Watch Academy VI: Hogswatchnight

A Discworld Adventure for GURPS and Over The Edge

by Michael Cule

Art by Dan Smith

The following five individuals are the first products of the new training system at the Ankh-Morpork Watch. In an effort to do more than simply showing the new recruits how to put their armor on and where the lavatories are, Captain Carrot has managed to wangle funding for a whole eight weeks' training.

This consists mostly of being lectured by the Captain himself on The Law, by the Commissioner on Police work and by Sergeant Colon on paperwork. Oh and marched to and fro a bit by Sergeant Angua. Now, the proud graduates have been gathered together for their first night's proper patrolling. Naturally, this consists of having to do the one job that everybody else wants to get out of.

(NOTE: When setting up this adventure I did not tell the players what system we were using nor what the setting was. I just said, as each one arrived, : "I've got five characters for you to choose from. A wizard. A barbarian. A little girl, A missionary. And a piper. Which one do you want?" And then watched their reactions as they read the character sheets.... Heh. Heh.)

You'll find them written out first in Over The Edge terms and then in GURPS.

The Patrol

All the characters have been issued with armour worth a couple of points of protection, swords and Watch badges.

Surety Pospher

"The Little Match Girl"

Snatched from the jaws of Death by Death, one Hogswatchnight, she was raised by the collective charity of the Watch (a sentimental bunch) and has decided to repay them by joining the force. Some of them wonder if this is actually a Good Idea. She is almost unbearably cute. She is the epitome of Cute. She has Cute eyes, Cute teeth, even Cute little toes. She thrives on getting her way by manipulating people.

Since she ought, technically, to be dead, she has one useful ability in addition to her Cuteness. She can see ghosts and other supernatural entities. What will happen when someone WHO TALKS LIKE THIS notices is anyone's guess.

Cute Little Girl: 4 dice. Blue eyes, blonde curly hair and a sad little smile which says, "Oh dear, how helpless I am and will all these big strong people help me." She only uses her lisp and tears in dire emergencies. (Cute Little Girl).

Watchman: 2 dice. Just out of Basic Training and sure that she can persuade those nasty little criminals to come along. (Uniform and weapon both too big for her.)

Fringe Power: Sees the Invisible. Always on. (Stares into space at nothing and listens to people other people cannot see.)

Hit Points: 14 (Small)

Secret: She really ought to be dead.

Flaw: She is absolutely useless in combat and liable to go "eeeeek" if anything icky happens.

Important Person: Arnold, her teddy bear.

Surety Pospher

ST 9 (-10 points)
DX 12 (20 points)
IQ 12 (20 points)
HT 12 (20 points)
Base Speed 6 Move 5
Basic Damage Thrust 1d-2 Swing 1d-1

Advantages: Appearance: Beautiful (15 points), Charisma +3 (15 points), Literate (10 points), Legal Enforcement Powers: Local (5 points), Sees the Unseen (10 points).

Disadvantages: Delusion: "No one could possibly want to hurt me. I'm cute!" (-10 points), Cowardice (-10 points), Squeamishness (-10 points), Youth: 15 years old (-6 points).

Quirks: Always has her teddy bear with her; Twirls her blonde curls while thinking; Doesn't understand what other girls see in Thrug; Goes "eeekkk!" when alarmed; Practices needlecraft when off duty.

Skills: First Aid (2 points) 13, Broadsword (2 points) 12, Sling (2 points) 11, Needlecraft (2 points) 12, Match-Making (2 points) 12, Criminology (1 point) 11, Psychology (4 points) 12, Acting (2 points) 12, Area Knowledge (Ankh-Morpork) (1 point) 12, Diplomacy (4 points) 12, Fast-Talk (2 points) 12, Merchant (1 point) 11, Detect Lies (4 points) 12, Interrogation (1 point) 11, Shadowing (2 points) 12, Stealth (2 points) 12, Streetwise (2 points) 12.

Equipment: (Light Encumbrance) Heavy Leather Armour (PD 2 DR 2) Broadsword (Cutting 1 dice -1 skill due to low ST) Sling and slingstones. Sewing kit and Teddy bear in shoulder bag.

Thrug the Hublander

Barbarian Hero and Watchman

Thrug is one of the Hub's natural exports: a younger son with ambition and muscles on his muscles. He speaks with an incomprehensible accent (think of Arnie in Conan) and has a mental prowess that makes Trolls look like intellectuals . He does not know the meaning of the word fear. Nor "soap," "bath," "tact," or many other, even shorter words.

