September 5, 2016

An Idol Pursuit - a 7th Sea adventure for the 2nd edition

Okay, so now that I've offered up a collection of Heroes that are ready to play for the 7th Sea RPG, it seems the only thing really missing is an adventure to put them through.

Well, fear not, as I've got a quick little adventure that's well-suited for a single session's worth of fun, giving players a quick introduction to the world of 7th Sea.  I ran a slightly less polished version of this for my friends as our first outing with this system, and we had a good deal of fun.

When I ran it I used the port city of Wandesborow (page 24, Nations of Theah Book 2: Avalon) as the location, but the adventure is malleable enough that any port city could be used instead. Also, this adventure works best if one or more Heroes have a background as "adventuring archaeologists," the sorts of individuals that would be willing to investigate Syrenth ruins in pursuit of both knowledge and trinkets.  When I ran this, one of the Heroes was Rose Doreleen (though lacking membership in the Explorer's Society at the time), with two others (Conroy and Mikhail) being her assistants and the fourth (Cedric) acting as a liaison between Rose and her employer (who was Cedric's older and wealthier cousin).

An Idol Pursuit
The Set-Up: The Heroes, having recently returned from a successful venture investigating/plundering a Syrenth ruin out in the Trade Sea, are to meet with a representative of Duke Jules Bisset du Verre (the noble that hired them to investigate the ruins) to make the final arrangements for payment of their services and the handing over of the information and singular item they were able to retrieve from the ruins.  Said item is a small idol of an unknown metal in the shape of a sqaut man, embedded with gemstones; what exactly it does the Heroes have not been able to determine with their limited resources.  Any Hero from Montaigne with reasonable connections to the nobility in general or the Bisset du Verre family specifically could be the Duke's representative, having earned the Duke's trust in the past to represent his interests abroad.

The meeting is scheduled to take place in a slightly seedy tavern known as the Grinning Rye, in the early afternoon.  The intent is for the Heroes to meet with their backer's representatives, arrange for their payment and possible transport to Montaigne proper.  However, the Duke has a rather pernicious rival by the name of Count Pierre Flaubert du Dore, and the Count wants that idol very badly...

Scene 1: A Bar Room Blitz
The Heroes have just settled in at a table to begin discussing terms with the Duke's representative, a cute serving girl having brought their drinks.  The tavern is not too busy at the moment, so there's little worry about interlopers prying into what's meant to be a private conversation.  Give the players a chance to role-play their Heroes a little bit, as this is a chance for them to unwind after what was most certainly a harrowing experience in those Syrenth ruins.  One of the Heroes should be carrying the idol on their person (this thing is extremely valuable, and leaving it unattended is just asking for trouble).

After a few minutes of idle conversation before getting down to business, the tavern's doors swing open as a man of average height, dressed in Montaigne fashions and brimming with smug confidence struts in, a large group of very unpleasant-looking ruffians following in his wake.  The man glances about the tavern in distaste before settling his gaze upon the Heroes.  He takes several steps towards the Heroes' table, his goons a couple steps behind, and then demands that they hand over the idol, or else things will get very "unpleasant" for them.  As if waiting for a cue, the ruffians all draw knives and clubs.

The Montaigne main, Gerard due Dore, is a Weak Villain (Strength 3/Influence 2) with the following Advantages: Fencer, Reputation (Vicious).  He carries a rapier, and will draw it if the Heroes make any aggressive actions on their part.  His Advantages let him roll six dice during combat Risks (but only so long as he has his rapier) and during attempts to intimidate/browbeat others instead of the usual five dice that his Villainy Rank would allow.  For the ruffians, they are comprised of two distinct Brute Squads, each with a Strength of 5.

