Monday, July 9, 2018

Adventure: Among the Stars

This adventure is designed for use with the Pathfinder roleplaying game; it is provide some of the first interplanetary encounters for an Aetherial Adventures campaign. While it is written for a party of third-level characters, and intended as a sequel to the scenario Out of the Blue, it can easily be adapted for parties with more experience and/or as a standalone scenario.

Adventure Background
While most people believe that their homeworld provides the boundaries of their existence in life, a select few know that it's only one of many planets and other places in the galaxy. Even rarer still are those with the daring and talent to set out and explore the void. In this case, the PCs are part of a band that fits into the latter group, setting sail into the aether in the hope of finding knowledge, fortune, glory, or something else entirely.

For the Gamemaster
Unlike adventures that have a fairly linear plot, this scenario presents a number of encounters that the PCs can face as they make their first voyage beyond the heavens of their Homeworld. While they are presented in an order in which could be run, there's no reason why the GM should feel obligated to do so. For example, the PCs might not think to make all of the preparations suggested in Part 1 before leaving their homeworld, thereby making some of them more complicated. It's also easy to modify some of the encounters to make them more challenging if the PCs should face them after gaining more experience. 

Part 1—Preparations on Homeworld

This adventure begins with the assumption that the PCs recently completed the events of the scenario Out of the Blue. In doing so, they have gained complete or partial ownership of a dhow aethership. Refer to that scenario to find stats and deck plans for that vessel. 

Assuming that they wish to explore the limits of Homeworld, as well as the new frontiers of the spacelanes, then they are most likely making preparations for setting sail. To do so, they are likely to deal with one or more of the following considerations. 

Note, too, that this scenario uses a generic, Earth-inspired setting known as Homeworld as the starting place for a space fantasy campaign. GMs who prefer other settings can, of course, tailor the events to work from other launching ports as well.

Naming the Ship
Given that Syeknyg did not paint a name on the transom of his dhow, and does not refer to the vessel by name in his journals, the PCs have a clean slate for naming the ship. Just how they do so, of course—brainstorming and voting, choosing by random lot, etc.—is up to them.

Making a Flag?
If they're feeling even more ambitious, the PCs could also design a flag to fly from their vessel. In addition to the players deciding on a suitable emblem, one of the characters would need to make a Craft (sewing) check to assemble it. In this case, there's not a minimum DC for success, but the result of the check determines how well it is put together.

Doing Some Exploring
In order to recognize the potential of their aethership, the PCs are likely to take it for a flight. This should make for a memorable occasion, one in which they soar up through the clouds and into the open void of aetherspace for the very first time. While this scene has few mechanical implications, it should be one that establishes atmosphere and a spirit of adventure for the rest of the campaign.

Hiring a Crew
Characters who participated in Out of the Blue have a couple of options for finding crew members. One source is the sailors from the Intrepid; upon learning of aetherial travel, some of them are bold enough to sign aboard. There are also the natives who survived the akata outbreak on the island, some of whom want to learn more about the creatures that decimated their tribe. Because the dhow is a small vessel, these two sources should suffice. In the event that the PCs want more options, however, they might return to port—perhaps to the very tavern in which they first met Thaddeus—to do some recruiting. 

Speaking of the wizard, he can serve as a capable pilot or navigator for the vessel. He's willing to sign on for a share of the profits, since gaining knowledge is as important to him as making money.

Assigning Positions and Watches
While they are hiring their crew, the PCs should select people to fill certain roles aboard the ship. The pilot is one such, and they might want to choose two or more characters to handle that responsibility during different watches. Beyond that, they might wish to assign one character as the “officer of the watch” for each group of crew members. Other positions include navigator, ship's cleric or surgeon, and—in the event of battle—the captain.

Watches and Times
20:00 – 0:00 / First watch
0:00 – 4:00 / Middle watch
4:00 – 8:00 / Morning watch
8:00 – 12:00 / Forenoon watch
12:00 – 16:00 / Afternoon watch
16:00 – 18:00 / First dog watch
18:00 – 20:00 / Second dog watch

 At the same time, the PCs should divide themselves and other characters into different watches, groups who are on duty at any given time aboard the ship. Ideally this is three different groups, allowing for eight hours of uninterrupted rest at some point during the day, but in a pinch two groups could handle these responsibilities. Such an arrangement is referred to as using a “skeleton crew.” 

Laying in Supplies, Equipment and Cargo
If they want to survive an extended voyage, the PCs need to load their vessel with plenty of food and water. Doing so could be as easy as spending the money for the goods, or might include making Survival checks to hunt animals, gather fruit and the like. Indeed, this could set up a montage of skill checks. What is more, enterprising characters might think to cut down trees for lumber and harvest fish or other foodstuffs, potentially precious commodities in the depths of space. Should the PCs have recruited some of the island's natives as part of their crew, this business could be part of their negotiated deal with them. 

Additionally, while they are filling their cargo hold, the PCs need to decide where everyone aboard the vessel sleeps. This is important for two reasons. For one, knowing that characters are bunking down amid stacked cargo adds to the atmosphere and roleplaying opportunities. For another, in the event of a potential combat encounter (see below), it's important to know just where everyone is when the action starts.

