Oy! Leave Them Orcs Alone! - The Scenario
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This scenario has been written so that you can run it in two different ways. You can run it as it is, as a short one-session scenario. But alternatively, you can "plug in" a standard D20 scenario in the middle, turning it into a longer, multi-session scenario.
I've written it this way partly to allow you to leverage the large number of D20 scenarios available, but mainly because as I write this it's Saturday and we're publishing on Monday.
Jenny runs OrcOutreach, a charity which attempts to help Orcs make their way in society (most of them are alcoholics on social security).
Part of the project involves training courses in computer programming. So far she has had only limited success. Some of her clients have managed to produce some simple Visual Basic applications, but more advanced concepts such as object orientation and pointers remain sadly beyond their grasp.
All they really want to do is play Quake, and they're not even very good at that. (Tip:- If you play a multi-player game of Quake against an Orc make sure it's at the end of a long enough cable that he can't catch up with you after you've beaten his character to a bloody pulp).
She has heard that a corporation called Bongo Mining is attempting to evict a tribe of Orcs from their reservation in Caledonia. She wants to stop them, and decides to hire the player characters to do this.
Unfortunately, she doesn't have the funds to do this, but by a stroke of good fortune, her best friend Suzy runs a small TV production company in Soho, and is looking for a good subject for a TV docu-drama. They strike a deal. Suzy will pay the player characters, but in return will accompany them with a camera crew filming their every move.
When the PCs get to the reservation, investigation will (should) establish that the corporation wishes to flood the entire valley the reservation occupies by building a dam at its bottom end. The purpose of the dam is to generate large amounts of magical energy by capturing the water spirits created in the lake's outflow.
A bit of further investigation could establish that the magical energy is required to refine a raw substance called Pheonium, which is illegal, into Alchemist's Elixir, which is a highly valuable commodity used in a variety of illegal industrial magical processes (they are illegal because they are so highly toxic to the environment).
The corporation has already built a blockhouse for storing Pheonium at the head of the valley. However, as yet they have not bought any Pheonium into the country. They mean to build the dam first. They will then illegally fly Pheonium into the country from a mine in Bongo (this mine is "officially" a gold mine).
Which means, unfortunately, that the PCs can't simply inform the authorities, since there is as yet no proof. Instead, they have only one option. Go to Bongo, and close down the Pheonium source by filming evidence of the illegal Pheonium mining (this is pretty conclusive since Pheonium glows purple). No Pheonium. No need for the dam.
There is an additional twist to the story. Suzy already knows why the Orcs are being evicted. She knows about the dam. She knows about the Pheonium mine. But if she took the PCs straight to the mine it would be a pretty short documentary film. She needs to pad it out with more filling. So she will lead the PCs from location to location, "building up the story".
This is obviously something she is not going to let the players in on.
Playing Suzy & The Camera-crew
Suzy is accompanied by a cameraman and a soundman, both dwarves. The dwarves will never say anything. They will simply watch and listen.
(A good incident you can throw in during a particularly intense combat is to have a PC distracted by a grey fluffy boom microphone being lowered into the combat from over his head).
Suzy will talk a lot, mostly in narrative whispers.
For example, if Dan and Dafydd are having a discussion about food allocation on the second day, they might - in mid argument - hear Suzy behind them, whispering something like:
"Day 2... Dan and Dafydd are having a row about rations."
She will also want to talk to the PCs several times a day, one on one, to discuss their feelings, both about the mission, and their fellow party members.
"So, you were impaled through the chest by a spear, sent into a dying coma, and were only saved because Father Derek preyed that you might be healed... how did that make you feel?"
Scene 1: The Briefing
Contacting The PCs
The PCs receive an email, sent to all of them,
from Jenny Evans
Assuming That The PCs Attend
OrcOutreach is based in a small office above a newsagents shop in Upper Street. The office itself consists of a number of small cluttered rooms, with various examples of Orcan art on the walls.
At the back is a training room, full of PCs, at which confused young Orcs are sat attempting to master the mystery of the mouse. Astute observers will notice that the PCs appear to be toughened models, as would usually be used in a factory or other hostile environment.
