Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hell to Pay

This adventure for Savage Worlds and The Sixth Gun is the capstone of a broad story arc that includes most of the previous supplements and scenarios presented on this blog.


For some time now, one group of adventurous souls has been doing business related to the small frontier town known as Smith's Crossing. As they've learned more and more about the town's inhabitants, they've also discovered that some wicked activities are taking place there. What they've learned is only the tip of the iceberg, however, and they'll soon discover that a grand and truly wicked plot is afoot—and one that only they can stop.

Adventure Synopsis
For some time now, evidence has slowly been accumulating regarding some kind of foul plan is in motion around Fort Arneson, a U.S. Army outpost on the western frontier. This comes to a head when the spirit of a young Indian named Little Raven, unable to find peace in the world beyond this one, goes to the PCs for help. He summons them to the town of Smith's Crossing, where an epidemic of cholera has erupted (as detailed in the scenario “A Plague Among You”). In dealing with that, they discover a number of other secrets—notably, that the local doctor and his wife are responsible for the outbreak; they have been taking fluid and tissue samples from their patients and using them to craft poppets; and that they have crafted numerous incendiary devices that have been shipped to the fort disguised as casks of whiskey and other goods. 

At the same time, the PCs can learn that a treaty council and related festivities are being held at Fort Arneson. They should also learn that many people who are in attendance there—including the fort's commander, Anders Arneson III—are controlled by Angelica Smith. This means that a direct explanation of what's transpiring isn't enough to foil the Smiths' plan. Rather, the PCs must use every bit of stealth, trickery and brute force that they can muster in order to keep the villains from fomenting a massacre, summoning and binding a crossroads demon, and then forcing it to open a door into the Winding Way.

For the Gun Master
Angelica Smith possesses a copy of the Clavicula Salmonis, a book containing spells for summoning and binding demons, purportedly written by King Solomon himself. That, along with the bombs—which have been in tunnels dug by ghouls in the shape of a pentagram beneath the fort—and the blood shed by those Indians and soldiers and others under her control, should let her complete the ritual and bring a crossroads demon under her sway. That will, in turn, grant her access to the Winding Way, and from there the possibilities will be endless.

Involving the Heroes
This scenario is intended to be the culmination of a slowly developing storyline, one that includes numerous elements with clues to the plot that the PCs have only just recognized. In particular, the scenario “A Plague Among You,” which involves the investigation of a cholera epidemic in Smith's Crossing, provides considerable evidence pointing to this plot. For that reason, this adventure should be run as a direct sequel to that one. It could be possible to run this as a standalone scenario, with a good deal of work on the part of the GM, but even so it would be wise to consult that adventure for more information.

Trouble in Smith's Crossing
For more details about the events that lead into this scenario, refer to “A Plague Among You.”

Scene 1—Preparations and Approach
After they've learned everything they can in Smith's Crossing, the PCs should be ready to take action. Before they head out for Fort Arneson, they might want to consider some or all of the following things.
  • The most important consideration is probably evidence of the plot that the Smiths have planned. This includes information about the poppets they've created for different people, the copy they've made of the Clavicula Salmonis, and the explosive surprise that they've had shipped out to the fort.
  • Next they may want to consider acquiring as many weapons as possible. While diplomacy could help win the day, the chances are good that some blood will be spilled. To that end, the PCs would do well to be better equipped than their foes. Although there isn't much available in Smith's Crossing itself, the PCs should take an inventory of what they have.
  • Along the same line, the PCs should take stock of any allies who can assist them in this business. That can include Indians and people from town. This is a good chance for dramatic roleplaying, with bonuses or penalties applied based on the arguments and evidence used. The GM should tailor just who is available based on the PCs' previous interactions with NPCs, too. For example, those to whom they've provided aid are more likely to provide assistance, while ones with whom they have not had business are likely to be more aloof.
  • The PCs may want to stockpile other supplies, too—especially medical gear, which they can take from the Smiths' house, along with gifts for potential allies and any equipment that they might want for when the shooting starts.
Once they're as ready as possible, the PCs can set out to cross the prairie for the fort.

Going into Harm's Way
At that point it becomes important to know just how they make their approach; a few of the possibilities are outline here. 

