Sunday, January 10, 2010

Torgon Needs Vril!

I've been brainstorming on the whole Henchman-for-Hire adventure idea. The main elements (besides the PCs), as you may recall, are Torgon the Eviscerator (space tyrant), Nazis (along with Romans, the perfect villains), and the Hollow Earth. I probably need to look it over more closely to see if I've given the PCs enough to do; I'm leaving it completely up to them whether they want to aid von Nacht or rebel against him; whether they want to work for Torgon, or try and foil him.

I've pulled a lot of inspiration from Exile Games' Hollow Earth Expedition, including the secret organization of Terra Obscura (their Terra Arcana), and some details of the Vril-ya.

Here are my notes on the subject. I started out by using Doc Rotwang's Adventure Funnel template, which has been very useful for organizing my ideas --- not that they're really all that organized.

Torgon Needs Vril!
Dr. Helmut von Nacht, an agent for "a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous", has hired a group of Henchmen (the PCs) from the Henching Hand (a Hemchman Temp agency) to secure a source of limitless power, called Vril.
GOAL: 1) Locate the source of Vril on Earth. 2) Summon Torgon's invasion fleet. 3) Secure it until the Fleet arrives
  • It's our home planet, dammit!
  • We didn't read the fine print
  • The Earth is HOLLOW? Who knew?
  • Perils from the Surface World: Nazis, ?
  • Perils of the Hollow Earth: hostile natives (including "extinct" Surface World cultures), beast-men, dinosaurs, man-eating plants, etc.)
  • Torgon the Eviscerator (evil space tyrant), the Interocitor (Torgon's viewscreen/remote control/death ray)
  • Dr. Helmut von Nacht, "prominent" scientist, agent of Torgon, member of the Thule society inner circle, secret Nazi; actual employer of the
  • But we don't WANT to work with Nazis!!!
  • Terra Obscura (secret society, protectors of the Hollow Earth
Dr. Helmut von Nacht
  • Secretly an agent of Torgon the Eviscerator
  • Has his own agenda:
  • successfully enter the Hollow Earth (has tried several times before)
  • verify connection between Atlanteans and Aryans
  • Seize the power of Vril
von Nacht's assistants
  • Gudrun Schlager, von Nacht's assistant / lover / assassin
  • Horst Zimmer, seemingly a big, beefy Aryan stereotype;. von Nacht has some kind of hold over him, which Zimmer resents. Looking for a chance to break free.
  • ? some other assistant ?
  • One of these is a member of Terra Obscura
  • One of these is a result of Nazi breeding experiment, which confers some kind of superior ability (mental or physical) which the subject keeps hidden.
  • von Nacht has a secret hold over one of these, which the victim resents.
Why recruit Henchmen? Why not use Stormtroopers
  • Helmut von Nacht had a loyal bunch of Stormtroopers, but something happened to them (the doings of the Terra Obscura agent, no doubt).
  • (The Henchmen should discover the fate of the Stormtroopers somehow, something gruesome)
  • Torgon is getting impatient with him, so he had to find substitutes.
  • von Nacht is keeping important details of the mission secret. Partly because this is how he treats his underlings; partly because he doesn't want them to blow the mission for him.
Secrets of the Hollow Earth
  • The earth is hollow
  • Several entrances, especially at the poles
  • Ancient Civilizations, including remnants of the Atlantean civilization. Amazons, Titans (giant humanoids), Vril-ya, Cargo Cultists, Amazons, Cannibals, Neanderthals, Noble Savages, Aztecs, Mongols, Mythikans (Ancient Greeks), Romans
  • Beast Men: Ape Men, Gill Men, Mandrakes (plant people), Hawk Men, Panther Men, Lizard Men, Mantis Men, Mole Men
  • Creatures: dinosaurs; prehistoric megafauna; "man-eating" plants; etc.
Terra Obscura
  • Ancient secret society, descended from Atlanteans, working to keep all knowledge of the Hollow Earth a secret.
  • Agents will use any means (discrediting, theft, bribery, recruitment, murder) to accomplish their goals
  • Small but widespread organization; has infiltrated governments, universities, military; monitors world news organizations. expeditions to areas which lead to Hollow Earth
  • Agents are incredibly capable and resourceful secret agents; dedicated but do not act like rabid fanatics. (Think James Bond).
  • They have access to some Atlantean technology, but sparingly; don't understand the principles of the technology.
  • Though of an Atlantean origin, there are no Atlanteans in Terra Obscura.
Why can't the Henchmenback out?
  • Von Nacht will have them killed if they don't do what he wants.
  • The Henching Hand will terminate their contracts, with all applicable penalties, if they don't go through with the mission. [Look up the appropriate parts of the contract; if there aren't any, write up new ones. Didn't you check your email? Well, check your spam filter. Do we have your correct email? Home address? etc.)
  • Doesn't Earth have, like, space radar? Space stations? Orbiting nuclear platforms?
What the heck is Vril, anyway?
  • it's an energy source much like the Force, Ley Line energy, feng shui, etc.
  • The ancient Atlanteans knew how to master Vril; it was the source of their super-scientific/occult technology.
  • Destroyed millenia ago on the surface world; survivors made their way to the center of the Earth.
  • Had an incredibly high level of technology and magic
  • Mysteriously vanished. (Like the Krell/Forbidden Planet)? Mysterious ruins left behind, showing hints of advanced/magic technology.
  • identity is kept secret (to keep the PCs from backing out), heighten suspense
  •  Dr. Helmut von Nacht is Torgon's Earth agent; works for a mysterious benefactor, who prefers to remain anonymous
  • One of the PCs is a former lieutenant of Torgon's who failed a mission or rebelled; von Nacht has orders to see this PC killed.
  • Large hangar with rocketships
  • Interocitor (big triangular screen, atom symbol, dials, etc.)
  • Locked meeting room with Torgon symbol
  • Torture chamber w/ prisoners (who? why?) (To clue the henchmen in that something weird is going on. Of course, henchmen get weird handed to them on a daily basis.)
  • Alien troops are kept hidden or disguised
  • Terra Obscura agent covertly sabotaging mission
Damn Nazis!