Taking on Passengers?
In the event that the PCs do return to civilization, it's possible that word of their discovery begins to spread. That should be a big deal. After all, very few people on Homeworld know that aetherial travel is a thing. Even so, if word of the PCs' new enterprise does leak, then they might find others who wish to join them on their voyage beyond the heavens. This is a good chance for the GM to introduce other NPCs for future plot hooks and roleplaying opportunities.

Part 2—Encounters in Space
The following encounters can occur in any order, depending on the direction in which the PCs choose to travel. Each has a suggested location, kept generic so as to fit into Homeworld's solar system.

A. First Impressions
As the PCs take their aethership up and out of homeworld's atmosphere for the first time, they witness a truly unusual scene. The land below them falls steadily away, until they can see far-flung locations in the same glance. Then clouds begin to drift beneath them and slowly obscure what lies below. At the same time, the blue sky darkens to black, and then the pinpoint lights of stars become visible.

B. Lost in Space
The first travelers that the PCs encounter is a drifting ship's longboat filled with huecuva. These were once pilgrims heading for a sacred destination, but they died following a mishap that left them adrift in the void and causing them to renounce their vows, suffering undeath as a result of their sacrilege. At first glance they look like regular people, however, and try to signal the PCs for help. If they physically interact with the huecuva and make a DC 12 Will save, the PCs can recognize them for what they are.

Assuming that combat does eventually erupt, this gives the players and GM a good chance for mass combat, having players also control crew members. In addition to setting up a big swashbuckling fight, this can also help establish crew members as important background characters during this and future voyages.

Huecuva: Refer to page 150 of Bestiary 3 for stats.

In addition to their aetherial longboat, the huecuva possess treasure including 500 gp in mixed coins, a flask containing an unguent of timelessness, and a chain shirt +1.

Huge space vehicle
Squares 8 (7½ ft. by 20 ft.); Cost 5625 gp
AC 2; Hardness 5
hp 120 (59)
Base Save +0
Maximum Speed 180 ft. (magical); Acceleration 30 ft. (magical)
CMB +7; CMD 19
Ramming Damage 7d8
This boat has a small step-up mast and oarlocks for when it is used on the water.

Propulsion magic (1 mast, 15 squares of sails, 75 hp)

Driving Check Profession (pilot)

Forward Facing the boat's forward

Driving Device orb of control

Driving Space the square or squares occupied by the pilot with the orb of control

Crew 1 + 6 passengers (or 200 lbs. cargo per passenger space)

Decks 1

Weapons None

C. Void Natives, Part 1
At some point during their voyage, the PCs spy an oma swimming through the void. What is more, this magnificent creature turns and heads toward their ship. After describing this scene for the players, let them decide just how their characters react. While it might seem like a dangerous situation, this is in fact a visit from another groups of curious travelers, a trio of brethedans who take advantage of the oma's carrier and starflight abilities to use it as a source of transportation. Once the creature draws along the PCs' ship, it opens its great mouth and the aliens move emerge from it, and then ask for permission to come aboard the party's vessel. They are filled with questions about the PCs, the world from which they hail and the business that they are pursuing. Additionally, they can serve as a source of information about the other planets in Homeworld's solar system, perhaps answering questions the PCs have about how to continue their business. Most notably, they know of the elven star fort on the icy moon of a nearby gas giant planet, and direct the PCs there if they seek to pursue some of the clues from Captain Quinariel's vessel.

Brethedan: Refer to page 23 of Bestiary 4 for stats.

Oma: Refer to page 209 of Bestiary 4 for stats.

D. Bad Business
This encounter assumes that Homeworld's solar system has an asteroid belt in it, and that the PCs eventually pass through it on their way to another destination (perhaps the aforementioned icy moon that is home to the elven star fort). As they do, characters who are on deck or in the rigging can make Perception checks; the one with the highest result is first to notice a blinking light coming from one of the drifting asteroids. It is a steady pulse that could easily be misconstrued as a signal. In truth, however, it is the glow of a will-o'-the-wisp that was attracted to the asteroid by the pain and fear others have suffered while being held on it.
As long as the PCs choose to explore it, refer to the map and area descriptions below.

1. Entrance
The only indication that this asteroid has been worked is a hole fifteen feet in diameter. Should the PC's wish to access it, they'll need to maneuver their aethership along a path that follows the asteroid's drift, requiring a DC 15 check—with failure by five or more indicating a collision. Crew members must snag it with a grappling hook or some other such device, requiring ranged attacks against AC 10 and then a DC 10 Strength check (and multiple characters can combine on the latter).

2. Main Chamber
This broad, open area is nearly fifty feet long as well as wide; it has a ceiling thirty feet high. The interior is pitch dark. Scattered about the floor is evidence of the mine's old purpose—a broken shovel, a rusted pickaxe, and similar detritus, now covered in dust. Closer inspection (a DC 15 Survival check) reveals tracks that seem much fresher than the abandoned tools would indicate. This chamber is also home to the will-o'-the-wisp, which attacks as soon as fresh prey enters its lair.

Will'-o'-the'-wisp: Refer to page 277 of the Bestiary for stats.

If pressed, the monster uses retreats into one of the tunnels and then uses its natural invisibility to circle around and gain the drop on another victim.

3. Tunnels
The height of any given tunnel section generally matches its width. These areas were dug out in pursuit of the asteroid's ore, but have more recently been used by slave traders who use it as a place for storing their illicit living cargo. In fact, evidence of this traffic still remains, in the form of messages carved into the walls. These include examples such as “May the gods save us all,” “Ned was here,” “Damnation to the I.R.C.” and “There are no gods.”

