Friday, January 29, 2016

Mini Adventure -- Young Blood

This is probably the most successful 90-minute adventure for kids I ever ran. It is also the only one written not only for young players, but also for young characters. I have written about it twice in the past, both times describing instances in which I was practically forced by the kids to turn what is essentially a single encounter into a full campaign. However, I have never presented the adventure in playable form – until now.

The Setup
The adventure starts with the kids waking up in a dusty basement with no recollection of how they got there or any information about their past or identity. They are wearing tattered school uniform, but have no backpacks and their pockets are empty of anything that could serve as clues to their identity. They are all terribly hungry, but otherwise unhurt. From upstairs they hear fierce pounding on the doors. I like to actually pound at the door and scream like a madman to emphasize the urgency of the situation. This almost never gets security guards running to the classroom. Almost.

The Premise
The kids have no way of knowing this, but they have all been turned into vampires by a now deceased vampire playboy named Jax, an appalling person whose vile practices and shameless violence have finally caught up with him. Unfortunately for the kids, unless they are very careful, they will be caught up in the aftershock of his death as well.

Look at these eyes. Now look at these teeth...
The House
With a few exceptions, the entire adventure took place inside Jax's house, a fancy bachelor pad in a calm neighborhood that serves as thin veneer for horror. Since it's day outside, leaving the house will prove very difficult for the vampire kids.

1. Basement
The basement is bare except for a hammer, a mattock, a hoe and some hemp rope, all stacked under the stairs leading to the living room above. Fierce pounding and muffled screams can be heard from outside the house. It's impossible to make out the words, but the tone is clearly angry.
Challenges: The basement door is not locked, but requires the combined strength of at least two kids to open on account of its weight and the tightness of the hinges.
Rewards: Searching the room will reveal a secret compartment under the stairs. It contains an old Nokia phone with a single number on its memory card and a scepter of gold and silver depicting two entwined feathered snakes. The number belongs to a vampire interested in buying the scepter. He doesn't answer calls during the day for obvious reasons. If called after dark, he will identify as Mr. Calzoni and offer $200,000 dollars for the scepter.

2. Living Room
The living room is small, but extremely well-furnished. There is a 110'' TV with an Xbox, a playstation, a pile of games taller than a man, a library with both fiction and occult literature, stylish leather furniture and an immaculately clean kitchenette with an assortment of expensive Japanese and Spanish knives.
Challenges: Heavy black curtains cover the windows, leaving the room in darkness. Should anyone open a curtain, they will immediately loses half their hit points. Another round of exposure will leave them in a catatonic state. The third round spells doom as the kid's undead body turns to ash and scatters on the floor.
Someone is pounding at the door and shouting "Betty! Are you alright? I'm coming in." If the kids don't do anything in this regard and don't make too much noise the door breaks down in three rounds and a black man with a black Kevlar, a katana in one hand and an automatic pistol in the other hand storms in. He will attack the kids, calling them "monsters" and fight to the death. He cannot be reasoned with.
Rewards: The refrigerator contains nothing but wine bottles. Examination will reveal the bottles are filled with blood. Should any of the kids drink some of the blood, they should get an immediate boost to their strength, agility and senses. If they are hurt, they will fully heal. A thorough search of the room will reveal a Glock pistol taped to the bottom of the sofa. The bullets are made of silver.
There is a buzzing smartphone on the coffee table. The caller is a bronze-skinned woman with tattoos of feathered snakes on her arms. Her called I.D is "Taloc." If the kids don't answer her, they see there are 47 unanswered calls and 15 messages. Within minutes, they get another call, this time from a tough-looking man with a giant beard and cruel eyes named "Sash".
Taloc: Taloctitlani is a Mexican friend of Jax. She is calling to warn him to stop turning kids before he attracts the attention of hunters or elder vampires, neither of which approves of this practice. If the kids answer the phone, she sighs heavily, realizing her friend is already dead and tells them to stay put. She will come to collect them as soon as the sun sets and take them to Mexico. She warns them that both local vampire hunters and vampires will try to kill them. She calls many more times before the end of the adventure because she is very worried about her friend. The scepter is hers. Jax stole it from her and planned to sell it to finance his relocation.
Sash: Alexi is the elder vampire of the city. He is very angry at Jax for creating vampires without his permission and is calling to tell him that he has one last chance to start following the rules or Alexi will personally blood eagle Jax before leaving him to bake in the sun. If Alexi speaks with the kids, he informs them that their existence is unauthorized. As soon as the sun sets, he intends to come to the house and kill them all. Like the majority of NPCs in this adventure, he cannot be reasoned with. However, he will allow the kids to live if Taloctitlani takes personal responsibility for them.
The password of the phone is 1885. Unless the kids somehow deduce it, they can only use the phone to answer calls.

Do mind your steps...

3. Bathroom
The bathroom shows signs of extreme neglect. There are cobwebs in the toilet bowl, mold on the walls and ceiling and a dead bird in the sink.

4. Bedroom
The bedroom is large and affluent. There is a circular bed in the center that displays signs of recent lively activity. The sheets are torn and crumpled, the duvet lies on the floor and feathers from the pillows are scattered all around the bed. In one corner of the room there is a pile of ash, clothing, an ankh medallion and a wooden stake.
Challenges: In the other corner there is a blonde teenage girl with five bleeding holes in her stomach. She is alive, but just barely. She is armed with a crossbow and will shoot the first person who touches her. Otherwise, she is in no shape to fight. If questioned, she will tell the kids that her name is Betty and she is a vampire slayer. She came to the house to kill a vampire that has committed many outrages in the neighborhood. The man outside is Knife, a fellow vampire hunter. She suspects the kids have been turned into vampires as part of some twisted provocation against the elder vampire of the city. If ignored, she will bleed to death in three rounds.

