Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Lead or Gold

Here's the next scenario in the series on which I've been working, for use with the Savage Worlds RPG using the setting book for The Sixth Gun.

-Nate




Introduction
The north coast of Africa has seen plenty of conflict over the past centuries, what with the spread of Islam and resulting religious conflicts, rise of the corsairs and efforts to suppress them, and the like. The particular troubles with which this scenario deals, however, are rooted in an even older conflict, one that erupted between Roman generals almost two millennia ago. While that business resulted from love and betrayal, wealth and power are now at stake—if anyone is so bold as to claim them.


Adventure Synopsis
This adventure begins when the PCs discover evidence of a lost treasure located near the city of Algiers. It is related to the English sorcerer known as Prospero, who fought against the witch Sycorax on a remote Mediterranean island. She had been exiled there by the corsairs who ruled the city—and who, in turn, were trying to claim the cache of relics and lore for themselves. Prospero defeated her and claimed some of her knowledge, which he passed on to another agent of the Invisible College in Algiers. While the two men were able to communicate via pigeon-carried messages, other business prevented them from delving further into the matter. 

Following the hints in the letter leads the across the Mediterranean Sea to that fabled city, from the harbor, through its streets, and then out into the desert beyond. Along the way they'll encounter parties from both sides of the growing conflict. Once they reach their destination, in the tomb known as the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania, a final puzzle remains for them to solve in order to discover what they seek.


For the Gun Master
The Royal Mausoleum was believed to house the remains of King Juba and Queen Cleopatra Selene, the latter of whom was the daughter of the famous Egyptian monarch who had dalliances with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. She received from her mother a precious gift of scrolls taken from the library of Alexadria before it was ravaged by fire. Those, then, contain valuable and powerful lore long since lost to humankind—until now. In truth, the scrolls lie buried in a hidden chamber beneath the Royal Mausoleum, waiting to be reclaimed. 

The heroes are not the only ones who have an inkling about this prize, however. Members of the Invisible College—the occult branch of the Royal Society—have long know that Algiers conceals a valuable secret. Some of those agents come from a faction of that organization that has exploited the fear of witchcraft to find, study, steal from, and then eradicate practitioners of other arcane traditions. Others belong to the more accepting majority, those who wish to learn about other traditions so as to share their learning with all. Some of the prior, then, allied themselves with the Cabal, and have been scouring Algiers for evidence of the treasure. In doing so they've attracted the attention of the brothers ibn Ibrahim, warriors who seek to protect the secret. Now it's only a matter of time before this simmering conflict erupts.


Involving the Heroes
This scenario assumes that the PCs participated in the events of the adventure “Fortune and Glory,” at the end of which they found a curious letter. If that is not the case, then the GM may need to devise an alternate means of letting the party make that discovery.


Scene 1—The Letter
Among the late Prospero's other possessions is a letter that reads as follows.

My Fellow Prospero,
I have made a Discovery regarding the History of the Witch whom you defeated there on your Island.
She was part of a Coven active in the City of her Origin, and among other wicked Schemes they sought
a valuable Treasure that was hidden in this Vicinity.
Although I am unable to send you the Object which I've found that I believe is a clue to its
Whereabouts, know this. A Mole in the City points at the End of the Day to the Place in which I have concealed it.
Your Servant,
Prospero


This letter should raise some questions for the heroes. To that end, an Academics check (or a Common Knowledge check at -2) recognizes that “the Witch” refers to Sycorax, who is mentioned in The Tempest; a raise reveals that “the City of her Origin” is Algiers. The fact that the letter was sent from Prospero to Prospero should seem odd, too. Finally, an Occult check identifies the sigil combining an I and a C as that of the Invisible College.

Prisoners from the Unfathomable
As long as the PCs defeated, but did not kill, one of the occultists sent by the Cabal to Prospero's Island, then the PCs can question them, too. With a successful Persuasion or Intimidation effort, they can convince that individual to reveal the following details.
  • Prospero” was a codename used by agents serving the Invisible College, an off-shoot of the Royal Society that dealt with occult matters.
  • It was founded during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when an impressive group of writers and artists, explorers and natural philosophers were gathered in her court.
  • The Cabal agents were sent to this island after the PCs (another group of investigators) found a map leading to it, in the hope of acquiring whatever they might find.
Of course, this also leaves the question of what the PCs might want to do with any surviving prisoners, as well as with the ship that they may have captured. Whatever the case, the survivors insist that the PCs had better beware—“The Cabal has agents everywhere, and eventually they will settle the score, once and for all.”


