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Steampulp brainstorm!

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

We’d like to invite you to write a Wolsung adventure together! That way we can show you how are typical Wolsung adventures written while you can show us how would you like to write Wolsung adventures. We’ll talk a lot about game design, we’ll exchange some crazy steampulp ideas and we’ll learn a lot from each other. Once we’ve finished the adventure will appear on Steam Pulp Fantasy - with huge thanks to all the contributors!

This steampulp brainstorm begins in the Wolsung thread on RPGnet (link) – a forum is, after all, the best place to discuss such matters. However, you can always post your ideas here and I’ll paste it into the forum.

The first question is: where should the adventure take place?

Please share your ideas with us!

The Day Urda Sank #3

The day Urda Sank is a three-arc pulp horror scenario in which Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen counter the vile plot of Deep Ones and their alien deities wishing to submerge the world under a catastrophic flood. Each arc of this adventure should take one gaming session, but if you have a spare day (or, even better, a night) you can invite your friends for a gaming marathon and complete the entire story during one long play.

Today we’ll see how Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen reach the North Pole and try to stop Deep Ones’ plans there. You can find the first arc, the second arc and plot overview by following these links.

Read more

The Day Urda Sank #2

The day Urda Sank is a three-arc pulp horror scenario in which Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen counter the vile plot of Deep Ones and their alien deities wishing to submerge the world under a catastrophic flood. Each arc of this adventure should take one gaming session, but if you have a spare day (or, even better, a night) you can invite your friends for a gaming marathon and complete the entire story during one long play.

What we have for you today is the second part – On Alien Tides, an adventure taking place in a northbound submarine chased by a kraken and full of spies. Have a good read! You can find the first arc and plot overview by following these links.

On Alien Tides

Our second arc begins just after Our Ladies and Gentlemen have defeated – or, Goddess forbid, have been defeated by – an ancient being calling itself The Messenger. Remind your players what happened so far and then show them the fate of Lyonesse.

Did the doom come?

And what exactly is the fate of Lyonesse? It depends on the results of two conflicts from the last session – a combat with the kraken and the final confrontation with The Messenger.

If the kraken won, most of Lyonesse is currently under water and the city is being evacuated. If The Messenger also won all the halflings from scyllas got transformed into Deep Ones and now these small piscine creatures sabotage the evacuation. The situation is almost hopeless.

If the kraken lost but The Messenger won the Lyonesse is being flooded by the river Tetera – it is the effect of Messenger’s ritual. It isn’t even half as dangerous as the sea would be, however, and only the riverside districts are underwater. You can remind the PCs of a friend of theirs who lives in Lyonesse and is safe thanks to them.

Finally if Our Ladies and Gentlemen won both conflicts the city isn’t in danger and it’s all thanks to the PCs! They clearly deserve an additional token at the beginning of this session.

And what happened to The Messenger? Thankfully such alien beings can’t remain in this mortal coil for long. Even if it won it had to retreat to its alien dimension just after the ritual was completed. Any Lady or Gentleman trained in occultism feels that this evil presence wanes and disappears from Lyonesse. You can mention, however, that it’s impossible to defeat such a being for good and The Messenger will probably return sooner or later. And remember – if Our Ladies and Gentlemen lost a discussion against The Messenger, it knows their True Names!

The League of… well, you-know-who.

Let the action begin with something awesome: an airship! Just as Our Ladies and Gentlemen leave the Tall Tom a rope ladder falls to the ground next to them. The ladder leads to an impressive airship in Alfheim national colors and our old friend, lieutenant Griffin, waves at the PCs from the top of this ladder to invite them to this flying wonder.

Inside they meet not only the lieutenant but also marquise Aethylswith Fatestring of Velvetmoor, a beautiful Elven aristocrat said to be a distant relative of Queen Tytania. The marquise of Velvetmoor reveals herself as a member of country’s intelligence and informs the PCs that the expedition to the North Pole is ready to depart – only its leaders, Our Ladies and Gentlemen, are being awaited. Well, they weren’t aware that they are leaders of anything, but they agreed to help the government, didn’t they? Besides, who on Urda would refuse to take part in such an adventure?

The duchess gives following instructions and explanations: the North Pole is surrounded by a storm so savage that the expedition has to travel by a submarine! Such a vessel was built for such emergencies below the riverbank of Tetera and right now it emerges at the harbor, waiting for Our Ladies and Gentlemen. It is crewed by three dozens of trusted mariners.

When the conversation ends the airship is already above the docks.

Baptism of fire (and water)

The submarine emerges surrounded by vicious Deep Ones trying to pierce the hull with metal-sharp coral weapons! Our Ladies and Gentlemen swiftly descend the rope ladder with lieutenant Griffin and are almost pulled into the tower of the submarine by one of the crew. There is no time for introductions, first and foremost the expedition has to escape the Deep Ones!

These creatures are too numerous to be defeated – especially that the submarine, while fast and well-armored, isn’t heavily armed. Escaping is the only option, but escaping in a submarine from a horde of Deep Ones is completely different from a typical chase.

First and foremost, the players can choose their roles in this vehicle:

The pilot: the person who sails the submarine. He is the only one who can attack using drive. He gains the gadget traits of the submarine: endurance in chases +4, drive +3, with a raise: it takes an extra challenge marker in a chase. However, when the pilot is finished the entire confrontation is lost. If none of the PCs wants to be the pilot the submarine has 3 challenge markers and endurance 16 but it doesn’t get an initiative card. Only one Lady or Gentleman can be the pilot.

A gunner: a person operating one of light guns mounted in the submarine. The gun adds +3 to firearms and allows to use firearms during chases at no penalty.

Outside help: somebody who fights the Deep Ones from outside the submarine. As long as the vehicle isn’t submerged he can simply stand on the hull but once it goes underwater he has to wear a special mask that supplies him with oxygen from the submarine. A successful aimed attack at this mask causes daze and can be an undeclared finisher.

Inside help: somebody who maintains the engines, coordinates the crew, sets the course etc. such Ladies and Gentlemen count as backup (Core rulebook, p. 135).

The adversaries also don’t work as usual. A Deep Ones can either be chasing or sabotaging the submarine. At the beginning of the conflict four Deep Ones (p. 436) are chasing and one is sabotaging (add one more saboteur if the halflings got changed into Deep Ones during the last session).

