by Barry Link
This adventure is designed for three to six 100-point characters. As it is written, it can be used for adventuring any time during the 1930s pulp period. The GURPS Cliffhangers book is helpful, but only the Basic Set is necessary for play. Combat, spy, and wilderness skills are important here; soldiers of fortune, Great White Hunters, and explorers will have the best chance of success.
The GM can easily modify the adventure to fit an Old West or Special Ops campaign, using the suggestions on p. 25. Only the Basic Set is needed for a Western game. It's assumed that a special-operations campaign will be using the GURPS Special Ops book.
There is a great deal of room for expansion and sub-plots. Introduced are a formidable enemy, a potential romantic heroine, and a turbulent background that make excellent additions to a continuing campaign. And, of course, there's the ending . . .
The action is set in El Honduragua, a tiny island-nation lying 300 miles off the Atlantic coast of Central America. El Honduragua in the 1930s is torn by civil war, as ill-equipped People's Popular Front (PPF) guerrillas battle the corrupt national government of Presidente Manuel Santiago. Further complicating matters, the U.S. government has landed Marines at key points on the island. The Marines' orders are to protect American business interests (fruit and mining companies), and to intervene in the war if the left-wing PPF gains the upper hand. All in all, El Honduragua is a typical banana republic in the throes of a civil crisis. The GM must fill in the details regarding the rest of the country, or simply place the adventure in a real Central American nation (Nicaruagua, for example).
Predictably, the war has attracted a host of mercenaries, adventurers, spies, foreign agents, and criminals determined to cash in on the nation's suffering. One group of these adventurers is the PCs.
The adventurers are drinking in a seedy bar in one of El Honduragua's dirty coastal towns. There is not much to do here – the war has so far been confined to the interior's mountain regions. As they drink, a downcast Catholic priest approaches them and introduces himself as Father José Quadra, head of the Mission at San Remo twenty miles up the coast.
"I hear you are mercenaries," he says apologetically. "Brave men with guns. Please, my people are in trouble. Banditos from the jungle have been raiding San Remo for several weeks, stealing the village's food and animals and threatening to kidnap our women and children."
He begins to cry.
"We want them gone," he pleads. "But we are not fighters, and the government will send us no soldiers. Please help us. We can offer you only room and board." He looks around quickly, and then speaks quietly. "But if you do come, you have a chance to make a big catch!" He pulls out a crumpled piece of paper and shows the following to the adventurers:
"This man is leading the banditos!" Father José says earnestly. "He is so arrogant he told us his name! And he matches the description. I got this reward notice from an Anglican missionary I know in town here."
If the PCs hesitate, Father José tries his Fast-Talk skill of 16 in a Contest of Skills against each of the PCs' Will. Those losing the contest feel very guilty about turning down the poor priest's request.
If the adventurers agree, Father José asks them to meet him at the docks the next evening at 6 p.m. There are no roads to San Remo so he will transport them to the village by boat. They can't leave earlier because he has Church business to attend to during the day.
At the dock the next morning, Father José and a Spanish-Indian peasant meet the adventurers. He invites them into a medium-sized river boat powered by a noisy, smoky outboard motor. The boat, with Queen of San Remo painted crudely on the side, is steered by the peasant and putts along at 5 yards/second. The trip to San Remo takes three hours, thanks to the ancient engine breaking down twice.
The boat approaches San Remo from the east just as the sun is going down. When the boat is three hundred yards up the beach from the village, the adventurers hear gunshots coming from the village. A worried Father José says the peasants have no guns – it must be the banditos raiding the village! PCs making a Vision roll see half a dozen figures running away from the village huts and Mission building.
Simultaneously, automatic gunfire spews out from a sandbagged position west of the village across the river mouth. PCs making a Vision Roll at -4 determine that the fire from the sandbagged position is wildly inaccurate, missing the bandits by a wide margin. The bandits return fire at the position, but also miss. If the PCs ask Father José who the people in the sandbagged position are, he replies with undisguised contempt, "Uncle Sam."