Scene 2—City of the Corsairs
The voyage across the Mediterranean can be fraught with peril or relatively uneventful, depending on the desires of the players and the needs of the campaign. It can be a good chance for the GM to add one or more Interludes, as detailed on page 130 of the Savage Worlds rulebook.

The Lay of the Land
Once the PCs arrive in the harbor, they can head ashore and do some exploring. When they do, refer to the map above. The main features are the natural island, now developed (1) that forms part of the harbor, along with the man-made mole (2) that connects it to shore. In the center of the city is a huge open bazaar (3), from which broad roads lead out to six city gates (4-9). Overlooking all of this is the citadel from which the Dey rules Algiers (10).

Encounters in Town
Detailed below are just a few of the encounters that the PCs might have as they explore Algiers.
  • The first impression that the city makes should be noteworthy, especially for characters who've come all the way from America. For example: the clothing is exotic, with many people wearing flowing robes, headcloths, fezzes, or turbans; various foreign languages, especially Arabic; unfamiliar foods and other smells; etc.
  • At some point—especially when dramatically appropriate—there is a call to prayer, when the voices of the muezzins call out from the various mosques, and all faithful Muslims pause to face toward Mecca (eastward), kneel and pray.
  • That gives the PCs their first opportunity to notice the Cabal agents who are watching them. Although they are disguised as locals, these occultists, mercenaries and thieves don't participate in the call to prayer; instead, they look for other outsiders who also are not doing so. They should make Notice checks opposed by the PCs' Stealth efforts, and vice versa, to determine who recognizes whom first.
  • At another point a beggar calls out to the party, asking the characters for alms. This is something of a test, since giving charity is an important tenet of the local faith. What is more, more than a few of the beggars are spies for the ibn Ibrahim brothers, warriors dedicated to protecting their fellows from the exploitation by outsiders.
  • Shortly thereafter the PCs have a chance to recognize said ibn Ibrahim brothers, Ali and Omar. Once again, they should make Notice checks, but this time they're unopposed. This is because the brothers don't worry about being seen; instead, they're direct and open with anyone who approaches them. They consider themselves to be guardians of the local people, protecting them from being exploited by outsiders. As long as the PCs can convince them of their good intentions, the brothers do not hinder them. Accomplishing this requires the use of Persuasion, with the brothers starting out as Neutral; as always, the GM should apply bonuses or penalties for good or bad reasoning and roleplaying.
Of course, the biggest question in the PCs' minds should be about the mole that is mentioned in the letter.

Interested Parties
Use the following stats for the various other groups involved in this adventure.

Ali ibn Ibrahim al-Saji and Omar ibn Ibrahim al-Jari
These two men have dedicated themselves to serving Allah and protecting the people of Algiers, along with the secret that is hidden outside that city. They are honorable and brave, and respect those who demonstrate similar qualities. For those who seek to exploit their charges, they are unrelenting enemies. They are brothers not by blood, but by creed.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d4, Boating d4, Common Knowledge d4, Fighting d8, Language d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Riding d4, Shooting d8, Stealth d4, Survival d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Frenzy
Hindrances: Vow
Gear: Desert clothing, scimitar (Damage d8+d6), Colt Peacemaker (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6+1, RoF 1).

Beggars
Despite their ragged appearances, these individuals beg not so much because they need to, but rather because they serve the brothers Ibrahim as spies, choosing to play the part because most people pay little real attention to someone in such a position. In this way they garner all kinds of information.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Common Knowledge d6, Fighting d6, Language d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Stealth d8, Thievery d8
Pace: 6, Parry: 5, Toughness: 4
Edges: Alertness
Hindrances: Poverty
Gear: Ragged clothing, knife (Damage d4+d6).

Cabal Mercenary (Novice): Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

Thief (Novice): Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

Occultist (Seasoned): Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

The Mole
Once the PCs recognize the the mention of a “Mole” in the letter refers to the wall in the harbor, they should be able to determine where to look. “At the end of the day” is a reference to how the sun sets in the west; therefore, the tip of the mole that points west is what they should seek. There it consists of a tumble of rocks rising up out of the lapping waves; refer to the map above for details. Area A is where the water is too deep to stand, and thus requires a Swimming check to move. Area B should be treated as Difficult Ground, and requires an Athletics check to traverse. Area C is still Difficult but does not require a check. Area D, finally, is level ground. 

