What ends up in the postmaster’s dead letter office?
Not drugs or explosives – those are easily discovered and long since removed. What about…
…a packet of perfect diamonds?
…a blackmailer’s lost evidence?
…a corporation’s stolen prototype for a new microchip?
…a wad of bearer bonds?
…a map to the secret stash hidden by a criminal who’s currently stuck in prison?
That’s stuff worth fighting over. If only those pesky federal laws weren’t in the way for the players’ characters… But you know players, they will find a way in once they have been baited correctly.
After getting the McGuffin from the dead letter office, ramp things up immediately.
The main characters are paying for stuff at a late-night connivence store or gas station went suddenly a burning sedan drives into the parking lot at high speed, hits another car, and goes airborne – pinwheeling into the plate-glass front of the store. As the characters dive for cover or try to get out from being pinned, automatic gunfire erupts between the injuried and well-armed occupants of the sedan and gunmen in black vans out in the parking lot. Within seconds, police sirens are heard coming from a few blocks away. A SWAT team will arrive shortly.
Other elements to include:
The maverick cop who is willing to give the characters a break provide they help take down the big mobster whom none of the “dirty” cops will touch. Once the maverick goes to make his move, PCs should realize he’s a reckless daredevil who isn’t overly concerned about who gets killed on either side of the fight.
The local petty crime boss who keeps his “stable” of working girls in check with free drugs and violent intimidation. Nobody likes him, but he’s loyal to the neighborhood and generous with his ill-gotten wealth. He expects to be shown respect; he’ll be quick to anger if treated badly in front of others. He is always accompanied by a crew of four to six armed youths.
The homeless bum who uses pity to solicit aid from everyone in the neighborhood; he is in fact very cunning and sees far more than people realize.
The overly-ambitious reporter who looks at crisis and misery as nothing more than a chance at career advancement. This snoop follows the characters around, asking them if they were involved in any or all of the big crimes reported in the past year, who are they working for now, any chance of serious violence, etc. This reporter cites freedom of the press as excuse to invade anyone’s privacy or commit any transgression in “pursuit of the truth” – as long the journalist gets full credit on the story.
The older crimelord who wants to retire but knows he can never really set down and stay alive. He’s long since either made peace with his enemies or had them killed. No one will openly move against the crimelord now, but everyone schemes to grab their piece of power when the inevitable downfall finally comes. A thick circle of doddering toadies have kept the crimelord somewhat isolated. Among those with personal plots:
– The crimelord’s son, a spoiled bully with a murderous temper.
– The crimelord’s daughter, a beautiful woman who wants a clean start away from the family business.
– The crimelord’s wife, who has been there since the beginning and rightfully feels owed for her loyalty.
– The crimelord’s brother, who for years has been lusting for power and jealous of his sibling’s status.
– The crimelord’s chief advisor, who is tired of serving the shadow of his boss.
The local priest trying to help save the neighborhood’s kids from a brutal future living on the streets. After hours, the father is less altruistic – he sells confessional secrets to rival gangs to keep them at each others throats. He hopes they will eventually wipe each other out, letting honest families live in peace. His dangerous game will no doubt get him killed.
The computer hacker who steals and sells business secrets to buy food, luxuries or better electronics gear.
The former intelligence officer who faked his own death to get out of service. He now tries to live a low-key life where he hopes his former bosses won’t look for him, in America’s own neglected urban backyard.