by Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 1999, portions Copyright © 1985-98
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This is an adventure for a group of professional criminals. They need not know each other before the action begins. Characters posing as such criminals, such as disguised detectives, might also be used, provided that they they are a minority of the adventurers; suggestions on handling this are in some of the "troubleshooting" sections below. An NPC Villain is provided; for various reasons it is not advisable to have him run as an adventurer. An optional section, The Usual Heroes, outlines how to run the scenario with a group of normal adventurers instead of criminals. Some NPC thugs and other criminals are provided to fill the "holes" in the gang; even with a large group of players some of these characters should be used, for reasons explained below. Forgotten Futures Theatre figures are provided for the main NPCs; click on the character's name to see the appropriate sheet of figures.
If you are using the "theatrical company" idea in the Recurring Roles section of the worldbook, give all the characters five points to spend on any crime-related skill for the duration of the adventure. At least one point must be spent on Thief. The "doubled" roles described in section 3.7 are probably undesirable. Otherwise, characters should be generated normally, but the referee should ask each player to specify his or her preferred type of crime, and three crimes that they have committed (e.g. "The Baker Street bank job"). A wide range of skills may be useful, so characters who have drifted into a life of crime after a business or military career are entirely reasonable.
Make sure that players are familiar and happy with a melodramatic style of play, and are aware of the significance of Asides.
The setting is Britain a year after the opening of the Channel Tunnel, although this is not necessarily important to the adventurers before the scenario begins; it is simply something they all know about. Unless they were involved in the events of the introductory adventure, Taking The Tunnel, they will not know that an invasion was narrowly averted; the full seriousness of the incident has been kept from the press to minimise the international crisis.
Recommended reading and viewing includes
I'm told that there is a film dealing with a train robbery earlier in the nineteenth century, The First Great Train Robbery, from a novel by Michael Crichton, but haven't seen either. Joe Poyer's Tunnel War is also relevant, but inaccurate on railway details. Train robberies occur in numerous Westerns, but usually the circumstances are very different to those described below.
Remember that in the tradition of Melodrama, crime does not pay...
Before running this adventure it's advisable to read it and print out some handouts and maps that will be needed by players. For some scenes a recording of a steam train may usefully be played in the background, especially if players have no experience of this elderly form of transport.
It isn't possible to provide detailed period maps for all possible locations mentioned in this adventure. Old Ordnance Survey maps in the series published by Alan Godfrey cover the London sites (#62 and #75 cover Victoria and the area around the British Museum) but at the time of writing are not available for the other areas. However, the catalogue for this company is continually changing and is now on-line.
Setting The Scene
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|You are invited to attend the first rehearsal of
WELLINGTON REHEARSAL ROOMS
Tottenham Court Road
Room 2 - tonight 6.45 for 7.00 P.M.
Only the name and address of the hall are printed on the card, everything else is hand-written. None of the adventurers know anything about a rehearsal, but "Easy Money" is suggestive and "Mtn. Smith" is Martin Smith, a fence and "fixer" who has lined them up with several lucrative antique and art thefts. He has a pawnbroker's shop in the City, where some old laws make fencing stolen goods a little less risky, and could have posted the invitations there.
If adventurers decide to contact Smith before the meeting they'll find him at his shop until five p.m. Smith checks that they have received their invitations, but refuses to discuss the matter; "you'll soon know what it's about". If adventurers seem to be likely to hurt him, Smith threatens that the meeting will be cancelled and they'll miss "the big one", the crime of the century. If, despite this, he is roughed up or threatened he'll reveal a little more; he has a "client" who collects antiques. Until now the client has preferred to stay in the background, but now he says he has something big in mind, and has asked Smith to organise the meeting and introduce him to the thieves. Smith won't name him, regardless of threats; he's more frightened of the man he knows as Leon Arkoff than he is of the adventurers. He doesn't contact Arkoff; Arkoff contacts him.
Note that Smith carries a small pistol and keeps a shotgun concealed in the shop; if he thinks his life is in danger he'll use them, and claim that anyone hurt tried to rob him or his shop. Anyone shot or arrested will not get loose in time to attend the meeting, and the most likely result is a long spell in prison.
The rehearsal rooms occupy four floors of a large old building on Tottenham Court Road, near Oxford Street and the British Museum. Room 2 is in the basement.
|Troubleshooting: If adventurers
decide to get to the building early and watch to see who else arrives,
they'll see several dozen people go in and out; Smith and the other characters
described below, and the casts of three plays, a ballet, and a small orchestra
that are also using the building. All are in street clothes, and it's difficult
to tell the actors from the thugs. There is no convenient vantage-point to
watch the entrance; the only other rooms in the basement are the lavatories,
which are in frequent use, and anyone loitering on the stairs will be treated
with suspicion by the other users of the building.
If the adventurers arrive after 7.00 P.M. the doors will be locked and they won't be admitted. They won't see Arkoff arrive or leave.
Smith arrives with the key and a crate of bottled ale at 6.45. He stays at the door, letting in the adventurers and NPCs, and keeping out everybody else. Assuming that the adventurers do arrive on time, they meet each other (if they haven't already met), and several hard-faced men who have the look of professional criminals; there should be at least as many as there are player characters. Select them from the list of NPCs at the end of the adventure, eliminating anyone with skills possessed by player characters, and add more thugs if necessary.
If characters have a criminal history it's possible that some of the NPC criminals present will know them; for example, a con man might be greeted by Captain Brown, a thug by one of the thugs. Otherwise everyone will be a little wary of exchanging details and names.
One end of the room is a small stage, with moth-eaten curtains concealing an illegally locked fire exit. The backdrop is a crudely-painted vista of the Alps. The other furnishings are some chairs, enough for everyone present plus a few spares, a large blackboard and easel, a player piano (with a music roll for the William Tell overture) and a table bearing a dusty vase of flowers, a wax dummy left by the previous occupants. A cupboard under the stage contains a few broken chairs but is otherwise empty.
At precisely seven a stranger wearing dinner dress and an opera cloak, and carrying a silver-tipped cane, steps out from behind the curtains and onto the stage (he has a key to the fire exit, but this should not be explained). He's a dark-haired man in his forties, with a tightly-curled moustache and immaculate hair, and somehow radiates an aura of menace.
"Good evening. Mister Smith, if you would lock the door I think that we are ready to begin. Everybody, please be seated."
Smith nods nervously, and does as he is told. The stranger turns to the gathering and says "My name is Arkoff. Some of you may have heard of me. All of you have performed illegal services for me in the past, via representatives such as Mister Smith. I now wish to present you with a business opportunity that I think is unparalleled in modern criminal history. Since there is little time I have decided to forgo the use of my normal intermediaries."
|"Some of you may have heard of me..."
Arkoff has an impressive track record as a criminal, going back many years, but has mostly been active in the Middle East and around the Adriatic. Depending on their experience the adventurers may know of him, by name and/or reputation.
Have each adventurer roll MIND, Thief, or Detective, whichever is higher, against Difficulty 6; skill modifier +2 if their character details mention having operated overseas, +4 if they have worked in the Middle East. If the result is a failure the character has never heard of Arkoff, otherwise:
"Those of you who are familiar with the world of antiquities will be aware that a German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, excavated the ruins of Troy in the early seventies. His discoveries included a hoard of early Greek jewellery, which was recently offered to the British Museum. It is currently stored in the Museum's vaults, but the Museum has no room to display the Trojan relics at present. They will shortly be returned to Germany via France, and we should have an opportunity to steal them en route.
"I had hoped to spend more time preparing and rob the museum itself, but yesterday I learned that the collection will be shipped to Paris by rail this coming Friday. It will be exhibited at the Louvre for a month then sent on to Berlin.
"As gold the jewellery is worth a few thousand pounds. Intact as a collection, and handled correctly, it is virtually beyond price. Accordingly, I can offer ten thousand pounds, plus expenses within reason, for the complete consignment in good condition. To men of your talents this should not be difficult, but there are, as always, some complications.
"The museum realises the value of the collection, and its directors have arranged for a mounted police escort to the station. Six armed detectives will accompany it to France. I haven't yet been able to ascertain which train will be used; it will probably be one of the Continental Express services from Victoria, timed to arrive in Paris during working hours. My informant believes that there may be a military escort aboard the train, but has no details. At Calais French detectives and troops will take over the shipment.
"If this is correct, the best opportunity for a robbery may be when the train is in the Tunnel. As you probably know, the treaty under which the Tunnel was built prohibits any military use. It's my understanding that this is rigorously enforced, so any British troops will leave the train at Dover, and French troops will board it at Calais."
Todd produces an envelope from his pocket. "This envelope contains some details of the tunnel that may be helpful. I am sure that more information will be needed. I would suggest that you introduce yourselves and discuss this, and that we meet again tomorrow night at the same time. I'll inform you of the venue tomorrow."
He starts to turn away, then seems to remember something and says "One small matter..." He reaches into a pocket and produces a cigarette holder and a packet of Sullivans, takes out a cigarette and taps it on the packet, but doesn't start to smoke.
"In an enterprise of this sort there are always certain risks. Most notably, the risk of betrayal by one's so-called friends. Fortunately I've made it my habit to cultivate useful acquaintanceships, especially amongst the forces of law and order. Mister Smith..." He pauses, fiddling with his cigarettes "...you are greedy; moreover, you have been extremely stupid and trusted entirely the wrong policeman." Smith looks around wildly, seeing hostile stares from all sides, his hand darting towards a pocket.
Arkoff raises the cigarette holder to his lips and puffs. Smith feebly raises a hand to his throat, which has been punctured by a small green dart, drops a small revolver, then crumples to the floor, twitching for a few moments. Arkoff pockets his weapon, and says "Very well. If some of you will move him into the lavatory across the hall, you will find a manhole leading directly to the main sewer. It should be wide enough for him. Until tomorrow night, then..."
He steps behind the curtain and vanishes. No matter how quickly anyone gets to the door, it is locked and shows no sign of having been opened. The key to the other door is in Smith's pocket, finding it will take a minute or so. There is also a small bunch of keys, to Smith's shop and home, and 5s 6d in cash. It will take at least a minute to get either door open without a key, even if the adventurers risk attracting attention by smashing them down. By the time anyone gets outside Arkoff is long gone.
If anyone wants to risk a quick "visit" to Smith's lock-up shop they'll find assorted jewellery and pawned items worth about £37; he has stolen goods worth a few hundred pounds under a floorboard in his bedroom, but none of the adventurers know his home address without a good deal of investigation, which will take more time than is available. Once the body is found the police will search the house and find them.
|Troubleshooting: Smith was
not an informer; Arkoff killed him to set an example, and to ensure that nothing
he knows can endanger his real identity.
Fortunately nobody is using the lavatory. If anyone tries to stop the body going down the sewer, the NPC thugs will certainly object. They have no desire to leave evidence like that lying around. Once the body is in the sewer it is swept rapidly away, eventually emerging in the Thames several days after the robbery. Attempts to find it earlier will fail.
If anyone has coincidentally arranged for police to raid the meeting, it doesn't happen. Arkoff really does have contacts on the police force, and one has cancelled it, by "losing" some vital paperwork. Arkoff hasn't yet been told, but will soon know. Arkoff's contact covers his tracks well, and it won't be possible to find out who cancelled the raid.
If one of the adventurers is a disguised detective this might seem a good moment to start making arrests, but there are some obvious reasons why this is not advisable, most notably the presence of several thugs who would raise violent objections. Some of them are armed.
If an adventurer makes contact with any senior police officer after the meeting, he or she will be ordered to carry on and take part in the robbery, stay well clear of the police, and report back only to this one superior if it is completely safe. The only way to convict Arkoff is to catch him in the act or with the goods, and Arkoff said that he has informants in the force; there's no way to be sure who else can be trusted. Unfortunately the most senior officer the adventurer talks to, whether or not this order is obeyed, will ultimately turn out to be on Arkoff's payroll; anyone else will be eliminated. This officer will soon warn Arkoff of the infiltrator. Arkoff's response is explained in later sections.
