Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Adventure: Out of the Blue




This adventure is designed for use with the Pathfinder roleplaying game; it is intended to launch an Aetherial Adventures campaign. While it is written for a party of first-level characters, it can easily be adapted for parties with more experience.


Adventure Background
There's trouble coming to the Homeworld of the PCs, trouble like it's never seen before. What a local wizard mistakes for a meteorite is actually a crashing aethership, one that has become infested with akata and the void zombies that they spawn. He's unknowingly about to arrange an expedition to recover the metal-rich stone, and seeks a band of adventurers to help him in the task. What is more, there's another danger, in the form of a rival sorcerer who seeks to steal it for his own purposes. All of this is part of a much larger business, one that could lead a band of heroes beyond the world with which they've become familiar, and into problems greater than they've ever imagined.


For the Gamemaster
The vessel in question is the Scintilla, formerly captained by Quinariel the elf. He was en route to Homeworld because it is the last known location of the lizard man druid and spacefarer Syeknyg. Quinariel hoped to find any traces of Syeknyg's journals as part of a greater mystery (although that is a matter for another adventure). During the voyage to Homeworld, however, he and his crew encountered another vessel infested with akata. They unwittingly brought an infected host aboard the Scintilla and the situation developed from there. Indeed, the captain and his whole crew were eventually overcome, but the aethership continued to sail along its intended course. On reaching Homeworld, it was caught by the planet's gravity and pulled to a crash landing. 

The crashing aethership is, of course, is what Thaddeus the wizard saw. Mistaking it for a meteorite that would contain iron ore suitable for crafting enchanted weapons, the wizard has decided to arrange an expedition in pursuit of it. He has carefully calculated its location and possesses a map that should lead him there. What he doesn't know is that a sorcerer named Elias has also learned of the event and even now is planning to steal the map. Indeed, Elias has recruited a rogue by the name of Henrik and even now is preparing an ambush in order to claim the prize for himself.




Part 1—An Unquiet Evening
This adventure begins when the PCs happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time—or, perhaps, the right place at the right time—while visiting a dockside tavern, when Elias stages his ambush of Thaddeus. This provides a good opportunity to bring together previously unaffiliated adventurers; give the players a chance to introduce their characters before the action starts.

Plan of Attack
Once they've made their introductions, Elias and the rogues stage their attack. It begins with the sorcerer casting invisibility on himself and approaching the building's front door, and then conjuring a fog cloud. After that he begins using summon monster II to conjure a couple of lemures, followed by summon monster I to add a couple of fiendish vipers to the mix. At the same time, his hired thief, also affected by invisibility, sneaks into the ensuing chaos and tries to pilfer the map. 

The PCs can, of course, throw a wrench into the works of this plan. While they should be nearly blinded by the fog cloud, they could use Perception checks opposed to their enemies' Stealth efforts in order to gain an inkling of their location. Divination spells such as detect magic can help, too, especially by isolating the source of the fog and summoned monsters. They should also be rewarded for using creative strategies, at the GM's discretion. Finally, although he is initially caught off guard by the ambush, Thaddeus rallies himself and can help the PCs.

Elias the Sorcerer
CR 4
XP 1,200
Male human sorcerer 5 (aberrant-blooded)
CN medium humanoid
Init +1; Senses Perception -1
DEFENSE
AC 13, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+1 Dex, +1 Dodge, +1 armor)
hp 30 (5d6+10)
Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +3
Resist None
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Heavy mace +3 (1d8+1)
Ranged Light crossbow +3 (1d8)
Special Attacks Acid ray
STATISTICS
Str 12, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 18
Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Details
Skills Bluff +12, Spellcraft +8, Use Magic Device +12
Languages Common
SQ Spells
Combat Gear Clothing, staff, dagger, hand of the mage, bracers of armor +1, 100 gp
Spells per Day: 6/5
Spells Known: daze, detect magic, mage hand, message, read magic, resistance; mage armor, obscuring mist, shield, summon monster I; invisibility, summon monster II

Elias seems like a charming young man—that is, until one comes to know him. In truth he is deeply disturbed, obsessed with the “old ones” who “possess wisdom beyond our reckoning.” He is ruthless in achieving whatever he desires.
Henrik the Rogue
CR 2
XP 600
Male halfling rogue 3
CN small humanoid
Init +3; Senses Perception +6; Special
DEFENSE
AC 17, touch 15, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +1 Dodge, +2 armor, +1 size)
hp 23 (3d8+6)
Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +1
Resist Fearless
OFFENSE
Spd 20 ft.
Melee Longsword +5 (1d6)
Ranged Longbow +5 (1d6)
Special Attacks Sneak attack +2d6
STATISTICS
Str 11, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +2; CMB +2; CMD 15
Feats Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +9, Climb +6, Disable Device +9, Escape Artist +9, Knowledge (local) +7, Perception +6, Sleight of Hand +9, Stealth +9, Use Magic Device +5, Swim +6
Languages Halfling, Common, Elven
SQ Trapfinding, Evasion, Trap Sense +1
Combat Gear Clothing, leather armor, masterwork longsword, masterwork thieves' tools, elixirs of hiding and tumbling, 50 gp

Henrik is an opportunistic mercenary, one who will take on any job as long as it pays adequately. Indeed, he acts like something of a toady for Elias, although the halfling would argue against any such assertion.



