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About Alliance
About Alliance

On His Majesty's Secret Service

by Heidi Hooper and Mike Ventrella
© 1995 Alliance LARP, Inc.

INTRODUCTION

The players have been given the following introduction in the Ashbury Times. If they have not read the introduction, the marshal should give them a copy first:

Your adventuring party leader is invited to the Manor House where you are introduced to a man known only as "J." J tells you he works for a secret service answerable only to the King and he shows you his papers to prove it.

J says that there are a number of high class gambling casinos spread throughout Ashbury that are suspected fronts for Fist activities. Your mission, if you wish to accept it, is to create a phony identity for yourself as an upper class rich merchant and to enter the establishment in order to gain information. You are allowed to bring no more than five others as your rich "entourage."

He warns you that stealth and subtly are key for this operation.

Weapons will be checked at the door, but if you are able to hide one sufficiently you may do so at your own risk. J promises also to provide you with a few "gadgets" that might make your mission easier.

Of course, if captured, you will deny all knowledge of the King's secret service.

If you decide to accept this mission, J expects to meet with you at the Dragon's Flagon on (insert module date here). You should be dressed in your best clothes so you can "blend in" with the other clientele at the casino. J will give you further instructions and will answer your questions at this time.


IN THE TAVERN

J meets the party and gives them the basic rundown, describing the casino for them and telling them about the owner, a fellow named Ivan a/k/a "The Man With The Golden Sword." He does not know what Ivan looks like, and in fact is not even sure if Ivan exists or is just a name used to throw people off. The party's task is to find the paperwork which lists Ivan's contacts. This paperwork will certainly help bring down the Fist completely now that it has already been hurt by the capture of Acromar.

Ivan is very clever and has recently stolen a list of the Secret Service's agents, so he would instantly recognize any of J's own people, and that's why J needs new blood. If the party wishes, they can certainly use their own names, but J advises against it as Ivan will certainly be looking for revenge once he discovers his papers missing.

J also gives the party a few "gadgets" to help them in their quest. Each of these gadgets has a limit of 5 days and are not renewable and actually not creatable under any current known ritual (Well, the King's Secret Service should have the latest technology now, shouldn't it?). In fact, the 5 days are about to expire that night. Note that many of these gadgets would never pass Rules as regular items but in the context of this module, with a marshal handy, they can work. The players should be told OOG that they must get a marshal whenever they plan on using these gadgets.

J then sends the party off to their location by giving them an invitation. He tells them that they will be compensated for their time and trouble and that their reward will be better of course if they complete the quest.

Gadgets: Each has only one charge.

  • Time Stop. This allows the person in possession to yell "Hold" and while the marshal counts backwards from ten to "3, 2, 1, Lay On," the person with the item can move outside of time but everyone else remains still.
  • Duplicate Ward Key. Works just like the spell.
  • Disappearing Ink. This magical ink will disappear after an hour of use. It can be used with the Quill of Copying.
  • Eldritch Blast. This allows the caster to throw an eldritch blast doing 36 points of damage. Damage type is decided by the caster. "I call forth a(n) <Ice, Flame, Lightning> blast." [NOTE: This spell is now a regular spell in the game; this module was its first introduction.]
  • Wand of Distraction. This is basically a "wand of wonder" where the marshal will roll a dice to determine what sort of thing happens. All except #8 have a 5 foot radius of effect.
    1. Feeblemind gas
    2. Sleep gas
    3. Dispel Magic
    4. Paralyze
    5. Reflect Magic
    6. 12 fire (as trap)
    7. Hallucinoid gas
    8. Gypsy curse: opposite of what you are (weilder only)
  • Quill of Copying. This magical quill can copy up to 5 8 1/2 x 11 pages by placing the quill first to the pages wished to be copied and then to blank paper. It will take a few seconds but is still faster than copying by hand. There must be a bottle of ink nearby.

AT THE DOOR

The party is greeted at the door by a burly bodyguard in very expensive clothes. He checks the party up and down and is very friendly when presented with the invitation, but insists on the weapons being checked. The party will probably object to this a bit, when suddenly, just like in a James Bond movie, a fight breaks out! Burly bodyguard goes running back into the casino (hopefully with party behind). He sees Ivan being held prisoner (Webbed) by an evil bad guy who demands his share of the cut. Bad guy has henchmen and the guests at the casino are all pretty scared by this. Other burly bodyguards are already on the floor bleeding. Ivan denies that he owes bad guy anything. Bad guy notices the party and demands they retreat. Ivan begs the party to help. Unless the party is a bunch of wimps, they help.

If the bad guys are questioned they say that Ivan owes them money for "services rendered" but will not admit what those services were. It is important that the players not be allowed to question these guys if at all possible. Ivan should step in and take over. (If they are questioned, they will refuse to talk to the players. If Charmed, they will admit that they are with the Dockside Thieves' Guild and that they are upset with how Ivan has been cutting into their fencing operation.)

