The Dresden Files: What Happens in Vegas

Character Background Assignments

Sara’s Story (Phee)
Guest Star: David (Donnie)
Guest Star: James (Jacob)
Guest Star In: James’s Story (Jacob)
Guest Star In: Matt’s Story (Ian)

Andrea’s Story (Karisa)
Guest Star: James (Jacob)
Guest Star: David (Donnie)
Guest Star In: Matt’s Story (Ian)
Guest Star In: David’s Story (Donnie)

David’s Story (Donnie)
Guest Star: Matt (Ian)
Guest Star: Andrea (Karisa)
Guest Star In: Sara’s Story (Phee)
Guest Star In: Andrea’s Story (Karisa)

Matt’s Story (Ian)
Guest Star: Andrea (Karisa)
Guest Star: Sara (Phee)
Guest Star In: David’s Story (Donnie)
Guest Star In: James’s Story (Jacob)

James’s Story (Jacob)
Guest Star: Sara (Phee)
Guest Star: Matt (Ian)
Guest Star In: Andrea’s Story (Karisa)
Guest Star In: Sara’s Story (Phee)

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City Creation Notes

City Creation Notes
City Name: Las Vegas
Campaign: What Happens in Vegas

Theme: Organized crime (mob, street gangs) is a way of life in Las Vegas
Aspect: Sin City
Face: Saisin Tong Du Zheng (owns the most territory, has the most power)

Threat: Casino where people gamble for souls, freedom, favors (may not be instantaneous — branded and released to be called in at a later date by a wizard; may be run by the Fae, White Court, it’s a mystery!)
Aspect: There’s Always Something to Lose
Face: the Reapers

Balance of Power
Mundane: A lot of crime, a place where bad things happen
Supernatural: A lot of supernatural there, but it’s fairly restrained and not overwhelmingly obvious; Unseelie Accords organizational chart; supernatural equivalent of Wall St (neutral by mutual interest) – supernatural Vegas is stuck in the “golden age”

Locations
Location: University of Las Vegas Library (school library but contains supernatural truths – some of the items date back to Alexandria)
Face: Stacy Goodchilde (Eidyia, Goddess of Knowledge – banished to the desert for something)

Location: The Strip (occult architecture)
Face: Little Pete (Saisin Tong representative on the strip/their territory)

Location: Pair o Dice Casino (multiple entrances through other casinos on the strip; people think they’re going into the “back room”)
Face: the Pit Boss

Location: Foxbridge Park/Little Choo-Choo Daycare (“Creepsville” – draws negative energy (ghostly children and wandering ghostly women) – borderline poverty-stricken area; “company store” region)
Face: Ms. Leslie (daycare manager – there’s something off about her)

Location: The Cabaret Jazz (upscale, classy cabaret jazz club with bar and balconey seating – see Smith Center for pictures)
Face: Two-Tone Johnny (manager, knows everybody and everybody knows him)

Face: Nadia Ivanov (street name “Nadia Bliss”, Karisa’s fixer/fence, works independently of the gangs)

Location: Sin City Brewing Company (microbrewery – quiet place to nurse a beer, on the strip but not quite on the strip)
Face: Sam (bartender, ear-to-the-ground type)

Location: St Joan of Arc Catholic Cathedral (Catholic cathedral, friendly-priest Ian is friends with)
Face: Father Sawyer (lay priest, he and Ian attended seminary together and Ian feels comfortable with him)

Location: the Luxor (supernatural neutral ground, occult overtones to the place act as wards against supernatural; top of the pyramid acts as supernatural lightning rod)
Face: the Sphinx (if you mess around here, it wakes up to enforce the rules (all 5 parts of the soul together); multiple parts of the spirit per Egyptian Mythology: TBD (Ka: Vital Spark), some guy in a nice suit with reflective glasses (Sheut: Shadow), TBD (Ib: Heart), TBD (Ren: Name), hostess in a slinky dress – the face of the face (Ba: Personality)

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Session 1: Faith & Fallibility
The Train to Perdition

On February 21, 2015, it’s a normal day in Las Vegas, and each of the characters is going about their daily lives.

Donnie visits the Cabaret Jazz, a club where he often plays the saxophone, conducts business, etc. Tonight, however, the manager is a bit out of sorts. He borrowed money from the wrong people, and they’ve been leaning hard on him to repay them. They’ve agreed to forgive some of his debt if he works it off for them selling a mysterious new drug. He hasn’t sold any of it yet, nor does he want to. Curious and concerned for his friend, Donnie tries to investigate the substance, and, through magic, he quickly learns the drug has some powerful magical effects. Not only is this dangerous, but it surely goes against the laws of the accord as well. He decides to buy it in order to investigate further.

