Monday, September 14, 2015

Pulp Adventures: The Weapon of the Ancients

Here's the other Pulp scenario I worked up using Astounding Adventures' random plot generator as a springboard. To my players who follow my blog, I suggest skipping this one in case I ever use it =)

The Weapons of the Ancients: A Pulp Adventure Scenario

The adventurers are approached by Nellie Swanson, a reporter for the Daily Globe about a mysterious package she received at her office, specifically naming the Werner Institute (which the PCs are all affiliated with) and the PCs by name as the intended recipient. The box itself contains a shocking piece of evidence: the private notebook of Doctor Laszlo Szendrey, a Hungarian physicist and researcher who has been known to sell secrets to a pro-fascist organizations for money. Now, a group called the Red Hand has taken an interest in him. The agents of the Red Hand are known affiliates of the Thule Society and other groups promoting the rise of fascism in Europe….and according to the letter in the box, Dr. Szendrey explains:

“My dear associates and rivals at the Werner Institute, though we have all had our fair share of conflict in the past I must beseech your aid. Predicting that I was to come under the scrutiny of an organization which values my craft more than the man, I believe I….and my latest invention….are in great danger. This invention cannot fall in to the hands of the ones who have taken me captive, so I must spirit away and ask you to seek bot myself and the invention out to insure it does not fall in to the grasp of the Red Hand. The Red Hand promotes a purity of thought among German scientists, often by stealing such secrets and claiming them for their own. I will not willingly aid them, but know that they have a means of compelling one to do their bidding. I ask you: save me. Look to Faust’s favorite wine cellar and you may yet save me….and the world. P.S.: please watch after Nellie, she is more special than any of you know.—L.S”

The clue in the text is not obvious, but with a knowledge (European History) or (Hungarian History) check, or a research roll will suggest that there is wine cellar beneath Buda Castle in Budapest that is called Faust’s Wine Cellar. Failing that, the GM should just give it to the most well-traveled PC.

In the box are five additional items: a blank sheet of paper, a bottle of fine aged wine dated 1856 (a close scrutiny will suggest a fake label, for it is too fresh to be otherwise) and a box filled with platinum wires that appear to be etched with tiny, sophisticated marks, almost machine-like in nature. The wires end in unique plugs that don’t fit any known machine. The last device is most perplexing of all: a disk-like sun symbol that bears old Turkish writing on it, a spell-formula engraved for long life by Suleiman I, the longest lived of the Ottoman Emperors (1520-1566)—the amulet appears to be a replica, for it is far too new to be an original.

Finally, the box includes tickets for an overseas zeppelin, scheduled to dock in New York tomorrow. How fortuitious!

The bottle of wine and the amulet of Suleiman are clues, but their real significance comes later….the blank sheet of paper appears to contain nothing, but it has invisible writing revealed by a flame: on the sheet are bizarre schematics for what, after some study, appears to be a machine designed to harness a form of energy Szendrey is calling “The Quintessence.”  The wine for the record says it was sealed at Buda Castle, 1856.

Journey to Budapest!

The PCs should realize that to find out what has happened to Dr. Szendrey they must take a trip to Eastern Europe. Passage overseas is not that exciting, but the journey will take only a week on the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin that has been reserved for their use.  

Buda Castle is currently partially occupied by Miklos Horthy, the current king and ruler in Budapest. Much of the castle is abandoned, far larger than the royal family needs. When the PCs arrive in Budapest they will quickly be able to learn that Horthy is planning to throw one of his many famous parties. This can be a lead to trying to get an invitation or sneaking in on the presumption that the party will keep the officials occupied, allowing the PCs to find Faust’s Wine cellar. A third option is also present, and any swarthy underworld rogue of Budapest can assert that there are hidden ways to the cellar beneath the castle, via the catacombs that saturate the ground beneath. “Old Hungarian kings are buried under the ground,” the rogue will warn. “We don’t mess with them, though. Strange things happen to those who delve too deep beneath that castle.”

