Greenville is a peaceful small town in Ameracho – or at least it used to be. Recently, strange events have driven the superstitious people on the edge. As a shocked family comes running to town, screaming of demons, the people have had enough. A firebrand preacher is forming an angry mob to burn down the mansion blamed for the troubles. The characters must investigate the mansion before it is too late!

What is really going on

The town is located in the Green North of Ameracho with about 500 permanent inhabitants. The town has a general store/mail office, a sheriff's office, a small church, several craftsmen and a couple of taverns. The fields are prosperous and the countryside peaceful, save the occasional bandits. The countryside in the immediate vicinity has thrice the population, split into individual farmsteads and small villages. Most of the farmers rent their land from Baroness Margaret of House Gilead. She owns a mansion near Greenville, but haven't been there for years.

Late Baron Gilbert and the Baroness had a very unhappy marriage. The baron was a violent drunk, who treated her poorly. The baroness found love from an adulterous relationship with her music tutor. The baron reacted with vindictive cruelty. He had the lover assassinated and prepared for a public and shameful divorce. Baron Gilbert revealed this all in the mansion. His gloating drove the baroness mad with rage. She pushed the baron from a balcony. He fell on his neck, dying instantly.

People think the death was a drunk accident, nothing more. The baroness – clearly overcome with grief – no longer visited Greenville. She left for her city manse and has stayed there for the last three years. The mansion has been only barely maintained by a grounds keeper and his family.

A few weeks ago, disturbing rumors started in the area. People saw colorful lights flicker in the mansion in the dark. Animals and small items went missing from farmsteads nearby. Strange sounds were heard in the dark, weird marks found with the dawn. Hector, a traveling preacher, has spread further fear among the people.

The disturbances are caused by the ruthless Techdabbler Maria, his lover Hugo and their thugs. The groups is looking for the baron's hidden stash inside the mansion. They use Techmancery and parlor tricks to scare the people. Meanwhile, Hector riles up the population, eventually leading them to storm and burn the ”demon-possessed manor” to hide the evidence.

As a last straw, the grounds keeper Luis and his family come running to the town middle of night. They are screaming of a demonic attack. Hector starts immediately rallying the people into a mob. Sheriff Miguel sends the characters to investigate the mansion while he tries to maintain order.

Getting started

XX is an introductionary scenario for ARIUS: the Ashen Age. It aims to introduce the basic rules and various game concepts to you as a GM and to your players. As such, the scenario is quite simple in its contents. The goal is to give everyone a solid base to enjoy further adventures in turmoils of the Ashen Age.

Refresh your grasp on the basics regarding main and combat rules before running the game. If you like, you can choose which optional rules to use in addition. The scenario contains suggestions for various checks and their difficulties. Having a check listed doesn't mean you need to make the players roll it. Play it in your own style; some groups prefer rolling more than others.

Remember that the check difficulties are always variable. Lacking proper tools, being wounded, encumbered or otherwise hampered will make tasks more difficult. Players can add extra dice to the checks for additional effects. Good equipment, good planning and other circumstantial effects can in turn make the checks easier. This offers a way to reward the players mechanically for great ideas; make the associated check easier or let them pass it without even rolling. Take into account assistance possibilities. Remember that the scenario takes place during night and inside a dark building. The characters are assumed to carry torches, lanterns and so forth. If they lose their light, many checks will become a lot harder.

While running the scenario, remember to keep up a sense of urgency. An angry mob is gathering and the night will soon be alight with a sea of torches. The characters don't have time for slow planning or careful finesse. The longer they take before entering the mansion, the shorter the time left for their investigation. Keep up a sense of dread and uncertainty. The characters are going through the place in the dark with only dancing, shadow-casting flames as their illumination. They've been hearing fearsome rumors for weeks. Who knows what is really afoot?

In the Ashen Age, reality is a matter of perception. For that end, choose how your world works as per the defining questions in the main book. The scenario itself offers various options at different chapters. This way, you can fit the events to a frame that pleases you most. If you wish, you can easily move the scenario to some other realm. Just tweak names and other details accordingly.