Jacob is hanging out at the Sin City Brewing Company in Vegas — his own usual hangout — when he receives a call with instructions to visit a particular payphone opposite the Luxor. Once there, he receives a second call. Little Pete, who operates as the local boss of the Tong, instructs him (through innuendo) to take care of a particular problem: apparently, someone in the organization has sloppily tried to make a move on Little Pete, and he will pay for the mistake with his life. Jacob makes a few calls, and someone along the line makes his target aware of his interest, so he tracks Jacob down first. The target and his henchmen try to corner Jacob, but Jacob manages to intimidate the henchmen into backing down. When the target tries to flee, Jacob is right behind him. He chases him onto the nearby tram.

Karisa has spent the night in pursuit of a particular item for Miss Nadia Bliss, who is a local fence and contact for those wanting to obtain rare and unusual items. (Most of those items are currently owned by people unwilling to part with them.) This item is an ancient gold coin on display at a lawyer’s residence in downtown Las Vegas. As luck would have it, the lawyer is having a party tonight to show off some new award or another. The party itself is fairly easy to infiltrate: Karisa does have to offer a few bills to the man at the door, but he eventually lets her in. Once inside, she cases the apartment her target, and she is delighted to find that there is virtually no security. Realizing that the coin is set in the back and that virtually no one is paying attention to it. she decides to steal it on the spot rather than come back for it later. After tucking the coin into her purse, she quietly leaves the party and hops on the tram to head for home.

Marcello is new to Vegas. After trying to con the wrong people, he wound up a red court infected. The Fellowship of St. Giles intervened on his behalf, and he found himself sent to Las Vegas. This hasn’t done much to discourage him from his life of crime, however: he spends the evening in the company of a recently divorced middle-aged woman at one of the casinos. Recognizing her strength, he allows her to approach him and to take an interest in him, making for a very long con indeed. However, he does successfully catch her eye and obtain her number by the end of the night.

Phee is in her pawn shop, and it seems as though it will be business as usual tonight until a Russian woman comes in. She introduces herself as Nadia Bliss and says she’s in the market for a particular item: an ancient gold coin. Phee promises the woman she will see if she can locate the item — and, thanks to her contacts, she does. She learns from one of her competitors that the coin is owned by a lawyer, and he happens to be having a party downtown. After stepping off the tram, she steps up to the door guard to try and con her way in.

All five characters awaken aboard a moving tram. They’re laying on the floor of what soon becomes clear is the last car. This car, however, is dilapidated and filthy, with questionable slime and grime on the walls and floors. The characters, who, to some extent, know one another, are confused and disgusted, so they quickly move on to the second car. Unsure of their whereabouts, Jacob uses some caution in opening the door. He takes a small bouncy ball out of his pocket and throws it in to the space between cars. It bounces around harmlessly. Assuming that this means they’re safe enough, he then opens the door to the second car.

In the second car, the characters find a man huddled against the far wall. This car is badly damaged: there are broken windows and broken seats here. The man is dressed in a tattered green military jacket, and he is rocking back and forth. He clutches something in his hand, but from the doorway, the characters can’t quite tell what it is. Both Jacob and Marcello train weapons on him. Karisa and Phee both start towards him. When Donnie tells them to wait, Karisa stops, but Phee continues on.

Using the Sight, Donnie tries to get a better understanding for this situation and the man here. He can see the car surrounded with flame, and the item that the man holds seems to be absorbing the light of the flames. Unfortunately, he can make no sense of what he sees. He can only conclude that the group must have somehow been brought into the Never Never and that the key must be dangerous somehow. Phee concludes that this place is not real — at least, not grounded in the reality they are used to.

In the meantime, Phee reaches the man, and she can now see that he is holding a key. It becomes apparent very quickly that the man is oblivious to their presence. Phee continues to try to coax the key from the man, but he doesn’t react until she gently touches his hands; at that point, the man slaps her hand, then continues rocking.

By now, the rest of the characters have moved forward as well to examine the door beside the man. It’s locked securely with a padlock. When Karisa examines it to open it, however, she realizes that the lock is like nothing she’s ever seen before: there are no tumblers or pins for her to manipulate! She is forced to admit defeat, and they group returns their attention to getting the key from the man. Rather than outright take the key, Karisa attempts to switch the key with one of her lockpicks so that the man might not know the difference. Although she knows her action should have succeeded, she is shocked to find the lockpick in her hand and the key still in his.

Marcello decides he has had enough: he drives the man’s head into the wall behind him with a crack. With the man unconscious, Marcello neatly picks the key up off the body and uses it to open the door. Karisa yells at him then goes to check on the homeless guy while Donnie shakes his head at Marcello’s lack of class. Knowing they can’t do much for the homeless man at the moment, Karisa and Donnie reluctantly follow everyone else into the third car.

