A Handful of Dust


by Zachary Carango


0


A Handful of Dust


by Zachary Carango



fightingfantasy.org editors note: This adventure does not use Fighting Fantasy rules, it is recommended that the rules section is read.

Read the Rules

rules


The Text:


In this story, YOU will be the main character. YOU will make the decisions, YOU will carve out s swath of justice in a dying city. In order to choose a course of action, simply look for the options listed at the bottom of every numbered section. Once you have chosen an option, simply proceed to the section listed alongside the choice.

For example:

Wandering through the choking, sulfurous fog, you come to a fork in the sewer. You may follow it left, turn to 59, or right, turn to 39.

Health:


You begin the investigation with a health of 10, as sustain injuries or illness, your health will decrease. If your health ever drops to 0 or less, you have died and the adventure is over.

Items and Codewords:


You may find certain useful items in the course of your investigation. When given the option the carry them, simply mark them on your sheet in the appropriate space.

When asked to record a codeword on your sheet, simply mark it on your sheet. These are used to mark important events.

Continue the Rules

Generate Character and begin your adventure

Return to Index


rules1


Skills:


Before beginning the adventure, you must choose 3 skills. These skills represent your areas of expertise, and will affect the outcome of certain choices. Pick 3 from the following list:

Athletic- You have honed your body to a finely tuned instrument. This skill covers running, swimming, and any other non-violent exercise.

Advanced Perception- Whether it be a muffled scream, a crooked picture, or the smell of cyanide in a cup of coffee, nothing escapes your attention.

Smooth Talker- Born with the proverbial silver tongue, you could convince Magellan the world was flat.

Stealth- Lurking in the shadows, you can sneak past all but the most perceptive opponents.

Street Smarts- A sordid life has left you with more than a passing knowledge of the city’s more sleazy elements.

Brawling- Like a boxer minus the sportsmanship, you’ll always come out on top in a mele.

Gunslinging- You keep a trusty magnum on hand and know how to use it. (If you choose this skill, make sure to add a Magnum to your item list).

Psychic Powers- Your mind is capable of strange feats. Unlike other skills, you will not be directly prompted to use this ability. If you believe it would be useful in a situation, simply add 5 to the section you are currently on and then turn to the corresponding passage. If it makes sense, you have jugged correctly and may read on, if it does not, you have misjudged and must turn back to the page you were previously on. For the wasted effort, you must also subtract 3 health for each failed attempt.

Your skill choices and other information may be recorded on the character sheets on the following page (several are provided).

Once you have marked your three skill choices on the character sheet, along with any items those skills require, you may turn to the section 1 and start the adventure.

Generate Character and begin your adventure (you may pick your skills when you select this option)

Return to Index


background


Some could say life has been unkind to you. You would say that they don’t know the half of it. After fighting in hellholes halfway across the world, you came home to find your city changed. Changed for the worse.

The world is slowly sinking. As the jobs disappeared, crime grew like a parasite. Maybe worse than the crime was the fear. The fear of getting mugged while walking to the subway. The fear of getting shot in your own home. The fear that all you once knew was turning to dust.

Life may have been unkind to you. But compared to the rest of the world, you’d say life let you off pretty easy.

So you became a PI. The one good thing about living in a city of crime: there’s always someone with a case to solve.

Your most recent call seems too good to be true. $10,000 is what you’d been promised. Only when the crisp voice gave you an address, you began to take her seriously. Hopping in your car, you headed off to meet your new client.

Turn to 1


1


A dense fog hangs over the city as you head for the address listed. “612 Wharf Avenue”, you reread your scrawled note for the thousandth time. Wharf Avenue, the richest neighborhood in town: A place where you can escape the ugliness of the world, for a price.

You pull onto the seaside lane; gated mansions drift by like ships at a dockyard. 610…611…612, you spot the address posted in bronze next to a wrought iron slider. As you turn onto the driveway, the motorized gate grinds open. Apparently they were expecting you.

Stepping out of the car, you are greeted by an aged butler in an equally antiquated black suit. The butler mumbles in a British accent, “Mrs. Darben has been expecting you.” With that, he leads you through the spacious beach house to the back porch. Sitting in a chair on the patio is an aged, woman: your client.

Taking a seat facing her, you speak, “So you’ve got a case for me.” Fixing you with a piercing gaze while handing over a faded photograph, she says, “Yes… my nephew, an arrogant, impetuous young man, has gone missing. His name is Dan…Dan Fletcher. What little I know of his current lifestyle leads me to believe he is in serious trouble.” Sensing you only have part of the story, you ask, “Is there something you’re not telling me?” After giving you a cold stare, she breaks eye contact and gazes out into the grey ocean, “I must admit, I fear the worst. I’m sorry, but I have no other info to offer.”

