The player characters enter the story at a symphony. This works best for player characters who spend some time enjoying time travel, using it to experience the best of human history. They needn’t have an agenda at the symphony, they are there just to have a good time amongst high society.
They hear murmurings about the murders taking place in the city, people being found without their blood. If the player characters start asking questions they can learn that the attacker is apparently able to vanish.
In one attack bystanders ran down both ends of alley to find the victim in the middle. Neither parties encountered anyone coming the other way (in fact Jacques climb up the wall before they arrived).
The only other detail is that people have heard the sound of ticking near the murder scene.
Before they can ask further questions the music starts. At the party afterwards, mixing with members of high society they are introduced to Saint Germain, or at least his imposter. He is called upon to play the violin, something he is a supposed master of, and is only passable. He gives a diamond to a female player character (or anyone he is trying to impress) but examination reveals it is cheap glass. The player characters should quickly realise that this Saint Germain is a fraud.
Saint Germain makes extra-ordinary claims. He says he was born in Egypt, saw the fall of Rome, met the Virgin queen, rode with Genghis Khan and served in John Prestor’s court. He says that he is here to spy on England and sell their secrets to the highest bidder. A shocked party goer asks if he doesn’t fear for his life by making such a bold statement but Saint Germain says that he has lived so long because he is immortal.
It is at this point that he is shot through the window by a Shadow Directory operative. If the player character reacts quickly and looks out the window they see a shadowy figure putting away an odd looking rifle before fleeing.
If they check the imposters body they find letters from Duc de Choiseul (written in french but translated by the TARDIS) laying out the plan to discredit Saint Germain. There is also a sealed letter that the imposter was to give the authorities to pass to a French diplomat should he himself be arrested, to arrange for his release.
Whether they decide to give chase or check to confirm that Saint Germain has been killed they are soon approached. Saint Germain had heard of the imposter and was heading to confront the man when he heard the gun shot. He has previously encountered the Time Lord player character, although this is still in the Time Lords future, and so approaches him.
He quickly realises that the Time Lord doesn’t know him yet and uses this to his advantage, being vague about their relationship but indicating that he knows both that he is a Time Lord and that he can change his appearance. He confirms that he is immortal but he would never be so open as his imposter was. He also says that when they have met before he has used other names.
Saint Germain explains the situation and that the bullet was meant for him, although he doesn’t know who might be responsible. He says that there are two dangers now. He has left the robot head at his hotel ‘The Statesman’ and was due to meet with John Harrison. Both could be in danger.
The group should split in two, either the time travellers going together or one group being accompanied by Saint Germain.
At the hotel they encounter Shadow Directory operatives. Although human they are well versed in combat techniques and use alien enhanced technology. Their clothes bear the letters ‘SD’.
If the player characters attempt to stop them the operatives use smoke clouds to cover their escape, sonic bombs to disorient pursuers and secret martial art techniques to repulse attackers. If the player characters still prevail then there are operatives in hiding, waiting to cover their colleagues escape.
Although the operatives are able to escape with the robot head they do leave evidence in their muddy foot prints. Chemical analysis or a keen eye reveals the mud came from the Thames and the fragments of masonry indicates it is by the London Bridge where shops are being demolished to provide more room on the bridge.
The Villain Revealed
At John Harrison’s workshop they find that he is being held prisoner by Jacques Montgallie. Jacques has his blade at John’s throat, making it clear that any false move will end in John’s death, which could have a serious consequence on history if he does.
At 67 years old John makes a vulnerable hostage but if there is more than one player character there Jacques wants to keep them as a hostage, especially if they are an attractive female or particularly vulnerable.
Jacques explains his background and the knowledge that Saint Germain has brought the robot head into the city. If Saint Germain isn’t there Jacques will still reason they are working with him. In exchange for John’s life Jacques demands the head and arranges to meet them at a clock tower along the Thames.
It isn’t necessary for the player characters to know but if they make a Normal (12) Ingenuity+Knowledge (history) check they recall that John Harrison is responsible for creating a marine chronometer that solved the problem of longitude when sailing, something he won’t do for several years yet. His life must be saved.
The Shadow Directory
To get the head the player characters must track down the Shadow Directory. If they didn’t go to the hotel then Saint Germaine can tell them what happened there and the muddy foot prints, mixed with masonry.
Using this information they can travel along the Thames until they arrive at London bridge and see the construction work going on. Examining the mud on the river bank reveals the same pieces of masonry, falling off the bridge as buildings are knocked down.
Now they know where the Shadow Directory is located they just need to get inside. There is a concealed entrance
This will be tricky as the agents are trained but they could always use the TARDIS to materialise inside and try to find the robot head. Alternatively they can either stake out the area and wait for an operative to enter or leave, thus revealing the secret entrance or just boldly make a scene, demanding to speak with the operatives.
It won’t take long for them to be cornered but they can persuade operatives that they are friendly and that there is a threat to the country. This works especially well if the player character is a Londoner, a government agent or just especially British.
In addition, if Saint Germain is with them he can distract the agents, sacrificing himself to give them time to get away. As they leave they can see him apparently being shot dead. When Saint Germain reappears later he will explain that he is immortal but the player characters will never be sure if he was actually fatal injured.
The Clock Tower
Once they have the robot head they can work out what to do with it. They can swap it with a fake or damage it in some way but they do need to give something to Jacques in order for him to release his hostages. They could even bring in the Shadow Directory if they have convinced them of a greater threat.
Jacques has no intention of letting the player characters live, now they know his secret. He set the clock tower as a meeting place so they’d have to climb up to make the exchange. Amongst the cogs they’d have little room to move, a long way to fall and no way to quickly exit.
Once presented with the robot head he is easily distracted. His immediate focus will be on obtaining it. If they throw it, either into the clock tower cogs or through the clock face, his instinctive response will be to follow it. This could lead to his metallic limbs being crushed by the cogs or falling into the Thames outside, where the water and mud will clog up his robotic implants.
They can also use the tight confines and large pieces of machinery to their advantage, scattering and forcing Jacques to hunt them individually. In the confusion they can escape or lure him into a trap.
What should be obvious to the time travellers is that they can’t allow Jacques his freedom. He has been killing people throughout London and will continue to do so as he sinks deeper into his madness. Whether they kill him or imprison him Jacques must be stopped.
The Final Secret
The conclusion of the adventure should see John Harrison safe and Jacques, the Clockwork Assassin, stopped. It is up to the player characters whether they allow any of the futuristic technology to remain in the hands of the locals.
Saint Germain will be displeased if they deliberately destroy the robot head, making him fail in his mission, but will understand if it was necessary to save the life of John Harrison. This determines on which terms they part.
Once his business is resolved in London he will head back to France to deal with the plot to discredit him. Before he leaves the time travellers company he might make an enigmatic comment, hinting at what lies ahead for them (as it has already happened to him).
The Shadow Directory will be keen to get their hands on Jacques, or what remains of him. If the player characters were able to mobilise him then operatives can take him into custody, where they will remove the robot parts (although they will try to keep him alive).
Depending on how the time travellers represented themselves the Shadow Directory might offer them an alliance. Given clothing, jewellery or documentation that will identify them as operatives this gives them an ally in the future.
Alternatively, if they presented themselves as truly alien beings, the Shadow Directory might warn them that they will be watching for the time travellers. They may have stopped a threat to London this time but next time they will be treated as the enemy.
John Harrison is grateful to the player characters for rescuing him but perplexed by the whole affair. He does comment that studying Jacques’s implants has given him some ideas about clock making.
Those who know what he will achieve might like to give him some hints at his place in history.