The Red Hand strikes!!!
Agents of the Red Hand have been interrogating Doctor Szendrey to learn what he did with his Quintessence Machine and the schematics. He has been quiet, but unknown to him his assistant, Salas Szudenyi has squealed, and said that he knew his boss visited Buda Castle shortly before being captured by the Red Hand, possibly to meet with the Hungarian King about his work….and even hide it.

The Red Hand’s leader is Suleiman the Magnificent himself going by the title of Lord Kanuni, albeit an immortal version of himself who knows that the Quintessence Machine allows one to displace in time. He met Dr. Szendrey when the good doctor visited him centuries ago and took his amulet as a memento. Szendrey did not let on the secret that he knew: Suleiman is actually a living descendant of the ancients known as the ancient immortals that were once known as the Annunaki and have over the ages come to be known under other names, including Nephilim. The amulet, it seems, was critical to Szendrey’s ongoing scheme with his time thefts!

Now Suleiman, who goes by the title of Kanuni of the Red Hand, has a chance at last to seek his vengeance against the man who stole his amulet of knowledge, a powerful ancient artifact of his immortal people. Without the artifact he ages unnaturaly and is using arcane science and sorcery to sustain his life.

The Buda Castle event will come under attack from the Red Hand, though Kanuni will use his political influence and friendship (plus charm magic) to influence Miklos Horthy into letting him bring his personal guard in to sweep the castle for evidence of Szendrey’s deception. Interrogating the Hungarian leader only reveals that Szendrey did not share his knowledge with Horth, and he was given unlimited access to the catacombs.

Below, in the catacombs, Szendrey did indeed hide his Quintessence Machine by powering it up and sending back in time with his other assistant, Greta Fulner, a young German researcher who has been helping him. He told Greta that she must wait in a remote time period before humans developed culture in Europe and then return two months later from the date he send the time machine back….in the Faust Wine Cellar there is a lot of evidence, including burn marks and some receptor equipment that will insure the machine returns to the desired spot, as well as a high level of radiation. Kanuni/Suleiman’s men will be securing this (most likely) when the PCs stumble across what is going on…..but in the middle of all this, Szendrey’s secet trap is sprung….

When the PCs arrive, the one with the amulet will see it flash a silver light (unless they didn’t bring it, in which case….). From the catacombs emerges dozens of undead! Szendrey has used the power of Suleiman’s own amulet to reanimate the dead….and any PC with the amulet will find that the undead will obey him or her. The undead have been ordered by Szendrey to prevent anyone from taking the Receptor Equipment for his Quintessence Machine. If a zombie corpse is studied, it will be impossible not to note that the bodies contain the same weird etching as can be found on the platinum wires, but instead scribed on the bones of the corpses.

Encounter in Buda Castle Stats:
Red Hand: 2 dozen goons armed with machine guns and pistols (thug mooks), 4 lieutenants (thugs), 1 sergeant (thug leader), plus Kanuni (Suleiman)
Szendrey’s Army: 40+ reanimated dead using Annunaki super-science; zombies and skeletons all

Escape From Buda Castle:

The PCs may realize the significance of the receptor equipment and seek to haul it to a safe location. They may not be able to recover it, in which case the equipment falls into the hands of the Red Hand after Kanuni dispels the undead. If the PCs seek to follow the Red Hand, they will find they have cargo planes loading up for a long haul: all the way to Pago Pago in Samoa!!!

Other ways the PCs can learn of the destination of the Red Hand: interrogating one who lives through all this; speaking with Hungarian ruler Horth….who after Suleiman stops dominating him will realize he’s been had, but he’ll recall Suleiman mentioning Pago Pago, though it’s a place he’s never heard of. 

If the PCs get the receptor, they will find there’s some sort of communication device….they can talk through time to Greta Fulner! However, it requires a password (four numbers), which turns out to be….1856. If they convince her to return, she will reveal that the wires in the box are actually pieces of the Quintessence Machine, and that they can, when hooked up, triangulate and determine the correct location of Dr. Szendrey, who keeps a tracking device on his person that emits a “Quantum Signal” as he calls it showing exactly where he is.

