Friday, August 22, 2014

The Chaos Scar - Rumors

Rumors

Here are a bunch of rumors for the Chaos Scar. Some are just general rumors, some are linked to specific adventures. They ascend in order of adventure difficulty. If you don't want to lead the party on with dangerous adventures, start with a d20 and add a d10 every level or so. Otherwise just roll a d100/2. I'd say let each member of the party hear a rumor when they start and then let the party hear up to three more per adventure they complete.

  1. Lord Drysdale is planning to convert everyone in Restwell Keep to the worship of Erathis. If they don’t agree they’ll be exiled into the Scar!
  2. We regular folk don’t mean anything to Drysdale. He intends to just use Restwell Keep as a military base to retake the Scar.
  3. Some of the Blades are still around and they’re more than eager to get revenge on Lord Drysdale.
  4. Gorn Hammerfall, the Captain of the Guard, has found a forgotten secret chamber with his stone cunning. It contains Greysen Ramthane’s hidden treasure!
  5. The Mages of Saruun come from Thunderspire Mountain and do business with all sorts of unsavory creatures like drow and duregar. Why does Lord Drysdale allow them to stay here? They can’t be up to any good.
  6. There’s a human cult call the Brotherhood of the Scar that has a fortress deep in the crater.
  7. One hundred years ago a red dragon named Kerang was the terror of the Scar but a wily druid named Merlius poisoned him and then brought the mine down on his head. Word has it among the Fireclaw kobolds that Kerang may be coming back somehow! (Some Assembly Required)
  8. The Skull Kicker kobolds usually aren't much of a problem but they've become more organized lately and have actually managed to nail a merchant caravan. (Kobold Hall)
  9. There’s an old keep that predates the Scar not too far from the King’s wall. Belonged to a Goliath sorcerer from what I understand. Place is infested with Bullywugs now. (Stick in the Mud)
  10. There is a cult dedicated to something called Chitteruk not too far into the scar. Their leader, a one armed gnoll called the Hand of Chitteruk, has been capturing people and taking them away to their lair. (Den of the Slavetakers)
  11. A pair of Halfling bandits have been terrorizing homesteads and travelers near the Scar. Not only do they steal, they are ruthless murderers. (The Brothers Gray)
  12. A Cave near the King’s wall is the lair of some strange glowing drakes. They are covered with odd blisters that emit residuum when popped! (Death in the Pincers)
  13. Not far from the Kings Wall is a cave that emits a strange blue glow. (The Tainted Spiral)
  14. Some brigands have been randomly attacking travelers and homesteads near the King’s wall. However these aren't bandit raids as very little is stolen – it is killing for killing sake. (Elves of the Valley)
  15. Some crazy-ass goblin named Slaark is demanding tribute from everyone near the Scar. Like Lord Drysdale's gonna put up with that! (Slaark's Crown)
  16. If you follow the road into the Scar, half way in there is a trading post where you can meet with some of the more unsavory residents of the area. (The Crossroads)
  17. The tiefling who runs the trading post at the Crossroads, Silvereye, often tries to trick and do in visitors who are obviously adventurers. (The Crossroads)
  18. The Stone Forest is actually a series of monoliths from ancient times. Some say they’re the teeth knocked out of a primordial by Moradin’s hammer.
  19. Somewhere near the King’s Wall is the Cave of Whispers where dark secrets can be heard. (Sliver’s Call)
  20. Somewhere within the Scar is a forest made entirely of glass! (Glass Spire Forest)
  21. There is an old temple in the Scar. It was originally dedicated to Erathis but was overrun by followers of Orcus. It’s abandoned now. (Dead by Dawn)
  22. The lizardfolk in the region worship Tiamatt, Zehir and all sorts of other nasty gods. (Keep on the Borderlands)
  23. There is an old abandoned dwarven refinery within the Scar. (The Hammer Falls)
  24. The Sword Pillar is a favored place for Hobgoblins to gather and choose a new leader. The winner of the combat must thrust his vanquished opponent’s sword through the pillar.
  25. A long time ago there used to be an elven colony in the deep woods of the Scar. A bunch of heretics or something who lived along side orcs. They were slaughtered by their own kin, though. (Blood of Gruumsh)
  26. There is a big old hole in the ground inside the scar known as the “goblin hole”. Can’t think of a reason anyone would want to go there unless you just hated goblins. (Down the Goblin Hole)
  27. About fifty years ago there was a goblin war chief named Urgog who actually managed to burn down the elven wood during his reign. He got old and was eventually chased off. But there’s been increased goblin activity lately and they've been using Urgog’s name as a battle cry! (Down the Goblin Hole)
  28. It’s said that the Goliath sorcerer, Voran Earthman, had labs and libraries all around the Scar that were connected by teleportation. Some of the underground ones may still be intact. (The Lost Library)
  29. There’s an old temple of Moradin in the Scar but nobody remembers where it was. (The Crawling Fane)
  30. An elven wizard named Vanamere and human fighter named Lethion used to live in a tower and helped protect the King’s Wall. After Lethion pass away the tower was repeatedly assaulted by orcs and ogres trying to get some treasure he buried with him. Eventually they brought a giant and the tower was destroyed, but not after Vanamere summoned a mighty storm to destroy all of them. She disappeared during that storm and became one with the tower to stay with her beloved. (Stormtower)
  31. Strange, ghostly spiders have been appearing in nearby towns and making off with magic items. (The Spintered Spring)
  32. Illugi Swordbreaker, the Emerald Warlock, and Agera of the Shadow Face led a mercenary group called Stormcrow Company. Each had a storied adventuring background before they joined their strengths, but those stories are as nothing compared to the tales of the exploits of Stormcrow Company. The mercenaries made their base in old tunnels they found beneath a rocky tor in the Scar. (Stormcrow Tor)
  33. Stormcrow Company was credited with cleaning the goblin tribes out of nearby hills and killing a lich who threatened the valley from its dark tower. The adventurers also accepted contracts to assassinate nobles in a neighboring city-state, kidnapped an eladrin princess in return for a ransom of questionable relics, and even slew the good dragon Karonzaxus. In the end, they were feared more than revered. (Stormcrow Tor)
  34. The Gnawstubbles goblin tribe has been dominating all the other tribes deeper in the Scar. They've even been seen riding giant bats! (Glowstone Caverns)
  35. Fjorn Hammermain, a well known prospector, finally bit off more than he could chew in the Chaos Scar. Too bad since he actually seemed to have found adamantine. (Fjorin’s Foothold)
  36. One of the most famous landmarks in the Scar is the Pillar of Eyes. It resembles nothing so much as a stack of staring eyeballs. (The Pillar of Eyes)
  37. The sorcerer Voran Earthmane has an old tower in the Scar that somehow never fell into disrepair after the star fell. (Vanguard Tower)
  38. Deep in the Scar, past the Crossroads and the Stone Forest is the Slaver's Stone where unsavory deals are made. (The Slaver’s Stone)
  39. The Cloven Skull is the skull of a stone giant that was caught by the impact of the falling star and became embedded in The Wall. Somewhere nearby is a tunnel that leads to a mad oracle.
  40. There is a benevolent cult dedicated called the Radiant Morn that has established itself in the Scar. They are working to bring light to the region. (The Radiant Morn)
  41. A frequent visitor to the Chaos Scar is Keljack the Deathless. He’s over a hundred years old yet doesn't look a day over thirty. He’s violently unpredictable, though, especially when near the Scar. A master swordsman you don’t want to mess with. (Scarred for Life)\
  42. A red dragon was seen a few years ago settling itself down into the caves along the crater. No one has seen or heard from it since. Thank the gods. (Reflections of Ruin)
  43. Sir Tavil Soarvaren was a shining paladin of Bahamut until he was killed by orcs. He had some artifact that the orc leader wears around now as a trophy. (Vainglorius)
  44. The Proving Pit is used by the denizens of the Chaos Scar to settle disputes between themselves or to test themselves against other fighters of many kinds. (Scarblade)
  45. The Scarblade is encased in a translucent crystal spire above a gladiatorial pit. Anyone who defeats the pit’s champion can claim it. (Scarblade)
  46. Some woodcutters saw a wolf all covered in tongues and other animals twisted beyond belief in the deep woods of the Scar. (The Star-Touched Grove)
  47. Small bands of well-armed members of the Brotherhood have been seen attacking monsters in the Scar but have been capturing them and not killing them. (Heart of the Scar)
  48. There’s a wizard who lives in a giant floating stone head and floats around the Vale. Sometimes he comes down if he sees something interesting. (Head in the Clouds)
  49. There used to be catacombs underneath the Keep, but they were sealed up ages ago. No one knows how to get down there now. (Pit of Delirium)
  50. Strange runes have been seen around the Scar. No one knows what they are but they make you feel uneasy. (Runecutter)




Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Chaos Scar - Encounters

A note on levels:
This setup will likely result in the party encountering challenges either above or below their level. In other versions of D&D this would be less of an issue as the toughness of a creature could be more easily gauged - a kobold was a kobold, even if it was one of Tucker's. In 4e that kobold could be a 10th level challenge and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference on sight. So my recommendations would be as follows:

  • If the encounter would be more than a level or two lower go ahead and beef it up a bit, especially if it is a full adventure. Unless your 9th level party could use a laugh cleaning up Stick in the Mud or something.
  • If the encounter would be more than a level or two higher take the following into consideration:
    • What would you be nerfing? If you'd just be dropping the level of some humanoid opponents then just go ahead and do that.
    • If the opponents are signaled to be more dangerous, like dragons and such, leave them be and try to make it obvious they're outmatched.
    • When the PCs really get into trouble, probably the first time this happens, have Keljack bail them out. It could help make him more sympathetic later on.

Events and Encounters

If you want to roll for it, roll a 1d6; on a 1-3 it is an event, on a 4-6 it is an encounter. However pacing should be more of a factor for deciding things. If the party has already had several major events or encounters, just throw one of the "non-events" at them to keep them on their toes. Similarly, while a numbered list is provided for the encounters you should really just choose one that is based off a location they are close to or is of an appropriate challenge.

