A horn sounds over the water, cutting through the chittering of insects and the other sounds of the night. Light glimmers on the river as a vast, pale shape pulls into view round a corner – a huge steamboat, two enormous wheels churning the water to either side, propelling it forwards. Four decks tall, flat-bottomed, and over three hundred feet long, the boat is truly massive, its huge iron chimneys jutting a hundred feet into the air, breathing out plumes of steam into the black sky. Despite its behemothic size, the vessel has a delicacy about her, with wrought iron railings teased into the semblance of flowers, women, and gargoyles. The cupola of the pilot house glitters, catching a ray of moonlight. Even at this distance you can see that the boat’s woodwork is ornate, carved and painted with images of trees and fanciful beasts. The curved wheelhouses bear the steamer’s name: the Somnambulist. As you watch, this pale beauty pulls into the wharf, and a gangplank comes down. You can hear roustabouts yelling and other crewman shouting instructions as the boat begins to disgorge cargo while taking on new freight, fuel, and passengers.
The steamer stays in Les Hiboux for a short spell; the characters can purchase passage for 5 silver pieces per day (for a place on the main deck), 5 gold pieces per day (for a personal cabin), or 10 gold pieces per day (for a suite).
The Somnambulist should be thoroughly explored. Feel free to provide the deckplan to the players – this will help them visualize the boat and navigate it.
The next section of the adventure should play a bit like a murder mystery. The steamboat may feel claustrophobic, at times, and the characters will have little to do save to converse, carouse, and explore. Encourage them to get to know the different crew-members and passengers before proceeding to the “Events” which precipitate later portions of the adventure.
The main descriptions of different areas of the boat are delivered as if the boat were empty, since at different times of day or night different individuals will be present or absent. Adjoining most descriptions are supplementary descriptions to be added for Day and Night, as well as during the Sickness and during the Atrocity that will likely take place later on. These descriptions should of course be modified as required.
Every day that the characters spend on the Somnambulist they have a 25% chance of being exposed to marsh fever via mosquito, +25% per day. Marsh fever has the following characteristics:
Onset 1 day; Frequency 1/day
A pair of grand stairs sweep up from the main deck towards the boiler deck, the broad steps leading upwards into the grand saloon above. Rich, ornately patterned carpeting covers the stairs, lending the ascent an air of luxury.
The boat’s eight boilers – huge, metal cylinders – run along either side of this large room, fixed to brackets that suspend them off the floor. Furnaces stoked with wood heat water in these boilers; steam-lines radiate out from the boilers along the ceiling towards the adjoining engine room.
Day/Night: The boat’s firemen are busy loading the furnaces with more fuel, sweating profusely in the heat. The boilers fill the air with the sound of hissing steam.
See the Firemen under Crew for more details.
Sickness: With the boat dead in the water, the boiler room is currently unoccupied, the furnaces cold.
Atrocity: Someone has restarted the furnaces, but instead of coal the furnaces are stuffed with dismembered body parts, the boilers filled with blood instead of water. A white-faced, mad-eyed crewman – or possibly a passenger – hacks a corpse to pieces with an axe in the middle of the room.
This Vampire Spawn (Sanity 1/1d6) attacks anyone who interferes with his butchery.
The engine room is a greasy, churning mass of machinery, powered by the steam-lines that run from the boiler room into this one. Here the boat’s massive engines turn the two wheels on either side of the vessel, propelling it through the water. The air smells of hot metal and steam, but not of rust – the engines are well-maintained. Portholes command a view of the river outside. A series of bells that ring occasionally seem to indicate when the boat needs to turn, slow, or speed up.
Day/Night: The engineer barks orders to assistants here, ensuring that the engines are kept running smoothly.
See the Engineer under Crew for more details.
Sickness: With the boat currently drifting, the engine room is quiet, the great paddlewheels still.
Atrocity: The engines churn once again, tended by dull-eyed, shambolic crewmen.
The crew here are either Vampire Spawn (Sanity 1/1d6) or simply Dominated humans.
The galley on the boat is large and well-stocked, with a pantry, barrel after barrel of preserved food, and several long tables for preparation. Knives, cleavers, pots, pans, and other cooking implements hang from pegs along one wall, next to the stove. Stacked in the corner are cages containing live chickens, robins, pigeons, pigs, rabbits, and other animals. Haunches of cured meat dangle from the ceiling, alongside bushels of herbs and netting containing potatoes, turnips, leeks, onions, and other vegetables. A dumbwaiter connects to the floor above.
Day: The kitchen staff are busy preparing a meal, here, slaughtering chickens and plucking their carcasses and dicing vegetables and herbs.
See Chief Cook and Assistant Cooks under Crew below for more details.
Note that salt can be found here in very significant quantities, which is very useful for protecting rooms at night against the Vampires or otherwise deterring them (unlike most Vampires, the residents of the Belle de Nuit are deterred by salt, not garlic).
Night: The kitchen is deserted at night, the kitchen staff having turned in for the day.
Sickness: The cook and one of her assistants still labour here, though they look somewhat worse for the weather, wheezing and groaning, their skin pallid. Several of the animals slumber fitfully in their cages, but others look as if they might have died. Flies buzz about them. Lethargic, the kitchen staff have let the place become grimy and unwashed. A soup lies cold and congealed on the stove, and a haunch of meat gone bad festers on a table.
