Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Organizations for Treasure Hunter Adventures

Here's a preview of Treasure Hunter Adventures 2: Prizes, Puzzles and Perils. Presented here is one of the four organizations detailed in that supplement, the Office of Strategic Services.


Office of Strategic Services
Established during the build-up to World War II, this group's ostensible purpose was to coordinate intelligence activities for American forces—giving rise to the nickname “Oh So Secret.” Due to the Nazi interest in the occult, however, they soon began studying that subject as well. While their primary mission was to prevent the Nazis from using relics that they'd recovered, by locking them away in a secure facility, some operatives actually tried wielding magic in the war effort. Officially disbanded by order of President Truman in 1945, when it was replaced by the Central Intelligence Agency, the O.S.S. continued to pursue occult investigations. It initially had branches in Europe, North Africa and East Asia, but eventually spread out from there. To this day it is still active, answering only to the President of the United States, in pursuing relics and lore and thus ensuring that they are not used to harm American interests.

Plot Hooks
Here are a few ways the O.S.S. can be used in treasure hunting adventures and campaigns.
  • The heroes could, of course, be agents of this organization.
  • Alternately, during a hunt they could find that a rival is an O.S.S. operative, and thus face the decision of working with or against that person.
  • Given the secrecy under which this group works, such interactions could mean that the heroes would face background checks and stringent questioning, and be required to sign non-disclosure agreements to continue working together.
  • Political leanings could lead to conflict within the organization.
  • If the O.S.S. were infiltrated by another group, then it would become a major thorn in the side of the heroes—especially if that group thus gained access to the relics that are kept in its warehouse.
  • Finally, the heroes might need to break into that facility themselves in order to steal a particular item, or to find clues as part of a hunt.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Death Mask of Hatshepsut for Savage Worlds RPG

Now available for purchase on DrivethruRPG.com is the first full scenario for use with Treasure Hunter Adventures and the Savage Worlds RPG.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Preview--The Death Mask of Hatshepsut

Here's a preview of the first full scenario for Treasure Hunter Adventures using the Savage Worlds RPG; it is called The Death Mask of Hatshepsut.


The Legend
According to tales, a British Egyptologist by the name of Douglass Murray was approached in Cairo by an American adventurer who was looking to sell some artifacts recently recovered from a tomb. One of these was the death mask of the Queen Hatshepsut, a pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty who some thought might have had divine blood. Although Murray decided to purchase the mask, the American never profited from the sale—he died only three days later. Shortly after that, before returning to Britain, Murray lost his hand when the rifle that he was firing exploded. The wound turned gangrenous and as a result he had to have his arm amputated at the elbow.

Murray’s fortunes improved little even after returning home. Upon arrival he was informed that two of his servants and two other close associates had died abruptly and from mysterious causes. Beginning to fear that the mask might have been the cause of these incidents, he decided to leave the item at the residence of his girlfriend. She had taken an interest in the relic, but soon regretted it—she began to suffer from a wasting disease that nearly killed her. By then Murray simply wanted the mask out of his life, and arranged a trade with an American museum for some Montana dinosaur bones. The mask was packed up and shipped off to the United States, sailing aboard the RMS Titanic. According to all accounts,when that vessel struck an iceberg and sank it was lost forever... 

Until now. 

Recently an aspiring treasure hunter found what he believes is a clue to the mask's location, and he's recruiting others to help him find it.

Egyptian Sojourn
I sit and ponder the Great Secret
In the shadow of the monument
To Anthony’s mistress,
Under the watchful eye of Ra
In his ultimate strength.

It is my turn now to face judgment in the Hall of Truth, and the weighing of my heart. To lighten my load, I leave behind the burden I saved from frigid death, and my Egyptian Sojourn shows the way to claiming it.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Iconic Heroes for THA and Savage Worlds

Now available via Drivethrurpg.com are five iconic heroes, ready to print and play, designed for use with Treasure Hunter Adventures and the Savage Worlds RPG.


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Iconic Heroes for Treasure Hunter Adventures

Here's a preview of five characters ready for use with the Treasure Hunter Adventures supplement and the Savage Worlds RPG.


Artwork by Jeshields. www.Patreon.com/Jeshields

Gavin Kline
Always fascinated by magic, Gavin as a kid would watch performers, try to figure out their tricks, and develop ones of his own. This also started his love of acting, and he found that he could disappear into the roles he was playing. His studies of more serious magic led him to meeting Magdalena Gonzalez, who in turn introduced him to Thaddeus Woodward and his group of treasure hunters. For him, it is the thrill of the caper that makes it interesting.