There's always the chance that the PCs approach openly, in which case they can choose between at least two different tacks. One is to play it coy, acting as if they have no knowledge about any kind of plot. This could require some Persuasion checks opposed to enemy's Notice efforts. More importantly, the GM should keep in mind how much the Smiths and their allies, along with other NPCs, have learned about the PCs' activities. For example, if lots of people saw the PCs storm the Smiths' home at the Crossing, then they likely know that their plot has been discovered. On the other hand, if the PCs have been discrete in their investigation, then they're much more likely to catch the villains off guard. 

It's always possible, too, that the PCs go in for a direct confrontation. Given the influence that Angelica Smith holds over a number of the soldiers and Indians (see below for details), this should prove to be a daunting task. As always, though, may players prefer the direct approach. 

Secrecy is another option. By approaching NPCs on the edge of the gathering first, the PCs can meet with potential allies and learn more about the situation. In that case, refer to the list of characters who are present, along with their inclinations and loyalties, to adjudicate those interactions.

Fort Arneson
To find a map of the fort, along with stats for the soldiers who are stationed at it and the Indians who are present for this business, refer to the following supplements.

Scene 2—The Rendezvous and the Ritual
Once the PCs arrive at Fort Arneson, however they do so, refer to the following chart for information about how to set the scene.

The Powers That Be
Presented here are details regarding the major NPCs at the fort.
  • Among the civilians, Dr. and Mrs. Smith are, of course, in the thick of things. They are housed in the set of officer's quarters next to the infirmary. Dr. Shaffer is confined to the infirmary, along with a few other soldiers who also have cholera.
  • Of the soldiers, Captain Arneson is under the influence of a poppet; his lieutenants are not. Jeffreys is inclined to take a hard line with the Indians if they seem to be aggressive, while Fitzpatrick hopes to keep the peace. Keep in mind, too, that the PCs may have had a run-in with Jeffreys back at the Crossing, affecting his reaction to them.
  • Terrence Taylor, the Indian agent, is just trying to do his job by delivering the annuity money in an orderly manner. Angelica has him under the influence of a poppet, too—a fact that she will use to stir up resentment at the gathering.
  • The Indians are divided into two parties, led by the warrior chief Red Hawk and the mystic chieftain Standing Bear. Red Hawk has a more warlike stance, while Standing Bear, believing that something important is on the verge of happening, urges his followers to parley. Their reactions to the PCs depend on any previous encounters with them, as may have occurred in the scenarios “Blood on the Snow” and “Buried But Not Dead.” Finally, the ghost of Little Raven, inhabiting a bird, could also be present.
As always, other characters could certainly be present, depending on previous developments from the campaign, at the GM's discretion.

Terrence Taylor, the Indian Agent
This Indian agent has read a lot about Native Americans, and is entrusted by the government to make annuity payments and arrange treaties. He has been sent out to Fort Arneson to do just that, working with representatives of Red Hawk and Standing Bear's bands.
Attributes: Agility d4, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Investigation d8, Knowledge d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 2, Toughness: 5
Edges: Connections, Linguist
Hindrances: Cautious
Gear: Fancy clothing, writing materials, strongbox containing $5000.

The Proceedings
When the PCs arrive, the Indians are divided into two circles of tepees, one on each side of the fort's main entrance (with Red Hawk's people to the left, and Standing Bear's people on the right). Unless it is in the middle of the night, the two chieftains, with a couple of warriors each, have gone into the fort for the deliberations. Those take place in a broad tent set up just for that purpose—and located, as it were, on top of the fiery surprise that the Smiths have planned for everyone. Agent Taylor, along with Captain Arneson and a handful of soldiers, are also present. They go about their business of negotiating a treaty until they're interrupted by the PCs. 

At that point, Angelica Smith tries to use her influence to subvert the PCs' efforts. This is easier for her if they're wanted for any kinds of crimes, and especially if they've run afoul of Lieutenant Jeffreys. If that's not the case, then Angelica uses her influence over Captain Arneson, having him call for their arrest.

Presenting the Evidence
As long as the PCs do have a chance to tell their story, one of them should make a Persuasion check. As always, the GM should apply bonuses or penalties due to good or bad roleplaying or evidence. Success means that the the PCs convince Captain Arneson that their accusations are true; failoure means they're not so convincing, while a botch results in the commanding officer calling for their immediate arrest. 

