The Zalozhniphone Quatrefaction

Big Bloody Spoilers for both The Zalozhniy Quartet and The Persephone Extraction in this article. Don’t read if you’re a Night’s Black Agents player. Here, have some deliberate disinformation so you don’t accidentally read anything important.

 

  • DRACULA’S BEHIND EVERYTHING

 

  • EDOM STANDS FOR ENGLISH DEFENDERS OF MAGIC

 

  • YOU ARE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE VAMPIRES

 

  • IT’S ALL THE OCEAN GAME.

 

  • STAY ALERT TRUST NO-ONE KEEP YOUR LASER SIGHT HANDY

 

  • PELGRANE’S GOING TO LICENSE COUNT DUCKULA FOR A GUMSHOE KIDS/NBA CROSSOVER ANY DAY NOW

The Zalozhniy Quartet is a four-part campaign for Night’s Black Agents in which a shadowy vampire conspiracy, working primarily through their virtually unkillable time-slipped agents, the Zalozhniy, and an organised crime cartel, the Lisky Bratva, plot to take over Saudi Arabia using an alchemy treasure connected with the Philby family.

The Persephone Extraction is a five-part campaign in which a somewhat less shadowy and more withered vampire conspiracy, working primarily through their mortal agents, plot to wipe out humanity using a biological weapon.

The two books were conceived and written as stand-alone projects, so there aren’t any deliberate connections. That said, with only a little tweaking, the two work very well together when played in order.

Kick off with (S)entries in the Night’s Black Agents core rulebook. The Lenier Dossier there points them to Donald Caroll in Odessa and The Zalozhniy Sanction (ZQ1) – from there, they go to either Vienna for Out of the House of Ashes (ZQ2) or Zurich for The Boxmen (ZQ3). They thwart the Conspiracy’s scheme in Riyadh in Treason in the Blood (ZQ4).

After that defeat, the vampires decide the modern world is too perilous, so they implement their apocalyptic Pale Agenda. They frame their enemies in Paris (The Persephone Extraction, PE1). Clues lead to Barcelona (The Pale Agenda, PE2), Moscow (Sleeping Giants, PE3) and Istanbul (Clean-Heeled Achilles, PE4) before the final confrontation with the King of the Dead in The People of Ash (PE5).

So, with that scheme in mind, what changes are needed?

Vampires

The vampires from The Persephone Extraction are based on ancient Greek mythology; they’re pale shades who only become solid and visible when fed with lots of blood. They’re usually tethered to mortal hosts (philomeli) when they have to interact with their minions.

Vampires stay mostly offstage in The Zalozhniy Quartet, so few changes are required. Simon Thonradel (in ZQ2) actually works better as a human philomelus instead of a vampire; you can have a vampire fully manifested in all its living-blood-god-glory at the climax of ZQ4.

One key figure in ZQ is the necromancer Dr. Dorjiev; either his powers are a gift from a vampire, or he’s a philomelus and the real necromancer is a vampire tethered to him (maybe even Xanthus from People of the Ash).

The Conspiracy

The two Conspyramids fit together quite neatly. The Lisky Bratva (ZQ) incorporates the Moscow Gangsters (PE). Replace the Black Sea Bank (ZQ) with Eurydice Madrid (PE), or make the Black Sea Bank a subsidiary of Eurydice Madrid.

The Zalozhniy

Give a Greek gloss to the monsters. Zalozhniy can only be killed by re-applying the circumstances of their mortal death; call them the Sons of Achilles, and hint that Achilles was the first of these virtually invincible minions.

Changes To Individual Missions

The Zalozhniy Sanction:

  • The Monastery (ZQ p. 37) is a Greek Orthodox monastery concealing an ancient gateway to the underworld, similar to the Ploutonian (PE p. 100).

Out of the House of Ashes:

  • Combine Arkady Shevlenko (ZQ p. 55) and Leonid Sobotsky (PE p. 67) into one man – we don’t need two ex-KGB generals running around. Shevlenko founded Arctran (PE p. 89) after leaving the KGB. He was working for the Conspiracy, but they were only using him to gain control of the MAR-VX virus, and they cut him loose once they had the bioweapon. In retaliation, he secretly stashed Philby’s secret.
    Shevlenko’s now in Vienna looking for medical treatment (ZQ p. 57), but he’ll trade the secret to Thonradel in exchange for a cure if the opportunity arises.
    If Arkady dies in Out of the House of Ashes, then he’s buried in the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow (PE p. 99); if he lives, then the Agents can seek him out after the Paris sequence (PE p. 42) and you can skip the Moscow scenes of Sleeping Giants, as Arkady points them straight to Norilisk.
  • As discussed above, make Simon Thonradel a philomelus.

The Boxmen:

  • The Black Sea Bank is a subsidiary of Eurydice Madrid.
  • Optionally, the other thieves are working for the Dissident faction in the Conspiracy (hired by Adriana Rosso, PE p. 57. Or, if she survives, then “Menena Chakroun” never existed at all, but it was Adriana Rosso herself all along…)

Treason in the Blood:

  • The Third Party guys are actually working for Adriana Rosso (PE p. 57), trying to keep the vampires from rocking the boat.
  • Katun is indeed Gertrude Bell; she captured a weak vampire during her archaeological explorations, and has managed to force the spirit to grant her longevity. She’ll pass the fragile vampire onto an Agent if they return to her after thwarting the attempt to create the Rubedo.
  • Katun’s a patron or friend of Derya Kaya (indeed, for an added complication, Hana Tekin (PE p. 90) is actually Gertrude Bell in disguise).