When the Deep Ones chase the submarine they count as extras (each of them rolls 1d10 and one attack is enough to finish them) and they can’t take any challenge markers from the submarine. They can be attacked only by the pilot, gunners and, if the submarine isn’t underwater, the outside help using firearms. A Deep One that hits the submarine with an attack doesn’t take a challenge marker – he simply approaches it and begins the sabotage.

When they sabotage the submarine they have their full dice pool and three challenge markers. They make attacks against pilot’s (or submarine’s) endurance with their 9/8+ chase skill or against the outside help with their 6/9+ combat skills. They can be attacked by the outside help at close range and by the gunners.

As long as there are any Deep Ones a new one appears every round, chasing the submarine.

To add a little fun to this conflict you may ask at the most dramatic moment: “so, after all, how will you christen this submarine?” and reward the player that answers first with a token.

If Our Ladies and Gentlemen win, the submarine swiftly overtakes the Deep Ones and leaves Lyonesse safely. If they lost, the submarine is severely damaged – it loses all its gadget traits and the guns don’t work. However, they still are at the open sea.

Twenty Thousand Problems Under The Sea

As soon as the chase ends Our Ladies and Gentlemen finally can become acquainted with their crew. It consists mostly of trolls and ogres, looking strong and steady. Players won’t learn this now, but three quarters of the crew are foreign agents – one third for Slavia and Hrimthorst as well as one extremely dangerous spy from Jotunheim. Those from Jotunheim and Hrimthorst are agents of their governments while the Slavians are members of Sons of Piastun, an underground organization believing that killing another dragon may break the curse bestowed on Slawia by dying Cinder.

The captain of this submarine is sir John Dimster, an ogre. His real name is Jorgen Dahl and he is the leader of Hrimthorst group. His second-in-command is Peter Cor, in fact Piotr Koryski, a Son of Piastun. Cor pilots the submarine unless one of Our Ladies and Gentlemen choose to replace him. The submarine’s chief engineer is miss Staunton (in fact Skovgaard), the lone agent of Jotunheim.

How did these traitors get there? Well, they really are the best people their counties could have sent and the expedition was organized in such hurry that it wasn’t difficult to infiltrate it.

At the beginning of the journey they faithfully obey Our Ladies and Gentlemen’s commands. Their treachery will be the climax of this arc. Right now the expedition has other troubles…

The madness of Iron Maiden

After a few hours of sailing the navigator notices another, smaller submarine, only partially submerged. It sends crystallographic signals that order our expedition to go back at once in the name of the Monastic Order of Knights of Our Lady of Iron. When Our Ladies and Gentlemen refuse to carry this order out, they are asked to resurface and listen to the Monastic Knights for they have a warning so important that it can’t be delivered through a crystalograph.

The sea surface is stormy and very dangerous so the conversation has to be very brief. Our Ladies and Gentlemen are greeted by Master Sigmar ven Eisensturm, the leader of Order’s expedition. He is cold and formal but not hostile and becomes quite friendly if the PCs explain that they want to stop the disaster at the North Pole. He thinks for a moment, declares that “the strategy of cooperation was calculated to be more beneficial” and reveals the purpose of his expedition: the submarine is a part of Fleet of Time, sent here to reverse the catastrophe if it gets to dangerous. How? Well, it’s the most brilliant invention given by the Iron Maiden to her faithful servants: the Fleet can record a moment in time over a huge territory – like the Arctic – and then reverse this territory to the recorded moment.

Sounds crazy? Even Sigmar ven Eisensturm has to admit that “imperfect mortal technology” of his order is not enough to conduct such an endeavor safely and that the time continuity of Urda could be damaged in unpredictable ways. However, he considers this risk to be “rationally justified” since the effect of melting Arctic would be even worse.

Ven Eisensturm was preparing to use the Fleet of Time in few hours but our expedition gave him hope (“a new promising variable”) that such a dangerous manipulation might not be necessary. He offers to give Our Ladies and Gentlemen more time. He gives them a special sensor that monitors the sea level and promises that he will stop the Fleet’s action until the ocean rises by ten feet.

It’s pointless to decide when exactly will the sea reach this level – use this sensor simply to build tension. In crucial moments or when Ladies and Gentlemen are talking for too long just say that it begins to beep, indicating that oceans are another foot higher.

The PCs might not like the very idea of manipulating time, but they can’t do much about it. Ven Eisensturm’s submarine isn’t the only ship in the Fleet so if it is sabotaged, the entire operation won’t be stopped. Quite the contrary, it will become even more unstable and catastrophic because of this gap.

What’s the point behind this scene? We want to be sure that Our Ladies and Gentlemen’s actions affect the future of Urda. If they lose at the North Pole, they’ll die and the whole world will be doomed – doesn’t sound like a good point to start a new campaign unless you like Victorian post-apocalypse. However, if after PCs’ defeat the Order will use the Fleet of Time, Urda will be even more playable then ever – saved from being flooded, but corrupted in more subtle ways. Villains may become heroes and vice versa and the facts from the core rulebook may no longer be facts at all.

Release the kraken!

As you probably remember the kraken wasn’t killed at the dike, Our Ladies and Gentlemen only drove the beast away. It’s time for his grand return!

This conflict will be quite similar to the fight with the Deep Ones, but much more dangerous. The Kraken begins with his first strike against the pilot of the boat and if the beast succeeds the submarine is seized. If not, the kraken is a about a hundred yards behind the submarine, chasing it.

When the kraken chases the submarine he has his normal dice pool and challenge markers but otherwise he acts just like the Deep Ones – that is, he needs to attack the pilot successfully to grab the submarine (thus seizing it). While chasing he can only be attacked by the pilot and gunners.

When the submarine is seized the expedition is in real trouble – each kraken’s attack can be an undeclared finisher. What’s worse, finishing the pilot makes entire party lose the conflict! The only good thing is that now the outside help also can attack the beast. Expect a huge, chaotic fight with diving characters trying to cut off enormous tentacles!

If the PCs win, they may kill the kraken – such a beast doesn’t deserve much compassion and is dangerous for other sailors. If they lose the kraken smashes the ship and retreats. The submarine has to emerge at once and the crew is evacuated in small lifeboats. Much equipment is lost and the last part of the expedition will be extremely difficult.

