Monthly Archives: October 2015

A Little Girl’s Dream

No TitansGrave this week, this story was bouncing around in my skull and had to be told.
The little girl is my current D&D 5th edition character, Muse, as a child.


The candlelight filled the room with a softly, pulsing glow. A breeze blew in from somewhere, dancing over the little girl’s skin with warm caresses. She smiled and closed her eyes, head tilted slightly as she listened to a song that only she could hear.

He had told her it was the Weave singing to her, that it was the key to power and potential. He had told her that the golden liquid he gave her would make it easier for her to hear the song. The liquid had burned on its way down, causing her to cry out in pain. He had merely given her a disgusted look and left the girl alone in here.

The tingling in her fingers began to intensify and she brought them up in front of her face as she opened her eyes. Sparks of light danced around her fingertips and she started batting at them, giggling softly as she did so. The sparks flew and danced, darting around her head, playing in her hair. They began to multiply and swarm around her, flashing towards her eyes, racing towards her face.

The giggles became wordless sounds of fear, the breeze turned icy cold and the candles began to flicker and lash out. The song of the Weave became discordant, a thousand voices laughing at her. The walls of the room began flexing, beating in time to her rapid heartbeat. The sparks of light coalesced into a gigantic head, two uncaring eyes stared at the scared little girl, pools of infinite darkness that saw into her soul.

The lips stretched taut, revealing a set of razor sharp fangs, as the mouth opened in silent laughter. It continued opening, far further than it should, as the head began to rush forwards, straight for the little girl’s tear-streaked face.

She screamed and bolted upright, sweat covering her small body. Her tail lashed angrily against the wooden bed, thumping a counterpoint rhythm to her hammering heartbeat. Her eyes darted around the cramped confines of the wagon’s interior, taking in the strange shelves and chests, nothing at all like the single wooden box she was used to at the foot of her mat.

The door at the end of her bed opened, spilling the warm glow of firelight into the interior.

“Ssssh, what is it, little one? The dream again?” The man who entered was of average height and build, sandy blonde hair tied back with a leather thong. His crystal blue eyes, sparkling constantly with good natured humour, caught her solid silver ones. “It’s going to be okay.” He approached her warily. “It’s me, Marvolo. Do you remember me?”

The little girl nodded, remembering the man’s face as if from a dream. She brushed a strand of purple hair from her eyes and nodded again.

“You have been watching me.” Her voice was calm, quiet, oddly powerful. “Why?” Her question caught him off guard, his eyes widening slightly in surprise.

“I was told to. You know how he is. We must all do as he says. He told me to make sure you get all of it out of your system.” Marvolo sat on the edge of her bed. “You’re safe here, little one. Not even he can get you at the minute. Would you like to see why?”

She nodded and he stood, motioning for her to do the same. As she did so, he noticed how thin she was, the bones in her arms and legs prominent against the tight skin. She shivered as her bare feet hit the cold wood of the floor.

“I could carry you if you would like.” He offered.

“No. I can do it. It’s just the floor. It won’t hurt me.” She met his eyes defiantly. He supressed a laugh and gestured for her to precede him out of the door. She paused in the threshold and slipped her boots on.

The night was cool against her skin, a soft breeze began playing with her hair as she walked slowly out of the wagon she had been confined to for what felt like months. She began to shiver violently as a wave of heat swept through her body and she fell to her knees, retching.

Her stomach muscles ached from over exertion and she felt Marvolo’s presence behind her as he waited patiently for the nausea to pass.

“Am I sick?” She asked, standing slowly and turning to face him a few minutes later.

“No, little one. Not sick. Your body is used to something that made it feel good and it wants more. He told us you weren’t allowed any more so your body is struggling to cope.” He stopped as he realised the child wasn’t listening to him. He turned and looked at the magical dome around the wagon that had caught her attention.

“That’s why he can’t get you.” He bent and picked a stone from the floor. “Here, throw this at it.” She turned to look at him, her eyes wide with wonder and did as he said. The stone bounced from the dome with a quiet thud. “Nothing can get in there until the spell wears off. Nothing that wasn’t in there when it was cast, anyway. Does that make you feel safer?” She looked at him again and nodded dumbly. “Good. Now come on, my little Muse, I have a play to finish and you should sleep.” He paused as a thought occurred to him. “If you are good, I will teach you this spell. Would you like that?”

Her mouth moved as she muttered an answer and he crouched to hear her better. She swallowed and met his eyes.

“Yes. I would. I don’t want to be scared ever again. I want to feel safe every time I sleep.”

TitansGrave: The Winds of Chaos – Chapter Four of Twelve

Fantasy AGE, TitansGrave, TitansGrave: The Ashes of Valkana Adventure Series and all associated logos are trademarks of Green Ronin Publishling LLC.

TitansGrave: The Ashes of Valkana and its associated logo is a trademark of Geek and Sundry.

This is a fan-made product and not intended to infringe on any copyrights or trademarks. I am not planning to make money off this product. If there is any problem with any part of this product or any missing information from this crediting section, I will update accordingly.

That said, all content not owned by Green Ronin or Geek and Sundry is owned by me. Feel free to distribute and share all you like, but please give credit where it is due.


Chapter Four – The Hospital

Last chapter saw the PCs encounter the Broken Gear gang and take care of one of the gang’s cells in Vorakis, as well as recover an item of unknown power that was stolen from Dek’s shop. It ended with the PCs entering a passage that opened at the back of a storeroom.

This chapter is concerned primarily with allowing the PCs to explore a building from the time of the Chaos Wars as well as set the stage for the ruined city they will soon be exploring. The hospital itself, as the players will discover, is the only powered building left from the Vorakis Enclave and the situation within has recently become dire. With the PCs help, the last remaining survivors, bound to the building until the spells lining its walls are broken, will restore power to the ailing facility.

Scene One – Exploration

The passage way that the PCs find themselves in is carved from solid rock and leads on into darkness as far as they can see. As soon as they start walking, magical sigils begin to glow in the rock around them, providing enough illumination to see by but no more. The light travels with them, the sigils fading as the PCs pass.

After an appropriate amount of time has passed, the PCs encounter a smooth metal door. It opens at their approach and the rock tunnel becomes the smooth white of painted walls. Although they currently don’t know it, they have found their way into a hospital in the ruins of the Vorakis Enclave, a part of the city that was hidden during the Chaos Wars in an attempt to preserve as much life and culture as possible.

When the PCs enter the building proper, read the following:

The cool air of the tunnel disappears as the door slides shut behind you. Those that turn notice only a featureless blank wall stretching off into the distance on either side. The air itself in this place seems to provide the illumination, faintly seen sigils, floating like dust motes, glow ethereally, disturbed only by your passing.

Around you, all is silent. The air is still, the doors all along what you now see to be a corridor are closed and you desperately want to say something, anything, to break this tomb-like silence. You have no idea how long these plain white walls have stood and guarded whatever lies ahead of you, but you know instinctively that this place is old, far older that its condition would suggest.

 Should any of the players be missing health, they begin healing at a rate of one hit-point every five (in-game) minutes or are healed to full health whenever you, as the GM, feel it is narratively appropriate.