Jenny explains the deal:
"At OrcOutreach we exist to help disadvantaged elements of the Orcan community reach their full potential. That generally involves training, advice, and legal assistance. We recently heard of an Orcan community that are experiencing difficulties that are outside our area of expertise. They live on an Orcan reservation in Caledonia, in a valley in the Highlands. They live a simple life, in touch with nature, in accordance with their ancient culture and beliefs.
"But now that is being threatened. A large corporation called Bongo Mining wants to buy their reservation. They offered a sales contract, but the Orc people told them no."
At this point she hands over a rather battered and torn contract. (If a PC reads it, they will see that it is indeed a contract of sale).
"Then the corporation became angry. They started harassing the tribe. Recently they even burnt down one of the homes. I want to pay you to travel to the reservation, find out why the corporation wants to buy the land, and if you find a legal method to stop them, to take it. You will be paid 5,000 pounds each."
(Suzy, who is paying the bills, can actually go up to 7,500 pounds each).
She will give the group a little time to absorb the offer. Assuming that they are positive (there may well be a great deal of discussion, since they have very differing views on Orcs) she will add that there is an additional element to the mission. She will then introduce another woman, who was waiting outside the office. This is Suzy Peterson, of True Stories TV, a small Soho-based production company.
Suzy explains who she is to the PCs:
"Hi, I'm Suzy. I'm one of the founders of True Stories TV, you might have heard of us..."
None of the PCs have heard of them.
"...We've produced a number of critically acclaimed documentaries on a variety of subjects. Now, we want to open a window onto the whole area of adventuring. We want to follow you on this mission, filming every action. Really getting into the heart of things."
Jenny, a bit worried, then adds:
"But they won't get in the way, you'll hardly notice them... and besides, they are actually providing the funding."
Suzy then adds that as well as the 5,000 pounds, they will also receive 500 pounds worth of goods each, chosen by them.
If the PCs are agreeable, Suzy will ask them to sign a contract. She tells them that it is a totally standard contract of the kind used in docu-soaps. (If the PCs take it to a lawyer, they will be told the same thing).
Assuming that the PCs are in agreement, they, Suzy, and her two dwarven assistants (Jegg and Argarth) will head off to Joe's Adventure Barn.
Scene 2: Shopping
Joe's Adventure Barn
Joe's Adventure Barn is a large adventurer's supplies shop, situated in an out-of-town shopping centre in Essex. The shop offers everything an adventurer might want (actually 98% of its customers are adventuring wannabees who never do anything more challenging than a weekend's camping in the woods).
Suzy tells them that they can each purchase 500 pounds worth of equipment.
The shop will have pretty much anything in any standard equipment lists (including magical items).
The owner of the store, Joe, takes the PCs aside, one by one, and asks them if they would like to take part in a TV advert for his shop. He wants to film them saying why they choose to buy their supplies from Joe's Adventure Barn. He will pay them each 100 pounds.
If Dan Does The Advert
If Dan does the advert he will receive a furious phone call on his mobile in a few days time (you should do this at the most inconvenient time possible) from the CEO of his sponsors, Deathblade. The CEO, Robert Daniels, will ask him:
"What the fuck do you think you are doing, doing a fucking advert for Ed's fucking Adventure Barn?"
He is not in a mood for a civilised discussion. He will inform Dan that if he ever does anything like this again, he should consider his sponsorship terminated.
(Robert Daniels was aware of the advert filming because Suzy phoned him up and told him. She thinks the confrontation will make good TV).
Scene 3: The Orc Reservation
Suzy will hire a small private carpet and pilot, and fly the PCs direct to the reservation, landing beside the Orc village.
The Orc reservation is located in a wide u-shaped valley. At the high end of the valley is a small village where the orcs live. At the other end is a brand new, square window-less building.
When built, the village consisted of a number of small, brick-built huts with neat tiled roofs, large glass windows, and attractively land-scaped communal gardens. Then the Orcs moved in.
The bare dirt between the huts is now inhabited by a variety of wrecked horses, most of which have no legs and are popped up on bricks and, somewhat bizarrely, wrecked household furniture.
