Rise of the Fagin
An Adventure for the 20th Century Young Centurions
The players are 20th century Spirits that study all together in the Madam Sheridan’s Orphan’s House And Boarding School and Orphanage and School in Clinton, NYC. It’s October 1st, 1911, and Madam Sheridan pass a lecture on how the kids are going rowdy, “doing hooligan things in the Halloween” that should not be tolerated in a civilized society. She talks about the Century Club fundraising ball and the matinee festivity that will happens at Thursday, October 31st. All the kids can get on it, and will be a Masquerade, so costumes are mandatory,
In the meantime, there’s one of the bully kids that after the lecture will say that this is just “a great pile of bullshit of that old hag”. Jake Molan is a big bully, all the PCs knows, and he likes to do mean things: anyone who he considers weak of him, specially girls and weaker kids will be considered Fair Game for him, and this could include some of the Young Centurions. GM, this is not time to fight him back, and he’s clever enough to not get caught red-handed and get himself away with this. If any of the PCs wants to get a retribute, make him try, but if they are catched, they can enter into a conflict with The Local Bullies or being lectured again by Madam Sheridan that believes that rowdy behavior has no place at all.
When they get out the class, they’ll find a little hobo that calls itself as Knacks, that has a Southern accent and knows some lasso tricks, but that came to NYC to see if he could have a better life. He’s trying to do his life as a newsie, but it’s a little difficult when some people get his money. The PCs will find his wallet in the entrance of Central Park Zoo, but they’ll hear a yelling of help. Even they trying to find who was yelling, they’ll be not able to find the one who yelled, although they could see by the sound that it was a kid, between 10 or 12, no much more younger or older. However, they’ll find that someone had graffited the wall with “BEWARE! THE FAGIN IS BACK!”
The PCs has not to do here anymore, but they should at least, before goes home, give Knacks’ wallet back and talk about what they saw with the Police. If they do this, give them a Police escorted us home! Aspect with a Free Invoke.
This scene take a little more time, as this is spaced between October 2nd to October 29nd, but let us see what will happens during this meantime.
First of all, the PCs will think on the costumes they’ll use in the Masquerade they’ll want to use. Remember: 1910s was not a time known about have lots of fabric to do exquisite costumes like the 2010s. In that time, normally they took some old clothes and made some thing on them to customize them for what they want. Please, please, PRETTY PLEASE, don’t get on things like blackface/brownface/yelloface/other sensitive questions UNLESS you have good players. If you want, this is an adventure where X-Card rules could apply, as the 1910s Halloweens were full on sensitive topics.
Make them create the costumes: a Average (+1) check would be good enough. However, if they want to be Successful with a Cost, take hold on a Ridiculous Costume Boost that you could use against them in the adventure.
They can also combine to do a guising, where they could get with more sweets and trinkets in the Halloween. Let them choose what they want to do and talk with them about guising (basically, it trick-or-treat, but lighter, where the kids do I kind of gag or singing to asks for more sweets).
Then, there’s Jake Molan, that says he have a “great plan” for Halloween. If the PCs wants to investigate, they’ll discover that he’s preparing eggs to get rotten for some egging during Halloween. It’s a bad accusation without proofs, so they’ll need to pass some Clever or Sneaky checks to get proofs that Jake and his crew are preparing to do this egging. If they obtain the proofs against Jake, they could put it under a promise to not mess with others, or denounce him to the adults of for Madam Sheridan. The latter could put them into confusion.
Knacks came also to them, now a little cleaner and fatter than first time, to say that some newsies in the East River region where kidnapped. He also says he had saw a weird man, with a even weirder costume, something old-fashioned, with a top hat and tails, with a wrinkled face and crooked nose. He had just get a glimpse and ran away, leaving the region to find another hobo camp he could get with others for protection. He also invite the PCs for the Beggar’s Dinner, a party that the local hobos and bag ladies will provide for hobo kids like him. He says that they will need to go in rags, as the hobos normally doesn’t trust those who doesn’t look like them.
There’s also some histories about kids from other neighborhoods being kidnapped. German, Yiddish, Guadalupeans, Italians, you name it. All around the city the lack of confidence and panic is growing with the growing in the number of kids. The so called “Kid-robber” is taking kids all around, and no kind of message was given by the abductor.