Vaughn Adkisson
Born and raised in a small Texas town, Vaughn played football and worked in his family's auto shop. It was at a race that he met Linh Soung, who appreciated his mechanical aptitude as much as he respected her skill behind the wheel. She also introduced him to Thaddeus and other friends who were interested in treasure hunting. He sees himself as a protector of his associates.

Linh Soung
From a young age, Linh developed a love of fast cars. She attended street races in which her older brothers competed, and sat behind the wheel before she was old enough to do so legally. It was during a race that she befriended Vaughn Adkisson, who was a skilled mechanic, and in the aftermath of a police raid that she met Thaddeus Woodward, who argued that she could use her abilities for a higher purpose. As long as she can show off a little, she's happy.

Thaddeus Woodward
Growing up in urban Chicago, Thaddeus split his time between the church, where his father was the preacher and his mom led the choir, and the streets, where many of his friends spent their days. He realized that many people were missing a certain spiritual element in their lives, and decided to help others find it. To that end he formed his band of treasure hunters, of whom he sees himself as the leader.

Magdalena Gonzalez
Raised in rural New Mexico, Magdalena spent a lot of time with her grandmother, who was a bruja. From her she learned the basic elements of magic, and after high school she sought to learn more about other cultures and their traditions. That is what led her to meet Thaddeus Woodward, who shared her interest in the spiritual aspects of the world. For her, treasure hunting is the path to knowledge beyond what she can learn from classes and textbooks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Demons and Devils for The Sixth Gun

I'd like to swing back around to The Sixth Gun RPG for a moment with a short collection of demons and devils for use in that game.


The smallest and, thus, least powerful type of demon is the imp. Some scholars of the occult believe that these are fully grown demons in their own right, while others maintain that they are more like larva, and after a certain amount of time grow into one of the more powerful forms. That notion, in turn, raises important questions about how and why they come to be born in the first place. Whatever the truth of it is, they are known to be used by occultists as familiars, and by other demons as servants and messengers. While small in size, their ability to create havoc means that they are foes not to be taken lightly.

Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d6, Fighting d6, Notice d6, Occult d4, Persuasion d4, Stealth d8
Pace: 4, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Dodge, Improved Dodge
Special Abilities
  • Bite: Str+d4
  • Claws: Str+d4
  • Demon: +2 to recover from being Shaken; immune to poison and disease; half-damage from non-magical attacks
  • Flight: Imps have a Flying Pace of 12.
  • Size: -1
  • Weaknesses: Imps must make a Spirit roll when presented with a holy symbol or splashed with holy water, or be Shaken.

Erinyes (Furies)
These raging devils are hell-bent on vengeance; as such, they are fearsome in appearance, looking like female humans with hair like snakes, wiry but strong bodies, and fiery gazes. They wear armor like warriors, carry swords and whips or other such weapons, and have broad wings. While most often summoned to persecute a particular individual, they are sometimes kept by potent conjurers or other, more powerful demons to serve as guardians of important places and things.


Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d8

Skills: Athletics d8, Fighting d10, Notice d6, Occult d6, Stealth d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 7, Toughness: 6
Edges: Berserk
Special Abilities
  • Bite: Str+d4
  • Claws: Str+d4
  • Demon: +2 to recover from being Shaken; immune to poison and disease; half-damage from non-magical attacks
  • Fearless: Immune to Fear and Intimidation.
  • Flight: Erinyes have a Flying Pace of 18.
  • Gear: Whip (Damage Str+d4), sword (Str+d6).

Succubi and Incubi
In their natural forms—if one can call them that—these creatures look like strikingly beautiful human women with short horns jutting out of their hair, long thin tails, and broad, bat-like wings. They are able to change their shapes, however, taking on other forms in order to blend in among humans and even to change their gender. This allows them to infiltrate mortal society, and thus to gain influence over people through their beguiling charms. What is more, the pairing of an incubus and a human woman sometimes lead to the birth of a cambion, as detailed below.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d10, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d6, Fighting d6, Language d6, Notice d8, Occult d8, Persuasion d10, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 5, Toughness: 6
Edges: Attractive, Very Attractive
Special Abilities
  • Bite: Str+d4
  • Claws: Str+d4
  • Demon: +2 to recover from being Shaken; immune to poison and disease; half-damage from non-magical attacks
  • Fearless: Immune to Fear and Intimidation.
  • Flight: Succubi have a Flying Pace of 12.