Port Town
This small village is perched on a hillside overlooking the sea. It is fronted by a sandy beach along the shoreline, and backed by hills rising above it.
Refer to the map above for the following location descriptions.

1. Typical Houses
Each of these houses is home either to a small family or to a group of unmarried fishermen or women. Beyond the hillside, more of these houses are home to the farmers and herders who provide other foodstuffs and goods for local trade.

2. Fish Preparation Platforms
These structures are little more than platforms with rough wooden walls, covered by roofs. Here is where the fishermen unload their catch, for the fish to be gutted and salted or pickled and then packed into barrels. For that reason, the entire area has a very strong smell.

3. Tavern
This is the social center of the town, detailed further below.

Development
Should Henrik and Elias manage to escape with the map, Thaddeus could recruit the PCs to help pursue them. In that case, refer to the deck plan for the dhow, which has docked alongside one of the port town's piers. On the other hand, as long as they manage to foil the attempted thievery, then the wizard recognizes their abilities and offers employment as part of his expedition. His initial offer is 50 gp per character, with half of it paid up front, but he can be persuaded to pay twice that amount with a successful opposed Diplomacy check. If they agree, he asks them to meet him at the docks an hour before sunrise, to board the vessel Intrepid.

Thaddeus the Wizard
CR 4
XP 1200
Male human wizard 5
LN medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +2
DEFENSE
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 11 (+1 natural)
hp 25 (5d6+5)
Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +6
Resist None
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Dagger +1 (1d4-1)
Ranged Weapon +2
Special Attacks Spells
STATISTICS
Str 8, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 18, Wis 14, Cha 13
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 11
Feats Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Knowledge (Arcane)), Spell Focus (divination), Spell Mastery
Skills Appraise +12, Craft (writing) +12, Knowledge (arcane) +15, Knowledge (geography) +12, Linguist +12, Spellcraft +12
Languages Common, Elven, Dwarven, Gnome, Halfling
SQ Spells
Combat Gear Clothing, spellbook, components, amulet of natural armor +1, pearl of power (1st), 500 gp
Spells per Day: 4/4/3/2
Spells Known: All cantrips; comprehend languages, identify, protection from chaos/evil/ good/law, unseen servant; detect thoughts, fox's cunning, locate object, whispering wind; clairvoyance/clairaudience, tongues
(*=Spell Mastery)

Thaddeus the wizard believes that knowledge is power, and that magic and astrology are the keys to acquiring knowledge. To that end, he spends his days poring over arcane texts and studying the heavens. While he seems severe at first, those who come to know him and earn his trust can see him relax and enjoy himself.



Oswald the Owl
CR NA
XP NA
Owl familiar
N tiny animal
Init +3; Senses Perception +10; low-light vision
DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+2 size, +3 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 12 (special)
Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +6
Resist None
OFFENSE
Spd 10 ft., fly 60 ft.
Melee Talons +6 (1d4-2)
Ranged NA
Special Attacks None
STATISTICS
Str 6, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 8, Wis 15, Cha 6
Base Atk +0; CMB +1; CMD 9
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Fly +7, Perception +10, Stealth +15
Languages NA
SQ Alertness, Deliver Touch Spells, Empathic Link, Improved Evasion, Share Spells, Speak with Master
Combat Gear None



Part 2—The Voyage
The PCs can find their new employer waiting for him just where he said, as the sky overhead is beginning to lighten. The Intrepid is a bark, a small vessel captained by Ned Carstens and with a crew of twelve sailors. Upon arrival, the PCs can go aboard and move their gear into the designated quarters. Any female characters are offered one of the private cabins (area 3 or 4); otherwise, the males are assigned to the crew quarters (area 6). For the record, Carstens moves to the other private cabin, while Thaddeus claims what is normally the captain's cabin.
Refer to the map below for the following area descriptions.

1.Sterncastle
The ship's wheel is located on this raised platform at the aft of the vessel; it is generally from here that the captain issues orders while sailing.

2. Main Deck
The main deck is a broad, open space, although usually it is filled at least in part with ropes, the ship's anchor, a lifeboat and that sort of thing. In between the two masts is the hatch providing access to the cargo hold below.

3. Private Cabin
For important passengers or, at least, those who can pay for it, this cabin boasts a bed and perhaps a table or a storage trunk. It can also be used for a first mate, if appropriate.