If they need some clues about the one who is kidnapping kids, the Century Club will be a source of those. Madam Sheridan can be a contact, as she’s a Century Club Retainer, with some special skills to detect good and bad people. At the same times, they’ll investigate The Fagin and track it to a believed-to-be-deceased 19th Century Shadow of Innocence, Anthony Fagin, that exploited the innocence of kids to their own benefit. He is believed as decease since 1889, when he fought against some of the 19th Century Spirits (maybe with some of the PCs Mentors) and disappeared. The details of the conflict will be at GM discretion. The Club will be put under alert, as any suggestion of a 19th Century Shadow getting back to power would be a problem: even they having lost a big chunk of their powers with the end of 19th Century, they are as powerful as the 19th Century Spirits, and this would be a big bite for the Young Centurions.
Then, came October 30rd, when some people start to party: the streets begins to be full on people into costumes and masquerading. Kids starts to rehearsal for their Guisings… And some start to look for the rotten eggs to see if they are smelly enough for their pranks. People all around starts to go rowdy, as Madam Sheridan somewhat “predicted”, turning trash cans over and doing pranks, big and small, good and bad.
The PCs maybe are doing their last details for their costumes for the Halloween parties, either the Matinee Festivities at the Madam Sheridan’s and the Century club Masquerade (as Young Centurions they are enlisted for the Masquerade - in fact, is mandatory).
Knacks came to ask them if they want to get in the Beggar’s Dinner. He have some Old Rags to provide for the kids that would not have something to put on, and he also use some ashes to Smudge them, so they could get in the festivities.
The Beggar’s Dinner is held in a free space in East Side Docks, where the Hobos and Bag Ladies exchanges stories and some food they found. The PCs don’t know, but they are being tracked by one of the 19th Century Spirits, Lady Brigit Danaan, the East Side Docks Hobo Queen: nothing happen here that she don’t know. She know who they are, as she was looking for Knacks, but she’ll not interfere without a good reason: she knows hobo kids are a so lonely group that they do everything they could for friends.
However, as the festivities goes, they hear lost of stories about the Fagin, this almost Urban Legend about an old man that kidnap kids. Many hobos spit on this name, because they are the ones who take the bad fame. Knacks says he heard about the Fagin’s stories from all the hobos (kids or not) he found, and even the rare Chinese hobos knew about this, and said that there’s a legend in Shanghai about an old man that hunt kids for prey.
Although the legends, the PCs may feel that the Fagin is real, and his shadow is lurking and growing all around. And this feeling just grows when Jake Molan is kidnap: they see her mother looking for him. If they go in the place where Jake has put the eggs to rot, they’ll see that’s an Awful Smell and they’ll find a hat. Jake’s hat.
But not only this: they’ll see that he left behind what looks like an Engraved Family Crest, with a letter F on it. If they research about this by their own (Superb (+5) Careful checks, considering they can find a library) or they asks for it to their mentors (or other Club people - Fair (+2) to Great (+4) Clever checks), they’ll discover that this crest is from The Fagin gang, from the 19th Century London, a gang that was built around one man: Anthony Fagin.
It’s October 31, and now everyone is going fr the festivities, although the news reports about kidnapping kids is making some adults to get paranoid and not allowing kids to go for parties, Guisings and tricks-or-treats. The police is doing some research with the hobos for the kids (as they think the hobos were the ones to kidnap them), until some weird groups of people get into the streets, dressed into costumes but with sacks over their heads. Those Mummers (as some people in the street are talking about) are doing all kinds of crimes, from shoplifting to bank robbing, and not sounds able to stop those.
The biggest revelation is done when the police does an extreme action and shot one of them on the knees. When they discover who is this, is one of the kidnapped kids! He sounds totally under a kind of spell or mind control that make him totally obedient for an external force, feeling no pain or even safety needs! The Police is flabbergasted so much that the orders are messed up: some squads says to shot for death, other to hold the fire!
In the meantime, the Young Centurions goes for the Century Club’s Masquerade Ball. They are expected to be on their best behavior, but he soon see something wrong: a man in old-fashioned clothes, on a kind of Balloon with the Fagin Crest, asking the City.
“New York City, I’m Anthony Fagin, master of The Mummers, and I’m with your sons under my will. I’m the one that are dominating them. I could turn them against you, even being son versus father. But I’m generous enough to claim a parley, and give the city an option: I’ll take New York City as my personal fief, and you will warrant my will even against Washington orders, and I’ll spare your kids. Go against me, otherwise, and I’ll make my little Mummers go amok, and New York will be under ashes before the All Soul’s Night Dawn!”
This is a big preposterous idea, but even the Commissioner is paralyzed: the idea to capitulate under a so preposterous demand is silly by itself, but putting kids under risk is something incredibly wrong, and let them but the city down is even more preposterous.
