Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Streets of Orphicten

One of the big things I find about running your own homebrewed setting is, once you've got your idea down-pat on paper, writing the first adventure. One helpful thing I find is using a pre-written adventure that does the genre justice, but doesn't contain a specific setting. That way, you can simply slot it in. The problem often with writing your own adventure as the first step is that you want to show everything of the setting in one hit. Moreover, you need to- the players need to get the feel for it. But at the same time, you can't. So what do I do? I write an adventure which deals with one specific aspect of the setting in detail, but connotes a whole set of prominent ideas! Such is the case with Lingering Shadow- the first AFU adventure I've written. As a side note, I've since stopped writing hugely detailed adventures. 2-3 pages at ten point arial tops! Players run things off course anyway, so I keep the events loose and flexible. I take a begining, middle and end; writing the details of each of them. Then I write two points between the begining and middle, middle and end respectively, connecting them. After that I slap on hook and conclusion; done! I have somethign to go on and the players don't get restricted!

Lingering Shadow
The next big thing…
There is a new drug on the streets of Saint Wulpurga, one of Orphicten’s poorest residential suburbs. It’s called Shadow and it’s becoming a big hit. Why? Because it gives the user Superpowers! The Police (even the dirty ones) are worried about it, as its both a weapon and a narcotic. So are two Orphicten’s organizations- the Cerberus Gang which controls Saint Wulpurga and the Mikos Family, which controls the adjacent suburb of Trojan Docks. Each blames the other and believe this could be the opening move of a war. That means they’ll soon be muscled out of business.

If the Team has any connections to either the Police or any of Orphicten’s criminals, have their contacts drop them a line and ask them to look into this ‘Shadow’ phenomena. Stress that a war could be brewing! They point the Team to Underpass- a slum between the two. Underpass is where most Shadow Junkies are rumoured to congregate. Otherwise, there are always reporters from the Orphicten Gazette, snitches on the street or loved ones who come home with a new habit! Even a local news report on Shadow and Underpass could do the trick; shaming the city’s heroes for not stepping in.

Ideally, the Party will go to Underpass at night, when illumation ranges from Dark to Dim (SWEX 67) depending on how close the Party are to street lights or fires lit in steel drums. When stomping around either Trojan Docks or Saint Wulpurga, draw a card and see if the Party has a random Encounter.

Card Saint Wulpurga Encounter
A-10 Citizens (2D4).
J Orphicten Police Patrol; 2 cops in a marked police car.
Q Urban Primitives (1D4), treat as Citizens with All Thumbs.
K Cerberus Gangers (2D6)
Joker Draw twice.

Card Trojan Docks Encounter
A-10 Nothing.
J Orphicten Police Patrol; 2 cops in a marked police car.
Q Homeless Citizens (1D4)
K Mikos family heavy’s (2D4)
Joker Draw twice.

Five docks and their associated warehouses and factories dominate the suburb of Trojan Docks. Most of these are empty since the war ended and industry left Orphicten. Bordering on Trojan Docks is Saint Wulpurga, a suburb of mixed commercial and residential streets and blocks. Saint Wulpurga is a ghetto dominated by apartment-style buildings, each between three and eight stories high. Between four and six such buildings are usually crammed onto a single block. A raised highway-bridge divides Saint Wulpurga and Trojan Docks, under which the homeless community of Underpass dwells. Underpass is a little worse than either Trojan Docks or Saint Wulpurga, however. It’s a slum. The difference between a slum and a ghetto is quite distinct. Ghettos are regular residential zones for the poorer citizens. They aren’t maintained beyond the basics of power, water and waste collection. Slums by contrast aren’t maintained, or even legal. They’re simply cobbled together from condemned buildings and scrap.

Underpass is made from scrap- corrugated iron, canvas and cardboard nailed, taped and roped together. Underpass takes its name from the overpass it dwells under. For Orphicten locals, a Common Knowledge roll (Knowledge (Orphicten) for outsiders) notes Underpass as a place renowned for its junkies and violent hobos. Investigating Underpass for signs of Shadow is a Streetwise roll, with success bringing mixed and random results as determined by the table below:

Card Encounter
A-10 1d10 Homeless citizens
J Shadow overdose
Q 1d4 Shadow Junkies (euphoric)
K 1d6 Shadow Junkies (violent)
Joker Marv Smalltown

Gutter full of Shadow
Tracing whichever clue the Team encounter to the source of Shadow depends entirely on the clue.

Homeless Citizens
They are hostile at first, but a Streetwise roll points the Party in the right direction (the regular homeless here don’t care for junkies) as the Team is directed to where some Shadow Junkies were last seen or suspected to be. Draw another card.

Shadow Overdose
The Team finds a Shadow junkie that has overdosed. They’re most likely laid in a ditch or some other forgotten corner. Searching the junkie is pointless as other junkies and homeless have stripped them of anything of value down, leaving a naked corpse. Some asking around might lead back to the Shadow Junky click this victim was part of…

Shadow Junkies
Once beaten down, the Shadow Junkies can be interrogated. A quick Intimidate or Persuasion roll does the trick. Euphoric junkies can be subject to Taunt as well as persuaded, but Intimidate just turns them violent. Either way, they name the dealer as Deimos and give up his location (see below).

Marv Smalltown
Smalltown’s already on the case. The Team find him squatting in one shack over a Shadow overdosed corpse. Smalltown explains to the party this was Larisa. A prostitute and junkie; he’d gotten her a waitress job in the hopes that she’d gone clean and she did. That is till she met a dealer named Deimos, who scared her into taking Shadow. Then she was hooked. Luckily, just before she died, Larisa told Smalltown where to find Deimos: Floor 3, room 225 in the apartment building on 5 Antonio Street, Saint Wulpurga. Its only two blocks away and Smalltown purposes an old-school Superhero team-up to dish out some justice Deimos won’t soon forget.

