Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Buried But Not Dead

This scenario presents a treasure hunt on the southwestern frontier in the world of The Sixth Gun. It is written for a party of newly created characters, but can easily be modified for use with stronger parties. 

Buried But Not Dead



The desert of the American Southwest is an unforgiving place, one that can be deadly for those who aren't prepared for it. While some individuals have been able to scratch out a living there, others have not been so fortunate. Such was the case with a band of Spanish missionaries who built a church and mission there, but who ran afoul of the native Apache tribe. The Indians eventually killed the Spaniards and their mission burned to the ground. There story might have been forgotten in the annals of history, but for rumors of valuables left in an underground vault. Now someone has dug up the tale, and seeks to reclaim the treasure. Of course, not everything is as it seems to be...

Adventure Synopsis
This adventure begins when a Pinkerton by the name of Alexandra Flynn seeks to recruit capable individuals for an expedition. To do this, she stages a number of contests by which to gauge the skill of those who seek such employment, including marksmanship, wrestling, riding and the like. If the heroes suitably impress her, then she recruits them to join her expedition for shares of the profits. The journey across the desert involves numerous dangers, especially from Apache warriors. As long as they are successful, the party can reach the ruins, find the entrance to the hidden vault, solve its puzzles, and claim the loot. Of course, that leaves the question of who should claim the most valuable part of the prize, something that could be used for wicked purposes.

For the Gun Master
The item buried in the vault is an old grimoire, the Clavicula Salmonis—the Key of Solomon. It contains various rituals that focus on communing with, summoning and binding demons. In fact, the mission was founded by heretics who masqueraded as good Catholics, but who conducted occult investigations and rituals. The Apache warriors recognized them for what they were, however, and that was why they attacked and destroyed the mission. Although the details of that story have grown hazy with the passing of time, the warriors still pass it from generation to generation, and they remain wary that someone might revisit the unholy place. Thus they knew to intercept the first expedition that Alexandra Flynn organized, forcing her to recruit more capable assistance for a second attempt.

Involving the Heroes
The heroes can easily become involved in this scenario after finding one of the flyers posted by Flynn.

Capable, discreet and hardy individuals
to undertake a journey into the Southwest
for shares of the anticipated profits;
those who are interested will be tested
in fair competition on the first of the month
at the town of Smith's Crossing.

Following this discovery, of course, it is up to them to decide if they want to investigate. Provided they are interested, they can head for that town as the appointed date approaches.

Smith's Crossing
Another supplement, “Bad Medicine,” presents a map for this little settlement, along with descriptions for some of its important locations and stats for the more notable people who live here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/enbzxo2kxvfl77q/Bad%20Medicine.pdf?dl=0.
Finally, while Ms. Fynn could be working for any number of employers, it can add to the drama if Mrs. Anna Smith—the woman who keeps the citizens in thrall as her puppets—is her employer for this expedition.

Scene 1—The Competition
As the day of the competition arrives, the little town buzzes with visitors. Before long Alexandra Flynn makes her appearance, calling everyone together to explain her ground rules for the contests. These are:
·        Riding: All of the characters go head-to-head in a race that runs from the Landing, west along the main street, north up the crossroad, around the Smiths' house, around the cemetery, back up the crossroad, and then back east along the main street to the Landing. This requires five Riding checks, with characters scoring one point for each success and an extra point for each raise, and the one with the highest total is the first to finish. Competing in this race are a Lawman and an Indian Brave.
·        Shooting: Each character takes five shots at the target, scoring one point for each success and one more for each raise. The winner, of course, is the character with the highest point total. Competing in this competition are an Outlaw and Sheriff Ezekiel Wainwright.
·        Wrestling: Characters are paired against each other in an elimination tournament. These matches can be conducted as regular combat scenes, with perhaps four or eight competitors in total. The last person standing wings. Competing in this contest are a Steamboat Roustabout and an Indian Brave.
It's always possible, of course, that the heroes devise clever means by which to influence the outcomes of these contests; such matters are left up to the adjudication of the Gun Master.
            Note, too, that characters with less action-oriented skills also have a chance of making an impression on Alexandra Flynn. This could happen incidentally, such as if a hero is called upon to treat another character's injuries and proves adept at doing so; through interaction, perhaps by making relevant Knowledge checks during a conversation; or even through an improvised test, such as a tracker being asked to follow a set of footprints along the town's main street in order to find their creator.

Alexandra Flynn—Use the stats for a Pinkerton from page 85 of the Sixth Gun RPG rulebook.

Competitors—Refer to the Sixth Gun RPG rulebook and other supplements for stats.

