The Porcelain Dolls: Session 14 (May 1 2016)

The Turner 302 Job:

Edward Clermont has boasted that his new safe, a top of the line Turner 302, is invincible. Kamali has decided to accept the challenge.

The crew gets a 5 on the Engagement roll. Kamali and Shade get inside the house with no incident, while Gloves keeps watch outside. The maid is nowhere to be seen, due to the butler deciding he needs to take a more direct role in his niece’s care, and so the basement is clear. However, Clermont does have an unexpected visitor from the Skovlan Consulate, who shows up right when Kamali is about to get to work on the safe. He is demanding information from the papers in the safe, in relation to a recent incident involving Ulf Ironborn (the words “arson” and “terrorism” are mentioned).

The Turner 302 is a 6′ by 4′ free-standing safe, made of a combination of solid iron and steel, painted a tasteful dark forest green with the company name and model number in elegant gold lettering on the door. There are three combination locks, and several glass plates inside designed to shatter if someone attempts to drill into it or open it by force, dropping secondary bolts into place, rendering the entire thing inoperable until it’s brought back to the manufacturer to reset. I rule that opening the safe is (for Kamali) a single 8 segment clock. More on this in the Notes.

Kamali commences work on opening the safe using Finesse, as her plan involves not damaging the safe in any way, or in fact leaving any evidence that it had been opened at all (in contrast with someone like Constance, who would not think twice about using Wreck to simply force the door open, or even just try to knock a hole in the side with a sledgehammer). I rule that Kamali’s position here would be Risky, but having acquired and studied the blueprints allows her to bump it back up to Controlled. In the first recorded instance (in our group) of a player using the fill-in line at the bottom of the Gear list, Kamali produces the stethoscope that she has thoughtfully decided to bring along in order to assist in hearing the turn of the tumblers.

As Kamali is working on the safe, Shade is on lookout at the door to the room, listening to the commotion coming from upstairs. He realizes it’s only a matter of time before Clermont and his guest come downstairs (this is a 4 segment countdown clock). Before too long Kamali gets through all three tumblers, and the safe is open, revealing (as the ghost said) a leather binder stuffed with papers, and a very large amount of Coin. She and Shade manage to copy important information from the papers (an additional 6 segment clock which they make short work of using Group actions), close the safe again, and get into a good hiding spot before Clermont and his visitor come down to the basement to retrieve the papers from the safe (a wooden bench hastily laid across the door buys them some time). Once Clermont is gone, Kamali easily opens the safe again, now that she has the combination.

I offer them the choice:

  1. Shade’s Plan: Take the whole stack of cash now (10 Coin) and earn 1 XP for reinforcing their Reputation for being daring (for cracking the Turner 302), or
  2. Kamali’s Plan: Only take an inconspicuous amount (2 Coin), and have the option of coming back on a regular basis to skim off of Clermont’s petty cash fund, and that will result in 2 XP for being extra daring. One detail is that eventually the money taken will be missed (and there is now an ongoing 4 segment clock for that, but if they can pull off a job to infiltrate and doctor Clermont’s ledgers, that will reset the clock).
  3. In the end, Shade agrees to go with Kamali’s plan. There is some speculation that both Boots and Gloves will object to this plan, for completely different reasons. Boots will think it’s a bad idea for the group to press their luck, and Gloves will just complain that he didn’t get paid.

    Downtime actions for the Turner 302 Job:

    • The crew earns enough Rep to go up to Tier 1 (Hooray!).
    • Kamali, Shade, and Gloves all reduce Stress.
    • Kamali trains Prowess, and spends a Coin to a project to make Frake a friend.
    • Gloves talks to the remaining property owners in The Drop, advancing the gentrification project (1 segment left). There is some idle talk about renaming the neighborhood to make it sound more upscale, and “Drop Heights” was jokingly suggested.
    • Shade spends some time with Nyryx, completing the project to make them a friend.

    Downtime actions for The Unmarked Crate Job (session 12, but happening simultaneously with this job):

    • Gears and Constance both work more on clearing the factory floor, which opens the way for a smaller clock to set up living space.
    • Gears works on an addition to Constance’s anchor (a spring-loaded launch tube for a crossbow bolt), so she has a bit of a surprise for any enemy with whom she hasn’t yet closed into melee range.
    • Constance and Boots reduce stress.
    • Boots spends an action healing, which clears up his broken nose.
    • Constance spends a Coin to reduce Heat.


    It was always Kamali’s plan to completely ghost this whole job. She very deliberately set things up in such a way that there would be no evidence that anyone had ever been there, much less robbed the place. The fact that the Turner 302’s reputation as uncrackable remains intact is also valuable, as does the as yet unspecified diplomatic information copied from the papers in the safe. We’ll see what that leads to in future sessions.

    Following on from my notes on the previous session, I hit upon something that I don’t believe is specifically mentioned in the Quickstart, but everyone running the game should keep in mind: The consequence “It Takes More Time” should be used specifically in conjunction with some kind of countdown clock. Otherwise, it lacks bite and ends up being a cop out. In this particular session, I used it with the Unexpected Visitor clock. By judicious use of It Takes More Time and Reduced Effect to exert some control over how quickly each the opposing clocks were filling up, I was able to keep the tension ratcheted up quite nicely during the job.

    Also, during this job, there was some question as to how the Turner 302’s legendary difficulty was being modeled in the game. I said that the short answer is that there are several factors at work to represent that.

    As the GM, I have several dials that I can utilize to tune the difficulty of an obstacle: The number of segments on a clock, the possibility of multiple linked clocks, opposing clocks, the position of the roll.

    Cracking the safe was a single 8 segment clock. However, I said that this was specifically for Kamali, and specifically for the method she used for opening it. Kamali has been presented in the fiction as a talented safe-cracker, among other things. If someone else had approached this particular task who had not been characterized as such (Boots, for example), the mechanics would look much different (perhaps a separate clock for each of the three tumblers).

    There’s also the not insignificant point that the Turner Security Company is very likely overstating their ingenuity and innovative design in order to sell a product. Doesn’t mean it’s true (as Kamali has proven).

    One additional note: I ran this 1 day after the previous session. This is the first game I’ve ever run where it doesn’t cause me stress (see what I did there). I could probably run this several times a week without a fuss if my schedule permitted it, I have so many ideas for what’s happening next.