Events
1 - Evil presence. Have a random member of the party make a Will saving throw. No matter the result, tell them they sense an evil presence watching them.
2 - Whispers of the Shard. Choose a random member of the party. Everyone else in the party hears a faint whisper to kill that party member in order to receive a great reward. There is no reward.
3 - Twisted wildlife. An animal with some twisted feature crosses their path, like a rabbit with no fur and transparent skin. It is harmless otherwise.
4 - Blight. The party walks through an area where all the plant life is dead and no animals can be seen or heard.
5 - Strange fruit. A nearby plant bears fruit that is moving. The fruit resembles something organic - embryos hanging from tress, eyeballs in a berry bush, etc. The fruit IS organic and bleeds if cut. It dies the moment it is picked. It has not benefits and is sickening (and just sick) if eaten.
6 - Non-euclidean river. The party encounters a river that is heading their direction. If they follow it, they end up back where they first encountered the river 1 mile later even though it had been going straight the entire time. They need to lose sight of the river in a perpendicular direction to escape the loop.
7 - Storm. The skies darken over 1 mile of movement and then a massive storm breaks out for the next 1d4 miles. Do the following skill challenge:

  • For each mile of stormy weather make a check. Each failure costs 1 extra mile of movement.
    • The road is muddy and slippery. Everyone makes a moderate Athletics check. If anyone fails someone else can make a hard Endurance check to pull them along. Any unresolved failures counts as a failure for this phase.
    • The skies darken and it becomes black as night save for lightning strikes. Moderate Nature or hard Perception/Insight.
    • It is cold and wet. Everyone makes a moderate Endurance check. If anyone fails someone else can make a hard Heal check to help them. Any unresolved failures counts as a failure for this phase.
    • Lightning strikes at a party member. Use DMG pg.42 for a limited attack. A hit counts as a failure.
8 - Wide river crossing. Each party member makes an moderate Athletics, Endurance or Nature check to cross or one party member can make a Hard check in a creative way to get them across (like building a raft or finding an easy ford.) Any failures result in the loss of 1 mile.
9 - Steep ridge. One of the ridges of the Scar jut up suddenly and stands in the party's way. Treat like a river for purposes of getting by it.
10 - Rain. It rains on the party for the next 1d20 miles. At the end of the day either one person can make a hard Nature or Heal check to cover for everyone, or everyone makes a moderate Endurance check. Failure results in one less Healing Surge the next morning.


Encounters
First, when there is going to be an encounter, determine if the party is within two miles of any active adventure locations. If they are then you can usually use the first encounter from that adventure as a wandering monster group. If the adventure doesn't really lend itself to its residents wandering around then just choose another type of encounter.

If you'd like to roll for encounters, use this chart. It mostly references material in the various adventures for statistics. Other items use encounters from other adventures which I'll reference.
  1. Chance Encounter (1g)
  2. Eyes in the Forest (1h)
  3. A band of Fireclaw Kobolds (4 Kobold Dragonshields) are looking for someplace else to go. Their chieftain is weak and they don't think the clan will survive. They'll offer their services for food, shelter and four gold a week.
  4. The Hand of Torog, 4 Archer Cultists and 4 Evil Ritualists looking for someone to enslave. (Den of the Slavers)
  5. The Eyes in the Forest encounter from Elves of the Valley.
  6. 6 Lizardfolk Mire Scouts are attacking Lizardfolk Dreadtail. The Dreadtail is a cultist of Tiamatt who the Scouts are trying to chase off. (Battle of the Witchlight Hermitage for stats only. Dungeon 191.)
  7. Two Duregar Guards and two Duregar Scouts in search of victims. (The Hammer Falls)
  8. A goblin hex hurler, 4 goblin warriors and 4 goblin cutters on their way to a raid outside the Wall. They don't necessarily notice or care about the party. (Down the Goblin Hole)
  9. 4 Zombie Rotters, 2 Zombie Soldiers and 2 Gravehounds. Not necessarily from the adventure site - you never need a reason for zombies. (Dead by Dawn)
  10. A Hobgoblin Commander and 4 Hobgoblin Spear Soldiers are on their way back to Slaark's Crown. They aren't looking for a fight and if the party seems shifty enough might try to recruit them. (Slaark's Crown)
  11. A bound human rogue named Ames is being escorted by three Hobgoblin Deathwatchers from their lair to the Crossroads. He'll cry for help if he sees the party and promise a reward. He has nothing left. (The Crossroads)
  12. Bugs! Four Centipede Swarms are crawling forth from the old temple of Moradin to do gods know what. (The Crawling Fane)
  13. Erim Haverlam and his two sons are bound and being dragged along by 4 Kobold Quickblades and 4 Kobold Dragonshields. (Wayward Wyrmling)
  14. Death from above! 2 Goblin Bat Handlers riding Mutated Shadowhunter Bats swoop down on the party. (Glowstone Caverns)
  15. A Kenku Inciter, 5 Kenku Tribals and a Kenku Wing Mage are looking for someone to rob. The party may or may not seem like good pickings. They won't kill if they don't have to. (Stormcrow Tor)
  16. A Gnoll Huntmaster, a Gnoll Warfang and 2 Deathpledged Gnolls are leading two rust monsters to Vanguard Tower for sale. They don't want trouble. (Vanguard Tower)
  17. Werewolves looking for prey. 3 Frenzied Werewolves and 8 Vicious Wolves. (Bark at the Moon, Dungeon 185)
  18. "The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken." (Head in the Clouds)
  19. 2 Slug Rabbits and 3 Tongue Wolves wander from their grove. (The Star Touched Grove, Dungeon 219)
  20. The Banites are collecting sacrifices. 1 Tainted Warpriest, 2 Tainted Scouts and 2 Warhounds are attacking a band of 4 Goblin Cutters. (Heart of the Scar & Down the Goblin Hole)





Monday, August 18, 2014

The Chaos Scar - Map

The following is a map of the Chaos Scar with all of the adventure locations on it. I'll admit to lifting the base map from here as it was a cleaner slate to work with.


