Improbability Squad

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An episodic campaign set in the latter half of the 1800s on Gurth. Initial GM: John


Our opening scene is of crowded filth in the streets of Philadelphia in the latter half of the 19th century. The city is booming, thanks to decades of growth and innovation in paper, steel, leather, and fine goods. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants have arrived, and bitter ethnic rivalries often turn violent. It is a dangerous city, teeming with gangs and disease.

The camera pans out, rising to thousands of feet above the hazy mayhem, and an orderliness emerges, a pattern of thoughtfully laid-out grids of thoroughfares, major and minor, embracing the shore of the mighty Delaware River.

And to the west, where industrial development, foundries, mills, and tanneries, belch smoke and employ thousands.

Further west still, and country estates dot the green hills. Some are simple farm houses with crops and animals and barns, but others are grand marble-columned affairs, stately mansions with outbuildings and guest houses, financed by old European money, or the riches of the new captains of industry.

It is one such magnificent chateau upon which the camera descends, to reveal the matron of the house through the window of a stone tower atop the structure. The tower is striking, medieval in its blocky grandeur, flat-topped with battlements. A glimpse at her surroundings reveals high bookshelves packed with old leather-bound books before the camera descends to a magnificent courtyard of crisply-trimmed hedges, classic marble statues, and a pentagonal reflecting pool.

This is the home of Andrew Madison Spencer, the Secretary of War of the United States, and his wife of nearly thirty years, Lady Abigail Vanderbilt Spencer. Spurring tradition, she prefers to be referred to by her old world title, Lady Vanderbilt.

With her husband generally residing in Washington, Lady Vanderbilt spends her time commissioning the collection of rare objects and knowledge.


Lady Vanderbilt is the party's Patron.

Her interest is more expansive, and specific, than merely 'rare' objects and knowledge. Priceless antiquities are in the hands of grubby shamans. Ancient evils brood and ripen in hidden caves and castles -- and sometimes, in broad daylight. Powerful artifacts lay dormant, fools' plunder. Mysteries abound, overlooked by "reasonable people".

She is obsessed with the supernatural, and has spent decades recruiting a handful of those exceedingly rare individuals who are built of something special, something beyond humanity. This small company of investigators, hunters, thinkers, thieves, scouts, and enforcers, each one a rare specimen themselves, are her eyes and ears and hands out in the world, a world in which all is not right.

Recent actions of this so-called Improbability Squad include:

  • The seizing of a centuries-old Comanche 'death totem' from a scurrilous French fur trader in the wilds of Wisconsin.
  • The expulsion of an angry spirit from a mansion in New Orleans.
  • The chasing-off of a 'beast-man' in rural Virginia. The party sought to capture the enormous creature, but it got away.

Character Creation

Character creation begins with submitting your general concept and background to the GM to be sure the character fits. Example:

Jimbo Dawkins trapped beavers in the wilds of southern Ohio for most of his adult life, 
but it was when the circus came to Columbus that his notoriety commenced. The 'human flea'
could jump over a standing man, to the great astonishment of the crowd. But Jimbo was 
puzzled -- that was a trivial jump for him, and he often leaped across sizable rivers
while maintaining his trap lines. Giddy in the presence of the crowd, he demonstrated.

Ladies fainted and men shouted, and the circus strong man would have beaten Jimbo senseless if
he hadn't jumped over the bleachers to safety. He headed east, the stories followed him, and
Lady Vanderbilt recruited him.

Jimbo is an illiterate woodsman, a big softy who doesn't want to hurt anyone, and enjoys working for
Lady Vanderbilt because she reminds him of his mother.
A reliable Contact is Mildred Evans, a spinster who has a room overlooking the town square of 
Columbus and knows what's going on.
His Enemy is Barnaby Ringling, whose circus event he ruined.
advantage="Super Jump"


You may be from any believable background for the setting.

The culture is highly stratified, so spend points accordingly. e.g., without spending points on appropriate social advantages and/or skills, you will be ignored and discredited by upper classes generally, and even your Patron will treat you with a level of condescension.

You have up to 25 points to spend on GM-approved Supernatural (lightning bolt) / Exotic (alien head) advantages. This needs to be a part of your background story. Lady Vanderbilt sought you out (through emissaries) and recruited you to join the squad. You may have joined to avoid something else, or for the money she offered you, or the glory, or because your 'uniqueness' made you an outcast. It's up to you, but it needs to be described.

That story will help establish your Sense of Duty, Code of Honor, and/or Vow that ties you to the squad.

You may be any human age and may have worked for Lady Vanderbilt for up to twenty years if desired.

Define (a sentence or two minimum) at least one Contact and at least one Enemy.

Your purchased Wealth level determines your starting budget for personal possessions. Normal wealth starts with $1000.


