by Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 1995, revised 1998
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This is a collection of short adventures linked by the history described in the Challenger worldbook. Each adventure can be played in a few hours. If you do not wish to use the timeline in the worldbook, some minor modifications may be needed.
Characters are adventurers in a world of strange and largely unexplained phenomena. How did the dinosaurs of Maple White Land REALLY survive? If the Earth is alive, what does it think of mankind? Is there intelligent life in the stratosphere? These and many other questions are not answered below.
Because of the size and scope of this collection minor NPCs are not described in great detail; they have average characteristics of 3 or 4, and skills appropriate to their jobs or ranks. All characters and organisations mentioned are imaginary, unless stated otherwise. Maps and charts are only provided for key locations; since I am unfamiliar with most places described, many details are entirely imaginary or are based on limited (and possibly inaccurate) information. Referees are strongly advised to obtain suitable maps, charts, and photographs to supplement the illustrations provided, and modify details where I have made mistakes. Wherever possible sources are mentioned.
When referring to characters the words "him" and "his" are usually short for "him/her" and "his/her"; unless stated otherwise the characters may be of either gender. The male pronoun is sometimes used to give a more natural flow of text - blame the English language, not the author! All the adventures are written for groups of 3-6 characters; more are usually more trouble than they are worth, smaller groups may lack some of the skills needed for success. It is assumed that the characters are British; if not, some modifications are needed.
The original version of these adventures included rules for children and
dogs as characters. These are now Appendix E of the Forgotten Futures rules
0.1 Campaign Summaryback to contents
These adventures are connected mainly by their background; there is no strong linking theme, apart from weird science.
The first adventure begins in St. Petersburg in 1910. What strange secrets are brewing in the Siberian wastes? What happened at Tunguska? And why is the Tsar buying electrical generators? Agents in His Majesty's Secret Service must face The Fist Of God to find out.
Having escaped the clutches of the Okhrana, the Imperial Russian secret police, the adventurers stumble into new and even deadlier peril in the Himalayas. Are they doomed, or is there an Escape From Shangri-La?
Back in Britain, a visit to a remote observatory becomes a nightmare of suspicion and fear. But is the main danger human or supernatural, and will A Nice Night For Screaming ever end?
The last adventure is set in Scotland. For centuries humanity has wondered about the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster. Now, in 1935, the mystery has been solved. Is the mighty creature really destined for a life of captivity, or can a small group of children arrange to Free Nessie? This adventure includes statistics for The Skool Rules, an RPG by Phil Masters.
Finally, the wargaming scenario Where Pterodactyls Dare returns to the
First World War and Maple White Land, where the forces of King and
Kaiser must battle for control of its mineral resources. It can be run
under Irregular Miniatures' 'Tusk' system, or under the Forgotten
0.2 Timing and Distancesback to contents
These adventures are written to avoid the need to adhere to a strict timetable; while one is sometimes provided, it is simply presented as a guideline, which can safely be ignored. Usually the characters will learn of a problem then have the time they need to deal with it. Occasionally their actions will precipitate events, causing a new problem that requires a rapid response, but even here it should be unnecessary to adhere to a rigid timeline.
In play-testing a freewheeling approach was used. Regardless of their efficiency, the characters always managed to be at the right place at the right time, more or less equipped to deal with the situation. From then on the timing of the scenario was based on the players' actions. This melodramatic approach is strongly recommended.
Referees should always remember that these scenarios can't possibly
handle every contingency; players may think of plans that didn't occur
to the author and play-testers, or ignore clues that seemed obvious
when these adventures were written. Be prepared to think fast and
abandon my plots if they aren't going well; the players may think of
something much more entertaining if you let them develop their ideas!
0.3 Acknowledgementsback to contents
Bridget Wilkinson and Boris Sidyuk provided some essential background details for The Fist of God.
The title of Escape From Shangri-La was suggested by the excellent collection Escape From Kathmandu, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Background ideas came in part from conversations with various members of the Midnight Rose Collective, especially Alex Stewart and Mary Gentle. Hugh Mascetti gave me many details of the weaponry and its drawbacks; any errors remaining are my fault. Use Of Weapons is a novel by Ian M. Banks.
A Nice Night For Screaming has an unusually complicated history. It was originally written as a generic adventure with statistics for several RPGs, and published in TSR UK's Imagine Magazine, July 1985. A sequel, Honeymoon In Hell, was later published by Chaosium Inc. in the Call of Cthulhu supplement Blood Brothers, but for unknown reasons a reference to the earlier scenario was edited out. Because some players may remember the original adventure or sequel, it has been re-written completely, with the setting and all characters and motivations changed. Think of it as a variation on a theme. The title was suggested by a collection of short stories by James H. Schmitz, A Nice Day For Screaming. The Saint had dealings with a copy of 'Her Wedding Secret' in The Simon Templar Foundation [Leslie Charteris 1934].
Free Nessie is written for a group of children, and includes statistics for a second game system; Phil Masters' The Skool Rules, which is included with this collection. I have used this system, with permission, because it gave me the idea of using these characters, and is in some ways better for adventures involving them. 'The Skool Rules' is charityware; if you find it useful, please make a contribution to one of the charities suggested. The title and setting for this adventure was in part suggested by publicity for the 1995 World Science Fiction Convention, Intersection, which was held in Glasgow in August 1995.
Where Pterodactyls Dare began as the first adventure outline in the
worldbook. Some time after writing it, I happened to ask Alex Stewart
about prehistoric figures, and he mentioned the Irregular Miniatures
collections; in turn, Irregular Miniatures told me about Tusk.
Forgotten Futures isn't a wargame, but when I saw the Tusk rules, I
realised that I had the makings of a reasonable scenario. Obviously
fate was trying to tell me something. The Tusk rules are available
from the address given in the worldbook. Special thanks to Irregular
Miniatures for allowing me to include the scenario in this collection,
to Matthew Hartley (author of Tusk), Alex Stewart, Hugh Mascetti, and
members of the SFSFW for corrections and additional information. This
scenario has previously appeared in Ragnarok, the SFSFW journal; see
RULES.TXT for subscription information.
1.0 Adventure 1: The Fist Of Godback to contents
The setting is Tsarist Russia in 1910. The adventurers are members of the British community in St. Petersburg (later Leningrad), and have been in Russia for at least a few months. Possible reasons for their presence might include journalism, work at the British Embassy (but they should not be diplomats), or representation of a business or industrial concern; Russia is rearming after the disastrous Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5, and there are plenty of opportunities to do business. At least one character should have the Linguist (Russian) skill; if possible, all characters should have this skill.
As the adventure begins the characters are attending a reception at the British Embassy. It's a routine and fairly boring function, apparently unlikely to lead to trouble....
Maps and other resources related to Russia are obviously useful for the referee, but they tend to be dominated by post-revolutionary information. A small scale map is provided as part of 28_ADV3.GIF, but isn't really adequate for an adventure that spans several thousand miles. A large world map, or a map of Russia and Asia, should show most of the locations in this adventure (although some names were changed in the Soviet era), and its use will emphasise the size of the area covered.
Data on the history of the period comes mainly from Robert K. Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra, with some additional historical and geographical material coming from the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopaedia, The Nuttall Encyclopaedia , and Robert Strauss's Trans-Siberian Rail Guide, Peter Neville's A Traveller's History Of Russia, various issues of Pearson's Magazine from 1899 to 1902, and family stories. I have tampered with historical, geographical, and scientific accuracy at several points, and have been unable to check some details. Fictional sources include the novel Chekov's Journey by Ian Watson, Angela Carter's Nights At The Circus, The Spy's Bedside Book, ed. Graham and Hugh Greene, and S.O.S. Pacific [film 1960].
Several game supplements have included plans for trains in various eras. Examples include Chaosium's Horror On The Orient Express and Fearful Passages (both for Call of Cthulhu), TSR's Orient Express (for the original Top Secret RPG), and Victory Games' Thrilling Locations (for the James Bond RPG). The first of these is probably the most useful, since the train has similar features to the Trans-Siberian Express and the plans are printed on card in 25mm scale. The third and fourth are better suited to a later period, and are now out of print. Since the precise layout of carriages isn't important, any of them will suffice. Purists may wish to note that Russian railways are wide gauge, and modify plans accordingly.
Russian currency is the rouble, divided into 100 copecks (or kopecks). A rouble is currently worth approximately 3s 2d, so the pound is worth 6 roubles 32 copecks. The exact comparison varies according to what is purchased; food is cheaper than in Britain, alcohol (especially vodka) is cheap, but often of suspect quality - a pinch of pepper should be used to remove fusel oil from the surface. Caviare is very cheap. Most other luxuries are more expensive.
Russia has its own alphabet and language, which are not readily reproducible without special typefaces; occasional attempts at phonetic spelling below lack accents which would normally be useful for accurate pronunciation of these words. If possible, use a Russian phrase book. Unless stated otherwise, all conversations involving Russian NPCs are in Russian.
In this period Russia has its own units of weight, distance, etc., which can add flavour to this adventure. The most useful is the verst, approximately 2/3 mile, roughly equivalent to a kilometre; smaller units of distance including the sazhen (about 1.5 metres), arshin (70 cm), vershok (5 cm) and duim (2.5 cm). Units of weight include the poud (about 16 kg), pound (400g), zolotnik (2 or 4 g) and dolya (1/24th zolotnik). Please note that I have NOT been able to verify modern equivalents of these units, apart from the verst, and am sure that some confusion has crept in!
In 1910 Russia uses the Julian calendar, which runs 13 days behind
that of the rest of the world; this means that if a European newspaper
is purchased on September 15th (Julian calendar), and is dated
September 21st, it is actually a week out of date.
1.1 Players Informationback to contents
The British Embassy, St. Petersburg, August 1910.
The British community in St. Petersburg is small, and all of you know each other; you eat at the same restaurants, attend the same social events, and have many friends in common. It isn't surprising that you have all been invited to attend a reception at the Embassy.
The party is fairly boring; the guests are some Scots engineers who have been helping the Russians build bridges for the latest part of the Trans-Siberian railway, a line along the River Amur to bypass a route that was shelled during the Russian-Japanese war of 1904. British manufacturers have done well from the railway; most of the structural steel, track and machinery, even the ferry boats on Lake Baikal, were built from parts made in Britain. There's also a dark side to the story - if what you've heard is true, there's a corpse for every few miles of track, mostly convicts and exiles who were worked to death or killed in accidents.
At ten-fifteen all of you are in a small reading room upstairs from the main reception, where you know you'll find the latest newspapers from home, less than a week old. You chat about politics, the new King, the startling discovery of live dinosaurs in South America, and the cricket scores.
While you're talking the Military Attache bustles in, shutting the door behind him, and says "I'm glad you could all get here. I don't want to break your covers, but no-one should notice this meeting if we keep it short. Whitehall has a mission for you."
It's time to get down to business.
1.2 Briefingback to contents
The adventurers are agents of His Majesty's Secret Service, assigned to routine duties in the Russian capital, St. Petersburg. A code word on the invitation summoned them to the meeting. Their briefing officer is Colonel Chapman, the Military Attache.
Players should not be told that their characters are spies when they are designed; they were recruited after they decided to work in Russia, and have received a minimum of special training. Read out section 1.1 above, then give each character 2 extra points to spend on appropriate skills (but not characteristics), to be added to those already chosen. Obvious possibilities are Detective, Linguist, Marksmanship, Martial Arts, Morse Code, Stealth, and Thief. Any player who initially decided to generate a character as a British agent should be given 2 extra points to spend on skills appropriate to a cover identity, such as Business. In both cases the extra points may not be converted into bonus points.
Chapman explains that the normally unimaginative minds of Whitehall have noticed some odd facts and reached some startling conclusions:
Putting these facts together, Whitehall has concluded that the Russians may have found some clues to the conversion of matter to energy, and might have built a laboratory to test the idea at Tunguska. The Russians haven't publicly sent any scientists to the site of the explosion, which is suspicious in itself; a comparable blast in Europe would soon attract scientists from a dozen nations.
The agents are to try to find out what really happened at Tunguska, and what happened to the generators. If the Russians are developing new weapons, they are to find out as much as possible, bearing in mind that Britain and Russia are at peace.
Chapman goes on to mention that another agent disappeared in the area in May. He was Captain Edward Fanshawe, of the Royal Marines, who entered the area by rail from Vladivostok, with a cover as a botanist painting Mongolian and Siberian flowers. He was last seen in Krasnoyarsk. The Russians claim to know nothing of his whereabouts after he left the town. Chapman has a photograph of Fanshawe - none of the agents have ever met him - and explains how to make contact if they encounter him. Instead of a password, the signal is a short whistled tune; Fanshawe will reply with another tune. Neither tune is part of any known work of music, so there is no chance of an accidental response to the signal. In play-testing, the first and second bars of the James Bond theme were used as tune and counter-tune. After all, they aren't part of any common tune in 1910... If this doesn't appeal, any sequence of notes will do.
In addition to any equipment the players have already selected for their characters, all agents have the following in their luggage or about their persons:
There is some variation in equipment; for example, one agent might have a compass as a charm on a pocket watch fob, another might have one concealed in the head of a cane, and all watches etc. are of different makes. Only the Bibles are identical; using them to prepare a code signal and disguise it as an innocuous message needs a roll of MIND or Babbage Engine versus Difficulty 7.
One agent (choose someone whose cover might bring them into contact with Russian military secrets, such as an arms dealer) has an Akeley concealed camera, a circular drum about 2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick, with a small lens on one side. It can be worn under a shirt and tie, with the lens disguised as part of a tie clip, in a woman's hat with the lens disguised as a brooch or pin, or in a sleeve with the lens protruding as a cufflink. Naturally holes must be made for the lens. It takes twelve tiny pictures on a rotating glass plate negative. A small bulb release allows the shutter to be used without touching the camera; obviously it's a good idea to keep it concealed by clothing or hair. A spring motor winds the negative to the next position. It must be loaded in complete darkness, and needs good light to get a usable picture.
Some other items that might have been issued to characters with suitable skills include lockpicks, a simple bugging set (a microphone roughly the size of a pocket watch, 50 ft of thin cable, headphones, and a large battery), invisible ink, or an electric torch (still very rare). Assassination weapons and drugs have not been issued.
No weapons have been issued, since the agents were not supposed to engage in dangerous activities, but Chapman can provide some .32 revolvers (statistics as Small Handgun) if persuaded. Some of the agents may also own weapons as part of their cover identities; it would be odd if a gentleman didn't own a gun or two, and most Englishmen abroad carry a stick, a small cosh, or some other non-lethal weapon to protect themselves from "the natives".
Players may wish to add items such as sword sticks, trunks with secret compartments, shirukin or strangling wires (which should NOT be allowed - they just aren't English, old boy...), knuckle dusters, gloves weighted with lead strips, etc. Anything reasonably plausible and inconspicuous should be allowed. The Embassy has a few homing pigeons, which can be supplied if the characters wish to risk carrying them; a cage of pigeons is a rather conspicuous travel accessory, unless the travellers are disguised as emigrants or peasants. Portable radio transmitters aren't yet available. Don't let the players get too carried away with the idea of weird espionage gadgets; in 1910 most are difficult to conceal, especially in a country with Russia's attitude to foreigners, and nothing overtly suspicious will be issued. See the old TV series "The Wild, Wild West" (USA) and "Virgin Of The Secret Service" (UK) for ideas.
All of the adventurers are under routine surveillance by the Internal Bureau of the Okhrana, the Russian secret police, a huge bureaucracy which employs thousands of agents. This is an accepted part of life in St. Petersburg. It's normally nothing to worry about, so long as they don't want to do anything unusual, but shaking off this surveillance can be a problem. Chapman suggests that they lull Okhrana suspicions by concocting a plausible reason to visit Siberia, such as a hunting expedition in search of Siberian tigers; if they head off into the wilderness and disguise their ultimate goal they are unlikely to be pursued.
The outward journey will consist of a week-long railway trip to Krasnoyarsk, where they will probably have to hire horses or a boat for the "hunting expedition". Chapman has no information on their availability. There is no other realistic route, and automobiles are out of the question; there are only a few hundred in Russia, the roads are little more than cart tracks, and fuel is only available in the largest cities. It is now autumn in Siberia; temperatures will fall rapidly at the end of September by the local calendar (early October by normal calenders), so there is little time to lose.
After this briefing the characters are free to make their own plans.
The Embassy can't supply much equipment, apart from the pigeons and
guns mentioned above, some Russian clothing, and cans of bully beef
and other staple foods.
1.3 Referee's Informationback to contents
Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.
For once, and entirely accidentally, Whitehall's paranoid fantasies are almost correct.
The Tsar has decided that Siberia must be electrified, to become the industrial heartland of Russia. Over the vast distances of the area all conventional means of power transmission are prohibitively expensive; most of the electricity would be wasted, lost as heat from the resistance of the wires. The rugged terrain and trees of much of the area would also interfere with cables. The Tsar's scientists decided to look at alternatives. One of the most radical suggestions was presented by Theodor Nemor (see worldbook sections 4.2 and 9.0), a young Latvian engineer, then working in Moscow, who had studied the work of Nikola Tesla (see Forgotten Futures 2 for much more on Tesla).
In the late 19th century Tesla suggested a means of transmitting power via the upper atmosphere; high voltages would be 'pumped' into the air at one point, then recovered by a receiving station elsewhere. Unfortunately there were snags which would have prevented its commercial use; huge amounts of power would have to be 'pumped' into the atmosphere before any could be recovered, and once this was done it would be difficult to stop the 'theft' of electricity by anyone who was prepared to build the receiving equipment. No-one really knew the limitations of the system; since power might be receivable in a radius of several thousand miles, electricity from a transmitter in the USA could conceivably be 'stolen' by a receiver in Canada or Central America. 28_ADV3.GIF includes an artist's impression of Tesla's system.
Since Russia is a huge country and an absolute monarchy, most of the obstacles to Tesla's scheme could easily be overcome. Power transmitters and receivers would be a government monopoly, owned by the Tsar himself, and no-one would ever dare to build a "pirate" receiver. Even if the system had a vast range, it was unlikely to exceed the size of Russia. Less power would be lost than through wires, and the cost of stringing wires across thousands of miles of icy terrain could be avoided.
The first transmitter plant was built at Tunguska in 1907-8; the region was selected for its remoteness and central location. It was activated for its initial trials in May 1908, with receivers 50, 100, and 200 versts from the transmitter. By the beginning of June it was obvious that efficency was rising as the power output was increased. On June 30th 1908 Nemor decided that he was ready for full power trials; fortunately for the history of science, he chose to observe them from the 100 verst station.
The system designed by Tesla used balloons tethered on long wires to transmit power to the stratosphere and collect it at the receiver stations. Nemor's version used several parallel wires, all carrying power, to spread the load and ensure that none of the wires burned out.
For the final test the transmitter wires were charged to several megavolts at very high amperage. As full power was reached, a column of fire appeared between the wires, and burned its way up to the balloon and down towards the ground station. Nemor had accidentally created a crude version of what would eventually become his disintegrator. The field momentarily rotated some air molecules through one of the extra dimensions occupied by the ether, returning them as antimatter. Within seconds the transmitter station and balloon were annihilated, and a mushroom cloud was rising over Tunguska.
As the adventure begins, Nemor still isn't sure what happened or why, but he and the Russian government are very interested in finding out. One of the receiver towers has been converted into a replacement transmitter, and when some generator problems have been solved he'll be ready to try again. The adventurers are about to walk in on the climax of these experiments.
Meanwhile Fanshawe has "gone native"; he has fallen in with a group of revolutionaries and escaped prisoners, currently at large in Siberia, and decided that the best way to forward British interests is to help them overthrow the Imperial Government. If the characters are doing well he should not appear; if they are about to die, he and his comrades may optionally appear to help them escape.
Chapman made one error in the briefing; Siberian tigers are mainly confined to the region around Mongolia, and are extremely rare so far West as Tunguska. While central Siberia does have many other types of hunting, including bear, this specific cover story will arouse suspicion and/or humour anywhere in Siberia, and won't be believed by anyone with experience of hunting in the region.
In this period Russia is trying to make a difficult transition from absolute monarchy to a form of democracy. Since the coronation of Nicholas II, Russia has been involved in a disastrous war, while political and religious persecution have led to one abortive revolution (the 1905 rising and mutinies), which made it obvious that reforms were needed. Unfortunately the aristocracy and police saw the new constitution as a threat to their power, and the Tsar's ministers stripped it of most of its effect; its cornerstone became the phrase "To the Emperor of all the Russias belongs the supreme autocratic power". While Russia acquired an elected parliament, the Duma, it could always be overruled by the Tsar and his ministers, and achieved almost nothing.
Meanwhile the left wing knew that their best chance for power would lie in the failure of reforms and a successful revolution, the peasants were still little more than serfs, and pogroms and other forms of religious persecution continued. There was growing discontent and increased support for socialism and other radical movements. Eventually this instability led to the 1917 revolution.
Despite these problems, it's a period of prosperity in many areas. The
weather has been good for several years, the economy is expanding, and
there has been some liberalisation of the Press and religion. The new
wealth is allowing Russia to rearm; unfortunately this will only
ensure a long struggle in the Great War.
1.4 Getting There Is Half The Funback to contents
The main events of this adventure begin once the agents reach the site of the Tunguska explosion, but players need not know that, and there's no need to make it easy to get there. The journey is long, and Russia's current problems mean that there are likely to be a few difficulties along the way.
It will take several days to make preparations for the expedition without attracting unwelcome attention. The adventurers will need maps, provisions, camping equipment, and other supplies, and must get them inconspicuously.
All of the characters are intermittently monitored by at least one Okhrana informant; the concierge of an apartment building, a servant, a neighbour, or a business or social contact, paid a small fee to make regular reports on their movements and activities. Some of their letters are intercepted and read. If any of the characters are journalists, all their stories must be submitted to the official censor before they are sent to England. This isn't abnormal; any foreigner in Russia receives similar attention, as do thousands of Russians suspected of criminal or political irregularities. Most of the reports are simply filed and forgotten, but any unusual behaviour will be noted. This isn't just bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy; every year thousands of convicts and dissidents are sentenced to exile in Siberia, often on little more than the word of informants.
The amount of interest shown by the Okhrana varies according to the activities of the adventurers. Paradoxically, the best way to avoid Ohkrana interest is to be to be as public as possible, and pretend that they have nothing to hide; for example, if the characters plan to pretend that they are on a hunting expedition, and have some social status, it might be a good idea to make sure that a suitable story appears on the society page of St. Petersburg's newspaper, Novoe Vremeya. The mere fact of an expedition to Siberia isn't suspicious in itself; the local Okhrana officers know nothing of the Siberian project, which is being run by the Russian Army, and in any case Siberia is a very large area. If such an article states that the adventurers plan to hunt tiger, someone will write to the paper suggesting that they are looking in the wrong place. This may be a good cue to amend their cover story.
If characters are acting very strangely, they should be picked up for questioning. For example, someone who openly carries a gun is asking for trouble. Interrogation methods rely mainly on psychological domination and verbal intimidation, not violence; most Russians assume that the Okhrana is all-seeing and all-knowing, and that they are doomed if they attempt to lie. Foreigners may have other ideas. Referees should give players the benefit of the doubt wherever possible. Depending on what is found in a search, and what is said, the results may range from a warning and confiscation of illegal books or weapons to summary trial and transportation in chains to Siberia. Prisoners won't normally be allowed to communicate with their friends or Embassy until questioning is complete, and this can take several days; if they are found guilty they may be kept incommunicado indefinitely. Even if they are released quickly, they may find that their homes have been searched, letters read, and books and other papers confiscated for further examination.
Despite this potential problem, the adventurers should eventually be ready to leave St. Petersburg, and sample the delights of the Imperial State Railway. The trains are comparatively modern, wide gauge models, with British-designed steam locomotives. Tickets should be booked via Wagon-Lits, international ticket brokers serving most of Europe and Asia. Most trains stop at every town and village en route, adding an hour or two a day to the journey; expresses stop only at the largest towns, but are usually heavily booked. One first class compartment on an express should be available immediately; if two or more are needed it will take at least a day to arrange the tickets. There are three main ticket classes:
First class compartments are large and sleep two or four, with refinements such as wash basins, comfortable beds, etc. Second class compartments sleep four; they are less comfortable and lack wash basins. In both of these classes hot water is only available from a communal samovar, but free tea is constantly available. There is only one lavatory per carriage, and no bath or shower. There is one dining car per train, between the first and second class wagons. The food is good, and can be supplemented by fruit, vegetables, smoked meat, and smoked fish, purchased at stations along the route.
Third or "hard" class carriages have no sleeping accommodation, just wooden seats. They are mainly used for local travel by peasants, who are often accompanied by caged chickens, sacks of produce, and other agricultural luggage. The occupants don't have access to the other compartments through the interior of the train.
Additional to the above, most trains include a baggage car, while expresses have mail cars. Private carriages (owned mostly by the nobility) and horse boxes may sometimes be added.
A fourth class is sometimes used; converted baggage trucks which convey prisoners, exiles, and emigrants to Siberia. They have small stoves, but no other amenities. Prisoners travel in chains, exiles in locked wagons. Voluntary emigrants are given 150 roubles and 10 acres of land apiece, and charged a 4 rouble fare to Irkutsk, the main centre for the colonisation of Siberia. These wagons are usually attached to goods trains, separate from the normal passenger service, and travel very slowly. They are uncomfortable, verminous, and smelly, with wooden shelves used as seats and beds.
Any agents arrested and sentenced to transportation to Siberia will be loaded into such a train, which (after several uncomfortable days) will be derailed by Fanshawe's revolutionaries. Eventually, towards the end of the adventure, they should be reunited with the main party.
Most Europeans will want to travel first class; even their servants go second class unless their employers are unusually mean. Travellers who aren't in a great hurry usually take the journey in several stages, getting off in the morning and spending a few hours sightseeing at one or two of the larger towns along the route, or stopping overnight in a comfortable hotel. This must be arranged by Wagons Lit before the journey begins, since compartments must be reserved on the correct trains. For example, many tourists take the train from St. Petersburg to Moscow then spend a day or two sightseeing before carrying on.
The journey from St. Petersburg to Krasnoyarsk takes about a week, assuming no extended stops. A lot can happen in that time, but the Trans-Siberian railway is already renowned for prompt service, and it isn't likely that anything will seriously disrupt it. Complications are most likely to arise from fellow passengers or Russia's political and social environment. Some examples follow; not all will be appropriate to all groups of players, and you should use them sparingly:
Eventually the train reaches Krasnoyarsk, a medium-sized town largely dependent on the wood, tar, and turpentine industries. The characters will presumably want to hire horses or a boat for the remainder of the journey. If they are still pretending to be on a tiger hunt, the locals are surprised, for the reasons given above, but are happy to take their money.
Characters with the Riding skill should be dubious about the practicality of such a long journey, more than four hundred miles through woods and across difficult terrain, on horseback. It can be done, but there are bandits, wolves, and bears in the forest; superstitious locals may also mention some of the less attractive legends of the region, including werewolves and the Baba Yaga. If the adventurers decide to take this route anyway, horses are readily available, but not for hire; horses, saddles, and other supplies must be purchased at extortionate prices, and the horse trader crosses himself if they mention that they are planning such a long journey through the forest. In fact the journey will take about a week, mostly along dirt roads and forestry tracks with very few real obstacles, and will be entirely uneventful, apart from minor horse ailments and occasional sightings of wolves, much too far away to shoot; it's the end of summer, and small game is still plentiful, so the wolves aren't interested in hunting humans or horses. As they near Vanavara they should start to notice the fallen trees described below. At the end of the ride the agents will be tired, saddle sore, and cold.
The usual route for travellers is by boat along the river Yenisei, which connects directly with the Tunguska river. At Krasnoyarsk the river is busy with barges, logger's rafts, and other traffic. There aren't currently any boats scheduled for Vanavara and other Tunguska River destinations, because the trading stations mainly handle furs and the hunting season is over. If the agents ask for a ride to the nearest point to Vanavara that is still being served, a timber yard at the confluence of the Yenisei and Tunguska rivers, they'll have more luck; a paddle steamer tug, the Tsarevitch Nicholas (named for the present Tsar before the death of his father), is towing barges North without cargo to pick up drums of turpentine and other wood products from plantations along the river. There's even room for horses on the barges. This journey takes five days, and is again entirely uneventful; the main problems are boredom and cold. From the confluence it's a relatively short ride or hike to Vanavara.
Travelling by boat offers another benefit; the agents can try to find out more about shipments along the river. As should be obvious from the name of the tug, its master and owner, Felix Zaslavsky, is a patriot. If he becomes suspicious he'll report the agents to the police as soon as he returns to Krasnoyarsk; nothing much will come of this unless they return to Krasnoyarsk, where the police will be ready to ask questions. However, Zaslavski is not particularly intelligent, and a few glasses of vodka should get him or his deck-hands talking without arousing their suspicions. Careful questioning will reveal that some of the tugs on the river are on Imperial contracts; the Imperial family is the largest estate owner in Russia, so this isn't unusual. The Tsarevitch Nicholas isn't one of these tugs; Zaslavsky regrets that it hasn't the engine power specified the last time the work was put out to tender. Cautious questioning will reveal that dozens of barge-loads of machinery and steel have gone North on these contracts; he doesn't know where they are being taken, because everyone involved has apparently been sworn to secrecy.