Characters

The players are assumed to use the simple character templates. The scenario is designed for three to five players. The characters are assumed to be locals, who are known by the sheriff. They might not live in Greenville, but are from the general area. The characters might have families, loved ones and friends in the town, even among the mob. They all know each other, at least by reputation.

Each character should have differing personal motivation. This adds further differences in the scenario; a group of mercenaries will act differently from a group of occult investigators. Here are some suggestions by character template, feel free to come up with more.

Courtier or Merchant is a distant relative of the Baroness looking out for the family property.

Marksman, Scout and Warrior could be trusted deputies – the very best among them – personally chosen by the Sheriff. Alternatively, they are war veterans looking for money.

Occultist is there for the occult, of course. He wants to investigate the haunting for personal power or to put the restless dead at peace.

Scholar or Priest can be a local preacher who wants to put the local superstitious talk at ease or a Shepherd drawn to the area by the rumors to investigate.

Techdabbler is there to scavenge loot for his unorthodox experiments or because he thinks the haunting is really caused by old Techmancery.

Thief is looking for loot, an agent of House Gilead tasked with protecting the family secrets or a Shepherd investigating possible haunting.

Act I: It was a dark and dreadful night

All began with scratching at the window. Luis Valdez, the mansion caretaker, and his wife Anitra were awoken by something outside the house. They heard their donkeys scream in panic. Soon, the window shattered and a growling thing was coming at them. The couple grabbed their three children and ran into the dark night. They arrived in Greenville bare-feet and shivering, still in their nightclothes and screaming about demons.

Soon Hector had things going his way. He quickly sent his disciples to rouse people and started preaching fire and brimstone. Clearly the forces of Darkness were trying intrude into this world and the mansion was their gateway. As faithful soldiers of Arius, the people would need to steel their hearts, take up arms and tear down that awful place before it was too late.

Sheriff Miguel One-eye has been a lonely voice of reason in Greenville. Now that things are spiraling out of control, he still tries to keep the peace. The sheriff is certain there are no supernatural forces afoot. He believes a Blighted beast has wandered in the area from the toxic wastelands. The sheriff forms the player characters into a posse and asks them to investigate the manor. If possible, bring back evidence that can convince the mob to stand down. Should the mob burn down the place, the consequences for the town will be severe. The sheriff will take the rest of the deputies – those who haven't joined the mob – and try to delay the attack.

The mansion is roughly 30 minutes away from the town on foot or horseback. Forcing the horses to go fast in the dark is risky on bumpy roads filled with holes. Riding hard takes the characters there in 10 minutes, but requires 3D Riding checks. The crowd will be ready to attack in roughly two hours, after which they take over half an hour to march. Understanding this requires a 3D Tactics or a 5D Intuition check.

The characters can either leave immediately or stay to prepare a little further. Time is precious; if they stay in town, pressure them with a sense of urgency. Pepper them with small events like men cleaning old muskets for use or wailing mothers trying to prevent their boys joining the mob. The characters can borrow mundane equipment from the general store. This mostly includes tools and other things a farming community might need.

There is no reasonable way to stop Hector and his mob. If the characters kill him, it will lead into a riot. The sheriff will be appalled and prosecute them as murderers, if they don't get lynched first. Talking him down is nigh impossible; Hector is too busy preaching to spare time for a personal audience. The characters can delay the mob by sowing doubt among them. This requires a 5D Leadership check (preferably assisted with Religion/Occult) and grants an extra hour. If the characters want to recruit additional manpower, they can do that with a 4D Leadership check. This convinces a couple of other deputies to join them.

The characters can locate the groundskeeper and his family easily enough. Unfortunately they are hysterical and distraught. Getting anything useful out of them requires a 4D Human Nature/Diplomacy check. If successful, they'll describe a wailing monster that burst through a window. It was roughly humanoid, but with a skull-like face and eyes burning with green fire. It laughed with a shrill, female voice when the family ran away. They remember the yard was filled with an unnatural fog when they fled. If pressed, (requires a second check) Luis and and Anitra can give a rough description of the mansion and the surroundings (see below). They haven't dared to enter the mansion proper for two weeks due to the ”ghosts”. The couple have no idea about the secret passage and the treasure room.