Finale: a trio of spies

After all these adventures the submarine is drawing close to the lands surrounding the North Pole. It’s time for the final revelation. The following text assumes that the kraken was defeated.

Just as everybody is preparing to enter the polar barrens sir John Dimster asks everybody to halt for a moment and gently explains that he takes control of the expedition in the name of Hlewang II Yngling-Sygar, the king of Hrimthorst. At the same time the Sons of Piastun group around Peter and draw guns, threatening to pierce the submarine and drown everybody if Our Ladies and Gentlemen they won’t give them all their weapons and allow them to reach the North Pole on their own. And, finally, miss Staunton enters from the engine room and politely informs that she has just sabotaged the engine and she’ll repair it only if the expedition accepts the rule of Queen Frygga IV Yngling of Jotunheim. Poor, old lieutenant Griffin faints due to shock.

The traitors are no less surprised by each other’s betrayal than Our Ladies and Gentlemen that others have betrayed as well. It’s time for a most unusual conflict. This tangled situation has to be untangled with a discussion against the traitors’ leaders (they’re too numerous to fight them).

Luckily they aren’t friendly towards each other so when one of them gets clubs as an initiative card they use their action against one of the remaining traitors and not against Our Ladies and Gentlemen.

PCs clearly have to play this out so that the traitors agree to help them with their mission. What stake will they suggest is up to them, however – they may unite three groups for greater good, trick each of them into believing that all the crew obeys their orders and so on.

If the PCs lose the group that has most challenge markers left gets the upper hand and overtakes the entire expedition. Each of the traitors want to reach the North Pole, so the expedition continues, but once it reaches its destination Our Ladies and Gentlemen will be in serious trouble.

If kraken destroyed the submarine this final revelation happens on the shore of the Arctic, after the crew has get off the lifeboats.

No matter who is now the leader of the expedition, the voyage of the submarine is finished. Most of the crew enters the frozen land surrounding the North Pole. Let us finish this arc with a description of arctic landscape and an unnatural, deadly storm that rages over this glacial continent. Such is the might of the dragon, says Koryski in awe. Our dragon!, shout miss Staunton and John Dimster simultaneously. Wait, a dragon? But your players have to wait till next session for explanations. This final arc will appear here next  Wednesday. Beware!

Stats of NPCs

Miss Staunton/Skovgaard: use stats of Marie-Laure Dargent (p. 486), increase her Charisma re-rolls to 9+ and her Confidence to 16.

John Dimster/Jorgen Dahl: use stats of Jerry Earp (p. 492), upgrade him as above, remove his Achievements and sheriff ability.

Piotr Koryski actually appears in the core rulebook on page 505.

The Day Urda Sank #1

The Day Urda Sank is a three-arc pulp horror scenario in which Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen counter the vile plot of Deep Ones and their alien deities wishing to submerge the world under a catastrophic flood. Each arc of this adventure should take one gaming session, but if you have a spare day (or, even better, a night) you can invite your friends for a gaming marathon and complete the entire story during one long play. The adventure is designed for 3-4 Well-known characters of any Archetype and skillset.

What we have for you today is the first part – The doom that came to Lyonesse, an urban adventure about krakens, vile bargains and families with unspeakable secrets. Have a good read!

The Day Urda Sank – part one: The Doom That Came To Lyonesse

This story begins when Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen are walking down a street in Uldport – an old and respectable district of Lyonesse. The newspapers are full of sensational news about storms raging around the North Pole and wildest speculations on what is happening. Your players are probably eager to investigate this matter. However, just as they begin to plan an arctic expedition an urgent message is broadcasted from all radio receivers:

Warning! Warning! The sea level is dangerously rising! Newport docks could be flooded at any moment! Every person capable of physical work is asked to help in the construction of the dike! Every Lady or Gentleman is asked to help by overseeing the construction! Repeat: Newport will soon be flooded!

 Between the hammer and the anvil

After getting to Newport the PCs see simple men and women of all races carrying bags of sand and putting them on the dike. Humans are working alongside orcs and suspicious halfings, everybody united to save their city. Of course the members of the upper class don’t work themselves, but they coordinate others’ efforts.

Give Our Ladies and Gentlemen a moment to help the workers. If they work physically, the morale of ordinary people will be boosted (giving each player a token) but handwork is a minor scandal for Ladies and Gentlemen. They can also meet the leader of the whole operation – lieutenant Henry Griffin, an aging human. He explains that the rising tide was observed in Everness in Caledonia about three hours ago and now it reaches Lyonesse.

Then, suddenly, a giant tentacle pierces through the dike and tries to snatch one of the PCs! A Kraken!, shouts one of the halfings, and most of the workers flee – leaving the dike unfinished. What’s worse, some halfings draw their luparas and begin to shoot – not at the Kraken, at the PCs!

Time for a combat! The PCs’ enemies are three halfing gangsters (treat them as bruisers with firearms 9/9+, p. 506) and the Kraken (see Giant Octopus, p. 432). The stake is the dike – if the PCs win, it survives, if not, it doesn’t and Newport is flooded. Players may suggest an additional stake – for example, capturing and interrogating the halfings against losing a gadget. Remember that Kraken is in the water so the PCs can attack him at close range only if they enter the water too (-3 to all tests without swimming equipment) or if they delay an action to attack his tentacles when he attacks them (he can’t be finished this way).

All by the book?

Stats that don’t differ much from those from the core rulebook will appear in the text (like above) while those with major alternations are waiting at the end of the adventure.

If PCs lose, Newport has to be evacuated and they should help – it takes an athletics TN 15  test to offer a significant help and regain a token or Reputation point. Failure costs a point of Constitution.

 After the combat the Kraken retreats into the waves. He’ll surely return later in the story…

Treacherous little pasta-eaters!

No matter what the result of the combat was Lieutentant Griffin is still here, impressed by Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen’ bravery. He asks them if they would like to help the government in investigating the mysterious incidents around the North Pole that surely are connected to the unnatural flood. If they agree – and who would say no? – he leaves in a great hurry to report these good news with his superiors.

He doesn’t want the PCs to accompany him because the situation is still dangerous there’s something important that they must do. The betrayal of the halfings and the very appearance of the Kraken suggests that halfing families also have something to do with the flood. He asks the PCs to investigate for the glory of Alfheim. I hope they’ll agree – if they won’t you could remind them that halfings allied with a Kraken to kill them.