Ivan tells the party that as a reward, they can take all possessions from the bad guys. He then orders them first aided and shoved out naked into the cold. "I'm no murderer," he says. "Besides, I'd rather humiliate them. It'll make them think twice next time." If asked about the "cut" that the bad guy wanted, he will lie and make up some story.

He thanks the party for their help, gets introductions all around, and gives them a bunch of free gambling chips for the games (around 2 gold per level, taken out of the treasure bag) and tells Monique to give them any drinks they wish "on the house."

"Be my guests!" Ivan says. He will still insist that the players check their weapons at the door, but if pressed will allow one PC "bodyguard" to carry a weapon.

The party is then invited to sit down and play or mill about. They will not be watched too closely (so that they can do their sneaking around). At least one adventurer should always stay with Ivan to keep him distracted, but it doesn't have to be the same one all the time.

Later, other patrons will come to the bar (The NPCs who were playing the "bad guys" earlier come in as different people). The place should be as crowded as we can make it--the more NPCs the better.

Note that the mentioned NPCs below will get into fights only if they are personally attacked, and even then only as a last resort--they don't want to blow their cover.

 

THE ROOMS

There are a few pleasant sitting rooms off to the side where people can relax. Players can take NPCs in here for private talks and vice versa. One of the rooms has a door to the Office which has a NERO lock and a Ward. The papers the players want are in that room. Since the office door is located in one of the sitting rooms, it isn't very well watched, giving the players an opportunity to sneak in once they pick the lock and get the Ward key.

Once the party gets the Ward key, they can open the door and check out the office. The office doesn't have much but it does have a little black book (empty) and a piece of jewelry (Monique's).

On the other side of the Office is a large chest with a combination lock and an Audible Projection (since anyone with a Shield Magic can get past a glyph). There is a sign posted that says "Any employee setting off that damned loud and obnoxious Audible Projection will be subject to a reduction of wages! - Ivan." This is to let the players know what they are dealing with.

Once the players know what word gets them past the Projection and what combination is needed for the chest, they can attempt to open it. It is trapped of course (gotta give the thief something to do). The trap is a Paralysis gas. The papers the players want are in here, along with some treasure.

There are people in the casino who know where the ward key is, what the Audible Projection word is, and what the combination is, but the players will have to roleplay with them to find out. (The combination and the word should change for each run.) This should be paced properly so that they don't get the combination until the last 20 minutes or so of the module (see suggested timeline). The NPCs must drop hints about the fact that they know this stuff if the players are too dense to figure it out, but the NPCs should not offer the "solutions." The NPCs should also try to target different people on the players' team so that all the information doesn't go to one person.

 

THE GUESTS

The more the merrier. Every single NPC should have a story even if it not written down here. The players must figure out who can help them and who can't. Other NPCs may be added depending on the group; for instance, we may use this opportunity to introduce people from character histories.

Much of the information in this module is plot oriented and meant to be long lasting. Players can follow up on future events. Since some of the NPCs in this module have appeared before and will appear again, they have very little written about them (so that information irrelevant to the module but relevant to otehr plots doesn't get out!)

IVAN: Ivan has a Golden Sword hung over his favorite seat in the casino. It is only a decorative sword but is worth a lot. It is firmly attached and anyone trying to remove it will have to spend at least a minute doing so. (It can be shattered or destroyed). It is not really worth very much; maybe 3 gold or so (It's just gold paint.) Ivan has a long and somewhat boring story to tell about how he got it, and while telling the story he can be fairly distracted about what else is going on around him. The story itself has nothing to do with the module.

At one point early on, Percival must tell Ivan that he needs some more money from the Office. Ivan must then loudly proclaim that he is going to get it (to give the players a chance to get out of the way), pull an obvious Ward key out of his pocket, walk to the Office door loudly saying "Ward down," and then eventually go back to his seat. This is to establish to the party that he has the Ward key in his pocket.

Ivan is a minor operative in the Fist. He is not as powerful as the Secret Service believes. He is however a major money laundering center and his place of business services as a "fence" for Fist steals. If Charmed, he will admit this.

CANDY CAME: Candy is a traditional "James Bond" girl. She loves fast men, money, and danger. She will attach herself to the handsomest man in the party and flirt with him constantly and will attempt to put a Love poison in his drink. What she wants is the little black book held by Colonel Randolph. If the players ask about the book, she will try to change the subject but if pushed will state that Randolph is a slaver and the book lists his slave routes. She must emphasize that merely stealing the book is certain to get the Colonel's attention and this would cause everyone in the place to be searched, but she has no idea how to go about getting the damned thing.

She will not admit who she works for but will do everything she can to convince the players that she is working for anti-slavers.

