If you are a player, and your JM does not have access to the Internet, feel free to make a copy available for him/her. However, it is in your best interest to avoid reading the adventure, as doing so will likely spoil your enjoyment of it.
How the HP's choose to equip themselves is, of course, their own decision. Tarrant will provide any reasonable equipment request. He will also furnish what little information he has, which is summed up above. Having done no investigation himself (it was his friend, the current Lord Mayor of Lisolet, who asked for help), he knows nothing of import.
Before ascending the throne, you well know, he was perceived as a foolish and wasteful young man, more concerned with personal pleasures than the land. This changed once he had inherited the crown, and the serious man before you bears little resemblance to the foppish young man he was. This he readily admits, but it is his past which haunts him now.
With chagrin, he explains that he and some of his companions (including the current mayor of Lisolet, the port town) had frequented the Rose Quarter, a section of Lisolet that is the haven of whores. The Scarlet Madame, who had not attempted to curry favors with her clientele since their rise to power, has asked for an investigation. It seems that several prostitutes have been brutally murdered, and the Madam is applying pressure to have them solved, or else she will disclose the activities of Tarrant and his companions. While the unmarried Markthegn can withstand the scandal, it would cause the collapse of sections of the government, and it could prove troublesome as he continues his program to bring temporal power back into the hands of its rulers.
He makes it very obvious that no expense is to be spared, but the normal channels may not be involved. The investigation must occur, and it must be kept very quiet.
If the HPs seem seriously out-classed (from the JM's perspective), and they have pledged themselves to his service, it would not be unreasonable for Tarrant to provide a small amount of magickal equipment/weapons. While he has been active in seeking new items, he does not have much of tremendous power. The following were provided to the author's players when the scenario was run:
Greatsword of Light: This barely-enchanted sword will glow with a soft light, equivalent to torchlight, for a period of 1 hour once per day. The weapon is not enchanted in any other way, but it would be sufficient to harm Hanah.
Arrow of Direction (per Mythus Magick)
Sword of Skill: Despite the high-sounding name, the Sword of Skill has little enchantment. In the hands of anyone unfamiliar with swordplay, it will confer the equivalent of Combat, Hand Weapons at a STEEP of 20 (or raise the wielder's effective STEEP to 20 if it is lower), granting the sub-area of Swords, one-handed. It is otherwise unremarkable.
Once equipped, the HPs will be sent to meet with the Lord Mayor of Lisolet.
The HPs will be conveyed to Lisolet in an appropriate manner, discreetly. As in Tremayne, the audience granted will be very private. The meeting takes place in the evening, after nightfall. The Lord Mayor, one Frances Roderique, meets with the party. He is noticeably relieved at their presence (it means that his friend, the Markthegn, is answering his plea).
He will quickly describe the murders, of which there have been four. The information gathered so far points out some similarities: each victim was a prostitute, each victim was slain at night, and each victim looked as if she had been partially devoured. Three of the four worked for the Scarlet Madam, but given the Madam's clout in the district, that is a fair representation.
If pressed for further details, he will confide:
If the HPs ask about his own involvement with the Scarlet Madam:
If the HPs ask for more equipment:
Once the HPs have no further questions, they will be dismissed with directions to the Grand House of Pleasure, where the Scarlet Madam awaits.
III. The Rose Quarter:
After leaving the Mayoral Mansion, the HPs will probably want to investigate in the Rose Quarter (although not necessarily). The remainder of the adventure consists of encounters, culminating in a grand encounter and battle within the sewers. Some suggested clues are provided below, along with some suggestions for misleading clues. Which the JM chooses to use, of course, will influence the length of the adventure, and it might be a good idea to add some or change others to suit the style of the campaign better.
The Grand House of Pleasure
Provided that the HPs proceed immediately to the Grand House of Pleasure, they will be greeted with first-hand evidence of another murder. The victim was found in an alleyway near the Madam's house, and she was one of the Madam's girls. Several priestesses are gathered around the body, along with a number of other prostitutes and what appear to be a pair of private guardians. The HPs should be allowed to take a look at the body (which appears to have been chewed upon, although the damage is such that almost no one can tell what did the damage - it is too torn), but they will quickly be ushered through the perfumed and barely lit house into a back parlor, where the Scarlet Madam awaits.
