Five scenarios more; add in details and mechanics as appropriate for your chosen genre. Battle of Bands sets characters in winning a musical contest, Fresh Faces is a gory horror adventure, Pilgrimage has the characters trapped by slavers, Revolving Gun explains the lack of revolvers in ARIUS: the Ashen Age and Special Delivery tells the story of a great Omnium heist.
Intrigue, Relationships, Social
The citizens of Denkhatar are the wealthiest, most charitable patrons of arts in the entire world. One of them is holding a contest to choose a worthy musician for his patronage. Three trusted retainers will judge the aspiring musicians and choose one worth of patronage. Unfortunately some of the competitors are willing to use less honest means. One of the contestants is actually an agent of the Church to be ingrained into the high society. The characters must help him win.
Wonderful Vamina is an unattractive lady with a voice so beautiful it makes angels weep. She is an agent of the Church and merry person impossible not to like. Cinnamon is the main competition. She is an extremely attractive and unscrupulous actress/singer. Black Bollard, a half-mad shock artist and Lannard, a naïve young comedian, are the other finalists in the competition.
There are three judges in the competition. Honorable Asim is a fat, pompous fool easily swayed with flattery. Vladimir is a novelty seeker who enjoys the unconventional. Cheng is a religious hypocrite, who is swayed by the majority opinion – including the audience.
Final part of the competition takes four days, with one artist giving a concert each day. The concerts are public in a large auditorium filled with the curious. Vamina wants to win fair and square; she simply requests the characters to watch her back. She’ll be mortified if they use dishonest tricks on her behalf. Of course, what she doesn't know, can't hurt her.
Black Bollard goes first. His show is a mix of alchemical tricks, strange instruments, occult chanting and hypnotic lights. The sheer weirdness gives him certain appeal on jaded Denkhatar. While the show goes on, Cinnamon seduces one of the staff on the backstage. She convinces him to pour some special ingredients in the alchemical mix. They cause stanching, nauseating miasma spread through the auditorium. The vile smoke drives the audience out and completely sabotages the show. Black Bollard is out of the competition, but his infamy grows – something he enjoys.
Lannard performs the second day. He plans to give a light comical performance. While preparing for the show, he believes Cinnamon, who advises on subjects to choose. As the show starts, everything seems to go fine. Then Lannard launches into a tirade against religion and makes fun of Asim's fatness. The audience loves it, but Cheng and Asim are mightly pissed off, foiling Lannard’s chances.
Wonderful Vamina is scheduled to perform the third day. Cinnamon strikes during evening of the second day; she invited Vamina to a party. Vamina, being a carouser, will go unless the characters go to heroic efforts to convince him otherwise. In the party, Cinnamon tries to slip hallucinogens into her drinks. If she succeeds, Vamina will be tripping the following day, making her performance…challenging. If the plan is foiled, Vamina gives an amazing performance.
Cinnamon performs last. She has a dark secret; she can’t actually sing at all! One of her lovers is a Techmancer of Ordo Voluptas. He has built him devices which play the voice of a long-dead artist during her performances. Cinnamon simply dances and flirts while pretending to sing.
Characters might detect and intercept Cinnamon’s plans during the scenario. She always has an excellent excuse and no foul play can be proven. They might come up with foul plans on their own. Shadowing and investigating Cinnamon will reveal her secret. Creative sabotage will completely spoil her show; her real singing is pretty terrible.
Boosting their friends show is another option available to the characters. Anyone versed in performing can support her act, especially helpful if she gets drugged. Leadership and other social skills can aid in firing up the crowd. Personal contact with the judges can sway their opinion towards Vamina. If Vamina got drugged and Cinnamon’s performance succeeds, this will be the deciding factor on the ultimate result.
Helping Wonderful Vamina win will provide the character with an ally in the court of a wealthy, influential citizen. On the other hand, it will make Cinnamon their enemy and she can be very spiteful. Saving other artists from her sabotage might earn their gratitude.
Horror, Investigation, Weird
Nobility of a distant country estate are known for maintaining beauty and youthful looks into late age. Local peasants live in silence and fear; their masters are no ordinary gentry. Characters come to the area looking for a missing priest. In the process they find out the terrible secret of the local nobility. They are always looking for more fresh faces…
Lord Gormund is the local lord, a smooth yet creepy old man. He dresses in all-encompassing robes, showing naught but a handsome, youthful face. Lady Cybelene is her wife, a fitting pairing. She will be very interested in any attractive characters. Pollux is their ancient doctor that have served the family for a very long time. He is terribly Blighted and covers himself completely.
Sergio is the missing priest. He used to be a handsome young fellow. Now he is terribly mutilated and imprisoned in the mansion. Bruno is a local hunter and a recluse. He lost his son to Lord Gormund.
