Some adventure ideas for a Victorian-era RPG campaign.
This is a Conquest themed adventure that will give the characters a chance to venture to Africa by boat. There could be some ship combat and there could be a lot of hand-to-hand combat. Alternatively, the characters could use their disguise, acting, fast-talk, and stealth skills and try to accomplish the mission objectives real quiet-like. (But I think we all know players a little better than that.)
General Worthsfort invites the characters to meet with him at his London office. He explains: "The French have been sending ships full of troops to Morocco. At this time, it is unclear exactly what the French are up to. It could simply be that the French soldiers are being hired to protect trade ships that dock at the costal ports. It could also be that the French are seeking to expand their empire into Africa. There have been rumors that the French have been researching some terrible new weaponry and are clandestinely testing it in Morocco. We simply have no idea.
"A batallion of English troops were sent to North Africa to discover what was going on. Communications with the soldiers were cut off several weeks ago and they have not been heard from since. We fear they may be lost.
"Your missions are twofold: Find out what the French are up to and bring us word Rescue any British soldiers that are still alive Good luck, gentlemen."
If the French are testing new prototype weapons, the characters could pick up some fun Steampunk-esque loot. They might get a flamethrower (a "Flaming Jenny"), a repeating rifle, or a couple of grenades ("Cuckoo's Eggs"). Heck, they might even highjack a steam-powered AT-AT that shoots cannonballs instead of lasers. They migh
Another direction this could go would be to have them wander through the jungle and brave the dangers that lie therein: stinging insects, disease, foraging for food, confronting natives who appear friendly at first, but seem to be hiding something.
We actually did this one as an adventure and had a fun time. I'll try to get a larger writeup on the web soon.
This is a mystery-themed adventure that could become horror-themed without much coercion.
Rue Morgue sits on a block of town nearby the graveyard, an inn (where visiting mourners can stay for the night), a hospital, a veterenary clinic, and the forensic ward of the town police. One of the town detectives (perhaps a Monsieur Dupin?) explains to the PCs that the bodies of victims brought into the Rue Morgue have been desecrated, mostly durring the night: fingers are ripped off of hands, teeth are removed from the mouths, ears are torn off, and other such ghastly desecrations. Furthermore, the desecrations have been occurring at the police forensic ward, the hospital, and even in the graveyard. The PCs are hired to find out what is going on.
It could be rats doing it -- possessed, Lovecraftian "Rats in the Walls"-style rats.
It could have something to do with the Druids who are doing their chanting / ritual thing at an ancient stone circle nearby.
It could be Bat Boy
This is a Scientific Romance themed idea. It is largely inspired by this article on NAS launching an enormous single-cell balloon.
A rich and eccentric investor named Erasmus Jacobs has created an enormous hot-air powered structure that is capable of supporting an entire town. Picture an intertube-shaped inflatable structure that could surround a township. A disc is placed in the middle and the town sits on the disc. A large counterweight (or gyroscope) is placed below to keep the town righted (i.e. so no one falls off). A great glas dome covers the town, protecting it from flying animals, the elements, and solar radiation. (Actually, the material used is also a new invention of Mr. Jacobs called "flexi-glass" (patent pending).)
Any number of different adventures could spring up from this. I picture a series of encounters, similar to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
There are a number of different ways Erasmus Jacobs could be depicted.
The adventurers could be spirited away when the city first takes off. They hear about a celebration happening in a little town somewhere, so they go to participate in the celebration. While they're making merry, the ground beneath them shifts, they become aware of the great glass dome overhead, and before anyone has a chance to do or say anything to the contrary, away the town floats.
Alternatively, they could be getting into this deliberately, trying to help move the project along.
There could be some problems with the craft, a puncture in the flexi-glass dome or in the hot-air tube. There could be problems with navigation or difficulty finding fuel for the trip.
There could be some problems that overtake the city: sewage problems, not enough food, fire, disease, etc.
The floating town could come under seige by flying animals. They might even be intelligent animals that have been hiding all these years...
The floating town could come under seige by zepplins of a rival (or unknown!) nationality.
They could encounter another floating city, a la Laputa
They could float up so high that they see into the blackness of space, and who knows what might be looking back at them...?
This is a Steampunk themed idea with a heavy mystery overtone.
Someone of import (Minister of the Treasury, Military General, Minister of Parliment, Police Cheif) tells the adventurers that the national Stock Market is being robbed, but not in the traditional way. You see, with the proof and funding of Charles Babbage's Engine inventions, nearly all financial transactions are done with Engines; they store the bank account information, they process credit slips, everthing from soup to nuts.
Unfortunately, somebody is compromising the integrity of the system. The PCs are being hired to find out what's going on and who's up to no good.
Maybe it's just some crafty two-bit Engine Programmers who have figured out a way to tap the telegraph wires to the Treasury Engines.
Maybe it's some ex-employees who were recently fired but left a "back door" or sabotaged the system upon departure. They might be doing something devious like diverting all rounding errors to a seperate fund (a la Superman III).
Maybe it's a full-boar international incident involving a conspiracy by a foreign power to undermine / rob the British Treasury.
Maybe it's a simple programmer mistake.
This is a time-traveling Scientific Romance themed adventure.
The PCs go to tour some caves that have recently been discovered. It's an extremely fortunate find, being filled with crystals, fossils, dinosaur bones, frozen corpses of primitive men, cave drawings, primitive tools, and all kinds of other valuable links to the past. (Any PC with an exploration motivation will surely want to go.) Touring the caves has instantly become a very popular event with guided tours running every several hours or so.
The PCs will doubtless seperate themselves from the tour group, curious to see the parts to the caves the tour guide isn't showing them. As they're plunging downward, they hear a horrible roar. Investigating the source of the roar shows it to be none other than a dinosaur! After fleeing for their lives (or foolishly attacking the dinosaur and then fleeing for their lives), they will make their way back to the cave entrance and back outside, safe as houses.
Or so they think... Odd, I don't recall seeing a bird like that before, with its big, leathery wings and a long, sharp bill. And good heavens! I never knew there were lizards that large in England! Why, that one's got a shell made of armor -- And that one's standing on his hind legs. No, wait, it's running; chasing that dirty gang of men with the animal skins on their backs and the clubs in their hands. In fact... Oh dear, it's running straight toward us!.
Obviously, the biggest goal is going to be for the PCs to get back home. And it ain't going to be as easy as just going back into the cave, I can tell you that.
They might have to try to communicate with the primitive men, prove themselves, and perhaps even accomplish some task for them.
Plenty of "Run away" moments, prefaced with an ungodly roar and punctuated with ghastly biting noises.
It's probably not a good idea to alter the past too much, you never know what repercussions it might have on the future...