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Subject: The Betraying Arm rss

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Emmett O'Brian
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In the last thirty years the world has been transformed by science and technology. Astounding clockwork mechanisms have been put to work doing everything from calculations to brute labor. These machines have helped to improve all of the sciences by making error free calculations, opening the way to new understandings of chemistry and biology.

But these devices have also caused hardship. Twenty years ago, the kingdom of Ogen and our republic of Golin went to war over the theft of the designs of our largest analytical engine. Ogen has refused to return the plans and although there have been several battles fought on land and sea, neither land has shown to be eager to fight after modern weapons had been brought to bear. The war has cooled but the distrust is still evident.

It is in this climate three have gone from babes to men. They have known nothing else but this wondrous and foreboding age where two mighty nations are poised to crash together once again in war.

Each one of you receives a slightly different telegram, all from the same source.

To: Bertram Orr
Your presence is requested at the home of Parliamentary Lord Ezra Cooling. You will be pleased to remember that Lord Cooling and yourself served aboard the great ship Gallant. This is a matter of utmost importance, do not delay at all in coming. All things will be made clear once you have arrived.

Your Comrade At Sea
Ezra Cooling

To: Ham
Your presence is requested at the home of Parliamentary Lord Ezra Cooling. Do not speak of this invitation or make inquiry of it. The nature of the matter is private but will be revealed on your arrival. Be prepared with your clockworking tools.

Truly
Lord Cooling

To: Mr. McIntyre
I am in need of contacting a former co-associate of yours and mine. He served as my second mate on the Gallant and you once called him captain although he was not officially recognized as such. I have a matter of utmost importance to convey to him and you are the only person who may still know his whereabouts. Please come to the home of Ezra Cooling without delay. Keep this matter in confidence and act without delay. There will be a reward for you in it.

Truly
Captain Cooling

Your responses?
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Corey Shields
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Bertram reads the telegram from the comfort of his family home. Lying forgotten beside him on the table are the pieces of an ingenious wind-up doll from the orient which, when assembled, form an archer who shoots real arrows into a target some inches away. Understanding how this particular contraption works is a project to fill his free time. Other projects abound, however, that serve more purpose, but Bertram's thoughts are not for these.

Ezra had been a respected shipmate, and now he serves as a Parliament Lord. Bertram's only possible response could be from his sense of duty. He quickly sends a messenger to inform Lord Ezra that he will call upon him this afternoon. Bertram delays only to dress accordingly and to set his affairs of the day in order, canceling an appointment.

He arrives at Lord Ezra's estate shortly after.
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Victor quickly glances over the letter. He starts laughing. Why would this Ezra want anything to do with the old drunkard? He is about to toss it into the furnace when he notices the word "reward". He thinks about it for a second, and realizes it will be an easy job, if it even starts. He pockets the letter, takes his ever-ready satchel, and sets out to Lord Ezra's estate.
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Jack van Riel
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Awesome! Gotta run now, but I'll have time to read everything and respond when I get home in ~7 hours.
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Jack van Riel
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Ham takes off his magnifying goggles and leans back in his chair. Repairing Lord Quincester's daughter's musical box was easy, but Ham always likes to do a little extra, as a personal challenge. The lord might not approve of the unusual dance routine Ham is putting in, but Ham knows the daughter will love it when the male dancer throws the female dancer in the air, twirls around and catches her. Much better than that boring waltz these pieces always have.

Ham's mind wanders to the unusual letter he got this morning. He knows Lord Cooling, of course, but if the Lord knew him, then he would know that Ham doesn't do visits. People can find Ham in his workshop if they need him. And why the need for secrecy? Could this be something political, is that why the letter spells out 'parliamentary' Lord Cooling? But what would parliament need fixing?

Ham sighs. He knows himself well enough. He's intrigued, so he will go. Well, you can't keep a lord waiting. Ham washes his face and hands, and looks for the trunk with his good clothes. After dressing he checks himself in his long mirror. Luckily you can't see the holes in his undershirt, and apart from the fact that his vest and coat are a little tight around the waist, Ham looks quite dapper. Pleased with himself he takes his bag of tools as well as the extra set for especially delicate work, and steps outside. A short cab ride later Ham arrives at Lord Ezra Cooling's estate.
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Emmett O'Brian
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Each guest arrives individually and is brought into the palatial estate by the staff when their telegram is shown. There is a tension in the demeanor of the house servants, their grave faces say nothing except that something disturbing has happened.