Atrocity: The cook is in the midst of butchering the corpse of a passenger here, carefully removing organs and disjointing the man as if she were carving up a chicken. She hums to herself as she cooks. On the stove, blood and brains simmer in a thick stew next to a panful of eyeballs braised in a fragrant wine sauce. Half a dozen decapitated heads, their eyes plucked out, lie amidst discarded onion skins, chicken bones, and other kitchen detritus in the corner. The galley is covered in blood and feathers. Perhaps most hideously, the smells in this room are quite delectable.
Seeing this culinary grotesquery provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4+1). The cook is not hostile unless someone messes with her meal, in which case she attacks them with a cleaver (1d6).
The cargo room of the boat is crammed with crates, barrels, and boxes of every size and description. Labels indicate shipments of indigo, tobacco, cotton, grains and other foodstuffs, and similar goods. In addition to trade goods, the boat’s fuel supplies can be found here: lumber, coal, and barrels of lard, stored neatly away from the rest of the freight.
Day: Passengers, roustabouts, and other deckhands lounge around here, some playing cards or dice, others eating, reading, or talking. A few passengers nap, lying against the walls of the cargo room.
Night: Poorer passengers sleep in amongst the cargo, unfurling bedrolls and blankets on the floor to provide some small degree of comfort. A few sit up, gambling or reading by lamplight.
See the Deckhands section for more details.
Sickness: A great chorus of nauseous groans fills the cargo hold with echoes, as dozens of deck passengers languish here, leaning against crates or the walls or one another. One vomits blood, a great gout of blackish, putrid fluid. Deckhands and roustabouts vainly try to keep order, but they too are afflicted, sluggish. A woman in the corner is ranting about rats and fending off anyone who comes near with a hatpin, while a man of middle years seems to be self-medicating with copious amounts of alcohol, swilling the stuff in great glugs as if terribly thirsty.
Atrocity: Looters openly pry open crates, scattering everything from tobacco and grain to fine clothing about the cargo room. The floor is slippery with blood; several corpses are strewn about here, some with throats slits, others covered in hideous leech-bites. Hallucinating passengers shriek and tear at the crates or else huddle in the corners, ranting and gibbering.
The promenade on the Main Deck is fairly plain and very low to the water, with only a small railing and a few feet between the promenade and the river. The walkway curves around towards the enormous paddlebox containing one of the sidewheels.
Day: By day the air is hot and unbearably humid, mosquitoes buzzing in a thick black cloud about the promenade, feasting on anyone who happens by. Passengers lean against the rails, watching the water and swatting at these bloodsucking insects, while the occasional crewman wanders by on their way to some other part of the vessel.
Night: By night the promenade is nearly deserted. The air is muggy and close, though the night brings with it an eerie chill.
Sickness: Passengers and crew lurch along the promenade like damned souls, aimless, some staring out across the river vacantly, others slumped against the wall. One deckhand retches over the rail. Now that the ship has stopped the mosquitoes have grown even thicker than usual and now swirl about in a dense, buzzing cloud.
Atrocity: You arrive on the promenade in time to see a jaundiced, mad-eyed crewman throw himself from the deck into the river below with a splash. Bodies of the sickly, the dying, and the dead are draped across the floor or leaned against the wall. A feral-looking woman with torn skirts and flushed skin is rifling through the belongings of the fallen, poking the bodies with a hatpin to ensure they’re dead or passive enough to loot.
The Grand Saloon runs nearly the length of the boat; a huge dining and living area, all gilt and polished hardwood, with a crystal chandelier, long tables, a number of private dining booths, and a fully-stocked bar where bottles of ale, wine, and liqueur are stored. The floor is richly carpeted and the walls decorated with fine oil portraits and landscapes, including pictures of steamboats racing down the river and several paintings of women that verge on the scandalous. The plans for the Somnambulist are also framed here, for all to see. Stairways lead up from the Grand Saloon to a gallery encircling the entire room, adjoining the passengers’ cabins. Doors lead to the library, the barber’s room, the steward’s office, and a dance room.
Day: By day, the Saloon bustles with passengers sitting, talking, eating, smoking, and otherwise wiling away the time. Many drink coffee, though a few are already at the bar, some obviously nursing hangovers from the night before. They’re a variegated lot aboard the Somnambulist: men and women in plain country garb mingle with those whose finer clothes mark them as well-heeled merchants or gentility.
Night: The Grand Saloon comes alive at night, with passengers and crewmen alike drinking wine, beer, whiskey, sherry, absinthe, or steaming black coffee, carousing merrily. The bar is nearly packed and the tables are crowded as well.
Sickness: As sickness takes hold of the boat the Saloon has become increasingly deserted. Now only a few passengers linger here, drinking away their sorrows or sprawling in chairs, eyes staring up at the ceiling, dancing with unknown visions. A few wander the length of the Saloon, endlessly pacing up and down, like prisoners in a cell. The bartender keeps her post, grimly pouring drinks for those that need their whistles wet.
