Well, 74 people looked at the last one I posted, and there were no comments, so I shall assume it was perfect. Nice!
This one is way more open-ended. It's a real adventure for an Initiate/Novice crew of any social level. It is based on "It's Still Burning", an adventure hook from the London book. I also have the characters spec'ed out, but this isn't a great format for posting that. If anyone can think of more ways to solve the essential problem of the adventure, please post them so I can add them to the adventure!
The Stars & Garters
This isn’t your normal haunt, but you’ve got a little jingle and a mighty thirst. This tavern, the Stars and Garters, was recommended by an old friend, and you’re meeting here tonight. It’s located in the Whitechapel portion of the Borough of Tower Hamlets. While it is generally considered a poor borough, but there are a number of influential businesses at this end, as well as the Tower of London.
You pause at the door, taken aback. It is strangely empty for evening, with a distinctly morose barkeep. She is polishing the spotless bar. A sour-faced ork boy in a barback’s apron has been given the task of wiping down the legs of the chairs. The bartender sees you and immediately her face lights up. “Oh, welcome, welcome! Can I draw you a pint? We’re having a special, have yourself a drink and your mate’s is half price! Fancy a bite to eat?” The boy jumps up, pleased to have a distraction from his tedious busywork. Your friend hasn’t arrived yet.
The tavern is very nicely appointed. Not as elaborate as some, but the owner obviously takes pride in keeping the brass polished and the mirrors clean. If they ask, the bartender, Francine, will just claim that it is a slow night. A perception test or appropriate ability test against her Social Defense (9) will reveal she is hiding something. Alice finally arrives. The players can decide who is friends with her and why they are meeting, subject to GM approval. She will order the mutton. Shortly after the food arrives, the ghostly flames erupt. In the physical realm, they are utterly convincing. It is an Illusion (Mental) spell with an effect of 25. Astral Sight will reveal it to be a spell. Francine throws down her rag in frustration and calls out that the flames aren’t real, just a bit of flim-flammery that’s ruining her livelihood. If they can get to the bottom of this, she’ll offer to have large tankards engraved for each hero. The tankards will be reserved for their exclusive use and filled with free beers whenever they stop by.
The flames are being created by a hearth spirit that has been watching over this spot since Roman times. The Roman establishment was burnt to the ground with a dozen lives lost, and it is determined not to let that happen again. Francine’s estranged husband, Franco, has unwittingly provided the spirit with a way to redeem itself. Franco is a member of a local gang and Francine had been laundering some of their smuggling profits. When they split, Francine refused to continue the money laundering. Franco was planning to burn the Stars and Garters to the ground with a full crowd inside. He was all set with the matches and the kerosene when the tavern seemed to burst into flames on its own. Surprised and delighted by the phantom flames that seem to be driving the Stars and Garters under, he has taken to offering Francine insultingly low prices to buy her out.
Characters and Lines of Investigation
Francine Nye inherited the Stars and Garters from her father 5 years ago. She’s turned around the pub from a second-rate watering hole to a place known across the city for its hospitality and excellent food. Unfortunately, her husband Franco, joined up with the Millwallers about the same time. He convinced her to launder money for his gang through the business. It was quite profitable, but also made her very nervous. As he became more arrogant, she became more concerned that his propensity to talk when drunk would bring the tax office investigators. He became violent towards their son, Robert, when they both contracted LGF and emerged as snarks. She threw Franco out, but she is quietly afraid that becoming a snark has doomed her son to a life of violence.
The Spirit, Praesepe
Praesepe has looked after this location since at least Roman times, although it has been mostly dormant for centuries. It is motivated by the desire to keep this location a tavern. The only human language it speaks is Latin. It manifests as a female barmaid whose red hair hangs down and obscures her face. It also has two long cat-like tails which it tries to keep concealed under its dress. It is loathe to leave the tavern. If summoned outside of the tavern, it will require a Contest of Wills for every single service. Furthermore, the summoner can never safely drink in the Stars and Garters again.
Alice’s sister Meredith is a Medium, if the party doesn’t have any way to talk to spirits. She is a Novice with Spirit Talk and no combat abilities or any interest in adventuring.
Praesepe never liked or trusted Franco and used the Evil Eye on him. When Franco returned to set the fire, the spirit was extremely alarmed and created the illusion of the fire to warn Francine.
The ork barback is Francine and Franco’s son, Robert. He is resentful of his parents and confused, and the LGF isn’t helping. Despite Franco’s faults, Robert still blames his mother for kicking his dad out.