The worse possibility is that someone will make an immediate attempt to kill Arkoff. If this happens the attack should fail; he will even survive shots at point-blank range. In this case see "Is Arkoff in league with the Devil?" in a later section.
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"Arkoff" is really Professor Herbert Todd, Curator of Greek Antiquities at the British Museum. He is independently wealthy, having inherited a small shipping line, and from 1870 onwards used his criminal talents and fortune to acquire the finest Greek antiques, initially around the Adriatic and in the Middle East, latterly in Britain. Some of the best items in his collection were "lifted" from the Museum by Todd himself and replaced with excellent forgeries. Ironically, the Professor keeps his collection in a hidden vault below the museum, described in more detail later in the adventure. As Arkoff he has cultivated contacts in the police force and underworld. Now he plans to use them to commit his greatest theft, blame the adventurers for it, and kill them.
Todd intends to steal the collection after the boxes are sealed and bonded for shipment. He has access to the vault and a duplicate of the customs seal, and plans to empty the boxes and put in some replicas of the most famous Trojan treasure and pieces of "scrap" gold purchased from jewellers, of approximately the right weight, packed in gun-cotton (an unstable explosive). He will also add an extra box, superficially like those in the the shipment, containing a powerful dynamite bomb; the bomb is a Fenian design, and if it explodes near the other cases it will detonate the gun-cotton and pepper the vicinity with fragments of gold shrapnel, making it look like the explosion has destroyed the antiques. He will be able to change the timing of the bomb at any time until Thursday night; after that he won't be able to make changes unless the shipment is delayed.
Todd hopes that Anarchists or Fenians will be blamed for the theft and explosion. There are three main possibilities:
Todd has taken certain steps to ensure that the robbery does happen as he prefers; he planted some rumours of an attempt to steal the jewellery, which has resulted in the presence of the police escort, made sure that the boxes will be shipped on a train carrying troops to the Dover garrison, and requested that the troops guard the train at all stops until it reaches Dover.
This should guarantee that the robbery will be planned to occur after the train leaves Dover, in the tunnel or on the Varne Bank island, with the robbers escaping by boat. He has hired a suitably fast steam yacht as a getaway vehicle; NPCs have the skills needed to operate it if the adventurers do not. To prevent the adventurers smelling a rat he will pretend to consider other schemes, but will always find reasons to object to them if they don't guarantee to keep the robbers together after the theft. He will also object to any plan which involves robbing the shipment in France; he doesn't want the boxes to go through French customs - someone might notice the forged document, hear the timer, or realise that the seals have been broken and replaced.
Todd has deliberately given the adventurers very little time to prepare for the robbery; he hopes that this will keep them from spending much time wondering about his real motives, or working out ways to "cheat" him which might cause problems.
Obviously Todd's plan should not succeed in every detail; ideally the robbery should succeed but the adventurers should find and disarm the bomb before it explodes, realise that they have stolen relatively worthless forgeries and scraps, and go looking for Arkoff. There are other possibilities; for instance, if the robbery is set up so that NPCs have control of the loot at any point (for example, if they are running a boat while the adventurers load the gold) they might decide to hijack it, get away - then die horribly as the bomb explodes, leaving the adventurers behind to try and find out what went wrong. The bomb might explode too early, or too late. The yacht might break down in mid-channel, giving the adventurers a chance to hear the ticking bomb in the sudden silence. The adventurers might decide to steal the treasure from Arkoff, and change the plans sufficiently to avoid the explosion. These options are explored in more detail below.
Clues planted at various points in the adventure should put the adventurers on their guard, and eventually lead them to Todd; an Aside has been been included for Arkoff in the last meeting before the robbery, which should help to prepare them for betrayal, but referees should feel free to go without any warning, or to drop more hints if the adventurers seem to be unusually trusting. The remaining text will usually refer to Arkoff and Todd as separate characters, to reduce the risk of referring to him by the wrong name.
Throughout the period of this adventure the weather is poor, with frequent showers and occasional thunderstorms. The weather isn't bad enough to disrupt the operation of the railways, but rain will make any difficult operation (such as walking along the roof of a train) a little harder, and the sea will be a little rough. If adventurers seem to be getting on unusually well, it should start to rain at the most awkward moment possible; if they are doing badly, the weather improves and removes one possible source of complications.
Note: This adventure is a sequel to Taking The Tunnel, which was set in 1897. It is strongly advised that this should be changed to 1887, with this adventure set in 1888, since it is very unlikely that the treasure described in this adventure would still be on the move so late in the century. This point apart, there is nothing to stop referees from setting it at an earlier or later date, but some small changes are needed to reflect the state of British railway engineering in the period, which lagged behind the USA in comfort and size.
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Leon Arkoff - Villain
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor , Artist (forgery) , Athlete (climbing, swimming) , Brawling , Business , Drive , Linguist (Greek, Latin, Turkish, Hebrew, French, German, Russian, Arabic) , Marksman , Martial Arts (Boxing, Savate) , Melee weapon (any) , Military Arms , Psychology , Riding , Scholar (Greek, Roman, and Middle-East antiques) , Scientist (archaeology, chemistry, toxicology) , Stealth , Thief 
Villainous Traits: Evil Genius, Master of Disguise, Aura of Evil.
Equipment: Disguise kit, sword stick, two or three concealed weapons such as blow-pipes disguised as cigarette holders, a strangling wire in a boot heel, a ring concealing a poisoned needle. If anyone else learns that one of his devices is a weapon, he will discard it and carry something new.
Quote: (as Arkoff) "Of course there is a risk; that's what you're being paid for..."
Quote: (as Todd) "Well... um.. it does seem a shame that the Museum can't house such fascinating pieces, but our space is... umm.. very limited"
Notes: Arkoff is actually Professor Herbert Todd, Curator of Greek Antiquities at the British Museum. He is independently wealthy (there is a profitable family shipping business), and spent many years in the Greece and the Middle East, working as an archaeologist but secretly looting various sites for his own collection, and stealing the finds of others. During his career he has mastered and used explosives, poisons, and a variety of weapons and martial arts. His house conceals a hoard of stolen Graeco-Roman antiques, many of them "lifted" from the Museum by Todd himself. He appears to be in his mid-forties.
Role-Playing Hints: When disguised as Arkoff he dresses very neatly, in slightly foppish expensive styles. He has a spiked moustache (twirled occasionally) and neatly combed hair, and speaks coldly. In his "real" identity he dresses untidily, combs the wax out of his moustache, ruffles his hair a little, wears pinc-nez (glasses without earpieces) and pretends to be a little vague and older than Arkoff. He carries an umbrella (with sword) instead of a sword stick; if he is given reason to fear for his safety he will add a large elderly revolver, but put more faith in his concealed weapons and skills.
|Fists||Max. 2||7||B||F||I/KO||Used with Martial Arts skill|
|Kick||Max. 2||7||B||F||I/KO||Used with Martial Arts skill|
|Sword stick||Max. 2||8||F*||I*||C/K*||* Tipped with venom|
|Blow pipe||No||5||B||F*||F*||* Dart injects venom|
|Strangling wire||No||7||F||I||C/K||Used with Martial Arts skill|
|Poison Ring||No||4||B||F*||F*||* Injects venom, Single use.|
|The venom noted above is a lethal neurotoxin based on scorpion venom, reinvented by Arkoff from Greek recipes; if a weapon is tipped with it the first F, I or C result means that a dose has been injected; it persists for five rounds, during which its Effect rises from 7 to 12; roll for damage each round once it is injected.|
|Venom||-||7+1/Rd||F||I/C||K||See notes below|
Todd has developed an antidote, and always carries several doses in tablet form, in a small silver box; if he accidentally injects someone he wishes to keep alive, one tablet will counter the venom. Two or more tablets have the same effect as the poison.
Arkoff has a reputation. A bad one. He's an ingenious murderous criminal, utterly ruthless, but apparently loyal to those who work for him. He was mostly active in the 1870s, and nobody really knows what he has been doing for the last few years. Nobody who has worked for him in the past seems to be around in Britain, or at least willing to admit to the fact; the referee should not point this out, let the players draw their own conclusions. If the adventurers ask about him in the underworld, use some of the stories below to flesh out his character. Note that these are all anecdotes told at second or third hand; "I heard that..." is as close as anyone will get to an actual witness, although it's possible that some of the story tellers were more intimately involved than they'll admit. Roll a dice for the story that's told, re-roll if the story is one already told:
|Troubleshooting: It's possible
that in spite of these warnings, or perhaps because of them, adventurers will
decide to back out before the robbery. Arkoff's reaction will vary according
Complications are added if one or more of the adventurers backs off, but others stay in the gang. In this case the referee should separate the two groups of players. Arkoff finds some suitably qualified members of the gang - the remaining adventurers - and sends them to kill the defectors!
If the adventurers try to kill Arkoff before he gets them, the optional "Is Arkoff in league with the Devil?" subplot outlined below should be used.
Is Arkoff in league with the Devil?
There are rumours that he attempted to sell his soul, perhaps he succeeded. He certainly has extraordinary luck; any attempt to harm him before the robbery should go horribly wrong. For example, someone might decide to try and shoot him; as soon as the gun appears he will duck for cover with extraordinary speed (-2 to Marksman skill), the first shot that actually hits him will hit his cigarette case and ricochet, on any miss the gun jams and backfires causing an automatic Injury to the person firing it. Meanwhile Arkoff will be retaliating... Things like this happen even if there are multiple attackers or melee weapons are used. After the robbery Arkoff loses this extra protection, but is still a formidable opponent.
If Arkoff has sold his soul things can get very strange; a shot might hit him, causing full damage which instantly regenerates, or is simply shrugged off; see Highlander or The Phantom of the Paradise for examples. In this case weapons dipped in Holy Water, or otherwise Blessed by the rites of any religion, will do normal damage, others have no permanent effect. If the adventurers can destroy Arkoff's copy of his contract with the Devil it will instantly be broken, and he will feel the full effect of dozens of wounds over the course of his criminal career. Optionally the Devil himself appears as he is dying, to offer a renewal of the contract; after all, Arkoff has been doing a lot of "good" work for him! Arkoff will gratefully accept, then deal with the adventurers as seems appropriate. It's possible that the Devil may also be interested in signing up the adventurers, if they have been sufficiently evil. This should have very nasty long-term consequences.
One optional end for the adventure under these circumstances: if the adventurers have been wantonly murderous or committed other vicious crimes before killing Arkoff, he curses them with his dying breath, saying "The Devil take you all!". A deep voice behind them says "Yes... their souls are mine too...." There is a clap of thunder. Instantly the adventurers and Arkoff are burning in the flames of Hell, the curtain closes on their screams and a flaming banner reading "Crime Does Not Pay"...
The Channel Tunnel
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The adventurers will probably want to start by finding out as much as possible about the probable route of the train and the Channel Tunnel. Arkoff's envelope contains the articles that follow and a railway timetable, and the plans and maps that accompany them. Referees should print them out before running the adventure.
From The Daily Telegraph, September 1887 (ten months ago)
From The Wonder Book of Railways For Boys
Rails Across The Sea: The Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is one of the busiest sections of railway in the world, and it is vital to ensure efficient and safe movement of the trains. At peak times there may be four or more travelling in each direction, with some stopping at the Varne Bank terminus to transfer passengers or goods.
The main passenger lines to the Tunnel from London are owned by the South Eastern Railway and London, Chatham, and Dover Railway. Two main routes are used:
It should be remembered that trains from other parts of the country also utilise the tunnel, using SER or LCD lines for the last part of their journey; for example, the MSLR service from Manchester to Aylesbury then takes the MLSR / Metropolitan joint line to Finchley Park, the Metropolitan to Shadwell, the East London line to New Cross, then uses SER lines for the remainder of the trip to the tunnel. There are also numerous freight services which make up the bulk of traffic on this route.
The Tunnel was originally conceived as a simple railway link between Dover and Calais, but military considerations, the need for ventilation, and the commercial possibilities of a new mid-Channel island have made it somewhat more complicated. As a result, stations on each shore are linked by bridges to small artificial islands, the Tunnel mouths proper. The bridges are the primary defence against the Tunnel's use in an invasion; they are mined (with electrical detonators) and overlooked by coastal defence forts with guns permanently targeted upon bridge and island.