Atrocity: The Saloon is in a state of debauched frenzy, as a dozen diseased crewmen and passengers gorge themselves in a cannibalistic feast, the butchered body-parts of the waiters and several others spread over the long tables, wine glasses brimming with blood and looted liquor. Presiding over the feast is Damienne Suzeneau and several of her relatives. She raises a crimson glass in toast.
“To the White Leech!” she declares, taking a deep draught.
This assumes, of course, that Damienne is alive and on the boat. The Saloon has no windows, so it’s safe from sunlight.
This scene provokes a Sanity check (1/1d6+1).
The private dining room is well-appointed and spacious, with a large table set for up to twelve, side-tables for serving, and a cabinet of china. Windows looks out along the promenade. A painting of the river hangs on one wall.
During both day and night the dining rooms may be filled by passengers eating or drinking. They also make good places to hide, or to pull characters aside for a quiet talk.
Sickness: A few sick passengers lounge about the private dining area. A half-eaten meal lies on the table, not yet cleared away by the crew. The tablecloth is askew.
Atrocity: The words “The Thirst Is All” and “Hail the Thousand Suckered One” are daubed on the walls in blood here. The table and chairs have been broken to splinters.
The barber’s room includes several chairs, cabinets full of tools, oils, and salves, a countertop, and a large mirror. A selection of scissors and straight razors are evident on the countertop.
Day: A heavy-set man with a bristling red beard is having his whiskers trimmed in the barbershop at present.
See the Barber under the Crew below for more detail.
Night: At this time of night the barber’s room is empty and dark.
Sickness: A woman is seated in the barber’s chair, but the barber is absent. She’s slowly cutting her own hair, giggling to herself, and then quite deliberately eating each hank of shorn hair.
Atrocity: A decapitated corpse is strapped into the barber’s chair here. Four bodiless heads sit on the counter, their hair partially cut. The mirror has been broken, covered the floor in shards of glass. Hair sticks in the drying blood covering the floor.
The heads provoke a Sanity check – (0/1d4).
The steward’s office includes a dumbwaiter and series of shelves and tables storing table linens, cutlery, and other serving implements.
Day/Night: See the Steward in Crew below for more detail.
Sickness: The steward’s office is in a state of disarray – drawers opened and linens rumpled, cutlery littering the floor. There’s no sign of the steward himself.
Atrocity: A corpse chokes the dumbwaiter – it looks like someone attempted to climb up the shaft and got stuck on the way out. Everything in the office has been looted.
The Somnambulist’s library is small but cosy, with several plush leather chairs and a few small tables. The books here are mostly for the entertainment of passengers: novels, plays, volumes of poetry, travel guides, and atlases are all common. There are also some books of history, and a number of religious works. A large gas lamp and a number of candles provide illumination.
Day: Several passengers are seated at tables and reading or browsing the shelves.
Night: At night, the library is quiet and still.
Sickness: Great stacks of books have been taken off the walls and piled haphazardly about the tables. The doctor is here, combing madly through a medical text, a look of frenzy on his pale, sweat-smeared face. There is a strong smell of mildew and decay.
Atrocity: A small fire has been started here by a pair of serious-looking passengers with a book of matches and some lamp-oil. They’ve heaped most of the books into a great pile and have lit it ablaze, but fire keeps burning itself out and they’re forced to add more oil and matches. If the heap gets properly lit the whole boat might go up in flames!
The dancing room on the boat is a long hall with a mirrored ceiling and wooden floor, cleared for dancing. The walls are adorned with paintings of celestial figures dancing through the clouds. There’s a huge piano here, and a dais for other musicians to play on.
Day: By day, few frequent the dance room, though a few off-duty crewmen linger here on a break.
Night: A lively dance is in full swing, one of the crew playing a rousing piano tune while passengers accompany on other instruments. The room is quite crowded with bodies, the skirts of the ladies twirling and flashing.
Vampires are not reflected in the mirror above – anyone looking carefully (Perception DC 20) will notice this if dancing with one.
Sickness: A couple dances madly in the middle of the room, though no one is playing the piano. Deck passengers slump against the walls or lie on the floor of the hall, oblivious to the world.
Atrocity: A pile of mutilated and bloodless bodies sits in the middle of the dance floor – at least a dozen of them, perhaps more, along with a number of dismembered limbs and random organs. Several refined-looking passengers waltz around it, their footprints bloody, while a crazed, pallid man plays piano.
Some remaining Vampires can be placed here; the piano-player is a Vampire Spawn. The corpse-heap provokes a Sanity check (1/1d4+1).
The storage rooms are locked (Disable Device DC 25), but the iron key carried by all crewmen opens them.
Boat’s sundries are stored here – spare linens for beds and tables, additional cutlery, uniforms and other clothes, pillows and pillowcases, candles, lamps and lamp oil, rope, tools for carpentry, spare wood, nails, furniture, art, and even mechanical components for the engine.
During the sickness/atrocity these rooms may have been broken-into and looted.
On the boiler deck the promenade is some distance from the water, but the muddy stink of the river is still palpable. The promenade is well-lit, with lamps along its length; occasional doors admit passengers to the interior of the boat.
Day: The promenade is crowded with passengers and crew alike, some peering over the rails, others perambulating the length of the ship.
Night: The promenade is quiet, with only a few passengers out for a walk; most are either in their cabins or merry-making in the Grand Saloon.