  • Helmut von Nacht is secretly a highly placed member of the Thule Society
  • Wants to discover the lost secrets of Atlantis for the return of the Third Reich (Fourth Reich?)
  • Wants to prove the Atlantean origin of the Aryan races, and thus German racial superiority
  • Atlantean scientific and occult knowledge behind every major historical civilization
  • Knowledge of the secrets of Atlantis will return the Reich to power.
Deros (evil stunted humanoid monstrosities, paranoid, sadistic)
  • Have some ancient Atlantean devices which they use for torture, mind reading, mind control, espionage
  • They don't understand the principles
  • Working with the Nazis
  • Claim to be the real Atlanteans, but are mere pretenders
  • Live in a major set of Atlantean ruins, and have access to more Atlantean technology than annyone else, but do not have more than a smattering
  • Pretending to be gods, wizards of great power, etc.
  • Have access to a great source of Vril
  • The Eisenmaulwurf (Iron Mole): drilling vehicle from an early attempt by von Nacht. Could be repaired and used to ecape if stranded.
  • Gaining allies from the natives
  • Discovering a minor secret of Atlantean technology

Friday, January 8, 2010

My First Official Spolier Post

As I was saying over on Guy-Wires, my gaming group convinced me into combining Torgon the Eviscerator (Space Tyrant and future Drama Critic) with my Greek Heroic Age campaign. Further, they convinced me to let them play henchme-for-hire to Torgon (part of an intermittently-utilized campaign framework we came up with a couple of years ago).

Back before I made the henchmen connection, I had another idea. "Mazes & Minotaurs" is the game that inspired my Greek campaign idea, although I wanted to run an Earth-based version of ts world of Mythika. (The conceit of M&M is that it's what the first RPG would have been like if it had been based on movies like "Jason and the Argonauts" and those Italian "Hercules" movies instead of Medieval miniatures games.) I wanted to take the same ideas and run it in a wacky version of Ancient Greece (I've got a lot of games based on Ancient Greece, so I have maps, locations, NPCs, etc.). Amongst the many creatures in the M&M bestiary is a race called Derros.

There's also a race called Derros in Dungeons and Dragons, but it's not really a case of one game plagiarizing the other. In the 1940s, the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories started running a series known as "The Shaver Mysteries" (after the author, Richard Sharpe Shaver, who claimed that these stories were true). The stories claimed that humans were being tortured physically and mentally tortured by a race of stunted, subterranean dwarfs named (wait for it) Deros. Though they lived primarily in cavern cities, they sometimes travelled in rockets and saucers (remnants of ancient Lemurian technology) and visited the outer Earth. Also, it is said, they made contact with evil inhabitants of outer space.

For those few of you who haven't heard of the Hollow Earth thery, it's a real theory. Even though there's a lot of scientific evidence against it, many people believed (and still believe) that the world is hollow. Theories differ, but the most common one is that there is an immense cavern, with a miniature sun hanging in the center. The inside of the sphere was populated with all kinds of people, creatures, and plants which had ceased to perish (or never really existed) in the outer world. You can find dinosaurs, man-eating plants, Atlanteans, Romans, etc.... all preserved remarkably as they were.  There were a number of hidden entrances to the inner world, including one each at the poles.

The modern version of this idea goes back several centuries, and has had some surprising associations. Edmund Halley (of Halley's Comet fame) believed in it. One of Andrew Jackson's cronies wanted to mount an expedition to it, until the tobacco-spitting hero of the Battle of New Orleans put the kibosh on the notion. Admiral Richard Byrd, who discovered the North Pole, was supposed to have ventured into the North Polar opening... and was the guest of the inhabitants! But the most intriguing (from a storytelling point of view) is that the Thule Society (a pre-WWII German occultist organization) believed very much in the Hollow Earth. According to many pulp stories, they convinced Hitler to sponsor their expedition to the northern entrance, in search of ancient Atlantean super-science and sorcery. Just Google "Hollow Earth" for as much as you care to learn about the subject.

So now I have my setting, in broad strokes.  Just what am I going to do with it?

Until next time...