This is TL 5.

Generally, Lady Vanderbilt will be able to provide many common items, food, liquor and transportation if requested in advance of a mission.

But you'll need to buy the clothing you're wearing and any weapons, ammunition, repair kits, books, specialized tools, flasks, canes, tobacco, pocketknives, etc.

Some NPCs will judge you based on the quality and style of your clothing.

Guns: Guns in this campaign will malfunction frequently (any roll of 15+ regardless of skill), require expert care, and should be generally concealed in public. Brandishing a firearm on the streets of Philadelphia will lead people to assume you are a violent gangster or bank robber, which in turn will attract thuggish police. Public standards in the rural areas are more accepting.


We'll start out with 120 point characters.

Patron (Lady Vanderbilt) is free and doesn't need to be listed on your sheet.

Up to 50 points in disadvantages, and up to 5 quirks and perks.

Up to 25 points in GM-approved Supernatural & Exotic traits. No 26+ point Advantages will be approved. If desired, you can choose one Exotic/Supernatural Disadvantage as part of your general Disadvantage pool.

Literacy and languages cost points and might matter.

Magery 1 is allowed, but there are no teachers, mentors, or spell books, as far as you are aware. So you'd start with no spells at all.


What Happened

An Outing with a Navigator

Helen Atherton, Arizona Smith, and Wyeth Wilson receive handwritten invitations to a garden party at the estate of Lady Vanderbilt, as they have many times before. They catch individual carriage-taxis through the streets of Philadelphia andinto the countryside, arriving within a few minutes of one another, and catching up by the reflecting pool.

The Lady's decrepit butler brings some snacks, and Professor Smith regales the group (again) about the various gods and mythical heroes depicted in the statuary nearby.

Eventually, Lady Vanderbilt emerges from the estate and glides down to greet the group, flanked by her manservant Little Wing, and a new recruit, Walter Blackstone. Polite introductions ensue, and then Lady Vanderbilt explains the pending mission.

In the lore of ancient Caribbean savages, a special sarcophagus was used to trap a malevolent spitit, a demon perhaps, in the form of a two-headed baby. The sarcophagus appears in a few other documents through the ages, including a Spanish explorer's memoir of the 1740s, and an 1828 ship's manifest. Cross referencing a newspaper article from later that year, she infers that the sarcophagus was seized by pirates of the Nemesis, whose chief navigator, Thaddeus Cooke, she believes is a resident of Broadmoor Hospital in nearby Greenbriar, in a rural area just a two hour ride to the south.

The Lady explains that the sarcophagus must remain sealed, for, if the legend is true, it houses a creature of great evil, and she wants to keep that beast imprisoned, to be sure.

At her prompting, Wing produces a document crafted to extract Mr. Cooke from the hospital, and soon the team is off to visit the ancient navigator, Wing at the reins.

After the bumpy ride south, the night is spent in Greenbriar, where Walt puts on a show of his talents with electricity, Arizona interviews a worker from the hospital, Wyeth stalks around after dark, and Helen buys a few cans of beets. All enjoy the goat jerky from the general store. The night passes without incident.

The next morning, the short trip to the hospital reveals the signage nearby, "'Asylum for the Criminally Insane'", as well as a collection of defectives picking squash, watched over by a handful of guards, one of whom playfully poijnts his rifle at the party's approaching carriage before being scolded by a colleague with a bull whip.

Helen presents the document to the rat-faced hospital administrator, who finds everything to be in order and mentions that Mr. Cooke has been in "the hole" for 20-some years and was once known as the "Mustache Killer" before being locked up.

Soon, two guards arrive with an emaciated, filthy, 100-year-old man in shackles. Helen and Arizona appeal for the old man's unchaining, and the guards comply.

Thaddeus Cooke squints at Walt for a moment, and then quickly grabs a guard's enormous pistol from its holster and blasts two lead balls past Walt's ear, dusting his face with hot black powder and leaving him stammering for several seconds. The surprised guards tackle Thaddeus to the ground and restrain him inexpertly. Arizona surreptiously stashes the gun in a coat pocket for safety.

Once everyone recovers from the melee, the party is on its way, having extracted from Thaddeus that he intended to shoot Raymond, who shot him in the neck aboard the Nemesis. A quick stop along the way at a charitable farmer's house outfits Thaddeus in clean clothes.

Thaddeus, in between catatonic and hebephrenic episodes, further reveals that yes, the sarchoagus was aboard the Nemesis, and a source of great conflict, even mutiny. And he knows where he last saw the ship -- beached in a lagoon of Captain Jack's Secret Isle, somewhere north of Bermuda.