Any mages with Healing Arcana automatically know that the air in this building is saturated with sigils and glyphs related to healing magic. Any character may make a TN 13 Intelligence (Arcane Lore/Healing) test to discover this fact. In both cases, it should be explained that this kind of magic is extremely rare, requiring several very powerful mages to cast, and is not known to be practiced any more.

Investigating any of the doors reveals the following scene:

The door opens smoothly at your touch, swinging silently inwards. A slight breeze brushes your face in the wake of the movement, and then all is still.

It takes a few moments for the magic in the room notice your presence but a soft glow gradually fills the air. At first you can make out only dim shapes in the darkness, the light from the corridor behind you spilling faintly into the room, but as the magic strengthens, you realise what you are seeing.

The room contains twelve beds, six along each wall adjacent to you with a series of numbered lockers along the wall facing you. Upon each bed rests a person, their features calm and relaxed. As you watch, their chests rise and fall slightly and their eyes flicker rapidly beneath closed lids.

 Should any of the PCs try to wake the people sleeping in this room, they remain unresponsive. A TN 13 Intelligence (Healing/Arcana (Healing)) test will reveal the patients to be in a coma-like state induced by the magic that fills the air.

The lockers along the wall are filled with the patients’ property and the exact contents are left to the GM’s discretion.

With the exception of a few storage closets (the contents of which are also left to the GM’s discretion), all the rooms on this floor contain scenes similar to that described above. After an appropriate amount of time has passed, the PCs find a stairwell with a map of the building pinned to the wall. From now on, they should be allowed to travel wherever they wish in the building.

GM’s are encouraged to create rooms and scenes which highlight the eerie atmosphere of being in a seemingly deserted hospital, as well as ramping up the tension for the next chapter. They should also make it clear that someone, seemingly recently, has been through this hospital and cleaned everything, including making patchwork repairs where necessary.

Scene Two – Social, Exploration (optional)

When the players indicate that they have explored as much as they wish and head to the main entrance of the hospital, they pass a door behind which they can hear someone crying softly. Upon investigation, read the following:

The door opens silently, as have all the doors in the building, revealing an already lit room. Within are the now expected twelve beds, the twelve storage lockers and something new. Hunched over one of the beds, seated on a stool, is a pale elven woman.

Her shoulders shake as she sobs to herself and she doesn’t appear to have noticed your approach.

 Approaching the woman without her noticing requires a TN 15 Dexterity (Stealth) test. Anyone succeeding on this test hears her say: ‘I’m sorry, Allie. We had to. We had to put you to sleep so Methris and I could keep watch. I’m so sorry.’

Failures on this test, or PCs who hang back and announce themselves, cause her to jump visibly and turn around. When her initial shock wears off, she stands and introduces herself as Nytera Rosethorn, as well as asking if the PCs are agents of the Mountain Guard. When she stands, the players can see that she is wearing a very clean, ornate white coat embroidered with magical sigils. During any conversation they hold with her, Nytera will answer questions as honestly as she can, sometimes repeating the same things over and over in different ways, quite clearly excited at having someone to talk to.

She will tell the PCs the following facts over the course of any conversation they have with her if the topic has a bearing on the conversation:

  • The only people left alive and awake in the building are her and Methris Glimmerfist. She was the head of the Healers in the building and Methris was the chief engineer.
  • They used to receive supplies from the Mountain Guard (using some sort of thaumaturgical mechanism to airdrop food, water and batteries among other things into an open window on the third floor) but these supplies stopped coming three weeks ago and they are about to run out.
  • She knows little of the Mountain Guard, save that their scouts found the Enclave and the hospital as their supplies were about to run out and after they had enchanted most of the survivors in the building. They reached an agreement where, in return for healing and advice, the Mountain Guard would send supplies to the two remaining people in the hospital. While she doesn’t know how long it has been since the Mountain Guard scouts found them, she suspects it has been centuries.
  • She explains that the magic in the air is focussed on healing and preservation and was created to keep as many people alive as possible in the Enclave. When people fell mortally ill, or suffered great injuries in the Chaos Wars, they were sent here to recuperate. Unfortunately, the Enclave was besieged by the forces of the Prophet and by the time the Wars ended, the people could no longer be awoken by the magic or technology of the time. They have slumbered since. It is the magic that has kept everyone in the building alive.
  • She will explain that the Enclave was created as a safe haven for the local population, an entire portion of Vorakis was built underground and intended to act as a bunker/safehouse during the Chaos Wars. It was intended to preserve the lives of those within as well as pre-Chaos Wars culture and technology.
  • There used to be more than just two people awake in the hospital, but shortly before the Mountain Guard found them, they had to commit everyone else to the unending sleep to conserve supplies.
  • The hospital itself remains besieged, the Prophet unleashed a curse of Undeath upon the Enclave. The curse remains and the city outside the walls of the hospital is full of the undead. They are dormant and can be observed through the hospital’s windows, but will be attracted to noise and movement.
  • Methris went to check on the generator that powers the magic in the air, as well as the building itself, a few days ago and has not returned. She admits that this is unlike him and has become increasingly worried, unable to leave her charges and daily rounds of the hospital.
  • She will admit (honestly) that she was unaware of the passage they used to gain entry into the building, saying that she has forgotten most of the emergency exits from the building. She will explain that if the PCs can make it to the Library in the middle of the Enclave, there is a tunnel there that will lead them into the Broken Spires which they can use to escape and, hopefully, return to Vorakis and Dek.
  • She says that she will give them a key to the hospital’s main doors if they find Methris. She suggests checking the generator room and provides directions.

Following the directions will lead them directly to the generator room where the PCs can find the dwarf, Methris Glimmerfist. When the PCs reach the generator room, read the following:

The door into the generator room is made of solid metal, at least three inches thick, and hangs partially ajar. From beyond, you can hear a quiet, constant muttering punctuated every now and then by a loud clang.

Opening the door reveals a wild-haired dwarf pacing backwards and forwards, slamming a wrench against solid metal panel when his route brings him near it. As he strikes the panel, he glares at an open aperture on the side of a squat metal box.

At your approach, he stares in amazement, the wrench dropping from suddenly nerveless fingers.

 Methris, much like Nytera, is happy to have someone to talk to and starts speaking immediately. His words rush out in a torrent and he explains that he saw them outside the passage through an external, magical sensor but had no idea that he had managed to open the door that let them in. He says (honestly) that he tried, but was unsure if that part of the building was still powered and was not surprised when the console he used to open the passage began to emit clouds of smoke as a quiet popping noise came from within it.

The source of his frustration is the metal box he was glaring at. He explains (without letting the PCs get a word in edgewise) that he managed to cobble a device together that is ten times more efficient than their current generator and should strengthen the magic in the air, letting the people in the hospital be awoken when the time is right.

As his initial babble of words wears off, he introduces himself and then points at the open aperture, explaining that all he needs to complete the device is five batteries. He then swears loudly and points to a nearby locker in which stand four batteries, before explaining that those are the last of the supplies sent by the Mountain Guard and they’re needed to keep the generator running when the current batteries run out of power sometime in the next week.

Should the PCs engage him in conversation, he knows little more about any of the topics raised by Nytera but is happy to talk nonetheless, learning eagerly of how the world has changed in his absence.