If the PCs fire at the banditos. Assess initial range at 300 yards minus any movement the adventurers make to close the gap. Assess a further -5 penalty for half darkness. The figures on the beach will return inaccurate single-shot pistol and rifle fire as they retreat, melting into the jungle beyond the village clearing ten seconds after the PCs first sight them. If any banditos are incapacitated by the PC fire, they are dragged away by their comrades.
The villagers slowly emerge from hiding places as the adventurers arrive, and quickly put out a small fire started in one of the huts. Fortunately, no one seems to have been hurt, but the main doors of the Mission building in which Father José serves have been blown apart. In horror, Father José runs into the Mission. He emerges a few moments later, grabs his hair, and cries out in Spanish, "Maria! Maria! They have taken her!"
Once he has settled down, he explains that the banditos have kidnapped Maria, a young village woman who lives with him at the Mission.
The adventurers hear several versions of what exactly has just happened. Learning the villagers' version requires skill in Spanish.
The banditos have been raiding the village for three weeks. No one has seen them before, and none of the members in the gang are from the local area. They are led by a tall, strangely dressed gringo with a cold laugh. They think he is a German.
Fifteen minutes ago, the banditos ran into the village firing into the air. They were searching for Maria who locked herself in the Mission building and blocked the door. The gringo leading the banditos used dynamite to blast the Mission doors open and forced her out of the building at gunpoint. The banditos started firing into the air again just as the adventurers arrived. They then took Maria and fled into the jungle. The U.S. Marines across the river mouth also fired their weapons, but did not try very hard to hit the banditos.
Maria is a local girl, they say, and the banditos must have taken her because she is very beautiful. This is a lie: they are keeping a secret about her. An adventurer with Detect Lies can make a Contest of Skills rolling his skill against the peasants' average Will of 13. If caught lying, the villagers answer no more questions.
Father José repeats his belief that the gringo, whom he describes as a cruel man, is indeed Lord Pimsley. He repeats the same story about Maria that the villagers tell. His Will rating is 12. If caught lying, he confesses that Maria is connected to the PPF. Her revolutionary activities were exposed, and she fled to San Remo to hide from the secret police. He fears that Pimsley and the banditos will turn her over to the National Government in exchange for a reward.
He is gravely concerned for Maria's safety. "Please," he cries, "you must rescue her!" He believes that the banditos are camped in some small Mayan ruins ten miles up the river; the ruins themselves are in a jungle clearing 20 yards from the shore. He offers to lend the PCs the village boat and one village guide. "The river is faster than the jungle," he says, explaining that the banditos also have a boat and probably made their escape in it.
Three Marines are stationed at the sandbagged Observation Post (OP). They are Sgt. Colpepper and two privates. Colpepper, with an obvious southern drawl, does all the talking. He and his men have been dropped here as coast watchers to keep an eye on guerrilla activity and to inform their commanders about any fighting. They don't consider the banditos to be a serious problem. He also claims that their gunfire drove off the banditos. They don't know who Maria is, but think that all the villagers are Bolshevik sympathizers who should learn to speak English if they want to get a good job.
They refuse to help rescue Maria or find the banditos. "Not our business," says Sgt. Colpepper. "We're observers. Besides, what's one more peasant girl on this stupid island?"
Allow any adventurers who are genuine American southerners an IQ roll at -2 (optionally, allow the same roll for PC with Linguistics at -4) to detect that Colpepper's Southern accent is studied. If confronted by this fact, Colpepper smiles and says, "Yes, my Yankee stepmother tried to beat my accent out of me, so I've been trying hard since joining the Corps to get it back again." Roll any PC's Detect Lies skill vs. Colpepper's Acting skill of 14 to realize that he is lying. If again confronted by this, Colpepper orders the adventurers, at gunpoint if necessary, to get off "U.S. Territory."