Why he is in the Watch is a bit of a mystery. It may be a that the Patrician sentenced him to a bit of "Community Service" or that he thinks he is in the Army and can look forward to loot. No one knows and no one has had the courage to ask.

He carries around a copy of My Life and Times by Cohen The Barbarian As Told To C.M.O.T. Dibbler and reads bits from the wisdom of his hero.

Very, very slowly.

Quote: "It is goot to shlay your enemies and listen to the lamen . . . lament . . . vat is dis vord here plis?"

Barbarian Hero: 4 dice. He has muscles on his muscles, a sharp sword and refuses to wear trousers, preferring an authentic barbarian loincloth at all times. He does not appear to feel the cold nor has he been known to wash once since he joined the Watch. (Big muscles, strong smell.)

Watchman: 1 die. Has mastered Shouting and Intimidation but has yet to successfully complete a report form legibly (Wears uniform which is too tight for him, above loincloth and fur boots.)

Babe Magnet: 3 dice. Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that he never washes, Thrug has only to pause at street corners for crowds of otherwise rational women to start flocking to him. They need to be pretty blatant about getting his attention though. Dropping handkerchiefs and fluttering eyelashes aren't going to work with Thrug. (Followed by crowd of women with their mouths open.)

Hit Points: 42. (Unbelievably tough)

Flaw: Of limited intellect. (Cannot read, or indeed think, without moving his lips.)

Secret: Wears String vests given to him by his Auntie. (A terrifying woman he does not dare offend.)

Important Person: Cohen the Barbarian, his Hero.

Thrug The Hublander

ST 15 (60 points)
DX 12 (20 points)
IQ 8 (-15 points)
HT 12 (20 points)
Base Speed 6.0 Move 7 (incl Running bonus)
Basic Damage Thrust 1d+1 Swing 2d+1

Advantages: Pheromone Control (15 points. Limitations: Always on and only when he doesn't wash.), Legal Enforcement Powers (Local) 5 points, Semi-Literate (5 points), Toughness 2 (25 points).

Disadvantages: Berserk (-15 points), Odious Personal Habits 2 (-10 points. Never washes. Grunts monosyllabically.), Social Stigma: Barbarian (-15 points).

Quirks: Ashamed of his string vests, Always reading his Hero's Words, Moves his lips while thinking, Never wears trousers only loin-clothes, Never seems to feel the cold.

Skills: Acrobatics (1 point) 10, Jumping (1 point) 12, Running (1 point) 10, Broadsword (2 points) 12, Fast Draw (Broadsword) (1 point) 12, Brawling (2 points) 13, Intimidation (2 points) 8, (But lots and lots of bonuses to this skill . . .).

Equipment: (No encumbrance) Heavy Leather Armour (PD 2 DR 2), Broadsword (2+2 Cut Damage), Copy of My Life and Times by Cohen the Barbarian as told to C.M.O.T. Dibbler.

Enlighten the Infidel with Humourous Parables

The Comic Omnian

Enlighten (as he is known for short) is the fruit of the Omnian Church's new missionary style. Once a humble trainee Fool, his life was changed one night when it was his turn to answer the door at the Guild. His miserable, pitiless and pointless existence had left him with absolutely no protection against someone (the well-know Watchman and missionary, Visit-The-Heathen-With-Explanatory -Pamphlets) who could assure him that there was a point to life (serving Om) and that someone loved him (the aforesaid Om).

Leaving his apprenticeship behind (with only six months to go!) he changed his name to something more Omnian and followed his mentor into the world and into the Watch. He has maintained the skills he learned from the Guild in the service of Om. He tells jokes whenever he preaches in the street (atop an overturned banana crate) although sometimes his memory lets him down as his Guild training was never completed. ("How do we know Om truly exists and loves us, I hear you ask? Well, that reminds me of a funny story, yes a very funny story. There were these two fellas, no, hang on a tick, it was a man and a woman, and they were traveling from Quirm to Psuedopolis. Or it may have been the other way around . . . Anyway . . .")

Fool: 3 dice. He is almost completely trained in jocularity, the proper use of wallpaper paste and custard. (Falls into funny walks occasionally.)

Missionary: 3 dice. He is pretty good at preaching and has got the Omnian texts (at least those used by his sub-cult, the Spinward Reformed Chelonians) down pat, aided by his training in memorising things in the Guild. (Starts conversations with "Hello, did you know Om loves you?")

Watchman: 2 dice. Not too hot on the physical side but again he has learned the Law and Regulations faster than anyone since Captain Carrot. (Wears uniform. Can tell you which ordinance any deed is against.)

