Heart of Darkness by David Eber

The PCs are hired to take a trip down the Amazon River to retrieve a lost artifact known as the “Heart of Darkness.”
The Twist
The Heart of Darkness is more than a historical curiosity, it's a powerful reservoir of magical energy, and the Eaters of the Lotus want it for themselves.
The Climax
The PCs have to face off against both the Lotus and the Guiding Hand in the Netherworld to successfully complete their mission.


Forgotten myths and obscure legends speak of the Heart of Darkness, an ancient artifact that is supposed to possess magical powers. What exactly those powers are no two sources can agree upon. Some claim that it is a natural focal point for chi energy, others that it is a source of magical power. Still others claim that it is the heart of a slumbering demon, or that it can grant wishes, and so on. Few have ever even heard of it, and those who have dismiss it as fiction. Even by the time of the Lotus the Heart was considered a legend.

However, the heart is real, and it turned up a few years ago when the Hand occupied an ancient, ruined temple that was also a dormant Feng Shui site. When they realized what it was they had, they decided to hide it away in the Netherworld so that their enemies could not gain possession of it. However, despite their best efforts both the Ascended and the Lotus learned of the Heart's existence and it's location. The Lotus have dispatched a contingent of warriors under the command of Fen Xian Liong, a eunuch sorcerer. The Ascended? Well, that's where the PCs come in…

About This Adventure

Heart of Darkness is a short adventure designed to be played over one or two sessions. The plot is fairly linear, beginning with the hiring of the players by an agent of the Ascended to go after the Heart of Darkness. From there on the adventure takes the form of a series of challenges, culminating in a final climactic battle in the Netherworld. This adventure will work with either new characters or with slightly experienced characters. In the case of the latter, the players will already have a reason to work together, and the Ascended will have a reason to want to use them. If the characters are new to the secret war, the adventure is set up so that they will have to work together to survive. Further, this adventure will introduce them to the Netherworld and some of the players in the secret war. This adventure was designed for about four new players. Obviously, if your group is something other than this you will have to adjust the power level of the challenges. Use the first fight scene as a benchmark for the others. If it is too easy, up the power level of future encounters. If it is too difficult, tone the following encounters down a bit. One more thing: If your group is all made up of new PCs, make sure they all have strong dramatic hooks. This is what the Ascended use to lure them into the mission.

The Heart of Darkness itself is a large chunk of obsidian-like rock about the size of a man's head. PCs who pick it up may feel what seems to be a heavy liquid sloshing around inside, although the stone is solid. What it is and what it does is entirely up to you, and can be the basis for future adventures. However, two things are true about the stone: it is a powerful reservoir of magical energy, and it radiates negative chi. The Guiding Hand are keeping it in a temple they shaped in the netherworld. The temple was specifically designed by the Hand's geomancers to cancel out the negative chi emanating from the Heart. How either of the Heart's powers affect the PCs or any GMC's is up to you. Similarly, why the Ascended want the Heart and what they plan to do with it is also your decision. Certainly, it is dangerous to them, and that reason alone is enough for them to want to make sure their enemies don't get a hold of it. But beyond that, what they plan to do with it is their business, and yours.

Please note that in a few cases I have armed GMC's in this adventure with guns not found in the Feng Shui rulebook. This is done mainly for flavor, and the relevant information is included.

GMC Notes

The following are the main GMC's the players will have to deal with in the course of the adventure. There are others, but their role is limited and so they will be described when they come into the adventure.

Captain Fernando de Querioz

“There are many strange things out there on the waters, beyond the reach of mankind.”

Bod 6 (Mov 3), Chi 0 (For 5), Mnd 5 (Cha 7), Ref 7.
Guns 14, Martial Arts 10, Piloting 16, Fix-it 12, Info/Seamanship 16, Info/navigation 12, Info/Netherworld 10.
Llama Large Frame (10/2/7+1), Double-Barrel Shotgun in leg (10/-/2), blade in cane (9)

Captain de Querioz is the captain and owner of the Luisa, a Portuguese fishing trawler which the Ascended employ to take the PCs down the Amazon river and into the netherworld. Of course, the Luisa is no ordinary boat, and De Querioz is no ordinary captain. De Querioz has been at sea for more than 30 years, and during that time he has been a smuggler, a pirate, and an honest merchantman as well. Somewhere along the way he stumbled onto one of the waterways that lead into the netherworld. Since then, he has been in and out of the netherworld dozens of times, usually ferrying passengers or supplies for different employers.

He has earned a reputation as one of the best Captains when it comes to traversing the waters of the inner kingdom. His crew are also all experienced innerwalkers, and he has outfitted the Luisa to be able to deal with the dangers inherent in such journeys.

Despite his experience, De Querioz is really a novice when it comes to the secret war. He knows who most of the major players are, and he knows about time travel (having sailed to other junctures), but he really doesn't know what the war is about, and he doesn't understand the concept of chi or feng shui or critical shifts. He doesn't even truly understand what the netherworld is, and so he has formed his own beliefs and superstitions about it. When he talks to the players, he often sounds enigmatic, speaking in metaphors and images instead of in concrete terms. De Querioz owes allegiance to no faction, and will work for anyone so long as they do not put his ship in undue danger. He is not a cruel or ruthless man, just a survivor.

