Much Ado About Ada [Adventure]

Discussion of GMing 1879. Warning: Here there be spoilers!
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Much Ado About Ada [Adventure]

Post by Slimcreeper » Sun May 26, 2019 3:49 pm

*No reading this if you're playing with me!*

First draft for your enjoyment:

Much Ado About Ada


The party is called together by the Faraday Group by House and Thomas to investigate a missing Lovelace. He is important because he handled many of the [Company’s] business. They don’t want to advertise that they have any vulnerabilities to their competitors.
He has been kidnapped by a rival firm, who are forcing him to upgrade some of their algorithms with proprietary information from House and Thomas. He is doing so because they have kidnapped his dog. If the party can rescue the dog he will go with them.

Dramatis Personæ

Absolom Levene
PR 3 dwarf Lovelace, Programmer for House and Thomas Co.

A secular Jew living a solitary life in Lower Clapton, he works for House and Thomas. He has a few close friends in his building, most notably Gertrude Ingham, with whom he has a long-running chess rivalry and a hot and cold romantic relationship.

Gertrude Ingham
PR 1 human Byron, Clerke for East Hospital

A secular Anglican living a fiercely independent life in Lower Clapton. She does a bit of data entry for the hospital and also runs a salon for entertaining and exchange of ideas for engineering sorts out of the double flat she owns. It’s a bit more than she can afford on her salary. However, the hospital is unwittingly subsidising the salon due to a bit of clever fiddling on her part. It’s a public service, after all.

Alan Roper
PR 1 human Brassman, student at SW Polytechnic

A middle son in a family of workmen, Alan Roper ran with the Dove Row Gang for a bit when he was in his teens. A near miss with nearly getting nabbed by the Peelers and winning a one-way ticket to Dino Land scared him straight. Now he is a model student at SW Polytechnic and the pride of his family. His brothers are extremely proud of him, but when it looked like he was about to waste his potential with the gang they regularly threatened to throw him in the Hackney Marsh and forget about him.

Herman Miller
PR 2 human Dodger, Dove Row Gang

Herman Miller has been in the gang for 20 years, following in the footsteps of his father. His 2 daughters are also members. He really believes in the gang as a force for rough justice and a way to provide for his family.

Jay Willis.
PR 2 dwarf Mage (Mumper), Dove Row Gang

Jay Willis is a cousin of Bonny Betty and is first among equals with this crew. He will be doing everything he can to make this mission a success. He has a dog, Sharp, that he has an almost eerie connection with.

Fowler Martin
PR 2 human Fiddler, Dove Row Gang

Fowler Martin is the youngest, at 17, and the newest recruit. This is his first major caper with the gang and he is determined to do well. On the other hand, he is completely taken with Ada and will not let anyone hurt the good doggo.

London, 1879

Again, engaged by the Faraday Firm

Fredrick Verne, Solicitor. Nearly as old as Sir Faraday, Mr. Verne is was the driving force behind the Faraday Firm’s expansion into discreet investigative services, which has proven to be even more profitable than the law some years.

Felicia Kipling, Secretary. A solidly built and fashionably dressed dwarf woman who has been with the firm in one manner or another since she was 16, she is intimately knowledgeable about all of its history and persons.

As before, Mrs. Kipling escorts you into the meeting room, though the audience is significantly smaller than you expect. In fact, only Mr. Verne, Solicitor is seated at the table. Mrs. Kipling takes a seat at a stenograph machine at a nearby table. Mr. Verne clears his throat. “Ah, Mrs. Kipling, I do thank you, but an official record will not be necessary.”
“Very well sir.” She pulls out a notepad.
“Not even that, dear Mrs. Kipling. We will rely on your excellent memory to be assured that all terms will be adhered to.”
“Understood. Of course, sir.” She folds her hands in her lap and watches the proceedings carefully, looking full into the face of everyone as he or she speaks.
Mr. Verne begins. “You are familiar, of course with House and Thomas, Co.?”

