Thrilling Adventure Stories Issue 2

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Thrilling Adventure Stories Issue 2

Postby Brass Jester » 7:25pm on 27 Aug 16


This adventure is based on the excellent adventure of the same name written by Marcus Rowland for his Forgotten Futures RPG. I first ran it in 2010 for the Dr Who ‘Timelord’ RPG and revived it because it is so good and atmospheric.

++ SPOILER ALERT – This does stick closely to the plot of the adventure as written ++

Part 1 – The Disappearing Coachman

A dark, windswept night, the wind rushing through the trees and ragged clouds scudding across the moon. A farm worker hurries along the road, glancing fearfully around and cursing under his breath. "Blast Ferguson, keeping him late. Alright for him, he doesn't have to ... Still, not far now to the village". Suddenly, on the wind, came a long shuddering moan, followed by a sobbing wail and more moaning. The terrified farm worker looked to his left, towards the trees, his eyes opened wide in terror...

Following their safe return from the South Seas (Issue 1 – The Island of Terror), the PC’s were going about their various interests in Port Douglas when they received a summons from Dr Richard Armitage at the Port Douglas Museum of Natural History. In his office, he handed Zeus a telegram.

“I received this today. Lord Starling is an old acquaintance of mine; I cannot go due to other engagements so I would like you to check it out.”


“These were delivered along with it”. Armitage dropped five second-class tickets for the SS ‘Bremen’, departing New York in three days.

Three days later they boarded the SS ‘Bremen’, noting the swastika flag flying at the taffrail and the prominent picture of Herr Hitler; Reichkanzler of Germany as they boarded. With typical efficiency the ship departed on time and the crossing was made with ease. Jack made a nuisance of himself by making some insensitive comments about passenger liners and icebergs in the North Atlantic and received a warning from the ship’s Purser. Meanwhile, Yoz set about working out how to smuggle Zeus’s lightning gun through Customs

Five days later the ship docked at Southampton and they disembarked. Passing through the Customs shed; only Alex was questioned as he was carrying his rifle. The Customs officer accepted his story that he was a Big-Game Hunter. They went to the railway station and boarded a stopping train for Lower Poolford. At noon, with a hiss of steam, the train pulled into a sleepy little station. They were the only ones to get off; leaving the station, they saw a horse and trap waiting for them with an ancient old man driving it. He had a straggly beard, a foul-smelling pipe and wore a thick overcoat and gloves. He stank like a badger.

"Be you Lord Starling's party?”

"Yes", replied Yoz

"Then Old Harry is here to take thee. Mind you, sorr, oi wouldn't go there, they say it be haunted by the divil, if oi were you oi'd be back to Lunnon while ye can, sorr"

They exchanged a few glances at this, but Harry was not more forthcoming.

Driving through the village, past the pub, village green and tea shop, then along a wooded road, Harry suddenly pulled the horse to a stop. He pointed out the top of a tower, showing over the trees.
"There it be, sorr, yon heathenish tower. 'Tis said the demons of the pit can be heard there of an evening. 'Twas overweaning pride that made the old Lord build it, to spite a man o' the cloth. Much good did it do him...."
Harry swung the trap right through a set of iron gates and into the grounds of Starling Manor. The drive crossed a stone bridge over a stream, swung round a lake through ornamental gardens and up to the manor house. Across the lake from the house stood the folly, a five-sided glass and metal pagoda rising above the trees. Harry dropped them off by the front entrance; then took the pony and trap round the back of the house.

A young man, in his mid-twenties, came down the steps to meet them, followed by the butler.

“Ethelred, Lord Starling. Welcome to Poolford Manor. Armitage wired me to say you were on your way. I expect you’ll want to freshen up; then I’ll introduce you to the others. Groves will show you to your rooms; afternoon tea in the drawing room at four o’clock”

The rooms were on the first floor and were comfortable. The windows looked out onto the gardens, then to the lake and beyond that the pagoda. Yoz spent some time trying to hide Zeus’ Electrical Bolt Gun; finally he stuffed it on top of a wardrobe and put his suitcase in front of it.

