Thursday, April 12, 2018

Archival Footage: Conspiracy X Scenario Sketch

Several years ago I ran demo scenarios for Eden Studios games at conVentions. I put together my own stories for Armageddon, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, City of Heroes, and Conspiracy X. I actually have an project I submitted ten years ago that's been under contract with them for three years. In any case I've been hunting around and found my notes for my 2004 ConX adventure. They're not complete, but you could easily use them as inspiration for a Monster of the Week scenario. I present this in its rough, unedited form. 

Characters are members of a “Clean Up” Team. They follow up on the work of an actual Field team. In some ways, their job is more difficult. Generally they are given a set of tasks to work from. These can range from discrete to more difficult. They are given a lot of leeway in how they handle things. If the situation is complex or requires finesse, usually a member of the Cell which carried out the operation will remain to brief them on what needs to be done.

The set up for this is that they will be given a discrete set of three tasks in advance of their going in to the situation. The area will also be described as one where there is potential for enemy interdiction, though you may want to downplay this particular aspect. Task #1: disposal and elimination of firefight and location; Task #2: Checking on possible witness to earlier events; Task #3: Sifting through materials at closed location for further evidence, preparation for storage and transport; Task #4: General survey of locality to make sure grumbling is at a minimum…any irritation should be general rather than specific.

Smallish town but not so small that they seem entirely out of place. Allow them to make their way around the city.

My thought, drawn from my experience in Ken’s game is that their contact should be out of it. They will want to keep this quiet.

What do they need to find out: 
  • Who the team was?
  • What they were doing here?
  • What did they accomplish?
  • What do we need to do to clean things up?
  • Are more of the team left?
  • Who has done this?
  • How can this be contained?

Remember that one of the central points to this should be that the characters have to maintain their cover very carefully. Breaking character too much could result in creating further problems.

Meet up with contact; dead in hotel room. Brings up preliminary problem: leave body or clean it up. Either case creates certain problems.
  1. I don’t know if this works with the scenario/threat I’m imagining, but an abandoned facility. Government property. Site of a relocation facility. Worn out. Good many of the locals tied by blood to those who were brought here and locked up. This could be a site for background research, a location for investigation or a hide out.
  2. One member of the team having lost it. This being based on what they’ve encountered and his own paradigm on contagion and transmittal. What is he planning in the meantime? Has he lost it really bad? Is he just out in the woods or will he try to destroy the town?
  3. Again, echoing Ken, the source of the contagion could be a book. Someone carefully making copies…either printing them or something else. Perhaps printing the outlines and then filling those in. Sending them out randomly as packages across the country.
  4. Perhaps that guy is left or perhaps one of the other members of the team has been taken. Both should be dangerous and wrong. Possibility of a showdown between the two of them.
  5. Ideally this should be done with a timeline of what is going to happen. They may be able to divert or lessen the craziness that is going on.

Look over my CoCth notes for scenarios. See if anything there has promise or could work in a 4 hour setting. Perhaps there are details which could be reused.

One of the ideas being, especially if it is a book or an object, that it could have been found on eBay or else be being sold there. This would allow them to use their respective skills to hack to find out the identity of the seller and the buyer. I could use this to lead them to a more substantive investigation.

The lead in from the previous investigation is the most important thing to consider. What did group one come in to investigate and what did they miss? If we know that, then we can start to consider what we can put in front of the them to serve as clues.

At some point, there needs to be a combat. I shouldn’t be the thing that solves the problem, unless they’ve come to that naturally through the path of investigation. This combat should involve most of the group. Include a couple of opportunities of quick, abstract combats with some risk to them…if not actually dying, then perhaps a serious injury or something that will impair them. They probably have medical equipment in the car, but they will have to drag themselves over there. This, in itself, could be a problem or a trial.

In the late 1930’s, a U.S. team off the coast of Massachusetts apparently dropped depth charges, destroyed a number of shoreline facilities and finally raided a small unnamed town. A number of the residents were killed, some incarcerated and further numbers shipped to an internment camp far inland. They were held based on their immigration status as well as with some question of their subversive activities. Many of them died over the next several years, with their bodies being quietly disposed of. In 1944 however, funding for this covert project vanished and those people who had been assigned to guard the few remaining locals were reassigned to East Coast POW camps.

The center ended up becoming a kind of shanty town. Eventually a few of the older children were placed in local schools. While they suffered badly, eventually there was a movement for them to either move away, or make a place in the community. By the 1960’s only one family still lived in the internment center. As a covert project, the land ownership rights had been hidden for some time. While locals, including the local government tried to purchase chucks of the property, it fell under a Military/EPA listing. This had been the default for this land. As a result, many regard it as free land. There is a fence built around the area, but most people can get around this easily. There are a number of squatters who live on the property, hunters who make this a regular walk through and also people who dump in the area.

Several months ago, a local, Derek Rivard, decided to hunt around in the old internment property. His hope was to find something interesting to sell on eBay. He has a fairly weak antiques business that he runs out of this home. While digging around, sweating pouring off of him, his body shaking from the exertion, he uncovered a book. It apparently had been hand made, with pages and paper made from pulp magazine and comics which had been pressed together and bleached, sheets of cereal box cardboard formed the covers. Floss and thread held it together and it had been covered with some kind of faux leather. The interior pages had some strange writing, a mixture of languages, all in the standard alphabet, but with symbols. The ink was faded in places but in others, had simply become blackened. He took this home, gave it one round to sell on eBay, but that failed miserably since it had no pedigree. Some of the other stuff he found did sell. Rivard looked at the book and began to be infected. He placed the book with his other old books, slowly causing the ones closest to be transformed.