If the PCs do succeed, then that's when they see the first clear sign of Angelica's influence over the captain. Instead of giving orders to bring in the Smiths for questioning, he instead calls for the PCs to be arrested. Characters who make Notice checks can recognize that he's having some kind of mental struggle, and use of the Detect Arcana power or a relevant skill check can identify that it's something supernatural in origin.

PC Poppets?
If the GM is using this scenario as part of a campaign, then it's entirely possible that the Smiths managed to acquire a sample of bodily tissue or fluids from one of the PCs, and thus to create a poppet for that character. Such a possibility adds a special degree of drama to this confrontation, with that character struggling against her influence.

The Tunnels
On the off chance that the PCs discover the tunnels dug beneath Fort Arneson—possibly because of the evidence from Smith's Crossing, combined with the fact that the intended cargo isn't visible in the fort, or through the use of magic—refer to the map above. The tunnels are dug in the shape of a huge pentagram, as indicated, and casks of gunpowder are placed at each spot marked with an X. What is more, those are connected by lines that lead to a magneto blasting detonator (a wooden box with a plunger handle that triggers the explosives). When needed, the ghouls that dug the tunnels can trigger the explosives, starting Angelica's ritual.

All Hell Breaks Loose
Once the bombs are triggered, all of the tension that has been building up during the treaty negotiation is also ignited, creating the possibility for a horribly bloody battle. At that point, the GM should take into account the following possibilities.
  • The Indians that are camped around the fort, suspecting foul play on the part of the whites, move to enter the fort. Since the main entrance is probably open—this is, after all, a friendly gathering—they storm in that way.
  • Seeing that, Danforth Jeffreys calls for a quick and forceful response from the soldiers. The soldiers come swarming out of their barracks, with guns blazing.
  • Captain Arneson could try to take command of the situation, provided that he is not still under Angelica's influence. She wants to spill as much blood as possible in order to complete the ritual, and so directs him to order no quarter, neither asked nor given.
  • The PCs can attempt to use Persuasion in order to prevent as much bloodshed as possible. To that end, treat Captain Arneson as being neutral toward them, and Danforth Jeffreys is probably uncooperative; the attitude of the Indians depends on the interactions that they've previously had with the PCs.
  • Angelica is busy trying to complete her ritual, and her husband stays by her side, ready to defend her. Additionally, she can summon the trio of ghouls from the tunnels to attack any PCs or other characters who seek to interfere.

The Ritual
In terms of game mechanics, treat the power that Angelica is trying to use as the Summon Ally power (from page 117 of the core rulebook). Her access to the Clavicula Salmonis allows her to summon and bind a creature of legendary power, in this case a crossroads demon (see page 74 of the Sixth Gun rulebook).

Dr. and Mrs. Smith—Refer to “Bad Medicine” for stats.

Soldiers (39)—Refer to “Soldiers and Officers of the US Army” for stats.

Indians (26)—Refer to “Native People of the American Frontier” for stats.

Little Raven—Refer to “Restless Spirits” and “The Dead Man's Hand” for stats.

Ghouls (one per PC, and possibly more if the PCs have brought allies of their own to the battle)—Refer to pages 76-7 of the Sixth Gun rulebook for stats.

While this situation has the potential of developing into a big, sprawling combat, the action really should focus on the PCs and their efforts to prevent a massacre and apprehend the guilty parties. For that reason, the combat between the soldiers and the Indians can be adjudicated using the mass battles rules from pages 92-3 of the Savage Worlds core rulebook, with the following modifications.
  • The U.S. Army force consists of twenty infantry privates, two corporals, two sergeants and a lieutenant; ten cavalry privates, a corporal, a sergeant and a lieutenant; and Captain Arneson.
  • Standing Bear and Red Hawk, each a heroic chief, are each accompanied by a dozen warriors (nine novices, two seasoned and one veteran).
  • For that reason, the U.S. Army side starts with nine tokens, while the native side starts with six. The Army receives a +1 advantage for the extra token, while the Indians suffer a -1 penalty due to the slight advantage that the explosion-damaged fort provides.
  • Given the circumstances, barring a major development, morale modifiers probably don't apply.
  • One player can make the Knowledge (battle) checks for the Indians, and another for the Army, in order to spread out the involvement; the players could be picked based on their characters' own leanings toward different sides.
  • The frequency of those checks is left up to the GM; the action in that battle doesn't progress as quickly as that in the combat between the PCs and the Smiths, but checks at appropriately dramatic moments provide a background for the smaller fight, and thus add to the overall drama of the scene.
  • In this case, the PCs should not suffer damage based on the outcome of the Knowledge (battle) checks made by opposing sides; rather, the outcome of each roll paints a picture of the battle that is raging around the PCs as they take on the Smiths and their ghoulish servants.
  • Finally, keep in mind that, if the PCs can defeat the Smiths, then they can break Angelica's hold on Captain Arneson, then they can convince him to order his men to stand down.
All in all, this should make for an epic confrontation, with the clash between the Indians and the Army playing out in the background as the PCs work to defeat the true villains and spoil the ritual.