Sickness: A few passengers shamble along the length of the promenade in a daze, barely aware of their surroundings. One man is attempting to climb down the railing to the main deck below, for some reason.
Atrocity: A naked passenger with a stolen knife runs up and down the length of the promenade, screaming about the Pallid Brood and the Thirsting Sire and slashing the air.
This long gallery stretches the length of Grand Saloon, a railed walkway looking down on the room from above. Lining the gallery are dozens of doors leading to the many cabins of the Somnambulist. At the far end, doors to the larger, more expensive suites can be found.
See Grand Saloon for more information.
Most cabins are locked. Each and every cabin has its own key, and duplicates are kept in the captain’s cabin; the locks require a DC 25 Disable Device check to pick.
The cabin is small, but well-appointed and nicely decorated, with a desk, chair, a mid-sized bed, a wardrobe, and a night-stand, along with a small wash-basin and chamber pot. There’s a window that can be shrouded with curtains for privacy, and two doors – one leading out onto the promenade of the cabin deck, the other onto the gallery above the Grand Saloon.
By day most cabins will be empty; by night, there’s a good chance (50%) they’ll be occupied by sleeping passengers.
During the sickness most cabins will be occupied by sick passengers, naturally.
Here’s a list of the cabins’ occupants:
1 – Rachel & Simon Zeringue’s cabin
2 – Perrine Alva’s cabin
3 – Edouard Duplessis’s cabin
4 – Christophe Galafante’s cabin
5 – Father Eugene Fontenot’s cabin
6 – Quentin & Antione’s cabin
7 – Juliette’s cabin
8 – Gustave’s cabin
9 – Renault’s cabin
10 – Bertrand Isnard’s cabin
11 – Guy’s cabin
12 – Evangeline Pardoe’s cabin
13 – Lisa Favre’s cabin
14 – Martin Favre’s cabin
15 – Doctor Armand Lafitte’s cabin
16 – Michel’s cabin
17 – Andre & Marianne Jarossay’s cabin
18 – Margeurite & Mathieu Faillard’s cabin
19 – Celestine Maurin’s cabin
20 – Carmelite & Manuel Toutant’s cabin
21 – Empty (this and the remaining cabins may be occupied by the PCs)
22 – Empty
23 – Empty
24 – Empty
The suites are all locked (Disable Device DC 30 to pick); their owners have keys, as does the captain (kept in his cabin).
The suite consists of three rooms – a lavish living space with a small table, divan, chairs, and bookshelf, a luxurious bedroom with a four-poster bed, a wardrobe, a cabinet, and a writing desk, and a private bathing room with a tub. Though smaller than the sort of accommodations one would see at an inn the suite is well-appointed and richly furnished, with elaborately patterned carpets, paintings of comely women on the walls, and fine dark wooden furniture.
The vampires have booked the various suites for themselves. A thorough search of the suites turns up some incriminating evidence. In the locked cabinet in each suite (Disable Device DC 25 or use the same key that unlocked the suite’s door) the vampires all keep spare vials of blood – 12 per cabinet – to slake their thirst in emergencies. Some of their clothes will also be bloodstained, as a thorough search of the wardrobe will reveal. See Events, below, for more details. Further notes follow:
A – Damienne Suzeneau’s suite
Within Damienne’s suite’s writing desk is her diary. It may seem strange that she carries with her an incriminating document of this sort, but the idea that a mortal could actually do real harm to her is ridiculous to Damienne; like many vampires, she is very arrogant. Still, she keeps the desk drawer locked (DC 25 or use the same key that unlocked the suite’s door). The book itself is also warded with an Alarm spell setting off a Mental Alarm if opened by anyone but Damienne; thus, if read without first being Dispelled, Damienne will hone in quickly on the reader. Note that while Alarm is not a trap, it can be detected with Detect Magic.
In addition to this precaution, Damienne keeps another surprise in her suite: a Mimic disguised as a piece of luggage. The Mimic was created by elder vampire alchemists in ages past. If an intruder enters the suite, it creeps up on them and attacks:
The brown luggage trunk you noticed when you entered the suite has opened itself, revealing not clothes and personal effects but a salivating maw lined with thousands of teeth. Sprouting a mass of dark, writhing tentacles, the shape-changing horror lurches towards you, gnashing its innumerable fangs!
Encountering the mimic requires a Sanity check (1/1d6).
B – Isabelle’s suite
C – Nanette & Vistoire’s suite
D – Angelique & Philomene’s suite – see the Event “Disappearance” for more details on this suite.
E – Phillipe & Narcisse’s suite
F – Henri & Francois’ suite
The promenade here is high above the water, but you can still catch the occasional whiff of the fetid, murky river. Though the swarms of mosquitoes are less dense here than they are nearer the water, they still buzz about incessantly.
Day: Passengers drift about the promenade gazing out across the river. One young man is sketching the scenery carefully as it passes by. Occasional crew squeeze past on their way up to the hurricane deck above or the boiler deck below.
Night: The promenade on the hurricane deck is quite deserted at night – not a soul can be seen up here. Down below, you can hear sounds of merriment from the Grand Saloon.
Sickness: Few passengers walk the promenade now that the boat is dead in the water; most of the cabin passengers are probably in their rooms.