At Dover the locomotives are supplemented by the Channel Tunnel Company's
The Tunnel proper consists of two parallel tubes dug through the bed of the Channel. Each railway line is carried in a steel pipe, waterproofed with layers of bitumen and pitch, lined with concrete and brick, and reinforced with steel hoops. At intervals the pipes are linked by cross-tunnels, about six foot in diameter, which can be used to evacuate a train in the event of an emergency. Some of the cross-tunnels contain tool stores, posts for signalmen, etc. There are ventilation shafts at intervals of one to one and a half miles, forming the chain of small brick "islands" that are now familiar in photographs of this coast. At night their warning lights provide a guide for mariners.
A remarkable feature is the mid-Channel terminus, approximately seven miles off the British coast. It is an artificial island on the Varne Bank, built in an area where the water depth averages two to four fathoms. This was originally intended mainly as a convenient point for watering and coaling engines, but rapid developments in locomotion have made this role almost redundant; modern engines can manage the Tunnel without extra fuel or water. Today its main purpose is to give passengers a welcome break from the dust and smoke of the Tunnel, and it has become a popular destination in its own right; on sunny days many passengers choose to stop for a meal and carry on by a later train, others stay for the bracing air, yachting, and fishing. Initially the station hotel and restaurant sufficed, now a second hotel is under construction near the recently-completed marina. A deep water dock is being built South of the existing island, and there are plans to extend it as a major freight and passenger terminus.
As trains arrive on the Varne Bank island the track splits into two lines in
each direction, with platforms on all lines. Sidings lead to the goods shed,
which can accommodate three complete trains, to the station's boiler house and
power plant, and to a line which will eventually serve the new deep water dock.
Continuing on from the Varne Bank, trains eventually arrive at Calais, where their passengers pass through French customs and the banking engine is uncoupled. Most trains then continue to Paris via Amiens. For an express the total journey is about seven hours, a saving of nearly two hours on the previous train and ferry journey; better still, the service is no longer affected by tides or storms, and passengers need no longer fear seasickness or wreck. For freight trains there are considerable saving in time and expense, since it is no longer necessary to unload goods and break bulk at Dover and reload onto trains at Calais, and theft and damage are greatly reduced.
Signalling and safety are obviously very important. For these purposes the Tunnel is divided into six track zones, each of which allows one train on the main line in each direction. These are organised as follows:
The driver of each train is given a numbered tally as it leaves Dover or Calais, which must be handed back as it arrives at its destination. Train movements are plotted by putting counters, representing the train, into racks with a slot for each track section and siding. There are duplicate racks in signal boxes at Dover and Calais and on the Varne Bank.
If a train passes any red signal without stopping, a mechanism underneath the banking engine engages a safety bar protruding from the track. This releases the vacuum in the brake lines, bringing the train to a standstill within a few hundred feet. The mechanism must be reset manually by the driver, so it is impossible for a driver to ignore the signals and drive on regardless.
Train locations on the main line are recorded and telegraphed by train
number (as on the tally ring), section, and direction; for example,
South-Eastern Railways Continental Express - Via Channel Tunnel
Station 1st 2nd 3rd Arr. Dep. Arr. Dep. Arr. Dep.
The material above doesn't tell the whole story; more can be learned by questioning reporters, engine drivers, etc.
The Tunnel has been open for approximately a year. After the opening ceremony a group of French Foreign Legion "renegades" made an unsuccessful attempt to hijack the Royal train, kidnap the Queen, and use her as a hostage to capture the Tunnel, as a prelude to invasion. The French government denied involvement, but nobody in the British government believes them. The French were allowed to save face by extraditing and executing the surviving "criminals", at the price of numerous concessions and the resignation of much of the French cabinet, but relationships are still strained. Newspapers know this unofficially, but are cooperating with the official government line.
The entire Tunnel including the Varne Bank station is now treated as a neutral border zone, and both governments have agreed that their armed forces and police will stay out. The company has its own private police, mostly ex-military and ex-Scotland Yard; during the day there are ten on duty on the island, six in uniform (a flat-capped police style uniform with truncheon and handcuffs, without a gun), four in plain clothes but carrying concealed .32 revolvers and handcuffs; at night a smaller shift takes over. There is a security station under the hotel, with cells and a small armoury of rifles and shotguns, to be used in the event of an emergency (for example, an armed robbery). They act like any other private security force; they'll make arrests, then return criminals to whichever government seems most appropriate. Use the statistics for detectives at the end of the adventure.
The "additional security measures" mentioned in the first article were
The Tunnel structure is extremely strong (BODY 60 at all points), and will only be damaged by explosives etc. if a Kill is rolled. If this occurs water starts to spurt from some joints in the concrete, and there are ominous groaning and creaking noises, but no real harm is done. A second explosion in the same place, and another Kill result, will breach the Tunnel. The demolition charges in the bridges are installed at key points where they will do the maximum possible damage; they collapse immediately if the charges are detonated. Otherwise the bridges have BODY 50, and will collapse if TWO of the supports are damaged with a Kill result. The cables and demolition charges are not readily accessible; the cables are in underground pipes, the charges are in strong steel lockers embedded in the concrete piers and can only be opened by prolonged drilling.
All engines regardless of type have BODY , all carriages are BODY .
Trains accelerate at 5 MPH per round. Trains with vacuum brakes decelerate at
15 MPH per round; goods trains and engines working without vacuum brakes (such
as shunting engines moving carriages at the Varne Bank depot) normally brake
at 5 MPH; they can stop faster, but if a Driving skill roll at Difficulty of
There is 2 ft clearance between the roof of train carriages and the roof of the tunnel, with occasional protruding bolts and rods reducing the space and making train surfing an extremely bad idea. There is 4 ft clearance to either side of trains, but signals and other obstructions occasionally protrude a foot or more into this space. Telegraph wires run along the tunnel walls.
Carriages are lit by gimballed oil lamps, two per compartment, lit by a porter just before the train enters the tunnel. They are a fire hazard if the train crashes.
Back to contents
Arkoff has given the adventurers a lot to think about. If they want to go along with his ideas they have a robbery to plan; if they don't, they need to work out a way of getting out of the scheme. They may also want to find out more about him.
One point that the adventurers should bear in mind in the remainder of this adventure is that if anyone is killed during the robbery, regardless of how it happens, British law will probably treat everyone involved as murderers or accessories. For example, if the adventurers stop the train peacefully and tie up the guards without hurting them, but someone subsequently chokes on his gag, the robbers will be held responsible for his death. The defence might argue otherwise, but the courts will almost certainly convict. A crime occurred; the death happened as a result of the crime; therefore the criminals are murderers or accessories to murder. If the adventurers go in armed and someone is shot, all will be regarded as murderers unless there is some extraordinary extenuating circumstance. Britain has the death penalty for murder, and in this period British criminal law operates very quickly; most trials begin a week or two after arrest and last a few days, most executions occur within three weeks of conviction; an unsuccessful appeal adds a short delay, but usually only two to three weeks. Accessories to murder can expect long prison terms with hard labour.
The mechanics of the robbery are actually fairly simple; stop the train somewhere, or board it at a station, overcome the guards, and get away with the loot. There are several ways to do this; encourage the players to come up with a plan that sounds plausible, and will meet Arkoff's needs. Communications will be the main problem; dozens of trains an hour use the Tunnel and the lines approaching Dover, so any plan that relies on someone outside the train stopping it will need split-second timing. Many schemes can be put together using the information in the section above: for most of them the adventurers will also need to know which train is to be used, at least a few hours before the treasure leaves London. Some questions that need to be answered:
Arkoff will arrange to meet the thieves every night; he sends messages to the adventurers, cards with the address on one side and the words "Show card for admission - L.A." on the other. They are hand-delivered by messenger boys who, if questioned, will say that the sender left them in their company's office earlier in the day. It doesn't matter what the adventurers are doing; if they are in London, Arkoff's messages will somehow always find them. Don't explain this. Naturally messages won't be sent to anyone who withdraws from the gang. London has dozens of messenger services, and Arkoff won't use the same one twice. He has pre-booked a new meeting place for each night. The venues are as follows:
All of the venues above are within a mile or so of Holborn, have several escape routes, and are easily secured against intruders and eavesdroppers. Arkoff is waiting for the adventurers when they arrive and leaves first; he has paid all bills in advance. If anyone tries to follow him he will always succeed in shaking them off - usually by walking towards the theatre district and mingling with hundreds of other men wearing opera cloaks. Naturally these meeting places can be changed if the adventurers decide to mount the robbery from another base, e.g. a hotel in Dover; if this does happen Arkoff will complete his preparations in London before the Thursday meeting, not afterwards.
If anyone fails to attend a meeting, Arkoff will want a full explanation. He will somehow know if anyone is lying to him. Acceptable excuses might include dinner with a clerk working for the South Eastern Railway, a trip to Paris to reconnoitre the railway, or some other activity that will contribute to the ultimate success of the robbery.
Finding The Shipment Details
Arkoff knows the shipment details; he's trying to pretend that he doesn't, which is why the first two questions need answering. The information is known to the British Museum, the Police and Army in Britain and France, the Channel Tunnel Company, and two railway companies, and that many people can't keep a secret for long. All that the adventurers need to do is think of a way to get it; by trickery, bribery, or simply finding someone who likes to gossip.
For example, someone might pretend to be a reporter from a French newspaper, and approach the British Museum to ask a few questions about the exhibition that will be coming to the Louvre; if so, they will be directed to the most logical spokesman, the Curator of Greek Antiquities, Herbert Todd! If Todd is interviewed at this stage, there is no reason to suspect that he is anything other than he seems; he is a Master of Disguise, and his Aura of Evil is concealed by his pretence of vague absent-mindedness. Todd will be delighted to talk (at interminable length) about the importance of the pieces, Heinrich Schliemann, archaeology in general, and so on; he will pretend to be cautious about discussing the shipment, but (on Tuesday or Wednesday) will even let them see the treasure, in one of the museum's impressively strong vaults, with a few porters standing by to make sure that nothing is stolen. On Thursday it is packed for the journey and sealed by customs, so nobody will be allowed to see it. Sufficiently "cunning" questions about the treasure and the journey can "persuade" him to reveal the following points:
Troubleshooting: Someone may think of kidnapping Todd and questioning
him; Arkoff will advise against this, since the museum's plans may be changed
if Todd goes missing (he obviously can't explain his real reasons!). If his
advice is ignored Todd will prove a difficult target; his home (a small mansion
at the edge of Regents Park) is on a private street guarded by spiked iron
railings and several watchmen. He travels to and from the museum by closed
carriage; if anyone tries to ambush it, they'll find that the driver is a
bruiser (BODY , Brawling , Melee Weapon ) armed with a stout cudgel
and a whip, and that Todd isn't aboard it anyway; he's sent the driver on an
errand! The driver knows nothing of Todd's real activities, he's just well-paid
and loyal to his employer, and happy to break a few heads if the opportunity
arises. There isn't time to make more than one attempt before the shipment. If
the adventurers seem to be unusually keen to pursue Todd, Arkoff will suggest
some alternative, or eventually pretend that his own sources have come up with
After any unsuccessful attempt Todd will make a show of carrying an ancient .45 revolver (although he puts more faith in his concealed weapons) and take care to avoid places where he might easily be attacked.
The 9.30 Service
Station Arr. Dep. London (Vic.) - 09.30 Chatham 10.20 10.25 Canterbury 10.55 11.00 Dover 11.05 11.25 Varne Bank 11.40 11.45 Calais 12.15 12.35 Amiens 13.30 13.40 Paris (G.de.SL) 16.40 -
Alternatives To A Tunnel Robbery
There are some obvious possibilities for a robbery before the shipment reaches the Channel Tunnel.
