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April 24, 2008, 12:19 pm

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The Red Ghost and the Crypt of the Ebony Princess

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One of the most popular "Quests" in Dream Park for the 2071-72 season, The Red Ghost and the Crypt of the Ebony Princess has been made into a novel (by Elsmyth himself), a full theatre video, expanded into a broadcast series, and a lack luster home game. It is considered Elsmyth’s finest work before his nervous breakdown.

I thought of another dungeon idea. It is loosely based on a very rough idea from the way back. Some background:

Dream Park was originally a novel set in a sort of futuristic amusement park of the same name. It utilizes interactive technologies and events to make Disneyland and other amusement parks passé. And so much safer than Delphi Park (google for reference). Integrating much of live action roleplaying (before the term was coined), special effect props, and computer assistance, the various events combined skill, sports, and just fun, to act out what we might roleplay. From there, hot properties were spun off into video games, movies, TV shows, etc.

There are three books in the series and an RPG by R Talsorian based on it.  The wikipedia entry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Park does not do it justice.  

If you are not using Dream Park or similar situation in a sci-fi game, you can make this as a VR game in cyberpunk settings, or as a scenario in an X-Crawl like campaign), or as a Dream Game situation.

This scenario is best run in the cinematic style.  See the article The Crawl, Doing It the Cinematic Way  

Setting and Set up
The setting is some time and place that roughly corresponds to a Mid to Late Italian Renaissance. Your troupe finds itself appropriately attired and equipped as young adventurous gentles of stature (foppish looking lesser nobles and men of the household, with rapiers and such - you look like extras from a period Romeo and Juliet). Each PC will usually have a clue and some side goal of their own.

The opening scene is a party. There is some singing, dancing, and drinking. Some players take advantage of this. There is a bright full moon after Sophia’s 17th birthday. 

The Duke spends a few moments to talk with everyone in the party.  His daughter (Sophia), young and pretty, is either introduced to the troupe member or jumps into their conversation or is already known by the troupe member (one or two members are often in the role of her romantic interest).  The players might see the mustache twirling villain in the crowd.  He will give the young girl a beautiful red/ gold necklace, with an octagonal center piece and a large hematite stones.  There will be a rush of special effects as The Red Ghost comes forth. (The Red Ghost is much like an Asian Ghost, solid most of the time in the dark and only exhibiting ghostly abilities with effort.) The clues that the PCs will pick up on:

* The Red Ghost was what he was called in his real life, as he dealt with death cults and spirits. He was known to gather artifacts of power (the basis of the TV show… the heroes chase the Red Ghost before it can find the 13 Zodion Artifacts and open a gateway to the netherealms and destroy the world.

* The Red Ghost was a magiker of some repute that the Duke stopped decades ago. He has an ego the size of some middle sized European countries. (Now the Duke is old and is not strong enough to stop him….)

* He is now to take his revenge by stealing his daughter to become the reincarnation of his lost love - The Ebony Princess (who was a family member in the Dukes own house before executed by the Church).

* The Red Ghosts has some pretty spectacular looking powers, including flying, bolts that look like skulls that stop the guards cold, and skull like shields that rotate around him. The amount of holographic work here is impressive. The Ghost’s costuming looks like it was borrowed from a good, but scary movie production of Phantom of the Opera.

The Girl and The Red Ghost were floating above the crowd and seemed to be immune (plot defense) to anything you might do… except hurl insults. Eventually they disappear.

The PCs should apprehend the minion that gave her the necklace, they should find a key on his person and the direct clue about what to supposedly expect in the dark crypts where his lady lays.

(If the PCs miss this, they get a general lay of the adventure, a rough map, but no key (something they have to search for), by The Friar). 

So the PCs rush off to save the girl and win the favor of either her, her father, or get some magical swag from the Red Ghost, and/or to do something "good".

The Quest Proper
The Adventure actually resolves around three main scenes.  Other incidental scenes are included to pad the adventuring experience.

*

Entering the crypt (important padding)

This is a long spiral staircase with dusty crypts on either side.  Set the mood with creepy description of dust, bones, and an odor not to be mentioned. 

Occasionally bony hands will snag a member to spook them or cause them to drop their torches and such (which will go out, so it is a check of nerve).  Red glowing eyes in some of those tombs could be monsters or rats. (In the movie, rats ran up the stair to add gross factor to those going down it…)

1) The Canal of the Dead

This waterway is part sewer and part roadway across the undercity’s crypts, tombs, and such.  The troupe will be in one to two narrow boats poling their way along. It is creepier than one would expect. There will be gargoyles and grotesque humanoids as part of the crypt’s stone works. (The Grotesquerie is there to scare away bad spirits and tomb violators, if someone makes a check).

Occasionally there will be red eyes and such. Along the way there will be the "hall of horrors noises" - moaning dead, distant screams, chittering rats/ bats, and odd difficult to place noises… all hiding ultrasound being pumped into the canal to make people uneasy.