Characters are sent to find a priest that went missing during his travels. They track him to Lord Gormund’s lands; the priest decided to take a shortcut through there. Locals are sullen and unfriendly, simply mentioning Sergio enjoyed Gormund’s hospitality. Heading to the mansion yields meeting with the lord and the lady. The mansion is well kept, but with an aura of menace. Burly servants skulk in the shadows, their faces terribly scarred. All sounds inside are muffled.
The ruling pair admit having seen Sergio. They claim he stayed for a night and left in the morning to the wilderness. They suggest bandits or wild animals must have got him. Characters should get a feeling that they are lying. They are offered rooms in the mansion, but the place is very creepy. It is likely they refuse more or less politely. What the characters don’t know is that Sergio never left the mansion. The ruling family prolong their youth by literally stealing the looks of others. Pollux, the terrible doctor, removes faces of attractive youth, then sews them on the family members through terrible sorceries. The maimed, flayed victims become test subjects for Pollux’s other experiments. Sergio is now among the unfortunate.
Asking around the countryside about the mansion eventually leads the characters to Bruno. He tells them how his son was very handsome and Lord Gormund stole his beauty. Bruno goes on about how he sees his son when he looks at the lord; it shouldn’t be too clear he means it literally. The hunter explains how the nobles live unnaturally long and terrorize the locals; they are thought to be immortal witches. Bruno is certain Sergio has become their victim. He can be convinced to help the characters raid the manor.
Investigating the manor requires sneaking or bluffing past the scarred, malformed guards. Some of them have been “improved” by Pollux. The manor is beautiful and wealthy, but everything is a little off. Skin, leather and flesh are reoccurring themes in art. Other members of the noble family are likewise creepy, with covered bodies and beautiful faces. Very close examination – such as sneaking on a sleeping person – reveals their true nature. Their bodies are old, gnarled and malformed, while the beautiful faces have been sown on their heads. Somehow, the faces are living and capable of expressions regardless. Eventually the characters will find the dungeons where Pollux resides. They are filled with terrible, fleshy horrors.
While investigating the mansion, the characters will eventually confront the ruling couple and/or doctor Pollux. All three are incapable of seeing the error of their ways. The family members see it as natural extension of nobility; the lowborn are resources to be harvested. Pollux claims he is on a holy mission to liberate bodily arts from Techmancery. Doing things his way is more in touch with nature and holy writings than involving infernal machines, he claims. Pollux claims he has mastered arts of immortality and offers to share them with the characters, if they help him with some final experiments.
Sergio is still – barely – alive and could be saved. It is likely the characters want to purge the den of horror with fire and steel. Bruno helps them personally. Fighting in the mansion is a nightmarish experience, as Pollux releases his “pets” upon the characters. In the end, villagers who’ve had enough storm the mansion as unexpected reinforcements. It is up to characters if they can prevent the family and Pollux from escaping.
Of course, the characters might just take Sergio, leaving the place as it is. This could be a source of follow up scenarios, as they try to convince the Techmancers to investigate or come back with reinforcements.
Combat, Gloom, Religion
The characters have joined a group of faithful on a pilgrimage to the Holy City. The pilgrims have chartered the Gloomship “Jezebel” as their transport. Unfortunately the crew are less than honest in their dealings. They plan to sell the poor to slavery and hold the rich for ransom.
Captain Boise of Jezebel is a downright dastardly man with a certain devilish charm. He’d sell his own mother to slavery and cheat in the deal to boot. First mate Heinrich is his half-brother and chief enforcer. Heinrich is a brute of a man happy to bully those weaker than him. The crew are a bunch of cutthroats and naval deserters with no home and no future.
Reverend Rafael is the spiritual leader of the pilgrims. He is a naïve country priest lost in the wide world. Rafael thinks divine guidance will take them to the Holy City. Esmeralda is a spirited widow, who is not afraid to speak up her mind. She has been suspicious of Boise to begin with. Sergeant Roy is an old, maimed veteran with a melancholic sense of humor. He came along to take his grandchildren to the Holy City and to see it himself before it is too late. Rest of the pilgrims are an assortment of minor landowners, rural traders and wealthy smallholders.
Pilgrims are mostly lodged in the cargo hold, among some containers. Rafael and a few wealthier merchants have tiny cabins by the hold. Jezebel is dirty, cold and shadowy. The passengers must feed and warm themselves; only water is provided from the ship. The captain welcomes the pilgrims onboard initially; there is little contact with the crew afterwards. One of the crew checks that everything is okay among the passengers twice a day. Otherwise they are left on their own. Internal doors outside the area are locked, for “their own safety”.