Below are the most probable trails that Our Ladies and Gentlemen can follow.

The traitors

If they caught the halfings, they can interrogate them. If they didn’t, they may look for them now – it takes a TN 15 notice or streetwise test to find them and an opposite test of a suitable skill to catch them.

It’s a strange conversation: halfings are genuinely sorry about what happened but they say they simply had to betray Lyonesse: it was an order from their godmother, Electra Vendetta. She explained to them that if they the city will be destroyed anyway but allying with the invaders will allow her to safe their family. They don’t know much more but they have heard that Bianca Vendetta has recently met with infamous Nunzia Profondia, godmother of the most brutal and dreaded scylla in Lyonesse. And, by the way, a TN 15 streetwise roll reveals that until recently the godmother was Bianca, Electra’s mother.

Contacts and knowledge

A PC trained in streetwise can make a TN 15 roll to remember that he heard about a recent unrest among halfings. A raise allows him to recall that the Profondia family was very active lately and that they arranged meetings with godmothers of most other families. The Profondia family doesn’t live in Quirnale (“Little Scylla”), but in the suburban fishing village of Old Ipswich. With two raises a PC knows that Nunzia Profondia never shows in public and is said to be stuck with a rare and deforming disease. Almost every member of her family is slightly deformed, but she is the most monstrous. A halfing can make this test using common knowledge.

Home of the halfings

Quirnale is a district openly called “Little Scylla” and, less openly, ruled by three powerful scyllas: Vendetta, Chiaramonte and Fumadore. Right now it’s the most dangerous part of Lyonesse (save for Newport if the dike didn’t survive). People have heard about halfings’ treachery at the dike and a mob of angry men is assaulting the rich villa of Vendetta family – the only family that keeps its base of operations public. The PCs can help in the assault (firearms, brawl or expression TN 15 to succeed) or sneak into the villa (stealth or streetwise TN 15) but they won’t find anyone important inside – only simple criminals. One of halfing gangsters, seeming genuinely sorry about what is happening will explain to them that Electra Vendetta, the daughter of Bianca, has taken control of the scylla and imprisoned her mother in Frutti di Miramare, family’s restaurant.

The restaurant is closed and guarded by half a dozen well-trained ogres and halfings disguised as cooks – use bruiser stats [p. 506] with the competent ability, and, in case of halfings, firearms 9/10+. Getting there requires a good diversion or at least an opposite roll of some combat- or stealth-related skill.

The main hall of the restaurant looks repulsive (Fear TN 15) – a young halfing woman (Electra) is preparing some kind of unholy rite, pouring blood from small vials onto the walls and inscribing strange symbols into it. Another, much older witch is floating in a huge aquarium in the center of the room, seeming asleep but alive.

Electra is not a heartless villain, but a likeable rogue desperately wanting to save her family. When Our Ladies and Gentlemen arrive, she asks them to leave Lyonesse and start a new life somewhere far from the sea. She won’t explain why, but a players can start a discussion to change her attitude. They can, for example, persuade her that together they have a chance to save the city or convince that honorable death is a better fate than allying with krakens against humanity.

If they win, she’ll tell them that Nunzia Profondia, that terribly deformed godmother became possessed by some alien entity calling itself “The Messenger” who knew about the coming flood and promised to save other scyllas if they help to destroy Lyonesse. A striking feeling of superiority and power surrounds the possessed godmother and none of the other halfing witches even considered saying “no”, save for Bianca Vendetta. That’s why the old lady is imprisoned here by her own daughter – she had to be silenced before “The Messenger” does the same in much more brutal way. Electra says that the blood she poured in this room is taken from the members of her family and that she needed this blood to connect them with a ritual that Nunzia is going to perform on the top of Tall Tom, the clock tower of Alfish parliament. A ritual that was to change the bodies of the halfings so that they could survive when the world sinks… the world? Yes, says Electra. This flood is meant to overrun most of Urda’s lands with water.

There is no time to lose! Let’s head to the clock tower!

A rotten village

Alternatively Our Ladies and Gentlemen can investigate Old Ipswich instead of Quirnalle. This old, fishing village on the suburbs of Lyonesse smells of rotten wood and the sea and everything here seems somehow wrong. Our Ladies and Gentlemen are watched distrustfully by murky-eyed, sickly people who show no respect to visitors of noble standing and don’t want to talk with them. Asking about Nunzia Profondia makes them openly hostile (but not aggressive) and a TN 20 test of a social skill is needed to make them reveal the location of Profundia house – an inconspicuous building standing by the sea. Without such a clue PCs wander for a lot of time and start the final encounter (see Finale: The Ogress!) with one challenge marker less. 

There is no one in there, but when the PCs are near to this house they can make a TN 15 spot test to notice that they are being watched from the shadows by two halfings and an ogre. When these gangsters notice that they are discovered, they begin to run! What’s more, the Mist begins to flow through the streets of Old Ipswich. It’s denser than usual and terrible things can be seen in the corner of one’s eye.

It’s a chase against the three gangsters. The mist causes difficult conditions for Our Ladies and Gentlemen, but not for the shady members of Profondia family. Additionally any PC with clubs (§) as his initiative card notices something scary in the fog – a silhouette of a tentacled being, the bottom of the ocean and so on – and that forces him to make a TN 15 Fear check.

The gangsters are no match for Our Ladies and Gentlemen, so they are caught no matter who wins the conflict. However, if PCs lose one of the haflings gets away and warns Nunzia.

Anyway at least two of them are captured. They are a very unsettling sight – with murky eyes, peeling skin and strangely sharp teeth they slightly resemble fish. Luckily they are also very stupid and while they don’t want to cooperate it won’t be difficult to trick them into revealing where Nunzia is: in Tall Tom! If Our Ladies and Gentlemen won’t trick them into revealing that you can simply decide that after some time the ogre says that because he believes that it’s already too late stop Nunzia’s plan.

 Finale: The Ogress!

No one can enter Tall Tom today – it’s an order of Ronald Rowen, the curator of this historical monument. There is a very faithful guard at the door and sneaking past him or convincing him to let anyone enter requires a TN 20 test of an appropriate skill. If the test won’t be successful the PCs can, of course, break into Tall Tom but this will warn Nunzia.

