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The Crusade of Darkforce
Author: Kenneth M. Webb
Category: Science Fiction
Alexander Thomas glanced at his Cesium 13 clock, then at his hand crafted forest clock. Good, he thought. Alexander despised technology but he had a respect for it. Whenever possible, he used it to his advantage. The forest clock had been adjusted to be as accurate as the Cesium 13 clock. It gave him a thrill that in five minutes, he was leaving for the day
Prologue: The Establishment
Alexander Thomas glanced at his Cesium 13 clock, then at his
hand crafted forest clock. Good, he thought. Alexander despised
technology but he had a respect for it. Whenever possible, he used
it to his advantage. The forest clock had been adjusted to be as
accurate as the Cesium 13 clock. It gave him a thrill that in five
minutes, he was leaving for the day. Today is the day I have been
waiting for. No more of being a mundane. Today I get real power.
He couldn't wait anymore. He hurried out of the office. He
daydreamed during the drive to Stephen's house.
"Good evening, Alexander."
"Hello Stephen. If you're ready, let's begin." Alexander said
as he entered the house and walked straight into the living room.
He noticed that Stephen had set up the room to look almost exactly
like the drawing in the book. They sat down at the table. Stephen
opened the book and began to chant. Slowly, Alexander began to
feel a presence come into existence floating in the middle of the
table. The black flame in the two torches grew in size. As the
chanting continued, the presence became visible. It was a large
fire of black flames. Stephen stopped chanting and the two of them
stared at it. First, a tendril of flame came out and touched
Stephen. He almost passed out from the sensation. Then another
flame came out and touched Alexander. He was ready for it and kept
his wits about him. The tendril grew in size and soon Alexander
was engulfed in flame. He could feel the power pour into him.
Words that he didn't understand filled his head. He knew what they
were for. The fire dissipated from around Alexander.
Just then, there was an explosion and one wall of the room had
a one meter hole in it. One at a time, four people dove through
the hole into the room. Alexander stood and laughed at the puny
mundanes. Two of the invaders raised their guns while the other
two ran to where the torches were. Alexander raised his hand and
spoke a few of the words he didn't understand. Fire erupted on his
hand, formed a ball, and shot toward the two gunmen. It was a
dazzling spectacle. The core of the fireball was pure black. It
smacked into the gunmen with such force, it blew a hole right
through their bodies and hit the wall behind them. Alexander stood
there shocked. He had never killed anyone before, let alone with
that much power. The last two invaders each grabbed a torch and
ran toward the hole in the wall. By the time Alexander could do
anything, they had already escaped. He turned back to the table in
time to see the presence disappear, leaving a message burned into
He shouted, "Damn it Stephen, why didn't you help me stop the
fraggin' thieves!" No answer came. He walked around the table and
say Stephen's body lying on the floor in a pool of blood. He had
three bullet wounds in the chest and one in the head. Alexander
looked down at his clothes and saw that he had been shot at also,
but he wasn't wounded. Alexander laughed with the feeling of
power. He walked around the room, systematically ransacking the
place. There, he thought, that will make it look like an ordinary
robbery. He looked again at the message on the table, it was
written in a language that he didn't understand. He knew what it
said though, "It" told him before It left.
Stephen Forester is a corporate exec. who enjoys his hobby of
antique collecting. He was in a pawn shop one day and found an
interesting oil lamp/torch. He bought it. A few weeks later he
started to have dreams of having magical powers. He had always
been a mundane and always regretted it. In his dreams, someone -
something promised him power of magic craft. Then one night he
found himself sprawled out on his living room floor with bloody
fingers wrapped around an old lock box. Confused and disoriented,
he quickly pulled himself together and carried the box over to his
workbench. He went to the kitchen sink and washed the blood off of
his hand and bandaged his fingers. Then he examined the lock box
and saw that the locks had deteriorated. He smashed the locks with
a hammer, but they didn't budge. It must be magically locked. He
thought to himself. Frustrated, he went to sleep. Tomorrow, he
would have to go to the hospital to have his hands looked at and
then seek magical assistance in opening the locks.
He quickly fell asleep. Yet another dream of magical power,
only this time, it was just out of his reach. He knew that it must
be close. He woke in the morning and the first thing that caught
his attention was the old oil torch from the pawn shop. He walked
over to where it was hanging and picked it up. He had often
admired the craftsmanship of the torch, but when he picked it up
this time, he felt a surge of power through his arm and hand.
