One of my favorite pieces of movie trivia is that the famous mine car chase from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was originally planned for Raiders of the Lost Ark.
If you read the original Raiders screenplay, you’ll find the scene at the very end. After Indy and Marion recover the ark from the Nazis, they are forced to escape the island via a rollercoaster mine car adventure. While that scene was never filmed, it was repurposed years later, swapping Nazis for Thuggee cultists.
While I was writing the pulp adventure The Lost Jewels of Eire, I ended up with a strikingly similar situation. I had two scenarios I had outlined and couldn’t wait to include somewhere in the adventure:
- A scene where the heroes fought Italian intelligence agents in an old 1930s plane — where the cockpit was entirely separate from the passenger cabin. To seize control of the plane, the PCs had to brawl the agents while one of them was forced to wing-walk and throw the pilot out. I couldn’t wait to see how my players would handle this dangerous – and very pulp adventure – situation.
- While researching 1930s Italian history, I stumbled across an inspiring real-life story about the ancient cliffside city of Calcata. Mussolini forced the entire city of Calcata to be evacuated. The government “officially” claimed that the cliffs were unstable and the residents were in danger… but that clearly was not the case. This shockingly beautiful and exotic would have made the perfect location for a fascist heist.
In order to keep The Lost Jewels of Eire to a reasonable, one or two session length, that airplane set piece and Calcata story element got cut. But I kept thinking about them, and how fun it would be to revisit them.
Remembering the Raiders mine car chase, I eventually decided to write an entirely new adventure using those two cut elements as the pillars. The Uncanny Curse of Sekhmet, a sort of prequel to The Lost Jewels, swiped my outtakes above. The adventure kicks off with the aerial brawl and crash lands (maybe literally) in Calcata, just as a sinister heist is taking place.
I made a few changes to the original ideas to get the outtakes to fit into a new adventure. Bank robbers replaced my Italian agents, and Calcata became less of a big destination and more of a stopover. But these two outtakes became the starting pillars for a completely new adventure, which then sends the PCs tomb raiding across Egypt in a race to find a secret buried for thousands of years.
The lesson here is don’t throw away your outtakes. Keep them and reuse them — or even better, build an entirely new adventure out of them.
What are some great adventure hooks you’ve cut from your games only to use them later? Let me know below.
Get the Adventure Here
Download The Uncanny Curse of Sekhmet for both GURPS, pulp Call of Cthulhu, Broken Compass, and Risus here:
Get THE UNCANNY CURSE OF SEKHMET - GURPS Cliffhangers
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Get THE UNCANNY CURSE OF SEKHMET - Call of Cthulhu
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Get THE UNCANNY CURSE OF SEKHMET (Broken Compass)
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Get THE UNCANNY CURSE OF SEKHMET (Risus)
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Get THE UNCANNY CURSE OF SEKHMET (VTT Tokens & Assets)
Want to watch an overview of the adventure? Check out my summary here (SPOILERS!)
Related: Learn what makes a great pulp adventure – discover The Lost Jewels of Eire!
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Just wow! I looked through the GURPS PDF and in my opinion the Curse of Sekhmet is actually even better than most commercial PDFs I have seen. Epic work! Many, many thanks for that 🙂
Thank you! Let me know if you ever get a chance to run it for your group – would love to know how it turns out!
I prepped it to run for this week only to discover one of my players had been in an accident that threw off the game schedule. We’ll come back to it when he’s in better shape but one thing I noticed is that Betty’s last name vacillates between Page and Sage. I’d suggest sticking with Sage consistiently.
Hopefully your friend is okay and will be rolling dice soon again! I went ahead and fixed the Sage/Page mixup and added bookmarks to the .pdfs. Appreciate the editing catch!
This is really impressive but as a newbie DM, very daunting what with three-way clashes and such fabulous intricate detail in both the plot and the research.
It occurs to me that there are few options to settle down and heal even though there are quite a few encounters. The whole thing feels like it’s time sensitive and therefore difficult to pause along the way. What are your thoughts?
Also, I think the point is that at almost every encounter, the players are outnumbered. How do you suggest I get the players to steer clear of trying to confront all the enemies to the bitter death? Do I just make the enemy run away even if they are in a position to win?
Thank you kindly for your thoughts and well done for writing such an exciting story.
Thanks for your feedback! For pulp adventures, I purposely outnumber the PCs and don’t give them a lot of downtime (think Indiana Jones action movie pacing). Feeling like the odds are against you is a key part of a pulp adventure! BUT I always use the cinematic rules of whatever system I’m using. For Call of Cthulhu, the Pulp Cthulhu rules are great as they give the PCs extra survivability and let them spend Luck in clever ways. In GURPS, the Impulse Buy rules lets PCs spend points to avoid injury and failure and even change scene specifics to their advantage. And then I play the minions a bit one-dimensional, e.g. never taking full shots with their automatic rifles, giving up their defenses for clumsy all-out attacks, and then running away when they’re injured. If the PCs get seriously injured, I usually improvise some downtime in during the travel segments. In this adventure, I’ve given hurt PCs a few days of rest just when they arrive in Egypt, just before the City of Lions segment.