Should the PCs NOT offer him the use of one or more of their batteries, he will offer them a map of the city in exchange for any batteries they can scavenge from buildings near to the hospital. These buildings are left to the GM’s discretion but should be in a state of extreme decay and disrepair. They may also be host to several zombies and environmental problems as described in the next chapter. Should they offer him enough batteries, he will give them this map.

Upon being provided with the batteries, he activates the machine, sending a magical pulse through the air, and bids the PCs follow him back to Nytera. There, they are offered a small meal and a chance to rest, before they are sent out into the city to look for the Library.

As they leave, Methris informs them the Enclave itself remains unpowered and the Library is fully locked down. They will need to restore power to gain access to the Library and leave the Enclave.


Read Chapter Five here.

Any feedback is gratefully appreciated.

– Bubbles


The Long Wait

It’s been another inconvenient week for me to work on something I’m happy to put out as a part of The Winds of Chaos, so in addition to my apologies, here is a piece of fiction inspired by last night’s session of Dungeons and Dragons. I fully intend to put out the next chapter of my TitansGrave adventure next week. In the mean time, enjoy!

– Bubbles


The first blow from his hammer sent cracks speeding through the ancient stonework. He grunted and swung again, chunks of stone falling at his feet.

‘Come on.’ He growled, throwing a glance over his shoulder. The third swing went straight through one of the arms holding the portal, a spray of rubble and dust flying through the air. The surface of the portal quivered and he smiled as he saw his erstwhile companions dealing with the problem on their side. The tear in reality widened slightly, free of the confines of the stone frame and then collapsed in on itself.

He turned to face the crowd of people running along the terrace, one hand wiping the sweat from his tattooed brow, the other readying his hammer.

‘Come on, Bertha, let’s show these idiots what the afterlife really looks like.’ The ornately decorated skull tattooed onto his head stretched as he grinned, the effect causing a few of the closer guards to stumble as they neared the heavily armoured dwarf. ‘You dare claim this to be the Raven Queen’s realm?’ He yelled, his voice carrying to the back of the crowd and out into the Elemental Chaos all around. ‘You dare blaspheme against death Herself? Run, so I can hunt you down as She hunts all. Run and pray for Her mercy. Run now and repent. Or face Her will in person.’

As he spoke, he opened his mind to the divinity of the Raven Queen, channelling her power through his stocky frame. Radiant silver light began to glow from his eyes and his warhammer, the energy filling him with strength.

A few of the onrushing mob threw down their weapons and ran, scattering from the terrace. A larger number stopped, their faces confused, clearly waiting for an order.

Grimmauld took a step forwards, his eyes flickering from one face to another. As Lavinia had once pointed out, he might not be clever, but he knew how to fight smart. He judged each opponent with a practiced eye, picking out the threats, ignoring the weak links.

‘Well? Are any of you man enough to face me? Or does it take a mo-’ A bolt of arcane energy cut him off, the force of the blow staggering him.

‘Your weak goddess has no power here, dwarf. I have the power. I am Death in this realm. Not you.’ Another bolt flew through the mob, the assembled soldiers parting for a robed figure. Grimmauld spat blood and looked up, trying to the find the wizard’s eyes in the shadows of his cowl. ‘I have been here for decades while my plans were enacted over centuries on the other planes. I have had years to practise my art and perfect my plots.

‘I will not be deprived of my revenge. I will not have my sacrifices be made worthless. I have lost too much through the time distortion in this plane for a stupid, blind, ignorant dwarf to come between me and victory.’

Grimmauld laughed.

‘I may be stupid, but I know to dodge a hammer.’ As he spoke, his spare hand flashed to his side and unhooked one of the light hammers hanging from his belt, throwing it in one smooth movement. The hammer sped through the air, a metallic blur, and cracked off the wizard’s collarbone.

The wizard screamed in pain and fell backwards.

‘KILL HIM!’ He shrieked.

The mob stirred itself, blades shining in the bizarre half-light, and charged towards the lone paladin.

Grimmauld gave himself to the rage he had been holding in check ever since they had entered Sigil.

‘Bless my strikes, my Lady, so that I may do Your work.’ He whispered, funnelling the radiance of his goddess into his hammer as he bull-rushed towards the charging guards.

The first rank collapsed as the full force of a berserk dwarf slammed into it. His hammer broke legs, caved in skulls and sent weapons flying. The mob pressed against him for a few minutes before withdrawing and regrouping. It bought him enough time to notice the myriad cuts and bruises he had suffered.

‘That the best you’ve got?’ He called out, panting heavily.

‘No, you fool. This is.’ The wizard, leaning on a burly human woman, pointed a finger at the dwarf. A thin beam of green energy slammed into Grimmauld’s left hand. There was a slight tingling sensation and then, as he watched, his arm began to turn to dust and blow away in the breeze. A cold numbness formed at the edge of the wound and then began to spread, racing the effects of the spell to his heart.

Standing on a terrace, surrounded by dead and dying men, abandoned in the Plane of Elemental Chaos, Grimmauld Stonehammer died.

*/*

He awoke as something warm brushed over his face.

‘Welcome back, Grimmauld Stonehammer, Champion of the Lady.’ What sounded like a thousand voices crashed through his head, the discordance forming words and then dancing away as soon as understanding arrived. ‘She has need of you yet. Death does not welcome you as you welcome it. Wake up, Paladin of Death, wake up and bring Her justice on swift wings.’

Grimmauld’s eyes snapped open. Above him the sky boiled as fire fought with earth for supremacy,

‘How?’ He croaked, his voice hoarse. ‘There was a spell and-’

‘Belief.’ The voices interrupted him. ‘This is the birthplace of life and potentiality. All that is, was and may be came from here. With so many people believing that She was here for so long, She was able to manifest a part of her essence. When your conviction and faith called upon it, She was able to act. And when you gave your life in Her cause, She found Her Champion.

‘Rise, Grimmauld Stonehammer. Accept your destiny. She has called, do you answer? DO YOU?’ The cacophony in his head reached a crescendo and he stood, feeling the radiant vitality coursing through his veins.

‘I answer.’

‘Then go and accept your new name and title, Grimmauld Stoneraven, cleanse this place of evil. She will aid you whilst She can. This place is powerful for now, a nexus of belief and fate. This will be your realm until you are needed once again. Know that She loves you and will welcome you to her Hall, as Her Champion, when the time is right.’

*/*

He doesn’t know how long it has been, he doesn’t know when he last ate, or slept, or spoke. He doesn’t know when he made the false hand attached to the stump of his left wrist. He knows only the eternal roiling chaos around him, the faces of the dead filling the palace, the love of his goddess in his heart and the companionship of the golem.

He halts his endless pacing as something shifts in the air around him. The room shimmers and ripples as if something is forcing reality apart.

‘Come on then.’ The querulous voice of a long lost friend cuts through the silence as an oval opens in the air next to him. ‘I don’t know how long it will last. If you’re coming home, do it now.’

He grips Bertha tightly and looks at the golem. The two share a moment of silent understanding and he turns to the portal.

‘Took you long enough.’

A Visit to the Orient

Today’s update is a bit different to the past few weeks. This is mainly because I haven’t had the time to write and proof the next chapter of The Winds of Chaos.

So instead, here is some Call of Cthulhu-inspired fiction (with minor steampunk elements) I wrote for an anthology. The main character is one I created as a spare during a campaign should the worst happen.

Enjoy!