4. Private Cabin
This cabin is laid out in the same manner as the other one, above.

5. Captain's Cabin
By far the most elaborate quarters on the vessel is this small room. It has a table with four chairs for holding meetings, along with a bed, a wardrobe, a chest and a barrel of liquor.
6. Crew Quarters
Ten hammocks are arrayed in this area, in two tiers. The crew members sleep here, usually in shifts. In addition there can usually be found a number of sea chests, one per crewman, arranged beneath the hammocks.

7. Cargo Hold
This space could contain just about anything, provided it can fit in through the cargo hatch.

8. Crow's Nest (Not pictured)
A small platform high on the ship's foremast provides a place for the lookout to stand.

Captain Ned Carstens
CR 3
XP 800
Male human warrior 5
N medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +1
DEFENSE
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex, +1 Dodge)
hp 42 (5d10+10)
Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +2
Resist None
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Shortsword +6 (1d6+1)
Ranged Light crossbow +5 (1d8)
Special Attacks None
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +5; CMB +6; CMD 16
Feats Dodge, Skill Focus (Knowledge, Profession)
Skills Climb +5, Knowledge (Geography), Profession (sailor) +8
Languages Common
SQ None
Combat Gear Masterwork shortsword, master-work light crossbow, case of 10 bolts, logbook, masterwork navigation tools

Captain Ned Carstens is a gruff fellow, much like the men who serve under his command. He cares about little more than completing each voyage, collecting his pay and then enjoying some time back in port.
Typical Crew Members
CR ½
XP 200
Various warrior 1
N medium humanoid
Init +0; Senses Perception +1
DEFENSE
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
hp 6 (1d10+1)
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +1
Resist None
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Shortsword +2 (1d6+1)
Ranged Light crossbow +1 (1d8)
Special Attacks None
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB +2; CMD 12
Feats Skill Focus (Profession)
Skills Climb +5, Profession (sailor) +8
Languages Common
SQ None
Combat Gear Shortsword, light crossbow, case of 10 bolts
Crew Positions
PCs who have nautical backgrounds could serve as part of the ship's crew. This includes those who have Profession: sailor, Craft: carpentry or Knowledge: geography skills. Indeed, this can be a good way for them to develop their talents, since those should become important later in the campaign. At the same time, it's important to note which characters are serving on the three different watches, since that impacts who is in position to notice the approaching storm (see below).

Events En Route
During the voyage from the port town to the island in question, the crew and passengers of the Intrepid face numerous challenges; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • Spotting the storm is the first challenge; the task falls upon the PC(s) who are active on the watch in question (roll randomly). This requires a Survival or Knowledge: nature check. Those who miss a DC 12 check suffer a -2 penalty to the skill checks that follow, reflecting the fact that they were caught unprepared; those who succeed against a DC 18, in contrast, receive a +2 bonus since they can take their time in making ready.
  • Furling the sails requires Climb checks to cover thirty feet of distance, followed by a DC 12 Profession: sailor check. Failure on the Climb checks could cause a fall, while failing the Profession: sailor effort causes a -10 penalty to attempts at riding out the wind and waves.
  • Stowing cargo is also important, given that the storm will toss the ship about on the waves. Doing this requires a DC 12 Profession: sailor check. Failure here means that some of the cargo breaks loose, inflicting 2d6 bludgeoning damage to characters in the area and destroying some of the expedition's water and food supply.
  • As the Intrepid is tossed about in the storm, a rat swarm erupts out of the bilge and begins attacking any convenient targets. These rats have been driven into a frenzy of fear by the action of the storm and are nearly mindless because of it.
  • Moments later, a crashing wave washes across the deck of the ship. This forces everyone aboard the ship to make a DC 8 Fortitude or Reflex save or be knocked off their feet and pushed overboard. At that point, victims may attempt a DC 13 check to grab the ship's rail.
  • In the event that a crew member or passenger is washed overboard, some method of rescue becomes necessary. This can take a number of forms. One is making a ranged attack to throw a coiled rope at the victim, against AC 10. If that succeeds, then a DC 12 Strength check can pull the victim back aboard the Intrepid. Another option is to make a series of DC 20 Swim checks, although that is a truly daunting undertaking.
  • Given the damage suffered by crew members and/or passengers, the party's cleric has a chance to step in and provide curative spells or Heal checks.
On the morning following the storm, those on watch spies the island that is the expedition's destination.



Part 3—The Island and the Outpost
The island is a small one. It is covered by forested hills on its west side, while the east side gives way to swampy wetland and a sandy spit of land. There is an outpost of civilization and trade (location A), along with the long-forgotten tomb of Syeknyg (area 3). Finally, in the water surrounding the island lies the wreck of the Scintilla (location B). Assuming that the PCs visit that first location first, refer to the map and information below. They are in for an unpleasant surprise, however, when they discover the infestation of akata and void zombies. For exploration of the wreck, the native village and the tomb (locations B, C and D, respectively), refer to Parts 4, 5 and 6, below. 


Characters who make a DC 10 Perception check while circling the island can easily notice the trading compound, which is located along the shoreline; it takes a DC 15 effort to spot the wreck, and a DC 20 check to pick out the village hidden amidst the jungle canopy. 