Zeus said “I know of this Lord Starling. He’s a doctorate in applied physics and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Quite an achievement for someone in their mid-twenties.”

Afternoon tea was served in the drawing room; there were several other people there. Lord Starling introduced them: -
“Alan Longbaugh, my cousin on the American side.” “Hi guys”
“Richard Barrington-Hill; we were at college together” “H…H…Hel…lo. P..pleased meet y…you”
“Marian Stevens, a friend of Alan’s”
“Michelle Heeny and her aunt Clara”. “Hello. Anyone for tennis? I love tennis. Don’t worry about Aunt Clara; she’s deaf as a post”.

Groves the butler handed Starling a message. “Isadora won’t be joining us tonight”.

“So,” said Lord Starling, “have you any ideas where to start?”

“Start! We don’t actually know what we’re doing here”.

“Oh. Armitage didn’t say anything? Well …”

Alan broke in. “Basically, the folly is haunted and Ethel here wants you to prove that it isn’t”

“It is NOT haunted and there is NO ghost”. Lord Starling’s voice was stern. “Basically, in 1895, my father had a bet with the local clergyman, Rev. Theosophies Downes, that he could prove that the Earth was round (and not flat, as the clergyman believed; otherwise how could angels stand at the four corners of the earth?) My father had the pagoda built to house a Foucault pendulum, using the resources of one of his railway companies. The pendulum worked as predicted; he won the bet but refused the money, preferring instead that the clergyman preach the truth. They became good friends until death. Now I am due to inherit the bulk of the Starling estate, providing the exact terms of the will are adhered to. The will includes the clause "must not have any belief in ghosts or supernatural happenings", else I will not inherit. About six weeks ago, at night, terrible groaning noises started to come from the folly at irregular intervals; the locals are terrified and unless I can come up with a rational explanation I stand to lose my inheritance.”

The PC's all reflected on this for some time.

"By the way, my groom wants to know if he should stable your horse as your driver is nowhere to be found."

"Our driver? We thought he worked for you."

"I was going to send Perkins with the Rolls to collect you."

Dinner was served at eight p m, vegetable soup, a magnificent roast pheasant with all of the trimmings; followed by a rhubarb syllabub. It whilst talking over after-dinner drinks that from outside they heard a keening howl, wailing up and down the scale, followed by a deafening rumble that went on for several minutes. The howling came again and again, interspersed with the basso rumble. After several minutes the sounds died away.

“Well, there it is”, said Starling. “What do you make of that?”

At that point, Marian said in a fear-filled voice “I feel … a presence in this house” and collapsed in a faint.

Stay Tuned for the next issue of Thrilling Adventure Stories – The Village of Fear

GM Notes
Again, a fun-filled session; very atmospheric and scene-setting
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Re: Thrilling Adventure Stories Issue 2

Postby Brass Jester » 10:22pm on 27 Aug 16

Part 2 -The Village of Fear

Jack, Yoz, Dr Zeus and Alex are guests at Poolford Manor in England. They are here at the behest of Lord Starling to prove that his family folly is not haunted.

The following morning, after breakfast, they intended to ask Starling if they could look at the will to see who would inherit if he didn’t. However, they got side-tracked into asking for a demonstration of the pendulum. Starling led them to the tower and unlocked the door with a large brass key.

“How many keys are there?” asked Jack. “Just this one”, was the reply. “It hangs on a hook in my study, under a portrait of my father.”

The inside was eerie; several benches were spaced round a circular pit into which hung the pendulum, a massive plumb bob at the end. The floor of the pit was laid out as a circle divided into degrees by brass strips. Looking up, the wire seemed to stretch upwards forever; inspiring a feeling of vertigo. Climbing shrubs and plants hid the uprights of the tower.

“How much did this cost to build?” “About ten thousand pounds”. Alex whistled softly “ten thousand bucks to win a hundred? The guy must have been nuts.” He caught Lord Starling looking at him. “Sorry, I guess you English call it eccentric”.

