Monday, September 7, 2015

Pulp Adventures: The Crystal Skull of the Adaro

While toying with BRP Astounding Adventures I worked up some plots using the random plot generator and fleshed them out a of these I ran as a game, too. For your enjoyment...

The Crystal Skull of the Adaro

Danielle Patterson – debutante and jet setter: Danielle contacts the PCs: her father, Dr. Morgan Patterson, famous anthropologist and researcher of the occult, has vanished! He was working in a remote region—in the remote Melanesian Solomon Islands, on Malaita. He was visiting with his allies: Danielle’s fiancé Alfred Barkley (the socialite) and the expedition backer, Johann Schmidt (the merchant). According to Danielle, they were all obsessed with finding out the truth behind the Adaro Cult, a group worshipping a legendary sea spirit in the region. She received a telelgraph message from the island from her fiancé that her father has been abducted.

The Socialite: Alfred Barkley is engaged to Danielle, and an ambitious man, likely interested only in impressing Danielle’s father with his worth as her future husband.

The Merchant: German research and occultist by night and businessman by day, Johann Schmidt is backing the expedition. He is privately obsessed with cryptids and is both a founding member of the Fortean Society and a secret member of the Thule Society. He’s not a hardcore german patriot, however, but it can be hard to figure out. He has a rival: Herman Guerring, secret commander of the Red Hand (Rote Hand), a top secret military agency funded by members of the Thule Society and unofficially part of the Schutzstaffel (SS). The

The Scientist: Dr. Morgan Patterson is a noted occult researcher and anthropologist, and no stranger to danger (he is documented as having survived an encounter with the Secte Rouge in Haiti). He believes that the Adaro cult is tied to the disappearance of children on Malaita, and recently his good friend, Naval commander Thomas Sitwell’s daughter went missing. Patterson wants to solve the mystery….if it hasn’t got him first!

Plot Twist: captured!!! – In fact Morgan Patterson has gone missing, as Danielle worried. She send the PCs with her to find him, taking a plane to Malaita. On arrival, the PCs will quickly learn from one or more sources that Patterson has gone missing.

Locations-The adventure takes places at the following locations:

University – investigation: the PCs are at their offices just off of the University of California, Berkeley, at the start of this adventure. They are part of the Werner Institute, founded by Abigail Werner, a researcher and skeptic of the occult who passed away in 1927 but left an immense fortune to carry on her work at the institute. As it happens, Dr. Patterson also works at Berkeley, and getting access to his offices is possible. If they do so, they will arrive in time to find masked gun men (6 of them) looting the office!!! The thing they are looking for: an “Adaro” figurine, what appears to be some weird effigy doll, but which bears a weird resemblance to a mummified figurine. The figure includes notes identifying an unnamed island and coordinates….presumably the location it was found.

Lost city/island – precarious situation: The adventurers when arriving at Malaita can find the huts and tents turned into the expedition’s base. They will quickly piece together that Dr. Patterson was investigating a site he felt was critical to success….and he shared its location with no one because he was unsure if he could trust his compatriots, interestingly (a student aid named Anastasia Smith will share this). Anastasia knows that the local guide, named Amado, knows where Patterson went….and it matches the island coordinates with the doll at the university!

Amado will take the PCs to the island on his boat, but tells them no locals will accompany them….the island has a reputation. Asking around reveals that the locals of Malaita say an ogre that steals children dwells there. He’ll wait off-shore, and they can summon him with flares.

The island will be hit by nightfall by a massive hurricane and sever flooding, forcing the PCs to seek refuge along the volcanic mountain at the island’s center. It is after this that the cannibals begin stalking them….

The cannibals are a tribe called the Taso, of remote xenophobic islanders cut off from the rest of the Solomon Islands, and very dangerous. They are not entirely the source of the ogre myth, but they are the ones who steal children and then feed them to the real threat: the adaro, the malevolent sea spirits that terrify them daily! They most recently turned on Dr. Patterson, whom had previously given them a bounty of gifts in exchange for letting him excavate an ancient ruin on the island, the place he believes that the adaro figurine came from, a gift he bought from a vendor in a Hong Kong market.

Desert Island – chase: The PCs will be chased by the cannibals who are angry that the adaro are riled up and now taking their own. They will chase them as well if they try to free Dr. Patterson, whom they intend to sacrifice at the top of the volcano to the Adaro, whom they say will come at the height of the hurricane, descending like wasps and hornets on the land.

The Docks – gun fight: If the PCs seek to escape the island, the natives will chase. If they seek to escape Malaita, the Red Hand will wait.

Desert Island – gun fight: if the PCs get to the excavation, they find out the Red Hand is here! They are seeking out relics of the Lost Civilization of the adaro, evidence that these beings were in fact space travelers who crash landed here, and that their ship is buried on the island beneath volcanic flows.

Exotic Country (The South Seas) – surprise: The hurricane’s height will drive the adaro out, who will indeed descend like a horde of locusts and attack! The adaro will not be appeased until they recover what is missing: a crystalline relic taken from the ruin excavations. The relic was in fact found by Danielle’s fiancé, Alfred….who smuggled it out (he was lying when he said he didn’t know where the Island excavation was). Alfred planned to sell it to the Red Hand and make a killing.

Bonus: the PCs can learn from Dr. Patterson that he thinks the adaro figurine he has is actually a real mummy of an adaro infant, and that presenting it to the adaro may earn some respite from their attacks.

Second Bonus: the crystal artifact looks like a skull shapped like an adaro skull, with fin and “wings” along the side. Someone who attempts to commune with it (POW vs. POT 30) might be able to mentally influence the adaro’s behavior….as a possible twist, Commander Guerring may have grabbed the artifact and be planning a boat ride out, using it to wreak havoc with the adaro; in this case Alfred will be found shot, double-crossed.

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