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d20 Modern Adventures 01/14/2003

Trouble at Black Rock
by Charles Ryan

The modern industrial world is full of unexplained accidents involving machinery that seemingly went haywire for no reason. There is a reason, of course, but few modern people are willing to accept it. In most cases, modern people would rather have an unexplained mystery than a truth that conflicts with the safe, logical parameters of their world. After all, machines can't be alive, and they certainly can't be possessed. Or can they? Find out in Charles Ryan's new miniadventure for the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game for 3rd to 5th level characters.

Adventure Preview

Several years ago, in a neighboring state, a botched kidnapping ended in a triple murder. Before his death at the hands of local law enforcement officers, one of the kidnappers attempted to conceal the crime by destroying the bodies. For this grisly task, he employed a large chipper-shredder -- a vicious machine normally used to destroy heavy brush and branches.

Though the crime was relatively mundane, its aftereffects were not. Unbeknownst to anyone, a bloodthirsty demon spirit that had been attracted by the carnage took possession of the chipper-shredder. Soon the demonic machine began to exert a mental influence over those who spent too much time near it.

After the case was closed, the machine was not needed as evidence, since all the perpetrators of the crime were dead. Though the usual procedure would have been to destroy it, somehow the chipper-shredder avoided that fate and was sold to a junk dealer. Eventually, it ended up in a used farm machinery shop in the tiny town of Black Rock.

Forty years ago, at its height, Black Rock was home to perhaps three hundred people. Times since have been hard, however, and by the time the machine arrived, the population was barely four dozen. Within months, nobody was left alive in Black Rock. Those who had not been killed outright to slake the machine's bloodthirsty hunger had succumbed to its evil influence and been transformed into ghouls -- disgusting undead servitors of the machine. Now, the machine hunts new victims. . . .

About the Author

Charles Ryan has designed and written games for more than twelve years. His credits include such diverse titles as the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game,The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game, Deadlands, Millennium's End, The Last Crusade, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium, and Star Trek: Red Alert!, to name just a few. Charles served as chairman of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design, the professional organization of the games industry, from 1996 through 2001. He now lives in Kent, Washington with his lovely wife Tammie, three cats, and a dog. He works for Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

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