De Querioz is of Portuguese descent, with a burly frame, dark curly hair, and heavy-lidded eyes. He looks to be in his 50s, and he wears old clothes with a captain's hat, and he is always stubbly. Some years ago he lost his leg, and he had it replaced with a wooden one that conceals a double-barrel shotgun. His crutch sports a hidden blade as well.

Jean-Claude Mutswaro First Mate

“Get moving you lazy bastards! We have to be out of here before sunset.”

Bod 8, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 7.
Guns 13, Martial Arts 14, Piloting 14, Fix-it 13, Info/Seamanship 13, Info/Navigation 10, Info/Netherworld 6.
Franchi SPAS-12 (13/5/7), Llama Large Frame (10/2/7+1), dagger (11)

Originally from Zaire, Jean-Claude has served as first mate aboard the Luisa for the last dozen or so years. He is loyal to, and protective of, De Querioz, and he is well-liked by the crew, who see him as a rock of calm. Jean-Claude mainly keeps to himself and says little, except when he is giving orders, in which case he barks them out in a deep voice. He has a commanding presence, and so long as de Querioz is around he will remain calm in a crisis. However, although he is a good supervisor, he is not a natural leader, and will be at a loss for what to do should something happen to de Querioz. He prefers not to have to make decisions for others.

At over 6 feet tall, Jean-Claude is an imposing figure. He looks to be in his late 30's, with bright eyes and a short, curly beard. He prefers to wear open vests over his bare chest, and he speaks with a French-Portuguese accent. When the going gets rough, he likes nothing better than to pull out his SPAS-12 shotgun and start unloading with it.

The Crew of the Luisa

“Aye captain.”

Bod 6, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 6.
Martial Arts 8, Guns 8.
Beretta Model 12 SMG (10/4/32), Beretta 92 (10/2/15+1), knife (9).

These are the sailors who make up the crew of De Querioz' ship, the Luisa, about 18 in all. All of them have been with the ship long enough to have been in and out of the Netherworld a few times, so they are a bit tougher and better armed than the typical sailor. They come from a wide variety of different backgrounds, and while they aren't the sort who you'd want to date your sister, they are competent, loyal, and not too bad all around.

Fen Xian Liong Lotus Sorcerer

“Foolish meddler! Suffer the searing death of a thousand agonies!”

Bod 5, Chi 2 (Mag 8), Mnd 7, Ref 7.
Sorcery 17, Leadership 14.
Blast (10): fire, lightning, acid, Summoning, Influence, Movement, Divination.

Xian Liong is your typical Lotus eunuch: arrogant, ambitious, and thoroughly unscrupulous. He is also an experienced sorcerer, and quite deadly despite his squeaky voice and blustering manner. Although he is the main villain of the story, the PCs will not encounter him until near the end of the story, and not face-to-face until the climax.

Xian Liong has little use for subtlety, preferring instead loud threats, oaths, and curses along with flashy sorcery. He is high-strung, but not stupid, and he is supremely self-confident as well.

Xian Liong is short, with a round face and a pot belly. He has a long, narrow moustache and a greasy topknot. He always appears to be sweaty, and his skin has an unhealthy yellowish cast to it. He wears the fine, purple-black robes of the imperial court, but they somehow always appear to be ill-fiting and rumpled on his frame.

Jiao Sung-Lin Old Master

“Eunuch dog, I will send you back to the thousand hells where you belong.”

Bod 4, Chi 10 (For 1), Mnd 7, Ref 7.
Martial Arts 17, Intrusion 17, Leadership 14.
Claw of the Tiger, Tiger Stance, Unyielding Tiger Stance, Vengeance of the Tiger, Storm of the Tiger.
Punch (10), Kick (11).

Sung-Lin is the guardian appointed by the Guiding Hand for the Heart of Darkness. A veteran of the secret war, he now resides in the temple shaped by the Hand which houses the Heart. At his command are a small group of young Shaolin monks, all of whom have pledged themselves to defend the Heart to the death. Sung-Lin himself is the last line of defense, and the PCs will almost certainly come into conflict with him.

In his demeanor and bearing he is the exact opposite of Xian Liong. He always maintains an air of quiet dignity and age about him, and indeed he looks like a harmless little old man, complete with a wispy white beard. However, he is a dedicated follower of Quan Lo, and he will show no mercy when defending the Heart. On the contrary, he relishes the opportunity to put a few barbarians in their place, and if he actually begins to lose a fight he becomes quite agitated indeed.

Getting Started

The story begins in any major city of your choice. Hong Kong is fine if your campaign is set there, but the actual location is not terribly important. Each PC receives an anonymous note, which simply reads

If you wish to find that which you seek, come to the Clariton Towers tomorrow at 10 a.m. Present this note to the front desk, and you will be allowed to proceed. Consider this an opportunity that should not be ignored.

The note is signed “St. Martin”. Make it clear that the note refers to each player's hook. You may wish to change the wording of each note to be more specific. The important thing is to give the players incentive to show up. PCs who wish to do research will find very little, other than that the Clariton Towers is a major office building downtown that leases space to several companies. Do not encourage your players to waste time with this, but rather get them moving to the meeting.

