Saturday, 27 January 2018

Yakuza 2019 - Actual Play Report #2: Killing in the Name of

After a month it's finally here, the 2nd part of the actual play report for Yakuza 2019!  We sat down yesterday and played to find out what would happen to my character Tae Joon-Ho.  It was a blast and I can't wait to share it with you guys.  For those of you just joining us, you can find the first part here and the notes about our Session 0 here.  With that bit of housekeeping out the way let's get on with the game itself.

Making some Calls...

A familiar phone booth where Joon-Ho was planning his next
move.
When we last left off Tae Joon-Ho my ethnic Korean Yakuza drug-dealer was in a phone booth.  Where he'd been hung up on by the secretary of Yoshida Goro, the Yakuza lieutenant.  That his own boss Koizumi Takahiro reported to.  After having an initial meltdown over being hung up on by the secretary, essentially cutting off his only lifeline.  Joon-Ho began wracking his brain trying to figure out who could've murdered his boss and friend.  Had it been his girlfriend Honda Miu?  Takahiro and many of Joon-Ho's other friends had been telling him to dump the cabaret girl for years.  She was also the only one that had access to the apartment that Takahiro would've lowered his guard to.  She also knew where the gun and amphetamines had been kept.  Was it the rival dealer from the Izumi-kai Takenaka Shuichi?  Who Joon-Ho had caught selling outside a bar on Akemi-gumi turf?  That didn't add up, he'd been with Joon-Ho while Takahiro was getting murdered.  Joon-Ho made a mental note to deal with him later though.  The last suspect on his list was Yoshida Goro the lieutenant within the Akemi-gumi that Takahiro had reported to.  He certainly had the resources, but he lacked motive.  He was making good money supplying amphetamines to Takahiro which Takahiro then supplied to Joon-Ho.  Why jeopardize that?  

"You have eight minutes remaining, to make another call please dial the desired number.  If you'd like a refund please hang-up."  The pre-recorded woman's voice droned from the receiver.  Bringing Joon-Ho back from his thoughts, he began dialling another number, making the most of his remaining time.  The first number was for the cabaret where his girlfriend Miu worked as a hostess.  Joon-Ho impatiently tapped the phone as he listened to it ring, waiting for his call to go through.  A woman answered the phone, probably one of Miu's co-workers.
"Hello Titty Typhoon, are you calling to book?" 
(As a side note I about burst out laughing when the GM typed this.  She then explained the idea was that the club got the name.  Because it's trendy among the Japanese to use foreign words even when they don't know the meaning).
"No I'm calling on a personal matter.  Is Miu there?" said Joon-Ho.
"Oh, Mr Fujin, is that you?  Miu just went home, so you'll have to see her tomorrow."  the girl on the other end replied.  Joon-Ho didn't recognize the name as Miu had never mentioned it, but he didn't let on.  There were more pressing matters at hand, than who his girlfriend was screwing behind his back.
"Okay, thank you for your time." with that Joon-Ho hung up.

If Miu had left the club that meant she'd gone back to his apartment.  Which was probably now a police crime scene or about to become one, he'd never be able to get to her.  Besides her co-worker had already established her alibi.  Putting the coins that'd fallen into the change slot back into the coin slot he began dialling another number.
"Yello," the voice on the other end was that of Sato Soma, the Bosozoku biker that Joon-Ho had spent two years in prison with.
"Soma, it's me Joon-Ho.  I need a favour."
"I'll do what I can, man, but I mean, you know we're not around, right?  We're all up in Hokkaido right now.  If things are super bad, you can come up and lay low with us for a while.  You know we'd be willing to put you up anytime."
Joon-Ho began mentally cursing himself, after last night's drunken binge he'd forgotten that Soma and his gang were up in Hokkaido.  Not even on the same island of Honshu as he was.
"Shit man, I forgot.  It's nothing, I'll catch you later."
"Sorry I couldn't be more help, man, call me if you need anything I can help with from up here though!  I always got your back bro." comforting words from Soma that offered little comfort to Joon-Ho in his current situation as he hung up.