Suddenly, the torch flared to life. The black flame danced out the
top and whisked toward the workbench. He carried the torch over to
where the lock box was. Once again, he felt another surge of power
through his body. The flames grew out of the torch and bent in an
unnatural path to engulf the lock box. Stephen was so enthralled
by the spectacle, he scarcely noticed that the torch he was holding
was producing very little heat. Nor did he notice the fact that
his hands had completely healed. There was a sudden gust of strong
wind around Stephen and the torch, but the torch remained lit.
Soon the flames from the torch returned to normal. The lock box
continued to burn for a few minutes then died suddenly as the locks
turned to powder. He opened the box and found a leather bound book
and a torch that matched the one he was holding. He picked up the
other torch and it instantly sprouted flames identical to the first
torch. He set the torches down and picked up the book. The text
of the book was hard to decipher and would take him some time, but
the sketches and drawings were clear. Stephen couldn't even begin
to guess how old it all was.
Stephen soon translated some of the book and told his friend
Alexander Thomas about his discovery. They decided that they would
perform the ceremony described in the book. It promised them power
in exchange for service. They performed the ceremony. Incidents
that occurred during the ceremony left Stephen dead, Alexander
filled with power, two thieves dead, and the two torches stolen.
Now the crusade has begun.
Cast of Characters
A semi-powerful corporate executive with a limited knowledge
of magic. That is, until his friend and fellow exec. Stephen
Forester found some antique torches with a book of summoning. They
performed the ceremony and his life has never been the same since.
During the ceremony, Stephen was found unacceptable to accept
the seed of magical knowledge and subsequently killed during the
ensuing robbery of the torches. Alexander, however, was found to
be an acceptable host for the presence.
B:4 Q:4 S:5 C:5 I:4 W:6 Reaction:4
Armed CBT: 4 Fireball: 5 Cyberware:
Firearms: 4 Urban Renewal: 4 None
Sorcery: 4 Manablast: 5
Corp Etiq: 5 Stun Bolt: 4
Conjuring: 4 Combat Sense: 4
A vampire. Stats not really necessary for play.
Free spirit fire elemental conjured by a toxic mage.
ALL FOR A BOX?
The pieces of the puzzle are on the table and it is up to the
characters to put it together before the crusade gains momentum.
The objective of Darkforce is to become an individual power in the
world. Ultimately, Blackfire will strive to control the world.
In the beginning, the characters are offered a job to protect
a closed box in the middle of a hermetic circle. The characters do
not know this, but in the box is one of the torches from the
ceremony at Stephen Forester's house. The mage who hires the
runners is going to an important meeting with authorities in the
hermetic tradition to discuss what to do and how to stop Darkforce.
The mage cannot take the box for two reasons: he didn't want to
risk transporting the box (it is safe enough for now in the circle)
and Blackfire would have knowledge of everything around the box if
not for the circle.
The characters will find it easy to guard the box. They will
have company show up and offer them an insane amount of money to
hand over the box. The visitor will act totally friendly to the
If there is a mage in the group, he/she will be contacted by
an associate or fixer and make the offer. If there is no mage in
the group, someone with a mage contact will receive the phone call.
If none of the above exists, then the fixer will contact the street
samurai. The last in line to get the call is a shaman because Mr.
Johnson requested either a mage or muscle (due to hermetic nature.)
The offer: 40,000 nuyen each for up to five characters to
guard a box in a house for an evening, 4:00 pm to 1:00 am.
Use the usual negotiation test to get a higher price. Every
extra success by one side is plus or minus 1,000 nuyen. The
appropriate character is contacted at approximately 9:00 pm on the
night before they are to guard the box. If the characters accept
the job, they are to meet with Mr. Johnson at 3:00 pm on the day of
the job and are given directions to the house.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The house is located in a semi-secluded plot of land in the
Brier district of Snohomish (see Seattle Sourcebook). The
characters can examine the house until 3:00 pm or they can try to
get information out of contacts (see Legwork). If they case the
house, make a roll for Perception-5:
When 3:00 pm rolls around, either the characters will go into
the house or Mr. Johnson will come out and look for them. Mr.
Johnson will be kind to the characters, but he will look quite
anxious. He is very nervous about having the box and the power it
contains. He wants to go to the meeting and get it off of his
hands into another, more powerful mage's hands. Mr. Johnson
escorts the runners into the house and tells them to make whatever
preparations they need to get ready to protect the box. He will
give the runners 20,000 nuyen now and 20,000 when the job is done.
He stresses to the runners how important it is that no one gets the
box. He cannot tell them what is in it or why it is so important.