Hit Points: 21. (Dead average.)

Flaw: His Guild training also means his sense of humour has been burned away and he cannot tell what is actually funny but has to rely on rote learning.

Secret: His Guild name, Joey Baggypants.

Important Person: Om and after that Constable Visit.

Enlighten the Heathen with Humourous Parables

ST 11 (10 points)
DX 14 (45 points)
IQ 13 (30 points)
HT 10 (0 points)
Base Speed 6.0 Move 5
Basic Damage Thrust 1d-1 Swing 1d+1

Advantages: Clerical Investment (5 points), Legal Enforcement Powers (5 points), Literacy (10 points).

Disadvantages: Bad Reputation (-2 Reaction: "Look out! It's a missionary!") (-10 points), Compulsive Behaviour (Preaching) (-10 points), No Sense of Humor (-10 points), Sense of Duty: To Om and The Church (-10 points).

Quirks: Keeps forgetting the tag line of jokes, Ashamed of his Clown name, Always uses a banana box when preaching in the streets, Reveres Visit-The-Heathen-With-Explanatory-Leaflets, Starts conversations with, "Hello, do you know Om loves you?"

Skills: Bard (4 points) 14, Juggling (2 points) 14, Performance (3 points) 14, Broadsword (1 point) 13, Fast Draw: Sword (1 point) 14, Sling (1 point) 12, Brawling (2 points) 15, First Aid (1 point) 13, Law (8 points) 15, Criminology (1 point) 12, Acting (4 points) 14, Administration (2 points) 13, Area Knowledge: Ankh-Morpork (2 points) 14, Diplomacy (1 point) 11, Fast-Talk (1 point) 12, Sleight of Hand (4 points) 14, Ventriloquism (2 points) 12.

Equipment: (Light Encumbrance) Heavy Leather Armour (PD 2 DR 2), Broadsword (Cutting 1+2) Sling and slingstones, First Aid kit, Wedge of Omnian Leaflets.

Big Malcolm MacDonald

The Gigantic Gnome

Malcolm is something of an outcast among his own people. Being of enormous size (almost six inches tall) and considerable strength he has difficulty getting into the spaces that other gnomes regard as suitable for making a snug home. Remarks about "huge greet lummoxes eatin' us oot of hoose and hame" were also made pointedly by his relatives. So he had to find a new life for himself out in the human world. He now lives in an old doll's house (luxury accommodations by gnome standards) in the attic of Psuedopolis Yard and is eager to make his way in the world.

Unlike some gnomes (Wee Mad Arthur is a name that comes to mind) he is not mindlessly aggressive: in fact he is a quiet, studious and easy-going type who has never felt the need among his own people to prove anything about his ability to knock heads together. Happily for him the reputation of gnomes like Wee Mad Arthur has made his fellow trainees wary of him. When his temper is aroused, however, he is quite capable of rushing at things and people much bigger than him and cutting them off at the ankle.

Street Fighter: 4 dice. He can use his size and considerable strength (even compared to much larger humanoids) to great advantage. ("Noo, laddie, let's settle this peacable-like. Ye'll no be wanting me to be getting angry.")

Watchman: 2 dice. His basic training was the best overall in his group and his superiors have already marked him down for possible promotion. (Wears uniform and carries gnome sized shillelagh on duty.)

Piper: 3 dice. He is an enthusiast for his people's native instrument and the reason his doll's house is up in the attic is his enthusiasm for playing the pipes at all hours. It has a thousand and one uses apart from rallying the gnomish clans and terrifying the enemy. Some even allege it can be used to make music. (Carries his bagpipes at all times).

Hit Points: 28 (Wiry)

Secret: His unrequited love for the chieftain's daughter back home.

Flaw: He is only six inches tall and ignorant persons may not take him seriously.

Important Person: His bagpipes.

Big Malcolm MacDonald

ST 10 (0 points)
DX 12 (20 points)
IQ 12 (20 points)
HT 10 (0 points)
Base Speed 6.5 (Incl running) Move 4
Basic Damage Thrust 1d-2 Swing 1d

Advantages: Racial: +6 Fatigue (+18 points), +2 PD (50 points); Legal Enforcement Powers: Local (5 points), Literacy (10 points).

Disadvantages: Racial: Inconvenient Size (-15 points), Reduced Move 2 (-10 points), Short Arms (-10 points); Self Defence Pacifist (-15 points).