A Japanese Pub not unlike the one where Joon-Ho had Shiori
meet him.
The last number on the list of people Joon-Ho could call when he was in a jam.  Was Shiori Sato (no relation to Soma, Sato is a very common name in Japan) a childhood friend that Joon-Ho had dated for a time.  She was an ethnic Korean (like Joon-Ho though she opted to use a Japanese alias) and also a dealer, the only difference being that she dealt in firearms rather than drugs.  He waited for the phone to connect and breathed a little easier when it did.
"Hello?" said the familiar voice on the other end.
"Shiori?  Look I'm in a bit of a jam could you meet me at the Pub near the Yoshida Office?"
On the other end of the line Shiori sounded a little pensive as Joon-Ho heard her talk to someone else on the other end.  He couldn't quite make out the exact details of the conversation.  In the end she answered in a curt voice.
"Sure.  I'll be there in five."
"Before you go, one more thing.  I need a gun, I've got money." if things took a turn for the worse, Joon-Ho didn't want to walk into an ambush unarmed.
"You looking for anything in particular?" replied Shiori at the other end.
"Like I said I'm in a jam but a Type 54 will do." beggars couldn't be choosers, but she was making the offer.
"Let me ask her." Joon-Ho could hear Shori set down the phone and walk away.  Her footsteps were even not rushed or slowed in anyway.  The other voice from before returned, this time Joon-Ho could make it out as feminine.  He was aware that Shiori had a business partner but he'd never met them.  This was his first clue that she was in fact a woman.
"Yeah, we've got it.  I can give you a quote once we're there.  See you." with that Shiori hung up.

Where you going with that Gun in your hand?

Hanging up the phone and exiting the booth, Joon-Ho looked over his shoulder as he walked.  Making sure that he wasn't followed to his meeting with Shiori.  He was positive he didn't see anyone, but that still didn't put his mind at ease.  Just because they weren't following him now didn't mean that there wasn't someone out there looking to kill him.  When he got there the bar was nearly empty it being open at this time of day was more a formality than a business practice.  By Joon-Ho's watch Shiori showed up two minutes after he did, exactly five minutes after she'd hung up on him.  If nothing else, she was punctual.  She had a wallowing frown on her face, but her eyes lit up at the sight of her old friend.  Joon-Ho was sitting at a booth in the back with his back to the wall.  She sat down at the same booth, sitting across from him.

"Hey hey.  How's it going?  It's been a while." 
"Like I said I'm in a jam, how's it going with you?" Joon-Ho was happy to see her both as a friend and as a person doing business with her.
"It's going..." here she let out a sigh "It's going okay I guess.  Things are just a little tough right now,
The Norinco Type 54 a Chinese copy of the Tokarev T-33,
colloquially called the Black Star pistol.  It is a pistol very
commonly used among the Yakuza.  One of the few handguns
I've researched where use by a criminal organizations is part
of it's Wikipedia Article.
but aren't they always?  What's this jam of yours and how does this help you?" any thoughts Joon-Ho had of concern for his friend were erased when slid over a menu.  That seemed to slide slower than most menus slide, as if weighted down.  Joon-Ho discreetly lifted the cover of the menu to reveal what he'd come here for.  The Type 54 pistol to replace the Smith and Wesson that he'd had to get rid of.  After he'd found Takahiro dead in his apartment.  
Continuing the conversation Joon-Ho said "Remember my boss?  Takahiro?  He's dead.  I found him shot in my apartment this afternoon.  My stash was gone and the gun that killed him?  Was the one you sold me a while back."