Scene One: The Proposition

Clariton Towers is a busy, ultra-modern high rise located in the heart of the downtown business district. The PCs will have to present themselves to the front desk and pass a security check, but this is all a formality. The PCs will be directed to the top floor office where, after passing a search by a group of suit-wearing security types they will be allowed to pass. The office itself is spacious but understated, with shades of beige the predominant color. A wall-sized window looks out over the city, and an executive wood desk sits in front of it. Behind the desk waits a tall man who looks to be in forties. He has a longish face, clear blue eyes, and his hair and beard is pale blonde and very neatly trimmed. He wears a cream-colored suit, and he speaks with a vaguely British accent. He introduces himself to the PCs as Richard St. Martin and he invites them to all have a seat.

When all the PCs are settled, St. Martin begins. Basically, he tells them he represents a certain interest that wishes to remain anonymous. This interest has a need for certain talented individuals to undertake an unusual enterprise, and the PCs best fit their needs. The task at hand entails quite a bit of risk, but it also offers substantial rewards, specifically, information that each of the PCs are seeking. However, the task is a sensitive one, so before St. Martin will go into further detail he needs to know if the PCs are interested. He warns them that saying yes is akin to a commitment, and that backing out afterwards would present some difficulty. Otherwise, he is vague on whom he is, whom he works for, and what the nature of the mission is. However, if any of the PCs are skeptical, he can provide them with a lot of information about themselves, nothing secret or personal, but enough information to convince them that he knows quite a bit. Any PCs who decline are politely shown out (not that this should happen). Once they have agreed, he continues.

St. Martin goes on to tell the PCs that a historical curiosity known as the Heart of Darkness which was thought lost has recently resurfaced, and the interest he represents would like it recovered. The Heart is currently located deep within the South American jungle, hence the risk involved. Furthermore, there may be other interested parties after the Heart, and so the PCs will have to make sure that none of them retrieve it first. Also, the Heart is rumored to have some sort of vague magical property, though St. Martin will dismiss such rumors (without actually denying them outright). The PCs will be expected to leave this evening for Brazil, and St. Martin has airline tickets ready. From there they will take a private plane to the town of Laguerno, which lies on the Amazon River. There they will meet with Captain Fernando de Querioz, who has been hired to take them downriver to where the Heart is supposedly located. The job itself should take a few weeks, and upon successful completion each PC will receive not only $10,000 per week, but also certain information that each of them seeks. St. Martin himself will be following the PCs soon after, and will be on hand to receive the Heart when they return to Laguerno.

You can have St. Martin give out any other information you see fit, but this is about it. If the PCs are already experienced innerwalkers you can have him reveal more specific information about the mission, but I don't recommend it. He certainly will not tell the PCs that the Heart actually does have real powers, nor will he specifically mention who the opposition might be. In fact, you should avoid all mention of the secret war altogether. Players with an info/history skill will have a difficulty of at least 15 to have even heard of the Heart, with a 20 necessary for any specific information. As you may have guessed by now, St. Martin is one of the Pledged, but don't let the PCs know that. Any attempts to learn anything about him should be met with failure. If for some bizarre reason the PCs decide to attack St. Martin, then you're on your own, as the game will take a radically different turn. St. Martin can summon a lot of guards, and he personally should have at least a 13 in Martial Arts. Also, the PCs will have made an enemy of the Ascended, something that should come back to haunt them frequently in the future.

Scene Two: Laguerno

Laguerno is a small and somewhat seedy town that serves as a port for smaller boats going up and down the Amazon. The players will be flown in by private jet from Brazil and deposited here. At the airstrip (essentially a dirt runway), they will be greeted by a man who will inform them that rooms have already been reserved for them in one of the hotels in town. He will also tell them that they will be meeting Captain De Querioz that evening at a waterfront bar known as the Arjuna. He has no other information to offer, and when he is finished he will board the plane which brought the PCs, which will then depart. You can have the PCs do whatever they would like in town, but nothing important happens until sundown when they go to meet De Querioz.

Like the town itself, the Arjuna is a seedy little bar that rests on the waterfront. It is a low, ramshackle one-story building that juts out directly over the river, supported by wooden poles. Inside it is dark and cramped and smokey. The bar, which is closest to the entrance, runs along one side of the room. The rest of the place is filled with wooden tables and chairs which are currently occupied by a mixture of sailors, smugglers, pirates, townsfolk, and other disreputable types. Wooden posts support the ceiling, and electric lights set into them provide light. Once the PCs enter the bar and walk around a little they will find the captain. Rather, he will call them over to sit with him, as they will probably look quite out of place.

De Querioz is sitting with his first mate Jean-Claude. When the players sit he will order a round of drinks, then talk with the PCs for a while. He will answer simple questions about himself, his ship, and the journey. In truth, he has little to offer, and is more interested in sizing up the PCs. All he can say is that he was anonymously hired to take the PCs downriver and that the job could be dangerous (all of which he is used to). He also knows that he is heading into the Netherworld, and he assumes that the PCs know this as well. In fact, he assumes that the PCs know a lot more than he does, and if they reveal that they are largely ignorant he will be quite surprised. De Querioz personally has never heard of the Heart of Darkness. If asked where they will be headed, he will respond with vaguely mystical comments about the land of ghosts and spirits. You should play this scene up to the hilt, adding in flickering lights and mysterious gusts of chill wind for effect. Try to give the players a real sense of foreboding about the mission.