Asking around requires a 4D Streetwise check. If successful, the characters will hear a hundred local ghost stories. In addition, they'll learn Hector arrived to the town a month ago. A small group of strangers passed by three weeks ago. They were equipped like scavengers (the like digging up old ruins for baubles and gadgets) and stopped to talk with Hector before passing on.

4D History/Politics & Current Events check reveals basics about the Baron's death. Gilbert was a violent drunk who wasn't much liked by anyone. Baroness Margaret was known for treating the locals fairly and with compassion. Her great grief after the accident was surprising. Perhaps she had intense feelings for the old drunk against all reason. The baroness haven't been seen since.

As always, be ready to improvise; the characters might have unexpected ideas.

Characters

You can use generic militia and thugs as various deputies. If taken to investigate the mansion, they will soil their pants and run after failing first Terror check.

Sheriff Miguel One-Eye is a stern, loyal lawman. He is a realist and aware that the Empire is not as perfect as it could be. Regardless, he has sworn to upheld the law and defend the people. In his eye, even flawed justice is better than no justice. The sheriff is originally from the Coast of Ash, where he saw plenty of gang violence and lawlessness. He has sworn to never allow Greenville to fall to a such sorry state.

Miguel is about 40 with a scarred, bearded face and a large leather eye-patch. He has a dark sense of humor. The general foolishness of humanity can no longer surprise him, no matter what.

Hector is a traveling preacher and occasional miracle worker. He has a talent for inciting crowds like a puppeteer. The preacher is about 30, with a bald head, fiery eyes and a booming voice. He dresses in ragged robes, but loves a good meal.

You can choose what his motivations truly are. He might be the real thing, a fanatical preacher. In that case, the treasure hunters are just using him. They've convinced Hector that House Gilead are vile cultists and the mansion is opening a chasm to the Gloom. Alternatively, he is a part of their plan. The ”demonic attack” was the sign to lead the mob to burn the mansion. Hector will later rejoin the others to share the spoils.

Luis and Anitra Valdez are a married couple in their middle twenties. They have three children, all under the age of ten. When the baroness abandoned the mansion, they were left to maintain it. The family have a small house on the grounds and are paid well. Both are uneducated, religious and very superstitious. Making them believe simple chemistry and gadgets were ghosts was easy.

You can generate other NPCs on the fly if necessary by using the NPC Generator.

Behind the scenes

Maria and Hugo are behind the ”haunting”. They've been using various alchemical and Techmantic tricks to scare the locals for a while. Tonight is the moment they breach a hidden safe in the mansion. The mob is supposed to burn the place to hide the mess.

The ”demon” that attacked the Valdez house was Maria in a monster suit. A Techmantic smoke machine produced the fog outside to add in the demonic atmosphere. Meanwhile, Hugo killed the donkeys. They've been put into use for decorating the mansion grounds.

Optional content

If you want more action in town, you can have the religious mania lead into a spontaneous witch hunt. The characters can decide whether to intervene or not when they see a group of men preparing to burn a young girl as a witch.

Act II: Cursed Ground

The mansion grounds are surrounded by a once beautiful garden. Now it is simply neat and functional. Outer buildings include two storage sheds, the Valdez house, stables, a chapel and a gazebo. The mansion is made of white stone and has three floors. There is a large balcony above the main doors. Baron Gilbert called the place ”simple rustic retreat”, but it is opulent by local standards. His death left a shadow on the buildings.

As they approach the mansion, the characters can make 5D Perception checks. On a success, a character sees a dark shape standing on the balcony, as if watching them. Then it disappears. Success and a miss by three notices weak blue light glittering momentarily from the attic windows. There is a strange, thick fog hanging close to the ground around the buildings.

Storage sheds are locked with simple padlocks (2D Intrusion to open). The contents are completely uninteresting – mainly furniture, gardening tools and so forth. Everything is covered with dust.