The Heroes are free to react to this threat as they wish, but generally speaking Gerard has made it clear that if the Heroes don't capitulate to his "request," then things are going to get violent, as befits an Action Sequence. The Heroes should have little trouble in dispatching the Brute Squads, and Gerard isn't that dire of a threat (especially if one or more of the PCs has access to a Duelist Style).  However, when it comes time for during the first Round for the Brutes to act, spend a point from the Danger Pool to have a small, leaner-looking ruffian suddenly grab the idol from the Hero who currently possesses it and dash out the nearest tavern window.  If Gerard and any of his ruffians are still standing when the Action Sequence enters the second round, things just got a bit more interesting for the Heroes, as they need to hurry to catch that thief for their hard-won prize is likely lost for good.  Gerard will fight until he is rendered Helpless (takes his fourth Dramatic Wound), especially if it means he can tie up the Heroes to prevent them from giving chase to the thief.  However, once Gerard is defeated, on their next turn any ruffians that are still standing will flee the tavern, with complaints of having not been paid enough for this sort of thing being their exiting remarks.  It is possible for a Hero to kill the helpless Gerard on the spot, but doing so requires them to spend a Hero Point and they take a point of Corruption for murdering a defenseless man.

Catching the thief is a Risk with the Consequence of 3 Wounds (caused by bumps and bruises gained from pushing through the crowded streets) per Hero that immediately gives chase (in other words, abandons the fight with Gerard and the ruffians), but there is also an Opportunity to pick up a scrap of paper that lists an address on it in very tidy handwriting, which only one Hero will need to spend a Raise towards.  The Heroes will each need to spend 1 Raise in order to succeed at catching the thief, with the remainder being spent to avoid the Consequence.

Scene 2: What Next?
A large part of this depends on the outcome of the fight with Gerard and if the thief managed to escape.  If Gerard was defeated and the thief captured (the most likely outcome), then the Heroes can proceed as outlined below.  Otherwise, see the "So the Heroes were thwarted?"

Presuming that none of the Heroes were rendered Helpless in their fight with Gerard and his ruffians and they have managed to catch the thief and retrieve the idol, they are undoubtedly going to want some answers.  What those answers are will depend on who they ask, and if any of the Heroes activated that Opportunity while chasing the thief.

If they question the thief, one or more of the Heroes will need to succeed at a social Risk, using their choice of Convince, Intimidate, or Tempt, with each Raise the Heroes generate providing the following information:

- Who hired you? "That man at the tavern, Gerard.  He said it'd be easy coin."
- How did you know what to steal from us? "I'd been tailing you for a while, figured out where you'd most likely be keepin' that trinket that Gerard was so eager to get his hands on."
- Why does Gerard want the idol so badly?  "Honestly don't know, but suspect it's for his boss."
- Who is Gerard working for?  "No clue, not the sort of thing you need to know in my line of work."
- Where were you taking it?  "To an address in one of the better parts of town.  Had it written down on a slip of paper that Gerard gave me, but I er... seem to have lost it."
- (if the Opportunity from the chase was activated) Is this the address? "Yeah, that's the one.  No idea who's waiting there, other than the coin I was promised for deliverin' that bleeding trinket."

The Heroes also have the option to question Gerard (and he might be their only option if the thief managed to escape), who will be a much more daunting prospect given that as a Villain (weak though he may be), he'll be better able to resist the Heroes' efforts to question him.  In spite of being a a significant disadvantage, Gerard retains his smug demeanor, and any answers he provides are said in as condescending a tone of voice as possible.  Similar to questioning the thief above, have the Heroes decide on their approach, and then roll Gerard's Villainy Rank (plus a bonus die for his Reputation Advantage) to generate his Raises, which he can then spend to negate a Hero's Raise on a one-per-one basis.  Each Raise the Heroes generates provides the following information:

- Why did you attack us? "Because my employer asked it of me, and I am well-compensated for doing what he requires of me."
- (If the thief escaped) Where did that thief take the idol?  "To someplace where my employer can easily retrieve it, though he'll be most displeased that I won't be there to handle such a mundane task."
- Who is your employer? "A man of prominence back home, and with quite a long reach when it comes to those who vex him."
- We want a name? "Very well, I am in the service of the esteemed Count Pierre Flaubert du Dore, for all the good that will do you."
- Why does the Count want this idol so badly? "Well, why does the Duke want it?  Probably for the same reasons."
- Where is the Count now (and the Heroes failed to catch the thief)?  "Safely out of your reach, I assure you."
- Where is the Count now (and the Heroes caught the thief)?  "Oh, I suspect you'll find out soon enough." (say this line with as much menace as possible).

At this point, the next course of action is up to the Heroes, presuming they were able to get sufficient information out of Gerard and/or the thief.  They should have some general idea of who sent Gerard and his men to accost them. If they have the address from the scrap of paper the thief dropped, then they may want to follow that lead and perhaps directly confront the Count directly.