A few notes:

  • If an adventure isn't listed, it is because it is a "could happen anywhere" adventure like 1h-Eyes in the Forest.
  • Some adventures use multiple locations, like 5a-The Slaver's Stone. These multiple locations are labeled but not keyed for that specific adventure.

Wilderness Travel

First have the party determine what route they are taking. They may take the direct route, they may choose to follow the road for a while first.

For simplicity's sake, assume the party can move 20 miles per day. As the challenge progresses this may be reduced - you can almost think of them as 20 movement points. Once the party has used their 20 miles the day is over and they must make camp or risk travel at night.

As the party travels along their path (or assumed path) use the following costs against their miles per day:
Road - No adjustment
Open ground - No adjustment but can become lost
Forest, small - Cost 2 miles to travel through; any forest square with open ground adjacent
Forest, large - Costs 3 miles to travel through; any forest square surrounded by other forest
Exploration Mode - Costs an additional mile to the normal travel rate; party is taking the time to thoroughly explore their surroundings
Stealth Mode - Costs an additional mile to the normal travel rate; party is taking the time to try and not be noticed

Getting Lost
It is assumed that the party has a map similar to the player's map handout so getting lost is really only an issue when they can't see their surroundings - in deep forest or at night. In these cases require a moderate Nature check each square traveled. A failure results in them going off course to the 1-3: left or 4-6: right. Once they are in a place where they can see clearly again, they can easily get back on course, though.

Encounters and Events
At 5, 10, 15 and 20miles roll 1d6. If the party is in Stealth mode, subtract 1 from the roll. If the party is in Exploration mode, add 1 to the roll but they gain surprise. Something exciting occurs on 5 or 6. The next part will detail wilderness events in the Scar.

Finding Things
If the party is in Exploration mode they automatically find any encounter location if they are in the square adjacent to it. Otherwise they need to enter that location's square in order to find it.

Camping
It is assumed the party are experienced enough adventurers to competently set up a camp with a watch in the wilderness. There are two event checks over the night. However a hard Nature check may allow their camp to be considered as being in Stealth mode for the check and a hard Endurance check allows a double watch that counts them in Exploration mode.

Travel at Night
If the party decides to travel at night they can get up to an additional 15 miles of movement. However for each 5 miles they use they must make an easy then moderate then hard Endurance check or lose a healing surge. They also lose the benefits of a long rest and can become lost. There is an event check each 5 miles.

Notes
Most of the heavy lifting here is going to occur in the Events section. What is important here is the currency the party uses, their miles or movement. Taking more time will give them more advantages with events and encounters but it will also subject them to more opportunities for things to happen.


Friday, August 15, 2014

The Chaos Scar - Introduction

There was a period of time where I was assembling "canned" campaigns to run at a moment's notice. These would consist of a series of modules that effectively formed a sort of adventure path. Some were obvious, like stringing together the original 3rd edition modules, and some took a bit more effort - or at least I put a bit more effort into it. An example would be taking a bunch of the good Necromancer Games modules like Crucible of Freya, Rappan Athuk and Tomb of Abythsor and then creating a region where they were all located (I didn't own Bard's Gate). I generally leaned towards sandboxy setup with a linked theme, in the previous example the cult of Orcus.

When I was getting ready to cut my teeth on 4th edition I decided to try and use ready made adventures first to get the hang of things. The Chaos Scar series of adventures in Dungeon Magazine fit how I liked to do things perfectly. I assembled the module, put together a homemade rumor table to get things and going and waited to be able to run a game. And I got to run it! For about four sessions before life got in the way. Since then I've been building on the concept and I thought I'd put it out there as a resource.

General Changes

The Chaos Scar is a neat idea but when you dig down into the adventures it is obvious some of them were pretty much shoehorned in. I've opted to make some changes to the adventures that will be detailed later, but in general this is what I've chosen to focus on:
  • The Chaos Shards - One of the optional campaign starts has the shards playing a more important role. A number of adventures have them inserted in order to tie them in closer to the Scar.
  • Chitteruk - A few cults appear once and are never heard from again. While this can make sense in a "evil is drawn here" sort of way, I prefer to keep things a bit tighter. In this case a few adventures have Chitteruk or some other imaginary voice coming from the Shosh-Gorag acting as their "god".
  • Voran Earthmane - Hey, two adventures reference him, why not more? It seemed a shame that his teleportation chamber only went one other place.
  • Kobolds - Damn there are a lot of kobolds in these adventures and most of them are break-offs from the Fireclaw clan. What is up with the fireclaws that they keep losing people? Nothing really done with this, but it is a good hook for a homemade adventure.
  • Less Random People - Each adventure has a new NPC or three that needs help or offers a hook. Whenever possible I replace them with someone who already exists in another adventure or the keep itself.
  • Exploration - The adventures are written such that it is kind of assumed you just GO places. I've made sure each location is marked on the map and use exploration rules so that the PCs can just wander into the Scar and find stuff. Of course, just like in older editions, they may not be ready for what they find...
  • New Adventures - I grabbed a few more generic adventures from Dragon that seem to fit in with the Scar in order to pad out what is available.