Her ritual takes place just behind the clock face, in an old and powerful nexus. Nunzia Profondia, with distant stars in her eyes, stands in the middle of a glyph composed of thin, intertwining curves that seemingly defy the laws of geometry. Four halfings bow before her, their hands inscribed with similarly enigmatic carvings. In the corner of the room stands “Ronald Rowen” – in fact a Deep One wearing Rowen’s skin thanks to his race’s alien technology.

But what was this ritual for? Well, it depends. If the PCs stopped the Kraken, Nunzia tries to elevate the level of Tetera river. If they failed and Lyonesse is sinking, the Ogress wants to fulfill her promise and change halfings into Deep Ones so that they can survive underwater.

When PCs reach the room, Nunzia greets them with a deep, echoing voice. Her eyes, black orbs looking like a starscape from the edge of the universe, chill Our Ladies and Gentlemen with cosmic void, but they are not the strangest thing about the godmother. First and foremost she’s an ogress. Yes! – a female ogre, probably the only one in the world for only the corruption as vile as this running in Profundia family’s veins could cause the birth of such a strange creature. Nunzia, or rather The Messenger, seems amused by PCs arrival and their astonishment. It congratulates them on getting so far and asks them to join its cause for they would make a perfect Deep Ones leaders.

This offer is absolutely unthinkable for any Lady or Gentlemen, but it doesn’t mean that they must refuse at once. This final conflict can be played both as a fierce combat against the powerful being or a discussion in which the PCs try to outsmart or simply distract the strange entity. If they attack, a Deep One tears through Rowan’s skin and helps The Messenger in combat (use the stats of a typical member of his race, p. 436).

 The stakes for a combat are quite obvious: if the PCs win, the ritual is interrupted and The Messenger leaves Nunzia’s body, if they lose it pushes them out of the clock tower and finishes the unholy rite. In a discussion your players may be a bit more creative: maybe they want to bluff the creature into believing that they want to join in, take part in the ritual and then interrupt it? Or maybe they want the halfings to rebel against this alien demon? Or their plan is simply to talk so long that the ritual won’t be finished in time? Anyway if they lose a discussion The Messenger learns their True Names! Now it can do almost anything with them and it uses this power to make them run away from the tower. What’s more it will surely use these Names the next time it meets Our Ladies and Gentlemen.

Aftermath

It’s best to finish the first session just after the conflict with The Messenger. It will be more dramatic that way. What’s more, explaining what happened next at the beginning of the next session will ensure that your players remember and understand the whole plot. Because of this the aftermath of The Doom That Came To Lyonesse will be described at the beginning of On Alien Tides – the next arc of our adventure, taking place in the submarine that takes Our Ladies and Gentlemen to the North Pole. This arc will appear next week. Beware!

Stats of NPCs and monsters

Electra Vendetta uses the stats of Ophelia Drakmoore (p. 496), but she hasn’t got the elven racial traits. Instead she uses spells: missle (with firearms 12/9+), suggestion and telekinesis. Additionally, as a halfing witch she gains a token every time somebody rolls a fumble during a conflict with her.

The members of Profondia family from Old Ipswich use stats od slyboots (p. 507), but with major upgrades. Not only each of them is competent but each also has one challenge marker so that they can endure one attack before being finished. They still have a dice pool of 1d10 each but they don’t count as extras and thus the whole group can’t be finished in a single attack.

Nunzia Profondia (that is, The Messenger possessing her body) has the stats of a demon (p. 475). Its powers are smite, shield, illusion and temptation while its spells are boost power (smite, shield), dispel magic and reflect magic. It uses occultism 9/8+ to activate there powers. Smite and shield manifest as a swirling mass of faces that both protect The Messanger and bite those around it – these are the faces of people it possessed before. Additionally this being has one powerful ability: when its opponent is using a card it may spend a token to make this card add a penalty to the test instead of a bonus (so, for example, an ace lowers the result by 5 instead of increasing it). Jokers can’t be affected by this ability. The Messanger can do such incredible things because its nature is so alien that its presence alone makes everything work wrong.

The day Urda sank: Introduction

Some time ago a huge, three-arc adventure appeared on Steamagination. It was called The Day Urda Sank and it set Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen against som of the most hideous creatures lurking beneath the waves – Deep Ones, krakens and even Father Dagon himself.

Now a polished and upgraded version of this adventure appears on our official website. What we have for you today is an introduction and an overview of the entire plot while the first arc – The Doom That Came To Lyonesse – will appear here in a few days.

The tentacled threat

             The day Urda sank is a pulp horror adventure using creatures from H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos but allowing player characters to defeat them in a way that wouldn’t be appropriate in Call of Cthulhu or similar horror games. Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen protect Lyonesse from Deep Ones, exorcise an Outer God and sabotage a ritual performed by Father Dagon – what more would a great steampulp horror need?

The backstory

            The Deep Ones have plotted for centuries to conquer Urda and slaughter the surface-dwelling races. They are numerous, powerful and armed with deadly weapons unknown to the Eight Races. Their only problem is that they are much weaker outside of water – in order to conquer Urda they have to sink it.

            Long have they sought for an opportunity to do this and finally they found a solution – a dragon! Deep Ones’ scouts found Skellbriger, the Jotun dynasty’s sword of coronation that lied on the seafloor for centuries since the ship carrying it sank. The high priests of the Deep Ones used Skellbriger to summon Migardorm, the sea dragon that once served the Jotuns and ordered him to melt the icecap on the north pole, thus raising the sea level and sinking most of Urda’s cities!

            A savage storm begins to rage over the arctic region and governments don’t know what to do – only Jotunheim and Hrimthorst know what is really happening but they don’t want to warn anybody, fearing that “their” dragon could get killed. The Monastic Order also suspects something, so the Iron Maiden sends North a fleet of submarines with ultra-modern technology able to undo the damage that will soon be done to the world.

 Plot overview

            For our Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen this adventure begins in Lyonesse. The city slowly begins to sink, but the real problem are halfing gangsters who thwart every attempt to stop the flood or evacuate the civilians. And a kraken helps them. It turns out that Nunzia Profonda, a powerful godmother is an incarnation of an ancient entity who knows about Deep Ones’ plan and wants them to succeed. In the meantime the government offers the players a submarine with which they could reach the North Pole and investigate the source of the flood.