With some help, Starling set the pendulum swinging and started a large stopwatch mounted on the wall. The pendulum behaved exactly as the theory predicted; moving its plane of swing one degree every five minutes.

“Do not go down into the pit”, warned Starling. “There is a lot of kinetic energy in that bob and being hit by it would be like being hit by a steam locomotive.

Starling locked the tower and returned to the house. The PC’s headed for the village; as they were about to cross the stream they spied a brick tunnel in the bank. Investigating, they found an arched brick-lined tunnel leading towards the gardens. A large pipe came from up out of the river and a culvert had a trickle of water going back into the river. The tunnel was blocked by an iron gate; locked. Yoz was about to try picking the lock when a loud voice came from behind: -

“Be on your way. You’re trespassing.”

The speaker was a dour man, wearing a hunting jacket, canvas trousers and wellingtons. He carried a double-barrelled shotgun.

“We are guests of Lord Starling”, said Yoz. “Are you Ferguson? Lord Starling told us you were the groundkeeper”.

“Lost are you? The house is that way”.

“We are here investigating the haunting of the tower. Where does this tunnel go?”

“Don’t know. It’s been locked for years and the key’s gone”.

They headed back up to the driveway and crossed over the bridge; Ferguson watched them leave. Walking down the road towards the village they discussed various theories; it was possible Isadora Downes was doing it as she stood to inherit* Or, it was someone pretending to be the ghost of Old Harry the disappearing coachman.

“You know; Ferguson wasn’t being straight with us. As groundkeeper, it’s his job to know where that tunnel goes”.

In the village; Yoz and Alex went to the church to try and find any mention of Old Harry; or a recently-disturbed grave. Reverend Holt was quite helpful; he believes the noises are being made by the wind blowing from a certain direction. He does not believe that Reverend Downes has returned as a ghost; he was a devout man of the cloth. He has never heard of anyone called Old Harry.

Jack and Dr Zeus went to the public house (“The Starling’s Tower”) and talked with the landlord and Bert Roper; who claimed to have seen “the divil ‘isself come out of the trees at him and pursue him to the village green”. After a few drinks and some talking they decided that Roper hadn’t actually seen anything. Neither Roper or the landlord knew anyone called Old Harry. Jack left the pub a little worse for wear; not being used to English beer.

In the village store; Jack bought a quarter of humbugs** and Dr Zeus bought a quarter of Rhubarb and Custard. The shopkeeper confirmed that they could hear the ghost here in the village and that it would be terrible if Lord Starling lost his inheritance as he owned the village. Nobody called Old Harry lives round here.

Yoz and Jack found Isadora Downes working in the ‘Copper Kettle’ tea shop and café. Yoz ordered a large pot of tea and scones and butter. They learnt that she used to tutor Ethelred Starling when he was a boy; that her father was a very devout Christian and remained good friends with Lord Starling and that she was not a beneficiary of the will (by this time, they’d given up asking about Old Harry).

By now it was tea-time and the air was heavy and oppressive. Thick clouds were building up; it was obvious that a storm was brewing.

They headed back to Poolton Manor and down to the river. Something had changed; the gate now had a chain and padlock on it! Yoz set to work and easily picked the padlock and the lock on the gate. He and Jack went into the tunnel; convinced it was a secret passage leading to the house; Dr Zeus and Alex went back to the house.

Yoz pulled the gate shut behind him and tried to relock it. His lockpick snapped off in the lock; locking the gate permanently***. The tunnel was dark and they had no torches.

At the house; Dr Zeus and Alex asked if they could see the will. Starling obliged and helped translate the complex legalese. Basically; if Starling doesn’t inherit then four cousins get 25% each.
Wesler, G (England); Crossingham A (England); Longbaugh A, (USA), LaRue J (France).

