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Unread 26th of August, 2011, 03:24
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Bodak [GM]

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Rebirth Creation Challenge: August 2011: Graveyard Shift

I am fully aware that by not making maps or fleshing out specific characters I have not put in the level of effort required to really call this a submission... but I wanted to share my half-submission anyway... its written sorta like a short story and sorta like a "treatment" for a story.

edit: revised a little to make the voice a little more coherent and clear up some wording and such... basically when I posted it before I hadn't read it over and now I have.

Graveyard Shift
In the distance the adventurers see the gates of a town that interrupts the road they travel along. An adventurer who knows a thing or two about local history and geography would not expect a town at this location and, while it is relatively remote and could have had time to establish itself since the last census and survey, the settlers would have had to have been very industrious for it to reach this state without anyone noticing.

As they approach the town they see that, while it is surrounded by a high stone wall, it isn’t much of one, just a rough defensive perimeter that would keep out local wildlife and give the town guard a high place to watch for potential invaders. They also can see that their is a wide area of cleared ground surrounding the walls and a rough path has been trampled in, perhaps by the marching of a regular patrol. If the adventurers so chose they could skirt the town entirely by following this path in either direction around the town and find another similar gate where the main road continues on.

The gates are guarded by two well armed soldiers that the adventurers would recognize as being representatives of a corporation whose business activities are so broad and diverse that they hold the status of one of the greater houses, rivalling the riches and influence of even the monarchy. They are best known for the manufacture and sale of mass produced magical devices that are driven clever clock-work or steam-power instead of a magical talent.

They are also considered benevolent because they purchase debt and provide lodgings to the destitute in exchange for fair terms of indentured servitude, rather then of jailing debtors and seizing property. As such, they are also the leading single provider of loans, insurance policies and investment services, many lords have quite a bit of money invested through this company and they essentially control the most commonly used form of currency.

The guards will be friendly and helpful but will also need to know what the adventurers business is in the town, though they will accept pretty much any excuse beyond “to steal stuff”. They will warn the adventurers that the gates close at sunset and none are allowed to enter or leave until the following sunrise. If pressed and sufficiently charisma'ed they will indicate that the company sponsored the foundation of this settlement because the confluence of lay lines, fresh water and trade routes made it an ideal location for a manufactury. They may also provide a reasonable but short amount of time since the settlement was established, maybe a few months.

Inside their will be the basics of any town; an inn with a pub, another pub, a school and a library, whatever temples and shops are appropriate to the campaign and a central plaza where travelling merchants can set up. Most of the residential buildings will appear to be tenement/town-house style, built by the company. Magically attuned adventurers or some exploration and/or questioning will reveal the location of the manufactury and that it has a strong magical aura. The factory will be closed to the public but will have a gift-shop available to the public where the things built inside can be purchased.

There will be a warehouse district set-up near the far side of the town and a simple dockyards, outside the walls on the nearby river. Exploration of the dockyards will reveal to that no-one stays there at night. For example there are no apartments over the dock-masters office and all the infrequent shipping that happens, does so only during the day with boats left unattended at night.

The people of the town will be almost all be indentured to the company, unattached men and women with various backgrounds who were brought here to work through their dept to the company with much relative freedom on off hours, so long as they don’t leave the town. Many people will be milling about in various activities but as sunset approaches they will make their way to the manufactury, with nearly everyone being on the overnight shift.

Generally it should be made increasingly clear that one should not be outside the walls at night. Some excuse should be made to keep the adventurers in the area until nightfall. Just as the sun sets the noise from the manufactury will start up, it is a constant rumble, not grating or piercing, but loud enough to be a constant background and drown out or mask other sounds. The rooms at the inn will be windowless and sound proofed to keep the sound out.

None of the workers will admit what they do, claiming they signed non-disclosure agreements that have been enforced by them voluntarily taking part in a ritual non-disclosure agreement oath. If an adventurer manages to break the spell and convince a worker to tell what they know, it will be revealed that most nights they assemble devices or partake in magical rituals to imbibe the devices with their magical abilities, a red herring. They work at night, they are told, because it is easier to keep the manufacturing floors cool after the sun goes down.