He was sworn to secrecy.
- 0 successes - Nobody home.
- 1 success - You see a person. He looks like he's
- 2 successes - You see a man performing some kind of magic.
- 3+ successes- A male mage is casting a spell on a hermetic
circle. You see a box with a strange magical
aura about it.
When Mr. Johnson leaves at 4:00 pm, he is very nervous and
keeps looking around to make sure everything is secure and safe.
Once he leaves, the runners will find food and "all the comforts of
home" at their fingertips. They will find the first six hours of
watching the box uneventful. As the GM, don't give this away.
Have the hours pass by, making fake secret perception rolls. Keep
the runners guessing and nervous.
Finally, around 10:00 pm, a stranger pulls up to the curb in
front of the house and honks the horn twice. He then gets out and
addresses the runners. Something like:
"Hello in there. I would like to propose a business deal. I
realize that I am an unwelcome guest to you but please listen to my
deal and if you don't like it, I will leave immediately. You are
in the possession of a box, I am willing to offer you a flat
200,000 nuyen for it. What do you think?"
If the runners try to get more nuyen for it, he will up the
offer to 400,000 nuyen for it, but that's tops. The man the
runners see before them is a servant of Blackfire working in
conjunction with Alexander Thomas to retrieve the torches. The
servant is a free fire elemental (not Blackfire of course) working
for Alexander Thomas in exchange for karma. If the servant gets
attacked, he will vaporize to the astral plane and leave.
If the runners accept the deal, the servant will add the
stipulation that they must take the box and put it on the front
porch. The servant will ask them to go into the house so he can
pick up the box and leave. He has 400,000 in fake (blank)
credsticks Perception-8 to detect. When he gives them to the
runners, the credsticks will burst into flames (free spirit fire
elementals can do neat tricks). The servant will use the
distraction to try to make off with the box. The servant can cast
two fireballs, and after doing so, must retreat to the astral
If the runners don't accept the deal, the servant will leave
If the servant gets killed, no harm done. He is expendable to
Darkforce. If the runners accept the deal, NO PROBLEM. Darkforce
will get this torch one way or the other. Of course the runners
will have to deal with Mr. Johnson if they stick around and at
best, their reputation will be stained in the eyes of everyone
involved thus far in the adventure.
If the runners didn't accept the deal, go to A JOB WELL DONE.
If the runners accepted the deal, go to A BRIBE WELL TAKEN.
A BRIBE WELL TAKEN
BEHIND THE SCENES
This part of the adventure is a little break for the runners
to do whatever they want, probably heal after the encounter with
the servant. It may seem to some that the adventure is now
tragically derailed. Not true! Let them wander or do whatever for
at most half a day.
Then the runners will be ambushed in an attempt to silence
(kill) them. Go to MISSILE-ANEOUS.
Then one of the runners will then be contacted by an agent of
The Commune of Protectors (see end of HOME AT LAST then go to
A JOB WELL DONE
BEHIND THE SCENES
At approximately 11:00 pm, Mr. Johnson will show up in a calm
and relaxed state. He will thank the runners for their work and
dismiss them from their duties. The only problem is that it isn't
Mr. Johnson. It is a servant with a mask spell making him look
like Mr. Johnson. The servant is not a powerful mage but he can
mask his aura. Astral perception-7 test to see through the
disguise. The only physical evidence that this is not Mr. Johnson
is that he is so calm. The servant will respond to most questions
accurately except for anything discussed specifically between the
runners and the real Mr. Johnson during their dealings. The
servant will give poor answers if the runners bring that up.
If the runners believe that the servant is Mr. Johnson, he
will request that the runners move the box into the other room for
him. This should make them suspicious, but he will make it seem
like a last favor before releasing them from their duties. This is
because the servant cannot get through the magical barrier set up
by the real Mr. Johnson. The servant will have the money to pay
the runners; The servant doesn't know how much the agreed amount
was so he will give the runners 40,000 each and hope he is right
(or at least close). This is, of course, more than the agreed sum
(20,000 when the job is finished), but the runners probably will
not make a stink about it. It might make them suspicious though.
If the runners do not believe that the servant is real and
start to get too suspicious, the servant will attack a first blow
then try to retreat. If he gets killed, no problem. It's just
If things go well for the servant, he will take the box, get
in his car and leave (after the runners have left). If the runners
don't leave, the servant will leave first and make sure none of the
runners follow him.