The trading compound consists of two buildings, a house (A) and a warehouse (B), surrounded by a fifteen-foot-high wall. The buildings are presented below in the reverse order from that in which the PCs are likely to explore them. 


A. House
The former domicile of the merchant who ran the compound, Alexander Kent, is two stories in height, with neatly whitewashed stuccoed wood plank walls and a thatched roof. Inside the house is a two-story foyer (1), off of which lie the parlor (2) where guests are received and the dining room (3). The kitchen (4), beyond the dining room, is well equipped if a bit primitive. There is also a nicely stocked pantry (5) that includes dried meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, various pickled items in jars, plenty of rice and flour, along with a decent amount of wine and ale. On the other side of the kitchen from it are the cook's quarters (6). Upstairs one can find bedrooms for the family's two sons and one daughter (7), along with the master bedroom (8). There is also Mr. Kent's office (9). 

What is likely of more pressing interest to the PCs is the fact that the entire place is overrun by void zombies, since the whole family has fallen prey to the akata. The void zombies are pursuing some semblance of their normal routine when the PCs arrive, but swarm to the attack once they recognize intruders. 


Void zombies: Use the stats for medium zombies from pages 288-9 of the Pathfinder Bestiary, but with changes per page 23 of Bestiary 2.

B. Warehouse
This mud brick building, with stoutly built wooden doors, is a story and a half in height. It consists of one large, open room, with broad shelves lining the walls. Here one can find trade goods totaling 500 gp in value, including casks of water, wine and flour. What is more, a number of big wild dogs have wandered in from the jungle to feed upon the unguarded foodstuffs.

Wild dogs: Use the stats for riding dogs from page 87 of the Pathfinder Bestiary.

C. Stockade
The wall around the trading compound is made from logs stripped of their bark and sharpened at the ends, and then driven into the ground. It is fifteen feet tall, and has a narrow walkway that runs inside its perimeter at a height of twelve feet. Ladders lead up to the walkway at a number of locations around the compound. Climbing the wall, if it should become necessary, requires a DC 15 effort.

D. Dock
This broad platform is ten feet wide and extends fifty feet out over the water. It is supported by thick wooden posts. Here the water is deep enough for ships' boats and even dhows to land, but barks have too deep a draft.


Part 4—The Wreck
Another opportunity for exploration is presented by the wreck of the Scintilla lying in the water not far from shore. This small vessel is a dhow, but it should still contain a few surprises for the PCs. 

 Assuming that the PCs and their allies drop anchor over the wreck, which lies in twenty feet of water, they can easily explore it. In doing so, however, they face a number of dangers. The first comes in the form of an electric eel that inhabits these waters, and strikes once one or more PCs enter the water.

Electric eel: Refer to page 119 of the Pathfinder Bestiary.

Lashed to the ship's whipstaff the PCs can find Captain Quinariel's body. He has tied his hands to it, and following his death the sea creatures have left little more than bones. Even so, sealed in a waterproof eelskin pouch is the captain's logbook; see the appendix for details regarding what it might contain. The captain also wears leather armor +1, carries a longsword +1 on his hip and a longbow +1 on his back with a quiver of 20 arrows, and wears a cloak of resistance +1. The akata had no interest in such treasures. 

Strewn about the main deck are pieces of a husk-like material. Although the PCs don't know it yet, these are the remains of the cocoons in which the akata traveled. 

The ship's cargo hold is—for the PCs—almost empty. After all, Captain Quinariel was on a special mission, not carrying merchandise for sale. There are some crates of elven waybread, along with casks of water and wine. What is more, a swarm of crabs has taken up residence in the cargo hold.

Crab swarm: Refer to page 50 of the Pathfinder Bestiary for details.

Armed with the details from the captain's logbook (see the Appendix for details), the PCs should realize that they need to explore the island in order to finish this business.



Part 5—Sahuagin Lair
This is an optional encounter, adding complications to the story, depending on the desires of the players and the needs of the campaign. 

In an isolated area of relatively shallow saltwater one can find this excavated mound. It is home to a team of sahuagin scouts, ones who are always on the lookout for lost travelers, foundering vessels and other easy prey. To that end, they use this lair as a launching point for raids against their enemies, and eventually move their ill-gotten gains back to the tribe's stronghold. 

Refer to the map above for the following location descriptions.

1. Entrance
In the front of this hollowed-out mass of rock and dirt there is a single passageway that grants entrance. It is concealed by a mass of weeds, requiring a DC 20 Perception check to notice.

2. Tunnels
Beyond concealment, the next line of defense for the lair is this network of winding tunnels. They are intended to slow any attackers, forcing them to waste precious air while exploring. For that reason most of them loop around until ending abruptly or reconnecting with other paths; only one ends in a hole that passes up to the next level. As a general rule, the tunnels are as tall as they are wide.

