The following article features a one-page adventure idea for DS&DS. It is by no means a complete, ready-to-play adventure but rather provides a framework that a Referee may fill with his or her own ideas. In this case, the players are (very blatantly) forced to take actions by a Daemon that chose one of them as a catspaw, and will harass the character if the
request task is declined. As the plot will not work without the PC already being inclined to help one another in times of need, it is unlikely to work as the very first (or introduction) adventure of a group (unless a strong background link has already been established during character creation). As the Daemon that tries to coerce the PC is far from almighty (HD 3 – 5 are suggested), high level characters will not be challenged.
The whole idea is based on one of the alternative supernatural abilities of my release A Different Heritage (Banebringer), but the concept as a whole will work without this detail, too.
On one evening (and perhaps during the course of another adventure that is coming to an end), a PC finds an attractive middle-aged woman in an elegant gray pantsuit inside the own home when he or she turns on the lights. The woman will not introduce herself, but knows the PC by name and seems to be rather well informed about the character, including wishes and desires (especially those the PC would like to keep a secret).
Without offering an exact deal, the stranger states quite frankly that she wants the PC to retrieve an item for her. She will be unwilling to give away any other details unless the character agrees to do as requested, and gives a handshake on that.
Who is She? How did she come in?
The thing that invaded the character´s home is a “Harbinger of Woe” Daemon (HD: 3 – 5; Willpower 16). The daemon came in through her Shadow Travel power. Its name is hard to pronounce for a human, and it will not want any human to know. If it really sees any reason to state a name, it will ask the character to “call me Shara”.
Harbinger of Woe (Daemon): HD 3-5
Powers/Abilities: Banebringer*, Bad Luck, Disrupt Power, False Face, Shadow Cloak, Shadow Travel
Specialty: A Daemon of Woe may single out one target for a year. The location of the target is always known to the Daemon, and it may use the Banebringer* Ability once per day on it for free. When the year has passed, the victim is entitled to a Luck roll. On a success, the daemon cannot target this victim any longer with this special ability.
Shara will leave if threatened or simply ordered to be gone, but will from that point on harass the character, till he or she accepts the deal (the handshake has -no- further game effects).
To harass its victim to accept the pact, it will make use of False Face and Shadow Travel to stay in its vicinity, and will strike with Banebringer* or Bad Luck against it. If facing a serious threat, it may use Disrupt Power to thwart mystical attacks or Shadow Cloak and Shadow Travel to escape. It will make the life of the PC miserable and seek it out again and again to see if “You changed your mind by now…?”
The object of the daemons desire
What Shara wants is the retrieval of a little golden statue that is in the possession of “members of the Asian community of your city”. She does not know where this statue -exactly- is, but that it is “in the Asian quarter”, and that that those who know where the statue is have a certain secret sign on display at the entry of their shops and homes: the Korean signs for “Blessing” and “Protection”, overlapping another in a certain way.
The Daemon can neither touch nor pinpoint nor destroy the artifact. It is in the possession of a Secret Society that guards and uses it, for the benefit of its own community. See DS&DS p. 165 and the general section for Random Encounters for stat ideas. Most members will be Common People, some may qualify as Scholars or Thugs. There leader is a Gifted of Celestial Heritage (see below).
The artifact allows those Gifted with a Celestial background to screen a petitioner against unnatural forces. In game terms, it basically lends a Gifted/Celestial character the Power to bestow a kind of protective aura on the petitioner that will thwart all harmful supernatural influences (Powers & Abilities) that target the petitioner for PL days, unless the spiritual attacker´s HD is greater than the PL of the protective aura. The ritual necessary to evoke the Power takes a turn of communal prayer by the Gifted and the petitioner in front of the artifact, and will have the Gifted age by a month.
Finding a matching sign in a shop window in a matching neighborhood will take time, but no dice roll. But the members of the Secret Society will be unwilling to reveal any of their secrets to strangers, especially when they do not belong to their community.
What may happen…?
Will the PC use force? Will they shadow a member to find out who this one is contacting after them nosing around? What will they do when they find the secret shrine in a tenement block that is also the home of the aging Gifted that leads the secret society. The tenement is almost exclusively populated with members of the community, and a lot of them belong to the Secret Society. Will they plead for help against Shara? Or will they do as the Daemon wills it?
If they plead for help, the Gifted will be willing to aid them. He is HD: 5 (so only HD:2 in regard to anything but things special to a Gifted). One of his or her powers grants him the ability to Drain a Daemon´s powers, without the Daemon having any chance to resist it. This might help the characters in both confronting and destroying Shara. But the Gifted will demand to enforce a Sinister Pact on the PC in turn, so that they will be force to help the community against an (unspecified) supernatural enemy once “when need arises”.
The Aging Gifted: HD 5/2
May use the following powers with a Willpower of 15: Modified & Normal Drain Power; Sinister Pact; Damaging Touch, Language Comprehension;Celestial Heritage (DS&DS p. 19)
If they do as the Daemons wills it, the PC either need to be stealthy or will have to fight their way out of the tenement AND out of the neighborhood. The Secret Society is aware that the Powers of the Abyss wish them harm, and those in the tenement will be suspicious towards any new face. Word about harm to (or death of) their leader will spread quickly within the secret society. Thugs will be after them quickly, people will try to crash into their car with their own to hinder their escape. If they kill the Gifted, there will be at least one attempt on their lives by an Assassin during the course of their next adventure.
When they present the artifact to Shara, she will order them to destroy it immediately. If she will actually give them any reward (likely in the form of Cash Points, put perhaps even in the form of a malicious magical item of limited power) should be determined by the Referee with a Reaction roll. No matter the outcome of the roll, the forces of the Abyss may try to recruit the PC again in the future… perhaps even on more favorable terms then.
A word about the community: “Asian” was just the first thing that came to my mind. Perhaps I have been watching “The Golden Child” (with Eddy Murphy) a bit to often in my youth…
Arabian, Turk, Creole, African, Samoan, South American, Mexican… ANYTHING that would be considered “foreign” by the PC may step in. The physical form of the artifact might have to change a bit, depending on the culture). Hack, even some Scandinavian Christian fringe sect founded in medieval times will do! Use what ever floats in your game world.