Quirks: Mild Paranoia (Racial), Has unrequited love for girl back home, Touchy about his size, Carries his bagpipes at all times.

Skills: Acrobatics (4 points) 12, Criminology (2 points) 12, Running (1 point) 8, Brawling (4 points) 14, First Aid (2 points) 13, Shortsword (For use with shillelagh) (4 points) 13, Law (4 points) 12, Intimidation (1 point) 11, Bagpipes (4 points) 12.

Equipment: (Light Encumbrance) Heavy Leather Armour (PD 2 DR 2), Shillelagh (treat as baton) 1d-2 or 1d crushing, Bagpipes.

Theodore Bigfin B.F., B.M.

The Forensic Wizard

Recently recruited from the graduating classes at U.U., Theodore needs something to keep at bay the collecting agents ("thugs") of the people he unwisely went to in order to finance his time at the University, He did not get good enough grades to get tenure at U.U. Nor did he have the contacts to get work at some court. Nor (obviously) the money to struggle through getting his own private practice set up. So the idea of joining the Watch and surrounding himself with lots of heavily muscled and armoured companions to keep the debt collectors at bay seemed a good one.

Now, after two months of Basic Training and being shouted at by Sergeants (who can Shout even better than the Archchancellor) he is not so sure. He thought he was going to be stuck in a nice warm lab at the Yard, but Captain Carrot seems to like even his back-room boys to have some experience with street police-work. If he can survive the probationary period he may never leave the Yard ever, ever again. Especially in winter.

Wizard: 3 dice. A third rank wizard with a good grasp of basic theory and practice and a long hard slog to make it to fourth. (Wears pointy hat and robes, carries staff.)

Watchman: 2 dice. He's better at the theoretical stuff and paperwork than any sort of violence. (Wears a copper badge on his robes.)

Educated: 3 dice. He knows a lot of general Stuff about anything that was written in books. The other recruits call him "Professor" because he can tell you the exact dates of the Ankh-Morpork Civil War or when Pseudopolis was founded and by whom. (Says things like: "Actually, it Morg the Lesser who murdered King Buffy. People often make that mistake.")

Hit Points: 10 (A weed.)

Secret: Owes money to Crysophase the Troll.

Flaw: Has the social graces of . . . well, of a wizard.

Important Person: Himself.

Magic Pool: 3 (and 3 more uses of magic stored in his staff).

Theodore Bigfin

ST 10 (0 points)
DX 12 (20 points)
IQ 13 (30 points)
HT 10 (0 points)
Base Speed 5.0 Move 5
Basic Damage Thrust 1d-2 Swing 1d

Advantages: Legal Enforcement Powers: Local (5 points), Literacy (10 points), Magery 3 (35 points).

Disadvantages: Absent Mindedness (-15 points), Enemy: Crysophase's Thugs on 6-. (-10 points), Odious Personal Habits (Various Wizardly bits of selfishness and slobbishness worth -3 reaction) (-15 points), Secret: Serious Embarrassment: His Debt (-5 points).

Quirks: Reads scholarly journals while walking, Eats fruit noisily, Curious about sex while not wanting to get involved himself, Doesn't plan ahead too well, Proud of having made his own Staff.

Skills: Broadsword (1 point) 11, Spellthrowing: Fireball (1 point) 12, History (1 point) 11, Literature (1 point) 11, Research (1 point) 12, Thaumatology (1 point) 14.

Spells: (All 1 point except as otherwise shown) Sense Emotion 14, Sense Foes 14, Truthsayer 14, Enchant 13, Staff 14, Create Fire 14, Fireball 14, Ignite Fire 14, Shape Fire 14, Seek Food 14, Lend Health 14, Lend Strength 14, Minor Healing 14, Major Healing 13, Recover Strength (2 points) 15, Complex Illusion 14, Illusion Disguise 14, Perfect Illusion 14, Simple Illusion 14, Aura 14, Detect Magic 14, Seeker 14, Trace 14, Continual Light 14, Darkness 14, Flash 14, Light 14, Counterspell 14, Dispel Magic 14, Magic Resistance 14, Scryguard 14,Daze 14, Foolishness 14, Sleep 14, Mass Sleep 14, Apportation 14, Haste 14, Slow Fall 14, Seek Plant 14, Mystic Mist 14, Shield 14, Sound 14, Seek Water 14.

Equipment: (No encumbrance) Broadsword (1+1 cutting), Wizard's Staff (16 points of energy), wizard's robes, dufflecoat, bag full of books.