Longbaugh? Just then the gong sounded; “Dinner is served, My Lord”

“Thank you, Groves. Oh, I won’t be here tomorrow; I’ve got to attend a meeting in London and then I’m lunching at the Carlton with Fermi and Heisenberg; they’ve got some exciting new ideas they want to talk about. I’ll stop over at the Savoy and be back on Friday.

Dinner was served at 7pm; when asked about Yoz and Jack; Dr Zeus made up a story about them experiencing drinking in an English pub. 8pm came; but the ghost did not appear. At 8:15pm the storm broke; lightning flashed and thunder rolled. At around 8:20 a massive bolt of lightning struck the tower; for several seconds coruscating flashes of blue fire flickered up and down it. Longbaugh and Marian looked worried; Starling was unconcerned.

“The globe is a lightning conductor”.

Meanwhile; down in the tunnel; a different battle was raging. Jack had refused to give Yoz any mint humbugs unless he did something good. They ended up fighting and Yoz pulled a gun; Jack was shot in the foot and they ended up in a MAD situation with guns pointing at each other****. The impasse was broken by someone trying to get through the gate; they couldn’t see who it was; but the silhouette looked like Ferguson.

Back at the house; after some conversation in the library; everyone retired to bed. It was in the early hours then that the ghost put in an appearance.

Down in the tunnel; having made up their differences; Yoz and Jack explored up the tunnel. There was a massive flash of lightning and almost immediate explosion of thunder overhead; in the flash they saw something gleaming white at the end of the tunnel. Yoz nearly fell into it; a water cistern with a hose rigged up to collect water from the lake overflow, with an outlet pipe leading out through the wall. He turned on the inlet tap; the cistern filled, then flushed. From somewhere outside came the horrifying sobbing groans of the ghost.

Inside the house there was a general state of alarm. Lights were lit in various rooms; several of the servants were visibly upset. Dr Zeus watched Longbaugh; he was peering out of the window as if looking for something. He saw Dr Zeus and Alex and suggested that they should hold a séance; with Marian as the medium. Both of them were dead against it.

“I am a scientist”, said Dr Zeus, “and Starling would never agree to it; he’d be compromised”

“I agree,” said Alex. “Science, not séance” *****

As no more noises came; eventually everyone settled back to sleep. Down in the tunnel; Jack disconnected the hose leading to the cistern so that it wouldn’t fill up; intending to use it as evidence. At this moment, there came the clink of metal from the gate. Ferguson stood there, gripping his shotgun.

“You had to interfere, didn’t you? Well, you’ll not stop me getting my share”.

With that, he discharged both barrels of his shotgun through the gate and into the tunnel …

Stay Tuned for the next issue of Thrilling Adventure Stories – The Pit of Peril

GM Notes
* No idea where they got this idea from.
** Later to cause so much dissension and some of the best laughs we’ve had.
*** Yes, a Critical Failure!
**** Ben is a SW GM so I just let them get on with it. After all of this; they ended up still as friends!!
***** Pretty good, coming from an illiterate gangster
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Re: Thrilling Adventure Stories Issue 2

Postby Brass Jester » 6:48pm on 29 Aug 16

Part 3 – The Pit of Peril

Ferguson stood there, gripping his shotgun. “You had to interfere, didn’t you? Well, you’ll not stop me getting my share”. With that, he discharged both barrels of his shotgun through the gate and into the tunnel …

Jack and Yoz threw themselves to the floor of the tunnel and the shotgun blast travelled overhead; they got some minor stinging cuts and weals from the rebounding pellets. Both drew their pistols but Ferguson had disappeared into the dark. They went back to examine the gate; it was a heavy wrought iron affair but it was hung on a simple hinge. Yoz exerted all his strength to try and lift the gate; he failed and nearly ruptured himself!* Jack decided not to try; he offered Yoz another humbug and; once the sun had risen; started shouting for help. Eventually Alex and Dr Zeus arrived and using a crowbar from the garage, levered the gate open.

They carried Yoz back to the house where he retired to bed. Mrs Dalby, the cook, made him a warm custard and gooseberry pie and prepared a hot mustard poultice to apply to his injury.