Zaslavsky is happy to talk about the Tunguska explosion; it's his best anecdote. The barge was "half way along the Yenisei" when it happened, he saw "the sky burning", there was "a wind from hell", and the tug had to ride out a huge wave that swept along the Yenisei a couple of hours later. He can't really add much to what the characters already know; he was too busy keeping the tug and barges afloat to worry about exact details. As the boat nears the confluence the first signs of the disaster are already visible; occasional uprooted trees, their crowns all pointing away from Tunguska, scoured banks along the river, and a wrecked barge high above the normal water line.
East of the Yenisei river the foothills of the Tunguska Plateau begin, and the going (by horse or on foot) gets much harder. Areas that were protected by hills still mostly have intact trees, but where this protection was missing they seem to have been blown down in vast swathes.
At Vanavara it's difficult to persuade the locals to talk about anything else; everyone has his or her own story about the disaster. There was a violent thunderclap that seemed to last several minutes; the light seemed to begin high in the sky, and people who looked at it had spots in front of their eyes for hours afterwards. There was a scalding hot wind that seemed likely to rip the roofs off the buildings. Fortunately they are strong, and there wasn't much damage. Many trees have fallen, although the majority still stand. Even if the agents are pretending to be on a hunting trip, everyone they meet will suggest taking a look if they're going in that direction; it's as though "the fist of God" struck the Earth a giant blow. If they don't have horses, they can be hired (for a rouble a day, with a thirty rouble deposit) at Vanavara.
Any questions about shipments of machinery passing through the area will be met with frightened silence and a rapid change of subject; the obvious inference is that Okhrana agents have visited the trading post and made sure that nobody talks, especially to foreigners.
The remainder of the adventure assumes that the agents do decide to
visit the site of the explosion; if not, some improvisation is needed.
1.5 Food For Thought...back to contents
As the agents near the centre of destruction, the going gets more and more difficult. Trees haven't just fallen; they have been torn up by the roots and thrown hundreds of feet with hurricane force. Branches are pulverised underneath, carpeting the ground in a treacherous mat of fallen trees, stripped branches, shredded wood, and bark. Occasionally the skeletons of reindeer are visible, mostly crushed by some colossal impact. At the exact centre, a thin plume of smoke rises from a conical tent.
The tent belongs to a shaman, one of the last members of the Tungu tribe, who has strong precognitive abilities. He has been camped here for several weeks, trying to understand what happened to the area and waiting for the adventurers. A reindeer, harnessed to a travois, is tethered to a stump nearby.
The tent is made of birch bark and contains a few furs, some odds and ends of personal belongings, and a small fire on which a pot of savoury-smelling stew is cooking. The stew contains hallucinogenic fungi, and anyone eating it will eventually feel the effects. This is not apparent from its smell or taste, which are both delicious. Several bowls are placed around the fire, one for the shaman and one for each of the characters. There is a wooden ladle in the pot, but no other utensils.
The shaman is seated cross-legged behind the fire. He is old, his face tattooed in an elaborate network of oval patterns, and wears a simple fur and leather tunic and trousers. As the agents approach he is apparently asleep or deep in meditation, his arms crossed and hands resting on his thighs. Although his eyes are open, he seems to pay no attention to their arrival.
This scene should be played very carefully by the referee. Try to emphasise its mythic quality, and possible spiritual significance. Try to avoid making the shaman sound too much like Yoda.
If the adventurers try to talk to him, he says something in a totally incomprehensible dialect, and gestures for them to sit down, then to help themselves from the pot. The hallucinogens won't start to take effect until everyone has eaten. Anyone who is determined not to eat won't be affected. If anyone has actually selected the obscure Tunga dialect as part of the Linguist skill, the shaman still seems to have great difficulty understanding what they are saying; this is because he is deaf.
If anyone tries to touch him, he instantly moves a hand to block them, or sways out of reach; he seems to move before the characters, even if they are using the Martial Arts skill at high levels. If anyone is actually foolish enough to try to take things any further, all blows miss, and are likely to end up hitting one of the other adventurers or one of the supports of the tent, with painful results. He is looking several seconds into the future, and knows any move before it is made.
If anyone is a medium, tell them that they feel an electric sensation of power. On a skill roll (Difficulty 4) the shaman is seen as a double image, the glowing astral form of a younger and larger man superimposed on the frail physical body.
Several minutes after eating, all of the agents feel warmer and happier. Anyone who has not eaten realises that his friends are grinning foolishly and giggling. What are they going to do about it? If the answer is nothing, the shaman smiles and gestures to the pot again, but takes no offence if his 'guest' declines. If the response is some sort of attack, the shaman is still able to anticipate it, which might easily end with someone tripping over his foot, landing face-down in a bowl of the stew, and swallowing enough to start hallucinating. Anyone who doesn't want to participate, and just says no, won't get a second chance.
At this point everyone who is hallucinating sees himself, and his friends and the shaman, rising from his or her physical body in astral form. The shaman 'says' "I am an ignorant old man, and know little of your affairs, but the Earth Spirit tells me to help you. What is it you would see?" Although he is apparently thinking in his own language, everyone understands him.
The shaman can grant each of the agents a vision of the past, present, or future, which everyone who is hallucinating will see, but naturally his visions are filtered by his understanding and by the limits of his imagination.
The most likely question is "What happened to Tunguska?"; the result is a vision of several buildings, all looking much like the log cabins at Vanavara. A gigantic snake bursts out through the roof of the largest, its head swollen like the hood of a cobra; it rears an impossible distance into the sky and tries to eat the sun, and explodes in flame as it does so. The vision seems to swing across the endless forests, back to the Yenisei, and further North, where there is another complex of buildings, much like the first. It focuses on some men standing near the building. The shaman 'says' "There - the man with yellow eyes, he would do this again."; the vision isn't clear enough to make out the features of the man he describes, but he seems to walk with a stoop, and yellow fire burns in his eyes.
If the agents ask about Fanshawe, they see a vision of a bearded giant, a Tungu warrior on a mighty horse brandishing a huge bow, followed by a dozen or more lesser warriors. If one of the agents has been arrested and transported to Siberia, he or she is seen as one of the lesser warriors; the same vision is seen if the agents ask about a missing character.
If they ask about the Earth Spirit, the image is a view of the earth, first stripped of trees and snow, then rocks, to reveal a gigantic shape within; possibly an enormous embryo, possibly a huge slug, it is simply too big to comprehend.
If they ask about the future, they see a series of confusing images; a giant canoe sinking in black water, surrounded by smaller canoes and floating ice [the Titanic disaster]; a city made of log cabins, which the characters somehow realise is London, full of bodies, with four men and a woman walking between them [the Poison Belt episode]; black crows with crosses on their wings, diving on the same city [the Blitz]; and a tribesman wrapped in heavy leather, which covers most of his face, walking over a rocky plain, with black sky behind him, and bouncing impossibly high in the air with every step [Apollo 11].
If the agents ask about their personal futures, describe a vision of a strange temple on a snowy mountain, chanting monks in saffron robes, and a feeling that something nameless and horrible is waiting to pounce [a reference to the second adventure, but there's no need for the players to know that].
If they ask about the past, describe whatever they want to know, distorted in the same way. Anything else that doesn't fit into these broad categories should be treated in a similar manner.
Once each of the agents has experienced one of these dreams, they all start to recover, and their astral forms return to their bodies. Meanwhile the shaman goes to his blankets and pulls out a few gifts, which he presents to the adventurers, explaining their use by sign language. Give one item to each agent, selecting them according to their skills; he unerringly picks a suitable character for each gift:
If there are more than six characters, give the remainder duplicates of one or another of the gifts above, or something useful such as fur boots. If the adventurers offer the shaman a gift, he'll be happy to accept a present such as meat or bread (but not canned food), alcohol, a knife, fish hooks, or an axe. He isn't interested in guns, ammunition, money, or clothing.
Once these gifts are distributed, the shaman packs his belongings onto the travois, and prepares to lead his reindeer away, leaving the tent and fire for the characters. Night is falling, and the sun is low on the horizon. He won't answer any more questions, and can't be made to stay; if necessary he uses his precognition to dodge attempts to capture him, shots, etc. He can outwalk anyone who tries to stop him; he never slips on the treacherous surface, while adventurers will soon start to trip and slide on the pulverised wood.
As he walks off, the setting sun picks out a dazzling reflection a
hundred yards or so from the tent. Anyone going to take a closer look
finds a piece of metal scrap, melted at one end and broken at the
other; 3" raised letters on one side read STINGHOU. Most characters
should guess that this might be part of the name Westinghouse,
builders of the generators they are trying to trace. Digging under the
wood will unearth more scraps of metal, fragments of shaped stone and
brick, and eventually pieces of a human skull.
1.6 Tunguska II: The Sequelback to contents
By now the adventurers should realise that the Tunguska explosion may have been man-made. If they believe the vision, something similar is being prepared further North. Even if they don't accept the evidence of dreams, a site along the Yenisei is reasonably plausible; the equipment that has been shipped to Siberia is heavy, and couldn't be moved far from the railway or river. The site must obviously have facilities to unload heavy cargo, such as a dock with a crane, that would be visible from a passing boat.
Eventually the agents find a new concrete dock on the East bank of the river, a hundred versts NNW of the centre of the explosion, and far to the North of the last trading post shown on their maps. The site isn't shown on any map, and there are three tough-looking men on the pier, watching any boats that pass. An ancient paddle steamer is moored at the pier, listing slightly. Behind trees, the lattice-work of a high metal pylon is just visible; it could be a radio transmitter or an oil rig, but there's no real way to tell without taking a closer look.
29_ADV3.GIF shows the main features of the site, which is roughly a verst wide. Barbed wire is concealed by the trees; it surrounds the installation and deters casual intruders. To the North is the pylon, next to it a wooden shed housing a hydrogen balloon and gas tanks. Overhead cables link the pylon to the generator building, at the South side of the site; it's a massive concrete structure, with sloping walls and thick steel doors more typical of military emplacements than industrial plant. Inside is a huge steam turbine generator, the latest Westinghouse model. By its side is a smaller bunker, with spiral stairs leading down 50' to a control room and underground dormitories. The two buildings are connected by an underground tunnel, fitted with several heavy steel shutters. The generator has a mechanical coal feed system and can be run by remote control from the bunker, via dozens of pulleys, cables and levers.
Five barracks blocks house roughly a hundred workers and fifty soldiers; next to them are two warehouses mainly containing empty crates and unwanted equipment. These buildings are built of wood, and are designed to be expendable; the occupants will be evacuated down-river, or into the control bunker, before the experiment. A paddock holds a few horses, some used for riding, others to haul equipment around the site; Nemor plans to leave them there during the experiment, he's curious about the effects of such a massive explosion on living animals. Similarly, the paddle steamer has been moored to study its effects on a steel-hulled boat; this would obviously be important if the weapon were to be used against a seaborne enemy. It is resting on the bottom in shallow water, and will not float.
The Russians regard the site as a secret military installation, and there are always at least twenty armed guards watching out for intruders; these include three men on the pier, and look-outs on the roofs of a warehouse, the generator building, and the balloon shed, plus mobile patrols. The men on the pier have .38 revolvers (as Big Handgun), the other soldiers have medium-calibre rifles with bayonets, and patrol in teams of two accompanied by a fierce attack dog (as Big Dog). All have loud whistles, used to sound an alert if there is an intruder.
The full-power test is scheduled to take place at noon the day after the characters arrive (this should be at least 18 hours after they arrive; if they don't reach the site before nightfall, give them a clear day before the test). The generator is already running when the adventurers arrive, its output used to make hydrogen for the balloon. A nominal timetable for the day of the test is as follows:
|Balloon inflated and launched, rising to 5000 ft by 11 AM.|
|Steam launches arrive to evacuate non-essential personnel. It should be obvious that some sort of evacuation is taking place; the items loaded include luggage and a small piano.|
|Steam launches leave, taking about 75 passengers.|
|Siren sounded; all personnel withdraw to bunker, leaving generator building sealed, gate to pier locked, etc.|
|Generator brought up to full power.|
|Power discharged into balloon cables.|
If the agents try to get a closer look at the installation they will probably be intercepted by the guards, taken prisoner, and find out a little more about Nemor's plans before (hopefully) escaping. This possibility is covered in section 1.7, below.
The agents may decide to sabotage the installation or kill everyone working there. This isn't part of their orders or particularly sensible, since Britain and Russia aren't at war, but is in the spirit of many spy adventures. Since such actions must begin with the agents closing in, this option is also covered in section 1.7, which hasn't moved since it was mentioned in the last paragraph.
If they keep watch, but don't try to close in for a better look, the
timetable above will be followed. By 10.00 it should be obvious that
something odd is going on; eventually the agents will probably realise
that they are standing at ground zero on what may possibly be the site
of an explosion to rival the first Tunguska blast. Their options are
considered in section 1.8 (which for some strange reason comes after
1.7 The Man With The Yellow Eyesback to contents
The aim of this section is for the characters to be captured, left trapped on the surface as the countdown begins, but escape in time to foil the test. This should be done fairly; the site is well guarded, and even if the agents make careful plans they are likely to fail, but if they can evade everything described below, they deserve to remain free; they'll still be trapped on the surface as the countdown begins, and will have to foil the test somehow.
An approach from the river gives the adventurers an opportunity to talk to the guards on the pier, who will tell them that this is a botanical research station owned by the Administration of the Imperial Appanages, the state forestry organisation. Visitors aren't admitted because they might be carrying seeds or the spores of plant diseases on their clothing. The guards will do their best to keep things friendly, but are adamant in refusing admission. From the pier the fence around the compound is visible, and the patrols described above can occasionally be glimpsed. If anyone asks about the tower, a guard explains that an experimental windmill is being built, but isn't complete yet. If the characters try to learn much more, the guards will arrest them as spies.
From the other sides the trees give the agents reasonably good cover until they reach the barbed wire fence, ten feet high, which consists of a dozen parallel strands of wire stretched between wooden posts. This can apparently be cut or climbed fairly easily, but there are cattle bells attached to the wire at irregular intervals; any disturbance will make them ring. The bells are backup for the main alarm system; thin electrical wires have been run along the top and bottom strands of barbed wire, and will break, sounding an alarm, if the adventurers cut the wire, stretch it, or try to climb over or lift the bottom strand out of the way to wriggle underneath. Spotting these wires is Difficulty 7 by day, Difficulty 10 at night; rolls should only be made if the characters say that they are looking for an extra alarm. The precise location of any break won't be known, but guards will patrol the perimeter until they find the entry point, blow their whistles to indicate the location, then use the dogs to track down intruders. The gates to the pier aren't connected to the alarm system; they are closed and chained shut at night.
During the day intruders should be spotted by one of the guards on the building roofs, even if the alarm isn't tripped. These guards have been placed specifically to look out for spies (especially the Japanese), and are alert and reasonably good at their jobs. If the agents come in on foot, the guards will move to encircle them before closing in; they will try to take intruders alive, but won't hesitate to shoot to kill if they are attacked.
Night-time intruders will also set off the alarms if they break the wire. There are a few electric lights around the compound, enough to cast long shadows if the agents are trying to hide. Six dogs (as Big Dog) roam the site, and will attack and bark at intruders; they can be knocked out if some meat mixed with a dose of the shaman's magic mushrooms is thrown over the fence, but this should not be suggested by the referee. If the alarm is sounded, guard patrols will track the agents down with the aid of more dogs.
Even if the agents do get past the guards and look around the site, they won't learn much. There is nothing really obvious to show how the system works, or what it is for, although the overhead high voltage lines make it apparent that something electrical is involved. This shouldn't come as a surprise since an order for generators gave Whitehall the idea for this mission.
If the agents somehow get a look inside the balloon shed, allow anyone with the Science skill to make a roll, Difficulty 7; if successful, they remember a picture that accompanied an article about Tesla's broadcast power ideas in Pearson's Magazine (28_ADV3.GIF). This roll may also be made once the balloon is launched.
The agents might try to impersonate guards to enter the buildings without attracting attention; this requires Actor and Linguist (Russian) skill rolls, but will fail anyway because the guards know each other and will immediately realise that the agents are strangers, unless they arrange a diversion to distract attention. Even then, most of the buildings hold no clues to the operation of the plant. They may think of kidnapping one of the guards or workers for questioning. This is difficult, because everyone is confined to the site and packing for evacuation; since they don't really know much it won't help. At best the agents might learn that there is a balloon in the shed near the pylon, that it's an electrical experiment, and that it's probably dangerous because most of the workers are about to be evacuated. Most of this can be guessed anyway, or learned by watching the site.
While most agents will probably prefer to infiltrate quietly, some are addicted to a less subtle approach. Any overt assault on the site before 11.30 AM on the morning of the test will be met by fierce resistance; the guards have rifles and dogs, and (even after some have left) should outnumber the adventurers at least four to one. If the agents have somehow recruited help (which should be difficult in this remote area), their recruits will include at least one Okhrana infiltrator, who will find a way to get the drop on them and arrest them. Even if they have somehow arranged to attack in force, most of the really sensitive equipment is in the power plant building or the bunker, and both are sealed closed behind BODY 20 steel doors at the first sign of trouble.
The most obvious vulnerable spot is the shed housing the balloon, which has a large hydrogen storage tank (BODY 9). The tank is labelled with the Cyrillic equivalent of "DANGER - HIGHLY FLAMMABLE", and the tank will explode (Radius 10ft, Effect 15, A:F B:I C:C/K) wrecking the balloon shed and damaging the pylon, if punctured by a shot or explosives. For this reason the shed has at least two armed guards at all times until 11.30 on the morning of the test. If the tank explodes before the balloon is launched, the trial will be delayed at least a month while the shed and pylon are repaired and a new balloon is made. Meanwhile the Russians will do their best to track down the saboteurs and make them extremely sorry. If it explodes once the balloon has been launched, the shed will be wrecked and the pylon damaged, but the balloon and cables won't be harmed, and the test will go ahead on schedule.
The cables linking the pylon to the generator block are the real weak point of this setup; if they are damaged before the test there will be a delay of a day or two while they are repaired, but if they are damaged after the bunkers are closed, there will be catastrophic results as full power is applied. See the next section for details.
The exact details of events depend on the referee and players; as stated above, this episode should end with the characters taken prisoner. If they seem to be winning, or have sabotaged the site so that the experiment cannot continue, Nemor and his colleagues simply batten down the hatches and wait for the fighting to end, then start to pick up the pieces. If the adventurers have total control of the rest of the site, the Russians easily hold off the characters from the bunker, or put snipers onto the roof of the generator block (from inside; there is no access from the outside of the building) to make life difficult for attackers. If the agents escape, the Russians will arrange to have a much larger guard force at the site before the next experiment, and every Okhrana agent in Siberia will be warned to be on the lookout for saboteurs. Someone should soon put two and two together and realise that the agents aren't all they seem; they will then be the objects of one of the biggest man-hunts in Russian history. The experiment will eventually continue as described in section 1.8 below.
Several other ideas could be tried; for example, some of the magic mushrooms might somehow be added to a samovar of tea or a pail of stew, giving some (but not all) of the soldiers and civilians violent hallucinations. Again, this will delay the test rather than stopping it, and trying to get near enough to do this is a good way to get caught.
If the adventurers retreat without causing any significant damage, the Russians will send out patrols to look for them at dawn, returning to the site at 10.00 AM for evacuation. When the guards are evacuated, they will warn the Okhrana as described above. Meanwhile the test will go ahead as planned.
The remainder of this section assumes that the characters are captured. Useful words at this point are "Shpion!" ("Spy!") and "Ybana Mat" ("Your Mother!"; a general purpose insult). Once caught, they will be handcuffed and taken to the bunker for questioning. Several armed guards ensure that there is little chance of escape, and that there is no opportunity to grab a gun or any other weapon.
In order to give them a fair chance of survival, the referee should be ready to "reschedule" the test once they are caught. If there is less than an hour to go, assume that there have been technical problems, and "start the clock" at sixty minutes as described below.
Most referees will be familiar with the next scene; it's the "Villain interrogates the heroes then explains his scheme because he's sure that they will never escape" episode, as seen in most spy films. Unfortunately this time the main villain is busy, and has left things in the hands of an underling.
The adventurers are hustled down the spiral stairs and into the bunker, where they get a tantalising glimpse of a large control room before they are pushed into an interrogation room. Think of the usual James Bond villain's HQ, but built by Captain Nemo, with mahogany- and brass-cased instruments, speaking tubes, and uniformed hussars standing by levers and controls that look like something from the engine room of an ocean liner. In the middle of the room, reading a sheaf of papers on a clipboard, stands a civilian, a short, thickset young man with hunched shoulders, thin hands and yellow catlike eyes. It is, of course, Theodor Nemor, although the agents don't know that. His face, pallid in the harsh electric light, is covered in pimples and blotches, while his high forehead suggests that he is already prematurely bald. He glances incuriously at the agents, then says something inaudible to one of the soldiers manning the controls. If it is eleven or later, the soldier bawls "shest'-dye-syat minuta"; ("sixty minutes"). If it is before eleven, the characters should hear this a little later, during their interrogation. From this point onwards the countdown is under way again.
Meanwhile a lieutenant (who speaks flawless English) starts to interrogate the adventurers, aided by four tough (BODY 5-6) soldiers; he has a riding crop and lead-weighted gloves, and isn't afraid to use them. All male characters are bruised and have at least one flesh wound before many minutes have passed. Female characters won't be hurt, but are forced to watch as their colleagues are beaten. Whatever the agents tell him, even if it's the exact truth, the lieutenant doesn't believe them; after all, Britain and Russia are supposedly friendly, and the King of England is the Tsaritsa's (Empress's) cousin. He wants to know the name of their contact at the Japanese Embassy, and every detail of their employment by the Japanese secret service. Occasionally he says something in badly-accented Japanese in an attempt to trip them up; if understood, the phrase is something like ("Kill the woman") or ("put his eyes out"); the character(s) concerned must use MIND versus Difficulty 6 to avoid reacting. Since none of the agents have ever been briefed on Japanese activities, their replies probably won't satisfy him, but a plausible bluff might mislead him for a few minutes.
As the interrogation continues, the agents should hear a voice from the control room at regular intervals:
At about 35 minutes Nemor is admitted by a guard. He asks the lieutenant what he has learned, listens to his report, then says ("Hmm.. We really don't have time for this now, and whoever they are working for...") he pauses, and strokes his chin for a moment, and his eyes light with a feral gleam ("...whoever they are working for must know that spying is a risky business. Lieutenant Kornilov, put them outside, we can test the effect of the disintegration system on humans! Ah, if only Tesla was here to see what has become of his work...")
The characters may have objections to this idea, if they understand, but the guards make sure that they can't get close enough to Nemor for any physical response. Kornilov protests, especially vehemently if any of the agents are women, but Nemor says ("You are aware that I have complete control of this site. Please do not force me to report you to the Okhrana.") Kornilov pales and yields to the inevitable.
The guards take the agents back upstairs, and outside the bunker,
leaving them standing in the open, their wrists still chained. A few
guards and workers enter the bunker, staying well clear of the agents,
then the guards retreat, keeping the agents covered as they withdraw.
Kornilov brings up the rear of the procession, a revolver in his hand.
As he is about to step inside he pauses, glances around to make sure
that none of the guards are watching, says (in English) "To hell with
Nemor, even a dog deserves a chance", and tosses a small key towards
the agents. As the door closes, they hear the words "trid-tsat'
minuta" ("thirty minutes").
1.8 Ground Zeroback to contents
If the adventurers were captured, they have just been given the key to their handcuffs. The door to the bunker will be closed by the time anyone has their hands free, and all other ways into the bunker or generator building are already sealed.
If the characters were never captured, but have spent some time watching the complex, they should now be aware that most of the personnel have been evacuated, that there is nobody on the surface, that huge steel doors have just slammed shut to seal off the bunker and generator block, and that they are beginning to feel uneasy. If they are close to the bunker, they may have heard the earlier stages of the countdown. They are probably armed, and have some means of transport such as a boat or horses, but otherwise have no advantage over just-released prisoners.
The simplest option is to run away, but even on a fast horse the terrain is too rough to get far before noon; knowing that the first explosion blew down trees sixty versts away, do the adventurers really think that they'll be safe three or four miles away? There are enough horses in the paddock for all the agents (including their own horses if they were captured); describe their desperate attempts to make good time over the rough terrain, ask for two or three Riding skill rolls - then describe the blinding flash that incinerates them.... Optionally use the Hydrogen Bomb statistics from the game rules, which may let one or two of the characters survive, burned, blind, deafened, and critically injured, for a few painful minutes.
The agents may try to find a safe hiding place in or around the site, and hope that they will be protected from the worst of the blast. Unfortunately there isn't anywhere to hide; the "best" options are the hold of the old paddle steamer (where they will be boiled before they are incinerated), some slit trench urinals by the barracks (which add indignity to certain incineration), and in the shelter of the generator block, which will crush them as it collapses and won't shield them from lethal heat and radiation. There are no safe hiding places outside the compound.
In all of these cases, Nemor has underestimated the force of the explosion, and the bunker and generator building collapse (partly on top of anyone who is sheltering behind them); ironically Nemor is the only survivor, dug from the ruins several hours later when the evacuees return. After a lengthy spell in hospital the Russian government informs him that it no longer wishes to support his experiments. He has cost them two extremely expensive generators, nearly fifty officers and men, and thousands of hectares of forest. Embittered, he resolves to complete his work alone and sell it to the highest bidder, a resolution that eventually leads to his untimely end. Unfortunately the adventurers won't be around to see it...
The characters may try to stop the countdown. As mentioned above, setting fire to the balloon shed will cause some localised damage, but nothing more; since Nemor hasn't thought of installing a periscope, nobody in the bunker will even realise that there has been an explosion. Real explosives could possibly damage one of the bunker or generator building doors, but unfortunately the adventurers shouldn't have any.
As already mentioned, the real weak points of this setup are the overhead cables linking the generator building to the pylon, and continuing up to the balloon. Nemor's "disintegration" is an accidental by-product of Tesla's broadcast power system. Tesla's system sends megavolts into the upper atmosphere, which then becomes the positive side of the power supply. The negative side is the earth itself; the power receiver towers and balloons were supposed to tap the voltage difference between the earth and the upper atmosphere. If the cables can be brought down, they will arc directly to the earth when full power is applied.
Means of bringing the cables down might include shooting them (if the characters weren't caught and still have their guns), climbing one of the support posts and hacking them with a fire axe (there are several fire fighting posts in the compound), or using an axe to chop down one of the supports. If any of these methods is used, the results are the same:
At 11.55 the noise from the generator building starts to rise in pitch and volume, and plumes of dirty steam appear from a dozen vents on its roof. By noon the ground is literally shaking with the power of the dynamo. As the fatal switch is closed, gigantic blue sparks appear at the cut ends of the cable, arcing down to earth with blinding brilliance. The cables begin to melt; anyone standing underneath must get away very quickly, as they sag down to earth and the short circuit burns its way back down the line towards the generator. The support posts burst into flames as the arc hits them, bringing down any cables that haven't already been cut. From inside the generator building, a siren can just be heard. Within moments the sparks hit the side of the building, and there's an ear-splitting crack as they burn their way through the concrete wall. A moment later all hell breaks loose, in an explosion reminiscent of every bad spy movie and episode of Thunderbirds you've ever seen; the generator has burst, flooding the tunnels of the complex with superheated steam, and the generator building is on fire. Steam starts to pour out of vents in the control bunker building, and the door literally bursts open with the pressure behind it. Parboiled soldiers crawl out, their skin peeling from their flesh, and collapse as they reach fresh air; most of them will die within hours, even without the "help" of the adventurers. Soon smoke and flames are pouring from the bunker, and it seems impossible that anyone can have survived below; in fact Nemor is the only survivor, and is trapped at the far end of the control room. He can't be reached without lifting gear, which won't arrive until the evacuees return several hours later. Eventually he will be released from hospital and lose his job, as described above.
If all else fails, and you are feeling kind, Fanshawe and his revolutionary colleagues arrive at 11.56, and immediately start to shoot at the buildings, the balloon (well out of range), and the characters (they don't initially know who they are). One of the revolutionaries shoots some of the glass insulators that support the cable, with the results described above at noon. This should only be done as a last resort; this adventure can be survived without help, and players may need to be reminded that they should explore every possibility before the referee bails them out of trouble.
If he didn't rescue the adventurers, Fanshawe and his men arrive a little after twelve, as they are taking stock of the situation and the generator building burns. Fanshawe greets the agents with the 'special whistle', dismounts (while his men start to loot the surviving buildings and daub revolutionary slogans on the walls, cut the throats of the unconscious soldiers, and generally behave like murderous bandits), and explains that a shaman he met a few days ago said that "my friends.. ..might need.. ..a hand". He's sorry that he's a little late, but it doesn't seem to have made much difference.
