’s blond moment on everything from stress to cocaine. Justin (who’s been tagging along) points out that the Zambitos probably just aren’t big enough to worry him. The group decides to put it behind them for now.

And with that, some time is allowed to pass as the Zambito-Vespucci feud heats up. After a couple of days, the bomb in Muriel’s tomb goes off. And the victims are... Fritz and Lennard. They must have gotten spooked by the missing note and tried to check on their dead drop. The party is perfectly happy to see Fritz dead, and not put off by the fact that Lennard survived, albeit with crippling injuries. And as a final bonus, the newspaper gives us a name: Gerhardt Austerliz, grieving uncle and German attache.

To quote the GM: "Lennard has more in common with the Black Knight than most people now"


  • A decent portion of the plot and play time of this session was driven by me deciding there was a lot of plot we should attend to in what could have been a timeskip. It takes some innovative GMing to deal with that kind of plot derailing.
  • This was an incredibly Sam-centric session, because we spent most of the time on two conversations that were essentially boss to boss discussions. The norms in this group tend to lead to a lot of sessions where one or two characters are the only ones onscreen for a few hours at a time, which makes for some interesting sessions. It definitely takes mature players to make it viable.
  • Note player initiative. There’s been no real prompting to go after Old Man Costello, but it’s been something I’ve been itching to do for a while because of what I think are solid strategic reasons. I may be wrong, but at least I’m proactively wrong.
  • Also, note the benefits of having all the PCs brainstorm. My initial idea on what to do with the orders to Polat was awful. Setting a booby trap was easier and more elegant.
  • Incidentally, while I was explaining my plan to set the Zambitos against the Vespuccis, Mac proposed that we fake an attack by Polat on Old Man Costello, to give him something else to worry about and make our enemies fight each other. If we can figure out a trademark or signature that would frame him, that’s an excellent plan.

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