As long as the PCs can reveal the Smiths' manipulation of the situation and stop Angelica from completing the ritual, then they can score a major victory. Not only do they defeat a major enemy, but they also prevent an all-out massacre at Fort Arneson. Even so, a lot of unfinished business remains to be resolved.

Further Adventures
Here are just a few of the matters in which the PCs could become involved following the Battle of Fort Arneson.
  • If either or both of the Smiths are captured instead of killed, then they are likely placed under arrest and need to stand trial for their crimes. Given the supernatural nature of things, however, this is no ordinary legal matter.
  • To that end, Captain Arneson writes a full report for his superiors back east, one that is immediately taken for special consideration. The powers that be could decide to appoint special investigators who are familiar with the occult and the supernatural.
  • The United States government could recognize the PCs as capable and fair-minded individuals, and call on them for future business between itself, the Army and the Indians.
  • The ritual that Angelica Smith hoped to conduct is based on some of the secrets contained in the Clavicula Salmonis, but others still remain. Just what else one can find therein is left up to the GM to determine.
  • Even if Angelica is prevented from summoning and binding the crossroads demon, this location still retains a strong connection to the mystical path known as the Winding Way, and the Indians who survived the confrontation might want to explore it.
  • Given that the town of Smith's Crossing has lost two of its most important citizens, there's an opportunity for a charismatic PC to take on a leadership role in that community. This settlement becomes more and more important, too, as railroad tracks and telegraph wires continue their inexorable spread across America.
  • Finally, Little Raven still has not recovered his hand, that last piece of his body that he needs for his spirit to find eternal rest. It turns out that the Hand of Glory into which it was made is still in the possession of Alexandra Flynn, who is currently using it to pursue a Mayan relic down in Mexico...

Monday, September 17, 2018

Native People of the American Frontier

Presented here are stats for native characters, for use with The Sixth Gun RPG.


Presented here are sets of stat blocks for various roles in the tribe, such as hunter/scout and medicine man. For each, that archetype is presented at different levels of experience all the way from Novice to Legendary.

Hunter/Scout (Novice)
This youngster, having grown up in the wilderness, is skilled in the ways of woodcraft, but has yet to hone those abilities in the pursuit of truly dangerous prey, or in battle against the enemy.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Notice d4, Riding d4, Shooting d4, Stealth d4, Survival d6, Tracking d4
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 4, Toughness: 5
Edges: Alertness
Hindrances: Outsider
Gear: Bow (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1), knife (Damage d6+d4).

Hunter/Scout (Seasoned)
After spending countless hours prowling through the wilderness and going to war, this warrior's skills are sharply honed.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d6, Riding d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d6, Survival d6, Tracking d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 4, Toughness: 5
Edges: Alertness, No Mercy
Hindrances: Outsider
Gear: Bow (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1), knife (Damage d6+d4).

Hunter/Scout (Veteran)
This veteran has developed a reputation not only in his own tribe, but even among other tribes and back east, where the Whites have even heard of him.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d6, Riding d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d8, Survival d6, Tracking d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Alertness, First Strike, No Mercy, Quick
Hindrances: Outsider
Gear: Bow (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1), knife (Damage d6+d4).

Warrior Chieftain (Heroic)
As warriors grow older, some of them take on leadership roles among their fellows, riding at the head of hunting and war parties.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Riding d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d8, Survival d6, Tracking d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Alertness, Command, Command Presence, First Strike, Inspire, No Mercy, Quick
Hindrances: Outsider
Gear: Bow (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1), knife (Damage d6+d4).