The agents will probably want to know why Fanshawe didn't deal with the situation; he points to the scars on his throat, and explains that he was recruiting revolutionaries for an assault on the station, and ran into an Okhrana ambush. It's taken him this long to recover and get ready for the raid, and there was no way that he could get a message to St. Petersburg; Okhrana spies are everywhere, especially near the railway. Any agents who were earlier sent to Siberia are now revealed to be members of the raiding party, and probably annoyed that they weren't rescued by their so-called friends much earlier. There's no pleasing some people...
One of the soldiers was clutching a clipboard. It holds
various papers related to the experiment, but the ink is running and
the paper is sodden with superheated steam and blood. If the
characters try to read the papers, they'll do irreparable harm; if
they can get them back to London, they will eventually be deciphered.
The papers cover details like the timing of the experiment, evacuation
schedules, and other useless trivia, but include a sketch of the
system (as in 29_ADV3.GIF) which will tell Whitehall's top experts a
little more about Nemor's ideas. This won't have any immediate
benefit, but nearly twenty years later the file will be unearthed and
provide vital clues in the quest to understand the perfected
disintegrator. Photographs of the site, especially the balloon and its
associated cables and metal plates, will also help.
1.9 Homeward Boundback to contents
If they aren't dead, the adventurers are now several hundred versts from the nearest civilisation. Fortunately there are a few horses around, and they may have a boat moored somewhere. There's even time to search the complex; Fanshawe and his men can help with this. Nothing especially useful will be found, apart from some tools, food, and blankets that were left behind; all are of poor quality, but better than nothing.
The agents will probably expect Fanshawe to return with them, but he's decided that he wants to stay and join the struggle to free Russia from the Imperial tyranny, which he calls the "Evil Empire". It could take years, but Fanshawe is sure that the forces of liberty will eventually prevail...
Fanshawe has a warning for the characters; the Okhrana will know that his men have been involved in the destruction of the complex, and will undoubtedly mount an intense operation to catch all revolutionaries. The agents should expect to find travel very difficult, and might be arrested as spies purely because they are in the area. If any of the evacuees know that the agents were present, or if an escaped prisoner has joined the party, they should realise that they are certain to be wanted men. It might be better to strike out across country and board the railway much further East or West; going East is probably safer, because the Okhrana are at their strongest in the West. This will mean going East to Vladivostok then shipping out to Japan, where their repatriation can be arranged. This could take months, but it's probably the safest means of escape. Fanshawe and his men can join them for the initial ride, but will have to part before they reach the railway.
If the adventurers ignore this sensible advice, they should encounter several parties of armed police, all looking for bandits, escaped convicts, and other suspicious persons. It might even be necessary for them to fight their way out of trouble. They will certainly be arrested when they reach St. Petersburg, found guilty (without the help of a lawyer, since the trial is held secretly), and sent to a penal camp in Siberia...
If they follow the advice, the journey across country is cold and arduous, but they will eventually reach the railway without encountering trouble. No first class tickets are available, but they can always travel second class or 'hard'. This is a good opportunity to use some more of the railway travel incidents listed in 1.4, above.
Once in Vladivostok, the sea passage to Yokohama is easy to arrange
and goes without trouble. From Yokohama the agents can contact the
British Embassy and arrange for the journey home. Of course, Whitehall
might have other ideas; there are rumours of new Russian moves in
India and China, the Japanese are beginning to show signs of wanting
to build a navy to rival Britain, and the natives are restless in
several different corners of the Empire. The agents will need new
equipment and cover identities, of course, but that's not a problem.
They are now experienced agents, players of what Kipling called the
Great Game, and the Empire will expect their help. What patriotic
Briton could refuse?
1.10 Rewardsback to contents
Give each agent that survives points as follows:
|The agents prepared a sensible plan (even if it went wrong)||+1|
|They had a plausible cover story||+1|
|They behaved like idiots||-1 to -3|
|They weren't captured||+1|
|They destroyed the complex without help from Fanshawe||+3|
|Fanshawe rescued them||-1|
|They kept the papers for expert examination||+1|
|They got some useful photographs||+1|
Eventually Whitehall will learn that Nemor survived, and the agents may be sent to ensure that he doesn't find another backer. Unfortunately the political situation is very delicate, and Nemor is talking to the German government. Any use of force would be counter-productive, since it would only give the Germans the idea that Nemor's ideas are worthwhile; somehow he must be discredited without harming him physically. The referee should try to avoid changing history; he must not be killed, and should escape by "impossible" coincidence if necessary.
Experienced British agents will be at a premium in the forthcoming war. See especially the adventures of Richard Hannay (by John Buchan) for ideas. Afterwards there may be more challenges, as the turmoil of the war leads inexorably to the Russian revolution. For example:
When revolution finally overtakes Russia, Fanshawe will be fighting on its side, and leading one of the more effective groups opposed to the White Russians, which is unfortunately the faction favoured by Britain. Since the agents know him, they are ordered to seek him out and end his aid to the revolution by any means, including lethal force. A useful reference is the novel Heart Of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad; the film Apocalypse Now may also be helpful.
In later years peace returns to Europe, but the Communists are now
hostile to Britain, the Germans face crushing debts that will
eventually lead to the rise of fascism, and at home the trades unions
and Labour Party seem to be starting similar revolutionary tendencies
in Britain. There are many jobs for a British agent. See the
adventures of Bulldog Drummond and other 1920s heroes for more on this
1.A Charactersback to contents
Colonel Chapman, Military Attache, aged 48
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Brawling , Business , Driving , Linguist (Hindi, Russian, Greek) , Marksman , Melee Weapon ,
Military Arms , Morse code , Riding 
Quote: "What do you expect from a bunch of bally Cossacks, old boy?"
Notes: Chapman is a former Lancer, now assigned to diplomatic duties. He doesn't feel that spies are really gentlemen, regardless of their status, but will do his duty. He is mildly suspicious of all foreigners.
Igor Yurovsky, Typical Okhrana Informer & Thief
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Stealth , Thief 
Quote: ("Your honour, I beg to report that the foreigners are behaving suspiciously.")
Notes: Okhrana spies are often petty criminals who have been caught and offered the choice of spying for the state or deportation to Siberia. They can be bribed, but won't necessarily stay bribed. Not all informers are loyal to the Okhrana, which made several serious mistakes in recruiting informers; the most notorious was the use of Father George Gapon, initially an agent provocateur, who became obsessed with the plight of the poor and later led the 1905 revolt!
Ivan Nesterov, Secret Policeman
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Brawling , Detective , Linguist (English, German) , Marksman , Melee Weapon 
Equipment: Cloak, small handgun, handcuffs, truncheon, papers
Quote: ("Why do you carry this camera? Why the gun? Who are you going to shoot?")
Notes: Okhrana agents are employed by the largest repressive bureaucracy on Earth. They are always loyal to the Tsar, but they are often corrupt, and often involved in right-wing conspiracies, religious persecution, and other extracurricular activities. They will only accept bribes if it is safe to do so, and if they are convinced that there is no danger to the Tsar or the State. If you want more variety, use the generic thugs described in the game rules.
Captain Edward Fanshawe, Royal Marines (age 35)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist , Athlete (weight lifting, running, climbing) , Brawling , Linguist (Russian, Serbian, Polish) , Marksman , Melee Weapon , Military Arms , Morse Code , Riding , Stealth 
Equipment: Horse, Mauser rifle (big rifle), dagger, 12 sticks dynamite, fuses, etc., .45 revolver (huge handgun), rope, iron rations, sketch pad and pencils.
Quote: "you have to... understand... this evil empire... must be destroyed..."
Notes: Fanshawe has spent all his life looking for a cause, and has finally found it in Russian revolutionary politics. Since his disappearance he has grown a beard and gone 'native', taking over a rebel band after the former leader was killed in an Okhrana ambush. The group helps prisoners escape from Siberia, sabotages the railway, and distributes socialist propaganda. They are based in a remote village that doesn't appear in this adventure. Fanshawe was shot in the throat during the ambush; while the wound is healing, he still has trouble talking. A useful role model is the character Kurtz, from Apocalypse Now.
Typical Revolutionary (age 18-35)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (propaganda) , Brawling , Marksman , Melee Weapon , Stealth 
Equipment: Horse, Mauser rifle (big rifle), dagger, .32 revolver (small handgun).
Quote: ("Comrades! To arms! The Cossacks are coming!")
Notes: Fanshawe's revolutionaries are exiles, escaped convicts, and others who found it expedient to join his group. About half are socialists, the rest include anarchists, army deserters, former bandits, and peasants who have been forced off their land. Roughly 25% are Jews.
The Shaman, enigmatic Tunga tribesman (age 70+)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (ritual dance) , Brawling , Marksman (bow) , Medium , Melee Weapon , Psychology , Stealth 
Equipment: Skin tent, furs (including several sable pelts), bow & arrows, steel knife, quarterstaff, tinder box, various natural medicines and herbs, reindeer harnessed to pull a travois.
Quote: (in an obscure tribal dialect) "So? You seek wisdom? Why do you bother this foolish old man?"
Notes: The Shaman (who won't reveal his name to strangers) speaks only his native tongue, which is virtually unknown outside his tribe. He mostly communicates by signs and ritual dance. He is a powerful medium, capable of sending his spirit out of his body to view the past, present, or future, but details are always cloudy. His supplies include a drug that lets others accompany him on his astral journeys; in this state he can communicate telepathically. He can always see a few seconds into the future, and uses this power to dodge all physical attacks. He is described in more detail in section 1.5 above.
1.B The Tunguska Incidentback to contents
At 7.17 AM on June 30th 1908 there was an enormous explosion near the trading post of Vanavara, 650 miles North of Krasnoyarsk on the Tunguska river. The blast was detected by seismographs 900 km away. Witnesses described a bright object moving directly downwards, followed by a huge cloud of black smoke, then the explosion, equivalent to the detonation of a nuclear warhead. Heat from the explosion was felt 60 Km away, and there was a tidal wave on the Yenisei river.
Investigation was slow; the site was remote, and the revolution and subsequent events meant that it wasn't visited by scientists until 1927, by which time any evidence of the cause of the explosion was lost. All that remained was a huge circle of smashed and uproooted trees, several hundred kilometres wide. There was no impact crater.
The most widely accepted theory suggests that the explosion was the impact of a large fragment of the icy nucleus of a comet; possibly a detached portion of Encke's comet, about 40 metres wide and weighing 50,000 tons. It melted before reaching the ground, its destruction resulting in a huge pulse of heat, light, and shock waves as powerful as a nuclear explosion.
Many other possibilities have been considered, amongst them collision
with an antimatter meteor, the detonation of an alien spaceship's
reactor, or the impact of a metal meteor which has somehow never been
found. In the Challenger world the reason is rather different.
1.C Broadcast Powerback to contents
Siberia is a vast area, with very rugged terrain. Much of its mineral wealth is a long way from useful sources of power, and all the obstacles to power distribution described in section 1.3 are entirely genuine; lines at normal European voltages would waste most of the electricity as heat. In the real world the problem was overcome by using very tall pylons and running the distribution system at unusually high voltages, in excess of a megavolt.
It is often claimed that Tesla's broadcast power scheme, also
described above, was suppressed because it would be impossible to
charge for electricity. In fact it was never tried and almost
certainly wasn't worth trying. Comparing the energy in the average
thunderstorm with the output of a power station shows the flaw in this
system; the power pumped into the atmosphere would be insignificantly
small - it would be almost impossible to put in enough power to
overcome normal variations in atmospheric voltages. Recovering power
at the receiver would be very difficult, comparable to an attempt to
run a power station by tapping into a network of lightning conductors.
As a side-effect, radio and television transmission would probably
have become impossible.
2.0 Adventure 2: Escape From Shangri-Laback to contents
This short adventure can be set in any year before 1924; it works well as a sequel to The Fist Of God, but can easily be run independently.
The adventurers are explorers in Nepal. Perhaps they are searching for scientific knowledge, or want to climb some mountains or fill in a few blanks on the map; if they are British agents, they are keeping watch for Russian and German infiltration by the mountain routes into India, and are alert for news of hostile activity in Nepal and Tibet. The exact reasons for their presence aren't particularly important.
For whatever reason they are there, the characters have spent weeks in the area, have heard many stories about the marvels of Tibet, and naturally jump at a chance to learn more...
Characters may use any combination of skills, but Linguist, with languages appropriate to the Indian subcontinent, is obviously useful; Nepalese is the best choice for the area. Given the title and setting of this adventure, Tibetan might also seem useful, but throughout this period the Dalai Lama maintains an isolationist policy, and very few foreigners know enough about the country to speak the language. Any player choosing this tongue should explain how the character has happened to learn it. All combat skills, including Military Arms, may be helpful.
Useful sources for this adventure include Seven Years In Tibet by
Heinrich Harrer , The Great Game: On Secret Service In High Asia
by Peter Hopkirk , and The Spy's Bedside Book, ed. Graham and
Hugh Greene. Fictional sources include Rudyard Kipling's Kim ,
James Hilton's Lost Horizon [1933, filmed 1937; avoid the 1973 musical
remake], Arthur C. Clarke's The Nine Billion Names Of God, Kim Stanley
Robinson's Escape From Kathmandu , Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Path
Of The Eclipse , and The Golden Child [film 1986]. Very little
gaming material related to the region has appeared; my own Canal
Priests Of Mars [GDW 1990] is possibly relevant, in its discussion of
the activities of organised religions. GURPS High-Tech [Steve Jackson
Games 1988, 1992] is a good guide to the armaments described in this
2.1 Players Informationback to contents
In Spring the Himalayas are beautiful, but at this altitude it's still a little too cold for comfort. Maybe in a week or two more snow will have melted, and you'll be able to discard some of your heavier clothing, but for now several layers of wool are needed, along with plenty of good hot tea.
Today you're just taking tiffin (a light midday meal) when the son of the village headman comes running downhill to your camp. Even though you've begun to acclimatise to life this high above sea level, you'd probably collapse if you tried to move that fast. Like many of the locals, young Kuldip speaks English after a fashion, and wants to join a Gurkha regiments when he's a little older.
"Sir! Sir! Some lamas from Tibet have come to our village, very holy men. They are with my father, and he has sent me to fetch you. Come quickly, it is most important."
He dashes off again, barely panting as he sprints uphill, while you
finish your meal and prepare to follow at a rather more leisurely
2.2 Referee's Informationback to contents
'Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.'
[Arthur C. Clarke: The Nine Billion Names Of God]
"...Look out for, look out for,
look out for, look out for the lamas..."
[Song, Monty Python's Flying Circus, slightly misquoted]
In 1903-4 Britain invaded Tibet, responding to (probably false) intelligence reports that the Dalai Lama was allying with Russia. The Tibetans were armed with matchlocks and cannon, while the British had Maxim guns and modern artillery. Hundreds of Tibetans died, many of them shot while fleeing. The slaughter led to great ill-will, aroused disgust in Britain and Europe, and reinforced isolationist policies in Tibet. The terms of the settlement that ended the war weakened the autonomy of the region, and strengthened China's claim to sovereignty, one pretext for the 1950 invasion. This adventure is set up to twenty years after the British invasion.
A Tibetan religious order is faced with an unusual problem; a "demon" that is terrorising their lamasery. They need help to deal with it, but their helpers must be familiar with modern weapons. Tibet isn't a state that welcomes modern innovations or outsiders, but who else are they going to call..?
This adventure has a main plot and an optional subplot. In the main plot the adventurers are hired to destroy the "demon" (actually a marauding aeromollusc; see Worldbook section 6.1). In the optional subplot, the reason they have been hired is that the Abbot doesn't dare go to his superiors or the Tibetan government for help; he's a psychic vampire, living on the spiritual energies of the other lamas, and any rescue mission would be accompanied by more lamas, not under his influence, who would notice something wrong. Foreigners shouldn't notice the subtle nuances that would be obvious to a native Tibetan lama; if they nevertheless discover his secret, he will try to kill them.
The subplot doesn't affect the main plot; if you don't want to use it, all references to the Abbot's unusual nature are misunderstandings caused by the atmosphere of fear surrounding the lamasery, his age and reputation as a reincarnation of an earlier Abbot, and the fact that he is actually a Briton who deserted from the Indian Army in the 19th century. Statistics for both versions are provided.
In this period Tibet is an independent state with a civil government that is nominally controlled by the Dalai Lama. The government has made a deliberate attempt to restrict progress; many basic technologies, including wheeled vehicles, are virtually unknown. The fastest means of transport are ponies, occasional horses, and yaks, and objects larger than the usual load for a yak can only be moved with great difficulty, usually by sledge, or pulled by teams of peasants. Most of the country is uninhabitable wilderness, bitterly cold high-altitude desert. The wilderness is haunted by Khampas (bandits), wolves, and, according to popular legend, yeti.
If (like the author) you happen to be totally unfamiliar with the region, try to keep things as vague and mystical as possible; emphasise the bleak desolation of the area, the majesty of the mountains, the chanting lamas, and the cold, but don't mention your ignorance of Tibetan / Nepalese customs, the languages, etc. Some pointers:
Unless stated otherwise all Tibetan characters speak only their own
language. All speech in Tibetan is enclosed in brackets and
quotes ("like this").
2.3 To Kill A Demonback to contents
As the characters approach the village they hear a hubbub of talking, banging gongs, barking dogs, and chanting. About a dozen young lamas with saffron robes and staffs are waiting outside the headman's hut, some drinking buttered tea while others pray. Inside three more are with Kuldip's father, who immediately offers everyone tea. Unless adventurers speak Tibetan, he translates.
The spokesman for the lamas says that they need help to destroy a demon, which has been terrorising their lamasery for several weeks. The Abbot has cast a horoscope and determined that only men of the West can kill it; the characters qualify, and will be rewarded if they help. The journey to the lamasery takes four days.
None of the lamas present have seen the demon, but several others have; it attacks at night, and is a huge grey thing that nobody can describe clearly. It has mostly attacked yak, sheep, and goats, leaving torn remnants of their bodies behind, but one priest who was keeping watch from a window was pulled out and killed, and a child is missing. Since these incidents the Abbot has ordered all doors barred and all windows shuttered at night. If the adventurers want more details, the lamas begin a long theological argument; they are sure that it is a demon, but they aren't sure if it is a demon of the wind, a demon of the earth, or a demon of the flesh. One suggests that it might be a yeti, but the others pooh-pooh the idea; ("everyone knows") that yeti are gentle creatures; if a child has been taken, the monster can't be a yeti; if it can tear a yak apart, it can't be human. If it isn't human and isn't a yeti, it must be a demon. Referees who are familiar with Monty Python and the Holy Grail may wish to present this argument in terms similar to the "witch trial" scene of that film.
None of the lamas have any idea what sort of rewards the Abbot might offer. They have all sworn vows of poverty, and their guesses range from ("all the porcelain you can carry") to ("a whole herd of yak") with ("possibly some gold") a belated afterthought.
The characters aren't likely to need much prompting to join the hunt; most explorers are curious about Tibet, but the Dalai Lama's isolationist policies make it difficult to learn much. Strangers are usually turned away at the frontier, and very few are given the permits they need to travel any further. Without permits, food, fuel, and other necessities will not be sold to foreigners. Friends in the Tibetan priesthood could be a valuable stepping stone to a permit.
The remainder of the adventure assumes that the adventurers decide to
go along with the request and join the lamas. If they refuse, the
lamas head off towards India, and nothing more will be heard of the
matter for several weeks. Eventually they return, saying that no-one
else is willing to help them; are the characters sure that they won't
change their minds? If they turn down this second chance, the lamas
return to Tibet, and the adventurers will never know what happened,
what the demon really was, or why Westerners were needed to kill it.
So far as they are concerned, the adventure is over.
2.4 A Hunting We Will Go...back to contents
The lamas give the characters all possible help in preparing for the expedition; they have a few pack yaks, and can obtain more if necessary. Anything the adventurers want to take will cheerfully be loaded and carried, provided it will fit on a yak. Kuldip's father will gladly look after anything the characters don't want; they already know him to be an honest man. If (as seems likely) none of them speak Tibetan, then one of the lamas speaks a language known to one of the adventurers, preferably Nepalese or a Chinese dialect. As a last resort one of them speaks English (badly) and translates for the rest.
It takes a day to reach the border, three more to reach the lamasery. At the border the guards ask to see the characters' papers, but the lamas say that they'll vouch for their good conduct, so the normal requirement for a permit is waived. From the border onwards the route is generally uphill, winding tracks slowly leading higher into the mountains, usually along narrow paths with a sheer drop to one or another side, occasionally crossing gorges by stone or rope bridges.
On the second day in Tibet the expedition meets a band of scruffy nomads, with a herd of yak and some pack mules, who immediately try to sell the group food and animals. The lamas eye them warily, and one of them says ("Watch out for your belongings and guard your back. They are Khampas, bandits. They are everywhere in these mountains, and they'd steal everything you carry, maybe kill you for your guns"). The adventurers should have already heard of these notorious thieves in Nepal. When the lamas make it clear that they are not buying, the Khampas grumpily move on. Later the characters should discover that some small items (such as blankets or a pair of binoculars) are missing; nothing that makes it worthwhile chasing the bandits, but an annoyance.
On several occasions wolves and bears are seen in the distance. The wolves run off when they see such a large party, the bears stand up to get a better look. They are well out of effective rifle range. There are no signs of yeti.
By noon on the fourth day the adventurers are very tired. It's cold, and the rough terrain didn't allow them to set up a proper camp the previous night. By contrast, the lamas are happy, laughing as they point out ("our home"), a building perched by a crevasse on the only flat ground for miles around. It's surrounded by steep slopes on three sides, leading up to a peak several hundred feet above the lamasery (see 30_ADV3.GIF). The final ascent is a moderately difficult climb up a steep mountain path, and a rope bridge across the crevasse, a sheer drop of several hundred feet.
The lamasery is at the edge of the plateau, and its grounds include a few small fields, some outbuildings, and grazing for yak and goats. The lamas lead the characters to the massive studded wooden door of the lamasery, and one of them beats a gong. The door is slowly pulled open by four young lamas, while an older man bows and sticks out his tongue to welcome the guests, then greets them in Tibetan followed by badly accented English: "I am Lobsang Kabshopa, secretary to the Abbot. Truly Lord Buddha guided your path to Nepal, that you might be led here in our hour of need. Welcome to the mountain of Shambala, and the lamasery Shangri-La." These names should mean nothing to adventurers, since Lost Horizon hasn't yet been published.
He claps his hands, and young lamas come to show the adventurers to guest rooms. As they leave, he adds "Enjoy your sleep. The Abbot will speak to you tomorrow; he is meditating tonight."
30_ADV3.GIF shows the approximate layout of the lamasary buildings, but does not attempt to map the interior; the place is a confusing warren of rooms, but most of them are wholly irrelevant to the characters, who will find no secret passages or hidden areas. There are dining halls, kitchens, the temple itself, dormitories, an infirmary, offices, and everything else needed for a self-contained community. Exploring the place and making an accurate plan could take a week.
If the adventurers say that they don't want to stay in the lamasery, Kabshopa warns them that it's almost night and that the demon is certainly around; "we lost a yak to it only two nights ago." He can't describe the demon, except to say that is is a "huge grey thing, larger than an elephant." If the characters ask why their help is needed, Kabshopa says "Why, because we are under siege by a demon! With your strange Western martial arts you will be able to destroy it." He's adamant that only a Westerner can help; the Abbot will explain why when they meet him. The line about "Western martial arts" can become a running joke in this adventure; it's literally true, although not, perhaps, in the sense that this phrase is normally used.
The temple rooms are simply furnished, but reasonably comfortable, with glazed windows, wood fires, and beds with thick quilts. Furniture is otherwise limited to chests, low tables, benches, and mats. The baths are in a wooden outhouse, reached via a covered walkway; the lama who escorts the adventurers looks around very carefully before venturing onto the walkway, and sets a fast pace. He also urges them to finish bathing before nightfall. Hot water is supplied by a ceramic boiler, heated by a dung fire, but is soon exhausted. Because of the cold, long baths aren't very comfortable, and the characters will find that they are ready to go back to the main building well before dark.
Within the normal limits of hospitality, the adventurers are allowed to go wherever they like, with the exception of the Abbot's quarters and some other private rooms. The lamas will object if they start to loot the place, behave disrespectfully in the temple, or break into locked rooms, but otherwise won't bother them. Most of the occupants are lamas, but there are also a few servants, with their wives and children. As the sun sets the servants bar all the outside doors and shutter the windows.
While wandering around the complex, the characters should realise that the lamas and their servants often seem withdrawn and a little dull; they seem to be going about their duties by rote, and parts of the building are dirty and shabby, more so than any Buddhist temple the adventurers might have seen before. The overall impression is of a sick, frightened community. Even the lamas that accompanied the characters now seem careworn, more tired than they were during the long journey. The children never laugh. Food is indifferently prepared and badly cooked. Anyone with SOUL  or better feels uneasy; anyone with the Medium skill feels a psychic miasma, an evil influence that seems to touch the souls of all the lamas. It's likely that they'll blame the demon; if you are not using the optional subplot, this is simply the effect of fear, otherwise it's the vampire's evil aura.
If the adventurers insist on going outdoors without making
preparations, see section 2.6 for the likely results. If they open
shutters, they should (after a few hours) hear an animal scream, but
won't see anything. Otherwise the night is entirely uneventful.
2.5 Use Of Weaponsback to contents
In the morning a goatherd finds another yak dead, its head and forelegs torn away, its body covered in weals of torn skin, lying in a pool of blood. The remains of the carcass are covered with translucent sticky grey slime, like gum or thick mucus. It's in a patch of clear soil, and the only footprints are those of the yak. The lama who brings the characters morning tea tells them about it, and if they come reasonably quickly they'll see it before anyone disturbs the evidence. The weals are about two inches wide, and seem to have been made by a thick whip; there are no parallel scratches, of the type that might be left by a clawing tiger or bear. There are also some deep wounds, roughly diamond shaped, four to five inches across, and seven or eight deep, that are like nothing the adventurers have ever seen.
If the characters take a look around the plateau they'll find several more smears of the slime, but there seems to be no real significance to their pattern; they certainly aren't any sort of animal track.
After breakfast Lobsang Kabshopa comes to take the adventurers to meet the Abbot, Snyi Kha-Spungs, an old man who appears to be in his eighties. He pretends to understand no English, and Kabshopa translates. His office is a small candle-lit interior room. He begins the meeting by offering tea and an unexpected treat, British milk chocolate digestive biscuits. If the characters express surprise, he comments ("Traders bring them; you would be surprised at some of the things that have come here from England. Missionaries, explorers, diplomats, biscuits, and soldiers, and all so eager to visit Tibet...."); He seems to fall into a reverie, while Kabshopa serves tea. When the adventurers have drunk their fill, the meeting proper begins. If you are using the optional subplot, the Abbot doesn't drink; characters should only notice this if they ask about it.
The Abbot explains that the demon first appeared three months ago, and has since attacked animals in the fields around the lamasery every second or third night. There isn't enough room in the lamasery to keep all the animals indoors, and at this time of year they should be outside to graze; in any case it might turn its attention to the building if it can't find animal prey. One lama has been killed by the monster; he was pulled from a second-storey window, and found decapitated the following morning. The child of a herdsman is also missing; he has simply vanished without trace.
The Abbot has seen the demon twice; it has long legs, taller than any tree, and bending like a whip; it can use them to seize its prey and bring them to its mouth. It is grey, much bigger than an elephant, and maybe bigger than the lamasery itself. He can't describe its shape; it blocks out the sky, and all that he's sure of is that it has huge eyes.
Further questioning won't reveal anything more about the demon, and language problems won't make things any clearer. The Abbot is adamant that there is a real, physical creature, albeit a demon. He can send for more witnesses if necessary; some of the other lamas have seen it, and can confirm its existence, but they can't add anything useful.
If the adventurers ask if anything like this has happened before, the Abbot says ("Yes, I think I saw a scroll on this subject many years ago. The demon came in what you would call the fifteenth century. It happened then as it is happening now, it stalked the land and ate the animals. Eventually it was exorcised and driven away, but first it tried to destroy the lamasery. Many died"). The Abbot doesn't know how the demon was exorcised; he has tried all the techniques he knows, but they are ineffective. If more information on the previous attack is requested, his secretary eventually finds the scroll the Abbot remembers; it starts to describe the demon's attacks, but crumbles to dust as it is read, before any useful information can be found. It obviously hasn't been examined for many decades.
Sooner or later the characters should ask the key question; why have they been asked to help. The Abbot looks surprised, and says ("Why, to use your Western martial arts against the demon. None of us here know of these things. You must use your skills to destroy it. You must use the gun. After all, it is from your land"). At this point it should finally be obvious that the word meant is military, not martial. One of the outbuildings of the lamasery houses a field gun mislaid by the 1904 invasion. If none of the adventurers have the Military Arms skill, they may now start to worry...
