Dr. Bouchet, I Presume [Adventure]

Discussion of GMing 1879. Warning: Here there be spoilers!
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Dr. Bouchet, I Presume [Adventure]

Post by Slimcreeper » Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:23 pm

First draft of a Gruv Adventure!

To Complete
Stat Sons & saurid guards, Gatr’venoum & saurids, choose some mooks for Jack to hire. Details of framing party for murder.

The party is called on to check on a group of scientists that are studying a curious stepwell. The scientists were attacked by a group of hostile saurids after being paid by a team from the Sons of Thoth. The Sons have kidnapped the head scientists as well as all of the notes and are framing the Saurids. Once they’ve thrown the scent off themselves, they will return to the stepwell with the head scientists and force them to continue their studies but turn over all of their research.

In the bottom of the step well there is an arch, with one leg in the water and one out. Due to some unknown property of the stone, water flows up the surface of the stone arch and pours off from a spout in the center of the arch. It is an elegant fountain, and has been operating long enough for the water falling from the spout to have worn down the stone below it. But the company investigating is most interesting in understanding how this pump seems to be working without any energy source.

They might be able to learn something about how it works, though the ability to replicate it will be decades in the future. The underside of the arch has an unusual nanotechnology surface that tends to pull the water upwards. Furthermore, there are a number of unique fish living in the pond that produce a biological agent that increases the water’s surface tension. The water flow can be disrupted by storms or a physical barrier around the arch, but it will restart as soon as conditions allow.

The party will need to investigate the well and discover that the Saurid tribe no longer has the scientists. They will need to find the Sons and stage a daring rescue.

What have the party members been doing? Where are they staying?

Get Assignment
The Faraday Firm, Gruv is hired by an officer of Monger & Sons. Monger & Sons is a small but ambitious engineering firm trying to jumpstart their fortunes in the Gruv.

The Faraday Firm, Gruv is still moving into their offices, which are to a certain extent still being built. There are crates and cabinets in stacks. There is half-assembled Gruv-made furniture and office supplies in boxes. The only thing that is completely established is the liquor cabinet. Mr. Verne offers you a drink and invites you to do the best you can as far as finding a seat. “Apologies, my friends, we are still sorting things out. But business doesn’t wait on our convenience.”

They are introduced to Harold Nougat of Grumbacher Industries. He wants to hire them to find out why he isn’t getting any updates from a group of scientists near Mt. Somersville. They had been sending daily dispatches, mostly without new developments. But this is the second day and they are concerned. The pay rate is £6 per day.

Main rivals are Ryan and Sons. It is a family business. Interestingly, the Ryans are a family that LGF converted almost entirely to dwarves. They are the only such case known, at least in the UK. They are engineers and brassmen, primarily, and extremely ambitious.