A generic set of OPs are at the end, along with some suggested names (sprinkle around as needed). If the JM chooses to involve the HPs with the day-to-day (or perhaps that should be night-to-night) operations of the Grand House of Pleasure, then the JM should feel free to make up details as needed.
"It appears that whoever is behind this has struck again. Frankly, I'm getting worried. My girls depend upon a few priestesses of Venus and our guards to keep us safe, but it apparently isn't working." She looks around, sighing. "The last two victims were both girls from my House, and they were among my best." Noting your looks of apparent incomprehension, she goes on to explain.
"They're my leaders, they report directly to me, and they each watch over several girls. In essence, she was one of my lieutenants, although this isn't exactly a military organization." She shoves her papers to the side. "I've been told to help you in any way I can to solve this riddle, but it might be best if you were watching those most likely to be struck. Each of you will guard one of the remaining 'finest', since the priestesses and guards are already spread very thin." She sighs again. "This will probably be a rough one."
The following are clues which may be used here:
One prostitute witnessed the most recent attack:
[In point of fact, the prostitute in question did not actually witness the attack, it was flickering shadows after the attack, and her imagination provided the rest.]
One guard, fresh upon discovering the body:
[He is telling the truth, although he did not actually follow the footprints, and if the HPs look for them, they won't see them.]
If the party pursues the above clues, then they will likely find their way to the Underground Merchants, a small company that trades with Subterranean AErth races. The Scarlet Madam is on good terms with the UM, and she will be willing to give the HPs directions to their enclave.
[Note: When I ran it, I created a small hole behind the Grand House of Pleasure which led into the sewers, and one of the HPs managed to track the murderer to the hole. In addition, there have been more abductions than the ones known, some having been used to feed Hanah's small army of ghouls, some to be sacrificed to the Vengeful Virgin.]
The Underground Merchants
The UM Consortium is actually a family of merchants who specialize in the exotic. Although their primary customers are the underworld of Grandmark (which is centered in Lisolet, and is fairly extensive for a town of 10,000) and nearby residents of Subterranean AErth (specifically, some Stoties, Ferretfolk, and Trogs), they also have contact with Phaeree. If the clues above are described to the merchants, they will mention the subterranean race nicknamed 'Ratties' who would act in such a manner.
If the HPs accept this, and return to the Lord Mayor with such information, the following sequence of events will occur:
(1) The Lord Mayor will send a punitive force against the Ratties.
(2) The Ratties in the area will be driven off by the military.
(3a) Another prostitute (not one of the Madam's) will be slain.
(3b) [simultaneous] A group of three or four Ohdow (a neutral short-tempered race of elves, much like the Trow) will appear to the party, coldly threatening. The Ohdow should be of sufficient power to stop the HPs if they try anything, and they will explain that the Ratties do not act like that, and if they did, they would leave much less meat behind. Further, the Ratties are hunting in other territories now, and the Ohdow are not happy with the plague.
(4) If the HPs have not passed the above on to the Lord Mayor, a Thunderbird ally of the Ohdow will appear in a shared dream and point out that they continue to make the mistake.
(5) The punitive expedition will be called off.
(6) The HPs will need to seek elsewhere for clues.
The Shrine of Venus
Given that some priestesses of Venus are employed at the Grand House of Pleasure, it is not unreasonable for the HPs to visit the temple, and it might even be the first stop on their agenda. Should they do so, and speak to one of the ranking Priestesses (not a difficult feat if any of the HPs are particularly attractive), an augury will be performed, and they will be left with the following wisdom:
This refers, of course, to the fallen Vestal Virgin. Make a secret check against each HPs Religion K/S (if possessed) at DR "Hard". Upon success, this will trigger the memory that certain Goddesses will expel Priestesses from their clergy should they lose their virginity (in this case: Minerva, Diana, and Vestia).