Amid the tumble of rocks there is one that is curiously rectangular; what is more, it is crudely engraved with the following symbol.


This contains, of course, the items referred to in the letter, but it takes Strength checks at -2 to move the chest and then to pry open its lid. Inside they find a wax-sealed cylinder along with four small stone tablets, one larger than the rest, that are engraved with the following markings. 


Inside the sealed scroll tube, then, is an old piece of paper on which is written the following message.


To find what was saved from the great fire, here is where you should inquire:
Look thirteen leagues to the west, in a place where to find their rest.
If you would set this knowledge free, then Julius Caesar holds the key.
Find the solution to find what was saved.

These items provide no fewer than three clues to find the treasure. Two of them will become critical later, but one is of more immediate importance. “Thirteen leagues to the west” is a reference to the fabled Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania, which lies forty miles out along the coast—s
omething that the heroes can confirm with an Academics check, or by asking around town. Of course, the latter option is more likely to attract unwanted attention to them.

The Cabal's First Move
It is while the heroes are exploring the mole that the agents of the Cabal strike, trying to ambush them and steal their prize. Refer to the “Interested Parties” section above to find stats for them.


Scene 3—The Sands of Time
The heroes can procure whatever supplies they need for the trip, including hiring camels, before setting out across the desert. The forty-mile trip, then, could present numerous challenges and opportunities, including those listed below.
  • If they are traveling during the day, then the heroes may face difficulties from the heat; refer to page 128 of Savage Worlds for details.
  • Those who didn't lay in a supply of water face the hazard of thirst, too (page 129).
  • They could run afoul of a poisonous snake (page 188), too.
As always, the GM should adjust the number of encounters as needed.

Time for an Interlude?
The trek, since it should take a number of hours, could also be a good time for the GM to use the Interludes mechanic; refer to page 130 in Savage Worlds for details.


The Mausoleum
This circular structure (refer to the front page for an image) is roughly 180 feet in diameter, and is built from local stone. At ground level it is ringed by 64 column in the ancient style; above that, a tiered roof rises to form something akin to a flattened dome. Clearly time has treated it roughly, since weather and looters have removed pieces here and there. 

Inside the main entrance (A) there is a circular tunnel (B) that runs more than three quarters of the structure's circumference. Along the outside wall there is a series of Roman numerals written in chalk, ranging from I to LXIV (one for each of the exterior columns). The one marked XX can be pressed inward—it is the only whole number solution to the math problem from the larger tablet—and opens a secret door (C) in the wall opposite (Notice check at -4 to spot). At the end of the tunnel is the actual tomb (D), which contains two sarcophagi that have long since been looted of all contents. As soon as the secret door is opened, a swarm of black wasps erupts to attack the people who did so.

Wasp Swarm: Refer to page 189 in Savage Worlds for stats.

Inside the secret door is a spiral staircase that leads down into a hidden chamber (E). It has a vaulted ceiling with pieces of crystal embedded in it; an Academics, Boating or Survival check identifies them as representing the stars in the northern night sky. What is more, some of them—the brightest stars—can be pressed inward like buttons. Most of them trigger dart traps (Shooting 1d6; damage 2d6), but one opens the secret trapdoor in the floor. 


This is where the third and final clue comes into play. The line “Julius Caesar holds the key” is a reference to the play Julius Shakespeare by William Shakespeare; Act III, Scene 1, line 30 of that play reads “I am constant as the northern star.” Pressing the crystal that represents Polaris opens the trapdoor. That chamber, then, is ten feet deep; it contains dozens of scrolls—ones that were indeed taken from the Library of Alexandria before it was destroyed by fire.


Scene 4—Onslaught, Again
Once the heroes have found the scrolls, they need to make sure that they keep them. This is because the Cabal agents make another move against them; how the situation develops depends largely on what precautions, if any, the heroes have taken to guard their backs. For their part, the Cabal agents send their thieves ahead first to scout and, if possible, catch anyone off-guard. After that the occultist uses Boost/Lower Trait to enhance the mercenaries, and then Armor on themselves, before using Bolt to lash out at dangerous enemies. The mercenaries try to storm the mausoleum, but fall back if necessary. They are under stringent orders to acquire the prize, however, and so are willing to fight to the death.