The OP. The Marine OP is a well-protected observation post situated on a hillock overlooking the beach, river mouth, and village, enabling the Marines to sweep the area with fire. It is 5 yards by 5 yards, and dug 1.5 yards into the sand. The sides are barricaded with sandbags (offering DR 20 protection from gunfire), with a gun port/window on each side. There is one small entrance facing toward the water. Wooden poles hold up a roof of wooden planks (DR 8 protection) covered with camouflaged canvas. Stored inside the OP are three hammocks, 1 pair 10× binoculars, field rations and camp stove, First-Aid kits, and extra ammunition for the Marines' weapons.
If the OP is assaulted, the Marines use their Browning Automatic Rifle and Springfield rifles to provide long-range deterrent fire. The Thompson and grenades are not used unless an enemy comes within 100 yards of the post.
It is completely dark once the PCs have finished asking questions. They have two choices if they decide to rescue Maria from the banditos. They can leave immediately and surprise the banditos in their camp at night, or they can wait until the morning and then make the trip. Allow an adventurer with Tactics a roll to realize that a night approach is the preferred action. In either case, the guide transports the adventurers in the boat to within 500 yards of the Mayan ruins, but no further.
The trip from San Remo village to the Mayan ruins takes 1½ hours. The GM can lengthen the trip by having the outboard motor conk out, requiring a Mechanic (outboard motors) roll at -2 (4 if no tools are available – the guide has none) and five minutes to get it running again. Once the adventurers have reached the drop-off point, the guide gives them specific directions to help them find the ruins. They are welcome to take the boat further upstream by themselves while the guide waits for their return.
It is vital that Maria not be killed during the rescue attempt. Try to keep her safe, or else a possible romance becomes a tragedy.
Refer to the combat map below. The bandits are camped among the old Mayan ruins, a collection of small stone roofed buildings and large, broken stones. The walls of each stone building are a solid DR 8, HT 90. None of the buildings have windows, while the doorless entrances (the gaps in the wall) are covered with blankets.
An old airstrip, left by an archeological expedition, has recently been cleared by the bandits to be used by their leader's plane, a Grumman FF-1 (Cliffhangers, p.59) without the passenger machine gun.
The bandits' boat, not shown on the map, is tied up on the river bank to a tree. It is exactly like the San Remo boat, except that its outboard is in good working order and pushes 7 yards/second.
Maria is at M. She is tied up with strong rope (DR 3, HT 6 to cut). The gringo leader is at P; he wears a cricket uniform with a swastika armband.
There is one bandito at each B. They are armed according to the character stats section. Those inside buildings are assumed to be sleeping at night, and doing chores during the day.
The bandit at MG is operating the Madsen machine gun (see New Equipment, below). At night, he is on a large, flat boulder 6' above ground. Sandbags (DR 10) ring the top of the boulder and provide enough cover for him to hide behind. During the day, he is at the river bank.
One bandit is guarding the airplane. The circle of arrows outline the perimeter he walks.
At D is a locked chest (DR 5, HT 10; Lockpicking -4 to open) with 20 sticks of dynamite, blasting caps, and fuses. The building marked FUEL BARRELS on the map holds five drums of fuel for the airplane. Bullets shot into this room have a 1 in 6 chance of causing an explosion. Throwing a stick of dynamite or grenade into the building has a 5 in 6 chance. An explosion completely destroys the building and sends 2d crushing damage to everyone within 50 yards who is not hiding behind something. For a more realistic holocaust, assess each barrel as doing 200d damage and refer to GURPS High-Tech, pp. 16-17.
The adventurers can raid the camp either at night or during the day.
The bandito with the machine gun is posted on the river bank by the boat. He has a clear shot along the river for 150 yards both up and downstream. If the PCs in the boat come within his field of vision, he fires a short warning burst to scare them off. If they persist or return fire, he concentrates further bursts on the boat in an effort to sink it. Once it is sunk, he goes after the people in the water. If the PCs return fire and wound him, or if a sustained fire-fight develops, 1d6 bandito reinforcements arrive from the camp not far away. The river is from 3 to 8 feet deep.
