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Encounter advice needed: DC Union Station

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mcv

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« on: <08-07-21/0603:26> »
I'm preparing an encounter where I'm struggling a bit with one particular detail: where exactly will it take place?

Union Station is a pretty big place. I've been looking for maps and photos online, using Google Streetview to look around in the place, and it seems there's roughly 3 parts: the front, which is a gigantic domed hall with arches inside arches, lots of open space, with openings to smaller side halls with shops. Going straight ahead from the main entrance, there are doorways to the central shopping area with three levels: the ground floor that has lots of corridors and shops, a very open mezzanine area above it where you can look down on the corridors below, and a food court in the basement. Beyond that, there are the actual platforms to the trains on the ground floor, and upstairs a hallway leading to a parking garage above the rails and platforms.

The encounter is from the penultimate adventure in Artifacts Unbound. My plan for the encounter is this:

Couriers from the Black Lodge hand over an artifact to a Black Lodge team/official. Due to circumstances, the artifact isn't sitting quietly in its suitcase, but giving off quite a bit of energy at least in Astral, and possibly in meat space too. This is a surprise to the Black Lodge people; they want to get out of here as soon as possible.

The fact that this artifact will be handed over here has been leaked to Jackpoint, which is why the PCs know about it. But they're not the only ones. Two other groups also hope to intercept the artifact.

The first group (I think it's the Apep Consortium, which for some reason has acquired a tendency for extreme violence in my campaign) has two snipers disguised as janitors in place. Suddenly two sniper shots ring, and two Black Lodge people drop dead: the boss and the person holding the suitcase. Immediately, two more Apep goons come forward with assault rifles and spray suppressive fire through the crowded station. (Clearly Law Enforcement will be on their way Very Soon.) And Apep shaman uses Magic Fingers to drag the suitcase out of the suppressive fire.

The second group, from Draco, was also planning to take the artifact (though less violently) and now sees their plans in jeopardy. Their mage takes extreme measures and overcasts a Blast, stunning everybody in a wide circle, including both Black Lodge parties and all Apeps except the snipers. Then he goes KO, but Draco street samurai rush in (with stun gloves) to grab the suitcase.

This is the moment for the PCs to act quickly (if they haven't interrupted at an earlier stage already).

I'm fairly happy with the plan so far (not entirely sure about the extreme violence of Apep or how to handle the Law enforcement response yet). The place will be chaos. Screeming crowds, probably a high body count from the Apep hit. Maybe the Vory or some other syndicate would be more appropriate for this level of violence?

However, where should this take place? Where would the Black Lodge plan their hand-off, and what environment would be the most fun for this encounter?

The great hall has tons of open space, which would make the encounter easier to prepare, but maybe a bit boring. Also, where do you place the snipers? There are elevated places in that hallway, but they don't seem to be places where people come. The shopping area behind has three levels which could be fun: you can levitate the suitcase from ground floor to the mezzanine, for example. And maybe it makes more sense for Black Lodge to plan their hand-off in a less open space?

Resources:
Some of the maps and photos I found: (also useful resources for anyone else ever planning to do something in Union Station)

Google Streetview of the mail hall (maneuvering around in Streetview here is unfortunately unpredictable and confusing)

I think this is the mezzanine area, the ground floor, and on the left the escalator down to the food court: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/3702557839/in/photostream/

Not entirely sure where this is; it looks like the main hall, but I don't see that raised terrace in the streetview of the main hall. Could it be the west hall? It might make a nice spot to place a sniper: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/3718899807/in/photostream/

A crude map: https://www.usrcdc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/union_station_map_19jan2017.jpg

A fancier map: https://www.unionstationdc.com/directory-map

A PDF with a map: https://www.unionstationdc.com/pdfs/DirectoryMap.pdf

A super detailed map of only a small part of the main hall near the entrance: https://cherryblossomvolunteers.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/union-station-map-1.jpg

mcv

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« Reply #1 on: <08-07-21/0703:05> »
Here's another streetview of the 3-level part: https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8973478,-77.00602,3a,75y,347.63h,85.15t/data=!3m11!1e1!3m9!1sAF1QipNNnMtzsVf1gwX6MvVJ8iqEZGG_OZbit1zNUIqW!2e10!3e11!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipNNnMtzsVf1gwX6MvVJ8iqEZGG_OZbit1zNUIqW%3Dw203-h100-k-no-pi-0-ya7.2277966-ro-0-fo100!7i3840!8i1920!9m2!1b1!2i22

I think this is just outside the main hall where the 3-level area starts. I'm starting to like this place for the encounter. Many different places the various groups can come from, many places to flee. It's not in the main hall, but it's right there if we need more space.

mcv

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« Reply #2 on: <08-07-21/1150:34> »
I found a few nice streetviews of the mezzanine. There's a big gap to the ground floor in front of the doorways to the main hall, and two long narrow gaps above the shopping area. The mezzanine level itself is fairly open, with shops around the edges and possibly tables as shown here.

Open area
View from a cafe

This thread has now turned more into me collecting my resources, which I guess is also useful. I've got a better grip of what I want to do where, but I'm still open to ideas and feedback.
« Last Edit: <08-07-21/1152:40> by mcv »