Fortune Hunters, Inc. (2001)

Overview

What it is, where it came from, and what I was smoking at the time :)

The Fortune Hunters, Inc. campaign is primarily a 1930’s pulp “high-adventure” story, in the vein of the Indiana Jones series, focusing on the acquisition of lost treasures. Secondarily, it features historical “flashbacks,” played by alternative Player Characters, that set up the ’30’s story. Fortune Hunters, Inc. is a treasure hunting company manned by the PCs, along with a couple of NPCs to fill out the crew. The story features, as the primary antagonist, a “good-natured” but ruthless rival company, always chasing after the same treasures as the PCs, adding a “competitive” element. As with the campaign’s inspirations, the “supernatural” is featured heavily in the story, and the PCs would run afoul of all manner of strangeness throughout the course of it. It features plenty of cinema-styled action and combat, along with some “investigative” work and “cultural” problem-solving—all the clichés are there. It was intended to be a “less lethal” campaign.

The pacing and structure of the campaign was designed to mimic an action movie, including the in media res start. The first (and only, to date) adventure, Galleon of Gold, was designed as the first “movie” in the series, with sequels to follow. I went with five sessions, the number of “Acts” a play or movie script is normally broken into, which would alternate each week between the ’30’s pulp setting and the “flashback,” which was, in this case, an Age-of-Sail pirate setting.

This was a “Players’ Choice” campaign—I took a poll, and later discussion, of the Player’s desires for my next campaign attempt, which resulted in the “high-adventure” setting, and a more “cinematic” feel. As I had been wanting to do a historical campaign, myself, the “flashback” idea seemed the best way to get what we both wanted; Age-of-Sail was my own preference at the time, and I had a small adventure I’d been wanting to use in that setting in a Pyramid Magazine article, so I went with a typical “pirate treasure” goal. The name, and a fair amount of inspiration, had come from the recently (at the time) released computer version of the FASA game, Crimson Skies, whose star character was Nathan Zachary (also incorporated into the campaign background), head of the Fortune Hunters mercenary company. No doubt, a more modern attempt at this campaign would also take a great deal of inspiration from the movie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

This was probably my most heavily researched campaign, specifically in regard to the 1662 flashback stuff. I spent many hours in the local library and online (generally finding about half of what I needed). Of great help to me was ICE’s Run Out the Guns. It’s a shame that the movies Pirates of the Caribbean and Master and Commander were not available at the time, as I would have, no doubt, spent much time watching them for further inspiration.

The campaign was, ultimately, a failure. Long after the first attempt at running it, I planned a second try, with a few new Players and some story modifications, but it didn’t get far past the concept stage. However, it didn’t completely die out, as parts of the story, concepts and characters were used in a later Forbidden Kingdoms (D20) campaign run by Mark.

Dramatis Personæ

Who played who, who they met there, and who tried to kill them

Player Characters

Timothy J. O’Ryan (Phil)
A WWI veteran, La Legione mercenary, group’s combat/security specialist; initially represented by Brendan Fraser (Ref: The Mummy), but later changed to Bruce Willis (Ref: Last Man Standing)
Lawrence Andrew “Drew” Hayden, III (Mark)
Dilettante-adventurer and movie-star, group’s primary financier; represented by Carey Elwes
Dr. Dirk Jones (McNurlen)
One-eyed, “Indiana Jones”-type archaeologist, whip and all; represented by Roddy McDowall
Nicholas Zachary (Esque)
Daredevil pilot, mercenary, group’s wheel-man; represented by Bill Campbell (Ref: The Rocketeer)
Bruno Horowitz (Bobby)
Black, bayou-born ex-bouncer, boxer, group’s muscle; represented by Michael Clarke Duncan (Ref: The Green Mile)
Fortune Hunters Timeline



O’Ryan (1st)

 


Hayden

 


Jones

 


Zachary

 


Bruno

 


Rose
1900:
Bruno born in the Bayou, on the outskirts of New Orleans.
1903:
O’Ryan born in Norfleet, Kentucky.
1907:
Hayden born in Boston to a wealthy Industrialist family.
1909:
Rose born.
1911:
Zachary born in Saskatchewan, Canada
1913:
Zachary’s family moved to Florida.
1917:
O’Ryan enlisted in US Army (lying about his age) along with best friend Henry James; both are assigned to the 3rd Inf. Div.
1918:
O’Ryan wounded at Battle of Chateau Thierry (“Rock of the Marne”); James goes missing. Zachary’s older brother dies in the War.
1919:
With the Great War over, O’Ryan spends a year searching for James who has gone AWOL.
1920:
Following a lead that James had joined the French Foreign Legion, O’Ryan enters as well, is assigned to Morocco.
1923:
O’Ryan promoted to rank of Lieutenant.
1924:
O’Ryan shoots his commanding officer (Captain Gouraud), arrested and imprisoned at Bat d’Af. Bruno debuts in the amateur boxing circuit in New Orleans, after working for a year or two with a local trainer, while working as a bouncer in a local speak-easy to pay the bills.
1925:
Zachary flies his first airplane.  Bruno spends a little time in and out of county jail over the next couple of years, generally for fighting illegally and such.
1926:
Hayden enrolled in Princeton, working for an economics degree; becomes enamored with archaeology after a lecture by Dr. Henry Jones (for those not paying attention, that would be the father of Indiana Jones ;) ).
1927:
O’Ryan released from prison following his exoneration at trial, Captain Gouraud having been found to have been using the unit to search for lost Crusader gold. Bruno pisses off some local rednecks (with Police ties) by bouncing them out of the speak-easy he worked in, who promptly have the whole place busted, spends the next four years in prison where he is eventually released for good behavior.
1929:
O’Ryan’s enlistment in Legion ends, travels to South America with a wealthy prospector seeking gold.  Hayden drops out of Princeton and invests in the stock market, against the better advice of others; funds an expedition to Peru looking for Incan treasure. Zachary joins the National Guard as a pilot.
1930:
Hayden’s expedition discovers an Incan cache, only to have it taken from them by the Peruvian government, in the pay of his Rival; pursued Rival to Argentina. O’Ryan rescued Hayden from his Rival.  Both fled separately from Argentinean revolution, O’Ryan leaving the prospector after strongly encouraging him to leave also (and who was later killed), returning to the US. Rose joins up with Dr. Bliss as an assistant, goes on several expeditions.
1931:
After Bruno’s release from prison, he discovers work is very hard to find, starts wandering, boxing in tough-man competitions for cash. Hayden sells the movie rights to his adventures in South America, and has himself cast in the leading role. The movie was so successful it made Hayden a star almost overnight. Hayden would be cast as the lead in two other successful high-adventure films before the year’s end.
1932:
After finishing his 3rd movie, and looking for further inspiration, Hayden travels to India.  Zachary “quits” the National Guard to join a mercenary unit, secretly sponsored by the US gov’t, to fight for the Bolivians. O’Ryan joins up with an old war buddy named Scott, who offers a mercenary position; fights on Bolivian side of the Gran Chaco conflict, encounters Zachary in a barroom brawl. Rose leaves Dr. Bliss due to a fierce romantic conflict with his daughter, Lana.
1933:
Hayden’s travels take him to Egypt, where he meets and funds an expedition for Jones, Rose currently an assistant to Jones; later returns to the US. Zachary returns to the US, to NY, where he flies commercially until being fired for “stunt” incident; his flying antics, combined with his courting of the local press, earn him a reputation as a daredevil. Down on his luck, Bruno welcomes the repeal of Prohibition, which allows him to pick up bouncing again, as his boxing career hadn’t been paying much.
1934:
O’Ryan parts ways with Scott and returns to the US.  Late in the year, Hayden, with the participation of O’Ryan, Jones, and later Zachary, forms the Fortune Hunters, Inc. While bouncing at Rusty’s, Bruno meets the Fortune Hunters who convince him to join them.
1935:
After being commissioned by a NY history professor and Arabic history authority to find an ancient scroll somewhere in the Middle East, FH Inc. traveled to the Middle East, research eventually leading to the recently discovered “lost city” of Petra in May. Adventure begins.