3. Main Chamber
This broad, open hollow has narrow slots dug into its side walls, allowing the sahuagin to look out but not letting others see inside. (In game terms, treat them like arrow slits.) The floor is littered with bones from past meals, and concealed among them are the valuables that the patrol possesses. Note, too, that they keep a sizable supply of heavy crossbows and bolts at the ready, to help repel an attacking force.

Sahuagin: Refer to page 239 in the Bestiary for stats.

Sahuagin Scout: Refer to page 190 in the Monster Codex for stats.

At the GM's discretion, more powerful sahuagin characters could also be present; refer to pages 186-197 in the Monster Codex to find additional options for, and information about, these foes. 



Part 6—The Village
Armed with the information from Quinariel's logbook, the PCs should turn their attention to what else is on the island.

Exploring the Island
Depending on the wants of the GM and players, exploring the island could be relatively quick and easy, or could lead to numerous encounters with the local flora and fauna. In the latter case, here a few ideas for dangers that the PCs might experience along the way. Refer to the Pathfinder Bestiary to find stats for these creatures.

Forest
  • Leopard
  • Ettercap (with spiders?)
Hills
  • Wasp swarm
  • Venomous snake
Swamp
  • Constrictor snake
  • Two poison frogs

On the island the PCs also have an encounter with the akata. They are stalking prey, and try to approach the party using Stealth.

Akata: Refer to page 23 of Bestiary 2 for details.

The Village
Once the PCs reach the village, refer to the map below for details. At first glance it seems deserted. In a narrow clear patch is a cluster of more than a dozen huts. One is larger than the rest (1); it used to be inhabited by the chieftain. There is an underground chamber with a barred door providing access (2), where enemy prisoners are held. Next to that is a meeting area (3) which consists of a roof supported by pillars, with crude benches surrounding a central firepit. The rest of the huts are smaller, most containing a number of hammocks for sleeping along with hanging baskets, gourds and other such storage items. At the GM's discretion, the PCs might be able to find some useful tools or foodstuffs by searching the village.

Islanders
CR 1/2
XP 200
Various human expert 1
CG medium humanoid
Init +2; Senses Perception +5
DEFENSE
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10 (+2 Dex)
hp 8 (1d8)
Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +2
Resist Details
OFFENSE
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Spear +0 (1d8)
Ranged Longbow +2 (1d8)
Special Attacks Point Blank Shot
STATISTICS
Str 11, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 12
Feats Point Blank Shot
Skills Climb +4, Handle Animal +3, Perception +5, Stealth +6, Survival +5, Swim +4,
Languages Common (native dialect)
SQ None
Combat Gear Clothing, longbow and arrows, spear

These natives are simple people, but ones well adapted to life on the jungle island.

Some time after the PCs arrive, a group of surviving islanders returns. They, too, try to use Stealth. In this case, however, the PCs can avoid violence as long as they don't start a fight. As long as the situation does remain peaceful, the PCs can learn what the islanders know about everything that has transpired. This includes the following details, which can be presented in a conversational manner or more directly.
  • The natives have lived on this island for many years, trading with the Kents and sometimes working with ships' crews.
  • Three days ago (modified as necessary due to the circumstances of the party's travel), they watched as something fell out of the sky and crashed into the nearby water.
  • In the aftermath of the crash, strange new creatures (akata, although they do not know that name) began preying on the island's inhabitants.
  • By now most of the islanders have been turned into “mindless attackers.”
Finally, if the PCs should ask about any kind of structure on the island, then the natives recognize the references to Syeknyg's tomb—although they don't know it by that name—and offer to take the PCs there. They consider it to be an ancient structure, one built by a traveler from far away.


Part 7—The Tomb
Not far into the island's jungle lies a seemingly crude structure made of roughly formed clay bricks, something akin to a short step pyramid. Its exterior is overgrown with vegetation, requiring a DC 20 Perception check to notice it if the PCs are not accompanied by the islanders. A pair of iron-bound wooden doors provide access.

1. Entrance
Inside the double doors is a passage twenty feet wide and thirty feet long. It ends in another set of iron-bound wooden doors.

2. Central Chamber
Beyond the second set of doors lies a broad chamber, fifty feet on a side and twenty feet in height. It is dominated by a statue depicting a lizard man in traveler's garb, one who carries a staff in one hand and holds up a small four-sided pyramid in the other. Those who succeed at a DC 10 Perception check notice that there are triangular indentations in the sides of the pyramid. Additionally, the whole thing radiates a faint aura of conjuration magic.

3. Fire Chamber
This room also radiates the same type of magic found in the central chamber, above. It is mostly empty, a roughly diamond-shaped chamber but with two flattened sides. In one of those sides stands the door, while in the other, narrower one is embedded a small triangular metal plaque. This one is engraved with the symbol for fire, although it takes a DC 15 Perception check along with a DC 10 Knowledge (arcane) check to identify it from the doorway. 