Warrior Chieftain (Legendary)
Only those warriors who survive through countless trials can live to become legendary chieftains, ones whose names will be recorded in stories told for years to come.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Riding d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d8, Survival d6, Tracking d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 5, Toughness: 5
Edges: Alertness, Command, Command Presence, First Strike, Followers, Inspire, Leader of Men, No Mercy, Quick
Hindrances: Outsider
Gear: Bow (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6, RoF 1), knife (Damage d6+d4).

Medicine Man (Novice)
Some Indians have a special, mystical connection with the world around them. Through certain techniques they can even influence that world and those in it.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Healing d4, Knowledge (local) d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Survival d4, Tribal Medicine d6
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism)
Hindrances: Outsider
Powers: Boost/lower Trait, deflection; Power Points: 10
Gear: Trappings, staff (Damage d6+d4, Parry +1, Reach 1, requires 2 hands).

Medicine Man (Seasoned)
The stronger one's connection to the spirit world, the more influence a medicine man has over other people and things.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Healing d4, Knowledge (local) d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Survival d4, Tribal Medicine d8
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), New Power, Power Points, Rapid Recharge
Hindrances: Outsider
Powers: Armor, beast friend, boost/lower Trait, deflection; Power Points: 15
Gear: Trappings, staff (Damage d6+d4, Parry +1, Reach 1, requires 2 hands).

Medicine Man (Veteran)
More powerful medicine men can even begin to explore the world beyond this one.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Healing d4, Knowledge (local) d4, Notice d4, Persuasion d6, Survival d4, Tribal Medicine d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), Improved Rapid Recharge, New Power x2, Power Points x2, Rapid Recharge
Hindrances: Outsider
Powers: Armor, beast friend, boost/lower Trait, deflection, dispel, spirit walk; Power Points: 15
Gear: Trappings, staff (Damage d6+d4, Parry +1, Reach 1, requires 2 hands).

Mystic Chieftain (Heroic)
Not all Indian chieftains build their reputations by succeeding at the hunt or in battle; some of them make their names as medicine men and are given positions of power because of their wisdom and magical power.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Healing d4, Knowledge (local) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Survival d4, Tribal Medicine d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), Command, Improved Rapid Recharge, Inspire, New Power x2, Power Points x2, Rapid Recharge
Hindrances: Outsider
Powers: Armor, beast friend, boost/lower Trait, deflection, dispel, spirit walk; Power Points: 15
Gear: Trappings, staff (Damage d6+d4, Parry +1, Reach 1, requires 2 hands).

Mystic Chieftain (Legendary)
Just like with their warrior counterparts, these mystical leaders are personalities that go down in history, and are believed to interact with the spirits as much as they do with mortal men and women.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Healing d4, Knowledge (local) d6, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Survival d4, Tribal Medicine d10
Charisma: --, Pace: 6”, Parry: 6, Toughness: 5
Edges: Arcane Background (Shamanism), Command, Command Presence, Fervor, Followers, Improved Rapid Recharge, Inspire, Leader of Men, New Power x2, Power Points x2, Rapid Recharge
Hindrances: Outsider
Powers: Armor, beast friend, boost/lower Trait, deflection, dispel, spirit walk; Power Points: 15
Gear: Trappings, staff (Damage d6+d4, Parry +1, Reach 1, requires 2 hands).

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Godsharp Saga Campaign Guide

Here's a campaign guide for the adventures of the Godsharp Saga.


Campaign Overview
Presented here are summaries of the six scenarios that make up the Godsharp Saga. GMs can use this as a guideline, but should keep in mind that no story survives unscathed an encounter with the players.

Part 1: Out of the Blue
While relaxing one evening in a town on Homeworld, the PCs witness an attempted robbery. The victim is a local wizard named Thaddeus, who has recently observed and plotted the course of what he thinks is a meteorite falling from the sky; he wishes to recover its metal for use in crafting magical items. Impressed by the PCs' abilities, he recruits them to join an expedition with that purpose. 

During their voyage by sea the party encounters a storm that causes numerous hazards aboard the ship, including the risk of being swept overboard and the eruption of rat swarms from the ship's bilge. The PCs also have a chance to begin discovering their roles as part of a ship's crew, something that will become important in the future.

Upon arriving at the island, the PCs can explore a number of different areas to learn more about the situation. There's a mysterious shipwreck in the nearby waters, with a dead elf tied to the helm; a small sahuagin outpost; a trading fort that has been overrun by strange monsters; a village of alarmed lizardfolk; and a curious stone pyramid deep in the island's interior.