In the third car, they find the decor has changed yet again. Here, everything seems worn down and used, but none of it is broken. A number of people sit in the seats here with keys around their necks. Once again, they discover the door in front of them is locked, and, this time, the key from the homeless man won’t open it.

Donnie begins a polite conversation with a woman in the car. She tells him repeatedly that she would just like to get off the train and that she’s been riding it an awful long time. As his questions become more specific, however, about where she came from or how long she’s been riding, her answers remain vague. She suggests they speak to the conductor if they have any questions or concerns. The keys, they learn are required for the passengers to depart the train at their final destination. When asked where their final destination is, the woman points to a tram map on the side of the car, which seems to make sense to those examining it until they turn away from it. As soon as they look away, they become confused about what the map actually contained. When Phee asks to borrow a key, the woman hesitates. She reminds Phee that she needs the key, and Phee promises to return it. With key in hand, Phee turns to open the padlock on the door. It opens, and then the key simply breaks apart. The woman seems concerned about her key, but no more-so than she was initially; the party offers her a sheepish smile and a wave, and then they move into the fourth car.

In the fourth car, the group is immediately confronted by a porter at the door. He hands Phee, who is the first through, a ticket bearing the Number 13 and politely asks them to take a seat to wait their turn. Further questioning reveals that the current number — Number 5 — is lit up on an old-fashioned electronic list of numbers. He assures them that Number 6 will be up soon and tells them candidly that it’s just a “short wait” between numbers — only about 20 years or so. He also tells them they’re free to trade their ticket if they can find someone who would like to trade with them. Number 6 turns out to be held by a woman accompanied by her two children. It is suggested Karisa swipe their number from them, and Karisa outright refuses.

Donnie borrows the ticket and the porter’s cap, and he sits down to see what he can learn through magic. He has a vision of the ticket being shredded, and, once the ticket lies in pieces, he feels suddenly much lighter, as though he is flying.

As Donnie experiences his vision, Karisa sits down to meet the family holding ticket Number 6. The woman is initially a little cautious, but Karisa is soon playing a series of clapping games with the little girl. Suspecting that Karisa is ruining their chances of ever getting ticket Number 6, Phee sits down to get to know Number 7, who appears to be a businessman traveling alone who reminds her somewhat of her father. In spite of a nice conversation, Phee tries to keep it impersonal, as she doesn’t want to get attached in case they have to take his ticket.

Once Donnie explains his vision to the group, they decide to try tearing up the ticket. Not wanting to risk their own, however, they grab someone else’s ticket and are surprised to find it doesn’t tear — the ticket becomes rubbery and strangely durable even though it feels like simple paper. They decide to try their own ticket — and it tears easily. Nothing happens, so Donnie tries to throw the paper up into the air like confetti. Again, nothing happens. Karisa collects the pieces of the ticket in the porter’s hat and returns it to him, at which point the porter asks if they are surrendering their ticket. He pulls it from the hat, and it is magically whole again! Karisa is quick to assure him they aren’t surrendering her ticket — she was just returning his hat to him.

Feeling as though they have no choice, the characters decide to cheat: they pull down the electronic line of numbers and rig it so Number 13 is lit up. As soon as they return it to the wall, the porter encourages them to go through the door. Donnie walks through the door with his head bowed in shame. Karisa glances over her shoulder to whisper an apology to the woman, who is now glaring at Karisa with a hurt and betrayed expression.

In the fifth car, the characters can smell the aroma of cooked food. Their stomachs and watering stomachs remind them that it has been some time since they ate — and it looks wonderful. However, the passengers who are eating seem to be eating with too much gusto, and they seem emaciated besides. This makes the characters suspicious, so they demand to see the chef. Jacob takes the lead and convinces the staff that they’re actually health inspectors here to inspect the kitchen.

Inside the kitchen, the characters find everything neat and orderly. It appears to be a normal kitchen with staff bustling about preparing various types of dishes. The only thing out of place are the human bodies the staff is butchering for dinner. Although horrified, the characters press on with their ruse and tell the chef that the kitchen is not up to code. They demand to see the conductor of the train, and the chef points them towards a swinging door at the back of the kitchen.

This door, however, will not move for the characters. They watch as numerous waitstaff walk through it. They even try to throw a busboy through it and hold the door open as he passes through — however, they find that no matter how fast they are, they can’t seem to reach the door in time. They decide to try to duplicate the staff by first carrying a tray through the door. It doesn’t work. Their next step is to knock out a waiter and steal his clothing. This also fails.