– Bubbles


Think of me what you will, but after hearing my tale, do not think of me as a liar. The events which lead up to my current incarceration in New Bedlam are stranger than any fiction you care to name but, I swear in the name of God Almighty, are true and without error.

You have asked me many times why I shudder when passing darkened cells, why I wake screaming in the night. Well, gaoler, if you care to sit and listen to my tale, your questions will be answered. Perhaps not by the answers you expect, or those that you believe, but they are true none the less.

You may know a little of my history, you may know that I am of a wealthy background, that my father was an engineer of the highest degree. That my mother, may she rest in peace, was a gentle soul who became the patron of a great many institutions in her later years, this fine establishment among them.

You may also know that my brother is here also. On rare occasions I can hear his screams from the floor below, they travel here via that grate in the floor, that one by your left foot. Ah, I see you move your hobnailed boot slightly. Fear not, for madness is not contagious. At least, not the madness from which my brother suffers.

No, his madness is the madness of memory. Mine, you are no doubt aware, was the madness of forgetting, that which many esteemed scholars have taken to calling amnesia. Indeed, it was only a few days ago that I remembered myself and the reasons for my forgetting.

If you would care to start the phonograph that I am sure the warden entrusted you with, I will tell you my tale. There is no rush, I will wait while you set it up, I am sure that I will need the time to get my thoughts into order.

***

It began, I remember, with a summons. My father, brother and I were in the smoking room. The scent of pipe tobacco mingled with the grey smoke that flowed between us as we discussed the business and where to take it next.

My father, the esteemed engineer Matthew deWitt-Smythe was at this time in his early fifties. A strong man possessed of great vigour, a head of thick dark hair and voice that any in the theatre would kill for, his mental faculties were the envy of many in the Royal Society.

My brother and I take after our mother in our physiognomy but it was from our father that we inherited our thirst for knowledge and brilliant skills of reasoning and design.

There was a knock upon the door and our manservant entered, the rest of the staff having been dismissed to celebrate the birthday of our great Queen Victoria, and announced the presence of a certain Mr Jonathon Drake.

Naturally we had heard of him. Who, in our great Empire, that is anyone hasn’t? My father stood immediately, discarding his pipe and smoking jacket.

“Tell him that we will entertain him in the study.” He commanded, his voice firm. The manservant nodded and bowed before withdrawing. My brother and I shared a quick glance before following our father into the large room that served as a study.

Father was already sitting behind the large mahogany desk he had had hand crafted and was buttoning up his tails. With quick movements of his head he commanded my brother and I to sit in the large chairs that stood adjacent to it.

We sat, our own coats already on our backs for we had only just entered to smoking room before we were disturbed.

Let me tell you, gaoler, Mr Drake is much more impressive than any story you could possibly have heard of him. He was shown in scant seconds after we sat, and commanded the room instantly.

The man is of average height and build, his dress impeccable and tailored to him perfectly. His voice is melodic and persuasive, one is filled with the knowledge that to refuse him would be a crime most grave when one talks to him.

His burning eyes speak of his great enthusiasm and desire for life, but his mind, good God man, his mind is sharper than the finest stiletto blade. You know, of course, that he visited me yesterday, and I am happy to say that none of his characteristics have diminished in the slightest which is why I speak of him in the present. Many apologies, I digress.

My father was immediately the centre of this great man’s attention, his eyes barely noticing my brother and I as we sat opposite each other. The manservant moved a chair from the edge of the room and then backed out, bowing.

“Sit, won’t you?” My father asked, motioning towards the chair.

Drake merely glanced at it and then shook his head, his hand moving to the top of the cane he held. He tapped it slightly and then withdrew the cylinder that rose from it. A small puff of steam from the side indicated the presence of hidden machinery and my brother’s eyebrow rose slightly in admiration of the masterful engineering.

“I have no time, good sir. I am here but a few minutes before I must leave.” His spoke quickly, his tone intimating a need for great speed.

“Very well.” My father replied, indicating for the man to continue with a brisk nod.

“Her Majesty has received word of an impending rebellion from the tribes of the Dark Continent. She wishes to quash it before all is lost but our military is lacking the proper equipment for an effective response. The task Her Majesty’s Government gives to you, should you accept, is to develop and begin production of a repeating rifle. Payment will be negotiated at another time and the guidelines are here.”

He halted, the torrent of words stopping abruptly, laying the cylinder of paper upon the desk. My father picked up the paper and glanced at it. Without pause he opened a drawer and signed his name upon it, tore off the bottom of what I now guessed to be a contract and handed it Drake.

The visitor bowed and left, the room seeming empty for a second as his force of personality left it. There was silence for a few minutes, my father glanced at each of us and then back down at the paper in front of him.

“What is it, father?” My brother asked, noticing the perturbation that had entered the usually clear gaze of my father. He looked up and fixed my brother with a piercing look.

“Do you know of any alloy better than that which we currently use for our rifle mechanisms?” he asked, his fingers drumming against the sturdy wood of the desk. My brother considered the question and then shook his head.

“There is none. We have put thousands of hours into testing and that was the best we found.” My father grunted as my brother confirmed what he already knew.

“Then we must find a new one. The design I have been working upon fits these specifications perfectly but will put stresses upon the mechanism we have never encountered before.” He paused, his brows drawing together in thought. “Nathaniel,” said he, fixing me with a stern glance, “wire our offices to look for a new alloy. In the meantime we can try to best our previous results but I am not hopeful.”

“Of course, father, at once.” I replied, standing. “What timescale are we working to?” He grunted.

“Six months at the most.”

“Father!” Exclaimed my brother, standing in outrage. “We cannot do any worthwhile tests in that amount of time. We will surely not find anything of note either.” I left before I could hear my father’s reply, my head full of possible combinations of metals with which to fashion a stronger alloy in the large workshops my father owned.

***

I will wait a few minutes, I see you have need of a new recording device, no matter. Tell me gaoler, in this wonderful Golden Age of Science and Rationalism, do you believe that we have conquered all, have discovered everything of worth?

Ah. I see you nod. I would once have agreed with you. Working with my father’s rational, scientific mind for so many years created in me a sense of complete rationalism. I would scarcely pay attention to the superstitions of the servants, knowing as I did that there was only what we already knew.

Well, I tell you that I was wrong, dreadfully wrong. I can tell that we have a few more minutes before the pressure that machine requires to begin recording again builds fully so let me tell you something for your ears only.

Even now, behind these thick walls and with fine fellows like you guarding me, I do not feel safe. There are things out there, things of which I should wish not to know, and they stalk the dark places of the world, waiting for their time to come again.

But there, the needle begins to swing to the top again. You had better slide a new cylinder into the machine for my story is not yet done. I can tell you still believe what I say for you have no doubt met the great Jonathon Drake.

Keep that belief foremost in your mind for it will save your soul. If you know what walks in the spaces between worlds, you can guard against them.

But let me recommence with my account.

***

Much to our surprise, it took only a few short weeks for one of our offices to send a telegram to us, claiming to have found the requisite metals. Upon hearing the news my father began organising the expedition and within three days our luggage was packed and we were boarding the ferry for France.

The voyage passed without incident, the great chimneys above the enormous steam engine blowing out thick plumes of white smoke as massive propellers, barely visible below the clear waters of the Channel, span at an incredible rate.

