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Adventuring in Silkpunk Victoria

"I hope . . . Knightfall accurately reflects my philosophy of 'fun to play' rather than just 'fun to read.'  I have tried hard in that product to 'put my money where my mouth is' and illustrate how I currently think a good, useful adventure should be presented."
— Joe D. Fugate, Sr., "Through the Years," MegaTraveller Journal #4

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Adventure Scenarios

Inspired by the regular "Amber Zone" feature of Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society and the format of Traveller Supplement 6: 76 Patrons, these are ready-to-play adventure scenarios set in the Silkpunk Victoria setting, "complete with patrons, rumors and nasty surprises along the way."

Note: The following adventure scenarios are intended primarily for the Referee and contain details which likely may not be known by Player-Characters.

Buffalo Soldiers | Jailbreak on Alcatraz | Yellowhammer State Deserter | The Ætheron Heist | The Swedish Intrigue | The Maratha Envoy | The Panama Railway Scheme | The Coal Miner's Daughter | The Qīng Aqueduct

Jules Verne's Extraordinary Voyages

Buffalo Soldiers

Initial location: Free City of Victoria

Image - Titus Alexander

Titus Alexander
(Original llustration by Marty Moyer[*])

Carousing at the Ship Inn Saloon, the adventurers are approached by Titus Alexander, originally from the United States he now serves as a Plateau Confederacy ranger.  While the Confederacy is a member of the Buffalo Pact there are actually few bison in Plateau territory and so no formal effort was established to protect them.  The Confederacy has recently become aware of a substantial bison herd which has crossed into its southeast from the Great Basin Confederacy.  Because the bison will no longer be protected by Great Basin rangers, Plateau has decided to deploy an ad hoc ranger force which Alexander has been tasked to recruit.  These rangers will be charged wth protecting the herd from poachers who may be more likely to attack the herd now that it has left the relatively better-protected Great Basin.

Alexander has procured a surplus trader airship, the Du Bois, which will transport the adventurers to the last known location of the herd in southeast Plateau.  (Atypically, Du Bois carries an auto-wagon in its hold.)  The adventurers will be tasked with guarding the herd for the remainder of the season, a period of approximately eight weeks (or until the herd moves out of Plateau territory).  The Confederacy will provide supplies, including limited supplies of ammunition, for eight weeks.  Upon successful completion of the work the adventurers will be given possession of the Du Bois.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) After intermediate layovers for the night at Nikwikwi'estku on the Oregon - Plateau border and at the Plateau capital of Spokane, Alexander pilots Du Bois to small river valley several hours southeast of Spokane, and sets down on the west bank of a river, setting up a campsite on a sandy beach as the sun begins to set.

It is a beautiful day the next morning, sunny with comfortable temperatures.  A short flight over the valley to the east in Du Bois brings the adventurers to an area where hundreds of bison are gathered.

The next several weeks pass in a similar manner, with the campsite moved as the herd moves, without incident.

Image - Ilchee Comcomly

Ilchee Comcomly
(Original llustration by Saeid Gholibeik[*])

Any adventurer who chooses to participate in ad hoc training offered by Alexander will gain Aeronautics-0 skill during this time (adventurers already skilled in Aeronautics will gain no skill because Alexander only has Aeronautics-1).  Any adventurer with a thaumaturgical ability who chooses to participate in ad hoc training offered by Ilchee Comcomly, the airship's thaumaturge engineer, will gain Buoyancy-0 and Dynamise-0 abilities (adventurers already talented in Buoyancy or Dynamise will gain no additional ability because Comcomly only has Buoyancy-1 and Dynamise-1).

2) As in 1) above, but one morning in the third week the adventurers awake to the rumble of a pair of auto-wagons amongst the herd of bison.  A low-flying freighter airship also floats above the herd.

“Poachers!” cries Alexander.  He races to Du Bois, inviting the adventurers to join him.  The craft takes to the air and begins flying toward the two auto-wagons.  Immediately the freighter comes to the ground, collecting the auto-wagons into its hold.  As soon as the auto-wagons are aboard the airship lifts — its hatches still closing — and races away to the east.

Du Bois gives chase seeking to identify the craft but it becomes apparent that the Du Bois cannot overtake the freighter.  Eventually Du Bois returns to the campsite.

The next several weeks pass without further incident.

