A Heart in the Wrong Place [Adventure]

Discussion of GMing 1879. Warning: Here there be spoilers!
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Slimcreeper
Posts: 836
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:44 pm

A Heart in the Wrong Place [Adventure]

Post by Slimcreeper » Sat Dec 28, 2019 6:00 pm

First off, if you're in my game, bugger off!

This is pretty rough, but I'm probably not going to be writing up anymore in a professional format. Let me know if you see any plot holes please!

A Heart in the Wrong Place
Preamble

This adventure keeps the party on the seedier side of London. High Social Level doesn’t work exactly how you might think in these circles. You get the bonuses to Interaction Tests, but the criminal element will do what they think is best for you, which is to lie and paint a rosy picture. Then they sell knowledge of your movements to a dipper crew that will try to empty your pockets without your realizing it.

This is a sequel to Cracking Bank Hall.

Outline
The party is called back to the meeting room of the Faraday Firm. There is an elderly woman, Madame Barbier, very distraught. Her nephew is missing and presumed dead. There are reports of a particularly violent serial killer loose in London, one that is literally ripping the hearts out of its victims.
In fact, the elderly woman is Chastity Brown in disguise, moonlighting for the Sons of Thoth. She is hiring the party to investigate the Troll released from Bank Hall. The troll has begun building up his own base of power, urchins and street folk that help him procure victims. The Sons are still trying to get him on their side. They want to use the party to discover where he has found his lair. They are also trying to manipulate things so that they appear to do him a favor by stopping the investigation they financed.

Barbier is a real woman who has lost a nephew (Sweet William Barbier) to Verjilorit. Unfortunately, Brown will go and kill her shortly after securing the party’s services. The party may follow several lines of investigation, but the nephew will turn up in the Southwark morgue, heart ripped out.
Brown will attempt to shadow the party throughout their investigation.

Investigation will turn up that he was involved in the Elephant and Castle gang, though mostly as a hanger on. A clue planted by Brown will place them in the proposed park in the west part of the borough just as the E&C and the Butcher’s Bully Boys arrive to negotiate a truce (at least in theory). Brown will stab a Bully Boy, setting off a full brawl the party must escape from.

If the investigation stalls out, the party will discover that Sweet William will have a party in his memory at a tavern in Southwark. If they attend they will find he was well-liked. While they attend the party, Virjilorit will claim another victim, a visiting Prussian cloth merchant.
A group of Virjilorit’s urchins will confront the party and try to force them to confront Virjilorit in his lair. He will not seek to start a pitched battle under the bridge, though the children expect him to just slay these annoying adults.

Once the party has led Chasity to the lair, the Sons of Thoth will attempt to kill the party, cut off their heads, and present them to Virjilorit, in hopes of showing how they would be beneficial patrons.

Characters and Lines of Investigation

Mother Marianna
One of the oldest urchins at 16, the others look up to her. She does nasty work with a knife, and is well on her way to becoming a premier second-story woman. She was the one who stole the howdah and box of ammunition.

Virjilorit
An undead troll Nethermancer from the 4th age. He is trying to figure out this new world. He stays under the rail junction near London Bridge. There is a warren of impromptu shelters built by the homeless, mostly children. He is not actively trying to become a power in the underworld, but he casually slew several predatory adults and so earned the adulation of the children. He is using them to learn English and learn more about the world he finds himself in. The biggest coup was supplying him with a pistol and enough ammunition to become proficient with it. Slaying or capturing Virjilorit will involve dealing with his small army of children.

Dr. Sullivan
Coroner in Southwark. Troll.

Chastity Brown
Formerly lady’s maid to Lady Jane, now ne'er-do-well for hire with a grudge against the party.

Events

Taking the Job
The party is called into the familiar meeting room and seated around the massive mahogany table. Felicia Kipling shows them in and takes her accustomed place at the stenographer’s station. Three Solicitors are present, Grier, Verne, and Mayer, as well as an older woman, introduced as Madame Barbier.

The others present are:
Gerald Grier, Solicitor. A weedy man in his twenties, Mr. Grier has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law and precedence. He has little interest in sitting for the bar and having to argue before the court himself, but he loves to watch barristers that he has prepared upend their opposition.
Fredrick Verne, Solicitor. Nearly as old as Sir Faraday, Mr. Verne is 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.
Johanna Mayer, Solicitor. A Prussian elf woman in her 40s, Ms. Mayer was originally brought in for her family connections, which opened up some valuable continental business contacts. However, she has proved to be a competent member of the team with a degree of expertise on the occult and related matters.