The party resolves to make the trip to this island, with Thaddeus as Navigator. They return to Lady Vanderbilt's estate and get a document from her ensuring payment to Captain Crikey for expenses endured on the journey. Walt sends his valet out with an enormous shopping list (including mules), and by the end of the day, everyone and everything is aboard with Captain Crikey and his Icelandic crew.

Two days of smooth sailing and Thaddeus navigation bring the clipper ship to the lagoon on the south side of the Isle, where the keeling mast of the swamped Nemesis is spotted.

The party loads into the ship's lifeboat and rows over to investigate, accompanied by an Icelandic diver and breathing apparatus. An approaching storm threatens, the diver feels around in the dark below deck, and suddenly, in a fit of inspiration, Arizona strips to his 19th-century undergarments, takes five deep breaths, and dives into the water behind the diver. He returns briefly and asks Walt for his "magic light bulb", and then dives below again, quickly overtaking the diver and entering the hold, where a reservoir of air is trapped.

Upon spotting ancient mariners' remains, the diver retreats in a panic, but Arizona investigates, and immediately spots the sarcophagus -- with its lid cast aside on the floor. Taking pains not to peer within the magix box, Arizona replaces the lid and collects some loot scattered around the old skeletons. He then wraps many coils of rope arount the stone box, and sends it above.

With the box retrieved, the party steps away from Thaddeus and discusses next steps.

Walt points out that promises were made to Thaddeus that he'd have a chance to get his revenge by tracking down Raymond, if he yet survived. The party agrees halfheartedly, and Arizona delivers the news. Soon, a rowboat is deployed to accompany Thaddeus to the island.

Soon after sliding it up onto the beach, however, arrows rain in on the party from the treeline. They're short and primitive, but hit their mark occasionally, and Helen and Walt reel from their injuries. Arizona hurls himself back into the boat just in time.

The arrow intended for Wyeth misses, but enrages him, and he leaps out of the boat and sprints into the bushes, knife flashing, while Walt summons a lightning ball that zaps one of the assailants painfully.

Arizona rights himself and experiences a series of frustrating weapon malfunctions. Helen takes a shot but misses.

Wyeth arrives in the undergrowth and spots his attacker -- a naked teenage girl with boggle eyes, a slooping forehead, terrible teeth, and long blond ratty hair. He pauses for a microsecond, and then thrusts his knife into her heart. She dies instantly, dropping off his blade like a wet noodle.

The other assailants flee into the jungle, and Wyeth, bloodied, jogs back to the boat, his rage sated, and pushes the craft back into the water, leaving Thaddeus behind, despite Helen's charitable pleas.

Then the poison sets in, and Helen and Walt suffer. Wyeth attempts to suck poison from their wounds. They both survive.

Two days later, the team arrives back in Philadelphia and transports the sarcophagus back to Lady Vanderbilt's estate hastily, after some suspicions that Scavengers may be observing.

Dismayed that it was discovered with the lid removed, Lady Vanderbilt conducts a careful inspection, and then suggests the team go back to the island, with the sarcophagus, and capture the demonchild it was designed to entomb.

Return to Secret Isle

Recovered from a touch of the cholera, Marcus Wells joins the crew at the Vanderbilt estate, and quickly settles in build a device he believes will help with the mission -- a spirit capturer. After some hours exploiting his genius, he tests the gourd-sized device and beleves it to be functional.

Supplies are ordered, anthropological research conducted, and early thr next morning, the group meets at the pier where Captain Crikey's swift clipper is moored.

While loading tents and mules and so forth, someone spots a group of five Italian thugs marching with evident purpose towards Arizona.

Walt and Wyeth approach, with Arizona close behind, hand on his concealed pistol.

Clear-eyed and stony-faced, Wyeth inquires as to the Italians' intentions. They're clear and direct: they intend to leave with the sarcophagus.

And when they hint at their capacity for violence, Arizona acts: he points his ready weapon at the apparent leader and fires, to the astonishment of everyone.

Unfortunately, the projectile sails past the goon's neck and punctures the torso of a passing lady, who drops to the cobblestones with a scream. Mass panic ensues.

The goons, stunned at the blast of gunpowder smoke and deafening crack, stagger back, and Arizona shoots again, this time hitting his mark with deadly precision. Three of the goons turn to run, but one seems to be going for his weapon, and so Wyeth lunges in with his knife, splitting the man's heart and dropping him instantly.

Meanwhile, Helen, spotting the injured bystander, rushes through the melee to save her. The crowd continues to widen its perimeter, but many have turned to observe the combatants.

Debating next steps, Walt realizes that while not having taken part in the deadly exchange, he's been recognized. Taking the moral high ground, he announces to the crowd that he would like to speak to the police, who arrive presently.

Between the facts, and his charm and reputation, Walt convinces the lackluster law enforcement officers that the dead goons were killed in legitimate self defense.

