4 December 2000 0600H. Taj Mahal Hotel Tower, Atlantic City, NJ.
They’d left the shooting gallery in the hotel stairwell for the 11th floor hallway. Good odds The Indian’s men would figure out where Maks and Wojciech went.
The hallway was long and murky. They’d snuffed their light in the stairwell. Only thing they could see was somebody holding a lantern at the far end of the hallway. But the air was hazy from smoke and dust so they could make out no details.
Occasionally the pair could hear muffled explosions outside the hotel. That would be the military invasion of Atlantic City.
Maks couldn’t see his hand in front of his face, unless he eclipsed the faint light from the far end of the hallway. It would be slow-going, moving mostly by touch. And they possibly had pursuers. He lit one of their candles, and Wojciech [“Voy-check”] walked down the hallway.
I told my brother that they could Trot or Run of course, but there’d be penalties to Stealth and Observation. And running with a candle is a bit tricky; there’d be an Agility check for that.
The figure at the other end had no reaction. After the angry hornet’s nest in the stairwell, the hallway on the 11th floor was relatively quiet.
They’d scarcely made any progress down the hallway when a figure stepped into their candlelight. A middle-aged lady with a bloody claw hammer.
She stood in front of them, regarding Maks and Wojciech with half-crazed eyes. “I want to go home. I want out of here.”
Trying to not let his eyes fix on the bloody claw hammer, Maks asked her in his best social-worker voice, “We are trying to get out of here too. Where is home for you ma’am?”
“DC.” Her voice was soft. Maks’ eyes flicked to the hammer. The blood was still fresh.
Maks gestured down the hallway, “Well let’s work on getting down and out, and then let’s think about DC.”
She complied. Her name was Linda, he learned. Maks walked next to her, Wojciech behind.
Most of the floor encounters are on a random table I made. Linda was created ahead of time, but her appearance would only be on a 6 from a D6 roll on the 11th floor. So of course I rolled a “6” the first time.
The hazy hallway worked in their favor too. By the time they got to the central junction on the 11th floor, the stairwell door they’d emerged from was lost in darkness.
Then it banged open. A figure holding a lantern poked his head around the door frame, half-shouting “Hey!” at the party.
They kept their cool, and strolled around the corner. “Linda, when we run into people, we’re going to try to walk and talk our way past.” Maks glanced at the bloody hammer again. “Keep that out of sight.”
They were going to take the NW stairwell that Maks assumed was there. Suddenly, four of The Indian’s gunmen rounded the corner.
As they passed, one of the men barked at the party, “If you don’t have any duties, get back in your rooms!”
The group brushed past, headed right down the hallway the party had come from.
Maks, Wojciech, and Linda continued. She wasn’t much help as a guide. There was clearly some trauma at work inside her head. Soon they saw why.
A blood drip trail led back to one of the rooms, along with a bloody smear on the door handle. Maks caught Linda’s eye and nodded at the door. She nodded back.
“We’re going to look in there real quick, Linda. You do not have to go in there.” She didn’t object, so Wojciech pushed the door open. Unsurprisingly, a male figure lay in a pool of blood at the far end of the room.
“Did he have any weapons, Linda?” Maks asked.
“Just this.” The bloody hammer.
“Right. OK, let’s move on.”
As the group proceeded down the hallway, I had all the party make Observation rolls.
Wow. I rolled a “1” (out of 20 of course) for Linda. So they got two Outstanding Successes, and a Success. It meant they got an early warning, much earlier than usual.
Maks and Linda heard it at the same time. They froze. The sound of many feet running down a carpeted hallway. And it was getting louder. Then Wojciech heard it too.
Maks and Wojciech each tried a room door nearest them. [I rolled odds twice…] Both doors were locked. He cursed under his breath.
At Maks’ urging, the party made a full run for the stairwell doors at the end of the hallway. Their candle blew out part-way [Maks failed an Agility test]. But they made it to the door.
Back in the Stairwell Again
The now 3-person party entered the dark stairwell, pulling the door quietly closed behind them. Many of the hotel doors still had functioning door-closers, and the doors would boom throughout the stairwell as they shut.
Maks re-lit the candle from their dwindling supply of matches.
“Down is out,” Linda muttered, still clutching her hammer.
I rolled a D6 each floor.
A 6 meant somebody entered/exited the floor as the party passed the landing. A D4 decided the direction.
A 5 resulted in the same, but the floor above or below. Likewise for a 4 result, though it was two floors distant.
The 11th floor landing was clear. A few floors down, they could hear activity. Not much to be done about that. They had to continue.
10th Floor: A man stepped into the stairwell. He was Black, wearing the tattered remains of business attire. He didn’t seem armed, and seemed alert and observant. Maks and company kept their own weapons concealed as much as practical; even Linda kept her hammer half concealed up her sleeve.
They all stared for a few moments. The party continued down the stairs. The man silently joined them. Maks tried to communicate with the man, but he was clearly a foreigner, with very poor English. He too wanted out apparently.
9th Floor: No encounter.
8th Floor: No encounter.
7th Floor: No encounter. But they could hear the door open on the level below.
6th Floor: Two ragged urban survivors fled back the way they came at the sight of the party. Squatters, by Maks’ reckoning.
5th Floor: Three gunmen exited the stairwell as the (now 4-person) party arrived.
4th Floor: More people could be heard entering the stairwell on the level below.
3rd Floor: Those people turned out to be more squatters. They passed, going up. Each group eyed the other warily.
2nd Floor: No encounter.
Ground Floor: Another group exited the stairwell as the party arrived.
They were almost out of this dungeon of a hotel…