The name is immediately familiar to anyone with any knowledge of Engines or Engine Programing. They are one of the most important cardware companies of the time. Think Microsoft circa 1980. Mr. Verne gives the the details of the case.
- A Lovelace in the employment of H&T has gone missing. He is highly placed enough that his absence has raised eyebrows and concerns. He is working on the development of the new edition of the architecture.
- He disappeared Friday afternoon
- The Lovelace, Absolom Levene, lives a fairly isolated life in Lower Clapton.
- The pay is £5 per day, plus expenses approved in advance. It must stay out of the papers and the police reports.

Additional information:
On appropriate Knowledge test: House & Thomas Co. Ltd.’s main rivals are Morin Huber and Sons and Hopp und Tschira GmbH. H & T is dominant in business circles, but the Prussian Hopp und Tshira firm has a lot of proponents among the more purely technically-minded members of the community.
- Hopp und Tshira, Prussian
-- products: Plattner Materials and Manufacturing Management (known in the trade as Triple M) and Wellenreuther Resource Planning.
- House and Thomas, British
-- products: Back Office Sales Support, Front Office Customer Relationship Management, and Green Shade Financials and Forecasting.
- Morin Huber and Sons, British, Hasidic Jew
-- products: Modern Wonder Production Line Control and the Human Touch Machinery Supervision.

Hasidism on Cardware Hill
Pius Jews following a tradition founded by Israel ben Eliezer (1698 - 1760). They wear modest dress, almost exclusively black and white. The men have long beards and their sideburns are long and styled into ringlets that reach their shoulders. They use Yiddish almost exclusively within the community. Practice strict separation of the sexes outside of marriage.
They are led by Rebbe Mendal Hagar. Outsiders will not speak with Rebbe Hagar except in very exceptional circumstances which will not come into this adventure.

Hackney (where Stamford Hill/Cardware Hill is located)
- Industrial.
- Contains Cardware Hill Also known as Stamford Hill.
- Contains Boojum Town (formerly Homerton) and House of Rentezes
- Hackney Marshes (contaminated with lead, etc. largely abandoned)
- Turkish Market in Lower Clapton has any clockwork bits you might want.

If the party doesn’t seem to want to bite, Mr. Verne can also offer to arrange for a favor to be owed by the mavens of H&T. Officially this is all off the books, so it will need to be subtle. Alternately, he might provide offer hazard pay in extraordinary circumstances. If they are totally uninterested, the GM should have a sit-down with the players and find out what they’d be interested in playing.

Session 1
London, July 1879

Lines of Investigation

Place of Business
House and Thomas is on East Bank on Cardware Hill. The buildings are not new, but newly renovated as the firm has become quite flush with cash since its founding. A secretary, Mr. Holbert welcomes you in. He accompanies you throughout your tour, as much to help you find what you need as to limit your access to what isn’t your business.
Mr. Levene had his own office, but was often on the Card floor, a large, open workspace where programmers work at various stations on card punch machines and specialized Difference Engines. There is an Analytic Engine terminal for running test programs on one wall, as well as a Difference Engine terminal that allocates Engine time for various programmers. Pipes, hoses and rods extend from the ceiling down to the various stations, providing power and input/output lines. There are a number of peripherals scattered around for testing. Some are experimental, and have a curtain hastily pulled around them when you enter the room. The room is filled with the clatter of machinery and the murmur of quiet conversation, and a steady breeze from windows high over the floor keeps the temperature from rising too much.

Mr. Levene was generally well-liked by his colleagues and those he supervised, although no one seemed to know him very well. He seemed to talk about someone named Ada quite a bit. There are various opinions as to whether Ada was a woman, his mother, or a pet of some kind.

Ms. Stein seems particularly concerned about Mr. Levene. He had acted as a mentor for her when she got hired. Initially, she was concerned that his interest might be of an inappropriately personal nature, but he proved to quite professional. That’s okay, she says; nobody’s perfect. She’d invited him out for a pint on Friday with the other programmers and he’d claimed to be otherwise occupied. What he does on the weekends is a bit of a mystery, other than pick up a bit of scrap from the butcher’s to feed to Ada.

Street Vendors/Butchers Between Cardware Hill and Lower Clapton
He did stop at both a butchers and a street vender. Finding the butchers is fairly simple, a matter of paying a cabbie a bit over the going rate for traveling the expected route. Finding the street vender is a bit more complicated, because there are so many. It requires a Streetwise or applicable skill test vs 9. He is a creature of habit and stops at the same establishments each day, and he did on Friday, but didn’t go back to the butcher since.