As the streets return to normal, Elise Cromwell is spotted, on horseback, riding away.

Shortly thereafter, the box is loaded and team is underway aboard Crikey's clipper. Arizona regales the group with tales of the Elise's Scavengers.

Two mornings later, the plan is to row ashore from the north side of the island and bushwhack inland with the sarchophagus strapped to the mule. The brush is thick and progress is slow. Near sunset, they reach a path running perpendicular to their current travels, lined with human limb bones hanging from the trees. Wyeth, wielding the machete on point, deftly avoids creating a cascade of bone-clattering when his blade hits a dangling femur.

Moments later, a group of blonde-headed inbred adolescents is spotted trundling down the path carrying enormous spider-crabs. The party takes up pseudo-tactical positions, with Helen attempting to calm the mule.

Walt, bedecked in his tophat, steps on a twig as they pass, and one turns in astonishment. In response, Walt electrocutes the youngster, who drops to the duff-covered path. As the other teens seem to debate what to do, two pan-faced tykes begin running back the way they came. Marcus takes aim, but the team waves him off, and the kids are allowed to escape. The other teens, however, are also felled by Walt's buzzing electro-field.

The party debates whether to follow the kids back, or followthe bone path to where they were headed. A brief recon discovers that just a little further down the path, it emerges in a risen clearing littered the crab shells. They move forward and camp nearby as the sun sets.

Marcus, stricken with understandable insomnia, keeps watch all night, and is the first to spot a group of larger inbred teens hustling down the path before dawn. The teens ascend the rise and disappear, but then return minutes later, with one less in their group.

The party cautiously allows them pass before approaching the rise themselves. Wyeth climbs a tree and discerns that there's a steep-sided cave atop the rise, and also gets perspective on the entire island, including what might be a cooking fire a half-mile away towards the lagoon.

The group steps through the cracking litter of crab shells and approaches the lip of the crevasse, presuming the alleged 'two headed baby' is within. Marcus, in a fit of inspiration, hauls out his ghost-trapper device and concentrates to activate it. A few seconds pass, a clatter is heard from within the lava tube, and the horrid creature leaps out like an oversized cricket.

From GM Notes:

Perhaps a skinny 8-yr-old boy, but backwards knees, scarlet skin,   
one arm bigger and longer than the other and tipped in a single 
yellow claw. Oversized bald head, yellow eyes and fangs, PLUS, 
a grapefruit-sized partial second head in its neck/shoulder region. 
A tuft of hair, eyes sealed closed by thin veined skin, seeping 
nostrils above a smashed up mess of randomly-placed teeth, tiny 
flicking forked tongue.

Combat ensues, but more than anything, insanity, as varous party members are stricken with disadvantages and afflictions: Paranoia, Bully, Bad Temper, Intolerance (all), Terrible Pain, Agony, Drunk, Truthfulness, and Megalomania.

After axe, bullet, and electrical fire wounds seem to only briefly injure the leaping monstrosity, Wyeth tackles it to the ground and hurls it into the box, whereupon Arizona slams the lid shut and lies atop the box anxiously as the party gradually recovers from their afflictions.

Eventually, Wyeth jogs down the path to find the missing mule, Marcus trailing behind, while Walt guards the box and Arizona and Helen spelunk the cave.

Wyeth spots the mule, keeling drunkenly with short arrows in its haunch, and beyond, a group of thirty or more blonde-headed primitives. They emit a haunting war cry and charge towards him.

Wyeth reverses direction, hauls Marcus back to the box, and defenses are prepared. Marcus quickly fashions an incendiary device and buries it in the path as the tribe approaches, Wyeth melts into the jungle to prepare a flanking attack, and Walt provides the detonation device in the form of ball lightning.

The hooting inbreds charge towards the group but are effectively dispersed by the explosion and Marcus' rifle shots, the first of which blows through three of them.

Two globe-skulled teens rush into the underbrush to encounter Wyeth's hulking form, and a growl and an uppercut sends them running as well.

Finally, quiet reigns, Arizona and Helen emerge from the pit with some treasures, and the group lugs the sarcophagus back to the north shore, where Crikey's men provide pickup. The 36 hour trek back to the mainland is uneventful.

To protect against any further trouble from the Scavengers, a decoy crate scheme is envisioned and successfully executed, and the party reconvenes at the Vanderbilt estate. Congratulations are offered, and the Lady shares her concerns that the demonspawn might hav ebeen deployed as a weapon of mass destruction.

With Little Wing nearby, she then takes the party and the sarcophagus to her subterranean warehouse she calls The Catacombs. A long descent by mechanical elevator is followed by the amazing sight of an enormous, high-ceiling chamber lit from above by strange blue orbs, and filled rows of tall and sturdy shelving, mostly filled with dusty crates similar to the one that houses the sacophagus.