The question of a fee is likely to arise. The Abbot will initially offer £50 per person; he can be bargained up to £125 if the characters haggle well, but won't go a penny higher. The money will be paid in a mixture of silver rupees and British sovereigns. If the adventurers want more, they are out of luck; this is most of the money in the lamasery. The Abbot will also arrange to have a prayer wheel perpetually spun for each character, which should protect them against all supernatural powers, and will have them escorted back to Nepal afterwards.
If the adventurers seem about to decline this offer, it's a good moment to remind them that this is several year's wages for the average Tibetan. More importantly, they are three days from the frontier, don't know the area at all well, aren't entirely sure of the route back to Nepal, and there is no guarantee that the demon won't attack them on the way home. Even if the demon isn't waiting, there are Khampas, wolves, and bears out there. In fact the Abbot is prepared to provide an escort if they are determined to leave, but he won't tell them that until he is absolutely sure that they aren't prepared to cooperate. The journey back to Nepal will be anticlimactically dull. Afterwards the characters will never learn what happened at the lamasery.
If the adventurers agree to help, Kabshopa takes them to see the gun. Along the way he speaks with pride (in as much as someone sworn to a vow of humble poverty can feel pride) of the Abbot's wisdom, and of his "hundreds of years of service to our community". If the Abbot is a vampire, Kabshopa is speaking literally, although he thinks that the Abbot's long life is attributable to spiritual perfection; if he is not a vampire, Kabshopa believes that the Abbot is the latest in a long line of reincarnated Abbots, but won't make this clear.
The field gun is stored in the loft of a barn. It's an old 2.76" screw gun, weighing about 1500 lb, broken down into components for easy transportation, with boxes containing thirty rounds of ammunition and twenty fuses. It isn't complete; the gun carriage wheels and sights are missing. Kabshopa tells the characters that part of a string of artillery mules was lost over a cliff during the British invasion; the lamas salvaged as much as they could afterwards.
At this point the adventurers will probably want to assemble the gun, but they may prefer to delay until they've seen the "demon" and have a better idea of its capabilities. If they choose this option, see the next section.
Characters with any knowledge of gunnery will realise that the gun needs wheels; without them it's almost impossible to move and aim, and difficult to assemble. Since Tibetans don't use wheels, substitutes must be built. The lamas will suggest fixing it to a sledge instead; if this is tried, it will collapse when the first shot is fired. Scratch-building simple wheels needs the Mechanic skill versus Difficulty 4, and about a day's work; the resulting wheels are made of criss-crossed boards nailed and screwed together, then cut to a disc, with extra reinforcement at the hubs; they'll work provided they are only used for the minimum of movement needed to position and aim the gun. Even if one of the characters is a skilled mechanic, building proper spoked wheels is a project that would take several days and needs a lathe and a smithy. The lamasery has neither.
If anyone has the Military Arms skill, assembling the gun poses no major problems. The components must be cleaned and greased (yak fat or butter will do nicely), then excess grease must be removed. Putting the gun together is Difficulty 4, and takes roughly 30 minutes with unskilled help; it was designed for rapid assembly under fire, and it's easier to get it right than wrong if you know about these things. Assembly would take 5-10 minutes with a crew of gunners. Without this skill the adventurers should use Mechanic at Difficulty 6 or MIND at Difficulty 8, and will take an hour or more to get things right; add another half hour for each failed roll, an hour for each roll of 12. Once assembled, finding out how the gun is fired is easy; the controls are simple, and it can be dry-fired without a shell until they get it right.
The shells are shrapnel, their fuses incorporating a timing mechanism which supposedly ensures that they explode at a pre-set distance from the muzzle of the gun, spraying steel balls in a cone ahead of the shell. For this special ammunition the radius determines the number of balls that hit any victims:
|5-10 ft||1D6/2 (round up)|
|10-20 ft||1D6/2 (round down)|
If an adventurer has the Military Arms skill, priming each shell takes about five minutes, with no rolls required. Setting detonation distance is equally simple, and takes a few seconds, but until the characters know more about the demon, and about the ballistics of the gun, they won't know which settings to use.
If the adventurers don't have Military Arms skill, assembly of the shells requires Mechanic or MIND versus Difficulty 5; unless you are feeling very unkind, the penalty for failure is a crossed thread (which makes the shell and fuse useless), rather than an explosion.
The pitfall in all this is the lack of sights. If characters have the Military Arms skill, they will know that accurate gunnery requires sights, special compensation tables, and adjustment of the fuses to detonate at the correct part of the shell's trajectory. Without the sights and accompanying tables the only way to proceed is by trial and error. This is Difficulty 5 with the Military Arms skill, Difficulty 8 without, and requires test firing of at least 2 shells.
Eventually the characters should have a working gun and some idea of
how to use it. If they are sensible, they will test it by firing it
outwards from the plateau, using an extremely long cord to pull the
trigger in case the barrel explodes; it won't, but the adventurers
don't know that. It does recoil several feet, and anyone standing too
close risks serious injuries. Even after this test, the gun's defects
imposes a penalty of -1 to Military Arms skill, or -2 to any
2.6 Guess Who's Coming To Dinnerback to contents
The "demon" is a large low-flying aeromollusc, one of the aerial carnivores that will be rediscovered by Joyce-Armstrong in 1924. Use the standard statistics from the Worldbook, section 6.1. A fight with another animal ripped open one of its gas bags, forcing it to a lower altitude where it found the plateau. Finding plenty of food, it has stayed to enjoy this unexpected treat. By day it climbs a few thousand feet to photosynthesise and replenish its gas bags with aeroplankton, by night it returns to stalk the plateau. Eventually, if it is not stopped, it will start to attack the buildings, tearing them apart to reach the inhabitants. It has no particular dietary preferences, but it can pick up goats and sheep (BODY 2-3) and most humans easily; ponies (6-8) and yak (7-9) are usually too heavy and must be torn apart before it can eat them. None of this should be apparent to the adventurers; all they'll initially know is what the lamas tell them.
Since the creature is huge, initially almost transparent, and descends from above, it's surprisingly difficult to recognise; all the adventurers will know at first is that it seems to be getting cloudy, with stars gradually obscured by 'mist'. The mist slowly 'solidifies' into a grey translucent sluglike form, the size of a tennis court, hovering high above the lamasery, with tentacles lowered to grope for animals and other prey. To an unsophisticated observer it seems to materialise, rather than flying down, and is apparently walking on its tentacles. Two circular eyes the size of dinner plates scan for movement, and can also detect infra-red, such as the heat emitted by hiding humans. It prefers prey that it can quickly attack with several tentacles, and won't readily go for someone behind a window, but if there is no alternative it will risk an attack.
In testing, the adventurers often decided to set up a 'hide' outside the lamasery and keep watch for the approaching demon, thus presenting a large immobile infra-red source which the aeromollusc eagerly investigated. Give them a reasonable chance to run away; a few drops of slime falling on them from above gives them a reason to look up, and should be adequate warning. If they don't take the hint, a tentacle follows two rounds later.
At this point a disadvantage of the gun should be obvious, if the adventurers have it ready; it can't fire vertically upwards, and while the creature hovers directly above the gun it can't be hit. If the gun could be pointed vertically, any shrapnel that missed the "demon" would eventually shower down on the gunners. If the adventurers abandon the gun, it is thrown onto one side by the inquisitive tentacles, but isn't damaged.
The best gunnery position is somewhere on the peak overlooking the lamasery. There are several flat ledges that can be used. Of course, warm bodies on this cold peak will easily be detected by their heat, and players may suspect something of the sort if they have previously been attacked. Kind referees may prefer to provide a cave somewhere uphill of the lamasery, but this isn't essential; the creature isn't looking for food this high above the plateau, and won't notice the adventurers unless they do something to attract its attention. From the ledges it's possible to shoot across and downwards at the monster, not upwards, giving a +1 modifier on Military Arms skill. However, the lamasery is in the direct line of fire; on a 12 it will be hit by a shell.
If the adventurers have other ideas, make it as difficult as possible for them to hit the "demon", and watch out for "collateral damage"; shells that miss it and hit the lamasery, its outbuildings, or domestic animals.
Given the size of this creature, a successful hit may mean that several hundred shrapnel balls strike it. Rolling for each ball isn't practical; instead, roll for damage using the Military Arms skill of the gunner (or whatever substitute has been used) as Effect. Because of its unusual structure, the results are as follows:
There are many other possibilities, but sooner or later the creature
should be killed. The real questions are how many of the adventurers
will die first, and how much damage will result from its destruction;
the lamas will easily forgive some burned outbuildings or a dead yak,
but trashing the main temple will not be a popular move. Fortunately
the lamas have sworn not to take life, and their reaction will be
verbal, not physical.
2.7 Meanwhile, Back At The Subplot...back to contents
Given the hints dropped during the main adventure, characters may believe that the Abbot is some form of supernatural entity. Kabshopa claims that his long life can be attributed to spiritual perfection; if you are not using the vampire subplot, he is actually saying that the Abbot is perfect enough for repeated reincarnation as Abbot, but is betrayed by his poor English. If the adventurers don't believe a word of it, and don't mention it to the Abbot, he'll give them their rewards, say goodbye, and send them on their way. If they ask him to arrange for them to be allowed to visit Tibet again, he'll eventually have some permits sent to them in Nepal; even if he's a vampire, there's no reason why he should object to their presence in Tibet.
If you are using the vampire subplot, and the adventurers actually confront the Abbot with their suspicions, he needs to dispose of them. His first move will be to cut the bridge; with it gone it is very difficult to escape from the plateau, and the Abbot can then use his skills, strength, and hypnotised dupes to attack the adventurers. Afterwards, if successful, he will arrange an unfortunate "artillery accident" to eliminate the bodies and witnesses, then blame it all on the adventurers.
Characters may instead choose to attack the Abbot without confronting him first; unfortunately most attacks that would work on the "Hammer Horror" type of vampire are useless against the Abbot, but he will naturally guess that the adventurers have uncovered his secret if they put a stake through his heart!
A final approach is based on exorcism or argument, as mentioned in the character description below; either will lead to violence if unsuccessful.
Once the vampire is killed or exorcised, the other lamas gradually realise that there was something odd about his control of the lamasery, and thank the adventurers for their help. They can't give the characters any more money, but they will arrange for a strong escort to take them back to Nepal, and the next Abbot will persuade the Tibetan government to give them permits for later visits.
If you are not using the vampire plot, but the players are still convinced that the Abbot is a vampire, they may try to confront him with their suspicions; his reply is a pause of several seconds, followed by loud laughter and a cry of "You daft buggers, I'm from Manchester, not b****y Transylvania!", spoken with a strong Yorkshire accent. He then tells a long story of his desertion from the Indian Army, subsequent search for spiritual enlightenment, and the discovery that he is the reincarnated Abbot, and gives the adventurers the address of a cousin in Bradford (England) who can confirm the story. The adventure should end with a laugh, as characters realise their mistake. The Abbot subsequently arranges an escort to Nepal, and asks the government to give the adventurers visitor's permits.
Things will get much nastier if the adventurers try to attack him
without any accusation; he's an extremely light sleeper, is an
extremely good martial artist, and will call on the rest of the lamas
to aid him. This version of the plot usually ends with the adventurers
pinned down by the lamas, being taught the error of their ways by a
patient teacher who won't allow them their freedom until they
apologise... Once this misunderstanding is past, the adventurers are
given an escort back, but will never be allowed into Tibet again.
2.8 Rewardsback to contents
This is potentially a very dangerous situation. Award bonus points as follows to the survivors, a minimum of one point per character:
|Vampire destroyed (if present)||+3|
|Adventurers didn't spot the vampire (if present)||-2|
|Adventurers systematically tested the gun before using it||+1|
|Adventurers got papers for further visits to Tibet||+1|
At the end of this adventure characters may want to learn more about Tibet; if they have official permits, they can travel freely and may see more of the country. This could pave the way for a yeti hunt, and the discovery of the true nature of these elusive creatures.
If the adventurers are British agents, their experiences in Tibet will make them the logical choice for future missions in the Himalayas; depending on the circumstances, these may be exciting or terrifying.
Although Tibet normally shuns contact with the West, the adventurers may be the logical choice if the lamas need some task performed in the mysterious Occident; see The Golden Child [film 1986] for one possible assignment.
One other complication emerges more than a decade later; somehow the story of the adventurers' activities in Tibet becomes garbled, and eventually reappears as the novel Lost Horizon, by James Hilton. Who told him about their mysterious journey, and why do total strangers now think that the adventurers have acquired the secret of immortality?
If the adventurers try to tell the true story of their visit to Tibet,
and their encounter with a peculiar flying monster, they won't be
believed; if they take photographs, they will be accused of faking
them, while any remains left from the creature will quickly
disintegrate into rotting slime. The truth will only be believed once
Joyce-Armstrong and his successors have established that there is life
in the upper atmosphere.
2.A Charactersback to contents
Lamas (various novice and experienced lamas ages 16-80)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Brawling , Martial Arts 
Equipment: Quarterstaff, max 3 attacks, Effect 8, A:F, B:I, C:KO/C
Notes: These are genuinely pious men who have no idea that the Abbot is a psychic vampire (if he is), and don't remember their involuntary "donations" of SOUL (if made). A small proportion speak Nepalese, English, or some other language known to the characters. Their religion is a Buddhist variant.
Abbot Snyi Kha-Spungs (vampire, aged 287)
BODY [1 to 10], MIND , SOUL , Actor , Athlete (leaping, running) [BODY +2], Brawling [BODY +3], Business , Linguist (English, Mandarin, Russian, Cantonese, Urdu, Nepalese) 
Weapons: Nails (as sharp claws), Effect BODY+1, A:F, B:I, C:I
Quote: ("So... you have uncovered my little secret...")
Notes: This "vampire" is an evil spirit, physically manifested and unwilling to accept that it is dead. It gains power (and BODY) by overcoming the SOUL of its victims. Each attack reduces the victim's SOUL by 1 for 1D6 days and gives the vampire 1 BODY for the same period.
In order to steal SOUL it must first hypnotise its victim (requires three successful uses of its SOUL to overcome the SOUL of the victim), then stay in physical contact for about five minutes. If its cover is completely blown it won't bother with the preliminary hypnosis, it just knocks its victims out.
Victims with reduced SOUL become apathetic and dull; if SOUL is reduced to zero they lack all motivation, and will obey any order, however strange, until they recover. Normally the vampire tries to avoid this complication, spreading its parasitism amongst the lamas to ensure that no-one is badly affected, but if necessary it will repeatedly attack a single victim.
Its claws are retractable, and usually appear to be ordinary finger-nails. Anyone who has been hypnotised will obey all orders until the vampire has freed them from the task; usually the Abbot ends the trance as soon as he has gathered some of the victim's spiritual essence, but exceptions will be made if they serve his purpose. If he is accused of vampirism, this situation is likely to arise.
Its physical appearance varies with BODY;
|1-3:||A decrepit and extremely frail old man with white hair.|
|4-6:||Somewhat more healthy, with fuller cheeks and firmer skin|
|7-8:||Middle aged, with grey hair and a brown beard and moustache.|
|9:||A young man|
|10:||A teenage boy|
Physical attacks on the Abbot cause no harm, because it isn't alive anyway. Wounds close as fast as they are made, amputated limbs or arms simply drift back (looking like a reversed video). Even if it is blown up it will quickly re-form. However, it can be confined in a cell, or held down if enough force overcomes its BODY. It isn't affected by sunlight, garlic, mirrors, running water, etc. Priests and Mediums may wish to exorcise it; this requires the use of SOUL or the Medium skill to overcome the vampire's SOUL, while it is somehow immobilised. Each success reduces the vampire's BODY by 1, and takes about half an hour. This is a chancy business, since the vampire can also attempt to hypnotise the exorcist, and materials such as crosses, holy water, etc. won't help. The most effective way to destroy this vampire is to keep it in a cell and exclude visitors until its BODY drops to zero and it crumbles to dust.
One other approach may work, if the adventurers think of it. This form of undeath represents a denial of the wheel of Karma, the Buddhist road to spiritual perfection. If the adventurers can convince the Abbot that staying "alive" is hampering his prospects of future immortality, and that he must repent or face rebirth as a worm, he may voluntarily give up his physical form. This requires some extremely persuasive reasoning and theological argument, which should be acted out in preference to rolling dice. Most adventurers probably won't even consider the idea.
Abbot Snyi Kha-Spungs (Arnold Baldwin, British deserter, aged 73)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Business , Linguist (Tibetan, Urdu,
Nepalese) , Martial Arts 
Quote: "So... you have uncovered my little secret..."
Notes: This version of the Abbot is provided for referees who don't like the vampire subplot. The Abbot deserted from the Indian Army fifty years ago, wandered to Tibet, and was converted to Buddhism. He now thinks in Tibetan, and has almost forgotten his origins. Since he suspects that he might still be on the army's books as a deserter, he would prefer not to discuss his origins with strangers. He looks much older than he is, due to illness and many years of the harsh climate, and his tan and slightly yellow complexion make him almost indistinguishable from an Oriental of his apparent age. He is a light sleeper and will be awakened by the slightest noise. He has mastered a martial art similar to ju-jitsu and will use it in self defence. He served with an infantry regiment, and has forgotten the little he knew of artillery over the last fifty years; in any case, he has no experience of "modern" (1900s) armaments.
3.0 Adventure 3: A Nice Night For Screamingback to contents
This scenario can be set at any time between the World Wars, but works best with an early 1930s background. The adventurers should share a common interest in science and the strange, but need otherwise have no particular profession or skills, although Detective, Medium, and Psychology are useful. At least one character must have the Scientist skill.
Source material might include any of a vast number of mystery and horror films. Ten Little Indians, Murder By Death, and The Cat And The Canary are recommended. There are many role playing adventures related to the themes of this scenario, including my own A Nice Night For Screaming, and its sequel Honeymoon In Hell; see section 0.3 above for details of their publication. If you have previously seen the earlier adventure, be warned; there is very little similarity of plot, I just like the title!
The adventure is designed for easy conversion into a freeform
scenario, with players taking on the roles of everyone involved. See
section 3.B below for more on this topic.
3.1 Players Informationback to contents
[The referee should prepare this note as a player handout, adding the name of a character with the Scientist skill to receive it. Write it by hand, or use a monospaced typeface as below, in imitation of an old typewriter with a few corrected mistakes, and sign it:
The National Physical Laboratory
This adventure is essentially a murder mystery with supernatural complications. When the visitors arrive, the residents on the (wholly imaginary) island will be:
|Michael Peters||Writer of the letter, Director of the station.|
|Fred Gordon||Etheric physicist.|
|Agatha Gordon||Wife of Fred, an unsuccessful novelist.|
|Graham Barnes||Handyman and electrician.|
|Norman Jones||Laboratory technician.|
|Monique Perkins||French cook.|
|Gunther Voss||German exchange student.|
|Hans Carlsen||Ornithologist (arrived after the letter was sent).|
|Brian Westlake||Lighthouse keeper.|
|Horace Smith||Lighthouse keeper.|
When Michael Peters and Fred Gordon were at university, Fred Gordon loved Maud Cowan, but stood aside when her betrothal to Michael was announced. Several months later he married Agatha; within weeks he heard that Michael and Maud had broken off their engagement. By then he already knew that he had made a bad mistake; he loves Maud, and has come to despise Agatha as a scientific ignoramus, but Maud is a Catholic and would never marry a divorced man. To make matters worse, he is now working with Michael, who is a daily reminder of his lost love.
Fred believes that the only answer is to murder Agatha, but make it look like a natural death. He was laying his plans when the seance idea was put forward, and realised that it could be the perfect cover. Agatha believes in spiritualism, and will naturally want to take part. Fred is a competent chemist and has prepared digitalis from foxglove plants that grow on some of the (rare) fertile soil on the island; the equipment he used was purchased on his last visit to the mainland, set up in one of the deserted cottages near the observatory, and thrown into the sea when he was done. Some of the pulped plants left from the extraction are still in the cottage, clogging a drain.
Fred has spread a story that Agatha has a weak heart; he intends to slip her a lethal dose of poison before the seance, wait for her to collapse, then claim that she must have succumbed to the excitement of the ceremony. Fred doesn't know much about forensic medicine; he believes that digitalis breaks down rapidly after death, and it should take several days for the authorities in Britain and the Channel Islands to decide who has jurisdiction. With luck the Coroner won't test for digitalis, and, even if he does, shouldn't find anything wrong by the time the body is examined. If murder is suspected, he hopes to throw the blame on Peters.
Unfortunately Agatha will return from the grave, and make life
extremely difficult for all concerned....
3.3 Preparationsback to contents
The letter mentions several factors that ought to engage player interest. The chance to see the observatory's equipment should appeal to scientists, who may also be intrigued by the idea of proving (or refuting) psychic phenomena. Mediums may be interested in a chance to scientifically prove that their powers really exist. Anyone with Babbage Engine skill wants to see the 'electric calculator'; scientific journals have carried several stories about the NPL's latest toy, a powerful difference engine which incorporates electrical components and is reputedly faster and more accurate than any previous machine. If all else fails, a two-week expenses paid holiday should arouse some interest; the Channel Islands have a beautiful climate, and there should be excellent swimming and sea fishing.
If none of the adventurers are mediums, they will need to recruit someone. The Psychical Research Society can give the adventurers some names, as can the Spiritualist church. Madame Szvatz, described below, will be recommended; if the adventurers don't like her, they can be put in touch with Mrs. Debbs or Tom Linden, both described in the worldbook; results of the experiments for all three are detailed below.
The adventurers may try to find out more about the people mentioned in the letter before travelling:
Michael Peters was a fellow student of the recipient of the letter. He graduated with Honours in Physics and Mathematics, and has published three important papers on the ether. His scientific peers generally consider him to be a worthy choice as Director of the Ether Observatory. He and the recipient were never particularly close friends, but they have stayed in intermittent contact since leaving university. The bet has been a long-standing joke for several years, since both participants are sure that the other backed the losing team.
Maud Cowan was a chemistry student at the same time. She had a fiery temper, and a reputation for breaking hearts and crockery - usually by throwing it at people. The recipient has fallen out of touch with her. If anyone checks, she is still single and is now a postgraduate student at Imperial College, London; she remains furious with Peters, and isn't interested in a reconciliation. If invited to travel with the adventurers, she'll make it very clear that her personal life is none of their b****y business.
The recipient can't remember Frederic Gordon at all, although the bicycle story sounds vaguely familiar; everyone was very drunk that night. He has published several papers on etheric physics; they are best described as competent but uninspired, the sort of work that clarifies existing ideas without proposing anything fundamentally new. Most colleagues dismiss him as someone who peaked early and failed to live up to his promise.
His wife, Agatha Gordon, is the author of a romantic novel, 'Her Wedding Secret', which went into remainder a month after publication. Subsequent submissions have been rejected.
The adventurers can probably find out the names of the cook, students, etc. if they try, but none of them are particularly notable, and no further details are available.
The expenses Peters promised cover the ferry journey to Jersey, the largest Channel Island, then an uncomfortable trip by supply boat to Tempest Point. The alternatives that players might consider include air travel and use of a yacht.
Air travel isn't really practical; the island has no landing strip, and there are too many rocks for a seaplane. The nearest landing strip is the Jersey Flying Club, about thirty miles away. There are similar objections to airships (stiff winds, and no docking tower or shed), although the adventurers could be dropped off by one run by an NPC. Before 1935 helicopters aren't available, and for many years thereafter their range is short and payload minimal. Autogyros, the ancestors of helicopters, are available from 1923 onward; they land vertically, but range is still limited, they need nearly as much takeoff space as a conventional aircraft, and can carry no more than two or three passengers.
If one of the adventurers owns a yacht, the journey to the Channel Islands is a nice cruise, but the NPL won't pay yacht expenses or hire fees. Because of the rocks around the island, all but the smallest yachts must anchor well out to sea, with a dinghy used to get ashore.
Whatever their means of transport, a group that hopefully includes a
medium eventually reaches Tempest Point; if they don't, this will be a
very short adventure!
3.4 The Island Of Doctor Petersback to contents
Tempest Point (31_ADV3.GIF) is a stony island, shaped somewhat like a fish with a large tail. The main body (the Eastern island) is oval, about a half mile NS and 2.5 miles EW, with most of the ground between 30ft and 60ft above sea level. There are cliffs along the North shore, gentler slopes on the other shores. The North fin is a stony beach, submerged at high tide; the South fin is higher, but sometimes swept by storm waves. A wooden quay has been built at the end of the "fin". The Westerly "tail" is a triangular island roughly a mile on each side, rising about 45 ft above sea level. They are connected at the East end of the triangle by another stony beach, which is also underwater at high tide. There is a lighthouse at the highest point of the "tail", which also has a small landing stage, while the observatory is near the middle of the "body". Paths lead from the observatory to the lighthouse and quay; the path between the islands is little more than a line of stakes at the high point of the beach, and it would take someone brave or desperate to try to wade across when the tide is in. There are rocks and shoals for a mile or more around the islands; neither landing stage can take boats with deep keels.
Like all the Channel Islands, Tempest Point has a moist warm climate. Unlike the rest it is extremely rocky, has very little arable land, and has no surface water apart from a couple of streams that dry out in summer, and are often contaminated by salt spray. No point on the island is out of earshot of the sea, and the regular pulse of the waves is a constant background noise. In bad weather it's accompanied by the howl of wind in the masts of the observatory's wireless aerials (not shown on the plan), and by the smell of salt spray.
In the 19th century the island was intermittently occupied, usually by wreckers. The construction of the lighthouse led to a decline in the number of wrecks, while the lack of useful agricultural land, and the need to pump water from wells, discouraged other uses. The last of its original inhabitants left before the Great War. There are still several cottages scattered around the island, three near the observatory (not shown on the map), but most are in poor condition.
The observatory was built by the National Physical Laboratory (an arm of the British Government) in the 1920s. The isolated location was needed to minimise electromagnetic interference, and the Channel Islands offered advantages of climate and accessibility that were lacking in the nearest contender, the Orkney islands off Scotland. It was erected by the Army (the Royal Engineers) and is supplied with oil by the Navy; other supplies come in by commercial shippers.
The observatory site consists of a large concrete dome which houses the sensitive instruments used to map the ether, buildings containing two laboratories, a workshop, and a generator, and seven bungalows for the staff and visitors. The buildings are arranged around a communal garden.
At a first glance the main building looks much like the dome of an optical observatory, but there are no openings for instruments. Inside is an extremely large rotating-prism interferometer (a device for measuring the speed of light by the Michelson-Morely method), built on a turntable and mounted like a telescope. It's possible to set it to any desired angle and measure the speed of light. In use it's very impressive; a mechanical juggernaut about sixty feet wide and high, slowly rotating in time with the movement of the stars; the only noise is the hum of electric motors, the 'tick-tick-tick' of the timing mechanism and dozens of chart recorder pens, and the clatter of the calculating engine's thousands of relays.
The electromechanical calculating engine is a huge machine, larger than the smaller buildings of the complex, with literally thousands of relays, lights, and rotating switches. It looks like an extremely complicated automatic telephone exchange, with added motors, belt drives, and brass and Bakelite gears. When working properly it spits out a punched card every fifteen to twenty minutes. A trained interpreter can read the cards to find light speed and ether densities. Unfortunately every few hours a fuse blows, a relay sticks, or one of the coils burns out, so it's out of action for repairs more often than it is in working order. Despite these set-backs, Peters is using data from the interferometer (usually interpreted manually) to gradually develop a comprehensive picture of the Earth's motion through the ether. More instruments analyse minute fluctuations in the density of the ether, using a photo-elecric system developed by Einstein during the Great War. So far the 1913 Poison Belt episode seems to be an unique event, and Peters has found no evidence that it might happen again. Nevertheless, there are standing orders to notify Whitehall if significant changes in ether density are detected, over and above normal random fluctuations; the King, other important officials, and military leaders will then retreat to buildings with their own oxygen supplies, to ensure that there is continuity of government after the disaster. Fire brigades and other rescue services are also set up to use oxygen masks if the worst happens. Since continued monitoring of the ether would be vital in such an emergency, the dome has an airtight door, a radio transmitter, and several large oxygen tanks, a four day supply for ten people.
One instrument in the dome is a complete mystery to most of the staff; it's a sealed glass case covering a rotating framework holding several parallel metal plates, all wired to a welded steel box, which is linked to another chart recorder. The charts are sent back to the NPL with every supply boat, but nobody knows what they measure. In fact it's a spin-off from the Government's secret investigation of the Nemor Disintegrator, and is supposed to detect disintegration at a range of several hundred miles, recording direction and distance from the detector. Its location on the Channel Islands allows it to monitor most of Europe (and is one of the main reasons why the observatory was built there); unfortunately parts of Germany and almost all of the USSR are out of range. The staff have been told that it's a cosmic ray experiment; Peters knows the truth.