The tribe consists of around 90 Orcs, 50 adults and around 40 or so children (the Orcs aren't very good at keeping count). They are led by Tragg Bloodfist.
Tragg is a fat middle-aged alcoholic of limited intelligence, whose only interest in life beyond drinking is beating his wife, something that he does with distressing regularity. He was appointed tribe leader three years ago after defeating the previous leader (in a drunken bare-knuckle brawl the day after the social security cheques arrived).
When they arrive, Tragg will be outside his hut with five other male Orcs, drinking cans of extra-strong lager, and throwing stones at the semi-feral cats which infest the village. He is drunk, and therefore even more aggressive than usual.
If The PCs Start A Fight
Since there is no reason why this should happen, we haven't bothered to provide statistics. All that they would face is around 20 adults Orcs (9 male and 11 female) none of whom have any particular martial skills or weapons (the rest would be either too drunk to fight, or busy watching wrestling on the TV). It would not be a particularly difficult fight.
Legal note: If the characters use any weapons other than fists, they lay themselves wide open to arrest, imprisonment and lawsuits. (Given that OrcOutreach offers legal advice to the Orcs, the PCs could end up being sued by their own patron for actions committed whilst in the pay of the patron, which would be a tad embarrassing).
Tragg is angry and bad-tempered and not inclined to help. However, he loves the idea of being on the TV. If the PCs promise that he will appear in the documentary, he will be most helpful.
What he knows is this:
a) Humans are bad and orcs are smart (irrelevant, but the PCs should humour him).
b) Many months ago (Tragg will count on fingers for a while before setting on "many") humans built a new building at the other end of the valley (which is actually inside the reservation area, although Tragg is pretty hazy about exactly where the reservation ends... but then he never goes outside except on the weekly shopping trips when they hit the supermarket).
c) A few months ago, humans came and offered Tragg ten thousand pounds, if the Orcs would sign a document. Tragg told him to fuck off and threw a can of lager at him. (This is the document that Jenny showed to the PCs).
d) Two giros ago (a giro is a social security cheque, which you get once a fortnight) one of the huts burnt down in the middle of the night. The Orc female who lived there concluded that it was due to a carelessly discarded cigarette, and savagely beat her husband, but Tragg thinks that this was a bit unlikely, given that her husband doesn't smoke...
The New Building
Examination of a map (Suzy has one) will establish that the new building is actually located on territory belonging to the Orc tribe. It is therefore illegal.
The building is a bare concrete blockhouse, around twenty metres by twenty metres, with a single steel door. It is surrounded by a chain-link fence topped by barbed wire, with a single locked gate. Attacked to the fence are signs saying: "Private Property, Keep Out".
Inside the fence are 12 guard-wolves. (These are just standard wolves, bred to act as guards, and trained to be vicious and highly dangerous).
Suzy suggests that the PCs enter (this is entirely legal, providing they have the permission of the Orcs, since it is in fact their land) defeat the wolves, and then search the building for evidence.
The lock on the outside gate is DC 10 to pick.
The lock on the inside door is DC 12 to pick.
Assuming that the PCs do this, Suzy and the dwarves will film the action from outside the fence, with Suzy providing a running commentary.
Once the PCs have dispatched the wolves, and entered the building, Suzy will join them.
The Interior of the Blockhouse
Inside, the building is totally empty.
Suzy will call out:
"Look, over here! What's that?"
She has found a food ticket, given out by the UN at Refugee Camp 15, outside Ougaouga in central Bongo. If the PCs fail to recognise the significance of this, she will point out that there have been cases of refugees being used as slave labour by corporations, and that perhaps this blockhouse was build by slave labour recruited from that particular refugee camp.
Note:- This food ticket was of course dropped by Suzy herself.
Spotting her dropping the ticket is DC 20.
However, even PCs who didn't spot her dropping the ticket will be pretty confused by the fact that they didn't spot it.
If The PCs Spot Her Faking The Evidence
If she is spotted, she will explain that she could have just gone straight to the refugee camp, but for the documentary to raise the kind of public outcry that Jenny and the Orcs require, she needs to cover all aspects of the story... and besides, she's paying them to make that story.