The conversation will be broken up by the arrival of a group of thugs from the DaCosta gang. The Dacosta's are a group of low-level river pirates, drug-smugglers, and general troublemakers. Once they enter the bar, the leader will look around for a moment before he and his crew head over to the PCs table. Everyone else in the bar gives them a wide berth, and several of the customers will quietly leave. The DaCosta's have been hired by Fen Xian Liong to put the PCs in the hospital, and so no amount of reasoned discussion is going to prevent a fight. Roberto, the leader, is a thin, ratty-looking lowlife with narrow eyes and greasy hair. He is also simply waiting for an excuse to begin the fight. He has a dozen of his crew with him, and all of them are armed with knives and the like. If things start to go rough for him a dozen more of his men will arrive through the door and windows and join the fray. They will only use their guns if the PCs do first, and if things continue to go badly Roberto will attempt to flee. De Querioz and Jean-Claude will, of course, defend themselves, though De Querioz will not get up unless he has to.

Once the PCs have chased off or killed the DaCostas, De Querioz will direct the PCs to a trapdoor hidden in the back of the bar that opens up over the shoreline. He will suggest they use it to get to his ship quickly. Similarly, if the PCs are getting beaten up, he will suggest it as a means of hasty retreat. Either way, he will decide to set off now rather than wait till the morning, and within a few minutes of the PCs arrival on his ship he will be off. If the PCs question Roberto, they will learn that he was hired by a strange Chinese man to attack them. This is all he knows.

The Bad Guys

Roberto DaCosta

“You lookin' to start trouble with me?”

Bod 5, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 7.
Guns 13, Martial Arts 13.
Browning Hi-Power (10/2/13+1), knife (7).

Average DaCosta Thug

“You're dead!”

Bod 5, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 6.
Guns 7, Martial Arts 7.
Colt 1911A (10/2/7+1), knife (7), club (8).

Cool Things That Could Happpen

Scene Three: The Luisa

De Querioz' boat is named the Luisa. Ostensibly a Portuguese fishing trawler, it has been used for smuggling, piracy, and now as a ferry to the Netherworld. The ship is over 100 ft long, with raised fore and aft decks, a diesel engine, fishing cranes with netting, and a large cabin, from atop which the boat is controlled. There are also two pintle mounts, fore and aft and normally covered with tarps, upon which .50 cal. machineguns are fixed to repel attackers. Needless to say, the Luisa has seen its share of the hazards of the Netherworld, and thus has been retrofitted to deal with them

The next encounter takes place along the river. At first the trip down the Amazon should be uneventful. If any of the PCs were badly wounded in the previous encounter, let enough time go by for them to heal up. Your players can also use this time to acquaint themselves with the crew or whatever. As the Luisa progresses down the river it becomes more narrow, so that at the time of the encounter it is about 200-300 ft. wide. The remainder of the DaCosta gang has once again been employed by Fen Xian Liong to waylay the PCs, only this time they are meant to stop them permanently, not that they need any encouragement after the last encounter. Even if all of the DaCosta thugs were killed at the Arjuna, Juan, the leader of the gang will happily seek revenge. Juan is big, bald, and ugly. A scar runs from his left eye across his nose down to his right cheek. A patch covers his left eye, which is made of glass. He is not known for his forgiving nature. If Roberto survived the last fight he will be here too.

The DaCosta gang will attack the Luisa on the water with their own vehicles, attempting to win out with firepower and numbers rather than surprise. De Querioz will probably spot their main boat pursuing him from afar. He knows the pirates can outrun his ship, and so he will have his crew prepare for battle. The DaCosta's force is made up as follows:

The DaCostas will attack first with the jet skis, followed closely by the skimmers. Both will harass the crew of the Luisa, distracting them until the main boat can move in and board them. There are a few special conditions for this battle:

The DaCostas will probably fight to the bitter end while Juan is alive, but if Juan is killed the mooks will most likely flee. If questioned, the pirates can once again only say that they were hired by a strange Chinese man to take out the PCs.

The Bad Guys

Juan DaCosta

“You messed with my boys. Now you die.”

Bod 8, Chi 0 (For 1), Mnd 5 (Per 3), Ref 7.
Guns 14, Martial Arts 14, Driving 12.
.50 Desert Eagle ×2 (12/3/9+1), knife (10).
Both Guns Blazing ×3.

Average DaCosta Pirate

“You're dead!”

Bod 5, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 6.
Guns 7, Martial Arts 7, Driving 7.
MAC Ingram M10 submachinegun (10/3/32), Benelli 90 M3 shotgun (13/5/7), HK G3A3 Assault Rifle (13*/5/20), Colt 1911A (10/2/7+1), machete (9), knife (7).