            The northbound journey is very, very eventful. First and foremost the kraken still lurks in the sea, ready to crush the submarine. Then the expedition encounters agents of the Monastic Order who are preparing to use a bizarre technology related to time travel to reverse the coming doom. This is a mad, reckless plan it’s up to Our Ladies and Gentlemen if they allow the Monastic Knights to conduct such an experiment.

            The final revelation comes just before landing at the North Pole: it turns out that the submarine is infiltrated by spies from Jotunheim, Hrimnost and Slavia! Each of these countries has its own business and it takes a silver tounge to make them cooperate. On the upper side Our Ladies and Gentlemen will then learn about the theft of Skellbriger and thus could prepare for an encounter with a dragon.

            The passage through melting Arctic is extremely hard even though some locals are willing to help. Finally our expedition reaches the North Pole and has a chance of stopping the ritual. They have an entire army of Deep Ones and Father Dagon against them, but Extraordinary Ladies and Gentlemen might be able to gain upper hand even in such dire straits. If not, at least their sacrifice will slow the Deep Ones’ schemes.

            Ladies and Gentlemen, the flood begins.

First arc: The Doom That Came To Lyonesse

Second arc: On Alien Tides

Third arc: The Shadow over Arctic

How it works: chases

We’ve already described two sample conflicts – a combat and a discussion. Now it’s time to give you an example of the last type of conflict – a chase – and to finish sir Jonas Indigny’s schemes once and for all.

Sir Jonas Indigny

Jonas Indigny, a young troll known for his disarming smile, pretends to be a respectable archeologist but in fact he’s a heartless treasure seeker and grave robber. The Player Characters have already encountered him in Baroness Nimblewist’s salon and now they race against him in dark corridors of an ancient labyrinth.

Default conflict: chase

Opponent, troll, dice pool 3d10; challenge markers: 4.

Abilities:

  • Edges: feint, getting on one’s nerves, no remorse, veiled threat, stuntman;
  • Gadgets: lasso – athletics (jumping) +3, for a token +5 to disarming; false Alfish Museum contract – bluff +3, larceny +3*;
  • Troll racial traits: Fiery passion, word of honor;
  • Weakness: Fiery temper;
  • Skills: nature 6/10+, larceny 9*/9+, stealth 6/9+.

Combat: brawl 9/8+, feint, fiery passion, lasso; Defense: 14.

Chase: athletics 6/8+, fiery passion, no remorse, stuntman; Endurance: 16.

Discussion: bluff 9*/9+, expression 6/9+, intimidation 9/9+, fiery passion, getting on one’s nerves, veiled threat; Confidence: 14.

 

A quick look at character sheets of our Ladies and Gentlemen.
A quick look at character sheets of our Ladies and Gentlemen.

Desmond Q. McCowanHarriet Kinsley and Lancelot Jensen have already entered the ancient temple and defeated a man-eating plant there. Deep in the building they discovered an ancient labyrinth spanning over three floors of the temple. Harriet has read about this place: it is said to bend time in strange ways because of a pair of pagan idols hidden in the heart of the maze.

Just after their first step in the labyrinth our Ladies and Gentlemen stumble upon sir Indigny who is just leaving the labyrinth with one of the idols! Seeing his opponents, the grave robber begins to run deeper into the maze. A chase begins!

Stakes are quite simple: if PCs win, they get the idol from sir Indigny, if not, they get lost in the labyrinth. As always it’s interesting to negotiate an additional stake. One of players proposes that if they win, they’ll capture sir Indigny as well, but if they lose they’ll get lost in time as well as space – they’ll exit the labyrinth after a week, giving their opponent a lot of time to finish his dark plots.

The chase begins! The Game Master deals the cards:

Sir Jonas: Queen of Hearts, 8 of Spades

Desmond Q. McCowan: King of Clubs

Harriet Kinsley: 4 of Hearts

Lancelot Jensen: 7 of Diamonds

Two cards for sir Jonas? Why? The Game Master smiles and explains: the idol sir Jonas has stolen allows him to control the time warp in the labyrinth and do two different things at the same time, thus giving him two actions in a round. However, he still has only one set of challenge markers. Of course there is a second idol that could give the same power to one of PCs but finding it requires getting to the heart of the labyrinth – a TN 30 research or survival check.

Desmond Q. McCowan begins. He attacks sir Jonas with his stealth (darkness) skill, trying to stalk him in a dark corridor. He gets the result of 21, taking the first challenge marker.

Then sir Jonas acts two times. First he uses his whip to reach a higher floor of the labyrinth and escape from Desmond, getting the result of 20 and taking one Challenge marker. Second he tries a double stunt: a forceful blow and a knockdown. He uses his higher ground to safely attack Desmond with his whip, spending a token to attack using brawl in a chase (thanks to his No Remorse Edge). He gets 23 but plays an ace to improve his test – time loops and Desmond sees sir Jonas where he was ten second ago. Desmond gets distracted and falls prone, bruised and weakened. What a black-hearted villainy!

Lancelot Jansen simply jumps to the higher floor using his athletics. He rolls “6” and “8” for a total of 14, too little to take a challenge marker. However, with the help of his gadget Leotard he gets a re-roll and a total result of 22, getting very close to sir Jonas and taking one marker.

Seeing that her opponent’s double appearances are really powerful Harriet ventures deeper into the labyrinth to find the second idol. She tests survival and rolls 20 – far too little, but she plays an Ace of Spades (the famous left hand rule, useful in labyrinths) and spends a token with her field notes for a total of 30. She has found the idol! There’s one problem, however, as she spent some time not participating in the chase, the GM decides that she should lose one Challenge marker.

Time for round two! The initiative is as follows:

Sir Jonas: Joker, 2 of Clubs

Desmond Q. McCowan: 9 of Spades

Harriet Kinsley: Jack of Spades, 5 of Hearts

Lancelot Jensen: 9 of Clubs

The Game Master plays a second Joker from his hand to replace Sir Jonas’ 2 of Clubs. Wouldn’t it be wiser to use this Joker to gain a bonus? Probably it would, but the idea of a villain acting twice on a Joker is just too awesome to be resisted.