E. The Thing from Beyond
While the ship drifts through space, a phase spider attacks those aboard it. It emerges from the ethereal plane in an out-of-the-way place and attacks an unsuspecting victim; allow Perception checks for characters to notice it, opposed to its Stealth effort. If successful, it becomes ethereal again and allows its poison to work, and then returns to claim its prey. This should make for a challenging, drawn-out encounter, but one for which the PCs only need to wound the creature sufficiently to make it flee.

Phase Spider: Refer to page 226 of the Bestiary for stats.

F. Out of Control
Recently Captain Axelrod, a gnomish inventor, has been experimenting with new ways of making his crew more efficient. Specifically, he dismissed his crew and used magical means to summon a ravid, a creature from the positive energy plane that can animate objects as per the spell. At first this seemed to work well, allowing Axelrod to pilot the ship while the sails set themselves. After a while, however, the ravid became bored with such tedious business and the gnome's magical control of it failed. That is why, when the PCs encounter his dhow, the Redoubtable, it is being overrun by attacking items and the captain has been forced to flee belowdecks, where he has holed up.

Animated Objects: Refer to page 14 in the Bestiary for stats.

In addition to their base statistics, different kinds of animated objects have special attacks based on their specific natures. A few examples include the following.
  • A coil of rope could make trip attacks.
  • A few belaying pins create a pummeling swarm, something akin to a monk's flurry of blows.
  • Animated sailcloth tries to wrap up a foe, equivalent to a grapple attack.
  • A boarding axe hacks away at its unfortunate opponent.
  • A barrel of water makes bull rush attacks, in an effort to push a character overboard.
Captain Axelrod
CR 6
XP 2400
Male gnome wizard (conjurer) 7
CG small humanoid
Init +3; Senses Perception -1; low-light vision
AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 10 (+3 Dex, +1 natural, +1 deflection)
hp 25 (5d6+5)
Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +5
Resist illusion resistance
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Quarterstaff +2 (1d4)
Ranged Light crossbow +5 (1d6)
Special Attacks Acid dart
Str 10, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 17, Wis 8, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 15
Feats Augment Summoning, Magical Aptitude, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (conjuration), Spell Mastery (Summon Monster I, II and III)
Skills Appraise +13, Knowledge (arcane) +13, Linguistics +13, Profession (sailor) +9, Spellcraft +15
Languages Gnomish, Common, Sylvan, Elven, Draconic
SQ Defensive training, gnome magic, hatred, illusion resistance, keen sense, obsessive, weapon familiarity, arcane bond (quarterstaff), arcane school (conjuration), cantrips
Combat Gear Clothing, spellbook, component pouch, quarterstaff, light crossbow with 20 bolts, cloak of resistance +1, ring of protection +1, amulet of natural armor +1; 2000 gp worth of cargo
Spells per Day: 4/5/4/3/1
Spells Known: All cantrips; grease, mage armor, mount, summon monster I, unseen servant; acid arrow, glitterdust, summon monster II, web; dispel magic, phantom steed, stinking cloud, summon monster III; dimension door, summon monster IV

Axelrod is a friendly, happy-go-lucky, brave (some would say foolish) and inventive gnome. 

CR 5
XP 1600
N medium outsider (extraplanar)
Init +4; Senses Perception +1; Darkvision 60 ft.
AC 25, touch 10, flat-footed 25 (+15 natural)
hp 16 (2d8+3)
Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +4
Resist Immunity to fire
Spd 20 ft.; fly 60 ft.
Melee Tail slap +4 (1d6+1 plus positive energy)
Special Attacks Positive energy lash +4 melee touch; 2d10 damage against undead; animate objects (see below)
Str 13, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 7, Wis 12, Cha 14
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 14
Feats Improved Initiative, Multiattack
Skills Escape Artist +6, Perception +7, Stealth +6, Survival +7
Languages Details
SQ Animate Objects: Once per round, a ravid can animate nearby objects as if casting the spell at 20th level
Combat Gear None

Ravids are strange creatures from the Positive Energy Plane. They possess the unusual ability to animate non-living objects, something that they do almost unconsciously. For that reason, they are often encountered with an entourage of such items following and protecting them. 

For its part, the ravid float up to the top of the dhow's mainmast and sits there using its power to create more foes. In order to deal with it, someone needs to climb up into the rigging—while being attacked—and then somehow incapacitate it or convince it to stop. The GM should, of course, feel free to improvise other types of animated objects in order to make this a memorable fight for the PCs.
As long as the PCs can eliminate the animated objects and deal with the ravid, they can find Captain Axelrod and learn his story. The gnome thanks his rescuers and offers to pay them a reward—if they will help him deliver his cargo to its destination, an asteroid known as The Grotto. 

G. Void Natives, Part 2
As the PCs approach the gas giant planet, a lunarma drops out of the air and attacks the ship. It opens up with its acid breath weapon before lashing out with its tentacles. Again, this is a good chance to involve the ship's crew in the fight, especially since the lunarma's CR makes it a challenge for a third-level party. Sadly for the PCs, the lunarma possesses no treasure, having eaten everything.

Lunarma: Refer to page 185 of Bestiary 4 for stats.