Cool Things That Could Happpen

Interlude: Into the Netherworld

After the attack by the pirates the journey down the river continues without incident (you can have it last as long as you like to give the PCs time to heal). As they progress, tell them that the river becomes more and more narrow, until the shore on both sides is within a stone's throw. Also, note that the jungle has become more and more dense. The trees grow over the river now, forming a canopy that begins to block out sunlight. The air becomes more humid and more stifling. Soon, the sunlight is blocked out completely as the vegetation is so thick above the river that it blocks out all light. The sounds of birds and other animals that were so prevalent throughout the trip has now become uncannily still. The crew has become quiet as well. Where before they would sing, joke, and swear, they now work quietly, though observant players may notice some of them muttering prayers under their breath. Jean-Claude directs the men, and he is even more taciturn and serious than usual.

Eventually bits of rock begin to show through the vegetation, until it becomes obvious that the boat has entered a cave with vines and other growth clinging to the wall and ceiling. Eventually this too thins out, until the boat is left in a subterranean tunnel. The walls are grey and perfectly smooth and appear to be moist, and the air is still uncomfortably hot and humid. The most unusual feature, however, is that there appears to be a diffuse light illuminating the cavern, though there is no apparent source. Nonetheless De Querioz will order the Luisa's running lights turned on, casting everything in a spooky glow. Attentive PCs will also note that, although the river appears to be underground, at no time did the ship appear to be traveling on a decline. The most important thing is to emphasize the strangeness of the surrounding area, though PCs who have been in the Netherworld before will recognize it immediately.

Scene Four: Death of a Thousand Tentacles

This scene involves the PCs first encounter with their nemesis, Fen Xian Liong. It takes place in a wide, open cavern. This cavern is somewhat smaller than a football field, and several tunnels all meet here. Also, the cavern walls are not smooth, but feature stalactites and other rock formations, suggesting that it may have been shaped at one point. As the Luisa pulls into this cavern, the PCs should notice a thick cloud of mist obscuring one of the tunnels. As the Luisa begins to cross the cavern, a huge Chinese warship will suddenly appear out of the mist, heading straight for them. This ship is extremely old (by the PCs standards). Dark banners flutter from its mastheads, and the deck is packed with armored warriors. Needless to say, the sudden appearance of this ship will be some cause of alarm for De Querioz and his crew. He will order the engines to full speed, but he knows that he will never be able to cross the cavern quickly enough. His men know this too, and they will prepare for a fight as the ship approaches.

However, instead of moving to intercept, the warship will stop moving when it is just out of gun range. De Querioz will cut his engines as well, waiting to see what will happen next. The PCs will then hear a squeaky voice call out from the ship. The speaker is Xian Liong. He states “Foolish interlopers, you dare to defy the Lotus! You will be a thorn in my side no longer! Prepare to face the death of a thousand tentacles!” After this, the voice will go silent. Gun-toting PCs may wish to take a shot at Xian Liong. The distance between the two ships and the cover afforded by the warship makes this virtually impossible. Let them shoot if they wish, but they should not be able to hit him.

After a few minutes of silence, the PCs may notice a few bubbles rising to the surface in front of the Luisa. This will soon become a small torrent, at which point De Querioz will try to retreat. Several tentacles will then lash out from the water and grab the ship. Each of these tentacles is a bit thicker than a man's arm, and they are all very long and sinuous. These first tentacles will be followed by several more, until the ship is swarming with them and begins to buckle. The tentacles are all attached to a demon beneath the water known as the “One-hundred tentacle horror” (Xian Liong was exaggerating a bit). The demon is essentially a massive, octopus-like creature with no eyes, a huge mouth, and a lot of tentacles. It will blindly attack the Luisa and its crew, attempting to devour it. It uses its tentacles as sensory apparatus, and it has little intelligence above the animal level. As it attacks the Luisa, Xian Liong can be heard cackling as his ship disappears back into the mist.

There are a few special rules for fighting the demon:

At some point during the fight, you should have some of the tentacles damage the engine (creating a huge cloud of black smoke and a small fire) and also generally wreck the Luisa. This will set the PCs back a few hours as De Querioz makes repairs. Other than this, the fight is simplly a brutal battle as the demon attempts to pull the Luisa into its gaping maw while the crew desperately tries to hack its tentacles apart.

The One-Hundred Tentacle Horror


Bod 5 (Str 10), Chi 0, Mnd 0, Ref 5.
Martial Arts 7.

Main Body

Bod 10 (100 wound points), Chi 0, Mnd 1, Ref 2.
Bite 10.

Interlude: The Uptaki Village

If you wish to run a shorter adventure, skip this section and proceed directly to scene five.

After repairs are made to the ship De Querioz will approach the PCs with a worried look on his face. He tells them that he has consulted his charts, and there is a way to shorten the journey and catch up with the warship, but that it won't be easy. To get to where the PCs need to go quickly they have to pass the Uptaki village. De Querioz explains that the Uptaki are a tribe of Indians who wandered in here at some unknown time in the past and were unable to find their way out again. Not knowing what to make of their surroundings, they concluded that they had died and gone to the afterworld. Furthermore, they also decided that they were being tested by the gods. They believe that they have been assigned to watch this passageway to the afterworld and make sure that any beings who attempt to pass on are worthy of doing so. De Querioz and his crew have been this way and have proved themselves worthy, the PCs have not. The Uptaki will certainly demand that the PCs prove their worthiness, and the tests they use to do so are unpredictable. Unfortunately, there is no other way to do this. De Querioz also warns the PCs not to antagonize the Uptaki, as there are a lot of them, and because their shaman is a powerful magician.