Atrocity: Passengers roam to and fro here, some crawling on all fours like beasts, others succumbing to the last stages of the fever.
Most cabins are locked. Each and every cabin has its own key, and duplicates are kept in the captain’s cabin; the locks require a DC 25 Disable Device check to pick.
The cabin is small and sparsely furnished, built for utility rather than comfort, with a desk, chair, a small bed, a wardrobe, a night-stand, and a wash basin. There’s only one door, here, and a small, curtained window.
At any given time there’s a 25% chance a crew’s cabin will be occupied – crew work both days and nights.
During the sickness at least half of the crew (probably more) will be in their cabins, languishing from the marsh fever. During the atrocity the crew barricade their cabins and the entire crew’s quarters as best they can. Several deranged crew-members will be locked in their quarters to keep them from rampaging throughout the boat.
The crew’s mess is a long, plain room with several spare wooden tables and cabinets of crockery. There’s little decoration, save for a large deckplan of the boat.
Meals are served on a regular schedule three times a day; otherwise, the office is unoccupied.
Sickness: A great heap of dirtied dishes moulders on one of the tables, not yet cleared away. A few crewmen sit here, mechanically eating rations, their movements reminding you of wind-up toys.
Atrocity: A few crewmen with pistols, clubs, and knives have gathered in this room, facing down any intruders. They’ve got a plan of the boat spread on the table.
The clerk’s office contains a large, finely carved writing desk and several shelves of books, as well as spare candles and lamp oil, ink, quills, and other writing implements. A door in the back of the office leads to the records room.
See the Clerk under Crew, below, for more details. At night, the office is dark.
Sickness: The clerk is madly scribbling in his office, and a great stack of ink-stained sheets beside him indicates he’s been working for some time.
The clerk is describing his nightmarish visions with frantic intensity, writing out long accounts of cannibalistic feasts and awful depravities.
Atrocity: Reams and reams of paper are strewn everywhere here, covered in crabbed, hastily-penned writing. Several ink-jars have been spilled. There’s no sign of the clerk.
The boat’s ledgers, passenger manifests, inventory, and other records are stored in large cabinets in this large but dimly lit chamber. Unlike most of the vessel this area looks a bit neglected, cobwebs having gathered in the corners.
This room remains essentially unchanged even during the sickness/atrocity.
The storage rooms are locked (Disable Device DC 25), but the iron key carried by all crewmen opens them.
A – Spare linens, furnishings, cutlery, and unused art are stored in this room.
B – Clothing is stored here; although not all of the boat’s crew wear uniforms those that do have spares in this room.
There are uniforms for servers, the engineer, captain, mate, and clerk here. Deckhands don’t use uniforms on the Somnambulist.
C – Firearms and other weapons are neatly stored here: muskets, pistols, blunderbusses, powder, bullets, as well as few swords, clubs, knives, and hatchets.
6 muskets, 8 pistols, 4 blunderbusses, 6 kegs of black powder, 500 bullets, 10 short swords, 10 clubs, 20 daggers, and 20 handaxes can be found here.
The captain’s cabin is always locked (Disable Device DC 30 to pick the lock); only the captain himself has the silver key.
The captain’s cabin is more spacious than the rest of the crew’s quarters. Maps of the river and the surrounding country paper one wall, and bookshelves and cabinets holding accounts, ledgers, packet schedules, and similar documents line the others. A writing desk and chairs can be found here, strewn with papers. There’s also a large, glass cabinet full of liquor – mostly bottled spirits of various sorts. The bedroom adjoining the main cabin is quite plain, but comfortable-looking, with a large bed and wardrobe.
In a locked drawer of the desk (opened by the brass key kept on the captain’s person is a key-ring with duplicate, numbered keys of every cabin aboard the Somnambulist.
The Captain is present most of the time – see his entry under Crew below for details.
During the sickness/atrocity, the Captain holes up in his cabin, emerging only to give orders to keep the barricades up and manned. He drinks heavily and guards the door with a blunderbuss.
Huge glass windows provide an excellent view of the river here while protecting observers from insects and rain. A coffee cart services those who choose to lounge in the plush chairs arrayed about the windows.
Day: The observation lounge is quite crowded at this time of day.
Night: At night, there is little to see from the lounge – only darkness. It’s currently empty.
Note that the Séance (see below) will be held here at night.
Sickness: A number of sickly crew languish here, moaning dully. One pounds his head onto the glass repeatedly.
Atrocity: The huge windows have all been smashed, covering the floor with broken glass. Several bloodless corpses are sprawled on the floor, one being feasted on by a pale former passenger with clawed fingers.
This Vampire Spawn (Sanity 1/1d6) will attack anyone who disturbs her.
A billiards table and several smaller tables featuring chess, cards, and other games adorn this spacious games room, the stuffed heads of alligators and wild boar staring down at you from the walls, along with several antique muskets and paintings of hunters and their quarry. A small bar can also be found here. The room is lit by several lamps, the floor carpeted by animal skins. The room stinks of cigar smoke, which stains every surface.
Day: During the day, the games room is filled mostly with couples and youngsters playing games of chess or cards.
Night: The games room is quite full at this time of night, riverboat gamblers engaging in games of dice, cards, and billiards for a variety of stakes.
