APE ATTACK! – a Feng Shui 2 One-Shot

Something I’m determined to do more of is post some ready-to-run one-shots here. So, here’s one that might not be quite ready to run without some system (and setting) mastery, but might give some interesting insight into the creative process. This is at a level slightly above the ‘back of a cigarette packet’ level of prep that I’d do for a convention game – I ran this at Kraken 2022, and I’m sure I’ll get to run it again.

Of note:

  • I don’t list interesting things that can happen in each fight, as recommended in the core rules. I find that if I have a complex, messy enough setting for the fight, and clear permission for the players to make shit up, they fill in the blanks well enough
  • You’ll see that the stats (and pre-rolled initiatives) for the opponents take up quite a bit of space on the page; this is deliberate, as this is what I’ll be looking at in play.
  • If this looks like a series of fight scenes held together by a paper-thin plot and some bad ape puns, you’d be right. There’s a future post coming about running Feng Shui 2 one-shots, and I’d recommend leaning in to both Robin Laws’ excellent prep advice, and the pulpy ridiculousness of the whole setting.
  • If game balance is your jam, this was for 5 players using standard FS2 archetypes. I tend to reduce down the number of opponents for all but the final battle, just because in a con game you want fights to be pretty fast (and the default for FS2 is hard-ish; so you want some easy-ish fights as well)

While you’re reading this, I should tell you about my Patreon. Patrons get access to content 7 days before they hit this site, the chance to request articles or content, and the chance to play in one-shot games, for a very reasonable backer level of £2 per month. If you like what you read, want to support the blog, and have the funds for it, please consider supporting here. Telling people about the blog, and sharing links/retweeting is much appreciated also – thanks!

Enjoy! Kudos to my “playtesters” at Kraken, and let me know if you get any play out of it!

Ape Attack!

There is an ancient battle across the junctures for control of Feng Shui sites, which give unimaginable power. From 1st-century China, to 19th century China, to modern Hong Kong, to a devastated future, time-shifting Chi Warriors fight to keep enough of these under control to keep the Chi War in a delicate balance.

You are such warriors! As the music swells up, describe your character in an action scene from the previous mission.

Scene 1 – PARIS, present day

That mission was a great success, and you’re now taking some well-earned downtime in Paris – city of Love! You’re all sat around the general area of the Eiffel tower – are you sipping coffee, or wine, or maybe visiting the attractions? Where are you in the scene?

As you relax, a loud crack sounds – and you see an eruption from the ground. It’s a portal – and from it, you see a pair of cobbled-together WWII planes, piloted by apes, fly up to the Tower, as a huge beast claws its way out of the ground – a giant ape, with a cybernetic arm! They slowly begin an assault on the Eiffel tower as tourists scream for help. Taking in the situation, you see several of the Parisiens around you remove their faces – to reveal they are actually apes in disguise! Gunfire peels out – what do you do??

Initiative Rolls

FOES1S2S3S4
Messerschmidt9131211
Giant Gorilla1291211
Apes7696
Sorcerers9610

Featured Foe – Gorilla Messerschmidts (there are two, but one is taken out at the end of the first sequence by the sorcerers)

GUNS 14 / DEF 14 / TOU 6 / SPD 8 Machinegun 11

Featured Foe – Giant Gorilla

CREATURE 14 / DEF 11 / TOU 6 / SPD 6 Ape-arms 11

Furious Wrath – if last attack missed, gains +1 Attack and +3 Damage

ATK 8 / DEF 13 / SPD 5

Mooks – At the start of the scenario, 5 Gorillas are engaging the PCs (dam 10)

After Sequence 1, 5 more Gorillas take off their gorilla masks to reveal Ancient sorcerers! (dam 9)

In the aftermath, they can take stock of what has happened – they know the Eiffel tower is a Feng Shui site, and anyone with any magical connection will know that, although that assault was unsuccessful, the Feng Shui site isn’t connected to the Dragons any more – they’ve already got hold of it!

Scene 2  – INVESTIGATION -> FIGHT!

