Strange things are afoot in Star City. Some prototype prosthetic legs are stolen from Bellamy Laboratories by, of all things, a group of trained howler monkeys, and make headlines in the Star City Tribune on the day our heroes receive some theatre tickets.
“Tickets to the theatre from a grateful city” says the type on the letter awaiting our heroes this evening. They are invited to a special 9.00 PM encore screening of “King Kong” – the documentary that took the city by storm when it opened two months ago.
In reality, however, it is bait for a trap planned by Tommy Boscone who has finally stopped waiting for our Heroes to leave town.
Mercy Jones has the sense that they are being followed around town by someone wearing a colourful poncho when they head off to the theatre.
Travelling the short distance by cab (driven by the ever faithful Jordan Wilson) to the steep alleyway in which the Tibalt is located they arrive on a scene that is strangely dark and empty. The Tibalt Theatre itself is unlit and boarded up (appearing to have been closed for some time) and the group senses a trap. Mercy keeps watch as the remaining members of the group return to their hotel to dress for action. On their return they approach cautiously and note the presence of some shadowy figures down a side alley. Reaching the theatre, Mercy decides to look at the notice on the door but is interrupted when a voice in the distance cries “a little gift from Tommy Boscone” and men with Tommy guns spring from nearby doorways and open fire.
Michael Schneider returns fire briefly and seeks to get a nearby manhole cover open. Leaving a handful of thugs dead on the opposite rooftop the heroes clamber down into the familiar darkness of the Star City Sewers. Before anything else can happen, out of the darkness comes a little man in a large hat and poncho carrying a small hand cranked siren. He introduces himself asFelicio Dominguez and says, with a marked South American accent, that he has for some days been looking for a way to approach the heroes and ask their aid.
He explains that he is here at the behest of his brother Jose to beg the characters to come to South America where he can provide evidence that Claire Mannix was under the control of another will when she committed the crimes that she now awaits the death sentence for. His brother and Claire were engaged to be married before the terrible events that saw her become enslaved to the Techno-Master and Jose believes their love can be saved along with her life if the heroes are willing to intervene.
His brother could not come himself as he has been captured to work as a slave in the City of the Golden Spider, the Techno-master’s new HQ somewhere in the Peruvian Jungle near Ayacucho, Peru – a town now mentioned only in fearful whispers as many members of the population appear to have vanished without a trace. A guide named Arturo Majalel will be able to lead them there and he can be found in Nazca, a fair way down the southern coast from Lima.
Just as this information has been imparted and odd hissing noise is heard and a huge Tarantula spider with metal tipped legs scuttles into view. It hisses some more arches its back and launches spines from its rear end. Felicio is hit and begins to convulse almost immediately. The spines have been coated in the resin of the castor bean – an extremely powerful neuro-toxin that causes internal organs to rupture and burst (among other highly painful and slow symptoms). Acting quickly to apply a form of weird homeopathy, whereby the poison could be counteracted by further poison, Dr Waters saves Jose’s life. He is left comatose and, safe from pursuit, the heroes carry him to the hospital for treatment.
Destroying the spider, the heroes discover it is mounted with a familiar looking remote control device. Unfortunately, Michael’s attempt to fathom its workings results in the machinery breaking down completely.
Our Heroes need to make their way to Peru and that means getting out of Star City Alive. Tommy Boscone is now playing for keeps and plants a bomb in their hotel room which Michael Schneider defuses (and sends to Dillon Tremere full of confetti). The roads, rail, and airports are being watched by Tommy Boscone’s men but it is not too difficult for them to be given the slip. At the airport they attempt to leave using Penelope’s plane “Evelyn” and Boscone’s men attempt to block the runway with a jeep. Michael manages to flip the jeep with a well-placed shot to the tires before the criminals can succeed in thwarting the take-off.
Once in Lima the heroes travel half a day by truck convoy to Nazca. The town is a small trading post where goods are shipped up into the Andes.
On arrival in Nazca the heroes are met by the Police and brought before Gomez Santiago (a corrupt local official) who immediately places them under arrest on suspicion of being involved in a plot to smuggle South American children into the U.S to serve in brothels. They are not segregated from the other prisoners and must fight to be left alone and unmolested.
Together, the group faces down a bevy of prison thugs before being offered the protection of Jesus Martinez (prison boss and chief smuggler of Peru). Using a bit of weird genius, Dr Waters creates an organic acid from human waste to eat through the lock and stages a mass jailbreak that results in the police chief (Santiago) being horsewhipped around the square in his underwear. While they have made a mortal enemy of Santiago they have also made an ally of Martinez.
