John Paul's gaming website

TFT Rumor Hooks inspired by rock music.

Steve Jackson solicited rumors for an Hexagram issue.  That inspired me to create some from sources of my youth.

The format that the player will experience this encounter is up to the GM.  However, the following are some suggestions:

·     Articles, Posters

·     Overheard conversation

·     Written Message or Report

·     Rumors, Tales & Gossip

·     Encounter

Sea Tales

1 May 2023

Originally 18 June 2019

Overheard – (You are a passenger of a large merchant ship on the high seas that has been out for a few weeks.  You overhear one of the crew whispering to a minor government official who is on his way to a colony.)

The captain has been sick now for weeks and confined to his cabin.  The ship's physicker says he is delirious, though no one else has this illness.  He demands to have the ship returned to him.  Raving out “I'm your captain, can you not hear me or am I all alone?”  That he has “been lost now, days uncounted.”

The First Mate is new to the ship, picked up at embarkation when the much loved Peter died from a fall.  Along with this pernicious First Mate were some of the motley crew he brought with him, including a new physicker.  A foul lot.

The carpenter swears he heard (through the captain's window) the captain weakly mutter to the First Mate:  “Am I dreaming or are you really scheming to take away my ship from me?”

The physicker's mate says the captain looks like he has malaria, but with bizarre symptoms.  He says the captain “can feel the hand of a stranger tightening around his throat.”

Recently the Captain has been lethargic and dazed, mumbling over and over “I'm getting closer to my home…”

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Mark Farner

Overheard - at a dockside dive, this sailor says to the bartender:

“Me took mi catboat Lewy, 'you take me where I gotta go.'

Me sailed for t'ree days across the sea, alone!  In this storm, t'inking I'll never make it home.  I sail much more now.  I sail to mi fine little gurl that bewitched me.  I bring her mi treasures 'n mi soul.  Me gotta go now… lets hustle out of here.”  

He pays for his drinks with foreign gold piece and shambles out.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Richard Berry

Article – in paper, headlined The mystery of the sloop Jonbee.

The Jonbee was found floating abandoned in the sea with torn mainsail set and ravaged quarters and galley. Amongst the cabin debris was a heavily illustrated journal by the captain's grandson, a young searcher.  His last entry was “This is the worst trip I've ever been on.  I feel so broke-up, I want to go home.  Why don't you let me go home?”  Twer many rough sketches of things fishlike in the water and unknown occult symbols, possibly formulas and musical notes.

In its last port upon its second day there, the Captain was called to shore by the sheriff in regards complaints of horrendous noises, powerful smells and flashing of lights.

While there, the drunken first mate was taken to jail by the constables for breaking into the Captain's Trunk.  It was noted that he was afeared something greatly.  And the cook was incarcerated at Bedlam due to fits.  

– John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Richard Le Gallienne

Article - in the Port News:

Three airships arrived at our port during Friday's rain, hailing from the Frazicoue Bay.

The crews of 73 furled their skyship's sails, battened down the hatches and locked down their anchors.  The floatmen boisterously filled up the Bar District, as much needed for them as well as the bars, who have had hard times with the pirate purge lately of our now peaceful seas.

The flotilla provisioned on Saturday and was poised to sail on Sunday.

Several of the floatmen were recruiting both for crew and for adventurers and emigrants.  “We're callin' everyone to ride along to another shore.  We can laugh our lives away and be free once more.”  Walters, the owner of the Scalliwonk Inn, said of the gregarious captain, who made a striking image in his blue flight uniform; The captain spoke of his adventures, finding new lands and things.  Walters' farewell was “Ride, Captain, Ride upon your mystery ships.  Be amazed at the friends you have here on your trip.”

However, with the storm blowing, few wanted to venture out.  No one came at all.

So good luck on your way to a world that others might have missed as you sail off to history. The airships will leave this afternoon after the storm lets up.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Konte & Pinera


The burning and sinking of the gambling boat Montro, just outside city jurisdiction, may have been caused by fanatics of the Muthers who threw a fireball at the ceiling. There was fire in the sky and smoke on the water as Faunky Claude sought to rescue the innocent. Will there be more incidents?