H. Other Ships (and Plot Hooks)
While it might be beyond the scope of this scenario, the PCs could run into all manner of ships and their crews. These could include an expedition of the Dwarven mining guild; kasatha firearms dealers; a mercane who buys and sells magical items; humans or others on a religious expedition (one friendly or hostile to the PCs' own religious inclinations); or witchwyrds transporting a cargo of the-gods-only-know-what. This can be a good opportunity for the GM to introduce NPCs and other story elements, especially ones connected to the PCs' own background stories and future plans.

The Grotto (and More Trading Opportunities)
As mentioned in the encounter with Axelrod the gnome, above, a good place for the PCs to buy and sell cargo is a location in the Asteroid Belt known as the Grotto. More details about it can be found in a related article.

Tracking Movement in the Sol System
In order to track the PCs' movements between worlds, the GM can refer to two separate charts. At the start of a campaign, each planet is placed in a position of its orbit, at the GM's discretion. Then, as time passes, the planets move one step after a certain period of time: Wodan (5 and a half days), Freya (15), Homeworld (24), Tyr (46), the Asteroid Belt (86), Thunar (270 days), Kronos (662). To determine the amount of time for an interplanetary voyage, then, just use a straightedge to connect the planet of origin and destination. Every space through which that line passes represents ten days of travel time. 

Part 3—The Powers That Be
Moments after their run-in with the lunarma, the PCs find their ship approached by one much bigger than their own. It is, in fact, an elven galleon, with a full crew. As it draws alongside—close enough, indeed, that it shares an air pocket with the PCs' vessel—its captain shouts across the span, telling them that they've entered the space of the Elven Navy and should stand by and prepare to be boarded. To set the scene, refer to the deck plans, location descriptions and stats for an Elven galleon, below.

1. Main Deck
This broad area is flanked forward by the forecastle, and aft by the quarterdeck. The mainmast juts upward from it, while the cargo hatch and stairways provide access to lower levels. Some vessels carry six cannon on this deck, three to each side.

2. Passenger Cabins
Six small cabins in this area can provide sleeping space for a variety of passenger, or even for lesser officers aboard a ship.

3. Steering Station
In seagoing vessels, the ship was steered by a crew member in control of the whipstaff or wheel here. Now it is little more than a companionway.

4. Great Cabin (Captain)
This large cabin provides space for the captain, along with room enough for hosting meals and meetings. A typical arrangement of furnishings could include a bed, writing desk and wardrobe, along with a table and chairs.

5. Crew Quarters
Despite this area's relatively small size, it can easily hold a dozen hammocks or more. Given that crew members tend to share this sleeping space when they are not on duty, this allows a large number of sailors to be quartered here.

6. Beak
This open area in front of the forecastle is used for little more than storage.

7. Forecastle
The raised platform here is common on merchant and military vessels, but pirates often remove it to provide more open space for combat. As a result, members of a pirate crew are forced to sleep on the open deck or to string up a hammock somewhere belowdecks. The foremast protrudes through here.

8. Quarterdeck
A short set of stairs leads from the main deck up to here, and another leads from here up to the poop deck. The mizzenmast rises up through this area.

9. Navigator's Cabin
The person in charge of plotting the ship's course is quartered here, with a view better than that of anyone other than the lookouts in the rigging overhead. This cabin is outfitted much like the captain's cabin, albeit without the table and chairs for hosting.

10. Poop Deck
At the very aft of the ship is this raised deck, from which the bonaventure mast rises. In the back of this area is the transom, on which the ship's name is usually painted; one or more bright lanterns are often mounted here, too, to provide illumination for crew members working during the night.

11. Gun Deck
Underneath the main deck is this level. It is most often filled with cannon, with gunports cut in the sides. At least six cannon can fit on a side, with perhaps a couple more facing aft as chase guns. Depending on the needs of the crew, their could be some hammocks strung up in the middle of the deck to provided more sleeping space.

12. Pump
This pump, aboard a seagoing vessel, often meant the difference between life and death when a vessel is flooded. Now it provides a mechanism for providing air to diving bells and similar devices (see below for more details).

13. Orlop Deck
This deck, along with the one below it, provide most of the space for cargo and supplies aboard the ship. As such, both can be divided as necessary by erecting temporary bulkheads. For example, one section might hold the ship's water barrels, while another is filled with spare timber, rope and canvas. There could also be a sealed rooms for holding treasure or weapons. Finally, extra space for passengers, especially soldiers, can be set up here.

14. Lower Deck
All of the masts except the bonaventure mast have their steps here, and the pipe leading up to the bilge pumps can also be found runs through the floor here to reach the bilge. Other than that, this area functions in the same manner as the orlop deck, with one exception. Given that it is hard to keep this deck dry, it's not likely that people are quartered here.

Colossal space vehicle
Squares 175 (35 ft. by 125 ft.); Cost 25,000 gp
AC 2; Hardness 5
hp 2625 (1312)
Base Save +0
Maximum Speed 180 ft. (magic); Acceleration 30 ft. (magic)
CMB +10; CMD 16
Ramming Damage 10d8
Perhaps the apex of shipbuilding, this vessel is big and elegant. It has four full decks, along with fore- and sterncastles and an elevated poop deck.