There will also be a "rough water" section in canal sequence when there will be "rapids" of sorts to test their balance and someone’s skill at moving the boat. The water is made to be quite smelly here, to punish those who get wet with a lingering stench.

At sometime during the canal sequence, an attack will occur. The attack is three prong:

* Bony Hands:  There will be bony hands reaching out from the water to grab the unwary or the pole. Easy checks to dislodge.

* Tortured Souls who Owe Debts - The Glowing Red Ghostly Forms, nicknamed Comets by the gamers.  They will fly around the boats trying to knock PCs into the water.  One of two the "Red Doublet" (Red Shirt) NPCs that came along will be knocked into the water and dragged into the green glowing depths by skeletal hands early one, (just to show how the monsters work). PCs will either dodge or parry the incoming attack.  Religious figures can perform a prayer shield protecting them and anyone praying with them.

* The Dark Wing: It is a humanoid bat demon (suspended on wires). The troupe must combat with melee or ranged weapons, while keeping an eye out for the red glowing ghosts.  This creature’s sweeping in might cause someone to loose their balance or knock them in, but really it is there to inflict damage. 

If you seriously damage it, it will fly away. It will reappear at the beginning of the tomb door scene. If you kill the creature it will float in the water near the boat and has a key to open the tomb of his Ebony Princess. If anyone grappled with the creature, they will have an opportunity to swipe the key.

2) The Hallways of Doom

There will be a small maze the troupe must pass through of crypts and final resting places.  There will be bones, dust, spiders, and rats here.  The walls are filled with engraved gargoyles and grotesque humanoids (see foreshadowed motif earlier). the "hall of horrors noises" - moaning dead, distant screams, chittering rats/ bats, and odd difficult to place noises… all hiding ultrasound being pumped into the canal to make people uneasy… begin again.

(Padding scene) An observant PC might notice a couple of "blank spots" in the highly decorated walls. Some of these spots are roughly humanoid.

The maze is fairly short and can be solved with some thought.  One to three times, depending on the troupe, there will be attacks from Wall Guardians.

Wall Guardians are "humanoids" who were grotesque parts of the wall decorations. Their suits appear to be stone. When standing up against the wall, especially in prepared areas, they will appear to be part of the macabre wall decorations.  It is only when they open their eyes and mouths and move free from the walls that the troupe will realize they are "monsters". 

Wall Guardians are strong mooks, but mooks never the less. They should be a true threat only to the unprepared, the novice, or the cocky.  The Wall Guardians will scream become one strike kill monsters, if dowsed with holy water. Prayer shields will not work if someone has either the Key or gone to the Crypt of the Southern Saint. Magikers might be able to turn one of the Guardians to fight for them.

2b) Side Quest: The Crypt of the Southern Saint
While in and around the maze, you can stop trying to get out and look for the symbols of the Church of St. Artise. This is the lead in to a side quest where your magickers or priests can pick up some useful crystals (spell power points)/ religious artifacts. Such characters will start the game with awareness of this quest. More Wall Guardians will jump the PCs as they did in two.  However, here they will "fall" from the roof, and be reinforced by some coming up the hallway.  They will attack as someone tries to solve the puzzle to enter.

There is a sliding tile puzzle in the shape of a cross (but insert holy symbol) here on the wall next to the door.  It will create a track that a small golden holy symbol will slide along once the puzzle is solved.  There are three potential solutions, each with a different end point. Each end point has a glyphic clue.  Finding the one that leads to the southern cross constellation opens the vault. The other two create a "cave in" and voids the side quest. If the Wall Guardians are defeated and the right solution made, the tomb will open and the holographic saint will award people with holy wisdom (a faster way to find the Ebony Princess… some ideas on how to unlock the tomb door faster… and a potential weakness of the Red Ghost (light - so light the braziers). There will also be minor magical or clerical items to reward the PC

Padding:

* Another boat scene… with nothing except two rapids. However, make the PCs spend time checking for monsters coming.

* A false floor with chess pieces on them.  The Knight is where the door leads you too, so you must move like a chess knight to get through the room.

* A jumping balance puzzle to move across a "chasm" by moving across standing broken columns and narrow ledges.

3) Tomb of the Ebony Princess

*Approach to the door:
This is another corridor filled with priestly statues, holy symbols, and things that could be a Wall Guardians. Yet they will not jump out. 

The hallway approaching the door is like a fork. So many people will watch along these corners. Once the door is being "worked on", the Wall Guardians will come to life.  They will not come out of the wall, but they will grab people and hold them… possibly choking them.

The door is gilded and engraved with holy angel symbols. These symbols are all in an attempt to "purify" the Ebony Princess’s soul and keep it from Hell. The door has a big black soot mark.  Above the doors, there is a "vent" a path into the ceiling.  The Dark Wing and a cloud of bats, or just the bats, will "attack" anyone messing with the door.

