'That Song' or 'Twenty Years of Revenge'


A short scenario delving into the feud-crossed underworld of a great City, a gritty interlude in a Late Medieval campaign.
Best suited to a small group of ruthless, amoral characters (or one real psychotic heavy) in a society where firearms are known of but the supernatural is still feared.

If you aren't the potential GM, read no further.

Hook

In the gloom of a cold evening, in a low district of the Great City a point of light glints at the end of a foetid alleyway. It looks like it could be a gem ...
Closer investigation reveals a tall cloaked figure deep in shadow, holding out a bejewelled broach in a gloved hand. There is a foul smell in the air, a graveyard tang.
A harsh, choked sounding voice hisses from the shadows:
" A diamond. A most ... valuable thing. Its worth; many hundreds. Kill the man who once wore it, and it is yours ... "
The gloved hand still proffers the jewel (a knuckle-joint sized cut stone on the end of a silver pin), as the figure shuffles out of the shadows. Under the cloak it becomes obvious that the man is maimed, his left side crippled, perhaps the left arm missing. His face remains shadowed but from the dim reflections his left eye is a sightless milky orb, sunk deep in the socket.
" Kill Ricardo Vesarre. He owns an inn on the dockside, the Welcome Anchorage. Show him the stone. Kill him. It is then yours. "
He will make to depart, but if questioned further turns and his robe falls away to show a withered leg, a rotting arm-stump and a face half destroyed by injury and gangrene.
" Long ago Vesarre (note: don't call him Rico) did this to me, stole my grieving woman and took my Inn. I want revenge. "
He will only mention his name after several requests. " Anton "

Plot

This scenario is based around the Barry Manilow song 'Copa Cobana'. It is up to the GM to conceal this fact while dropping sufficient hints that the players guess the scenarios inspiration at the end. At this point, it is advisable that the GM run before having to face a mob of irate players. Saying "Guys, it's just a game, why so serious?" just might not calm them down.
Twenty years ago the notorious bandit Ricardo Vesarre came to the City in search of relaxation. At Anton's inn he saw a woman of great beauty among his dancers and vowed she would be his. Ricardo was a man of great charisma, a dashing, rich, worldly man who began that night to approach the woman he desired. But she was Anton's wife, Alloe, and Anton was jealous and attacked the would-be seducer in a blind rage.
A barman against a trained killer. Ricardo drew his pistol, a foreign wheel-lock piece loaded with metal fragments, shot Anton down and had his men throw the body into the dockwaters.
Ricardo, a man of great and evil influence, bought witnesses who would descibe his action as self defence, and received ownership of the inn from a corrupt judge. He then returned to his career in the greater world, and Alloe, driven mad with grief, remained in the inn.

Place

The Welcome Anchorage is a small,reputable dockside inn facing a little-used quay. It is a popular evening destination for better off ships' officers and younger merchant apprentices. Many patrons spend their evenings dancing to musicians hired to play at the inn, music varying from fast peasant jigs and sea shanties to slow courtly tunes, tempting even buxom captains wives into the dance.
Ricardo has, over the years used a combination of his own reputation and a little discreet violence to make 'his' Inn a safe, law-abiding place, free of the thievery and vice of many waterfront establishments. Even now he employs a few heavies to evict drunks and keep order.
The Inn consists of a single large bar-room, accomodating benches, a small wooden dancefloor and at one end, the bar. A balcony, accesible by a wide wooden stairway near the door, carries dining tables and a space for the band. Ships' oil lamps on the balcony rails provide light, while in winter four braziers in the corners of the room give heat.
Behind the bar is a large stockroom, with a locked external door while above it is the kitchen (with narrow staircase to stockroom and door to balcony). There is no accomodation on site, although a watchman sleeps in the kitchen at night, and a row of earth closets in an alley beside the inn provide for the customers other needs.