Making the Decision
After the contests, both formal and informal, Alexandra Flynn buys all of the competitors a round of drinks at the saloon. Then, based on their performance, she makes an offer to one group of characters who she thinks are best able to aid her in the expedition. Ideally, of course, the heroes have made a good showing and are the standout candidates. Should that not be the case, then it might take some impressively persuasive activity on their part in order to convince her that they are the right people for the job. Failing that, it could always happen that she leads another unsuccessful expedition, and then again returns to recruit others who are more likely able to help her achieve her objective. 

Scene 2—Desert Crossing
As long as Alexandra Flynn does choose the heroes to accompany her expedition, she includes them in the process of outfitting prior to departure. This means that they can have some input in the purchases she makes, providing a good opportunity for roleplaying. While she has considerable funds at her disposal ($1000), they aren't unlimited. As an insurance policy, she also brings along a number of laborers—in truth, thugs, one per character—who will obey without question any order that she gives.

Laborers—Use the stats for Outlaws from page 85 of the Sixth Gun RPG rulebook.

Hazards of the Crossing
Detailed here are a number of events that can occur during the journey.
  • Navigation requires making a few relevant Knowledge or Survival checks. Three is a good minimum number, but the GM should feel free to add more based on the desires of the players and the needs of the campaign. Failure on a check means more travel time and the possibility of facing more danger, while success means that the party makes progress toward its goal.
  • Due to the excessive heat, there's a chance that the characters also suffer fatigue. Each time they test their navigation ability, the characters should also make Vigor checks. In this way, failure to navigate correctly increases the danger of suffering fatigue.
  • From the outset, it's important to know which horses carry which gear—not only to make sure that none is overly encumbered, but also in case the party loses one or more horses due to some of the following hazards.
  • At some point a band of four coyotes begins to follow the party. This happens at night, when they are camped. One or more characters should make Riding checks in order to keep the horses calm, with failure meaning that one breaks its tether and bolts. Unless the characters scare off the critters by injuring or killing half of them, they continue to prowl around their camp. Use the stats for dogs or wolves from page 135 of the Savage Worlds rulebook for the coyotes, and page 138 for the horses.
  • While the characters are passing through a narrow gorge, the sky turns cloudy and then erupts with rain. While this might at first seem like a welcome break from the oppressive heat and arid climate, characters who make Survival checks recognize the real danger: a flash flood. As long as they're aware of this threat, the characters can make Riding checks to move their party out of harm's way. Failure, however, means that they're caught up by a thundering wall of water and every character (horses included) must make a Swimming test in order to reach dry ground. Refer to pages 87-8 of the core rulebook to adjudicate drowning.
  • Finally, members of Red Hawk's band begin to scout the party as it approaches the ruins. They are cautious about doing so, making Stealth checks opposed to the characters' Notice efforts. Even if spotted, however, they continue to follow at a short distance. Should the characters approach them, they can use Persuasion to improve the braves' initially uncooperative attitude. If they learn that the characters are bound for the ruined mission, however, then they send a runner to inform Red Hawk. The impression that the characters make here could have important repercussions later, as detailed below.
Swapping Stories
This is also a good chance to use the rules for Interludes detailed on page 91 of the core rulebook, as the characters tell their tales during downtime around the campfire.

Scene 3—The Ruins
The old Spanish mission now stands in ruins. Even so, one can still deduce the purpose of many of the building's features. The outside walls are whitewashed adobe, as are the main inside walls. There's an entry in front with two sets of double doors, flanked by what once were two storage rooms. In the front corners are the former quarters of the prior and prioress, and cells for the monks line the walls along the side. Two more storage rooms stand in the far corners, with what used to be a reading room, the dining hall, a kitchen and two privies between them. 

In the middle of it all stand the well along with the old mission church, a wooden structure that the attacking Indians burned. While the roof caved in at the time of the attack, parts of the walls still stand, along with what was once the bell tower. Most notably, the stairs that lead up into the bell tower also extend downward, into the mission's hidden lower level. Before the characters can explore that area, however, they must first deal with the rattlesnake that now inhabits these ruins.

Rattlesnake—Refer to page 163 in the Savage Worlds core rulebook for stats.

Unless the characters ask specifically to examine the old church, finding the spiral staircase that leads to the lower level requires a Notice test. 

Finally, in the middle of the ruined church is a mound of ashes—all that remains of the first band of adventurers whom Alexandra Flynn led here, who were slain by the Indians. The braves, after defeating these interlopers, burned their bodies according to their own customs. Amid the ashes the characters can find bones and the occasional metal item, perhaps providing a clue to what happened previously. For her part, Flynn claims to know nothing of what those remains could mean—and anyone who doesn't believe her should make a Notice check opposed to her Persuasion test. Success in that effort reveals that she's lying, of course, but not what the real truth is. 

Scene 4—Puzzles and Peril
The spiral staircase leads down into an underground level that functioned as a test for members of the Knights of Solomon. It consists of three separate challenges, detailed below.

