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Hot Potato, Dragon Style

An adventure for the 1850s Juncture of the Feng Shui RPG, by Dylan Craig

Feng Shui is a trademark of Robin D. Laws. All rights reserved.

Feng Shui is published by the fine folks at Atlas Games. Check out their latest Feng Shui releases, Elevator to the Netherworld and Four Bastards by Feng Shui creator Robin Laws!

One Potato:
Where's the Box?
Two Potato:
Quan Castle
Three Potato:
The Welcome Pagoda
Four Potato:
The Green Dragon Wheel Dojo
Five Potato:
The Bay Queen


The PCs are trying to get their hands on the contents of a cargo container ('The Box') which has been stolen from a warehouse, before agents of several other mysterious groups can do the same.

The Twist:

The Box contains a supernatural creature, and a dangerous one at that. The other groups trying to get to the Box before the PCs include the Chinese government, agents of the Guiding Hand, the Lotus Eaters, and the Buro (whose SERU team misplaced the creature in the first place), and a wealthy Californian collector with a private army.

The Climax:

The final clash takes place in a sinking cargo ship, with the beast loose in the hold and gobbling up mooks like rice dumplings.

Note: Map details and mook quantities have purposely been left vague. These details are up to you, and should be based on the degree to which your players are enjoying a combat scene (keep those mooks coming only as long as your players attention spans can hold out), and the degree to which the PCs are being kicked around (until the last scene, that is. In the final shoot-out, all bets are off). In general, however, 2-3 mooks per tough PC will probably work OK. 'Lieutenants' (named characters) for each of the major factions involved are supplied at the end of this document. These GMCs can be used to provide a more personal dimension to the mook hordes, or as recurring enemies for the PCs in this and other Junctures. Editor's Note: You may want to tweak these stats! Be sure to look them over before throwing them at the PCs. An excellent guide is Jason Langlois' article, "How Many Mooks Is Enough" on Bryant Durrell's (also excellent) Feng Shui website.


Five pre-generated characters are provided at the end of this document, should you wish to run this adventure using characters native to the 1850s Juncture who are ignorant of the Secret War and the time-traveling groups engaged in fighting it. These characters are friends and 'associates' of Thierry Tsien, the owner of the warehouse from which the Fire Lizard was stolen. Given that by the end of this adventure they will have encountered most of the major factions, battled supernatural forces, and (hopefully) emerged triumphant, it might serve as a good way to start a new Feng Shui campaign.

If you are running this adventure for your regular group, you will need a way to get them involved in the hunt for the Box without giving away the contents. They might have been tracking the Buro SERU team, or they might have traveled back to 1850 to prevent 'a powerful weapon' falling into the hands of the wrong faction and being used to create a critical shift. In this case, they might not know what exactly the 'artifact' they are trying to get their hands on is a supernatural creature, just where and from whom it was stolen.

The Story So Far:

The creature in the Box - a Fire Lizard - was one of several entities captured by a SERU operation in 69 AD. The op went awry after unexpectedly encountering a Jammer strike team, and several creatures escaped through the still-active Gate. One of these ended up in mainland China, where it was encountered by a private archaeological expedition. After its capture, various substances were tested on the Fire Lizard to try and find something that would tranquilize it effectively. After it was discovered that laudanum (a solution of opium in alcohol) was discovered to be highly effective, the beast was drugged, put to bed in a large container, and freighted to Hong Kong by ox cart. Eager for acclaim but concerned for the security of her find, the archaeologist hired a private warehouse to store the box (and a few other fossils she had found) while she contacted the British authorities to arrange immediate transport of the creature, by gunboat, back to England. While she was away, however, representatives of the Ascended within the Chinese government (who had placed her expedition under routine surveillance from the moment she arrived) arranged for a sympathetic local warlord to steal the 'national treasure' back from her. The PCs arrive just after this has taken place.

Hong Kong in 1850 is a city of contrasts. One of the routine tasks performed by the the British colonial police force is the detention and interrogation of any Asians found in the 'Western' areas of the city; as a result, some districts are entirely Western in character, where Russian is heard more often than Cantonese; other areas are closer to the Eastern flavor of Hong Kong in the contemporary Juncture. These patrols have access to a wide range of 'inducements', including flogging with a whip soaked in kerosene, to ensure that Asians obey the various pass and curfew laws. None of the districts dealt with in this module are strictly policed in this manner; however, if the PCs wander too far off the track, they are certain to run into one or more of these patrols.

One Potato: Where's the Box?

The heroes arrive at one of Thierry Tsien's Hong Kong warehouses late at night to find a distraught-looking pair of night watchmen, a crowd of hopefuls waiting for a chance to poke around the building now that the doors have been ripped off their hinges, an empty warehouse, and a street full of rain.

The night watchmen will be more than glad to explain what happened (liberally interspersed with heartfelt apologies and excuses) once the PCs identify themselves. From their point of view, things went like this:

Any detailed examination of the warehouse will require that something be done about the gathering crowd outside. These desperate people - mostly beggars - are confident in their anonymity that threats of reprisal from Tsien will have little effect. Wild rumors about the contents of the crates have been spreading through the crowd for the last hour, and pretty soon the human wave is going to break. The heroes need to think of a way to get these people off the street quickly while avoiding deaths.