That pyramid contains numerous surprises, including the tomb of a lizard man who has traveled beyond the limits of Homeworld. There are also a few traps and puzzles, along with a variety of monsters, to protect its secrets. Most notable of all, however, is the fully functional aethership dhow that waits in the pyramid's uppermost level.

In the end, the thieves try once more to steal those hard-won prizes, and only through quick thinking and fast action can the PCs keep what they have claimed.

Part 2: Among the Stars
Having acquired their own aethership, the PCs can take whatever steps they deem necessary to outfit it. This includes laying in necessary supplies, along with cargo and maybe even passengers. It's also a chance to settle any business on Homeworld before heading out into the Void.

Then, armed with details from the elven captain's logbook, they can set out to deliver news of the elf Captain Quinariel's fate to his people at Starfort Station. Once in space they can encounter many of the Void's denizens, including natives and other travelers. Eventually they should reach Starfort Station on a moon of the planet Kronos, where the Elven Navy has its headquarters. There, while reporting what they know, and learning what they can, they also hear about the disappearance of a visiting arborling naturalist.

Provided that they choose to investigate, the PCs can learn more about the appearance of fiendish monsters in the waters beneath the moon's icy crust, and can go in search of the missing arborling. The search leads them into battle with a group of skum that have set up a stronghold, worshipers of Lamashtu who have been working to create an evil infestation and who seem to be connected to an even larger plot.

Reference Texts
This campaign uses two important supplements for reference, both of which are available online.

Part 3: At a Crossroads
At some point the PCs' business likely leads them to Crossroads, a settlement in the asteroid belt. There they can mix with the locals, including Governor Reda of the Royal Interplanetary Company and the Order of the Lion's soldiers. It's also a good place for buying or selling cargo, provisions and other supplies, as well as to rest and relax between business. Before long they can become embroiled in some of the conflicts on the asteroid, including run-ins with mimics posing as cargo, rowdy orc sailors, and a ship infected with the plague. They might even venture into the tunnels beneath the settlement, which have become infested other dangerous creatures.

The most important event taking place on Crossroads, however, is the Festival of the Comet, named for the heavenly body that passes every few years. This includes all kinds of competitions, including archery, wrestling, fencing, and even artistic performance, with awards for the winners presented by Governor Reda himself. The culmination of it all is an aethership race through the asteroid belt, with numerous local and visiting crews participating.

During the race, in addition to any competitive shenanigans, the PCs can find an old ship, the Constant, trapped in the ice of the passing comet. It is an old cog belonging to the R.I.C., and aboard it is evidence of an expedition that went horribly wrong—along with a nabasu demon that breaks free as the ice begins to melt. If the PCs can defeat it and recover the goods from the wreck, they can learn of important and dangerous discoveries on the planet Tyr.

Part 4: Beneath the Sands
One way or another, the PCs can learn about the Constant and its failed exploratory mission to Tyr. Whether they decide to pursue potential adventure and wealth on their own, or are recruited by Governor Reda to do so, they can outfit their vessel and head for the cold red desert planet. En route to their destination they have more run-ins with the hazards of space, including a mi-go attack on an oma, a group of undead, and a ship overrun by a black pudding. They also find another clue to the larger plot happening in the Sol System, when their old associate Captain Axelrod—under some kind of mental influence, and accompanied by a medusa—ambushes them.

On the red planet itself the PCs encounter some of the locals, including a burrowing remorhaz and a group of jann. They can learn a little more about the expedition, too, which made landfall and sent explorers into a network of underground passages. Venturing in the tunnels, the PCs run into more native monsters, including cytillipedes, a chaugrak, a hive of shriezyxes and a chuul. They also find more evidence of the lost explorers, and clues to the tunnels' other inhabitants, a tribe of troglodytes.

At the center of this all is the troglodytes' ziggurat temple. Through stealth, trickery and the use of force, the PCs can explore the temple, discover the cult of Lamashtu's activities and face off against the high priest and other clerics. They can also learn about a planet that once orbited where the asteroid belt now lies, and about the magical artifact which caused that world's destruction—a weapon that the followers of Lamashtu seek for themselves.


Part 5: Beyond the Pale
Armed with what they've learned during their journey to Tyr, the PCs by now should recognize the threat that the Sol System faces, and should have some ideas of how to investigate further. Pursuing those options can lead in a variety of directions.