The walls surrounding the city will be just about 10 feet high and 10 feet wide, with the top set up like a road with a low ledge. There will be guard houses spread out around the inner side of the wall that protect stairs so that the adventurers would have difficulty just simply walking up and looking around.

If the adventurers try to stay out beyond sunset the city guards will them to stay inside the inn during the hours of darkness. They will not not force the issue but the adventurers will feel they are under constant surveillance, ostensibly this will because all the workers are off at the manufactury the guards want to ensure that our adventures aren’t going to try some burglary.

If the adventurers do manage to get close enough to get close to the walls at night it will be apparent that there are a lot of people up their doing something, the noise from the manufactury drown out the sounds of whatever is happening up there. Everything will be fine as long as the adventurers don’t try to go up on the walls or climb on top of buildings to see over the walls or otherwise try to figure out whats happening outside the walls at night. If they do the guards will forcefully return them back to the inn and post guards to ensure they stay where they are till morning when they will be escorted out of the city.

The adventurers will likely feel like some kind of conspiracy is at work and that is going to get them to push. If they manage to sneak somewhere with a decent vantage point or leave the city and camp in the area they will see that the town is nightly besieged by the undead and the people on top of the walls are capturing them.

The first stage reveal is as follows: The company discovered that the manufacturing rituals used to make certain devices attracts Zombies, so much so that they were being drawn from miles away. So they decided that it would be safer to establish their own settlement designed to quietly deal with these Zombies so they could continue manufacturing that particular device. Also, by locating it on the confluence of lay lines they are now clearing wild Zombies from the entire region. The town is basically Zombie fly paper and they are essentially providing a public service.

The guards on the wall capture Zombies when they show up and they try to keep the population and travelers and pretty much everyone from finding out about them because it would look bad on the part of the Company if it was revealed that their work was attracting Zombies, not to mention the generic fear and panic it would arouse in the work force.

The adventurers will be offered a reasonable sum of money in exchange for willingly accepting the ritual Non-Disclosure oath similar to the one the workers undertake. That way they will be allowed to leave but can never speak of what they know of the town. Otherwise, they will not be allowed to leave the town until they do agree.

If the adventurers keep digging they get the second stage reveal as follows: The company is taking the Zombies and, through some clever regeneration and resurrection rituals, the magics used to animate them are recycled and they are brought back to “real” life, though with amnesia-like memory loss. They are placed under term indentured servitude to the company and rehabilitated and re-introduced back into the working population. Many are redirected to other locations to ensure that the number of workers suddenly showing up with no memories of their past isn’t noticeable.

The center of operations for this will be a series of tunnels under the manufactury, laid out like a rogue-like dungeon with large ritual chambers interspersed. Technically all this will not be illegal and it will be up to the adventurers to decide how they feel about this from a moral standpoint. The company will only really be trying to keep it secret from an “Intellectual Property Protection” and “Poor Public Relations” perspective.

I would say the fun way to deal with all this would be for the adventurers to manage to leave the place safely and feeling slightly weird about what they’ve discovered while unable to really do anything about it and being being unable to tell anyone about it due to the ritual-non-disclosure oath. If they try to do something to take down the operation or defeat the “boss” they will only end up being labeled criminals and perhaps barely escape with their lives and memories.

Bonus would be that later on in the campaign when the adventurers have started to think this whole affair is behind them and have improved their skills to spring the town on them again. Maybe its been taken over by an evil Necromacer or Demon drawn to the magics or maybe theirs been an outbreak of a Zombie virus that their magics don’t work on and the town is overrun with them. Now the company wants the adventurers to return, a few levels stronger and better able to deal with the situation, to permanently destroy the operations.

Last edited by SinbadEV; 26th of August, 2011 at 04:50.
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