 "Great...Always pleasant to find out when a weapon you procured shot someone.  I try to hard not to think about things like that.  Sucks for Takahiro though.  He was a pretty cool guy, if you could get over how self-absorbed he could be..." Shiori didn't seem to share Joon-Ho's grief at Takahiro's death.
"This thing as ammo right?" Joon-Ho nodded towards the gun under the menu.
"It costs extra." Shiori began to smirk a little "Nothing in life is free, you know?"
Joon-Ho reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out a roll of bills.  Forking over the 100,000 Yen he expected to pay for a gun like this.
"Ain't that the truth." he said awaiting Shiori's response.  
"But... Friendship has a way of opening doors.  80,000 is a fair price for you." Shiori responded lowering her price.
"Take the extra, give me some ammunition if that makes you feel better about it.  I'd like to be remembered fondly by my friends." countered Joon-Ho at her offer.
(Hindsight Joon-Ho totally got screwed over in this deal, but I thought it was some nice roleplaying on my part).
Shiori slipped a magazine under the cover of the magazine with the gun.
"Well, I won't disagree with the extra funds.  Every Yen is needed in this day and age.  I imagine you're in a hurry.  I'm gonna stay here for a while, but don't let me keep you from wherever you need to go."  Shiori took the money and pocketed it without counting.  A sign of her trust of an old friend. 
Joon-Ho discreetly collected the illegal firearm, loading the magazine into the pistol.  Which he then deposited into his inner jacket pocket.  Before leaving he left Shiori with these words.
"Takahiro was like a brother to me.  I need to do right by him.  I know things didn't work out between you and me, but you're still my friend.  One of the few I got left in this world." with that he got up and began walking to the bar's door.
If this had been a movie, the camera would've probably focused on Shiori as she watched Joon-Ho leave.  As she delivered her final line of the scene. 
"Wow. What dramatic guy."

Familiar Faces

Shuichi a rival drug-dealer, I'd been wanting to
take care of him ever since the last session.
About a month ago, a note to you GMs in the
audience.  Sometimes players will latch onto a
character they just hate.  Whether you intended
it to be that way or not.  Time away from the
game can make them hate that NPC even more.
Unlike other criminal organizations the Yakuza keep offices that advertise exactly what they do.  Yoshida Goro's office was no different, with a sign proclaiming without shame it's true purpose.  As Joon-Ho started to walk towards the building, he saw a familiar face.  Hanging around in a nearby alleyway.  Tankenaka Shuichi the rival drug-dealer with the Izumi-kai that Joon-Ho had caught dealing on his turf earlier that afternoon.  The talk with Yoshida could wait, Shuichi and Joon-Ho were going to have a talk first.  The kind where he gets even more beat up than the last time the two of them met.  He began walking over to the rival Yakuza.  Shuichi appeared to notice that Joon-Ho was coming his way, but hadn't recognized him yet.  After squinting a bit a look of fear came across Shuichi's face, prompting him to turn around and run for it!

Joon-Ho gave chase the bastard had pulled this the last time he had seen him.  This time he wasn't getting away, not if Joon-Ho had anything to say about it.  Last time Shuichi had had a good head-start, this time he hadn't been so lucky.  Joon-Ho was right on top of him and things only got worse for the rival dealer.  Joon-Ho shot out his leg to trip him which caused Shuichi to stumble but not topple to the ground like Joon-Ho had hoped.  It didn't matter though because Joon-Ho followed up the trip with a hard punch to the back of Shuichi's skull!  (I actually gave my own skull a light tap to test how effective this is.  Let me just say it smarts).  With this punch combined with the momentum the fleeing amphetamine dealer went down like a sack of potatoes.  Apparently it didn't do too much harm though, as he soon hopped back up with is hands up in surrender.