The First Test
Directly in front of the spiral staircase is a long, narrow passage with a low ceiling. The floor of the passage is covered with square tiles, each one cubit (a foot and a half) on a side. What is more, each tile is inscribed with a name, as listed below. These are the names of various kings of Israel.

David Saul Zedekiah Jehoahaz Jeconiah Solomon Ish-Bosheth Jehoiakim
Ish-Bosheth David Solomon Saul Zedekiah Rehoboam Jehoiakim Jeconiah
Abijah David Ish-Bosheth Rehoboam Jeconiah Saul Solomon Zedekiah
Zedekiah David Solomon Ish-Bosheth Rehoboam Abijah Saul Asa
Ish-Bosheth Rehoboam Jehosphat Saul Solomon Asa David Abijah
Solomon David Abijah Ish-Bosheth Jehosphat Rehoboam Jehoram Asa
Rehoboam Jehoram Solomon Asa David Jehosphat Abijah Ahaziah
Abijah Ahaziah Jehosphat Asa Athaliah Solomon Jehoram Rehoboam
Jehosphat Abijah Athaliah Jehoram Jehoash Asa Ahaziah Solomon
Jehoram Abijah Asa Amaziah Ahaziah Athaliah Jehosphat Jehoash
Ahaziah Jehosphat Jehoash Athaliah Amaziah Jehoram Asa Uzziah
Athaliah Amaziah Jehoram Jotham Jehoash Ahaziah Uzziah Jehosphat
Jehoram Jehoash Ahaziah Uzziah Ahaz Amaziah Athaliah Jotham
Jehoash Amaziah Athaliah Hezekiah Uzziah Ahaz Jotham Ahaziah
Athaliah Uzziah Ahaz Jehoash Manasseh Jotham Hezekiah Amaziah
Uzziah Hezekiah Jotham Amaziah Amon Manasseh Ahaz Jehoash
Manasseh Amaziah Ahaz Uzziah Josiah Hezekiah Jotham Amon
Ahaz Uzziah Jehoahaz Jotham Hezekiah Amon Manasseh Josiah
Josiah Jotham Hezekiah Manasseh Ahaz Jehoiakim Jehoahaz Amon
Jehoiakim Manasseh Ahaz Jehoahaz Hezekiah Amon Josiah Jeconiah
Zedekiah Hezekiah Amon Manasseh Josiah Jehoahaz Jeconiah Jehoiakim
Saul Manasseh Jeconiah Josiah Amon Zedekiah Jehoiakim Jehoahaz
Zedekiah Amon Josiah Jehoahaz Saul Jeconiah Ish-Bosheth Jehoiakim
Ish-Bosheth Jehoahaz Saul Jehoiakim Zedekiah David Josiah Jeconiah

The correct order of steps is indicated on the list in bold; it represents the succession of the Kings of Israel. Stepping on the wrong tile triggers a dart trap, which attacks that square with a Shooting check at d6 and does 2d4 damage. Walking the correct path, on the other hand, doesn't spring any traps and opens the secret door at the end of the passage. If need be, the characters can make Knowledge (Religion) checks to recognize that this is a list of kings.

The Second Test
The next chamber has a higher ceiling and eight walls filled with paintings depicting numerous birds; the eye of one, the hoopoe, conceals a special latch that opens the next secret door. This recalls the story of how Solomon, while commanding the various birds to dance before him for his entertainment, noticed that the hoopoe was absent; it had gone looking for new things, and in doing so found the Queen of Sheba. Once again, a Knowledge (Religion) check can reveal that this is a Quranic reference. Alternately, characters can make Notice and Lockpicking tests to discover the hidden door and then trigger the release for it.

The Third Test
Behind the second secret door is the small treasure chamber. Against the far wall stands a locked chest; the bottom of it is filled with gold coins, and on top of them rest an old-fashioned blackpowder pistol, a pouch containing twelve paper-wrapped pistol cartridges, and a sealed scroll. The coins are worth $1000 dollars based on their gold content alone, but could be worth three times that much to an interested collector. The horn contains ordinary gunpowder, but the bullets are far from typical. Refer to the appendix for more details about them. 

Most notable of all, however, is the scroll. This is a copy of the Clavicula Salomonis, the text known as the Key of Solomon. It deals in great detail with rituals for summoning and binding demons, and thus is a powerful occult item. That, of course, is why Alexandra Flynn has been so interested in recovering it, so that her employers can make use of the rituals and lore that it contains. Once again, please refer to the Appendix for more details about them.

