Verdan Arcanis – Starting Adventures

English: Rainbow across Himalayas, Auli

Yes, that is a long ways down...

Since the characters have opted to start in England, here we have a selection of adventures – both short and long – for them to undertake.

  • Dr Bennet Cooper, a scientist who was working on a theory of wireless telegraphy, reported considerable progress – greatly interesting Her Majesties Government – but recently broke off the relationship and retreated into his small estate in Scotland (on Spurr Dubh, near Torridon). Dr Cooper is a specialist in electricity and optics and was a regular correspondent with (select any scientific PC). His last few letters hinted vaguely at some remarkable discovery – but there have been no communiques from Dr Cooper in some weeks. Both his friends and the Ministry of War have become increasingly concerned – and either could spur an investigation, or at least provide the characters with an excuse for dropping in to see what’s going on.

This one is throughly small-scale and unofficial; a few train tickets and a coach-ride will get you there, you need not leave the United Kingdom, and you’re investigating a single small estate and household. What could be simpler than that?

  • The Darroch-Kline Expedition – yet another of the recent expeditions assembled in attempts to reach the south pole – is now drastically overdue, even given the rather generous margin for error in their estimated return date. Sadly, given the lack of long-range communications, this pretty much amount to “vanished without a trace” from England’s viewpoint. Since the intended (and most apparently practical) route was down Africa to allow for refueling and resupply, and thus entered the unknown long before reaching the pole. What divinations can be made indicate that at least part of the group is still alive – so presumably they are not currently stranded on a glacier or lost at sea. Ergo, it’s considered likely that the expedition has gone down along the way – most likely in the depths of Southern Africa. Her Majesties Government is directly sponsoring a rescue expedition – although not, it may be noted, an especially big one.

Unless the party has their own air transport, this one isn’t likely to leave the player characters in overall command – but heading off in the track of an expedition that’s already vanished isn’t the most popular of pastimes, so any competent group should be able to get themselves included. That means an airship trip, plenty of military-supplied equipment, exploration – and the perils of unknown Africa and possibly of Antarctica beyond. Secondarily, there really aren’t all THAT many aristocratic families – only about two hundred – so any player-character aristocrat may well have a personal connection with Lord Darroch.

  • Gokale – yet another of the several hundred small kingdoms near the borders of the various British-allied Indian states – wishes to import some modern, rolling-block, rifles. That’s a rather dubious enterprise, but the local Maharaja is willing to pay VERY well – well enough that simply taking out a loan, buying an airship, and sailing off to deliver the goods would be practical for anyone of the proper class to get such a loan in the first place.

This isn’t illegal – but it’s hardly very respectable. Still, if you can find a black sheep from a good family who’s willing to front for the group, and are willing to take what are obviously going to be some pretty horrendous risks, this is a fast route to your own ship, plenty of money (mostly in the form of some of India’s vast gemstone wealth), and – for the truly ambitious – perhaps a chance to seize a small kingdom of their own in the distant east. It’s also a good chance at a grand tour of the east if that’s what strikes your fancy. Characters with underworld or mercenary contacts may be most attracted to this option; they’ll certainly hear about it first. Anyone with a background in munitions or the military might hear about it though.

  • Germany, of course, is still expanding eastwards, into the disputed territories that lie between it and Russia. Her Majesties Government is – as many suspect, but none outside the military can prove – quietly supporting the Russians with occasional instructors, shipments of supplies, and other goods – all “acting on their own initiative” or as “mercenaries” rather than officially of course. For those with the proper connections and a willingness to run unsupported missions into a war zone, there are plenty of chances here for running in supplies, setting up resistance cells, pulling off daring rescues, reinforcing critical points, and otherwise acting as special operatives.

This ones pretty obvious; the characters will be undertaking missions as special operatives in a war zone. Less obviously, Russia is pitting it’s Bogatyrs, Shamans, and other old-style mystics against a modern technological war machine that mostly lacks similar figures – because most of the European-style magic-boosting belief systems are religious, and poorly adapted to war. Active-duty characters, those with military connections, and – of course – spies are the most likely PC-connections here.

