A Deadlands: Weird Wars Adventure
|by T. Jordan "Greywolf" Peacock|
Locations: Part 1
Locations: Part 2
Scenery and Miniatures
Avatar of Anubis
This adventure could go a number of ways, depending upon what actions the Posse takes and in what order. On the surface, it would seem that the purpose of the adventure is to acquire the Mask of Anubis. However, the true goal is to make certain that the Nazis don't get the Mask. The best bet is to find some way to destroy it. The Posse could just try to block off the tomb, but the Nazis are prepared to dynamite their way in, if they have to (and dynamite, incidentally, won't damage the true Mask of Anubis).
If the Posse puts the canopic jars in position and Aye regenerates, he can "help" the Posse ... and present them with a considerable threat, too.
The only way to really kill him is to shoot or stab him through the heart, and he's wearing an ornamental breastplate that makes that less than an easy task. Chopping him up or burning will tick him off pretty bad, and can buy some time, but it won't totally deal with the problem. He has some powers o' darkness, and he's got the sceptre in the tomb right there with him. Actually ripping the heart out of his chest is another option, causing his body to crumble to dust, and leaving the Posse with a strangely still-beating heart. At that point, the heart can be easily snuffed out ... or kept as a grisly trophy to be dealt with later.
If the Posse stands around rather than fighting, Aye will rasp a bit in ancient Egyptian. Unfortunately, that's a dead language (now an undead language), so most characters aren't likely to understand it - not even native Egyptians! (Exception: The native guide knows ancient Egyptian, and Professor Hedgefield has a chance of figuring it out.) Basically, Aye will be grateful that he has been freed from this prison, and offers the heroes positions as members of his new court - an offer they can't refuse.
For dramatic purposes (unless the Posse took precautions to prevent something like this from happening), the Nazis choose that moment to show up and then burst in and start plugging away at the mummy. The mummy demonstrates his powers of sorcery by fighting the Nazis. If the Posse just stands and watches (or runs for cover - and now would be a great time to do so!) the mummy will rout the Nazis, then go and suck the life forces out of some of them. He'll look a lot better, and - as a bonus - he'll now know German and English, and can explain his grand scheme a bit better. (Hey, if you suck someone's life force out, you learn new languages, of course! It's a B-grade movie thing.) If he's allowed to proceed without interruption (yeah, right), he'll open up the shrine of Anubis, pull out the mask, stick it on a slave (one of the Nazis, most likely, unless some troublesome PC has earned the honor), raise dead bodies as zombies, and - unless the Posse chooses now to take him on - begin his reign of terror.
Of course, that doesn't mean that the Posse loses. The Posse should have ample chance to escape in the mayhem, and if this is done as part of a campaign, it could be a seed for future adventures, as a Cult of Aye begins to mount in Egypt.
The Posse might opt to open up the sarcophagus with Aye and the sceptre in it, but grab the sceptre before Aye can use it. In that case, the Posse will have Aye to deal with. One way would be to knock over the jars with his internal organs before he can be fully rejuvenated. (The slight clue they might get is that there will be special dazzle-glow effects, as energy seems to be seeping from the jars to Aye's body, energizing him. Knock them over, and they'll pull the plug, and merely have a hard-to-kill mummy to deal with, rather than a hard-to-kill mummy sorcerer to deal with.)
Another option is to skip the canopic jar means of entry entirely, and use brute force to open the sarcophagus. This shouldn't be effortless, but if the Posse is fairly organized (i.e., they all get to work chipping away at the mortar, using pry bars, and using muscle power) they can pull it off.
If Aye is defeated, and the Posse can hold onto the sceptre, they have an ace in the hole if the Nazis overrun the tomb.
The sceptre itself can be used to defeat Aye. Aye is too wily to be fully controlled by the sceptre, as he will liberally interpret any commands given him. However, the wielder of the sceptre can banish Aye permanently, by ordering Aye to go to the afterlife, to leave the material plane, to die, or any number of other ways of putting it. There may be some Spirit die rolls for effect, but the Marshal should roll his dice secretly, as this will automatically succeed against Aye. (The die-rolling is just to goad jumpy Posse members into burning excess Fate Chips.) The sceptre can also be used to banish the Mask of Anubis (or the Avatar wearing it).
Another handy property of the sceptre is that the mummies will ignore whomever is holding the sceptre, unless Aye specifically directs them to attack the wielder. The sceptre can be used to command mummies with an opposed Spirit test - and also to command the avatar of Anubis (which will automatically succeed, as with Aye). It has no effect, however, on traditional Harrowed or normal Walkin' Dead outside of Egypt - It only has power where the influence of the Egyptian mythos holds sway (which is determined at the Marshal's whim).
Particularly devious Posses might try to take the fake Mask of Anubis and pass it off as the real thing, surrendering it to the Nazis. This, however, would only delay the inevitable. The Nazis would thoroughly search the PCs and confiscate anything else they might have taken from the tomb, then send them on their way. (Or, if the Posses have been exchanging gunfire with the Nazis, and they're holed up in the tomb, the Nazis might just blow the entrance closed.)