I should very much like to journey on that ferry again, it was a smooth ride and brought to mind memories of my own childhood. A mechanical wonder in this age of wonders.

We sped through rural France, our internal combustion engine humming pleasantly, the modifications father had added to it producing an extra ten horsepower and we easily overtook the two or three other motorists we found.

We were heading, of course, for Paris and the famous Parisian skydocks. We were still a fair distance from them when we first saw them. Massive tethered balloons of faint reds in the setting sun, joined by metal catwalks and platforms.

As we drew closer, we began to make out a dark blurry mass moving across them and I knew that we were witnessing the movement of people. There was a deep, repetitive noise from above and I looked up, the massive corpulent bulk of an airship pushed itself through the air. The propellers glinted in the fading sunlight and lanterns began winking into existence along her length as she ponderously swung about into position to dock.

We began passing more motorists, their faces looking upon our transportation with envy as we maneuvered past them quickly, as well as encountering increasing crowds of pedestrians.

It took us barely an hour to make our way through the mass of people crowding the foot of the skydocks and leave our motor car with a trusted fellow.

You may look incredulous at how short an amount of time that is, but my father was a master engineer. Only now are they making motor cars as fast as his. It is a shame that his is lost to us forever. Oh, nothing untoward happened to it, it was merely stolen.

I digress again, my apologies. In no time at all, we had carried our trunks to the elevation tubes that led up to the skydocks and had ascended. The brass cylinders fashioned for riding in were cramped and warm, but our journey was pleasant enough and we were presently walking upon the tightly woven wires of the aerial pathway.

The wind was peculiarly strong to both mine and my brother’s senses, although our father reassured us that it was the norm for such altitudes, and the surfaces upon which we walked swayed alarmingly every minute or so.

We summoned our confidence in man-made artifice and crossed slowly, my brother’s fear of heights preventing him from looking upon the panorama below.

Paris was laid out below us, the lights of its many boulevards glowing as fireflies and the myriad sounds of a city at night drifted towards us, borne on leisurely winds. That, dear fellow, is the last time I was ever comfortable in the dark.

Our zeppelin was large, one of the largest of its kind, and was a magnificent spectacle of engineering. My father had bought her a year previously and had spent a large quantity of last year’s profits rebuilding her internal structure.

From the outside, she looked like a standard Britannia-class zeppelin, but inside, inside she was a mobile house. My father had turned her entire bow section into an office, the aft was storerooms, a galley and the sleeping quarters and the large library and archive with mobile wireless and telegram was situated firmly between the two areas.

I believe that she lies on the bottom of the ocean now, destroyed in the war that has recently ended. It is a pity, for we shall never see her like again. Excuse my melancholia, I am saddened still by her loss.

Our journey commenced upon our embarkation. The chief engineer had kept her engine at full pressure for our arrival and we were away. The magnificent navigational propellers span lazily, keeping us firmly on course.

The first hints of danger were discovered that morning.

My father, as was his wont, woke early and decided to take his morning constitutional walking the length of the airship. He woke my brother and me as he passed our rooms, intending, I think, to discuss business matters with us.

But no sooner had my brother joined us, for I sleep lightly and he heavily, than a shock ran through the whole ship.

“TO THE ENGINE!” My father exclaimed, divining the source of the disturbance immediately and racing towards the cavernous engine room. We reached it within minutes to find a heated argument had broken out between two of the crew members.

One, a tall, heavily built European was shouting furiously at the small Oriental man in front of him, conversing in a language I am not able to understand. My father began to join in, his strong voice reaching over the loud tones in front of us.

The two turned and looked at us, the European accusing the Oriental of sabotage. For his part the Oriental didn’t deny the accusation, instead he stood tall, his face proud.

“Well, man? What have you to say for yourself?” My father demanded, his face red with apoplexy.

“It better to abandon trip now.” He replied in broken English. “Death and disaster wait.”

With that he walked up to my father, pressed something into his palm and walked straight out of the room. I am told he walked into the small brig we possessed and sat there, uncomplaining, for the rest of the journey.

Had we listened to him, I would not be here now. Ah, I long for the ignorance I still possessed when my father ordered the engine fixed and our course to resume. My father swept out of the engine room, commanding my brother and I to follow.

We did so, following his straight back to the library. When we arrived, he locked the door and placed a curious totem upon one of the desks.

Roughly the size of my palm and fashioned from some sort of yellow metal, although it was not gold, the thing inspired a sense of dread and revulsion in me. The head was that of a crocodilian reptile resting atop a long sinuous body ending in a snake’s tail with two pairs of ghastly, humanlike arms situated roughly halfway along it.

The blasphemous animal seemed to glow in its own light and my brother hastily asked my father to hide it in one of the safe’s dotted around the walls. Father agreed, turning the blasphemous thing over and over in his hands, his eyes clouded and thoughtful. I believe he was attempting to identify the mysterious substance from which it was fashioned.

***

You must change the cylinder again, my good man. Have you any questions, or points you would like clarifying so far? The Oriental? He was of average height for his race, with jet black hair and a mean glance.

I was uncomfortable in his presence, something of his odour quite upset my stomach and I was glad he left our presence as quickly as he did.

Listen, my brother is awake. Yes, those screams are his. The candles have died out in his room again, no doubt. The dark holds more horrors for him than it does for me. Ah, but that comes later in my tale.

May I ask why the warden is taking such an interest in my story? Why he is not content with the temporary account that you could recount from memory, rather than the expensive recording he has asked you to make?

WHAT?! Others are going after the alloy?!

Nay, you need not call for the man outside, I am quite myself. Please forgive my outburst. I fear that you shall not see them again and that its strength will grow.

Should they return, the ranks of patients here will swell, I am in doubt of that. Is the machine ready? Ah, we have a few minutes more before the pressure is sufficient.

Perhaps I should tell you of my education? No, no that is surely on my file. I am sorry. I grow weary, recounting this tale, remembering that which I wish to forget is a tiring task. No, do not go. I am quite up to it. I merely beg your forgiveness for not providing much in the way of diverting conversation while we wait.

Ah. It is ready. I shall recommence my tale then.

***

My father locked that hideous token away from sight after five more minutes. The three of us sat in silence, occasionally glancing at each other, for the most part looking to the window or the timepiece ticking away the eternal hours of our journey.

Time, it seems, moves inversely relative to the wishes of those subjected to it. Nothing more of import happened during our journey, the engines continued unabated, the crew worked as admirably as ever and my father soon disappeared into his private study to attend to business matters.

We docked in Shanghai without error or fuss, our pre-arranged transport meeting us. The large, ground car had ample room for our cases and the three of us, as well as the manager of our office in that region. My father and he immediately began discussing business, leaving my brother and I to amuse ourselves.

I had been reading for an hour, the latest of Richard Hycroft’s if you are familiar with his work, when my father cleared his throat loudly in that particular manner of his. I looked up at once, my brother a second later with his customary tardiness.

“Jensen has described the properties of an alloy that should serve our purposes most admirably.” He said, the thickset, heavy featured Dutchman at his side nodding sombrely. “It is mined only from a few caves found within the local foothills. Our journey should last no more than another two hours.” He paused and looked at both of us. “Today we shall set up a field office from where we can pay the local hired help and administrate the operation, tomorrow we shall visit the mine and inspect the workings and alloy ourselves.”
He turned and looked out of the window, dismissing us abruptly. I looked back at the leaves of my book, immersing myself in the adventurer’s quest to find a hidden gem.