Other Demons and Devils
The core rulebook for The Sixth Gun RPG has stats for three more types of demons and devils; they are the crossroads demon (page 74), devil (74-5), and plague spawn demon (75).

Demon Lords
Little is known for certain about these fearsome fiends, but there has been a lot of speculation. Take, for instance, the demon lord Baphomet, who is said to have been revered by the Knights Templar before their order was disbanded and many of their members were captured, tried, and executed. Baphomet (depicted above) is described as a towering humanoid figure with a mix of male and female anatomy, along with the birdlike wings and the head and hooves of a goat. Just what powers this fiend might have, however, is not known. 

Other names mentioned as being powerful demon lords and archdevils include Abbadon, Baalzebul, Dispater, Moloch and Pazuzu.

While not believed to be demons in their own right, these creatures certainly look fiendish. What is more, they look like their bodies are carved from stone, and in fact they can blend in among the ordinary statues on buildings such as cathedrals and others. They have bird-like faces with beak-like mouths, broad wings and sharp claws on their hands and feet. Just how they came into existence is open to speculation.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Athletics d6, Fighting d8, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Survival d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 10
Special Abilities
  • Bite: Str+d6
  • Claws: Str+d6
  • Elemental (Earth): No additional damage from called shots; ignore 1 point of wound penalties; doesn't breathe; immune to disease and poison
  • Flight: Gargoyles have a Flying Pace of 18.

Plot Hooks
Detailed here are some of the ways in which demons and devils can be incorporated into adventures and campaigns in the setting of The Sixth Gun RPG.
  • As mentioned above, imps are frequently used as messengers. They are also sometimes summoned by spellcasters and bound into service as familiars, thus providing advice and assistance to the occultists they serve.
  • Succubi are particularly skilled at manipulating people in the mortal world, usually by choosing a victim, winning that person's love, and then influencing the important decisions which that person makes.
  • The cambions that are born of relations between incubi and their lovers sometimes become pariahs and even outcasts, chased out of their communities for being different; at other times they are embraced by occult organizations because of their supernatural potential. In the latter case, occultists sometimes summon incubi for the purpose of siring such offspring.
  • Although they are not actual demons, some scholars speculate that demons in urban areas use them as spies, given their ability to blend in with the architecture.
  • Rumor has it that the father of Roberto Vargas, a member of the Sword of Abraham, was “torn apart” by gargoyles in Paris.
  • King James I of England wrote a text about demons and their influence; it contributed in large part to the persecution of witches that took place during his reign, at a time when the Invisible College was still finding its footing in the world. Some believe that the Cabal took advantage of these circumstances in order to steal arcane lore from innocent victims, which they then used for their own purposes.
  • In addition to accusations of worshiping Baphomet, it is believed that the Knights Templar sought the fabled tome Clavicula Salmonis—a grimoire, the Key of Solomon, that contained spells for summoning, binding and dispelling demonic powers. It is not known if the modern Knights of Solomon have inherited that legacy from their predecessors.

The offspring of incubi (succubi in male form) and human women are known as cambions. They do not differ physically from ordinary humans, but sometimes are known to have extraordinary powers. Some legends even claim that the druid and wizard Merlin, advisor to King Arthur himself, was the offspring of such a diabolical union. While some speculate that cambions live longer than ordinary humans, the violence that often surrounds them most often cuts their lives short.
  • Immune: To poison and disease.
  • Hindrance: Enemy (adherents to most religions, if the cambion's identity is revealed).

Connections to Other Material
Refer to the following articles for more information about some of the organizations mentioned here.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Treasure Hunter Adventures for the Savage Worlds RPG

This is my first foray into self-publishing material, via the Savage Worlds Adventurer's Guild (SWAG). Treasure Hunter Adventures is a sixteen-page supplement that includes character archetypes, rules for magic, guidelines for designing scenarios, a sample patron, and a short scenario.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Rules for Magic in Treasure Hunter Adventures

Here's another preview, this time addressing different levels of magic in treasure hunter adventures and campaigns.


Levels of Magic
In most treasure hunting-themed movies, TV shows and books, there are three different levels of magic that can come into play; these can be described as No Magic, Low Magic, and High Magic. Presented below are suggestions for how each level can be implemented using the Savage Worlds RPG.