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord & Paice

Rumor -

The merchant ship El Mond Fizyero did sink in a gale on Lakes Gichie 'n' Gyoomeh with a six ton load of mithril laced high grade iron ore and a chest of dwarven jewels. There dwell the good captain and well-seasoned crew in the rooms of her ice water mansion, though it is said that Mondo still sails on storm tossed nights on the lake that never gives up her dead.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing G. Lightfoot

Encounter – Assignment

The person to find is in a western bay port that serves maybe quarter hundred ships a day.

No, I don't know which port.  Some harbor town.

Her name's Brandy and she works layin' whiskey down.

Yea, she's a barmaid.  A real fine girl. Lonely sailors pass the time away talkin' 'bout her.

No, I don't know the name of the bar.  Alright, I FORGOT the name of the bar.  

Well, she's part of the shanghai trade.  A spotter for the goons.  You could say her eyes could steal a sailor from the sea.

You can identify her 'cause she wears a braided chain, made of the finest silver.  Has a locket that bears the name of Brandy's love.

We want that name.  That guy is the key to this whole operation.  Get it for me.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Elliot Lurie

Message –  Letter found on body washed ashore.


I escaped my tormenters, by horse, to the arid lands.

This is a desert of sand and rock. With plants and insects and dry heat, birds flying around in the clear sky.  Yet somehow, it was full of sound.  

Away from the pain of humans who give no love, I could remember who I am.

On the third day I crossed the arroyo and was saddened of its death.

On the ninth day, I arrived at the shoreline, so I released this unnamed horse.

Paslo, I had not found it.  I followed the indicated path, but to no avail.  But it was there, gazing at the sea, that I had my revelation.  

It's in the sea!  It is like a desert only with underground life, the ocean surface is a disguise that is perfect. It has sand and rocks and plants, and fish flying around in clear water.  Just like the bard said.  That is where I will find it.

I will let you know what's there!     

– John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Dewey Bunnell

Intercepted Message

I will be taking the last caravan from Cla'xvil.  We'll be leaving in the morning and I would spend one more night together, till the morning brings the caravan master and I must go.

I'll be waiting at the caravanasarii's café for evening coffee.  Please don't be slow, for I am feeling low.  I must see you again. And I don't know if I'm ever coming home.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing  T. Boyce & B Hart

Message  - Notes taken of farmer Bill of Manning who was recuperating from malaria. Citation: Saint Agnes hospital wing from an interview by the Scholar Jocelyn.

“He was a well-dressed man of some means.  But he was disheveled as if he had not slept in days, bags under his eyes, crazed look, palsied hands, mumbling under his ragged breath.  Those of us in the nearby beds looked at him and were appalled.

The sisters took his shoes off and his glasses, but did not undress him as would be usual to ready him for bed.  The head sister gave him a potion, probably a sleeping draft.  He seemed agitated.  

After a few minutes one of the orderlies brought the gentleman's belongings and placed it on the table.  A heavy leather satchel.  Upon the sight of it, the poor man writhed and clawed for it and shrieked “the book!”  The orderly had to lay across him to prevent him from violence.  The nurses came.  Then they did something I had not seen these good women do on anyone else.  They strapped him to the bed with rope round him.

My fever came up again at that moment and I fell to troubled sleep.  When I woke up I heard him raving.  He seemed to be hallucinating, but maybe not.

He diatribed about “looking out his window' and seeing many sights.”  But that he could refocus his eyes and in the glass's reflection could see himself and ponder “all the different people I could be.' That it is strange.

Said there was “some cat looking over its shoulder at him.”  And about someone by the name of B. Nix becoming rich.  

Then he was talking about some old book.  That it wasn't just the pages of the book, it was in the leather binding too.  That “you had to pick up every stitch there too.”  That he felt like a rabbit running in a ditch.  That, yes, it must be the Witch Season. Said that several times.  Then he laughed hysterically until he had coughing fits and some blood came up.”