Finally, Phee makes sure Karisa isn’t watching, and then she tries a nibble of food off of a tray. This time, the door opens easily for her — but looking back at the group, everyone can see a smear of blood on her chin. She tries to hold open the door for the rest of the group, but, once again, no one can reach it. Seeing as they have no choice, Marcello also takes a bite of food, followed, reluctantly, by Jacob and Donnie, who only partakes after a stiff drink from the bar fails to allow him access (but does give him a “Thinner” condition.) Karisa, however, asks Marcello for the key from the homeless man, and, without a word more, she turns on her heel and stomps back through the kitchen towards the back of the train.

In the sixth car, the group finds several tables filled with people gambling for a single pocket watch. At the far end is yet another door, and, this time, it is accompanied by another porter. The porter tells them the only thing they need to access the door is to give him the pocket watch.

Donnie decides that he isn’t going to leave Karisa behind, so he leaves to follow her. Everyone else, meanwhile, decides to go ahead without him pretty quickly. Using his supernatural speed, Marcello snatches the watch from the table, and they hand it to the porter who is all-too-pleased to let them through.

Donnie catches up to Karisa in the last car returning the key to the homeless (and still unconscious) man’s hand. Winded from his brisk walk, he sits down a moment, and she looks at him with an expression that displays clearly her disgust and loss of respect for him. She also tells him she is not eating people, no matter what, and that she’d rather throw herself from the back of the train than stay here a minute longer. Donnie sees some sense in this argument, and so they jump out the back door.

Meanwhile, in the seventh car, the characters meet the conductor at last. They’re in the engine now. The people here are busy feeding coal into the flames that keep the engine running. The conductor reminds them that they’ve accomplished terrible deeds to reach him, and he wonders what they want. When they tell him they want to be sent back, he tells them he can’t do that: “salvation requires a leap of faith.” After some debate, Jacob decides to throw himself from the side of the train. Marcello hesitates, but he finally gives in and does the same. Phee is last to jump.

The characters all awaken in their own beds. After waking up fully, they realize that it’s the morning of February 21, 2015. It’s as if the previous day didn’t happen at all, and it was all just a terrible dream… But was it?

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Session 2: Pride Goeth Before
Thy Sins Manifest

A month has passed since the disturbing train incident. Jacob has written it off as a bad dream induced by a gas station burrito, while the rest of the group is dealing with the experience in their own ways. Phee has begun to research the Never Never through whatever means she has at her disposal. She tries to look up Donnie, but is unable to get in touch with him. Marcello has apologized profusely to Karisa for his role and has convinced her that he is truly sorry. In reality, he’s not all that sorry, but he doesn’t want to lose Karisa as a contact. Karisa has spent some time at local charities trying to make herself feel better for her part in the events. (Donnie’s player couldn’t make it to the game.)

The scene opens at Karisa’s birthday party at her home. Intending for it to be a casual get-together, she has only invited people she considers her friends…which consists of a few NPCs, Marcello, and Ian. Marcello has brought her a gift “to be opened in private” (it’s some sort of lockpick for electronic locks) and Ian has brought her a copy of the book ‘The Count of Monte Cristo,’ which he says reminded him of her. He is horrified at her mention of the movie, but she promises to read it. Upon learning that Marcello knows Karisa through “business,” Ian, who is a very large, very tough man, reminds Marcello how dear to him Karisa is and how upset he’ll be if something happens to her. Marcello is quick to reassure him that he, too, would be upset.

Still searching for Donnie, Phee decides to pay Karisa a visit. Karisa tells her Donnie isn’t here, but she follows social niceties and invites Phee in, since she’s already here and everything. She asks Phee to keep the whole wizarding thing on the down-low, which Phee does do — although this doesn’t stop her from asking every single party guest if they’ve seen Donnie.

Jacob, too, arrives unannounced to the party. He’s here to call in a favor Karisa owes him. Karisa leads him into her bedroom and learns he needs her to crack a safe the following morning. She is a little distressed to learn he can’t give her any details about the safe, but he promises to have the information she needs early the following morning. This distresses her further, because this means she has to be sober come morning. She also reluctantly invites him to stay.

Jacob enjoys a glass of water and considers his obligation to attend completed. As he goes to leave, however, Ian, having noticed Karisa’s frown, intercepts him. Karisa had brushed Ian’s concern off by reassuring him it was just business and she had a promise to fulfill, so Ian has decided to go right to the source: Jacob. He tells him that he had better not be doing something that might be harmful to Karisa, as he had done with Marcello earlier. Though less intimidated by the looming ex-con, Jacob, too, tells Ian that he doesn’t want to see Karisa hurt.