Scene 4: Flying To Bongo
Suzy books seats for herself, the camera crew, and the PCs on a British Skyways carpet to Ougaouga in central Bongo.
The carpet is a metal square around ten metres by ten metres, upon which are bolted around 200 chairs, separated by three aisles. The whole thing is surrounded by a transparent magical force-field.
A crew of six man the carpet, two pilots to monitor its flight, and four attendants to serve drinks and snacks to the passengers.
Of the 200 chairs, around 20 are large, comfortable, padded and situated at the front. This is called Business Class.
The remaining 180 chairs are small, uncomfortable, and have bare inches of legroom. This is called Economy Class.
Suzy and the camera crew are flying up front in Business Class.
The seats she has booked for the PCs are in Economy.
Hazards of Long Distance Flying
Carpet-travellers flying economy are at risk of suffering from so called "Economy-class Syndrome".
Each such passenger should make upto three fortitude saves (if you fail the first, you roll again. If you fail that you roll again for a third and final time). The DC for each is 3.
If you fail the first save, you get a -1 to all physical actions for the next 24 hours.
If you fail both the first and the second saves, you get a -3 to all physical actions for the next 48 hours.
If you fail all three saves, you die suddenly d6 hours later from Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Acquiring Local Transport
When the group arrives at the airport, Suzy will hire horses for herself and her camera crew. (She will leave the PCs to explore the airport building while she is doing the hiring).
Remember that in this era, the word "horse" refers to a mechanic walking machine in the vague shape of what we would call a horse, controlled by a gear lever in the neck that enables the user to select between walk, trot, canter and gallop modes. (Except in the case of automatics, but no real man would use one of those).
Unfortunately, she does not do the same for the PCs. She wants her documentary to present the PCs in a retro light, "like an old-style group of heroes from days gone by!"
She therefore turns up with a group of six real horses that she has managed to get from somewhere.
Note: The skill "Ride" is used to ride a horse - that is a mechanical horse. The skill to ride a four-legged quadriped called Dobbin is "Ride Actual Horse".
Since none of the PCs have this skill, you should use the rules for default skill use for all trivial tasks, such as getting on, getting off, and persuading the bastard nag to move. Try to ensure complete chaos.
Scene 5: The Bongan Refugee Camp
Refugee Camp 15 is located in the barren desert, about ten miles from the city of Ougaouga. It consists of little more than a collection of tents surrounded by a fence, and yet is home to around fifty thousand people.
Suzy's plan is to film the PCs wandering through the camp "in search of clues". They will be accosted constantly by half-starved refugees, many of them children.
Since the characters came straight from the airport, it is likely that at some point the character's will need to relieve themselves. (Unlike many other fantasy settings, characters in Planet Erf *do* shit).
If they choose to use the sanitary facilities at Camp 15, they risk coming into contact with one of the most feared animals in the region: The Bongan Latrine Rat.
In an effort to prevent disease, the camp authorities have dug several latrines.
Each latrine is a pit, measuring around two feet by twenty feet and around four feet deep, with various chemicals scattered around the bottom. Two parallel poles run the length of the pit (to sit on when you take a dump). Each latrine is surrounded by a canvas wall, to give privacy to the occupants. There are separate latrines for men and women.
Assuming that the PCs visit the latrine, you should have one of them attacked by a Bongan Latrine Rat (select someone at random). If one of the PCs is taking a dump, then you should select him.
Finding A Clue
Suzy will leave the group for a few minutes, then return saying that she has found a refugee who helped build the new building on the reservation. (She had already found out about him before leaving Lundon).
The man, whose name is Phillipe Kana, is middle-aged, under-nourished and very nervous. He not only worked on the building at the reservation, but has also worked at the illegal Pheonium mine, which is located around ninety miles away in the desert. A month ago, he escaped from the mine and made his way to the refugee camp. He is terrified of what Bongo Mining might do to him if they catch him.
If the PCs question him sympathetically, he will reveal what he knows. This is basically:
a) The location of the mine (Bongo Mining has five mines in the area, the other four being gold mines, but he can identify which one it is).
b) A basic description of the mine, combined with the knowledge that it is guarded by a "terrible beast" (this is actually the Chernobyl Brick Shithouse).
c) He will confirm that the mine is not a gold mine, but is in fact a Pheonium mine (it glows purple, remember?)