This adventure often ends in TPK, either at the hands of Knife the vampire hunter or Alexi the vampire elder. While there's a small chance they will beat Knife, they have no chance at all to defeat Alexi and his monsters, making staying in the house for too long a certain death.
To survive this ordeal, the kids must either secure Taloctitlani's help or flee the house before the sun sets, possibly by improvising some kind of a mobile tent to protect them from the sun. What happens next? It can be this, or this or even this, or whatever else you fancy. The world is great and full of horrors.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Mini Adventure -- Fully Clothed Lunch

I’ve recently re-read Naked Lunch and was inspired to design another 90-minute adventure. I have ran it six times in different schools this year and it was a whole lot of crazy fun each time. To avoid the Gor kerfuffle from two years ago, let me start by stating that Naked Lunch is absolutely, totally and utterly unsuitable for children (or adults for that matter). However, between the plethora of degrading drug abuse, underage sodomy and murder for sexual gratification, there are several nifty game ideas. I have used one paragraph from the entire novel for this adventure and even this one was heavily altered. Please don't taze me, bros.

So, with that hot plate out of the way, let’s get to the juicy part:

The PCs are agents of an unnamed and unknowable organization. They are sent to stop a conspiracy about which they are given absolutely no information. Their mission starts in a city on the border triangle of Mexico, Morocco and a colony of insects from another galaxy, in an Aztec-themed café called “The Café Tangier.” The Café Tangier is owned by a giant centipede and is serviced by two young women who never speak and two rude cockroaches. The crowd consists of half a dozen rowdy American marines on vacation and two British snobs who make snide remarks on everything they see.

Across the street, the muezzin is summoning the faithful for prayer. Near the mosque, a demonstration of six-foot ants is restrained by the Mexican police. No one knows what they want since no one speaks Insect. However, everyone is assuming the worst and urges the police to shoot the ants.

Character Generation
Choose one one of the following agent types. Then write down one primary skill, two secondary skills and something you're afraid of or are very bad at.
Senders: telepaths who can put secret chips into people in order to telepathically control them. Chips must either enter the blood stream via an injection or be ingested.
Liquifcationists: cannibalistic maniacs who can liquefy objects and people by spewing powerful acid. They can then assumed the shape and personality of their victims for a short period of time.
Dividers: freaks who can divide into new persons as much as they like. However, each division has a 1-in-6 chance of dying on the spot. New persons are not always identical to the original or friendly towards the party. In fact, they are not always human.
Writers: normal people who are able to tell weird things from normal things and can subsequently understand all creatures and languages on an intuitive level. Only an insane person would play a writer.

When facing various challenges, roll three dice for your primary skill, two dice for your secondary skills and one die for everything else. If you have an advantage, add an additional blue die and substitute your lowest roll with it. If you have a disadvantage, add a red die and substitute your highest roll with it.

Combat tests are opposed checks. The party that rolls the highest wins. Weapon and armor grant additional dice according to GM discretion. Yeah, it’s super deadly, but it’s not really an action game, so deal with it.

Source: QunteroART

What’s Going On?
The insects conspired with the General to poison the water supply with a poison that causes humans to have insect children. The general and his allies believe that humans are belligerent, fragile and bigoted. Therefore it’s in both human and insect interest for everyone to eventually become an insect.
If the PCs don't uncover the conspiracy within 90 minutes, the General and his centipede allies will win. This may, or may not, be a bad thing, depending on PC morality. Surprisingly, I've had some vehement argument on this subject.

Who's Who?
  • The ants are supportive of this endeavor in theory, but don't know any details and are not part of the conspiracy. Their demonstration is in fact against police brutality, not against humanity in general. The ants are pacifists and will not fight anyone under any circumstances. 
  • The police are violently bigoted against insects and will not stand in the way of anyone who wishes to harm an insect. On the other hand, anyone who shows sympathy to the insects is pushed into the ant demonstration and is instantly accepted by the ants as one of their own, which in turn causes to the police and the citizens to treat this person as if they were an ant as well.
  • The general commands the army, which includes one sniper dodging from rooftop to rooftop and tens of fairly harmless office workers. His safe contains two jugs provided by the centipedes – one contains deadly poison that kills instantly and the other contains poison that alters DNA in order to turn human babies into insects.
  • The centipedes are the true power behind the conspiracy. They operate out of a flying saucer parked in the jungle east of the city since they are not allowed into the city. The bar owner is a high-ranking member of the conspiracy and the only centipede tolerated within city limits. If he suspects the PCs are getting near the truth, he will take his cockroaches and attack the party when it least expects it. 
  • The waitresses are also aware of this conspiracy but, being mute and illiterate, they have a problem communicating this information. However, investigation will reveal that the two are mute due to being part of the cult of the Holy Blood that forbids its members to speak with anyone except for the leader of the cult, señor Alejandro. 
  • Señor Alejandro is an old narcissist whose cult consists solely of women who are not allowed to speak with anyone except for him. However, if the PCs bribe or scare him, he will agree to allow them to speak with the women through him.
  • The Americans can be easily persuaded to go to war against any of the above parties provided the PCs speak with enough zeal and conviction. However, there is a 50% chance they will call a massive bombing of the area, just to be sure.
  • The British will not help anyone with anything. They will only fight in self defense, which is quite likely since they make it their business to belittle anyone who approaches them.