I had just turned the penultimate page when the combustion engine of our ground car stopped. The hissing of various pipes as they vented steam filled the clear air and I stepped out, my shoes kicking up dust from the dry earth.

My brother descended as well, his lips downturned in an unpleasant sneer. I could tell he cared little for the conditions in which we found ourselves. The Dutchman stepped down, whistling for attendants. When a few arrived, short men from all over the globe wearing wide hats and dirty clothes, he ordered them to take our luggage and place it in the tents we had had provided for us.

My father looked around and nodded once in satisfaction, striding confidently off to the largest tent in the area. My brother followed and I remained behind, as was my habit, to oversee the proper porterage of the equipment we had brought from London.

I found them an hour later, after I unpacked and assembled everything of the utmost import, leaving the rest in the capable hands of the site manager. Father was in a heated argument with a pale skinned German, his thinning hair exposed by the removal of the hat he was turning in his square hands.

My brother relayed to me that the German was in charge of the latest of a series of work crews who refused to enter the caves and mine. Father had asked him why this had been happening and the answer had been that a daemon lives within.

I frowned at the simpleton’s foolishness and left to attend to other matters, my stomach reminding me that it had not been filled in a while.

Of course, had we listened to him, we would not be in our present situation but that is always the error of the educated isn’t it? Dismissing the superstitions of others as folly. I had a quiet meal, my brother joining me after a few minutes. We ate in silence and I stood to leave as my father walked in.

I met his eyes and he gave me a brisk nod, indicating that he wished for me to perform my work. I nodded and walked out of the tent, my eyes watering slightly as the bright evening sun lanced into them. I paused on the threshold, blinking rapidly, and was startled by the German.

“Bitte, Herr deWitte-Smythe, don’t go there.” He mumbled, his English good but his accent thick. “There is a darkness in those hills.” He looked on the verge of a breakdown and as I opened my mouth to reply he shook his head. “The locals say it looks like this.” He pulled out a talisman of similar shape to the one we had been given on the zeppelin and I felt my face pale in surprise. “Bitte, don’t go there.” He repeated and walked off, shaking his head sadly.

I remained, frozen in shock, for a few minutes before shaking off the fugue and began to go about my duties with a hint of trepidation.

The evening passed swiftly as I calibrated the mechanisms and equipment of our trade, my fingers swiftly turning black with oil and grease, one arm being scalded slightly as a blast of steam erupted from an emergency valve on the portable press we had brought with us to fashion the ore into ingots.

I wrapped my arm in cooling herbs and bandages, the injury one of many caused by my occasional inattentiveness, and pressed on as best I could. I knew my brother would not join me, for he much preferred the theoretical side of our business to the practical but I hoped my father would so that I could discuss the German’s revelation with him. Alas, he closeted himself in his tent with my brother for the rest of the day and I would not see him until early the next morning.

I must say, I slept poorly that night, dark portents and thoughts of pain drifting around my head until the small hours of the morning and it was with some relief that I passed into oblivion sometime after three according to my pocket watch, which I had checked in the low light of the oil lamp.

I was woken early by my father and I rose and dressed with as much haste as I could, all the while ignoring the sick feeling of ill omen in my stomach.

***

Perhaps it is fitting that the machine runs out there, my tale is almost over and I feel would be better represented without interruption during its climax.
Do you have any questions at this juncture? Hmmm? Oh, the superstitions? Yes, I had heard that the crews working for that office had reported several different ones and had frequently had to be replaced for subordination. I never attributed to them an ounce of thought though, something which I am quite certain my father and brother also did not.

Perhaps I should have, maybe if I had been possessed of a sympathetic ear I would never have entered this establishment. But is it not the purpose of Science to debunk such antique superstitions? That is what I told myself then and that is what I dearly wish I could tell myself now. Maybe in time I will able to deceive myself in that manner again, until then I take refuge in the Lord and pray that the darkness does not contain anything other than itself.

You are surprised that I follow God? Yes, I suppose that is to be expected. Was not my grandfather responsible for some of the most vehement anti-Christian literature of his age? The Lord was my solace during my amnesia and with the return of my memories, I turn to Him still for He protects me from that which should not exist.

I speak not of daemons, although that is what it may be, I speak of everything unnatural on this Earth of ours. I fear that what we found is the not the only aberration.

But you are ready I see, shall I conclude my account of what happened, or have you more questions? No? Are you sure? Very well.

***

As if in contrast to the portentous feeling I awoke with, the day dawned bright and clear. My father had already assembled the portable equipment we would be travelling with and was overseeing the correct loading of it into various small cases when I stepped from my tent.

The sun was bright, for it was just after dawn, and I could see many of the workforce were either returning from their shift, dusty and footsore, or were in the process of leaving for their shift at the local quarry.

Ah, I fear I have not fully explained our interest in the area. My father bought the stakes over there on a trip a decade or so before the commencement of my tale. The hills nearby were full of various minerals and ores that we could use in the production, and refinement, of arms for Her Majesty’s army and various other, smaller, contractors.

Indeed, I see your leg bears one of our stamps. An older model, one that has been discontinued by the looks of it. A replacement for your own? You lost it in battle? Dear fellow, take this scrip to my offices, I am reassured the company has continued trading, and they will provide you a replacement free of charge. The newer models utilise hydraulics in place of tendons for smoother movement, so I am told.

Alas, I digress. My mind does not wish to recall the events of that day. I beg your forgiveness.

We left the camp roughly an hour after the sun had risen properly and began our walk through the humid foliage that bordered it. The caves we sought were within the treeline but of a significantly higher altitude than our camp itself.

My brother walked ahead of me, his revolving rifle slung on his back in case of game or predators. We had been warned of bandits being active in the area and my father and I were also armed accordingly, my father with his large hunting rifle and myself with a compact revolving pistol of my own design. Not that our weapons availed us much, but that comes later in my narrative.

The workers behind us began to grow restless as we approached the first of the caves that we sought, they took to muttering between themselves and throwing the odd furtive glance in our direction. It unsettled me, I don’t mind telling you, but my father and brother seemed as unflappable as ever.

Five minutes after this phenomenon began, we reached the yawning cavernous entrance of the main cave. Within, we were told, one could follow the natural passageway through the hillside and emerge in any of caves in the surrounding locale.

A curious sickening smell emanated from the large hole and it was with some trepidation that I followed my father and brother inside. The workers remained outside, their job to begin erecting the small field laboratory that my father had ordered them bring.

We remained armed, more from unwillingness to trust the workers with our weapons than anything else, and we each carried a burning brand, the flickering light reflecting eerily from the wet rock of the cave’s entrance.

We walked slowly, following the excavated rock face, our torches illuminating a wide circle that showed us a long, straight tunnel of interminable length, roughly eight feet wide. The floor was rock covered in a slight layer of dust and we could see areas of it had been brushed clean by the footsteps of those souls assigned to work here.

I began to shiver as we followed the tunnel, my thin cotton shirt providing little protection against the chill air of the subterranean passage. After ten minutes of walking, the tunnel began to wind this way and that, its floor taking on a distinct downwards slope.