She tells her "victim" that she will do a favor for him in return. If her victim asks about the Casino office, she will admit that she knows the combination. She cares nothing about Ivan.

If the players refuse to turn over the book she will refuse to give them the combination. Once she gets the book, she will leave immediately, giving them a reward of a ritual component and perhaps other treasure based on the treasure bag's contents. If the party follows, they can attempt to take her down right outside the Casino, but if they don't act fast she will be seen getting into a carriage that was waiting nearby. If the party does attempt to get her, she will scream for help and otherwise attract the attention of those inside.

One option for the players is to copy the book for her with the Quill and the disappearing ink, thus making the information useless to her once the ink disappears. Of course, Candy may come back for revenge at a later date...

COLONEL RANDOLPH: The Colonel is a military man, upperclass, stuffy, been in the military since a boy. He likes to gamble, but doesn't care much for the ladies, so Candy has been unable to get to him since her Love poisons seem to only make him swoon over the handsome gypsy card shark at the next table. Plus he distrusts her and rightly thinks she's out to get something from him.

Randolph supplements his income by having the army look the other way when the slaves come through. He's not a nice guy.

He always keeps his lucky black book next to him on the table but he keeps a wary eye on it, and often places his cards on top of it. He never opens it though so will be unaware that someone has replaced his book with another.

He doesn't know anything about what's in the office or the safe. He likes Ivan but has no business dealings with him and is unaware that Ivan has anything to do with the Fist. If asked, Candy will tell the party that she has even tried Charming Randolph, but he won't give up the book even to his best friend.

If the party doesn't replace the black book with another that looks just like it, he will notice and demand the return of the book, and everyone will then be searched and everyone will be suspicious and it is sure to make everyone watch the players with a bit more caution from now on.

Nothing will make Randolph leave his gambling seat. The players cannot convince him to go to another room. If he is Charmed to leave his seat, the other patrons will suspect something.

If the party takes the book and tries to use the Quill along with the Time Stop, Randolph will notice since the Quill will only copy one page and then stop. The only way to get the book this is by quickly exchanging books when Randolph is not looking.

Note also that Randolph has to be the victim of a waylay as the game begins; otherwise, he would be fighting those Thieves' Guild members alongside the players.

MONIQUE: Monique is a little French waitress who flits from place to place with her tray and is often seen dusting high places much to the amusement of Gino. Players will assume that her dumb demeanor and attitude is really a cover, but--surprise!--she really is what she seems to be.

Monique dislikes Ivan because Ivan mistreats her. A few days ago, Ivan took a piece of jewelry from Monique that was given to her by a gambler at the Casino who she really cares about. Ivan knows that the jewelry is in the Office. She doesn't know about the combination or the Projection word. It is important that Monique does not mention the piece of jewelry until after Ivan and Percival have done their bit with the Ward key.

If the party makes it known that they need the Ward key, Monique will offer to help them get it if they promise to give her the piece of jewelry (It's not worth much and it's not magical).

If the party does not make it known that it wants the Ward key, Monique will go to a likely member of the party who looks helpful and will cry out her troubles to him or her. She will complain about how Ivan treats her and will ask the player to help get the piece of jewelry back from the Office. If the party looks lost, she can drop hints about the Ward on the office and will say "Only Ivan has the key and he keeps it in his pocket."

More than any other NPC, Monique has to give the party lots of clues if they're dense, for otherwise the module ends here. No other NPC should help as much as she should.

If the party can't think of a way to get the Ward key, Monique will offer to get it for them by "accidentally" spilling something on Ivan's lap and then apologizing and offering to clean his pants for him. If a player spills something instead, Ivan will call over Monique and have her take his pants; he will not hand them over to someone he doesn't know very well.

Monique will grab Ivan's robe from a hanger nearby and hand it to him and he will pull off his pants (silly underwear needed for props) and hand them to Monique. Monique can then give the players the Ward key but will demand that they give it right back because Ivan is certain to remember it is missing soon. In fact, after about two minutes, Ivan will remember and ask for it back if it hasn't already been given to him.

Remember that a Duplicate Ward Key needs the original in the lock, so the players only have to have the key for a few seconds--long enough to cast the duplicate.

GINO: Gino is a gypsy card shark extraordinairre whose main purpose is to gamble with the players and lose from time to time (to make sure the players get some treasure). There is nothing unusual about him other than the fact that he can be bribed for information if players can get him away from the table for a few minutes during a break or something.

VELAR: Velar the Stone Elf dealer never cheats; Ivan makes sure of that. It would lose business! He knows about the safe, the Ward and the Projection but does not know how to get past them. He is, of course, unemotional and will take no sides. He enjoys the logic behind the games and "delights" in figuring out the odds of each hand. He knows all of the regular patrons but does not know anything about them other than the public persona they project. For instance, he knows nothing about the Colonel's slave trading. He has worked for Ivan for one year, three months, sixteen days, four hours, and thirty seven minutes.