Notes

Despite preconceptions about dockside taverns, the Welcome Anchorage genuinely is a rather agreeable place (although the music can be a bit loud), filled in the evenings with honest, good-natured drunken seamen and apprentices dancing about and falling over. Any scuffles breaking out are soon separated, often before Ricardo's men need to intervene. Starting a brawl here as cover will not be easy, and an attack on the landlord would go down very badly indeed.
Ricardo himself supervises the bar, a large whitehaired fellow, quietly friendly to all, dressed in a dark red frock-coat and a silk cravat secured with a diamond pin (identical to that shown by Anton). Despite his charisma, Ricardo exudes a definite aura of command, and is treated with great respect by his staff.
The Welcome Anchorage opens from mid-morning to midnight, Ricardo being present from early evening until after closing time. He is always the last to leave, after ensuring Alloe has departed safely (by carriage, which he pays for himself). The inn is busiest at lunchtimes and at night. By closing time most customers have already left.
Additional to Ricardo and his staff, the Inn has another permanent fixture: Alloe. A tall old woman with a striking, angular face and dyed black hair, she sits alone at a reserved table on the balcony dressed in a (somewhat faded) tight silk dress (and, if you must, a feathered hat). She drinks steadily from a glass regularly replenished, but is always already drunk when she arrives at lunchtime. Alloe is not approachable, being hardly aware of her surroundings. The observant may notice that she sways to a rhythm unconnected with the music. Only if Ricardo draws his gun will she respond, screaming horribly.
Each evening, after Alloe has left, Ricardo is collected by carriage and conducted to the mansion of a woman of rank in City society, who is his mistress of many years standing. He invaraibly spends the night with her. Her identity depends on the campaign the you are running, as does any revenge she may take on Ricardo's death. I suggest she should be the estranged wife of a noble (to tie the PCs into a court intrigue situation), or a powerful and amoral noblewoman or city official in her own right; simply to provide an adversary in future adventures.

Rumours and comments

Most of Ricardo's customers know only that he 'has owned the inn for decades' or that 'he's been running the place for years'. A few older or more observant know that 'he's richer than he seems' and that 'he's got important contacts in the city'. Some may even risk to mention that 'he's had a wild past, a mercenary soldier'.
It's necessary to speak to older folk, in less reputable places, to hear that 'when he was younger, Ricardo was a feared man, a bandit or a pirate', that 'Ricardo used to kill men as soon as talk to them' or that 'he's owned the inn for decades, was keeping it to retire to, when he needed to vanish'.
The tale of Ricardo's killing Anton should be harder to elicit, only a few having memories of the Inn 'years ago, when it was a far rougher place', 'when I was young it had dancing girls, lovely they were' or finally 'a shame that fight there back, oh, twenty years ago. Old owner got killed and some say the murderer got the place. Never the same.'

Event

This scenario is based around an attempt on Ricardo's life. How much this consists of trying to build up information about him in order to plan a low risk killing, or of instigating a huge, chaotic bar brawl with a stand-up fight between Ricardo and his assassins at the centre, depends on the preferences of the playing group and the GM.
A brawl in the Welcome Anchorage is very unlikely to occur among the established patrons. They will, however, act with the staff to counter a threat to the inn from outside (like a mob of beggars, or drunken rioters from another inn). Alternately, two rival groups, if induced to frequent the inn at the same time (crews of rival ships for instance) could cause considerable trouble. Player ingenuity is called for. The later in the evening, the less customers and the more chance of attacking Ricardo without immediate, overwhelming mob response.
Catching Ricardo after he has closed up is also possible, when all his customers and most, if not all, of his trusted staff have left. This should not be made too easy, as he is a very experienced fighter who will not easily be ambushed. (Hunting Ricardo through the darkened inn could be fun. Catching him in the street more difficult, as he can escape by carriage, but a chase through narrow alleys would be good.)
Ambushing his carriage is possible but, as it belongs to a very important figure in the City, fraught with risk and repercussion. The coachmen and grooms will be armed and capable, and any daylight attack will attract the City Guard.

People

Ricardo Vessare. An imposing, ageing man. Tall and bulky, with a deeply lined, handsome face and a shock of white hair. He dresses in simple but expensive clothes, normally a dark frock coat, breeches and silk shirt. His cravat is never without a jeweled pin (a good paste copy, having lost the original diamond twenty years back).
Vessare is superfically popular and friendly, but inside he is cold and dangerous, having survived into old age as a hunted bandit. He will not hesitate to use lethal violence in his own interest, but this is tempered by great personal courage and, in his way, honour. Play him as bad, rather than evil, strong rather than corrupt.
He carries a dagger; relying on some henchman to thow a sword to him if a fight occurs, and a concealed pistol (an unusual wheel lock blunderbus with two short barrels: an early sawn-off shotgun)