As a new GM, you may want to take a look at the companion adventure to this one The Lost Jewels of Eire. I think it’s a bit more straightforward to run, since there are fewer bad guys and death traps, and more breathing room for the players at key points. But I find the key to pulp is to keep things fast and loose and not worry too much if things go wrong.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond in detail. I’m very touched by the time and energy you’ve shared so willingly.
I saw a rather embarrassing typo on page 5 when detailing what’s in the cockpit:
J. “Flyboy” Shitshaw is a skilled pilot with hundreds of
hours flying bombers in WWI. Tricking him that there’s
a flight emergency is very difficult; he should resist such
tricks with his Piloting-15 skill.
Your pilot’s last name was supposed to be Skitshaw and in the next sentence I think it is supposed to read: ” Tricking him into believing that there’s a flight emergency is very difficult…”
found another minor typo on pg. 7. The third sentence should read: However, HER father…
Mirella doesn’t know who the older man was who
threatened her father. She explains that her father kept
many books in a locked library in the cellar of their
original home in old Calcata. However, he father did
not have time to relocate his books to his their new
home before the police forced him to relocate.
I imagine this is not the best format to direct typographical errors. is there a better place in case I find any others?
I had a question on the armament of the Son of the Viper in Danieli’s house. In the listing it has that he is armed with an awkward looking Beretta 9×19 SMG. Would this be the Beretta M1918? The only other Beretta I can find at the time comes into use in 1938 by the Italian military (Model 38).
If you can’t tell I am kind of a gun nerd and I do like adding that element of flavor from the time period!
I was also thinking of adding something to the checkpoint into Calcata Vecchia. The text mentions two motor cycles. I was thinking of making one of them a standard motorcycle and another equipped with a sidecar armed with a mounted Villar Perosa. This could add to the intimidation factor of the mercenaries.
Haha, that IS an embarrassing typo. I’ll fix it and upload a new version tonight. (Feel free to email me any typos or throw them in a Google doc – whichever is easier!)
Yes, the SMG I was going for is the one from Pulp Guns p.31 – the Beretta Mod 1918, 9x19mm.Lemme know if there’s a better one or more authentic one you like, since you know the guns and history better than I do! I like the idea of adding the sidecar with a mounted MG. That’ll definitely scare the PCs off…
where would you like me to email them to? I saw another minor one.
I’m going to add one piece of equipment to the British Soldiers on pg . 13. This will be a Pattern 1907 bayonet. This would have been carried on their person and could be easily attached to their Enfield rifles. It can easily be used as a large knife.
I’m not sure where the Vipers are originating from but if they are middle eastern (judging by the names) then maybe their small knives have the regional flair of being curved. Something like a Janbiya (persian) or a Koummya from Morocco. If one or more of their number is Algerian, maybe a Flyssa is on that particular soldier. Just more flavor.
Great adventure! I love your handouts in this one!
Cool adventure! Thanks for writing it. I had a lot of fun running it, and I think my group enjoyed the ride as well. It ended up running way longer than four hours though… more like 11 hours over a few interrupted zoom sessions, but that doesn’t matter.
My players had the unerring knack of coming up with solutions that went way off the script, unaccounted for by me and the adventure pdf. Here’s my favourite two:
* Convincing the Calcata carabinieri that Carlo (driving the restauranteur’s fancy car) was a high-ranking military officer here to make a thorough accounting (nudge wink, here’s a fistful of Willy’s money) of the belongings left behind in the old quarter and just driving in. After all, the carabinieri let some weird foreign aristocrat in for a big bribe, why not a General of your own nation who’s a hobby art collector on the side?
* They didn’t find the mechanism for re-sealing the secret room in the contemplation chamber, but were determined to close it again anyway. I had to make a decision, so I said this could be done by forcibly lifting the Hetshepsut statue back into place while pushing the wall back from the inside. This means sealing one person inside the secret room, but it worked out because it made the perfect ambush for Ramades when he “discovered” the secret chamber himself.
Both of those twists are fantastic. Surprisingly, I’ve never seen a player try to bribe the carabinieri – but now that seems like an obvious good idea!
Thanks so much for these absolutely top-notch one-shots. I’m using them to introduce some friends not only to GURPS, but RPGs in general. The link to VTT resources for this campaign seems to be broken. Is it possible to repair?
Yes, thanks for the catch – fixed!
I just finished running this and the players and I loved it. I ran the adventure mostly faithfully over three sessions, but condensing the final machinations in Egypt into a single night due to real-life schedule constraints. I couldn’t have been happier with the combination of plot movement and the creation of organic moments that the adventure encouraged.
This was the intro to roleplaying for several of the players and to GURPS for all. Everyone was hooked. Thank you J.C. for making these!
We had a great time with this module, but it seems like compared to the other one we played, Phantom jungle, the players earn a ridiculous amount of money. $50,000, even if it’s modern money, is enough to bring all the broke pregens out of poverty. Our party hid the suitcase in the luggage compartment and gave back a fake one… Not to mention any of the artifacts from the conclusion, each of which seem like a tremendous amount of cash!
Yes, this could definitely be an issue – I wrote these as standalone one-shots, and then didn’t realize that I was throwing off the “economy” if they start to form a continuing campaign. Good note for future GMs!