For Minion Hunters travelling by ship is a convenient, and more importantly, anonymous form of transport. For many this is a way of regroup and recuperating between ‘missions’ safe in the knowledge that miles of ocean separates them and the evil they fight against.
Until now that is…
Travelling Dark America, let alone the world, is fraught with danger during the Greater Depression. Not only are there bandits, brigands and survivalists to contend with, but the increasing incidence of Demongrounds brings new threats and terrors to unsuspecting travellers. It is not surprising then, that, especially along the Eastern seaboard, boats and ships have become a popular way of undertaking longer journeys. While these shipping lines are not as busy as they once were, there are still plenty of goods and products needing to be moved north and south. This relatively safe form of transport has risen in popularity, especially as the ship captains look to supplement their margins in these short haul trips by allowing paying passengers to hitch a ride.
Facts – The Minion Hunters have boarded the Atlantic Bride, a small independent cargo ship – the 21st Century version of a Tramp Steamer – to take them to their next destination. While flagged to an American port, the crew of the Bride are a mixed lot, many hailing from foreign lands and reluctant to be engaged in conversation with their passengers.
The trip begins pleasantly enough, but soon strange and deadly events start to unfold:
- The first night out from port, a wild storm hits the ship, causing carnage and destruction. The crew struggles to ensure everything is restrained and safe, and call on the passengers to assist.
- The next morning, the ship’s captain is found dead in his cabin. Although the death seems to be of natural causes, the old sea dog having seen better days, the crew are suspicious. Soon evidence is found indicating foul play in the captain’s death, and tensions begin to rise.
- There is an explosion and fire in the engine room. The chief engineer is killed and the ship lies dead in the water. A Mayday is sent, but it will be hours (if not days) before anyone will come to assist. Accusations start to fly and the crew and passengers quickly come into conflict.
- More deaths. As night falls and the dark, cold ship lists uncontrollably something starts to stalk those who remain huddled on board.
Options – Taking on Water should be a story about paranoia and hidden threats, and the Referee has a number of options on what is the cause. What follows is but a few ideas.
- The Super Cargo: The Atlantic Bride took on more than the Minion Hunters at its last port of call. Stored deep in its hold is a super cargo; an assassin bot programmed to kill its targets with deadly efficiency. As a result of the ferocious storm, the bot has been awakened, and its systems scrambled. Thinking that the ship’s crew and passengers are now its targets, it strives to disable the Atlantic Bride and kill everyone on-board. Worse still for the survivors, a beacon alerting its corporate masters to the situation has been activated. It’s only a matter of time before representatives of this organisation arrive to retrieve their property – with deadly force.
- Second Mate Waters: James Waters is dead, and he has been for over a month. In his place is a doppelganger, a Fae creature that utilises Water’s likeness and position to travel from city to city avoiding detection as feeds on the unfortunates it finds. The intense storm, however, disrupted the creature’s empathic ability to look like Waters and it knows that someone amongst the crew or passengers saw it in its true form. Scare of being discovered, it sabotages the ship with the intent of discovering just who the witness was. Sowing fear and distrust amongst those on-board it attempts to isolate it potential targets and eliminate them one by one.
- In Cold Storage: Brendon Tait is another passenger onboard the Atlantic Bride. While posing as a simple traveller, he is anything but. Tait is in fact a dealer in bodies, and is currently in possession of an Insectoid ET corpse that he has arranged to trade to a shadowy organisation. To ensure secrecy, Tait has arranged for the corpse to be transported on the Bride, where far out into the ocean, he disables the ship and awaits for his contacts to arrive. He cares little for the crew or other passengers and fully believes that his ‘friends’ will ensure they don’t remain an issue for too long. Of course, things are never that simple, and others, including the representatives from dead ETs group are more than interested in the body Tait has hidden in cold storage.
Author’s Note – Taking on Water actually began life as a Call of Cthulhu adventure back in the early 2000s and was used as a filler type adventure in a large campaign. Recently inspired during the read through of the New Orleans supplement, the core concepts of that adventure mashed with the Dark Conspiracy setting to result in the tabloid you see here.