SCENE FIVE: THE RUSSIAN BEAR
The players will arrive in Petrograd about 12:30 in the afternoon, seven days after they left London. The Russian document contained in the package identifies the two "disruptor agent" players as British envoys, in Petrograd to attend the Tsarinas birthday celebrations in the Winter Palace that evening. If it is shown to the Captain of the Colossus, or to the authorities, the players should be able to pass of Holst as a would be assassin (with the aid of a few persuade rolls).
A carriage will be waiting for them at the airport as the false envoys are expected by the Russian authorities. They will be taken to the best hotel in town and four invitations presented for that evenings ball. The players will then be left to their own devices until 7:30pm that evening when the ball begins.
Although the four tickets were provided for the two diplomats to bring female partners, it is not unusual for visiting dignitaries to bring advisors or bodyguards instead. This way, even if the adventuring party are all male, they should be able to attend the ball.
At 19:30 a carriage will arrive outside the hotel to convey the players to the Winter Palace. The coach is escorted by six cavalry men of the Imperial Russian Hussars who are splendidly attired in full dress uniform.
No floor plans are provided for the enourmous Winter Palace as they should not be needed; GMs should describe the splendour of the reception rooms, the beauty of the architecture and the fabulous ballroom, lit by chandeliers and contain works of art in the form of both statues and paintings.
The huge ballroom is filled with visiting dignitaries, as well as the cream of Russian nobility. This scene provides the players with a chance to role play their characters as they move amongst the aristocracy to try and find out what is going on.
They should talk to people such as Grand Duke Mikhail Alexondrovich, Grand Duke Ivan Constantinovich, Princess Helena of Serbia, Prince Blutcher of Prussia, and numerous other nobles. Although the Tsar and Tsarina are present at the ball they remain apart from the main party, talking to a select group of advisors. By talking to the above people the players should pick up the following rumours:
One character the players should meet is the Tsar's daughter, Anastasia. She is eighteen years old, and of great beauty. Ever since Rasputin appeared at court she has sensed that he is evil (she has a psionic talent for knowing intent, which she sees as either a black or white shimmering light around people). She has thus avoided Rasputin who sees her as a threat, but does not believe she is of any real consequence.
At the ball Anastasia will seek out the players and speak to them. She will tell the players the following:
"I feel that I can trust you although I do not know why. I must talk to someone before it is too late. Rasputin is an evil man and yet he holds my family totally in his power. My father cannot make decisions without him, and my mother will not hear a bad word apoke about him. Tonight at midnight he has arranged for the imperial train to take my family out of Petrograd, for he has convinced my father that a rebellion will occur later tonight or early tomorrow. I believe he has a darker purpose in mind. Please, you must help us. Be on the train tonight as my guests and avert and evil plan that he has concocted."
At this point Rasputin will enter the ballroom. The room goes silent for a minute as he stands framed in the doorway; but the music and conversation begin again, slowly rising to its original pitch. Anastasia will rush off into the crowd. The players will see Rasputin approach the Tsar and speak to him. The Tsar and Tsarina will then leave the room. Rasputin will then mingle with the other guests and it will be possible for the players to speak to him if they wish to do so. If they do talk to Rasputin, he will probe the players' minds whilst defending his own thoughts and will probably realise that something is wrong. Rasputin will claim to be only a humble priest and healer; but psionic players who successfully probe his mind may find out more. GMs should take this opportunity to play Rasputin to the full; even taking the chance of planting suggestions into the minds of the players to tell him what they are really doing there.
Whatever happens, Rasputin will keep his conversation short and move onto the next guests. Players may remain at the ball as long as they wish; but the GM may like to remind them that they have an appointment to keep.
Role Player Independent February 1993
LUTHER ARKWRIGHT c Bryan Talbot 1990