Now, we expect the Young Centurions will take this under their eyes. There’s some option on what to do:
The Mummers are all under a combination of drug and hypnotic suggestion, and a kind of hypnotic hum sent by a control station. As they mess with the Mummer’s psyche, the PCs can find them either using scientific way (triangulating the signal sources and so) by mental way (trying to scry the way). any way, when they found the source, they’ll be confronted by at least 12 (!!!) Mummers. They are armed with shotguns (yikes!) and they’ll shot the PCs point-blank if needed!.
If they are able to access the room, they’ll see that the Controls are Complex as Hell: treat this as a Contest with a Great (+4) Risk represented by the Control Signal. If the PCs win, the Control Signal will be shut down and the Mummers will be out of Fagin’s control (or at least their main control - see Scene 5). Otherwise, the signal changes its frequency under a random way, and the PCs will need to start everything again. GM, at each tie or lose the PCs have, bring at least two more Mummers, as the Control System protects itself.
A Clever PC (or a Spirit of Ingenuity or something like this) can try, if he can justify, to jury rig a way to overcome the Control Signal, as long he knows about it. Treat this as a Contest against a Good (+3) Power Level, at least from the start, to create a Portable Beacon that will override the Control Signal, making the Mummers that get into a number of Zones equals the PC Clever bonus (at least 1) from the PC to be put of the Fagin’s control.
However, this will be only effective against small groups of Mummers: to override the Control of all them, they’ll need to find a point they could to a stronger signal, with more potency to override the control signal. Treat this as a Contest against Superb (+5) Power Level. If the PC win, he’ll override the signal and the Control System will blow with the harmonics generated. If it lost, treats like in the Scene 4a. If people asks on how to help the builder, make them thinking on high buildings to go, even on some of them getting and climbing some lighting rod to put some cables for a transmitter.
The first problem to fight Anthony in the Balloon is to get there: he’s High in the Sky, and the PCs would need to think on creative ways to get there.
The other problem is: he’s High in The sky, and the balloon is not big enough for many of them fight without friendly fire: GM, at any failed Attack by a PC, roll a dF: a
+ roll means that he’ll potentially hit a friend - he’ll Defend normally against his friend “Attack”.
Any time a PC fails his Defense, you can make a good Cliffhanger to put them into a “I’m falling!” Aspect and make the other PCs save him someway (or let them fall for death… Or to be rescued out by A Scrawny Kid with a Jet Pack…)
A better idea is to just shut down the burners, so the balloon get down. A Failure on this Overcome can either represent the PCs were not able to shut the burners out or that they did this in a way they’ll Fall Like a Rock!!!!. Make them do checks to defend against a Great (+4) Attack if they fall: this is a very great fall.
But also they could make the Fagin fall for the death (please don’t: they are the heroes!) with a Superb (+5) Overcome action. If they want, they could do this and save the under risk Fagin: after this, a Great (+4)_ Forceful Overcome and they’ll save the Fagin, that will give in, conceding the victory and freeing the Mummers. He says he have enough and just want to settle up and die in peace, as he knows that his force and vitality is fading away since the century turning… Or so he says…
New York is still a mess after this All Soul’s Eve. The Mummers are now freed, some of them maybe a little hurt or with big headaches. The Century Club defeated Fagin, and maybe he’s captured, or maybe he had passed away or run away.
But the Obedience Draught formula is still available somewhere, somehow, just waiting for the next evildoer to take it for their means. And there’s also lots of Fagin’s notes…
That could be used against the Centurions.
But it’ll be seen in the Next Episode!
The Obedience Draught
- Put the mind into a hypnotic trance; The Mentalist’s Best Friend; Reinforced via special frequencies; Total Domination
- Potency: Good (+3)
- Abstinence: Mediocre (+0)
- Effects Fantastic (+6)
- The Trance: Anyone that drink it is under a Hypnotic Trance Aspect, with a Free Invoke
- Colorless, Tasteless, Odorless: +2 in the Potency to avoid detection when mixed into other drinks
The Obedience Draught is an old time common trick from Alchemy, mainly for the mischievous one: a simple draught, totally colorless, tasteless, odorless that can be laced into almost any drink and, when people drinks it, they are put under a Hypnotic Trance, easing the work of a mentalist to make people get into an hypnotic suggestion, that can be reinforced easily by some special hums (the Fagin generate them via an special Earphone-like thing). The person under this hypnotic suggestion is under an Total Domination, from where he could escape only in the case of orders the could result in death (this is the only time that he could get out the trance). The Draught needs to be taken again from time to time to be reinforced: at each 4 hours, check for Abstinence. But as long the target is under its effect, any suggestion is maintained.
