MacGuffin fix-up shop: the Silver Briefcase

There are in the Night’s Black Agents rulebook two references to a silver briefcase. It is mentioned in the Mule’s background as something that he or she once smuggled from one side of a border to another. It is mentioned under "other conspiracy structures” that in a “truncated conspiracy” an alien or mutant vampire with a ring of protectors might “move fluidly through Europe killing their enemies, dealing with Russian oligarchs for protection or funds, or chasing a silver briefcase”. Evocative!

I suppose that the writers probably meant one of those moulded aircraft-alloy attaché cases that one associates with pistols, multiple passports, and wads of foreign cash, or perhaps one of those riveted aluminium jobs that usually contain cameras and lenses. But I was immediately moved to wonder about an attaché case of solid sterling silver. It seems very obvious that in a “burned spies v. vampires” campaign an solid silver attaché case must be at least highly suggestive.

So about this silver attaché case: is it smooth and unmarked except for the fittings and a discreet London hallmark, highly polished and gleaming like the brightest mirror you ever saw? Or is it simply covered in grotesque and elaborate ornament in chased repoussé work? Is it an ancient reliquary? Is it — must it remain — uncovered and blatant? Or might it be encased in black leather for a disguise?

Why was the case made of silver? Does that constrain something inside? Or protect it? Or conceal it? And from what?

Why do the vampires and their enemies want it so desperately as to make it the MacGuffin of a truncated campaign? Are its contents something that will give the vampires final victory? Or a weapon that could cause their ultimate defeat? Or both?

Is it soldered shut? Locked? Fastened with a simple catch?

Considering boring mechanical properties, I think it’s one of:

  • battered and scratched but still with an unexpected lustre
  • alloyed, in which case it probably doesn’t look unusual at all
  • supernaturally clean and durable
  • normal-looking, with an outer shell of something and a solid silver frame or lining

If it’s a silver frame, it could be a way of smuggling the silver. Not that silver is worth enough to be worth smuggling, normally; you just buy it in the place where you want it.

A silver briefcase suggests to me that the silver blocks the contents from being detected in some way. But I believe NBA doesn’t do much in the way of magic.

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Perhaps along the lines of the US nuclear “football” it is the Rainbow code Silver birefcase containing information useful for the defense of public officials from vampires, useful for destruction of vampires, or useful for vampires to use local bureaucracies more efficiently.

If actual physical silver perhaps it is incorporated through the briefcase to make it harder for vampires to hold it. Perhaps an actor in the campaign high on sentiment wound up with a pile of looted silver and uses it to decorate the briefcases of its agents for an intimidating form of identification. That is, if one is clued in and the lawyer across the table or the local politician arrives with a briefcase decorated on either side with a large silver panel it’s clear with whom they are allied.

Perhaps the case is entirely sterling and is now badly tarnished because it has been forgotten somewhere for years.

Soldered shut or a simple catch covered by a wax seal seem evocative.

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