Oldtown

We’re finishing up Brandt’s Landing with the capital, where we can answer the most important question: What do you get for conquering the place?

Oldtown is the administrative heart of Brandt’s Landing and holds the local Arbites Precinct, the PDF headquarters, the Lord Mayor’s city hall, the Chapel of Saint Ondarius, and other key government structures. There are also several noble and middle class houses here, as the city slowly bleeds into poorer sections. The entire neighborhood is built around Brandt’s Square, where the imposing gothic architecture of the Imperial government buildings stands as stark contrast to the wooden colonial architecture surrounding. The houses get richer to the north as Winter Estates takes over, on the east the middle class housing gives way to the commercial buildings of Slut’s Row, a bridge leads to Fireside Downs in the south, and Winter Harbour is on the southeast end where a pocket of poor people live on an island otherwise dominated by the upper class.

Oldtown Smuggling Den
Discovery TN: +0

Prerequisite: This den will not start operating, and therefore cannot be detected, until at least one of the spook smuggling dens in Slut’s Row, Fireside Downs, or East Vale has been shut down.

Lead: A keen-eyed PDF trooper has found a dead-drop in some kind of cipher in the hollow of a tree in Oldtown. They haven’t deciphered it yet, and are hoping that it’s a smuggler code and they can beat the Arbites to the punch, show those arrogant pricks that they’re not the only law enforcement in town. They’re also worried that it might be an Inquisition cipher and someone’s going to get executed for interrupting the drop. Deciphering the code is an Ordinary(+10) Linguistics check, and since the ciphered message is in Low Gothic, there is no penalty for not speaking the relevant language for any character.

If a character speaks Underworld, then they already know the cipher and can read it without making a check. If one of the characters doesn’t speak Underworld but has criminal contacts, anyone directly involved in buying or selling smuggled goods will know the cipher and can be persuaded to translate as a Challenging(+0) Charm check (possibly easier if the criminal contact is an established NPC, which might be handled with a Disposition check instead), and if the characters have no such pre-existing contacts, one can be dredged up with a Difficult(-10) Inquiry check in Fireside Downs or East Vale, a Hard(-20) Inquiry check in Winter Harbour, Wrenwrick Crik, or Slut’s Row, or a Very Hard(-30) check in Winter Estates or here in Oldtown. A criminal found at random like this will require a Hard(-20) check to Charm into translating, but can be instead interrogated or intimidated as an Ordinary(+10) check. A character can roll a Routine(+20) Influence check to produce a bribe that will make a randomly found criminal (or an existing criminal contact) easier to charm, requiring only a Routine(+20) Charm test to decipher the code.

If the characters stake out the area and successfully beat the smuggler picking up the message in an opposed Stealth v. Awareness test, they can catch him checking the tree and interrogate him. It’s a Challenging(+0) check to successfully interrogate the smuggler for the translation to the cipher.

The PDF have no idea how to proceed on investigating the case, but if the characters take things to the Arbites, the Arbites will assign an Enforcer with them to locate a criminal in Fireside Downs and interrogate them for the information. If the characters opt to investigate some other way, the bull-headed Enforcer will head to Fireside Downs to do things his way and get nowhere.

Confrontation: The cipher, once decoded, will give directions to drop off a special shipment directly in the town hall’s cellar. Whether working with the PDF or the Arbites, the characters will have no trouble getting in, but if they have decided to conduct their operation independent of either of these, the PDF troopers guarding the hall won’t let them past the lobby unless persuaded with a Difficult(-10) Charm or Intimidation check to stay out of the way. If the characters start a fight with the PDF and actually kill any of them, they each lose 1 Influence immediately and lose 1d10 subtlety, although they can regain 1d5 subtlety if they leave no witnesses. A fight at the town hall is virtually guaranteed to be noticed by someone living nearby and will be reported to the PDF, who will immediately send a chimera full of PDF troopers to arrive five rounds after the first gunshot, lasshot, or other loud and violent noise (if the fight is silent and it is late at night, the fight will not be detected).