Epilogue
If the heroes can find the scrolls and fight off the Cabal agents, then they score a major victory against the forces of evil. While they don't profit directly from the acquisition—at least not yet—they do gain a bargaining chip that allows them to become important players on the stage of international occult intrigue. They've also become embroiled in a much larger conflict that is only going to get bigger.

Further Adventures
Detailed below are a few of the possibilities for business in which the PCs can become entangled.
  • The heroes need to find someone to translate the scrolls if they want to learn their contents; the brothers Ibrahim can even recommend someone, British Egyptologist Sir Kenneth Allan.
  • Of course, the Cabal is not a group to take defeat lightly, and will want to settle the score—and to take the relics and lore that the heroes have discovered.
  • There is also a lengthy voyage by sea they need to make if they wish to head for England or even back to America; there are all kinds of troubles that could arise during such a journey.


Appendix—The Scrolls
Many of the scrolls from the hidden cache are prayers and spells from the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. They can provide characters with access to the following powers.
  • Properly inscribing the Eye of Horus on items acts like Arcane Protection.
  • Calling up the spirit of a deceased individual functions in a manner similar to Divination.
  • Invoking the judgment of no less than Amun-Ra acts like the Smite power.
  • Finally, proper preparation of a dead body—including the removal of vital organs, treatment of the remaining flesh with special materials, and then wrapping the whole thing in bandages and charms—creates a mummy in a manner similar to that for the Zombie Power.
As always, the GM should feel to add or remove Powers from this list depending on the desires of the players and the needs of the campaign.


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Fortune and Glory

I was going to hold off on sharing this, but given the current circumstances, it seems more sharing of resources is good. As such, here's an adventure that follows up on the events of "Truth or Consequences," drawing the heroes into an expanding mystery.

-Nate





Introduction
Sometimes, just when one mystery is solved, another one is revealed. Such is the case with some recent business in the riverside settlement known as The Crossing. In the course of exposing a Voodoo practitioner who was posing as a preacher and using the Night Terrors power to put the fear of God into locals so that they'd join his congregation, a traveling group of entertainers also discovered a curiously encoded message. In trying to decipher its meaning, they're about to find themselves caught up in a much bigger plot.


Adventure Synopsis
If the PCs can decode the cipher—which is based on the text of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet—then they can follow where it leads, to the northeast end of Cat Island in Mississippi. En route they are pursued by thieves who wish to steal the cipher for themselves, and thus to claim the treasure. If they reach their destination, then they can find the next clue, a puzzle box that contains a map depicting the Canary Islands. That leads to Prospero's Island, where they can find a cave that holds a grimoire which once belonged to that wizard.


For the Gun Master
Gareth Hildebrand, the man who died of fright resulting from a nightmare inflicted by the false Reverend Bouchard, is a retired U.S. Marshal for the state of Mississippi, part of a special branch—tasked with investigating supernatural activity—known as the Black Stars. During his service he found a mysterious coded message, one that he always meant to investigate once he'd finished other business. Sadly, his retirement was cut short after he settled at The Crossing, for he fell victim to a nightmare inflicted by Edmond Bouchard. 

What Hildebrand never learned is that the note leads to an item buried on Cat Island, a small sandy isle off the coast of Mississippi. It, in turn, was brought there by a British agent who ran afoul of American privateers during the War of 1812, and who thus was forced to hide it—but only after writing the cipher so that he could find it again. A cylinder with a rotating lock mechanism, it holds a map that shows the location of Prospero's Island. Known to many as the setting of William Shakespeare's play The Tempest, it in fact is a real place, and one where a powerful sorcerer met his end. Even now, certain items that belonged to the wizard can still be found there. 

Of course, the PCs are not the only individuals who are interested in this story. A shadowy occult organization known as the Cabal learned about Hildebrand's discovery, and sent Edmond Bouchard to win Hildebrand's acquiescence. His magically created nightmares proved too powerful, however, and let to the Marshal's death. Even so, more agents of the Cabal are coming to continue those efforts.


Involving the Heroes
This adventure assumes that the PCs participated in the events of the scenario “Truth or Consequences” and thus found the cipher amid the possessions of the late Mr. Hildebrand. If that is not the case, then the GM might need to devise some other means of involving them in this plot, such as by having them involve the grandson of the deceased while traveling aboard a steamboat on the Mississippi River (see below for more details). 