Suzy will then suggest that the PCs should travel to the mine to get evidence. She will make a phone call and hire a small carpet (with pilot) who will fly down to the refugee camp, pick them up and fly them to the mine area (leaving the horses in the care of the camp manager).
Notes On Possible "Scene 5a"
It is possible at this point to prolong the scenario by inserting a standard D20 scenario in the middle. What you want is a basic dungeon-bash which can be transplanted to the desert. Something like a buried temple would fit well.
What will happen is that Suzy will come up with a "rumour" she has heard of another site where Bongo Mining are doing something dodgy. She will point out that once they have visited the mine, their cover will be blown and they will want to leave as quickly as possible. So, they need to visit the "dodgy" site first.
In fact, this other site has nothing to do with Pheonium. But it will provide a lot of good TV, and will enable her to turn a single TV program into a full several-part series. She will persuade the PCs to go along with it by telling them they can keep any treasure they find.
Scene 6: The Mine
Before They Go In
Suzy explains that the mine is guarded by an extensive magical alarm system. Any movement whatsoever out to a 10 mile radius will be detected. This will give Bongo Mining time to fly in a team of guards from the worker's compound 15 miles away.
If the PCs trigger the alarms, 20 3rd level fighters led by a 6th level fighter will arrive at their immediate vicinity within 10 minutes.
However, Suzy has a solution. She has managed to procure some magical "stealth" jackets. These jackets have no visible effect. However, they make their wearer invisible to the alarm system. But she was only able to get eight jackets (three for her and her crew, and five for the PCs). One of the PCs is going to have to stay out of the final assault.
She will then go onto explain that the five PCs who make the assault on the mine will get an additional 5000 GP bonus each. But they will have to decide among themselves which one of them will have to drop out (and get neither the bonus nor the glory).
This situation has been created entirely by Suzy. She could have simply bought six of the jackets. But she felt that a scene where the PCs debate which one of their number to expel would be gripping television. Astute PCs might figure this out, but she will not admit it, and will insist that only five were available. She might also point out the the contracts that the PCs signed give her permision to change operational procedures. And she will not agree to leaving any of her crew behind.
Eventually, the PCs will presumably vote to expel one of their members. That person will have to wait with the carpet.
The Mine Layout
The mine has no visible boundary (as mentioned previously, there an alarm system covering a 10 mile radius).
The mine is built into a rocky outcropping in the desert, around two hundred feet high. A tunnel leads into the cliff, with a narrow-gauge railway track leading out of the tunnel and running for a few hundred feet to what is clearly a carpet landing area. There is one hut adjacent to the entrance, which houses mining equipment. (The workers are housed in a separate compound fifteen miles away and flown in each day by carpet).
Suzy's plan is simple, and for the most part good. The team will land by carpet in a secluded wadi around twelve miles from the mine. Then, when night falls, her, the cameraman, the soundman, and the five PCs who have stealth jackets will walk to the mine.
Since the mine only works two shifts (early and late) the mine will be deserted at this time except for the guard animal described by the Phillipe Kana, which she does not expect will cause the PCs much difficulty.
Having defeated the guard animal, they will then enter the mine, film the evidence of illegal mining, and leave. Mission accomplished.
The Chernobyl Brick Shithouse
The only problem with Suzy's plan is that the mine is guarded by a Chernobyl Brick Shithouse, which is actually quite hard. The Brick Shithouse will attack as soon as they come within two hundred feet of the mine.
Note:- If you want the scenario to be really hard, then just have two Brick Shithouses.
Once the PCs have filmed the evidence, they can return home (carpet back to the airport, and then to Lundon). Suzy's film will be broadcast the next week, and the resulting scandal will force Bongo Mining to suspend the mining of Pheonium, and will also lead to the resignation of the Chairman and Chief Executive.
The Orcs will not have to leave their reservation.
The PCs will be paid all agreed amounts.
Dan will get his sponsorship deal renewed.
Copyright © 2002 Critical Miss Gaming Society