You are brought to a smoking room with heavy oak double doors and rich furnishings. Each is barely able to introduce himself when Lord Cooling enters. He is a stout man, with a ruddy sea swept face and a great grey and white beard. He is missing his right arm. Under his left arm he is carrying a long slender wooden box.

Bertram being intimately familiar with him recognizes that he used to wear a clockwork prothstetic. Victor is also vaguely familiar with Lord Cooling and remembers that he used to wear one.

"Gentlemen," Cooling starts, looks over at Victor, recoils very slightly and continues. "Orr, it's good to see you again, please take this thing from me." he walks over and hands the box to Bertram and then awkwardly shakes hands with his left hand.

"Have a seat, all of you. If you would like a smoke please be my guest, there is tobacco and cigarettes in the desk." he points to a small desk. He then sits and his face falls.

"That box is the reason you're all here, or what's in the box. Open it Orr."

Inside is Lord Cooling's prothtetic arm. It is a fine instrument, of the highest quality with gilt inlays and handsome enameling.

"I ask you gentlemen, can a piece of clockwork think for itself? Now before you scoff at me, I must tell you my story. I have had that arm for many years and it has served me well for all those years until a month ago when, while my daughter greeted me it swung round and grabbed her by the neck and nearly killed her. It took my natural hand and three other stout servants to pry it off of her.

I immediately had it sent for repair and didn't wear it for a week. My daughter is terrified of the thing and so I've only worn it while out of the house. Well, as of two nights ago I thought the matter just a fluke, an accident.

While I sleep the thing lays on my dressing table. In the middle of the night we heard a crash in my daughter's bedroom. The arm had somehow gotten off the table, left the room, found my daughter's room and attacked her again.

I put it to you gentlemen, can a clockwork thing think for itself?
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"I'm no specialist on clockwork devices, but I have been involved in assisting others with the use of these devices for ... unethical purposes (I hope you have forgiven me for the initial injury of yours) ... but why should it attack your daughter, and not yourself?"
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Corey Shields
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I say, "Lord Cooling, could we perhaps make a quick examination of this device? By the way, who created this device? The maker would be either incompetent or criminal."

If he offers it, I will use the following methods and tricks. I would also pull out my Loupe for magnification. I don't think my character yet recognize's Ham's skill, so now would be a perfect time for him to help out.

How do you want us to do skill checks? In this case, it might not matter, but when checks are opposed, should we keep them hidden? I have placed mine in a spoiler block just in case.

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Magnify - Perception +2
Ratios - Intelligence +1
Keen Mind Trick
Probability - Intelligence +1

And if I can find some discrepancy as to any function, I'd add:
Equations - Intelligence +2

If not I would choose:
Gear Mesh - Perception +1

For a total of (if Equations works):
8 Intelligence
5 Perception

Otherwise:
6 Intelligence
6 Perception

My purpose is to look for problems in the design as well as see if this is a flaw or a purposeful design. And if I can determine any identifying traits.
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Emmett O'Brian
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The spoiler tag will work great for opposed checks. At the moment, examining the arm would be a standard skill check and which does not need to be hidden.

Just as a note, I hadn't intended that Victor had mutinied against Cooling, his second mate was transferred to another ship before the mutiny. Or so I had intended.


Cooling answers Victor "Indeed! Why my daughter? Why can be asked a hundred times over but Orr has the right idea at the moment by asking 'how'. Without knowing how we know nothing. My housekeeper insist the thing has a evil spirit, the old superstitious coot.

But to your purpose here Mr. McIntyre, I hadn't arrived at. You will remember that Joshua Hastings, as despicable to me as a mutineer could be, was once my bosom companion. You of no doubt recognize that Joshua had a nearly identical arm fitted. Indeed we got them in the same battle. If mine has sprung to a life of it's own then perhaps he and his are in danger also. For a mutineer I wouldn't care a bit but for a wayward friend I've become a bit soft hearted. You'd do well to see what these men overturn and report it to old 'Yeshua'."