The warehouse is mostly empty, apart from a number of oil spots, a rank coal smell, and broad wheel ruts in the road which seem to corroborate the guards' story of some kind of vehicle being used to pull the doors off their hinges (although no chains are in evidence). Several small crates are lying in a jumble around the warehouse floor, but four vacant pallets show that a single, large, container - perhaps ten meters long and three meters along each face - is missing. The small crates contain rocks carefully packed in straw. An Info/Science roll of 7 or more will be required to identify these as fossil-bearing rocks; most of the rocks contain fragments of fossilized eggs, although a few whole fossilized eggs can be found.

The broad wheel ruts head off towards the docks, but because of the rain, they become indistinct after a few hundred meters. If the PCs follow the track towards the docks (through some fairly hairy neighborhoods - how well did they treat those beggars?), they will soon become aware that someone is following them [Perception rolls of 5]. This person (or small group of people - it's hard to tell with the rain, darkness, and winding streets) is hanging about forty or fifty paces behind the PCs, and is moving very cautiously.

The shadowy figure is Matthew 'Matty' Williams, an opportunistic Welsh pickpocket and laudanum addict who was thrown off a passing ship six years ago and decided to stay. He happened, by chance, to stumble across the warlord's soldiers as they disembarked at the Hong Kong docks; following them discreetly, he saw them rob the warehouse, and has been hanging back ever since, trying to figure out what exactly he saw and who might be most interested in buying the information from him.
Matty Williams   Matty's a fairly skittish character, especially since he knows (or assumes) the PCs work for Tsien, and is worried they might mistake him for one of the robbers. For this reason, if it looks like they've spotted him, he will take off at full speed, trying to get back to the docks as fast as possible.
Guns 9, Intrusion 12, Martial Arts 6, Info/Crime 10
.40 Derringer (7/1/2), Clasp Knife (7), Laudanum

If the heroes managed to trap Matty (perhaps by leaving someone behind to jump him while the rest went ahead), they might get a chance to talk to him on their own terms. Otherwise, it's going to come to a footrace! Consider the race as a series of cumulative rolls against the Move characteristic, with Matty getting a 15-point head start. First to 50 wins!
In Matty's case, this means reaching the docks and the safety of four or five of his dissolute colleagues. By the time the PCs reach him, they should be good and spread out, and Matty's nasty chums could pose quite a problem. They're not skilled assassins, just burly loudmouths with a taste for trouble.   Matty's Mook Buddies
Intimidation 8, Martial Arts 7, Info/The Docks 8
Knife, Club, or Broken Bottle (8)
Cool Combat Ideas
  If a fight breaks out, Matty is more likely to cower behind a packing crate than join in the melee; the PCs will only get a chance to pay him back for the little obstacle course he has led them along once the whole mess is over. Matty will explain that he didn't want to risk following the soldiers back over the bay, but will describe them in sufficient detail that use of an appropriate Info skill (or brief inquiries on the docks) will identify the men as the troops of Supreme Elevated General Hsa of the Nine Striding Banners. The General has a reputation for being a fervent modernist whose troopers are well-armed and highly competent. In an age where many of China's soldiers are still armed with medieval weapons, General Hsa's legions are outfitted with modern small arms and field artillery, and wear uniforms rather than traditional gear.
Several barrels of brine lie nearby, just waiting for someone to get dunked, head-down, into their salty contents.
A martial artist could grab a kerosene lantern in each hand, using them as flaming clubs to great effect.
A dice game was in progress before he PCs arrived. Someone could slip on the dice and knock themselves out, after which the dice would show 'snake-eyes'.

General Hsa's fortress lies outside Hong Kong proper (Hong Kong being, after all, a British possession), a few miles north of Kowloon. It's a fifteen-minute ride from downtown Kowloon to the castle, or an hour's walk.

When the PCs are halfway to the castle, they will begin to hear the rattle of musket fire and the occasional boom of explosions (cannons, perhaps, or grenades) from up ahead. A little while later, they will begin to encounter villagers fleeing towards Kowloon; these terrified folk will tell them that there is some kind of big fight up at the castle, with soldiers shooting anything that moves, and will advise the PCs to flee for their lives.

Two Potato: Quan Castle

Quan Castle is a small Chinese army post, on the road north from the Kowloon docks. It is General Hsa's permanent base of operations in the area; however, General Hsa is currently engaged in an expedition in the interior, and has left behind only a fraction of his thousand-strong personal army to guard the castle in his absence. Quan Castle is built on a slight rise overlooking the road, a broad and muddy dirt track which crosses several of the area's small rivers. A small farming settlement lies fifty or sixty meters from the castle's walls.
A map showing the layout of Quan Castle   The castle itself is a mixture of ancient and modern architecture; the slanted outer walls are built from white stone, and vary in thickness from three meters at ground level to one meter at battlement level. They are five meters high. Several roofed watchtowers are spaced around the castle's walls; these towers are ten meters high, consisting of two internal levels. Each tower holds four guards, a single six-pounder cannon, a signal bugle, and enough powder and ammunition for ten shots. Colorful pennants fly from the nine flagpoles spaced around the castle's courtyard.
The castle's buildings are wooden and consist of five barracks (housing the Legionnaires detailed alongside), an administrative block near the main gate, and a large stone building (built around the original castle's inner fortress), which holds the armory, stores, workshop, and mess hall.    Striding Banner Legionnaires
Guns 8, Martial Arts 7, Artillery 8
Musket (8/5/1), Saber (9), Uniform