Propulsion magic (4 masts, 60 squares of sails, 300 hp)

Driving Check Profession (pilot)

Forward Facing the ship's forward

Driving Device orb of control

Driving Space the square or squares occupied by the pilot with the orb of control

Crew 40 (not including weapons crews)

Decks 4

Weapons 18 cannon, situated along both sides of the main and gun decks. Refer to page X in the Ultimate Combat rulebook to find stats for these cannon.

This encounter—and the one that follows it—should provide a roleplaying challenge for the PCs. After all, they shouldn't have anything to hide, and stand to gain a fair amount by making a good impression on the elves. In game terms, the PCs can make a Diplomacy check, with bonuses or penalties applied as always for good or bad roleplaying. Note that news of Captain Quinariel's death, along with his journal—which the PCs should have found aboard the wreck of the Intrepid—provides an important bargaining chip that they can use for leverage in obtaining a meeting with the elven Admiral Beryl. 

As long as the PCs cooperate at least a little bit, Captain Corwyn asks them to accompany her in a longboat—either hers or their own—down to Star Fort Station. Failing that, she could order their arrest and then take them down to the fortress as prisoners, suspected of foul play in the death of Captain Quinariel.

Elf Captain Corwyn
CR 8
XP 4800
Various elf fighter 9
N medium humanoid
Init +3; Senses Perception +2; Low-light vision
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 64 (9d10+18)
Fort +9, Ref +8, Will +6
Resist Elven immunities
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Longsword +15/+10 (1d8+7)
Ranged Longbow +15/+10 (1d8+5)
Special Attacks Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +9; CMB +11; CMD 25
Feats Far Shot, Improved Critical (Longbow and Longsword), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Skill Focus (Profession: sailor), Weapon Focus (Longbow, Longsword), Weapon Specialization (Longbow, Longsword)
Skills Climb +14, Profession (sailor) +16
Languages Elven, Common, one other
SQ Low-light vision, elven immunities, elven magic, keen senses, weapon familiarity, bravery +2, armor training 1 & 2, weapon training 1 & 2 (heavy blades and bows)
Combat Gear Studded leather armor +2, longsword +2, longbow +2, 20 arrows, cloak of resistance +2

Elf Admiral Beryl
CR 12
XP 19,200
Various elf fighter 13
N medium humanoid
Init +3; Senses Perception +2; Low-light vision
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 64 (9d10+18)
Fort +14, Ref +13, Will +11
Resist Elven immunities
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Longsword +20/+15/+10 (1d8+8)
Ranged Longbow +20/+15/+10 (1d8+8)
Special Attacks Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot
Str 14, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10
Base Atk +13; CMB +11; CMD 25
Feats Critical Focus, Far Shot, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (Longbow and Longsword), Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Skill Focus (Profession: sailor), Weapon Focus (Longbow, Longsword), Weapon Specialization (Longbow, Longsword)
Skills Climb +18, Profession (sailor) +20
Languages Elven, Common, one other
SQ Low-light vision, elven immunities, elven magic, keen senses, weapon familiarity, bravery +2, armor training 1 & 2, weapon training 1 & 2 (light and heavy blades and bows)
Combat Gear Studded leather armor +3, longsword +3, longbow +3, 20 arrows, cloak of resistance +3 

The Planet
This frozen world looks from above like a truly inhospitable place, covered as it is by a thick layer of ice. That ice conceals a saltwater sea that is warmed by volcanic vents, however, creating a place where life can thrive. That, indeed, is why the elves have built their star fort here, since they hope to mold the planet's ecosystem into one that can eventually support them, too. Until that time, however, this place is still rather uncomfortable, with cold temperatures and none of the plant life to which elves are normally accustomed.

 Star Fort Station
The fortress stands out as a stone structure surrounded by an otherwise almost unbroken field of ice. Again, refer to the appropriate map and location descriptions to set the scene as the PCs are brought to the elven stronghold. While the PCs are not invited to do any exploring, there's always the chance that they do some without an invitation. 

1. Front Gate
In the front of the fort stand two broad, iron-bound wooden doors. They are mostly ornamental, seeing as how longboats coming to the fort actually land in the main courtyard (see below). The exception is non-elven visitors, who are required to land outside of the fort and approach it on foot.

2. Towers
Each of these structures rises above the surrounding fort, providing a position from which guards can watch their environs and fire on enemies if necessary. There is also a privy located in the base of each tower (not pictured).

3. Courtyard
The middle of this area is dominated by a reservoir, one that provides a landing space for incoming longboats. Sixteen mooring posts are positioned for tying up these vessels. While it might seem strategically disadvantageous that this area is open to the sky above, the truth is that ships in orbit provide all of the defense that the fort needs. 

Elemental Obelisk
Aura strong conjuration; CL 9th
Slot NA; Price 100,000 gp; Weight 10,000 lbs.
This item is a tall pillar of stone with a square base and a pyramid-shaped cap. Its sides are inscribed with the symbols of the four elements, one to a side. While it seems unassuming in appearance, it in fact contains powerful magic; they create gravity, warmth, moisture, and breathable air on a suitable surface. The exact volume of livable space one can create with each of these devices is left up to the discretion of the GM.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item; create water, flaming sphere, gust of wind, wall of stone; Cost 50,000 gp

4. Barracks
Beds line the walls of this room; there are also tables and chairs for off-duty soldiers. Each elf also has a footlocker, kept under his or her bed.

