Here's the second of my Vampire Stories. Again, the view taken on the WoD here is my own and may contradict WW-Canon or metaplot. Although the adventure is written for Vampire, it does not contain too many vamps-only story elements and can most likely be modified to work in most systems.
The Ghost Ship
inge and tanja
Place: starts in a costal city, takes place on an abandoned freighter
The Story in ShortThe characters are asked/ordered to help get some cargo of a ship before it enters the port. In the fog they get the wrong ship, a typical 'Flying Dutchman'. Everyone on board is dead, and after the characters transport back disappears, they have to deal with a ship adrift -- and with the thing haunting it.
Background StorySometime in the 20th century, a little off the common shipping routes: The crew of a freight ship mutineers against a tyrannical and sadistic captain. They overcome him and abandon him on an island, but give him a radio and food for a month -- they only want a head start, but no killing on their karma. Unfortunately, no ship comes to save the captain. He survives for a while on that island, and all the while his rage is growing. When he finally dies, he becomes a vengeful ghost and remembers the salt water as the wall of his prison.
Five days ago: The Russian freighter 'Maria Morewna' recieves a call for help via radio signal. They follow the call to a god-forsaken island a little off their route, but on the island they only find some old equipment and a radio that should have failed decades ago. They leave without knowing that they now have an invisible passenger.
The SettingMost of this adventure takes place on the 'Maria Morewna', an old freight ship. This is a 'closed room'-scenario where the characters can explore the place, but not leave, so maps are necessary. (You do not have to give them to the players, at least not at once ;-) As a storyteller, you also might want to do some research on how things look and work. (Think: Smell of rust, diesel and sea water... heavy, old machinery... clanging metal stairs... claustrophobic corridors and agoraphobic freight space...) OTOH, I never did research beyond dreaming up some images, because none of my players knows anything about ships.
The StoryThe characters get the very exiting job of helping a higher-up whom they might owe a favour. The higher-up needs some merchandise unloaded off a ship before it reaches port. Basically, he needs someone to carry boxes. The employer has a yacht of decent size. Shortly after sundown, the characters meet at the sports harbor with the captain of the yacht (a retainer, most likely ghouled).
Fog comes up as soon as they left the harbour. They get to the meeting place and find a ship there. A rope ladder gets thrown down, but no-one's there to greet the characters. As soon as they are all on deck they hear a splashing sound down below. They hear some shouting, then the engines of the yacht howl and the yacht leaves at top speed. (A dead body fell down, looking so gruesome that the captain of the yacht lost his nerve and fled.)
The deck the characters are on is empty. No one seems to have noticed their coming on board. No one is there to greet them or question them. No one seems to have thrown down the rope ladder.
They smell blood among the salt water and rust, and, looking around, find the first bodies.
Everyone they find seems to have died by violence, and slowly it becomes clear that something made the sailors on the ship kill each other. And barely have the characters realized this, they themselves start feeling the urge: Give in to the beast... rend... kill...
The rage of the ghost and it's hatred against every living (or undead, he doesn't really get the difference) thing start to affect them. The ghost incites them to violence to feed off it and grow stronger. And the engines start running, propelling the ship forward into the night... to a rocky shore, or maybe to a port where the ghost can roam free.
While they try to find out where they're headed and what to do now the ghost tries not only to set them against each other, but also to harm them using inanimate objects: Doors, chains, kitchen knifes... Every room and corridor is a potential death trap, and dead bodies seem to be everywhere.
During the night, the ghost learns (as the characters do) how to operate the ship and tries to steer it into port. The characters better stop him from doing so!
But since the ghost knew the sea as his prison wall, he can't cross lines of salt (unless he's posessing a body) -- or sea water. One of the sailors found that out, he locked himself in a room, protected himself with salt and, without hope but with enough vodka, drank himself to death.
Possible SolutionsMaybe the best solution is to get in a lifeboat without taking the ghost with you, and then sink the Maria Morewna. The fuel of a ship won't blow up, in fact, even getting it to burn is difficult. The characters can either find a way to get water into the ship (set the bilge pumps on reverse, damage the hull) or maybe the ship has some explosives on board. (Be careful here, nothing is worse than munchkins laden with explosives!)
Capturing the ghost in a circle of salt is also possible, but not decisive -- but it might give them time to get help.
But whatever they do, it needs to be done before dawn, because when it gets light the coast watch will notice the drifting ship and send people to investigate, setting the ghost free.
Mechanism on possession: Every time a character looses their cool, the ghost tries to posess/influence them: Roll 7 dice (ghost's power), diff = victim's humanity. The victim has to match the # of successes on a Willpower-roll, or be under the control of the ghost until the ghost finds something better to do. (I choose Willpower and not Self Contol here, because it's an outside influence.)
Use this story, change it, play it -- but if you sell it, we'll set the ghost on you!