The Uptaki village itself is a sight to behold. As the Luisa heads down the river, the tunnel walls rise up to become steep embankments. The village itself has been shaped out of these embankments. Various houses and buildings all rise out of the rockface and sometimes out of each other, and are connected by a tangled series of walkways and stairs that span across the top of the river. The village is actually built vertically, and many of the buildings resemble Aztec pyramids. Large stone faces and figures have also been shaped out of the stone, creating a somewhat unsettling effect. The whole thing appears to be a chaotic morass, and this impression is further reinforced by the swarm of Indians who erupt from the village as the Luisa approaches. Directly beneath the main part of the village an open grotto has been shaped out of the cavern, and this is where De Querioz docks his ship. By this time the village, men, women, and children all will have swarmed down to the shore to gaze curiously at the newcomers. In the center of this cacophony the PCs will be able to make out a procession approaching them. The center of this is a large Indian wearing an elaborate cloak and headdress of bone and feathers. Alongside him is an old, stooped man with painted skin. He wears a mixture of bones, beads, feathers, etc., and caries an elaborate staff of the same. De Querioz greets these two, speaking in their strange tongue. He later explains that they are the chieftain and the village shaman. De Querioz will talk to them for quite some time before returning to the PCs. He will then begin to explain the nature of the tests.

The tests should be tailored to fit your PCs, and you can test each one individually, or you can test one PC as a representative for the whole group. If any of the PCs fail their tests they will not be allowed to continue, so choose your tests carefully (though you may want to reverse it, and say that so long as one PC succeeds, all may pass). The test of combat is the simplest: the character taking this test faces off against the village champion in a wide circle formed by the villagers. Combat is with hand weapons, and the combatants may not leave the circle. There is nothing in the circle (not even sand), and the fight ends when one or the other combatants are disabled, unconscious, or dead (well, physical death, since all the Uptaki believe they are dead anyway). Of course, during the fight make sure to play up the atmosphere: The villagers will be cheering and shouting while drummers maintain a tempo that rises and falls with the action. The village champion is Toachan, a large, muscular Indian who never speaks and who wields a shark-tooth sword.

Toachan Uptaki champion


Bod 8, Chi 6 (For 0), Mnd 4, Ref 7.
Martial Arts 14.
Fu Schticks
Bite of the Dragon, Breath of the Dragon, Claw of the Dragon.
Punch 9, Kick 10, Sword 12.

The test of sorcery involves a duel with Chiuhteotl, the village shaman, and is a bit more involved. The battle takes place on a latticework of narrow walkways over the river. The winner of the duel is the first person who either leaves the walkways, falls into the river, is disabled, knocked out, or killed, or who uses magic to fly to avoid any of the previous fates (and Chiuhteotl knows when someone is flying). He will, of course, use his blast schtick to fight, but he will aim for the walkways, attempting to knock the player off. If he successfully hits the PC with a sorcery task check that PC must make a sorcery check equal to Chiuhteol's skill plus the outcome to avoid falling. If they fail, they may make a Ref check with difficulty 10 to grab the walkway before they fall. Leaping from walkway to walkway has a difficulty from 5 to 15, depending on how far the PC wants to leap. Chiuhteotl will only directly attack the PC if he is badly wounded, and he will concede if he suffers 2 points of impairment.

Chiuhteotl Uptaki Shaman

“Now we see if you are worthy to enter the land of the dead.”

Bod 4, Chi 2 (Mag 9), Mnd 7 (Per 9), Ref 6.
Sorcery 15.
Sorcery Schticks
Blast (damage 11) (chi, fire, lightning, transformation, disintegration), Fertility, Heal, Divination, Summoning.

The third possible test, the test of storytelling, is the simplest but also the most risky, since it all hinges on one dice roll. This test should be used with a PC who is neither a warrior nor a sorcerer. That PC will be taken to a special building: a round hut with a domed ceiling and an open top with a cap. A fire will be brewing in the center of the hut, heating a bowl filled with liquid. All the village elders will be gathered inside the hut, as will Tectactzica, the village chieftain.

He will explain that the character chosen must undergo a ritual which will provide him with a vision (he has someone translate for him). This vision will give him a story, which he must then tell. If he cannot remember the story, or if the story does not make sense, then he will be judged unworthy.

One of the elders then takes the bowl that has been cooking and tells the player to drink from it. Meanwhile, the cap to the roof will be closed, allowing smoke to fill the room. The elders will then begin to chant. Both the smoke and the water contain various herbs that, along with the chanting, will induce a vision in the PC. The player must make a Mind or Per task with a difficulty of 10. Failure means that they either do not have a vision, cannot remember it, or have one that makes no sense. If they are successful, tell them that this is what they dream.

Many, many centuries ago when the earth was still young and the gods still walked the earth with mankind, Chang Zhou, the celestial warlord, conquered all the people of the east and declared himself the sovereign emperor of both man and beast. And he demanded tribute from all his subjects, and he received it in the form of a great black stone that shone like a jewel, and that was possessed of great magical powers. And Chang Zhou kept this tribute, for it brought him great power. But it also had a terrible curse placed on it by Chang Zhou's enemies, so that it corrupted everything around him, until finally his empire decayed from within and collapsed, plunging the land into anarchy and causing the terrible stone to disappear from the earth.