He then turns to Orr "Please do examine it and tell me if I've gone mad as the clockmakers guild says. The first time it attacked my daughter, I thought it queer that it would find her neck so easily but they had only scorn for the idea. Said it was an accident of a improperly tensioned second spring. I don't know a thing about springs and gears but it sounded to me like they were making up excuses for something they couldn't explain. That's the reason I've had you and Ham here. You're gentlemen and reported to be the best independent clockmakers outside of the guild.

Take the infernal thing apart if you must but there has to be a clue in it for this. Either a piece of gears and springs has somehow come to despise my daughter or someone is covering their own tracks. As for the maker, well that was Hamilton Franklin, the man retired from practice before my daughter was born. Was second best in the country when he made that and Yeshua's. If it's a flaw in the making of the arm, I'll be dipped.

No, there's something more to this but I can't puzzle it out. If you need a workspace there's a study across the hall where you can get some quiet. Ring for the housemaid if you need to ask me anything more."

Orr examines the arm for a few moments while Cooling is speaking, tracing out it's functions but such a device is a highly complex instrument. To understand it's workings will take a great deal of effort.

This will take both Bertram's and Ham's skill to work out.
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Jack van Riel
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Ham quickly glances towards the arm as Bertram turns it around and examines it, but a moment later he seems lost in thought. It is a while before he speaks.

"I've pondered this often, my lord. Men and machines are not so different. It is not outside the realm of scientific possibility, but to my admittedly limited knowledge no such incident has ever been recorded. That the machine would not only move of its own volition but with apparent malicious intent, is something I could never dream of. I would be glad to assist mister Orr in examining the prosthetic, although I fear the problem might be of metaphysical rather than mechanical nature."

"My Lord, excuse me for speaking so blunt, but have you considered the possibility of sabotage?"
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Jack van Riel
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Is there a way Ham can aid or assist Bertram's skill check? If not, and Betram's examination doesn't reveal anything major, Ham will try a different approach, using Science. He'll look not at the cogs and springs, but at the arms behavior when he tries different things.

Logic, Experiment, Examination, Probe, and the trick Observation. Total 11 intelligence, 7 perception.
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Corey Shields
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It doesn't take many minutes of work before Orr realizes that Ham is the true expert between them. Still Orr has much to contribute, and perhaps Cooling needed a friend as much as an expert in this matter.

Orr presses Cooling. "We can check on the maker if you haven't already, but what about repairs? Does anyone have access to this arm?"

Despite their familiarity with one another, Orr would treat Cooling according to the man's superior position, however when tackling a problem concerning his area of expertise Orr slips out of his good breeding and becomes focused and abrupt, exactly how Cooling remembers him.
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Emmett O'Brian
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Working together adds your scores together so it is very much to your advantage.

With Ham looking over Bertram's shoulder and providing his insights the two quickly work out the major mechanisms involved. Although the entirety of the arm is certainly complex, there seems that there would be no way of coordinating the arm's movement if not from the control mechanism that normally takes the movement of muscles in the shoulder and amplifies them to direct the arm. Unfortunately this is the most delicate and complex of the arm's mechanisms.

The control mechanism will have to be disassembled and examined. Along with another skill check. It will take a good eye to notice anything out of the way in such a delicate piece of machinery.

Cooling replies to Ham's question of sabotage, "Very much so! I have considered it but how? Find that out and I'll chase the dogs to hells gate if I have to."

He then replies to Bertram. "If you need to contact Mr. Franklin, I'll write you a letter so that you can go in my name, even tough I cannot imagine him being of much use to you. Some have said he's lost his eyesight and thus is why he retired.

As for repairs, I've long since entrusted maintenance to the guild. Why would anyone there care to harm my daughter I could not say. To be sure, you'll have to come to their doors with proof of something before they'll let you nose around in their business."
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While all this is happening, Victor moves over to Cooling.

"I'm slightly confused, Sir Cooling. Why did you bring me hither? The two fellows seem to be some sort of machinists. And how is the Captain Hawk concerned?"

Fearing a trap, he places one hand in his pocket, clutching his knif, ready to jab out and strike Sir Cooling should something happen.
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Emmett O'Brian
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Cooling answers "I don't fully expect a man of your kind to understand an old man's sentimentality. But another use for you I've just devised. If the arms were once truly identical and it is a matter of sabotage, getting back the other arm might reveal the sabotage. If there is still no difference then maybe we truly are dealing with the 'metaphysical' as Ham suggests.