Their conversation is interrupted as a strange feeling overcomes them and the rest of the group. (The rest of the attendees have already gone, so it’s just the PCs who are left.) Jacob feels suddenly very angry. Ian, who is struggling with alcoholism, feels suddenly like he needs a drink. Phee feels very attracted to Ian. Marcello suddenly wants to steal Karisa’s things. And Karisa feels suddenly envious of Jacob, who doesn’t seem as though he was affected at all by the train incident.

To ward off the alcoholism, Ian clutches his crucifix so tightly that it bites into his skin a bit. Phee quickly offers to patch him up, which draws an openly suspicious look from Karisa, who shoos her away and directs Ian to the medical supplies herself. Recognizing the sensation as foreign and possibly supernatural, Jacob quickly locks the door, while Marcello absent-mindedly picks up a knick-knack from a shelf and barely keeps himself from pocketing it. Phee and Marcello also feel as though something is trying to invade them somehow.

Suddenly, three “demons” appear in the livingroom with the group. Each looks to be a doppelganger of one of the character they appear in front of: one of Karisa, one of Ian, and one of Jacob. Recognizing these things to some degree, Phee is baffled by their appearance: they usually don’t appear in people’s homes. To escape them, they should find either holy ground or somewhere with a stronger sense of “home”. Ian and Jacob both tell the others to get out as the demons begin their attack, and Ian recommends they go to St Joan of Arc Cathedral, as he has a contact there that will keep them safe. Marcello and Phee are able to get out easily. When Marcello turns to grab Karisa, however, his path is blocked by his own doppelganger, and a final doppelganger appears and grabs Phee as she tries to flee.

Ian swings for the demon in front of Karisa, and is vanishes in a puff of green smoke. Karisa scurries for the door and has to kind of side-step around the Marcellos, who are wrestling with one another. Across the lawn, she can also see that the Phees are wrestling as well. Not wanting to choose the wrong Marcello and hurt her friend, she asks which of them is the real one, and, predictably, they both turn to her at the same time and say, “I am!” It is not helpful. What is helpful, however, although not particularly revealing, is when one of the Marcellos grabs Karisa and carries her a block away using his super speed.

Safely outside the battle now, Karisa decides to run the rest of the way to St Joan of Arc Cathedral to find and enlist the help of Ian’s contact. She arrives to find a service already underway. Phee is dropped off by a super-speedy Marcello a moment later, and she tells Karisa that the demon she was fighting just suddenly vanished.

Back at Karisa’s apartment, all of the demons have vanished, hastened along by some violence and by Ian drawing on his faith. Marcello’s arrival — a sudden blur of movement — does not go unnoticed by Ian and Jacob, who quickly assume that he is the demon and that he’s done something with Karisa and Phee. This assumption is not helped in the least when Marcello is forced to cower before Ian’s crucifix and upswelling of faith. They apprehend him, in spite of his protests, and the trio begin to walk towards the church. When Marcello’s phone rings (the girls trying to get in touch with him so they don’t have to barge in on the service), it is grabbed from his hand and destroyed.

Reaching the church, Marcello is able to cross onto holy ground, but the pair remain suspicious of him. They quickly locate the girls, who were just about to interrupt the service, and then press Marcello for details. They learn that he’s a red-court infected and that, only through the influence of a group called St Giles, is he able to control himself and not become a full vampire. Karisa and Ian are immediately sympathetic, while Jacob reminds him that if he screws up at all, Jacob will be there to take him out. Phee, meanwhile, logically turns her attention to the problem at hand: the demons.

They wonder if the attack has something to do with the train; Karisa says it obviously doesn’t, because Ian wasn’t there and Donnie isn’t here, and can we not talk about that, please? (To which Ian voices some confusion, but no one bothers to explain.) Ian wonders if they were specifically targeting him, as he is trying to hunt down someone who stole some demonic-themed books from the library, but it is pointed out that the demon(s) attacked all of them. When it is asked if Karisa has brought anything home that could make her a target, Karisa explains that anything valuable usually goes right to her fence, Nadia Bliss. Phee latches onto the name and tells the group Nadia Bliss had been asking about a coin on the day of the train incident, and Karisa smugly tells Phee that she had already grabbed it. (Although it was gone when she woke up.) Nevertheless, now that the idea of the coin and the mysterious fence have been brought up, the group wants to investigate to see if they might have something to do with the event.

