I ran the first half of Out of the House of Ashes yesterday for some different players from my usual batch. I'd run some 13th Age for them before, but they were unfamiliar with GUMSHOE, and they hadn't seen me running in full espionage mode before.
It would seem Out of the House of Ashes has somewhat overwhelmed them as a first entry into the world of Night's Black Agents. Pretty much everyone eschewed pre-gens to make their own characters.
Erik played Boris, a former FSB hacker/wire rat. He used a cover identity as a security company technician to subvert security systems and communications in both the Vienna International Centre and the Europa Hotel, but then kept his distance to monitor everything digitally. He actually did pretty well in his role.
James played Michael, a former MI-5 field agent who made contact with his old friend Albert Carpenter of the Vienna station. I ran Carpenter straight as a weary local chief who didn't want trouble. He warned Michael not to interfere with the CIA's move on Shevrenko. For his part, Michael just gathered intel and supported his team.
My old friend Suresh, who in the past has been a wild card known for ruining his group's plans, played Howard, an ex-Blackwater heavy hitter with some useful pickpocketing skills. To my surprise, he was pretty calm and calculated this time, but he didn't help the newbies with any useful advice - he just stood back and watched the mistakes happen.
Edmund played Noah, a former Vatican intelligence agent with stealth skills. He vastly overestimated what he could accomplish - twice. Once when he tried to coerce the heart doctor into betraying Shevrenko by force, which backfired when the doctor panicked, and again when he tried to plant a bug on Simon Thonradel during the CIA extraction and failed. Both times he ended up fleeing in a hurry - in the second case, by being flung 50m into the Danube by Thonradel, which left him at -10 health.
The extraction scene ended with Thonradel fleeing the scene after Howard blew up the ambulance with a grenade. Shevrenko remained in the hands of the FSB. James recovered a comatose Noah from the river. Howard buried himself in the hotel stables to escape capture with an extremely high Conceal result.
Now the team of agents is licking its wounds and trying to figure out its next move. Heat in Vienna has risen to 10 as a result of the actions taken in the session.
I suspect I'll continue this adventure on Saturday afternoon. Man, I hope certain players learn their lesson and actually consult with each other before pulling stupid stunts...