The Adventures

And just so there is something useful in this post instead of me just blathering, here's a compiled list of all the Chaos Scar adventures along with the ones I'm including. All adventures have a level/letter code now for later reference.

1a - Stick in the Mud (Dungeon 171)
1b - Den of the Slavetakers (Dungeon 171)
1c - The Brothers Gray (Dungeon 172)
1d - Death in the Pincers (Dungeon 172)
1e - The Tainted Spiral (Dungeon 173)
1f - Some Assembly Required (Dungeon 208)
1g - A Chance Encounter (Dungeon 174)
1h - Eyes in the Forest (Dungeon 177)
1i - Elves of the Valley (Dungeon 178)
1j - Kobold Hall (DMG)

2a - Sliver's Call (Dungeon 174)
2b - The Shrine of the Galss-Spire Forest (Dungeon 175)
2c - Dead by Dawn (Dungeon 176)
2d - The Hammer Falls (Dungeon 179)
2e - Down the Goblin Hole (Dungeon 180)
2f - The Lost Library (Dungeon 173)
2g - The Crossroads (Dungeon 176)
2h - Slaark's Crown (Dungeon 220)

3a - The Crawling Fane (Dungeon 178)
3b - The Splintered Spring (Dungeon 179)
3c - The Wayward Wyrmling (Dungeon 182)
3d - Storm Tower (Dungeon 166)
3e - Fjorin's Foothold (Dungeon 209)

4a - Glowstone Caverns (Dungeon 177)
4b - The Pillar of Eyes (Dungeon 180)
4c - Vanguard Tower (Dungeon 182)
4d - Stormcrow Tor (Dungeon 169)
4e - Blood of Gruumsh (Dungeon 210)

5a - The Slaver's Stone (Dungeon 181)

6a - Rumble in the Valley (Dungeon 193)
6b - The Radiant Morn (Dungeon 183)

7a - Scarred for Life (Dungeon 192)
7b - Reflictions of Ruin (Dungeon 196)
7c - Head in the Clouds (Dungeon 184)
7d - Scarblade (Dungeon 189)
7e - Vainglorious (Dungeon 221)

8a - Pit of Delirium (Dungeon 190)
8b - The Runecutter's Ruin (Dungoen 186)
8c - The Star touched Grove (Dungeon 219)

9a - Heart of the Scar (Dungeon 197)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Jedi on the Ocean Planet

So we began playing a Star Wars game over Roll20 and it was mentioned that after the first adventure someone could take over if they wanted. I got all hyped up and planned out a sand-box setting to fit about situation our group would end up in. The game didn't last past the first session. Oh, well. So I'll put it here.

I started with the idea of some a trio of Jedi whom the Empire has allowed to live since they are holding back something Cthulhu-like. I figured a water planet would fit well for that. The I began drawing from Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet to fill out details about the planet. And I kept drawing on it. Pretty soon my Lovcraftian idea went full-on anime adaptation. Still think it would be fun, though. It takes place before A New Hope.

The Jedi
There are a trio of old Jedi on the ocean planet of Rilleth in the Lavicroft system.
Rice Beren, Jafan Desyk, Soont Corren. They are the Keepers.

They are part of an order that holds back an entity called the Devourer - one of them must be focused on meditating at all times. If the meditation is broken for more than a minute the Devourer will be released. They keep a rotation. Before the Purge they were sent new Jedi to train as replacements every five years. Now they are old and there is no one to replace them. While the Empire has allowed them to live they have forbidden them from training new Jedi to act as replacements.

The Keepers have about 100 servants both in the temple and located in other places to acquire supplies and other forms of support. Most outsiders just think of them as an odd but harmless religious group as they do their best to keep the Keepers and the Devourer secret.

They live in an ancient temple that sits above the water - it is actually the tip of a pyramid that descends 10,000' into the the ocean. The base is almost 20,000' wide. It is said the Devourer sleeps inside and barely fits...

The Empire
The Empire knows about the Keepers and keeps them a secret. Rilleth is one of the few planets that is a source of Cortosis ore - oddly the underwater mines make it safer to extract. The Keepers have been contacted by the Empire and informed that they will mostly be left alone and get the Empire's support as long as they don't train any new Jedi. They Keepers are not happy about this but the don't want to see the world destroyed.

Since there will be no more replacements for the Keepers the Empire is building a massive ion weapon to use on the Devourer when it inevitably awakens. It is powerful enough to short out a super start destroyer with a single shot.

Cult of the Devourer
The existence of the Devourer is relegated to myth. Some people take it quite seriously, though, and want to see it freed. This is due to exposure to a biological agent that affects the subjects' minds in odd ways. This agent was created by the Biologists long ago as a weapon against the Colonists as it causes self-genocidal impulses.

Cultists are loathed by almost everyone as they are quite clearly crazy, mostly suicidal and often homicidal. Since they kidnap people and warp them into their beliefs somehow (by exposing them to the agent) they are often hunted and prosecuted everywhere. They are always trying to find followers of the Keepers so that they can find the temple and free the Devourer.