Suspicions first arise when the trip starts taking longer than expected. A character versed in the matters of travel and Gloom might be the first to notice. Otherwise Esmeralda will bring the matter up. Rafael doesn’t take the matter seriously; he believes everything is fine. After a few more days pass, people get restless, inflamed by the widow. Rafael agrees to their demands and asks to see the captain.
Boise arrives later to address the pilgrims. He tells how a sudden current change in the Gloom forced a course change. Boise drops in loads of obscure terminology and promises they will be in the Holy City soon. He is lying, of course, as should be obvious to anyone skilled in Gloomcrafts. Rafael is happy with the explanation and if anyone confronts the captain, he apologizes for them and leads them away.
More days pass, during which the doors are barred as the captain reacts to rising suspicion. Crew no longer check the passengers. Once the pilgrims finally try to contact the captain again, the crew don’t even bother replying. It is now glaringly obvious the passengers have become prisoners. Rafael remains manically optimistic, talking about divine providence and guidance. Esmeralda starts inciting a rebellion and Sergeant Roy reluctantly joins her camp. Unfortunately the pilgrims are farmers, traders and craftsmen with many women and children among them, not fighters… and few have brought weapons.
The pilgrims have no hope without the characters leading or otherwise helping them. Sergeant Roy can organize and train the pilgrims as well as show how to create improvised guns. His injuries and advanced age make him useless in an actual fight. Captain Boise plans to simply ignore the “cargo” till they are at their destination. Any casualties mean less profit. If things escalate, he sends Heinrich to make a few examples. Boise becomes truly dangerous if he believes he might lose the ship; then he is willing to do anything.
Technically skilled characters might find unused service tunnels through which to sneak elsewhere in the ship. Alternatively, they might be able to force the doors open somehow. If they can take control of a critical ship system or capture the captain, they have a good leverage for blackmail. At best, they can extort the crew to drop them off at the nearest port…whatever that is at that point.
Taking over the ship is another option. Storming the bridge and killing the two commanders makes it possible to commandeer the ship. It requires characters to have Gloomcraft skills to replace the dead. Second part of the task is convincing the crew to work with them. Wholesome slaughter is another possible outcome; the crew will eventually surrender. Remnants of the pilgrims and the sailors must then be organized into a ragtag crew. Chances are simply getting somewhere with a ship damaged in the fighting will be very hard.
Conspiracy, Intrigue, Techmancery
Master gunsmith Draco Ivansson has invented a revolutionary new weapon. It is a pistol capable of firing several times, but with less complicated build than clockwork weapons. He calls it “the revolving gun”. Draco asks the characters to test the gun for him. Meanwhile, his laboratory is gone and sinister forces get after the remaining prototype.
Draco Ivansson is a Techdabbler and a gunsmith extraordinaire. Characters are familiar with his talent and might have befriended him in the past. Draco is very enthusiastic about new mechanisms and gadgets. He is assisted by Ivar, a silent man who handles the business side. He is actually an informant working for the Techmancers. The betrayal is motivated by money.
Rolf is a shady “collector” interested in the revolving gun. He is actually a procurer of new inventions working for the Guild Alliance. Angela is Draco’s mistress he kept secret from everyone, even Ivar. She is afraid for her life and very worried about him. Antonio is an agent of Ordo Rimore, a classic man in black, who will come to clean up the scene in the end.
The revolving gun is – in practice – a reinvented revolver. Draco has produced two working prototypes. He gives them to the characters with some ammunition. Draco wants them to test the guns in variable field conditions. The guns are reliable and efficient. They only lose to clockwork pistols in the size of the magazine. Lacking all the extra gears and parts, the revolving guns are easy to clean, maintain – and potentially reproduce.
When the characters return from their testing – which might take days or even weeks, including other adventures – Draco has disappeared. His laboratory and apartment are completely empty. Walls and floors are covered in dust and cobwebs, as if they had been abandoned for months. Neighbors claim there have never been a gunsmith next door. It is as if he had never existed.
Patient investigation reveals some clues; strange lights and noises happened a week ago in the vicinity. Draco hasn't been seen since, according to business partners that can be found. Ivar was seen for a few days afterwards, talking with strangers clad in black. Then he was gone too. Investigation in the apartment and workshop reveal strange burn marks and miniature Omnium dust, evidence of high Techmancery been used in the area.
Characters become eventually aware of Rolf asking the same questions as they do. He introduces himself as a collector of exotic weaponry. He explains he had contacted Draco to buy his weapons, but he has disappeared. Rolf offers to buy the prototypes for very high sum. He as well offers the characters to help them in their investigation. Rolf suspects Techmancers are behind the disappearance and would prefer to use the characters as meat shields, in case they come back.
