Saturday Seed – 13 (Pulp Adventure)

This seed is for pulp-oriented games. As this entry is lucky 13, let’s not discriminate!

This will work most convincingly with characters who travel and explore the world, are known to be people of action, and who are not above engaging in daring adventures with violent encounters and exchanges of gunfire. At least a few of their exploits need to have made the rounds of conversation of well-to-do society, or been printed in some form of newspaper or magazine.

You might choose to use this seed if you’d like to send your group off to a specific area, or if you are interested in introducing a recurring villain.

When you decide to incorporate this seed into your ongoing story, cool the pre-existing action down a bit and give your characters a little time to explore their environment. Have contacts request meetings to take care of fairly mundane matters such as payment, reminders about favours owed, or pass on information that is not time-sensitive. Have allies do the same. Take the time to expand each player’s sense of the world in which their characters live, and restore or expand connections to their backgrounds and associates.

The seed:

Some one is planning something, and wants the group out of the way… or under the ground.

When everyone is ready for the other shoe to drop, open up with a set of semi-synchronized assassination attempts while each character is off on their own (asleep at home, on a date, in the bathroom at the Mayor’s mansion, etc.) Have all the attacks occur on the same day, and try to swing things so that each character is in a relaxed environment (or as relaxed as a pulp hero ever gets).  The attacks will leave confusing clues (modern weapons, primitive weapons, different cultures and time periods, etc) that point at a variety of potential villains, but keep certain things consistent:

  • All of the initial attacks occur at range
  • All of the initial attacks fail, such as a blowgun from the darkness on a park path strikes a person ahead of the character, a shot fired through a bedroom window (no sound of the report) slams into the headboard, poisoned food reaches the wrong victim(s), brakes fail on a character’s other car while someone else is driving, etc.  Some will fail by a narrow margin, some will require deduction to identify the actual target. Once the group gets together, it will be obvious that someone or some group is trying to kill them.
  • All of the initial attacks will reveal a high level of knowledge about a character’s routine schedule in public places, and established homes. (Things which could be gleaned by extended observation from range)

With murder in the air, it seems likely that the characters will attempt to gather together, or be brought together by an outside force such as the police, interrogated and released as a group. A gathering of the characters is actually what the assassins are trying to provoke.  Once the characters try to assemble, they will be tailed at a very discrete distance by teams of 2. These followers will be experts, and if detected by the characters will break off and do their best to escape. They will have a good lead, and tactical advantage. They will also be willing to die to avoid capture. If captured by the luck or skill of the characters, be prepared to have them fabricate numerous cover stories, in languages that they hope the characters do not speak, while trying to assess ways to escape. These men are of some unknown, southeast asian origin, speak a variety of rare languages, and are fanatically loyal to their leader. If escape is possible, they will do so, if not, they will either be willing to die in an escape attempt, or will wait with icy patience, doing their best to confuse and mislead the characters at any available turn. In any event, they do not know much beyond what they have done, and will not reveal any real information willingly. If the characters possess means to obviate the will of the agents, they do not know, so cannot be made to reveal the plans or location of their leader, who they think of only as “The Holy One,” but might be made to reveal elements of their preparations for the attacks, or perhaps the means by which they entered the country.

If the group assembles without detecting the tails, or if brought together by the police or some other agency, the villains will be waiting to follow the group from there.

  • Once the characters are together, more assassination attempts will begin.
  • The attacks will be enacted so as to keep the group together and will continue sporadically for 24 hours
  • All attempts will be by traps, devices, or at long range, and involve the same culturally divergent approaches
  • The assassins’ primary goal is to avoid capture, so they will be operating in very poor conditions due to range and other necessities.
  • Their secondary goal is to worry the characters, so that they make mistakes.
  • A tertiary goal is to actually kill the targets. Only the unwary or very unlucky will actually be harmed by the attacks

This stage of the attacks is two-fold; first to generate opportunities to observe the reactions of the group, and second to keep the group occupied.

What’s going on:

The first stage of the game is simply to put the characters on guard, make them agitated, and drive them together.  The second stage of the game will be to keep pressure will be on the characters, and any foray into the public should be viewed with trepidation. The idea is to have the characters completely focused on protecting themselves, and dealing with the aftermath of each attack (police investigation being one of the largest entanglements with which to deal).

The next stage is to attempt to discredit the group by having witnesses come forward with unflattering versions of both real and fabricated actions by the group in public places – endangering the lives of civilians and damaging property. These reports will paint of a picture of the characters acting without restraint, being panicked and unpredictable, and exaggerating or outright manufacturing examples of emotional outburts, and uses of violence. The group will always be described as having acted first, been intent on the death of someone that no one else could see, and yelling about things that no one else could understand.

Characters who try to figure out what is going on will have many things to investigate, but between the attacks and the false accusations – some of which won’t be that false – they won’t have much time.

Details:

The villain has been very careful to cover his tracks, and investigation can turn up almost nothing of use for predicting what will happen. After the fact, lots of little things should help to confirm speculation about what seems to be going on.

In a nutshell this is a bit of a coup d’etat, mixed with a healthy dash of megalomania.

An unknown potentate of an emerging island nation torn by strife and cultural tensions is on a tour of the characters’ nation, and will be in the same city as the group within the next few days. Our villain, convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt of the primacy of his homeland, the power and importance of his soon-to-be victim, and more importantly, his own central significance to the universe at large, has convinced himself that the characters intend to foil his plans. While making his preparations for his coup to depose his nation’s rightful ruler, he learned of the exploits of the characters – who likely have had nothing to do with politics, south pacific islands, or the like – and as he came to become impressed with their abilities, they came to factor in his delusions of grandeur.

The characters have a snowball’s chance in hell of figuring out his plot before he enacts it, but with the capture of the tails, some phenomenal luck, and a bit of the supernatural, they might learn enough to ask the right questions about the right nations to learn of the potentate’s visit to the area. This is not necessary, but may be how you want things to go, or how they end up going.

The Resolution:

As envisioned, the potentate is on his way to visit the characters, as they are people he envies and wishes to meet. He will arrive the next day, and the first thing on his agenda is to visit as many of the group as he can locate by social contacts, and the liberal use of bribes.

His early arrival in the area, and his search for the characters will unbalance and upset the villain that much more, and throw off carefully laid plans of kidnapping and murder. The villain will have to risk an attempt to scatter the group and capture the potentate without the benefit of planning, relying only on the previous knowledge gleaned from the earlier operations against the characters.

Our villain is a genius, and even as he launches this attempt, is already planning his escape and a rematch. If the attack fails, the potentate will seek to persuade the characters to return with him to his island to help him put down this rebellion.

Research into the island will turn up juicy rumours befitting your campaign…  cults, gold, strange animal life, advanced skills possessed by seemingly primitive people…  it’s up to you.

What occurs if the characters choose to go, or not go, are stories for other days~

Speak your piece~

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