Scene 5—The Showdown
While the characters are exploring the ruined mission, the Indians do not sit by idly. At first they send a brave to watch the characters, and interact with them if there is a decent opportunity for doing so. After all, they know that they do not trust Flynn, but they don't want to make assumptions about her new band of adventurers. That is why, if one of the characters remains above ground to stand guard, then the brave approaches to ask a few questions. These include who the characters are, what their connection to Flynn is, and what they intend to do with anything that they might find there. Given that some of Flynn's goons are probably posted at ground level, this means that the character in question might need to make an excuse for separating from them in order to parlay. 

Barring such an opportunity, the brave simply waits and watches. In any case, he sends for reinforcements, including additional braves (enough to increase their number to one for each of the characters) and a medicine man. Those others wait not too far from the mission, ready to take action when needed.

Fight or Flight?
Just what happens next depends on how the characters react to their discovery in the hidden cache beneath the ruined mission. If they seem willing to let Flynn claim the Key, then the Indians confront them and demand to take it so that they can destroy it. She, of course, refuses. If need be, she'll make a fighting retreat, accompanied by her goons. That requires reaching the horses, which are tethered by the entrance to the mission, and then mounting up and riding away. From then onward the situation should be handled according to the rules presented. On page 98 of the core rulebook, with horses being the vehicle in question. 

Another possibility is that Flynn and her goons are forced to make a stand and fight. In that case, they seek cover where possible and concentrate their fire on a few targets, hoping to open a path through their foes so as to attempt an escape (as detailed above). The thugs stick to ranged combat if that seems advantageous for them, or close to hand-to-hand should it become apparent that they're outgunned. 

As a last-ditch effort, Alexandra Flynn could try to read an incantation from the Key. While here chances of succeeding are slim—after all, she must make an untrained Smarts check at a -2 penalty—but there's always a chance. In this case, the spell in question allows her to summon a devil, with which she quickly makes a deal in order to gain its assistance. To add a little drama to this fight, she keeps trying to decipher the correct incantation by continuing to attempt a test each round until she succeeds or she is incapacitated. If she succeeds, then the demon could pick her up and fly out of harm's way.

Devil—Use the stats from pages 74-5 of the Sixth Gun RPG rulebook.

However it develops, this should make for a challenging and memorable chase and/or combat.

For their part, the characters have made an important discovery; now they must decide what to do with it. While they've likely secured some small monetary gain from the mundane treasures hidden in the cache, they can acquire a great deal more wealth and influence, depending on their next course of action.

Further Adventures
The outcome of these events can have some important repercussions for the activities of various parties throughout the American frontier, as detailed below.
  • Whatever the outcome of this scenario, the characters face a long journey back to civilization—and one that could be fraught with difficulties similar to the ones that they faced on their expedition to the ruined mission.
  • If Alexandra Flynn succeeds in acquiring the Key and escaping from this situation so as to deliver it to her employers—and especially if it's Angelica Smith from the Crossing—then they gain tremendous power with which they can work toward their evil ends.
  • The characters can make fast friends or bitter enemies of Red Hawk and his band, even if they fail to stop Flynn from acquiring the Key. In this case, good intentions are more important than results.
  • Given the power of her charms and magic, Angelica Smith could prove to be a terrible nemesis for the characters. She might be able to affect them directly, if her husband's deceptive medical practice has allowed her create a poppet for any of them. What is more, she could even convince a third party—such as Captain Anders Arneson and the soldiers from his outpost—to take up her cause.
  • Should the villains acquire the services of a demon, it's likely that they'd use it to pursue some other kind of artifact—possibly one of the items detailed in Chapter 7 of the Sixth Gun RPG rulebook, or even the Six themselves.
  • It's always possible that one of the characters tries to use the Key in order to summon and bind a demon; just how that develops is left up to the adjudication of the GM.
Appendix—New Relics
Detailed below are the blessed and cursed items introduced in this scenario.


And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'”
-Matthew 4:19

Each of these old-fashioned ammunition rounds consists of powder and wadding, along with a musket or pistol ball engraved with the name of a disciple of Jesus Christ—P eter, Andrew, James son of Zebedee, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Judas Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot—wrapped in a paper cartridge. They are infused with hly power, granting them +1 to Shooting checks and damage, and +2 against demons, the undead, and other such unholy foes. Note that the Judas Iscariot round, on a botch, causes the gun to misfire, inflicting 2d6 damage on the wielder. 

Clavicula Salomonis

And Zadok the priest took a horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet and all the people said, 'God save King Solomon.'”
-1 Kings 1:39

This text, believed to have been written by King Solomon himself, describes various rituals and incantations for summoning and binding demons. In game terms, it allows the reader to acquire such powers as Banish, Divination, and Summon Ally. For that last power, the caster can summon a crossroads demon by spending 3 power points, a devil by expending 5 power points, and a plague spawn demon by spending 7 power points. Any additional powers to which the book can provide access are left to the discretion of the Gun Master.

No comments:

Post a Comment