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Session 3: Pride Goeth Before
Thy Sins Manifest

The group has broken up to go about their various tasks with Phee leading the efforts to research the coin and the demons. After letting her into the library and pointing her in the right direction, Ian excuses himself to take care of some business. Phee finds some very unsettling information: she is unable to come up with any information about the demons, because a book is missing from the shelves. These particular books were stolen some months ago by Karisa and given to a client, but she, Ian, and Phee were able to work together to return the books to their rightful home where they’ve been under lock and key ever since. She also learns that the coin has a long history of violence, death, and destruction visited upon nearby areas. Unfortunately, she isn’t able to tell precisely when or where the coin was minted: it seems to have been old in even the first stories in which it appears. With her research complete, she calls Karisa, and they agree to meet in a few hours at Phee’s shop.

Karisa and Marcello have a more hands-on approach to research. (Jacob, too, had to leave.) Karisa brings Marcello to meet her fence and fixer, Ms. Nadia Bliss. Nadia is surprised when Karisa inquires about an ancient coin; apparently, Nadia was just about to give her the job to steal it. When Phee calls, Karisa advises Marcello to introduce himself to Nadia. He introduces himself as a con man (although not in so many words), and Nadia tells him that if Karisa is willing to vouch for him, she’ll throw some work his way.

With a few hours to kill before their meeting with Phee, Karisa decides to take Marcello out on her job. She is able to break in and grab the coin without any trouble — she’s been there once before, after all, and so she knows where all of the weak points in security are. With coin in hand, she returns to the car and accidentally startles Marcello, who had been practicing some sleight of hand while waiting.

On their way to Phee’s, Karisa asks him about being a vampire. He tells her that he isn’t a full vampire yet — he’s only been infected, and he won’t become a full vampire until he kills someone and feeds from them. In turn, she tells him about being a changeling and that she’s constantly battling her changeling nature, just as he’s battling his vampiric one.

When Phee arrives to let them inside, she makes sure the door is securely locked behind them before she begins her explanation. Karisa seems dubious about the coin being evil, though — after all, nothing terrible has happened in Vegas in the 50 or so years it’s been here. (At least, nothing supernaturally terrible.) Phee patiently recreates a timeline of the events connected to the coin, but Karisa remains stubbornly unconvinced. She has a job to do, after all, and she can’t just not do it based on a whim. She does, however, agree to allow Phee 24 hours to prove her case, and Phee wisely commissions Marcello to hold onto the coin for that period of time to keep either woman from doing something stupid with it.

The following day, Karisa tries to look into the missing book, but she isn’t able to find any information about who stole it. If it was a professional job, they didn’t tap anyone in her network. Afterwards, she goes out for a burger with Marcello. While eating, they happen to catch a news report of a drive-by shooting somewhere in town. Neither think much of it.

At the appointed time, Karisa and Marcello arrive at Phee’s pawn shop and are let in. Inside, Phee has a powerpoint presentation prepared, complete with notebooks for Karisa and Marcello to take notes in. (The pair use the notebooks to write back and forth rather than pay attention to the presentation, which is a bit lengthy and very, very detailed.)

To sum up: the coin is well-worn, but Phee was able to determine several important symbols, including: the angelic alphabet encircling a goddess and an eye similar to the all-seeing eye. She is able to determine that the goddess represents some rather positive things (and war, for some reason) and determined the eye may be related to an early version of the Freemasons. She was also able to track down the owners of the coin during its time in Vegas and presents a chart showing the ever-increasing violence in the city. Interestingly, none of the owners were particularly wealthy. In the past five years, however, the violence has actually decreased a bit, which is the period during which Jory Botterill owned the coin. She also noticed the the Pinho family owned it several years ago and that a Pinho also checked out several relevant books in the library, including the missing book about demons. The owner before Botterill (Tracie Nathanson) was shot and died in the hospital.

For some reason, Karisa can’t wrap her mind around the existence of angels and gods, causing several tangents and delays. It isn’t until Marcello breaks in and informs the ladies that he has actually purchased the coin from Nadia that Karisa remembers what’s at stake — she was far too busy standing up to Phee until that point. Before they can get too chummy, Karisa completely misinterprets something Phee said as a racist remark. Marcello leaves before things get too heated, and, after several more statements by an oblivious Phee and several deep breaths by Karisa, Karisa, too, leaves.

Outside, Marcello reassures Karisa that he’s certain Phee didn’t mean anything negative by any of it. Karisa agrees and calms down, then asks if Marcello really did buy the coin. Marcello says that he did — he paid $5000 for it — and Karisa seems somewhat touched by the gesture.

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Session 4: Pride Goeth Before
Thy Sins Manifest

Karisa awakens to find the coin gone. She’s sure Marcello gave it to her the night before, and she’s sure she put it away before bed, but there seems to be no sign of it anywhere. After a frantic search, she calls Marcello and asks him to check his car in case she dropped it. Still half-asleep, it takes him a moment to realize the coin is sitting on his nightstand. He’s sure he gave it to Karisa the night before too, but the coin seems to have returned on its own. He tells her they should meet at the coffee shop, and he’ll return it to her so she can turn it over to her fence.