Deimos; god of Dread
The apartment building is six stories tall and the elevator is out of order. As the team makes their way up the stairwell to the Deimos’ place they pass two Shadow Junkies on the stairs. These let them pass. However, about halfway up they meet three more. These don’t let them pass. Give the Team a Notice roll. Passing means they hear the first two sneaking up on them. If they don’t, the two at the back get a surprise round. Combat ensues as the Shadow Junkies attempt to mug the Team.

Deimos’ apartment is, as the Team learned, on floor 3, room 22. If they knock on the door, a person inside looks through the peephole, demanding the password (remember: there isn’t one). If the Team don’t give it to him or they just kick down the door he bolts up the fire escape. Either way, once in the room or caught up to Deimos, have the Team make a Guts roll for Deimos’ Fear power.

Once on top of the building, Deimos begins to scurry across rooftops, leaping from one to the next. Count this as a Chase with Deimos on foot (SW:EX 115) with rough terrain. After making his way across the roof, Deimos will go down the other side of the building and into an alley way; there he will dash to the street and into the sewers via a storm water drain (flattening himself and diving head first). A sewer pad is near by, however, allowing for easy Hero access. If he isn’t caught before then, Deimos will attempt to hide in the sewers, striking with a Surprise Round should the Team stumble near him and fail a Notice roll. Once caught, Deimos will fight.

Deimos 2 room (bedroom and kitchen/living) apartment is nothing special. Stove, a fridge filled with booze, blackberry juice and no food (a Streetwise roll recalls that dealers often water down Shadow with blackberry juice), a broken TV, a lump couch. The bedroom is no better. A mattress, wardrobe filled with dirty clothes. There is a small statue on a stand in one corner of the room. It is of a naked man with snakes emerging from his hair. A Knowledge (Mythology) roll recognizes this as Deimos, Greek god of dread. A Notice roll, however, spots scrape marks on the floor, one for each leg of the couch. Moving it reveals a sheet of cardboard underneath, and lifting that finds a hole where floorboards used to be filled with over 50 hits of Shadow. Looks like Deimos is indeed the Shadow dealer.

Dealing with dread
Deimos isn’t talking. But he will promise to talk if the Team let him go. He knows that being a living, meaty shadow being dealing a superpower drug is sure to land him in a Specialist Magistrates Court. With the evidence against him, Deimos will end up on Exodus Rock for sure. So letting him go is the best way to get him to talk. If the Team have done the right thing (as Smalltown will do if he is with the Team, unless they convince him otherwise) and drag Deimos to the police, then he won’t talk until a Magistrate with Specialist qualifications in Supervillain law promises sign off on him being powerless. If the Team go looking for such a Magistrate they find Sonya Carline. Young and tough, she sees everything in black and white, On reviewing the case, Sonya believes Deimos needs to be tried as a potential Supervillian. She thus requires some convincing or its time for the Team to get creative with Deimos. However they do it, when Deimos finally gives up the information the Team learn that shadow is being manufactured in Warehouse 3 on Dock 5. An Investigation roll into Orphicten’s records notes the Warehouse is owned by Labor Corp, but has not been used by the company since Orphicten’s war industry bubble burst. As such, it has been purchased by to a Mr. Yamoto Kane. A subsequent Investigation roll on Kane reveals nothing. Even the bank account he wired the payment from no longer exists and there is no evidence to say it ever did.

Warehouse 5
Dock 5 contains three warehouses and a large loading area. Warehouse 3 looks just like any other from the outside. A Notice at -2 (or -4 for Dark lighting if this takes place at night) roll, however, spots the Ninja patrolling the roof to the other. They are keeping watch outside the warehouse and it takes a Stealth roll to avoid being spotted. Should the Team wish to eliminate the Ninja, they may then choose to enter the warehouse through the roof. From here, they may step onto the built in crane which moves on a horizontal X and Y axis track, allowing for containers to be moved about as need be.

Besides this there are two points of entry; a through the large doors on the loading dock and a side administrative entrance, via an office and coffee room. If entering through this latter point the Team are initially confronted by shipping container stacked in various heights (1-5 high). These make various corridors, narrow and wide.

Either way, once the Team get to the loading dock they find what they are looking for. There three long tables here, done up looking like a chemistry lab, each tended by three workers at various points (nine in total). Around them, silently watching is Corpse Tiger and six Ninjas (should the Team have made too much noise entering via the office, Corpse Tiger will have sent his Ninjas to investigate). On seeing the Team, Corpse Tiger and his Ninjas attack while the workers flee.

New Light…
The Team now has a good deal of Shadow on their hands. On their part, the smart thing to do is to turn the whole operation plus Corpse Tiger over to the police. Not only do the tables have an entire manufacturing set up (enough to produce six hits a day), but one of the nearby shipping containers contains 200 hits ready to go! From the looks of things, it seems Deimos was just the beginning; Shadow dealing in Orphicten was ready to expand! If the Team are curious, however, they can attempt to figure out the ingredients of Shadow. Unfortunately, a successful Knowledge (Science, Chemistry, Pharmaceuticals or similar skill) roll reveals it’s made from uncommon and ultimately indistinguishable ingredients.

Hassling the Workers with some Persuasion or Intimidate doesn’t get any further. It just leads to five individual shipping crates, each respectively containing barrels of violet, blue, green, yellow, red or orange liquid. A Knowledge check on these reveals the same; the liquids are of an unknown nature. All the Workers know is that one hit of Shadow was one shot of each liquid, boiled till it was colorless then mixed.

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