Arizona blinks thrice at the assembled magicks that he alone can see.

Later, by the reflecting pool, Marcus produces some delightful ruby port, toasts are raised, treasures divvied, and next steps discussed. Lady Vanderbilt indicates that another mission is brewing, but advises the party get some needed rest -- and please, bathe yourselvs and launder your effects.

Addendum: After-Action Actions

  • Wyeth and Arizona go running and hiking and swimming to improve their physical fitness.
  • Walt checks in at a social club to take swimming lessons from professional teachers.
  • Arizona teaches Walt some basic pistol-handling etiquette.
  • Walt shops for a firearm appropriate to his social standing.
  • Helen volunteers as a nurse in an overcrowded orphanage.
  • Wyeth asks his dad to put the word out about a discreet apartment somewhere in the city.
  • Marcus gets together with Arizona and a dusty old book to learn about the occult.
  • Marcus also works on his next invention.

The Curious Case of the Titanium Eggs

On a chilly November afternoon, Lady Vanderbilt again summons the Improbability Squad to a garden party. This time, there's no string quartet, but there's a heated tent, within which a wooden crate sits upon a long marble table. The team catches up, Marcus shows off his latest engineering marvels, and eventually Lady Vanderbilt and Little Wing arrive to explain the mission. After some social niceties, Wing gingerly removes a shiny steel goose egg from the crate, and, in the blink of an eye, slashes it in half with his katana on table.

Out pours a wriggling six-legged reptile (split in two) and a half-pint of corrosive acid, which simmers and sears and etches an interesting design in the marble.

Lady Vanderbilt explains that she recently purchased the crate from an on-again off-again hunter of curiosities, Ronald Rembrandt, who is still staying at a hotel in the Asian district of Philadelphia. Marcus sketches a secure incubator design, and then the group heads into town to speak with Rembrandt.

They find him in the secret parlor of the hotel, an opium den. After purchasing the required dosages, they enter the sweet-smelling hive of slothful pleasure, and after some awkwardness manage to trade their doses for Rembrandt's help -- he acquired the eggs from Big Duke, a dealer in curiosities down in Raleigh, North Carolina.

During the thirty hour train ride, Helen Atherton tends to some sickly passengers, Walter Blackstone resides in the dining car, Marcus Wells sits in his bunk inventing, Wyeth Wilson communes with nature outside the caboose, and Arizona Smith engages the engineer, eventually trading a flask of century-old overproof rum for the engineer's lucky cap.

Upon arrival in Raleigh, the first thing Helen spots is a gentleman beating down a black laborer (as the crowd politely ignores the unpleasentness). She sprints to intervene, and almost receives the next swing of the cane. Arizona and Walt catch up and smooth things over before any further escalation.

The team checks in at a hotel. Next, while Arizona (tracked by Wyeth) sniffs around Big Duke's nearby curiosity shop, and Marcus rummages through a junk pile in the alley, Walt and Helen have a delightful conversation in the bar.

The conversation is interrupted by one Michael McGrath, a younger brother of Amos McGrath, Helen's estranged husband. Walt intervenes in the confrontation, only to receive a blow to the jaw before subjecting Michael to a withering jolt of electrical energy. He collapses, unconscious, and the other patrons express their alarm; a doctor rushes forward to diagnose the issue.

The rest of the party wanders into the chaotic scene, and all concur it is time to scatter, though Wyeth hangs arounnd to observe.

A different hotel is identified, bags transferred (by Wyeth, out the fire escape, amid cries of "stop, thief!"), and a restful night finally accomplished.

The next morning, the party visits Big Duke's emporium of astonishment (with Walt and Helen in disguise), purchases various items of particular interest to the Professor, and learns that the eggs were supplied by one Slick Willy, a hunting guide who lives by the lake west of town.

The team rents horses and heads west. Along the trail, Arizona keels over after opening an ivory scroll tube, landing on his elbow and proceeding to snore. Helen easily wakes him up and repairs his elbow, but another mishap occurs when Marcus blasts his rifle at a bird, scattering the horses and some riders.

Another mile up the road, Wyeth announces that there wolves ahead, his beard bristles enormously, and he walks ahead to commune with them briefly before giving the 'all clear'. The party proceeds to the cabin on the lake in the twilight of the day.

Slick Willy proves to be an able host, and trades tales with Arizona for hours.

The next morning, the party heads up into the mountains, towards the 'egg hole' Willy describes. On the evening of the second day, tired and wet, camp is made at the dry foot of a rocky overhang, and Wyeth, Arizona, and Walt walk out into the trees to do some foraging while Willy builds a fire.