Verne gestures graciously towards Madame Barbier. “These are the persons we were speaking of, Madame. Please, speak freely. I am sure they will be able to help you.”

“Of course.” The elderly woman has a distinct French accent coloring her flawless English and a hint of a tremble. “You see, my dear nephew, sweet William, has gone missing. He was absent for his own 25th birthday celebration yesterday. He had been out of communication for at least a week and a half, but missing his own birthday … I am worried. You are familiar with the paper reports of the Loup Garou killer, I assume?”

The papers are full of reports of the Loup Garou, a bestial serial killer that is wrenching the chest cavities of his victims open and tearing out their hearts. The police and papers are close-lipped about whether they believe this new killer to be a supernatural threat or not.

“I must know what has happened to William … please, I have some money.”

“Do not trouble yourself, says Mr. Verne, reaching out a wrinkled but still steady hand to comfort her. “The financial considerations are all taken care of.”

Faraday will pay the party £3/day, plus reasonable expenses. In addition, if this is related to the Loup Garou killer, there is a £50 reward which the party may keep if they can prove that they captured, killed or lead to the conviction of said killer.

Clues:
Barbier came from the Bordeaux Departement of France as a young girl. Her father was a prudent man with money, so leveraged his work as a milliner in to a respectable life for his spinster daughter. She supplements her income with some translation work. By “taken care of”, Mr. Verne means that they have had the jewelry she brought in assessed and they believe it will be enough to cover the investigation.

-He stayed at a boarding home, off Friar Street between Blackfriars and Southwark Bridge Roads in Southwark.
-He seemed to have a good number of friends. Whenever he called on her he always had two or three along.
-If they must pry -- he did not have a great number of prospects, being only a middling student.
-He was a regular at the Castille Marie, a tavern and social club of sorts near Elephant and Castle.
-Streetwise (TN 9): The Castille Marie is associated with the Elephant and Castle gang.

Unless the party has some reason to suspect Brown, don’t bother rolling acting. The adventure will flow better if she gets this off without a hitch. She takes the step on Disguise (9) and her Acting Step is (9).

Low-hanging Fruit
His apartment off Friar street, that he shares with 2 roommates is a dorm room for E & C.

E&C run extortion and smuggling concerns, as well as extensive gambling rings throughout Southwark. The party will have a difficult time getting into the apartments and overcoming the skepticism of the residents.

- Uncle Berber. A blind Moor who’s kept the house since the area still had a veneer of respectability. He will not let anyone in who doesn’t hold a special embossed card, but may summon residents to speak with the party.
- James, Jenny and Jacks. They know about the memorial wake at Castille Marie, as they are members of the E&C. They liked William and will be suspicious of these outsiders asking around about him. They have met his aunt and are protective of her as well.
- If they upset the applecart here, J, J & J will send them into an ambush.
- Jacks was in a relationship with Sweet William. He was the last to see him the night he went missing. Jacks noted 3-4 urchins lurking, but didn’t think it important at the time.
- Streetwise (TN 9): there is a newish gang of urchins gathering under the raised rail junction near the London Bridge.

Brown is Always Following Them

Periodically they may make an Awareness test vs. her Stealthy Stride 13 to discover her. She carries an alchemical flare that glows in a color only visible to dwarves and trolls. When she needs to summon the ambush, she sets it off. Any such characters in the party can make an Awareness (6) to notice it. If the party discovers her prematurely, she flees.

Madame Barbier is Dead!

They may find out about this from a number of sources. J, J, & J may reach out to them, the party may decide to visit her on their own, learn of it from the papers or the Faraday Firm will discover it and send them out.

Ms. Brown is merely clipping loose ends. Brown had previously stolen some of her jewelry. She returned and lured her out of her home and bludgeoned her to death to prevent her from reporting the theft. She will be found in the garden.

Sweet William turns up in the Southwark Coroner’s

May find out from this from papers, J, J, & J, Faraday (last ditch, F will be annoyed at doing the investigating for them), or the party may check on their own.

Dr. Sullivan sort of recognizes Cusa. Vincent Dickman, the receptionist, definitely recognizes them. Dickman will report that they are asking around to the gangs.

Hearth spirit is thrilled to have so much more custom. It has Evidence Analysis and Physician skills at Step 12 plus karma. For the promise of one fresh corpse, it will use them for the party’s benefit.

S.W. has had his heart torn out, similar to other victims. He had a cravat clutched in his hand and a number of other small injuries aside from the gaping chest wound.

Clues
Cravat: Fashion or Evidence Analysis (TN7). It is 50 years out of date, but once fine. It is grimy and torn and ineffectually laundered. Most likely explanation is that a very poor person dug it out of the trash some decades ago and it has been passed around as a token of finery ever since.