The Castle is currently the center of an alarming fire-fight, and if the PCs are not circumspect in their approach they will be taken for attackers and fired on; first with muskets, and then with the cannon (DV 25; near misses have a DV of 5).
Henchmen of the Eaters of the Lotus   Soldiers are spread out in small, desperate knots across the courtyard, fighting hand-to-hand against ragged figures (Lotus henchmen; see alongside), while a living, pulsing, glistening pipeline of mucus extends from a slimy pit in the middle of the courtyard into the bottom floor of the inner fortress.
Intrusion 8, Martial Arts 8, Guns 6
Black-powder pistol (6/3/1), Wavy Knife (8), Robes

This 'pipeline' is actually a Moleworm summoned from the Underworld by the Eaters of the Lotus:
Shthtndwnhu, The Moleworm
Bod 18 (Mov 9), Chi 2 (Mag 10), Mind 2, Ref 3 Creature Powers 15
Creature Powers: Burrower, Armor (2), Damage Immunity (Gunpowder Weapons), Inevitable Comeback, Regeneration (4)
Description: A 30-meter long, semi-transparent worm covered in whorls of foamy green slime. 2-3 meters thick. Attacks by envelopment and subsequent digestion (Acid DV: 15/sequence). Tunnels through the earth by a combination of this acid and its slimy natural secretions. Carries passengers and cargo in a sled-like contraption towed behind it by a harness and bit attached to its row of breathing holes.

It will be obvious to the PCs that the soldiers are in trouble. Although better armed and trained than their assailants, they have been caught completely unawares and their weapons have proved completely ineffective against the Moleworm. They will be wiped out in moments unless something happens to change the balance of the battle. Despite this, several options lie open to the PCs. Most of the Henchmen are fully engaged with cutting down the Legionnaires; the PCs path is thus open to the Moleworm and the source of its apparent interest, the storage areas of the inner fortress. However, if they don't help the soldiers in the courtyard, the beleaguered tower guards will almost certainly take them for Henchmen - important ones at that - and maintain a withering hail of fire against them. The fact that the tower cannons have been having no effect against the Moleworm has in no way limited the zeal with which they are being used against knots of the enemy in the courtyard.
If the PCs manage to wound the Moleworm (which causes it to rear alarmingly), or enter the inner fortress, they will encounter the Acolytes who are supervising the loading of the Box onto the Moleworm's sled harness; and will have to face these sorcerous mooks in combat.   Eunuch Acolytes of the Lotus
BOD 5 CHI 0 (Mag 6) MND 6 REF 5
(Sorcery 8; Schticks: Blast, Movement) Martial Arts 6
Wavy Knife (8), Exquisite robes
Cool Combat Ideas
  The inner fortress, while currently a bit of a mess, is also a treasure trove of useful toys for the PCs - a crate of incendiary rockets (which work fine against the Moleworm, and do 10 damage to everyone within 10 meters of impact), rack upon rack of muskets, the steam tractor used to perform the warehouse raid, and other military artifacts of this nature. However, between the Acolytes, Henchmen, and if-it-moves-shoot-it Legionnaires, the heroes will be unable to stop the Moleworm disappearing back down the tunnel with the Box slung behind it. There is no safe way to follow the Moleworm into the tunnel either; without the beast's bulk to hold the tunnel roof up, it quickly subsides into a muddy cave-in a few seconds after the creature passes on. The heroes will have to rely on means other than simple pursuit to track the Box's new owners. 
Spilt powder in the fortress armory could ignite, leading to rockets and grenades igniting at random times.
A mook could become entangled in a bunch of rockets, and be fired over the castle walls.
PCs and GMCs alike could use magical Schticks to run up the flagpoles to avoid or launch attacks.

It goes without saying that the various Lotus mooks would rather die by torture than consciously betray their masters. Unless some cunning deception can be rigged to wheedle this secret from a prisoner, the heroes will need a clue from a different source. To the heroes' possible amazement, however, such a clue drops into their very laps when one of them [highest Fortune score] recognizes one of the Acolytes or Henchmen from earlier this very evening! They saw this person less than two hours ago, standing outside a restaurant on the route the PCs took to get to the docks from Tsien's warehouse, taking coats from diners at the door. They might not remember exactly where the restaurant is, but are fairly sure of the general area.

Backtracking along this trail leads the PCs to the Welcome Pagoda - esoteric eatery, haven of alternative performance art, and front organization for the Eaters of the Lotus.

Three Potato: The Welcome Pagoda

The Welcome Pagoda is well-known in certain exclusive tiers of Hong Kong society - mostly among dissolute noblemen with money burning holes in their purses, rich Western travelers with jaded palates seeking something a little 'different', and those who have mastered or simply dabble in the dark arts of sorcery. Surprisingly up-market given the slums that surround it, it is regarded as a place of great ill omen by the common folk of the neighborhood, who (rightly) suspect the proprietor - Clubfooted Han - of being behind the mysterious abductions and murders which have plagued the area over the years. The Pagoda shares a city block with two crumbling flophouse tenements (currently half empty and plagued by rodents and opium addicts), and a grubby grocery which sells cast-off stock from the farmers' markets outside Hong Kong. The Pagoda's staff - except for Han - are all eunuchs. Most of these unfortunates are slaves purchased in the pirate markets of Borneo; through various arcane means, they have all been converted into completely loyal servants of the Lotus.