Scene 1—The Cipher

Refer to the image above for a copy of the ciphered message; more copies are included in the Appendix as handouts for the players. The markings at the top of it refer to a line from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet

From for the fatal loins of these two foes,
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life.”

The sets of numbers, then, refer to acts, scenes, lines and words in the text; when combined, they form the location of the hidden item.

North east end – high tide mark – the cat.”

That, then, refers to a small barrier island off the coast of Mississippi, one known as Cat Island. That is where the cylinder lies buried; a general Knowledge or Boating check reveals its location.

Next of Kin
While the PCs are deciphering this message, a newcomer approaches them. This is Gareth Hildebrand III, the grandson of the deceased. He has been sent by his father, Gareth, Jr., to investigate the old man's death. As such, he is quite intrigued by any details he learns of the cipher, and asks the PCs to help him continue investigating its secrets. He can even add that it is a matter of importance for the U.S. Marshal Service, and they might earn a reward for aiding him. 

Alternately, if the PCs did not participate in the events of “Truth or Consequences,” then the younger Gareth can provide the GM a means of drawing them into this business; he happens to be traveling aboard the same steamboat as they, when agents of the Cabal attack him in the middle of the night (see below for details).

The Steamboat
Refer to the following article to find deck plans and descriptions for the steamboat on which the PCs make their voyage.





Gareth Hildebrand III, US Marshal Recruit (Novice)
New recruits to the U.S. Marshal Service tend to be well-rounded individuals, jacks of all trades but masters of none—but ones who can quickly learn what they need to know in the field to do their jobs, investigating crimes and bringing wrongdoers to justice.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Investigation d6, Knowledge d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Streetwise d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Alertness
Hindrances: Code of Honor
Gear: Suit, pocket watch, gun belt, Stetson hat, badge, folding knife (Damage Str + d4, -2 to be noticed), Colt Peacemaker (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6+1, RoF 1).

Of course, Hildebrand is not the only person interested in this business; the Cabal sends its own agents to recover the ciphered message.

Cabal Mercenary (Novice): Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

Thief (Novice): Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

Occultist (Seasoned): Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

For their part, the Cabal agents try to recover the cipher without violence, if possible—but are quite prepared to use it if needed. Ultimately there goal is to acquire it and then leave the PCs stranded, so that they can continue to pursue the cipher's secrets without interruption.


Scene 2—Buried Treasure
When they reach Cat Island, the PCs find that it is little more than a glorified sandbar with some scant vegetation and a few freshwater ponds. Indeed, one of those, close to the northeast end of the island, is home to a hungry alligator. It lies in wait until its prey is close, and then rushes out to attack.

Alligator: Refer to page 180 of the Savage Worlds Adventure Edition for stats.

As expected, buried in the sand at the high-tide mark on that end of the island is a canister, engraved with the image of a knight and battle and built with rotating, numbered dials that operate like a lock. 



The key to this puzzle is the figure depicted in the engraving—St. George, the Dragon Slayer—and his connection to William Shakespeare. In this case, the feast day of St. George on the Catholic calendar is the very same on which Shakespeare is believed to have born and died: April 23rd. For that reason, setting the dials to the combination 0-4-2-3 opens the canister. Inside it, then, is a map (see Appendix to find a copy for the players). It depicts a claw-shaped landmass, with the following inscription:

Inside the Pillars of Hercules,

Between the Major and the Minor lies Prospero's Island.

Follow the serpent's track to his lair.”

This clue makes a number of references, as detailed below; the skills listed in parentheses are those that let the PCs recognize these details.
  • Prospero is the main character in Shakespeare's play The Tempest, a wizard and the Duke of Milan who was marooned on a desert island by his usurping brother, but who uses his magic to achieve justice (Common Knowledge).
  • The words Major and Minor refer to islands in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Spain, Majorca and Minorca (Boating).
If they want to learn more, then, the PCs need to book passage across the Atlantic Ocean, something they can do in the nearby city of Gulfport, Mississippi. Captain Edward Danielson commands a steamship and is about to set off on a trans-oceanic journey.

The Steamship
Should it be necessary, the GM can find deck plans, descriptions and stats for a steamship at the following link.