See the Gamblers under Passengers below for more detail.
Sickness: The games room has been abandoned as sickness grips the boat.
Atrocity: A pair of gamblers attempt to play billiards with a human eyeball ripped from the socket of a nearby corpse. The results are messy and imprecise.
This tea room has a refined, feminine feel to it, with pastel walls and delicate furnishings. Paintings of romantic-looking cityscapes decorate the room, and a cabinet equipped with fine china fills one wall. The air smells fragrant here, like honey and vanilla.
Day: Ladies of sophistication currently pack the tea room, sipping their drinks and gossiping.
Night: At night, the tea room is quite empty.
Sickness: Someone has removed most of the fine china. Some of it lies broken on the floor.
Atrocity: Teacups brimming with blood sit on plates here, while the sandwich tray has been stocked with severed human fingers. Several ladies in bloodstained dresses and a few men wearing the same sip their blood with milk and honey.
4 Vampire Spawn can be found here (Sanity 1/1d6).
The high promenade here is not covered like the others below but stands open to the air, the wooden walkway spattered with rain. From here, you can see the immense smokestacks of the Somnambulist thrusting skywards, along with the ornate cupola of the pilothouse.
Day: Passengers and crew bustle about the promenade, enjoying the excellent view afforded by the hurricane deck’s height.
Night: At night, the hurricane deck promenade is almost totally empty; only a few lone crewmen are evident.
Sickness: The hurricane deck promenade is devoid of passengers or crew.
Atrocity: Several passengers are attempting to break into the crew’s quarters here, battering at them with tools and fists.
The pilothouse is a gleaming glass temple, spacious and fancifully adorned with rich red and gold curtains, a leather sofa, an oil-cloth floor, and a fine stove. Dominating the room is a gigantic wheel, almost comically large. A series of gongs and tinglers are reconnected to cords that, presumably, allow communication with the engine room; there’s also a fluted speaking-tube here allowing for more direct discourse.
Day or night, at least one of the pilots – often both – are present. See The Pilots under Crew, below. During the sickness the pilothouse stands empty; during the atrocity, it will be empty until the Vampires and their spawn seize control of the vessel, at which point the newly-made Spawn (formerly the pilots) will be taking the Somnambulist to the Belle de Nuit plantation.
Statistics for the crew can be found in the Appendix, but will probably not be required for the most part.
In total, there are 46 crew in total.
A billowing blue coat and jauntily angled cap marks a very tall, very thin man as the boat’s captain. A great shock of white hair bursts from beneath his cap. He wears a pistol on his hip and dresses finely, in a well-tailored grey suit and waistcoat. Periodically he checks the time with a gold-plated pocketwatch.
Captain Will Leathers commands the Somnambulist. He’s something of a recluse and spends most of his time in his cabin, leaving many of his duties to the first mate. He’s a somewhat taciturn individual, brusque to the crew, though still respected for his many years on the river – he used to be a pilot before becoming captain. He’s polite to passengers, though, and possesses a refined sense of chivalry.
The pale, freckled woman at the wheel chomps on a cigar and never takes her eyes off the river. Reddish-gold hair spills down her back from a tightly cinched ponytail. Unlike most of the ladies aboard the Somnambulist, this one wears trousers and a waistcoat.
Lounging on the sofa in the pilot’s house is a bronze-skinned rake of a man who puffs a cigar of his own. He’s garbed all in black, including a black slouch hat that shadows his stubbled features.
This pair are the pilots – Justine and Henry Fortier, a married couple. Henry has been a pilot for fifteen years and taught Justine the river, but now she pilots a steamboat as well or better than her husband. She’s lively, strong-spirited, and quick-witted; he’s a bit surly, but doggedly loyal to the captain and to his wife. They are usually in the Pilothouse.
The First Mate
A blustering, barrel-chested man with a full black beard and wooden teeth, the first mate of the boat is identified by his blue cap and uniform – and by the way he barks orders to the crew, occasionally threatening bodily harm to dawdling deckhands.
Pierre Duplantis, the First Mate of the Somnambulist, is a hot-tempered, hard-drinking man who ends most nights passed out from too much rum. Despite his penchant for liquor, however, he’s a strong leader, if a stern one. He has his eye set on making Anna Drake, the head cook, his wife, but his affections are not returned. He can be found throughout the ship, often on the Main Deck.
The steward is a sallow, gaunt-cheeked man whose face tells of a violent past – he’s got a glass eye, a broken nose, and a long scar along his jaw. One of his teeth glints gold. Despite his grizzled appearance he’s quite dapper in his dark, well-groomed uniform.
The steward is “One-Eyed Jacques,” a former naval officer who turned to the river trade in times of peace. He’s a crotchety, suspicious fellow assisted by several other servers – Gregory, Joseph, and George – in keeping the passengers in food brought up from the galley. He can be found in the Steward’s Office of the Boiler Deck.
The Head Cook
A stern dark-skinned woman serves as the boat’s cook, assisted by two girls who might be her daughters. She barks orders and gestures menacingly with a large cleaver, imperiously ordering soups to be seasoned, fires to be stoked, or water to be boiled.