Lower Clapton Flat
The building you are directed to is a newly built attached apartment house with flats for sale or let. There is still a good amount of construction in the area. They are filling up quickly; the speculators are doing quite well. There is a intercom terminal at the gate. It’s got the look of something put in without permission by a highly skilled technician. Doesn’t quite match the decor, but very nicely built of excellent materials. There are a 6 buttons with names next to them, including Absolom Levene. If you press it, there is no response. There is the option of leaving a recorded voice message, but Mr. Levene’s is protected by a passcode, entered by using an attached numerical keypad.

The other buttons let you reach other flats in the building. They are:
-Ms. Gertrude Ingham
-Ms. Gertrude Ingham (Inactive)
-Mr. Absolom Levene
-Mr. James Brown
-Mr. & Mrs. Harold Drum
-Mr. Mason Bass

Ms. Ingham will only be present in the evenings after work. Fortunately, she lives quite close to the hospital, so will be home by 5:30. On Saturday evenings she hosts a salon. It is only semi-legal, so the party will not learn of them, much less get an invitation, unless they make a very good impression and reveal a certain amount of knowledge of engineering speak.

Ms. Inham had been at the shops immediately after work picking up a few things for the weekend with her tweenie, Alice, and didn’t get in until nearly 7. She knows that Mr. Levene typically picks up a meat or the like pasty on the way home from a street vender.

Ms. Ingham is worried about Mr. Levene. He has been absent for 3 days. He didn’t come home from work on Friday. He also has a dog that he loves very much named Ada, and she hasn’t heard so much as a single yip from the dratted beast either. Not like Mr. Levene to disappear like this. Annie will pipe in that she heard the dog in the morning but not after lunch, after the workmen left. Oh, yes, she says, she’d buzzed in some workmen come to do a bit of work on a leaky window.
The workmen were from a business called Roper & Sons General Work & Stuff. They had a horse-drawn van with the logo painted on the sides.

He attends her Salons regularly, but mostly sat and listened while he petted his dog, a pug named Ada.

He is a right good chess player, and installed the intercom system, after Ms. Ingham did the legwork to get everyone on board. Except the landlord, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Exploring Levene’s Flat
He had installed fairly a fairly top-notch engine security terminal. Unfortunately, it was vulnerable to the simple technique of someone using a bit-and-brace and saw to cut through the door where the knob and lock were located. When done, they closed the door. [alternately, the dodgers had a Mumper with the Unlock Spell]
Inside, Mr. Levene kept a very tidy house, even without the benefit of a tweenie. He didn’t like people touching his things. The only signs of disorder are an end table with a lamp knocked to the ground in the parlor. There are no papers here having to do with work. There is a spare bedroom that he used as a workshop, but again, no surprises. He kept work at work. Clues (TN):
- Ada is in fact a small dog (freebie)
- There is a blood stained doily in the parlor near the broken lamp (TN 7). A “workman” was bitten by the dog. He blotted it with the doily and dropped it. Looks like it was a decent amount of blood
- There are a series of coins dropped on the floor near the bed. Evidence Analysis (7) to detect, Awareness (9) unless they state specifically they are looking under the bed. They are in a line in the following pattern (Which is Morse code, Cryptography (6)):
D: Shilling (s) Pence (d) Pence (d)
O: s s s
V: d d d s
E: s
R: d s d
O: s s s
W: d s s

Surrounding Neighbors
The neighbors can confirm that Roper & Sons was there. Several of the neighbors have used the company before; they have a pretty good reputation.

Roper & Sons
When they visit the place of business of Roper & Sons, there is a bit of an uproar. The bobbies are there taking report on a stolen van, complete with all tools. Mr. Roper is irate, and gives the bobbies as much information and as much grief as he can. His 6 sons, ranging from 14 yo to 36 yo, lurk about and give terse answers to questions. They are used to living in the shadow of their father’s big personality. All but one of them is wearing workman’s clothes, somewhat worn but tidy and clean. Hopefully the party remembers to keep the police out of the matter as much as possible.
The son not wearing workman’s clothing is in a somewhat nicer suit. His name is Alan Roper, and he looks like a student home on holiday, which in fact is what he is. He attends SW Polytechnic School in Chelsea at the other end of London but is home for a few days. He also ran with the Dove Row Gang for a short while before getting himself together and getting a scholarship. Whether or not the party mentions the Dove Row clue he will pull them aside and tell them that he recognized the work and he bets he knows where they took the boffin. Alan Roper sees this as an opportunity to do a favor for a well-placed employee of a respectable firm where he might get employment, and at the same time put one over on the gang that nearly cost him his future.