Valdez house is left as when the family fled into the night. Two windows have been broken from the outside. There are scratch marks on the wooden walls, as if left by great claws. The door is hanging ajar. Inside, the place is a mess, but has nothing interesting in it. There are great pools of blood outside, where the donkeys were tethered. Bloody drag-marks lead towards the chapel. Immoral characters can steal valuables worth ten to twenty omns, if they wish.

Stables are empty and unused, though still stocked with hay.

Chapel is a simple round building made of white stone. It has a skylight, but no windows. Outside, the walls have been engraved with saintly images. The doors are ajar and bloody trail leads inside. The altar and the large statue of Arius have been desecrated with the donkey carcasses. Severed heads grin at the characters, light reflecting madly from their dead eyes. There is blood and entrails everywhere. They form a rough magic circle middle of the floor. 4D Occult check reveals the circle doesn't follow any common school of sorcery. Rather, it is an amateurs idea of what sorcerous symbols might look like. 3D Investigation check reveals bloody footprints around the chapel. They look inhuman with clawed feet.

Gazebo is made of green and blue marble with a bright yellow roof. Currently, it is filled with a squeaking, squirming mass of rats and mice. The sight is unnatural enough to cause a 3D Terror check. Driving the vermin from the building is very hard. If successful against all odds, the characters locate sticky, smelly residue on walls and floor. It is a Techmantic substance Maria used to attract the animals to the building. Realizing this requires a 5D Arcane Lore check.

Mansion itself has large double door at the front. They have been barred from the inside. Breaking in requires a 5D Intrusion or a 6D Vigor check, but causes a racket. Circling around the building locates a service entrance that is unlocked. Opening the windows is easier and possibly silent (3D Intrusion), but climbing in is difficult with Bulky gear. Climbing up the walls takes a 4D Athletics check (remember Bulk penalties!).

Characters

-

Behind the scenes

Maria and Hugo prepared the scene for investigators. Hugo desecrated the chapel with the poor donkeys while leaving monstrous tracks on purpose. Meanwhile Maria summoned the vermin.

Optional content

If you are using Madness Meter, exploring the grounds is enough for a 3D Supernatural check (rats, claw marks, unnatural fog and desecrated chapel). If a character comes up with an excellent rationalization and believes it, make it a 3D Techmancery check instead.

If you want more combat, add an attack by one or two Blighted hounds. Maria and Hugo released them on the grounds after other preparations. The hounds are covered with occult symbols and bony decorations to create an impression of hellhounds.

Should the character prepare against supernatural with religion or sorcery, this can provide some benefits. Protective prayers (4D Religion) provide moral boost against horrors. As long as the characters truly believe in their effect and keep doing religious acts (praying etc), they get -1D to all Terror checks. Same is true for occult rites, but the occultist likely won't share them with the others. Both effects persist through the scenario, as long as the players remember to mention them. (Saying they keep mumbling prayers or using the Holy Scriptures as a shield against something weird, calling a saint to protect him etc.) If your world contains truly supernatural things, they have further benefits. In that case, the priest or the occultist reciting protections can avoid the worst Alone in the Dark encounters (see below).

Act III: Smoke and Mirrors, the Ground Floor

The first floor has several empty corridors and a few rooms of note. Furniture have been covered with protective cloth sheets. The mansion has been clearly unused for a long time. All mirrors have been covered with sheets nailed in place. 4D Perception notices a faint, eerie music coming from somewhere upstairs. There is a strange, pungent smell in the air.

Dinner room is a large empty space dominated by a long, wide table. The walls are filled with family portraits of House Gilead. The flickering shadows cast by the lights carried by the characters make the paintings seem demonic. It is as if they were all staring disapprovingly at the intruders. A huge chandelier hangs from the ceiling, tinkling slightly, as if moved by an unfelt wind. The chandelier is trapped and will drop when a pressure plate underneath a rug is walked over. Finding the trigger requires 4D Investigation; recognizing what it does 4D Clockworks. If the trap is triggered, the heavy chandelier drops and explodes into a shower of shards. 4D Alertness check allows characters to avoid damage. A failure inflicts 5D damage to the character directly underneath; a miss by three 3D damage. Failed Alertness inflicts 2D damage from shards to others in the room. The dropping chandelier makes a huge racket.