If the characters do not immediately flee the scene of the fight after its conclusion, the chimera will catch them there. If the fight goes poorly for the PDF squad, they’ll call upon the rest of their platoon, an additional three squads, and if those go poorly, they’ll start summoning chimeras from other neighborhoods (each neighborhood has one to deploy and they’ll probably deploy them in twos and threes against a threat that’s given a full platoon trouble). The first chimera will be accompanied by two Arbites, the platoon will bring another eight, and the Winter Estates chimera has another two.

In the cellar of the town hall is a false door which is a Hard(-20) Awareness check to find ordinarily (in case, for some reason, characters ever go to the basement of city hall and scan it for clues apropos of nothing), but is automatic with the directions in the ciphered text. Inside the hidden room is the smugglers den, which contains about fifty kilograms of obscura and twenty doses of spook. It is guarded by a smuggler, a thug with an autogun, two thugs with shotguns, and a heavy.

Defeating the smuggler is worth 1 point of Influence, and recruiting him is worth 1d5 points. If the characters recruit the smuggler or interrogate him and pass a Challenging(+0) Interrogation test, he’ll tell them the location of any spook dens still in operation (that is, any of the Slut Row, Fireside Downs, or East Vale dens). This means that the acolytes can go to these dens directly without any need for finding a lead or investigating them, as the smuggler’s identity and hiding place for the drugs have already been identified.

If the characters interrogate the smuggler with at least 3 DoS, he’ll tell them that the Martinian family, the highborn rulers of Brandt’s Landing, are behind the spook trade, but he does not have any evidence. The smuggler won’t volunteer this information if he’s recruited, hedging his bets in case this doesn’t work out.

Oldtown Witch
Discovery TN: +30

Lead: Two girls have gone missing at Brandt’s Landing Prep in Oldtown, where the merchant class sends their teenage children to receive an education that will set them apart from the barely-literate lower classes. The girls’ friends have confessed to their parents that they were visiting the school in the dead of night, as the school tradition is that you aren’t really a senior until you’ve spent a night in the supposedly haunted basement. One of the Martinian girls went missing after spending a night alone last year and the tradition was extremely strictly forbidden. The two missing girls thought to shame their classmates by staying overnight anyway and proving that the Martinian girl was a fluke. Sure enough, they’ve vanished.

Investigation: The Martinian girl has turned into a pale lady and will attack anyone who enters the school at night, so if the characters end up at the school during the night then the investigation is over. A Difficult(-10) Inquiry into the students at Brandt’s Prep will reveal that the two missing girls were buying drugs at Slut’s Row, pointing the acolytes to the Devout Sister. The drug smuggler at the Devout Smuggler (see Slut’s Row Smuggling Den) doesn’t know anything about the missing girls specifically and barely even recognizes them, but she is dealing spook, which will prompt the Scholastic Lore and Forbidden Lore tests below. If the characters get three or more degrees of success on the Inquiry into students, they will find the Martinian girl’s friends and learn that they not only were high on spook, but when the Martinian wanted to stick to obscura, they (her friends) forced lethal quantities of spook into her system.

An Ordinary(+10) Inquiry on the parents will likewise reveal that yes, their daughters were into drugs, but obscura is all they know about. A Difficult(-10) Scholastic Lore(Occult) or Ordinary(+10) Forbidden Lore(Psykers) test after learning about the involvement of spook will reveal that one or more of the missing girls may have had latent psyker powers awakened by spook and become a powerful and deadly mutant, and that they will probably attack anyone who comes near their territory whenever they’re awake. A Challenging(+0) Psyniscience test passed anywhere in the school at any time will reveal the presence of a powerful and only partially corporeal psyker in the school who manifests only at night. Outside the school but still in Oldtown, the Psyniscience test is Hard(-20), but delivers the same results.