Stopping The Train
If the adventurers don't plan to rob the train at a station they need a way to stop it elsewhere, or to get into the guard's van while the train is moving. Some possibilities that might be considered include:
The safety mechanism only affects the Channel Tunnel Company's own locomotives, the other engines don't have it, so this trick will only work in the Tunnel. The mechanism is built into the track, and operated from the nearest signal box (or the signal position in the longer tunnel); it would be possible to disconnect it from its control rods and operate it manually, but doing so will need appropriate skills such as Mechanic, and fifteen or twenty minute's work. At least one train will come through the tunnel before the work is completed.
The train has vacuum brakes, if the armoured hose is cut at any point they
will slam on. This might be done by using an axe to break through the floor of
a carriage, or by climbing out of a carriage and along the side of the train to
the coupling between one carriage and the next, and unfastening it. This is
VERY dangerous; the gap between the train and the inner tunnel wall is around
To detach wagons from the end of the train without activating the brakes is difficult but not impossible. Some strong clamps are needed, used with enough force to deform the BODY 5 armour of the hoses. Clamp the line at two points, then cut it between the clamps. If the clamps are tight enough it shouldn't fill with air when it is cut. But there is no way to be sure that the clamps are tight enough until the line is cut. Don't forget to cut the communications cord too!
There is no way to be sure which banking engine will be attached to the train to help it through the Tunnel. There are always at least two at Dover, shuttling backwards and forwards through the Tunnel, and the order in which they are used may depend on driver's tea breaks, the engine's need for coke or water, or the whim of the Dover station controller.
Bribing a member of the crew of the main train is a possibility, the roster is posted a day or two in advance. Naturally the most reliable and experienced crew will be assigned to this train; however, there's a theory that anyone can be bought if the bribe (or threat) is big enough...
Overcoming The Guards
Wherever the robbery occurs, the adventurers will have to overcome the occupants of the guard's van (the wagon which carries the train guard and luggage, and goods such as the treasure); Alfred Stone (or whoever has replaced him) and six armed detectives, with four more detectives as passengers in other parts of the train if the authorities have any specific reason to suspect that a robbery might occur. If the train is attacked before Dover the soldiers guarding it will also need to be removed; they are armed with rifles, so this is likely to cause a few problems.
Even though the treasure is being carried in the guards' van, it will still be used for trunks and other heavy luggage. Adventurers should easily think of ways to take advantage of this.
The main options are to fight it out, to use some trick to get the detectives out of the van, or to somehow overpower them without a fight.
Adventurers may think of putting a low-powered bomb aboard in a trunk; again, Arkoff must be "convinced" that it will incapacitate the guards without damaging the treasure. For both of these methods a trial run is probably a good idea. There are many stations and railway depots around London (There is a small map of Paddington Station's shunting yard accompanying one of the FF4 adventures), and it ought to be possible to get into one, find a guard's van, put some ammunition chests aboard, and detonate a suitably sized bomb. Note that it is impossible to do this inconspicuously, and the police may put two and two together if too much evidence is left at the scene. If so, six extra detectives will be aboard the train, and luggage will be opened by the police before it is allowed into the guard's van. Arkoff will learn of this, and warn the adventurers, in time for a quick change of plan. Designing a bomb timer is a Difficulty 6 engineering feat, using Mechanic, Science, or Military Arms skill; if there is a normal failure the gadget works when tested, but roll 2D6 when it is used in anger:
|2-3||Detonation 3D6 x 10 minutes early.|
|4-6||Detonation 3D6 minutes early.|
|7||Damp squib; the detonator explodes, the bomb doesn't|
|8-10||Detonation 3D6 minutes late.|
|11-12||Detonation 3D6 x 10 minutes late.|
If the delay required is only a few minutes (for example, if a bomb is put aboard the guard's van at Dover, and is to go off before the train reaches the Varne Bank) it is simpler to use a slow-burning fuse, which will only malfunction on a roll of 12.
Another possibility that may be considered is the use of gas or fumes to knock out the guards or drive them from the wagon.
It's easy to communicate between stations; simply send an apparently innocent telegram "for the attention of Mr. XXXX, who'll be on the 9.30 train", and provided the message is sent in good time it will be waiting when the train arrives. There's a telegraph office at every station. Similarly messages might be sent to the station hotel on the Varne Bank, or to any mainland location; the service is reliable and fast, provided that the recipient is near a telegraph office.
The telegraph line used by the railway company, and for many GPO messages along this route, runs alongside the track. Anyone with suitable equipment can tap into the cables and listen in, interrupt communications, or send false signals. The GPO lines do not run through the Channel Tunnel itself; the GPO's Channel cables were laid years before the Tunnel was built, and the telegraph lines in the Tunnel only carry the company's signals and occasional messages to the Varne Bank station. There is a backup line in the Southbound tunnel, described above, which may be used if the adventurers interrupt signals; unless the adventurers know that it is there, by questioning railway telegraphers or someone else with special knowledge of the line, they won't easily spot it.
No other means of long-distance rapid communication is available, apart from light signals by heliograph, which require bulky equipment and are dependent on good weather. Telephones are still very rare, and only found in a few rich homes and the largest shops and offices.
Arkoff will want to know the adventurers' equipment requirements as soon as possible. Naturally he will want to know why it is wanted. He will pay for it, but adventurers must usually make their own arrangements; if possible this should involve contact with the underworld, and chances to find out about Arkoff as described above. Most of the NPCs listed at the end of the adventure can plausibly know sources for unusual or illegal items.
The Sea Breeze is a fast modern steam yacht based at Folkestone. With
triple-expansion reciprocating engines driving two screws she is capable of nearly
15 knots; sails can add another few knots under favourable conditions. She has
sleeping accommodation for six passengers and four crew, but can carry fifteen
to twenty or a ton or two of cargo before performance suffers badly.
Arkoff has not hired crew, believing that the adventurers and/or NPCs have
necessary skills; crew are readily available, but it should be obvious that they
will be witnesses to any illegalities performed aboard her. She has been hired
in the name of Edgar Swann, and is equipped for shark fishing.
She has BODY  and strong wooden hull and superstructure, which will reduce the Effect of bullets etc. by -3.
Building plans (such as those for the British Museum) may be deposited with local government offices for planning purposes, or held by banks, fire brigades and other officials. Finding out who has them and getting copies should be difficult, and impractical in the time available; in the case of the museum they will be out of date by several years. Guide books generally cover public areas only; those for the museum only show its galleries and grounds.
It takes Magenta Kelly several hours to forge a complete passport on a stolen blank, but she has several stolen passports which can be doctored (by altering one or two details and/or making small changes to a photograph) in an hour or two per passport. For each adventurer make a luck roll, SOUL versus Difficulty 6:
|Fail, 12||Kelly has a stolen passport that matches the character closely, and can be used with a minimum of alterations. Unfortunately the original holder of the passport is wanted by the police, who will arrest anyone who presents it. Give characters a chance to learn this before presenting their passports, e.g. by seeing a "wanted" poster outside a police station.||1 hour||£5|
|Fail, 11-||Kelly has nothing that matches; she must use a passport blank and create the document from scratch||3-5 hours||£30|
|Success then A||Kelly can alter a stolen passport, but several details must be changed, and there is a detail that can't be changed which will be inconvenient; for example, the closest match is a French passport, but the person concerned doesn't speak French.||1-2 hours||£15|
|Success then B||Kelly has a stolen passport which fits the adventurer in most details, but the photograph doesn't match at all well; she must take another and put it in, embossed correctly, with a small risk that the alteration will be noticed.||1-2 hours||£10|
|Success then C||Kelly has a stolen passport that is a near-perfect match for the adventurer, and can be used with minor changes||1 hour||£5|
Arkoff is paying, but the table and prices shown (several weeks to six month's wages for the average working man) may be useful if adventurers ever need to get false passports on their own behalf. They are based mainly on the amount of work required for alterations, also on the difficulty of obtaining passport blanks. Adventurers confronted with a wildly inappropriate passport (an "A" result) may decide to pay for a blank instead.
Kelly advises everyone to memorise their main passport details, at least the names and dates of birth, before using them. If adventurers don't do this, DO NOT allow them to refer to notes if their passports are examined!
Police Warrant Cards are much simpler, since they do not carry photographs in this period. Kelly has three stolen cards, worth £10 apiece on the black market, and can forge good duplicates for £5.
Small child: "Mummy, look, that man has a false beard!" Mother: [loud whisper] "Shh, dear, look away, don't be rude. The poor man is probably hiding some sort of dreadful deformity."The Police will take great interest in anyone wearing an obvious disguise, so unskilled actors may prefer to omit it, and simply put on a mask just before the robbery begins. Stocking masks aren't available, but domino masks and cloth bags with eye holes are easily made. This also involves some risk; characters with criminal records (or known as criminals even if they haven't yet been convicted) and anyone in the public eye may be noticed boarding the train, and remembered by the police after the robbery:
Superintendent: "Did you notice any familiar faces boarding the train?" Sergeant: "Well, no criminals, but I did notice that bloke Raffles, the cricketer. Maybe he saw something...."
Kelly doesn't have any police or military uniforms, but can get them in 1-2 days, longer if alterations are needed.
If the train is attacked on the Varne Bank Station, which is probably the best option, the obvious escape route is the sea. Escaping via any tunnel involves a journey of a mile or more to the first ventilation shaft, seven or fourteen miles to either shore (where an armed reception committee will probably be waiting). On foot and dragging the treasure this is difficult; if a train (or just an engine) is stolen the journey is easier, but there are likely to be problems. There are usually other trains on the lines, and the Channel Tunnel Company's banking engines stop automatically if they go through any red signal. The adventurers may think of taking one or another of the shunting engines on the island; they are powerful enough to haul one or two carriages along the Tunnel, but won't manage a whole train on the steep gradients.
Any robbery in the tunnel will probably require some or all of the gang to get in and make preparations, either to stop the train or to get ready to lift the loot to the surface afterwards. Getting in from a boat is difficult; strong grilles were fitted to the ventilation stacks to block access; there are emergency escape hatches, but opening them from the outside (with appropriate skills) is Difficulty 8. Opening them from inside requires a little strength (BODY versus Difficulty 6) but no skill. The ascent ladders are very high, and it isn't possible to climb them while carrying a large teak chest; fortunately the chests have handles which might be used to attach a rope to haul them up.
Arkoff will strongly favour a getaway by sea, since it guarantees to keep all of the robbers together for some time. See the notes on transport, above.
Whatever route is suggested, Arkoff will arrange a rendezvous point where he will meet the team; "Bayview", a building on the coast a few miles from Margate, if they are escaping by sea, "Bitter Solace Farm" outside Ashford in Kent if they are escaping by land. Naturally he has no intention of going anywhere near either location, or any connection with the occupants; he has simply picked them at random from maps, and their (entirely innocent) occupants will be very surprised if a group of armed thugs turn up on their doorsteps. He will announce these rendezvous points on Thursday night, too late for the adventurers to check them out before the robbery.
The adventurers shouldn't need to use two plans - if one goes wrong another isn't likely to succeed - but it's possible that circumstances will make their preferred plan impossible, or luck may make a risky plan practical. Cunning thieves will have at least one "opportunistic" plan, for use if things go unusually well, and one backup plan, for use if things can't go as planned. For example:
Use Arkoff's veto to restrict plans to those that favour his outcome, or that he is sure won't work but will allow a later attempt, on his terms, to work. He'll be subtle about this, and if necessary use his alter ego's position to change the plans for the shipment itself, which should disrupt most schemes.
Reconnaissance & Rehearsals
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An obvious step is reconnaissance of the route; from the museum to the station, then to Dover and beyond. If the adventurers go beyond Dover they will need passports, otherwise no special preparations are needed.
The best way of finding the route that will be taken in London is to call a cab at the British Museum and take it to Victoria. The route runs South to New Oxford Street, via Oxford Street to Park Lane, then around Buckingham Palace and on to the station; it's simple and quick, and there is no obvious point where an ambush is likely to succeed. Even on an ordinary day there are numerous police along the way, this is one of the richest parts of London and must be protected against crime. There are also soldiers guarding the entrances to the Palace, and twice the cab will pass cavalry troops on their way to or from some ceremonial duty. It should be apparent that anyone starting trouble along this route will have serious problems.