Fortunately we remained true to the excavations, ignoring the myriad side passages we passed by, and I began to relax slightly, persuading myself that it had all been a superstition I had been infected with.

This feeling did not last very long. As we progressed into the stygian depths and the signs of excavation began to fade around us, my father declaring we would continue because he wished to explore what he could of the cave’s main passageway, we began to find other signs of human visitation.

It was as I was igniting the third of my eight torches upon the embers of the previous that I saw it. A glimmer of gold in the flickering light down the nearest of the side passages. I called out to my father, my voice echoing hollowly from the warped rock walls, and he stepped past me, heading for it.

My brother brushed me aside and followed suit with his usual abruptness. It was as I arrived next to them that I heard the faint stirrings of movement. I disregarded the subtle noises as my ears playing tricks upon me, for who or what could be down there without a light source such as our torches?

The firelight fell upon a block of what seemed to be carved gold. Roughly twelve feet square and three high, it had the appearance of some primordial altars I had been lucky enough to observe in a private exhibit at the British Museum. Carved icons covered its sides, men bent over in postures of extreme respect, all kneeling before the sinuous figure of the totem we had been given upon the airship.

I gasped in recognition and I could see my brother was in no small amount of shock either. My father was unfazed and knelt down to inspect the block closer. That is when it happened.

The sounds of movement intensified and my brother unslung his rifle, spinning round to identify the source of the noise. I looked around too, trying futilely to see beyond the circle of firelight surrounding us.

My father, absorbed in his task, paid our actions no heed. He remained crouched by the altar, his torch held near it. My brother and I must have turned at the same time, our backs momentarily towards him and that is when it happened.

My father, ordinarily a quiet man, screamed. His scream possessed qualities of primal fear and pain and my brother and I span back round, our torches held high. There was no sign of our father, or his torch. Instead, there was a dark, sinuous shape resting at the edge of the light.

My brother immediately began to fire upon it. The noise of his rifle was deafening, the crank operated drum spinning as fast as he could get it to. It took less than a minute for my brother to empty it of all ammunition and the thing came forwards, unharmed.

It was tall, standing fully erect it would likely have been ten feet high and maybe six across. The majority of it was covered in scales of a dull, golden sheen. The scales covered a serpent’s body, muscles rippling smoothly under them as it came closer to us.

The fire reflected from the long thin pupils of a crocodilian as it opened its massive jaws and snapped them closed around my brother’s forearms. Its speed was terrifying and he had no chance to move, you must understand that it moved like quicksilver.

He screamed and staggered backwards, blood spraying into the air. His scream pierced the fog of horror that had filled my mind and my torch dropped from my nerveless fingers as it turned its eyes upon me. I caught one last glimpse of it before fear overrode reason and I fled from that place, following my brother’s panicked flight. Somehow we made it to the surface, my brother collapsing as the sunlight hit him, his face pale from blood loss.

But it was the last sight I had of that Hell-spawned creature that forcefully pushed all reason and memory from my mind. For you see, in the last flames of torch before it was extinguished by the pool of blood into which it fell, I saw my father’s headless body and the human arms of the creature holding his head, its mouth open and it eyes staring into my soul. And beyond that, tens of pairs of crocodilian eyes.

TitansGrave: The Winds of Chaos – Chapter Three of Twelve

Fantasy AGE, TitansGrave, TitansGrave: The Ashes of Valkana Adventure Series and all associated logos are trademarks of Green Ronin Publishling LLC.

TitansGrave: The Ashes of Valkana and its associated logo is a trademark of Geek and Sundry.

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Chapter Three – The Broken Gear Safe-house

The last chapter should have ended with the PCs spotting, or being guided towards, a small figure fleeing from Dek’s shop and heading further into the city. The gang member has stolen an ancient magical item and is making his way towards a safe-house as quickly as he can. The following chase always ends at the safe-house, it is the winner of the chase that determines the difficulty of the rest of the chapter.

Once the PCs have entered the safe-house, they are in a hostile environment that is trapped and host to NPCs that will attack them on sight. The chapter ends with the PCs fleeing an approaching cyborg security force into a mysterious passage.

Scene One – Combat

The opening scene of this chapter is a foot chase through the city as the PCs follow a fleeing member of the Broken Gear gang. In game terms, after all characters have rolled initiative this scene acts as a TN 13 Constitution (Running)/Dexterity (Acrobatics) advanced test with a success threshold PER CHARACTER of 20.

Should the gang member (using the profile found in the ‘NPC Profiles’ section below) reach this threshold first, they are free and clear. The player characters see the gang member closing the front door of a ramshackle building on the outskirts of Vorakis a few yards ahead of them. In this case, the item the gang member has stolen is found at the end of the chapter, where indicated, and the gang is considered On Alert.

Should one or more of the PCs reach this threshold first, they catch the fleeing gang member as they reach the door of the building. If this is the case, the gang member will ask for mercy and tell the PCs anything they want to know as well as surrendering the item they stole from Dek’s shop.

The building is a Broken Gear safe-house and the gang headquarters for this district. The gang member was told to retrieve an item and get it back to this building as soon as possible so the gang could pass it on to their client.

The item itself is a large pendant covered in arcane glyphs and sigils that is obviously missing a large crystal in its centre. PCs are welcome to attempt to identify what it is but the most they can determine is that it has something to do with ‘control’, this requires a successful TN 11 Intelligence (Arcane Lore required).

The Chase

The gang member will flee on their turn in the initiative order. They have access to the following Stunts.

SP Cost Stunt
1 VAULT: Gain +1 towards the Success Threshold. Can only be taken once per turn.
3 SPRINT: Gain +2 towards the Success Threshold. Can only be taken once per turn.
2 or 3 OBSTACLE: Lose 1 Success or 2 Successes from the Success Threshold and create a -1 or -2 modifier for the PCs that lasts until the start of your next turn.
6 CYBORG PATROL: A cyborg patrol appears in front of the PCs. They must individually sacrifice a success or suffer a -3 penalty to their next roll.

Players may do anything they wish on their turn. The gang member benefits from +2 Defence for the duration of this scene as they continue to run and may only be attacked once per turn. Should the players manage to reduce the gang member to 0 health, they fall in front of the Broken Gear safe-house with a note on their body containing their orders as described above. In addition to this, every turn the player attacks without giving chase, the gang member has a Defence increase/decrease equal to the difference in the Success Threshold of the gang member vs. the attacking player.

Should a PC give chase, they have access to the following Stunts:

SP Cost Stunt
1 VAULT: Gain +1 towards the Success Threshold. Can only be taken once per turn.
3 SPRINT: Gain +2 towards the Success Threshold. Can only be taken once per turn.
2 or 3 OBSTACLE: Lose 1 Success or 2 Successes from the Success Threshold and create a -1 or -2 modifier for the gang member that lasts until the start of your next turn.

Scene Two – Exploration, Combat (optional)

The front door of the safe-house opens into a long hallway, the only visible exit a staircase at the far end. The floor is a series of hexagonal tiles covered a light layer of dust, each one inlaid with the Broken Gear symbol of the gang.