Then somebody came to buy, Mitchell “Mitch” Seigelson. They purchased another book from him. Perhaps a repair book for a particular car model. He got it home and read the book, becoming infected. He bought a computer and started ordering stuff off the internet, odd stuff. Since he lived a ways out of town, he was able to conceal most of this. However, he also needed victims to power what he was doing. It was this combination of strange purchases which suggested someone mucking around with bad stuff combined with a string of disappearances that brought the previous team to town. They were to locate this person, ascertain his level of knowledge and eliminate any kind of threat he posed.

This is the person that they traced down. They did some preliminary investigation, but had a pretty good idea of what was going on. The Cell team, a four person group, closed in on Seigelson. Unfortunately, this resulted in a firefight, with the result that MS was killed pretty early. The team leader called in a cleaning team, told two of the group to straighten things up at the house and get it prepped. He put his surveillance guy near there and headed back to town to wait for the call from the team so they could leave.

In the meantime, while investigating the house, and after having seen the body, the CDC person, Danafer, comes across the book. He is infected, sending him off-balance. He realizes that this book can transmute and infect other books. At this point he goes nutter. He kills the other evidence specialist on site, then goes out to kill the guy in the van. This he drives to a pond nearby and sinks. Then he heads into town to finish off the Cell leader.

[Background information on the previous cell. Should only be mentioned lightly at the start. Organization contacts could also serve as a possibility later on. Especially if they investigate at all what has gone on.]

The book is a kind of corrupting memetic disease, turning each person into a separate and demented version of this Demon. It incarnates depending on what the Vices and Sins are of the person involved. So, for example, Mitch had his own fetishistic drives. These were deepened by the possession. To change other books mimetically, it needs a lot of books around. Isolated and on its own, it takes a long time to infect. However, each of these “memetic beings (I need a better name for them) is independent from the other. As a result, this may cause strife and/or hostility between their various forms. Question remains: what other activities are going on in the town that the group can come across.

***One piece of evidence could be pieces of paper found out at the encampment…they would have been slowly transformed over the years. Perhaps they might find, in the records, similar incidents over the years as this thing reached out and managed to touch one of two of these people.***

***Another thought regarding Rivard. Certainly his weakness is a kind of sloth as well as a basic mendacity. It might also be possible that the group could find out that he has ordered a scanner. This should be set to arrive soon.***

The other time thing is that Danafer may be calling in an unpleasant Op to clear this place. This can serve as the other break point for the game. Either the base Guy will manage to scan and post a version of the book or else Danafer will call down high holy burning hell on this place, including the PCs. Mind you, Danafer is infected and crazy. Therefore he will not be open to rational discussions of whether or not something has been cleaned or not cleaned. He understands everything in terms of contagion.

Six Characters. Note: I used a tarot generation mechanic for the personalities. 
Forensic/Evidence Dispersal Specialist: Skills in investigation, Science: Evidence Dispersal, Science: Forensics. [Morgath Debased: Six of Gods (Reversed): Senseless death; genetic or destructive insanity; utter disregard for or active destruction of life and/or order; chaotic; The Priest: Lord of Archetypes: Faith, worship, loyalty, morality; Elf: Knight of Races: Ritual, historical patterns; the old ways]

Sifter/Documentation Specialist: Research connections. Synthesis. Research, Science: Intelligence Analysis, Wiretapping? [Soul: Three of Ideas (Reversed): Self-development, self-exploration, understanding; Ilvir Descending: The Trickster (Reversed): Plans undone, work demolished, tables turned against oneself; Ahadalayl: Seven of Days (Reversed): Stagnation, lack of development]

Security Specialist: Mostly physical skills, strong but low key. Sign language. Hard of hearing supported by hearing aids. [Arba-Kur: Four of Waves: Power misused, abusing a position; S'ave Knor Ascendant: Lord of Gods: Deep knowledge, thoughtful analysis, careful questioning; true understanding; the answer found; Trollkin: Four of Races (Reversed): Impotency, infertility, weakness; inferiority]

Surveyor/Assessor/Surveillance Specialist (Perhaps Department of Parks): Surveillance, Electronic Surveillance, Physical and Outdoor Skills [Makistani: Lord of Races (Reversed): Hesitancy, caution; difficulty in trusting own instincts; analysis; Yod(Reversed): Lord of Waves (Reversed):Openings, hidden exits discovered; Gild-Kur: Six of Waves: Wealth--of money, contacts, etc.]

Face Man/Health and Human or EPA or Census: Psychology, Questioning, Science: Applied Sociology [Pegasus: Five of Creatures (Reversed): Inscrutable signs, dreams, obscure references, ambiguity; Naveh Ascendant: Five of Gods: Sensible fear; solutions through uncomfortable means; necessary evil; The Seas: Six of Legends: Bounty, harvest, wealth from nature]

Break in/Disposal Specialist: Lockpicking, Criminal Skills, Body Disposal Methodology, Forensics purely for covering own work? [Larani Debased: Knight of Gods (Reversed): Blinding need for revenge;  honor and justice undone by unyielding nature; unyielding law; honor for honor's sake; Khamsina: Four of Days: Strength, patience, tolerance; Manticore: Six of Creatures: (Reversed)Lashing out, reactions; rain of blows, frenzy]


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