Library and lounge are filled with covered furniture. Books in the library are unremarkable, containing mainly chivalric fiction, official histories, biographies and romantic poetry. Of course, books are expensive and valuable – someone might want to loot a few.

Kitchen floor is covered with a thin layer of powder easily mistaken for dust. When stepped on, it starts burning harmlessly with an eerie green light. It is unexpected enough for 4D Terror checks. If closely investigated, the dust can be identified as a chemical compound (5D Alchemy/4D Arcane Lore). There are several silver and gilded candlesticks on one table, which seem very valuable. Close by is a strange knife rack – all the knives have been set upon it blades outward. Kitchen has an entry to the wine cellar, but it seems to have been boarded shut. (See Act V for cellar.)

Servant quarters are empty save furniture covered with sheets. A couple of the doors have been fitted with simple mechanisms that make the door bang shut shortly after opened. (4D Investigation to find, 3D Clockworks to understand.)

Characters

-

Behind the scenes

Maria has trapped the rooms to scare people and to give the looters a warning if people enter the mansion. Banging doors and especially the dropping chandelier can be heard downstairs, thus giving advance warning of intruders inside.

Optional content

The strange events on the ground floor (eerie music, glowing dust, chandelier, knife trap, banging doors) are enough to cause a 4D Supernatural check if you use Madness Meter.

If you want to add haunting events, remember how bad things always happen in horror genre when someone is alone in the dark. The events might be supernatural, the work of active imagination and adrenaline, Techmantic tricks or something else entirely. Most of the events call for 4D/5D Terror checks. The wildest events should be used if there really is supernatural elements in your game world. Here are a few suggestions for what can happen to a character left alone:

  • His light suddenly dies, leaving him in total darkness.
  • The room or corridor becomes suddenly a lot colder.
  • A female voice signs a lullaby somewhere close by.
  • Something sticky brushes against the back of his neck.
  • He hears approaching footsteps behind, but turning around, sees nothing.
  • Something dark and flowing moves quickly past his field of vision.
  • There are scratching noises inside the wall.
  • Strange thick fog starts suddenly billowing in the room or corridor out of nowhere.
  • A small item – like a holstered pistol – suddenly drops on the floor. It slides against the wall on its own before stopping with a clang.
  • A statue, bust or painting weeps brine, oil or blood.
  • A male voice whispers ”Avenge me!” in the character's ear.
  • Suddenly blood drips from the character's palm. Written upon it is ”BELOW YOU” as if cut with a blade. If he shows it to someone, the writing is no longer there.
  • Occult symbols suddenly appear on a wall in blood or as if clawed there. If the character gets others to look at them, they've disappeared.
  • Covering falls off from a mirror. If the character moves to investigate, his reflection is terribly distorted and monstrous.

Act IV: Music and Flames

A wide staircase lined with paintings leads to the second floor. The floor is where the bedrooms for the family and visitors are located. The eerie music sounds stronger here. 4D Perception check locates the music coming from the master bedroom. In addition, there are shuffling movement sounds coming from the attic. The corridors between bedrooms are lined with tall candelabras. Most have candles burning in them with flickering blue flames. 5D Alchemy/4D Arcane Lore identifies it as a chemically induced illusion, if the candles are investigated closely.

Master bedroom is the source of the eerie music. It immediately stops when the door is opened for the first time. The bedroom is more of a luxurious suite than a single room. There is a hidden music box in the room that played the tune (6D Investigation to find). It was attached to the door with a mechanism that turned it off when the door was opened. Furniture in the room is exquisite and several cabinets still contain jewelry and expensive clothing. A single door leads to the balcony.

Guest bedrooms are smaller versions of the master bedroom. They contain nothing interesting, but the doors bang closed on their own as in the servants quarters. Looters might be interested in various objects of art, vases, silver candlesticks and so forth.

Study is where the baron used to work. It is completely ransacked, with overturned furniture and old papers thrown everywhere. The most interesting ones are old, coded letters. Breaking the code is nigh impossible given the time limit on the characters. Should they somehow manage it, the letter detail various business ventures. Among them are details about the baroness' relationship and the following assassination.