The Dove Row Gang
A rival based in Hackney, to the north and west of Tower Hamlet and the Isle of Dogs where the Millwallers prowl, the Dove Row gang commonly manages underground fights and thievery. The Chapter Chief is Bonny Betty Sue, a PL 4 Dodger, a jemmy cracksman specializing in breaking into businesses and popping their safe. Her chapter is very loyal to her and is very dangerous. They are perfectly willing to talk business, but if they smell a double-cross will happily beat the party and dump them in the river.
Franco is an ork and a Dodger with formidable unarmed combat abilities. He will be violent towards his son, and condescending and vile to Francine.
If the party wants to talk to him, it will be tricky to do so without his full cohort around him. His small taste of power has left him vain and paranoid.
Franco’s Gang, The Millwallers
There are 14 other people in Franco’s cohort of the Millwallers. One is a troll, 5 are snarks and the remainder human. Their first choice is never brawling, but they don’t mind finishing a fight if provoked. They are more likely to go to arson or burgling to get revenge, and are more involved in fencing and money laundering. Franco, with his violent streak, has never really fit in. The main territory of the Millwallers is the Isle of Dogs to the east of the Stars & Garters, but Franco’s crew is often found a riverside tavern called Brass Bells.
Harold Gleason, troll
Harold Gleason is an Investigator by Profession, though he works for the Millwallers, not law enforcement. Prior to his bout of LGF, he was a fairly successful actor. While his troup kept him from starving to death, they certainly couldn’t give him much work. His role with the Millwallers is to keep an eye on the lieutenants and make sure they are working in the boss’s best interest. He has been with this cohort for a full year, and they have no idea. They don't even really know that he has medical skills. He is content to let them think him a dumb brute, but he secretly hates Franco. Franco has forced Harold to fight him a couple of exhibition fights, in which Franco handily beat him. If the party makes a reasonable offer to the cohort and Franco refuses, Harold will approach them later in secret. He tells them the Millwallers will take them up on their offer, but they’ll need to get Franco out of the picture somehow.
The following events can occur in whatever order seems to fit the story, based on how the characters proceed, though they are listed in the most likely order. Feel free to skip any events that don’t make sense, and be prepared for players to knock your plans into the crock.
The PCs may wish to speak to the spirit. This will require a character with the ability to deal with spirits. If none of the PCs are capable, then Alice’s sister Meredith will.
Meredith is very into all of the trappings of spiritualism. She will drape heavy, darkly patterned clothes over the windows and table. There will be scented candles and incense everywhere. She smokes a mysterious herb from a slender, long-handled pipe that doesn’t quite smell like tobacco. Her clothing is ostentatiously exotic and she peppers her speech with French phrases (1. À vaillant coeur rien d’impossible. -Jacques Cœur. “For a valiant heart nothing is impossible.” 2. Dans une grande âme tout est grand. -Blaise Pascal “In a great mind everything is great.” 8. Il n’y a pas de verités moyennes. -Georges Bernanos “There are no half-truths.” 11. Le temps est un grand maître, dit-on. Le malheur est qui’il tue ses élèves. -Hector Berlioz “We say that time is a great teacher. It’s too bad that it kills all its students.” https://takelessons.com/blog/french-quotes-z04). As she uses her Summoning and other skills, she draws elaborate patterns on a mirror with oil. As long as Francine is in the room, Praesepe will manifest willingly when summoned. Though she understands English, she only speaks Latin. Meredith’s Spirit Talk skill or another character’s Eidetic memory can be used to translate or record the conversation. Praesepe will not agree to stop the phantom flames until they can assure it that Franco is no longer a threat.
Franco at the Stars & Garters
Franco may show up at the Stars & Garters. He is accompanied by his whole cohort. He will arrogantly stride in, loudly warning his crew not to drink, as his lovely wife is likely to poison the brew. He makes repeated comments about how he may have to leave soon, as he’s heard this place can get a little hot. Sarcastically, he’ll comment on the complete absence of customers. He asks her if she’s reconsidered their prior arrangement and when she refuses, offers her £20 for the whole business. Harold Gleason won’t say anything, and the others may mock him as being big and dumb.
Drinks at Brass Bell
The Brass Bell is tarnished and dim, but quite popular in the evenings. There are a couple of lopsided billiards tables, wobbly stools sticky with spilled beer, and shadowy booths along the wall. The air is thick with the scent of men and women fresh from the docks. A scowling dwarf is coaxing a cheerful - if out-of-tune - melody from a battered piano. Conversations consist of friends bellowing across the room and confederates whispering at the top of their lungs directly into each other’s ears. The Millwaller cohort is monopolizing the billiards tables.
