INTRODUCTION

Monsieur Le Droit’s Secret is a different sort of adventure from the others in this booklet, as it allows Player-characters to explore and adventure in the world of 17th Century mystery and political intrigue nominally starting on May 17, 1624. It is designed especially for characters starting their careers in the Bureaucracy or Banking. It revolves around a society of Spanish sympathizers who call themselves the ‘Red Brotherhood.’ They have been systematically selling state secrets to the Spanish Ambassador in Paris, Senor De La Salamanca. An agent of the Constable General, Monsieur Marcel Le Droit, started to tail the brotherhood, and tried to join so that he could get proof of their activities, but was murdered before he could report to the Constable General. It is up to the party of player-characters to figure out why he was killed and by whom, and to follow the clues leading to the arrest of the ‘Red Brotherhood.’

 

THE SITUATION

All characters who work, or are studying, within the low levels of the Bureaucracy will hear, by the grapevine, that the Constable General,

Chevalier De La Tour De Vezelay, is seeking assistance in a mysterious matter having to do with the death of one of his most trusted agents. If they express an interest, they will receive, after a few days, letters requesting an interview with them at the Royal Palace. If they accept, they may also bring their friends (i.e. those of low Social Rank and/or not in the Bureaucracy).

 

The interview will be held in the wing of the ‘Palais Royal’ devoted to the Ministry of Justice, in a somber of marble. The Constable General is a small, and surprisingly young man with an over-sized moustache. He will greet the party warmly, with a troubled look on his face, and explain the situation. His best agent, Monsieur Marcel Le Droit was found dead, mysteriously, in an alleyway near St. Antoine.  He had previously indicated that he was on the trail of a conspiracy against France, but did not have time to fully report before his murder. The Constable General is looking for a group of daring and intelligent men to unravel the mystery of M. Le Droit’s death and to find proof of the conspiracy and a list of its members. He stresses that concrete proof must be found, because anyone powerful enough to conspire successfully against France would have to have great resources and would be able to defend himself well in court. If the characters accept his mission, he will make them all deputies of the Constable General (temporarily giving them the power to make arrests) and give each of them 20 L for expenses. He will also extend his protection to them, during the mission, and will send 2D6 City Guards to aid them if they send word that they need help. When the interview is concluded, the Constable General will rise slowly and thank the party for its assistance. He will also add that he will into be ungrateful if the party completes its mission successfully.

THE BODY

The body of M. Le Droit, preserved exactly as it was found three days before, is kept in the cold cellars of the Ministry of Justice. It has just started to decompose, but it sufficiently putrefied for characters to hold scented handkerchiefs over their noses. M. Le Droit was a man in his early thirties, tall, fairly muscular, and dresses as a gentleman. The clues to be discovered on or from the body are as follows:

 

·                The body has been fully inspected by a Physician, and no marks could be found on it. It is thus fairly safe to assume he was poisoned. Characters may make a roll against Smarts (+2 if they also have Investigation skill) to learn that it was a slow-acting metal poison, probably in something that he drank.

·                On a card lying on the body is the address of the alleyway where it was found from the report of the City Guard who found and recognized him. It is in the district of St. Antoine.

·                In the right hand pocket of his long coat, M. Le Droit carried a loaded and primed wheellock pistol (he was evidently expecting danger).

·                In the left hand pocket of his long coat, M. Le Droit carried a piece of paper with the following notes on it:

 

A = D          J = K S = v

B = C          K = ?          T = ?

C = F          L = M          U = ?

D = ?          M = P          V = ?

E = ?          N = ?          W = ?

F = G          O = ?          X = Y

G = ?          P = a          Y = B

H = ?          Q = ?          Z = A

I = L           R = ?

 

Any character with Investigation skill will recognize this as the key (or partial key) to a simple code. (Note to the Gamemaster: This was as much of the code used by the 'Red Brotherhood' as M. Le Droit was able to decipher before his death.)