Corpse: Physician or Evidence Analysis (TN 7) - Other marks on the body (other than the gaping chest wound) include a sharp impact to the skull from a sap or small club and a number of small impacts. Physician/ E.A. (TN 12) - Various injuries were probably caused by children. The cause of death was not actually from any wounds but a mystical affront. Astral Sight (TN 12) Remnants of a spell on the astral imprint.

General Murders: There are a few patterns. All of the deaths have been in Southwark. All about a week apart. All were solitary when attacked. Many residents are starting to travel in pairs. Varied genders, ages, soc-econ status.

Streetwise (TN 9): there is a newish gang of urchins gathering under the raised rail junction near the London Bridge.

Remembering Sweet William (Optional)

There will be a memorial at Castille Marie for Sweet William with members of the C&E. If the party can get in and mingle, this is another opportunity to meet with J,J, & J to gather any clues they missed, including the new urchin gang, the urchins Jacks saw, and that Barbier is dead (someone will rush in with the news)

Unfinished Business at the Park (Optional)
Once the party is known to be investigating the death, Brown will send a message encouraging the party to attend a meet at Unfinished Park. E&C are there first. They are confused and pissed that the PCs are there. Then the Butcher’s Bully Boys will arrive. 6 gang members for each side. There is confusion, anger about the unexpected people. As they begin arguing, Brown will fling a dart at the leader of the E&C, setting off a brawl. She’ll take the opportunity to try to kill one of the characters, or at least weaken them dramatically, before fleeing.

Gang Leaders
Gang Members
Skill Checks to Escape

Gang Shakedown (Optional)
Depending on how much noise the party is making in their investigation and the impressions they are making, 4-5 E&C toughs may corner the party to find out why they are investigating the death.

Bait? I’m the Bait? (PC Option)

The party may try to lure Virjilorit out by posing as bait. This will require an Acting (TN 8) to convince the troll that of all the targets in Southwark, they are the one. If this is successful, 3-4 urchins ambush the target. One urchin will distract the target while another will sneak up from behind and sap them. Then they all rush in.

The Sons have a counter ambush nearby. They will try to defeat the party in combat. If they defeat the party, they wish to keep them alive and bring them to the troll as a gift.

They Do Not Go Unnoticed (Option to get the Party Moving)

Eventually the Urchins will realize the party is poking around, if nothing else works, and invite them to meet V. At this point the Sons will spring the ambush.

Conference in the Warren (Climax)

Once the party follows the leads to the urchin gang under the bridge, things get very unpredictable. If they negotiate a meeting with the urchins, they will agree, assuming that V will kill them if they present any trouble.

A warren of ramshackle shacks, leaning one against the other and stacked precariously like a drunken child’s building blocks, fills the space under the rail junction. The total area is probably a 20 yards wide, built up to the corner of what might be a warehouse wall and the great support piers. From a distance, you can see 2 persons standing in front of an opening or hallway leading into the precarious assemblage. They seem to be standing guard. A warm smell of too many unwashed bodies living in too small a space, familiar to Londoners, is concentrated here.

Depending on the party’s approach, they may see a number of children playing or lounging outside. If they haven’t dealt with the Sons, they immediately spring their ambush here, in order to present themselves as protecting Virjilorit. V. will change to an owl if it is late enough and observe, or send out urchins to watch the battle, then invite the survivors in.

The guards are cadavermen. If they see the party approach they will ring a bell alerting the urchins and V. They are welcome to come in peacefully and speak to V.

The hall winds a bit, but is spacious, a full 12 feet high and 5 feet wide at minimum. It is tacked together from scavenged pallets, crates, and cardboard. It grows warmer the deeper you go, particularly after passing through several great doors. It is made with care and decorated with bits of patterned cloth and ribbon, but you feel if you leaned too heavily on the wall the whole thing might crash down on you. Small doorways open up in the walls, some with actual doors and others with a scrap of burlap across them. They are all too small for adults to get through, except on hands and knees. Somewhere a clockwork music box tinkles out a melody, though some of the pins must be missing and the gears worn, as the tune misses several notes and the rhythm lags and catches. Nevertheless, whenever it stops, it's operator immediately rewinds it and starts it again.

