By Bryant Durrell.
There is a little known island in the South Pacific, several hundred miles west of the Hawaiian island chain. The biggest turtles in the world come here to lay their eggs; and, at the ends of their long placid lives, to die. It holds the bookends of their existence.
The beach where they come is sheltered from storms and tempests by twin arms of coral, curving around like the arms of a mother sheltering her child. Behind it, raised up in mute defiance of the wind, a ridge arches like a dragon's back, massive and still.
The island has no name. Polynesian natives considered it to be a sacred place, perhaps because their shamans could sense its powerful feng shui. It was said that the island was populated by gods. And whether or not that was true then, it is certainly true that the modern gods have an interest in the place. Or, as they call themselves, the Lodge.
The Unspoken Name finds a certain pleasure in leaving the island's name equally unspoken, if indeed he has even named it privately. It's not as if the place comes up much in casual conversation; it is considered part of the Lodge's reserves, to be used only in the case of dire need.
The island was discovered (from the Lodge point of view) in 1830. After some unfortunate experiments with attuning low-ranking Transformed sharks, the Unspoken Name of that era decided to place it in the metaphorical weapons vault. Over time, it's been mostly forgotten -- the South Pacific is not exactly a focus of Lodge activity, and the Secret War has stolen some focus from long term planning in favor of immediate utility.
However, a sufficiently sneaky group might be able to get past the Transformed sharks which keep an eye on goings-on in the South Pacific. It's a big ocean, and there's only so many sharks. Further, nobody is currently attuned to the island, due to the drawbacks of said attunement. If anyone did attune to it, the Ascended feng shui monitors in Fort Stanley would detect the change, but it would take a few days... which might be just enough time to get some use out of the place.
Turtle Beach provides the usual benefits with regards to experience points. It also provides one special benefit: anyone attuned to it may choose to sacrifice one of the extra experience points he or she would normally gain at the end of the session in exchange for an extra Fortune die. It is not possible to sacrifice experience points you wouldn't normally get; only three per session.
If more than one person is attuned, the sacrifice applies to everyone attuned. I.e., if Jason X uses an extra Fortune die while defusing the bomb attached to the helicopter, both he and the renegade Lodge member Vincent van Goat lose an experience point from their attunement benefit. All attunees will know if a sacrifice happens, although they will not be able to prevent it.
If Turtle Beach is used this way more often than once every three sessions, its experience point benefits will be permanently reduced. Don't call upon the protective feng shui too hard, or it will burn itself out working on your behalf. The reduction is equal to the lowest number of experience points sacrificed over the time period. For example, if Vincent used the power twice in one session, and then used it three times the next session, Turtle Beach would only provide one extra experience point per session.
GMs should feel free to adjust the time period as appropriate; if sessions come one year apart, the beach will probably have had time to regenerate itself. On the other hand, if each session is a day, seven sessions could go by without regeneration. PCs who treat the beach well could help it regenerate faster.
There's also a small drawback; those attuned to the island should have a very difficult time refusing an honest request for protection. Kind GMs may give a bonus to figure out if such a request is indeed honest.
In any case, both benefits and drawbacks should be presented as organically as possible. Mechanics are unavoidable but the PCs should find out about them naturally. They may not even find out what it does until the first time a player says "Damn, I wish I had an extra Fortune Point!"
The most obvious thing to do with Turtle Beach is to run the story in which the Lodge loses control of it. It is admittedly a bit hard to keep once you've gotten your hands on it, but for high end PCs it could be a fun challenge.
One could also have fun running the story in which some minor nemesis suddenly manifests a startling degree of competency. What training course could possibly have provided this new skill? It could be a Lodge plan, or it could be someone else who's seized the island and is trying to use it up before the Lodge gets him; the latter is more likely.
It would be a shame to run any story in which Turtle Beach figures without taking the opportunity to run a combat on the water. Speedboats are very good. Transformed sharks biting speedboats in half are excellent. Spearguns are to be strongly considered. Deadly coral reefs make marvelous terrain. Scuba gear is important. And last but not least, it would be wrong for an entire South Pacific combat to go buy without someone using the dangerous bite of the jellyfish as a weapon.
Last modified: February 21st, 1998; please send comments to email@example.com.
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