 

·                Hanging out of the body's left hand pocket is a large, bright red handkerchief.

·                Clutched in his right hand, is an unopened envelope. The seal, in the form of a dagger, is made in bright red sealing wax. The letter inside simply has an address on it: Rue St. Mihiel 32'

 

These are the clues with which the characters may start the adventure.

 

THE SCENE OF THE CRIME

The characters will probably wish to visit the scene of the M. Le Droit's murder first, to find where he was poisoned. The body was found in a little alleyway in St. Antoine, just a block from a Tavern owned by the Black Cross Club. This is the only drinking establishment for a little ways, so it is probable that it was there that he imbibed the poison.

 

If the characters go to the Tavern, they will be admitted as Deputies of the Realm. The manager of the Tavern, M. Reber, is terribly upset about the whole matter of the murder and claims that it could not have been perpetrated in his establishment. An interview with the Bartender, however, will prove differently. The Bartender, for 15-20 L (10 for character with Persuasion roll) will recall seeing M. Le Droit, and another gentleman wearing a red handkerchief hanging out of his pocket, drinking together the night before the body was found. They spoke softly, so he doesn't know what they said, but he knows the other gentleman's name, Chevalier De Didonne, because he is a Club Member of the Black Cross Club. If pressed about Didonne, he will mention that he often comes to the St. Antoine establishment with a Spanish gentleman. The Bartender, a quick-thinking fellow, also saved the mugs from which Le Croit and Didonne drank. They had not been washed that night and when he heard of the murder in the morning, he suspected poison and hid them. He will sell the mugs to be inspected for 15 L each (10 L each to a character with Persuasion roll, who can make a successful roll on Wit).

 

A PC that successfully rolls their Smarts (+2 if he has Investigation skill) when inspecting the mugs (or a Chemist at the Ministry of Justice, if the character fails), will discover a residue of the same slow-acting metal poison in both mugs. This may pose the party a situation that is difficult to explain. (Note to the Gamemaster: Chevalier De Didonne did poison Le Droit, but he poisoned both mugs in case Le Droit switched them. Didonne is immune to this particular poison as he has taken small, non-lethal doses over a long period of time.)

 

If the party asks around, they will learn that the Chevalier De Didonne lives on Rue St. Mihiel 18, just a block away from the address shown on the letter carried by M. Le Droit. If the characters ask around, however, there is a good chance that Didonne will hear about it.

 

RUE ST. MlHlEL

Rue St. Mihiel is a pretty, prosperous street near the right bank of the Seine. On preliminary inspection, Rue St. Mihiel 18 will be found to be a modest, comfortable townhouse, the home of Chevalier De Didonne. Rue St. Mihiel 32 is an international banking facility known as 'Brothers De Vitoria.' All Bankers, Clerks, and Moneylenders in the party will know that this establishment has a very good reputation.

 

At first, there appears to be nothing curious about Brothers De Vitoria. If the characters watch the bank for a while, however, ('stake it out') they will notice a number of gentlemen come and go out of the basement (supposedly used only for storing records) through an outside door. Each of these persons wears a red handkerchief in his pocket. If the characters continue to watch (perhaps from inside a carriage or from a nearby building) they will notice, on the second day of watching, several people meet, at twilight on the steps and descend into the basement, all of them wearing red handkerchiefs.

 

The first of these is evidently Didonne, as he approaches from just down the street. He is a thin and sinister-looking young man. His face is not wholly visible as he wars a thin veil over his eyes from his hat (apparently to keep the dust out of his eyes). The second is a Banker from Brothers De Vitoria, a prim and neat elderly gentleman with an air of wealth about him. The party may learn later, through inquiries, that his name is Monsieur Moulin and that he is the head Banker at the Paris branch of Brothers De Vitoria. The third man arrives in a fancy carriage, bearing the insignia of the Spanish embassy in Paris.