Attic is accessed through a ladder leading to a closed hatch. The hatch is covered with strange symbols drawn with white chalk. 4D Occult identifies them as wards against spirits. It is not locked. The top floor is filled with old furniture, wooden crates, ornamental suits of armor and other junk. Among them are several portraits of Baron Gilbert, which have been removed from other rooms.

A little girl is hiding among the junk (4D Perception to spot). Seen farther away she is just a dark shape among the crates. If spotted, she tries to run away and hide again. If approached, she screams about ”bad men” and ”evil lady trying to hurt me!”. Calming her down takes a 4D Human Nature/Diplomacy check.

Characters

Juanita is the girl hiding in the attic. She is covered with dust and dirt, wearing a ragged dress and less than twelve years old. The girl doesn't want to leave the attic – she is very afraid of the ”evil lady” and ”bad men”. You can use a generic street urchin for her stats. Who she is exactly... you can choose:

  • The girl is a runaway slave, who's been hiding in the mansion for a while. She has survived by stealing food from the nearby farmsteads. When the treasure hunters came, she became convinced they are witches. She knows little of use, but can tell about witches doing rituals to make the place haunted and how they are somewhere below.
  • Juanita is a ghost. She was a servant girl who unfortunately witnessed how the baroness pushed her husband from the balcony. In a fit of panic, she murdered the girl to hide her deed. The girl's corpse is hidden in a crate in the attic. Juanita appears completely physical if touched. She can't leave the attic as long as the warding runes are in place. Juanita will try to guide the characters to the safe and the truth about her death. If it succeeds, she will simply disappear when nobody is watching, never to be seen again.
  • She is a projection from an Image Projector, left there by Maria to scare people. Her vocabulary is limited and repetitive, like her movements. Should a character try to touch her, her insubstantial nature becomes apparent. It causes 5D Terror check. Searching the attic can reveal the projector (4D Investigation).

Behind the scenes

Maria and Hugo ransacked the study, but didn't find what they sought. Thus Maria simply trapped the place with further ”hauntings”.

Optional content

If you are using Madness Meter, the strange events on the top floor cause 4D Supernatural check.

Act V: Down below

Stairway to the cellar is boarded shut. 5D Investigation notices the boarding can be easily removed from one corner, clearing enough space to slip through. Breaking through with violence requires a 3D Intrusion or 5D Vigor check. It causes a lot of noise.

Wine cellar is the first part of the basement. Walls are lined with huge barrels. Unnatural fog (caused by a smoke machine) hangs on the floor. There are no obvious ways to move onwards. Searching the room (4D Perception) reveals one of the barrels sounds empty and the front could be removed. Investigating the barrel carefully (4D Investigation) reveals a wire trigger in the opening; it can be easily disarmed. If the barrel is opened, a huge blast of white fog streams forth. It is followed by an otherworldly scream, as if a great beast was attacking. Nothing comes out, but it is easy to imagine a monster in the shadowy cellar. This calls for a 4D Terror check.

Old family tomb is located behind the secret entrance. A short, narrow corridor leads from the barrel to the tomb. Visibility is very low; the tomb is filled with thick, gray fog. There are four sarcophagi and stairs leading into the treasure room in the tomb.

If the characters have made a racket, there will be an ambush in the tomb. Noticing the ambush beforehand takes a 5D Perception check. Each sarcophagus has one of the hired thugs in it. They are covered with long black cloaks and wear crude skull masks. They'll jump out growling and attack the characters. This calls for a 4D Terror check. Hugo has made them take bloodroot unknowingly, ensuring they'll be aggressive and not give up easily.

Hugo observes the fight from the back of the room, hiding behind a sarcophagus. If the characters seem to be winning, he'll throw a smoke grenade to cover his escape and run down the stairs. If the characters have been silent and managed to avoid the barrel entry trap, Hugo will be in the treasure room. The hired help are playing cards in a dim candlelight in their costumes by the sarcophagi, making a strange but not terrorizing sight.