Image - Bison herd

Bison herd
(Original llustration by Meredith O'Neal[*])

3) As in 2) above, but before the airship flees it fires upon Du Bois (which is unarmed and unarmored).  Du Bois takes only minor damage and is able to return to the campsite.  The damage can be repaired in 1D hours with a negative DM equal to the sum of the highest two levels (including duplicates) of Aeronautics or Mechanical skill among the group (including Alexander's Aeronautics-1).

The next several weeks pass without further incident.

4) As in 3) above, but Du Bois is more heavily damaged, with Alexander barely managing a controlled crash landing near the campsite.  Between the cannon fire and the crash, 1D members of the party, determined randomly and including Alexander and Comcomly, will each suffer 2D-3 damage.

Repairs to the more severely damaged airship will take 2D hours with DMs as in 2) above for skills among uninjured group members.

The next several weeks pass without further incident.

5) As in 4) above, but Du Bois crashes uncontrollably.  Each occupant suffers 2D-3 damage.

The airship is lost but the auto-wagon can be repaired in 3D hours with a negative DM equal to the sum of the highest two levels (including duplicates) of Mechanical skill among uninjured group members.  The voyage back to Spokane will take approximately four days — without requiring refuelling — but Alexander and/or Ilchee will want to remain with the herd, suggesting that a relief expedition will be mounted when they fail to return as expected.

If the adventurers stay with the herd, time will pass without further incident and another airship dispatched from Spokane will arrive in ten weeks.  Upon return to Spokane in the relief airship the adventurers will be paid ε元350,000 by Plateau authorities.

6) As in 2) above, but as the airship is recovering its auto-wagons dozens of bison attack the vehicles.  Both auto-wagons are severely damaged — and several bison are injured.  The airship manages to lift away with limited damage and flees to the east.

Alexander brings Du Bois to a hover over the broken auto-wagons.  Several striken poachers are outside the vehicles but are being attacked by other bison.  Eventually, the bison herd moves away, leaving 2D-3 injured poachers amongst the vehicle wreckage.  Eventually, working carefully not to further annoy the bison, the group is able to rescue 2D-6 poachers, each having suffered 2D-3 damage.

The next several weeks pass without further incident

Subsequent events must be determined by the referee.

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Jailbreak on Alcatraz*

Initial location: Free City of Victoria

While carousing at the Highland Mary Saloon, the adventurers are contacted by Katya Mann, an agent of Danshaku Okalani Masahiro, owner of Honolulu-based Okalani Packet Airship Company.  About a year ago, Okalani Shoichi, Okalani's 20 year old son, landed in Astoria, as part of a "grand tour," part learning-the-business, and part pleasure.  After several days in Oregon, he had heard of some ancient ruins, located in the California Republic.  Though warned of local restrictions on access to the ruins, Shoichi insisted on going to them and (through some covert means) set out for the California interior.  When he failed to return the crew of his Okalani airship attempted to find out what happened, only to run into a blank wall of hostility and indifference from the Californian authorities.  Requests to enter Calfornia to conduct a search were denied.

Despite every effort by Danshaku Okalani, nothing more was heard for three months.  At that time, the Republic's Attorney General delivered an official communique to the Japanese ambassador at Sacramento, informing him that Okalani Shoichi had been convicted of assaulting a member of the Republic constabulary and had been sentenced to 30 years at hard labor.  No further word was sent, letters to Shoichi have been returned and all appeals and bribes have been refused.  By spending a considerable amount, Danshaku Okalani did manage to learn the following:

a) Shoichi did, by Californian standards, receive a fair and legal trial for a genuine offence (he assaulted a constable).  He signed a confession and pleaded guilty.

b) He is currently held in the Alcatraz prison, a maximum security facility.

Mann has maps of the area of the prison, which sits on an island in San Francisco Bay.  Maps of the prison itself show it is surrounded by two outer fences approximately 15 yards apart.  The facility includes an administration building, an electrical power plant, a barracks for approximately 50 guards, two large adjacent cellblocks — one for women, the other for men, each holding up to 500 hundred prisoners, and a combined factory / warehouse facility.

The Danshaku wants his son freed, regardless of the consequences.  To assist with this and as payment, he will give the adventurers an about-to-be-retired Okalani Airways courier airship.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) The strong currents around the island and cold water temperatures made escape from inside — or a clandestine landing by boat — nearly impossible but there is space on the grounds for an airship to land.  There are over a hundred cannons among the island's fortifications, including twenty heavy Rousseau guns, though it would take some time for these artillery pieces to be repositioned and trained on a target within the prison's grounds.  Shoichi will cooperate fully in his rescue; he is skilled with both rifle and pistol should he be provided with a weapon.