Major NPCs (1935)

PC Allies:
  • Aston Henry Marshall, V (Alexis Denisof (Ref: BtVS/Angel)). Ex-Yale history prof, face-man for FHI’s new “mysterious employer.”
  • Rose Thornton (Elizabeth Rohm (Ref: Angel)). Anthropologist/Linguist, PCs’ tag-along damsel-soon-to-be-in-distress (GMPC), used to work with Lana Bliss’ father and Jones.
PCs’ Rivals, the Old Gold Salvage Company:
  • Dr. Seymore Dempsey (“Fez-wearing Egyptologist, The Mummy”). Stuffy British archaeologist, Rival Group field leader; Opp: Jones.
  • Adam Baker (Bill Paxton (Ref: Tombstone, Predator2)). Peacemaker-toting cowboy from Texas, Rival Group member; Opp: Hayden.
  • Lana Bliss (played by the “official” Lara Croft model, at the time, though currently I would probably use Angelina Jolie (Ref: Tomb Raider)—works just as well). Daughter of a famous archaeologist (Dr. Bliss, who would never approve of her approach), Rival Group member, Opp: Rose.
  • Mannfred “Captain” Danziger (Jurgen Prochnow (Ref: Judge Dredd). WWI German pilot, Rival Group pilot; in “unfinished” dogfight with Zachary in Gran Chaco and vows to “finish” it one day, getting him mixed up with Nathan Zachary, by whom he was actually shot down in WWI; Opp: Zachary.
  • Victor Deschamps (Jean Reno (Ref: Ronin)). WWI French soldier, from a long line of soldiers, a well-known officer in La Legione, Rival Group combat/security guy; Opp: O’Ryan.
  • Wang “Wrong Way” Wei (Jet Li). Stereotypical Chinese immigrant martial artist, Rival Group member; Opp: Bruno.
  • Mr. Logan (never seen). Group non-field leader and financier; Opp: Aston.
Other Notable NPCs:
  • Holczrecter (Brad Dourif (Ref: DLDune)). Freaky Hungarian mad-scientist type
  • Sato (Carey Tagawa). Chief henchman for the Order of the Black Lotus
  • Dr. Bliss (Max Von Sydow). Famous archaeologist, father of Lana
  • Robert “Ski” Radzyminski (Jerry Doyle). Local PI.
  • Rocky (Henry Rollins). Recurring bully.
  • Dr. Monty Pethwick (John Cleese). Well-traveled friend of the Fortune Hunters, anthropologist studying voodoo in Haiti, Ref: Salah-RotLA.

Player Characters (1662)


O’Ryan and Hayden (Phil and Mark) were represented by an “ancestor” of theirs, bearing the same surname. O’Ryan was Captain of the Tops for the Serviteur del Diable, and Hayden was a midshipman. Zachary (Esque) was represented by a helmsman-navigator named Escue. Jones (McNurlen) was represented by a Portuguese Master’s Mate, named Verri. As Bobby, Bruno’s Player, was not present for the remainder of the adventure, Bruno was not represented in the flashbacks. Otherwise, all the Actors remained the same as their 1935 counterparts.

Major NPCs (1662)

  • Christophe (Keith Hamilton-Cobb). Topman, senior among the loyalists.
  • Señor Baltasar Lopez (“Subotai-Conan”). Mysterious Spaniard on-board the Serviteur, well-dressed loner.
  • Captain James Kirkman (Eric Roberts). Excellent tactician and “ladies man” (not unlike his namesake).
  • Mbembe (Avery Brooks). Captain’s mate, gruff veteran seaman and father figure, rescued from slavery by Cpt Kirkman, sent over to Gloria to advise Hayden
  • Robert Blacklock (Rob Zombie). Mutineer Leader
  • Oskar (Goldberg). Mute thug, Blacklock’s mate (I actually gave his character some Pro-Wrestling moves—just for the hell of it)

Execution

What I planned to do, and how I planned to do it

Keeping with the movie theme, each run was to represent one movie in a series (I planned for more than just a “trilogy”). At the time I ran the campaign, our group wasn’t too picky about how long a particular GM’s run was, so a 5-week run wasn’t an issue. I decided on 12 “scenes” per Session, split into four parts—I pretty much just guessed, based on past experience, how much we could accomplish in one night.

The PCs were built on 150 points; I didn’t create the characters—I just decided what sort the game needed and issued a list, from which the Players chose their preference and created them (my usual method). I kicked off the Timeline myself, and had the Players add their own elements—most of the coordination was their own idea. I, as GM, declared to the Players that I would not allow any of the PCs to be killed during the course of the adventure, with the intention of encouraging the Players to “take risks,” as would be appropriate to the genre. (Edit: It has recently been brought to my attention that I may have had a heavier hand in the character-creation process than I recall.)

If I am not mistaken, this was the first campaign to make use of the Alternative Character Point Usage, in an earlier form; each Character was given a number of extra points to start with for this purpose, and afterward would use their earned points, which were increased somewhat from the normal per-session amount to make up for the extra usage. For the flashbacks, I had the Players use the same Characters, modified by myself to suit the historical era (but still the same point-level); I encouraged but did not require them to use the same Actors in both situations.

Central to the Adventure was an article published in Pyramid Magazine, Issue 16, entitled “Trespasser’s Isle.” It is an Age-of Sail horror adventure involving a shipwreck and zombies. I simply added background and such “around” the adventure as it was in the article, and gave it a more linear plot-line (the original was rather free-form for my purposes). The article’s adventure was used for the “flashback,” and continued later, with more modification, for the primary part of the campaign.

Another first for this campaign was my rather prodigious use of “scripting” throughout. I wanted a bit more consistency and “preparation” for the normally more-improvisational aspects of GMing the game—specifically dialogue and combat sequences. Every dialogue in this adventure was scripted, with further scripted responses based on PCs reactions or questions. Every combat was scripted—that is, every NPC’s action during the fight was pre-determined, in such a way as to anticipate PCs responses, allowing for flexibility in the event PCs do something unanticipated (or unanticipate-able, as is often the case with Players). The purpose of this was to allow myself more time to carefully consider responses and actions, rather than rely on my improvisational abilities (which tend to be somewhat lacking, I admit). This way, every Trait and Quirk can be fully taken into account, without fear of leaving something out, at the expense of flexibility (and at the risk of Players totally screwing up everything—it’s bound to happen).

I used props more heavily in this campaign than others. I also recruited the Players to provide for some things (for extra CP credit). For instance, I purchased a model ship (a frigate, I believe—the best I could manage) and had McNurlen put it together for me, and I had someone (Esque, I think) fetch me a copy of the front page of the New York Times from 1935—a good way to get Players acquainted with the “situation” at the time (the date wasn’t exact, but it was close enough for my purposes).