Treasure room is at the bottom of steep stairs. It is a small chamber with several iron-bound chests and a safe installed directly to the stone wall. The chests are open and contain accounting ledgers of the late baron's finances. They are no immediately useful, though Imperial tax collectors might find them interesting. There is an escape route – a narrow tunnel – leading at the bottom of a dried-out well. Rope ladder hangs from the top. Horses of the group wait near the well in a small copse, guarded by a fifth thug. Maria is in the room, but what she is exactly doing, depends on how much time the characters have taken to get there.

There is an inactive pain gas grenade trap in the stairway. If Hugo is present in the tomb ambush and retreats, he arms the trap on the way down. Avoiding it requires a 4D Alertness check (4D Demolitions to disarm safely).

If the characters have been fast, Maria is still working on the safe with her tools. She'll try to finish the job, but will run rather than fight. If the characters have taken a while, she is just finishing breaking inside the safe. She'll try to escape with or without Hugo after looting the safe. If they've been very slow, the treasure hunters are already gone and the mob is approaching the front doors.

What exactly is there in the safe? Choose at least three from these options:

  • An ownership deed for an old Gloomvessel mothballed in a city far away
  • The Puzzle Box
  • Letters and a ledger detailing baron Gilbert's dirty business, including reports of the baroness' infidelity and the assassination of her lover
  • The Crown of Nikolai
  • A large statue of a Gloomwalker made of pure Omnium with strange inscriptions
  • A keyring full of strange, rusty keys and an ancient map
  • Prayer beads made of human teeth
  • A Miracle Injection inside a box made of ivory and onyx
  • A letter of recommendation from the Lord Regent himself, vouching that the bearer is a faithful follower of Arius and a man of excellent moral character
  • A photograph of young Baron Gilbert with a young Techmancer, who looks just like him, save the terrible changes caused by the Conduit. His twin brother?

Chasing Maria through the tunnel and up the rope ladder requires a 4D Athletics check. The characters can continue the chase on horseback by taking any extra mounts left.

Characters

You can use generic thugs to represent the five hired minions. They are wearing leather armor and armed with axes or clubs. Two of the men in the tomb have poor pistols, while the scoundrel guarding the horses has a poor musket. The thugs are nervous regarding the strange stuff going on; they can be intimidated or bribed if they are not under the influence of bloodroot.

Hugo

Hugo is a hard-boiled scavenger, who has seen plenty of strange things in ancient ruins. He has dark hair, rough features and cold, cold eyes. He feels genuine affection towards Maria and trusts her more than he should. Everyone else are expendable.

VigorAgilityPerceptionIntuitionLoreCharmWillpower
18171515121214

PV 18 (torso) DP 10/13 Mighty Blow 9 Momentum 6

Blessings: Armor Training II Lucky II Pain Tolerance I

Curses: Unlucky I

Skills: Acrobatics 5 (TN 14), Alertness 5 (TN 13), Athletics 5 (TN 14), Blades 7 (TN 16), Fast-Talk 3 (TN 9), Firearms 4 (TN 12), Diplomacy 3 (TN 9), Human Nature 3 (TN 11), Leechcraft (First aid) 3 (TN 9), Riding 4 (TN 13), Stealth 4 (TN 13), Streetwise 4 (TN 10), Swimming 3 (TN 12), Throwing 4 (TN 12), Unarmed 7 (TN 16)

Wound LevelValueInjuries
Bruise8------
Light Wound9+----
Serious Wound18+---
Lethal Wound27+-

Notable equipment: Steel cuirass, broadsword, brace of pistols, two smoke grenades, gloommask.

Maria

Head of the operation, Maria is a ruthless Techdabbler looking for the big haul. She is not exactly pretty, but has a beautiful, musical voice. Living in a world dominated by men has taught her to do whatever it takes to advance in life. She finds Hugo a useful protector and his adoration is cute. Still, Maria puts her own survival first and will throw him to the wolves if she has to. She will run or surrender; fighting is not her forte. If caught, Maria will play a damsel in distress, claiming she was a captive forced to co-operate.