While there is a key hole, it will not work.  The key itself needs to be inset into the door, in the angelic scroll work, to open the door, rather than in the key hole. Putting it in the key hole will cause a dart trap to occur. 

If someone tries to climb through the "vent" to get into the tomb will reach the tomb eventually.  However, they will find a weak part of the stone of the vent… falling right in front of the Red Ghost.  So yes they will get in, but they will be in hot water immediately.

*Inside
The Tomb is actually round. There are many pious murals around it. It is dimly lit by the glow of the Red Ghost. There are five rings of flagstones that lead up to the central circle where Sophia is strapped to the sarcophagus.  The Red Ghost is hovering above her.

He starts to speak the words of power… a 25 line formula. As long as he says the lines in order, he can pause between the lines to share taunts. He will begin the ritual the moment the door is opened, or will be on line 7 if you sought the items in the Southern Saint’s crypt. (extra time taken might push you to a later line). The GM can bump this upward if the players made a lot of noise and spent way too much time trying to open the door.

Once the troupe pours into the room, the flag stone rings will begin to move… slowly spinning.  Magically, the room will seem to expand… thus there will be five spinning ring, with space between those flagstone, and a serious jump to get between the rings. 

Did we mention there was a turmoil of demonic looking clouds you will fall into… if you miss the roll to jump AND miss your rolls to hang on to the moving flagstones.

There are Red Comet Ghosts flying around the room. There are also some orbiting between the rings.  This creates a pattern that limits how one can advance to the center circle. This will take perception, gaming, and appropriate checks to find your way to the center.

Did I mention that the Red Ghost will try to blast anyone who seems intent on rescuing Sophia?  The Ghost will banter with people and shoot the person who annoys him most (thus your friends can possibly keep you alive (or make your approach easier) by distracting him.

When you reach the central post, you must battle The Red Ghost and free Sophia. He still has the energy blast and can strike with a powerful sword.  He is still easy to distract, so keeping up the banter will grant him negatives to hit in melee and he might actually blast someone else in the room. (He has quite the ego).  If feeling quite threatened, he will become non material. While he can not attack in this form, neither can strike him. He must be solid on the round he speaks the 25th line of the ritual.

*Resolution
The point of the quest is to get Sophia off the sarcophagus and away from the central circle before he can complete 25 lines of the ritual. He will go through one line each round (in addition to other attacks/ defenses), unless SOooooo distracted he does not do say the next line.

He will be temporarily weakened by the removal of Sophia, loosing 15% of apparent power per ring she is moved away.
This will lead to The Red Ghost to rant and complain, and shoot ranged attacks. If she gets to the door… the entire place begins to fall down… lots of styrofoam rocks.  Get out or get caught.  He will teleport out, thwarted for now.

Note:
Light will weaken the Red Ghost and the Red Comet Ghosts. The brighter the light, the greater his weakness.  If you can light all five braziers on the outside of the room… he will be quite feeble.  Flashes will disable him for a round or so. Torches are worth negative modifiers.

Holy water will weaken any of the above, if you can hit them.

Getting out
It is much easier to get out of here as the Wall Guardians are not going to attack you.  So just a few jumping and balancing hazards and you are home.

There will be a party and rewards to be had.  Then the Red Ghost will crash the party - just to rant. The Red Ghost will go striving after the Zodicon items and you will be hot on his trail, if you want to follow the footsteps of the TV show… 

The Duke will give you the Lamp of Finding, allowing you know the way to the Zodicons. You then get to travel through the world, finding these things, dogging the footsteps of the Red Ghost.



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Comments ( 9 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted CaptainPenguin
July 31, 2006, 1:56
0xp
Good job
Voted Scrasamax
July 31, 2006, 9:00
0xp
This is interesting, sort of a faux-dungeon if I am not mistaken. There are a few spelling errors, words starting with ddouble letters and such. I like the idea, and could see a group of PCs and magic users being hired to create a stage dungeon for a wealthy noble.

"No no, Ogres don't go RAWR!, Ogres just growl"
Monster Choreographer quote
MoonHunter
August 1, 2006, 1:18
0xp
The spell check is not perfect. I should of gone through it manually.

The Game within the Game aspect of Dream Park is one of its strong points, but for many its weakest. So yes, it is a faux dungeon adventure... a "ride" at an adventure park.. so to speak.

X-Crawl is the Fantasy version. It is the "build a dungeon" and run a team of professionals through it for fantasy. It is a good idea, but badly executed there.
Voted Murometz
July 31, 2006, 9:08
Only voted
chilled
August 9, 2006, 9:37
0xp
really good idea.
MoonHunter
May 29, 2007, 11:58
0xp
Updated for spelling and a few other things.

I might run this scenario at StrolenCon.
Murometz
May 29, 2007, 20:13
0xp
whee! our first official Con game! Now i'll have to read it again.
MoonHunter
January 4, 2008, 0:43
0xp
Note to self: Write up the Red Ghost.
MoonHunter
April 24, 2008, 12:13
0xp
Updated a gramar error.

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