Inquiries at the three temples will be met with reserve, and raised eyebrows, but none will remember any recent expulsion. However, as the HPs are leaving the temple of Vestia, they will be quietly approached by one of the initiates, who will mention that one of her fellow initiates had braved the night a month ago, and had not been heard from since. Her name in the order was Hanah, named after one of the greatest martyrs to Vestia, who died to save herself from being ravished.
Further information will not be volunteered, although another augury cast with this name will indicate that Hanah lives in a dark and dank place.
IV. The Sewers:
The HPs will eventually need to find their way into the sewers, either by tracking Hanah from another attack (details to be created as needed), or by following auguries cast. Regardless of the means of reaching the sewers, they are dank, dark, but not filled with waste (the Ratties normally scour and scavenge in the tunnels connected to some out-of-the-way places in Subterranean AErth). Due to the recent military excursions (if any), or perhaps just out of plain irritability, several rabid Ratties will attack the party while down here (statistics per the AErth Bestiary, p. 160).
Given that Hanah has been granted a small amount of control of several ghouls, they are likely wandering through the sewers, and they will probably attack HPs on sight. Hanah directly controls four, but the being she serves controls more than a dozen. Sprinkle them around the tunnels as appropriate (statistics per Necropolis, p. 188).
The JM should select an appropriate method of tracing Hanah back to her lair. Some suggestions include:
(1) A trail of clawed prints and bloodstains on the walls leading to her complex
(2) Mysterious screeching and chanting, dripping with malice
(3) An abduction of a victim (perhaps even the Scarlet Madam!) rather than the slaughter she normally performs, and the screaming, struggling, and sacrifice thereof
V. The Vengeful Virgin:
Regardless of how the HPs reach the shrine, this is what they will eventually see:
Near an alcove in the opposite wall, there is a small brazier, burning with some sort of dark flame, almost black in appearance.
Against the wall, there is a statue. Well, not quite a statue, but a rough image shaped of hardened clay. It appears to be of a naked young woman, attributes accentuated. A real sword is clasped in its hands, raised, and a malevolent expression has been placed on the face.
However, your attention is drawn from contemplating what sort of sick artist would have carved such a statue to a rapidly moving form, claw-like hands extended towards you!
Hanah has just noticed the party members (if she is in the process of sacrificing, add appropriate description), and she is moving to attack! Note that the HPs will need to spend a CT of observation if they want more than a rough description (a ragged, humanoidal form, with claw-like hands and disfiguration).
If Hanah is having a really rough time, or some sort of additional challenge is needed, she will turn to the statue and beg, "I have served thee faithfully, oh Vengeful Virgin! Help me, thy servant, in her hour of need!" In this case, the statue comes to life (see the Vengeful Virgin in the OP section for full details), and, if needed, additional Ghouls will pour into the chamber.
With the destruction of Hanah, the attacks will stop, and everything will return to normal (well, until the next adventure, anyways).
The Black Flame: This item consists of a brazier burning with Negative Heka. It begins with 200 Heka (when the HP's reach the shrine), and it regenerates 10 Heka per hour, or 100 each time someone is sacrificed to it. There is no practical limit to the amount of Heka which can be so stored. It also grants to its owner the following powers:
Summon Rat Swarm: By expending 5 Heka per rat, Hanah can summon a rat swarm to her person, which will arrive in 1D3 CT's.
Return to Sanctum: By expending 50 Heka, Hanah can transport herself and any small items carried immediately back to her shrine, provided she is within a mile of the shrine. For every additional mile distant, it costs another 10 Heka, and the transportation of a held living being will cost an additional 50 Heka.
[Note: if the Black Flame is not destroyed, it will eventually possess/be possessed by someone else, probably a witchcraefter or other servant of the Nether-realms, and it will become a long-term thorn in the HPs collective side. In such a case, it is recommended that the JM pick a suitable Netherbeing, either a Demon, Devil, or perhaps an Evil Atlantlan deity to associate the Black Flame with.]