One final door lifts up, sliding into the ceiling and the whole structure groans with its weight. There is a large chamber, 20 feet across, dimly lit by oil lanterns. A mish-mash of various furniture is in the room. A huge pallet on the floor, a large desk partially propped up by stacks of mouldering books with a pile of cushions to serve as a seat. An upended cask set up against the wall serves as a chair. The stone wall behind the cask (for this room backs up to the pillars supporting the train) is carved with mystic runes in a long-dead language and painted in elaborate patterns. Seated on the cask, the patterns on the wall accentuating his height, is an emaciated troll. His clothes are stitched together from discarded finery, patched together to fit his 9 foot frame. He smiles at you, his lips cracking and peeling as they stretch across his yellowed teeth and tusks. His eyes are filmed over with something worse than age and his skin is pocked and cracked. He speaks, and the stench of the grave fills the room. His English is accented with some archaic tongue. “Welcome. I do hope we can be friends. Have a seat or stand, as suits your comfort. Would you care for a glass of wine, or a cup of tea and a little biscuit? Our refreshments are somewhat limited at the moment.”


-He wants information about their employer, the police case, the public theories, etc. He knows that his activities are attracting attention and is trying to figure out a way to sustain them. He may draw the conclusion that the state of the bodies is what is attracting the attention and then in the future start killing only those who won’t be missed and disposing of the bodies.
-If the party seems inclined to leave without violence he will let them, but will make the pledge on God (he’s learned that the Passions have little influence here) not to reveal his location. He will require one party member to swear a Blood Promise not to protect the secret or require that one stay as hostage. If they refuse, violence will ensue.
-Violence: The party should probably flee from inside the warren. It’s not difficult to find the path out, but the urchins will activate several traps and take potshots at them to slow them down as V. weaves the spells for the Astral Maw, hoping to use it to block their escape.

Battle in the Warren

There are 6 areas between the chamber and the exit.

- In the second area, 3 urchins lie in wait and will try to Surprise Strike the first they see with darts, then duck around the corner and scurry into boltholes.
- In the third area there is a pit trap, an old sewer manhole.
Pit Trap DT: 7 Disarm: 7 Init: 10/2d8 Trigger: Pressure Plate
Effect: fall for Step 10 damage, climbing test TN 8 to escape.
- In the 4th area there is a tripwire trap that will affect the first person running through
Trip Wire DT: 7 Disarm: 7 Init: 10/2d8 Trigger: Urchins watching
Effect: KD test vs Step 10
- In the 5th there is an Anchor Trap
Anchor Trap DT: 7 Disarm: 7 Init: 10/2d8 Trigger: tripwire
Effect: Anchor drops down from the ceiling, doing step 12 damage.
- In the 6th is the exit. 2 cadavermen are waiting just outside. As soon as the party exits, urchins spring out behind them, surprise strike with darts, flee back into the warren.

V. will first empty the howdah into them, then weave the threads for the Maw. Or if it looks like the characters are going to get in his face, he casts chilling circle.

Denumount

There are a lot of possibilities, depending on how the party resolves (or doesn’t) the situation. If they slay Virjilorit and present the body to the police or somehow turn him in without causing a lot of police deaths, they should be able to collect the reward. They may receive some kudos from Faraday firm, some contacts in the E&C, or some fame in the papers for bringing the Loup Garou to bay.

Or they may form an uneasy alliance with V., sharing information and witnessing his rise to prominence, with the Urchins eventually overshadowing the E&C gang.

Or the Sons could triumph. V. will never consent to be under their thumb, but may form an alliance with them. In this case, the Urchins will have magical support and the Sons will have several of their knottier theoretical problems resolved.

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Andrew1879
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Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 2:41 pm

Re: A Heart in the Wrong Place [Adventure]

Post by Andrew1879 » Sun Dec 29, 2019 3:09 pm

Denouement, I believe. Interesting continuation of the Earthdawn-1879 crossover. I'm still curious as to how there's enough mana to support cadavermen and what is effectively a lich. Has he got a mana focus?

Slimcreeper
Posts: 836
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:44 pm

Re: A Heart in the Wrong Place [Adventure]

Post by Slimcreeper » Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:21 pm

It’s all death magic. He has to sacrifice a name-giver every week to maintain sentience. The cadavermen require him burning through a barrel of karma, which is why he only has two. And his powers are fading, even so, which is why he’s learning to shoot. If he survives this, he’ll start to attract mumpers, and eventually become the lord of a mumper/dodger society.

Slimcreeper
Posts: 836
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:44 pm

Re: A Heart in the Wrong Place [Adventure]

Post by Slimcreeper » Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:28 pm

Even his karma requires death magic. Although even so I bet the cadavermen dissolve into slush after a few weeks.

His situation is not very sustainable, though he realizes that, he’s trying to keep it secret. I could imagine a third installment where he’s gone completely feral. A straight ahead monster hunting scenario with the monster pleading for death.

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