"Wait, man we can talk about this!!  I'm not part of the main business, I only work for the front, dude, please." he pleaded.
"Better start talking ass-wipe!  I get real cranky when people keep ducking me!" threatened Joon-Ho his fist raised in preparation for another punch to the other Yakuza's face.
"Look, I get it.  I saw what happened to your buddy.  But doesn't it make more sense to go after the person who ordered the hit instead of the guy who works for the front of the business.  I don't know why you're after me!"
"What the fuck are you talking about?  Who ordered the hit?"
"I don't know who ordered the hit!  I told you, I just work for the cover up! ... You... do know what I'm talking about right?  You wouldn't come after me if you didn't...right?"
(This is the part where making a Streetwise check when I first met Shuichi instead of punching his lights out without talking, would've been useful).  
"Alright I've got some questions, what the fuck are you doing dealing on Akemi turf?" said Joon-Ho becoming more confused and pissed-off.
"I thought that was a bad idea myself, but my superiors told us to push as many boundaries as we could get away with.  I think it was a power play.  Or maybe more like advertisement?  I ran into others from the Akemi-gumi who turned a blind eye, so I guess it was working, to an extent." 
Joon-Ho still couldn't wrap his head around what the fuck Shuichi was talking about.  He needed to get a second opinion. 
"Alright, we're going to see Mr. Yoshida, he's gonna interested in what you have to say.  Or I could shoot you here for being a thief and a snitch.  Your choice." a look of fear crossed Shuichi's face as Joon-Ho said these words.
"I can't go in there.  I'd rather you shoot me now.  If it was found out that I went there, I'd be more than just dead.

An Alley not unlike the one that Joon-Ho left Shuichi in.
Seeing that being diplomatic was getting him nowhere Joon-Ho reached into his inner jacket pocket.  Pulling out his newly acquired Type 54 and pointing it right in Shuichi's face. 
"You could always say you were under duress." he offered.
"You really don't know do you?  Tell me.  What do you think the Izumi-kai is?" a look of disbelief took form on Shuichi's face.
"I don't keep tabs on every gang of upstarts that call themselves Yakuza." frowned Joon-Ho.
"Heh.  Thought so.  The Izumi-kai is a front.  For a crew of contract killers.  They hire little shits like me to call this dump a "family"in order to keep things running smoothly.  Hiding the darkness in the shadows, if you will.  I'm not the one who killed your friend.  And the hitmen from the Izumi-kai are far too skilled for you.  You'd be better off getting your vengeance on the guy who ordered the hit, not me." a huge shit-eating grin crossed Shuichi's face as he said this.
"Yeah that'd be intimidating if I was a scared little shit like you.  Thing is I'm a Yakuza of the Akemi-gumi, with balls of enough bass to build a Buddha."  With that Joon-Ho took the butt of his gun and struck Shuichi on the side of the head.  Apparently it wasn't hard enough because Shuichi just laughed it off.
(I rolled a 2 on my 1d6+1 for damage to pistol-whip him). 
He wasn't laughing for long when Joon-Ho delivered a concentrated kick to his kneecap!  Which caused Shuichi to double over onto the ground in the fetal position.  Writhing in pain and screaming/groaning.  Joon-Ho didn't blame him a blow like that was probably enough to shatter the man's entire knee.  He wasn't in pain for long as Joon-Ho began curb stomping the prone Shuichi.  When he was done Shuichi had blood pouring out of his nose and his eyes were rolled up into the back of his head.  He was losing blood fast, but was still breathing if with some difficulty.  He'd die if he didn't get some medical attention but that was Shuichi's problem, not Joon-Ho's.  Who promptly turned around and began walking back to the Yoshida Office.  Leaving the snitch piece of garbage to bleed out. 
(It was a this point the GM asked why I hated Shuichi so much.  Apparently she finds him to be largely pitiable.  I really don't have an answer, there's just something about him that I hate).

Into the Lion's Den

Joon-Ho honestly had thought it'd be a lot harder to get into Yoshida's office.  He expected to be stopped by bodyguards or at least the secretary he'd talked to earlier on the phone.  Instead he was able to practically waltz right up to the third floor of the building.  Where Yoshida Goro himself had his actual office.  He entered the room without hesitating, only paying token attention to his surroundings.  Wanting to make a good impression on a senior member of the Akemi-gumi, he bowed his head out of respect.  It's a good thing he did too, because at that moment there was the report of gunfire and a bullet whizzed right above his head.  Burying itself in the wall right behind him.  Joon-Ho was out of the office like a bat out of hell, back through the door he had entered from.  He pressed himself flat against the wall to the right of the door and drew his pistol.  (It was at this point that the GM told me to roll Initiative, which I was happy to do.  I had no qualms about killing a senior citizen like Yoshida, especially one's that are trigger happy enough to fire a shot at me).