And then, the beasts attack. Eighty-pound, six-legged reptiles, with eight black spider eyes, and circular fanged maws dripping acid saliva. With difficulty, all are slain but one, which Arizona wraps up in a tarp and Walt and Marcus subdue. Unfortunately, Helen is badly injured and Willy perishes in the melee.

Nervous, shallow sleep rounds out the remainder of the night, which is quiet.

The next morning, Wyeth tracks the creatures up to the ridgeline, where a magnificent view awaits. In the valley beyond, a half-mile swath of trees has been flattened, and a network of many rough trails is plainly evident. At one end of the tree-felling is a darkened mound and gaping hole, around which glints of metal shine.

Walt holds onto the horses while the stealthier members of the party approach with trepidation. They encounter a strange black exosleketal suit, and pick up what looks to be a chrome-dipped triggerless rifle of exotic design. As Wyeth approaches the darkened cave, he can see blue and yellow blinking lights deep within, and hear scrabbling and scraping at the metal floor.

Meanwhile, Walt spots the wolf pack again, and the horses panic, pulling away from him and scattering into the woods. The wolves are fighting something, and Walt can hear their yelps and growls. And then he spots dozens - dozens - of the reptile creatures, all apparently headed towards the cave. He yells, and then fires a shot into the air, which the party takes as a warning, and rushes back.

The lizard-badger-beasts rush into the gaping maw of the crashed zeppelin as the sun goes down, and the party retreats to camp with a single horse to consider their next moves.


Before nightfall, the party finds one runaway horse and located a cluster of flat-topped boulders to camp atop. The night passes without any trouble, except thatWyeth comes down with debilitating gastointestinal issues.

Mid-morning, with Walt's breakfast and discussions of next steps underway, the camp receives a visitor.

A ten-foot tall blue humanoid with porpoise skin and an eyeless face arrives, dressed only in a structurally-supportive and field-generating exoskelton and carrying a chromed laster carbine.

A metallic dragonfly speaks in broken English, and the party comes to understand that the creature requires assistance moving something. And, after observing that the creature eats the reptile-badger-beasts, concludes that the beasts were food, and have now escaped the feedlot.

Near the crash site, an enormous hunk of machinery is mostly buried in the mud, and with horses and difficulty, the party sets to extracting it.

Shots ring out from the ridge above, the blue alien recedes into the forest, and a small gray wolf races across the flattened trees into Wyeth's arms.

Eventually, the apparent shooters stride out of the treeline. It's three McGrath brothers, along with a mountain man and a dandy. They stop some 100 yards away, and Amos begins reciting Bible verses concerning the natural subjugation of women. Arizona parlays diplomatically, claiming that Helen is not anywhere nearby, and that his large group of riflemen hiding in the woods have his back.

The two younger brothers dismount and flank out to the sides, scanning for these supposed riflemen.

Sensing imminent hostilities and nervous about Amos' flailing Bible, Marcus takes his shot, narrowly missing Amos. Brothers Michael and Edward take cover in the fallen logs, but Amos continues to demand Helen's surrender. The dandy turns tail and heads back up the ridge, and the mountain man wisely keeps his hands up.

Arizona continues his attempts to defuse the situation, but Marcus shoots again, hitting Amos in the chest and pitching him off his horse right in front of the mounted mountain man.

Michael spots Marcus in cover, and the two trade shots for several seconds while young Eddie runs to Amos' side.

Eddie ascertains that Amos' wound is likely deadly, and becomes enraged, yelling and leaping from log to log and waving and firing a 14" handgun at Arizona, who drops prone and readies a weapon.

Marcus turns his aim to the berserking Eddie. Helen, back in the trees, aims a spare rifle at him too. At the same moment they fire, Arizona pops up and shoots at him too, and between the three bullets, Eddie is silenced immediately.

Arizona reengages his diplomatic skills and approaches Michael, who is still trying to get a shot at Marcus.

Nobody came out into these woods to get shot, and so the shooting ends. Michael loads up his brothers' bodies with only a hint of sentimentality, asks for and receives Arizona's name, and then rides on back to Raleigh to share the bad news with relatives.

The earthly threat abated, the party turns to the alien project, and eventually engineers a large-object rolling system the ancient Egyptians would have been proud of.

Once the machine is within the alien vessel, the blue-skinned visitor hooks up countless intestine-like cables to it, Walt powers it up with his innate electrician's talent, and lightning strikes.

The party awakens one by one, as Helen patches people up in the ozone-stenched black crater that remains. No trace of alien technology or biology was left behind.

The next several days are spent navigating overland to the railroad tracks, and then to the next town north, to avoid any further McGrath trouble in Raleigh. From town, just before departing, Arizona sends two telegraphs -- to the authorities in Raleigh concerning Slick Willy's demise, and to the horse rental firm about where to find their horses. The small grey wolf, orphaned, accompanies Wyeth.