The Planet
Rilleth at one time had an advanced civilization but they suffered too much ecological damage and most of the planet was submerged by the oceans. It seems some portion of the population managed to get off planet but suffered extermination not too long afterwards.

There are currently no known native sentient life forms on Rilleth. There are the glowsquid -  four tentacled, phosphorescent squid-like creatures that are about 2 meters in length. They leave glowing trails through the water that lasts for days. These trails also provide excellent fishing. They are known to have nests deep below but no one has bothered exploring them as they turn hostile when you get too close.

The ocean floor is littered with the remains of the previous civilization. These are obviously found at the highest points where land once used to be. However it is rumored that the most advanced technology lies deeper.

The other planets in the Lavicroft system show some signs of ancient colonization and space stations exist but they all seem to have been damaged or destroyed in combat. Additionally, massive, artificial, hive-like structures have been found floating in space nearby many settlements and also show signs of battle damage.

The Locals
Many different people have come to Rilleth over the centuries and established a rugged civilization. Some were scrappers, some were treasure hunters and some were just trying to get away. There turned out to be little profit in the scrap available but the occasional treasure kept people coming.

A few cities exist where mountain ranges still peak over the waves. These are the closest things that an outsider might consider as proper civilization, complete with spaceports and holonet access. These places are under Imperial control.

After the cities are the Gargantua - massive fleets of ships and floating platforms that have literally banded together into a collective society. They are rough places that survive on scrapping and hydroponics. Individual fleet captains act as a city council of sorts and may choose to leave the Gargantua charter by taking their ships with them.

Finally there are the pirates and independents. The former often band together like Gargantua but rarely reach the same size. The latter rarely last very long without forming alliances.

Locations
Port Pashna - The largest city and primary spaceport on the planet. The tallest mountain on the planet was leveled to make a flat surface for the city. It is under complete Imperial control and well ordered. The planetary governor tolerates the existence of some of the more reputable Gargantua and they often come here to trade. The primary Cortosis warehouse and shipping center is also here.

Thalu Cove - A smaller, seedier city that has the only other public spaceport. Located inside of a mountaintop that was hollowed out. Not exactly a pirates' den but definitely a smuggler's paradise and place for more questionable transactions to take place. The city has an Imperial governor but he is corrupt as fuck, taking kickbacks from pirates and smugglers to turn a blind eye.

Hordo's Nest - Hordo Tetsu, a Rodian self-proclaimed "pirate king", hollowed out a mountain that had a tip jutting out above the waves and built his base beneath the water. Initially he used it to hide his fleet but over time it became an illegal trading center for many different pirate fleets to meet. Aside from trading with themselves that have "runners" who take merchandise to more reputable places for fencing. While Hordo doesn't technically command any fleet but his, everyone respects him and would likely answer a call to action. Ruthless but rationally business-minded.

Cortosis mines - There are a dozen of these all over the planet. They are heavily guarded by the Empire in the air, on and under the water. Massive hydraulic jacks bore into the earth, collect the results into a water pump that reaches a filter part way up that separates out the Cortosis and then pumps that up to a refinery platform up above.

Aneen Dal - The largest of the Gargantua and the reason that type of collective was given that name. At it's peak, Aneen Dal was larger than Port Pashna. Founded over a hundred years ago by the Mon Calamari of the same name, Aneen is considered to be one of the points of light on an otherwise miserable planet. There are over a hundred fleets tied together and their council is more like a parliament with a Chancellor, Carmiya Kale, as head executive. They even have a small spaceport with room for two frigates and some fighters.

The Temple of the Keepers/Devourer - Technically the same building. The tip of the Devourer's pyramid is where the Keepers and their attendants live. The temple is actually made of an unknown alloy using Cortosis as a base and is gleaming silver. A single Jedi meditating can activate the Cortosis-like properties in the pyramid that apparently keeps the Devourer at bay. It is thought that since there would never be enough Cortosis to make a cage large enough that it was spread out with this alloy instead. 

The Imperial Weapon Outpost - Not far from the Temple is a massive Imperial base that sits on the water. Aside from the troops who are dedicated to keeping the Temple safe and unknown there is also a massive ion weapon that is being designed to kill the Devourer. The idea is that since the Devourer seems to be energy based enough that Cortosis can contain it, a large enough ion blast would short it out long enough for its biological components to die. Anyone who sees the weapon may notice that it is aimed at the water level and not at space...

History
Rilleth was advanced technologically but hadn't yet achieved hyperdrive. The ecological disaster was going to submerge the planet no matter what and the civilization was divided on what to do about it. The Biologist faction insisted that genetically altering themselves to live underwater was the answer while the Colonists wanted to colonize other planets. The Biologists told the Colonists that terraforming wasn't possible yet and life in inhospitable space would be a miserable existence. The Colonists told the Biologists that there was no predicting how the changes would affect them and feared turning into monsters.

These two sides eventually began warring. Once the Colonists successfully began leaving the planet the Biologists began modifying themselves to survive deep space and following after. By this point they had become somewhat monstrous. Colonists became so militarized that no one could remember what freedom was.

The biologists began to prepare an ultimate weapon, a massive entity that was nearly indestructible and powered by a fusion core. A sort of biological robot that could be constructed instead of grown. It was completed but never activated as the war in space had nearly petered out as the Colonists were destroyed to a point where they would never survive and the Biologists had warped themselves to a point where they barely had any sentience left.