If the HPs manage to defeat Hanah, they should be rewarded. If they are permanently in Tarrant's service, he will let them keep the equipment he gave them at the beginning (if any), including the magickal weapons if they were given to the HPs. The HPs should be given, in addition to any AP/S or AP/X for roleplaying or other exceptional play, 2 AP/Gs for each clue successfully followed (to a maximum of 10 AP/Gs), plus another 5 upon the defeat of Hanah. The adventure is not monumental enough to warrant more than 15 AP/Gs.
The Scarlet Madam may be gained as a Special Connection as well, given that the HPs have performed a service for her. While her influence is primarily in the shadowy world that thieves move in, it is nonetheless significant.
Tarrant will not abide needless destruction, however, and any clues which are fumbled and result in the death of any innocents will definitely bring retribution of some sort (at the least, lessening the rewards and reclaiming equipment, especially the magickal swords). In such a case, no AP's should be awarded for the clues, although they will still have earned some experience and knowledge from the adventure and might be granted from 1 to 5 AP/Gs.
[Note: These are average statistics, and individuals should vary if they begin playing a significant role in the game]
M: 60, EL: 48 P: 75, WL: 56, CL: 67 S: 60, EL:48 MM: 30 MR: 30 PM: 30 PN: 45 SM: 30 SP: 30 MMCap: 12 MRCap: 12 PMCap: 11 PNCap: 15 SMCap: 12 SPCap: 12 MMPow: 9 MRPow: 9 PMPow: 10 PNPow: 13 SMPow: 9 SPPow: 9 MMSpd: 9 MRSpd: 9 PMSpd: 9 PNSpd: 12 SMSpd: 9 SPspd: 9
Commentary & Description: Some suggested names include: Celeste, Brandi, and others. The girls of the Scarlet Madam are generally moderately literate, charming, and skilled in the courtly manners, and are the most elegant of courtesans. She and her girls have high respect among the gentry, although the lower classes can also make use of the 'trainees'.
The Scarlet Madam's Best and Brightest:
M: 75, EL: 60 P: 75, WL: 56, CL: 67 S: 75, EL:60 MM: 40 MR: 35 PM: 30 PN: 45 SM: 40 SP: 35 MMCap: 16 MRCap: 15 PMCap: 11 PNCap: 15 SMCap: 16 SPCap: 15 MMPow: 12 MRPow: 10 PMPow: 10 PNPow: 13 SMPow: 12 SPPow: 10 MMSpd: 12 MRSpd: 10 PMSpd: 9 PNSpd: 12 SMSpd: 12 SPspd: 10
Commentary & Description: Some suggested names include: Celeste, Brandi, and others. The Scarlet Madam's best girls act as her lieutenants. Generally, they are better at just about everything than her normal girls, and they are her highest class call girls. Most have at least minimal skill in Herbalism (the better to stave off diseases and other illnesses), and most have cultivated friendly relationships with the priestesses of Venus.
Grand House of Pleasure Guards:
M: 60, EL: 48 P: 90, WL: 67, CL: 81 S: 60, EL:48 MM: 30 MR: 45 PM: 45 PN: 45 SM: 60 SP: 60 MMCap: 12 MRCap: 12 PMCap: 15 PNCap: 15 SMCap: 12 SPCap: 12 MMPow: 9 MRPow: 9 PMPow: 15 PNPow: 15 SMPow: 9 SPPow: 9 MMSpd: 9 MRSpd: 9 PMSpd: 15 PNSpd: 15 SMSpd: 9 SPspd: 9
Commentary & Description: The guards of the Grand House of Pleasure are not incorruptible, but there are some things (such as fine young flesh) to which they are nearly immune. They are good enough for normal fights, and typically armored in leather with some metallic pieces, and armed with long swords and clubs. A few are exceptional fighters, and they typically become captain or one of the sergeants. The total complement at the Grand House of Pleasure numbers 20 (15 guards, 3 sergeants, and 1 captain). They rotate shifts, act as bouncers, and provide 24 hour coverage of the building. On certain occasions, they also escort the employees around for shopping and the like.
