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Dragon's Fire
An Adventure for Space: 1889

by Peter Schutze

While traveling around Mars (preferably in the Boreo Syrtis League cities or the British possessions), the party is summoned to a meeting with the local representative of Her Majesty's Government (whoever is appropriate). A disturbing two week old report has just come in from an agent in Protonilus of a huge monster near Ismenilus destroying outlying villages and spewing fire when approached. Since this area is under German influence, direct interference by the Crown is undesirable. Considering the group's reputation and past services to the Crown, he hopes they would be interested in giving things the once over in Ismenilus for him.

The group should travel to Ismenilus in the guise of traders seeking the jewels available in Western Dioscuria and hopefully some Bhutan spice from the League or liftwood shipped from further south. Adventures along the way to Protonilus at the discretion of the referee, although the adventure "Escape from Dioscuria" published in GDW's Challenge 58 and 59 is recommended for use on the return journey. Instead of traveling as merchants, the adventure "Monastery of Tasharvan" in Challenge 62 could be used, and then the party could travel directly to Ismenilus or Protonilus.

The British field agent in Dioscuria is missing but he told his landlady he was moving on to Protonilus. When the party tries to find him in Protonilus they are told that a man of his description was killed in a cart accident at the market yesterday morning.

From Protonilus the group will have difficulty continuing as no caravans, escorts or guides are willing to travel towards Ismenilus while the monster is loose. Should they contact anyone in authority (human or martian) they will be told that all patrols have been curtailed and travel to Ismenilus is officially discouraged. These inquiries will also attract the attention of the German agent operating in the area, who will send a gang of stock NPC martian thugs (three thugs for every two people in the party) to rough them up and rob them (giving him clues to their identity) near their lodgings that night. The thugs will not know who hired them, but believe it was the local Ground Cleanser cult.

With all avenues of assistance closed, the party will have to continue alone. If they leave by the road to Ismenilus, a number of riders on gashants equal in number to the party will follow hoping to attack once the party has stopped for a meal or set up camp. They are opportunistic hill martian bandits and not related to the German plans. Otherwise, only normal encounters will occur until the party is within a few hours of Ismenilus. Along the way several small villages will be found burned and deserted. A careful examination (a formidable observation task) by someone with Gunnery-Machine Gun skill will reveal several bullet marks from machine guns, otherwise these will resemble teeth and claw marks.

When about three hours from Ismenilus, the party will witness the destruction of Kappra Sul village by something that appears from a distance to be a fire-breathing dinosaur! Hopefully the party will follow this creature (an easy Tracking or Wilderness Travel task) to its lair in a cave about 17 miles north of the canal. While watching the cave they will see a German soldier smoking in the cave mouth. This should encourage the players to make a nocturnal visit to the cave. At the cave, the party will engage in a fight with Major Johann Steuben and six German soldiers (stock NPC's who operate the tripod machineguns), three of whom will arrive in a disheveled state. Major Steuben will surrender before he is seriously injured and will explain the plot to the party.

If the party does not follow the monster they will meet a drunken soldier in an alley in Ismenilus, who mistaking them for his drinking friends, will tell them jokes about the Drachen Dreifuss ("dragon tripod") he now crews which is based in the hills three hours to the northeast of the city before he collapses.

Major Steuben's part in plan is to test-run the Feurwerfer combat tripod (which is covered in plaster to superficially resemble a dinosaur, since anyone close enough to see through the disguise should be killed by it or in a total panic!) and cause serious disruption to the government of Ismenilus, allowing the Germans to come to the rescue when unrest in the city has grown. If the operation is a success the Imperial German Army would begin mass production of this advanced tripod and have gained a lot of influence if not outright control in Ismenilus.

With the monster threat removed (Major Steuben will destroy it by collapsing the cave as soon as he escapes or is freed on parole as an officer and gentleman), returning to deliver their report should not be difficult and the appropriate rewards collected. One renown in Service to the Crown (and one in Heroics if the Germans were fought) plus a small cash payment of 10-20 pounds each should be enough. Any profit they made from trading during the journey are also theirs to keep (after the caravan is restocked, if a decent profit was made). Skill points should be awarded in accordance with the rules. If the party thinks to take photos of the Tripod, especially its experimental equipment, they will be paid an extra pound per picture.

The Feurwerfer (firethrower) Combat Tripod (experimental) Is It A Dragon?

weight cost

Frame (large) 3 tons 1500

Armour (1) 1.5 tons 150

I/C engine (special) nil 1200

Fuel sprayer nil 350

Smoke disch. nil 150

6pdr HRC (bow) 1.5 tons 220

2 x 3pdr HRC 1 ton 360

Tether mine nil 200

Total 7 tons 3830


Combat Results: A '12' fuel/power critical hit destroys the tripod and triggers a 'Fuel sprayer' attack.

Fuel sprayer: When used it fills 3 random adjacent hexes (treat as Martian Liquid Fire) using 1 hour of the fuel supply and prevents the tripod from moving next turn. If the same hex is rolled twice, the second attack affects the vehicle's hex (and the tripod) instead.

Smoke Discharger: When used, fills the vehicle hex and 2 downwind with thick grey smoke and prevents the tripod from any other firing in the current turn.

Artillery Major Johann Steuben

Imperial German Army (Army/Inventor)

Major Steuben is a tall, brown haired, impeccably groomed Prussian military officer who has a slight limp in the right leg and favors his left arm due to his war injuries.

STR 3 Fisticuffs-2 Throwing-1 Close Cbt(edged)-1

AGI 4 Stealth-3 Marksmanship(pistol)-1 Mechanical(Steam/Machinist-2)-3

END 2 Wilderness Travel(foraging)-1

INT 5 Observation-4 Gunnery(BLC)-3 Science(physics)-3 Engineering(Naval Architect)-4

CHR 2 Eloquence-1

SOC 3 Riding(horse)-2 Leadership-2

Motivations: DRIVEN(usefulness to army); LOYAL(to Germany); KNOWLEDGE(of war machines)

Major Steuben was retired to the reserve officer list after an injury received in the Franco-Prussian war and has been working with Krupp Isenfabriken (ironworks) as the army's liaison on their tripod design staff. He was then selected to test the Fuerwerfer tripod prototype as he was crucial to the development of many of its special features such as the Internal Combustion engine and the fuel spray defense weapon.

Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:50:14 EDT

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