Sidebar: Adapting Over the Edge to Discworld

You can use OTE (or Over The Elephants as I called this variant) just about straight for Discworld adventures. It needs almost no adaptation except to say:

1) The maximum number of dice should be 8. Granny Weatherwax is an eight-die witch, Mustrum Ridicully is an eight-die wizard and Cohen the Barbarian is an eight-die Barbarian Hero.

2) Be fairly generous about allowing people to increase their abilities. It doesn't suit the world to require years of study to achieve high rank. Allow people to spend experience dice to buy new and improved abilities when it fits the story.

3) There are some things (and even people) on the Discworld who there is no point in giving stats to. CAN YOU GUESS WHO I MEAN?

4) Oh, and on magic . . . Here's the handout the wizard should get.

So, You're a Discworld Wizard and Want to Cast a Spell . . .

. . . And you expect me to have a complete magic system worked out with spell lists and everything? Get real! Here's how it is going to work if you want to cast a spell.

1) First Name That Spell!

If you want to cast a spell you had better have a snappy name for it, suitable to the Discworld. Discworld spells go (mostly) [Inventor's Name] [Adjective] [Effect]. And a bit of alliteration always helps.

Example: The sergeant wants you to cast a spell to see if someone is telling the truth. Thinking you had better do something to impress her you say "Yes, I think this is the perfect occasion for Verdain's Verdant Veridicator!"

2) Tell Me What You Want to Make the Spell Do

Describe the effect. Don't be too ambitious or you'll get into trouble at the next stage.

Example: You turn to me, your smiling GM and say: "I'd like the spell to make someone glow green if they tell a lie under its influence."

3) I Decide What Level the Spell Is

There are eight (of course) levels of spells from lighting cigars with flames from your fingertips (Level One) to painting the sky pink (Level Eight) and the GM will decide what level is appropriate to your spell. To say that the GM can be influenced by being offered bribes of food or physical affection from beautiful women is merely to state the obvious.

If the spell is of a level higher than your current wizard level (= number of dice in the Wizard trait) then you suffer a penalty die for every spell level above your current Wizard level.

4) You Roll the Dice in Total Ignorance Of . . .

. . . what you need to get. Which the GM will have made up when he assigned the level. If you are casting a spell on someone else then they will resist with some appropriate trait or with 2 dice in any case.

In the case of the Verdant Veridicator, you would definitely have to overcome the target's resistance if they didn't want to tell you the truth.

As an optional rule to encourage creativity, you can say that any attempt to use the same spell in the same day is at a penalty die.

5) You Cross Off One of Your Magic Shots for the Day

You can refresh your magic pool by:

Waiting. It will return to full each dawn.

Meditating. This can involve either Yoga or for U.U. grads eating a Big Meal.

Tantric Sex Practices also work. But as a U.U. grad it is far safer to stick to Big Meals.

Watch Academy VI: Hogswatchnight

The Adventure

What Is Really Going On (Part One)

A Fiendish Cult has managed to bind Hideous Creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions into the forms of Burfies (TM), an annoying but highly desirable soft toy that has won its way into the hearts of the young of Ankh Morpork. On Hogswatch Eve they are to be distributed to the unsuspecting mothers and fathers of Ankh-Morpork and then wake at midnight to perform a blood sacrifice which will open the Gate to their Even More Hideous Masters! Unless Fate or Someone Intervenes . . .

Scene 1) It Was Hogswatch Eve at the Watchhouse . . .

. . . And the cold bare walls were bright, with garlands of paper sausages and the smell of mulled wine and grilling meat products which drift across the snow covered courtyard to where five figures stand, slowly getting colder as they wait for the command "At Ease."

Fifteen minutes ago, the Academy graduates were stood to attention by Corporal Nobbs prior to being sent off on patrol for the first time, which would ensure that everyone else can stay in the Watchhouse for the Hogswatch Eve Party (or Piss Up, as Nobby habitually refers to it.) They have stood there since, at attention, gradually being covered with snow.

(A chance here for the players to introduce and establish their characters and perhaps to get themselves into trouble right at the start.)

They see a figure crossing the courtyard. It strides purposefully in through the gate, across the courtyard towards the Watchhouse. And stops and strides towards them as it spots them. It is Sergeant Angua. (A person to be polite to. A were . . . Well, you know what people say . . .)

"What are you doing here? . . . Uh huh. I see. Wait here . . ."

She enters the Watchhouse and a short while later there is a howl of pain that the sharp eared may identify as Corporal Nobbs in distress. And then the great wobbly figure of Sergeant Fred Colon lurches out of the doorway and comes to rest a short distance in front of them. He has been drinking deeply of the spiced punch.