The Pagoda is closed to the public during the daytime hours, opening its doors only after the sun has set and closing them just after dawn. A discreet signpost set beside the door advertises 'Tonight Only: M. Salieut and the Dragon' (this is a degenerate floor show involving a French contortionist and a Burmese Python, about which the less said the better).
A map showing the layout of the streets and alleys around the Welcome Pagoda   The eating-house itself consists of two floors; the bottom floor holds Han's office, the kitchen, and the lobby; an elegant staircase leads up to the dining area while a dense screen of potted plants conceals the kitchen entrance. The second floor also sports a small central stage, suitable for the esoteric theatrical pieces, obscure musical performances, and other less-than-savory entertainments preferred by the Pagoda's regular clientele. The booths are separated from one another by folding screens of lacquered black wood to preserve the privacy of the diners.

The dining room's decor - which tends towards heavy red and black drapes, satin cushions on the floor, and lots of dangling incense burners - also includes ten large glass tanks containing visually striking (and thus, in most cases, horrendously poisonous) species of spiders, snakes, and reptiles. The tanks are securely closed by means of bolted lids, but are not tough enough to withstand heavy impacts [DV > 7].

One curtained corner of the dining room contains a complex moving platform from which prepared dishes are served after being prepared and sent up from the kitchen below. This 'dumb waiter' has two controls; a brake lever which prevents the winch cable from slipping backwards, and a crank handle for controlling the movement of the platform (which is about a meter and a half along each side). The crank in the kitchen can be used to raise or lower the lift; the crank in the service area can only be used to return it to the kitchen. Both areas have brake levers. The actual cables and cogs are concealed in the walls.

Lowering the lift using the crank in the kitchen opens a trapdoor to a short tunnel which connects the Pagoda to the cellar of the vegetable store on the opposite side of the block. This cellar is the real venue for the Lotus' activities in the area. The old merchant who owns the premises is blissfully unaware that his single-story shop even has a cellar - the nefarious rituals conducted in the cellar only happen at night, after the store is closed and he has gone home, and the cellar entrance has been cunningly disguised so that it is impossible to detect from above. Lotus agents who wish to come and go unseen do so through this trapdoor, after night has fallen, thereby avoiding the attention of anyone who might be observing the Pagoda's main entrance. The trapdoor is large enough to permit the passage of fairly large creatures, although the Lotus sorcerers who need to transport large cargoes or creatures of such size typically do so by summoning supernatural creatures like the Moleworms to tunnel into the cellar from below. The Fire Lizard, of course, is dozing contentedly in its box in this very cellar - but, of course, no one but the Lotus honchos know that, and they're not telling!

The alley between the Pagoda and the vegetable store is filthy, full of feral cats, and piled high with decomposing scraps and refuse. The section which runs along the back wall of the Pagoda is blocked off by a sturdy iron gate with an intricate padlock.

No matter when the PCs arrive at the Welcome Pagoda, a courteous attendant is on hand at the front door to take their coats and bid them welcome. The attendant will not bat an eyelid at PCs with scruffy or otherwise unusual appearances, unlikely ages, or strange appendages, when this fellow says he's seen weirder, it's wisest to believe him! However, the presence of large weapons or firearms is not welcomed, and these will have to be sneaked in or left with the attendant.

Should the PCs be discovered sneaking around the premises rather than simply marching up to the front door, a squad of bouncers (use the stats for Henchmen printed above, but give them blackjacks and a Martial Arts score of 12) will be sent after them to determine whether they are scandalmongers or thieves, or just normal thrill-seekers. If the latter is the case, they will be ushered in with patient smiles (lots of first-timers want to check the place out before going inside, after all); if not, the bouncers will take them inside anyway, sit them down at a corner booth, discreetly manacle them to their table, and stand nearby while Clubfooted Han decides whether he should use them as raw material for the floor show, sacrifices, or (based on their reactions to the show) just add them to the VIP list.

Midway through their meal, however, and just as M. Salieut and the 'dragon' are winding down, a riot-gas grenade comes in through each of the windows, closely followed by a black-suited Buro commando in full assault gear. The Buro have been doing their own detective work, based on the strong arcane energies radiating from this area, and have come looking for their lost Supernatural Entity.
Buro Commandos   The Commandos have a simple enough agenda. Get in, whack anyone who resists, and do a quick scout-around for the Fire Lizard, grab it if it's there, otherwise make a clean getaway while giving these Lotus lackeys as bloody a nose as possible at the same time.
Guns 9, Martial Arts 7, Sabotage 9
Buro Blue Flag (13*/4/30), Grenades, Light Shell Armor