The two laboratories house smaller versions of the interferometer and density recorder, also linked to chart recorders. They are much less sensitive; they are primarily a backup for the main instrument, verifying its results within their limits of error. They are usually run by the students, with Jones ready to lend a hand if needed, under the intermittent supervision of one of the scientists.
The other facilities of the laboratory block include an office for Peters and Gordon, a store room, a kitchen (run by Monique Perkins), and a dining room for the staff on duty. The dining room is the social centre of the observatory; it has a darts board, a small bar, a wireless receiver (usually tuned to the BBC or Luxembourg), and a collection of board games, magazines, and books, mostly related to astronomy and physics but including some fiction. The latter naturally includes a copy of 'Her Wedding Secret', donated by the author, which shows no sign of having ever been opened.
The workshop is fitted out for most common types of wood and metal work, with supplies for electrical repairs and plumbing. Barnes is in charge, but Jones also uses its facilities to work on new or improved equipment. This is sometimes a source of friction, since tools and components are often needed by both at the same time. Barnes is also responsible for the generator, and for general maintenance around the site.
The seven accommodation bungalows have four rooms; a kitchen, a bathroom, and either a living room and bedroom or two bedrooms. They have electric light and mains water, pumped electrically from a well (not shown) North of the observatory, which is the only drinking water on the island. The drains run to a communal sewer, leading into a septic tank under the garden, with its effluent draining to the sea near the quay. Oil stoves are used for heating and cooking. Jones and Barnes share one two-bedroom bungalow, the students share another. Mrs. Perkins also has one of the two-bedroom bungalows, with the second bedroom currently empty. The Gordons share one of the single-bedroom bungalows, Peters occupies the other on his own. Two more bungalows are empty.
There are three abandoned cottages near the observatory. All are three-roomed buildings. They are habitable in summer, but have no water, heating, or cooking facilities; they would be unpleasant even in the mild winter conditions of the island. The furthest of these three cottages was used by Dr. Gordon while preparing his poison; the drain of the kitchen sink is blocked by a mass of pulped flowers. Although the colour has faded, they are still recognisable as foxgloves. The sink also contains a pestle and mortar stolen from the kitchen of Dr. Peters' cottage; it's part of a set of china kitchen utensils, and matches jugs, bowls, and a rolling pin, all still in Peters' home. Dr. Gordon wore gloves to handle them. There are four more cottages, but they are nearer the water and have taken more storm damage; they are essentially uninhabitable ruins.
The lighthouse is of typical 19th century construction; it's just a
high stone tower with a huge rotating oil lamp, which is supported in
a vat of mercury to reduce friction and ensure smooth rotation. Every
morning the keepers crank up a weight which is used to make it turn at
night, and pump oil to the lamp. Both keepers are happy to show
visitors around the lighthouse, provided that they aren't busy
operating it. They can reveal endless facts about their service and
the installation, none with any relevance to this adventure. The climb
to the top of the lighthouse should only be attempted by people in
good health; anyone else will be badly winded. The lantern is about
fifty feet higher than the top of the observatory dome. Trinity House,
the body responsible for lighthouses in British waters, plans to
upgrade it by installing an electric light, motors, and a radio
transmitter within the next 2-3 years. Equipment stored here includes
signal flares, oil lamps, maroons (small explosive charges designed
for maximum noise), an Aldis lamp (used to send light signals), and a
3.5 Timetableback to contents
Doctor Peters has drawn up a tentative timetable for the experiments he hopes to perform; all times are p.m.:
If necessary experiments are to be repeated the following week. The supply boats arrive every Monday.
While this may seem a light schedule, mediums may feel that they can't reliably enter a trance, or make contact with the afterlife, on such a rigid timetable. Peters is open to suggestions, provided they don't cause serious disruptions to the observatory's main work; for example, if the medium would like to rest for a day between runs this can be arranged. He won't agree to running the experiment whenever the medium happens to feel like it; preparing for each session takes at least an hour, and he would prefer to stick to a schedule.
Doctor Gordon has also planned for the experiment. He hopes to establish that his wife is interested in these phenomena, then kill her during the seance on Friday. If the schedule is changed he will adapt his plans accordingly. The poison is in a bottle of spirit-based cough medicine which she often takes if she feels "ill"; Gordon hopes to trick her into taking a dose before the seance. He will then substitute a bottle of the real medicine, and plant the poisoned bottle behind the drawer of Peter's desk, to give the impression that it has been carefully concealed if there is a search.
The final participant in this drama is the weather. It begins fine,
but by Thursday the winds are rising, and one of the lighthouse
keepers walks over to warn Peters that an unseasonable storm is on the
way. The radio weather forecast confirms this prediction. On Friday
the storm reaches the island, and continues through the main events of
3.6 Arrivalback to contents
The remainder of the adventure assumes that characters arrive by the normal supply boat, which follows a tortuous route between the rocks to reach the quay. The crew are familiar with the waters and are relaxed about these difficulties, even while using fenders to avoid damage from a rock. Their passengers may not be so calm.
Peters is waiting on the quay, accompanied by a gaunt woman wearing beads and bangles (Agatha Gordon), and a wiry man in brown overalls (Graham Barnes). After introductions, Agatha finds out the identity of the medium, then pesters her (or him) with endless questions as they walk to the observatory, while Peters chats with his old friend.
Barnes and the crew of the boat help to man-handle its cargo and luggage to the observatory; if you are feeling kind, nothing is dropped into the sea, although this is a good way to dispose of unwanted items of equipment (such as heavy weaponry) that might disrupt the adventure.
The two empty bungalows can accommodate four people; additionally, a female character or NPC could be given the spare room in Monique Perkins' bungalow. If there are more adventurers, add another bungalow to the map or put the overflow into one of the old cottages, which has been cleaned for the occasion but is poorly furnished, is lit by oil lamps, and has an outdoor lavatory and no bath.
The cocktail party is attended by everyone at the observatory; Monique Perkins even puts in a brief appearance from the kitchen, where she is busy preparing an excellent meal. Dinner isn't so democratic; the visitors are seated with Peters, Doctor Gordon, and Mrs. Gordon, while the students and the other staff eat at another table. Any servants accompanying the visitors will also be seated at this table.
During the meal Mrs. Gordon keeps up a constant stream of chatter about spiritualism ("My aunt saw a ghost once",) her novels ("Of course the publishers are afraid of real talent...",) the food ("...of course she means well, but the French are so... so... French, and I'm sure that I can taste garlic...",) and her health ('Of course the doctors were baffled...',) while the scientists try to get a word in edgeways and discuss the experiments they plan.
Diners at the other table get the same food, and don't have to listen to Mrs. Gordon; this seems to relieve everyone, and there are occasional jokes about her personality, beads, and novel. Jones can perform a wickedly accurate imitation of her reading from the book, although the dialogue is considerably more earthy than the original. At the end of the meal Peters rises and makes a short speech welcoming the visitors and outlining the program of studies, and suggests that an early night might be a good idea.
The following day, and thereafter, Monique provides meals for the
visitors and the staff on duty; everyone else cooks for themselves in
3.7 Psychical Researchback to contents
The program of experiments Peters has prepared is outlined above. Each day's work consists of three main phases; setting up and calibrating the equipment in the larger of the two laboratories, conducting a test, and analysing the instrument readings afterwards.
Setting up isn't particularly complicated; Jones and the students simply move some ether-density sensors between the labs, position them around the seat and table that will be used by the medium, run the chart recorders for twenty minutes to ensure that everything is working, then check the results against the main system under the dome, to ensure that nothing has been damaged. The interferometers in the laboratories are not mobile, but are monitored during the experiment. Peters hopes that if the experiment works, the strength of the etheric effect should vary with distance from the medium. Thus instruments in the same laboratory may register changes in ether density, and possibly an anomalous change in the velocity of light. The instruments in the other laboratory should detect these effects more weakly, if at all, while the observatory's main instruments are the "control"; Peters hopes that, since they are some distance from the laboratories, they won't be affected by anything that modifies the ether in the laboratory. Anything that upsets all three sets of instruments will be an implausibly powerful disturbance of the ether, much larger than theory predicts.
The actual experiments are very simple; the medium and any other participants sit at the table, and try to conduct the seance as though there were no sensors present. Peters takes notes on any unusual events (such as levitation) that might occur, using a stop-watch to pin down the exact time. Afterwards Peters and the students compare the results from their instruments, and look for abnormalities.
Remember that these experiments are additional to the main work of the observatory, which is going on normally during the day. Meanwhile the adventurers will probably want to spend time exploring the island and getting to know people. Don't introduce Hans Carlsen until the adventurers are sure that they have met everyone; he's been moving around the beaches, studying the birds, and just happens not to have been anywhere they were looking.
If you are using any of the optional subplots (see appendix 3.B), they should be developing slowly. Agatha and Graham both seem to be taking a lot of long walks, and there are footprints (and possibly some evidence of adultery) in a cave near the lighthouse. Michael seems to have trouble concentrating on his work, and seems to dawdle over his meals. Michelle seems to have some affection for Gunther, but he does not return it. And so on...
It's a beautiful day with temperatures in the low eighties.
The first experiment is expected to produce a negative result, and is primarily intended to generate a baseline for the rest of the tests; with normal bright laboratory lighting, and none of the peculiar conditions that seem to be required by mediums, Peters expects to see no changes in the ether. Even if the medium does enter a trance, it's unlikely that there will be any major disturbance.
If one of the players is the medium, and is trying to cooperate, have them use the skill against Difficulty 8; if the result is a success, the character slowly slips off into a relatively shallow trance lasting 1D6 x 5 minutes. Afterwards Peters isn't sure if there was any noticeable effect on the ether. On a 2 the character is in a deep trance lasting 1D6 x 10 minutes, and there are definite abnormalities, minor fluctuations in ether density, although they are only picked up by the closest sensors. Light speed isn't affected, neither are instruments in the other laboratory or the main dome. If the result is a failure, the character can't enter a trance state under these unusual conditions.
If Madame Szvatz is the medium, she will enter a light trance as above. Tom Linden is easily upset by sceptics and adverse conditions, and won't be able to enter any sort of trance. Mrs. Debbs enters a deep trance that is picked up by the sensors, and starts to speak in tongues but does not "tune in" to the afterlife.
Afterwards the scientists compare the charts from their equipment, using a light box to illuminate several charts from below, so that the lines can be seen superimposed. Unless the trance was deep, they don't notice anything unusual.
The fine weather continues.
The experiment is basically a repeat of Tuesday, but the laboratory is blacked out, illuminated by a faint red light (a photographer's darkroom light). Reduce the Difficulty of entering a trance to 5, with results otherwise as above.
If Madame Szvatz is the medium, she has a bad hangover and can't enter a trance. She fakes it instead, moaning and muttering in a child's voice. Tom Linden easily enters a shallow trance. Mrs. Debbs enters a deep trance and reveals a startling (but unimportant) fact about one of the observers.
Dull and cloudy, with more wind and occasional light rain. Gale warnings for ships in the North Sea. Brian Westlake visits from the lighthouse, and says that he thinks that there might be "a bit of a blow" in the next day or two; nothing to worry about, but don't leave washing outdoors. If anyone owns a yacht that is moored within a mile of the island, Westlake suggests that it should be moved out to deeper waters.
The evening seance is attended by Agatha Gordon (who insists on sitting next to the medium), Dr. Peters, Dr. Gordon, Norman Jones, and William Campion, plus any of the adventurers that wish to participate. Agatha is seated between the medium and an adventurer. Gunther Voss operates the chart recorders but doesn't participate. Since there is no desire to see physical phenomena, Dr. Peters doesn't provide tambourines or trumpets, but does put out some pads of paper and pencils. The Difficulty of entering a trance is 6, raised slightly because some of the participants are not believers.
If one of the adventurers is a medium, a normal trance results in communication from Agatha's aunt Matilda; she's now on the Other Side, and tells Agatha "Take care of your health, my girl; the mists are thick, but I seem to see you very ill. Wrap up well in that damp weather!". All questions about the afterlife are answered with the usual vagueness. The chart recorder picks up some slight changes in ether density, and a variation in light speed that is possibly just experimental error.
A deep trance has this result, plus contact with the medium's spirit guide (if any), or some other helpful spirit, who warns that "A storm is coming out of Germany, and its banner is the Swastika. Beware, the evil already grows." This is true, but irrelevant. The chart recorder shows ether density variations in the main laboratory, and very slight fluctuations in the other laboratory. There is a slight but definite decrease in light speed, about 0.02 %
If Madame Szvatz is the medium, use the results above if she goes into a trance. If she doesn't, she fakes a meaningless message: "...for someone at the table. The mists are thick, but someone whose name begins with B or P wishes you to know that you are forgiven for the deeds of your youth." Agatha immediately says "That's my brother Peter - I pushed out of a tree when he was a little boy, and he broke his leg!"
For the other suggested mediums, the results of a successful trance are as above. If either fails to enter a trance, they will report the problem honestly.
The day begins with rain and slowly builds towards gale-force winds, which continue through the night and through the main events of this adventure. By 7 PM the tide has covered the beach between the islands, and white-capped waves surging through the gap suggest that trying to get across by wading or swimming would be an extremely bad idea (Difficulty 8 wading, 10 swimming; any failure means that the victim is washed out to sea). This is nothing especially unusual, although the severity of the waves is worse than the visitors have previously seen during their stay. The storm continues all night, and even after the tide has fallen breakers continue to wash across the beach. Any yachts moored within a mile of the island break their anchors and drift onto the rocks, and must be salvaged (having taken several hundred pounds worth of damage) once the storm ends. If any NPC crew are left aboard, they will spot the problem and take the yacht out to sea on its auxiliary engine before it is too late, but the yacht won't get back to its moorings until the storm ends, late on Saturday night.
If Agatha received her aunt's health warning, she takes two doses of cough medicine (and mentions that she isn't feeling too well) during the afternoon. If she didn't get the warning, Dr. Gordon says that she sounds as though she's coming down with a cold, and she immediately takes the medicine to ward off infection in the damp weather. Once she has taken the poison, he substitutes another bottle and plants the poisoned medicine in Peters' desk, as described above.
Since Peters is hoping to see levitation, the equipment provided includes a trumpet, a tambourine, and some disks covered with luminous paint. The concrete walls of the laboratory, and curtains over the windows, block out most of the noise of the storm, but there is a chill breeze every time a door is opened.
If Madame Szvatz is the medium, she comes ready to fake physical phenomena, with black wires and hooks ready to tilt the table, and a spring-loaded "clicker" concealed in her shoe. The other NPC mediums suggested don't bring these devices.
The next few minutes of the adventure must be run with great care. As the seance begins, the medium tries to enter a trance, Difficulty 3; all NPC mediums automatically enter a trance, ignoring dice rolls. If a player character medium doesn't go into a trance, William Campion suddenly begins to speak in tongues, and it is soon apparent that he is in a trance. In all cases, the medium immediately feels a sensation of pain, nausea, and confusion, which lasts several minutes, gradually ebbing away and clarifying as the presence of a definite personality, which suddenly asks "Where am I? What happened?". Encourage characters to ask questions which reveal that they are talking to a woman who has only just died, and seems to be unaware that she is dead (see The Land of Mist for an example). For some reason she can't identify herself, but says that "I know you... know all of you." If the adventurers press for her identity, she says "I'll come to you.... show you...."
Grey mist starts to materialise above the table, slowly solidifying into the rough outline of a woman, cut off (by the table) at the waist. Anyone looking underneath sees the rest of the form, but it is simply a grey mist. Ask for rolls to recognise her (using MIND or the Detective skill), gradually reducing the Difficulty from 8 as the apparition becomes clearer. Eventually someone should recognise Agatha; Dr. Gordon does so soon after she appears, but stays quiet to let someone else be the first to realise that she is dead.
There is likely to be some confusion; the medium stays in a trance unless disturbed, but everyone else is free to react. As soon as hands are released, Agatha's physical body collapses forward onto the table; she has been dead for several minutes. Meanwhile the apparition still hovers there, seemingly bemused by events, then points at the corpse and shrieks "That's... that's... Me!" and vanishes.
At this point the medium snaps out of the trance. Give characters and NPCs a few minutes to try to revive Agatha, while Dr. Gordon does a reasonably good job of faking puzzled bereavement: "She said that she felt a little ill, but I never realised..." At the chart recorders Voss excitedly points out the traces of a violent etheric event; density oscillated through .3 -.4%, and there was even a .2% reduction in the speed of light for a few seconds. It died down to the normal statistical background when the spirit disappeared.
When Peters goes into the other laboratory, he shouts "come and look at this", and points to the pens of the chart recorder, which are oscillating wildly. A few seconds later Agatha's grey form starts to materialise again, seemingly more solid and clearer than before, intermittently illuminated by flashes of lightning from the storm. She says "one of you... killed me... there must be... retribution..."
Behind her the window shatters, spraying the room with jagged shards of glass and the blood of a seagull that has flown into the pane. Everyone in the room must dodge one fragment attacking with skill 4:
|Flying Glass||Effect 5, Damage A:B, B:F, C:I|
it's a coincidence, but nobody in the room (including Agatha's ghost) knows that. Anyone looking at the spectral form will realise that she seems surprised then triumphant. She shrieks "You WILL pay...." and vanishes.
The lines of battle have been drawn; Agatha won't rest until her killer has been unmasked and her death is avenged. She uses her abilities (see 3.A below) to keep pressure on the characters and NPCs. For example:
|Toxic Fumes||Effect 2+1/round, Damage A:F, B:I, C:C|
It can be extinguished readily enough, but the transmitter needs major repairs and components that aren't available on the island.
At the height of the confusion someone knocks on the door; Carlsen's tent has blown away and he needs shelter for the night. He will also suffer Agatha's indiscriminate wrath.
As Agatha gets more violent, she occasionally materialises to say "there must be... revenge...", then vanishes again. She doesn't make any distinction between the characters and NPCs, and is as willing to attack her husband as anyone else. Note that she will not deliberately kill anyone; she is trying to frighten the killer into confessing. Unfortunately accidents can happen. She isn't confined to the laboratory block; she can chase her victims anywhere on the island.
If another seance is held, Agatha will come to see if there is any news of the killer. If someone can persuade her that she is making it impossible to identify the culprit, she will reluctantly agree to stop - for an hour. She vanishes, and the attacks stop. Allow everyone to say what they are doing, then (after an hour's worth of activities have been described) resume hostilities. She won't agree to another truce, and will only stop to talk if the murderer has been caught.
Agatha is the type of ghost that gets extremely angry if someone tries to exorcise her; she isn't religious, so there will be no other effect.
Agatha has no way to tell if a supposed killer is really guilty, and someone may think of faking a confession to stop her reign of terror. There is no problem at first, and Agatha disappears, but as soon as someone says anything to indicate that the confession was a phoney, she returns and is extraordinarily angry. This trick will only work once, afterwards she will only desist if she is given concrete proof of guilt.
Someone may think of using the ether density sensors and chart recorders as "detectors", to warn them of Agatha's presence. Unfortunately they aren't directional and need mains electricity to operate. Even so, they will give a definite response, but only when Agatha is already doing something fairly obvious that shows that she is present. They are essentially dead weight.
If the killer isn't identified, the attacks gradually taper off at dawn. Unfortunately the storm continues. Without the radio transmitter there is no way to call for help; while it's possible to attract the attention of the lighthouse keepers, they don't have a transmitter or a boat. If the adventurers did bring a yacht, it is either riding out the storm well out to sea, or has drifted onto the rocks and is surrounded by extremely angry waves. Any radio transmitter aboard has been smashed.
If the adventurers assume that the danger has passed, they should perhaps be reminded that there is still a murderer on the island, unless Agatha is badly mistaken. They have about fourteen hours to discover the killer's identity before night falls; although they have no way to know it, the attacks will then resume.
Eventually the adventurers should find the key clues; the pestle and mortar in the cottage, the crushed plants in its drain, and the poisoned medicine concealed in Peters' desk. Peters is surprised; he genuinely has no idea how they got there, and has no real motive to kill Agatha. He won't admit guilt, and without his confession Agatha will not be satisfied.
Naturally there are other possibilities, especially if you are using the optional subplots; Graham then becomes a strong suspect.
The exact details of Dr. Gordon's unmasking are left to players and the referee. Remember that he is the only person on the island known to have knowledge of chemistry; he got a First at university. As Agatha's husband he has the most obvious motive; she isn't the most lovable person on earth. Peters knows that he was at one time a rival for Maud Cowan's affections. Maybe he still carries a torch for her. Some of the glassware used to make the poison might wash ashore, reinforcing the idea that it was made by someone with a knowledge of chemistry. Dr. Gordon also has a cheque stub in his book, for eighteen pounds, four shillings, and ninepence paid to Baird And Tatlock Ltd. This company is a well-known scientific instrument maker, but there is no reason why he would buy equipment from them directly; orders are usually sent to the NPL, which supplies equipment from stock or orders it from subcontractors.
Once Agatha has convincing proof she will materialise once more, momentarily solidifying to slap Dr. Gordon in the face and say "See you in Hell, darling... soon, I hope...." She then disappears.
The storm ends in the early hours of Sunday morning. With luck the characters and NPCs can then start to pick up the pieces. None of the NPCs are keen to resume the experiment; somehow it doesn't seem like a good idea, and (unless the adventurers decide to take an interest) these matters will remain unexplored for another few years. If the adventurers don't have their own transport, the supply boat arrives on Monday morning.
If the killer hasn't been identified, police are sent over from Jersey to deal with the case; they eventually arrest Gordon, for the reasons above, and can easily find proof that he purchased the sort of equipment that would be needed to make the poison.
Whether he is unmasked by adventurers or the police, Gordon has a good lawyer, and won't be convicted of murder; most of the evidence is circumstantial, and there are plenty of other suspects. Even if he confessed, he will claim that everyone else used tricks to make him think that there was a ghost, and forced him to write "a pack of lies". Unfortunately the strain of the trial, and frequent visits by Agatha (always when nobody else is looking) will soon drive him insane. He ends his days in a reasonably comfortable asylum.
Later seances may resume contact with Agatha, but she isn't a good
spirit guide; it will take years for her to attain any spiritual
advancement. Even in death she remains unrepentantly vindictive, and
that precludes enlightenment. She won't materialise again.
3.8 Rewardsback to contents
Bonus points should be awarded for all the usual reasons; for good role-playing, for making the referee laugh, etc. Characters may also be given points for the following actions if they were involved; preferably no more than 2-4 points per player in all:
|Negotiate a truce||+1|
|The police solve the murder||-2|
The observatory is an excellent springboard to adventures involving abnormalities in the ether and unusual phenomena; see the sources recommended in the worldbook for more ideas.
Once the observatory is running properly again, the NPL will start to think about setting up more sites. If adventurers have suitable qualifications they might be asked to join an advisory committee or even join the staff.
The Channel Islands will be occupied by the Germans during WW2.
Because they know the site, the adventurers are recruited to spearhead
a commando strike to rescue the equipment, especially the "radiation
detector" and calculating engine, or at least make sure that the
Germans never use them. It's known that the Germans are fortifying the
island, and may be sending scientists to investigate the equipment or
move it to Germany. Plastique, grenades, and Sten guns may be needed
to deal with this problem, and getting in and out without Luftwaffe
attack won't be easy.
3.A Charactersback to contents
Michael Peters (Director of the Ether Observatory)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Athlete (Gymnastics) , Brawling , Business , Babbage Engine , Mechanic , Scientist 
Equipment: Laboratory equipment, tools, etc.
Quote: "If you look at the 30-day chart you can see the gradual change in lightspeed I mentioned, with the normal 24-hour cycle superimposed on it..."
Notes: Peters is a handsome extrovert, an enthusiast for his work and the goals of the organisation. He's insensitive to the feelings of others, and usually misses the undercurrents around him. He is the same age as the recipient of the letter, preferably in his late twenties or early thirties.
Frederic Gordon (Etheric physicist. A year older than Peters.)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (liar) , Babbage Engine , Brawling , Marksman , Mechanic , Melee Weapon , Scientist , Stealth , Thief (forgery only) 
Equipment: 2 bottles digitalis, gloves, access to laboratory equipment, tools, etc.
Quote: "We're registering a 0.21% drop in ether density over the last 48 hours. Nothing outside the normal limits of error, I think."
Notes: Fred is plump and slightly balding, and has a small slide rule and three pens in his pocket. He has come to loathe his wife, and thinks that his problems will be solved if she is out of the way. He is sadly mistaken.
Agatha Gordon (Wife of Fred, unsuccessful romantic novelist, the same age as Fred)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (Writer) , Linguist (Italian, French, German) , Riding 
Equipment: Typewriter, lilac-scented paper, several hundred pages of unsaleable manuscripts, bangles and beads, four copies of 'Her Wedding Secret', various patent medicines and nostrums.
Quote: "Darling, do you think 'his passionate embrace' or 'his passionate arms' sounds better?"
Notes: Agatha is possibly the worst romantic novelist and poet ever to put pen to paper. She is totally self-centred, and completely lacking in tact; she does not hesitate to tell her husband that she despises "soulless science", but thinks that he should have been the Director, not Peters, and treats Barnes, Jones, and Perkins as social inferiors. She is a hypochondriac, and firmly believes that she teeters on the brink of a collapse.
Agatha Gordon (as ghost)
BODY [-], MIND , SOUL 
Equipment: None (she's intangible and only intermittently visible)
Quote: "One of you will pay...."
Notes: Agatha is so self-centred that she reappears as a ghost within minutes of her death. She is certain that she was murdered, but has no idea of the culprit, and won't rest until guilt has been proved to her satisfaction. Agatha can move small objects telekinetically; she must oppose her SOUL to the weight of the object in pounds to succeed. If she uses an object as a weapon, she must also oppose her SOUL to the Effect she wants it to have. For example, if she wanted to hit someone with an object weighing 1 lb for Effect 6, she could easily overcome the problem of moving it, but would then have to overcome Difficulty 6 to accelerate it and use it as a weapon. However, she might contrive to let gravity take a hand (for example, by dropping something from the top of a wardrobe, or tripping someone on the stairs from the observatory dome), use inherently dangerous weapons (such as razor blades or live wires), or use something small as an indirect weapon (such as ground glass or poison). She can only move one object at a time. She must overcome Difficulty 5 to appear visually, Difficulty 8 to be seen and heard.
Graham Barnes (Handyman and electrician, aged 36)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Babbage Engine , Driving , Mechanic 
Equipment: Tools, access to laboratory equipment, etc.
Quote: "A few drops of number four oil right there ought to do it."
Notes: Graham regards himself as the essential man at the observatory; he keeps the equipment working, and without him the scientists and technicians would have nothing to do. He and Norman Jones are rivals for Monique Perkins' affections. He is wiry but attractive.
Norman Jones (Welsh laboratory technician, aged 27)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Babbage Engine , First Aid , Mechanic , Morse Code , Scientist 
Equipment: Tools, access to equipment, etc.
Quote: "Come the revolution, boyo, the streets will run red with blood... Meanwhile, pass me that set of log tables."
Notes: Norman regards himself as the essential man at the observatory; although scientists can come up with fancy theories, and mechanics may be needed to make repairs occasionally, he feels that it takes a skilled technician to get the results and keep things running on a day to day basis. He has three other interests; ham radio (using the site's transmitter), socialism, and Monique Perkins. None are pursued very strenuously. He is thin and wears thick pebble-lensed spectacles.
Monique Perkins (Cook, aged 25)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (haute cuisine) , Athlete (Swimming) , First Aid , Linguist (English, German) 
Equipment: Cooking utensils etc.
Quote: "So I marry him, and I leave my job, and we come to his home in Jersey, and I cook our first meal, then he is telling me he is allergic to the garlic. Then I learn he is sleeping with a woman who cooks him the boiled cabbage and the spotted, how you say, dick, and I am divorcing him. Ces't la vie."
Notes: Monique is a French divorcee previously resident on Jersey. She is attractive and an excellent cook, and feels that British cuisine is an insult to her talents, although she can easily cope with it. She plans to open a French restaurant in St. Helier if she can raise some money. She is on the rebound from her marriage and has no great interest in men.
Gunther Voss (German exchange student, aged 19)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Linguist (French, Italian, English) , Marksman , Mechanic , Melee Weapon (fencing, sabre) , Pilot (gliders) , Scientist 
Equipment: Sabre, foils, and fencing mask in luggage, access to tools etc.
Quote: "You mean that you have never fought a duel? Never?"
Notes: Gunther is a typical German student, dedicated to science and convinced that Heidelberg is the centre of the universe. If this adventure is set after 1933 he is a fervent National Socialist and member of the Hitler Youth. People who don't meet these criteria find it difficult to attend university in Germany. He is usually immersed in his work, a thesis on cyclic patterns in ether density. He comes from a wealthy family, and is always smartly dressed. There is a duelling scar on his right cheek.
William Campion (Student, aged 20)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (comic, conjuror) , Artist (water colours) , Athlete (Rugby football) , Babbage Engine , Brawling , Medium (untrained) , Scientist ]
Equipment: Paints, sketch pad, access to tools etc.