Alex, Jack and Dr Zeus went out onto the estate and visited Ferguson’s cottage. There was nobody there; inside they found a part-burnt letter in the fireplace. It was from Alan Longbaugh; offering Ferguson 10% of the money if he helped him inherit; the letter pointed out that even without the further inheritance, Starling had far too much money anyway. There were some drawings on how to prepare a crude hydraulic device rigged to flush at irregular intervals; the water draining into one of the hollow support columns of the pagoda would make it act like a giant organ pipe. On the kitchen table was a receipt from the village store for “Plumbing items £2 10/6”. In the bedroom, under a loose board; Alex found £500 wrapped in waxed cotton; far too much money for a man in Ferguson’s position to have. They waited around at the cottage for most of the day; but Ferguson didn’t show.

In the late afternoon the air grew sultry and the clouds massed; another storm was brewing. Jack went out looking for Ferguson, Alex returned to the house and Dr Zeus stayed at the cottage, armed with his Lightning Gun (which he was carrying around in a fishing tackle box). Yoz awoke, feeling much better and went downstairs. Longbaugh was reading in the library, sounds of laughter from outside indicated that the others were on the tennis court. Groves, the butler, approached him.

“Excuse me sir, but have you seen his Lordship anywhere? He was due back this afternoon”

“I thought he was stopping in London overnight at the Savoy?”

“A change of plan sir; Fermi could not make the luncheon engagement. It is unlike his Lordship to be late. He is due to open the village fete tomorrow.”

“Perhaps he missed the train. I’ll go to the station to ask.”

“Very good sir. Perkins will drive you in the Rolls.”

It was growing dark as the storm clouds massed overhead when Yoz arrived at the station. The stationmaster was surprised at the query.

“Lord Starling? He came in on the mid-afternoon train. He was met by Ferguson; his groundsman”

Yoz ran back to the car, calling to Perkins. “Back to the house, as fast as you can. Lord Starling is in danger and I think I know where he is.” As they reached the house the storm broke; lightning flashed and thunder roared. Yoz ran into the study; as he suspected, the key to the pagoda was missing. At that point; Alex and Jack came in, followed by Longbaugh.

“Starling’s in danger. Ferguson is holding him in the pagoda. I think he’s intending to push him into the pit. Remember what Starling said about being hit by the pendulum?”

Longbaugh went pale. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. No-one was meant to get killed”

“No-one will get killed. But we don’t need you. Go back and read a book or something.”

They all ran across the lawn to the pagoda; to their surprise they found Dr Zeus waiting by the door. Inside they saw Starling standing by the edge of the pit with Ferguson pointing his shotgun at him. Ferguson was yelling over the eerie swish of the pendulum; interspersed with the crashes of thunder.

“I’ll get my share. I’ll not be cheated again.”

Starling was just about to speak when Jack ran forward and grappled Ferguson; trying to wrest the shotgun from him. Yoz pulled Starling towards the door; only to see Longbaugh blocking it. Yoz didn’t give time for Longbaugh to say anything; a swift punch left him dazed.
Alex ran forward and hit Ferguson’s gun with the crowbar; sending it spinning into the pit. His second blow hit Ferguson’s legs, causing him to buckle. Alex then went to deal with Longbaugh in the door; Ferguson jumped up and aimed a punch at Jack. Jack spun out of the way and Ferguson overbalanced and fell into the pit. Jack grabbed his hand as he fell; he couldn’t hold the grip and Ferguson fell directly into the path of the pendulum.

Back at the house; Longbaugh confessed all. The whole thing was a set-up to try and get his share of the inheritance. He recruited Ferguson and Mariam but he did not believe that Ferguson would go that far.

Starling vows to stay in touch with Dr Zeus [Connection] and paid all the PC’s $1000 each

XP = 2 each

* Another Critical Fail, this time on a Strength test! He gained 2 Fatigue.
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Playing: Thrilling Tales (Savage Worlds), Numenera solo
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