Phee has had a busy morning. She’s called many of her contacts hoping to learn more about the missing book or Anja Pinho, but no one seems to know anything. She is, however, able to find an address. Phee calls Karisa to tell her she’s located the home of Anja Pinho, who also had an interest in both the coin and the missing book. Karisa offers to steal the book back, but Phee wants to try talking to her first in case Anja could become an ally. Karisa reluctantly agrees and tells Phee she’ll meet her in a little while.

Karisa and Marcello meet at the coffee shop, and then Karisa drops the coin off at Nadia’s. She invites him to accompany them to talk to Anja, and he agrees. By the time they’ve arrived at Phee’s pawn shop, Phee has put together a large model detailing why Anja should help them. They load the diagram and themselves into Phee’s Escalade, and they drive towards the suburbs.

Pulling into Anja Pinho’s neighborhood, they’re surprised to find Jacob staggering down the sidewalk. Karisa hurries over to check on him. He seems to be suffering from a massive hangover. After emptying his stomach into the nearby bushes, he sits down in the Escalade to enjoy some bottled water to counter the dehydration. Feeling a bit better, he, too, decides to join them as well.

Unfortunately, the bushes he vomited into appear to belong to Anja Pinho.

Phee maneuvers the Escalade into her driveway. No one answers the door when the ring the doorbell, so they check the door. It’s locked. Confident that she can find a way in, Karisa checks the windows and back door. Everything’s locked, but that’s not a problem for long. She does notice, however, that the house appears to have been ransacked.

The group chooses to enter through the back door. Jacob takes point as Marcello admonishes Phee for touching things without wearing gloves. They eventually come across Anja Pinho on the ground. She’s unconscious and looks to have been sweating terribly. There’s also evidence of something being driven hard enough into the drywall of the wall behind her to have cracked it.

As Jacob checks for a pulse, Karisa steps further into the house to make sure no one’s lurking inside. She finds a room that she immediately associates with cultlike activities: inside, she finds a wicked knife and multiple strange symbols.

Jacob decides that Anja will die if they don’t get her to a hospital soon. The group loads her into the Escalade, and they head for the nearest hospital. En route, they catch sight of Ian on a motorcycle in front of them. They watch in surprised horror as he pulls out a gun and begins shooting at seemingly random vehicles on the highway.

Phee tries to speed up to reach him in order to bump him off the road, but her vehicle is neither small nor maneuverable. Ian turns his attention to the group and fires several rounds at the Escalade. Jacob decides to take matters into his own hands, and he shoots out the back tire of the motorcycle. The vehicle skids out of control, and Ian is thrown onto the side of the road.

Karisa yells for Phee to stop the car, and she hurries out to check on him as soon as the car is stopped. (Even though she’s convinced it’s not Ian.) In spite of what should have been serious wounds, Ian picks himself up. His eyes flash yellow, and he growls. Karisa backs off and is joined by Jacob and Marcello.

Jacob tells them all to get back into the car. Marcello argues that he can’t leave him alone. Trusting the guys to handle it, Karisa follows Jacob’s instructions…but not before giving Marcello a kiss and telling him to hurry. Enraged, Ian staggers towards the car. Marcello snaps out of his shock and throws some sand into Ian’s face, and Jacob opens fire. As Phee and Karisa pull away, they can see that he’s bleeding badly — normal, red blood.

As Ian collapses, sirens wail in the distance. Both Marcello and Jacob decide they had better disappear before the cops arrive, and so they part ways. Jacob is bound for the hospital, but Marcello would like to go home and freshen up first, because his nice silk shirt was ruined. He’s also hungry — very, very hungry — and figures the hospital might not be the best place for him.

At the hospital, Anja is unloaded by the staff and is seen immediately by a doctor. Karisa tells the staff the story the group had worked out in the car — that they had an appointment with her and arrived to find her unconscious — and is soon joined by Phee in the waiting room.

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Session 5: Pride Goeth Before
Thy Sins Manifest

Phee and Karisa are still in the lobby of the hospital when Jacob arrives. He refuses to come inside (because being around technology is not such a great idea for a practitioner), so Phee steps outside to talk to him about Anja’s condition, of which they know very little at this point. Karisa remains inside monitoring the news channel on the lobby TV and her phone to learn if there is any news of the group’s involvement in the incident. She also receives a text from Marcello saying that he is going home to change clothes and that they need to talk when he arrives.

