Old Fellow That Bunyip

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Details

Cover of Terror Australis

Pages: 71-91

Author(s): Penelope Love, Mark Morrison

Artist(s): Ron Leming

Setting: 1920s

Appears in: Terror Australis, Terror Australis (French)

Summary

Wherein the investigators visit the cultured and up-to-date city of Melbourne. A terror grips the place: the River Ripper is on the prowl.

A series of mysterious manglings and drownings is plaguing Melbourne, and police are baffled.

Links

Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.

Synopsis

Draining and building work has transformed the ancient landscape, and disturbed a bunyip where it lay imprisoned beneath the waters. Shaken from its Dreaming, anguished and confused, the creature now roams the river preying on passers-by.

A group of Aboriginal Australians have tried to defuse the problem by luring the bunyip away, hoping to trap it in another remote cave where it may safely Dream in peace. However, they were arrested attempting to take vital artefacts from a local museum, and now rot in prison.

Meanwhile, a fragile war veteran has seen the bunyip and fallen insane. He now stalks the riverbanks for victims to sacrifice to his terrible watery god.

The bunyip is immortal and cannot be harmed or deterred by normal means. The only way to resolve the situation is to free the Aboriginal prisoners, and assist them in chasing the bunyip downriver into a mystical trap. Dealing with the serial killer is optional.

References

Player Handouts:

  • Vandalism at Museum (newspaper clipping)
  • Savage Murders (newspaper clipping)
  • Underwater Car reported in river (newspaper clipping)
  • Disturbance at asylums (newspaper clipping)
  • Marsh Murder (newspaper clipping)
  • Deaths by Drowning (newspaper clipping)
  • Submarine in our Yarra? (newspaper clipping)
  • Thieves Caught (newspaper clipping)
  • River Ripper takes another victim (newspaper clipping)
  • Excerpt from George Seton’s Diary

Locations: National Museum of Victoria, Royal Botanical Gardens, general Melbourne

Creatures: bunyip

Comments

  • Melbourne in the 1920s
  • Map of Melbourne
  • Bunyips (arguably a handout, but not listed as such)
  • Jack Waterman’s vocabulary (a list of Australian words)
  • Image of bunyip (two-page spread)
  • Image of cave paintings (two-page spread)
  • The River Chase – simple schematic of the Yarra and key locations
  • Bunyips (a Keeper’s guide)
  • Photograph from the finish of the Melbourne Cup

Keeper Comments

There are 10 "handouts" shown throughout the text, all of them numbered 1-4. This is because of the way the removable handouts are presented at the back of the book, combining several items into a single handout.

There is no set hook for the scenario; Keepers are recommended to devise one, though some suggestions are provided. These all involve the Investigators learning of something odd and deciding to stick their noses in.

This scenario revolves mostly around social interaction and research. It is best suited to a patient, inquisitive group who are happy to worry at clues. There is minimal action, aside from the climactic bunyip herding sequence. In addition, the waters are muddied by the presence of the murderous Seton.

The investigation may be complicated by several prominent red herrings, which suggest lines of enquiry that cannot be followed up. If players latch onto any of these, it may present a problem.

  1. The scenario makes much of a mummy in the museum, which is targeted in the break-in. Its legs are damaged by repeated blows from a blunt instrument, and it has been sprinkled with ochre. No further mention of the mummy occurs, and there is no explanation for this situation.
  2. A second red herring is the monologue from Dr Richards at the museum, who waxes lyrical about serpent myths. Considerable wordcount is devoted to this conversation, but it is entirely unconnected to the scenario.
  3. Yet a third red herring comes from the earlier abortive break-in at the museum, from an unidentified Italian gang.

The bulk of the adventure is sandboxy and open, but this narrows down to a single acceptable solution once the Investigators understand what is going on.

Moving between the investigative and conclusive phases of the adventure may be tricky. The Investigators must talk to the Aboriginal prisoners, gain their confidence and obtain an artefact for them. As the prisoners are taciturn and there are multiple red herrings (including a serial killer), the players may struggle to realise that this is the only way to proceed.

There is no conflict until the end of the scenario, when Investigators need to fend of the crazed bunyip while chanting. The mechanics provided allow this to take many rounds (1% cumulative chance), and Keepers may wish to adjust this, or restrain bunyip’s aggression, to increase the chance of survival.