Synopsis

Where the Players went, who they saw, and what they conquered

Fortune Hunters, Inc., and the Galleon of Gold

ACT 1:Enter the Heroes(1935):
A1P1:Prologue:
A1P1S1: Cliffhanger
Winter 1935, noon in the ancient city of Petra, in the kingdom of Transjordan; The skies are clear, and the wind is heavy, and it is unseasonably hot, for the rainy season. A trickle of water runs down the center of the wadi, from recent rain. Although the canyon floor provides some shelter against the scorching noonday sun, the combination of wind gusts and thermal currents causes updrafts to carry sand and unguarded hats up out of the canyon. Everyone is sweating buckets, and would be soaked if the sweat didn’t evaporate immediately.
  • O’Ryan is hanging by his fingers from the facade of the Kazhneh (AKA the Treasury). Climbing ropes have snapped and he is stranded about 20yds up. Ancient scroll, the object of their search, is just beyond arm’s reach having fallen down the facade a bit. The other PCs, left holding a broken length of rope, are at the base of the Kazhneh trying to be helpful. Omar, the PCs local contact and guide, was with the pack animals but has run up to lend his support. Omar encourages O’Ryan to attempt to kick down the scroll. O’Ryan manages to kick the scroll off, which after a few seconds of falling, Jones catches it with his whip. Omar runs up and gives Jones the map case to put it in. O’Ryan swings up to a ledge, and waits as the others re-tie a grapple, and Bruno tosses it up to him. After tying it off, O’Ryan climbs down, slipping when hit by an updraft, but re-catching himself.
A1P1S2(ICS): Betrayal
  • As PCs gather themselves, Omar backs away a bit, map-case under his arm. Before PCs can react, Omar shouts something in Arabic, the translation of which becomes apparent as Bedouins start popping out of bushes and from behind rocks or on the cliff-wall on either side of the Kazhneh and toward the city-proper, 100-200yds away, aiming rifles and surrounding PCs. Omar speaks while producing a revolver, revealing that he has been paid to betray the company.
  • Jones throws out his hands, whip still in one of them. Omar gingerly approaches the group, and takes the scroll. O’Ryan inches toward the horses, but stops when a shot kicks up dirt at his feet. Once he has the scroll, Omar then moves over to the horses, and starts to get on, momentarily taking his eyes off the PCs.
  • Omar was instructed to leave no witnesses, and so commands the Bedouins to kill the PCs as he rides off, back down the canyon.
A1P1S3(Major Cbt): I Have Not Yet Begun To Flee…
  • Omar begins the sequence, breaking for the Siq at full speed, barely looking back. Bedouins begin firing. O’Ryan, Zachary, Bruno break for the canyon wall, while Jones and Hayden go for the horses, Hayden taking a parting shot at Omar. O’Ryan stops at the corner and aims, then fires at Omar, striking him in the arm and sending him flying off his horse, [Zachary/Hayden] shooting him again on the way down, for good measure. Zachary and Jones are lightly wounded. As all mount up, Jones makes an unsuccessful grab for the map case, from the saddle, and Zachary dismounts and takes it.
  • About that time, some mounted Bedouins charge the group, O’Ryan tossing them a grenade for their consideration. Several fall to grenade and gunfire, as the PCs take off down the Siq. A handful of Bedouins give chase, but their numbers are reduced by another grenade, and the remainder are eliminated by gunfire.
A1P2:A New Job:
A1P2S1: Celebration: CUT TO NEW YORK:
  • PCs return to NYC, after having stayed in Transjordan long enough to heal. PCs present the Scroll to its buyer, a local history professor and Arabic history authority, gaining $2000 (after expenses). That evening, the PCs participate in a tradition of theirs and celebrate their success at Rusty’s, a local bar they frequent.
Rusty’s is a small bar, with a capacity of about 20 or so (Ref: Highlander), that generally caters to and celebrates the adventuring lifestyle. Hundreds of photos adorn the walls, depicting adventurers, big-game hunters, daredevils, war-heroes and other celebrities, many autographed. The PCs have their own photos above a booth in the corner, claimed for some time as “theirs”. Looks like the place is pretty much to themselves. Rusty, their regular bartender and proprietor of this establishment is not in, but rather a guy named Basil, that has worked there off and on for a couple of years (but is still called “the new guy”). He travels a lot himself, and usually strikes up a conversation with the PCs about their travels when he’s there, and tonight is no exception.
  • Basil greets Bruno with a clap on the back, asking if he’s coming back to work; takes PCs orders, and begins casually inquiring about their last trip, PCs telling him their story. A well-dressed guy with a British accent (Aston) approaches and interrupts, saying he represents a party that would like to hire the Fortune Hunters, and to meet with him tonight, handing them a business card (containing a name and address; Aston Marshall V, and his apartment), and shuffles off before any further inquiries can be made.
A1P2S2: New Mission: CUT TO APARTMENT:
  • The address given by the stranger in the bar leads to a ritzy Manhattan apartment. He answers the door himself and shows the PCs to a very impressive personal library (Ref: HS Library-BtVS) and bids them take a seat at the beautiful Victorian conference table in the center of the room. The room is richly decorated with items of antiquity from around the world. A quick glance at the books on the shelves identifies, among others, many very old books dealing with history, anthropology and the occult. There is a woman already sitting at the table when they arrive, who Jones and Hayden immediately recognize as Rose Thornton (who gives them a knowing nod as they notice her). As everyone is seated, the stranger speaks:
ASTON:
So good of you all to come on such short notice. Sorry about all the cloak-and-dagger nonsense, but our business requires some discretion. I’ll begin by introducing myself. My name is Aston John Marshall the fifth. I taught history and archaeology at Yale for 7 years. I am now a representative of my employer, who wishes to hire your company for a series of recovery jobs. (Gesturing) This is Miss Rose Thornton, an accomplished anthropologist and linguist who has been hired by my employer to assist you.
ROSE:
Hello. (Nodding to Jones) Nice to be working with you again.
ASTON:
My employer requires that the details of his projects be kept secret until the job is finished. There is to be no speaking to the press until the assignment is over. Also, my employer’s involvement is to remain a secret. There is to be no mention of him, or how or where you are getting your information. If you must reveal who you work for, you are to refer to myself only. All local authorities are to be respected and obeyed, although my employer realizes that there are times when this is not possible. And finally, any dig site is to be left as close to the state you found it as possible. If you agree to these requirements, I will give you your first assignment.


PCs ask a few questions, take a moment alone to discuss the matter, and agree, after Aston confirms that the “employer” is not German:


ASTON:
A Spanish galleon by the name of Gloria del Mar was lost at sea and assumed sunk somewhere in the Caribbean. According to harbor records, it left Havana, having come from the Central American coast, in early 1662 as part of the Spanish “Treasure Fleet” and was loaded with, as was described, an abundance of gold and silver bound for Madrid. The convoy was on its way to Puerto Plata to restock for the journey to Spain, when it wandered away from the convoy and was never seen again. Our employer’s information states that among the other treasure on board there is a ring, called the Black Ring of Xerxes. It is a ring made of an unknown black stone, with silver inlay and two stones set on top, one black and one pearl-white. It is rumored to have great anti-magical powers. According to our employer’s information, it is being kept in a small decorative silver box. (Handing paper) These are drawings of the ring and the box, and are believed to be quite accurate. Our employer is specifically hiring you to locate and deliver the ring, although not necessarily the box. He is unconcerned with the rest of the treasure on board. He will pay $10,000 for the Ring, in addition to allowing you full title to any other recoveries made.

The only real clue to the whereabouts of the Gloria are the ship’s rutters. In these rutters, a survivor is reported to have given directions to the location where the ship rested. Our employer has learned that these rutters have recently come into the possession of a local collector, Mr. Arnold Fitch. Get them any way you can, within the law of course. But you must get them before anyone else, if you are to be the first to reach the Gloria.

Our employer believes that at least one other company is actively looking for the Gloria, so you must be quick. He is unable to offer any other assistance, except whatever help I can give you myself.