If the PCs disembark from the boat where the guide leaves them, they can sneak up on the camp through the jungle. Reaching the edge of the camp clearing requires a Contest of Skills, pitting each PC's Stealth skill, DX-5 or IQ-5 against the IQ of the bandito walking perimeter around the airplane. If the bandito wins any of the Contests, he investigates with weapon at the ready, firing it to alert the other banditos if he's in danger. If he rolls a critical success, he alerts his friends immediately. If the adventurers win the Contest, the bandito continues walking guard. Meanwhile, the banditos inside the buildings are doing odd jobs – cooking meals, cleaning weapons, and learning how to write their names – until alerted or attacked.
If the PCs are discovered or if they attack, the bandito walking perimeter fires at them without aiming and then flees for cover behind the airplane. The bandito with the machine gun runs to the camp and reaches the west end of the clearing in six seconds. He fires immediately at anyone he doesn't know. At the same time, the alerted bandits, including the uniformed man, pour out of the buildings with weapons at the ready – except for the one guarding Maria who stays put and out of sight. Their tactic is to pin the PCs down while two bandits and "Pimsley" circle around the adventurers to attack from behind.
If more than five bandits are downed by gunfire, the Pimsley-dressed man and the rest flee into the jungle, heading for the boat if that way is not blocked. They surrender if surrounded or badly wounded. The man answering Pimsley's description does not talk willingly. Give each PC an IQ roll at -1 to realize that "Pimsley" is only 5'7". He carries no identification papers, but does have an English accent. He gives his captors extremely evil looks.
At night, the bandit with the machine gun is posted on the big rock as shown on the map. If the PCs take the boat to within 500 yards from the ruins, however, there is a chance that the outboard motor will alert the banditos. Allow the bandits a Hearing roll at a -2 penalty for every 50 yards distance between them and the boat. If the roll is successful, the bandito with the machine gun goes to the bank and acts as in the daylight scenario above.
If the PCs turn off the motor and paddle upstream, they eliminate the chance of being heard.
Disembarking before they reach the ruins and sneaking through the jungle can also be done at night, except that the adventurers get a +2 bonus to their Stealth rolls due to the cover of darkness. Only two bandits are awake: the one walking perimeter and the machine gunner sitting on top of the rock. The rest of the gang, and Maria, are asleep.
If the PCs are discovered or attack, the banditos proceed as above but they will be more confused. Each sleeping bandito takes 1d6-1 seconds to fully awaken if they are alerted.
All combat to-hit rolls are at -6 due to darkness.
If the fight goes badly for the adventurers, the bandits offer them several chances to surrender. Surrendering PCs are searched, stripped of their weapons and equipment, bound, and thrown into the same building as Maria. Two hours after their capture, Sgt. Colpepper enters their prison! Refer to the Cliffhanger section below for an explanation. He offers each PC a chance to join his campaign for glory.
If the PCs find no way of escaping, let a party of PPF guerrillas come to their rescue before Maria is taken away to the capitol.
If the PCs rescue Maria and/or dispatch the bandits, she insists on their all returning to the village. When they return, they find the village apparently deserted. No one is in the huts. The goats and pigs run untended. Suddenly, Sgt. Colpepper, clutching his tommy-gun, appears in the doorway of the mission building.
Inside the mission, the villagers are tied up in the main mission room and covered by the Marine with the Springfield. The Marine with the BAR points his weapon out a window at the adventurers.
"Father José and the rest are all inside here, and they're safe for now," Colpepper says with a chuckle. Furthermore, he says it with a crisp, upper-class English accent!
"May I introduce myself? Lord Benjamin Pimsley, at your service. Now, drop your weapons and turn Maria over to me or else the villagers all die."
Do the adventurers lay down their arms and turn over Maria, or do they start a firefight that risks the lives of many villagers? What does Pimsley do if he captures them? Will they join forces with Pimsley's fascist crusade? Or will they and Maria be rescued by PPF guerrillas before Pimsley can turn them in to the national government? If the PCs kill one of the U.S. Marines, will the Marines be a new Enemy? And finally, if the adventurers survive the deranged Nazi and his cronies, what about the Mayan ruins? Has anything of value been overlooked there by the archaeologists?