That's when a second shot came, burying itself in the corner that Joon-Ho would have to peek around to take a shot in retaliation.
"Merciful Buddha, are you trying to kill me!" Joon-Ho shouted into the room that the bullet had come from.
"Why yes, glad you figured that one out.  Sniffing around with the Izumi-kai?  Stealing precious stock?  Killing a family member?  You had it coming really." the speaker was an elderly sounding man that Joon-Ho assumed to be none other than Yoshida Goro.
"The fuck are you talking about?  I'm just a guy who went out for cigarettes and came back to find my boss and best friend dead!" Joon-Ho waited for a response from the older man.
It came in the form of another gunshot this one a little more on the mark, but still not hitting him.
"Will you stop that?!  Let's talk about this like men of honour, okay!" the way Joon-Ho saw things the two of them weren't enemies.  No one had been killed or injured yet, they still could be useful to one another.
"Alright," said Yoshida "please come in.  Let's settle this like... men of honour."
Joon-Ho took that as an invitation to enter the room, he was pleased to find that Yoshida lowered his gun, even if he hadn't put it away.  It was a lot farther than he had been a few seconds ago.  He entered the room still a little cautious and set his own gun down on the floor.  As a sign of good-will towards his host, who in turn locked the door behind Joon-Ho.
(Hindsight giving up the gun was probably the smart move.  Joon-Ho's only got a +2 in Handgun, which means he pretty much can't hit anything unless he's at close range, unless he gets lucky.  If he gets into a fight it's better for him to get in close and fight bare handed.  I'll have to invest points in Handgun at a later date).

Yoshida Goro a lieutenant within the
Akemi-gumi.  If you ask me he looks
like a Japanese version of Bill Shatner.  
Yoshida indicated a chair opposite his own at his desk.
"Please have a seat."
Joon-Ho was happy to oblige the Akemi Lieutenant and promptly sat down.
"As I said before I didn't kill Takahiro, he dropped of this month's supply last night.  We got drunk and when we woke up I went out to get him some cigarettes." explained Joon-Ho.
"And when you returned he was dead?  A likely story.  But you can relax.  I know it wasn't you.  The police have already contacted me.  It was quite a pain to tell them you weren't a suspect." said Yoshida completing Joon-Ho's sentence and setting the young dealer's mind at ease.
"Takahiro was like an older brother to me Mr. Yoshida, I had no reason to kill him and if I did I wouldn't have done it in my own apartment."
"This was a hit by the Izumi-kai that much is clear.  The question is who ordered the hit?  Someone with money, who recently made an enemy of Koizumi Takahiro, who also had motive to steal a large quantity of amphetamines." theorized Yoshida.
"I'd come to the same conclusions." Joon-Ho decided to leave out exactly how he'd come to those conclusions.  As it's hard to convince someone you're innocent of one murder by admitting to another.  "Who has those kind of resources though?"
At that moment Yoshida cocked his gun and pointed it at Joon-Ho.  "You tell me."