 

The man can be heard, distantly, to speak with a Spanish accent. He is

so grand and impeccably dressed that he can only be the Spanish Ambassador himself, Don Salamanca. The fourth man also arrives in a carriage, this one with the coat-of-arms of a Baron. He is incredibly fat and his clothes, while quite expensive and fashionable, are in a state of disarray. Any character who makes a successful Smarts roll (+1) will recognize this man as the Baron De Gras, a wealthy but debauched noble. Each of the four is protected by a servant/guard in bright red livery. The guards are armed with rapiers (as are the four gentlemen) and a pair of flintlock pistols each, and they also wear red handkerchiefs, Two guards will remain near the doorway to the basement so as to prevent anyone from seeing or listening to what goes on there.

 

If the characters question at the bank about this clandestine rendezvous, they will be told that it was only a normal business meeting and shown that each of the people involved has business with the Brothers De Vitoria.

 

While the party watches the Rue St. Mihiel, Martin Pedrosa, the special spy of Don Salamanca, will be watching the party. Pedrosa is a master assassin. As soon as the 'Red Brotherhood' learns that the bank, he will be sent after them, along with two henchman, Pedrosa's statistics are as listed below:

Martin Pedrosa

Agility d12, Smarts d12, Spirit d10, Strength d8, Vigor d8, Parry: 7, Toughness 7(1)

 

Skills: Fighting d10, Shooting d8, Lockpick d8, Stealth d10, Knowledge: Disguise d10, Knowledge: Forgery d10, Investigation d8, Streetwise d8, Tracking d8, Persuasion d10, Climbing d8

 

Edges: Acrobat, Florentine, Luck, Pugilist, Thief, Wall of Steel  

 

Weapons: Foil, Main Gauche

Armor: Leather

 

His henchmen are Extras attack with daggers, have Fighting d6, Parry 5, Toughness 5 with all stats at d6

 

Pedrosa possesses a wide range of poisons, and he will try these first to get the characters. Any character with Investigation may spot poison in his food if he checks it. Any character that ingests poison must make three rolls against Vigor with a -1 modifier. If he misses two or more, he dies within 24 hours, unless an antidote is procured. If he misses one roll, he will be weak and sick for 1 D6 days. Otherwise, he will be weak and sick for 3D6 hours.

 

If poison fails, Pedrosa will have to resort to violence. He will start by tailing characters and waiting until they are alone. If possible, he will snipe at them with his crossbow from rooftops, alleys, etc. If the characters try to catch him, his henchmen will hold them off long enough for Pedrosa to escape. If Pedrosa is captured, he will attempt to shallow one of his poisons before interrogation.

 

NEWS FROM COURT

If the party gives the list of suspected conspirators to the Constable

General, he will tell them the following news from court. Otherwise, any nobleman or character in the Bureaucracy or an Order will hear the news on the grapevine.

 

Two days after the characters notice the meeting in the basement of the Brothers De Vitoria Bank, the news will arrive that a major decision has been reached by the King concerning the situation on the northern front with the Spanish Netherlands. He has decided to build and fully arm a number of new fortresses to defend against the Spanish forces.

 

Monsieur Moulin (the Head Banker at Brothers De Vitoria) had been named as the senior arms investor for the weaponry of the new forts and the Baron De Gras has been chosen to supervise the construction. Baron De Gras is already in possession of the first draft plans for the fortresses.

 

Obviously, M. Moulin and the Baron will attempt to sell the plans to Don Salamanca and the Spanish government through the 'Red Brotherhood.'