5. Storage
The walls of this room are line with shelves, and three sets of storage units occupy the middle of the chamber. In it one can find all of the merchandise being transported through the fort, including foodstuffs and other cargo.

6. Mess Hall
Tables and chairs fill this room, providing a place to share meals and recreation for off-duty elves. In the wall opposite the entrance is a door leading to the kitchen (see below).

7. Kitchen
Cooking fires are positioned against the outside wall of this room; the middle is occupied by preparation tables, while barrels of water and wine stand in the outside corner.

8. Meeting Room
A broad conference table is the dominant feature of this room, surrounded by tall wooden chairs. In the wall opposite the entrance is a door leading to the officers' quarters (see below).

9. Officers' Quarters
Four officers staff the base at all times, all captains. Each has a bed, a footlocker, a wardrobe and a writing desk. In the angle of the wall opposite the door stands a statue of a famous elven admiral.

Further Development
As long as the PCs cooperate, Admiral Beryl questions them regarding what they know about the late Captain Quinariel. He is especially interested in the ship's log, but admits to no wrongdoing on the part of the elves insofar as the outbreak of akata and void zombies is concerned. He is a powerful and proud fellow, after all, and views the PCs as little more than spacefaring ne'er-do-wells. After the debriefing, he sends the PCs to check in with Mr. Lemuel, a half-elf druid who works for the elves and who was working with Quinariel on “certain projects” about which the admiral knows (or cares) little.

Part 4—The Depths of Depravity
The elves send a squad of five soldiers, led by a lieutenant and traveling in a separate longboat, to escort the PCs to Mr. Lemuel's garden dome. It's a short jaunt. Refer to the following map and location descriptions to set the scene once the PCs arrive.

The garden dome is a beautiful sight, formed from ice imbued with glowing algae from the volcanically warmed seas. This ice seems to capture the scant light and warmth provided by the sun and the nearby gas giant planet, and then to radiate it outward with a steady glow. The dome is more than two hundred feet in diameter, and rises to a height of just over one hundred feet.

1. Landing
Here paving stones been put down on the ice to provide a sure footing for those who traverse it. What is more, steps have been cut from the ice, leading up from the water to ground level. There are also mooring posts for visitors to tie up their boats. At the other end of the platform, a narrow doorway leads into the dome.

2. Interior
The dome's interior glows with a faint green light created by the algae in the ice. Its floor is filled with dirt, providing a place where Mr. Lemuel can grow various types of flowers, trees and other plants. For those who've been in space for a time, this should be quite the breath of fresh air—especially since many of the trees growing here bear exotic fruits and spices.

3. Elemental Obelisk
Refer to the stats provided above for this device, which makes it possible for the dome to support life.

Arrival and Attack
Before they can disembark from their boats, the PCs suffer an unexpected attack; a trio of fiendish squids come darting up from the depths and attack.

Fiendish Squids: Refer to page 259 in the Bestiary for base stats, and then add darkvision to 60 ft., cold and fire resistance 5, and SR 6.

These fiendish squids are but harbingers of the true evil that threatens the area, but the PCs need to talk to Mr. Lemuel if they want to learn more about this situation.

Mr. Lemuel

CR 7
XP 3200
Male half-elf druid 8
CG Medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception +2; Low-light vision
AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 11 (+1 Dex, +1 Dodge, +1 natural, +1 deflection)
hp 36 (8d8)
Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +9
Resist Elven immunities; bramble armor
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Weapon +6/+1 (1d6, quarterstaff)
Ranged Weapon +7/+2 (None)
Special Attacks Wooden fist
Str 10, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 16
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +6; CMD 17
Feats Brew Potion, Dodge, Natural Spell, Self-Sufficient
Skills Handle Animal +14, Heal +15, Knowledge (nature) +11, Survival +15, Swim +11
Languages Elven, Common
SQ Spells, nature bond (grants him access to the Plant domain), nature sense, wild empathy, woodland stride, trackless step, resist nature's lure, wild shape 3/day
Combat Gear Druid's vestments, amulet of natural armor +1, ring of protection +1, potion of water breathing
Spells Per Day: 4/5+1/4+1/4+1/3+1
Spells Prepared: Detect magic, guidance, resistance, stabilize; calm animals, create water, endure elements, entangle, shillelagh, speak with animals; animal messenger, barkskin, hold animal, resist energy, tree shape; daylight, plant growth, protection from energy, speak with plants; air walk, command plants, dispel magic, freedom of movement.

Mr. Lemuel is something of an enigma insofar as his service in the Elven Navy is concerned. This half-elf druid experiments with ways to import various flora and fauna to colony worlds, an activity for which this icy moon's volcanically heated seas are promising. While the elves accept that this is a valuable investigation, they have little real interest in it and thus mostly leave Lemuel to his work.