At Victoria Station the Paris trains leave from Platform 1, which has a permanent police presence; the railway police office is next to the platform. All of the trains on this route are roughly similar, consisting of the engine, two third class carriages, five second class, and three first, followed by the guard's van:
[Engine][ 3 ][ 3 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 1 ][ 1 ][ 1 ][Guard]
The first class carriages and guard's van are nearest the station entrance; cabs normally leave passengers at the entrance, with porters using hand-carts to take luggage to the trains, but the platform is often used by visiting royalty, and there is ample room to get a carriage onto it if gates are opened. A large framed photograph on the wall of the station ticket office shows the Tsar of Russia stepping from a train and boarding a carriage, with police and cavalry escort, which should give adventurers the idea that this can be done. It should be apparent that the Trojan treasure will probably be taken straight to the train, rather than being unloaded and manhandled by porters. If adventurers don't get the hint, and plan a robbery at the station on the assumption that the chests will be in the open, it will come as a surprise.
When the adventurers buy tickets the clerk asks the class (first, second or third), whether a single or a return is wanted, and whether they will want to stop off at intermediate stations or go non-stop. He will assume that most people want second class if they don't specify otherwise. He will be very surprised if someone who looks poor buys a first-class ticket, or a wealthy-looking passenger chooses third class.
All tickets shown above are for a single journey; a return costs 75% more than the single fare. If adventurers want to make stops along the way they must pay a 5% surcharge over the cost of the single journey, or buy a new ticket at each station. There is a small additional fee for any bicycles or dogs accompanying the passenger; currently pets are not quarantined.
Stage 1st 2nd 3rd
The railway carriages are short and boxy, with four wheels; Americans accustomed to Pullman carriages with eight wheels and bogies will feel that they are very primitive, others will take them for granted. Each consists of several compartments, with a corridor along one side and a "hole in the floor" lavatory in a small compartment at one end. The corridors don't connect, and there is no way to move from one carriage to another, except by getting off and on at a station (or climbing when the train is in motion).
The station restaurant sells lunch boxes, bottles of beer, and other refreshments, from a cheese sandwich to a packed picnic hamper. The adventurers will probably want to stock up for the journey.
On leaving Victoria the train clatters South across the Thames at Battersea, then East towards Greenwich and the Thames estuary. It soon picks up speed, and much of the time is running on embankments and viaducts well above street level. Stopping it here would be difficult, derailing it would probably kill some of the passengers. By the time it leaves the urban sprawl it is travelling at high speed, as much as sixty miles and hour. By now the carriage is rocking and lurching uncomfortably, jolting as it crosses points; there is a loud "clack" and an unpleasant shake every time one of the wheels goes across the gap between two rails; if anyone is taking notes their handwriting is shaky and uneven. The implications for anyone trying to move on the outside of a train should be obvious.
Chatham (population 59,000) is a busy industrial town with a large naval base. Due to this there are usually sailors, marines, and military police arriving, departing, or checking the papers of sailors as they go on leave. The main routes out of the town are the railway and river; however, there are usually small naval craft on the river, and evading pursuit might be difficult.
The remainder of the overland route is mainly rural, but there is usually a house or a village in view. It would be difficult to do anything unobserved, and in the country any stranger is an object of intense interest.
Canterbury (23,000) is a quiet Kent town with a large cathedral; in the summer holidays it bustles with tourists, but that won't be for another few weeks. The only other routes from the town are winding country roads, not ideal for a getaway.
To really mess up the adventurers' plans, if they
intend to rob the train before reaching the tunnel, let them reconnoitre
the London-Chatham-Canterbury route; on the day tell them that the line has
been closed due to a land slip, and the train will be going via Tonbridge
instead. The main stops on this line are:
Tonbridge (or Tunbridge) (population 20,000) is a small industrial town notable mainly for making cricket balls, as a railway junction, and for its proximity to the spa at Tunbridge Wells. The only routes out of town are the railway itself and winding country roads. Robbing a train here then attempting to escape by train might be asking for trouble.
Folkestone (population 24,000) is a busy seaport near Dover. A large fishing fleet and the railway ferry to Boulogne dock there. The railway runs on a high viaduct, making a robbery difficult, and some troops are stationed in the town to man its coastal defences. There are also police and customs officials at the port.
Whichever route is taken, the train will eventually arrive at Dover (population 33,000), a strongly fortified port, reinforced with extra defences when the Tunnel was built. Police and soldiers, on and off duty, are everywhere, especially around the station; there is still some fear that any train arriving from France might be a Trojan horse, loaded with disguised troops equipped to capture the railhead, fort, and harbour. The station is always busy, with soldiers, police and customs officers on duty at all times. Even a cursory inspection shows that it would be insane to try a robbery here; some of the buildings around the station are obviously strong points, equipped with machine gun slits, and inquisitive eyes are everywhere.
The train stops for 15 minutes, to give passengers time to use the station lavatories or buy food and drink, and to allow the Channel Tunnel Company's powerful banking engine to be added to the train, in front of the main engine:
More passengers board the train. Signs remind passengers that they must have passports if they are going on to France; there is no formal passport check, but a ticket inspector moves along the carriages, accompanied by a policeman who is looking for fugitives and will ask to see the passport of anyone who seems suspicious. Anyone with a false passport should feel uneasy, but travellers won't be asked to show them unless they are looking particularly shifty. If a passport is examined, at this or any other time, anyone travelling with the ID of a wanted criminal will be spotted, otherwise have the adventurer make a Luck roll, SOUL versus Difficulty 5. On any failure one or two questions are asked; if the adventurer can't answer them, the passport is examined carefully (Detective  versus Kelly's Thief ). If this roll succeeds any forgery is spotted; if it is failed, the examiner assumes that the adventurer is drunk. Meanwhile porters light the lanterns in the carriages and load baggage into the guard's van.
[Engine][Engine][ 3 ][ 3 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 1 ][ 1 ][ 1 ][Guard]
Troubleshooting: If somebody is arrested by the police or customs before
the robbery, Arkoff tells everyone else to stay out of it, and checks the situation
with his police contacts. The next day a lawyer, Mr. Carlton, arrives to speak
to the prisoner. If the prisoner hasn't revealed anything to the police,
Carlton arranges a private interview and explains that Arkoff will kill anyone
who talks, but will arrange to have the prisoner freed after the robbery. This
is a lie, the prisoner will be left to rot, but nothing else will happen
provided the prisoner keeps quiet.
If the prisoner has talked to the police, or says anything to indicate that this is a possibility, Carlton (who is Arkoff in disguise) will ask some questions about the crime, say that he will try to do his best to get the prisoner a light sentence, shakes hands (with his poisoned ring) to paralyse the prisoner, then says "You really should have listened to those stories about me" and suffocates his victim with the pillow from the cell's bed. This is not survivable.
If the deceased is an NPC, the adventurers will hear that he (or she) died of a heart attack, but should learn nothing more. If the deceased is an adventurer they will also hear this, but players naturally know the truth. Remind them that their characters know nothing; they may have suspicions, but there is no proof.
If the prisoner has talked, it's likely that the shipment plans will be changed; Arkoff soon "discovers" the changed date and time (ten-thirty on Tuesday seems about right) and gets the robbery back into gear. If he has to do this again he will choose another identity, such as posing as a detective from Scotland Yard, and another murder method.
As the engines finally pull out of the station, and onto the bridge out to the Tunnel, the full extent of the paranoia surrounding it should become clear; the line is overlooked by a huge new fort, with gun turrets aimed to smash any invading force that might emerge. The guns would be overkill for a battleship and could probably shatter any locomotive, however armoured, with a single shell.
The train takes the right-hand line. The bridge ends at a rectangular brick and concrete "island", a little wider than the tracks and a few hundred yards long, where the train immediately enters the open mouth of the tunnel; it begins well above sea level to ensure that there is no risk of an exceptional storm flooding it. As the last glimmer of outside light disappears and the train descends in smoky darkness, with squealing brakes, everyone's ears "pop", and anyone who is at all claustrophobic must struggle to remain calm (a contest of MIND versus Difficulty 5, with Difficulty rising by 1 for each term the character has spent in prison, is about right). The noise of the two-engined train, confined in the tunnel, is deafening, and if any windows are open the carriage rapidly fills with a mixture of smoke and steam. After a minute or so the tunnel levels off and the train picks up speed
Roughly once every two minutes there's a brief flash of dim light as the train passes under one of the ventilation shafts, every hundred yards or so a cross-tunnel whizzes by to the left of the train. Small lamps show their position. Occasional signs to the left indicate gradient, distance to the next signals, and other information for the engine drivers. The train travels at approximately 35 MPH in the tunnel, but it feels much faster. Occasionally the engines whistle, communicating simple signals between the drivers.
After fifteen minutes the train starts its climb to the Varne Bank; ears "pop" again, and the air finally clears as the train emerges onto the island. There's a raucous "caw" of seagulls, the crashing of waves against the island's concrete sea wall, and the smell townsmen call "ozone" (actually rotting seaweed). The train only stops for five minutes, but it's common for passengers to stay for an hour or two and catch a later train if they have paid the surcharge mentioned above. If it hasn't been paid, the ticket inspector will charge 1/- at the barrier.
The island is one of the new marvels of Britain, an essential stop for anyone interested in commerce or industry, and everyone involved is justly proud of it. Despite its utilitarian origins it has a festive nature; there are French and British flags, and decorative glass awnings over the platforms and the bridges leading to the station and hotel. To one side is a tiny park containing a miniature golf course, next to a building site where a huge new hotel is under construction. Over the sea wall to the West the masts of several anchored yachts are visible; the marina can be seen properly from the promenade on top of the Western half of the sea wall, or from the station, which is on the first floor [US second floor] of a building to the North of the island. This floor consists of a veranda around the ticket office, a Lyons restaurant, a pub, some shops and offices, and stairs up to the hotel. This is a very unusual design for the period, and most visitors are surprised by it. The ground floor contains the kitchen and other service areas, such as a canteen for railway staff and the island's security office. During the day a brass band plays popular tunes. There are several penny-in-the-slot telescopes around the veranda, as well as vending machines and an "I Speak Your Weight" machine. The overall effect is a little like a seaside pier. The hotel occupies two floors above the station; it has its own restaurant, which is quieter and in somewhat better taste, and twenty-four rooms (with two bathrooms and four lavatories). Currently it is half-empty, with rooms priced at 3/- a night; in a month or so it will be full, and rooms will go for 4/- or more a night. To economise on space, the island's lighthouse is on the roof of the hotel.
There's a constant bustle of activity; goods and passenger trains come through the station every few minutes, and small shunting engines with their cabs painted in different colours for easy identification bustle across the lines, moving goods wagons to and from various sheds and construction sites. There is one red, one white, and one blue, if anyone asks; do not describe them as mini engines or mention The Italian Job, your players will probably do that for you. Like any shunting yard it's an intricately-choreographed dance of machinery, co-ordinated by whistles, signals, and occasional megaphone calls.
The company offers a guided tour of the island every fifteen minutes (it's free, but the guide expects to be tipped), and shops sell souvenir photographs and postcards, rent fishing tackle and marina spaces, and generally extract every possible penny from visitors. Meanwhile fishermen quietly sit on the sea wall, occasionally hauling in a gleaming catch, children fly kites in the strong sea breeze, and couples stroll the promenade. To the North and South the line of ventilation islands protrude from the sea, occasional puffs of smoke marking the passage of trains. A half-completed bridge stretches South towards a low mound which will one day be part of an expanded island; every few hours a tug arrives with a barge full of rubble, which sweating navvies unload onto the mound. The tug and barge always pass within easy jumping range of the bridge as they manoeuvre to the current dumping position.
The adventurers will probably be anxious to assess the security arrangements, and should soon spot some uniformed guards, wearing flat caps and equipped with handcuffs and truncheons. They usually patrol in pairs or stand chatting to the ticket collectors. They seem to be vigilant, but no more so than the floor-walkers in a shop or a Bobby on the beat. They don't have guns. There are at least four of them.