The party makes it back to Philadelphia without any further adventure.

Addendum: Deep Impact

The party lays low on Lady Vanderbilt's advice. As a result of this mission, and in the weeks to follow, things happen:


  1. Earns 3 points for roleplaying, plus 1 bonus to put into ST, HT, Hiking, or Fit (for the long overland hike), plus one bonus to be put towards Higher TL for interacting with the alien's fusion generator and laser carbine.
  2. INVENTS A FLASHLIGHT! Weighs 2 lbs, 2 hour battery, 10 yard beam.
  3. Learns Latin (Broken) from Arizona.
  4. Works in his lab to improve a regular TL5 handgun to Quality: Fine (Accurate), and due to the length of time and he worked on it and the custom components installed, develops a Weapon Bond perk as well.
  5. Earns a -10 point Enemy in Michael McGrath.
  6. Acquires a -20 point Secret for being the man who fired the bullets that killed Amos McGrath and Eddie McGrath.


  1. Recovers from whatever gastrointestinal bug struck him in North Carolina
  2. Learns Latin (Broken) from Arizona
  3. Now has a 0-point Ally/Dependent in the small female omega wolf. She's dog-like enough to get by in the city. (She's available on a roll of 9 or less at start of each mission.)
  4. Acquires a -10 point Secret for being a witness to the death of Amos McGrath.


  1. Earns 3 points for roleplaying, plus 1 bonus to put into ST, HT, Hiking, or Fit (for the long overland hike), plus one bonus to be put towards Higher TL for interacting with the alien's fusion generator.
  2. Accepts Tesla's invitation to New York to trade stories, notes, experiments. The result of this period is a gadget or capability or skill to be discussed and approved by the GM.
  3. With Reginald's help, acquires a complete wardrobe of appropriate attire for all occasions.
  4. Acquires a -10 point Secret for being a witness to the death of Amos McGrath.


  1. Earns 3 points for roleplaying, plus 1 bonus to put into ST, HT, Hiking, or Fit (for the long overland hike).
  2. For getting through the old book, may put one existing character point into Exorcism if desired. (Note the Modifiers on B193.)
  3. Loses Amos McGrath as an enemy.
  4. Learns Latin (Broken) from Arizona.
  5. Acquires a -10 point Secret for firing a bullet that killed Eddie McGrath.


  1. Earns 3 points for roleplaying, plus 1 bonus to put into ST, HT, Hiking, or Fit (for the long overland hike), plus one more bonus to be put into the social influence skill of your choice for roleplaying vigorously.
  2. Earns a -10 point Enemy in Michael McGrath.
  3. Earns a -10 point Enemy in Raleigh County Sheriff's Department.
  4. Earns a -30 point Enemy in Pinkerton National Detective Agency.
  5. Earns a -2 point Reputation (-4 reaction among Southern land owners, occasionally recognized (7 or less))
  6. Earns a +1 point Reputation (+3 reaction among Southern underclass, occasionally recognized (7 or less))

Court Drama Montage

The powerful McGrath family, Confederate icons and wealthy land owners, was decapitated in the gun battle, to the alarm and chagrin of Southern elite. The facts of the conflict distorted utterly by Michael McGrath and corroborated by the (bribed) dandy reporter who witnessed events from afar. Pinkertons are employed to hunt down the shooters. Word gets to Lady Vanderbilt, who, after consulting with her husband, directs Arizona and Marcus to tell their story in the Philadelphia offices of the United States Marshals Service. She employs her influence in other subtle ways and a northern venue is established, presided over by a Union veteran judge. In court, the Raleigh reporter is exposed as a liar, and the criminal case is swiftly and summarily dismissed. Exonerated as having simply defended themselves, Marcus and Arizona are able to return to service quickly, though the McGrath family will hold a grudge forever.

The Heart of the Lion


On an improbably warm February afternoon, the team is yet again summoned to the grounds of the Vanderbilt estate, where a fancy event is being prepared for 50 or so important guests. Pressed for time, and worried about the mission, Lady Vanderbilt shares news that Prince Abdul of Persiastan has recently begun his tour of post-war America. This is relevant because he carries the Persian Lionheart, a magic ruby previously thought only to be mythical.

Lady Vanderbilt explains that she'd dispatched a talented thief, one Sam McCallister to relieve the obnoxious prince of the artifact, but that Mr. McCallister had gone missing after reporting his success. The team is to depart for Pittsburgh at once, with newly introduced team member Dale Owens, whose friends call him "Rusty".