  • Aston offers full access to his library for research purposes. Aston shows PCs the day’s paper, open to the social pages, which indicate that Fitch is having an invitation-only showing of his archaeological collection this evening, and is the perfect time to hit him up for the rudders. The rudders are not listed as one of the show items, however. He is known to be a pretty stiff guy, and is expected to be generally uncooperative, but is known to be greedy and easily influenced by money. 
A1P2S3: Getting In
  • Hayden and O’Ryan obtain guest list from the journalist who wrote the story, while Jones and Rose research the Gloria and Zachary and Bruno secure transport; 50 or so names with one guest apiece, reads like a who’s-who in archaeology-related fields; Dr. Bliss, Alderman, Dr. Dempsey on the list. Jones recognizes Dr. Dempsey from having read a couple of his articles in archaeology publications, which showed him to be a competent archaeologist, and immediately recognizes Dr. Bliss. Aston and Rose recognize Alderman.
  • Jones’ rather-good research results: The wreck was generally unknown. A ship called the Gloria del Mar was captured near Hispaniola by Cpt Kirkman, a lesser-known pirate/privateer, whose records indicated he was taking the galleon back to Tortuga for repairs. It was lagging behind, and the captain was in a hurry, so he rushed ahead without it. It was never seen again, and Cpt Kirkman was never able to go back for it. It was last seen just off Hispaniola. Only one reported survivor, died near Tortuga in 1688 (actually many survivors, only one ever seen again). Sinking area prone to sudden, wicked storms. Gloria del Mar; Spanish galleon, 1000T, 28 guns, crewed by 250 men; contained 10T of gold, estimated $9 million (in ’35), (138’x45’(46x15yd)).
  • PCs decide to go as guests of the ones listed as unaccompanied: Rose will go with Alderman, since she’s met him before; O’Ryan goes with Ms. Chatterly, an old widow who chatters endlessly about trivialities, and keeps asking him what he knows about certain display items; Zachary goes with Prof.John Eljer, an older professor-type that reminds him way too much of a teacher he had in school, and tells him everything he knows about certain display items; Mr. Carlucci gives up his invitation to Jones and Bruno; Hayden accompanies Mrs. Melba Black, a chunky older married woman who calls him “sonny”, is “new money,” and is apparently here to shop without her husband, who hates going to these things.
  • The show is a black-tie affair, so PCs had to get tuxes, Bruno getting a white one.
  • PCs travel to Fitch’s place. It is a large 3-story downtown mansion (Ref: The Shadow). Many limousines can be seen coming and going, as well as many press-men on the front lawn snapping photos, taking statements and otherwise harassing the entering guests, as press-men are wont to do. Uniformed security guards watch over the doors, checking invitations and keeping out the press.
  • PCs gain access and enter. As Hayden approaches the door or stops to speak to the press, he is hailed by Feldman, an annoying reporter who has a reputation for practicing tabloid journalism, and seems to have become Hayden’s personal like-it-or-not biographer, especially when it comes to his romantic endeavors. Feldman pesters him and Zachary about where they’ve been, where they’re going and why they’re here.
A1P3:Opening and Closing Night:
A1P3S1: On the Inside
  • The showing is in a large ornate hall, lined with glass cases and assorted other displays. Attendance is heavy, but not wall-to-wall. A string band plays soft classical music, and negro servants bustle about serving drinks and hors d’ouvres. Fitch is near the entrance, welcoming his guests. The press is kept outside, snapping pictures of the inside before the doors close.
  • Fitch greets the PCs as they enter, Jones and Hayden separately convincing him to talk about showing them some pieces not on display.
  • Some time later, some hand-picked members of the press, including Feldman, are allowed in as Mr. Fitch makes a short speech, demonstrating how full of himself he is. Feldman takes the opportunity to harass the PCs some more. After the speech, guests roam freely about the display area, mingling and expressing their amazement at the rather impressive assortment of items the Mr. Fitch has collected. Mr. Fitch has a small crowd around him, trying to talk to him about this or that, making the PCs have to wait for an opening to get to him.
  • O’Ryan wanders around, eventually running into Rose and Alderman as he wanders by a display case containing a fantastically gilded hand-held compass. Recognizing him as one of the Fortune Hunters, Alderman asks about their last trip, and what they have planned next, then provides some insightful information about the items he’s looking at, suggesting it would be a good “project” for the Fortune Hunters. O’Ryan and Rose keep quiet about their plans.
  • Hayden sees Lana, and makes a beeline for Dr. and Ms Bliss, having himself introduced. Lana excuses herself shortly after, to talk to Dempsey.
  • Jones and Bruno head for Fitch, waiting there for their turn to speak. While there, Jones (hearing Dempsey’s name called and “zooming in” on the conversation) overhears Lana and Dempsey talking about rutters, discovering that they are after the Gloria as well. Hayden joins them, and Jones informs him that the two must be watched closely.
  • Zachary busies himself with the concessions.
A1P3S2: Getting the Rutters
  • Fitch talks to Jones and Hayden after the speech, and offers to take them to the storeroom to have a look at the Rutters, mentioning off-hand that he is curious to know how the PCs knew about the Rutters, since he hadn’t told anyone of them (he thought them worthless, but doesn’t say so).
  • While “mingling,” Zachary is approached by Betty, dressed in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform, with the intent of bringing a man back to the storeroom for some hanky-panky. Zachary is convinced she is of the proper age, before she gets shooed back upstairs by security, who tell him that “he shouldn’t be seen messing with Miss Fitch if he knows what’s good for him.” She glances back at the hooked Zachary with an obvious “meet me in the storeroom” look. As he meets her in the back, sneaking past security, she lays it on thick but chickens out at the last second, apologizing. Just as they’re buttoning back up, Mr. Fitch arrives with Hayden, Jones and Bruno, and a fierce argument ensues, Betty immediately lashing out at her father, inadvertently letting slip her true intentions. Zachary hides well, but is uncovered by Betty, and Mr. Fitch has him immediately “escorted” out. After a botched attempt by Hayden to negotiate the $1000 Mr. Fitch asks for the Rutters, he then refuses to sell the Rutters for any price, and storms off, not being seen again for the remainder of the show.
  • Zachary gets a note dropped to him by Betty, telling him that she wishes to compensate him for his embarrassment, while waiting for a cab. He then takes a cab back to Rusty’s to wait for the others.
  • Alderman leaves a little early, claiming “things to do”, leaving Rose some cab fare, after which Rose hangs with O’Ryan. Jones watches Lana and Dr. Dempsey as they leave.
A1P3S3: Up In Flames?
  • PCs get a ride home together. As they all leave, they notice fire trucks passing them on the way out, and turning, notice the back of Fitch’s house is on fire. They immediately return. Hayden and O’Ryan go in, help pull people out, getting pictures taken by the press. While inside, one determines that the fire is indeed coming from the storeroom. Jones slips around to the back of the house, and then returns.
  • Ski, among the rubber-neckers, approaches Jones (who remembers this stranger had been outside the bar earlier, and had appeared to have been hailing a cab but let several pass) and mentions that he saw a guy go out the back about the time the fire started, with a big book under his arm, that he recognized as Vinnie the Rat, a two-bit local thief. He mentioned that Vinnie hangs out at a local dive called The Hole. Ski then ghosts before being asked to elaborate.
A1P4:Lost and Found:
A1P4S1: The Hole
  • PCs join up, Rose insisting on going along, and enter the dive; Jones slips around back, whip in hand.  Vinnie is sitting in the shadows of the far end. PCs start asking around for him.  Bruno asks the bouncer, Rocky. Rocky looks to Vinnie, who nods back to Rocky while grabbing his coat and hat to leave. Rocky, then nodding to a few bar patrons/recruits get up and block the PCs.
  • Hayden considers diplomacy, but Zachary ends up intimidating them, with help from the others. The thugs part, allowing them to pass unhindered.
A1P4S2: The Thief
  • PCs see Vinnie as he bolts, run after him, Jones tripping him with the whip as he exits. When caught, Vinnie confesses that he was ordered to steal the book, by Dino (a local mafia-type), to make up for some debts; Vinnie points out Dino’s garage.
  • PCs take Vinnie along as insurance, sniveling the entire way.
A1P4S3: The Garage
CUT TO GARAGE:
Dino’s Garage, as the sign proclaims it, looks like it was once a warehouse, of brick construction, on a street corner in one of the more run-down parts of Brooklyn. A stiff breeze blows loose trash around the street, and there is little traffic. The building’s only windows are on the upper floor, and there are no lights on, inside or out. Three garage doors open to the street on one side, and a single garage door plus a personnel door on the other side. There is an alley wide enough for a car that looks to lead to the back area, and possibly a back door.
  • PCs proceed into the alley and park the car. They see that there is indeed a back door, as well as a small employee-only parking area, currently sporting a black ’31 Caddy. As the PCs enter, the lights come on, revealing them to be surrounded by tommygun-toting gangster thugs, who order them into the center of the garage. Vinnie immediately straightens up and greets Dino, giving up the PCs to him as if he had captured them himself, after which Dino tells him, “Good job. Now geddoudda here.” PCs have about enough time to get a word in edgewise before Dino orders the thugs to shuddemup, and PCs are KO’d from behind. Vinnie is gone before they come to.
  • As the PCs heads clear, they find themselves bound, hand and foot, and suspended over 50gal drums, partly filled with what appears to be used motor oil. An oxyacetylene torch is uncomfortably close to the anchoring ropes. Dino and some of the other thugs are standing around watching, talking. A crazy-looking guy in a lab coat (Holczrecter) enters the room a beat later, looking too serious, and speaks while very meticulously placing the torch to start burning the ropes:
HOLCZRECTER: (Obvious Slavic accent)
I apologize for not having enough time to properly engineer your death. I hope you’ll forgive me. I usually prefer to do something more—creative. Oh, well—this will just have to do. Don’t bother calling for help—this building is soundproof. There. (Finished, stands; to Dino) Cap the drums and dispose of them when we return from the docks. The bodies must never be found.
DINO:
Whatever you say, boss. A’right, everybody. Let’s gedouddahere.
THUG:
Hey, Dino, I gotta go to the john—wait up for me.
DINO: (Annoyed)
Why d’you always do this at the last minute? Hurry it up, you moron. If you ain’t outta there in ten minutes, we’re leavin’ widout yas.
  • End as thugs leave the room, and rope begins to burn and smoke. End Act 1.