Adventurers who say that they are looking for less obvious security, and take steps to find it, should easily spot the following:
Adventurers looking for escape routes at this point will probably eliminate the tunnel; it's too busy, and there must always be trains in it. It might be possible to get to one of the ventilation islands and escape from there by boat, but it would probably be easier to take a boat from the marina on the island; there are luggage trolleys on the platforms, and the platform is only a hundred yards or so from the marina, less if the adventurers go across the tracks and the golf course, or through the goods shed. Interception by the Royal Navy or the French is possible, but pursuit ought to be delayed if communications are cut off; they all funnel through a single office. It isn't ideal, but it's better than dealing with soldiers at one of the stops in Britain.
If the adventurers decide to carry on to Calais, they'll find it very reminiscent of Dover; slightly paranoid security, a strong military presence, and ridiculous overkill from a fort overlooking the tunnel entrance. Passports are checked, but forgeries won't be spotted; the customs officers devote most of their attention to luggage, looking for contraband smuggled from Britain. If anyone with a British passport is carrying contraband, burglary tools, guns, or anything else that looks suspicious they will be stopped, the goods confiscated, and the passenger arrested. Note that the French will not immediately inform the British authorities; at the moment relations between Britain and France are a little strained, and nobody feels particularly inclined to help Scotland Yard. Other nationalities will be treated the same way, except that their governments will be informed. Meanwhile the banking engine is uncoupled and manoeuvred onto another track to help take a train back to Britain. It should be obvious that Calais poses all the problems of Dover, and adds the difficulty of smuggling equipment into France.
Carrying on from Calais, the train jolts along through the French countryside to Amiens. Occasionally it runs beside a road, but there are few escape routes other than the railway itself. Amiens (population 88,000) is a picturesque country town, with light industry and a major cathedral. The roads out of the area are poor, and escaping unobserved would be very difficult.
Finally the train reaches Paris, and the Garre de Saint Lazere station. It's very like Victoria; bustling, heavily policed, and a poor site for an armed robbery. It's also less than a mile from the Louvre, so there would be few opportunities between the station and the museum. French police are armed, and the adventurers shouldn't have weapons. Making suitable contacts to buy them will take several days, unless someone has explicitly mentioned having experience in Paris when characters were designed. For example, someone with experience as a confidence trickster might list selling the recently-completed Eiffel Tower as one of their crimes; this would imply the possibility of criminal contacts in Paris.
For the return journey, regardless of starting point, the next London-bound passenger train will arrive in 1D6x3 minutes; the next express will arrive 2d6 minutes later. If adventurers take the express each stage takes the same time as the outward journey; on any other train add 1-2 hours to the Paris-Calais stage, and 1-1½ hours to the Dover-London stage. The routes converge, with an opportunity to change to an express, at Amiens, Calais, the Varne Bank, and Dover only; at other times the train rattles along endless winding tracks to obscure country stations.
Going through Customs at Dover should be simple; if the adventurers speak English, have British passports, and look self-assured the customs check should be cursory. There is a little duty to be paid on wines, spirits, perfumes, and tobacco, most other goods (including firearms and many drugs that are illegal today) are allowed in freely. Explosives will be stopped, and the carrier arrested, but most other armaments are perfectly legal. However, anyone carrying them will be subject to extra scrutiny, not a good idea if someone is using a forged passport.
Assuming that everyone gets back safely, the adventurers now have some first- hand knowledge of the route to supplement their reading. The Varne Bank should appear to be the best place for a robbery; it does have some security, but that has to be better than fighting off soldiers elsewhere on the route. They may wish to carry out additional reconnaissance to establish some of the details above; don't give them everything on a platter if they don't bother to look.
Sensible thieves will rehearse their plans, or as much of them as possible, before the robbery. It isn't really practical to steal a train to test robbery methods, but explosives can be tested easily; just blow something up and blame the Fenians, the Anarchists, or both. Adventurers may have more creative ideas, possibly involving major damage to the railway system; the more destructive they are, the more likely it is that extra security will be added to all lines, even if there is no obvious connection to the Channel Tunnel.
The Channel Job
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The adventurers must firm up their plans and present them to Arkoff, who will help them to decide on routes, equipment and other matters as previously explained. Remember that his main goal is to present the illusion that the jewels have either been stolen or destroyed, not to ensure that the thieves will get the loot back to him. He will give the adventurers the impression that he wants the collection, but it's impossible for him to keep tight control on every detail of the robbery without accompanying them. If anyone wants to double-cross him they should be able to come up with a plan; for example, they might decide to escape by sea but head for France, not Margate. Whether this would be wise, in the light of Arkoff's reputation, is another matter.
Whatever the final plan, Arkoff should be amiable and encouraging at the final meeting; he will do his best, and exert all of his criminal genius, to make sure that the adventurers have a plan that will work (or would work if not for his little surprise). He checks the last details, emphasises (for the fourth or fifth time) the importance of getting the entire collection unharmed, makes sure that the rendezvous details are entirely clear, and encourages them to eat the buffet meal he has arranged. His last words before leaving are:
"Ladies, Gentlemen, I am very pleased with you all. Soon, with your help, the treasures of Troy should be going to a new home, and you will be considerably richer. I hope that you have enjoyed our association; if all goes well tomorrow, it's possible that I may call upon your services again in the future, or may even be in a position to offer you permanent employment." Everyone feels a sudden wave of fear as he adds "Fail me, and I will not be kind."
"Good night, and good luck."
As he turns to go it's time for an Aside: make sure that players know that they cannot hear what is said, and that this is purely for the benefit of an imaginary audience:
"Yes, tomorrow the treasures of Troy will be in their new home, and these fools will earn the reward they truly deserve. Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
Players may roll SOUL, Psychology, Medium or Detective skill (whichever is best; make one roll only) against Difficulty 5 for their characters to start feeling uneasy as Arkoff leaves; if the roll fails the adventurers feel nothing more than the fear Arkoff should already be inspiring, on a 12 they're sure that Arkoff is very pleased with them.
At this point players may discuss the idea of abandoning the robbery or double-crossing Arkoff, if they haven't done so already. Remind them that they don't know that anything is wrong; at best they have an uneasy feeling. By now they should know that Arkoff is capable of any atrocity if crossed, and that's a certainty, not a vague feeling. None of the NPCs want to abandon the robbery or disappoint Arkoff, which may help to decide the issue.
On this ambiguous note the adventurers should make their last preparations and (possibly) get a good night's sleep before going into action the next day.
It's impossible to discuss every possible way this robbery can go; a bold well-prepared plan that takes account of the questions raised above should succeed, unless the adventurers use explosives to get into the guards van, a timid or stupid plan should fail.
On Friday morning the police escort and carriages leave the museum at 9.00am, arriving at the station at 9.16. The train has two extra third class carriages behind the guard's van, which are reserved for the troops.
If adventurers were planning to detach the guard's van from the rest of the train before reaching Dover this will be an unpleasant shock.
[Engine][ 3 ][ 3 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 2 ][ 1 ][ 1 ][ 1 ][Guard][ 3 ][ 3 ]
At Dover the troop carriages are uncoupled, and will be shunted aside once the express has gone, but the soldiers continue to stand guard until the train leaves.
Once the adventurers start the robbery it's advisable to keep track of the time fairly strictly; if they have five minutes to perform part of the robbery, and they want to carry out actions that would take fifteen or twenty minutes, start to warn them that they are running out of time. If at all possible they should succeed, but it should appear to be a close-run thing.
Assuming that the adventurers do decide to hit the train on the Varne Bank, and make their getaway by boat, they will need to immobilise the train (cutting the brake lines, blocking the line, or killing either driver will accomplish this), break down the resistance of the guards in the train, fend off the company's security guards, and get to a boat, which must be at the marina and ready to sail immediately; it takes 20-30 minutes to raise steam if the engine is cold (sailing boats can set sail faster but it might not be windy). Naturally Silver knows this, as should any other character with experience of steam engines. To be sure of shaking off pursuit they also need to cut communications to England and France. Naturally a lot of people will object to these activities. For convenience they are summarised here:
|Troubleshooting: If one of the adventurers is a disguised detective and has been reporting to any superior, that officer is aboard the train; he has a large revolver used with Marksman , and his goal is to eliminate the infiltrator while pretending to defend the train; he will also defend himself, of course, but otherwise shoot to miss the other robbers. Statistics are otherwise as the other detectives above.|
Additional to the above are another 20 innocent bystanders on the platforms of the station, 30 in the station lounge etc., 20 on the promenade and marina quays, and 25 railway workers at various points around the island. The latter should all have BODY , Brawling , Melee Weapon , other skills are unimportant; they will fight if the adventurers don't seem to have firearms, but otherwise simply try to protect themselves and the other innocent bystanders.
If the adventurers (and NPCs) seem to be cutting a swathe through this opposition too easily, add a few more, possibly with better weapons; for example, the passengers might include a party of big game hunters taking the overland route to Africa, and armed with elephant rifles and shotguns:
"I say, Archie, do you really think the .500 is quite sporting?"As an alternative, the railway workers might be rallied by an unusually charismatic foreman and try to stop the adventurers using pickaxes, thrown bricks, and other improvised weapons; again, this should only be done if the adventurers are winning too easily.
"They're not gentlemen, Cuthbert, but I take your point - give me the .303 instead."
It's possible to plan the raid so as to take over the island before the train arrives; bear in mind that trains pass through every few minutes, and that a sudden communications blackout will affect signalling in both directions. Timing must be absolutely right or the train will be stopped before it reaches the island. Be reasonably generous here; the plot works best if the adventurers do get their hands on the train, if only briefly!
As the robbery continues, it's time for a brief scene set in London, as Arkoff cuts off a few loose ends. Interrupt the action and read what follows, but don't answer any questions the players may have. If Magenta Smith wasn't used, replace her name with another criminal NPC who has had some part in the plan but isn't participating in the robbery:
Meanwhile Magenta Smith is in her office, burning some papers in the stove and preparing to head to the rendezvous. As she finishes there's a knock at the door. She opens it, cautiously, to see a postman holding a large package. As she signs for it the postman stabs her hand with a pen-like needle. She staggers back and collapses to the floor. The postman opens the package and gets out a can of paraffin [kerosene], and starts to spread it around the room and over the body....
Keep the action moving, and remind the adventurers that they know nothing about this murder at the time; they'll hear about it later, it is included at this point for dramatic effect.
|Big Bang Theory
If the adventurers and Arkoff have planned to use explosives to get into the guard's van, the detonation will set off Arkoff's bomb and the gun-cotton in the other cases:
What the adventurers will see is the explosion they expect, only much more powerful than anticipated. The station windows are shattered, the glass canopy above the platform collapses in a shower of glittering shards:
If explosives aren't used the robbery should end with the adventurers taking the boxes and escaping.
Each of the chests is small, about 2ft x 18" by 1ft deep, but the teak and the contents make them extremely heavy; BODY 3 for lifting, BODY 7 for resisting damage. They won't float. They are each secured with three padlocks, one of them on a chain wrapped around the case through the handles, and have several wax seals. They have brass handles at each end. There is nothing obvious to distinguish one from another. If someone decides to open one before the escape, it will take time (which is in very short supply) and several shots or rounds of lock- picking to get inside. See the next section for box contents.
If the adventurers are escaping by boat it starts to rain as they leave the island or ventilator stack. It isn't bad enough to cause any problems, but it does restrict visibility to a few hundred yards - perfect for a getaway, since the boat will be hidden by the rain, but a nuisance when the adventurers are coming in to shore. Fortuitously no other boat is ready to sail.
If the adventurers fail, the bomb explodes about half an hour after the robbery. If they are nearby this may give them a chance to escape. If they are really close it may kill them! Since they are either dead or under arrest (and possibly charged with murder) this is either overkill or the bad end to a very bad day. If anyone survives and stays free the "gold in the wound" clue mentioned above should be used to reveal the extent of Arkoff's treachery.