The Old Republic first contact team arrived not long after this was over. Only a few Biologists with any intellect remained and they weren't able to warn off the explorers before they accidentally awoke the Devourer. By cooperating with the remaining Biologists they were able to put the Devourer back in its cage and learned how to use the Force to maintain the Cortosis alloy once the last of the Biologists passed away. Since the Devourer could survive in deep space they had no desire to let it loose, even if the planet was essentially uninhabited at this point.

Setup
The PCs could have any number of reasons to come here. If they're of the shady variety they could simply be picking up a Cortosis shipment for smuggling. If they are bounty hunters they can get wind of the Jedi's existence and hope to collect the huge general bounty on surviving Jedi. Rebels would likely want to recruit any surviving Jedi. An Imperial officer not in the loop may send some agents to collect the Jedi for a reward. Either way the PCs should eventually have to deal with what to do about the Devourer and the surviving Jedi.


Valley of the Masters - The Rails

The Rails
Often hidden by grass, other vegetation and sometimes shifted earth is a series of metallic rails that connect the major landmarks of the valley. The rails are made of the nontarnishable, nearly unbreakable Slith silversteel and consists of a single 1' wide and 2' tall strip that seem perfectly formed. Once found they make finding new locations a breeze if followed but they come with several potential dangers.

The danger begins once the generator is turned on at the Power Station and rails become charged again. Any metallic object within 5' will be pulled towards the powered rail with the pull getting stronger the closer it gets. The pull is strong enough that once the object is touching the rail no amount of human strength can pull it back. However once a metal object is in contact with the rail siren will sound once a few seconds later and all metallic objects within 5' will be pushed from the rails with incredible force.

Another danger is that once powered the rails will begin drawing out mechanites who want to feed on the energy. If no one gets too close it might be amusing to watch them approach the rail, get stuck on it and then get sent flying off. But they'll keep coming like bugs to a light and many will be destroyed likewise.

The final danger will come when the residents of the Rail Station discover how to use the railcars and begin travelling...

Note that at each location in the valley will be a rail stop - at this point all that remains are some silversteel girders that used to hold together more ornamental and less durable material. Random bits of Slith stuff may be uncovered in these spots if investigated.

The Twisted
The most immediate threat in the valley is based out of the Rail Station. When the Slith disappeared most of their servants went on to try and reform a new civilization as independent beings. The servants in this valley were so isolated and remote that they never got to take part in that. When the power shut off and the valley went quiet they slowly descended into desperate savagery. They did survive, though, a motley assortment of different races gathered, modified or created by the Slith. Ages worth of unlikely crossbreeding, inbreeding and other accidental acts of miscegenation took place and now the residents are simply the Twisted.

The Twisted appearance is almost random with different traits of elf, dwarf, human, goblin, orc and beast randomly assorted among them. They have never taken up metal crafting after all this time but rather make use of the scraps of silversteel that they find everywhere. However their priests, whom someone is answering, have a ritual that lets them shape silversteel. This is reserved for the most important of the Twisted. The majority of the Twisted wear poorly maintained sackcloth clothing and use wood and stone tools with the occasional improvised silverteel implement.

Their language is a simplified, degenerate version of the Slith tongue. However it is close enough that if pressed a member of the Twisted could read Slith writing (though not necessarily understand what the words mean). These misunderstood words make up the nonsense rituals of their priests who hold the Slith as distant gods who will one day return. In the meantime they claim to be guided by "The Buzzing", a buzzing voice that only the select can hear in their heads. The Buzzing currently seems to be guiding them to dig into the mountainside, ostensibly to teach them how to make their own silversteel...

The Buzzing is also incredibly xenophobic in how it will react to outsiders. Individual Twisted may initially be curious or friendly, perhaps even mistaking the PCs for the returning Slith if they have better than primitive technology.

The Rail Station
With the ageless silversteel acting as girders, the Twisted have managed to keep the basic form of the Rail Station even if most of the original ornamental stone walls have crumbled to the ground. Simple stone walls sit between girders and leather hides cover where most of the arched roof has fallen down. The station is massive, about the size of Grand Central Station, and is filled with individual Twisted huts and tents with the leaders and shamans taking the individual private rooms.

If the Rail Station is looted, generally useless bits of silversteel are all that they will find in the common tents. The private rooms are where the shaped silversteel blades and armor can be found - assuming they aren't being worn by the owners. Other random bits of Slith debris are also possible. There are also stairways down to the underground.

The rail lines actually run into an underground portion of the Rail Station. The tunnels that the rails follow down are blocked by large silversteel doors that will open once the power is turned on. They all meet in a large switching station where there are still five intact rail cars - long, art-deco looking bullets of silver. These cars are revered by the twisted and the shaman's rituals take place near the switching control panels. Once the power is turned on the Buzzing will instruct the shamans how to operate the cars and switches - the Twisted will begin travelling about the valley.

If the PCs are able to make use of the rails for themselves they will be able to travel about the valley at high speeds - unless they hit one of the few places where the rails have been covered or damaged.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Valley of the Masters - The Keytower

Standing atop a large hill near the entrance to the valley the Keytower stands tall. A massive, twisted tower of metal it seems a miracle that it is in such good condition after all these ages.