At this point Arturo Majalel appears to lead the group to safety. He says he has been paid well to get them to Ayacucho where his daughter waits for him. His truck holds a bunch of large crates (one of which has a U.S point of origin stamped on it).
Ayacucho is a small mountain village beset by a tropical storm when the heroes arrive. It is empty. Majalel shows surprise and consternation that his daughter is missing. Signs of struggle abound. Goods have not been packed. Dinner’s remain on tables. Truck tracks lead into the jungle.
“Slavers” is the conclusion that Majalel reaches. “Probably the cult you are seeking – take me with you”. Tyre tracks lead into the jungle.
The heroes follow the trail into the jungle finally coming to the walls of a city.
Michael climbs to the top of the wall where he can see the general layout of the city. There is a huge excavation pit, a massive stepped pyramid, a long low structure that appears to currently serve as a combination pen and prison, and an odd round building.that appears to serve some ceremonial purpose. Before he can do much else he is set upon by armed howler monkeys. He takes off using his jetpack to lure them away. These mutant monkeys, inhabiting the city in huge numbers, each have a control box and are armed. They are also easily distracted and are quickly led out of the city in a huge wave allowing the rest of the team to sneak into the city. They heroes make their way to the “Temple of the skulls” – the low building being used as a prison and on entry the bars are locked behind them. Majalel has betrayed them (“Don’t hate me, they have my daughter”) and appears to be in charge. He had been sent to Star City to steal the prosthetics for the technomaster and eliminate Felicio Dominguez. A number of human guards can be seen in the familiar garb of the Cult of the Teeth.
Within the temple they meet the chief of the slaves , Julio Chavez.
Julio Chavez reveals the following –
• Many of the villagers sided with the Techno-Master because of his demonstration of magic. They might turn against him if he is successfully challenged for the High Priesthood. The challenge is in the form of a magical duel.
• Panels at the rear of the temple reveal that the Crocodile god dispossessed an older god from worship here in the City of the Gold Spider. This older God was a river God embodied by the Scorpion Fish. His statue and the discs that hold his spells were buried in a cave at the bottom of a well here in the city. If found these spells may supply sufficient power to challenge the cult leader.
• He gives the heroes small hand-made necklaces with an odd disc on them. These allow them to read the hieroglyphs (and apparently provide some form of protection against minor evils).
They also meet Jose Dominguez. Jose is very sick but reveals how the archaeological party that contained Claire Mannix were attacked and force fed drugs and potions that placed them under the control of “the Techno-Master” before being despatched back to the U.S to fulfil his nefarious plans. He says the Techno-Master keeps supplies of the mind-control potion and a journal containing his researches in his sanctum at the Great Pyramid of the Spider. Apparently the Techno-Master has a particular hatred for the U.S and Star City in particular.
The temple of skulls holds the remaining villagers who have been forced to undertake manual labor digging for something that the Cult’s leader wants. Apparently this object was recovered two days ago and they have now been locked up without food or water since. It seems most likely that they will be left to starve to death now that they have served the evil monster’s purpose.
Meanwhile outside, the human guards, noticing the city has been abandoned by its monkey protectors emerge to investigate what has happened. Michael is returning to the city and they open fire on him, hitting his jetpack and forcing him to make an emergency landing in their midst where they take him prisoner.
Mercy overcomes the guards and uses her hairpins to unlock the prison but the group is forced to surrender on seeing Michael awaiting execution amidst a group of the technomaster’s human guards.
The guards drag our heroes along the Sacred Way to the Well of Sacrifice.
Here, amidst the bones of the long dead, they are tried before the cult for their opposition to the will of the Crocodile God. Their past actions (ending the alligator menace, and defeating the cult in Star City) are brought forth as evidence.
They are given the opportunity to either join the Technomaster (who is now walking with the aid of the prosthetics stolen by Arturo in Star City) or attempt to refute the charges before they are judged and thrown into the well of sacrifice – a deep pool of ravenous scorpion fish. Judgement is accomplished by calling to the dead. Mercy and Dr Waters attempt to bluff the Technomaster into believing they wish to join him. They submit to drinking the villain’s mind control potion. Dr Waters is able to resist but Mercy succumbs. The Techno-Master demonstrates his power by calling on the bones in this place to rise and point to the guilty and Penelope and Michael are condemned.
The dead rise and point to the prisoners (as he reads from a couple of discs lashed together with leather ties).