Priestess of Venus:
M: 60, EL: 48 P: 60, WL: 45, CL: 54 S: 75, EL: 60 MM: 30 MR: 30 PM: 30 PN: 30 SM: 60 SP: 60 MMCap: 12 MRCap: 12 PMCap: 12 PNCap: 12 SMCap: 15 SPCap: 15 MMPow: 9 MRPow: 9 PMPow: 9 PNPow: 9 SMPow: 15 SPPow: 15 MMSpd: 9 MRSpd: 9 PMSpd: 9 PNSpd: 9 SMSpd: 15 SPspd: 15
Commentary & Description: The Priestesses of Venus assigned to the Grand House of Pleasure total three. They are typically completing their Novitiate, and will become true Priestesses after their duties at the House are completed. While here, they serve as spiritual guides, teachers of Herbalism and other lore, and they are the mentors of many of the girls. Occasionally, one of the Scarlet Madam's girls will go on take a Vow to serve Venus and, eventually, enter her Priesthood. Such girls are almost inevitably assigned back to the Grand House of Pleasure.
Habitat: Grandmark's Shallowshadow & Sewers
Modes and Rates of Movement (yds/BT):
Initiative Modifiers: Human Standard
Invulnerabilities: Non-enchanted weapons, Disease, Cold, Electricity, Fire/Heat, Poison
Contact: Blessed symbol (7D3 PD), Blessed Water (D6+1 PD & SD)
Exposure: Sight: Blessed symbol, inflicts SD*
*Blessed Symbol Spiritual damage is equal to the Good individual's SMPow minus 10% of Hanah's SMPow and also minus 1 point per foot distance between the wielder and the subject, SD being inflicted upon the vampire thus each CT of Exposure
Outstanding-Important K/S Areas/Sub-Areas & STEEP:
E/S Graces: 50
Joss (Anti-Joss) Factors: 1
Average Armor Protection: 9 - see below
Natural: see below
Attacks BAC DT Base Claw x 2* 50 C 1D3+6 Bite 40** P 1D3+D3/CT+^ * Unlikely to be used ** Or special -- see below. ^ Only attempted if subject victim under Lethargy Touch Power noted below.Castings: None
M(Cunning): 120 P: 140, WL: 105, CL: 126 S: 120, EL:96 MM: 60 MR: 60 PM: 70 PN: 70 SM: 60 SP: 60 MMCap: 25 MRCap: 25 PMCap: 30 PNCap: 30 SMCap: 25 SPCap: 25 MMPow: 20 MRPow: 20 PMPow: 18 PNPow: 18 SMPow: 20 SPPow: 20 MMSpd: 15 MRSpd: 15 PMSpd: 22 PNSpd: 22 SMSpd: 15 SPspd: 25
Area Pierce Cut Blunt^ Fire Chem. Stun Elec. Ultra 20 20 20 * * 32 * Super 15 15 15 * * 24 * Vital 10 10 10 * * 16 * Non 5 5 5 * * 8 * Average 15 15 15 * * 20 * * Invulnerable ^ Applies to Impact damage as well
The Vengeful Virgin (animated statue):
Identifier: Animated statue
Habitat: The Twisted Shrine
Modes and Rates of Movement (yds/BT):
Initiative Modifiers: Human Standard
Invulnerabilities: Non-enchanted weapons
Joss (Anti-Joss) Factors: 4
Average Armor Protection: See Below
Attacks BAC DT Base Sword 40 C 4D6
M(Cunning): 90 P: 150, WL: 112, CL: 135 S: 90, EL: 81 MM: 45 MR: 45 PM: 75 PN: 75 SM: 30 SP: 60 MMCap: 15 MRCap: 15 PMCap: 35 PNCap: 35 SMCap: 15 SPCap: 20 MMPow: 15 MRPow: 15 PMPow: 25 PNPow: 25 SMPow: 5 SPPow: 20 MMSpd: 15 MRSpd: 15 PMSpd: 15 PNSpd: 15 SMSpd: 10 SPSpd: 20
Area Pierce Cut Blunt Fire Chem. Stun Elec. Ultra 80 20 80 20 80 80 40 Super 60 15 60 15 60 60 30 Vital 40 10 40 10 40 40 20 Non 20 5 20 5 20 20 10 Average 50 12 50 12 50 50 25 * Invulnerable