Alternatively, the Heroes may decide that since they have the idol there's no need to go pursuing more trouble, and simply see about booking passage on the next ship to Montaigne in order to conclude their business with Duke Jules Bisset du Vere.  It's an easy enough matter to arrange for passage aboard a brig that set sail for Montaigne the following morning; if a Hero has the Rich Advantage, they can easily obtain a nicer quality of quarters for themselves and as many other Heroes as they wish.

If they choose to go to the address, they'll find it's for a small yet quite nice two-story house in the more affluent part of town, and that upon first glance appears to be empty.  The doors are locked, and odds are good that attempts by the Heroes to break into the house are going to draw attention from the locals and the local authorities, especially if conducted during the day time.  If the Heroes do managed to make their way inside, all they find is that the place was only recently vacated, but there are no clues left to indicate where the occupant has gone to, making this a dead end.

"So What If the Heroes were Thwarted?"
While it is highly unlikely, it is possible that the Heroes could utterly fail at catching the thief as at defeating Gerard and his ruffians, or that one of your Heroes was bloodthirsty enough to murder a defeated Gerard while the thief escaped.  So the question becomes, "what to do next?"

Easy answer would be to shrug your shoulders, thank the players for playing, and conclude the adventure right then and there.  Easy, but definitely not a fun answer.

Instead, cut to a several hours, in the early evening, with the Heroes gathered in a different tavern, drinking their woes away over the loss of the idol and with it chances of a lucrative payment from the Duke.  While doing so, one of the Heroes happens to spot that thief from earlier, who's happily drinking and boasting about the 'easy score' he just earned a tidy sum for pulling.  Said thief is too inebriated to recognize the Heroes from before until they get right up in his face.  Allow the Heroes to choose their approach for how they want to grill the thief for information, although using Intimidate removes a die from the Hero's pool while using Convince provides a bonus die.  Of course, if they are able to ply the address from the thief, it will have been long abandoned, with the thief having been met at the door by a servant, who took the idol and handed over a coin purse full of shillings.  For an additional Raise, the Heroes can pry one additional piece of information out of the thief that he overheard, that a Count Flaubert would be leaving for Montaigne the next night now that he had what he'd come to Avalon for.  This piece of information gives the Heroes a chance to track down the man responsible for their current woes and seek retribution for his underhanded tactics.

Scene 3: Duel at the Docks
Assuming the Heroes were able to reclaim the idol after it was stolen and leave Gerard a helpless heap on the floor of the Grinning Rye, they should have little trouble making their way to the docks in order to catch the ship that will ferry them to Montaigne.

However, once they come within sight of the ship, the Heroes will find their progress blocked by the presence of a man of below-average height dressed in the latest fashion for a Montaigne nobleman, complete with a powdered wig and large red plume in his hat.  With him are half a dozen Montaigne men that appear to be the man's personal guard.

The man will identify himself as Count Pierre Flaubert du Dore, and demands the Heroes hand over the idol, as it is rightfully his by account of Duke Jules Bisset du Verre (whose character he will demean as much as possible) having stolen the documents which lead the Heroes to the ruins from which they retrieved the idol.  The Heroes really don't have any way to disprove this claim, other than knowing that the Duke has come across as a honorable.  If one or more of the Heroes is a relative or employee of the Duke, then they're quite certain the Count is lying.  If the Count seems quite confident that he and his small retinue of guards will be enough to defeat the Heroes, there's a good reason, namely that the Count has hired a dozen of local ruffians to ambush the Heroes when he gives the signal.

If the Heroes are reluctant to part with the idol (which they should be), the Count will demand his blade, at which point a servile-looking older man steps forward and presents the Count with a rapier.  If any of the Heroes is a member of the Duelist's Guild (typically because they have the Duelist Academy Advantage), they can choose to step forward and immediately challenge the Count to a duel, with the winner claiming the idol and the loser taking their leave.  The Count will accept this challenge, and acknowledge the duel to be to first blood (in game terms, the first person to suffer a Dramatic Wound loses).  However, the Count has no intention of playing fair or honoring that agreement (he really wants that idol), but he'll play along at being honorable for the moment.  The GM may wish to take a moment to remind any players that might want to directly interfere with the duel that doing so is an action that only the most dishonorable of wretches would consider, and that a Hero Duelist would be bound by the Duelist's Guild code to forfeit and name Count Pierre the victor, and that an honorable man such as Duke Jules would be utterly disgusted by such crass methods, and likely never hire them again.