En Route
The voyage across the ocean can be uneventful, but it does provide a good chance for the GM to add some Interludes, as detailed on page 130 of the SWADE core rulebook.


Scene 3—The Island
Once they reach the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea—passing through the fabled Pillars of Hercules, formed by the Rock of Gibraltar and the northern coastline of Africa—it's a short voyage to the Balearic Islands. There, between Majorca and Minorca, they find a small body of land shaped like a claw, with a natural harbor in which to drop anchor (Area A). From there, a stream (Area B) leads into the island's interior; this is the “serpent” to which the map refers, since the stream winds like the body of a snake. 

As they arrive, the PCs might notice the creatures who are swimming in the bay. These are vodyanoi, fey creatures who live in the water. They are intrigued by the newcomers, and can tell some of the island's history, as long as the PCs are friendly toward them.

Vodyanoi: Refer to the supplement “Fey Creatures” for stats.

From the bay, the river—the “serpent”—leads into the island's interior. During this trek the PCs can encounter two more of they fey who inhabit the island, the sylphs who flit through the air and a dryad who is bonded with one of the trees. These creatures wish to know who the PCs are, why they have come to the island, and what they intend to do here. The sylphs flit around them, scoping out the situation and then reporting to the dryad, Amalthea. Eventually she decides to confront them.

Sylphs: Refer to the supplement “Fey Creatures” for stats.

Dryad: Refer to the supplement “Fey Creatures” for stats.

Fey Creatures
Refer to the blog post linked below to find stats for the fey creatures who occupy this island.






Deep in the island's interior, along the bank of the stream, is the cavern that served as Prospero's cell. It is a cave behind a small waterfall, as detailed on the maps below. At one turn the river tumbles down a sharp cascade, creating a broad pool. The resulting waterfall covers the entrance to a cave that served as Prospero's cell. It takes a Climb check to reach the cave entrance from the shore of the pool.


Behind the waterfall—which a Notice check reveals—is a broad cave (1) that splits into two separate sections. One formerly held foodstuffs and sleeping billets for the castaways (2), while the other (3) is where Prospero conducted his magical studies. That, indeed, is where the PCs can find the magical items that he left behind. Refer to the Appendix to find more information about those items.

The First Confrontation
Once the PCs have reached the cell and discovered its contents, the fey creatures who inhabit this island decide to confront them. They know that the magical items left behind in Prospero's cell grant power over them, and thus wish to know how the PCs intend to use them. For that reason, the dryad Amalthea approaches them, asking what they intend to do with the magical items that they have found. She and her fellow fey creatures are probably not powerful enough to stop the PCs directly, but they can make life much more difficult for them. Whatever the case, they also report the arrival of another party—more agents of the Cabal, aboard the sailing ship Unfathomable.


Scene 4—Onslaught
Upon arrival, the Cabal agents drop anchor in the bay and then send out two groups in longboats, one to take control of the steamship and the other to go in search of the PCs. Each group consists of one seasoned occultist, one novice thief, and two novice mercenaries. 

Should the PCs manage to board the Unfathomable, they find that it has a raised sterncastle (1) from which the ship is steered, along with an open main deck (2). Beneath the sterncastle are two cabins for passengers (3 and 4) along with the captain's own cabin (5). The lower deck is divided into two separate areas, the crew's quarters (6) and the cargo hold (7). The remaining crew consists of four novice mercenaries and a veteran occultist.

Watercraft
To find stats for the two craft involved in this adventure, refer to the supplement that is linked below.





Occultist (Veteran): Refer to the supplement The Cabal for stats.

Development
Unless they want to split their party, the PCs probably need to deal with the two groups one at a time. The first has come ashore to find them, while the second is boarding the steamship, so the PCs would need to go to them. In either case, they might be aided by some of the fey creatures who inhabit the island, if they have won their respect; alternately, they could force the fey to help by using Prospero's spells. Battling the first group involves a fight on the river or in the jungle; attacking the other requires the PCs to storm the ship(s) themselves. If at any point the Cabal agents feel they're overwhelmed by the PCs (at the GM's discretion), they attempt to flee.


Epilogue
As long as they are victorious, the PCs win control of a valuable magical treasure. They also gain a glimpse of a much larger conflict, one involving the shadowy agents of the Cabal. This can have important implications for them in the future—but that is an adventure for another time.