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If the adventurers have the treasure, they are now carrying a large quantity of explosives with a ticking timer. There are various ways to handle this; the main ideas are summarised below:
|In this situation (being held at gunpoint by someone with an extremely intimidating weapon) it would be dramatically appropriate for a Hero to leap at the person holding the gun, knock it to one side, and fell him with a single right hook to the jaw. Unfortunately the adventurers probably aren't Heroes; if they try this, they will most likely be shot (and if Silver's volley gun is fired there will probably be several victims). If any of the adventurers are disguised Heroes they should be allowed to get away with this.|
Similarly, if the robbers are escaping by train Edward Green will lead the the conspiracy, aided by two or three of the NPC thugs. If necessary Green double-crosses his co-conspirators too, leaving them in the tunnel with guns on the adventurers as he suddenly hits the throttle. The train explodes as it gives a last derisory whistle...
If they are on foot, pick an adventurer who is carrying one of the boxes, preferably on his shoulder. After a hundred yards or so the box feels extremely heavy, and it's necessary to stop for a few seconds, pant a little, and shift it around a little. While doing this the adventurer hears a muffled ticking noise. There shouldn't be time to investigate immediately; let the adventurers worry as they conclude this phase of the getaway.
Once the adventurers have shaken off pursuit they'll probably want to open the ticking box and check that none of the others are ticking. They may simply decide to dump it, of course; if so it explodes just after they've moved out of range, underwater if it was thrown in the sea, otherwise
If the box is opened carefully it won't explode. In this case "carefully" means that it must be opened by picking the locks or cutting the padlocks or chain; any more violent method (such as shooting the locks) may detonate it prematurely, on a 12 if the method used fails.
Remember that any NPCs will want to know what's going on, and a certain amount of panic may be in evidence. If it seems likely that the adventurers will let it explode, someone else should take decisive (but misguided) action, such as trying to shoot the lock off with a shotgun. This should fail without triggering the bomb, optionally someone is hit by the ricochet.
Inside the box are several sticks of dynamite, some batteries, and a timer, an obvious bomb. They're packed in material resembling dense grey cotton waste; anyone with Military Arms skill will recognise gun-cotton. Defusing the bomb is Difficulty 4 once the box is open; if the roll fails on 11 or less no harm is done, on a 12 it explodes. The gun-cotton can be handled safely, it is a propellant (burning rapidly to release a large amount of gas) rather than a true explosive, and isn't likely to explode once released from the confines of the box, unless it is seriously abused.
If the bomb is found the adventurers will probably want to open the other cases and check their contents, as described below.
|For each of six boxes the top layer
is full of excellent forgeries of the most readily-copied examples of the Trojan
treasure; they will only be recognised as fakes if examined closely by an expert.
They are wrapped in tissue paper and bedded in layers of gun cotton, which looks
like grey cotton waste to the untrained eye. The adventurers should guess that
the full contents of the chest must be worth several thousand pounds. However,
if they dig deeper they'll find that the lower bundles contain very poor
specimens; the workmanship is plain, with hammer and file marks, and some of
the pieces seem only half-finished, loose
bits of metal and chain that don't quite match.
Arkoff packed the top layer of each of box with good fakes, thinking that they would be the most likely to survive the explosion intact. The lower levels contain poorer forgeries and other bits of gold "junk" to make up the right weight of metal. They won't fool anyone who knows much about Greek antiques, but after an explosion would not be recognisable. All of the gold together is worth about £2800 as bullion.
|6||The seventh box contains the bomb, as above, if it hasn't already been found.|
Another possibility, if the adventurers are escaping via the ventilator shafts, is that the bomb might be dropped from a great height, fortunately stopping the clock and breaking the case open.
A final possibility; the bomb is a dud and simply fails to explode, without any obvious cause. Adventurers won't know they've been carrying a bomb until they open it.
Regardless of the cause, there is still a risk that a "damaged" bomb will explode if anyone attempts to defuse it.
Assuming that the adventurers still intend to meet Arkoff, they should be heading for a rendezvous; "Bayview" on the coast near Margate if they are escaping by sea, an isolated farm near Ashford in Kent if they are escaping by land.
If the adventurers avoid discovery, but decide to take the family hostage and wait for Arkoff to arrive, a series of callers will enliven the afternoon; a tinker offering to repair pots and pans, the afternoon post, then the children returning from school (optionally accompanied by an amazingly intelligent dog which young Nigel will send for help, with a note tied to its collar, at the first opportunity), then the afternoon paper (which has the stories mentioned below); if this drags on into the evening callers will eventually include Mr. Jenkins, looking for his wife, and another seven couples for the bridge match. The adventurers may suspect that Mr. Lewis, or one of the later arrivals, is Arkoff in disguise, but he will never arrive and sooner or later they will have to leave. Mr. Lewis owns a carriage which can seat five or six, more carriages can probably be stolen locally. There are railway stations at Broadstairs and Margate, both having a London service every hour or two. If the adventurers are lucky they will get away before a hue and cry is raised; if not this can become a long chase, but they should eventually get away. Everyone who was in the same room as Mr. Lewis will develop a severe cold three days later.
No other visitors will arrive at the farm while the adventurers are present. The farm rarely sees more than one or two strangers a month.
On Friday evening every newspaper in Britain will report the robbery, whether or not it succeeded; if for any reason the adventurers didn't even try to steal the treasure, the explosion (in France) will be reported as an outrage perpetrated by Fenians, Russian Anarchists, the French, or whichever other bogeyman the paper happens to be pushing.
The exact phrasing of the story should be made up by the referee. It should describe the method used by the robbers, and the value of the treasure. It obviously says nothing about the real contents of the boxes. There is a poorly-reproduced photograph of one of the pieces, a gold head-dress that isn't amongst the items packed in the cases. The Curator of Greek Antiquities at the British Museum is quoted as saying that it is "a tragic day for science, an unprecedented disaster for archaeology". In Berlin Herr Schliemann has been rushed to hospital, and is too ill to comment. Scotland Yard announces that several leads are being followed. If everything has been destroyed by an explosion, but there was an attempt to steal the treasure, it will be assumed that the thieves were to blame.
If the robbery didn't occur in the darkness of a tunnel, the Saturday papers publish sketches of the thieves, accurate artist's impressions of their faces (real or disguised) if they were not masked at the time of the robbery; the passengers included a party of art students, en route to Paris for a weekend visit to the Louvre, and they have produced some very good likenesses.
If for any reason there wasn't a robbery, but the bomb exploded, the story will instead say that the police are looking for Brian Donnelly, a porter at the British Museum, who has been missing since Friday night and may have planted the bomb.
Another story in the London papers mentions the death of Magenta Kelly, describing the fire that destroyed her office as arson. A Fenian connection is suspected. The police have found a steel box containing evidence of her forgery business, but this isn't mentioned in the papers. The evidence includes a list of passport numbers, names, and nationalities, including all those she has prepared for the adventurers.
Arkoff has also eliminated any other NPCs who were involved, but didn't take part in the robbery, such as suppliers of weapons and explosives. Some of the deaths will be reported as natural, others as accidents.
|Troubleshooting: if one of the adventurers is a disguised detective and has survived to this point his superior was either killed on the train, leaving behind "evidence" that the adventurer has gone bad, or is alive and claiming that the adventurer has turned to crime. In the latter case Arkoff will disguise himself as the appropriate adventurer and kill the superior officer in front of witnesses, giving them a good chance to see his face. This should confuse things nicely...|
Any attempt to sell the fake antiques should be disastrous; every fence knows about the robbery, and will assume that any Greek gold must be part of the Trojan horde. The Trustees of the British Museum, influenced by Todd, offer a £5000 reward on the Tuesday after the robbery, and the South Eastern Railway and Channel Tunnel Company offer another £2500 the next day. Any fence seeing a chance of this reward would betray his or her own mother. The eventual discovery that the jewels are forgeries will confuse everyone, but it will then be assumed that the adventurers were trying to con the fence. If all the gold is melted down this danger can be avoided, but the police will also be looking out for anyone trying to pass unusual quantities of recently-melted gold, and some very searching questions are likely.
By now it should be obvious that Arkoff has tricked the adventurers in every detail, and played them for fools. The best thing that they can possibly do is run for cover. Any surviving NPC robbers refuse to have anything to do with looking for him, and do their best to vanish. One or two should be found dead.
If adventurers decide to risk looking they should be able to put together clues to deduce Arkoff's real identity; not proof that would convince a jury, but they probably don't plan to go to the authorities anyway. Arkoff will still be looking out for the adventurers, and anyone who doesn't play things very carefully will end up very dead.
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What do the adventurers really know about Arkoff? What was he really up to, and why did he try to kill them? Encourage the platers to brainstorm this. Some of the points that they should think of once they know that the treasure was faked:
Putting these points together the adventurers will hopefully guess that Arkoff does have contacts at the museum, probably at a very high level. He has committed several murders, and attempted to murder the adventurers, to conceal the fact that these contacts exist. But why should Arkoff worry about a contact now that he has the treasure? And what has he been doing for the last few years? Could Arkoff himself be based at the Museum? Most of the adventurers' meetings with him have been within a mile or so of the Museum - does he work there?
Once the adventurers make this vital connection - and they should be given no help - they can start to look for suitable candidates. Remember that Arkoff is also looking for the adventurers, and will take immediate action if he sees them anywhere near the Museum. The Museum has several hundred staff, but most of them are in menial positions such as porters, clerks, guards and craftsmen; hardly likely careers for someone like Arkoff. The younger scholars and administrators can be eliminated on the grounds of age. Some of the older staff are obviously poor; they live in tiny flats near the Museum, and have no apparent source of income beyond their wages and occasional poorly-paid work as translators, or spend their evenings writing long scholastic works by candle-light. But a few look much more prosperous, and roughly match Arkoff's physical characteristics. If adventurers are looking for a reliable guide to wealth, anyone who regularly arrives and leaves by private carriage is probably a suitable candidate. Remember that the adventurers can only find things out by following these characters and making appropriate enquiries; little of what follows is obvious to an outsider!
While the adventurers might suspect some bizarre substitution (for example, that Arkoff murdered Malzberg and took his place) the most obvious suspect is Professor Todd. He's the right age, was in "Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East" at the right time, and has shipping contacts which could be very useful to a pirate. But there is no proof whatever.
Once Todd falls under suspicion, the adventurers should find that he's a hard man to pin down. His home is in a well-secured private street on the edge of the park, and all routes to it are blocked by high spiked walls, railings, and guarded gates. Any attempt to break in should be detected; the patrolling guards will quickly spot anyone climbing the walls, and have several vicious dogs ready to turn on intruders. There is nothing particularly incriminating in the house anyway. Anyone caught will be handed over to the police, and Arkoff will soon learn of the arrest. He isn't interested in seeing visitors at the Museum; anyone trying to arrange an appointment will be told that he is consulting with the Museums insurers and/or Scotland Yard concerning the theft of the Trojan relics, and can't be disturbed.
Meanwhile Arkoff has been preparing for the next stage of his plan; moving the treasure from the museum to his home. It's packed in a single large crate addressed to the palaeontology department of the Natural History Museum at South Kensington; suitably disguised, he intends to hire a wagon and collect the crate, stop somewhere and alter the labels, then drive on to his home and leave it there. He will put this plan into operation as the adventurers are planning to confront him; the referee should time this carefully, so that they are watching him but aren't yet ready to move when he goes into action. Try to get the adventurers on horseback, on bicycles, or in carriages, it helps considerably with the staging of this scene; if they have lost him previously this precaution should be obvious.
|Troubleshooting: If the adventurers don't
decide to pursue Arkoff he will collect the treasure without any interruptions,
and drive back towards his home; as he arrives he should notice the adventurers
lurking, and decide to escape, as described below.
If the adventurers still don't pursue him, Todd and the treasure vanish forever, and Arkoff resumes his criminal career using another false identity (under which he owns a large mansion with a concealed cellar containing his stolen antiques).
He will still hold a grudge against the adventurers, and regard them with slightly more contempt - the note he sends should be modified accordingly - but for now the trail is dead and the game is over.