The head cook is Anna Drake, a fierce but warm woman and one of the best cooks on the river. Her speciality is blackened catfish. She’s a demanding taskmaster but extremely knowledgeable and talented. In addition to being an excellent cook she knows a few Voodoo charms and spells, but she keeps this knowledge to herself. She’s usually in the Galley of the Main Deck.
The Assistant Cooks
The assistant cooks are a pair of dark-skinned girls, identical in every detail save for their hair – one keeps it short, the other keeps it long and tightly bound behind her head. Both wear white aprons and crew’s uniforms.
The twins Adeline and Claudette are Anna’s daughters, the assistant cooks. Unlike their mother they’re quiet, demure, and rather sardonic, given to sly glances and gossiping between one another. They’re usually found in the Galley on the Main Deck.
The boat’s engineer is a bald, fleshy fellow with the trace of old burn-scars on his hands and the side of his face, the tissue puckered and shiny. Despite his disfigurement he seems genial enough, humming to himself as he tinkers with the engines.
Archibald Jennings is kindly, but those who interfere with his engines will see his dark side – he has a terrible temper, rarely roused but awful to behold. He’s a good engineer, and has kept the boat running well for years. He’s usually in the Engine Room on the Main Deck.
A stooped man with a crooked back and dark, glinting eyes, the clerk has long-fingered, ink-stained hands and a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles. Though hunched, he is quite young, perhaps in his early thirties. He walks with the aid of a cane.
The kindly but deformed Felix Lamb is staggeringly intelligent, capable of performing complex calculations in his head. Though some passengers avoid him he is very well-respected by the crew. He’s usually found in the Clerk’s Office on the Hurricane Deck.
The barber is a cheerful, dark-skinned man with a gleaming white smile that goes well with his starched uniform.
Oliver Fox is the barber aboard the Somnambulist, a compulsively cheerful man renowned for his speed. Naturally, he can be found at the Barber’s on the Boiler Deck.
A burly blonde woman tends bar in the Grand Saloon, chatting amiably to passengers and mixing a variety of drinks. Her arms are covered in intricate tattoos – roses growing on thorny vines. Unlike many of the crew she doesn’t wear a formal uniform, preferring a flouncy black and red bodice and skirts.
Giselle LaRue tends bar. She’s a good source of gossip on the boat – she knows who’s sleeping with who, who lost his wages at cards, who’s got a drinking problem etc. She can be found in the Grand Saloon most times.
A pallid, dark-eyed young man slouches against one wall, smoking a cigarillo and watching the passengers – particularly the women. Judging from his dress he’s a crew-member of some kind, but he doesn’t seem to be doing much work.
Sly, lazy, and conniving, Fergas Gray is the boat’s porter. He frequently steals from passengers, burgling cabins when no one is watching and filching valuables lying around. One for the ladies, he can frequently be found chasing skirts, particularly the chambermaids, and Adeline and Claudette in the galley. Many stolen items and a fair amount of stolen cash can be found in his cabin on the Hurricane Deck. He’s usually found on the Cabin Deck.
A massively muscled man with skin black as coal and a bristling beard serves as the boat’s chief fireman, stoking the furnaces with the aid of three other workers down in the boiler room, sweat pouring off them constantly.
Tobias Stone is the Chief Fireman, something of a gentle giant. He is assisted by Murray, Aubrey, and John, the three other firemen. They’re to be found in the Boiler Room.
Chambermaids in fetching uniforms flit from cabin to cabin here, cleaning, tidying, and changing sheets. Most of them are quite young and have the dusky complexions common amongst the folk of this land.
The six chambermaids are Emile, Alexandrine, Camille, Delhpine, Rosette, and Isadora, and are usually found on the Cabin Deck or Hurricane Deck.
Four smartly-dressed servers circulate through the Saloon, attending to the needs of the passengers.
The servers are Henrietta, Sabrina, Byron, and Louis. They can usually be found in the Grand Saloon.
Strapping deckhands – most of them young, well-muscled men with louche manners and unsavoury personal habits, help to haul and pack freight in the cargo room, some singing work-songs, others swapping stories of the river.
There are twenty deckhands in all. In addition to hauling freight they’ll fulfil other tasks on board as needed. They’re usually on the Main Deck.
Total, there are 35 cabin passengers and 55 deck passengers aboard, though exact numbers fluctuate.
A plump, pale man, heavily jowled, preaches a sermon to a group of passengers here, reading from a leather-bound book. He wears a black coat, somewhat stained and tattered. His selected passage speaks of the terrible plagues and afflictions visited upon those who stray from the path of righteousness into sin and temptation. Some of his audience are quite rapt, but just as many seem to be listening more to pass the time than anything.
The preacher is Father Eugene Fontenot, a rabid, hellfire-and-damnation priest. He may be of minor use in a fight against the vampires – he has several vials of holy water with him, at the very least. He’s extremely pious, prudish, and judgmental, however, and will condemn anyone who exhibits signs of sin i.e. lasciviousness, gambling, thievery, etc, unless they confess their crimes and make a sincere effort to repent.
A well-dressed man sits in the lounge, reading what looks like a book of anatomy and occasionally making notes in another book to one side. He’s of middle age, with a well-kept grey beard and a pince-nez, and skin the colour of caramel.