Quote: "...and then the parrot says 'All right, I give up. What did you do with the ship?'..."
Notes: Bill (he hates to be called William) was once sceptical about the supernatural, but some odd experiences have made him think that there might be something in it. He suggested the experiment because he thinks that the equipment at the observatory may help to find some answers. He is a talented amateur conjuror, and believes that he will be able to spot any tricks. He is short, stockily built, and the lobe of his left ear is missing, having been bitten off in a Rugby match.
Magda Szvatz (Materialisation medium, age 50)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (sleight of hand) , Linguist (Most European languages including English) , Medium 
Equipment: Assorted tambourines, Ouija board, lots of bangles, beads, etc. Several lengths of blackened wire, steel hooks, and a ventriloquist's gadget to make her voice sound like that of a child. Hip flask brandy, three bottles in luggage.
Quote: "Speak, spirit! Speak, I implore you!"
Notes: Madame Szvatz is a genuine medium, but has taken to drink and resorts to fakery if she can't produce real phenomena. Her spirit guide is Rain Cloud, a Red Indian chief killed by Wild Bill Hickok; she hasn't heard from him for several weeks, but fakes his voice if she can't enter a trance. She is a Hungarian resident in Britain.
Hans Carlsen (Swedish ornithologist, age 55)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (writer) , Athlete (Mountaineer) , First Aid , Linguist (English, French, Norwegian, Greek) , Scientist (ornithology) 
Equipment: Binoculars, late-model camera with telephoto lens, note book, pens, alpenstock.
Quote: "Goot evening. Have you seen any puffins?"
Notes: Carlsen is that stock figure of British melodrama, the sinister foreigner. He appeared mysteriously on the island (actually left by a passing fishing boat) two days before the adventurers arrive, and has a tent pitched well away from the noise of the observatory. He genuinely is an entirely innocuous ornithologist, and has published several books on the birds of Europe and Scandinavia. His function in this adventure is to be a red herring; let characters waste time suspecting him, while all hell breaks loose elsewhere.
Brian Westlake (Lighthouse keeper, age 37)
Horace Smith (Lighthouse keeper, age 44)
Both BODY , MIND , SOUL , Brawling , First Aid , Mechanic , Military Arms , Morse Code 
Quote: "Your turn to pump the oil up..."
Equipment: Watch, nautical tables, lighthouse supplies.
Notes: Westlake and Smith are both former sailors, now employed by Trinity House, the body responsible for Britain's lighthouses. They are accustomed to the monotony and isolation required by their duties, and rarely talk unless they have something important to say.
3.B Subplots And Freeform Ideasback to contents
While the main plot of this adventure should be enough for normal RPG referees, several optional subplots can be added. They are especially useful if you wish to convert it into a freeform scenario, with all of the roles (the NPCs described above, minus the lighthouse keepers) taken by players. The subplots are in the form of additional goals for the characters:
Michael Peters is desperately in love with Monique Perkins, but she has spurned all his advances. He hopes to win her love somehow, and has purchased an engagement ring. He intends to propose if the moment seems right. He will become very jealous if he thinks that she loves another, or someone seems to be paying her too much attention.
Frederic Gordon has no extra motives; he wants to kill his wife, whom he now finds repulsive, without any trace of suspicion. He has two bottles of digitalis, a shotgun, and gloves. If possible the death should look like natural causes or suicide, but if all else fails Michael should be blamed. He doesn't really need additional problems!
Agatha Gordon is secretly having a passionate affair with Graham Barnes. They usually meet in one of the old cottages, or in a cave near the lighthouse. Now Agatha fears that she may be pregnant; since she and Fred haven't been intimate for the last three months, this could be difficult to explain. She doesn't think that Graham is ready for a scandal or marriage. Somehow she must get Fred to make love to her, repulsive though he is, then she can claim that the child is premature when it's born.
Graham Barnes has been having an affair with Agatha Gordon. Now Agatha thinks she might be pregnant, and Frederic will probably object if she confesses. It's time for Graham to find a way to ditch her, preferably without endangering his job or his own marriage. His wife lives in Inverness and plays no part in the adventure. To the best of Graham's knowledge, Agatha doesn't know that his wife exists, but Frederic has access to his personnel records and could easily find out. Graham regards Agatha as totally expendable, and wouldn't lose any sleep if she fell off a cliff...
Norman Jones is a Communist spy. Moscow is deeply suspicious of Britain's real motives in building the observatory in this odd location, and has ordered him to find out all he can about the reasons for its construction. Jones is reasonably sure that most of the installation is bona fide, but there's an odd machine in the dome that doesn't seem to be part of the experiment. The story about cosmic rays is nonsense, they are absorbed high in the atmosphere, so what's the truth? He reports to a contact in France, disguising the messages as normal radio amateur chatter.
Monique Perkins is a serial bigamist and gold-digger. She has deserted four husbands, and is currently shopping for number five. Peters is too wrapped up in his work, and would never want to leave this nasty island, Frederic is married, and Graham and Norman are too poor, but that nice lad Gunther Voss could be interesting; he seems to have money, and it would be good to return to Europe. Gunther goes home soon, so perhaps it's time to make a move.
Gunther Voss is a German spy. He is supposedly working on his thesis, but it is mainly an excuse to give him access to the NPL's new calculating engine. He has already photographed the plans, and will take the film back to Germany when he returns there. His cover as a student is good; he has even been given the funds to pretend that he is a rich aristocrat (which he isn't). It's essential to avoid arousing any suspicion, and evade entanglements which might make it difficult to drop out of sight when he returns to Germany.
William Campion has pinned his hopes of a scientific career on this experiment, and is determined to make it succeed. If necessary he will use his conjuring skills to create "supernatural" phenomena, and tamper with the equipment to record anomalous results.
Magda Szvatz is really Maud Cowan. Years of amateur dramatics have taught her the techniques of disguise, and some basic conjuring tricks. She's sure that she can fake her way as a medium, and certain that nobody will recognise her. She still loves Michael Peters, and wants to find out why he ditched her, and why he is hiding on this remote island. Could there be another woman? If there is, God help her...
Hans Carlsen really is an ornithologist. He believes that the noise made by the observatory's generators is disturbing the nesting patterns of the seagulls on the island, and wants to persuade those in charge to shut it down. He is a pacifist, so persuasion must be entirely verbal.
The player taking Frederic's part should not be briefed on the supernatural elements of the adventure, over and above the minimal fact that a seance is planned. Agatha must not know that she is destined to be killed, so the referee should only brief her on her activities as a ghost once she is dead. Until Agatha is killed, Magda/Maud should be led to believe that no real supernatural events will occur. Naturally she should have scientific and conjuring skills, not psychic powers.
Several rooms are needed to stage this as a freeform; two laboratories and the observatory dome, the dining room/kitchen, and several smaller areas for the individual bungalows, the scientists' office, the workshop, etc. If space is at a premium, discard the laboratories and assume that the experiments are taking place in the observatory dome.
Obviously freeform referees will need to do a lot of work to get this adventure ready for their preferred system, and may wish to make major changes or add more characters, subplots, and weapons. If you use it, please send a copy of the character and referee briefings, and rules system used (if any) to one of the usual addresses:
22 Westbourne Park Villas, London W2 5EA, EnglandThis will allow me to pass on copies to anyone else that might want to run it. Please make no charge for participation, over and above expenses, or pass on any profits to charity.
This scenario is set in 1935. The adventurers are a group of children, school friends or relatives, aged 8 to 11. Most referees and players will be aware of a long tradition of juvenile fiction featuring such groups as The Hardy Boys, The Famous Five, etc. Generally such characters own a loyal and incredibly clever dog, and are accompanied (at a distance) by wealthy relatives, who allow them an extraordinary amount of freedom.
Before the adventure begins players should generate characters, and optionally a dog as a player character or NPC, as in Appendix E of the rules. As the adventure opens the characters are travelling to Scotland by train, to start their summer holidays. They're going to stay with Great-Uncle George, a relative of one of the characters. None of them know much about him, except that he's a scientist, very rich, and has rented a castle in Scotland for the summer. His full name is George E. Challenger, and he is now a vigorous 72 years old. The holiday home is Gillespie Castle, beside Loch Ness, about fifteen miles from Inverness.
Source material for this adventure can include any of dozens of books about Loch Ness and its monster; unfortunately there seems to be no middle ground between credulity and extreme scepticism. Steuart Campbell's The Loch Ness Monster was used for some details; geographical and historical information mostly came from The Ordnance Survey Touring Atlas Of Scotland. The detective novel Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers  is useful for atmosphere; The Convenient Monster by Leslie Charteris [in The Fantastic Saint, col. 1982] is also relevant. The film The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes has an interesting view of the monster; you are also referred to various episodes of the TV series Ripping Yarns, The Comic Strip, and Stingray. Role playing material related to lake monsters includes The Mystery of Loch Feinn by Glenn Rahman [The Cthulhu Companion, Chaosium Inc. 1983, also in the 3rd and 4th editions of the Call of Cthulhu rules], Kingdom Of Champions by Phil Masters [Hero Games 1990], Tabloid [TSR 1994, for The Amazing Engine], and Highland Terror [Pacesetter 1984, for Chill]. A recording of a steam train can add atmosphere to the opening scene; a recording of the "Jaws" theme can also be useful.
Phil Masters' RPG The Skool Rules is particularly suitable for
adventures involving children, and has been included in this
collection with the author's permission. Skool Rules statistics for
NPCs, and suggested changes for this system, are included at the end
of the adventure. Another game on this theme was published in Valkyrie
magazine (Volume 1 issue 7, March 1995) about a week before the
completion of this collection; 'Lashings Of Ginger Beer', by Simon
Washbourne, is a simple system designed to simulate the type of story
mentioned in the first paragraph. It would also be an effective
alternative for this adventure.
4.1 Players Informationback to contents
Hurrah! Summer hols at last, and all of you are going to spend a few weeks in Scotland. Your parents have to go abroad, but they've arranged for you all to stay with your Great-Uncle George in a real castle, so you should have a wonderful time. Maybe you'll find a secret passage, or see a ghost! You've never met Great-Uncle George, but Daddy says that he has pots of money, so with any luck the food will be good. You hope so, because it'll nearly be tea time when you get there.
The train chuffs and whistles to a stop, steam hissing as it brakes, and a porter shouts "Inverness! All change! All change!".
You jump onto the platform, and look around for Great-Uncle George;
Daddy said that he has a huge beard, so he shouldn't be hard to find.
You don't see anyone like that, but you can see a mournful-looking
chauffeur waiting by the platform, holding up a card with your name on
it. The car behind him is a big old-fashioned open-topped Humber;
there ought to be plenty of room for everyone.
4.2 Referee's Informationback to contents
"Anyone who hates small dogs and children can't be all bad."
Although the adventurers are children (and, possibly, dogs), this is NOT designed as an especially easy or safe scenario. There are several opportunities for careless characters to encounter unpleasant situations. A kind referee may wish to warn players not to expect special treatment, but it's more fun to let it come as a nasty surprise.
Loch Ness ('loch' just means lake) is a freshwater lake about a mile wide by 22.5 miles long, and up to 750 ft deep. 32_ADV3.GIF shows the location of the loch and some surrounding villages. It's fed by three small rivers, drains into the River Ness (which reaches the sea at the city of Inverness), and is linked to various canals. Peat washed down from the surrounding hills makes the water dark and mysterious. In the Middle Ages a kelpie (a magical monster) was said to live in the water of the River Ness; in 565 AD St. Columba is reported to have seen the burial of a man killed by the monster, and one legend says that he also confronted the creature and used his holiness to drive it away. Later there were stories of a monster in the loch, with sightings continued intermittently through the centuries to the present day.
Although the loch is usually thought of as an isolated area, the reality is rather different; there are several villages along its banks, and it is used by large numbers of boats, including three tourist cruises a day at the height of summer. The Northern end is only three miles from the town of Inverness. In the early 1930s the road along the West shore was improved, and was used by an increasing number of tourists. Suddenly the number of monster sightings rose from one or two a year to 37 in one 13-month period, April 1933 - May 1934. Photographs of the monster received international publicity; see 10_PLESI.GIF for one of the most famous examples, the so-called 'Surgeon's Photograph', taken in April 1934. Now, in 1935, a scientific team hopes to solve the mystery, and Professor Challenger is in Scotland to witness the experiment. To help a nephew who has to travel abroad on urgent business, he has also agreed to look after a group of children until it's time for them to return to school.
Professor Challenger has rented Gillespie Castle, a (wholly imaginary) Victorian edifice near the village of Inverfarigaig on the shores of the loch. His scientific colleagues will soon be based at Foyers, a mile or so SW of the castle. They are reasonably sure that the monster is a plesiosaur. Knowing that the plesiosaurs of Maple White Land communicate by sonar signals, they plan to use a phonograph recording of a mating call, and an underwater louspeaker system borrowed from the Navy, to lure the monster into a trap. Once captured, they intend to tranquillise it and examine it to find any differences from the native species of Maple White Land, then ship it to Edinburgh Zoo in a specially built barge. Challenger has no intention of involving the children in these activities, and will do his best to keep them out from underfoot.
While the 'monster' really exists, it isn't the creature of legend. It's a young freshwater plesiosaur hatched from an egg bought back by George McBride, a sailor who took part in Challenger's 1918 expedition to Maple White Land, and later killed his wife in a drunken rage after she allowed it to escape. McBride was executed in 1919, but it is rumoured that his ghost still haunts his old cottage, which happens to be near the castle. The rumour isn't entirely inaccurate.
An important participant in coming events is young Jimmy Bond, an orphan who lives with his elderly aunt in another nearby cottage. Jimmy has convinced himself that the monster is his friend, and will do everything in his power to stop it being caught; if Nessie is caught, he will do his best to persuade the characters to help him save it from captivity.
While this adventure has been designed for children, it can be run using adult characters. The Difficulty of all tasks should be increased, and all incidents should be more deadly. The adventurers can't stay with Challenger unless they have previously become his friends, and it may be better if they are rival scientists, journalists, or have some other reason to pry into his affairs. In this case NPCs can include a group of children, who continually need rescuing and get in the way at crucial moments. Nessie should be a full-sized plesiosaur (see worldbook), while Jimmy should be older, possibly a retarded adult or teenager with a childlike imagination. To be honest, it works better with children...
For the benefit of foreign readers, it is probably worth mentioning that very few men in 20th-century Scotland wear kilts or tartan, carry bagpipes, dance on swords, etc., except on ceremonial occasions, and that these activities are in any case usually confined to the Scots aristocracy; even in 1935 it's almost a truism that anyone wearing a kilt is either an American tourist or selling something.
If characters are Scots, the "almost incomprehensible" accents
mentioned below seem entirely normal. While the names of real
locations have been used in this adventure, all persons mentioned are
fictitious, as are all buildings etc.
4.3 Timetableback to contents
This adventure takes place in July-August 1935: the schedule that follows is intended as a rough outline of events, and can be speeded or slowed to vary the pace of the adventure.
JULY 1935 AUGUST 1935 SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 28 29 30 31 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Weather should normally be good throughout this period, but if you want to simulate a typical British summer, use 2D6 and this table once per day:
|2||Dull, misty, cold, showers of rain all day|
|3-4||Dull, occasional short showers|
Nights are short this far North; Britain uses daylight saving time, so sunset is at 10.30 PM, but it isn't completely dark until 11.30 PM at the end of July, with first light at 4.30 AM.
|July 19th||School term ends.|
|July 22nd||After a weekend at home, the children travel to Scotland.|
|July 23rd||Children meet Jimmy Bond, explore the area.|
|July 30th||Challenger's associates arrive by boat.|
|August 7th||The local newspaper reveals the details of the project.|
|August 9th||One of the boats burns at its moorings.|
|August 16th||Another boat arrives to replace the damaged craft.|
|August 24th||Nessie caught; Jimmy tries to arrange a rescue.|
|August 28th||If still a captive, Nessie sets off for Edinburgh.|
The waiting chauffeur is Austin, Professor Challenger's loyal retainer. The adventurers are the only children on the train, so he'll easily track them down if they don't approach him. Although he's now 61 years old, Austin is still a man of few words who will have no qualms about using the flat of his hand to enforce discipline. Once the children and their luggage are safely loaded into the car, he arranges to have any bikes delivered the following day, then sets off for the castle. The drive takes about three quarters of an hour on the narrow roads, and most of the time the car is driving beside the loch. Even in the July sunlight it looks dark, cold, and mysterious. Several boats are visible en route, including a tug, barges, and a ferry.
Eventually the car drives through Inverfarigaig, where characters may note that there's a sweet shop and a hotel selling ice cream and cream teas (Austin isn't interested in stopping to sample these delights), then ascends a gentle slope to Gillespie Castle, arriving at about 3.30 PM.
The castle currently has four occupants; Austin, Challenger, Sarah the housekeeper, and Mrs. Grant the cook. Two local girls, Dot and Fiona, are employed as maids but don't live at the castle.
When the children are out of the car Sarah leads them into the hall and introduces them to the other staff, then Austin, Dot and Fiona look after their luggage while Sarah takes them to meet Challenger.
The first encounter with Professor Challenger should be a moderately frightening experience; he's hard at work in his study, and won't welcome intruders.
Challenger's study is littered with books and papers. There's an impressively big brass microscope on a table in one corner, with racks of slides and dissecting equipment. A powerful telescope points out of the window at the loch. One wall is covered with maps of the area, with pins for each sighting, and blurry photographs and other evidence of Nessie's existence. Graphs show the number of sightings each month since 1900, and breakdowns of the colour, shape, size, and movement rate. On a Difficulty 6 Scientist roll, with at least an hour spent studying the pictures and graphs, it's apparent that about two thirds of the reports seem to be random; there is no discernible pattern of size, shape, colour, or movement rate. The remaining third describe something that's blue-grey or dark green in colour, streamlined, and has gradually increased in size and speed from about 1920 onwards. It seems to be most active in the Summer. The last reports show it as about thirty to forty feet long, and capable of speeds up to 15 MPH. Several pictures show something that looks vaguely like a plesiosaur, but might equally well be a badly focused swan.
Challenger (now aged 72) has a flowing white beard but hasn't mellowed much with age; while making a minimal effort to be nice to the children, he still roars at any interruption. He welcomes the children, tells them that they are to have two shillings a week each for pocket money (a generous sum for the period; a cinema seat for a child only costs 6d, an ice cream 3d), that he expects them to make their own amusements and get plenty of fresh air and healthy exercise while they are staying with him, and that he must not be disturbed while he is working. If anyone asks him about his work he explains that it is very scientific and far beyond anything a child would understand. If any of the children claim knowledge of science, Challenger "gently" questions them to find the true extent of their ignorance; this should be role-played, not determined by skill rolls, bearing in mind that in this universe the world is alive, light is a wave conducted by the ether, dinosaurs aren't extinct, and so forth. See the worldbook for more details. Whatever the outcome, he remains secretive. Persistent displays of scientific interest (such as bringing odd flowers or insects to Challenger for identification) will make him more tolerant of the children. While he won't talk about his current project, he should be good for a few bedtime tales about dinosaurs and the end of the world.
If any of the children have the Medium skill, and allow Challenger to know it, he will be very interested indeed. Some possible results of this interest include an attempt to dowse for the monster (a map and pendulum will soon reveal that it is constantly on the move), or a seance to determine its thoughts (best summed up as "find food - hey, here's a fish! Munch!"). Any attempt at more detailed results should fail.
Once introductions are complete, Sarah shows the children to their rooms, and tells them that they should be ready to come down to tea in about an hour. This may be a good opportunity to take a quick look around.
Built by an Inverness merchant in the 19th century, Gillespie Castle is about as authentic as an aluminium Christmas tree, but this may not be obvious to children. It's essentially a country house with a turret at each corner, battlements, and an arched gate, built of brick with a stone outer facing. 32_ADV3.GIF shows the layout, a U shape built around a courtyard inside the square outer wall, with the top of the U facing the loch. It has a telephone (in the hall, with an extension in Challenger's study; the exchange is manual, run by the post-mistress in Inverfarigaig), running water, electric light, and reasonably good plumbing. The rooms are heated by wood fires at night. There are no ghosts; no-one has ever died there.
The base of the 'U' is a large hall, oak panelled. There are stags' heads and a couple of replica swords on the wall. Stairs lead to an upper gallery. On the lower floor doors on the right side of the "U" lead to the kitchen, servants' quarters, and garage; the children will probably find the kitchen easily, but they'll be discouraged from exploring further. On the left side doors lead to the dining room, and a passage to a music room, lounge, and Challenger's study.
The music room has a harmonium, a harp, a set of bagpipes (with a leaky bag), and a clockwork phonograph with roughly 50 records, ranging from opera to jazz. Any attempt to use any of these items while Challenger is at work will lead to serious trouble.
The lounge has a wireless set (see note above about playing music loudly), a good selection of reference books, and copies of the newspapers and magazines Challenger regularly reads. Articles on scientific topics are frequently ringed and annotated with remarks such as "Nonsense!" or exclamation marks. The local paper receives special attention; any story about the monster is ringed, with times, dates, and other details underlined. During this adventure these stories are frequent, and all are of the "I saw something hump-shaped moving in the water" variety, without much in the way of a detailed description.
The upper floor is divided into two wings, one (above the servants) for guests and the other for "family"; the children will sleep in guest bedrooms (with any overflow in the family rooms), Challenger has the bedroom that is furthest from the children. There are also bathrooms, WCs, a nursery, and store rooms holding blankets and spare furniture. All of the rooms are comfortably furnished.
The most interesting room for children is probably the nursery. Most of the toys it contains were designed for younger children, but there's a chess set, some board games, paints, pencils, a large clockwork train set, and a selection of sports equipment including a croquet set and cricket gear (bats etc. are sized for children aged about 8-9).
The turrets are hollow. On the lower floor two serve as store rooms, the other two are bricked closed. On the upper floor one houses water tanks (and is securely locked); the other three are apparently solid, but a guest room (which should be allocated to one of the children) has a secret door! A shallow alcove with several shelves is actually an old doorway, with the knob removed and the door papered over. It was closed off the last time the building was renovated because the floor of the turret room needed expensive repairs. Roll MIND or Detective versus Difficulty 5 to spot it visually, since the shelves are in the way; there's also a slight draught under the door, easily noticed (Difficulty 3) if the window is closed. The shelves rest on wooden supports, and are easily removed; gentle probing will find the square hole where the knob fitted. A clever child could slit the wallpaper around the edges of the door and use a poker to turn the latch.
The 'secret door' leads into an empty turret room, dimly lit by three narrow 'arrow slits', with a few timid bats roosting in the roof beams high above. The only furniture is a round white-topped table. A piece of paper rests on the table, a list of repairs and their costs with the letterhead of an Inverness builder, dated 1908; one, crossed through, is "Replace NW turret floor £87 6s 6d". The floor creaks ominously when anyone moves on it; it won't give way, but you needn't tell players that... Some rusty loops of chain dangle down from the ceiling to one side of the table; a little experimentation will show that they are the controls of a camera obscura, a Victorian projection system which reflects a view of the loch down to the table. The view takes in about 30 degrees. The chains can be used to open or close a shutter covering the lens (it's initially closed), pan left or right through 45 degrees, and tilt up through 5 degrees or down through 20 degrees.
When first used the view is blurred and dim, mainly because the lenses and mirrors are filthy; performance will improve dramatically if the table is wiped clean and someone climbs 15 ft up into the roof of the turret (Difficulty 6) and cleans the optics. Covering the arrow slits to darken the room will also help. When clean, the view obtained from this system is better than that from the bedroom windows or the banks of the loch, mainly because it's magnified and from a higher viewpoint, also because the light is partially polarised by reflection through the optics, cutting down glare from the surface of the water. Each time the system is used, roll 2D6, subtracting the total number of hours the adventurers spend watching; on a 1 or less there's a brief disturbance in the water of the loch, and a grey-green shape appears for a moment before submerging again. It's too far away to see much detail, but the characters should have a brief impression of a small head, a long neck, and flippers. If watching from the windows or the banks of the loch, use this roll every two hours, subtracting 1 for every 2 hours of watching.
The castle stands in a few acres of land, mostly roughly cropped pasture, with a garden at the back. A steep path leads down to a small private landing stage by the loch. A rowing boat is moored there, padlocked to the stage; Austin has the key, and won't let anyone take it out until he is sure that they can swim and row.
Everyday life in the castle follows a regular pattern. Breakfast is served at 7.30 a.m., lunch at 1 P.M., and high tea at 5 P.M. Challenger has dinner at 9, but children aren't expected to need more food. Sarah sees them upstairs at 8, leaving them to bathe and get themselves to bed. At about 10 she checks their bedrooms and switches off any lights that are still on.
The children are generally free to do much as they like, provided that they return for meals (or take sandwiches for lunch) and are back in the house for tea. Loch Ness is surrounded by hills, there are some interesting ruins in the area, and the landscape is pretty, with dozens of small streams cascading down to the loch and dozens of smaller lochs and pools. The villages in easy cycling range mostly rely on farming, fishing, and forestry for their incomes, supplemented by tourism. There's a genuine castle on the far side of the loch; Urquhart Castle is a 16th-century ruin near Drumnadrochit.
Foyers is an exception to the rural lifestyle; dominated by Britain's first (Victorian) aluminium refinery, where most of the villagers work, it's essentially an industrial site with a couple of warehouses and some housing. Its river has a 100ft waterfall, and a hydroelectric power station supplies the factory and the surrounding area with electricity. Any child with an interest in modern technology will probably want to take a look, but adults may not approve of their interest; the dam and power station offer endless opportunities for falling into the water, electrocution, etc., while the refinery is full of huge electrolysis pots containing white hot aluminium salts, and has more electrical hazards. Professor Challenger's name may be the key to getting a closer look, with an adult guide, but children won't be allowed to wander around either site without supervision.
Camping expeditions may be possible, if the children have tents; there
is less paranoia about letting children travel unattended in this era.
Sarah won't let them stay out overnight without food, blankets, and
everything else they might possibly need; if they don't return to the
castle the following day, Austin will come looking for them.
4.5 My Name Is Bond...back to contents
Jimmy Bond lives with his aunt in a cottage near the castle; it's by the road leading to Foyers, and the adventurers will pass it every time they head in that direction. Since he's also on holiday, Jimmy is usually somewhere around. Most of his friends are currently away on a Boy Scout camping expedition; Jimmy recently had measles (he's just out of quarantine) and wasn't allowed to go along. He's naturally curious about new kids in the area, and will soon find a way to check them out. Depending on the attitude of your characters, this may involve making friends with their dog, saying "hello", or starting a fight. As an added incentive to friendship his aunt, Miss Alicia Bond, is pleased to see Jimmy with new friends, and will provide milk and delicious fruit-cake for everyone.
Whatever the means, try to ensure that Jimmy becomes a trusted guide to the area and 'authority' on local history, wildlife, etc. He does genuinely know where to catch the best fish and frogs, and the places where you can sometimes see snakes, otters, badgers, and stags. While he is guiding the adventurers, give them a couple of chances to see his accuracy with a catapult, and the fact that he sometimes fires lead fishing sinkers for greater range and accuracy.
Jimmy is prone to wild exaggeration, and sometimes economical with the truth; he is a charming, likeable rogue, who has a golden future ahead of him as a confidence trickster. He could swear that black is white, and make it sound convincing. He is an expert at leading other children into trouble; once things start to go horribly wrong he will beat a hasty retreat, arrange an alibi, and deny all knowledge of any wrongdoing.
A few months ago Jimmy saw Nessie through a telescope; he has told the other local children that he has frequently encountered the monster, and that it will eat fish from his hands. After several months he half-believes it himself. His friends know better, but strangers are fair game for his fantasies.
Once Jimmy knows the characters, he will waste no time in telling them about 'his' Nessie. He'll also warn them not to go near the old McBride cottage, a drab ruin a few hundred yards away; he claims that McBride was a sailor who came back from the war, stabbed his wife eighteen times, cut her into pieces, and tried to dispose of her body by using her as ground bait for salmon. Jimmy adds "And his ghost still roams beside the Loch, lookin' for more people to cut up for bait." Naturally Jimmy tells this story with great relish, especially the part about cutting her into pieces.
As proof of his story, he'll take the adventurers to the local church, in Inverfarigaig, and show them a tombstone:
1895 - 1919
Murdered By Her Husband
Jimmy's story is partially true. In 1918 McBride, then a sailor in the Royal Navy, took part in the second Challenger expedition to Maple White Land. Naturally stringent precautions were taken to stop any of the sailors stealing diamonds, but McBride hit upon the idea of smuggling a dinosaur egg to Britain, planning to sell the animal to a circus or a zoo. Before it hatched new orders sent him back to sea; he was forced to leave the egg with his wife. When it hatched she was so frightened that she threw the plesiosaur into the loch, where it eventually grew to become the "monster" of the 1930s.