If the mask is surrendered and the Posse has left, the Nazis will figure out that this Mask isn't the real thing, and they'll keep searching the tomb ... and it'd only be a matter of time before they discovered the false wall (presuming the heroes hadn't already revealed it) and the true mask. Sure, they might well inadvertently awaken Aye and bring trouble on their own heads, but that would all be beyond the scope of what the Posse would witness.
This is one clever way of ending the adventure prematurely, and whomever comes up with this as a means of getting out of a bind should get a blue chip for the trouble, but the Posse doesn't necessarily "win" ... and if this were played as part of a campaign, the Mask of Anubis or Aye just might pop up again to give the Posse grief!
Another possibility is that - if you have the Nazis at the PCs' heels - the Posse might spend too much time getting through the traps, and the Nazis catch up with them. The Posse can either fight a dramatic (and most likely losing) battle with the Nazis, make a daring escape, or else surrender at gunpoint. The Nazis won't shoot the Posse on the spot - especially if the Posse only shot, say, a few native hired hands, and nobody "important".
They'll keep them on, as they might be "useful" for getting further into the tomb. Thus, the Posse could well end up being expected to get further into the tomb ... just with the threat of a bullet in the head if they give up and turn back. Any uppity antics on the parts of PCs would not be tolerated at this point, and the Nazis are definitely not above making an "example" of a trouble-making PC. Still, the Posse could have a chance to thwart the Nazis' plans ... especially if they figure out the story behind the Mask before the Nazis do. (And since the Nazis can't read hieroglyphics, and neither can their native guides, the Posse has an edge.)
This is a heavy-handed method to use if the Posse is just dawdling around, or if they're too wrapped up in internal conflicts to focus on the task at hand. If the Posse can't even get their act together in the face of Nazis storming the tomb, then they get wiped out, and your convention scenario ends a little early. More likely, you'll have one or two wise guys in the group that will say, "Hey, I'm not with them!" and surrender, while the rest make things messy. When the dust clears, unless the "wise guys" make any desperate and suicidal heroics, you'll probably end up with a much smaller group being goaded on by the Nazis, and secretly plotting a way to get out of there when they aren't looking.
If the Nazis get into the tomb, they inevitably will want to open up the shrine with the Mask of Anubis in it, and - unless a Posse member volunteers to be the victim - they'll pop the mask onto one of the native hired hands and promote him to the status of Avatar of Anubis. If the Nazis don't have the sceptre (They don't even know that it exists, and they probably didn't take the time to stop and read the murals on the way in) they have no way of controlling Anubis.
Unless the Posse leads them in that direction, the Nazis will not be inclined to figure out the puzzle of the canopic jars and awaken Aye - Their objective is to get the Mask, so they'll focus on getting to the very end, even if it means having to blast their way through the last doorway, and blow open the shrine. They could be persuaded to open up the crypt to get the sceptre out, but with the ensuing chaos (even if Aye is fairly easily defeated), the Posse is likely to have a German officer loudly accusing them of trying to set off a trap. (But then, hey, that's where the heroes with persuasion in your group get to shine!)
If the Posse uses the sceptre, they can have Anubis turn on the Nazis. Mummies rise to do battle with the Nazis. If they don't have the sceptre, it will still be a target-rich environment, and the Posse might opt to join in the fight or run for dear life. The Posse then has several options.
If someone is fool enough to actually put on the Mask, within the scope of the game scenario, that character is dead. The Marshal should provide ample warning that this isn't something nice that you want to stick your head into. For the rest of the scenario, the character now gets to play a different role - a Harrowed that is under sway of the evil spirit of Anubis. He gets a new goal: wreak havoc and rule the world. If he tries to play friendly or stupid ("Hi, guys! Gee, how about we work together?") then the GM takes Anubis over as an NPC. (Hey, the PC is effectively dead. At least this would have given him a chance to keep playing for a bit.)
If the Posse is cruel enough to stick the mask on someone else, then that person gets the honor of becoming the Avatar of Anubis. Unless the Posse has the sceptre to control it, they're in for some trouble, as Anubis will be able to "grant immortality" at will to any dead bodies in the tomb (i.e., turn them into Walkin' Dead under his command). If they play their cards right, they can try to redirect Anubis' wrath upon the Nazis, but there's still the matter of defeating Anubis. (It can be done fairly simply, really. They just have to take the time and care to make a called shot to the heart and do enough damage to "kill" him. The body will die, though the mask is still potentially "alive". The other option is to use the Sceptre of Osiris to "banish" Anubis, which will result in the permanent destruction of the mask.)
Aye by himself is a handful, and is deadly to unimaginative Nazis, but he can be defeated. He has "Bolts o' Doom" (magical ranged attacks) and "Cloak o' Evil" (makes it harder to hit him), as well as his power to Overawe and cause Terror - and a big bronze sword that slices through things nicely when backed by superhuman strength.