You can choose her motivation from the following suggestions:

  • She's working for House Gilead and looking to hide any evidence of family secrets.
  • She's working for a rival house looking for scandalous material.
  • Maria is Baron Gilbert's former mistress and is determined to claim ”inheritance”.
  • Maria is looking for an ancient treasure trove, the location of which can be found from the safe. Alternatively, she is after the Crown or the Puzzle Box.
  • She is a Vernian heretic looking for something to use against the Church.
  • Her sister is held captive by a third party and they've blackmailed her to do the job.
  • Baroness' lover was Maria's brother and she seeks revenge against House Gilead.
  • No deeper motives; Maria is just looking for loot.
VigorAgilityPerceptionIntuitionLoreCharmWillpower
13151417171615

PV 0 DP 8/10 Mighty Blow 2 Momentum 5

Blessings: Attractive I Harmless Lucky II

Curses: Small

Blight: 2

Skills: Acrobatics 4 (TN 12), Alertness 3 (TN 12), Arcane Lore 3 (TN 12), Athletics 4 (TN 11), Clockworks 6 (TN 15), Clubs & Axes 4 (TN 11), Demolitions 3 (TN 12), Diplomacy 6 (TN 14), Fast-Talk 6 (TN 14), Firearms 4 (TN 11), Fleshcraft 3 (TN 12), Golemcraft 3 (TN 12), Human Nature 5 (TN 14), Intrusion 5 (TN 13), Investigation 4 (TN 13), Riding 5 (TN 13), Spiritcraft 3 (TN 12), Stealth 4 (TN 12), Streetwise 3 (TN 12), Techmancery 3 (TN 12), Throwing 4 (TN 13), Unarmed 4 (TN 11)

Wound LevelValueInjuries
Bruise6------
Light Wound7+----
Serious Wound13+---
Lethal Wound20+-

Notable equipment: Excellent intrusion kit, clockworks toolkit, woundspray (two charges remaining), pocket pistol, pain gas grenade, gloommask.

Optional content

If you want a monstrous encounter, replace the thugs in the tomb with a clockwork corpse or two. Be warned that will make the fight much harder!

If you are using Madness Meter, the encounters downstairs are enough for a 5D Supernatural check. It can be converted to a 4D Techmancery check, if proper explanations are found.

Act VI: Aftermath

The characters can stop the mob if they capture Maria and/or Hugo. They make a good living proof to prevent the mansion being burned down. Without the captives or only the corpses to show to the crowd, stopping them takes some serious talking. Whether they can stop the mob or not, the characters get five experience points each for facing the horrors. If they only explored the mansion partially, they get three experience points each.

If the mansion gets destroyed by the mob, the sheriff is disappointed, but doesn't blame the characters. After all, upholding the law is his duty and he was unable to do it. Destroying noble property will bring serious consequences for the town. The sheriff might ask the characters to hunt down Maria and Hugo if they got away, chase down Hector or to go meet the Baroness as the town's envoy.

Stopping the mob and not looting the mansion gets the characters a lifelong friend in the sheriff. He will send in good word to the Baroness. House Gilead might have more work for capable and discreet operatives in the grand game of Houses. The characters get one AP each for being such upstanding individuals (but no monetary reward).

If the characters loot the mansion, but stop the mob, the sheriff will be displeased. Since the mansion wasn't burned to cover the evidence, their robbery won't go unnoticed. Rumors will spread and the characters become know as thieves among the locals. Selling the loot will require them to go to the nearest city anyway, but the jewelry, silver candlesticks and so forth are easily worth over 200 Omns in total. More, if they find the right fence.

If the characters loot the safe, but nothing else, the sheriff will never know. Locals will see them as heroes. Eventually, House Gilead sends someone to investigate. They'll find out the secret room and want to question the characters about the contents. Contents of the safe are by themselves good source for further adventures.

If Maria was captured, she will eventually escape. She might want to revenge the foiling of her plots to the characters or just to get back the stuff from the safe. This might involve her associates, if she has any. Same is true if she ran without looting the safe. If the characters did the unexpected and allied with Maria on the spot, she will involve them in her plans, whatever they were, but see them ultimately as expendable fodder.

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