As the heroes are herded to the well a young woman is pushed forward. It is Rosa Majalel, Arturo’s daughter. She has been selected for sacrifice. Arturo falls on his knees “You said you would spare her if I cooperated” he pleads. Grinning, the techno-master replies that only a member of the true blood would make a suitable sacrifice and with no-one to take her place – she is the obvious choice. Majalel pleads to be thrown into the pool in her place and laughing, the Technomaster agrees.
The heroes and Majalel are thrown in the well. The cap is placed over the opening plunging everything into darkness and glowing scorpion fish converge from all sides to attack.
The necklaces about the heroes necks begin to glow and try as they might the fish cannot approach. Majalel is not so lucky, but Penelope grabs him and helps protect him from the attack of the scorpion fish. Far below in the water is a strange blue glow as if light is entering the water from somewhere in the deep. Swimming down the heroes find a passage way that opens up into a temple chamber of sorts. At its center stands a huge stylised statue of a Scorpion Fish and from its fins hang a pair of disks similar to the ones seen earlier in the hands of the Techno-Master.
Most of the spells are unreadable but of the two that can be read, one creates some kind of super-powerful magical shield, while the other allows the caster to combine and draw from the magical energy of others.
At the rear of the chamber is a hidden passage. It leads directly to the Great Pyramid of the Spider, opening into a huge treasure chamber. The door to the chamber is locked but can be forced or picked without too much trouble. Bursting through the heroes enter into the court of challenge directly below the seat of the high priest. The high priest’s seat is surmounted by the defaced symbols of the scorpion fish and newer symbols of the crocodile cult. It is also moulded in the shape of a giant gold spider. To the left of this throne stands an obelisk that could be a twin to one standing in Star City Natural History Museum. Mercy and Dr Waters stand in the Technomaster’s entourage.
Taken aback by the sudden appearance of those he has so recently sentenced to death, the Techno-Master orders their immediate killing. Mercy however, committed to the cult through the agency of the Brain Washing potion though she is, challenges the Technomaster for control. His guards hesitate because the heroes stand in the court of challenge and the challenge must not go unanswered.
The Techno-Master calls up the dead and a number of zombies break out of the floor and begin shambling towards Mercy. Mercy uses her own telekinetic ability to wrest the technomaster’s spell disks away from him. The technomaster realizing the jig is up tries to escape and Michael disables his prosthetic legs just in front of the obelisk. All but defeated he takes the extremely risky chance to activate the teleportation crystal and escape through the obelisk, even though the door on the other side was destroyed in the previous adventure in Star City. Michael shoots the crystal causing an explosion. The last the heroes see of the technomaster is his flaming visage as he passes out of view. Dr Waters uses the distraction to head out into the jungle and try to synthesise a cure for Mercy’s condition. To give John time, Penelope challenges Mercy to a magical duel. Mercy’s ability is just as decisive this time but John succeeds in finding an antidote and administering it, returning Mercy to her The cult members immediately prostrate themselves before the heroes.
The cult is now under the control of the heroes and the heroes soon order the release of the prisoners. The heroes are not allowed to leave the city while the high priesthood is theirs, but a simple transfer of the responsibilities to Julio Chavez fixes that. He offers the players the wealth of the city (if they use it for the pursuit of justice) ending any financial difficulties they may have encountered. Jose gathers up the evidence that proves Claire Mannix was innocent and begs the heroes to return to Star City with it and free Claire from death-row. The heroes agree. Arturo and his daughter depart in shame, never to be seen again. Dr Waters gathers up the now broken, but still weirdly pulsing crystal that was embedded in the obelisk.
Adventure completion: 10 xp each
Discovering the trap at the Tibalt: 1 xp each
Saving the life of Felicio Dominguez: 2xp for Dr Waters
Escaping Star City: 1 xp each plus 1xp for Michael Schneider’s decisive intervention
Escaping Nazca Prison: 1 xp each plus 1xp for Dr Waters
Finding the city of the gold spider: : 2 xp each
Saving Arturo: 2 xp for Penelope
Recovering the scorpion fish disks: 2 xp for Penelope and Michael
Defeating the technomaster in a magical duel: 2 xp for Mercy
Recovering the evidence to clear Claire Mannix: 1 xp each.
Recovering the crystal from the Obelisk: 1 xp each.
1 xp to Michael for leading the howlers away
1 xp to Dr Waters for curing Mercy
1 xp to Penelope for placing herself in harms way to buy Dr Waters time
GM’s bonus : 2 xp to Mercy for roleplaying herself while under the Technomaster’s mind control.
1xp bonus to Mercy, Penelope, and Michael for commenting on this summary.
EXPERIENCE BY CHARACTER
Penelope Goodhart: 23
Mercy Jones: 22
John Waters: 21
Michael Schneider: 22