There’s a portal to a pop-up juncture somewhere in Paris that will lead them to the site of the original assault – estimated to be Paris 1889, in the middle of the Belle Epoque, when the Eiffel Tower was being built!

EVENTUALLY, their investigations will throw up two leads – a recent circus has arrived on the outskirts of Paris with many performing chimpanzees, and men in gorilla suits – some of whom have been seen asking questions about the Eiffel tower. At the same time, a group of men in odd robes with high-pitched voices have based themselves in the luxury Art Deco Four Seasons hotel (google it) and have been hanging around the Tower.

Whichever lead they follow, there’s a fight on their hands to discover the portal(s) – there’s one in each location!

This is an all-mook fight. In order for this to work, you will have 25 mooks stationed around and  about the general area – in the circus, one PC can be fighting apes on the Dodgems while another climbs the Ferris wheel to try and catch their leader. In the Hotel, while some PCs might head up to their room there will be disguised sorcerers in the restaurant and kitchen – and even the streets outside – to fight.

FOES1S2S3S4
APEs or SORCERERs91198

APEs or SORCERERs (mooks) –

ATK 8 / DEF 13 / SPD 5 either Blast 9 or Improvised Circus Stuff 9

Scene 3 – Into the Netherworld

MONTAGE through the Netherworld to get to the Belle Epoque

Use the 13th Age Montage method for this, pointing out that multiple junctures can be crossed to get to the Belle Epoque.

Scene 4 – Belle Epoque Paris!

You need to sneak into the opening of the Eiffel Tower, and defeat the apes. As you approach, you see an exhibit from the Paris Zoo has been delivered, full of chimpanzees and monkeys clad in hilarious human clothes, juggling and having hijinx. A bespectacled man, Erik Satie, plays impressionistic music on his piano. 

Satie pauses, and acknowledges you as he continues to play

You’re too late – we have the area surrounded. Literally everyone in this exhibition is ready to seize control of the tower.

The humans dancing and watching pull off their human faces and are revealed to be monkeys. The apes in the exhibition pull off their monkey faces and are human sorcerers!

FOES1S2S3S4
KONG1213119
Furious G1010119
Grenadier1210812
Satie9131112
Gorillas101078
Sorcerers116118

Boss – KING KONG (massive gorilla)

CREATURE 17 / DEF 13 / TOU 8 / SPD 7 Ape-arms 14

Back to the Wall – if attacked by more than 1 character in a sequence, shot cost drops to 2 until the end of the sequence

FF – Furious George

SCROUNGETECH 14 / DEF 12 / TOU 7 / SPD 7 Metal bite 11

Furious Wrath – if last attack missed, gains +1 Attack and +3 Damage

FF – La Grenadier, explosives expert, ape disguised as human

SCROUNGETECH 14 / DEF 12 / TOU 7 / SPD 7 Boom-gun 11

Explosive Vest – all nearby heroes take a smackdown of 12 when the foe goes down

FF – Erik Satie, eunuch sorcerer

SORCERY 13 / DEF 13 / TOU 5 / SPD 7 Blast 10

Anti-Tech – +1 Def vs. Guns, Scroungetech and Mutant powers

Mooks

ATK 8 / DEF 13 / SPD 5

1H = 8 Gorilla flappers (Guns 10)

1H = 8 sorcereous cabals (Blast 9)

Into the Underhang – A Heart: The City Beneath One-Shot

I’ve had some rum luck with illness recently – a chest infection a few weeks ago, and now Covid (I’m recovering, thankfully) have meant I’ve missed two #TTRPG conventions that are genuine highlights. Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff is excellent beery fun in Leamington Spa, while Furnace is a centrepiece of the Garrison Conventions and the place that first got me into convention GMing.

While you’re reading this, I should tell you about my Patreon. Patrons get access to content 7 days before they hit this site, the chance to request articles or content, and the chance to play in one-shot games, for a very reasonable backer level of £2 per month. If you like what you read, want to support the blog, and have the funds for it, please consider supporting here. Telling people about the blog, and sharing links/retweeting is much appreciated also – thanks!