A six-hour train ride commences, during which Wyeth Wilson watches the trees go by, Dale Owens makes a citizen's arrest of a pickpocket, Marcus Wells smokes cigars with other high-status white males, Walter Blackstone eats countless sandwiches, and Helen Atherton and Arizona Smith attempt to lay low with reading materials.

Upon arrival at the station after dark, the pickpocket is turned over to a passing policeman, and the rest of the party gasps when Rusty claims to be a Pinkerton agent. With prisoner transfer complete, Arizona confronts him, and Rusty shares his full story. Concerns thusly assuaged, the party boards a taxi carriage and makes way for the Windsor Hotel, Sam McCallister's last known location.

Marie McCallister, Sam's twin sister

However, as bags are being unpacked, the professor professes his strong belief that the party should instead camp out at the Hotel Schwartz, directly across the street from the Windsor. Knowing that sometimes he has 'a feeling', the groups follows him into the lower-rent establishment.

After checking in, Arizona creates a reason to knock on the door across the hall, and it is opened by none other than Marie McCallister, Sam's sister, and Arizona correctly intuits that she possesses their quarry, the Persian Lionheart. Small words are exchanged and all agree to meet for breakfast in the morning.

Later expeditions to the Windsor across the street yield Sam's possessions in crate (thanks to Rusty's fake police badge), and a story of Sam's violent abduction (thanks to Marcus' chat with a hotel ghost) by "four black devils", and one "gray devil".

The team munches scones and sips tea with Marie much of the morning, and finally hatches a plan.

Sam McCallister, Marie's weatherbeaten brother

An abandoned warehouse is located and rigged with various explosives and traps. Walt and Rusty head for the Hotel Carlisle, where Prince Abdul and his entourage are staying. While Rusty surreptisiously observes, Walt parlays with the Prince's representatives, claiming that he has knowledge of the location of the fabulous gemstone, and that it could be returned in exchange for Sam McCallister, alive. The Prince's henchmen agree, grab Walt by the arm, and lead him to a taxi carriage.

Alarmed, Rusty debates his options and decides to head back to the booby-trapped warehouse to rejoin the team.

Walt and his captors direct the taxi to an industrial district not far from the warehouse, where a bloodied but not beaten Sam is produced, along with his captors, a pallid Syrian with curved knives on his belt, and four large coal-black colleagues on Arabian stallions.

Walt directs the group to the warehouse. Words are exchanged in Arabic, and the five on horseback gallop in the direction Walt indicated. As they recede to a point and round a corner, Walt activates his fatigue-sapping electrical field, and his captors wither quickly.

Walt then shouts at the driver to follow the stallions at maximum velocity, and, as the carriage rumbles across the cobblestones, Walt, with great effort, rolls his unconscious captors out of the carriage to bounce along the stones.

A minute later, the party's spotters in the warehouse sight the galloping stallions, and the original plan is amended. New directive: KILL EM ALL!

Rifles erupt, and the Nubian giants are felled or escape with terrible injuries.

But the gray-skinned Syrian with the two curved knives dismounts and leaps like a cricket through the warehouse doors, moving lie no human the party has ever seen. An alert Wyeth, perched in the rafter above the door, hurls himself headlong at the apparition passing below, and manages to slice open the enemy's back as he drops.

Inperturbable, the Syrian spins on a heel and slashes Wyeth's chest wide open. More shots ring out, which penetrate the Syrian's gray flesh, but seem to barely affect him as he closes on Wyeth, curved blades flashing. Fortunately,he drops one of the wicked knives, but not before opening another bloody slice across Wyeth's powerful chest.

Just before it appears that the Syrian might deal Wyeth a killing blow, Arizona shouts in Arabic, taunting the beast. It turns and charges him, and miraculously, Arizona stays the creature's weapon hand as the blade plunges towards his neck. Thus grappled, the two struggle for control, with Arizona displaying improbable strength, as alarming incendiary devices send spaks and fire through the air.

Rusty discards his ineffectual pistol and assists, Helen magic-heals Wyeth, and soon the party wrestles the Syrian beast to the ground, burning it with remnants of their homemade fireworks, and pinning and binding it helplessly. As its threats falter and it attempts to broker a deal, the team throws the gray devil in a fire pit and watches mercilessly as it flops and writhes and disintegrates into blackened fragments.

Sam and his sister Marie are reunited as Walt pulls up in the rickety carriage, and the team exits the building as Marcus pushes the final plunger, detonating explosives that level the structure. Mission Accomplished.


The party purchases cheap overcoats to conceal their bloodied and soot-covered clothing and boards the express train for Philadelphia. The Persian Lionheart is delivered to the secure underground warehouse beneath the Vanderbilt estate, and the party is given effusive praise and a fine meal, in addition to a hazard pay bonus.

In the days to follow, news breaks that Prince Abdul has fallen ill and returns to his home country.