"Recrutssshhh, shhtandart TEASE! Stan easy." Blink. Blink. Hiccup. "You are heahby ordered to proceeeed on patrol. You will take ther widderships patrol route. You are to proceed inna ordly manna out and along ummm . . . Lowa Brorway. Crossa Brass Bridge. ROUND the Palace. Up Uppa Brorway. Long Street of Cunning Artiti . . . Artifi . . . Them. Yeah. Goosegate. Five Ways. Treacle Mine Road. Back across Pons Bridge and home. You cry the hours, right? 'Five o'clock an all's well!' You deal with any breaches ovva laws. You help the populacetion about their lawful watchumaycallums. And I don't wantchya coming back here for help, cos we're all inna . . . innadisp. Not well. Right! Patrol SHUN! Patrrollllll (Wait for it, wait for it.) DISSSSS . . . MISS!"

And he turns and lurches back into the Watch-house.

2) 2 Scenes and a Small Red Herring

The first three things they encounter on their patrol are as follows.

Hwll the dwarf, the Discworld's greatest playwright, sitting weeping into his beer at the stage door of the theatre of Lord Wynkin's Men in Lower Broadway. He is distressed that his latest masterpiece (What You Want, or, Damned If I Know) has been pirated and reworked into the crass commercial success called Rose Red and the Seven Gnomes, which is packing in children of all ages at this Hogswatch season. He is particularly distressed by the facts that a comic wallpapering scene has been added and the male lead taken by a Llamedossian harp-player who is inexplicably popular among young women. (This is nothing to do with the plot but can be used to include all sorts of pantomime jokes if the referee knows any.)

At the Brass Bridge they meet Sol Dibbler, nephew and stooge to the more famous Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler who is out in the snow keeping the family sausage-in-a-bun franchise active. He has four dice of Salesman (C.M.O.T. has eight, naturally.) and may try to persuade the Watchmen to buy some of his wares. If asked about where his uncle is, he is unwilling to be too specific. (This is the red herring: Throat Dibbler is busy in a workshop on the Street of The Cunning Artificers trying to create forged Burfies. Inexperienced Watchmen may jump to the conclusion, later on, that any sort of suspicious merchandise in Ankh-Morpork must involve the Dibbler clan and spend time trying to chase him down.)

At the gates of the Palace they may peer in (before being moved along by the snobs of the Palace Guard) and see that on the portico there is a Hogswatch party for poor children going on. In the rather tall Hogfather they may recognise their own Captain Carrot. In his elfish assistant, who juggles surprisingly well, the more observant will identify the Patrician.

2A) A Random Wandering Encounter

At some point around here the Little Match Girl should notice the following scene. Put it in where there is a lull in the action. It's only here as a set-up for something later.

She sees a couple of people appear in the street. One is dressed like someone playing Hogfather but with a lot more barechest and charisma than the average anxious parent. He has vine leaves and small sausages wound in his hair and carries a large torch. Beside him is a miserable looking old git in his night shirt. They do not leave footprints as they go past.

3) A Cry for Help and a Puzzle

As they are making their way around the Palace they will hear a cry.

"Help! Help! Theft! MURDER!"

It comes from a small, well dressed but slightly hysterical man who is standing outside Grimbly's department store in the Maul. The Maul is just about the best and most expensive retail location in the city and Grimbly's is the oldest and most respectable department store. And the man outside is Mr. Grimbly himself. His chief characteristics are 1) Respectability 2) Wealth and 3) Greed. His current state of mind is somewhat distraught because . . .

Someone Has Just Murdered His Hogfather (Oh, and His Elf)

He sobs as he describes finding the bodies and then trembles as he describes the horde of parents and children who are waiting and growing increasingly impatient outside the Grotto.

Outside the store workmen are hanging up a large sign. "YEA! WE HAVE BURFIES!" The part of the waiting crowd that has spilled out into the street cheers as the sign goes up.

Burfies (as everyone in Ankh-Morpork knows) are the heavily advertised children's toy which is supposedly wanted by every child in the city. A miracle of technology, they are supposed to be incredibly lifelike. Children who aren't getting a Burfy this year are certain to make their parents' lives a misery. (Permission is hereby given to update the object of this satire to whatever piece of anthropomorphic merchandising is being hyped at the time this adventure is actually being run.)

The Watch has two problems. To prevent a riot and to solve the murders.