Only further adventuring will tell . . .
The Madsen 8mm light machine gun was a Danish gun that saw widespread use around the world during the Cliffhangers era. For more information, see GURPS High-Tech, pp. 103 and 110. Stats are as follows. Reliability: CRIT; damage: 6d+1 SS n/a; ACC 6; 1/2d 1,000; Max 3,900; RoF 6; Rcl -1; 30-round magazine; 22 lbs.; $150 and up.
Combat involving the small Mission boat follows the Vehicle Combat rules (GURPS Basic Set, p.138). The boat itself carries no weapons, but it may become a target.
Shooting at the Mission boat. The boat is a flat-bottomed wooden craft 7 yards long and 2 yards wide. The sides of the hull rise about two feet from the floor of the craft, allowing passengers to duck behind the hull for protection. The hull's hard wood provides DR 6 protection; any shot doing over DR 6 smashes a small hole in the hull.
Someone shooting at the boat can aim for the boat itself (+3 bonus) or for the passengers (who are probably ducking behind the hull). For every shot that hits the boat and penetrates the hull, roll 2 dice and consult the following table.
Small Boat Shot Penetration Table
2 – Hits person steering boat. If he survives, he must make a Boating (small boats) skill roll at -4 to maintain control. If he is stunned, he automatically loses control.
3-5 – Hits passenger. Roll randomly to see which one.
6-8 – Bullet exits harmlessly.
9-11 – Cargo damaged (GM provides details).
12 – Outboard motor crippled. Boat drifts, or use oars.
On a critical hit to a small boat, roll one die. On a result of 1 through 3, the person steering the boat is hit. On a result of 4 through 6, the outboard motor is crippled.
Sinking. In addition, roll 1d6 for each hole made in the boat: a 1 or 2 means the bullet hole is near or below the waterline and water starts to pour into the boat. The boat sinks in 20 seconds minus 1 second for every hole below the waterline. Holes can be plugged by making a Carpentry skill roll at -4 and taking five seconds in the attempt to plug the hole.
6'1", 170 lbs., age 42. Dark hair and features. Normally dresses in cricket uniform, but encountered here in disguise. 160 pts.
ST 12, DX 12, IQ 14, HT 12
Basic Speed 6; Move 6
Dodge 6; Parry 8 (vs. weaponless attacks)
Advantages: Absolute Direction; Appearance (Handsome, +2/+4); Charisma +2; Status 2 (member of British aristocracy); Very Wealthy.
Disadvantages: Addiction: cigarettes (-5); Bad Temper; Enemy: British Intelligence and Scotland Yard (appear 9-); Fanaticism: Fascism; Lecherousness.
Quirks: Always uses cigarette holder; Dislikes cold; Dresses in cricket uniform; Wears swastika armband.
Skills: Area Knowledge (El Honduragua)-14; Acting-14; Brawling-12; Demolition/TL6-16; Detect Lies-14; Disguise-16; Fast-Talk-15; First-Aid/TL6-14; Gambling-13; Guns/TL6 (revolver)- 15; Knife-12; Leadership-14; Driving (car)-11; Parachuting-13; Piloting/TL6 (small planes)-13; Politics-14; Tactics-14; Tracking-14.
Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian: all at 14.
Equipment: Webley .455 revolver and 20 bullets; LE Mk.III rifle and 4 loaded clips; large knife (Cut 1d, Imp 1d-1); 10x binoculars; maps of El Honduragua; two U.K. No.36 grenades; first-aid kit; canteen. $1,000 in money belt; $50,000 in international bank accounts. In his Colpepper disguise, Pimsley carries a Thompson SMG and 10 extra clips; Colt M1911 and two extra clips; 1 U.S. Mk2 Grenade; field kit; canteen.