Dove Row Gang
A 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.

Fortunately for the party, Bonny Betty is not directly involved in this operation. It will probably go better for them if she doesn’t find out their identities, actually.

Finding out about the kidnapping of Mr. Levene should be tricky, involving Streetwise tests of 9 or more, or convincing or tricking a lieutenant to give up the information. No one lower placed than a lieutenant would be in the know.

Dove Row Ambush (optional)
If it seems necessary or likely, the Dove Row Gang will move against the individuals in the party. They can strike anywhere in Hackney. Outside of Hackney, they can only move against individuals of SL 3 or lower. Two Dodgers will try break into an individual’s home and lie in wait. All of the eligible individuals will make a Streetwise test. The one with the lowest result will get the ambush. Have the player describe the place where the character lives.

The two Dodgers may to make climbing tests to access an upper story. They will have to make Lockpicking tests (TN = 5 + SL of the target) and a Stealthy Stride test. If they fail the Lockpicking test, they will just be waiting outside the PC’s home. If they get a Rule of 1 on the Stealthy Stride the PC will arrive to find the Peelers carrying the Dodgers away in cuffs.

If the party gets stuck, Alan Roper will approach them. If they refuse to trust Roper, one of the Dodgers will have a map of the Hackney Marsh in his pocket. Don’t let the adventure drag here.
If the ambush is used, don’t try to kill the target. The Dodgers are only trying to scare the PCs off the case and will use the Attack to Stun and Attack to Knockdown options.

Session 2

Hackney Marsh
Mr. Roper takes you across Pond Lane Bridge near the eastern edge of the borough. If they took a cabbie, he indicates you should pay and well. 10 shillings or so would not be out of line as the cost of discretion. The fog is unseasonably thick today, especially over the marsh.

Depending on the time you decide to go out, it is either suffused with the light of the moon or the sun; either way, the soft diffused light does little to improve visibility, even for those with dark vision. Heat sight functions normally.
Mr. Roper leads you along a side lane deeper into the Marsh. The way is being retaken by the marshy grasses, and is barely deserving of the name road. Finally you stop at a dock with a flat-bottomed skiff just large enough for you.
“Well, here’s the point. I won’t be going further. Don’t mind giving Dove Row a rum turn, seeing as what they nearly cost me, but I won’t be there for a fight.” He offers to draw out a map on a bit of paper.”

Navigating the marsh in these conditions is a bit tricky. Someone should make a Navigation (9) test.
- 0 successes - requires Pilot Boat (6) or Crew Boat (9) to avoid running aground. If runs aground, must make get it out of the mud somehow or travel on foot, requiring another Navigation roll (9). If it misses, subtract the result from 9. The result is the number of half-hours the party wanders the swamp. Everyone in the party takes a point of strain for each half-hour. On a roll of 1, one of the party trods on an Adder (GMG p 365)
- 1 success - they find the crumbling game lodge where Mr. Levene is being held, but the ganger on watch sees them coming.
- 2 successes - they come in from behind and have the opportunity to tie up without being seen.

Pilot or Crew Boat rolls will be necessary to get the boat docked and tied off. Failure could result in the whole thing flipping over. Crew Boat can be used to disembark quickly.

The lodge looks like it has been neglected for some time. The right side has nearly completely collapsed into itself. The left, while it still stands two stories and its roof is largely intact, doesn’t inspire much more confidence.

Front Dock
There is a watchman, the Dodger Herman Miller, here with a flask of brandy keeping him warm. A second skiff is tied up here.

Game Room
The front door opens into this room where Mr. Levene has been staying. It has in a workshop with a microsteam-powered Analytic Engine no bigger than a chest of drawers and a number of peripherals. There is a cot and a chamber pot in the room and it is well-lit with a couple of buzzing arc-light lanterns. Despite the squalor, he is keeping the room fairly tidy. He will not leave unless they also rescue Ada.

