GRAPE Britain.
Copyright 1999 By Scott Gray.
GRAPE Britain is an adventure for GRAPE: Generic Roleplaying All Purpose Engine, though it can be played with other game systems. See the main page, to learn GRAPE rules. This adventure, like GRAPE, is distributed free of charge. You may give out copies, so long as the text is not modified and no fees are charged for the copies distributed.
The Genre:
      GRAPE Britain is an historical scenario, which takes place immediately after the death of Queen Elizabeth I, March 24, 1603. The PCs are English freemen who are available to work on a short adventure. To learn more about the period, please read up about James I.
What Happens
      Queen Elizabeth is dead. Her advisor, Robert Cecil, has been working to pave the way for a peaceful transition of power. Since Elizabeth left no clear heir, there are some who may try to raise an army or occupy the palace (including the Spanish Catholic Archduchess Isabella of the Netherlands) before Elizabeth's hand-picked successor (James Stuart, King of Scotland) can consolidate power.
      James had asked that, upon Elizabeth's death, riders bearing Elizabeth's sapphire ring (to prove that she is truly dead) fetch him from Scotland. It is about a ten day ride each way.
      The characters are hired in a hurry by Robert Cecil. Cecil has spared little expense, and has hired several different groups of riders to ride to James by different routes. By doing so, he hopes that the sapphire ring will be harder for the enemies of James to locate; they won't know which group of riders to follow.
      The characters are told to ride north to Edinburgh, about 350 miles. They are a decoy group, told only that they are to locate King James VI of Scotland and to escort him back to London after informing him of Elizabeth's death. They are not told anything about the sapphire ring.
      On the first to third day of their journey, the players should become aware that they are being followed by at least a couple riders, and try to avoid them. If they fail to shake the riders, add those scouts to the number of enemies the characters face later.
      On the fourth to sixth day, a lone rider (who is wounded and weary) approaches them, and identifies himself as Miles Singleton. Miles explains that the characters were a "decoy" group, and about Queen Elizabeth's sapphire ring; Miles states that James insisted on this precaution because he fears assissins. Miles explains that his group carried the sapphire ring, but was attacked by a mixed group of English and Spanish. Miles managed to ride away with the ring, but he is sure he was followed. Miles gives the characters the sapphire ring and charges them with his sacred mission. Miles will continue on a different route, so the traitors don't recognize him in the characters' group.
      On the seventh to eighth day, the characters arrive in Newcastle. In Newcastle they will have to rest, change horses, or do other time-consuming things. While in Newcastle, whoever has the ring will be pickpocketed in a crowded tavern -- but s/he will feel it. At the first sign that s/he isn't getting away with it, the pickpocket will raise some kind of whistle/signal and half of the other patrons (a couple more characters than there are players) will stand and respond, drawing weapons and blocking the characters' access to the door (some of the figures who were hiding their faces in the shadows are Spanish). The pickpocket manages to toss the ring to a figure near the door, and then all others delay the characters as long as they can before retreating (these are mercenaries -- they will not fight to the death, nor do they even want to risk injury).
      If the players follow the tracks of the ruffians, they find fresh tracks join them and all head towards Edinburgh. One way or another, by the tenth day the characters should catch up to King James Stuart VI out with a small hunting party. Unfortunately, when King James is first in sight, he has already been given the ring by one of the English traitors -- who has pulled him aside to tell the king more "details" about how they should approach London. King James VI has been pulled aside so that he could be kidnapped/killed.
      The English and Spanish (the total number present should be about as many as the total number of player characters plus a few) are not suicidal. With a like number of Englishmen, they will not hastily assassinate the king. Rather, they will attempt to keep him as a hostage, pretending that they intend to ransom him to Parliament -- so that they can get the characters to allow them to withdraw. If all goes well for them, they will kill James when it is safer for them to do so; and it is their intent to kill him if the characers become too threatening. They may accept a deal in which James signs away his claim to England in favor of Arabella Stuart (his cousin, English by birth but Catholic) or Archduchess Isabella.
      If the players can get King James VI of Scotland out of this mess, without compromising the English crown, he will ask them to accompany him to London where they will be rewarded and he will be crowned King James I of England.