No Magic
Just like it sounds, magic plays no role in this type of setting. Characters may not have arcane backgrounds, nor any Edges related to them. Good examples of this type of setting include the films in the National Treasure franchise. In such games, it is the monetary value or cultural importance of treasures alone that prompt people to go in search of them.
  • Powers permitted: None
  • Edges allowed: None

Low Magic
Magic is a factor in these games, but it is of a discreet nature rather than a vulgar one; that is, they provide benefits without having visible magical effects. Refer to the table below for a list that sorts powers and Edges into those two categories. At the GM's discretion, relics can still provide access to vulgar powers. For example, while the Healing power cannot be used in a campaign with Low Magic, it becomes available to someone who manages to acquire the Holy Grail. The Indiana Jones movies are a good example of this level of magic.
  • Powers permitted: Arcane protection, Boost/lower Trait, Deflection, Detect/conceal arcana, Dispel, Protection
  • Edges allowed: Arcane Background (Magic and Miracles), Arcane Resistance (and Improved), all Power Edges except Wizard

High Magic
Almost anything goes in these settings, as long as the GM deems it to be thematically appropriate. The movies in the Mummy franchise are a good example of this, where the heroes and their foes both have access to all sorts of spectacular magical effects. Indeed, the GM may even wish to develop new powers based on legends and lore.
  • Powers permitted: All others
  • Edges allowed: Also Wizard and all Weird Edges

Learning High Magic Powers
At the GM's discretion, characters in a low-magic setting could gain access to high-magic powers by finding grimoires, scrolls and other magical writings. Some examples of this are detailed here.
  • Banish—An old book details the Roman Catholic ritual of exorcism.
  • Beast Friend—A character could mystically learn the language of the birds.
  • Divination—Scrolls tell how to commune with the spirits of the dead.
  • Healing—A holy relic, such as a sacred cup, could provide this power.
  • Puppet—A voodoo ritual makes it possible to gain control of a victim's spirit.
  • Smite—The wielder can invoke the power in a mystic weapon.
  • Warrior's Gift—A sacred mask provides some kind of benefit.

Creatures and Foes
The level of magic also helps determine what types of foes are present in adventures and campaigns, as detailed below.
  • No Magic settings have only natural creatures and ordinary people—that is, ones who have only no magical or supernatural abilities. The Savage Worlds rulebook provides plenty of option, such as alligators and crocodiles, wolves, sharks, snakes and swarms. There are still religious institutions and perhaps even secret occult societies in these settings, but members don't wield any powers.
  • Low Magic settings also include NPCs with access to magic, such as the Holy Person and Occultist archetypes, with limits as mentioned above. At the GM's discretion, ghosts (SWADE page 183) might also be present.
  • High Magic settings open lots more possibilities, especially vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other creatures that appear in the folklore of the “real world.” Chapter 6 of the core rulebook provides plenty of suggestions for unusual powers that these enemies might possess. As always, the GM can always decide to make adjustments based on the desires of the players and the needs of the campaign.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Treasure Hunter Archetypes for the Savage Worlds RPG

Fifteen years ago I had the pleasure of working on a project called Treasure Hunter, one that was based on the (in my opinion, underrated) d20 Modern RPG. The core supplement was followed by three adventures, all set in Greece, but a variety of factors meant that it never really picked up any momentum. Eventually I moved on to other projects, but the desire to write treasure hunter-themed adventures stuck with me. Some time thereafter I started playing the Savage Worlds RPG, and found that I enjoyed the “Fast, Furious, Fun” nature of that game. For that reason, I've started putting together a supplement, which provides suggestions for writing adventures in that genre, using the newest edition of that game. 

The first part I'd like to share is a set of character archetypes. 


Treasure Hunter Archetypes
Presented here for quick play are several archetypes ready to use in treasure hunting-themed adventures and campaigns; they represent some of the typical roles that characters play while undertaking such endeavors. As such, they can easily be used as pre-generated heroes for running scenarios at a game day or convention.

Retrieval Specialist
Some would describe this character using other names, such as relic hunter, tomb raider or grave robber; whatever the case, she specializes in accessing those places where valuable items are found, acquiring them, and then making an exit—hopefully without triggering any traps or alarms.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d4, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d4, Driving d4, Fighting d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Shooting d6, Stealth d8, Thievery d8
Pace: 8, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Alertness, Fleet-Footed
Hindrances: Greedy (Major)
Gear: Clothing, cellular phone, lockpicks, collapsible baton (Damage Str+d4), $290.