Downstairs Hall
There are no sources of light in this hall, but you can see arc light spilling in from the game room and lamp light from the kitchen. The green wallpaper is sloughing off the damp walls in sheets, and here and there you can look down through the floorboards to the black water below. There is a door to the back dock and a stair to the upper floors.

The kitchen is the best preserved room in the lodge. There is a coal-burning stove set in a brick fireplace giving off an unwelcome warmth. A large table takes up the center of the room, only somewhat rotten. There are a few original rusted cooking implements hanging here and there, but the Dove Row has brought some to cook with. There is a barrel of beer and provisions and the Mumper Jay Willis and his dog Sharp.

Dining Room
The dining room is being used as barracks by the Dove Row. There are pallets on the ground and assorted personal effects. There is no light in this room. If searched (TN 7) the players will turn up 1d10 shillings and 1d10 pence. As long as they keep succeeding they can keep rolling, but may need to make a Stealthy Stride test. Also, one of the Dove Row has added a trap rigged together with a spring-loaded rattrap and a poisoned needle.
Detection: 10 Disarm: 7 Initiative: 10 Trigger: disturbing personal effects
Effect: Step 7 damage. If causes at least point of damage, injects poison (Step 6, Onset Instant, Duration 2 rounds)

Side Walk
A narrow walkway runs the length of the lodge on the right side. It can be accessed through windows from the Game Room, Kitchen, and Dining room.

Back Docks
There is no light or watch here, as they are a lot tougher to find in the marsh.

The stairs are in pretty bad shape and actually function as a trap:
Detection: 7 Disarm: 7 Initiative: 10 Trigger: Pressure
Effect: creates loud noise. Requires appropriate test (8) to free leg. Until freed, the character is Harried and their Movement rate is reduced to 0.

Upstairs Bedroom
Only one bedroom has survived the ravages of damp and neglect, and that barely. The furniture has all been removed - probably through the window. The Fiddler Fowler Martin is here, tending to Ada, with whom he has become quite taken.

What Happens Here?
Of course, what happens here depends on what the players do. If there is any noise or sign of conflict, all three gang members will converge on the excitement. Martin will come in as carefully as he can. If he can approach them separately, he will claim to be an undercover Peeler and try to lead them to the front docks and push one of them in. Willis will blow a whistle to draw the others, then command Sharp to attack. If isolated, he will use Arcane Mutterings to try and slow the party down until he has back-up. He will use Invisibility on himself and anyone else he can, then Bolt or his kitchen knife. Miller will use Unarmed Combat, a Called Shot and Attack to Knockdown to try to pitch opponents into the water to even up the odds, then attack with an iron crowbar (mace). If he can use Stealthy Stride and Surprise Strike he definitely will. Levene will not fight, but certainly might try to escape on his own with Ada. If possible, he will try to sabotage his work. They had been trying to get him to help them access to security flaws in House and Thomas’s cardware.

The party may need to make some rolls to get out of the Marsh, especially if they are being pursued by gang members. If they have done well and impressed Mr. Levene, he might also owe them a Small Favor in addition to the other compensation. He wants to get Ada home and improve security on his home, and so requests an additional day off.

Ms. Ingham is quite grateful to the bunch if they return her friend and neighbor. In fact, the party might be invited to the Salon, which is a Large Favor and lets them connect with a number of skillful and forward thinking Byrons and Brassmen.

The Faraday Firm will be quite pleased if they have pulled this off without a hitch. Mr. Verne will remind them of the importance of discretion and will offer to foot the bill for a short holiday in Blackpool at his aunt’s place, effectively paying their expenses for a month on top of the normal pay.
Last edited by Slimcreeper on Mon May 27, 2019 1:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Much Ado About Ada [Adventure]

Post by Andrew1879 » Sun May 26, 2019 4:38 pm

Minor nitpick: It's "Cardware Hill". See the London book, p.93.

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Re: Much Ado About Ada [Adventure]

Post by Slimcreeper » Mon May 27, 2019 1:23 pm

I know that! Doh!

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