McBride returned in 1919; Alice told him that the "lizard" had escaped, but eventually admitted what she had done. In a drunken rage he began to hit her, and she fell and fractured her skull on the fire irons. McBride tried to conceal the body, failed, then pretended that she had died as the result of a fall, but forensic evidence showed he was lying; he was found guilty of murder and executed. After the execution a succession of tenants occupied the cottage; all found reasons to leave within a few days, and eventually no-one would rent it. It has stood empty for years, and is slowly collapsing through neglect and vandalism.
If the characters go near the ruined cottage, they should feel a nameless dread, and a strong sensation of being watched. Anyone with the Medium skill will "see" a dark shadow around the hearth. This has all the hallmarks of a haunting, but this impression is misleading; the "ghost" is actually a strong psychic record, embedded in the stones of the fireplace where Alice died, and no spirit is present. McBride and his wife may be contacted by a medium (Difficulty 10; neither has any great interest in events on Earth, so they are hard to contact). They have forgiven each other, and McBride has repented of his sins; if he is asked about the murder, he will explain his motive, which explains the origin of the monster. Both have ascended to the second sphere of the afterlife. If the stones of the hearth and the surrounding bricks are removed and smashed, or thrown into the loch, the psychic miasma will disappear.
Newspaper reports of the murder are filed in the library (part of the village hall) at Inverfarigaig. They mention that Alice was beaten to death, not stabbed, and that McBride claimed it was an accident. They don't say anything about the dinosaur; McBride always denied that he had murdered his wife, and couldn't admit that he had a motive. The stories don't say much about McBride's military service; it wasn't considered relevant.
A glass case in the hall contains some archaeological finds including early Celtic horse-shoes and buckles, a 15th-century dirk, coins, and some (fake) pre-Christian runes. At the back is a single gigantic claw, at least eighteen inches long; the faded label reads "Dinosaur claw - 1918", with no other explanation. It doesn't look like any fossil the children might have seen; it's clean, glossy black, and isn't embedded in stone. The bored clerk who acts as librarian doesn't know anything about it; his predecessor, who presumably added it to the collection, emigrated to America in 1924. If the case is opened for a closer look, the back of the card adds "South American - Presented by G. McBride 1918". If handled, it's obvious that the claw isn't any sort of fossil; it's much lighter than stone, and there are traces of skin, flesh, and gristle around the base of the claw. This find strongly suggests that McBride visited Maple White Land; with this clue to jog his memory, Challenger will remember that McBride took part in the 1918 expedition, which might explain how a plesiosaur comes to be in Loch Ness.
Once Jimmy has made friends and earned some measure of trust, he'll
suggest going out in a boat and looking at Nessie. He's adamant that
"she'll come when I call her", provided that he has some fish to feed
her, and is well away from the shore. This can be arranged with the
aid of his (illegal) fishing tackle, if the adventurers can provide a
boat - Jimmy's "was sunk in t'grit storm in May." There wasn't a
storm, and he's never owned a boat, but this shouldn't be obvious to
4.6 Close Encounters Of The Reptilian Kindback to contents
It should take a day or two to persuade Austin that the children can be trusted with a boat, and for the children to lay plans for the hunt. If no-one is game for the trip, Jimmy calls the children a bunch of "wee little sissies", sulks, and makes it clear that he thinks very little of their courage. If the children stay firm in this resolve, the rest of this section can be ignored.
If the children actually tell adults that they are going looking for the monster, Challenger will congratulate them on their initiative, but instruct Austin not to let them use the boat; he's sure that Nessie exists, and he doesn't want it disturbed. Their interest will encourage him to admit that he "or rather, some young scientists of my acquaintance" plan to take a closer look at the beast, and don't want it disturbed. He is still secretive about his exact plans.
The loch is an important industrial waterway, a stage of the Caledonian Canal which links Inverness and the East Coast to the West Coast of Scotland. It's not entirely safe for casual boating; the canal can handle full-sized ships, which often pass along the loch, and there are usually several steam and diesel boats around, mostly tugs towing strings of barges. Not all of them keep a careful lookout. To add to the danger, mists and brief showers of rain can sometimes come down from the hills without warning, especially on days when the weather is changeable (roll of 2-4 on the table in section 4.3), or when an unkind referee feels like it. Both reduce visibility and muffle sound. These optional complications should be used once the boat is well out from the shore, if players don't seem to be worried about safety on this expedition. Don't run the rowing boat down; a near-miss should be enough to give the characters plenty to worry about. If there are any dogs aboard, allow a Medium roll one round before the impending accident; if successful, the dog can bark to sound the alarm - it doesn't help much, but it's traditional.
Jimmy spends half an hour catching a fish while the boat is rowed towards the deepest water. By sheer chance Nessie is actually close at hand, trying to catch some salmon, when Jimmy finally hooks a fish, and is attracted by its struggles. Nessie closes in just as Jimmy pulls a salmon from the water. So far as the adventurers are concerned, the boat simply lurches violently (from the turbulence of Nessie's passage) as Jimmy pulls the fish in. Anyone looking into the water has a momentary glimpse of something big and dark moving under the boat; the shape can't be determined with any certainty. If you happen to own a recording of the Jaws theme, or can hum it, this is a good moment to use it.
Even Jimmy is visibly shaken, but says "Och, she disnae recognise the boat. She'll be as gentle as a lamb when she knows it's me, ye ken."
By now the characters should be impatient to see Jimmy's demonstration of monster charming. Suddenly nervous, he waits two or three minutes before cautiously lowering the fish into the water (on its line) and shouting "Nessie! Nessiiiiieeeee!". Nothing happens. Keep this up until the adventurers are getting restive; eventually someone should volunteer to try (if they don't, Jimmy says that his throat is hurting and asks the person sitting nearest him to take over). On the third or fourth shout Nessie returns.
This time Nessie is much more impatient, and the characters should gain a momentary impression of a streamlined barrel-sized head on a long neck, with needle-sharp teeth, rushing from the depths to take the fish. If someone is actually holding the fish by hand, Nessie's teeth meet a fraction of an inch from their fingers. If they are holding the line, there's a sudden jerk as it breaks. In either case, roll BODY versus Difficulty 6 to let go before being pulled overboard. Seconds later the boat bucks and lurches violently as Nessie collides with the keel; everyone aboard (including Jimmy) must roll BODY versus Difficulty 5 to avoid being thrown overboard.
It's likely that some (but hopefully not all) of the adventurers are now in the water. Getting back into the boat is BODY or Athlete versus Difficulty 3 if someone is aboard to help, Difficulty 5 otherwise. Allow multiple tries until everyone is aboard; if anyone rolls a 12, they start to drown. Since Nessie is presumably still somewhere in the immediate vicinity, it is likely that the characters will be in a hurry to get everyone out of the water! Fortunately Nessie is retreating hurt, and isn't quite hungry enough to attack something as large as a child. It quietly swims away while the children are dealing with this problem. First aid and/or a quick rescue will save anyone who is drowning. At this stage it is inadvisable to kill anyone who isn't rescued, since this would bring the holiday to a sudden end; the fortuitous arrival of another boat with a trained life-saver aboard is probably the best solution, but any adults who become involved will naturally insist on reporting the incident to a responsible adult, such as Challenger.
If the adventurers rescue themselves without adult help, a quick return to dry land seems a good idea, especially since the boat is leaking from the impact. If anyone bails out water, the boat won't sink; if nobody pays attention, it slowly fills and sinks a few yards from shore. The characters will be in serious trouble when they get back to the castle if they are still wet. There are alternatives; Jimmy's aunt can be persuaded to help the adventurers get dry without informing Professor Challenger or Sarah, but one of the characters must suggest it. In any recriminations that follow, Jimmy will continue to maintain that Nessie didn't mean any harm; "She was just a wee bit skittish, ye ken, on account of not knowing the boat and so many people being in it, and hearing a strange voice an' all. If I go oot by ma sen, she'll come around." Naturally he isn't really anxious to try out this theory, and will find excuses to avoid repeating the experiment.
Everyone who went overboard must roll BODY versus Difficulty 4 (Difficulty 6 if they started to drown); failure means that they catch cold and must spend 1D6/2 days in bed.
If any adult at the castle finds out about this escapade, the adventurers can expect to be confined to their rooms for a few days. Challenger will have the boat examined, finding fragments of reptilian skin stuck to the keel. The samples match specimens taken from plesiosaurs in Maple White Land. Challenger will also be very interested in Jimmy's 'relationship' with the monster, suspecting that it might show that Jimmy has psychic powers (he hasn't), and makes copious notes on the behaviour Jimmy describes. This information will eventually find its way into scientific literature about plesiosaurs, and confuse the next generation of researchers.
Further expeditions on the loch won't result in more contact with
Nessie, who is always moving around in pursuit of fish, and will never
happen to be where the characters are looking.
4.7 Silent Runningback to contents
Professor Challenger has not been idle. He has arranged to use a warehouse and three cottages at Foyers, and is waiting for colleagues to arrive with the equipment needed to catch Nessie. The children should not be told that Challenger is making these arrangements; if they decide to investigate his activities they'll soon discover that he usually goes to Foyers when he leaves the castle, and spends time with the manager of the aluminium factory. The company owns the buildings and docks the scientists intend to use. Finding out the details of his arrangements should not be easy, due to the safety problems mentioned above; a cover story, such as a school project, might be used to gain access to the factory for a guided tour, but children can't walk around without supervision.
At the end of July the children may notice that Mrs. Grant seems to be unusually busy; if asked, she says that she's preparing for the dinner party that the Professor is having on the thirtieth. "Twelve guests, and eight courses; it's a lot of food!" She seems pleased with the challenge.
On the thirtieth all of the staff are busy preparing for the meal, and the children are given cold pies and salad for lunch, and tea on the lawn (or in the nursery if it's dull). Just after eight a small motor trawler, the Cormorant, moors at the end of the castle pier, and the guests walk up to the castle. It's likely that the children will wait upstairs and eavesdrop, rather than going straight to bed; if so, Challenger welcomes "Doctor Bailey, my dear chap", who in turn introduces Doctors Benson and Halliday, Lt. McPherson and Lt. Jones of the Royal Navy "who will run the boats for us", and "some of the rabble I have the misfortune to teach", a group of seven students. Doctor Bailey was one of the beneficiaries of the Challenger Scholarship, and has already achieved some academic distinction, the others are less well known; none should be known to the children. They move to the study to discuss their plans; the walls are thick, and eavesdroppers (who must be in an adjoining room, or upstairs; there isn't room to hide in the study) won't hear much, apart from an occasional phrase such as "...base at Foyers...", "...move slowly along the Loch...", "...Navy is testing electric motors for miniature submarines...", and "...phonograph to the underwater loudspeaker..."
If any of the children have the Medium skill, attempts to eavesdrop psychically should not work well; there are too many people at the meeting, and all that is picked up is a confused blur of impressions, with some of the phrases described above. A recurring motif is the idea of Nessie caught in some sort of net.
Anyone trying to gatecrash the meeting is treated kindly but firmly expelled, then escorted upstairs by Sarah, who then makes sure that all of the children are in bed.
Anyone sneaking down to the loch to take a closer look at the trawler will find a sailor aboard, repairing a rope and attending to some other minor chores. He isn't interested in talking to children, no matter how precocious they might be, and can't be persuaded to let anyone aboard. From the shore, the trawler doesn't seem to have any unusual features.
Eventually Sarah announces that dinner is served, and the visitors move to the dining room with Challenger. By now all the children should be tired; since Sarah will soon be up to check that they are asleep, and since nothing useful seems likely to be heard if they stay up, it's probably time for bed.
At about eleven the guests leave, and Challenger walks down to the trawler with them. They make a little noise leaving, enough to wake anyone who has dozed off. In the twilit stillness voices carry clearly, and Challenger can be heard saying "...let's see if it's as quiet as you say..."; moments later the trawler casts off and slips away from the mooring, its only noise the quiet hum of an electric motor, and heads off along the loch towards Foyers. Challenger waves goodbye, and returns to the castle to go to bed.
As the castle door shuts two furtive figures slip from the trees overlooking the mooring, and walk up the road, where they get into a black Ford saloon and drive away. There isn't time for anyone to follow or identify them more clearly.
Over the next few days Challenger spends most of his time in Foyers, where his colleagues are assembling their fleet. On August 3rd the trawler Pelican arrives, towing a large barge laden with piles of netting and crates with Royal Navy markings. 33_ADV3.GIF shows these craft at their moorings; a third boat, the Penguin, is shown on this diagram, but will arrive at a later point in the adventure. By careful observation the children should be able to guess that both trawlers have two engines; normal diesels, and quiet electrical motors powered by enormous batteries in their holds. Once the stores arrive the scientists fit out the boats and test the equipment; a succession of electrical and mechanical faults delays them for several days. During this period the boats are moored at the dock at Foyers, and can be reached from the street.
After the 30th a black Ford saloon can frequently be seen lurking on the tracks and roads in the area; the men inside seem to be taking a lot of interest in the preparations at the warehouse, and in Challenger's movements. They are Max Ripley and Henry Milton, reporters from the Daily Gazette. They are staying in the hotel at Inverfarigaig, and will make strenuous efforts to find out exactly what is going on in Foyers. Their efforts will include offering the children sweets and/or money for information on the Professor's activities. Because the reporters know the Professor's attitude to the press, they are reluctant to reveal their reasons for wanting the information, their names, etc., and have written the professions 'artist' and 'businessman' in the hotel register. Children may possibly assume that the reporters are foreign spies, and try to track them down and arrange for their capture; if they guess the truth, they may decide to tell Challenger or hold out for a high price. Any adult learning that two strangers are in the area offering children sweets and money is likely to be alarmed.
On Wednesday August 7th the Inverness Advertiser scoops the world's
Press; one of its reporters is related to the postmistress at
Inverfarigaig, who has been listening in on calls to the castle. The
story is comparatively accurate; it describes underwater loudspeakers
that will be used to lure Nessie into nets towed by the electric
trawlers, a barge that will hold the monster, and a system of water
sprays that will keep the monster moist while it is transported to
Edinburgh Zoo. Naturally Challenger is furious, and immediately
threatens to sue. From this moment onwards his every movement will be
dogged by the Press.
4.8 Fire!back to contents
Jimmy's aunt buys the Inverness Advertiser, and he sees the story at about the same time as the adventurers. He immediately decides to stop the scientists stealing 'his' monster. His idea is simple; if they need two boats to catch the monster, destroying one will stop them. On Friday night he sneaks out after his aunt has put him to bed, waits until dusk, and stealthily makes his way to Foyers, where he uses his catapult to smash an oil lamp aboard the Pelican. The burning oil drips onto the deck and starts a fire; before anyone notices it, a drum of fuel oil is ablaze, and by the time it is extinguished most of the boat's deck and superstructure have been destroyed. Frightened, Jimmy stealthily returns to his home and bed, and pretends that he has never left. Just before midnight an ambulance drives past the castle en route to Foyers; its bell (British emergency vehicles don't have sirens until the 1960s) wakes the characters. One of the students has been burned in the blaze; it isn't very serious, but within hours the postman and other gossips have spread a rumour that he's near to death. Everyone in the area, including the children, should hear this story; Dot will tell everyone while serving breakfast the following morning. Challenger immediately phones Foyers and finds out the truth; he won't think to tell the children that the student isn't badly hurt unless they ask.
After his late excursion Jimmy is tired, irritable, and terrified of discovery. He won't want to play or go out. If the children mention the fire he claims that he was asleep, which may seem odd since his cottage is nearer the road than the castle. He'll cover this mistake by pretending to be really disappointed that he missed the excitement. Having heard the rumours about the injured student, he's afraid that he'll be sent to prison (since he's a minor this is very unlikely, but don't remind the adventurers of this point if they discover his guilt; children tend to fear the worst in these situations).
While this might seem an almost untraceable crime, Jimmy took four shots to hit the lamp. For maximum effect he was firing lead sinkers, and two remained aboard the boat. One melted with the lamp; the brass loop that is supposed to fit it to a fishing line is still on top of the little blob of lead. The other rolled into the corners of the deck, and is intact, but it is covered in oil and has not retained fingerprints. Both are found by the students while they are salvaging equipment, and eventually reach the Police (Constable McPhee, whose beat includes Inverfarigaig, Foyers, and four other villages) and Challenger. McPhee assumes that a poacher was aboard the boat, intending to fish from it, and knocked over the lamp. Naturally Challenger's tirade against poachers, fishermen, and clumsy idiots in general can be heard all over the castle.
Since the children should have seen Jimmy using fishing weights as catapult ammunition, they may suspect that he started the fire. Traditionally children who suspect other children confront them and try to make them confess, before going public with their suspicions. If the children do go straight to Challenger or McPhee, Constable McPhee will have a word with Jimmy's aunt. She is sure that he was asleep all night, and Jimmy will deny that he was involved. There is no real evidence; neither McPhee or Challenger will seriously suspect a child on the unsupported word of other children. If this occurs Jimmy will pretend to be an unjustly accused martyr. After 2-3 days he'll 'forgive' the children for their 'mistake', and try to make them feel guilty that they ever distrusted him. Later, of course, he'll play upon their guilt to try to involve them in a scheme to rescue Nessie.
Children may think of investigative methods that aren't available to adults, such as bullying Jimmy until he confesses. This shouldn't be easy; Jimmy is tough and fast, and the characters must overcome his Brawling skill in four successive rounds to pin him down, then use BODY or Brawling skill to overcome his MIND for three consecutive rounds to make him confess. Naturally he'll withdraw this confession if any adult is told; he'll have plenty of bruises to prove that the other children are victimising him, and will claim that he made up the story to stop the bullying.
If Jimmy is simply questioned by the children, without violence, he'll eventually agree to talk if everyone swears "Cross your hearts and hope to die" to keep quiet. He'll then admit that he was trying to protect Nessie, and try to persuade the children that they should help him. After all, 'she' isn't harming anyone, and Challenger wants to catch her and put her in the zoo. He made sure that there was no-one aboard before he started the fire; he didn't think that anyone would be hurt putting it out. He won't agree to talk where an adult might be able to eavesdrop, and will deny everything if the adventurers give him away.
If Jimmy isn't a suspect, he'll wait until Nessie is caught before bringing up the idea of a rescue mission.
After the fire the students take turns as night watchman aboard the
Cormorant. A week later another boat arrives; the Penguin is another
small trawler, also equipped with an electric engine. By this time all
of the equipment from the Pelican has been transferred aboard the
Cormorant. Both boats are guarded overnight, and the monster hunters
are ready to begin their work the next day.
4.9 Nessie Ensnaredback to contents
If the children have been doing their best to make friends with Challenger, they may be allowed aboard the Penguin during the hunt. If they have been a nuisance, Challenger certainly won't want them to come along.
For several days the boats putter up and down the loch, drawing their nets behind them. A phonograph aboard the Cormorant plays an eerie moaning roar, the mating cry of a male plesiosaur, which is amplified through an underwater loudspeaker at the end of the net. There are several false alarms; twice the nets catch old waterlogged trees, once the carcass of a stag. If the children are allowed aboard the Penguin, they should be present for at least one of these incidents. Describe the excitement as the nets are hauled in towards the boats, then the anticlimax or disgust as the nature of the catch is revealed.
By chance the final capture takes place in view of the castle, and on a day when Challenger hasn't gone out with the fleet. Whether the children are aboard the Pelican or watching from the banks, the expedition nets the real Nessie. It's immediately obvious that something big and alive is in the net; something starts to agitate the water behind the boats, then they are dragged backwards, the winches screaming under the immense strain of the load. The boats can't make any headway until their main engines are started, and they can start to 'play' the monster like a gigantic fish. On the nearest bank a newsreel crew that has been following the boats by car hastily set up their camera and start to film.
After nearly an hour Nessie finally emerges from the depths, thrashing in the nets and gasping for air; it's finally obvious that he is definitely a plesiosaur, and one of the scientists excitedly points out male markings. The Cormorant circles round as if to ram him. From the bows Doctor Bailey jabs at him with a long pole tipped with a hypodermic, injecting a powerful animal tranquilliser drug. Nessie struggles even harder, hooting mournfully, then slowly subsides as the drug takes effect. Everyone cheers, and the crew sound the boat horns as they start to haul their catch back to Foyers. If the children are watching from the castle, Challenger shouts "Come on, then, if you want to see her brought ashore!", and waits for them to get into the Humber before setting off for Foyers.
The waiting crowd is virtually silent as the boats finally reach the dock, and manoeuvre their catch under one of the cranes normally used to load aluminium onto barges. The crane creaks as it takes the strain, then slowly pulls Nessie from the water and holds him aloft as the expedition's barge is manoeuvred underneath. With a final rattle of chains he's lowered into the barge, and the crew of the Cormorant start to erect a strong steel mesh net to keep him in the barge. The crowd begins to cheer, an overwhelming crescendo of noise that doubles and redoubles as the scientists make their way ashore. Challenger waits until it dies down a little, then leaves the car, carrying a bottle of champagne, and booms "Well done, my dear chap!" as he works the cork loose. From the crowd someone shouts "It's Challenger, the dinosaur man!" and the cheering starts again. Austin brings forward more bottles, glasses, and a bucket of ice, and starts to serve drinks.
Nessie's barge is surrounded by a crowd of spectators, watching as he lies twitching under the water spray. One of the sailors starts to shovel fish into the barge. Nessie quivers, snorts, opens an eye, and extends his neck to engulf a herring. Soon onlookers are taking turns to throw more fish.
Meanwhile Jimmy works his way through the crowd, finds the children,
and beckons them to one side. When he's sure that no adult is
listening, he says "So they've caught the poor beastie at last. Well,
she's my friend, and I stick by my friends. And if you're my friends
you'll stick by me. You've got to help me come up with a plan. We've
got to free Nessie..."
4.10 Free Nessie!back to contents
Consider the infinite possibilities of the universe. Endless choices to be made, decisions that can lead to a multitude of fates. Countless dimensions, all of them different. How can any author, however talented, possibly describe every way that this adventure can end? Easy - I cheat.
Whatever your players do, whatever plans they make, this adventure has one (1) predestined ending, a scene in which Nessie is freed and immediately attempts to slaughter as many children as possible. The exact details of how this comes to pass are relatively unimportant.
It's easiest to achieve this goal if Jimmy persuades the children to help him; just let them devise a cunning plan, then sabotage it (as described below) to leave Nessie on the loose.
If the characters don't help Jimmy, involving them is possible but requires some creativity by the referee. Whatever the children decide to do, Jimmy is determined to rescue Nessie. Even if the children give away his plans, and his aunt takes him away from Foyers to keep him out of mischief, he'll find a way to return. If the children have him trapped somewhere, he'll find a way to break out or overcome his captors. If the children don't try to stop him, but don't want to help, he'll go ahead alone.
Getting the children to Foyers at the right moment may need some improvisation, especially if they have decided to stay well away from the place, but adults are a good excuse for any strangeness; for example, Challenger might decide that the best way to find a "poor misguided child" is to make his friends look for him. If they try to mislead him, he'll display his genius by guessing that they are shielding Jimmy and trying to keep the search away from Foyers. Try to keep things logical but inevitable; the children will be in Foyers for the grand finale, whether or not they want to be there.
The scientists intend to spend a few days examining Nessie before moving him to Edinburgh, and everyone should guess that it will be easier to free him before he's removed from the area. On the 24th and 25th of August there is no possibility of freeing Nessie. The docks swarm with scientists, reporters, and visiting notables, with work going on far into the night aboard the research vessels. Gradually the excitement diminishes; by Sunday evening the capture is old news, and the weary scientists are certain that their prize is 'just' another plesiosaur, in all respects identical to one of the larger species of Maple White Land (or know that it is an imported animal if the children have revealed this information).
The practical problems of a rescue are formidable; Nessie's barge is securely moored to the dock, and tethered to the Cormorant. It is hemmed in by the Cormorant and Penguin at its bows, and a slipway at its stern. There are always at least two men aboard the trawlers. The well of the barge is deep, and Nessie isn't built for climbing; he can't get out unaided, even if the top net is removed (unless this is the only way to get him involved in the action, in which case he miraculously finds the energy to clamber overboard). The most obvious way to get him out is to use the crane to lift him, but the children must first find out how to operate the crane, anaesthetise Nessie, remove the steel mesh net that covers the barge, get a cargo net under Nessie again, and lift him out; all while keeping interfering adults out of the way. It isn't really a practical proposition, although referees ought to have fun with anyone who tries it. Possible complications include the crane seizing up midway through the operation (leaving Nessie dangling in mid air, slowly becoming aware of his situation, and tearing the net apart as he reacts), or the net or cable breaking by itself (Nessie is heavy, and the children have no experience of safe cargo handling practices).
Nessie's barge has one feature that might seem to make a rescue easier; the stern is detachable, with steel bolts holding it in place. This isn't obvious without a careful examination (Difficulty 6). The unusual design was intended to make it possible to beach the barge and drag Nessie aboard if no cranes were available. In the end it was unnecessary, but the children can turn it to their advantage. Again, the major difficulty is to find a way to keep adults from interfering. There are four bolts, all firmly rusted in place. Removing them is Difficulty 10, and extremely noisy; reduce Difficulty to 8, and assume that there is little or no noise, if the bolts are oiled at least an hour before they are removed. Naturally the barge will sink if the stern is removed, and Nessie will panic as he's dragged under. He'll break free of the nets and bob back to the surface eventually, but by then he is extremely annoyed. This is the 'rescue method' Jimmy will use if the children don't help.
One final possibility is suggested by the fact that the water is moderately deep at the dock. If the covering net is removed, and the barge somehow sunk, Nessie can swim clear. One obvious method would be to make a hole in the hull (BODY 20), but tools capable of making a sizeable hole are not readily usable by children. Explosives might work, if the children can find them (there are none anywhere in the castle or on either boat), but there is a risk of hurting Nessie as well as the barge, and he will certainly panic once they are used. The children will also have difficulty moving the steel covering net (BODY 15), which is securely chained to the deck; if it is left on the barge, Nessie will be dragged under when the barge sinks, but break loose just in time to bob to the surface and cause more damage.
Some useful tools including crowbars, lengths of rope and chain, and pieces of wood and steel rod can be found on the jetty. The dock also has two fire fighting posts with extinguishers (chemical foam), axes, and buckets of sand and water.
Supplies aboard the boats include animal tranquilliser tablets (kept aboard the Cormorant and the Penguin, and stuffed into some of the fish Nessie is fed each day), the liquid tranquilliser used to capture Nessie (locked in a cupboard aboard the Cormorant), and the hypodermic on a pole used in the capture (in the same cupboard).
The pills are intended for cattle, and one pill is a lethal dose for a human. The dosage, by body weight, is written on the box; on a successful Science roll (Difficulty 5) it's apparent that a quarter pill is the correct dose for an adult human. If the roll fails, the estimate is an eighth of a pill, which will make adults drowsy but won't knock them out. On a roll of 12 the estimated dose for an adult is half a pill, an overdose.
The liquid tranquilliser is simply a dissolved concentrate of the tablets. It's even more dangerous for untrained users, since the formula used to calculate dosage isn't on the bottle. Nessie was injected with 50cc; a safe human dose is 2cc injected, 5cc in food or drink. There is 20cc left in the bottle, enough to make Nessie drowsy for a few minutes but not enough to knock him out.
An overdose of either drug results in vomiting, dizziness, unconsciousness, and eventual death. Prompt medical attention will prevent death.
Unknown to the scientists, Nessie is rapidly building up a tolerance to these drugs, and is suffering from the dinosaur equivalent of 'cold turkey' combined with a bad trip; he perceives everything as a threat, including his nominal rescuers, and will react accordingly.
Encourage the children to prepare a plan, the more elaborate the better. Every additional complication is another loophole that can be used to release Nessie at exactly the wrong moment.
However he is freed, Nessie will instantly turn on the nearest child or dog and run (or swim) amok. If the children are in a boat, he'll chase it towards the shore. If they are ashore he'll clamber up the slipway and wreak havoc on the dockside. Damage might include knocking down a street light and blowing all the electric lights in the village, knocking over oil lamps and starting fires, or smashing a few windows with his thrashing tail. He'll certainly bite anyone in reach of his long flexible neck.
Adults are also at risk, of course, and this may be a good excuse for some comic relief as Nessie smashes an occupied outside lavatory or encounters the obligatory drunk; "hic! I've heard of pink elephants but thish ish aaaarrrrgggghhhhh"
By now it should be apparent that Nessie isn't the lovable creature Jimmy described; he's a large wild animal on a rampage. Can the children defend themselves and bring him under control? Can they get away?
Some stage management is necessary. Somehow, even if the children came to Foyers with adults, and were determined to keep well away from Nessie, they find themselves alone and backing away from an extremely large angry reptile. Means of getting adults out of the way should be tailored to the exact circumstances; for example, Nessie might sweep his tail and send Professor Challenger and Austin flying, or knock over a drum of oil that leaves all the adults in the area slipping and falling over. To make matters worse, the children seem to be backing into a dead end, a street that ends at the brick wall around the aluminium factory. Jimmy has vanished (he's running for his life, and will hide for several hours). For the moment no help seems to be available.