Eventually investigation leads them to Angela. If the characters are not co-operating with Rolf, he will shadow them instead. Angela saw Draco the evening before the disappearance. He had seen something – not someone – skulking near the workshop. Angela insisted on him hiring guards, but Draco downplayed the entire thing. Angela admits Draco left a blueprint for safekeeping with her that night. Rolf is willing to pay a lot for the blueprint – or he will simply steal it.
If the characters sell the prototypes and the blueprint to Rolf, he will happily leave with them. As he gets on his way, a man in black – Antonio – slips after him. There is a flash of greenish light and a strange, piercing scream. The characters find Rolf dead, terribly maimed and the items gone. Pursuing the man in black leads them to a dead end, while the agent has mysteriously disappeared. (Using chameleon suit or some other advanced gadgets.) If Rolf isn’t sold the prototypes and the blueprint, he will try to acquire them through underhanded means. He prefers theft, but will hire ruffians for violence if necessary. Should he succeed, end result is the same – Antonio gets him and claims the items.
Should the characters keep the items successfully, Antonio will confront them. He will first approach peacefully, with cryptic warnings. He tells they are playing with forces they don’t understand, but he can still save them. Antonio offers a few kilograms of pure Omnium and some interesting gadgets in exchange for the guns and the blueprints. If asked about Draco, he claims he has been “recruited for the good of us all”. If pressed, he promises to take Angela to him. Should the characters refuse, Antonio will be back later, with reinforcements. He prefers stealing the items without casualties, unless the characters seem capable of reproducing them. In that case, they must be eliminated.
Follow-up of the scenario might include Techmancers and/or the Guild Alliance hunting the characters, or the characters seeking Draco and Ivar following some obscure clues
Crime, Heist, Intrigue
Local Trader Union representative is about to receive a large shipment of Omnium. It is held overnight before being transported on. The Shepherds have found out that the Omnium is being transported to the Golden Lord. They have acquired fake Omnium bars, that should damage any machinery they are used in. Now all they need is to manage the switch…
Sir Justian is the local Trader Union agent. He is an arrogant, ambitious man with a streak of casual cruelty. His slaves and servants despise him. Salman is a cold mercenary captain working for Sir Justian. He is – in practice – the chief of security during the transfer. Sir Rajik is Justian’s teenage son. He is a spoiled, violent drug addict that has inherited the father’s worst traits.
Ruslan is Justian’s administrator. He is an elderly bureaucrat more interested in paperwork than people. Finally, the team coming to get the Omnium in the morning is led by Stefan. He is a career agent of the Trader Union security branch, a true professional with an immaculate eye for detail.
The Omnium arrives early during the day. Ruslan and Justian write off the receipts and the chests are carried inside Justian’s vault. The vault is located underneath his mansion and quite impregnable. First level of the mansion are Trader Union offices and the two floors above living quarters. Salman has several dozen guards in position around and inside the mansion, reinforced with dogs and one clockwork imp. Taking the Omnium by force or stealth is nigh impossible. Justian, Rajik and Salman have keys to the vault.
There are three ways to get to the mansion – through Ruslan, Rajik or Salman. Ruslan believes anything if it is handled to him on an official document. Making a proper forgery requires robbing other Trader Union offices to acquire official seals. Rajik is a spoiled, impulsive brat. He can be talked – especially by attractive women – to hold a party and invite the characters. Finally, Salman might hire formidable specialists as extra security. He won’t trust them with anything critical.
Once inside, the characters need to find a way to make the switch. Investigating the grounds reveals a few options. They could use service lift to transfer things to the kitchen from the cellars. There is an old sewer, bricked in, by the vault. It could be broken open, then closed again. Next to the vault is a large wine cellar; the loot could be potentially hidden in caskets and recovered later. Investigating the grounds shouldn’t be easy; there are guards everywhere and the security is paranoid.
Opening the vault is the final challenge. Breaking it open is not a realistic option; the characters need a key. Justian won’t give up his to anyone, but it could be stolen and then returned. It would require a good distraction, as he carries it on his person. Rajik is the easiest option; while on drugs, he might misplace the key without noticing it. Salman has put his key inside the clockwork imp. Getting it requires disabling the golem and returning the key later without causing permanent harm.
The characters need to get inside with the counterfeit Omnium, acquire the keys and find a way out with the real Omnium. They might come up with wilder plans than suggested; judge them up to their merits.
When the characters are inside the vault, there is a dramatic opportunity to throw in another complication. Rajik stumbling in with a couple of drugged friends is one option; he got the bright idea of giving them a tour. A guard patrol might come suddenly by or Ruslan wanders in to do a midnight inventory. Whatever the event, the characters need to deal with it silent and clean.
If the heist succeeds, the characters get away with a whole load of Omnium. Do they have the moral fortitude to deliver it to the Church or are they tempted to run with it? Alternatively, they’ve been misinformed and the loot is something completely different – such as Pre-Burning secrets hidden among the Omnium.