Whether it's serving as a bodyguard or just grunt labor, treasure hunting has plenty of uses for someone who is tough and strong—and good in a fight. This character possesses all of those qualities, and can help patch up people and things after a tussle.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d8, Boating d6, Common Knowledge d4, Fighting d8, Healing d6, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Repair d4, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 6, Toughness: 6
Edges: Brawny, Brute
Hindrances: Heroic
Gear: Clothing, cellular device, $500.

It often takes a skilled vehicle operator to reach those places where lost treasures can be found, whether it's flying into a remote jungle location, handling a boat on treacherous water, or steering a car or truck during a chase in the streets.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d4
Skills: Athletics d6, Boating d6, Common Knowledge d4, Driving d8, Fighting d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Piloting d6, Repair d6, Shooting d4, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 4, Toughness: 4
Edges: Ace, Luck
Hindrances: Impulsive
Gear: Clothing, cellular device, $500.

When it comes to exploring uncharted territory—and thus dealing with the wild animals, natural pitfalls, poisons, diseases, and other such hazards that can be found there—then skills of a wilderness guide are crucial. This character is perhaps more at home in the wilderness than in more civilized settings.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d8
Skills: Athletics d4, Boating d4, Common Knowledge d4, Driving d4, Fighting d6, Healing d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d4, Survival d6
Pace: 6, Parry: 5, Toughness: 6
Edges: Quick, Woodsman
Hindrances: Tongue-Tied
Gear: Clothing, cellular device, backpack (with flashlight and first aid kit), knife (Damage Str+d4), $395.

There's an old saying: “It's not what you know; it's whom you know.” This character takes that idea a step further, believing, “It's not what you can do for yourself; it's what you can convince others to do for you.” An affable personality and a winning smile go a long way to proving that theory.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Skills: Academics d6, Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d6, Gambling d6, Language d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Attractive, Charismatic
Hindrances: Overconfident
Gear: Clothing, cellular device, $500.

This character understands that knowledge is power, and for that reason is dedicated to acquiring such knowledge. Of course, since said knowledge is helpful in deciphering puzzles and piecing together clues—and, thus, making acquisitions—it makes the scholar a vital part of any group of treasure hunters. To that end, the scholar could be part of a respected academic institution, or might be a maverick whose research methods and conclusions cause concerns among the established “authorities.”
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Academics d8, Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d4, Language d8, Notice d6, Occult d6, Persuasion d4, Research d8, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Calculating, Scholar
Hindrances: Curious
Gear: Clothing, cellular device, satchel, tablet computer, various books and writing materials, walking stick (Damage Str+d6), $250.

Levels of Magic?
In contrast to those presented above, the following two archetypes are appropriate for treasure hunting adventures and campaigns that allow at least a low amount of magic (see below for more details).

This character not only studies the arcane beliefs and practices of those who have come before, but has learned how to use them to achieve potent results. For that reason, the occultist seeks discover more ancient relics and lore. While the occultist is thus sometimes subjected to scorn by those who don't believe in such “hocus pocus,” this character knows better. In a worst-case scenario, the occultist could even suffer ostracism or even persecution due to a society's beliefs about studying and practicing magic.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d4, Vigor d6
Skills: Academics d6, Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d4, Language d6, Notice d4, Occult d8, Persuasion d4, Research d6, Spellcasting d8, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), Power Surge
Hindrances: Driven (Major)
Special Abilities
  • Power Points: 10; Powers: Boost/lower Trait, detect/conceal arcana, deflection
Gear: Clothing, cellular device, magical texts and trappings, $500.

Holy Person
Religious beliefs are an important part of everyday life, and this character is a living example of such faith. As such, the holy person could be a leader in a recognized religious community, or might have one's own understanding of spirituality in the world. Whatever the case, revering some kind of philosophy or higher power is very important.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Academics d6, Athletics d4, Common Knowledge d6, Faith d8, Healing d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d8, Stealth d4
Pace: 6, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Miracles), Connections
Hindrances: Code of Honor
Special Abilities
  • Power Points: 10; Powers: Boost/lower Trait, deflection, protection
Gear: Clothing, holy symbol and texts, cellular device, $500.