There is also large stone urn on the floor close to the wall with the plague; it contains ashes. As soon as anyone enters the chamber, a hell hound appears in front of the urn and then moves to attack. This is the first of the tests presented by Syeknyg for those who wish to acquire his treasures.

4. Sleeping Quarters
This small room is where Syeknyg once took his rest. It is simple but functional, with a bed against one wall and a wardrobe of moth-eaten clothing (sized for a lizard man) against another. Opposite the door sits a desk and chair. 

On the desk sits a small ceramic orb; it is the orb of control for the aethership in the chamber above. Although the PCs might not recognize this at first, the books contained in the desk are are also quite valuable, since they provide the party's first introduction into the lore of the void. Refer to the Appendix, below, for suggestions regarding what they might contain.

5. Earth Chamber
In most respects this chamber matches the one dedicated to fire, above. The plaque in the wall opposite the door is engraved with the alchemical symbol for earth, and the urn nearby is filled with dirt. What is more, a caryatid column appears to attack as soon as someone enters the chamber.


Air


Earth 


Fire 


Water 


 6. Secret Passage
Although these doors are plainly visible from the main chamber, they are solidly locked and the means for opening them is not readily visible. They radiate the same kind of magic as the statue and the four elemental chambers, which should provide a clue. Unless they can make a DC 40 Disable Device check, the PCs must deduce that unlocking them requires recovering the four triangular plaques (from areas 3, 5, 7 and 9) and putting them into the sides of the pyramid held by the lizard man depicted in the statue (in area 2). Once they do so, they hear and audible click and the doors swing open. Failing that the PCs might try to beat their way through the doors, but they have hardness 9 and 90 hit points. 


  On the other side of the doors is an oddly shaped room. It would be square, except that a hidden staircase (DC 20 Perception check to notice the door) leads from ground level on the left side, up along the far wall, and then through the ceiling to the right. For that reason, this room seems to have a niche, ten feet by ten feet, in the wall opposite the doorway. In the wall of that niche is an engraved panel that boasts four parallel horizontal slots, along with a phrase in Draconic:

Put the four elements into their natural order.

A DC 10 Perception check lets characters notice that the four slots match the four plaques in size and shape. Additionally, a DC 20 check reveals that this magical mechanism is trapped; inserting the plaques in the wrong order triggers an arc of electricity (3d6 damage; DC 18 Reflex save for half damage; DC 20 Disable Device check to destroy it).
The correct order of the plaques, from top to bottom, is fire, air, earth, water. (This is based on a classical philosophical idea that fire rises up through the air, which is above the earth, and water sinks as low as it can.) Inserting the plaques in the correct order opens the secret door to the hidden stairway. 


7. Water Chamber
This area is quite similar to those mentioned above, except that the urn is filled with water, the plaque depicts that element, and a medium water elemental appears to attack interlopers.

8. Kitchen
A small cooking hearth dominates one wall of this room; the ashes in it have long since gone cold. Against one wall sits a table with three chairs, now brittle with age, while a shelf stands opposite it. While the shelf was once stocked with delectable foodstuffs, they are now entirely spoiled. At the GM's discretion, they could be treated as a slow-acting poison if anyone is so foolish as to consume them. They are, one might note, not the typical diet of primitive lizard folk on Homeworld.

9. Air Chamber
In this chamber the urn seems to be empty, since it is filled with air. The plaque depicts the fourth and final element, an a three stirges appear to attack.

10. Hangar
The stairs from the secret passage (area 6) open into this chamber, which fills the upper level of the pyramid. Sitting in the middle of it is a small wooden sailing ship, a dhow. This is Syeknyg's aethership, and the PCs have passed his test and earned the right to claim it for themselves.
Refer to the stats and deckplan for this vessel in the Appendix to find a description of it. This includes the fact that characters with suitable spells can confirm its strong magical aura. Additionally, the PC who possesses the orb of control recognizes that it is linked to the ship. Although the vessel is resting on its side, it begins to hover upright as soon as the character with the orb makes a DC 5 Spellcraft or Use Magic Device check. A rope ladder hangs invitingly from one side.
Finally, those who think to inspect the chamber's ceiling see that it is made from little more than wooden supports and a fine type of netting overlaid with the same type of clay from which the pyramid's bricks are made; in truth, little effort is needed to break through it.


Part 8—Endgame
While the PCs have been exploring the wreck, island, fort, village and pyramid, their enemies have not been idle. As mentioned above, Elias and Henrik—assuming that one or both survived the business in the tavern—have come in pursuit of the PCs. The villains have hired a crew and ship similar to the Intrepid and its sailors. They've followed the party to this island; from there, how the situation has developed depends on the PCs' actions and the adjudication of the GM. 