|High Concept||A greedy old guy who wants to destroy everything for his own pleasure|
|Trouble||“Humbug! Children should work, not play!”|
|A name made immortal as an alert|
|An accomplished kidsman, knows how to “recruit” kids|
|Lots of resources, but want even more|
Time was never merciful with Fagin, but he didn’t expected any mercy he could give for other himself (in fact, no mercy). Although he look like a jolly old man, one with lots of wrinkles and so, those who came into contact with Fagin discovers very fast that he’s an rotten apple. His eyes are shiny, but the black on them is like one of a moonless night, with sometimes a greedy look. He dressed as old-fashioned as he could, and his clothes are sometimes dirty and rotten.
Greed is his modus operandi: as the 19th Century Shadow of Innocence, he believe that he has the right over everything he can AND can’t put his hand. A man with uncontrollable ambition, he has, however, the wisdom of the age: he would not dirt his hands if he can put others to do the dirty work for him. And he is not against use the Obedience Draught to dominate others and make them do things that, otherwise, they could not.
And he’s also so cunning that he knows how children’s mind works, specially their darkest desires, even being foolish things like a tasty sweet or a trinket toy: by snaring them via their desires, Fagin can make them an army… And God Help Us if he could make a strong enough one.
Some thinks that Fagin was a fictional bad man that Charles Dickens portrayed into Oliver Twist. However, those who are into The Century Club knows the truth, as Charles Dickens was one of the many artists that the Club had patronized all the time, to cleverly and secretly put some real information into fictional works, so people could be alerted by the danger of some of the worst people all around, specially some of the Shadows.
And Anthony Fagin was one of those guys, so mean ones that made the Club goes into this Agenda.
Born in the last strokes of December 31st, 1800, Fagin was born into a rich family from Liverpool a family with lots of money and contacts thanks for their exploiting on the nascent fabric manufacturing. As this was a kind of business that (on those times) demanded lots of manwork, many families had gone into their fabrics. Many of them, complete with wife and kids.
And it was with those kids that Anthony started their experiments: he always had a knack for the larceny, and with ten he started to make some money by robbing homes with “their comrades”. Obviously those “comrades” was always catched and, when they pointed for Anthony, the social hierarchy was a tool Anthony used for his favor as a way to get away. He was never caught red-handed, and he was clever enough to go with other ways to laundry their profits into this shady business.
It was until he found an old alchemical tome, and he studied it. As many Shadows, Anthony was attracted by the unnatural, and the tome brought him clues about an Obedience Draught, a mystical concoction that, laced into any liquid (even water) made people more open for mesmeric suggestion. He studied the tome and made the concoction, testing it into their own parents. He laced it into their night glasses of port wine and said only an order:
“Kill each other!”
Last morning, The Times gave the sad news about the tragic death of Mr. and Ms. Fagin, that on a rampage of jealousy with each other and cheating suspicious, killed each other with knives strokes straight into their hearts, leaving little Anthony alone in the world.
Anthony was not fool enough: he already knew about many people that would get into his feet. So, he liquidated all their parents business and got into the criminal shadows he always liked. He started very soon as a “kidsman”, someone who got orphan kids and trained them as criminals. He didn’t did this by compassion, make this clear: to put kids that couldn’t be traced back with himself, he could put a veil behind his criminal activities, while assumed a dilettante pose, a dandy that financed lots of expeditions that brought many historical artifacts to London.
Many of them, unfortunately, robbed by some vicious cat burglars. That, people don’t know, were trained by and put under Fagin’s will via the Obedience Draught. Many of them hanged by justice, when caught.
In the meantime, Fagin passed as a dandy into the more exclusive clubs in London. Some criticized his somewhat childish ways, and many women didn’t liked him because he looked like a big kid. And this was emphasized into his tantrums when their business (either common or criminal) got wrong. He soon discovered the motive.
He was found by The Century Club.
The Club started to work against him. They had discovered about their plans and the Obedience Draught. He could not left them mess into his business and so he started to act, by making some attacks against the Club. However, in his childish thinking at the time, he didn’t notice that he was only giving clues for the Club to lock him into target.
And he was soon found.
He just made an escapade away from London, by using the same trick he did with his parents: he made her in time fiancee kill herself under the Obedience Draught effect and ran away from London, to New York, where he waited for the Century turning.
And since then… He waited…