Journey to Pago Pago

The PCs are on their own for getting a lift this time, but calling in Navy connections, chartering a ship or a sea plane are all possibilities. Traveling across the world is no easy feat, and will require several stop-overs and refueling events. Along the way the Red Hand will seek to thwart their travel if possible: Suleiman or his ally Guerring will send spies to investigate their actions if the PCs are known to be alive and aren’t discreet.

If the PCs do call in a military favor, Admiral Tom Nelson will let them know that he’ll see what he can do….if they can get to the coast he’ll arrange for pickup. The boat is a highly experimental O-21 submarine, which includes a projector to launch a sea plane, captained by Capt. Arnold Morgan.

Arrival at Pago Pago and the Secret base

As it turns out, the Red Hand have an extensive base on Pago Pago Island, hidden away from but sometimes using resources of the American Navy Base Tutulia. PCs may be able to take advantage of the American military presence when they most need it…..there are sympathizer plants in the base to the Red Hand cause, but most of Tuitila Station is all American and not friendly to fascist secret societies bent on world domination by the Immortal Annunaki.

Pago Pago itself is remote and undeveloped at this time. The Red Hand base is hidden in the Paioa Mountains, where they have built an impressive station adjacent to an ancient ruin they are currently excavating; a relic site of Suleiman’s immortal brethren!

So far investigation in to the deep ruins has been stymied when the first of the Old Tombs was unearthed. Suleiman had to order his troops back when the ancient guardian appeared, a fifteen-foot tall stone golem which crushed his troops and was immune to small arms fire and most conventional explosives. He knows he could control it with his amulet, but Suleiman lost it….and Szendrey kept it away. Inside the tomb that the guardian protects is a cache of ancient weapons….the Annunaki are few in number today, but when they first arrived on earth ten thousand years ago they did so with technology and arms unimaginable. An ancient war of his kind led to their downfall, and Suleiman, on the losing side, was stripped of his memory and rank. However, Suleiman took action to insure he would rise again one day as his people disappeared among the human population of the world. Suleiman stored the last of his technology and armaments away in a tomb, coded it to his amulet, and erased the memory of the amulet from himself and his builders, until an important condition arose: when the last of the immortals that stood against his conquering perished, he would then be able to find the cache with his ancient amulet. Unfortunately, that condition was met, but the amulet was missing, thanks to Szendrey….who does not what it’s for, of course.

Suleiman is allied with General Herman Guerring, a loyalist of Germany and founding agent of the Thule Society. He is working with Suleiman and his promise of power to benefit his own society, but he intends to betray Suleiman when the time arises. The immense golem has put a damper in this plan, however. He is currently calling in a request for additional forces and materials, SS agents from Germany, but he has to handle the issue delicately; if the American Navy is alerted to their actions, it will be their downfall.

Big Secrets and Other Possible Plot Complications:

Suleiman’s Annunaki title was Marduk though he has long forgotten it.

Nellie Swanson is actually an Annunaki, though her memory is also erased. If Suleiman sees her he will recognize her as one of his co-conspirators, the fabled Ereshkigal, and seek to capture and awaken her. Note that she will also be recognized by the golem guardian on the island, which will seek to capture and protect her.

Dr. Szendrey needs Nellie to override the additional hidden security protocols. He is truly a mad scientist, and intends to take control of the stockpile of ancient weapons and start his own arms race, selling the technology that he backwards-creates for his own ends. He doesn’t really care who profits, only that the money lets him delve deeper into the mysteries of the Quintessence, which he has determined is the source of the Annunaki power.

General Guerring is not interested in pretend immortals, and will seek to slay any once he has the technology in the grasp of the Red Hand. He believes that the True Aryans are in opposition to these so-called immortals he sides with for convenience.

The ancient Tomb-Vault contains some powerful ancient weapons, but also a failsafe that not even Suleiman knows about; Nellie, it turns out, was going to betray him: the cache includes a powerful bomb. “An Atomic explosive device” she will remember, if opportunity to explain arises. She will let everyone know that when the bomb detonates it will decimate the entire area and the mountain in the ruins….it was her own failsafe against the madman who forced her to try and conquer the world ten thousand years ago, exterminating most of their kind!

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