The Druid's Story
Once they've dealt with their attackers, the PCs can learn more about what is happening on this moon. Through conversation, Mr. Lemuel provides the following details.
  • He is employed by the elves to study this moon's volcanically warmed seas and, gradually, to stock them with living things.
  • In this task he is assisted by Mr. Akham, an arborling.
  • Arborlings look like trees, but they are sentient beings. Mr. Akham is an emissary from their planet, one who returned with the first elves to visit it.
  • Recently, Lemuel has noticed that some of the creatures in the sea—descended from the ones with which he stocked it—seem to have an evil nature to them.
  • The fiendish squids that attacked the PCs are a case in point.
  • What is worse, Mr. Akham has gone missing, lost after he ventured out in Lemuel's boat.
  • Lemuel and the elves conducted a search, but were unable to find him. The druid fears that he was captured or killed by whatever evil thing is polluting these waters and corrupting their inhabitants.
Having shared this information, the druid makes his pitch. He'd like to hire the PCs to search for Mr. Akham; he offers a reward of trade goods worth 2000 gp, and sends along his potion of water breathing

While finding the missing arborling might seem a daunting task, the use of magic can make it relatively easy. After all, the PCs should have access to a locate object spell—Thaddeus the Wizard (refer to Out of the Blue to find stats for him) has it if no one else does—and Mr. Lemuel can confirm that the arborling wore a phylactery of faithfulness at all times. Eventually the search leads the PCs to a spot along the glacial rift, where the lure of the spell indicates that they need to enter the water.

The Underwater Cavern
Refer to the map below for the following area descriptions.

0. Sunken Rowboat
Not pictured on the map is what remains of Mr. Akham's rowboat, which lies upside down in forty of water not far from shore. While the arborling is not present, the boat is occupied by a pair of fiendish giant crabs that rush out to attack the party.

Fiendish Giant Crabs: Refer to page 50 in the Bestiary for base stats, and then add darkvision to 60 ft., cold and fire resistance 5, and SR 6.

1. Entrance
Concealed by a curtain of seaweed made to resemble the surrounding kelp, it takes a DC 20 Perception check to find it. Of course, PCs who are using a locate object spell are drawn toward it, providing a +5 circumstance bonus to the check. Just inside this curtain is a narrow entry in which a DC 12 Survival check can reveal the recent tracks of humanoid beings coming and going from the cavern.

2. Gate
The tunnel leading into the caverns is barred by a gate that requires a DC 25 Disable Device or Strength check to open; it has hardness 5 and 30 hp. Smashing it open, however, is a sure way to alert the cavern's inhabitants of intruders.

 3. Main Tunnels
Inside the cavern is dark, requiring some kind of light source for those who lack Darkvision. In general, the celings in here are half as tall as the tunnels and other chambers are wide.

4. Sleeping Niches
The skum who inhabit the cavern take their rest in these alcoves. There are seven in total, who can respond to disturbances in groups of two or three. They can appear in waves during an extended combat, possibly overwhelming the PCs if they are slow or incautious.

Skum: Refer to page 253 in the Bestiary for base stats.

5. Shrine to Lamashtu
Dominating this chamber is the statue of a demonic woman, one that a DC 10 Knowledge (religion) check can identify as Lamashtu, the patron goddess of monsters. Mr. Akham is kept here, as well, tied by his wrists to a stake in the alcove to the statue's left, being kept as a sacrifice to her since his flesh was unsuitable for eating. As soon as the PCs enter, the statue animates and attacks them, functioning just like a caryatid column.

Caryatid Column: Refer to page 46 in Bestiary 3 for base stats.

If the PCs can rescue Mr. Akham, then the arborling could provide assistance during subsequent encounters, at the GM's discretion.

Mr. Akham the Arborling
CR 2
XP 600
Arborling ranger 3
CG medium humanoid (arborling)
Init +0; Senses Perception +8; low-light vision
AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10
hp 30 (3d10+9)
Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +3
Resist +2 racial bonus on saves vs. mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, polymorph, stunning, exhaustion or fatigue
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Unarmed +4 (1d4+1)
Ranged None
Special Attacks Two-Weapon Combat
Str 13, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 10
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 15
Feats Endurance, Improved Grapple, Improved Unarmed Strike, Two-Weapon Combat
Skills Climb +7, Heal +8, Knowledge (nature) +7, Perception +8, Survival +10, Swim +7
Languages Arborling, Common
SQ Growth, plant traits, rooted, slam, sunlight dependent; favored enemy (outsider, fire), track, wild empathy, favored terrain (forest)
Combat Gear Phylactery of faithfulness

When the Elven Navy first made contact with his homeworld, Akham volunteered to return with them to their own planet so that he could serve as an ambassador and learn of their culture. He did not anticipate coming to live on this icy moon, but has come to enjoy working with Mr. Lemuel. Akham is modest and moderate in his way, but can become very loyal to those who demonstrate their good qualities and thus win his trust.

Note: This character is created using the Player's Toolbox: Arborlings supplement from Clockwork Gnome Publishing. It is available from online distributors such as 

 6. Spawning Pool
It is here that Uthoi has been using summoned beasts to spawn more of their kind, breeding them with normal animals. Eggs fill the bottom of the pool, ones that a DC 15 Survival or Knowledge (nature) check can confirm belong to electric eels. Of course, there are also a pair of fiendish eels that jealously guard these eggs.

Fiendish Electric Eels: Refer to page 50 in the Bestiary for base stats, and then add darkvision to 60 ft., cold and fire resistance 5, and SR 6.

7. Chieftain's Chamber
Given the rank of the creature who inhabits it, this chamber is perhaps surprisingly austere. Indeed, the sole furnishing is a wooden throne, one in which the skum sorcerer contemplates his evil schemes and from which he commands his minions. A DC 20 Perception check reveals a strongbox buried beneath the throne, which contains the pack's treasure, including 1000 gp worth of mixed coins, a pearl worth 500 gp, a letter from his mother (see the appendix for details), and a potion of cure moderate wounds.