Not satisfied with her answer, though without prospects of anything better, you finalize the business side of the deal and take off. As you step back into the car, the thick clouds finally begin to pour. You head off towards your office in the rain.

Turn to 25.


2


Incapacitated, you can do nothing but stare back with horror as the assassin brings down his dagger into your chest. You have died.


3


An acrid smell wafts from rusting, steel fish canneries. Dumpsters along the street are filled to the brim with unused fish parts, the heads, tails, and etcetera. Welcome to the waterfront. You may search either the dumpsters, turn to 11, or under the pier, turn to 72.


4


The cop nods as you hand over the cash. Stepping aside, the other officers allow you to take a look at the corpse. It’s a match. Dan Fletcher is dead. With your new objectives clear, you set off in search of Fletcher’s Killer, turn to 21.


5


Stepping up the flight of brick steps, you approach the building’s tall wooden door. A small brass plaque nailed to the frame advertises the structure’s owners in ornate, flowery letters, “Order of Natit”. There are no windows on the side facing you, though an alley leads around back. You may…
Knock at the door, turn to 13.
Head around and look for a back door, turn to 22.


6


You manage to slip into the dimly lit building, turn to 64.


7


Approaching a mixed circle of guests, some dressed in the Order’s garbs, others in ordinary clothes, you join the lively conversation. After a few minutes of irrelevant small talk, a young women whispers to a robed man next to her. Stepping foreword, he says suspiciously, “Tell me again, who exactly are you?” If you have the Smooth Talker skill, turn to 15. If not, turn to 43.


8


Sadly, nothing of use comes of your efforts. Without any sort of a lead, your investigation ends here.


9


Add password House.
While the guy behind the counter remains silent, you do catch sight of a report on his desk. Before he can hide it, you manage to memorize the address on its cover. Bidding the station goodbye, you leave, turn to 37.


10


Your powers of intellect tell you either approach has its own benefits and risks, turn to 5 and choose again.


11


Searching through rows and rows of fetid dumpsters, you begin to think that the search is futile when you notice a large shape, barely visible under the dark slurry. Will you dive into the disgusting bins and investigate, turn to 29, otherwise your search is over and you head off for another destination, turn to 20.


12


The cop shakes his head, sending you away. You have no choice but to attempt a stealthy approach, turn to 40.


13


A tall, pale man wearing a strange, red, apron-like outfit opens the door. Staring down at you with a look of contempt, he asks, “Well? What do you want?” If you have the Smooth Talking skill, turn to 68, otherwise turn to 31.


14


Peeking your head through the door, you are met by the cold stare of a large, robed figure. Stepping outside, he says, “You shouldn’t be snooping around here.” Drawing a long knife, the hulking behemoth moves to block your escape. It seems violence is inevitable. If you have the Brawling skill, turn to 46. If you have Gunslinging and a Magnum, turn to 54. Otherwise, turn to 55.


15


Patching together a quick story, you struggle to escape the Cultist’s scrutiny, “You don’t remember? I was interested in joining, and you gave me the address at the bar!” Wrinkling his forehead, the hooded man says, “I suppose, it all just blurs together in my head!” Crisis averted, you slip away quietly, turn to 64 and choose another option.


16


Following them out of the bar, you watch with dismay as the trio of suspects hop inside a parked car and begin driving away. If you are Athletic, turn to 70. Otherwise turn to 57.


17


Wry to your methods, the police give you nothing. Disappointed, you leave, turn to 37.


18


The cultist falls unconscious under your skillful blow. Dragging him aside, you quickly retrieve the Robes (make sure to note them on your sheet) and head upstairs, turn to 35.


19


Stepping onto the tracks, you are soon enveloped in the search for evidence. The place is pitch black, and a musty, diesel smell permeates the air. If you have advanced perception, turn to 44, otherwise turn to 32.


20


You may search any of the following places, excepting those you have already visited:
The Subway, turn to 71.
The Waterfront, turn to 3
The Wilson Bridge, turn to 23.


21


You set off in search of Dan Fletcher’s killer. If you have the password House, turn to 5, otherwise turn to 61.


22


Behind the Order’s building lies a small back yard surrounded by the yawning walls of surrounding buildings. Noise from inside resonates in this small space, all blending into a single, unintelligible chatter. A dark wooden door, similar to the one out front stands, slightly ajar, set into the brick face. Light spills out of a window from the second floor, it too is carelessly open. If you would like to sneak in through the door, turn to 63. If you would rather try to reach the window, turn to 56.