 

ACT 2:High Crimes on the High Seas(1662):
A2P1:Sail Ho!
A2P1S1: Preparations for Battle
January 1662, aboard the Serviteur de Diable (part of the previous name, Deius, is scratched out, and Diable has been crudely added on). It is a barque of French construction, of about 135T, with 18 guns; crewed by around 150 mostly-English pirates, led by Captain Kirkman, a lesser known but accomplished ex-Navy officer turned privateer. Captain Kirkman is known to be quick-witted, and fierce in battle, earning him the unquestioning respect and admiration of his crew, who jokingly insist he has 20-pound shot between his legs. He’s a no-nonsense captain, and unlike most pirates or privateers, regularly practices battle drills, keeping the crew in fighting form. The Serviteur has been wandering about the north Caribbean chasing the Spanish Treasure Fleet for months, trying to catch a straggler or two and land a big prize, with little success. The crew’s respect for the Captain will dwindle unless there’s a prize soon.
  • PCs are part of the same mess. Filling out their mess is Sr. Lopez, a quiet Spaniard who recently joined on and has distinguished himself in battle and gained a small following, and Christophe, a seasoned sailor, educated former slave and an excellent fighter. They are at mess when “Sail Ho” rings out from the tops, followed later by “Clear the decks.” The ship comes alive making ready for battle, and the Captain can be seen dropping from the rigging onto the quarterdeck, spyglass in hand, advisors round about. PCs get the definite feeling that this isn’t a drill. A crewman points out the sail on the horizon to Hayden, who takes a look at it in his spyglass. ThePCs feel the ship turning away from the contact, to prevent detection. The guns are placed and prepped for action; non-essential equipment taken to the hold, and temporary cabins torn down; extra lines run up to further secure the masts and nets placed to catch falling debris. The crew is excited.
  • In the midst of preparations, the Captain calls PCs to him, along with the other officers, to discuss battle plans:
CPT KIRKMAN:
She’s a galleon—flying Spanish colors and sailing low. A real beauty. We’ll stay out of sight until the dead of night, and then run in hard and hopefully catch her unprepared. We’ll get astern and tack back and forth, loosing a broadside before each turn, and make our way in close to board when we’ve softened her up. We’ll have the weather on her, and I’d bet she turns like a cow, loaded down as she is, especially close-hauled. But if her captain’s Old Salt, he’ll try to come about into the wind just so, to make us shoot past and give us a broadside for our trouble, so we’ll have to be quick on the lines to stay astern of her. She’s probably got upwards of twenty guns, so we’ll stay where the guns aren’t, by God! If we do this smartly, we should be able to take her without any trouble at all.
  • The other officers and advisors ask some pertinent questions, but are generally confident in the Captain’s plan, as always, showing their unwavering trust of the Captain’s tactical skills. The PCs are tasked to help lead the boarding action, the Captain leading his half for’ard, and the PCs contingent pressing aft. As usual, surrender is to be welcomed, and no quarter given to those that resist, and the Captain says he wants some officers alive for possible ransom. Finished, the Captain sends everyone back to their stations to inform the rest of the crew and finish prepping for battle. The PCs return to their posts to get their people ready. Christophe remarks that he intends to take their colors to line his hammock.
  • The day drags long, waiting for the dead of night. Once it arrives, the ship turns back toward the galleon at full sail, running before the wind and making good speed. Several hours pass before they catch up to the galleon. PCs use the spyglass and see that there is little activity on board. The Captain orders the Jolly Roger raised when in range, and the galleon answers with opening gunports, and a surprising number of men bursting out of hiding, suddenly bringing the ship to life. The red flag is raised, and the fight is on.
A2P1S2: Ship Battle
  • The winds are due east and moderate, and the seas are relatively calm, with clear skies and a half moon. The Serviteur, starts with the galleon off the port bow heading NE and runs hard, taking advantage of her speed. As they pull quickly across the galleon’s stern, they fire a volley. Hit hard, the galleon answers with an ineffective shot from her bow-chasers, as the smoke from the Serviteur’s guns obscures their view. LONG TURNS (5MIN):
    • TURN1:
      Captain orders battle-sails. PCs perform their individual tasks well, with O’Ryan’s men setting battle-sails in record time. The Serviteur slows, keeping her on the galleon’s stern and tacks back, loosing a broadside as the deck levels into the turn. A close look revealed that the galleon has around 28 guns, including 2 bow-chasers on the stern. Galleon answers with her bow-chasers but overshoots badly.
    • TURN2:
      Serviteur tacks again, getting off another broadside and knocking out a topsail, while closing the gap. The galleon, turning northward, attempts to maneuver for a broadside, managing to connect with her bow-chasers, glancing off a mast but doing no more than shaking the ship a bit.
    • TURN3:
      Galleon cuts the other way, turning into the wind, braking hard. Captain, expecting the maneuver, manages to narrowly avoid overshooting but taking a partial broadside hit in the rigging. A yard from the foremast comes down onto the nets (Verri dodging the debris easily), and some canvas is holed.
    • TURN4:
      Serviteur has to circle back to the galleon’s stern. The galleon turns to prevent it, but is slow in turning due to its position in the wind.
    • TURN5:
      After firing another broadside, Captain orders the cannons to be loaded with grapeshot, aimed at the deck, as the Serviteur tacks in close. Galleon still trying to shake the pirates, but not moving quickly enough.
    • TURN6:
      Serviteur fires a final grapeshot volley just before smashing into the galleon’s stern, Escue (at the helm) is relieved as the boarding party is called up.
A2P1S3: The Boarding Party
  • Captain runs to the bow, joining the boarding party, around 100 strong. PCs group is to clear out the aftercastle, led by Hayden, while the Captain leads the other half for’ard. From the look of it, the pirates will be outnumbered at least 2:1, but none of them seem to mind. Serviteur is in contact with the galleon, fore to aft, bowsprit hooked through the mainmast rigging. Musket and swivel gun shots ring out from both ships, striking several of the crew down on either ship. Simultaneously, the grapples are thrown over, and boarding begins. LONG TURNS (1MIN):
    • TURN1:
      Hayden and Escue lead their contingent up planking, landing on the halfdeck. O’Ryan and Verri swing across from the rigging (Verri averting a bad swing by grabbing onto the mizzen-yard), landing on the quarterdeck. The Captain’s contingent runs up the bowsprit, but some swing or jump across from the rigging, about half getting across in the first Turn. A gaggle of soldiers bayonet-rush the boarding party (after having discharged their weapons in the first volley), supported by musket fire from the castles and rigging. Several pirates go down as they cross over, but many more Spaniards succumb to the advance once the pirates get over. See Oskar tossing sailors off the ship. Christophe makes a beeline for the poop, fighting along the way. Hayden and Escue fight their way to the quarterdeck doors.