 

THE SECRET MESSAGE

It will be necessary for the characters to obtain proof of the 'Red

Brotherhood's treasonous purpose and the sale of the fortress plans offers a perfect opportunity to catch them red-handed. Didonne, who is the messenger of the Brotherhood, will leave secret coded messages for each of the members in various places regarding the sale of the plans. All further clues should lead to one of these messages. One will be left on the doorstep of the Brothers De Vitoria Bank and one in front of the Spanish Embassy. These will, however, be picked up quickly. One will be left with the bartender of the Tavern in St. Antoine, with instructions to give it to any man who requests it and is wearing a red handkerchief. The bartender will hand it over to anyone, however, if bribed or threatened. The party may be led to the Tavern by either Didonne (as he goes about distributing the message) or the Baron De Gras (as he goes to pick it up). At any rate, the characters should be allowed to get one of the three secret messages, as a clue.

 

Each message is sealed inside an envelope with a seal depicting a dagger insignia, and cast of bright red wax. A message may thus not be replaced without someone suspecting it, unless a character in the party has Knowledge: Forgery and makes a successful roll against Smarts. The message inside each envelope is in the simple code, which M. Le Droit had just started to decipher, before he was murdered. The characters must do their best to decipher the rest. Each message reads as follows:

 

'Phhu urprssrz oljiu du uih Vu. Jhswdlv Fhphuhsb, cb uih urpc rg uih rme Exnh EhJxlvh, du vhwho r'fmrfn. Zhds uih she idoenhsfilhg doe d pdvn.'

 

The correct cipher key is as shown below:

A = D          J = U          s = v

B = C          K = N          T = U

C = F          L = M          u = x

D = E          M = P          v = w

E = H          N = O         W = Z

F = G          O = R         X = Y

G = J          P = Q          Y = B

H = l           Q = T          Z = A

I = L           R = S

 

Thus the decoded message should read as follows:

 

'Meet tomorrow night at the St Gervais Cemetery, by the tomb of the old Duke DeGuise, as seven o'clock. Wear the red handkerchief and a mask.’

 

If a player contributes greatly to the solving of the code his character should get an extra XP for their trouble. If this adventure is to be played in two parts, the Gamemaster may wish to end the first part here, to give players a while to work on this puzzle in their free time. Otherwise, a period of fifteen to thirty minutes should be set aside for code breaking.

 

THE MEETING IN THE CEMETERY

The next evening, just after the sun sets, the four members of the 'Red Brotherhood' will meet in the Cemetery, each wearing a red handkerchief and a mask. If they have reason to be suspicious (Le. if they were followed, or if they found a secret message with a broken seal), they will bring two guards each. Otherwise, they will only have one guard each. They, and their guards, are armed as at the previous meeting. The Baron De Gras brings with him copies of the fortress plans and M. Moulin has lists of expenditures on the armaments and their types. Don Salamanca has a Spanish letter of credit for the amount of 10,000 pieces of eight (about 40,000 L).

 

The party may use several different strategies to apprehend the conspiracy. They may wish to send for 2D6 City Guards as back-ups and simply surround the conspirators and arrest them. This has the disadvantage, however, of possibly giving the Brotherhood time to burn the evidence before giving up. If they have superior numbers the conspirators may even choose to fight it out (their identities are, after all, disguised).

 

The subtlest approach might be for the party to dress up with masks to be extra guards of one or another of the conspirators. This may allow them to get close enough to save the plans if the conspirators should try to destroy them.

 

However this final encounter works out, the Gamemaster should remember that the party's target is getting proof. The Brotherhood is powerful enough to protect itself in court, and some of it members are intimate with the King. If harmed in any way, without proof, the characters may find themselves charged with assault or murder! The characters should therefore be careful and should be encouraged to use their brains to end the adventure properly.

 

REWARDS

If the conspiracy is properly discovered and stopped and a full amount of evidence uncovered, the party will have fulfilled its mission properly in the eyes of the Constable General. Each character will be given a monetary reward of 200L (out of the money assigned to the letter of credit) and will gain status. All characters will gain a Favor of the Constable General and will get to roll immediately for position and promotion in any hierarchy to which they belong or are allowed, automatically, to become a Bureaucrat, Clerk, or a Student of Law (provided they have the required skills).