Further Adventures
Detailed below are just a few of the possibilities for additional business in which the PCs can become entangled.
  • The agents of the Cabal are not easily denied what they want, and continue their attempts to claim the prize from the PCs—or, if need be, to eliminate them once and for all.
  • Among the possessions left behind by the enigmatic Prospero is a clue to some business that the witch Sycorax had back in Algiers, related to why she was banished from that city.

Appendix—Prospero's Treasures
Detailed below are the three items that can be found in Prospero's cell.
  • Prospero's Cloak is woven with special materials and embroidered with magical symbols; it provides benefits similar to the Arcane Resistance edge, except that the penalty inflicted on enemy powers is only -1. That can be combined with the actual edge, but only lasts so long as the character in question is wearing the cloak.
  • Prospero's Staff is made crafted from oakwood engraved with magical symbols and inlaid with precious metals; it enhances the powers used by characters trying to influence fey creatures, increasing the relevant skill check by +1.
  • Prospero's Book is a grimoire that can help readers learn the following powers: Arcane Protection, Deflection, Detect/Conceal Arcana, Dispel, Elemental Manipulation, Protection, Puppet. At the GM's discretion, this tome could allow characters for whom those powers aren't normally available (per their arcane backgrounds) to learn them.


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Seaside Locations for Savage Worlds

Here are a few maps that I drew for other projects, but that I've assembled in one PDF with suggestions for how to incorporate them into nautical fantasy adventures and campaigns (and with a mind toward some Savage Worlds in the Freeport setting).

-Nate




Tuesday, March 17, 2020

World Builder & Game Master's Guide Review




I picked up this little book because I'm interested in building campaign worlds; three years ago I ran a Pathfinder space fantasy game in my own setting, and looked for tips about how to do it. With that in mind, I have to say that the name of this book doesn't reflect its contents very well. It does have a lot of good information for GMs who are planning events, especially for gaming clubs and conventions. It doesn't have a lot for those who are developing home-brewed settings for their own private home campaigns. 

Presented below is a quick summary of each chapter in the book, including what I liked or didn't like about each of them.
  • Part 1, “World Building,” provides information about just what it says. It was particularly interesting for me to see suggestions for what other people think should or should not go into content for Savage Worlds.
  • On a side note, it became very apparent to me that I write content for this blog differently from how a lot of SW content is created.
  • Part 2 is “Savage Worlds for All Ages.” It provides lots of suggestions for running club-related games, which is something that I really enjoyed doing back in college. As a teacher, I've considered the idea of starting a gaming club at school, but have not yet tried to do so.
  • Part 3, “Risks and Reversals,” is an interesting look at one style of adventure design. It gave some good insight into how the GM can inject dramatic turnarounds into the game.
  • “High-Powered Games,” Part 4, had what I think is some good advice, but it's of less interest to me because I tend to start a campaign at the beginning of the school year and finish it by the end, meaning that campaigcharacters don't become that high in power.
  • Part 5, “Building Your Tribe,” was perhaps the most interesting article for me. It focuses on running games at conventions, which is something I really enjoy doing. There was lots of good advice for doing so in this one.
  • “Turning Your Ideas into SWAG” is Part 6. I found this one interesting, too, as I've thought about that idea in the past, but it's not something that I'm ready to try doing yet.
  • Part 7, “The Long Game,” has some interesting history of Deadlands, and suggestions for managing development when running multiple campaigns that all build up a combines history of the setting.
  • Parts 8 and 9, “Anecdotes” and “Under the Hood,” are more of a hodgepodge, with bits about many different elements of the game. They were interesting, too.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this book, but I think the name could be more accurate. At $19.99, I'm satisfied with my purchase.

-Nate


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Mariner's Miscellany for Savage Worlds


This supplement presents a variety of information and game rules for all types of ships, including information about ships' crews, cargo and artillery, a random name generator, and three flags,
for use with the Savage Worlds roleplaying game from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. 

-Nate





Monday, March 9, 2020

All Good Things...

It seems I've been remiss in updating the campaign notes that I've been posting on this blog; this update include the last three months, up to and including the finale.

-Nate


Friday, March 6, 2020

Sailing Ships for Savage Worlds

This article presents a PDF compilation of deck plans, descriptions and ship stats for use with the Savage Worlds RPG, appropriate to such varied settings as The Sixth Gun, the Freeport campaign setting, and possibly even 50 Fathoms.

-Nate