If they can, the enemies try to ambush the captain and crew of the Intrepid and thus take control of that vessel. Unless the PCs provided a means for raising an alarm, or otherwise bolstered the fighting ability of Captain Carstens and his sailors, the villains probably succeed at their task. Additionally, the strangely charismatic Elias convinces some of the sailors to help capture the PCs, claiming that they've found a priceless treasure that they want to keep all to themselves. (In this he is helped by the fact that there's some element of truth to his claims.) For his part, Ned Carstens refuses to cooperate.
From that point, Henrik takes a party of sailors onto the island to look for the PCs. In this way, they could stage an ambush at the pyramid itself. Alternately, if the PCs won the cooperation of the natives, then one of the islanders could bring them word of what has transpired. That would allow the PCs to plan a counterattack, perhaps resting overnight before taking action in the morning. 

Finally, in the event that the PCs should be overcome by the traps inside Syeknyg's pyramid, or perhaps ambushed by Elias and Henrik's thugs, then the sorcerer and rogue might allow them to recover—while stripped of weapons and gear, of course—and then force them to attempt finishing the puzzle, thereby granting them a chance to turn the tables at some point. The crew of the Intrepid, Thaddeus the wizard and/or some of the natives might even become involved in staging a rescue, causing enough of a distraction that the PCs can rally themselves and win the day. 

Finally, the PCs' acquisition of Syeknyg's aethership provides a dramatically potent weapon. They might fly to the rescue of the captured crew and turn the tide of battle in a truly impressive fashion. Here too, the GM could let the players control some of their NPC allies and let this turn into a big, sprawling, glorious battle.


Conclusion
If they can discover the truth of what has happened on the island, survive the dangers of it and the pyramid, and escape the attack by Elias and Henrik, then the PCs have won a considerable prize for themselves. There are still, of course, the matters of deciding hot to share ownership and just what to do with the aethership, the negotiation of which should provide a chance for good roleplaying. At the same time, PCs who completed all of these encounters should earn enough experience to reach 3rd level, providing them with a solid start to their adventuring careers.

Dividing the Loot
Before undertaking the voyage to the island, Thaddeus offered each of the PCs between 50 and 100 gp for their assistance. Given the nature of the prize that they've discovered, most characters probably want to renegotiate the deal. It might also have happened that the PCs asked to keep any loot from defeated enemies, since Thaddeus's main objective was recovering what he thought to be the iron from a fallen meteorite. Due to the unexpected windfall, the wizard is happy to agree on claiming equal shares in the aethership, and indeed to use it for exploring whatever it is that lies beyond the heavens.

Further Adventures
This scenario also introduces numerous plot hooks for future activity; a few of the possibilities are presented here.
  • Needless to say, the acquisition of an aethership presents almost limitless chances for exploring the rest of Homeworld along with the space beyond it. Provided they can work out the details with Thaddeus, the PCs could find themselves crewing the vessel and perhaps even investing in a cargo before setting sail into the void.
  • Captain Quinariel's logbook introduces the mystery of his mission on behalf of the Elven Navy, business that might be intriguing enough for the PCs to try delivering his message to the Admiralty at its Star Fort base. (See the Appendix below for details.)
  • Syeknyg's journals also provide a means for the GM of introducing locations that the PCs might wish to visit, perhaps via vivid descriptions and drawings of exotic beings and extraterrestrial locations. (Once again, see the Appendix below for details.)
  • Should they have survived these events, Elias and Henrik could return to menace the PCs again as they seek revenge for their defeat—perhaps while they are in port purchasing supplies, and with the help of other pirates.
  • If the PCs have their own connections on Homeworld, taking leave of them could provide for some good roleplaying.    


Appendix—Syeknyg's Journals
The full details to be found in this collections of texts is deliberately left vague, allowing the GM to introduce details for a particular campaign setting. Even so, the journals are likely to contain some or all of the following elements.
  • There is an uncannily accurate map of Homeworld, possibly including details previously unknown to the PCs and those among whom they live. Indeed, it depicts the world as being round!
  • Another drawing depicts Homeworld as just one of numerous bodies in orbit around that planet's sun; here the GM should add other worlds in order to round out the depiction of the campaign setting's solar system.
  • There could be references to some of the creatures peculiar to the void, such as the akata, brethedan, lunarma, mi-go and oma. The GM could even tease some of the details for these creatures by including pictures from the relevant Bestiary entries, and perhaps by providing details regarding their unusual abilities.
  • The journals could be a means of introducing locations such as the Crossroads asteroid colony or the elven Star Fort station.
  • Syeknyg could include legends from other worlds, such as rumors that a phoenix lives in close orbit of the sun, that a banshee inhabits the eye of an unending storm on a gas giant planet, or that the long-lived elves have undertaken voyages to other solar systems.
  • This is also a good means of introducing spacefaring vocabulary, along with hints of what to expect on other planets in the solar system. Similarly, it could introduce the PCs to organizations such as the Royal Interplanetary Company or the Interstellar Order of Illumination.

Appendix—The Elf's Logbook
This book contains daily entries made by Quinariel. His dating system follows the calendar of the Elven Royal Navy. At the GM's discretion, this might be a system used on Homeworld, one from a different planet that could be introduced later in the campaign, or something else entirely. While the entries presented below provide a minimum of information for introducing the captain's mission and why it failed, the GM may want to add entries as hooks for future storylines.