They are reasonably friendly and don’t mind talking to the party, but will not respond well to threats. They might be convinced to accept an arrangement where they are laundering money through another business, or agree to taking protection money to leave the bar alone. One of the orks might even make the suggestions. Convincing Franco to let go his grudge might be a tall order.
There are absolutely too many Millwallers to fight head on. The bar’s patrons will gladly join in any sort of fight, turning it into a chaotic free-for-all. Gunfire will clear the room and draw the police. The bartender does have a shotgun behind the bar, but no one wants to get shot, and no one wants to deal with the police.
The cohort are not particularly loyal to Franco personally. He got into a position of power by beating several of them within an inch of their life, not by making friends or brilliant tactical decisions. With the exception of the troll, Harold Gleason, they are a bit frightened of him.
If the party threatens the Millwallers or Franco, they may employ Robert to set up an ambush. If the party has done a really good job interacting with the boy, he may balk, stopping this event before it starts. Robert comes to the party and claims to have a lead. He tells them that Franco is ready to talk, and wants to meet them in a warehouse in Whitechapel. In fact, Franco has no intention of going there. It is an R. Twining and Company, Ltd property, and it is crawling with security, even at night. He will just give them directions. Players with appropriate knowledge skills may make tests to realize that it is R. Twinings and that the company is known for tight security. Shaney Bond, the Head of Overnight Security, maintains wards on all of the windows (there are 4) and doors (there are 2 wagon doors and 2 people doors) on the main floor. She has a staff of 4 guards, all well trained. They patrol the outside while she monitors the wards. She uses a simple code with the signal whistles to communicate with her staff. There is even a telegraph key connected to a direct line to an alarm at the police precinct, if she feels the threat is serious enough. The doors and windows are also locked, TN 7. Climbing the walls is TN 12. There are locked upper windows, but picking them requires an extra success because of the added difficulty of climbing. There are also skylights, but they are not designed to open.
Conflict with the Dove Row Gang
The Dove Row Gang are the Millwaller’s closest rivals, both geographically and in terms of spite. It may be possible to set the Dove Row Gang against the Millwallers. It is risky, as a major conflict will bring the Peelers down on everyone. Both gangs manage underground fights. The party might somehow wreck a Dove Row fight and make it look like the Millwallers were at fault. They could arrange for a Bobbie raid and pay off an officer to loudly and repeatedly brag about how the Millwallers gave him this great tip. They could use arson or theft to target the winnings or location of a Dove Row fight. All of this must be handled with great care. If they botch a set up, they risk bringing the wrath of both gangs down on themselves or bringing a lot of police presence for months to come, which could come back on the Stars and Garters. After all, the tavern was until very recently a major money laundering hub for a gang. Furthermore, Bonny Betty Sue is whip-crack smart and will not tolerate a double-cross.
Bonny Betty Sue may agree to meet them at a fight, where there will be at least a dozen Dove Row gang members as well as 3-4 fighters that will take their side in a physical conflict.
Arrange for Another Money Launderer
After some investigation, they will find that Penelope Ales, one of the breweries that supplies the Stars and Garters, is willing to handle the money laundering. John Jameson is the owner, a cheerfully amoral fellow who named the company after his mother. Franco will not accept the deal unless Francine apologizes and takes him back. Harold Gleason, however, will approach them later in private and tell them that if they can get Franco out of the way, the Millwallers will take them up on the offer. They don’t want the appearance of discord in the ranks, but won’t make a fuss if something happens to him. This is probably the cleanest solution to the problem, if they can cleanly be rid of Franco.
Taking out Franco
There are several possible solutions, some of them not even involving violence. They could kill him, have him arrested, or have him discredited in the eyes of the Millwallers. The gang will not want to have much in the way of obvious signs of internal conflict, because they can’t look weak or divided in front of their rivals. The party could arrange for Franco to be arrested mid-smuggling. Perhaps they could tip off the police or firm about a smuggling run. When the Bobbies show up they could arrange for Franco to get busted or shot while the others to escape. They could use Francine as bait for an ambush. They could frame Franco for betraying the rest of the cohort in some way - taking money from another gang or a police inspector. They even could arrange to have Franco humiliated and beaten in a bare-knuckles match, though they’d probably have to dope him to pull it off.
Discussion of GMing 1879. Warning: Here there be spoilers!
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