Their temporary Gate is on the roof of one of the tenements overlooking the Pagoda; this is the point the Commandos will try and execute a fighting retreat towards, taking their wounded with them (no exceptions), if things start to go badly. And, of course, they do start to go badly. Hey - this is Feng Shui. What did you expect? The Eaters of the Lotus are low on mooks after the assault on Castle Quan, and the Commandos wipe the floor with them in short order, but just as things are starting to look really bleak, the doors crash open and suddenly the restaurant is full of shouting kung-fu warriors, who begin to put a first-class hurting on Commandos and Henchmen alike.
These lethal (and numerous) warriors are students of the Green Dragon Wheel Dojo, and loyal servants of the Guiding Hand. They already know the real location of the Fire Lizard; their attack on the restaurant is purely a distraction intended to give their Lizard snatch team space to work.   Green Dragon Wheel Warriors
BOD 7 CHI 0 (Fu 6) MND 5 REF 7
(Martial Arts 9; Schticks: Hands Without Shadow, Dim Mak)

How committed the PCs get to this berserk melee is up to them; if they have been manacled to the table, they will probably opt for discretion rather than obvious heroics. While this melee has more than enough opportunity for danger, it might also be a good point to introduce some comedy to keep interest levels high and prepare the PCs for the Grand Finale.
Cool Combat Ideas
  Whatever the case, they will certainly hear the subterranean explosions as the Lotus acolytes in the vegetable store's cellar fight their own battle against the Green Dragons; it is even possible that they might be able to catch a glimpse of the Box disappearing into the night, drawn by a heavily guarded ox-train. It is unlikely that the PCs will be able to chase after the cart immediately; if they do, however, they are almost certain to fall foul of several Green Dragon stay-behind squads who have hidden themselves along the route taken by the oxcart. Luckily, these particular Box thieves aren't as hard to track down as the previous two sets. Each member of the school wears a large badge proclaiming their allegiance to the Green Dragons, and it is a fairly elementary task [Detective 5, or relevant Info 7] to find the street location of the school.
A tough mook might get tossed into one of the snake tanks.
PCs who have been manacled to the table might be forced to use the manacles, with table legs still attached, to defend themselves!
A flaming drinks trolley could be kicked towards an enemy, exploding on impact and coating them with burning booze.

Needless to say, the Commandos will leave a demolition charge big enough to level the whole block behind them when they go; this will no doubt provide a uniquely persuasive argument for getting out after the Warriors rather than hanging around at the Pagoda and sifting through the piles of unconscious bodies. Alternately, the blast may be used to slow the PCs down if they are all fired up to chase the Warriors down right away.

Four Potato: The Green Dragon Wheel Dojo

The area surrounding the Green Dragon Wheel dojo is one of the safest in Hong Kong. The streets are tidy and well lit - perhaps a little too tidy and well lit for the party's liking, but that's what the presence of a vigilante warrior group backed by the Guiding Hand does to a neighborhood. Illumination is provided by lanterns hung from ornate brackets affixed to the walls of buildings. In several places throughout the neighborhood, glyphs showing a green dragon are visible on the doorways of businesses and homes; these are badges of honor, indicating that the inhabitants of the building have made a significant contribution to the Green Dragons or are themselves members of the school. When the characters arrive, the street is completely quiet and deserted, but furtive movement behind shutters and through the cracks of barely-open doors may indicate that there has been a disturbance in the area tonight. Of course, no-one will talk to the PCs; most of the inhabitants of the neighborhood would rather sit tight and wait for the Dragons to sound the all-clear (a signal which will never come, as the heroes are soon to discover).
A map showing the layout of the Green Dragon Wheel school   The dojo is an ancient, two-level monastery built in the traditional style. The outer walls are made of clean gray stone, and the inner courtyard is covered in a neatly raked pebble garden with a central feature representing the Seven Principles. Ringing the courtyard are the training rooms, assembly halls, and other large areas of the dojo. A wide set of stone stairs leads up from the courtyard to a corridor running along the outer edge of the the second floor, which provides access to the library, masters' rooms, study chambers, and dormitories. Ladders at each corner of the corridor lead to the roof.

As soon as the PCs arrive, they will see that the Green Dragons definitely ran out of luck tonight. The courtyard is littered with bodies; most knifed from behind and stashed out of the way, but several bearing distinct wounds inflicted by shotguns and pistols. Blood-puddles indicate that they took several of their attackers with them, but no trace of these bodies remained - the surviving attackers must have taken their fallen with them. Wagon tracks in the pebbles show that the attackers, whoever they were, used the Dragons' own oxcart to transport the box away. However, these tracks end abruptly in the spotless cobbled streets outside the monastery.
Dostoyevsky Brown   Any exploration of the monastery, even just as far as the courtyard, is bound to bring the PCs into contact with Dostoyevsky Brown. 'DB' is a young Eurasian man in his middle twenties, wearing a brown leather jacket, matching pants, sturdy boots, and a white cotton shirt.
Guns 13, Info/Secret War 15, Martial Arts 12
Buro 9 (10/1/17+1), Black Powder Pistol (7/3/6)

DB is a Secret Warrior who does a lot of freelance work for the Jammers, the faction whose attitudes towards chi in general (if not their savage implementation of these attitudes) appeal most to his idea of a 'fair' world. DB is in 1850 trying to prevent the critical shift which may occur if Hurley Watson - also known as 'The Collector' - gets his hands on the Box. This may put him on the same side as the players, if they are also Secret Warriors; even if they are not, he is still inclined to help them, simply because he doesn't have the resources to stop Hurley on his own.