Sir Jonas’ first attack is aimed ad Desmond. This villainous troll attacks him once more with his whip, this time without spending a token (the GM has only one left). He risks, but Desmond is knocked down and his Endurance is reduced to 10 – he isn’t difficult to finish and sir Jonas rolls 25, well enough to eliminate Desmond from the chase. Our poor dwarf is badly hurt and unable to chase anybody.

With his second attack sir Jonas tries to escape from Lancelot to the third, uppermost floor of the labyrinth. He gets an incredible result of 40, well enough to finish the ogre. Lancelot doesn’t give up, however – he uses active defense and rolls 24, just a little too little to withstand the finisher (39 with his three Challenge markers). He plays a 5 of Clubs (entertainment), declaring that he has explored a replica of this labyrinth in Lyonesse Archeology Museum. Sir Jonas doesn’t give up, however, and uses his last token to get +5 thanks to his fiery passion racial trait. He makes a jump through the stairs then rushes forward at incredible pace, leaving Lancelot behind and making him lost in the complex labyrinth.

Harriet uses her first dice pool to sneak near him and gets a decent result of 18, enough to take a Challenge marker. She then tries to finish him (he’s got only one marker left), but it doesn’t work – she gets only 12, accidently reveals herself and loses a marker.

With both Gentlemen finished the chase continues between two time-bending idol-bearers. Time to deal new cards!

Sir Jonas: 8 of Clubs, 6 of Clubs

Harriet Kinsley: 8 of Spades, 3 of Diamonds

Harriet begins and tries to use her stealth to disappear once again into shadows. She gets a result of 15, plays a Deuce of Hearts for trophies (she distracts sir Jonas with a cheap replica of her idol) and takes sir Jonas’ last challenge marker.

Sir Jonas is near both to a great triumph and an ultimate defeat. Thanks to his stuntman Edge he can’t be finished to easily so he plays it safe: uses both his actions to take a single challenge marker and easily succeeding, thus leaving Harriet with one marker.

Harriet tries to finish him by sneaking just behind him and scaring him, but she gets a mediocre result of 11 and has no chance of improving it. This round ends, in the next one initiative is as follows:

Sir Jonas: Ace of Hearts, 3 of Spades

Harriet Kinsley: 9 of Spades, 2 of Diamonds

Sir Jonas is still a careful player, using his athletics to run away from the portion of labyrinth that probably conceals Harriet – a simple maneuver, successful and leaving her with one challenge marker. She suspects he can finish her with his next move so she risks and splits her dice pool. First she follows him through the shadows, attacking with 1d10, but the result of this roll is 10. In her last desperate action she uses 2d10, gets a re-roll and a result of 24. She suddenly appears just before sir Jonas’ face and, before he recovers from the shocks, pulls the second idol from his hand. Temporal energies he tried to manipulate overwhelm him and sir Jonas begins to babble about his childhood and senility while Lancelot and Desmond slowly recover.

So, once again, the day is saved thanks to an Extraordinary Lady and two Extraordinary Gentlemen!

Sneak Peek: Prester John’s Kingdom

Nineteenth century wasn’t a kind time for many nations all around the world. With most of the world divided between the colonial empires non-white people were often denied independence, freedom and even humanity.

Things are looking a little better in Wolsung: the locals have more rights in most countries and Vanadians aren’t as afraid of them as Europeans were. However, Game Masters wanting to run darker colonial sessions can find a few places in Extraordinary Voyages that show the full, drastic scope of colonial exploitation. One of such places is Translanea, also called Prester John’s Kingdom.

Divine Kingdom of Transalanea

Continent: Lemuria

Capital: Presteria

Political system: theocracy

Ruler: Grand Keeper of the Chalice, John

Religions: Reformatism, totemism

Languages: Lemuraans (a mixture of Armaretian and Wotanian), Alfish, Tshaka

Currency:  1 rind = 100 cents

Population: colonists – 2,2 million: 25% humans, 15% elves, 15% halflings, 15% dwarves, 14% trolls, 6% gnomes, 5% ogres, 5% orcs, natives – 8-12 million: 85% orcs, 8% humans, 6% trolls, 1% others

Fabulous beaches and green banks of the Cape of Lost Hopes definitely don’t deserve the name. No wonder that Reformatist colonists fleeing from Vanadia from persecution decided to establish their settlement – Presteria – here. Although they came from different countries, they were united by a common goal and similar ideals. On the savannah, between the endless ocean and the impenetrable jungle, a nation was born – tough, honest and proud to be independent.

The settlers have survived numerous natural disasters, wars with the proud native Tshakas and imperial designs of Alfheim. The spirit of Transalanea couldn’t be broken. The post-war Paroxysm decided the fate of the country. The blast wave reached the coast of Lemuria and tore a giant fiord right in the middle of the city, uncovering a mysterious wreck of a medieval ship. On board of this ship a charismatic preacher known as Prester John found the legendary Justus’s Chalice, and with it – the certainty that only he stood between the sinful mankind and the next Flood.

Today Prester John’s Kingdom is a terrible place tormented by internal conflicts. Fear and hypocrisy rule the neat city of Presteria, full of discreet splendor, as well as the territories controlled by the capital. Pious citizens bask in luxury, while once proud orcs work as servants or slog away in gold and diamond mines.

In the provinces Beor farmers more and more often take up arms, not to protect themselves from wild animals, but from the hit men of  the self-anointed Keeper of the Chalice. And the ominous rhythm of tom-toms announces another rebellion of Olongo Tuul’s Tshakas.

In the air you can clearly smell the characteristic metallic aroma of blood.

Behind the Scenes:

Transalanea was inspired by the complicated history of South Africa – with Boers, slaves and constant fights for freedom, first from the oppressive British rule, then from racial segregation.

Prester John’s Kingdom is a dystopian country of brave settlers ruled by a fanatical puritan theocrat. The history of Transalanea combines the events of the Boer Wars with a peculiar religious junta. The sad reality of apartheid and some events from Shaka’s Anglo-Zulu War are also present here. Transalanea is also a scenery for decadent safari trips and daring thefts in Namambo fort.