Background: Lord Pimsley came from a wealthy family, went to the finest schools, and served with distinction in the RAF and Army Intelligence during the Great War. After demobilization, he joined the fledgling British Fascist Party and became involved in a series of dubious political adventures. Frustrated by his party's lack of electoral success and yearning to draw attention to the cause, Pimsley sabotaged a railway line in Glasgow, causing a horrible train wreck. His part in the sabotage was quickly discovered and he fled the country. Temporarily fallen on hard times, Pimsley has come to El Honduragua to take advantage of the civil war and carve out his own fascist empire. His little bandito group is the start of what he envisions as an army of Central American brownshirts. He's taken the temporary identity of Colpepper because he suspects bounty hunters are on his trail. Meanwhile, he plans to fly Maria Allende to the capital to collect a reward from the national government for her capture.
Various heights, weights, and ages. Dressed in ragged peasant clothing and stolen army uniforms. 25 pts.
ST 11, DX 10, IQ 10, HT 11
Basic Speed 5.25; Move 5.
Dodge 5; Parry 5.
Skills: Area Knowledge (El Honduragua)-10; Gunner/TL6 (machine gun)-11; Guns/TL6 (revolver)-11; Shortsword (machete)-10.
Equipment: Three carry .38 revolvers and 30 extra bullets each; two carry Remington M32 shotguns with 20 extra shells each; two carry Winchester '94 rifles with 30 extra bullets each; and one carries the Madsen LMG with three loaded magazines. All carry machetes (CUT 1d + 1,
Background: This is a coarse collection of cutthroats and robbers who linked up with Pimsley at a seedy bar in a nearby town. They will stay with him as long as he keeps them in money and adventure. They are too busy being bad guys to realize that they are not great fighters.
5'5", 120 lbs., age 27. Dark hair and eyes. Dressed in peasant clothes. 90 pts.
ST 10, DX 12, IQ 13, HT 12 Basic speed 6; Move 6.
Dodge 6; Parry 9 (vs. weaponless attacks).
Advantages: Appearance (Beautiful, +2/+4); Charisma +1; Patron (PPF, appears on 12 or less); Strong Will +5.
Disadvantages: Duty (to Revolution, on 15 or less); Enemy (National Government of El Honduragua, on 12 or less); Impulsiveness.
Quirks: Dresses in red and black (revolutionary colors); Likes Irving Berlin songs; Dislikes chauvinists; Doesn't drink; Has whirlwind romances.
Skills: Acting-15; Area Knowledge (El Honduragua)-13; Brawling-14; Dancing-13; Disguise-13; Driving (car)-12; Fast-Talk-15; First-Aid/TL6-13; Guns/TL6 (automatic pistol)-12; Knife-12; Politics-13; Powerboat-11; Sex Appeal-11; Singing-14; Tactics-11.
Languages: English-12; Spanish-13.
Equipment: None during this adventure, since she has been taken prisoner. Her weapons of choice include dagger, poison (when she can buy it), and a Luger automatic pistol for work in the countryside.
Background: Maria is a popular cabaret singer and dancer who secretly supports the Revolution by conducting spy and espionage missions for the PPF. Recently, her cover was blown and she fled to San Remo Mission to hide from the National Government secret police. Pimsley discovered her location by capturing and torturing another PPF agent.
5'7", 170 lbs., age 35. Dark hair, green eyes. 50 pts.
ST 12, DX 11, IQ 12, HT 11
Basic speed 5.5; Move 5.
Dodge 5; Parry 7 (vs. weaponless attacks).
Advantages: Acute Hearing +1; High Pain Threshold.
Disadvantages: Bully; Sadism.
Quirk: Completely loyal to Pimsley.
Skills: Acting-12; Brawling-11; Guns/TL6 (revolver)-13; Survival (jungle)-11.
Equipment: In his Pimsley disguise: Webley .455 re-volver and 20 bullets; LE Mk.III rifle and 4 loaded clips; large knife (cut 1d, imp 1d-1); binoculars 10×; maps of El Honduragua; two U.K. No.36 grenades; First aid kit; canteen. Normally, Baker carries two Webley pistols and 40 bullets.
Background: Baker is a criminal-scum crony of Pimsley's who helped him with the Glasgow job. He is totally corrupt and evil and has no social life.
