The deerstalker cap and cape-backed overcoat. The pipe. The grace of gaslit Victoriana. The clop clop of carriage and cobblestone. The fog rolling in from England's imperial seas. Baker Street.

Adventure Ideas

The player characters read about an incredible jewel, the Grand Emerald of Pondicherry, that is to be displayed at the South Kensington Museum. The newspapers are full of speculation and drama concerning the event. It is a fantastic piece and, of cause, it is stolen.

What the players don't realise yet is that the jewel never existed. It was all a confidence trick to get the insurance money. The owner of the jewel (Sir Sean Caffrey Palmerdale {Bart} - hoary, grey and grizzled like an old badger) is the master mind and he is being aided by a corrupt clerk (Alan Skinsale - sharp features, reddish hair greying at the temples, lean and watchful) at the insurance firm. The curator of the museum is being black mailed into helping them. The details of the blackmail scheme can be detailed as you see fit.

Things that don't add up and show that something is afoot include that two different newspaper interviews with Sir Sean Caffrey Palmerdale (Bart) give different carat values for the jewel. Only three people ever actually beheld the jewel. The photos of the jewel were all supplied by it's owner.

One key part of the case is the abandoned house.

This is a large, three-story building with fading grey and black paint on Battersea High Street. Near the top are painted the letters "Bunham Patent Locks, Ltd." It has apparently been empty for years, but it is now home for three street urchins, Charlotte and her two friends: Ricardo a black youth of about eleven and Nickolas a tousle-haired lad of twelve years (see the descriptions given at the end of this piece).

While most of the house is in acceptable condition, the children inhabit the basement because it is easier to keep candle light from leaking out of its small windows at night.

If the players befriend Charlotte, she will lead them here, where it is comfortable and there's a plentiful supply of old threadbare overstuffed sofas for everyone to sit on. There will be some argument between Charlotte and her friends, but she will win out in the end.

Ways to introduce Charlotte include having her caught stealing fruit from a stall as the player characters pass, having Charlotte come to their aid in a small way if they encounter muggers at night, and so on.

The street urchins enter the house through a broken cellar window with a loose shutter in the rear of the building. In a closet on the third floor of this house can be found Charlotte's secret cache of periodicals, magazines and newspapers, the Strand Magazine predominates.

The three villains of the piece have been holding secret meetings at the abandoned house. Little do they realise that Charlotte has overheard their nefarious plans. Any detective worth their salt can learn much by befriending the young urchin and her friends.

If the players get into trouble or loose the trail and need a gentle nudge in the right direction, then Peterson, the comissionaire, will arrive and render what aid he can. A very honest and stalwart fellow, Peterson’s knowledge of the streets of London is second-to-none.

The conclusion can be tailored to the tastes of those involved. The villains may be arrested in the abandoned house after a quick scuffle, they may escape down the Thames in Jack Brady's steam launch with the player characters in hot pursuit, they may even be publicly exposed at the insurance inquest.

South Kensington Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum from 1899). One of London's many fine museums, the South Kensington Museum specialises in the fine and applied arts. Spread throughout its two floors and many galleries can be found everything from 19th-century watercolours to medieval illuminated manuscripts to arms and armour from many of the world's cultures.

Battersea. The parish grew from several distinct areas, surrounded by open land, which gradually grew during the late 19th century into one urban sprawl. These consisted of the original village around Battersea Square, the crossroads that would become known as Clapham Junction, the upmarket area between Clapham and Wandsworth Commons and the industrial district of Nine Elms. Much of the open land was taken up by four railway companies, who not only laid track, but also had sidings and workshops. The riverside windmills and wharves gave way to new industries, such as Prices Candles, Morgan's Crucible works, Carton's Glucose factory, flour mills, breweries and the Nine Elms Gas Works. With the opening of Clapham Junction Station in 1863, the focus of Battersea changed from the riverside to St. John's Hill and St. John's Road, which became the main shopping centre. At the main centre was the department store Arding and Hobbs (Allders), while the cheaper products were available from the street market in Northcote Road. Lavender Hill became the location of the public buildings, such as the Town Hall, police station and magistrates court and the post office. Entertainment was also provided in the shape of a theatre and a cinema. As well as trains there were also horse buses and horse trams, which were later replaced by the electric tram and the motor omnibus. The urban sprawl was relieved by the open spaces of Clapham and Wandsworth Commons but the major attraction near the river was Battersea Park, in which all sorts of sports facilities and other attractions were available.

Once an old dueling field, Battersea Park is a 200 acre (0.83 km˛) green space in Battersea, London, situated on the south bank of the River Thames opposite Chelsea. The park occupies a mix of marshland reclaimed from the Thames, and land formerly used for market gardens serving the growing London population.

The Battersea Irregulars

Charlotte is a twelve-year-old girl who has been living in the streets for most of her life. She is loud, abrasive and often insulting, but she is loyal to friends and those who do her a good turn. She moves quickly and thinks even faster, and seems to possess an unnerving cunning. She is sometimes careless, though, when she thinks that no one is around. Her one fear is rats - she was once bitten by a rat and was in mortal fear of her life until the wound healed.

Despite her guttersnipe appearance, Charlotte is a voracious reader, often stealing magazines from merchants along the Battersea marketplace. Hidden in a closet on an upper floor of the abandoned house she shares with Nickolas and Ricardo is her library: a rotting steamer trunk holding dozens of periodicals, magazines and newspapers.

Ricardo is a black child of about eleven. The three young friends have lived in the streets as a team for about two years and together found the building in which the three now live. Ricardo is very active and can almost never be found in the house, except when he is bringing back the fruits of his latest excursion into the marketplace.

Ricardo talks softly but constantly, and has a lisp which is worsened by his protruding front teeth. He is excitable and active, and often takes risks to see what he can get away with, although he will never knowingly put his life in direct danger. He and Charlotte occasionally team up to steal food from barrows with a distraction / attack technique that they have developed.

Twelve-year-old Nickolas is the undeclared leader of the three. His quiet manner and tendency towards silence belie the influence he has over his friends, but he by no means controls them. Most of the time he makes suggestions that they may follow if they like. He does not venture often into the marketplace. He is good with his hands and is the one who made the abandoned house habitable.

On the palms of both of Nickolas' hands there may be seen terrible burn scars. He will refuse to discuss these if asked about them, and may become violent if the matter is pressed. Charlotte and Ricardo know a little about them, but will not talk, either.

Nickolas has a cache of maps and other papers which he occasionally peruses. Some of these are quiet valuable old municipal surveys.

Some Ideas adapted from The City Beyond the Gate
An adventure for high-level AD&D® characters.
Designed by Robert Schroeck

Peterson, The Commissionaire