28 Virgo
We have set sail for Star Fort Station, bearing information important to the Admiralty there. Lord Admiral Solinus will want to hear of what we have learned, but I shall not write more about it here. Let us hope that the voyage brings little more than smooth sailing.

1 Libra
En route to Star Fort, while passing close to a planetary ring,we have made a curious discovery. One member of the watch spotted cocoon-like objects floating amidst the debris. Unsure of what they might be, but knowing that they might be of interest to our natural philosophers, we snagged them in a bit of cargo netting and are dragging them behind us.

7 Libra
Last night, while I slept, one of the cocoons opened and disgorged its inhabitant. The creature is quadripedal, like a dog, but with blue skin and tentacles surrounding its head rather like the mane of a lion. While I don't like the look of it, I don't have the heart to kill it outright. For that reason, we've rigged a crude cage for the beast and are keeping it below decks.

21 Libra
One of our crew, in checking on the creature, has suffered an attack by it. Although the tearing wounds from its claws are not so deep, the sailor has fallen into a feverish stupor. Only time will tell if he can recover from it, although our priest is doing all that he can for the fellow. What is more, I've decided to keep the creature alive, for now, so that we might study its poison if that should prove necessary.

24 Libra
I fear that my mission to reach Star Fort Station has failed. Given the damage to my vessel, the best hope is to steer for a little-visited planet not far from here, but one on which, I believe, I might find some assistance. This world is not known for its spacefarers, but I believe an old lizard man by the name of Syeknyg might have settle here. 

For those who might wish to know, this is how our downfall came to happen. The crew member awoke from his stupor, only to attack his fellows. At the same time, more of the creatures hatched from the cocoons that were towing. Now my entire crew has been overrun, save me alone. I've managed to lock them in the cargo hold, and have lashed myself to the whipstaff since I cannot stay awake forever. May the Gods allow us to find help and complete my mission. 


Finally, the notes included with Quinariel's logbook allow the GM to introduce other elements for future plot hooks.



Appendix—The Aethership
The following magical items are all part of the dhow aethership inside Syeknyg's pyramid.

Solar Vessel
Aura strong transmutation; CL 3rd
Slot NA; Price 25,000 gp; Weight NA
Description
Each of these vessels looks similar to other craft of their size, except that they are engraved with symbols and incantations sacred to the God of the Sun. They come in different sizes, such as the small dhow or fishing boat, the medium sloop, the large junk and the huge galleon or merchantman. In addition to being able to levitate, they exude a comfortable warmth that protects against the cold of the aether. Additionally, each is connected magically to an orb that the pilot uses to steer the vessel.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item; continual flame, levitate; Cost 12,500 gp

Flying Sails
Aura strong transmutation; CL 5th
Slot NA; Price 12,500 gp; Weight NA
Description
These canvas sheets are imbued with the same magical energies as are flying carpets, except that they are designed to be carried by ships. They provide one half of the locomotive force for the aethership, along with impetus for maneuvering.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item; fly; Cost 6250 gp

Wind Cordage
Aura strong transmutation; CL 9th
Slot NA; Price 12,500 gp; Weight NA
Description
These ropes, connected to the aethership's sails, are tied with knots that harness the power of the winds. In addition to contributing to the vessel's mobility, they provide a fresh supply of air to those traveling aboard it.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item; control winds; Cost 6250 gp

Orb of Control
Aura strong transmutation; CL 11th
Slot NA; Price 6250 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
Description
This small sphere, crafted from the same wood as the ship with which it is connected, allows its wielder to steer the movements of that vessel. It is sized to fit into the captain's hand, but grows or shrinks to fit the individual.
Construction
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item; animate object; Cost 3125 gp


Dhow (Fishing Boat)
Colossal space vehicle
Squares 39 (15 ft. by 65 ft.); Cost 5000 gp
DEFENSE
AC 2; Hardness 5
hp 585 (292)
Base Save +0
OFFENSE
Maximum Speed 180 ft. (magical); Acceleration 30 ft. (magical)
CMB +7; CMD 19
Ramming Damage 7d8
DESCRIPTION
This small vessel has a main deck and a cramped cargo deck below it. It is usually lateen-rigged, with a large triangular sail. It lacks a true sterncastle, but has a covered area in the stern for inclement weather.

Propulsion magic (1 mast, 15 squares of sails, 75 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 10 (not including weapons crews)

Decks 2

Weapons Up to 6 Large direct-fire siege engines in banks of 3 positioned on the port and starboard sides of the vessel, or 2 Huge direct-fire siege engines, each positioned on the port and starboard sides of the vessel. The siege engines may only fire out the sides of the ship on which they are positioned. They cannot be swiveled to fire out the forward or aft sides of the ship.



2 comments:

  1. My pleasure! This is the first part of the campaign that I ran over the past year.

    ReplyDelete