So, I’ve been left with an excess of prepped games, and no-where to run them – so I’ll be putting them out on here. First up, a game that was planned for Owlbear, for Roward Rook & Decard‘s Heart: The City Beneath. In Heart, your desperate treasure-hunters delve into the living, beating dungeon beneath the occupied city of Spire to find eldritch treasures – and themselves.

Yes, the art is all this good – as you’d expect from RRD

Full disclosure – I haven’t actually run this, although I’m sure it will get an outing soon. If you’re Heart-curious, this might give you an idea what to expect in the game. If you’re a Patron, feel free to message (on here or twitter) and I’ll send you the pregens I did for it as well, giving you a fully ready-to-run game. Also, this is based on an adventure seed in the actual book – there are loads of them in there – but fleshed-out to be runnable for a one-shot. I’ve got more to say about prep for loose-improv games like Heart and Spire, but that’s another blog post.

Into the Underhang

A Heart: The City Beneath One-Shot

Into the Underhang is an independent production by Burn After Running and is not affiliated with Rowan, Rook and Decard. It is published under the RR&D Community License. Heart is copyright Rowan, Rook and Decard. You can find out more and support these games at rowanrookanddecard.com.

Scene 1 – Derelictus

We begin in the city between the cities, a sprawling, semi-underground mirror of Spire, Derelictus. From Platform 1, where all manner of equipment can be sourced, to Platform 2, where we find ourselves now – with Ostrer, a mad researcher, is cutting you a deal.

Hang Station was built as a tourist trap; suspended over a vast subterranean sea, so that aelfir could see the captured, sleeping monster beneath, captured from the far north. Hang Station is on Tier 2 of Heart – so will need at least a couple of delves, stopping off at a waypoint on the way. He wants to get a sample of the beast’s blood – and he needs your help.

There appear to be two notable routes towards Hang Station (a Technology) – through the singing, open railways of the Vermissian Railways – maybe hoping to catch a train some of the way, or a darker, lower way, through Sump Station (a Warren) – the flooded remains of an old station now submerged. Darker, but less likely to attract attention

In Derelictus, each PC has a chance to prepare – they can try and get hold of a D6 piece of equipment for the journey, or research another route – perhaps one going through a more favourable area for them. After a skill roll each, and potential stress (always D4 at this stage, and usually to Supplies or Fortune), they must set off

Scene 2 – Delve to Tier 1

This is a delve they will take to either Sump Station, Hang Station, or another location

Route: Between Derelictus and Sump Station

Tier: 1

Domains: Technology, Warren

Stress: D4

Resistance: 10

Description: A tramp through foot-deep, the knee-deep, flooded tunnels, in fading light and with labyrinthine corridors. Occasional relics of machinery or rails puncture through the floor – and occasionally pumps still churn. It smells bad initially, then turns to a warm, cleaner smell.

Events: Jonjak and his gang of gutterkin will track the PCs from Derelictus, and attempt to jump them to find out what they are doing; a sudden overflow means they have to wade chest-deep or lower; strange fluorescent fish swim under the water and circle the PCs; a warehouse of fishmongery where Mikkel the Fish waits to serve them

Connection: Capture the glowing fish for Mikkel and he will teach you the secrets of the eddies

Route: Between Derelictus and Hang Station

Tier: 1

Domains: Technology, Occult

Stress: D4

Resistance: 10

Description: A walk along high, ruined walkways alongside the tracks which have collapsed in places; crystals line the path eventually; the smell of incense and sulphur. Damaged rope-ways line each pathway

Events: Jonjak and his gang of gutterkin will track the PCs from Derelictus, and attempt to jump them to find out what they are doing; a clattering of a passing train requires jumping out of the way – or onto it; the singing of crystals in the ceiling above as one falls and shatters

Connection: Repair the rope-ways linking to the paths

Scene 3: The Mid-Point

At this point, they have arrived, either in Sump Station or Hang Station, and have a chance for respite. Ostrer insists that they need to purchase some supplies – ropes and pulleys – but at this point you encounter the rival delvers, Protector Baram and his men.