The official doctrine makes Prester John a spiritual successor of the Knights of the Chalice who, as the legend says, centuries ago came to this distant land to hide the holiest relic of Dualism. Is the Chalice the original or just a fake? Both options have potential. But in either of them the characters take the side of Tshaka rebels and Beors, while the mad theocrat’s hitmen are their main antagonists.

Characters

The key ideas for heroes from Transalanea are religiousness and perseverance.

Hard everyday work, deep faith and the contact with nature have formed a unique nation – simple, but full of dignity. Prester John’s fundamentalist doctrine can get much worse features out of people, but at the moment most Beors are just observing the capital’s actions with a lot of reserve.

Character concepts typical for Transalanea:

  • a Beor settler who loves hunting big game, is a horse-riding champion and a descendant of a princely family from Ys;
  • a dwarf of Jotunian origin, looking for creidnallen in the Troll Mountains;
  • a dark-skinned daughter of a captain whose ship once crashed into the rocks of the Cape, waiting for an opportunity to go the sea again;
  • a daughter of a rich owner of diamond mines, educated in Vanadia and dreaming of a career better than just being a pastor’s wife;
  • a ranger, hunter and adventurer who knows the jungle like the back of his hand, a half-blooded orc, a descendant of the Tshaka tribe;
  • a defrocked priest, a former Soldier of the Chalice – member of a secret religious police, now a sword (and a gun) for hire and a fervent opponent of Prester John.

A Hero from Transalanea in a Nutshell

Judge things in simple, clear terms. Be proud of your origin and always remember your ancestors, up to the Founding Fathers. When an opportunity occurs, always try to prove that your ancestors came here on the very first ship. Never part from your weapon. Treat strangers with the mistrust they deserve. Remember that wealth and success are a rewards for pious life, just as poverty and failure are a just punishment for sins.

Adventures

Daring – liberating orcish reservations, fighting the tentacled, sharp-toothed guardians of underwater treasures, hijacking transports of gold and diamonds, wars with Tshaka hobgoblins and their battle trolls, breaking into Prester John’s cathedral.

Exploration – safaris on the savannah and hunting trips to the jungle, exploring the shipwrecks sunken around the Cape, whales and giant squids, bones of gigantic animals found on the bottom of the fiord, looking for traces of a medieval colony and attempts to discover the true story of the Chalice, scientific expeditions deep into the Troll Mountains.

Investigation – attempts to prove the authenticity of the Chalice and learn the truth behind Prester John’s account of him entering the wreck, investigating an embezzlement of diamonds and gold, tracking foreign investments of Vanadian criminals, infiltrating the Soldiers of the Chalice, looking for heirs to a gold mine, an investigation concerning suddenly abandoned farms.

Society – religious discussions, disputes about the moral side of slavery, attempts to free a Vanadian VIP from the Soldiers’ arrest, trying to establish diplomatic relations with Alfheim, convincing the Presterians that orcs do have souls.

Society

Beors lead peaceful lives on farms scattered across the savannah. They earn their living by honest work. Prester John’s lieges spend their lives in luxury, accompanied by numerous servants. They seem not to notice the difference between the religious façade and their everyday lives.

Everyone weighs their words, speaks slowly and with consideration, as Prester John’s ears are virtually everywhere. People look at visitors with respect, as the Reformatist doctrine orders them to, but also with mistrust that the brutal history of Transalanea has taught them.

In the privacy of their homes people talk about farming, novelties from Vanadia, and tell stories of their families, often dating back up to three centuries ago. They rarely mention the conflicts with Tshakas, labor camps and religious madness that is slowly starting to take over the country.

Places of Interest

Presteria – the city built with great help of the orcs is now the strongest example of their discrimination. This immaculately clean metropolis, full of soaring buildings and celebrating its richness, is inhabited exclusively by Vanadian colonists. You can see a small shrine almost at every corner. A fiord cuts through the city center and from time to time skeletons of giant sea animals that got stuck between the steep walls can be seen emerging from the waves.

Shakazi reservation – the biggest labor camp and one of the dirtiest secrets of Prester John. The orcs that are kept there mine diamonds and gold, spending underground from twelve to sixteen hours a day, then sleeping outdoors, watched by armed guards. This is where the diamonds that finally find their place on the fingers of fiancées all around the world come from.

Zazibia Park – a huge area of savannah surrounded by a fence, where rich guests from abroad may hunt wild animals, obviously provided by the organizers and appropriately doped. Wererhinos, giant tigers and hippopotamuses serve just as appetizers. It is said that the main attraction for the most depraved guests is much more sinister.

Fort Namambo – Prester John looks at technological novelties from Vanadia with hostility, but when it comes to the security system of this fort – he turns a blind eye. Behind the meters-thick reinforced walls the fortunes of Transalenean aristocrats are hidden. During the recent unrest the whole garrison was replaced by non-orcs. It is said that in the fort the Chalice itself and the hull of the ship where it was found are kept.

Troll Mountains – a range of unexplored mountains, stretching along the eastern coast. Some suspect that valleys between the steep peaks may hide rich deposits of gold and creidnallen. What is known for sure is that the area is inhabited by wild trolls, predatory griffins and bloodsucking lemurs.

Transalanea in a Nutshell

Opponents: Tshaka warriors, Beor farmers, gold and diamond prospectors.

Monsters: Tshaka battle trolls, Black Lions.

Headline: “More and more Beor families pack their belongings, abandon their farms and go to the interior to find new places for pasturage. Is this an effect of the growing appetites of Prester John or quite the contrary – an arbitrary decision of his discontented subjects?”

Picture of the Month: the Lyonesse Fog

Lyonesse is a city of wonders and few are as mysterious and dangerous as the Fog.

It is said to warp space and time. Some people vanish in it and are found many miles or years away from where they wanted to get – and yet always within the borders of the city. Some say that an ancient Resian legion is still lost in the Fog, ready to invade the city when stars are right.

It almost surely is a powerful conjunction of magic. Various sects and cults perform strange rituals when the Fog flows through the streets. What they want is the power of not only the Fog, but also the Astral – this realm of the spirit seems closer to Lyonesse when Fog appears.

And it surely is the hunting ground of a serial murderer called The Butcher of Lyonesse. He seems to be more than a man, moving through the Fog with unnatural ease. Almost as if it was protecting him for some reason…

Picture by Krzysztof ‘sirDuch’ Rogulski.