Hundreds of centuries passed, and a group of monks wishing to reclaim a ruined temple stumbled upon the dark stone, which until then had been little more than a myth. They presented it to their leader, a wise monk who saw both the power and the danger in the stone. He ordered it taken from the world to the afterworld, where he placed it in a special temple of his own building so that it would do no harm. But the influence of the stone was strong, and knowledge of its recovery thus passed to the enemies of the monk. A conclave of demons and evil sorcerers gathered together, and they sent one of their number to steal it. All the animals gathered to decide how they might seize the stone as well, for it had been taken to where they could not go. So instead they found someone to go for them…

If the PCs prove themselves worthy by any or all means they will be treated as honored guests before they are allowed to pass. If the PCs are foolish enough to attack the Uptaki, or if they are forced to fight their way out, feel free to send as many Uptaki warriors against them as you wish until you feel they've had enough, and then let them escape. Needless to say, De Querioz will not be happy, but if the PCs start a fight he will be forced to flee with them.

Tectactzica Uptaki Chieftain

“Strangers from the land above, prepare to be tested.”

Bod 6, Chi 8 (For 2), Mnd 6 (Cha 8), Ref 8.
Martial Arts 15, Leadership 15.
Bite of the Dragon, Breathe of the Dragon, Claw of the Dragon.
Punch (7), Kick (8), Sword (10).

Average Uptaki Warrior

(Sound of chanting)

Bod 5, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 6.
Martial Arts 7.
Spear (9).

Scene Five: Temple of the Guiding Hand

After an hour or two of travel the Luisa will finally reach their destination: the temple created by the Guiding Hand to house the Heart of Darkness. The temple sits on an irregularly shaped island that is roughly 100 meters in length. The ceiling virtually disappears high overhead, but the walls appear to be part of a natural cavern, The island also is not flat and even, but rather is itself irregular and rocky. The center of the island is dominated by the temple, which has been shaped to look like a traditional if somewhat small Shaolin monastery.

As the Luisa approaches the island the PCs will become aware of the sound of fighting. Pulling closer, they will see that the Chinese warship they encountered earlier is moored by the shore, and that its crew seems to be engaged in a ferocious battle against a small group of young Shaolin monks. The soldiers from the ship are armored and carry swords and spears, while the monks wear robes and use only bamboo staves. The monks are also outnumbered by about two to one, yet they seem to be holding their own. At this point De Querioz will approach the PCs. After the battle with the demon he does not want to risk any more of his crew. He will suggest that he pull the ship quietly around to the far side of the island to allow the PCs to slip onto the shore and up to the temple while he awaits their return. As far as he is concerned he's gotten them here, and now the rest is their business. At this point the PCs have three main options: Sneak up to the temple, join the battle, or try to take out the warship while its crew is distracted. They may also wish to split up and do two or all of these things at once.

Joining the Battle

If the PCs wish to join the battle on the shore, they are going to have to cross the island to do it. De Querioz will not allow his ship to be put in danger. The PCs can, of course, join either side or neither, but you can probably assume they will want to get back at Fen Xian Liong. He will be on his ship, and when he sees the PCs leap into the fray he will not be amused. He will respond to their presence by summoning a number of Gnarled Marauders to attack the PCs, one for each party member. Make sure you give them all names. They will probably not hurt the PCs very much, but they will give them a hard time. Xian Liong himself will not enter the battle unless he is attacked, at which point he will use his blast and movement scthicks to fly up and attack the PCs, preferably any sorcerers in the party first. Otherwise, while the PCs are occupied, he will fly directly to the temple. See “Entering the Temple” below for details on what happens.

Note that even if the PCs aid the Shaolin Monks, they will not necessarily be well disposed toward them. While they will not attack them outright, they will recognize them as innerwalkers and will thus be suspicious. They will allow them to see their master, but if Jiao Sung Lin orders them to defend the Heart they will do so without hesitation.

The Bad Guys

Vassals of the Lotus (40 or so)

“You're Dead” (mooks don't have a lot of imagination).

Bod 6, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 6.
Martial Arts 6.
Sword (10), spear (10).
+1 tgh, −1 agl.

Shaolin Monk

“What do you want here?”.

Bod 6, Chi 0, Mnd 5, Ref 7.
Martial Arts 8.
Staff (9), punch (7), kick (8).

Gnarled Marauders

(Slithering sound).

Bod 8, Chi 4 (For 0), Mnd 6, Ref 5.
Creature Powers 8, Martial Arts 8.
Abysmal Spines ×2, Amphibian, Conditional Escalation (Body increases by 1 whenever targeted by successful Sorcery task check), Tentacles ×6.
Tentacle barbs (12), bite (9).

Attacking the Ship

One or more of the PCs may decide to try and sabotage or even sink the warship while its crew is otherwise occupied. Simply hacking at it will not do; the PC attempting to destroy it must make a Sabotage task check with a difficulty of 15 to seriously damage the ship, and a 20 to destroy it outright. However, making a bomb or something similar is not difficult, and can be put together quickly out of materials on the Luisa with a sabotage (or Fix-it) task check with a difficulty of 10. Furthermore, the PCs can take one of the lifeboats on the Luisa over to the warship. However, don't make it easy for them. You should leave a few mooks on the ship who will spot the PCs coming and open fire with their bows (7/5/1). If the PCs get up alongside of the ship they will climb down the sides and leap into the boat and attack them there. This will, of course, alert Fen Xian Liong, who will swoop down and attack the PCs.