FELICIA EXPERT: Felicia will approach the group's caster or most obvious scholar and ask for their help in solving a word puzzle she is trying to figure out. "Oh, it's meaningless really" she will say. "Just a little something I do for fun." The code says something like "The big eagle flies at midnight at the place where the gazelle grazes." It means something to Felicia but nothing to the players.

She will not offer anything in return for helping her, but if the party asks about the Audible Projection, she will admit she knows the word and will tell them if they solve her puzzle. (She knows the word because one of the Big Burly Bodyguards who is not there right now knows the word, and he talks in his sleep.) If the party solves the puzzle for her and doesn't ask for the word to the Audible Projection, she should offer it anyway or else the module ends there. She might wait a few minutes while the party tries to think of what it wants in return, but eventually she should give the word to them. She knows nothing about the Ward or combination lock.

DELICIOUS TART: This woman is also more than she seems. (No, of course that's not her real name). She will flirt with anyone if she thinks it will get her information and will pretend to be stupid and not understand.

She, more than any other NPC, should keep an eye on the players and try to corner them when she sees them do something they're not supposed to. She will then promise not to squeal on them if they do her a favor or two in exchange.

She tells the players that she is looking for the "Gem of Dia." The gem is in a broach (she will describe the way it looks) and is very important. It is worth a small fortune and a reward is offered. (This is for an upcoming plotline and not for this module).

She also wants to find out who is in charge of the new big slaver ring that is operating in Trellheim which is apparently stealing Ashbury citizens and taking them across the border. She says she will pass through Ashbury from time to time and will reward information that proves to be true.

She doesn't like the Colonel because he doesn't seem to care about slave trades but she is unaware that he is actually part of the trading. If asked, she will suggest that the party might want to talk to Candy about the Ward key, as Candy always seems to know more than she lets on.

KHENDAR GREENWOOD: Khendar is a rich merchant who has had too much to drink. The NPC should pick out the biggest toughest fighter in the group and insult him a lot and otherwise decide not to like him. About an hour and a half or so into the module, he will take affront at some slight the player made and will challenge him to a duel. Ivan insists that no blood be shed and states that it should be a friendly fist fight and will start taking bets right then and there. The players should realize this is a perfect opportunity for a distraction and should encourage this. Perhaps Khendar will fight for an item the players have and offer his "item" in return, thus getting some of the treasure out--assuming he loses. This will have to be decided on a case by case basis.

Players will use dagger phys reps only representing fists according to Ivan's rule. The loser will be first aided.

PERCIVAL PATTERSON: Percival is the bookkeeper. He sits in a room off to the side which is also Warded. Only he has the key and he keeps it to himself. At the end of the module when the players need to cash in their chips, a Burly Bodyguard will take the chips to Percival who will then lower the Ward for a second (long enough to take the chips), and after counting them will give money in exchange.

This character is there for two reasons: 1. So the players cannot get to the huge amount of money that the Casino should have; 2. To act as a witness if the party tries to kill or give Amnesia elixirs to everyone in the module.

 

IN ADDITION

There may be other NPCs who are added whose purpose is to drop hints from Plot about other events. They may be different from group to group based on character histories.

 

BURLY BODYGUARDS

The players should feel afraid of the bodyguards. In actuality, the party could probably take down everyone in the place, but then they'd never get the Projection word or the combination and would not compete their quest (as well as destroying their cover). If for some reason, a fight does break out, the NPCs will try to subdue the players and then strip them down and throw them out into the cold. Module over.

 

THE ENDING

Early on, Ivan will mention that the Casino will be closing in about an hour and a half, so this places a time limit on the party. This closing should be enforced.

 

TIMING

This is a list of the order in which events should occur but this may change based on player actions. It is important that these events do not happen too quickly! Times are suggested.

0:00 PCs arrive and fight with bad guys breaks out

0:10 Games begin; PCs use this time to find out a little bit about the NPCs. NPCs make no reference to Audible Projection or combination lock

0:25 Candy asks PC for help in exchanging black book; promises to help party but does not offer anything specific

0:35 Monique talks to different PC about wanting jewelry; players ask for help in obtaining Ward key

0:40 Felicia approaches party with puzzle to solve

0:45 Monique helps get ward key; PCs make Duplicate Ward Key, enter office

0:55 PCs search and find Black Book in office; notice Audible Projection sign and combination lock

1:10 If PCs do not ask Candy, then she will offer combination as exchange for black book

1:15 Khendar starts a fight; PCs may use chance for subterfuge

1:25 PCs change black book, Candy gives combination

1:30 PCs solve Felicia's puzzle; Felicia gives Audible Projection word

1:35 PCs get to combination and steal items

1:45 PCs return jewelry to Monique and leave just as place closes for the night.