by Will Patterson, Keeper of the Child's Dream
Archival. The city of grease and gears. Sanctuary of the Mechans, but open to all. It was founded centuries ago by the bard Jixter Reverb, the first to awaken. It stands as a monument to progress, beckoning Mechans as they attain sentience. King Jixter's reign was marked by peace and prosperity until a week ago, when Jixter murdered Archmage Redwell in cold blood before hundreds of witnesses. Jixter refuses to speak, and you have been hired by Archival’s mage guild to uncover the King's motives...
- Growing up on its oil-stained streets, you bore witness to the lie behind Archival's prosperity. What is your most distressing memory?
- Rumors of the White are as ubiquitous as they are inconsistent. Why does it want Archival for its own?
- (For a magic user) You narrowly escaped capture at the hands of hooded assailants. Aside from a patch branded with a bleeding eye, what did they leave behind?
- As you approached Archival by airship, you could feel the heat from the fires burning in the eastern district. What stories did the dockworkers tell of the east?
- Over the years, you have lost more coin at The Baker's Daughter than you'd care to admit. What palace intrigues are your fellow regulars gossiping about recently? Whoever answers this question is the Regular for purposes of The Baker’s Daughter custom move.
- A scrap of newspaper describing the abductions of several prominent human magic users.
- Graffiti depicting a bleeding red eye.
- Rumors of Mechans going missing and returning home with significant memory issues.
- A man's voice, pleading for help down a darkened alley.
- Fires in the east, lighting up the night sky.
- A constable's carriage, speeding through the streets, heedless of pedestrians.
- An oil-slicked river, separating east Archival from the west.
- A half-dozen well-equipped corpses, frozen solid.
- A beggar ranting about an invasion of imposter Mechans.
- The guards at the palace gates seem unconcerned by Redwell’s death.
- A bizarre spider-like contraption waddling down the boulevard like the town drunk. Inside you hear two voices arguing loudly.
- A shadow cast by a huge creature flying above, too high to identify.
- Footprints made of ice that refuse to melt, even in the noonday sun.
- In your pockets you find business cards reading: “Johannes Trithemius - translations, solutions, divinations - The Baker’s Daughter Room 3b.”
- A glimpse of an unusual, diminutive Mechan who was clearly studying you. It disappears without a trace.
- An enormous bronze mechanical bear walking down a boulevard. People move out of its way and you would swear it winks at you as you pass.
- Letters of frost reading “Pachua rises!” and “The One Reigns!”
- A rotund street musician with an enormous top hat. “Name’s HAT. Catch me tonight at The Baker’s Daughter!”
- Three stone-sober dwarves overseeing a construction site crewed by Mechans.
- Rumors of a hospital to the east that has been experimenting on Mechans. Patients allegedly return without joy in their gears.
- A newspaper with the headline: "Jixter in chains, Babbage takes reins."
- A train station where the upper torso of a Mechan behemoth, like a huge, mechanical centaur, emerges from an engine. It looks at you for a moment before returning to the task of loading its cars.
The Baker's Daughter, a tavern frequented by palace officials that hides a dark secret.
When you spend some time swapping tales with the regulars at The Baker's Daughter, the Regular rolls +CHA (see Questions above). On a 7+, ask the GM two questions from the list below. On a 7-9, one of the answers may be a lie.
- Who is reprogramming Mechans?
- Where is the White's lair?
- Who is really in control at the Palace?
- Where is the secret entrance to King Jixter's study?
- Who is Kol?
- What caused the fires in the east?
On a 6-, the GM may answer however they wish, and your inquiries draw unwelcome attention.
Archival’s Mage Guild, reinforced as if preparing itself for war
A burnt out hospital in the east, housing the lair of Pachua, the White, deep below.
The Palace, loyal to Jixter's treasurer Mordecai Babbage
The Silverheart Bridge, the main thoroughfare connecting East and West, blockaded by the Palace Guard
The White’s Thralls: Servants of Pachua, an ancient white dragon. Instinct: to obtain an army.
Cult of Dead Steel: Industrialists that miss the days of free Mechan labor.
Instinct: to refurbish Mechans into mindless servants.
Cult of the Gyre: Madmen in service to a long buried evil. Cultists carry a bleeding eye insignia. Instinct: to transform magic users into powerful fiends.
The Palace: Jixter's treasurer, Mordecai Babbage, rules in Jixter's stead. Instinct: to deny the unthinkable.
The Mages Guild: The party's employers. The local chapter is led by Lady Dallyance the Bold. Instinct: to protect magic users from abduction and uncover the truth about Jixter.
Pachua & Kol
Inseparable, intelligent, devious, flying, mounted [Pachua is immune to the party’s feeble attempts]
16 HP (Kol), 1 armor
Upon entering the frozen lair beneath the burnt out hospital, you will find Kol sitting upon a throne of ice on a pillar 30 feet in the air. A manacle on Kol’s left hand is chained to a choker around the neck of a beautiful figure, who sits forlornly at the edge of the pillar. Kol will demand that the party stop and return to the surface, else Kol will push the figure off the edge. If the party approaches, Kol will follow through on this promise. The figure will transform into a white dragon during the fall, and Kol will leap onto its back. Any party member who attempts to interrupt the fall will be their first target. Pachua's armored hide is almost impenetrable, but it will withdraw from Archival in grief if its partner falls.
Instinct: to capture a party member and withdraw
- Pachua's ice breath (b[2d10]+2, area, near, slow, freezing)
- Kol leaps from Pachua to perform the Pendulum, a deadly maneuver allowing Kol to strike a target below and then regain their seat on Pachua’s neck (1d10, beneath Pachua, pierce 2)
- Javelin (1d6, near, far, pierce 1, ammo 3)
- Clutch a foolish PC in Pachua’s claws
6HP, 1 armor
Kol's Crew patrols eastern Archival in service to Pachua. Deadly archers stand watch above the lair entrance.
Instinct: to rain death from above
- Cruel bow (1d6, near, far, pierce 1, debilitating (DM’s choice))
- Cruel blade (1d6, close, messy)
- Call for reinforcements
Group, fanatical to the Cult of the Gyre
7HP, armor 2
Led by Captain James Jarvis Strong, the guard is currently stationed at the Silverheart Bridge and will rebuff the party’s attempts to travel to the east without Mordecai Babbage’s personal authorization. Corpses carry the bleeding eye badge.
Instinct: To kidnap magic users
- Swords (1d8+2, close)
- Bolos (near, far, immobilizing)
- Raise anti-magic field
- Put civilians in immediate danger
Mimic, obedient to the Cult of Dead Steel
6HP, 3 armor
Instinct: To infiltrate the upper echelons of Mechan society
- Improvised weaponry (1d10, close, near)
- Ambush from a crowd
- Imitate former self