23


You approach the massive, steel span of the Wilson Bridge. The two great suspension towers stretch hundreds of feet above. Though down below, all that you can see is the rusting underside of the roadway. Sure enough, by the edge of the river, you spot the police just beginning to rope off the area. Getting access to the body will be difficult, PI’s such as yourself are expressly forbidden to enter active crime scenes. You may attempt to bribe the officers, turn to 60, or simply distract the guards and sneak by, turn to 40.


24


Rolling away just in time, you suffer only a glancing blow from the assassin’s blade, lose 3 health. Drawing and firing your gun, you watch the killer double over in pain. Fleeing as fast a possible, he escapes before you can give chase. Wary, you lock your doors and make a thorough search before going to sleep, turn to 62.


25


The rain casts the entire street in a sickly fog as you step into your office. A small room above a grimy, boarded up storefront: this is where the magic happens. Sifting through musty stacks of paper for no good reason, you mull over your next course of action.

You may see one of your contacts, turn to 34.
Although they are unlikely to give up anything useful, you could try the police station, turn to 28.
Barring those, the only other choice is to just head to the old saloon and see what washes up, turn to 26.


26


You skulk into the Rock Bottom Saloon, the rain pounding out a stale tune on the shack’s corrugated metal roof. Taking a seat at the bar, you signal the grizzled bartender Marty to send you a few shots. After a few hours of watching and waiting, you hear the name Dan Fletcher mentioned at a nearby table. Glancing up casually, you survey the three men of interest, none of them appear too tough. You may confront the men immediately, turn to 42, or wait until they leave turn to 16.


27


Your initial strike fails to knock out the Cultist, who immediately raises the alarm. Responding to his shouts, the other Order members advance on you ominously. Unfortunately, your adventure ends here.


28


You arrive at the police station, a hard, grey building. Designed in the classical style, tall cement columns stand like the bars of a jail cell across the wide staircase. Approaching the front desk, you are greeted coolly by sallow officer beyond. If you are a Smooth Talker, turn to 65. If you have Advanced Perception, turn to 9. If you have neither, turn to 17.


29


Wading through a knee deep pile of fish innards, you reach down and snatch at the vaguely human shape. Disappointed, you draw up a soggy burlap sack. Only after stepping out of the muck do you notice a large gash on the side of your leg, lower your health by 2. Wrapping the wound tightly, you set off for another area, turn to 20.


30


The cops are not fooled by your ruse, and spot you quickly. Enraged, their leader knocks you to the ground and shouts, “Think you can trick me!” After delivering a few hard kicks to your midsection, lower your health by 3, he has you rolled out onto the street. Fortunately for you, you were able to catch a glimpse of the body and recognize it as Fletcher’s. If you are still alive, you set off in search for his killers, turn to 21.


31


“Sorry, I seem to have forgotten my uniforms,” you say with a stutter, “Perhaps I can find a pair inside.” Flashing a wide smile, the doorman says “Of course, let me show you inside!” The tall guard escorts you down a long, tan wallpapered hallway. Stopping at a dark, wooden door, he gestures for you to enter. As the door opens into a dank closet, you feel him give you a hard shove. Slumped on the floor, you watch him laugh manically as he locks you inside. It would seem your investigation ends here.


32


A bright light from behind interrupts your investigation. Turning around, you find yourself staring into the headlights of a rapidly approaching train. As the breaks screech, you press yourself against the wall of the passage. Despite your efforts, you are still clipped by the subway, lose 4 health. If you still live, you pick yourself up and decide to investigate another area, turn to 20.


33


Using your psychic abilities to glimpse into the clerk’s mind: apparently they suspect his disappearance was connected to a new secret society, the Order of Natit. You also manage to extract the group’s home address. Add the password House. You leave the bewildered clerk behind, turn to 37.


34


You head to meet your most reliable contact, Ronnie Davies. Constantly moving, he’s a difficult man to find. Fortunately you know how he thinks. After searching the usual haunts, you find Davies in the rundown Southside Diner. Taking the seat next to him, you ask what he knows about Dan’s disappearance. In his hoarse, coughing voice, he says that Dan owed the syndicate cash, and that they’re holding him. If you have Street Smarts, turn to 41, If not, turn to 49.


35


It would seem like the upper level of the Order of Natit’s base is more exclusive, with only the robed members allowed up the narrow, hardwood staircase. If you posses a set of Robes, the guards allow you past without question, turn to 73. Otherwise, your only other option is to sneak past. If you have the Stealth skill, you manage to get past easily, turn to 73, otherwise your investigation has reached a dead end.