Confrontation: The Martinian girl was overdosed on spook against her will by her ‘friends’ one year ago and has now become an incorporeal, telepathy-based pale lady. The other two girls have no psyker powers at all, but have been turned into puppets by the Thin Man. The mission is complete for two points of Influence if the pale lady is defeated and the characters take credit with the authorities. The puppets will not be depuppeted no matter what the acolytes do (short of hunting down the Thin Man, which is beyond the scope of this mission entry).

Oldtown Nobility
Discovery TN: N/A

Lead: Nothing Lord Mayor Martinian does makes him look especially suspicious on its own, but the characters will come across significant evidence of his involvement in the drug trade and tacit endorsement of the Faceless Cult while investigating either of the two. It may also behoove the characters to destroy the local Ecclesiarchy, PDF, and/or Arbites at some point.

Investigation: The presence of the Martinian family estate, the city hall, the PDF headquarters, the Arbites precinct, and the Chapel of St. Ondarius are all immediately obvious.

Confrontation: The PDF headquarters has a squad of troopers in a chimera, three more squads on foot, and their small squad of elites. The chimera squad will be deployed to investigate any disturbances in town, and the other three squads of the platoon will be dispatched as backup to anything the chimera can’t handle. Additional chimeras will be called in from nearby neighborhoods (there is one chimera per neighborhood) if the PDF are overwhelmed anyway. The elite squad won’t typically leave the headquarters unless the Lord Mayor is directly under attack, but will join the defense of PDF HQ if it’s attacked.

The Arbites have a half-dozen enforcers ready to respond to crises in the area, and they also have their own elite squad in their precinct building. Like the PDF elite squad, they will only deploy their elites if directly attacked or if the Lord Mayor is in danger. The Arbites also have a pair of enforcers on patrol in Winter Estates and Oldtown, who will arrive with a PDF chimera if there’s trouble.

The Chapel of St. Ondarius does not have any defenses other than the squad of potential NPC allies who live there, however the Sororitas of this squad will join in the fray of any major confrontation in Oldtown, leaving a skeleton crew on the chapel itself.

Lord Martinian’s estate has four private security troopers (they use the same stats as PDF troopers but respond to Lord Martinian’s commands only, even if the PDF are convinced to turn on the Lord Mayor), and he also has his bodyguard with him at all times, in addition to the PDF security at the door to city hall (described in the Oldtown smuggling den entry). Lord Martinian will try to kill anyone who confronts him with damning evidence of his illegal activity, unless clearly outmatched, in which case he will flee and either try to bring the PDF down on them or, if the PDF have turned on him or proven insufficient, flee the city altogether.

Lord Martinian is using the obscura and spook trade to keep his cousins, nephews, and especially brothers from turning on him. By juicing them up on drugs, he can keep them content and prevent them from seeking to assassinate him and take his place. The Cult of the Faceless has the same purpose, allowing Martinians outside the main line of succession to channel their ambitions into a cult where bloodline doesn’t matter and assassinations are not required for advancement. He is not in regular communication with either the Faceless Witch or the Kingsmen’s kingpin, but he knows and is on reasonably friendly terms with both of them. On a successful Very Hard(-30) Interrogation check, he’ll reveal what’s going on at the Fireside Downs smuggling den where the King hides and the Fireside Downs witch encounter at the monastery. Lord Martinian does not know about the Thin Man and can’t share any details about the spook trade or the cult activities, since he doesn’t really know or care so long as they keep his nephews from murdering half the family tree.

If Lord Martinian is deposed, the party can install anyone Highborn to take his place. Being the new Lord Mayor of Brandt’s Landing is worth 2d10 Influence, and knowing him personally is worth 1d10 Influence each. All Influence checks in Brandt’s Landing receive a +10 bonus if you are or are associated with the ruler, and you can spend two Influence points to automatically succeed on an Influence check for anything Scarce or cheaper, and any ranged weapon (but not grenades, modifications, or ammo), armour, drug, accommodation, or provision that’s Rare or cheaper.

Oldtown Default Encounter

An Arbites confronts the characters about their business in town. Even if the acolytes are or appear to be Arbites themselves.

 

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