No book has been found.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Don Leitch


There is a golem made of iron. It was originally made to save his people. But that was a long time ago. Now he is a statue that the people have forgotten and ignore.

But the people have become decadent and sacrilegious now.

The few holy are wondering if Ferrum Virum is just a story or is he asleep. Is he planning his vengeance? Will he kill the people he once saved?

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Iommi, Osborne, Butler & Ward


A Face changer died the other day. Padre McKenzie buried Eleanor in the graveyard, but nobody came. It is said her Face was kept in a ceramic jar by her front door. Some say it hasn't been claimed… who is it for?

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing P. McCartney

Report – Message of Backfire Effect from taking “Commune with Nature”.

Patient, shortly after recovering, describing the beginning effects of the potion Commune with Nature that critically backfired at a Midnite concert.

“Talkin' at me was everybody.

Their mouths move, but no words hear I.

My mind reverberatin' my own murky thoughts.

I turn, spin, run.

Folks are stoppin' in their tracks, At me they stare.

I only see darkness of their eyes, not their faces.

Then all goes round… fall… blackness.  

When I gets up (moments later?) I'm a sweatin'.

Midnight no more.  Twasn't any time.

I'm alone on Desert Shores.

But me also in Marsh, rain pouring, but sun keeps shinin'.

Then onna boat, skipping over ocean like a stone.

Wohm, wohm, wohm, wohm"

Patient falls back into coma.

- John Paul Bakshoain, referencing Fred Neil

Intercepted Message [To Wizard Guild Inquisitor - Please investigate this report from the provinces.]

There seems to be a young scholar murderer.  He has killed a schoolgirl, a professor and a judge.  We normally wouldn't care, but he is doing this with a silver weapon, an indication that he possibly is a wizard.  Again, normally we wouldn't care if a wizard did this, but the headmaster is a friend of a Guildmaster.

Murderer's name is Maxweller Edysawn;  Studying Medicine at the university nearby.  Apparently after he killed a fellow student Joan, he went back to the university.  He caused a scene and attacked the rebuking professor.  The attack was seen by one student.  Maxweller hit both Joan and the professor in the back of the head with the silver hammer.

He was arrested and put on trial.  Friends of his were there and may have smuggled the hammer to him, because as they were making screams, Maxweller was able to kill the judge with his hammer and make his escape.

He is still at large.  He is capricious, mad, murderous and has a following.  The Headmaster at the University thinks he may know magic or even be a magician incognito.  The Silver Hammer may be enhanced, possibly even throwable and returns.  The rumors are his powers are growing along with his instability.  

– John Paul Bakshoian, referencing P. McCartney

Article - in the paper.

Hansen Labs was closed down today amidst the demolishment of one of the chemistry rooms.  Mr. Hansen, owner of the facility, was taken to hospital with severe burns to hands and face and near asphyxiation brought on by fumes.  

Hansen had been doing research into blending chemistry with alchemy.  The bachelor Mr. Hansen was working in the lab room with his assistant, when some ergot was spilled.  After the cleanup, Mr. Hansen, became ill and experienced visions.

At the hospital, the chemist kept saying "Science had blinded me.”

Destroyed in the explosion were the lab's tubes and wires, chemicals & elements, spheres, machinery, technology and antiquated potions.

Gone were the careful notes to the research.

Miss Sacha Moto, Hansen's lab assistant, has been missing since the incident.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing T Dolby


A morose crazed drunken bar patron claims that he saw Fairies with boots dancin' with the dwarves. Says he tells you no lies.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing Iommi, Osborne, Butler & Ward


Many moons ago a wise man spake “beware of gathering storm”, a warning he envisioned. The earth will shake and sky will break and the purging will come. The prophet was at first respected, but then they betrayed him and called him a madman. Only a few still fear the disaster he foretold.

- John Paul Bakshoian, referencing B. May

Other Tales