When they encounter DB, he has his head stooped to catch the dying words of a Green Dragon master. Several bodies lying nearby indicate that he has been here a while already, administering some relief to the dying and medical aid to those who are still clinging to life. DB has a vague idea who the PCs are already - he knows they're looking for the Box, anyway - and he's about to give them a big hand. Very briefly, the story that DB will tell (assuming the PCs give him a chance to do so, of course) is as follows:

Hurley Watson is a well-known collector of fossils, rare artifacts, and esoteric antiquities. He is notorious among 'pure' scientists and museum patrons for outbidding even the best-funded institutions at auctions featuring such items, and for resorting to various underhand methods when his money can't get him what he wants. This time, thanks to the fact that Miss Ffoulkes' personal interpreter is on his payroll, he has hatched a plan to steal her latest find. Now, DB isn't sure what's in the Box, but he'd rather that skinny, hand-rubbing bastard didn't get away with it after what his men did here. And that's why he's going to tell the PCs exactly where to find the Box - on a steamship in Victoria Harbor ...

Whether or not DB entrusts this information to the PCs is up to you. DB is happy to see the Buro wiped off the surface of 2056 Earth, but not if it means replacing their overt (and thus combatable) control over humanity with the invisible, pervasive control enforced by the Ascended, and is most likely to 'clue in' parties who he feels see eye to eye with him on this issue.

Five Potato: The Bay Queen

A map showing the cargo deck of the Bay Queen   The Bay Queen is a side-wheel paddle steamer which usually does the Hong Kong-'Frisco run carrying opium and a few finished goods. Her single powerful boiler is located at the stern of the vessel, with her cargo hold taking up the rest of the length of the ship. The hold is divided into a main compartment, which is currently packed with crates of trade goods, and a forward hold for more delicate cargoes, such as the Fire Lizard. The crew are a mixed bag of Americans, Australians, and Filipinos. There are no cannons or heavy weaponry on board.

The Queen is one of the Collector's many shady business ventures, and is well-known to the Western navies in the region as a smuggler and sometime blockade runner. In fact, a British gunboat is discreetly moored within observation distance of the Queen whenever she docks in Victoria Harbor to keep an eye on what goes in and out of her cargo holds (they're most concerned about immigrants going in and muskets going out, as it happens). The ship is fairly heavily guarded, although even the most alert guard can't see in pitch darkness and the ship's lanterns can't illuminate the whole structure.
The crew of the Queen, hardened killers to a man, will shoot trespassers on sight. Gunfire in the harbor is fairly common (what with bored sailors shooting at wharf rats), so a few shots here and there shouldn't draw too much attention, although a prolonged fire-fight certainly will.    Crew of the Bay Queen
Guns 8, Martial Arts 8, Gambling 4
Shotgun (10/4/2) or Musket (8/5/1), Cutlass (8)

If the PCs still have DB in tow, he will take this opportunity to make himself scarce. He hasn't got to where he has by participating in this kind of operation. In fact, the PCs are almost certain to be on their own in this one; Thierry Tsien has no mooks to lend them (hey, if you're using the pre-generated characters, they are his mooks. Think about it), and its unlikely any of their friends or contacts will want in on a high-profile raid against a ship full of proven murderers. As far as Miss Ffoulkes is concerned (if they can even get to see her, which is an achievement in itself), the characters are nothing but shady partners of 'that thief', so neither her help nor the help of the British forces in Hong Kong can be counted on.

The main complicating factor in an attempt to sneak on board the boat will not be the guards, however; it's more likely to be the other factions, who (by various means) have also found out about the Box's new location and are hot on the heroes heels! Their arrival should be timed to coincide with the PCs stealthy arrival in the hold. Within a few seconds, the decks will be ablaze with occult energies, rocked by automatic weapons fire, and split by fu-powered fists and feet. At some point, some stray attacks will spill over in the British gunboat's direction, and that's when the fun really begins. Having been itching for a reason to send the Queen to Davy Jones' locker for several years now, and finally having an excuse to do so, the gunboat steams closer, draws alongside, and puts a few large holes in her side with a deck gun. This has three effects:

To recap:

The PCs are trapped below decks, along with a gaggle of panicked (but well-armed) crewmen and an angry, carnivorous, magical lizard. Below them is nothing but the slowly-approaching sea floor. Above them are the henchmen, lackeys, and footsoldiers of every world-dominating, time-traveling conspiracy past, present, and future.

Keeping things moving:

Cool Combat Ideas
  A useful device for running this combat would be a prominent countdown, such as a stopwatch. If possible, pre-mark it to show benchmarks like 'Main hold now hip-deep', 'Main hold now neck-deep', and so on, with the last five minutes marked 'Ship sinks?'. Then, run the combat in real time. That should get people reaching for their dice!

Character motivations in this scene should reflect a dilemma facing the heroes, whether they are Secret Warriors or just Thierry Tsien's associates: should they try to capture the Fire Lizard or just scrag it? With any luck, they won't need to make the decision either way, and will be forced to flee the ship ahead of a watery grave before managing to conclusively achieve either goal. The Lizard goes free; what eventually becomes of it will have to wait for another adventure.