2) As in 1) above, but Shoichi insists upon freeing a young woman who is held in the other cellblock.  (Shoichi was imprisoned for striking a constable who had battered the woman, Shoichi's companion when he visited the ruins, while attempting to arrest them.)

3) As in 2) above, but the woman is angry with Shoichi and will refuse to cooperate in her rescue.  Throw 10+, with Liaison or Persuasion skill (or Recruiting divided by two, rounding down) as a DM, for Shoichi to agree to leave without her.

4) As in 2) above, but the woman, Xiāng Moreno Chen, is the daughter of a Qīng Jiāzhōu noble.  If she is rescued her family will pay the adventurers ε£50,000.

5) As 4) above, but Shoichi will insist upon travelling immediately to Qīng Jiāzhōu with Xiāng.  Danshaku Okalani's agent will only transfer ownership of the airship upon return of Shoichi, and will insist that the adventurers return to Qīng Jiāzhōu to retrieve Shoichi in order to take possession of the airship.

6) As 4) above, but rather than being returned to her family, Xiāng insists upon coming with Shoichi. (Obviously, there will be no reward from the family in these circumstances.)  A few days later, as the adventurers are preparing to depart in their newly-obtained airship, Shoichi and Xiāng will call at the docking bay, seeking passage to the destination to which the ship is preparing to depart.  Both claim to have the assent of their respective families — the adventurers will find it impossible to contact either the Okalani agent or Moreno Chen's family — but if the couple do depart with the adventurers they will be pursued by two squads, each of comparable capabilities as the adventurers and each working for the respective families.  Should Shoichi and Xiāng leave the airship at the destination port — they will not be inclined to do so but will not insist on staying aboard if asked to leave — the squads will not pursue the adventurers further.

Subsequent events must be determined by the referee.

* Inspired by the adventure "Rescue on Ruie" by Jeffery May in The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #1, Game Designers' Workshop, 1979, pp. 12-13.

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Yellowhammer State Deserter

Initial location: Free City of Victoria
Equipment needed: ship or airship

While carousing at the Pony Saloon, the adventurers are approached by Agnes Cuff, a simply-dressed young woman of European descent, who claims to be the daughter of a wealthy New Caledonian merchant.  She is looking for transport for her and her companion to New Westminster "with no questions asked."  She is willing to pay ε元2,000 now and promises payment of ε元15,000 when they reach New Westminster.

Cuff will insist upon meeting the party at their ship at night.  Both she and her companion will arrive wearing hooded travelling cloaks.  Cuff hands over the ε元2,000 and tersely asks that they be escorted immediately to their cabin.  Cuff's companion will not leave the cabin until the ship is out of the harbour — or the airship is aloft — but is revealed to be another young woman of apparent African descent who speaks with a southern American accent.  Cuff introduces her as Angela Moreno.  On a throw of 6+ one or more of the adventures will recall that the CSS Yellowhammer State, a Confederate States Navy cruiser, has been berthed for the past few weeks at the Esquimalt shipyard for repairs.  On a throw of 8+, with a DM for Streetwise skill, one or more of the adventurers will recall having seen a Free City wanted poster for a woman matching Moreno's description, charged with desertion from the Yellowhammer State, with a reward for her capture of ε元10,000.

Several different possibilities present themselves:

1) The voyage to New Westminster is uneventful.  Upon arrival in New Westminster, Cuff, accompanied by Moreno, takes the adventurers to a downtown mercantile establishment.  She is immediately recognized by the factor and, after a short conference in a private office, returns with the factor who pays the adventurers the ε元15,000.

2) As in 1) above but upon arrival in New Westminster Cuff and Moreno will attempt to flee into the bustling city.  If the adventurers seek out the Free City consulate and report upon their encounter with Moreno, the consular official will thank them for the information but inform them that the reward will only be paid if Moreno is apprehended.  Regardless of any further efforts by the adventures Cuff and Moreno will disappear.

If instead of visiting the consulate the adventures immediately attempt to give chase they will catch Cuff and Moreno on a throw of 10+, with DMs for any combination among the adventurers of Streetwise and half, rounding up, of Hunting, Recon, Stealth, Tactics and Jack-of-all-Trades skill.  If captured, Cuff will admit that Moreno did indeed desert from Yellowhammer State but explains that while slavery was formally abolished in the Confederacy as part of the armistice which ended the American Civil War, former slaves and their descendants still live in extreme servitude.  Moreno, a cook aboard Yellowhammer State, encountered Cuff while procuring supplies from the grocery in which Cuff worked.  When Cuff learned of Moreno's plight she offered to help her to escape.  After some encouragement Moreno agreed to hide in Cuff's rented room while Cuff sought surreptitious passage out of Victoria.