If the servant gets the box, the runners will probably go on
with life as if nothing were wrong, or they will investigate
something. The morning after the day of the job, one of the
runners will be contacted by an agent from The Commune of
Protectors (see end of HOME AT LAST and go to MISSION CONTROL).
If the servant is foiled somehow, go to HOME AT LAST.
The GM should play a convincing role for the servant as Mr.
Johnson. It is a good disguise and he is a convincing actor. If
there isn't a mage in the party, give one of the players a one time
perception-11 test to tell this might not be the real Mr. Johnson.
The chance of the servant getting away with the box should be good
at first (75%) and decrease with time. If an hour goes by, his
chance is down low (15%).
HOME AT LAST
BEHIND THE SCENES
At precisely 12:59 am, Mr. Johnson (the real one) pulls up to
the house. He looks like he's close to having a nervous breakdown.
He is very tense and has been for a long time. He thanks the
runners and pays them for the job. If the house is clean and
bullet free, he will give them a 8,000 nuyen each bonus. He tells
them that he has to deliver the box to a private address. If the
runners offer their further services, he will forbid them. He has
to do it himself.
The runners should leave peacefully once they see him enter
the circle and retrieve the box himself. He will take the box to
a deserted intersection and climb down into the sewers. The
runners will be seen by Mr. Johnson if they try to follow. Once he
climbs down and is out of sight for one minute, he is killed and
the box gets taken from him. If the runners persist on following
him, after he is dead they will see a man fleeing the scene. The
can get a rough description but he will disappear if they chase
him. The attacker is Victor Allen. He will escape by using Mist
If the runners don't follow Mr. Johnson, they will not know
what is described in the previous paragraph. One of the runners
will either see the article in the newspapers, or they will be told
by the person who initially contacted them.
This event should alarm the runners into thinking that whoever
is behind all of this is quite serious. From here the runners will
either: (1) try to track down the box, (2) investigate Mr. Johnson
using a description, (3) investigate (any) of the servants with a
description, or (4) not know what to do.
The runners will have to use their contacts to get
information, see Legwork. If they choose option (1), they will
eventually get a piece of information on Alexander Thomas and his
whereabouts. If so, go to KEEPER OF THE TORCH. If they choose
option (2), they will find out about The Commune of Protectors. If
so, go to MISSION CONTROL.
For options (3) and (4), the runners will be contacted by an
agent of The Commune of Protectors. The agent will tell them:
"You and your team were hired to protect a box. Last night,
the box was stolen and Mr. Harris was murdered in a gruesome
fashion. We would appreciate it if you would come to our meeting
place and discuss what you know about this case and what happened.
There is a secondary benefit to coming with me. We tracked you
down by ritual sorcery with a link to you (taken from Mr. Johnson's
home), the enemy can do the same. While you are in our meeting
place, you will be safe from being traced. You are indeed
fortunate that we got to you first."
If the runners agree, go to MISSION CONTROL.
If they refuse, go to MISSILE-ANEOUS.
Everything should be covered in the above section, if you run
into problems, make an equitable solution that you can live with.
The GM should make it impossible for the runners to get their hands
on Alexander Thomas. They can find out some past information, but
nothing is current including his whereabouts. Any information the
runners dig up will only confirm what the Commune already knows.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Getting to the operations base of The Commune of Protectors is
an uneventful task. The runners will notice almost no security
around the place. The runners with escort will walk right in
without even being asked for identification. If the runners
suggest that they don't feel safe in this place, have their escort
say something like, "We were identified and cleared before we got
close. The best security is one that cannot be seen." etc. In
truth, magic security is tight. The whole building has an astral
barrier sufficient for most trouble. There are also elementals on
guard. the GM should adjust the number and forces appropriately.
There are only four agents inside when the runner's group arrives
with escort. They are busy and will not pay attention at first.
The escort agent will take the runners into a separate room and
discuss the situation with them.
This section is up to the GM to roleplay. The following
information may be given to the runners in any order, but it is
recommended that the agent try to get information out of the
runners and not just give it. Information in a two way street.
> The box contained a magical old oil lantern/torch.
> The Commune interrupted an evil ritual ceremony of some kind and
stole the two torches.
> One member of the ceremony survived, two agents were killed by an
unknown magical power.