In the end this is what it all came down to.
That's when it finally struck Joon-Ho he'd been set up.  He should've never given this bastard the benefit of the doubt.  At that moment one of the last things Takahiro had ever said to him, flashed through his mind.  "Yoshida's a greedy bastard, but that's not necessarily a bad thing."  Joon-Ho was dumbstruck but soon he felt a wry little coming over his face.
"Guess I better start saying sutras, huh?" he quipped.  "Answer me this though, why?"
"Well son.  Your "brother" thought he could pull one over on me. Thought he could pull both a promotion for you and him both, in exchange for keeping my secrets.  I'm not a far of people who try to blackmail me, Joon-Ho.  And that's exactly what your friend tried to do.  Said he'd tell the higher ups about my... fondness of cold, hard cash.  And Takahiro thought I wouldn't be able to do anything about it.  He thought he was safe.  Well his "insurance" was easily bought off and after that is was simply a matter of money.  There's only one thing I love more than money.  And it's power.  And having someone try and take that away from me wasn't acceptable.  The assassin was supposed to kill both of you, but you weren't there.  So I had him steal the kilo so I could sell it for a quick Yen, then I figured I'd leave you to the police.  But when you came here, I thought, well, why waste the opportunity.
As the corrupt lieutenant's speech came to an end, Joon-Ho just kept smiling to himself.
"What is it they used to call Nobunaga?  The Demon King of Sixth Heaven?  The personification of greed itself?  You're cut from the same cloth Mr. Yoshida."  with that Joon-Ho kicked out at the older man!
(It was at this point that my GM commented that Joon-Ho's lines were so cheesy but super fun.  I thought that was appropriate for a Yakuza flick so I kept rolling out lines like the previous one when roleplaying).

This is what the battle map after the fight looked like.
The GM photoshopped it (a skill I never really mastered)
it reminds me of maps from the old 8-bit video games.
Yoshida stumbled back had this finger been on the trigger Joon-Ho would surely be dead by now.  If he hadn't try to get one over on the man currently pointing a gun at him.  Joon-Ho would've been dead anyway a desperate Banzai style charge was the only way out of this.  He leapt over the table at Yoshida slamming the older man into the window behind his desk.  Breaking it in the process and opening a huge gash on the back of the older man's head.  With that the two men tumbled to the floor in a pile, with Joon-Ho on top.  He didn't let up though, he continued to pound away at Yoshida with his fists.  "You've lived long enough old man!  It's time for you to die!" he screamed angrily at the man who'd killed his best friend for money.  Finally the man took his final breath and the gun fell from his grasp.  Yoshida's blood seeped into the carpet of his office, it wasn't enough as far as Joon-Ho was concerned though.  His hatred of the corpse lying beneath him, was so great that being beaten to death wasn't enough.  He grabbed the pistol that'd fallen from Yoshida's lifeless hand and stood.  What came next was Joon-Ho planting three bullets in the dead Lieutenant's head.  If he wasn't already dead, he was now.

Conclusions

That's where we left it.  With Joon-Ho having just killed a treacherous Lieutenant of the the Akemi-gumi in the man's own office.  With his bare hands and the man's own gun.  There's not a doubt in my mind that there will be hell to pay later on down the road.  He's already wanted for one murder (of which he is innocent) and now he's added two more to his name.  If this game were set in the States rather than Japan, Joon-ho would be what the FBI defines as a spree killer.  He's managed to get the police on his tail (for Takahiro's murder and maybe the others once they're discovered), the Izumi-kai (for beating the ever-loving crap out of poor Shuichi, who's honestly better off dead if he isn't) and finally he's got his own organization the Akemi-gumi after him.  For the murder of both Takahiro and now Yoshida.  He'll be lucky to get out of this in one piece.  Overall it was a great session, I was very impressed by how the GM set everything up.  Honestly I think it's a lot better than the stories I've run for her.  Honestly I wasn't expecting the killer to be Yoshida, I liked Miu Honda, Joon-Ho's girlfriend better for it.  She had the opportunity to do it since she knew where the drugs and gun were.  She also had motive, while I couldn't really see a motive for Yoshida.  Though when it was revealed it made perfect sense, as greedy as he was it stood to reason that he might start skimming money.  That's plenty of motive right there, enough to jeopardize an otherwise good business.  The GM actually confided she wanted to bring him back by not having him be dead.  Of course this was after I made sure of Yoshida like any good gangster would.  I'm glad I did because I hate the "not really dead" cliche, it's so overused, in fact it's one of my pet peeves.  Other than that I think this was great for her first arc as GM.  I can't wait to see where the story takes us.  If you liked this actual play report be sure to +1, re-share and follow this blog.  As always have a nice day and may you roll many crits, until next time.