I was going to offer you ten pounds to deliver the message to Yeshua but if you were able to bring the arm, I might be able to do a great deal more for you. What would you say to a pirate's amnesty?"
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Jack van Riel
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When Ham is alone with Bertram in the study, he asks him quietly: "Do you believe Lord Cooling, mister Orr? I mean, I can see no reason why he would lie to us, but his tale is quite extraordinary, is it not? Have you ever heard of such a thing?"

Ham screws a tiny lens in his magnifying goggles and carefully examines each part he removes from the mechanical arm.

Clock work Intelligence skill check:
Magnify, Wear or Scratches, Hold it Together, Assembly Order and the trick Keen Mind.

Intelligence 9
Perception 6
Agility 2
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"Sentimentality? For me? Surely you jest. But I shall find the old drunkard. I believe he was residing in Say-du-Fey, in ... Ogen. That could be a problem, but should be able to get through with the contacts I've built up. The man probably won't depart his arm, though, but I should be able to bring him here.

"Overall, the trip will probably take me a month, assuming the inevitable delay. Say, there must be some anniversary of an exploit of ours coming up soon to celebrate, and you know the Captain. We could definitely entice him here with a good party.

"I'll be in Say-du-Fey by next Cogsday, the fifteenth. I'll send a televox (OOC: intended tele- from telegraph, but play this however you'd like) as soon as I get there. Maybe your two lab-rats can give you something of use by then.

"Oh, and you know how expensive these ships can be, and as my ... "employer", you are responsible for the cost. Knowing you, it'll be a mere pittance"
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Orr, eyes intently examining his works, replies, "I once visited a remarkable exhibit in Venice. It was to become a complete clockwork menagerie. At the time there were only a couple of constructs. One was a Bengal Tiger model. All its parts mimicked a real tiger, and it even wore a skin. Aside from some clinking noises, you would think it was the real thing.

"Apparently, it thought so to. Somehow the designers had found a way to map certain brain processes and assembled a brain of sorts. I was there when this tiger escaped. It killed 3 people before authorities were able to put it down. The designers insisted that there was nothing in its programming to make it behave so. Some said it was possessed of the original tiger's spirit, but that proved to be hogwash. You see, the original tiger whose brain had been mapped was still very much alive and was living at the London Zoological Garden.

"So to answer your question, there are strange occurrences that take place in the melding of metal to man. Things I fear we don't fully understand yet."

For the first time since I began my work I look up--towards the next room where Cooling waits. "Things I don't yet want to consider..." My voice trails off.


My Methods and Tricks for this challenge are Fine Motor Skills Trick, Keen Mind Trick, Magnify Perception +2, Check Balance Wheel Perception +1

If there are any pipes involved in the construction of the arm, I would use Fine Tooth Comb Perception +2 for a total of:
Agility 4, Intelligence 4, Perception 8

Otherwise my fifth choice would be Gear Mesh Perception +1 for a total of:
Agility 4, Intelligence 4, Perception 7

I am looking especially for some sort of stored memory system, or some broadcast receiving mechanism. Even an audio listening device would be great.
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Emmett O'Brian
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Cooling to Victor
"Rubbish, boy. You take me for a fool? I may be old and sentimental but I'm not soft in the head. Don't take me for a mark to be fleeced. Joshua was last seen in this very city running a small gambling ring. There was a small article in the paper on it, I keep up on these things.

Say-du-Fey! Ha! Next Cogsday! Ha! You planned to take the money, be off to the brothel and wait until the fifteenth. No boy, I know getting the arm from him will not be easy, but seeing as how I paid for it in the first place, I've loaned it to him for all these years, he owes me the favor of borrowing it for a while. I'm confident he'll disagree but thats where you excel isn't it? Dealing with people that disagree with you?

Now don't be unpleasant, I'm being very generous to you. It should be only a matter of a few hours to find Joshua.

Travel to Ogen may still happen but I wasn't looking for it to happen here. The action is just starting to wind up as you'll see.