They accost the players as they explore the haven, asking them their business and mocking them. They know that the beast has laid eggs, and can see that Ostrer wants one as well. Depending on the PC’s approach, they may suggest an alliance, or try and sabotage their equipment. Either way, he will wish them luck.

As with Scene 1, PCs may make 1 test to try and recover equipment or preparations for the further delve.

Scene 4: Into the Underhang

From their location, they need to venture deeper into the Heart, to Hang Station and the underground lake.

Route: Between Tier 1 and Hang Station

Tier: 2

Domains: Cursed, Technology

Stress: D6

Resistance: 10

Description: Trekking through walkways suspended over still lakes, or raging torrents – creaking at the wind that blows through them. The smell of tar, and then of some big, fishy beast. The crackling of magical energy from long-decayed dampers and siphons. The echoes of fellow hunters, or ghosts, around them.

Events: A crackle of energy covers the ground in front with a web of occult power that must be bypassed; the walkway shatters and falls, meaning they must form a new route; Jonjak, still tracking, ambushes them on a walkway; Baram makes his move as they approach; a ghostly engineer seeks aid in repairing conduits and walkways

Connection: Repairing the conduits will allow them to lay the ghost to rest.

Scene 5: The Harvest

They emerge onto a vast creaking observation platform, a sparkling lake below them swaying gently. A huge whale-beast has broken the surface of the water below, and a light snore echoes around the cavern – but the eggs are on the other side.

They must

  • Somehow get down to the lake. There are maintenance rowboats and rafts available, ropes and pulleys, that could be fashioned
  • Recover the eggs from the egg sac beyond the creature – they could dive in, or trick it into rolling over
  • Avoid the attentions of the rival gangs, who will attempt to ambush them

At their moment of triumph, a roar echoes through the lake – the beast has awoken, and they must escape

NPCs

Ostrer the Mad Researcher

Motivation: Find and recover the eggs of the Hang Station beast

Sensory Details: Thick, clouded goggles with no light; the smell of dusty books mixed with oil; a dirty, flapping lab coat

At the Table: Close eyes when speaking

Jonjak the Tunnel Brigand

Motivation: Find a score big enough to retire on

Sensory Details: Filthy overalls and cloak; scarred face and hands; odd limp

At the Table: Speaks with a pirate accent (Arr!)

Difficulty: 0

Resistance: 10

Protection: 1

Resources: Stolen heirlooms (D8, Taboo), Poorly-written maps (D6 Delve)

Jonjak’s Gutterkin

Motivation: Gain freedom from Jonjak, or at least more pleasant employment with him

Sensory Details: A mob of 8 or 9 gullboys and heron-girls; squawking and clambouring over one another; rusted, broken knives with alarming speed

At the Table: Look this way and that while skwarking in semi-speech

Resistance: 8

Protection: 0

Stress: Knives D6, Unreliable

Mikkel the Fish

Motivation: Serve his narcotic fishes to the discerning

Sensory Details: A scale-clad shaved gnoll with rings everywhere; stares oddly at everything; the smell of oil and tar

At the Table: Keep mouth open when not speaking

Protector Baram, Drow Rival Delver

Motivation: Be the first to recover a beast-egg for his masters

Sensory Details: The smell of cheap perfume, a shiny well-maintained leather coat, the clip of heels on ground; accompanied by a pair of cackling gnolls, Forrad and Vorrad

At the Table: Alan Rickman-esque villainy

Difficulty: Risky

Resistance: 10

Protection: 1

Stress: Whip D8 Tiring, Pistol D6 Ranged One-Shot

The Hang Station Beast

Motivation: To eat, sleep and breed

Sensory Details: A thick smell of fur, fish and sweat; blue-grey skin covered in slick water; a light, echoey snore

At the Table: Describe the ground shifting

Difficulty: Dangerous

Resistance: 10

Protection: 2

Stress: Roll over D6