    • TURN2:
      Pirates 3/4 crossed over. Remaining Spaniards thinning, but still putting up a spirited fight, being reinforced from below-decks. Captain’s force presses up to the forecastle, but is hampered by some makeshift fortifications there, losing many pirates to musket fire. See Oskar pin a marine to the rail with a grapple; Lopez takes a head. Christophe reaches the poop toward the end of the Turn, has a few pirates cover for him while he begins lowering the flag. O’Ryan subdues an officer as Verri makes his way down the stairs inside the quarterdeck, meeting with some resistance. Hayden and Escue break down the door to the quarterdeck and engage a couple of sailors down the hall (the same ones that have been fighting with Verri).
    • TURN3:
      Spanish resistance reduced to a few musketeers hiding behind fortifications on the castles or in the rigging. Toward the end of the Turn, a “borrowed” swivel gun breaks up the fortifications. Hayden and Escue enter the quarterdeck after gaining the surrender of the sailors in the hallway, meeting up with O’Ryan and Verri. They all break through the doors to the gallery, where they subdue several marines and gain the surrender of the Captain, an officer, and a passenger, Sr. Atocha (GM: Played by the same Actor as Alderman in the previous Act, suggesting a relation), the Captain indicating he wishes to surrender only to their leader; Hayden notices that the Captain’s sword is rather cheap when compared to his obvious wealth, as he breaks it across his knee.
    • TURN4:
      Deck is mostly populated with surrendered or dead, resistance has gotten weak. Captains from both ships call for a cease-fire.
A2P2:The Prize
A2P2S1: Cleanup
  • The sky is lightened with the promise of the rising sun just below the horizon, with nary a cloud in the sky. The moderate breeze that carried the Serviteur’s crew to victory has blown nearly all the smoke of battle from the decks, leaving nothing but the air of defeat for the crew of the Gloria.
  • Galleon’s captain begrudgingly presents his sword to Cpt Kirkman, as the prisoners are rounded up on deck and bound. Cpt Kirkman asks the Gloria’s crew if Cpt Acosta was a harsh master (a tradition of his), to which they reply in the affirmative. Cpt Acosta is then bound to a hatch-grate to be flogged, and his sentence is carried out by an eager former-crewman, gaining some cheers from the more “oppressed” among them and lightening the atmosphere a little. Prisoners are offered the chance to join the pirate crew, and 20 or so accept (including Atocha) and are released, while the remaining prisoners are moved to the hold. Upon joining, Atocha asks that his sword be returned to him. Pirates, still celebrating their victory, start throwing combat-debris overboard and taking down the overhead netting.
  • Five officers brought to the PCs while the ship is searched. PCs know that crews generally hide the most valuable stuff when captured. PCs easily cause the officers to reveal the location of Cpt Acosta’s heirloom very-fine transitional slashing rapier, along with a small bag containing what feels to be a couple hundred pieces-of-eight and some jewels, and rutters that appear to be written in Portuguese, which are handed over to Verri to translate (only guy on the ship that speaks it). At some point, someone also hands Verri the navigator’s chest to be passed on to the Sailing Master.
  • Final Tally: Overall, there were about 30 pirate casualties to about 130 Spanish, about 100 Spaniards taken as prisoner. The ship had 28 brass cannon, including 8x12-pounders, 10x6-pounders and 10x7-pounders, as well as 6x3-pounder swivel guns; 3 cannon are in need of repair and 6 are scrap. The ship contains much miscellaneous cargo, including liquor and spices, but the real prize is the nearly ten tons of gold and silver, worked and unworked.
  • Verri looks through the rutters, finding several secret Portuguese routes that are worth more than all the gold on board. He also finds a beautiful silver compass in the Navigator’s chest, which he keeps for himself.
  • PCs have their wounds tended, Escue still having lightly wounded arm.
A2P2S2: Promotion
  • Captain gathers his officers over to discuss what to do now. He announces that they plan to keep the new ship, and that Hayden would be promoted to captain it. Kirkman has Mbembe stay with Hayden, to keep him straight. Prize crew totals 60 (including the 20 recruits). Christophe, Blacklock, Oskar, Sr. Atocha and Sr. Lopez are among the volunteers for the prize crew. Mbembe, as quartermaster, suggests Hayden promote O’Ryan and Christophe to bosun, Escue to coxswain, and Verri to Ship’s Master. Hayden agrees to all.
  • Christophe says that, as his first action as bosun, it is his duty to report that Smitty has already started sneaking off with some captured liquor.
A2P2S3: Setting Sail
  • Cpt Kirkman leaves, taking the Spanish officers and captain aboard the Serviteur with him for later ransom. The galleon is not damaged enough to keep it from sailing, although it will certainly need repair when they reach port.
  • Hayden and Mbembe survey the damage, determining that there is quite a bit of cosmetic damage, but nothing threatening; all the hull damage appears to be above-board, and some very minor sail damage that can be patched while under way; there’s some minor stress-leakage in the hold, and it looks like a cannonball clipped the mainmast—looks stout enough, but maybe it could use some shoring up, just in case.
  • She is readied for sail, and pirates continue journey. As they get under way, the effects of the damage begin to become more apparent. In spite of everyone’s best efforts, they make a bit of a mess of taking off.
A2P3:Mutiny
A2P3S1: The Split
  • CUT TO NEXT DAY:
    Wind has picked up, further complicating the galleon’s progress. Ship lagging behind despite PCs best efforts.
  • Captain signals to halt, meet halfway by boat. Captain and Hayden boat over, meeting halfway, PCs+Mbembe going with, Escue expertly leading the launch operation. Kirkman explains that, since he’s in a hurry, he’s going to separate from the convoy. He apologizes, admonishes Hayden to listen closely to Mbembe, and wishes them luck, expecting to meet them in Tortuga when they arrive.
  • Hayden returns, informs the crew, inspiring them a bit. In spite of the success, however, Mbembe takes Hayden aside and tells of murmuring heard from among some of the crew. He adds that a few suggest the split is due to Hayden’s earlier incompetence.
A2P3S2: Murmurings
  • Noonish, days later. The Serviteur has long since disappeared from the horizon. The Gloria has been skirting a nasty-looking storm all day, although it looks like they’ll catch a little rain tonight anyway. But, with wet sails and stronger winds, they should make better time. In spite of the good news, however, the crew is on edge after someone claimed to have seen a black bird flying south this morning—a sure sign of bad luck.
  • O’Ryan tries to turn the blame to the ship, making Hayden seem to be overcoming incredible odds in getting the thing to run at all. Meanwhile, Hayden tries to remain aloof and Captain-like, while Escue and Verri turn their attentions to navigation, Escue also lending a hand to the carpenter’s efforts. A few members of the crew, led by Blacklock and including Oskar, announce to Hayden that they want to forget about Tortuga and keep the treasure. Upon hearing this, Mbembe becomes indignant, cursing in some unknown language, and after shouting them down, takes Hayden aside to speak to him; Hayden assures Mbembe of his loyalty to Kirkman. A successful attempt at gathering information revealed the rough size of the mutineer company to be a dozen or so.