One morning Arkoff sets out in his carriage as usual, but instead of going to the museum at Holborn it stops near King's Cross station, where a roughly-clothed stranger (Arkoff, suitably disguised) gets out and walks round to a stable behind the station, carrying a leather tool bag which contains two .45 (huge) revolvers and the latest in modern weaponry, a Winchester 12-gauge 4-shot pump shotgun:
Somehow he fails to notice the adventurers (if they decide to forget the treasure and confront him he will naturally take action, of course, with his usual lethal efficiency, then hunt them all down before proceeding with his plans, but otherwise he is unaware of them). He hires a large wagon and drives it to the British Museum, loads the crate with the aid of several porters (and copious complaints about the weight of "these 'ere dinnersores") and sedately drives away. The adventurers should easily guess that he has the treasure aboard; there is no other obvious way to explain his behaviour.
Ideally the adventurers should now set off in pursuit of Arkoff; he's heading for home, but will take a roundabout route via Oxford Street and Hyde Park first. Once he has the treasure aboard he will be alert for pursuit, and will soon spot the adventurers. If your players are in the melodramatic spirit and can keep up with a wagon, this is the cue for a chase through the heart of London, with women and children scurrying out of the way of the thundering wagon as it hurtles through side streets and across the park. The adventurers may think of hiring (or hijacking) transport if they are on foot, and there are plenty of cabs around which might easily be hired or commandeered.
As soon as the adventurers get close Arkoff starts shooting, driving the wagon with one hand while firing with the other. Think of every Western stagecoach chase you've ever seen, and imagine it set in London, with the adventurers as the Indians / bandits and Arkoff as John Wayne; the wagon can't readily fall off a cliff, but apart from that any cliche of the genre can be used. Along the way the wagon and its pursuers pass one of the troops of the Household Cavalry, mounted soldiers resplendent in their red uniforms; as they see the chase go by they set off in pursuit, rapidly joined by mounted police, and possibly members of the local riding club who decide to help head off the wagon at the pass - sorry, at Notting Hill Gate. Don't give the adventurers time to worry about how they will explain all this, their attention should be focused on catching Arkoff and staying alive.
Continue the chase until Arkoff is injured or things seem to be getting boring, then end it in suitable melodramatic style; as the wagon thunders towards the Exhibition Road entrance, Arkoff seems to lose control - the wagon swerves wildly, then veers off the road across the lawns and eventually crashes on the steps of the Albert Memorial. Arkoff is thrown off and lands on the steps, one of the wagon's horses breaks a leg, and the crate hurtles forward to smash open, the Trojan relics pouring out in a golden heap. Arkoff crawls towards them, trailing blood and dragging apparently-paralysed legs.
The adventurers arrive, followed closely by the cavalry, police, and enough bystanders to make escape impossible. Arkoff weakly says "See you in hell..." and collapses, apparently dead, just short of the nearest piece of gold; the soldiers stop anyone making sure or finishing him off.
Give the players exactly ONE minute to come up with an explanation that doesn't incriminate their characters, as a passing doctor checks Arkoff with a stethoscope and confirms his death. The body and treasure are loaded into police wagons for transport to Scotland Yard; if the adventurers haven't come up with a good story they will also be loaded into wagons, separately from the treasure and the body, and taken off for further questioning.
Several hours later the wagon that was transporting Arkoff is found in Whitechapel, its driver strangled. There is no sign of the body... Todd's bank accounts are empty, his shipping company is a hollow shell, and dozens of Greek exhibits at the museum are found to be excellent forgeries.
Several weeks later the Trojan relics are returned to Germany, and if the adventurers have been sufficiently inventive they are free of suspicion (otherwise they are in prison, possibly awaiting execution). Regardless of where they are or whatever disguise they might be using, each receives a note postmarked from Trafalgar Square in London:
Many thanks for giving me a real challenge for a change, and getting me out of the rut I had fallen into as Todd. I really must be more careful in my new identity, I fear I made things much too easy for you.
By now you will have guessed that I was able to simulate death by the use of my paralysing venom, the poison I used to eliminate Smith. I have a precise appreciation of its effects, and used a dose sufficient to cause a temporary deep coma and apparent death. Once I recovered it was child's play to eliminate the driver and make my escape. Fortunately I prepared for this eventuality before I decided to steal Schliemann's loot, and took steps to make sure that my losses will not be too severe - I hope that the detectives investigating my affairs aren't too disappointed
As to where I am now... well, that would be telling. Suffice it to say that I think it is time to resume my career more actively, and possibly get a little revenge, and that you (and the world) have not heard the last of
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This is an extremely dangerous adventure. Surviving it should be worth 5 points; surviving it and getting away without being arrested should be worth 8 points; unmasking Arkoff adds 3 points if done with style - there are no points if the referee has to hand players the solution on a plate. Additional points should be awarded for keeping the gold (Arkoff's fake treasure) without arousing suspicion, and criminal ingenuity in general. Under no circumstances should the adventurers succeed in keeping the Trojan relics; they are either recovered by the police or vanish with Arkoff.
Detectives disguised as criminals get 3 points for each adventurer and 2 points per NPC arrested at the end of the adventure; they should lose points if innocent bystanders are killed or hurt and they have any opportunity to stop it. Otherwise award points as above.
Additional to the above, award bonus points for suitably melodramatic (over)acting, parodies of scenes from well-known crime movies, making the referee laugh, or whatever else seems appropriate.
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Arkoff is going to want to get his revenge; he will plan a series of crimes, each targeting a prestigious collection of Ancient Greek art in Britain or Europe, and set up so as to lure the adventurers into the action as dupes or scapegoats. Clues should gradually accumulate, allowing the adventurers to plan a raid on his heavily fortified base; an ancient castle or stately home in some suitably remote location, well-equipped with thugs, pets, traps, and all the other trappings of Villainy.
As time passes the Channel Tunnel Company will continue to expand the Varne Bank island, and its status as an enclave outside the normal jurisdiction of Britain and France will gradually become important. Perhaps the company, or a contractor such as one of the "Societe Anonyme" organisations responsible for legalised gambling in France, will open a casino on the island. If so the real sponsors may be the Union Corse, the Black Hand, or some other criminal organisation. Later, as criminal interests gain control of the Channel Tunnel Company, it may become a haven where any perversion can be purchased if the price is right. Both countries need the tunnel, neither will agree to let the other deal with the situation. The adventurers might be mercenaries, hired to settle things illegally, or diplomats assigned to negotiate a treaty that will let Britain and France intervene together.
As the Great War approaches the strategic importance of the island becomes immense, and a new treaty must be forged that will allow it to be equipped with suitable defences. But somebody is betraying the secret negotiations to the Germans, and there may also be attempts to sabotage the tunnel or its defences. The adventurers are agents assigned to investigate the matter and unmask the traitor - or German agents trying to disrupt the negotiations and learn the treaty terms.
The Usual Heroes
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Not all players like criminal adventures; an alternative is to run this with the characters as heroic crime fighters, recruited by Todd to stop the treasure being stolen. Todd is still Arkoff, and his real reasons for recruiting the adventurers are to throw off suspicion and settle some old scores; in the past they have interfered with his plans, never knowing that he was the spider at the centre of the web of crime and corruption.
In this variant Todd asks the adventurers to meet him at the museum and shows them the Trojan treasure, and explains that the police have heard that there will be an attempt to steal it en route to France. Unfortunately their informant, a pawnbroker called Martin Smith, has disappeared. Before he vanished Smith told the police that the mastermind is a man called Arkoff; Todd heard horrible stories about the man, when he was excavating sites in Greece in the seventies, and thinks that he'd be quite capable of such a crime.
Todd explains about the ban on soldiers in the Tunnel, and asks the adventurers to help the detectives who will be guarding the treasure.
Meanwhile the NPCs listed in the next section are preparing for the robbery; making trips along the route to find ways of robbing the train, purchasing odd equipment and weapons, asking odd questions, and sending out ripples that will soon get back to anyone with underworld contacts.
The groups converge on the Varne Bank, where the thieves hijack the shunting engines and use them to block the track, then attack the train. Despite everything the adventurers can do, the thieves somehow get hold of the chests, and escape with them to the marina and the waiting Sea Breeze, or set off a bomb that triggers Arkoff's explosives. Whatever happens the treasure is apparently destroyed, along with the criminals and anyone else standing too close.
At this point the adventurers need to find some clue that tells them that the contents of the chest were fakes; perhaps someone is injured by a shard of flying gold as above, or the activities of surviving thieves will lead the adventurers to discovery of the truth. Suspicions should soon focus on the British Museum, and eventually on kindly Professor Todd. The final confrontation should run much the same, except that there is less chance that the adventurers will end up in Hell if this optional idea is used.
For a really large group of players run two teams; the Heroes and the Villains, interacting only via the referee until they reach the Varne Bank, or wherever the Villains have decided to strike. Arkoff is still run as an NPC.
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The Le Mat is a 9-shot .40 revolver and single-shot shotgun, manufactured in France and the USA from the 1860s onwards in percussion cap and, later, cartridge models. There are two barrels; the revolver cylinder revolves around the lower shotgun barrel. It can fire two shots per round as a revolver, or one as a shotgun, but can't fire both in the same round. Brown has a long-barrelled model, more than 2ft long; in many respects it is no better than any other big revolver, and harder to aim at nearby targets, -1 to Marksman skill at short range. However, it is very accurate at long range, +1 to skill, and looks very intimidating.
|Small shotgun||1 target||Effect 6||A:F, B:I, C:C/K||1 shot|
|Huge revolver||2 targets||Effect 8||A:I, B:I, C:C/K||9 shots|
|1 target||Effect 8||F||I||C/K||1|
|1 target||Effect 15 **||F||I||C/K||2|
|1-2 targets *||Effect 21 **||F||I/C||C/K||3|
|1-2 targets *||Effect 26 **||F/I||I/C||K||4|
|1-3 targets *||Effect 30 **||I||I/C||K||5|
|1-3 targets *||Effect 33 **||I||C||K||6|
|1-4 targets *||Effect 35 **||I||C/K||K||7|
|* Short range ONLY ** Single target only|
Fire is concentrated for greater Effect than a single-barrelled shotgun at short range only; at longer ranges only one barrel attacks the target, any others that are fired miss.
Where multiple targets are shown, it is assumed that they are in the line of fire (eg behind or to one side of the first person shot)
These guns are unreliable. If fired in single shot mode, any roll to hit of 12 minus the number of loaded barrels means that all of the remaining barrels have triggered accidentally. eg., if seven barrels are loaded the gun malfunction on a roll of 5 or more. If multiple barrels are fired accidentally the firer must oppose BODY to the number of barrels; any failure results in severe bruising, on a 12 the firer is injured, with a broken wrist.
Appendix: Heinrich Schliemann and the Treasures of Troy
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Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) was possibly the first scientific archaeologist, who made a genuine effort to extract knowledge from sites rather than simply looting them. His career was the foremost archaeological success story of the late 19th century.
Schliemann left school to support his family when he was 14, and amassed a considerable fortune as a businessman, retiring aged 41. Meanwhile he studied history and archaeology, and on retirement began his life's work, the excavation of Troy and Mycenae in Turkey.
Schliemann's techniques were crude by modern standards, and have often been dismissed unfairly on that account; although he thought he was excavating Troy, his major finds actually preceded Classical Greece by thousands of years, and opened up this period to its first real study.
Schliemann's main discovery at Troy was a cache of several thousand golden artefacts, from rings to cups, bracelets, and elaborate head-dresses. He knew that if the Turkish authorities were given a chance they would confiscate the treasure, and it would probably be lost forever, so staged elaborate deceptions to smuggle it back to Berlin. Later Britain, Greece, and Germany all helped him resist Turkey's attempts to reclaim the treasure.
At one point Schliemann really did offer the treasures to the British Museum as a gift, but the offer was declined by the real curator of antiquities, Winter Jones, because there was no room to display the collection. As a result it was eventually returned to Berlin, and captured by the Russian Army at the end of the Second World War. Its fate then remained a mystery until the 1990s, when the Russian government admitted possessing it. Currently its ownership remains in dispute, but it is likely to be returned to Turkey eventually.
For the purpose of this adventure I have assumed that as well as being offered to Britain, the collection was in the British Museum's possession for several months.