Dramatis Personae
Dr. Edward Alexander Bouchet
A Black American physicist with a degree from Yale. In fact, the only Black American with a degree from Yale. He left his native Connecticut where he was denied opportunities due to his race. He found racism to be just as big a problem in London, but the need for his skill set in the Gruv was in such demand that they managed to overlook his complexion.
Harold Nougat
Officer in Grumbacher Industries firm. Human man about 45 years old, portly and black-haired with a protruding unibrow. He mostly supervises the importation of supplies and research teams.
Jack Ryan
Fair of hair and skin, this dwarf might be tending to grey, but it is hard to tell. He’s perennially grouchy and full of energy. Patriarch of Ryan and Sons. He is furious that Nougat would implicate him or his family and may seem to protest too loudly. In fact, they are completely innocent. He may be a source of work later, as long as they don’t anger him too much. If he is angered, he might send a few of his nephews and nieces to race the party to the work site. In this case, the party might need to rescue the Ryans.
Fredrick Verne, Solicitor.
Nearly as old as Sir Faraday, Mr. Verne was the driving force behind the Faraday Firm’s expansion into discrete investigative services, which has proven to be even more profitable than the law some years. He is heading up the Gruv division. He is tall and aristocratic, with a sense of adventure and a taste for luxury in equal measure.
Saurid Shaman, PR 3. Leader of the Saruid war party that captured the doctor. While his warriors are quite pleased with their acquisitions and are taking the loss of their fellows as a matter of course, he was surprised with his own visceral reaction to seeing his people die in the service of causes that only mattered to the newcomers.
Sons of Thoth Cell
- Mr. Paris Vance - South
Elf Mage, PR 6 Journeyman. Rapidly becoming an expert in the geology of the Gruv. He is connected with many of the most important people in Fort Alice. Proving him to be a scoundrel will be difficult, to say the least. In addition to his other skills, he is a noted craftsman and mechanic.
- Dr. Aceline Rambeau - West
Human Weird Scientist, PR 3. Prometheum. Rambeau was driven from France for the predictable offences of the Prometheum. She is extremely ambitious, to the point that it is a liability. She believes what is good for Dr. Rambeau is good for the Sons and so is good for all of humanity. She’s not exactly the stereotypical mad scientist, but just give her a few years.
- Honorable Beatrice Grayson-Burnett - East
Honorable Beatrice Grayson-Burnett An independent researcher based in Fort Alice, she is a human Scientist (PR 5) focusing on chemistry. She is currently seeking a method to resume smuggling operations to get splithee back to earth.
- Madhubala Nepali - North
She is a Troll Soldier, PR 5. It is extremely unusual for someone of her background to be invited into the Sons, but Paris owes his life to her several times over and is deeply in love with her, beginning before her transformation. He has advocated relentlessly for her inclusion. She is heavily tattooed and wears a golden ring through her septum, but otherwise dresses in western clothing. She accepts Vance’s devotion as her due and quietly cares for him in her own way. She is soft-spoken and has become quite knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the Gruv and is constantly adding to a beautiful illustrated notebook. She finds the land oppressively hot, but beautiful nevertheless.
- Mr. Bernard Bryce - North
Human Medium, PR 3. He prefers to stay behind the scenes, manipulating people to his designs. He is as much a thief as a scholar.
- Mr. William North - North
A dwarf Big Game Hunter, PR 3. He is not very academically minded for a Son, but particularly cruel and violent. He has studied Egyptian history, but is now mostly relegated to enforcer.
- Ms. Francis Jones - North
A human Explorer (PR 3), Jones is dedicated to mapping the Gruv in its entirety. She often alters maps to conceal Sons discoveries.
- Mrs. Harriette Lyttelton - North
Lyttelton is a troll Aristocrat who was sent to the Gruv by her family after undergoing LGF. Bitter at being cast aside, she was an easy target for Vance to recruit. While well educated, she is most commonly used in cases where her saber might bite deepest.

Tentative Timeline
Session 1 - get the mission, get ready to leave, Train Ride
Session 2 - Framed in Burlington, on the trail, Find the camp (cliffhanger)
Session 3 - Investigate the camp, talk to Saurids, (if they fight the Saurids this is probably the end of the session)
Session 4 - Find Dr. Bouchet, get him back to camp, denoumount.

Getting Ready to Leave
Whatever the party needs to do.The initial travel will be via rail to camp Burlington and only take about a day. The stepwell is located in a valley about 3 day’s travel via Hunchbeak. They will need to buy their own supplies, including mountain gear.

Mr. Paris Vance will arrange to meet them, just to put eyes on them. Cusa’s role in thwarting the plot in Bank Hall is well known. Perhaps meeting in the general goods store.

Speaking with Jack Ryan
Jack Ryan will deny any involvement. He may seem like he protests too much, but he actually is not involved. If they get him too wound up, he will hire adventurers to beat them to the stepwell. One of the team he hires will actually be Mr. Bryce.

Train Ride to Camp Burlington
The ride to Burlington takes one day. The North cell rides with them. Madhubala and Mr. North will cause a ruckus in the last train towards the end of the ride.

The party will be in the 2nd to last car. Once they are back there and a round or two passes, Mr. William North will uncouple the car. The train will be going up a steep grade and not be able to stop and go back for the loose car. As the car loses momentum, Madhubala and North will leap from the car.

Camp Burlington
The party will want to get mountain harpies in order to carry their gear and food. Mountain harpies use harpy stats but have Move 12 and Climb 3 instead of Sprint 3. They will find that another group has already set out to check on the team at the stepwell. There are some rumors (spread by Mr. Bryce) that there are hostile saurids in the area and they are becoming more dangerous.

Murder Most Foul!
Mr. Bryce will pretend to be one of them and murdering a camp worker, if they spend the night in camp. Bryce will steal some recognizable possession of one of the party, kill a research assistant, and plant the evidence. Mr. Bryce will continue to disguise himself as a lowly worker and try not to draw attention to himself. There isn’t enough military force in the camp to force them to stay if they just try to leave, but it obviously would be great if a report came back to Fort Alice that they have killed someone.