3A) The Scene of the Crime and a Clue

The store owner leads the Watchmen through the "backstage" bits of the store to the Grotto which stands between the loading bays at the back of the store and the toy department. Outside can be heard the muttering of the impatient crowd.

Both the Hogfather and his assistant have been killed at close range by a single shot from a small hand held pistol grip crossbow. The miniature quarrels are quite distinctive. Both were shot by someone standing at the rear entrance to the grotto , the one leading to the loading bays. Although the weapon is a typical Assassin's device, the lack of an official receipt makes it unlikely to be a Guild hit.

Grimbly will grow hysterical and insist that some must take the place of the Hogfather. A look through the drawn curtains at the crowd outside should convince the Watchmen of the truth of this.

Close examination of the two corpses will reveal one thing they have in common. They both wear dirty purple night-shirts under their festive garb. This is A Clue.

3B) Preventing the Riot

Above all, the Watchmen want to prevent the situation at the Department store from getting out of hand. This will not be easy. For when the first child to sit on the Hogfather's lap asks for a Burfy, the store owner will inform whoever is playing the assistant that they can be found in the third loading bay at the back.

When he gets there, there is no such thing. A riot is almost certain to ensue unless someone does something creative. The roar of disappointed children and parents shouting "WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE ARE NO BURFIES?" is likely to turn into a nasty bit of looting.

(Recruiting Captain Carrot to play the Hogfather is one way of being creative. He makes a terrifying figure, crying "HO! HO! HO! In the Name of the Law! Happy Hogswatch!")

Three leads can be pursued:

The Hogfather and his assistant were recruited from an organisation called Festive Frolickers at 13 The Scours.

The Burfies were ordered from TeeTeeEm Products at 15 The Scours.

If pressed Mr. Grimbly will admit that there is one other major department store in the city. "The upstart bastard Drimbel! He'll have stolen my Burfies! Go get him officers! And get my Burfies back!"

4) At The Scours

Both organisations operate from the same rambling warehouse in a broken down part of town. The person who answers the door is stooped over, short-sighted and dressed in a purple nightshirt. He is the Chief Mad Cultist. With him are a bunch of lesser Mad Cultists who are waiting for the midnight hour to start their Fiendish Ritual. He will be most disturbed at any news of stolen Burfies and will demand explanations. He will also consider drugging and sacrificing any Watchmen who he suspects of being virgins. (True of the Little Match Girl and the Wizard.) Virgins will do at a pinch to open the cosmic pathways and let his hideous masters into the world.

(TeeTeeEm is naturally a contraction of TTMWNMTK.)

5) At Drimbels (on the Street of Merchants)

Outside a similar sign is going up. A similar crowd waits expectantly. The Watchmen will arrive just in time to hear a cry of pain from the Grotto. Inside they will see a man in black street clothes (Yes, a Man In Black), carrying a wizard's staff. He has just shot both the Hogfather and his assistant and will then run back to the loading bays and jump onto a flying carpet loaded high with crates full of Burfies. He will (if not stopped) fly out of the loading bay and then off in a Turnwise Hubward direction. (Actually towards Unseen University.)

What is Really Going On (Part Two)

The One who has interfered with the evil plans of the Fiendish Cultists is Mervyn Studley, Reader in Forbidden Writings at Unseen U. A sixth level wizard, he believes as sole permitted student of certain of the nastier volumes in the library that it is his duty to protect the Discworld from Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know. He may even be right. He is killing off the Evil Cultists and plans to return the Burfies to their native plane before midnight. He will not tolerate any interference.

Mervyn Studley

6th Level Wizard: 6 dice. Mervyn is an expert on transdimensional incantations and casts a mean fireball or sleep spell as well. (Carries wizard's staff.)

Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know Type Knowledge: 3 dice. He has spent too much time reading books from the Restricted Section. He knows far too much about stuff even most wizards find disturbing. (Has facial tic and wide staring eyes.)

Whim of Steel: 3 dice. He has a mind of unusual strength and has proven to be able to maintain his mental stability in the face of some Very Nasty Things. (Never admits he's wrong.)

Assassins Skills: 3 dice. He has picked up some useful techniques for ending the life of Evil Cultists with the minimum of fuss from some indiscreet friends in the Assassins' Guild. (Wears black a lot. Carries Pistol crossbow.)

Whim of Steel (Downside): He's quite incapable of admitting that he needs help from other people or even of trusting them for a minute.