  • The Thornton Convoy is a coaster-based trading expedition to the Far East which will be using aerial support and communications since that’s a tremendous advantage to have on call even if a coaster can carry more cargo than a thousand airships. They’ll be doing some trading along the way of course, exploiting the ability to burn wood for power to send small groups of guards and traders deep into the coastlines they’ll be moving along. They’re interested in hiring airmen, magicians, scientists, and guards for them, since the small inland trading groups will be pretty vulnerable. The organizers are offering a fairly modest salary – but they’re also offering some shares in the expedition; it it’s a success those may well be worth rather a lot.

Not surprisingly, this is an entirely public proposition; joining up may require beating out quite a crowd of NPC’s who also want the job. Given the tendency of PC’s to be exceptional and to be masters in their fields, that may not be so hard. This is, however, likely to be a rather long and difficult mission and a lot of the rewards will be shared. On the other hand, it comes with rather a lot of support too.

  • A Cambridge expedition is recruiting to go in search of a fabulous kingdom supposedly hidden in the Himalayas. Unsurprisingly given the source, the current list of members is stuffed full of professors and researchers, and so more active support and piloting staff is definitely a high priority. Of course, the college isn’t paying that well – but offers a great deal of freedom of action with the advantage of not going entirely off the map. Any similarly scholarly adventurers may well be quite pleased with the prospect of research credits and possible publications of their own.

Groups who like to examine and research things, or which lean towards scholarship themselves, may well find the notion of traveling with a crew of college professors quite attractive. When it comes to mysterious natural and supernatural phenomena it’s hard to beat having a bunch of experts on call – and it means that the PC’s are likely to get all the action and chances to collect non-scholarly loot. Of course, Cambridge will ONLY be hiring respectable individuals, and preferably ones who come with EXCELLENT references (the less respectable, the better the references need to be). Dastards, mad scientists, and uneducated louts generally need not apply – unless they have some clever scheme for getting around such a check.

  • Lord Carnarvon – widely regarded as a complete lunatic – is attempting to build a vessel capable of reaching the lunar surface. At the moment, however, he is essentially running on pure theory, and is seeking backers and cash. He’s reportedly ready to work with almost anyone given the general laughter which is currently being directed at him.

OK; Lord Carnarvon probably IS a lunatic – but if he isn’t, this is a chance to make history. If he is, or is simply overenthusiastic and wrong, you never know what he might have come up with that he thinks makes this possible. He’s also open to working with almost anyone; it’s not like he has a lot of choice – ergo, he could serve to gather a group together; all it would take would be for the various characters to all be interested in the idea.

  • A cultish religious group (claiming to be Druids) is currently sponsoring an expedition to a far northern island (it’s existence is disputed, although there have been a few reports – mostly of some rather dangerous vulcanism) which apparently possesses vast reserves of Lux. The Ministry of War is taking a covert interest in that; readily accessible stocks of lux-charged materials and powerful magical talismans could make quite a difference in the strategic situation. The religious bunch are quite closemouthed about the nature of their interests however. Sadly, the only aircraft they can afford is a damaged experimental model from some years back, and the thing is notably mostly because it didn’t maneuver properly when it was new. Once again, while the “Druids” have plenty of magicians, they’re short of combatants and airmen – which makes a perfect opening for player-characters.

OK. Here we have a mysterious magical group, with mysterious motives, making a grab for a great big power source, to be taken from a place where magic runs amuck, with the military looking on with great interest. No, no… there’s obviously nothing that can go wrong with THAT. Of course, if the group is after raw magical power, this is the expedition to join.

  • On the salvage side, a German airship recently went down in the “broad fourteens” in the North Sea with no survivors. The area is dangerous of course, albeit not as unrelentingly hostile as the mid-oceanic regions – but most people don’t think a salvage attempt is worthwhile despite the fact that the vessel lies in a mere seventy feet of water and parts of it’s structure come within fifteen or twenty feet of the surface.

Of course, a group of adventurers without a ship of their own may think otherwise. This is another one that’s fairly public, and will be well known to most airmen – but it will tale a certain amount of special gear to try and salvage the ship. That may or may not be available – and there’s likely to be some German competition as well.

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