By the time Marcello finally does arrive, the group has received word that Anja is stable and can see visitors. Karisa’s plan to get some time with Marcello fails spectacularly, requiring them to send Phee off to gather art supplies for her newest why-we-should-be-friends diagram to show to Anja. This gives them ample time to discuss Karisa’s sudden kiss earlier and whether Marcello is comfortable pursuing a relationship with Karisa. Ultimately, they decide to give it a go just in time for Phee to return with her new presentation aide. Because she went to all that work, Marcello and Karisa allow her to present her diagram to a badly-concussed Anja. They soon regret it. Both step in quickly once Anja starts to cry, leaving Phee to puzzle over what she had said to make the woman burst into tears.

From Anja, they are able to learn that she was not alone when she was attacked. Anja and her boyfriend, Kenneth, were using the book to perform a ritual that was supposed to give them anything they desired: and what they desired was to be together forever. Unfortunately for them, a spirit broke free and multiplied before their eyes. Kenneth was dragged through the gate, and Anja was physically attacked. When asked about the coin, Anja said it was mentioned in the book, but they skipped over that part. It sounds as though she read only the parts of the book that were about the ritual and didn’t bother to read anything else. Anja tells the group that the book should still be in the house, and that she’ll help them if they can bring Kenneth back to her. They promise to try.

Jacob, Karisa, Marcello, and Phee return to Anja’s house to retrieve the book, and they find the house engulfed in flame. After a quick glance, they realize that the fire hasn’t quite spread to the room the book was supposedly in. Knowing that she is the only one who would recognize the book on sight, Karisa volunteers to break in to retrieve the book, and Marcello offers to accompany her inside. The pair are able to battle past the flames, manuever their way around the burning house, and locate the book safely, although they’re a little singed by the time they step outside. The growing crowd, meanwhile is informed about the nature of fires by Phee, who was hurt that neither Karisa nor Marcello wanted her advice on how to avoid burning to death in the house.

Karisa insists they return to the hospital to inform Anja personally that her house has just burned down, to which she replies that her parents are going to kill her. Realizing that Phee ran off with the book, Karisa and Marcello suggest Anja rest and tell her they’ll check on her in the morning. They find Phee in the hallway near the giftshop with the book open on her lap accompanied by a mess of string and post-it notes.

After Phee cleans up her mess, the group returns to Phee’s Escalade and head back to Phee’s shop. By the time they arrive, Phee has decided that she is going to learn Finnish in order to translate the book. Karisa suggests to Marcello that they get something to eat…and Jacob offers to pay. Karisa is pretty put-out until Marcello phones in an order of Chinese delivery for Jacob and Phee, then tells her they’re going out for a nice steak dinner. Phee spends the rest of the night studying Finnish while Jacob watches, and Karisa and Marcello retire to his place after dinner.

The following morning, Jacob awakens in a chair he fell asleep in and is disappointed to learn Phee has consumed all the coffee already to keep herself awake. Marcello and Karisa show up eventually, and the group put their heads together to figure out where they should go from here. Karisa is happy to take Anja up on her offer to translate the book until it is pointed out to her that she could end up hurt worse or dead by helping them. They also make it clear that they don’t necessarily trust her. With that said, they want someone to go back and ask Anja a few more follow-up questions.

Because Jacob won’t enter the hospital and because Karisa doesn’t have a car, both Marcello and Karisa end up going to visit Anja. From her, they learn that her ritual was done the same night the doppelgangers attacked the group. They also learn that Kenneth was a welder and that he created the ritual circle himself. While they’re visiting people in hospitals, Karisa also decides to visit Ian. The nurses tell Karisa and Marcello that they aren’t allowed to see Ian, as he is currently in police custody for the shooting. The hospital staff is initially annoyed with their presence, but once they learn that Karisa and Marcello aren’t reporters, they become a little more sympathetic. The pair play stupid and claim not to know anything about the shooting and tell the staff they were just trying to find out if Ian was okay. The staff can only tell them that he’s stable, and Karisa thanks them for that much before leaving.

Meanwhile, Jacob goes to investigate the sight of the fire. He is able to tell that an accelerant was used. He also finds smallish footsteps leading up to where the accelerant was placed and pieces of the ritual left-over in the ruined house. Strangely, he begins to feel sluggish and tired as he wanders throught he northwest corner of the house.

Back at Phee’s shop, Phee has gone back to trying to study the book. She is able to make out something about the coin acting as a safeguard against foreignors and that it sings for them, which makes an odd sort of sense as the coin vibrated when in the presence of the possessed Ian. After reviewing their findings and confessing to some weird feelings the night of the doppelganger attack, the group decides to split up to check their various networks for information.

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