From the prologue, the story continues (do NOT read to
The two agents who made it out alive from the ceremony with
the torches never made it back to the Commune. The torches were
lost, the agents' fates were unknown. Indications showed that
neither the Commune nor the evil ones had the torches. It would no
doubt be a chase to find and acquire them. The Star were
immediately dispatched to the scene. They found the ransacked
house that Alexander left for them, with one exception: looters had
stolen the table. The carvings made the table look like a valuable
antique. It's only value, however, is as a necessary part of the
ceremony. The carvings on the table are the translated text for
the updated ritual. Alexander was so amazed by his power that he
forgot the table. He plans to get it back.
When the discussion starts winding down, go to INTERRUPT.
The GM should try to control the scene so that it plays
through as described above.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Another agent knocks quickly and enters before anyone can say
anything. He looks at the escort agent and says, "Sir, we believe
we found the location of the table." "Outstanding, we must leave
at once." The escort agent turns to the runners, "The table is
another piece of the ceremony. It is vital that it doesn't fall
into the hands of our enemies. It is your choice, you can go with
us to get the table, or you can stay here in the ward." Let the
runners mull it over for a few seconds, then he says, "We will
divide our forces equally, half will stay here." Whether the
runners go or not, the escort goes with the away team.
If the runners go, go to TABLE-DASH.
If the runners stay, go to WARD, SWEET WARD.
Brief outline of things to come: If the runners go, TABLE-
DASH is where the runners and Commune agents go to a location and
they will find a group taking the table out of a warehouse. The
Darkforce agents will be ready for them and will get away with
plenty of magical support. The good guys will have to follow far
behind. They will eventually show up at Stephen Forester's burned
out house. The adventure will proceed to SCENE OF A NEW CRIME.
If the runners stay, the events in TABLE-DASH will take place
without the runners and eventually they will go to SCENE OF A NEW
This is an open encounter in which a GM selected group of NPCs
attack the characters in order to keep them in the adventure. The
group of NPCs should be appropriate for the level of the PC team.
The PC should be able to infer that they cannot just "drop the
subject." They should learn from this that they are a loose end to
be tied up unless they do something to stop Darkforce.
KEEPER OF THE TORCH
The runners have learned through legwork the location of the
company Alexander Thomas works for. They can go in and ask to see
him, but they will be told that he is not in the office and
probably won't be in for a few weeks (for presumably unknown
reasons.) The secretary really doesn't know anything more. When
they leave, the runners will be approached by a member of the
Commune of Protectors who has been watching for Alexander to show
up. He will be their link to get to MISSION CONTROL.
BEHIND THE SCENES
It is the runner's choice whether they ride with the agents or
take their own transportation. The agents (4 including escort
agent) have nondescript Ford Americars (enough to transport the
runners also if necessary) to get there. If they take their own
cars/bikes, they will have to follow the agents to the place. Of
the four agents, two appear to the runners to be magical. The GM
will have to run the battle ad lib making sure that the enemies
have enough firepower to leave the scene with the table and evade
pursuit. A mage with a ram spell should take care of any cars that
don't get fireballed or otherwise blown apart.
This is your standard "Show up at the warehouse, catch the bad
guys at the END of the act (of stealing the table) and
unsuccessfully try to stop them while expending massive quantities
of ammunition." After they get away, one of the Commune agents is
able to astrally locate the table before it is taken inside a ward
(erected by Alexander Thomas.) With this information, the runners
and some (GM discretion) agents can make the final stand (assault)
in SCENE OF A NEW CRIME.
SCENE OF A NEW CRIME
BEHIND THE SCENES
The house is a mansion of sorts. It is in a somewhat isolated
neighborhood. There is a wall around the building, guards
occasionally patrolling the grounds, various security systems
(external and internal,) and the magical ward (astral barrier.) It
is mostly up to the GM to design a place suitable for his PC's
abilities. The best time to go in is just before dawn. Some
The original book from the prologue and prologue supplement is
nowhere to be found. The Commune agents are not too worried though since
the ceremony can only be performed with the torches that they have secured.
- Have a security shack the runners can (SILENTLY) neutralize
and have a decker go in and shut down (most) security systems.
- The astral barrier should tough but not impossible to break.
- Alexander will be in the process of re-summoning Blackfire
when the runners get to him.
- Blackfire is summoned, but at a weak force due to poor
conjuring and distraction of Alexander (alarms going off.)
- Have security show up in force of the runners are taking too
long after Blackfire is defeated.
- The Commune agents will take both lanterns and destroy the table.
Do any runners do legwork anymore?
They can find out where Alexander Thomas works if they ask
around any corporate circles. He works at Sukitso Enterprises.
They have their hands in a lot of places. No one can say what they
really specialize in.
The GM can add other hints in here if things are not going so well.