Ironically, if the PCs do succeed in destroying the ship, they will not have made things any easier for them. Most of the crew is on the shore anyway, and if Fen Xian Liong loses his ship he will attack the crew of the Luisa, trying to wrest it from them. When the PCs intervene, he will use his Influence schtick to make the crew turn on them (with their .50 cal. machineguns), then take control of Jean-Claude and even De Querioz and have them do the same.

Entering the Temple

The temple will be largely deserted when the PCs slip inside, as most of the monks are on the shoreline fighting the crew of the warship. If you want to have the PCs mix it up with the mooks, you can have some of the monks notice them and turn away from the battle and attack, but otherwise they will pass unmolested. Most of the temple is uninteresting, as it is made up largely of spartan chambers, prayer rooms, exercise areas, and whatnot. Only the inner chamber is significant, and like the outer doors its entrance will be unguarded. This chamber is the current resting place of the Heart of Darkness. The room is circular, and it rises to a high domed ceiling (a very unusual architectural feature considering its makers). The outer edge of the dome is supported by a ring of pillars, each about 5 feet apart from each other and a foot thick, which form a sort of open walkway around the chamber. The chamber itself contains a large variety of statues, mirrors, chimes, bells, and inscriptions. All of this forms a very complex pattern of feng shui which is designed to counteract the negative chi emanating from the Heart of Darkness, which rests on a stone pedestal in the center of the room.

When the PCs approach the pedestal Jiao Sung-Lin, the head of the temple, will suddenly seem to appear in front of them (even if the PCs search the room thoroughly first they will not find him). He will speak politely to the PCs, asking them what their business is. After a few moments of conversation, it should become obvious that he is not going to let the PCs have the Heart. If they try to talk him into it, he will tell the PCs to leave, and then he will walk behind the pedestal and seem to disappear again. If the PCs try to take the Heart afterwards, or if they try to push their way past him or attack him, then he will most certainly fight back.

What happens next depends on how things are going with the fight. Assuming no one killed or delayed Fen Xian Liong beforehand, he will burst into the temple after the fight has gone on for a few sequences (if no one interfered with him, his sorcery tipped the battle on the shore in his favor). How he acts depends on the state of the PCs. If they are losing, he will shout out a curse toward Sung-Lin before attacking him. If the PCs are winning, he will attack them. If you want, you can have him bring a few mooks with him for fun. If he attacks Sung-Lin, and the PCs try to abscond with the Heart, then he and Sung-Lin will both put aside their fight for a moment and attack the PCs together! Another potential situation is that the PCs get delayed on the shore while Xian Liong goes ahead to the temple. When the PCs arrive, the inner chamber should be in shambles from the two of them fighting. How wounded they already are should depend on how weak the PCs are, but for the most part they will continue to fight each other. Remember that even if the PCs side with Sung-Lin, he will still not give up the Heart, and will probably turn back on them once Xian Liong is dead.

Cool Things That Could Happpen

Finishing the Adventure

Once the smoke clears, it is assumed that the PCs will have possession of the Heart. Of course, all of that fighting will have weakened the delicate balance of chi within the temple, and when the PCs move the Heart from it's resting place everything will be thrown out of whack. The temple will begin to rumble, the ceiling will begin to crumble, and even the island itself will begin to teeter and rock. Outside, large stalactites will begin to drop into the water with loud splashes. If the PCs did not interfere earlier, the battle will be over with both sides mostly dead and the remaining crew of the warship trying to frantically escape. Of course, you can have a huge chunk of rock slam into the midsection of their ship and capsize it, just before the temple collapses and the island begins to sink. This is all mainly for show, and unless the PCs stand around gawking they should make it to the Luisa and out of the cavern safely.

The rest of the trip should be uneventful. Sure enough, St. Martin will be waiting back in Laguerno with enough suits to make sure the PCs don't get any dumb ideas. Once the PCs have given him the Heart he will turn over the money and the information to them, the former in briefcases, the later in simple folders. He will congratulate the PCs on a job well done, and offer them hospitality and a place to relax for a few weeks in a condo he has reserved in Rio, all expenses paid, and if the PCs want it, of course.

Anything that happens further is up to you, of course. The information could be worthless, or it could be a hook to your next adventure. It could be that St. Martin never intends for them to get any use out of it, and the condo in Rio could be a set up for a hit so that the PCs don't talk about where they've been. On the other hand, St. Martin may see the PCs as a valuable resource, and he may contact the PCs again in the future, offering them more assignments which can tie into your future stories. Of course, the PCs will have made enemies of both the Lotus and the Hand, and if Xian Liong survived somehow he will most certainly come back looking for revenge. Or, finally, you could use the Heart in future adventures. What does it do, and why do the Ascended want it (why the Lotus wants it should be obvious)? The PCs could be drawn further in as they attempt to discover who St. Martin works for, and what they plan to do with the Heart of Darkness.