Nessie isn't intelligent and is frightened of fire, bright lights, and loud noises. A single match won't scare him, but he'll retreat from anything much larger - setting fire to some newspaper and using it as a firebrand will do. A hand torch won't frighten him much, but the headlights and spotlights of a car would drive him back. Loud whistles, rattles, drums, and car horns will also scare him. He can easily be distracted by flapping coats and other tricks. He will retreat (temporarily) from blows with brooms, oars, stones, cricket balls, etc. He isn't frightened of dogs; unknown to the public, he's eaten several. His attitude may change if he's bitten.
Give the children at least five or six rounds to play 'tag' with the monster before help arrives. If they can't co-ordinate their defence, don't be afraid to maul someone. Once Nessie succeeds in biting someone, he will keep hold and may attack again in the next round. Roll 1D6 on the table below:
|4:|| Throw victim to one side|
Brawling  Effect 7, Damage A:B, B:I, C:C
|5:||Attempt to swallow victim|
If Nessie's BODY  overcomes DOUBLE the victim's BODY the victim is crushed (and killed) and swallowed. Otherwise, treat as another bite.
|6:||Victim dropped and ignored.|
Children with the Riding skill may think of using it to tame Nessie. It might even work - if there are no distractions. Use the skill versus Nessie's BODY. A single success means that Nessie stops for one round - he isn't tamed, he's just evaluating whatever seems to be happening. A second success means that Nessie won't attack, so long as there are no distractions. Three or more successes mean that Nessie is under partial control; he won't attack, and can be herded gently, so long as he isn't frightened. In this state the dinosaur tamer can get a rope around his neck, and possibly even hobble his flippers, if there are no distractions. If the other children use violence, or start to frighten Nessie, all bets are off and he'll return to his rampage.
Any plausible scheme that seems to offer a way to subdue Nessie without harming him should be allowed to succeed. For instance, the children might hit on the idea of luring him into a garage or a yard that has an exit large enough for a child but too small for Nessie. Referees may wish to prepare a plan of this street, with one or more points where Nessie might be trapped, but players should not be allowed to study it; they're fighting for their lives, and don't have time to do more than glance around.
If necessary, help eventually arrives; there are plenty of adults in the area, with access to sledge hammers, axes, and other instruments of dinosaur control. Adult intervention should only be used if the children seem to have no hope of survival.
Children who are animal lovers may try to lead Nessie back to the river, where he will eventually decide to break off and head for the safety of deep water. There's only one snag; Nessie isn't a native of the loch, and his future food requirements are vast. The loch is heavily fished, and the additional burden added by Nessie will soon outstrip its capacity. The size and numbers of fish in the loch are declining; within two years the population will be too low, and too widely scattered, to support a predator as big as Nessie. (Don't ask why this doesn't happen in Maple White Land, where the lake is much smaller...) When the fish run out he will starve. Catching him again may seem a better alternative, but unfortunately Nessie won't be caught twice by the same ruse. The next attempt ends with one of the boats sinking and the nets torn to shreds. Eventually the Highlands and Islands Fisheries Board calls in a whaler to take care of the problem, and Nessie becomes a tragic martyr to ecological forces.
For a truly sweet and sentimental ending, the children tame Nessie and persuade Challenger that Jimmy was right; the monster should be allowed to stay in the loch. He won't starve if he's fed regularly, and feeding should keep him tame. Given time he'll become a popular tourist attraction, and feature on dozens of postcards. Three years later, and several tons overweight, he'll die of congestive heart disease.
If the children favour scientific truth and reason, they should ensure that Nessie is recaptured unharmed, and eventually transported to Edinburgh Zoo, where a new reptile house has been built with a gigantic heated pool. His popularity soon eclipses the London Zoo dinosaurs. Eventually the public decide that he is lonely, and in 1938, bowing to popular demand, the zoo arranges for the Royal Navy to transport a female plesiosaur to keep him company. Both live to a ripe old age, their offspring eventually going to zoos in Europe and America.
For a spectacular ending, if the children have no hope of stopping Nessie, he knocks a hole in the wall of the aluminium factory then chases the children inside, where (in the best traditions of monster movies) he is electrocuted. If adults are involved, this variant ends with them chasing Nessie into the factory where (in the best traditions etc.) he is electrocuted; if possible, manipulate this scene so that the children are defending Nessie from the mob, but tragically fail to save him. The next day lawyers from the NSPCA (the predecessor of the RSPCA) arrive and charge everyone involved with cruelty to animals.
After Nessie is recaptured, escapes, is released, or is killed, the children are probably going to have a number of questions to answer. If they were trying to stop Jimmy they will probably emerge as heroes; if they were helping him, they should have to do some very fast talking to avoid punishment. If unsuccessful, their penalties might include a total loss of pocket money, confinement to the castle for the remainder of the holiday, and large bills sent to their parents. The adventurers shouldn't expect life to be fun for a while, but eventually they'll be forgiven. After all, they're only kids...
Jimmy eventually emerges from cover, complete with excuses, and for
once totally underestimates his aunt's common sense and credulity. His
screams, and the crack of a carefully-applied slipper, can be heard
from the castle. Further punishment may perhaps be left to the
characters, in the unlikely event that they can catch him.
4.11 Rewardsback to contents
Bonus points should be awarded for all the usual reasons; for good role-playing, for making the referee laugh, and so on. Characters may also be given points for the following actions if they were involved; preferably no more than 3-5 points per player in all:
|Discovering that Nessie was imported by McBride||1|
|Making contact with McBride's spirit||1|
|Unmasking the reporters||1|
|Nessie returned to captivity||3|
|Nessie captured, tamed, and released||2|
|Nessie freed untamed||1|
|Children are perceived as heroes||2|
|Children are perceived as dupes||-1|
If the total for any child is 0 or less, award one point as a
4.12 Further adventuresback to contents
Plots involving children inevitably run into problems; they are usually at school or under parental supervision, or otherwise restrained from complete freedom. Some possibilities follow, but all require some fairly drastic stage management. All outlines assume that the children are British, and are eleven years old in 1935; naturally many changes are needed for campaigns based elsewhere, or for younger children.
1936: While on a school trip to Germany, the children are courted by members of the Hitler Youth, who seem to be unusually interested in their relatives (especially Challenger) and his scientific work. Soon the Nazis suggest that parents and other relatives might be at risk if they don't cooperate. Will the children betray their country and become spies for Der Fuehrer, or can they somehow turn the tables?
1940: During London's Blitz, the children (now in their early teens) are evacuated to the country, where a ruined mansion seems to be shunned by all the locals. Is it haunted, or is someone (or something) camping out in the ruins? Is it just a coincidence that there is an RAF base nearby?
1942-5: The children are now old enough for military service. Somehow they all find their way to a special intelligence unit monitoring German technological progress. Recently the prototype Nemor disintegrator disappeared from Britain; has it fallen into German hands, or is there some other reason for its disappearance? See worldbook section 4.2 for the true story.
Any good bookshop has dozens of juvenile adventures by a variety of
authors, and all of them can be used as source material. I
particularly recommend stories by Willard Price, which usually have a
basis in exploration, and those featuring the Hardy Boys (Frank W.
Dixon) and Famous Five (Enid Blyton) for detection; most British
readers will be familiar with television's Comic Strip parodies of the
Blyton stories. Diane Duane's 'Wizard' series and the 'Chrestomanci'
stories by Diana Wynne Jones are excellent sources for juvenile
magical adventures. There are also many juveniles with psychic themes;
the best examples are several stories by Alan Garner, most notably
'Red Shift', and Terry Pratchett's 'Johnny And The Dead'.
4.A Charactersback to contents
Statistics for Professor Challenger and Austin are in the worldbook.
Sarah, Housekeeper, age 52 [PB]
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Business 
Quote: "The Professor has always been a little eccentric..."
Notes: Sarah has worked for Challenger for many years, and is used to his odd ways. She still has a faint scar on her leg where he bit her during the Poison Belt episode [PB:2]. She doesn't hold a grudge, since everyone was acting oddly that day. No other name is given for her.
She doesn't especially like or dislike children; while keeping an eye open to make sure that they wash and aren't killing each other or destroying the castle, she will try to avoid getting too involved in their activities.
Mrs Grant, Cook, age 35
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (cooking) 
Quote: "Och, of course there's another jam tart, my dear.."
Notes: Mrs. Grant comes from Inverness. She's a good cook, fond of traditional cholesterol-packed Scots delicacies like haggis with neeps and tatties followed by clootie dumplings. She likes children and is a soft touch for between-meals sandwiches, fruit tarts, and other treats. A useful role model is the character Mrs. Bridges, from 'Upstairs, Downstairs'.
Dot, Housemaid, age 17
Fiona, Housemaid, age 16
BODY , MIND , SOUL , no game-related skills
Quote: "Och, away with ye, ye wee little devil" (giggles)
Notes: Dot and Fiona are teenage housemaids; they are cousins, red-headed, pretty, and easily mistaken for each other. They speak with broad and almost incomprehensible Scots accents, giggle a lot, and are fond of children. They have surnames, but no-one ever uses them. Boys in the early stages of puberty are likely to develop crushes on them.
Jimmy Bond, Orphan, aged 8-11 (see notes)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor , Brawling , Marksman (catapult) , Melee weapon , Stealth , Thief 
Quote: (in broad Scots accent). "My name is Bond. Jimmy Bond."
Equipment: Catapult, marbles, live toad (in jam jar), two-headed penny, string, jack knife, fishing line and hooks (illegal without a licence), several lead sinkers (used as catapult ammunition), various rare cigarette cards, bicycle.
Notes: Jimmy should be about the same age as the majority of the adventurers, but younger than the oldest in the group. The name is just a coincidence, unless you decide otherwise. Jimmy is a charming, likeable rogue who leads a rich fantasy life and is an expert at getting other people into trouble. He is almost unbearably cute.
|Catapult||Effect 5*, Damage A:B, B:B, C:KO/F|
* 6 with lead shot
Miss Alicia Bond, Jimmy's Aunt, age 34
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (painter) , First Aid , Psychology 
Quote: "You saw the monster again? How lovely!"
Equipment: Paints, canvases, etc.
Notes: Jimmy's aunt is a professional landscape painter, who spends most of her time out sketching in the hills, or working in a studio in the cottage garden; she sells most of her output via galleries in Inverness. She is used to Jimmy's fantasies, and believes that they are a sign of a healthy imagination; she wouldn't dream of contradicting him.
Various scientists, students, etc.
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Athlete (Rugby) , Science 
Quote: "Try another run at the lower frequency"
Equipment: Various boats etc. as in text above
Notes: These characters are essentially extras in the story; they are too busy with their own concerns to have much to do with children.
Nessie, "Cute" Plesiosaur, aged 17
BODY , MIND , SOUL 
Brawling ; Bite, Effect 11, Damage A:I, B:C, C:C/K
Wounds: B[ ] F[ ] I[ ] I[ ] I[ ] C[ ]
Illustration: 10_PLESI GIF
Notes: Nessie is a normal young adult male plesiosaur, of the breed found in Maple White Land. Although he has spent most of his life swimming in Loch Ness, he did have a brief opportunity to 'imprint' on a human (Mrs. MacBride) before she threw him into the loch. As a result he won't attack humans unless cornered (or unusually hungry, or under the influence of drugs --- oops). Nessie is roughly as fast as a running child on land, but can briefly reach speeds of 20-30 MPH (much faster than any swimmer) in water.
4.B Using The Skool Rulesback to contents
The Skool Rules does not include systems for lethal combat, but does allow minor injuries, known as 'Tuffing Up'. For the purposes of this adventure, all violence is Tuffing Up; if you are Tuffed Up by Nessie you are probably hors de combat for the rest of the adventure, but you will eventually recover.
Forgotten Futures characteristics and skills have been translated into their nearest Skool Rules equivalent, or omitted if there is no parallel. It is assumed that most adults (like parents) combine characteristics and advantages from the BOYS and MASTERS lists. In a couple of cases new advantages or disadvantages that seem appropriate have been added. The advantage 'Rank' has been used to show status within the hierarchy of Gillespie Castle.
Tuff-5, Kane-3, Alertness-4, Digestion-4, Order-3, Paranoia-3, Throw-4, Sanity-4
Advantages: Rank-1, Vintage Kar (like Sports Kar)
Tuff-4, Branes-6, Order-4, Paranoia-6, Alertness-5, Digestion-4, Sanity-3, Stealth-1
Advantages: Rank-2, Specialisation: All Sciences-2
Disadvantages: Hair trigger temper-2, Vanity-2
Branes-4, Kane-3, Order-3, Paranoia-4, Alertness-3, Stealth-3, Digestion-2, Sanity-2
Branes-3, Kane-1, Order-2, Paranoia-1, Alertness-3, Stealth-1, Digestion-5, Sanity-6
Advantage: Specialisation: Cooking-2
Dot and Fiona
Tuff-3, Running-4, Throw-3, Branes-3, Paranoia-3, Alertness-3, Digestion-2, Sanity-5
Advantage: Pretty-2 (like Countenance of Rare Charm, but without the negative connotations)
Tuff-4, Running-4, Throw-5, Branes-4, Lying-6, Alertness-6, Digestion-4, Sport-4
Advantage: Countenance of rare charm-2
Disadvantage: Inability to distinguish truth from fantasy-2
Mrs. Alicia Bond
Branes-4, Kane-1, Order-1, Paranoia-1, Alertness-2, Stealth-1, Digestion-4, Sanity-4
Advantage: Specialisation: Art-1
Tuff-9, Running-1, Swimming-6, Branes-1, Alertness-3, Digestion-8, Stealth (in water)-6
Advantage: Can Tuff Up ANYONE-2
Disadvantage: EXTREMELY conspicuous and unstealthy on land
4.C Cryptozoological Noteback to contents
Any attempt to explain the Loch Ness Monster as a prehistoric survival has many problems, not least the fact that the loch was excavated by glaciers during successive Ice Ages. It also lacks the food resources needed for a breeding group of plesiosaurs (or any other large animal). The idea that the monster evolved at sea and moved to the loch comparatively recently also runs into serious problems; fossil evidence suggests that Loch Ness has not been open to the sea in at least 11,000 years. Some theories suggest that the monster is migratory, spending most of its time at sea but returning to the loch to breed or rear its young; unfortunately the River Ness just isn't wide or deep enough to conceal any really large creature, and runs through a city whose population was 21,000 in 1909 and is 58,000 today. The Caledonian Canal (built 1808-1824) might conceivably conceal such a creature, since it can take ocean-going ships, but the route is interrupted by several locks and also passes through Inverness. A variant idea involves a tunnel linking the loch directly to the sea and bypassing the river, but such a tunnel would be several miles long, and would soon drain the loch since its surface is 50 ft above sea level.
While there have been stories of monsters in the loch for at least fifteen centuries, there are similar reports of monsters in dozens of other lakes in Scotland, Ireland, and Scandinavia. Most are based on very dubious legends, and often the same story is ascribed to several different lakes.
The 20th century Loch Ness sightings began with a series of reports soon after the road around the west side of the loch was built (or an existing road was improved, according to different sources), with a peak number of sightings in the thirteen months ending in May 1934. This was a period of rapid population growth, and rapid growth of tourism, in Scotland, with many visitors unfamiliar with the area and the local wildlife. Two reports, which may be the most reliable, describe a creature (on land) that was possibly a seal; several seals are known to have reached the loch via the River Ness at various dates. Most aquatic sightings can be explained as otters, waterlogged logs, swimming stag deer (year-old deer have the humped body and head with two small horns described in several reports), or humped wave patterns called 'solitons'; the shape of the loch means that waves are often reflected back from the shore and converge to disturb the water long after the boats that create them are out of sight. There have also been several frauds designed to lure tourists to the area; for instance, use of a hippopotamus foot to create fake tracks. It is now virtually certain that the 'surgeon's photograph', the most famous of the 1933-4 series of sightings, was a hoax, a photograph of a modified model submarine. Several of those involved have admitted participation in the deception.
One of the hazards of studying the monster is the frequency with which dates, times, and other details are changed according to the bias of the reporter, and distance from primary sources; for example, Sladek's 'The New Apocrypha' dates the 'surgeon's photograph' as taken on April 1st 1934, Steuart Campbell's 'The Loch Ness Monster' presumably refers back to original sources, and says it was taken nineteen days later.
In the real world it's difficult to believe that the monster exists. It seems probable that an increase in tourism in the area led to a few genuine sightings, probably of seals or deer, which generated more tourism and aroused so much interest that any oddity was immediately assumed to be the monster. Hoaxes added to the public interest. By May 1934 it was old news; with the exception of the 'surgeon's photograph' nothing new was happening, and the public gradually lost interest.
In the world of the Challenger stories the monster is real.
5.0 Tusk Scenario: Where Pterodactyls Dareback to contents
This is a scenario for Irregular Miniatures' "Tusk" wargame; see worldbook section 3.2.1 for details of the availability of this game and miniatures. Since publication in the first release of this collection, the scenario and some of the extra rules suggested here have been incorporated into the game supplement "Tusk II: The Wrath of Kong". While this scenario can be played out using the Forgotten Futures Rules, Tusk will work better.
Early in the 20th century Professor Challenger and his associates discovered Maple White Land, popularly known as the 'Lost World'. Its inhabitants included primitive ape-men, an Indian tribe, and dinosaurs. At the end of their adventure they escaped with a caged pterodactyl, some other specimens, a few photographs, and diamonds worth £200,000.
World War 1. Britain desperately needs industrial diamonds and cash. Official thoughts turn to the still-untapped resources of an isolated Brazilian plateau, and to the man who knows it best. Professor Challenger will lead a secret Naval expedition to the plateau, find as many diamonds as possible, then return to the Amazon, where a gunboat will pick them up for the return journey.
Germany also needs cash and diamonds, and has some very good spies in Whitehall. They have learned the true location of Maple White Land, and a Zeppelin has been sent to seize the diamonds for the Fatherland; due to the difficulties of an Atlantic crossing by Zeppelin, the force it carries is relatively small.
As the scenario begins both groups are on the plateau; due to delays
climbing the plateau, and some time spent re-establishing peaceful
relationships with the Indians, the British force is ready to move
towards the diamonds at about the same time as the Zeppelin arrives
and moors to land troops. It will take several hours to dig up all the
readily accessible diamonds, so the opposition must be defeated first.
5.1 Figuresback to contents
Irregular Miniatures packs "Sir Harry And Party" and "Cavemen" for
Tusk, or equivalents. Purists may want to add some WW1 German sailors
and officers. A Tusk miniatures pack with all the figures needed for this adventure is
now available. Some dead dinosaur figures or markers are also useful. A
complete Zeppelin model is probably more trouble than it's worth.
5.2 Setupback to contents
The play area is 60 cm square; there's a gentle slope towards a circular crater, about 20 cm wide, at the centre of the area, which is a pterodactyl-infested swamp. There are rocks around the rim of the crater, and the rest of the terrain is grassland or lightly wooded. Exact details are unimportant.
There are three carnivorous megalosaurs loose in the area; all use the
Tyrannosaurus Rex reaction table and movement rate. After players have
picked ends, place them on the edges of the swamp, using D6 to find
positions eg 1 = 12 o'clock, 2 = 2 o'clock, etc.; re-roll any
positions that are duplicated.
5.3 Special Rulesback to contents
Both forces are large, and get 1D6+6 Action Points (AP) each turn.
Any unit forced to retreat out of the area (eg chased by a dinosaur, fleeing a fire, etc.) is routed and cannot return.
Any human unit within 5 cm of the edge of the swamp will be attacked by pterodactyls; they have nuisance value only, subtracting 1 from all rolls to hit. It isn't easy to shoot straight when a pterodactyl is trying to peck your eyes out! There are too many to make attacking them practical; shoot one, and another instantly takes its place. Pterodactyls don't attack dinosaurs. Any unit actually entering the swamp is reduced to half speed; humans can't fight at all, since they must devote all their energy to evading pterodactyls.
If any megalosaur is killed, another enters the area from the nearest point on the edge at the start of the next turn; if left alone, it will move to the nearest corpse (dinosaur or human) and start to eat it. If any megalosaur is driven out of the area, another enters the area from the nearest point on the OPPOSITE edge at the start of the next turn.
Herbivorous iguanodons also play a part in this scenario; they are partially controlled by Indians, otherwise reactions and movement are as a Brontosaurus. If a megalosaur comes within 10 cm of an iguanodon it will move in to attack and the iguanodon will try to flee. If iguanodons are killed or driven out of the area they will not return and should not be replaced.
Dinosaur versus dinosaur combat is a thrashing melee. Megalosaurs kill iguanodons on a roll of 9-12, and will then start to dine if undisturbed. Iguanodons kill megalosaurs on a roll of 11-12, and will then panic flee. On a 2D6 roll of 8-12, a randomly-selected base within 2cm of the melee is stomped each round the combat continues.
All cover (such as the rocks around the swamp, the corpse of a
dinosaur, etc.) reduces incoming missile fire attacking rolls by 1.
5.4 Germansback to contents
The Germans have 20 points to spend on forces, but only the "Victorian Science Fiction" types are available. One dog, the Zeppelin's mascot, may optionally be taken.
Additional to these units, the Zeppelin has two machine guns which are treated as artillery, but are immobile while the Zeppelin is moored. The mooring ropes are long enough to make it immune from dinosaur and melee attacks, but projectile weapons (guns, bows, etc.) can be used to attack the machine guns.
Cutting the moorings takes one turn and costs 1 AP; thereafter the Zeppelin drifts 5 cm per turn with the breeze (roll on 1D8 as for fire movement), but there is no guarantee that it won't drift towards a fire or the swamp, or off the field.
If any fire comes within 2.5 cm of the Zeppelin, it catches fire and explodes, setting fire to all areas within 2.5 cm of its base.
If it drifts over the swamp it is swarmed by pterodactyls, and will be critically damaged on a 2D6 roll of 11-12, crashing at the end of the following round and destroying both guns.
If it drifts or is flown out of the area it can't manoeuvre back in time to play any further part in the battle.
Starting the engines is possible (cost 1 AP), but the Zeppelin then speeds forward at 20 cm/turn, without course changes, rapidly leaving the field, and can't manoeuvre back until the battle is over. If the other German units are defeated, the Zeppelin crew can't complete the mission.
The Zeppelin is moored at the German end of the field; pterodactyls are attacking it, ripping the fabric, and the Captain fears that the damage will be irreparable if it comes any closer to the swamp. He has been forced to stop the engines, since pterodactyls were flying into the airscrews and could damage them. Represent its mooring position by two artillery pieces at the ends of a 10 cm base; one end of the base (the aft gun) must be no more than 5 cm from the edge of the field. It can't move, except by cutting its moorings as above. All other German forces are within 5 cm of the Zeppelin.
Seize the swamp and drive off or eliminate the British. The British are driven off if all British bases are killed or driven out of the area; Indians left behind by a British retreat will rout.
If the Zeppelin is destroyed the German forces are cut off. They don't
know the terrain and have no idea of the route off the plateau. This
means that they MUST surrender. The British aren't known to have any
guns capable of harming it, but fire could be a problem.
5.5 Britishback to contents
The British have 30 points to spend on forces, but artillery isn't available (they've just scaled a 500 ft cliff), and at least 10 points must be spent on natives (cavemen). Dogs are not available; there are none on the plateau. Professor Challenger (stalwart) must be present; Lord John Roxton (character), Edward Malone (stalwart), and Professor Summerlee (rabble) may optionally be present.
The natives have three "tame" iguanodons with them. An Indian base must be within 1cm of each iguanodon to control it; an Indian base can control one iguanodon (controlled on a 1D6 roll of 3-6: roll before dinosaur reactions), two iguanodons (each controlled on 5-6), or three (each controlled on 6). Iguanodons move with the controlling Indians; 1 AP must be spent to move the Indians, none to move the iguanodons. If the control roll is failed, roll on the brontosaurus reaction table, re-rolling any result (apart from panic flight) which will result in injury to an Indian.
Units may be placed anywhere within 5 cm of your edge of the field. There must be an Indian unit within 1 cm of each iguanodon.
Seize the swamp and drive off or eliminate the Germans. The Germans are driven off if all bases are killed or forced off the area.
If neither Challenger nor Roxton is present the Indians will desert;
the presence or absence of Summerlee or Malone has no effect. If all
British units are destroyed or forced out of the area, the Indians
5.6 Optionsback to contents
To simplify this scenario the weapons of the British force are limited to small arms; in fact, by this stage of the war, small British units would customarily carry at least one Lewis machine gun and rifle grenades, which are light enough for easy transportation up a cliff. Both sides would be equipped with flare pistols.
If you wish to use these weapons, the British should start out with 25 points, not 30, and must still spend at least 10 points on natives.
Soldiers carrying Lewis Guns cost 6 points, and the guns have a range of 15 cm; they kill on a 1D6 roll of 6. These units are otherwise used as Stalwarts. Because Lewis Guns are moderately heavy, their carriers can move 4 cm for 1 AP, 8 cm for 2 AP.
Rifle grenades are carried by Adventurers and Stalwarts, but NOT by Lewis Gun units. Use costs 1 AP per shot. They reduce the range of rifles to 8 cm, but allow them to kill on a roll of 9,10,11, or 12.
German equivalents of these weapons are optionally available.
Flare pistols are carried by Characters only. Use costs 2 AP; on a roll of 5 or 6, they start a fire at any point up to 8 cm from the firer. Due to inaccuracy, they can't be used in combat or to attack the Zeppelin directly.
I personally feel that the scenario is less interesting with these
changes. It may be better to assume that the British force is entirely
civilian, or has lost some equipment in rapids en route to the
5.7 Using Forgotten Futures Rulesback to contents
Tusk is the ideal system for this scenario, but unfortunately many readers won't own the game. Here, briefly, are some suggestions for running it under the Forgotten Futures rules.
If using 25mm figures, double or treble all distances; the scenario was written for 6/15mm figures.
The Britons have 450 points and the Germans 300 points for character generation; experienced characters can be generated, using more than 21 points, if desired, as can low-points cannon fodder. The British must spend at least 150 points on Indians. For example, the points values for the Challenger expedition (characteristics and combat skills only) are Challenger 32, Roxton 35, Malone 26, Summerlee 17, Zambo 27. For this battle characters need not have any skills apart from those used for combat, although First Aid is probably very useful, and dinosaur herders must have the Riding skill. Any unused points are doubled and saved as bonus points, which can be used to boost skills etc.
The airship has two Maxim guns (as Machine Gun); these need gunners, with the Military Arms skill, the other airship crew are available without points cost. Ammunition is effectively unlimited. The iguanodons accompanying the Indians are standard adults (see worldbook).
All Britons and Germans can light fires if they wish; it takes two rounds, and nothing else can be done until the fire is lit. Indians must take three rounds, since they are using fire bows. Wind blows randomly according to the clock directions as mentioned above. Fires travel about 2" a round, if they blow back over their previous course they go out.
All European characters must have Marksman  or better to use any rifle, Marksman  or better to use an elephant gun (huge rifle). All can use shotguns. Indians must have Marksman  or better to use a bow, all carry knives.
If you want to add the extra complications in section 6.6, the Britons have 350 points and must spend at least 150 points on Indians. The new weapons have the following characteristics:
|Lewis Gun||Multiple targets, Effect 11, A:F B:I C:C/K|
This weapon weighs 28 lb and uses a pan magazine holding 78 rounds of .303 rifle ammunition. It can fire 6 bursts before reloading is needed. Use requires Military Arms  or better. Setting the gun up takes one round, in which no other action can be taken and no shots can be fired; preparing to move it also takes one round.
|Rifle Grenade||Explosion 6ft radius, Effect 10, A:F B:I C:C/K|
This is an inaccurate weapon, with the grenade fired in an arc like a mortar shell. Use requires Military Arms  or better. Modifiers are -3 at short range (under 25 yards), -1 at medium range, -3 at long range (50-75 yards). Preparing to fire (loading the blank cartridge that propels the grenade, and the grenade itself) takes one round in which nothing else can be done; the grenade is fired the following round.
|Flare Pistol||Fire 2ft radius, Effect 10, A:F B:I C:C/K|
This isn't designed as a weapon, but anyone unlucky enough to be hit won't know the difference. Range modifiers are -2 at short range (to 10 yards), -4 at medium range (10-20 yds), -6 at long range (up to a couple of hundred yards, but in a totally unaimable arc). The flare burns for 3 rounds, and will set fire to anything flammable it touches. For the purpose of this scenario flares bounce off the Zeppelin without igniting it.
Use the normal rules for combat, movement, etc., assuming that 1" is about 6ft when moving 25mm figures. The iguanodons do what they are told, provided the relevant Indian makes a Difficulty 6 Riding roll; if the roll fails, the iguanodon does whatever the British player doesn't want to happen; eg "This Indian makes the iguanodon move East" (fails dice roll; dinosaur moves in a randomly selected direction). Megalosaurs chase anything that looks edible.
This will probably take a long time to play out; Tusk (and other wargames) are much better for mass combats like this!