36


Your scouring of the empty platform is frustratingly unfruitful. After several commuters pass, giving you odd looks, you decide to check another location, turn to 20.


37


You wander through the dimly lit streets. Most windows are dark; this city never had much of a night life. The rain refracts oddly off the artificial lighting, cloaking the entire area in a ghostly glow. You can’t help but feel a little uneasy trudging through this haze. If you have Advanced Perception, turn to 45. Otherwise, turn to 53.


38


With lightning speed, you kick the knife out of your attacker’s hands and leap to your feet. As he dives for his blade, you deal more tough blows. Sufficiently discouraged, the would-be assassin flees. Wary, you lock your doors and make a thorough search before going to sleep, turn to 62.


39


Reaching up to the kill, your hand slips. Falling flat on your back, you let out a gasp of pain escape. Subtract 7 health for this injury. If you still survive, you decide to try the door, turn to 63.


40


Throwing a stone surreptitiously into a pile of garbage cans, you are able to momentarily distract the cops. Now, you make your move, if you have the Stealth skill, turn to 52, otherwise, turn to 30.


41


Add the password House.
You spot one glaring hole Ron’s story, “C’mon Davies, you and I both know the syndicate never takes prisoners.” Taken off guard by your confrontation, he mumbles fretfully, “All right, I’ll tell you but don’t let anyone know you heard it from me. Some secret society’s got him.” Before he leaves, you manage to extract an address from Ronnie. Determined to check it out tomorrow, you leave the diner, turn to 37.


42


Striding purposefully over to their table, you bluntly proclaim, “What do you know about Dan Fletcher?” Their apparent leader, a thin, dark haired dirt-bag says back, “You’ve made a big mistake.” With that the two others stand up and encircle you. You better get ready for a fight. If you have Brawling, turn to 50. If you have Gunslinging and a Magnum, turn to 58. Otherwise, turn to 66.


43


Stuttering dumbly, you wither before the hard gaze of the hooded cultist. Responding to his shouts, the other Order members advance on you ominously. Unfortunately, your adventure ends here.


44


A slight, vibrating noise comes through the tunnel. Your trained ears immediately recognize it as the sound of an approaching train. Scrambling out of the narrow tunnel, you barely manage clamber onto the platform before the machine crashes by. Fed-up with your search here, you decide to search somewhere else, turn to 20.


45


Your well honed senses detect someone tailing you through the mist. Fortunately, you manage to lose the mystery man by taking a few clever turns, turn to 62.


46


The monstrous cultist lunges at you, thrusting his knife at your chest. You manage to duck out of the way just in time, transforming what would have been a lethal blow into a mere flesh wound. Subtract 3 health. If this is not fatal, you follow up with a crippling counterattack. Dragging the cultist’s unconscious body out of sight. You may take his Robes if you wish. Either way, you proceed inside, turn to 64.


47


You focus your psychic ability on the scrawny leader of the trio. Blinking with confusion, he sits back down, while the other two exchange befuddled expressions. Taking this opportunity, you leave, turn to 37.


48


Striking up a conversation with the bartender, you soon realize that the dome-headed old man knows something. Through some subtle wheedling, you get him to spill the beans: apparently a group of nasty looking guys from a new secret society were recently at the bar, quietly discussing a Dan Fletcher. Giving you the address they left, the bartender wishes your luck as you set off for the enemy lair, turn to 5.


49


You see no fault in Ron’s story, turn to 37.


50


Despite all their talk, the trio prove poor fighters, and after a few good strikes, they flee. Tired, you head home, turn to 37.


51


Scanning the wide room, you determine only one possible way to obtain a set of robes. You could either attempt to knock out a cultist and steal their uniform, turn to 59. Otherwise your only other choice is to proceed upstairs without them, turn to 35.


52


Ducking quickly behind the yellow tape, you have only enough time to glance at the bluing corpse. That’s all it takes as you recognize Fletcher’s face instantly. Darting away quickly, you set off to find his killers, turn to 21.


53


Stepping into the doorway of your office, you hear the sound of footsteps outside. Glancing carefully outside, you are shoved to the floor. Standing over you is a masked assassin, carrying a long, jagged knife. If you have Brawling, turn to 38. If you have Gunslinging and a Magnum, turn to 24. If you have neither, turn to 2.


54


As the hulking cultist moves to attack, your instinct takes over. Drawing and firing in one fluid motion, the bastard is dead before he hits the ground. Holding your breath for a few minutes, you conclude that the partiers inside must not have noticed the noise. You may take his Robes if you wish. Dragging the body out of sight, you quickly slip inside, turn to 64.


55


The monstrous cultist lunges at you, thrusting his knife at your chest. Unable to move out of the way in time, you are caught dead on. Dropping to the ground, you are dead within seconds.