There's a rail-mounted block and tackle which runs the length of the hold. Perfect for stylish water avoidance and acrobatic swings across the hold.
A one-on-one duel fought on a bobbing container. Anyone who ends up in the water is Lizard food.
A PC could drop an important item or weapon into the black waters. Time to take a deep breath and go diving...
Klisk, the Fire Lizard
Bod 15, Chi 2 (Mag 10), Mind 4, Ref 7   Creature Powers 17, Intrusion 10
Creature Powers: Abysmal Teeth (2), Amphibian, Armor (2), Damage Immunity (Bullets), Blast (Gout of white flame), Regeneration (2)
Description: 5m high when standing erect, but usually half that height when prowling on four legs. Smooth-scaled like a snake, with a broad, flat, leathery tail like an eel. Gills concealed in the folds of the jaw. Nasty, thin, semi-translucent barbed teeth like fishhooks (DV: 14). Currently a juvenile, and thus mute, but gains the power of speech eventually, and is able to impart many sorcerous secrets when it does.

Epilogue for the Pre-Generated Characters:

Unless they have managed, somehow, to capture the Fire Lizard (and no, it's not falling for that laudanum trick again), their time in Hong Kong is over. While he bears them no personal ill will, Thierry Tsien will be forced to have them killed just to keep up appearances if they stay. To avoid this, he will buy them all tickets on the very next boat out of the city. Who can tell where this journey will lead them, what strange encounters they may have there, or how soon they will see Hong Kong again?

The End


The following pre-generated characters are associates of Thierry Tsien (the owner of the warehouse from which the Box was stolen). They have been summoned to the warehouse from their various residences and haunts by messengers; Tsien is tied up in other business and will not be able to deal with the theft for at least two days. All he knows is that Miss Pearl Ffoulkes, the archaeologist to whom the box belongs, is threatening to complain to the French authorities, having implied that she suspects Tsien of stealing the Box himself. As a moderately shady operator, Tsien doesn't want a bunch of Customs Inspectors looking through his holdings, especially not when it's for something he doesn't even have. Ffoulkes refuses to see him, or deal with anyone but the British authorities; the heroes need to look into the theft themselves, discover what went missing, and track it down, chop-chop!

Harry Killigan

Bod 5 Chi 0 (For 1) Mnd 6 (Cha = 7) Ref 8
Skills: Martial Arts 10, Riding (Horse) 11, Guns 15, Info/Assassination Techniques 8
Gun Schticks: Carnival of Carnage 2, Both Guns Blazing 2, Fast Draw
Quote: "Hard man, are ye? Well, tell me this then: kin yer ma stitch?"
Gear: Pair of Black Powder Pistols (7/3/6), Caplock Musket (8/5/1), Sawed-off Shotgun (10/4/2)

Mickey Killigan

Bod 5 Chi 1 Mnd 8 Ref 7
Skills: Driving (Cart & Horses) 13, Riding (Horse) 8, Fix-It 15, Guns 10, Sabotage 11
Unique Schtick: Master Blaster: Mickey can make explosives out of almost anything, given a little time.
Quote: "A loaf o' bread, a flask o' wine, and thou in little bits all o'er the wilderness"
Gear: Pepperbox Pistol (6/2/5), Pockets full of Derringers (6/1/1), Explosives

Harry and Mickey are a two-man Fenian wrecking team wanted all over the British Empire for acts of sabotage and train-wrecking. They're at the end of a little 'sabbatical' in Hong Kong, and are hoping to get enough cash together by freelancing for Thierry Tsien's operation to move over to the US, and from there back to Ireland. They both send whatever money they can spare back to their dear old white-haired mother back home in Limerick.

Sasha Zharov

Bod 6 Chi 1 (Fu 8) Mnd 5 Ref 8
Skills: Deceit 10, Guns 11, Info/Martial Arts Schools 7, Intrusion 15, Fix-It 10, Martial Arts 14
Fu Schtick: Friend of Darkness
Quote: "Let me show you how we used to handle this kind of thing in St. Petersburg..."
Gear: Adams Pistol (7/3/6), Cable Knife (9), Billy-club (9)

Sasha was an assassin for a Russian aristocrat until he whacked the wrong troika of bluebloods and had to leave in a hurry. His flight eventually brought him to Hong Kong, where he picked up some martial arts and went to work as an enforcer for Thierry Tsien. This is his last job; agents of the Ivanoff family have recently been seen in Hong Kong, and Sasha has better things to do than wake up with a Cossack saber at his neck.

Little Sal

Bod 4 (Mov 8) Chi 7 Mnd 7 Ref 10
Skills: Deceit 14, Info/Who's who in Hong Kong 13, Medicine 13, Intrusion 12, Martial Arts 11
Unique Schticks: 1. May spend a Fortune point for an intuition about the 'best' route to a specific place
2. Dodge Action Value is always 2 more than Martial Arts Action Value.
Fu Schticks: Clothed in Life, Gathering of the Clouds
Quote: "Quickly! This way!"
Gear: Knife (5), Small terrier dog, small cloth bag filled with junk

Little Sal is an orphan who Thierry Tsien discovered sleeping under his desk one morning. Since then, Sal has become something of an unofficial employee of his, bringing him information about goings-on in the streets of Hong Kong in exchange for food, shelter, clothing, and a few lessons from whichever schoolteacher owes Tsien money at the time. Among the contents of Sal's cloth bag are several rolls of bandages, needles, thread, and various poultices; enough to earn Sal the occasional nickname of 'Little Doctor'.