This is Doctor Armand Lafitte, a physician of some repute. He’s travelling home after a sojourn into the swamps to treat an outbreak of pox in Marais de Tarascon. He’s a rather unsociable fellow who prefers to be left alone, but when the fever breaks out he’ll be very important (see Events, below). He has a full healer’s kit in his quarters.
Drinking quietly in one corner of the saloon is a dark-featured woman with eyes like flint, openly displaying a brace of duelling pistols on her hips. She wears a multitude of earrings and keeps her hair cropped short. Her features are partially shadowed by a black slouch hat.
This is Celestine Maurin, an accomplished duellist and pistol-for-hire, said to have killed thirteen men with her two pistols. She may be a useful ally against the vampires later in the adventure. Treat her as a 7th level Gunslinger.
A pale, rounded woman in a black dress speaks to a rapt audience in the Saloon, moving her arms theatrically.
“The ectoplasmic hand materialized from the aether and attempted to strangle me!” the woman declares. “In my trance, I was scarcely aware of this phantasmal assault. Yet even as the unctuous, slimy fingers tightened around my neck, and those present at the gathering screamed, I summoned enough strength to banish the poltergeist back to the Spirit World.”
The listeners ooh and aah, assailing the woman with questions. One asks if the woman will be conducting a séance aboard the steamboat.
“I shall,” the woman declares. “The captain has agreed to let me converse with the spirits tomorrow night, in the observation lounge on the hurricane deck. There will be a small cost of admission – only a single silver dollar.”
The woman is Evangeline Pardoe, a spiritualist and clairvoyant – and, despite her theatricality and overblown self-presentation, not a charlatan. She may, in fact, be very useful in conducting an investigation of the sicknesses and disappearances aboard the boat – particularly her ability to retrieve memories through hypnosis (her Memory Domain ability Recall).
For more details, see the Event “The Séance” below.
Four well-fed and well-dressed men are seated at the bar. Judging from the empty glasses before them and the redness of their noses they’ve been drinking for some time. From what you can hear of their conversation, they’re discussing shipments, profit margins, and similarly commercial matters.
These merchants – Gustave, Renault, Guy, and Michel – have cabins aboard the ship and are heading to the Port d’Elhour in hopes of making a major deal to ship tobacco across the sea to Dementlieu. They have a sizeable quantity of funds aboard (1200 gp in a locked chest – DC 25 to pick – in Gustave’s cabin) and spend money liberally. Most have expensive baubles (rings, watches, snuff-boxes, etc) on their persons, worth roughly 25 gp.
A pair of rather rakish, disreputable-looking men and a full-figured, heavily made-up woman play cards here in the games room. The men have a decidedly roguish cast; one, a wiry fellow with long black hair, is missing an ear and sports a series of small skull-like tattoos on his forearm, while the other, bald-headed, fidgets dextrously with a small knife, a black cigarillo dangling from his lips. Both wear leather vests and travel-stained clothes. The woman, who cools herself with a small hand-fan, would not look out of place in a brothel in her tight-fitting corset, flouncy skirts, and netted stockings. The three of them clearly know each other well from the way they are conversing.
These three gamblers – Juliette, Quentin, and Antoine – are scoundrels who roam the river and its ports swindling those they find out of their money. They can usually be found in the Games Room on the Hurricane Deck. These statistics are usable, sans magical equipment.
There are ten vampires aboard the boat: Damienne (the leader), Angelique, Philomene, Nanette, Vistoire, Isabelle, Narcisse, Henri, Francois, and Phillipe (all of these are pseudonyms, incidentally; the vampires’ real names can be found in Damienne’s diary). The ladies are all Sorcereresses, the gentlemen Fighters (see appendix for stats). They can be found throughout the boat, but can frequently be found in the Grand Saloon and the Observation Lounge, or walking the promenades. Naturally, they are seen only at night. More details can be be found in the Events section.
A group of elegantly dressed men and women lounge in the Grand Saloon, drinking wine and talking merrily with the other passengers. Judging from the richness of their attire they’re ladies and gentlemen of considerable means. The men have the look of dandies in their fine, colourful coats tailored outfits, while the ladies are all pale beauties, dark-haired and fine-boned, garbed in elaborate dresses of black, red, and blue. Certain similarities amongst the features of these bon vivants suggests they are related. The evident matriarch of the group is a beautiful woman of indeterminate age – she has the unlined face of a girl of twenty, but holds herself with the poise and confidence of a much older woman.
The vampires will try to befriend and even seduce the characters, luring them into dark corners or cabins to feed on them. However, don’t give the game away too quickly – remember that the vampires can use Charm and Modify Memory. You may wish to record Will saves so that you can roll them instead of the players.
Damienne Suzeneau, if approached, will explain her reasons for being aboard:
“Always a pleasure to meet fellow passengers,” the woman says. “Mademoiselle Damienne Suzeneau. Charmed, I’m sure.”
“My cousins and I are travelling to Port d’Elhour for the coming social season – six months of balls, parties, and exhibitions. It will be Angelique’s first proper season.” She gestures to a pale girl with dark blonde hair seated nearby, who looks over with large, curious eyes. “After so many months of the dreary old plantation house it will be a relief to reach the city.”
Any encounter with the vampires that reveals their undead nature requires a Sanity check (1/1d6).