56


Thankfully, the aging brick façade offers numerous hand holds, and you proceed up with relative ease. If you have Athletic as a skill, turn to 69. Otherwise turn to 39.


57


You watch with dismay as your only lead disappears around the block. Nursing a throbbing headache, you head home, turn to 37.


58


Quick as a flash, you draw your weapon and fire. After the dust settles, you see the groups leader stagger backwards, bleeding from the shoulder. Before you have a chance to get any information however, the trio flees. Exhausted, you retire for the night, turn to 37.


59


Watching for an appropriate target, you eventually spot a lone cultist heading down an apparently empty, small hallway. Making your move, you spring upon your shocked victim. If you have Brawling as a skill, turn to 18. Otherwise, turn to 27.


60


Stepping up to the officers, you quietly show their leader a stack of $20 bills. If you have the Smooth Talking skill, turn to 4, if not, turn to 12.


61


You head for the Rock Bottom Saloon, disappointed in yourself for not having picked up better information. Sitting behind the worn, stained bar counter, you listen for anything useful. If you have the Smooth Taker or Street Smarts skill, turn to 48. Otherwise turn to 8.


62


You wake up the next morning with a bad headache. Yesterday left a bad taste in your mouth. Fortunately a shot of whiskey quickly washes it away. Opening the paper, you thumb through the pages: a story about embezzling in the mayor’s office, a story about some murders at a Hospital, the usual. Contemplating the Fletcher case, you absent-mindedly turn on your police radio-scanner as you pour yourself a cup of coffee.
Listening, you hear an interesting report, “Uh, we’ve got an anonymous 42-30 down here. Please advise”. A 42-30, that means a body’s been reported! But where? Unfortunately, nothing more comes over the speakers. Stepping out into the grey morning, you plan your search. You may search the subway station, turn to 71, the waterfront, turn to 3, or the Wilson Bridge, turn to 23.


63


Holding your breath, you sip through the doorway as quickly and quietly as you can. If you have the Stealth Skill, turn to 6. Otherwise turn to 14.


64


Fortunately for you, it appears as if the Order is holding some sort of an event for new initiates, many of whom are in ordinary clothing. Mingling with the dense crowd, you consider your options. Will you set out in search of a set of robes, turn to 51. Speak to some of the guests, turn to 7. Or proceed upstairs, turn to 35.


65


Add password Door.
You get the gatekeeper to spill the beans, “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but it turns out Dan’s just scamming the old lady. That’s all I know.” Satisfied, you leave, turn to 37.


66


Not the fighter you once were, you are overpowered by the trio. After taking your share of blows, the three men leave you bruised and battered. Subtract 4 health for the injuries. Staggered by a throbbing headache, you stumble back home, turn to 37.


67


Drawing on your powers of intuition, you decide to head for the Wilson Bridge, turn to 23.


68


“Sorry, I seem to have forgotten my uniforms,” you blurt out quickly, “Perhaps I can find a pair inside.” The doorman, while skeptical at first, apparently accepts your excuse, waving you inside with a roll of his eyes. Turn to 64.


69


Pulling yourself up to the window sill, you slip into the second level unnoticed, turn to 73.


70


Add the password House.
Moving quickly, you are barely able to follow the car. Taking advantage of the many shortcuts between buildings, you follow them back to a large, brick-faced townhouse. Noting the address, you head back to prepare your next move, turn to 37.


71


You arrive at the nearest subway station. Descending under a wrought iron sign displaying the “East End” label, you step out on to the grey, concrete platform. This station doesn’t get much activity, you are alone at the moment, making it the ideal spot to dump a body. You may check the tracks, turn to 19, or search the platform, turn to 36.


72


The wet, stinky sand under the pier is speckled with light from above. A quick survey of the area turns up nothing, and you soon decide to check out another location, turn to 20.


73


The second level of the Order’s house is essentially abandoned; apparently everyone’s busy with the party down below. Poking around the upstairs rooms, you soon find yourself in a large, fancy office, dominated by a large black deck. Quickly though silently, you shuffle through the various files in and around the tablet, all to no avail.

Finally, you find a crumpled letter in the trash bin. After reading it, you are left mouth open with disbelief:

“Dear Orpheus,
As you know, I have certain interests in this city…
Interests in which I cannot allow interference of any kind, not even from my own family.
As you may have already heard, Dan is planning to go public with what he knows about our plans.
We cannot allow this to happen.
You know what needs to be done.

Martha Darben

Shaken by this revelation, you leave the Cult house in a haze. You’ve had some weird cases, but nothing this disturbing.