  • CUT TO THAT EVENING:
    With the evening comes the rain, light but steady, wetting the sails and slicking the deck, forcing the off-duty crew to stay below-decks and making the on-duty crew uncomfortable. The moon is nowhere to be seen, due to the cloud cover, and the wind and sea have roughened somewhat. Conditions seem to be worsening little by little. The crew all voted to press on, skirting the storm as best could be accomplished.
  • Hayden is sleeping in the Captain’s quarters, the others in the officer’s quarters, and Mbembe is the officer-on-watch. Hayden wakes to a knife at his throat and a pistol to his head. Mutineers, led by Blacklock and including Oskar, having sneaked into his quarters, present Mbembe’s body, threaten him with a similar fate if he doesn’t announce to the crew that he is appointing Blacklock as the new captain. Hayden is then unceremoniously marched out on deck to officially step down in favor of Blacklock and encourage the loyal crew to accept him. Hayden goes along quietly, trusting in the size and resolve of the loyalist contingent of the crew.
A2P3S3: Hostile Takeover
  • Crew called out on deck, PCs awakened and informed—the “Captain” has an announcement to make. Blacklock’s name can be heard here and there. No one knows what’s coming, but nearly everyone suspects mutiny.
  • Arriving on deck, Hayden can be seen standing on the quarterdeck before a crowd of crewmen, as if about to make an announcement, Blacklock standing close behind him. Unusually, lanterns are lit about the area (after hours), signaling a disregard for the normal rules; all are hooded to keep out the rain that continues to fall. It is obvious that the crew’s general suspicions are about to be realized. The gathered crew is either mocking or voicing their support, and those that are of a mind to mutiny are immediately apparent to anyone listening to their comments.
  • PCs watch the crew, determining their loyalties as they make their way to the front of the mass, Verri subtlely heading for the quarterdeck stairs. Blacklock tells the crew that the “Captain” has an announcement (jabbing at him with the pistol), and beckons him to speak. Hayden calls out to the loyal crew to quell the mutiny, at which Blacklock shoves him forward, revealing a pocket-pistol, and prepares to make an example of him. COMBAT TURNS:
    • TURN1:
      Blacklock shoots Hayden, but the pistol misfires (due to dampness). Mutineers produce knives and attack. Hayden spins around and lays a haymaker into Blacklock’s chest.
    • TURN2:
      Blacklock drops his pistol and draws his knife, as Oskar unsuccessfully attacks Hayden. O’Ryan heads for the other quarterdeck stair after taking a mutineer’s hand on the previous turn.
    • TURN3:
      Hayden kicks Oskar in the groin, shortly before Blacklock attacks him with his knife. Verri catches Oskar’s leg with his whip, tripping him and causing him to fall, groin-first, onto a protruding rail. O’Ryan vaults off a cannon up to the quarterdeck.
    • TURN4:
      Blacklock continues attacking but is beaten down by Hayden, and then O’Ryan as he joins the fight. Verri catches Oskar by the neck with his whip, choking him.
    • TURN5:
      Remaining mutineers begin surrendering; Blacklock severely injured, ceases fighting
  • The crew (led by Christophe) insists that the Articles be followed, and the mutineers be marooned. The mutineers are then bound and sent to the orlop, since there is no more room in the hold, Blacklock cursing the PCs names as they are all locked away.
A2P4: The Storm
A2P4S1: Storm’s A-Comin’
  • Lightning strikes some distance away, announcing the coming storm. The wind shifts suddenly and intensifies, catching everyone unaware with all the mutiny commotion. The seas have become very rough, rain coming harder, lightning more frequent but still at some distance. The pitching of the ship and the rain-slicked deck make good footing difficult. A decision will have to be made quickly.
  • The crew is still mostly on the deck, and are visibly fearful of the storm. There are two courses of action: either set the sails and try to run with it, or furl sails, batten down and try to ride it out. Normally they would drop anchor as well, but the water here is too deep and land is many miles away in any direction. The crew looks to Hayden to make the decision. PCs decide to run for it.
A2P4S2: In the Thick of It
  • The storm moves quickly closer, and overtakes the ship, almost as if it were alive and attacking the ship. The rain starts coming down in sheets, the lightning gets uncomfortably close, and the waves threaten to wash over the deck. The noise makes it difficult to hear anything, and the lightning ruins anyone’s night vision before their eyes can adjust. It becomes quite obvious that they can’t run fast enough.
  • Hayden, realizing they can’t out run the storm, orders the crew to take in the sails, batten hatches and tie down anything that isn’t already. The masts would normally be taken down as well, but that takes hours they don’t have. Ship is rocking heavily with the waves, and combined with riding low due to the heavy cargo, is in danger of swamping. LONG TURNS (5 MIN):
    • TURN1:
      O’Ryan is in charge of the sail operation, hampered by darkness, weather, and lack of crew (due to mutiny attempt). Atocha approaches Verri, asks if he can estimate what their current location is, which he does.
    • TURN2:
      Atocha asks to be let in the hold, to get some personal items; Hayden refuses. Lightning strikes nearby the ship, temporarily deafening everyone and scaring the hell out of them.
    • TURN3:
      Christophe says “We’ll be awash in no time if we don’t jettison some weight,” suggest dumping the cannons (SOP), start dumping process. O’Ryan’s crew finishes taking in the sails.
    • TURN4:
      10-Pounder gets/breaks loose and rolls down the gun deck, bowling people over, killing one, and crashing through the aft quarters.
    • TURN5:
      Last of the cannon dumped, and the bulk of the remaining crew goes below-decks.
A2P4S3: The Final Moments
  • The storm suddenly intensifies, causing huge waves to crash on deck, washing things/people overboard.  The rain is coming in nearly sideways. The heaving of the ship is like a roller coaster, making hanging on very difficult. It’s all they can do to keep the ship from capsizing. LONG TURNS (1 MIN):
    • TURN1:
      A gust of wind catches the rigging; if sail operation is complete the mainmast snaps off at the lower joint
    • TURN2:
      Giant wave smashes the gallery
    • TURN3:
      Lightning strikes a mast/the bowsprit, doing more damage and temporarily blinding/deafening everyone
    • TURN4:
      Ship hauls up a giant wave and comes crashing down the other side, everyone automatically thrown to the deck unless otherwise secured
    • TURN5:
      Taking on water in the hold, desperate screams can be heard from the prisoners trapped below. Some crewmen start hacking at the lock, as a key has apparently been broken off in the lock.
    • As lightning strikes ahead of the ship, a crewman calls out “Breakers!”, alerting everyone to the presence of reefs ahead of the ship. End Act 2.