Uthoi the Chieftain
CR 7
Skum sorcerer 5
LE medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic)
Init +1; Senses Perception +5; darkvision 60 ft.
AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 13 (+1 Dex, +2 natural, +1 deflection)
hp 38 (2d10+5d6+10)
Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +7
Resist cold 10
Spd 20 ft., swim 40 ft.
Melee 2 claws +1 (1d4+1) and bite +1 (1d6)
Ranged acidic ray +5 (1d6+3) 5/day
Special Attacks Multiattack, acidic ray
Str 11, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 15
Base Atk +4; CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Augment Summoning, Extend Spell, Multiattack, Spell Focus (conjuration), Toughness 
Skills Bluff + 10, Intimidate +12, Perception +5 (+9 underwater), Spellcraft +8, Stealth +5 (+9 underwater), Swim +14
Languages Aboleth, Undercommon
SQ amphibious; bloodline powers and spell, cantrips, eschew materials
Combat Gear Ring of protection +1
Spells per Day: Unlimited/6/5
Spells Known: Resistance, detect magic, daze, touch of fatigue, message, mage hand; mage armor, magic missile, shield, summon monster I; blur, summon monster II

Uthoi is the son of a skum mother and, it turns out, a succubus that had changed her shape. That demonic blood is what gives him his magic power and thus has allowed him to become the chieftain of his pack. For that reason he serves his mother on this icy world, using his spells to summon monsters for breeding with the local animals. Just why she wishes for him to do this, he does not know; nor is it his place to ask. Uthoi is wicked and ruthless, enjoying seeing others suffer. 

The skum in these caverns could present an overwhelming threat if they are able to gang up on the PC all at once. For that reason, the PCs would do well to employ stealth and other such strategies, concealing their presence for as long as possible. For his part, Uthoi takes some time to cast defensive spells on himself before summoning monsters to fight against the intruders.

If they can defeat the skum and return Mr. Akham safely to Mr. Lemuel, then the druid thanks them effusively and pays them the promised reward. What is more, he writes them a letter of introduction so that they can come visit him without facing interrogation from the elves (in theory, at least). Finally, he suggests a place where they can sell the cargo he gives them, an asteroid colony known as Crossroads, that is in the belt not far from the icy moon and its gas giant planet.

Appendix—Uthoi's Letter
This missal is written in Undercommon, and so must be translated with a Linguistics check or some kind of magic if the PCs want to learn anything from it. The letter is meant to be a hint at future adventures, helping to tie this scenario together with others into a cohesive whole.


My plans are proceeding as expected. You continue to do your part—harry and distract the elves—and soon our day of reckoning, our moment of triumph, will be at hand.


Appendix: Rules for Space Fantasy Environments
Although the Pathfinder RPG core rulebook provides mechanics for many of the environments that PCs face in traditional fantasy scenarios (see Chapter 13), adventures in space present new types of hazards. To that end, this article details rules for situations such as fluctuations in gravity, temperature and air quality.

Fouled Air/Vacuum
If, for some reason, the air aboard an aethership or in a similar location becomes fouled—such as when the flying sails and wind cordage are damaged by enemy attacks, or when the magic in an elemental obelisk fails—then it should be handled with the same rules used for drowning (see page 445 in the core rulebook). It takes a DC 30 Perception check to recognize that the air is fouled, with a cumulative +1 bonus to that check for every round spent in the fouled air.
Note also that characters who are exposed to vacuum stand a good chance of suffering extreme cold, too.

Beyond Extreme Heat
This represents the kind of heat one faces when passing too close to a star, or on the surface of worlds with think atmospheres such as Freya. It works similar to the heat rules as detailed on page 444 of the core rulebook, except that characters must make Fortitude saves every round during such exposure. Failure means they suffer 1d6 damage. What is more, flammable objects must also make checks or catch on fire.

Beyond Extreme Cold
While the weather on planetary surfaces can be downright frigid, the depths of space are even colder. This is similar to the rules for cold detailed on page 442 in the core rulebook, except that characters must make Fortitude saves every round or suffer damage.

High, Low and Zero Gravity
Some planets have very little gravity when compared to Homeworld, and deep space has none at all save what is provided by an aethership. Others, of course, have a much stronger pull. These variations act as multipliers on various game mechanics—distance for ranged attacks; movement from Acrobatics checks to jump; carrying capacity; and the like—as detailed on the chart below. For reference, Homeworld's gravity is considered to be the standard when compared to other planets and bodies in space.
Note that movement in zero gravity requires either a surface from which a character can push off, or magical aid from a spell like fly or something similar. What is more, movement and other actions on worlds with crushingly high gravity can become impossible.

High and Low Pressure
Just as there are no rules to govern the potentially crushing effects of deep water during exploration of that terrain, this article does not present mechanics for those elements.

Air Pockets aboard Aetherships
For reference, the pocket of warm and breathable air aboard an aethership extends in a sphere from the middle of the vessel's hull to a diameter of twice the ship's keel length. For example, the air pocket aboard a bark—with a keel length of eighty feet—extends in all directions for eighty feet from the point where the ship's mainmast passes through its upper deck.

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