The tower's primary purpose was to act as a guard tower and barracks to defend the valley from any non-Slith intruders with a secondary purpose as something akin to an immigration office. However now it acts as the home to a colony of mechanites - electric sentiences that construct bodies out of available machinery. They were once an annoying parasite for the Slith and now they are all that is left.

The Tower
The Keytower is constructed from a silver steel-like metal that hasn't rusted or tarnished in any way through the ages. There are numerous window openings on each floor that were once covered with glass. The tower itself is over 400 feet tall and has twenty floors, each floor being about 200 by 100 feet.

The Interior
The insides of the tower are in far worse shape than the exterior would lead one to believe. Furniture has been reduced to little more than the pieces of metal that held it together, features such as counters or doors are gone except for the occasional metal frame. Everywhere there are panels ripped open and wires hanging out. Anything that might be identified as a device of any sort has been stripped and gutted for spare parts by the mechanites. The elevators no longer work so a long trek up the stairs is required to ascend. Aside from batteries and bullets, there is no in-tact technology here that would be of use to anyone without a fully working knowledge of Slith technology.

The Mechanites
The basic mechanite looks like a hand-sized insect made of various electronic and mechanical parts. They are essentially parasites and act with insect-like intelligence. There are larger, more advanced mechanites, usually acting as a sort of leader. The process isn't known but one mechanite usually receives all the best stuff and grows to a larger size than the others. These special mechanites are all unique based off of their location and technology available. They have a higher intelligence based off their size - a human sized mechanite is about as smart as a clever dog, for example.

Throughout the tower there is evidence that these mechanites seem to be preparing to move out. Packs of electronics are piled into improvised carts, for example.

Notable Encounters

First Floor - Reception
The lowest level of mechanites, gatherers, can be found down here looking for any remaining scraps to take upstairs. One special mechanite resides on the first floor, the Monitor. Vaguely humanoid in shape, child-sized and composed of the various communication technologies that were prevalent down here. It has a shattered CRT-like monitor for a head and rattles off unintelligible gibberish through an intercom in its chest. It can direct basic mechanites so that they can take their turns as interrupt actions at any point in the round.

Fifth Floor - Guest/Holding Rooms
One of several floors filled with what seems like a combination of hotel room and prison cell. One room has "djimyoosh" ("danger") in Slith scrawled on the outer door and it seems to be barricaded. Movement can be heard inside. In the room is a special mechanite that is humanoid (Slith)-shaped. Long ago, when the Keytower fell, this room/cell housed a visiting Slith who had the Slith equivalent of cybernetics. The mechanites burrowed into him and instead of taking the pieces stayed there, absorbing some of him as a collective. He is now nothing more than a mad, raging skeleton coated in living metallic insects.

Tenth Floor - Armory
Most of the weapons have been disassembled and the parts taken elsewhere. However a good deal of ammunition was left behind. The special mechanite here is human-sized and is made up of various bullet and energy clips. When damaged it breaks off pieces of itself that explode for medium damage. The basic mechanites in here also carry around explosives and energy packs and act as suicide bombers.

Most of the ammunition is being loaded into carts and being prepared for transport. It looks like another special mechanite made of guns is also being constructed but is currently not moving.

Fifteenth Floor - Offices
The lesser "lords" of the mechanites reside here, the recipients of much of the scavenged tech. Each is about eight feet tall or long, depending on how they choose to present themselves. They consists of masses of random equipment though each one has a set of special features:

Lord Blade - The least mobile, Lord Blade doesn't have any discernible form but rather is an amorphous mass that largely consists of various blades and sharp objects. Lord Blade is less of an attacker and more of a slowly moving dangerous piece of terrain.
Lord Data - Humanoid and consisting of mostly information technology and office supplies. Lord Data has control of all the machines here. He can create zones of falling debris, attacks from loose electrical wiring that suddenly appears and can direct basic mechanites like the the Monitor.
Lord Blaze - Mobile and nimble, Lord Blaze has numerous appendages that end in different ranged weapons that is is continually firing during combat. Basic mechanites are continually feeding him random ammo so each round he may be firing either bullets, lasers, explosive rounds or energy blasts.

There is a map of the valley here. Each of the locations are  labeled in Slith:
Power Station - "Pee thih"
Military Base - "feh"
Energy Research Facility - "suh"
Skyfall - "taw"
Biological Research Facility - "shoo..." followed by Slith question marks.
Launch Pad - "huoh / meengh"

Twentieth Floor - The Keeper
The top office gives a magnificent view of the valley. The only resident here is the Keeper, a slim, six foot humanoid that seems to be comprised entirely of wires and plastic cards. The Keeper is non-violent and is capable of computerized speech, simplified since it hasn't fully interpreted whatever language the PCs speak. It is continually switching between personalities - sometimes an analytic scientist, sometimes a military soldier, sometimes a worker drone, sometimes a simple janitor. However the whole time it will talk about having some goal as if these personalities were all working together for something. This goal somehow involves leaving the tower, opening the gate, exploring heaven and finding the gods. The conversation should be disjointed and cryptic. The Keeper will give a final warning that the gods left behind a mess and wishes the PCs luck in cleaning it up themselves. He then collapses into his component parts with a single basic mechanite at the center. The cards are all magnetic ID cards than can be used throughout the valley.