 

ACT 3:The Race is On(1935):
As this Act was unfinished, I never did a complete work-up on what happened, so I will briefly summarize what I remember of it:
A3P1:Escape:
A3P1S1: Defeating the Deathtrap
  • PCs defeated the trap by swinging out of the way of the barrels before the ropes snapped—as I remember it, one (I don’t recall who) didn’t make it, and ended up head-first in oil, and either managed to tip the barrel or had it tipped by someone else.
A3P1S2: NY Car Chase
  • Due to the guy in the bathroom, PCs were not so far behind the thugs as they drove off, and were able to give chase. Due to the actions of the PCs, the chase ended a little earlier than I had planned.
A3P1S3: End of the Line
  • In an alley, a shootout ensues between the PCs and the thugs, PCs winning relatively easily, with no casualties that I can recall. Holczrecter gets away, abandoning the rutters. Afterward, a police car pulls up to the non-PC end of the alley, with two officers in the car and Ski riding on the running boards. Ski turns out to be a PI, tailing Dino’s gang in an attempt to get at Holzcrecter (and whomever he may be working with/for). PCs leave with the rutters.
A3P2:Stirring the Plot:
A3P2S1: Hitting the Book
  • PCs return with Rutters, and research (see Notes). The rutters themselves are written in Portuguese (Rose can translate), but some of the later entries are written in English. The last Portuguese entry tells of a ship being spotted, which the Captain determined it had to be pirates and decided to trick them into attacking. The English portion details the last days of the voyage after the pirates took it over, including the split-up of the company, an attempted mutiny and a storm, but stops before revealing what happened during the storm. After that it picks up again much later, the survivor having apparently used it as his personal journal. The PCs extract from his writings that he had landed near Tortuga and was extremely paranoid, living like a hermit for many years, only going into town once a year for supplies and to get drunk at the tavern. Navigation instructions he had reverse-figured from his escape from the shipwreck are written in the back. Final position is ripped out with an added note that says he will “take the secret to his grave,” along with what appears to be a curse, saying, “Death lies in wait, to lay his hands upon whoever seeks his treasure.” PCs recall an associate in Haiti, Dr. Monty Pethwick, and make arrangements to go to Haiti to continue their investigation.
A3P2S2: Welcome To Haiti
  • PCs meet with Dr. Pethwick, who offers to take them to Father Pleasant, an expert on local lore (Dr. Pethwick, played by John Cleese, then excuses himself to return a “dead parrot” to the shop from which he recently purchased it). At the hotel, PCs spot their rivals, the Old Gold Salvage Company, and have a few drinks with them while exchanging stories.
A3P2S3: The Black Lotus Makes Its Move
  • While talking, Jones notices Bruno noticing the few other restaurant patrons leaving in a hurry. PCs look up to see an oriental man flanked by several black-clad thugs entering the bar and moving toward the PCs, stopping near their table before the PCs can get up, blocking them in. The oriental man (Sato) speaks, as if he were speaking to lesser beings, and informs the PCs/Rivals that “The Order of the Black Lotus” has claim to the Gloria, and then immediately “discourages” them from pursuing it by having them all attacked by locally hired thugs. Fight goes with little-to-no injury on the part of the PCs.
A3P3:Search for the Dead Man:
A3P3S1: The Missionary
  • The next day, PCs talk to Father Pleasant, who recounted a tale of a crazy old man in the late 1600’s that used to visit a tavern on Tortuga, until one year, when they got him particularly smashed, he showed them a gold ingot that he said came from the ship. When he left for home that night, they followed him to his boat and to a small island not far offshore, bent on thievery. But the old man had booby-trapped the island for just such a case, and many of the thieves were killed or injured, but not before making off with some of his goods. Some have gone back to the island, but returned with tales of his ghost wandering the island, protecting his grave from would-be robbers. Those thieves were reported to have gotten away with the old man’s books, which contained incomplete directions to the island where the treasure rested.
A3P3S2: The Survivor Island
  • PCs find a guide to the old man’s island, avoid some of the old man’s traps, and reach the cave. They avoid some more of the old man’s traps to reach his resting-place inside the cave.
A3P3S3: Gravesite
  • PCs avoid the old man’s last trap and pry the coordinates from his cold, dead fingers.
A3P4:Race for the Island:
A3P4S1: Preparations
  • PCs make preparations, hire excavation crew, make travel arrangements (workers to travel by boat, while PC go ahead in their rented seaplane).
A3P4S2: The Night Before
  • Rivals, at the hotel bar, declare that they have the coordinates, make a bet with PCs on who will arrive first at the site. PC (O’Ryan, I think) is seduced by Lana, who leaves him with his pants around his ankles while she makes off with the coordinates.
A3P4S3: Air Race
  • PCs and Rivals race, by seaplane, to the island. Mannfred and Zachary “dogfight” the whole way. PCs seaplane being a piece of crap, begins to break down in-air (pontoon comes loose), and tumbles into the ocean short of their goal. End Act 3.

Aftermath

What went right, what went wrong, and lessons learned

Although the game was enjoyable, in general, it was fraught with problems from the start, ultimately resulting in its premature demise.

The “scripting” element actually worked pretty well—everything seemed to flow along predictably, and the Players didn’t derail anything important. I found, though, in the end, that scripting everything was a little more work than I was willing to put forth on a continual basis. That being said, that technique still survives in my games to date, in a lesser form. The new CP usage worked well enough, at the time, but the Players didn’t make a great deal of use of it. After that lesson, I made changes to the way it worked, resulting in the concept of the Temporary Character Points (see Alternative Character Point Usage). My pacing was pretty close to correct, and we ended on schedule for all but the last Session (as I recall)—I ended up using fewer overall “scenes” in later games.

In general, I was having some problems getting “inspired” for this one—I’m not sure what the problem was. I love doing the research. I loved the time-periods involved. Somehow, it just wasn’t working for me. On top of that, several “Player problems” (or problem Players?) surfaced during the course of the game, and was the primary cause for it’s eventual end. Of course, we had the usual attendance problems—Bobby showed up for the first Session, but not the rest (through no fault of his own, I’m sure, but the end-result is the same). There was some heated argument over the idea of spending Character Points on the flashback PCs—an argument that, ultimately, needed not take place, but ate up quite a bit of time (I won’t say who was responsible…*coughmark*). Then there was the “less-lethal” issue… I had declared that I would not kill any PC, for perfectly logical reasons (in my mind, at least), but one of the Players (I won’t name names…*coughcnurlen*) decided to “test” me. With a sizeable boulder rolling in his direction, he decided that instead of ducking under it, he would simply stand there and “see what happened.” All these things, combined with some mistakes that I had made in my planning of the whole thing (not to mention some personal problems for me at home), resulted in an “intolerable level of dissatisfaction” with the direction it was going, and I killed the campaign. It was quite a while before I ran again after that, as I recall.

Some Specific Issues:
  • The “party” scene ended up a bit too chaotic—a lot of “wandering” around trying to figure out what to do (the Characters, physically, and the Players, mentally), and the GM trying to keep everything straight. In retrospect, I should’ve used Long Turns (probably 5-min), to give it some structure.
  • The Players threw me for a loop during the car chase scene in Act III, as they were a little more successful at disabling the other car than I had planned. The chase was cut short, but I just had them arrive at the “alley” a little early—a cheap fix, but a fix nonetheless.
  • I didn’t plan for (critical) failure when it came to the Shiphandling check in Act II. As a result, I had no idea what to do with it when it happened. Similarly, in Act III, there was a problem when the PCs were navigating the old man’s traps, and Jones “landed wrong” (I don’t remember how it happened) and should have broken/sprained his ankle—I really didn’t have any way to fix that, and hadn’t prepared for that eventuality. Lesson learned—if there is any chance of failure, you’d better have a plan for it.
  • During the ship battle and the storm scenes in Act II, there really wasn’t much for the PCs to do during it. Some of them had jobs or something might happen, and could make Skill-checks, but it ended up mostly being me (GM) reading what happened. Either the PCs need something of “substance” to do, or it should be relegated to flavor text (or just breezed through entirely). In the second attempt, I planned for the prisoners (either Blacklock or the PCs, depending on how things went) to escape their cell during the storm scene, giving PCs plenty to do while trying to hang on for dear life.
  • The trap-related scenes in Act III lasted far longer than I had planned—no doubt contributing to other problems. There’s something about a “puzzle” scene that just drags on everyone (the same issue has cropped up in other campaigns of mine). I haven’t figured out the answer to that one yet, except to either simplify or eliminate “puzzles.”

As stated, there was a second attempt at running the game, much later. The makeup of the group had changed, and new faces mean gamers who haven’t already played this adventure, and thus, a second chance to get it right. I don’t remember what happened, specifically—either I lost interest in the idea, or nobody else showed any interest to begin with—maybe a combination of the two. I toyed with the idea just long enough to make some changes to the initial story.

GMs Only

Downloads forthcoming

Player Comments

Critical acclaim, heckling, and other comments from the Peanut Gallery

No comments submitted yet

If you played in this campaign, and would like to add a comment about the campaign, submit it here.