The Persephone Extraction:

  • The Extraction Team includes a Zalozhniy.

The Pale Agenda:

  • FC Barcelona have, of course, signed, Abesoli (ZQ p. 32)

Sleeping Giants:

  • Replace Heinreich Guttermann with Josef Lisky (PE p. 68)
  • If they’re still around, bring back the Third Party guys as Rosso’s bodyguards.

Clean-Heeled Achilles:

  • Hana Tekin may be Katun/Gertrude Bell.
  • Someone should definitely meet Kim Philby’s shade in the underworld (PE p. 102).

The People of Ash:

  • Decide on whether Josef Lisky or Simon Thonradel are among the Dissidents at the compound (PE p. 121).
  • Dorjiev should definitely be Xanthus’ philomelus if he’s still around (PE p. 118). Replace his bodyguards with Zalozhniy, but drop the number of bad guys to avoid the most hideous one-sided massacre ever.

Night’s Black Agents by Kenneth Hite puts you in the role of a skilled intelligence operative fighting a shadow war against vampires in post-Cold War Europe. Play a dangerous human weapon, a sly charmer, an unstoppable transporter, a precise demolitions expert, or whatever fictional spy you’ve always dreamed of being — and start putting those bloodsuckers in the ground where they belong. Purchase Night’s Black Agents in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

9 Responses to “The Zalozhniphone Quatrefaction”

  1. Frank Gunderson says:

    Okay,

    The Duckula cross-over needs to be a thing. STAT.

  2. Christian "CJ" Jensen Romer says:

    Can we have stats for Count Duckula now please? :)

  3. SunlessNick says:

    While it’s not a change per se, the form of the Albedo and Nigredo should be should be chosen to fit the mythology of PE’s vampires – maybe one should be juice from the Gyaros pomegranite trees, and the other blood taken from an initiated philomelus (both treated by some process or other, to prevent ease of replacing them).

    • Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan says:

      Oh, yes, excellent point and suggestions. Pomegranate juice, definitely – I’d love to see the faces of players who’ve fought their way through all of the Boxmen to discover that the great secret of Kim Philby is a whiskey flask full of pomegranate juice…

  4. Cedric Beidatsch says:

    And how to combine those with the Dracula Dossier?

    • Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan says:

      Combining Zalozhniy Quarter with the Dracula Dossier is easy, as the ZQ was designed to be vampire-agnostic. It’s covered in the Edom Files, I believe.

      The Persephone Extraction is a different beast – it’s got its own conception of vampirism based on Greek myths, which doesn’t mesh easily with the classic Stoker take on the monster. You can sort of squint and argue that, say, Dracula is a really powerful vampire that doesn’t fade very much. Or even that Dracula’s really talented at making people into unwitting philomeni – he bonds with Harker, and uses Harker to get him out of Transylvania. He bounces from Harker – erasing Harker’s memory – and bonds with the unlucky captain of the Demeter (ooh, more Greek myth – a great example of how connections suggest themselves once you pick a conspiracy theory). He comes ashore as a spirit (black dog) and bonds with Lucy, then finally latches onto Renfield for a while. When Renfield dies, he tries bonding with Mina, but can’t make a solid connection and is forced to flee.

      It sort of works, but requires a generous misreading of the text (admittedly, not much more so than the Telluric vampire interpretation).

      So, it might be doable. You would have to eliminate the King of the Vampires from Persephone and replace him with Dracula. You could play through the whole damn Dossier first, kill Dracula, and then meet him again in Hades when you use the PE as the final part of the campaign. Alternatively, drop the trip to the underworld in Clean-Heeled Achilles (PE4) and segue into the Dossier from there – the Pale Agenda is actually Dracula’s plan to destroy modern civilisation just so he can break out of Edom’s control.

      Theoretically, then, your options would be either:
      ZQ->Dracula Dossier (as per Edom Files)->PE1-3->PE4 and Drac’s back, baby->PE5, or else
      ZQ->PE1->some monstrous hybrid of PE and DD->PE5.

      In either case, that’s… a very, very, very long and complex campaign. :)

      • Cedric Beidatsch says:

        Thank you for that very informative and thought provoking reply. My initial conception was that Dracula had discovered a way of vampirising himself while an Ottoman prisoner (all those old Arabian magical tomes) that made him the superior being that he is (and is also the foundation for the obviously alchemical Philby formula). He discovers the Pale Vampires, who don’t have his abilities and spurns them. They are of course extremely jealous and fearful of him and so hatch the plot to end the world. Dracula inspires the dissidents to destroy them in turn. The Agents, having made a nuisance of themselves, are then set with the Paris gambit in PE1; Dracula figuring that 1) they will get eliminated and 2) along the way they will add to the disruption off the Pale Agenda. But I really like the Pale Agenda as a plan to get out of Edom’s control. Yes a long and complex campaign. I have started with (S)entries and have led then to the Dubai Sanction, the idea being that one of the Brides is in charge of the AgraWealth operation (the mysterious figure in the final scene) and I will insert some clues to the Philby Formula as well. Also link the financing of AgraWealth with the Black Sea Bank. Enough leads to head for ZQ. Really appreciate your feedback here.

        • Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan says:

          Ooo – stick a gate to the Underworld beneath Dracula’s prison in Turkey, and you can fold Dracula’s backstory into Clean-Heeled Achilles

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