Name: Ricardo Vessare Race: Human Sex: Male

PS  MD  AG  HL  MS  IN  ME  PB  SI CSP AWF PAD THA EVA PAA TPA PEA DAA
16  14  15  13  15  17  13  16  14   5  11  -4   4   4   5  16   6   2
GEN  SHK  WOC  SOC
 38   42   -1   -1
Loc  HEAD  NECK  L.ARM R.ARM CHEST BELLY PELVS L.LEG R.LEG
GEN    8     8     10    10    19    19    13    13    13
SHK    8     8     11    11    21    21    14    14    14
Notable Skills: Townwise 78% Oratory 64% Gen Knowledge 59%
Notable Combat Skills: Dagger 65% (throw 80%) Bastard Sword 74% Pistol 55%
Armour: None


Anton: The appalling ruin of a man described in the introduction, he is actually dead (although he doesn't know it). Only his overwhelming need for vengeance is holding him together on this, the twentieth aniversary of his murder.
Originally, Anton barely survived his gunshot wounds and near drowning, being rescued by poor beachcombers and nursed back to a sad parody of health. Hideously wounded, maddened with grief and a need for revenge, he lived among dockside beggars for a few years, hoping to build up enough strength to exact retribution. Before long he succumbed to a chronic wound infection, his body then moldering in the river-bottom silt until recently. Very old beggars might just remember him, as a pathetic figure from their youth.
If Ricardo dies, and Anton is told, (he can detect the truth or otherwise of such a report by sheer instinct, so strong is his hate) he will 'die' on the spot. His body will be found to be quite cold, and his lungs filled with dock water.
Only if a deception or betrayal is attempted will Anton be met as an opponent, when he will attempt to ambush his deceivers in some dark alley, attacking in a berserk, inhuman frenzy. If his unquiet spirit follows the PCs after his body is killed is up to the GM.

Name: Anton Race: Revenant Sex: Male

PS  MD  AG  HL  MS  IN  ME  PB  SI CSP AWF PAD THA EVA PAA TPA PEA DAA
24   9   7  26  15  12  13  -6  11   8  13  -1  -1   1  -2  16  14   4
GEN   WOC
 47     0
Loc  HEAD  NECK  L.ARM R.ARM CHEST BELLY PELVS L.LEG R.LEG
GEN    9     9    12    12    24    24    16    16    16

Notable Skills: Hide 70%
Notable Combat Skills: Grapple 67% Claws 49%
Armour: None

Alloe: A striking dark haired woman in her early fifties, she was quite clearly a vibrant beauty in her youth, before decades of drunkeness and insanity took their toll. Even now her body retains a dancer's muscular tone and her eyes a certain inward-looking sparkle, as she remembers pleasures and loves long gone. But the traumatic events of twenty years ago have left a terrible scar on her mind: she has shut out reality and exists in an alcoholic dream.
Any attempt to communicate will drive her deeper into herself, to the point of virtual coma, and while she can be led by the hand, and will feed and dress herself, any attack will be met by completele passivity.
She spends her days at the Welcome Anchorage, and her nights at a hostel for the destitute.

Name: Alloe Race: Human Sex: Female

PS  MD  AG  HL  MS  IN  ME  PB  SI CSP AWF PAD THA EVA PAA TPA PEA DAA
 8   8  12   9   6  14   7  14   8   6  16  -2  -2   4   0  10  -2   0
GEN  SHK  WOC  SOC
 20   15    1    1
Loc  HEAD  NECK  L.ARM R.ARM CHEST BELLY PELVS L.LEG R.LEG
GEN    4     4     5     5    10    10     7     7     7
SHK    3     3     4     4     8     8     5     5     5
Notable Skills: Dance 67%
Notable Combat Skills: None
Armour: None


Ricardo's staff

In the running of the Welcome Anchorage, a typical collection of pot-boys, seving wenches, bar-keepers and skivvies are employed. Relatively ignorant of Ricardo's past and hired on short term agreements, these people will flee if trouble occurs, valuing (quite reasonably) their own skins over their employer's. Also employed, and always keeping a discreet (but tangible) presence are several of Ricardo's old associates and hired thugs, on call should any trouble threaten: In the event of a direct challenge to Ricardo, his people are as likely to second him in the ensuing duel, rather than simply killing the challenger: once again, bad rather than evil
Guire: An old, bulky mercenary. Keeps to himself, drinks with Raaku at a corner table. Sombre clothes, greatsword behind chair.