On the Trail
Fun challenges! Based on Exploration rules in my ED House Rules Document.
- Sticksand p. 420. Normal successful attacks will only do 1 damage point per success. 1 per 2 characters.
- Crawling Wig p. 369 infesting a field
- Nallshpritzer p. 396.
- Springvine, p. 419.
- Navigation
TN 7, See rules p. 211 PG. The rivals get 2 successes, w/n 5 miles.

Investigating the Camp
You come to a rough-cut clearing in the jungle where the scientists’ camp is located. There are 3 large canvas tents, as well as an open-air mess tent with a cast-iron stove at one end. The songs and howls of the flora and fauna now has to compete with the sound of falling water. You can see the fountain now, a graceful stone arch with one leg on the edge of a great pit and one descending into it. Water rises up from the pit along its surface, then seems to lose its grip at the arch’s highest point. It falls back down into the stepwell in a steady stream that sways gently in the breeze. The only discordant note is hit by the heavy buzzing of flies and the squawk of a gulture (the common name for the Gruv vulture) arguing over some carrion.

They find the bodies of 2 scientists and 2 guards. They have been stripped of any weapons and appear to have been killed by bladed weapons. They have been dead for several days, and have been stripped of all weapons and jewelry. All of the scientific instruments are still here, though a careful search will reveal that there are no research notes. Dr. Bouchet is not among the dead.

The stepwell is 15 yards across. The steps leading down into it are roughly 1 yard by 1 yard each, and are cut from living stone. The steps go all the way around the well. 10 yards down is a sparkling pool hosting a thriving ecosystem with strange fish, reptiles, water plants, and so on. There is a stone in the water where the water has been pouring down from the fountain; it has worn a deep bowl in the stone.

Talking with the Saurids
The Saurids have a war camp nearby, with a Shaman and 3 warriors. They aren’t determined to fight with the party, but are pretty happy with their new metal short swords. The Sons promised them more bright metal if they dissuaded the party. On the other hand, 2 of them were killed by the guard’s guns and the saurids are pretty angry. The Saurids want to know if the party has a better offer. They will not join the party, but might be convinced to tell the party which direction the Sons went.

Pursuing the Sons
The Saurids might be convinced to point them in the right direction, or they may need to make tracking rolls. Failing a tracking roll means they have to make a Wilderness Survival test to Avoid Environmental Hazards and try again. Failing twice means they find them almost by accident. They get a bit lost and find themselves looking over a rocky cliff at the Sons and the good doctor. P. 227 in the book, 20 yards high.

Dr. Bouchet, I Presume
The party hears a loud crash in the forest just ahead.

Dr. Rambeau and Ms. Jones, as well as a couple local hired Saurids are standing on one side of a ravine with Dr. Bouchet on the other, dangling from a rope. A large tree that had acted as a bridge has fallen into the ravine. Dr. Bouchet had realized it was more precarious than it had originally seemed. He ran out and jumped as hard as he could on this side, then ran and climbed and scrambled as it collapsed into the ravine. At the last moment, he pulled his one ace-in-the-hole, a spring-wound clockwork grappling hook, and launched it into the forest on the other side. He is trying to pull his way up the far side now.

There is a terrible startled scuttling at the bottom of the ravine, and a massive example of a thorny molecrab. It has a lair in a shallow cave, and they have awakened it. It is supremely grouchy. They have a few rounds before it exits the ravine. While it is not a particularly good climber, the narrower part of the ravine is narrower than its body so it can go up it almost like a ramp. It will go to whichever side seems the most interesting.
The Sons, by order of priority 1) don’t want to get killed fighting a molecrab 2) want to recapture Dr. Bouchet and 3) want to kill or leave for dead the party, as they know too much.

The ravine near the party is a good 5 yards across and 15 yards down, with sheer sides (climbing TN 11). Using the fallen tree reduces the climbing TN to 9 but if it fails the tree also falls and pins the character, doing an extra Step 10 damage. Strength TN 7 to break free.
There is a place where the ravine narrows to 1 yard across, and this is where the thorny molecrab enters and exits. It is not visible from where they are located. It is 30 yards away through thick jungle.

The Return
The party will need to navigate back to Camp Burlington, using the Exploration rules. It’s still the Gruv.

The Sons are at this point very upset with the party. They will bring Chastity Brown over to specifically attack the party. Perhaps robbing them?

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