Howdy, friends. Our latest tale involves a certain book some of you may have heard of, and a young man who is about to learn its power comes at a terrible price.
This twisted tale is designed to introduce the Necronomicon into your game. This might help you and your players get more use out of our new Book o' the Dead. The adventure is merely an outline, however (hey, what do you want for free?). You'll need to flesh it out yourself to give it proper depth and challenge.
The Story Thus Far. . .
The book stolen by the Chicago thief was none other than the fabled Necronomicon. Within its musty pages are many ancient rituals, hexes, and incantations.
The thief is a crazed chemist named Henry West. Henry had been secretly studying reanimation procedures at a college Back East when he read about the discovery of the book. Though his sources were unsure of the book's purpose, West's long years of research told him that a "book bound in ragged leather and written in ancient Arabic" must be the Book of the Dead.
West couldn't afford a trip overseas, so he waited patiently for it to come to America. Six months later, his dreams came true. The book, along with several other artifacts, were shipped to Chicago.
Henry raced westward and managed to get an appointment to view the artifacts using the name of a famous professor from his own university back east. His suspicions confirmed, Henry came back to the museum that night, broke in, and tried to make off with the Necronomicon. He was discovered by a guard, however, and in his panic, grabbed a knife from the rest of the scattered relics and tried to fight his way out. Henry had no intention of killing the guard, but the dagger had a mind of its own and drank deeply of the unfortunate man's life.
The incident pushed the already unstable West off the deep end. Now he's headed west with more trouble in his satchel than he can handle, looking for an isolated graveyard where he can continue his unholy research.
Someone has been stealing bodies from the city cemeteries. We've set this tale in Denver, but you can relocate it anywhere you want. The Weird West is a big place, after all.
The heroes might first hear about the tale in the first Tombstone Epitaph we've given you above. If the reward offered isn't enough to entice them into getting involved, use the Denver police to hire them, use them, or call in a favor as appropriate to your campaign.
The heroes will likely begin their investigations by poking around the local cemeteries. When they do, they'll discover that three bodies were taken over the course of the last week, about one every other night. The first body, however, that of Marcus Trent, was taken an entire week before the next three were unearthed. West experimented with Marcus for some time before determining it was too old for proper reanimation. That's why the next few bodies were all recent interments.
The second clue the group can discover is that around each grave are a single set of footprints. This requires a Fair (5) trackin' roll to detect after visiting at least two gravesites.
In the last grave the party visits, they'll find a two-week old ticket stub for a Union Blue train from Chicago to Denver. Any character that has ridden the rails or makes a Fair (5) Knowledge roll knows that Union Blue has been recording passenger names for the last few months due to sabotage by the other railroads involved in the Great Rail Wars.
If they take this ticket to the Union Blue station, they might be able to uncover the grave robber's identity.
Sure enough, the Union Blue office has a record of ticket stub 0013, dated two weeks prior to the adventure. The passenger's name is H. West. The station master didn't see the passenger, but fortunately, the same train is in town and the conductor is having dinner at a local eatery before the train leaves again the next morning.
At the restaurant, the posse can quickly find Arthur Dulles, a one-armed veteran of the Civil War. The owner of Union Blue, former General Joshua Chamberlain, often gives such jobs to disabled veterans who still want to work.
Arthur is a keen man and, surprisingly enough, actually remembers the passenger:
"He was a strange fellow. Held a
satchel tightly in his arms the whole trip. Even slept that way. I thought he
was an odd bird, but I didn't have any reason to stop him."
"I did pick up an article in Chicago on the last trip that makes me wish I had, however."
With that, Arthur hands over the Chicago Tribune (the second story we gave you, partner.)
This should give the posse some insight as to what Mr. H. West is up to.
The next step belongs to the posse. They'll have to start combing the saloons, hotels, and inns to find their suspect. Eventually, when someone makes a streetwise total of 11 or more, they'll find that Mr. West rented a small house on the outskirts of Denver. The saloon keeper who passes this information on also owns the house, and asks the posse to ask Mr. West for the rent should they go visit him.
The climax of the adventure works best if it takes place at night. If the posse goes early in the daytime, you should sideswipe them with a short encounter or have them get lost for a time.
When they do finally get to West's house on the outskirts of Denver, they'll see that several lightning rods have recently been added. The lines from the rods all lead into the house, rather than into the ground as usual. This is part of West's bizarre reanimation procedure.
Whenever the group finally approaches the house, they'll be met at the door by West himself. When confronted, he first lies nervously, then, when it's obvious he's about to get buffaloed, locks the door and runs to the attic.
Storming the house, the posse will be stopped by Marcus Trent, the first reanimated golem created by West. This thing has murder on its mind. In fact, it's so savage that West has kept it locked in the basement until just now.
Marcus is a Veteran Walkin' Dead, as described on page 142 of The Quick & the Dead. He carries a large plank that he uses to bash people, which causes STR+2d6 damage. This zombie is particularly merciless. He'll pick on the weakest character first before moving on to tougher folks.
West is secured in the attic, which also doubles as his laboratory. He's climbed up the only interior entrance, a hatch in the ceiling, and pulled the ladder up behind him. If the posse scouted out the house, they might remember there's a rope and pulley leading to an attic window. This is how West got his bizarre apparatus, not to mention his stolen corpses, up into his attic laboratory.
In the attic are four more corpses, all created with the Necronomicon. They are bound to various tables, but West runs about releasing them when it's apparent the posse will break into the attic. Treat these corpses as Walkin' Dead.
Other than that, West doesn't directly attack anyone if he can help it. If the zombies start to lose, however, he throws bottles of acid from afar. These cause 3d10 damage that ignores armor. There are 7 of these bottles in his lab.
If pressed, West defends himself with the dagger he stole from Chicago. He's taken to calling it "Blooddrinker," for it is hollow, and when used, blood pours from the carved ghoul's head at the end of the handle.
Henry is a dedicated scientist, but the temptations of the dreaded Necronomicon have proved too much. His obsession with reanimating dead corpses started as a noble idea, but he quickly became disillusioned when his "successes" came back as mindless zombies.
Corporeal: D:1d6, N:2d6,
S:2d6, Q:2d6, V:2d6
Lockpickin' 3d6, throwin' 2d6, fightin': knife 2d6, sneak 4d6
Mental: C:2d10, K:3d8, M:2d6, Sm:3d10, Sp:3d8
Academia: occult 5d8, medicine: general 4d8, bluff 3d10, guts 3d8
Black Magic Spells: Zombie 3
This ancient dagger was used by mad cultists in Arabia in the 1200s. Many a crusader found himself a victim of its tainted steel.
Power: A dark sorcerer who
kills a human with this dagger gains an extra power level in all his spells for
Taint: None, dealing in dark sorcery carries its own taint.
The fabled Book of the Dead is a necromancer's handbook. It's ancient pages are tattered and torn and wrapped in aged human skin. In fact, decayed holes in the cover of the book make it look as if the Necronomicon has a leering, hateful face.
Power: The secrets it contains are many. Within its crumbling pages is the black magic Zombie spell detailed on page 139 of The Quick & the Dead. Any character may learn this spell, though what they do with it will likely carry a high cost. When first learned, the power level is 1. Additional levels can be bought with bounty points for 2 times the new level.
Also, any character who reads the entire tome increases his chances of coming back from the dead as a Harrowed. When the hero dies, he may draw 5 extra cards.
Taint: This power comes at a cost, however. Once read, the user becomes obsessed with death. If the reader doesn't make a Hard (9) Spirit total, he'll take his own life at the first opportunity in hopes of coming back as a Harrowed.