Succeeding on a TN 15 Perception (Seeing) test will reveal that some effort has been made to sweep the tiles clear of dust. Succeeding on another TN 13 Perception (Seeing) test will reveal that each inlaid gear (with the exception of one tile as described below) has a single broken tooth out of the six that adorn them. This is the key to making it across the floor without triggering the trap. Each broken tooth points to an adjoining hexagonal tile.

If you want to make this map yourself, the floor is comprised of nine rows of hexagonal tiles, with five tiles to a row. Each tile, as expected, is connected to six other tiles (with the exception of those on the first and last rows) and the broken teeth on the gears point towards the correct tile to step on. A third successful TN 13 Perception (Seeing) test will reveal that the gear inlaid into one tile in the first row is surrounded by has all but one tooth broken. This is the first tile in the sequence, the single tooth points towards the correct tile to stand on.

If a PC steps on any tile other than the one indicated by a broken gear tooth, they trigger a bell that can be heard throughout the building and the gang members are considered On Alert.

Crossing the floor reveals that the staircase is, indeed, the only exit from this hallway. The stairs themselves are in good repair and lead into a large open plan room that takes up most of the top floor of the building. This room is a combined kitchen/leisure area and has several storage lockers along one wall. These lockers are unlocked and are full of tinned food and bottled drinks.

The opposite wall to the storage lockers has a single door in it as does the wall opposite the entrance. Succeeding on a TN 11 Dexterity (Stealth) test allows the PCs to cross the room silently towards either of these doors, two failures (one failure by two PCs) grants the gang members the On Alert condition.

The door opposite the storage lockers is unlocked and leads into a barracks of sorts. Succeeding on a TN 11 Perception (Hearing) test allows a PC to hear the sounds of slow, muffled breathing coming through this door if the gang members are not considered On Alert. If they are, no sounds can be heard through the door.

Opening the door reveals a series of bunk beds and foot lockers. If the gang members are not On Alert, there are six gang members asleep in this room. If the players choose to attack a sleeping gang member with anything other than a mêlée weapon, or a silent spell, have them roll initiative with the gang members being surprised for the first round of combat. Mêlée attacks, and silent spells, hit automatically and kill the target in one hit.

Ranged weapons hit and kill automatically but trigger combat as described above. Note, players may opt to merely lock the door with a successful TN 11 Dexterity (Lock Picking required) test. If they come up with an alternate method for closing the door (which opens into the barracks), reward them for their creativity.

If the gang members are On Alert, this room is empty of gang members. The footlockers contain various personal items of little value (although you are welcome to embellish what is within them and tailor their contents to your campaign) but among them are 15 gold pieces, one blaster, five Fulgin M batteries and a set of Scout Armour.

The other door leads to another staircase, this one leading down.

Scene Three – Combat

The stairs lead down into a large room with tables and chairs scattered all over. A large board on one wall has a floor plan of what the PCs may recognise as Dek’s shop pinned onto it. Several doors are circled and a map next to it shows what seems to be a variety of escape routes through the city. Opposite this board is a curtained off area, currently dark, and between the two (opposite the staircase) is a wooden door next to a weapon rack.

This is a planning/briefing room and, if the gang members are On Alert, is where the six gang members from the barracks are waiting, along with a taller man wielding a two-handed sword. If the gang members are not On Alert, the room is empty save for the tall man (in actuality, a half-orc) who is bent over a large table studying a detailed map of some sort of maze. His sword is in a weapon rack next to the only visible door leading out of this room. When combat begins, he will spend his first action crossing the room to arm himself.

Any player who succeeds on two TN 15 Dexterity (Stealth) tests may sneak around the edges of the room (if the gang is not On Alert) and steal this sword. Succeeding on this also allows them to attack the half-orc once before combat begins.

The combat itself functions as a normal fight, using the appropriate profiles found in the ‘NPC Profiles’ section. The cluttered state of the room means all characters move at half their speed, but provides limited cover. If a character ducks behind a desk, they gain a +2 bonus to their Defence against ranged attacks, as well as +2 Armour against all attacks, until they stand up. It costs a Minor Action to duck in this manner, but standing is treated as a Free Action.

The half-orc’s sword is a power weapon (included in the profile below) that can run for two minutes (eight rounds of combat) before its battery runs out. After this, it is treated as a normal two-handed sword until the half-orc spends a Minor Action to replace the battery, giving it another forty rounds of power.

Once the combat has been resolved, the players are now free to explore this room. If the half-orc’s body is examined after death, he has two Fulgin M batteries upon him, as well as his power sword and a light blaster pistol.

The curtained off area, if explored, is revealed to be a small office with a desk, a chair and a hand-held communicator. The desk has two drawers in it, one of which holds three Fulgin M batteries and the other contains a note (see Handout One), as well as the item stolen from Dek’s shop.

The door opposite the stairs leads into a small storage area containing boxes of food and supplies.

When the PCs leave this storage room, they hear a quiet grinding sound as the back wall slides to one side and reveals a darkened tunnel leading down into the earth.

When a PC leaves this room, read the following:

As your foot crosses the threshold into the main room, two things happen. The first is that a quiet click and grinding sound comes from behind you. You turn to look and see a section of the wall has disappeared, to be replaced with a dimly lit tunnel leading downwards.

As you turn, the second thing reminds you of the vicious justice you saw meted out earlier in the day. A chorus of mechanical voices rings out loud and clear.

“This is the Vorakis Security Force. Please remain calm and await pacification.”

As the harsh tones fade away there is a loud thump and a crack appears in the far wall of the room, the room you guess to lead to the street. There is another thump and the crack widens, dust spilling into the room.

NPC Profiles

Broken Gear Gang Members
Abilities (Focuses)
2 Accuracy (Blaster Pistols)
0 Communication
1 Constitution
2 Dexterity
2 Fighting
0 Intelligence
1 Perception (Seeing)
1 Strength
1 Willpower
Speed Health Defence Armour Rating
12     / 15 12 3
Weapon Attack Roll Damage Range
Light Blaster Pistol +4 1d6+3 10/20
Dagger +2 1d6+2
Favoured Stunts: Knock Prone, Lightning Attack

Talents: Armour Training (Novice)

Weapon Groups: Brawling, Light Blades, and Blaster Pistols

Equipment: Light blaster pistol, light leather armour, dagger

Gang Members
Vartak Half-Ear
Abilities (Focuses)
2 Accuracy
0 Communication
1 Constitution
2 Dexterity
3 Fighting (Heavy Blades)
0 Intelligence
1 Perception (Seeing)
3 Strength
1 Willpower
Speed Health Defence Armour Rating
12     / 20 12 3
Weapon Attack Roll Damage Range
Light Blaster Pistol +2 1d6+3 10/20
Two-handed Sword (powered) +5 3d6+5
Two-handed Sword (unpowered) +5 3d6+3
Favoured Stunts: Knock Prone, Mighty Blow

Talents: Armour Training (Novice)

Weapon Groups: Brawling, Heavy Blades, and Blaster Pistols

Equipment: Light blaster pistol, light leather armour, two-handed power sword

Bruiser

Handouts

Handout One:

Found in a folder labelled ‘Kertin’.

Vartak,

As per our usual arrangement, I have an item of interest I wish you to obtain. The amulet can be found in Dek Steelhand’s shop in the Grime. The attached picture contains all the information you need about how the item looks.

Payment will be through the usual channels.

K.”


Read Chapter Four here.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

– Bubbles

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