In GURPS Terms

Studley has whatever Assassin skills he needs at 15 (And the appropriate Unusual Background for having both Wizard and Assassin training. It's a long story, believe me) and whatever spell skills he needs at level 16. His pistol-grip mini-crossbow does 1d+1 impaling and he has the unpleasant habit of shooting it through the right eye of his victim which almost does away with the need for the obscure herbal poison he smears on the tips. He has Strong Will which almost compensates for the mental instability that his high level of TTMWNMTK Type Knowledge is causing. He's not actually Paranoid but is untrusting, harsh and pig- headed.

If They Try to Stop the Man In Black from Leaving . . .

If they attack the flying carpet there will be a major spillage of Burfies. Studley will fly away and leave them to deal with it. If they jump aboard the carpet he will use a sleep spell to knock them out and leave their bodies atop a building.

6) From Here On In . . .

The events are less structured. The Watchmen must discover What Is Really Going On and prevent both major riots and the destruction of Reality As We Know It.

The Following Scenes may be useful:

Getting the Guilds Involved

Getting the Assassins and Thieves Guilds involved will nicely complicate matters. Major acts of inhumation and expropriation have happened without their permission. They will have to be kept sweet.

At the Archchancellor's Party

The Hogswatcheve Party at U.U. is full of the Great And Good of Ankh-Morpork society. The Great Hall has a tree and all the traditional food and festivities. (The Dean is making an ass of himself but there's nothing new in that.) A properly polite approach to the Archchancellor will recruit a posse of the Disc's most powerful wizards to lead the way through the peculiar geometry of U.U.'s corridors to the room of the Reader in Forbidden Writings.

At Studley's Rooms

Knocking on the door gets no reply other than a shout of "Go Away!". Knocking it down is a Bad Idea but almost inevitable under the circumstances. Within you will find a huge pentacle with the Burfies piled high in it. From another protective circle Studley is busy opening a dimensional gate to return them from whence they came. The floor in the larger pentacle is already bending downwards as a pit opens up into the Pit. Sensible people will stop moving too quickly at this moment . . .

The Archchancellor will halt and ask people to step quietly and gently back into the corridor while he has a word with Reader Studley. He will reemerge to say, in a voice that is almost subdued, that the Reader has been taking necessary action on behalf of the Lore and to encourage the Watchmen to go and mop up any inconvenient loose ends. (Like further supplies of Burfies and the Mad Cultists.) He will also go and bribe, intimidate or sweet talk any other Guilds that are making a fuss.

Sidebar: Burfies

Burfies are cute-looking furry little humanoids who turn out to have lots and lots of teeth and a hungry disposition. They like to eat warm, fresh flesh . . . From a combat point of view they are swarms of creatures.

OTE: Each swarm has up to eight dice with 5 hit points per dice. Each time you do five points of damage to the swarm enough Burfies have died to reduce the dice rating by one.

GURPS: See B143. A swarm of Burfies does 1d+2 cutting damage. It takes 10 points to disperse a swarm.

7) One Last Scene After It Is All Over

As (hopefully) they stagger back towards the Watchhouse, completing their patrol in the early hours of Hogswatch Day they pass by the intersection called Five Ways. A window flies open above a moneylender's shop and the man who the Little Match Girl saw earlier, wandering about in his night-shirt, sticks his head out of the window. He is still in his night shirt . . .

"Hey, you there! Can you tell me what day this is? . . . What Hogswatch Day? Oh, the spirits have done it all in one night! Oh, joy! Tell me is the pig still in the window of the butcher's two streets down? Is it? Hey, hey, no! Come back here . . ."

Sidebar: Things Players Say: Reports from the Playtest

I ran this twice with two groups of players over Christmas 1998. The best scene from the first run was the wizard using his staff to spurt magical snow to accompany Captain Carrot's entrance as the Hogfather. ("The sad thing is," said Daniel who played the wizard, "that he won't see the symbolism of the white stuff spurting from the end of his staff.")

The best bit in the second run was the Little Match Girl's acquiring a Small God to inhabit her teddy bear. Arnold God Of Teddy Bears Who Looks After Little Girls could well be a highly marketable deity. ("He's only a one dice god. I'm more powerful than he is . . .")

Grimbly: You're the Watch?
The Barbarian: Jah!
The Wizard: And he's the Grandfather Clock.

About the Gnome at the Archchancellor's Party: He leaps from table to table hunting the wild sausage.

I charge the door.
How much?
A knockdown price.

Enlighten: Do you know Om loves you?
Surety: Yes, but I love Arnold.

Article publication date: April 9, 1999

Copyright © 1999 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to