And here’s the hook for your next modern action adventure.
This has got it all: an exotic locale (unless you live in South Korea, though I did for 3 ½ years, and I still find it exotic), government assassins, and a high level defector. There’s not much more you need to add to create a great action adventure.
But maybe there is more to this than meets the eye. I mean, when do reporters ever get it right? Could this be a case of being reported what one is told and not digging deeper? Of course it could.
Who is Hwang? What from his past might give us a hook, some departure from the norm?
He studied in Russia from 1949 to 1953. Stalin time! He returned to North Korea the year of Stalin’s death! Hmmmm.
The Soviet Union was a big believer in parapsychology—what I call parapsych in Mundus Novit. It is possible that Hwang was either brainwashed OR was a subject in one of the “beyond the limit” experiments of the time. Did he become a puppet for Stalin? Does he host an imprint of Stalin’s brain? Had he been gaining control of North Korea’s political players since his return in 1953, cast adrift after Stalin died? And if so, why is Kim Jong-Il impervious to his mental controls?
Possibly because he so crazy, but I digress.
What if, on the other hand, Hwang was sent to the Soviet Union to control it, to use his vast mental (or perhaps magical) powers to insure that Stalin never turned his back on North Korea. Hwang might have been a tool crafted specifically to control Stalin, and it has taken him decades to properly harness his power, re-direct it, gain full control of it. When he did, Kim Jong-Il set out to remove him. He was, you see, far too great a threat.
But Hwang escaped. He left behind his family because he really didn’t care about them. He has been focused on recapturing the thrill of control he had exercised over Stalin. An exercise noted by Beria and the Troika, which was why they assassinated Stalin—they did not know Stalin was, in fact, being controlled, they only recognized the results of that control.
Hwang is now in full control of his powers, and he wants revenge. Once he accomplishes his revenge on Kim Jong-Il, he will take control of South Korea—a rich and powerful prize, even better than Stalin’s Soviet Union. The assassins are from a special force specifically chosen and trained after Hwang’s escape, knowing that a confrontation will occur.
Now the player characters are caught in the middle. Hwang is definitely a huge threat, but right now he is focused on another huge threat. Do the PCs act now, perhaps in concert with the North Korean ESPer-hunters, or do they aid Hwang in destroying Kim Jong-Il, planning to then turn on Hwang?
Hwang, though, may be a far more dangerous opponent than they at first imagine.
And he’s not alone.
But that’s the next adventure in the campaign.