Borgo Schmidt

Bod 11 (Tgh 12) Chi 0 Mnd 7 Ref 5
Skills: Guns 8, Info/Games of Skill 12, Intimidation 9, Martial Arts 12, Intrusion 7, Fix-It 8
Unique Schtick: Only makes Death checks at 50 WP; -1 Impairment at 40 WP and -2 at 45 WP.
Quote: "You make ze big mistake, mein freund. Checkmate!"
Gear: Huge Wrench (15), Heavy Musket (9/5/1), Overall pockets crammed with machine parts

Borgo is an itinerant mechanic and draughts player who has lived in almost every port in the world at some time in his life. He earns a living working on everything from looms to boilers by day, and playing board games for small stakes in bars and eating-houses by night. It is this practice which brought him into contact with Thierry Tsien; he made Tsien quite a wad of gambling money by beating a Frenchman in high-stakes chess, and now Tsien throws the occasional job his way in gratitude.

Mook Lieutenants

Chinese Striding Banner Army:
First Assistant Li Ding-bang 
  Chinese Striding Banner Army:
Banner Sergeant Chin Anguo
BOD 7 CHI 0 MND 6 REF 7   BOD 8 CHI 0 MND 4 REF 7
Guns 9, Martial Arts 10, Artillery 6, Leadership 9   Guns 8, Martial Arts 10, Artillery 10, Fix-It 4
Pistol (7/3/1), Derringer (6/1/1), Saber (9)   Musket (8/5/1), Spear (10), Black-powder grenades
A keen and resourceful soldier, popular with his men and keen to make a name for himself in battle.   A grizzled veteran who has kept firmly abreast of technological advances in warcraft. Full of surprises.

Henchman of the Eaters of the Lotus:
Tang Kuan-tai 
  Henchman of the Eaters of the Lotus:
Lam Mei
BOD 9 CHI 1 MND 4 REF 6   BOD 5 CHI 2 MND 8 REF 8
Guns 8, Martial Arts 11, Sabotage 6   Martial Arts 11, Seduction 9, Deceit 9
Matchlock Blunderbuss (10/4/1), Broken Cutlass (8)   Crossbow (7/4/1), Jagged Knife (8)
A mad old hermit with a mouthful of jagged teeth (Dv: 4) and prodigious girth. Snarls, foams at the mouth, and gibbers.   Once a favored courtesan, Lam Mei is now an unstable killing machine with several distinct personalities.

Eunuch Acolyte of the Lotus:
Shou 'the Phoenix'
  Lotus Honcho:
Club-Footed Han
BOD 5 CHI 0 (Mag 8) MND 8 REF 5   BOD 5 CHI 0 (Mag 5) MND 9 REF 6
Sorcery 10, Martial Arts 7   Sorcery 5, Guns 9, Influence 10, Deceit 12
Schticks: Blast, Movement, Influence   Schtick: Summoning Caplock Revolver (7/3/1)
Shou is fascinated by fire. All his magical effects involve heat or flame. His own skin is shiny and bubbled with burn scars.   A slow learner in his magical studies, Han fell back on his natural guile to serve his masters. A sniveling backshooter.

Buro Commando Leader:
Major C.C. Kou
  Buro Commando Heavy Weapons Specialist:
Zhou 613
BOD 5 CHI 0 MND 6 REF 5   BOD 11 CHI 0 MND 4 REF 5
Guns 10, Leadership 8, Arcanowave Device 10   Martial Arts 7, Intimidation 12, Creature Powers 12, Arcanowave Device 12
Buro Godhammer (12/4/5), Wave Scanner, Heavy Armor   Helix Ripper (15**/7), Machete (14), Heavy Armor
Major Kou graduated top of his class, and is loyal to the Buro mainly out of vanity (he likes the uniform).   Zhou 613 is a refitted abomination soldier; a ghastly, tusked, blood-drinking demon with a big snarl and a bigger gun.

Green Dragon Wheel Leader:
Zhou Lung
  Green Dragon Wheel Top Student:
Leung Ming-hua
BOD 7 CHI 1 (Fu 8) MND 5 REF 7   BOD 7 CHI 0 (Fu 8) MND 4 REF 5
Martial Arts 15, Leadership 8   Martial Arts 15, Intimidation (Taunts) 6
Schticks: Hands Without Shadow, Dim Mak, Fire Strike   Schticks: Hands Without Shadow, Dim Mak, Crane Stance
Zhou Lung is an archetypal Guiding Hand devotee; loyal, bigoted, and completely single-minded.   Leung Ming-ha is a perfectly crafted instrument of force, whose search for martial perfection consumes her.

Captain of the Bay Queen:
Robert Hartock
  The Collector's Right-hand Man:
Carl Carpenter
BOD 6 CHI 0 MND 7 REF 6   BOD 6 CHI 0 MND 6 REF 7
Guns 9, Martial Arts 7, Gambling 4, Operate Ship 10   Guns 11, Martial Arts 11, Intrusion 9, Sabotage 9
Revolving Cylinder Rifle (8/6/5), Cutlass (9)   Caplock Pistol (7/3/6), Musket (8/5/1), Bolo Knife (8)
Hartock, a heavy drinker, has a bloodstained past and cares less for human life than he does about his next swig of rum.   Silent, enigmatic, Carl strikes from the shadows and then fades away, taking no unnecessary risks.
Last Updated Monday, 04-May-2009 19:54:18 EDT

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