5'11", 170 lbs., age 20.43 pts.
ST 12, DX 11, IQ 10, HT 11
Basic speed 5.5; Move 5.
Dodge 5; Parry 7 (vs. weaponless attacks).
Advantages: Combat Reflexes
Disadvantages: Duty: Pimsley, almost all the time (15-); Enemy: PPF, large group, (appears quite rarely, 6-); Reputation: -2 from El Honduraguan peasants.
Quirks: Look out for No. 1; Can't stand moralizers.
Skills: Brawling-11; First Aid-12; Guns/TL6 (automatic pistol)-13; Guns/TL6 (Rifle)-15; Knife-14; Survival (Jungle)-10.
Equipment: One Marine has a Springfield M1903 with 10 loaded clips; the other carries a BAR with 7 loaded clips. Each also carries field kit, canteen, and 1 U.S. Mk.2 grenade.
Background: These two are really U.S. Marines who were landed at the OP with the real Sgt. Jeb Colpepper. They're both bad apples, and Pimsley subverted them with bribes and promises. The unfortunate sergeant and his three loyal Marines are buried in a shallow grave about 100 yards west of the OP. Pimsley has their equipment in three footlockers in his camp.
This adventure can be used very easily in an Old West campaign, with few changes. The locale can be changed to a rural Mexican area, fairly near the U.S. border (Nogales, some 70 miles south of Tucson, works well). The plot introduction remains essentially the same, once the GM gets the party into the village. (Thanks to Kelly Grimes for playtesting and commenting on this version.)
Instead of a fascist, Pimsley was a sympathizer with the Irish separatists – he blew up a train, and left Great Britain one step ahead of a manhunt. His armband can show any peculiar symbol the GM wants to use, perhaps tying in with other things in the campaign. (If it's after 1865, he may be a Confederate sympathizer.) He's really not sure what he's doing, now – being charismatic, he can make it up as he goes along. Perhaps he has dreams of becoming a famous outlaw. (A good "red herring" is to lead the PCs to believe that they are on the trail of some outlaw that they've heard of, such as Butch Cassidy.)
The Marines become U.S. horse troopers, who crossed the border chasing bandits; instead of a sergeant, the late Colpepper was a senior lieutenant, but he's still dead. The renegades' equipment is standard for cavalry troopers.
The banditos are banditos, with appropriate weapons for the period. Instead of an airplane, they have a stable with eight horses. Instead of fuel barrels, they have a still; their stock of homemade tequila won't explode, but it will burn beautifully, igniting the hay in the stable.
Maria is still a revolutionary, perhaps loyal to Pancho Villa.
In a Special Ops campaign, this adventure can be used two ways. It's possible that the team is sent into El Honduragua to find and deal with Pimsley – by bringing him out to stand trial, or just by assassination. But it might also happen that a few soldiers on R&R would stumble into a messy situation . . .
There is no reward note. If the soldiers are assigned to find Pimsley, they get their briefing beforehand – and this is a covert, deniable operation. If they stumble into the situation, Father José just sees that they are soldiers and asks them for help.
The banditos are still banditos. Their base is as described. They are following Pimsley because he is a convincing talker. The weapons they use should be at least 20 years behind the times; see Special Ops for appropriate choices
The Marines become American expatriates who are part of the Honduraguan "special security" force – a group of foreign mercenaries who are supposedly loyal to El Presidente and who are used to guard against an army coup. No U.S. trooper worth his salt would trust these men as far as he could throw them, but they will represent local law. (The fact that Colpepper will be an obvious antagonist should make it very surprising when he turns out to be Pimsley.)
In a historical game, Pimsley becomes a Nazi agent. In a modern game, he stole military secrets from NATO, and hopes to survive to spend his pay. And it's suspected that he hasn't yet sold everything he stole, so he may have Soviet agents after him as well.
Sister Maria isn't a Soviet agent, but she is a revolutionary, and does have East-Bloc contacts, including a Cuban "advisor." Pimsley knows she might be useful to him, and hasn't decided how yet.
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