When choosing methods, it isn't vitally important that the method exactly match it's original use. More that if the description of the method fit in the action you're trying to accomplish. In this case "Fine Tooth Comb" is perfectly suitable even if there are no fluids or pipes involved. Skills cross pollenate that way. Now if you were going to try and use "Prone" from marksmanship without a really good explanation on how it would actually help, I would raise an objection.


Bertram and Ham carefully remove the auto oiler from the top of the control module. They notice that it comes off freely, like it had been removed before. On a piece like this, it would have only been removed if the owner had trouble controlling the arm. Still, it might have been removed when the guild investigated the first incident.

The casing is then removed, each individual part is placed carefully on a cloth to track it's place.

With great care the assembly is dismantled, each function inspected and it's workings reverse engineered. At first all seems to be in order but slowly the inspection reveals what would seem to be an added function. This is very cleverly hidden, making it look like the control mechanism is sending a signal out to a part of the arm, like a finger joint or a tension adjuster but the wear on the gears is in the opposite direction. instead of sending a signal out, it is receiving a signal, but from what?

The two men studiously record their findings and follow the trail to. . . nothing? Suddenly the trail goes cold They backtrack trying to discover perhaps missed part. Ham, almost from frustration starts to open up a tensioner spring housing and as the case is opened his jaw hits the table. Inside is a tiny analytical engine, smaller and more delicate than any he has ever seen.

But before he is able to test out it's workings, there is a crash of breaking glass behind them! Then another further off! Both men quick spin around to face the crash and a thin man stands up from coming in the window. There is a scream of a women from another room.

Ham and Bertram's pulse quickens and they see that the man's face is nothing but a cloth with a face crudely painted on it. Beneath the cloth seems something inhuman. Sword blades spring from the creature's wrists. It stands, poised to strike.

Victor also hears the sound of two windows crashing in succession and a women's scream. One crash from the study and one down the hall from a bedroom. Cooling cries out "Hanna!" and runs toward the scream.
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Jack van Riel
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Does Ham recognize the type of contraption?

"Murderclank! Run!"

Ham grabs his spanner wrench off the table; the first thing in reach that can be used as a weapon. He then turns and flees the scene, away from the crashes and screams. Ham isn't much of a runner, or a fighter, but he's hoping the machine-man isn't after him or Bertram and doesn't pursue.
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Orr grabs the arm to keep it safe. Seeing Ham take off he yells, "Quickly. Make your way into the interior of the house!" He follows Ham out of the room. Without a gun, Orr is useless in a fight.
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Emmett O'Brian
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No, Ham has seen some military windups that would do things like charge an enemy line or search a field in a grid pattern for bombs but this thing is much more. It moves something like a wind up but it is examining the room and it's after something like windups usually aren't.
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cornjerker wrote:
Orr grabs the arm to keep it safe.
The creature see's Orr go for the arm and lunges for it.

This is an Agility contest to see who can grab the arm first. It may be difficult but it may be possible to introduce another attribute to the contest with a trick.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Animal Reflexes +1 AGI
Slash +1 AGI
Pounce +2 STR

Fearless
This trick allows the creature to fully commit to an attack, it adds their strength attribute to their Agility for the attack but subtracts from their ability to defend.

Brass Bodied
This trick reduces any damage by three (3) points.

Final Scores
Strength 5
Agility 6 +5 from Fearless trick for trying to grab the arm for an 11 but if attacked, reduces Agility by 5 for a 1 on defense.
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Victor hears the broken window and the screams and rushes outside. He looks at the strange mechanical contraption. He has never seen something like this before. He realizes that this may be valuable intact, and charges it, drawing his rapier.

What kind of challenge would this be?
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Emmett O'Brian
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This would be an opposed conflict (Character vs Character) sorry if I'm being squishy with my terminology. There's basically only the skill challenges or a character vs character (opposed) conflict.

Quick question, toward which crash did you run? The one in the study or the one in the bedroom?

So pick five methods and tricks to use against the creature (of your choice) and post it in a spoiler tag. Usually the main skill being used stipulates the main attribute in the contest. In combat it's usually Agility but Strength Willpower and Perception can often be brought into play with tricks. In Swordplay the main attribute is Agility

As a helpful aside, if you're going after someone with your agility and they go after you with say strength or even charm, in some cases both can win and inflict the effect you're after so be mindful of keeping up something of a defense.
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