Name: Guire Race: Human Sex: Male

PS  MD  AG  HL  MS  IN  ME  PB  SI CSP AWF PAD THA EVA PAA TPA PEA DAA
18   9  14  16  13  12   8  12  15   5  14  -1  -1   4   2  16   8   2
GEN  SHK  WOC  SOC
 42   44   -1   -2
Loc  HEAD  NECK  L.ARM R.ARM CHEST BELLY PELVS L.LEG R.LEG
GEN    8     8     11    11    21    21    14    14    14
SHK    9     9     11    11    22    22    15    15    15
Notable Skills: Treat Wound 57% Track 48%
Notable Combat Skills: Greatsword 62%
Armour: Leather jerkin

Raaku: A hard faced, muscular woman. Plaited hair, mail shirt, six throwing daggers on a cross-belt. Old grudge against Ricardo.

Name: Raaku Race: Human Sex: Female

PS  MD  AG  HL  MS  IN  ME  PB  SI CSP AWF PAD THA EVA PAA TPA PEA DAA
15  18  17  15  16  14  11  10  12   4  12  -2   8   5   8  16   5   1
GEN  SHK  WOC  SOC
 35   40   -1   -1
Loc  HEAD  NECK  L.ARM R.ARM CHEST BELLY PELVS L.LEG R.LEG
GEN    7     7     9     9    18    18    12    12    12
SHK    8     8    10    10    20    20    13    13    13
Notable Skills: Jump 61% Pick Lock 52% Sneak 45% Hide 70%
Notable Combat Skills: Daggers 47% (Throw 86%) Sabre 59%
Armour: Chain jerkin

Orrs: Chief barman. A short, wide, fat, bald man. Oiled canvas apron, baggy trousers. Axe and target shield kept under bar counter.

Name: Orrs Race: Human Sex: Male

PS  MD  AG  HL  MS  IN  ME  PB  SI CSP AWF PAD THA EVA PAA TPA PEA DAA
14   8  10  10  14  13  15   7  15   7  12  -2  -2   2  -1  12   4   1
GEN  SHK  WOC  SOC
 36   39   -1   -1
Loc  HEAD  NECK  L.ARM R.ARM CHEST BELLY PELVS L.LEG R.LEG
GEN    7     7     9     9    18    18    12    12    12
SHK    8     8    10    10    20    20    13    13    13
Notable Skills: Gen Knowledge 64% Townwise 62%
Notable Combat Skills: Battle Axe 46% Wooden Target Shield 49%
Armour: None
Talmas: Young hired thug. Sits prominently at table by the door, red hair, scowls a lot. Crossbow hangs under table. Studded leather.

Name: Talmas Race: Human Sex: Male

PS  MD  AG  HL  MS  IN  ME  PB  SI CSP AWF PAD THA EVA PAA TPA PEA DAA
17  14  14  16  14  10  10  14  13   5  14   0   4   4   4  16   7   2
GEN  SHK  WOC  SOC
 39   42   -1   -1
Loc  HEAD  NECK  L.ARM R.ARM CHEST BELLY PELVS L.LEG R.LEG
GEN    8     8    10    10    20    20    13    13    13
SHK    8     8    11    11    21    21    14    14    14
Notable Skills: Run 57%
Notable Combat Skills: Medium Crossbow 42% Broad Sword 39%
Armour: Full Studded Leather
(adjust number of Ricardo's people to suit strength of PCs)

Notes

This short scenario doesn't have a happy ending. Alloe will not get her lover back. Anton is dead already. Ricardo, older and wiser now, is likely to die for his act of youthful wrath. Ricardo's staff are likely to be slain protecting him and the inn will most probably shut, or burn down during the mayhem. Nobody said life was fair.
As a source of future events/trouble the scenario is fruitful:
A successful kill on Ricardo will make the PCs very unpopular with many of his old business associates (all now getting quite old) and, if done too obviously, wanted by the City Guard, to answer to a murder charge.
Ricardo's mistress will be most upset by even an unsucessful attack on her man and, being an influential City figure, could be an implacable enemy for years.
Ricardo's old comrades in arms (Guire, Orrs etc) could quite easily swear some Mafia-style revenge pact and hunt down the PCs (one by one ?) for retribution.
An unsuccesful or bungled kill will place the PCs in deep trouble with Anton, and unless they can argue for a second try, in direct conflict with a potentially very nasty undead.
And with Ricardo, for trying to kill him, and he could be a very powerful foe indeed.