He can also grab someone and suck the life-force out of him, rejuvenating and healing himself in the process - even from the brink of death. Until he "rejuvenates" himself, he is susceptible to "catching fire" if touched by sources of flame (such as torches), which won't really kill him, per se, but makes for a great distraction while the Posse lines up for called shots to the heart, or tries to run away. Hacking off body parts is a possible way to slow him down, though he has the Harrowed ability to animate any severed limbs, so separated hands can spring up and grab at the Posse, etc. Trying to blow out the mummy's brains will do no good whatsoever. The ancient Egyptians threw away the brain, so that tells how much it meant to them.
As stated before, Aye can also be defeated by anyone who has the Staff of Osiris, as the wielder can banish Aye from the mortal plane forever.
Anubis can be defeated by inflicting damage to the heart, or removing his head entirely. That can "kill" his host body, causing the mask to shrivel up again and detach. The mask itself is annoyingly durable, but it can be destroyed with magical fire, or else by using the Staff of Osiris to banish the spirit inhabiting it - which would result in the mask crumbling to dust immediately. Another option is to perform an Exorcism on the Avatar, but that would require restraining him for eight hours, and none of the pre-generated characters for this scenario have access to that Miracle.
Pretty much, the Posse is outgunned by the Nazis. If they just try to deal with the Nazis by having a shoot-out, they're doomed to failure - by attrition, if nothing else. At the very least, the Nazis could just seal up the tomb and starve/suffocate the Posse while they camp outside.
The Posse should feel compelled to do whatever they're going to do before the Nazis can catch up with them, and toward that end, anything they can do to delay the Nazis behind them would be advisable. (A few of those traps would work nicely for this purpose.)
If the Nazis are weakened or distracted by having to deal with Aye, Anubis, or some sort of trap or other surprise the Posse sets up, the Posse may have a much better chance of either defeating them or slipping past them. This is left up to the Marshal to get a feel for how things are going. The Posse could conceivably try to bargain or deal with the Nazis, but that will tend to work best when there is some sort of third party that needs to be allied against.
The Staff of Osiris is actually fairly easy to destroy. All one needs to do is grab hold of it and break it over one's knee. There will be a spectacular special effects show, making it evident that something magical was destroyed, but then the sceptre will be useless (although the fittings might be sold). If someone tries to use the Staff of Osiris as a weapon, it's entirely possible that it will break in the process. (However, if it's used to bludgeon Aye or Anubis when it breaks, it will conveniently destroy the target in the process before it passes into the Great Beyond of broken artifacts.)
The Mask of Anubis is annoyingly durable, although it looks fragile. It can be burned by magical fire, or else it can be banished with the Staff of Osiris. Once it's attached to someone's head, it essentially becomes the head of its new host, and the resultant Avatar can still take head wounds, but he'll regenerate like a Harrowed.
This adventure was originally designed as a convention scenario, with pre-fabricated PCs who at times have contradicting personal goals. In order to determine a "winner" for the scenario, all Fate Chip awards should be tallied up (not counting the chips the players start the game with), and "scored", with White Chips worth 1 point each, Red Chips worth 2 points each, and Blue Chips worth 3 points each. (And if the Marshal puts any Legend Chips in the pot, those are worth 4 points each.) The separate personal objectives give each PC a different means of earning chips by attaining personal goals. Instead of randomly drawing chips from the pot at the start of the game, every player gets three chips - one each of white, red and blue.
Actually winning personal objectives does not mean that someone wins the scenario. One of the players, for instance, could be assigned the role of the selfish, power-hungry trouble-maker who is destined to release a curse upon the Posse, and die a horrible screaming death for his trouble. Because he dies doesn't mean that he "lost". If he hams it up and plays it to the hilt, even though the player knows it's going to get him killed, then by all means, he should be rewarded for playing his character true to form. Just because the "hero" wins the day doesn't mean he should be the winner of the scenario, if he's a dull protagonist who nobody in the movie theatres would root for, who just sort of waffles his way to victory just because the gods appointed him "The Hero".
The important factor will be for the Marshal to keep an eye out for people playing their Hindrances. Another point would be to have the players go around the table at the start and introduce their characters - If they make any sort of attempt to get into character (talking in an accent, adding mannerisms, etc.) then they should be tossed a white chip for starters. Just about everyone who puts the least bit of effort into it should be able to get a chip this way, and it establishes early on the "rules of the game" - Impress the Marshal, and get a chip.
Another important thing for the Marshal to do is to keep a record of those chips tossed out. At a house game, with trusted friends, they may be more reliable and can be expected not to make "mistakes" in their favor. At a convention game, however, when there's an incentive to win the scenario (in the form of some sort of prize), all it takes is one unscrupulous player to cheat and ruin things. Since chips are being spent during game play, it's also hard to keep track of them, since they come and go. Thus, it's a good idea for the Marshal to just write them down as they're awarded. (And "free" picks from the pot for drawing a Red Joker shouldn't be listed as an award. That's not role playing. That's luck.)
Locations: Part 1
Locations: Part 2
Scenery and Miniatures
Avatar of Anubis