During the initial round of the duel, the Count will fight honorably, but as soon as he would loose the duel (suffers a Dramatic Wound), he spends his next Raise ordering his men to strike, turning the duel into a free-for-all.  Should he happen to win, the Count will smugly order his men to attack, ignoring the agreed upon terms and thus freeing the Heroes to attack the Montaigne noble at will.

The fight consists of the Count (see below), his guards (Strength 6 Brute Squad with the Guards Special Ability), and the ruffians (Strength 12 Brute Squad).  The guards and ruffians fight until their Strength is reduced to zero, while the Count fights until he suffers his fourth Dramatic Wound, rendering him Helpless.  It should be clear that this is the Count's final gambit to get that idol, and dissuading him from this goal is largely impossible.  Should the Heroes apply Pressure to get the Count to surrender, go ahead and use his Ruthless Determination special ability to ignore it.

Count Pierre Flaubert du Dore
Nationality: Montaigne
Villainy Rank: 11
Strength: 6
Influence: 5 (see notes)
Important Advantages: Duelist Academy*, Fencer
*Can use Duelist Maneuvers as listed in the Dueling chapter, but does not have access to a Duelist Style Bonus.
Special Ability: Ruthless Determination -  spend a Danger Point to have this character ignore the effects of Pressure for the rest of the Round.
Notable Possessions: Fine quality rapier, fine quality clothingNotes: During the course of the adventure, Pierre has spent 3 points of his Influence on the following ways: 1 point to hire the two Brute Squads in the first scene, 1 point for the thief in the first scene, and 1 point to hire the Brute Squad in the third scene.  If the Heroes defeated the Brute Squads in the first scene and captured the thief, then Pierre's Influence is reduced by 3, putting his effective Villainy Rank at 8 for this scene.  If the thief was able to escape, then Pierre's effective Villainy Rank will be 10 for this scene (lost 1 point to the defeated Brute Squads in first scene, has one point out for the Strength 10 Brute Squad in the third scene, but recouped his spent point for the thief as well as earning a second point for the successful scheme).

Once the Count and the Brutes are defeated, there's nothing stopping the Heroes from heading to their ship.  Unless one of the Heroes took the needlessly bloodthirsty step of ending the Count's life, he will sputter insults at the departing Heroes and swear to have his revenge, and although such things are outside the scope of this adventure, he could become a recurring Villain in an ongoing chronicle if the GM so desires, possibly even becoming a nemesis to any noble or duelist characters.

If the Heroes are trying to intercept the Count after they lost the idol to the hired thief, the above scene plays out a little differently, namely in that the Heroes will wind up having to challenge the Count for ownership of the idol, but the Count will still have hired the extra ruffians to run interference should the Heroes try to intervene in his departure; yes it's a bit paranoid on his part, but one doesn't become a successful courtier in Le Emperuer's courts without developing a healthy sense of paranoia.  Of course, the Heroes could opt to bypass the notion of a duel or confronting the Count openly and just attack the man without warning like common brigands, in which case the Count will spend Influence to immediately make his escape; since the thief was successful in this scenario, he should have 4 Influence to use, which should be enough in most circumstances to ensure his escape from the Scene, which leaves the Heroes empty-handed and a couple of Brute Squads to deal with.

Once the Heroes have finished their business in the port, they are free to board their chartered ship and enjoy a relaxing voyage to Montaigne and the stately manor of their benefactor.  As for what the future holds for the Heroes.... that is a story for another time.

1 comment:

  1. So I tacked on a prologue to this scenario, now calling the expanded adventure "An Idol Venture." Yes, it's a pun, and no, I'm not the least bit ashamed of it. The Count wound up being much more honorable when I ran it at GamerNationCon4, accepting his defeat with a manor of grace that was lacking in the original session. He was still a pompous ass though, as some things just shouldn't be changed, and a pompous Montaigne noble being a pompous ass is one of them.