Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Pharaoh’s Heart: An Adventure of Doom

Real History:

Dr. James Henry Breasted was the first American Egyptologist and a professor of the University of Chicago. After 70 years of ground breaking research, Dr. Breasted died on Dec 2nd, 1935. Breasted was in the forefront of the generation of archeologist-historians who broadened the idea of Western Civilization to include the entire Near East in Europe's cultural roots. Breasted coined the term Fertile Crescent to describe the archaeologically important area from Palestine to southern Iraq (inclusive).

AoD History:

James tragically dies in January 1935 after a long illness after returning from a 2 year expedition in Egypt. In his fevered distress the old archaeologist manages to write a six page rambling letter to his friends, Guy and Devon Lareux. The letter is strange and often illegible. But it appears the old man is worried some secret will be lost on his death. He needs the Lareux brothers to recover the secret, but nearly mad Breasted doesn’t mention where or even what the secret is. The letter is postmarked from New York.

Guy and Devon decide to send their agents, Evelyn Drake and Joshua Spectre to find the doctor, unravel the mystery about the secret, and report back to Chicago. Evy manages to secure a favor from the pilots of Chicago Aeronautic Club (CAC) to lend her and Spectre a plane to travel to Big Apple where the duo spend a couple of weeks chasing down various leads to the lost historian. Eventually, Drake finds Mrs. Breasted staying at one of finer Manhattan hotels. They arrange a polite tea where Mrs. Breasted and Miss Drake hit off well. The good doctor is dying and is being kept at a reclusive hospice just outside the city.

After several hours of patient interviewing and visitation, Evy learns that James appears to be concerned about a lost artefact called “The Pharaoh’s Heart” which can only be found by his old friend—a janitor at the University of Chicago where the object has been hidden for some 20 years. James is guilt stricken and seems to be confessing something about a man named Kinkaid who he credits as finding the Heart.

Spectre and Drake return to Chicago to discover that the janitor James spoke of is dead and has been for a number of years. After searching the professor’s office they find a key. After talking with some of the college staff they come to suspect that the janitor had spent a lot of time in the endless steam tunnels under the college. It is quite possible something could be hidden down there.

A search leads them to an old locked door. The key from James’ office fits and the two enter a series of storage rooms obviously unused for at least 20 years. The rooms are full of relatively normal Egyptian artifacts. Evy can tell that while each is authentic, they are not particularly noteworthy. That is, until a pair of matched stone jackal statues come to life and attack Joshua. The fast and fleet footed young ninja quickly kicks the two in rubble. Room after room uncovers more strange and mysterious encounters until they reach the last door.

The last room is laid out in a perfect representation of an Egyptian tomb complete with sarcophagus, statues, scrolls, and chests. One corner of the room is laid out with an odd arrangement of candles and a single statue of Osiris. Miss Drake knows enough about archaeology to know these objects are not like the others and are out of place. While the room contains a number of gold objects, again nothing is particularly unusual aside from being in the basement of a Chicago campus. But the chest at the foot of the coffin reveals the secret. It contains the Pharaoh’s Heart still encrusted with the dirt it was found in. But the real secret isn’t the Heart itself but the accompanying documentation. The Pharaoh’s Heart is dated at 4000 years old and was found in The Temple of Isis located in… Arizona. A staggering find to the intellectual world.

While the two ponder what the full impact of this will be, the tomb opens and a living guardian of sand erupts to attack. The shifting nature of the creature makes edged and ballistic weapons useless, but Josh has come to possess a mysterious ornate knife that seems to be able to hurt the creature. After a tense combat that severely wounds Spectre, Miss Drake lands the final blow disabling the creature. The open tomb reveals the body of Gerald Kinkaid, the lost adversarial colleague of Dr. Breasted who found the Temple of Isis in 1918 and disappeared soon after.

The discovery heralds the awakening of Kinkaid’s “ghost” who tells the pair of his discovery and subsequent betrayal under the college. Using the objects stored from his discoveries he followed an ancient ritual to make him immortal. But the result trapped his mind a small statue of Osiris which is now bound too. Kinkaid is an excitable Scottish soul who agrees to journey with the pair to finally uncover the temple in the remote deserts of the American Southwest. As a twist, no one can perceive the spirit save Evy and Josh.

When the two adventurers return to tell the tale, Guy and Devon are excited by the prospect of more lost treasure. Lareux Procurement could certainly use the cash!
These notes are taken from a game session of Adventured of Doom; a True20 Pulp RPG setting. See other posts with the AoD tag for more details.

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