Saturday Seeds – 4 (Adventure!)

This week’s seed is for Adventure!

The Seed: A mysterious philanthropist throws an expensive charity fundraiser and well-to-do members of your PC group receive intimations about it over a few sessions, and then are mailed invitations to it . Rumors state that unbelievable artifacts from a newly explored South Pacific island will be displayed. Less credible rumors insist that the artifacts possess strange energy which, once harnessed, might be used to heal the sick…. they say that people native to the island have prodigious life spans… some up to 150 years of age!

The Details:

  • The Dinner: Wealthy characters will be invited. If this presents a significant problem, expand the guest-list to allow 1 guest  per person, but you do want to have some characters left in the lurch due to a lack of funds. Don’t worry, they will get in on the action soon enough. It is important to tell the tale of the dinner in the past tense, and have most of the description carried by the characters who went in a conversation with those who did not. If you have a few, or only two players, or if everyone is either poor or wealthy, then select one person to have heard about it and been invited (as a guest with proper attire provided, if poor).

The dinner is a normal, formal, black tie affair with stellar food, all the city’s A-list guests, and impeccable service. It goes off flawlessly, is a chance to maintain or expand contacts and status, to top it off, the presentation of the artifacts is much more interesting than the guests have any right to expect from their past experiences with charity events.

  • The Statues: The objects in question are 3 large stone sculptures from volcanic rock, not entirely dissimilar to those of Easter Island, but lacking the distinct characteristics and definition of those works. These vaguely suggest a human head, and focus the attention on what is the suggestion of an open mouth. The statues are virtually identical, 3m in height and perhaps 2m in width at the base. The stone has been finished and worked as smooth as the porous rock will allow, but it is hard to distinguish any effort to generate a sense of facial features, other than the wide, non-threatening opening where a mouth would be.
  • The Lecture: Three reputable experts in 3 different fields speak briefly and well about many features of the stones and the environment from which they came. Key points: A) simple, friendly, and long-lived islanders with a very open culture, B) excellent examples of early stone art on a massive scale, with surprising conformity from stone to stone (more than 100), C) proper studies of the island, culture, and artifacts will require upwards of 1 million dollars.

To speed things along, provide the 2 descriptions above as a Handout  to the player(s) whose characters were present,  (but dress it up a little, for Heaven’s sake!) so that they can relate to the others, in-character, what they saw/felt.

The characters who were in attendance are also to receive a separate note about a feeling, thought, or impression they had while in the presence of the statues.

Here is a list from which you might draw inspiration for what the character felt in relation to the statues – depending on your assessment of how perceptive they are in general, but also artistically. It might be good to enquire about the player’s view of how well/deeply their character might interpret primitive art before the game.

  1. They looked like uninvited, but welcome guests to a meal which has just concluded
  2. They made me feel a little guilty, as though I had eaten the last morsel
  3. I would like to have seen these in their natural environment with their counterparts… it must be impressive in its stark depiction of the universal hunger of man
  4. Looking into their blank faces, I felt like my own mind was rendered as blank as a freshly wiped slate.
  5. Three, identical blank stone faces… 9 feet high and 6 feet across… no show, no music, just lectures and photos and… three, identical, blank stone faces. I expected to be bored out of my mind, but it wasn’t that bad actually. The food was great, and…ad lib

If any of the PCs present at the dinner are mesmerists, remember to give them whatever bonuses or defenses or what-have-you they might have  to sense or interfere with mind reading should they have an appropriate knack. There is no problem with rousing their suspicions, and no problem with their suspicions remaining dormant. There is mind reading going on during the dinner, but it is fast, sporadic, and by a very competent and cautious psychic. Impress on any players who detect or suspect something, that the formal circumstances of the dinner, combined with the obvious care taken by the psychic to have all of the advantages prevented them (with whatever margin of success they might merit) from getting close. Use the failure to find anything concrete or ascertain who might be responsible for the psychic activity as a means to spur suspicion and interest.

If  nothing is detected, impress on the attendees that there seems to be more to the statues than the lectures and notes let on, and further research on them should be done by reputable scholars.

Go on with something else for a session or two, then at a convenient lull in the action, have all the characters receive personalized invitations to a private showing of the statues again, this time with a promise to reveal the secrets only hinted at earlier. In the invitation, there is an itinerary which includes opportunities to directly examine the statues, meet an actual representative of the indigenous people of the island, and cryptically a note stating that attendees will be able to hear the statues sing.

Questions: How did the organizer know to contact, or even know how to contact the other members of the PC group? Why were they invited? What is expected of them? Who else is going?

What is going on: The statues absorb Telluric energy, including the ability to siphon Inspiration from the Inspired. When they do so, they emit a low hum not unlike a sustained note from a human bass. When the stones are together, they “sing” in harmony – each stone emitting a slightly different, but complementary hum. Alone, each stone produces the same note. The demonstration will have one stone in the room, and after it starts to sing, a second, and then third will be wheeled in. Perceptive members of the audience will be able to hear these subsequent stones’ notes shift from the original solo note, to a harmonious bass note upon entering the room. During the demonstration, each stone will siphon 1 point of Inspiration from each Inspired character in the room. (max loss: 3 points)

What happens to all that energy: Essentially, the stones can store it indefinitely, and will do so, unless the right key is employed to release it. The islanders have unwittingly found a way to tap into the stones to produce longevity for some of their people with little negative impact on the world or people around them. The mesmerist, of course, has found a far more nefarious means of using that stored energy: enhancing and expanding his mind control powers to influence a significant portion of the city.

If you don’t want to twist this beginning into a hook for one of your own plots or villains, a good, short-term, and pulpy plot is to have the mesmerist use his ill-gotten enhancement to lull the hapless citizens of the city into a deep, warm, dream-filled, rejuvenating slumber from which they will not wish to be roused. Using his equally ill-gotten funds from the charity, he will orchestrate a mass robbery the likes of which the world has not seen – art, museums, private wealth… truck load after truck load streaming down streets lined with slumbering citizens, as crooks in gas masks cackle, and crack their greedy knuckles in glee…  unless the PCs can resist the effect and save the day!

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