Cuff admits that her family are not merchants but merely farmers in the Langley Prairie.  The ε元2,000 was her savings as a grocery clerk which she had intended to send to her family before encountering Moreno.

3) As in 1) above, but Cuff will explain the circumstances of Moreno's escape shortly after departure.  While en route across the Haro Strait the adventurers' ship — or airship — will be hailed and boarded by a Free City Constabulary ship — or armed trader-class airship.  Assuming the adventurers hide Cuff and Moreno the constables' search of the ship will be unsuccessful.  If the adventurers are otherwise cooperative, the constabulary officer leading the boarding party will admit that returning the fleeing Moreno would be a "dirty business" but notes that Victoria's independent status rests in no small part on its reputation as an "honest broker" making its shipyard facilities available to anyone who can pay.

Should the adventures turn over Moreno to the constables not only will they receive no reward but they will be arrested on a throw of 6+, with a negative DM equal to the highest level of Admin, Bribery, Legal, Liaison or Streetwise skill among the adventurers.  If arrested, each adventurer will be held in the Victoria jail for 2D days, with a negative DM, for each adventurer, equal to their highest level of Admin, Bribery, Legal, Liaison or Streetwise skill.

4) As in 3) above, but the adventurers' ship — or airship — will be approached and hailed by a launch — or a courier airship — from the Yellowhammer State.  The Confederates will insist upon boarding the adventures' ship with a party of sailors, of similar numbers and similarly armed and armored as the adventurers.  Assuming the adventurers hide Cuff and Moreno the Confederates' search of the ship will only discover them on a throw of 10+.

5) As in 4) above, but the Confederates will not parley and instead immediately force a boarding by a party of sailors of similar numbers and similarly armed and armored as the adventurers.

6) As in 2) above, but Cuff will explain the circumstances of Moreno's escape shortly after departure.  While en route across — or perhaps on return from — the Haro Strait the adventurers' ship — or airship — will be approached by a launch — or a courier airship — from the Yellowhammer State.  The Confederate ship will fire upon the adventurers' ship immediately upon coming into range.

Subsequent events must be determined by the referee.

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Verne's Extraordinary Voyages

Jules Verne, often considered to be one of the first writers of Steampunk, wrote a series of adventure novels — his Voyages extraordinaires — which sometimes included both the speculative concepts and the subversive motivations which are central to the genre.  Many of these works can serve as inspiration for Silkpunk Victoria adventures.

Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863) | The Adventures of Captain Hatteras (1866) | Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) | From the Earth to the Moon (1865) | In Search of the Castaways (1867–68) | Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas (1869–70) | Around the Moon (1870) | A Floating City (1871) | The Adventures of Three Russians and Three Britons in South Africa (1872) | The Fur Country (1873) | Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) | The Mysterious Island (1874–75) | The Survivors of the Chancellor (1875) | The Courier of the Czar (1876) | Off on a Comet (1877) | The Child of the Cavern (1877) | A Captain at Fifteen (1878) | The Begum's Fortune (1879) | Tribulations of a Chinese Man in China (1879) | The Steam House (1880) | Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon (1881) | A Californian Mystery (1882) | The Green Ray (1882) | Kéraban the Inflexible (1883) | The Vanished Diamond (1884) | The Archipelago on Fire (1884) | The Hungarian Count's Revenge (1885) | The Lottery Ticket (1886) | The Clipper of the Clouds (1886) | North Against South (1887) | The Flight to France (1887) | Two Years' Vacation (1888) | Family Without a Name (1889) | The Travelling Circus (1890) | Mistress Branican (1891) | The Carpathian Castle (1892) | The Special Correspondent (1893) | Lit'l Fellow (1893) | The Wonderful Adventures of Captain Antifer (1894) | Propeller Island (1895) | Facing the Flag (1896) | Clovis Dardentor (1896) | The Sphinx of the Ice Fields (1897) | The Mighty Orinoco (1898) | The Will of an Eccentric (1899) | The Castaways of the Flag (1900) | The Sea Serpent (1901) | The Kip Brothers (1902) | Travel Scholarships (1903) | A Drama in Livonia (1904) | Master of the World (1904) | Invasion of the Sea (1905)

[*] No endorsement of Silkpunk Victoria has been made or is implied.

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