The most direct option is to confront Governor Reda and, more importantly, his alluring mistress. She is in fact a succubus, and dealing with her can lead to mental domination as well as conflict with those who unwittingly support her. At Crossorads the PCs can also meet a dryad stowaway named Phigalia, one who hails from a sylvan world beyond the Sol System. She is being pursued by the orcs on whose ship she was hidden, and can reveal their smuggling activity between Crossroads and the Island of the Minotaurs on Homeworld. 

Paying a visit to that island leads the PCs into the heart of the matter, where they can find and raid the minotaurs' labyrinth and stronghold. There they face up against more worshipers of Lamashtu and more demons, and can seal a portal that provides a gateway to the Abyss. They also find evidence of a planned attack on the Temple of Ptah, in the nearby Holy City. Things are complicated when the dryad succumbs to a strange illness and turns into a spectre that attacks the PCs.

By acting quickly the PCs can catch the attackers in the act of a daring subterranean burglary, and thus learn more about the destruction of Hiveworld and how the weapon that the demons seek. That information, then, can lead them back to Kronos, where the elves maintain insterstellar portals leading to planets around other stars. The demons what they can to sabotage the PCs efforts, including the possession of the elven admiral, who tries to arrest them. As long as the truth is revealed, however—including the fact that a shadow demon has been letting the orcs and their allies use the portal—the PCs can gain access to the portal that leads to Arborea, the world from which Phigalia came.

On that world, after dealing with some of the natural hazards, the PCs find a place where wicked magic has been used to create a ship of the dead from the bodies of slain arborlings. They also meet the lillend Harmony, who can tell them that the ship and its crew have gone to seek the Godsharp. They also face one more ambush, this time by a group of vrocks.

Part 6: Into the Eye of the Storm
In a race against the necromancer and demons, the PCs can venture into the asteroid belt, to the point where Hiveworld would still be, and seek the spirit of the long-lost formian queen. As long as they can convince her to reveal what she knows, they can learn that the Godsharp is hidden in a shrine inside the never-ending storm on the planet Thunar. Heading there, they find the necromancer and his allies working to acquire the artifact, and a vital confrontation occurs. Win or lose, the fate of Homeworld hangs in the balance.

As long as they can acquire the device, the PCs still face the task of destroying it. To do so they must head back to Kronos and use another of the elves' portals, this one leading to an abandoned arkship that drifts in orbit around a black hole and its feeder star. There they face off against a colour out of space, the entity that overran the arkship's crew, along with the bronze dragon that has fallen under its sway. There are also the last of the demons and their cloud giant ally who do everything in their power to reclaim the artifact. If the PCs can succeed, however, by throwing the device into the black hole, then they can end the threat to Homeworld once and for all.

Incorporating the PCs' Individual Stories
The summaries presented above assume that, for the most part, the PCs take on jobs when offered and follow up on clues as they find them. Most GMs know, of course, that players don't usually follow such linear storylines. What is more, the players' own inventions can and should be woven into the tapestry of the campaign, making for a richer and more personally engaging story. Presented here, then, are some suggestions for making that happen.

Before the Campaign
As mentioned above, the background stories that players create for their characters can add NPCs and potential plot hooks for the GM to use later. These can include, but of course are not limited to, the following.
  • Family ties and potential romantic interests can help the PCs be connected to people and places back on Homeworld. This is especially important when the threat that the Godsharp presents becomes known, since it gives the PCs more reason to care about saving the world from destruction.
  • Organizational membership is also important. This is especially the case for clerics who are connected to a religious hierarchy; they might have to report back to their superiors, and could even be tasked with working to spread their faith through the planets of the Sol System. The same could be said for fighter or paladins who belong to a particular military force, wizards who study at a school of arcane learning, or thieves who are part of a guild.
  • Homeworld and its neighboring planets numerous such factions of its own, which are presented in A Gazetteer of the Sol System.
The Ultimate Campaign supplement, Chapter 1, has lots of information and suggestions for helping to develop characters' backgrounds.

During the Adventures
Once the action has started, there are many more ways one can add to the tapestry of the story, such as the following.
  • Revisiting locations is a good means of making the setting feel like a real place. This is especially true for places like a common port of call or a favorite tavern, allowing the NPCs there to become familiar personalities.
  • The ship(s) that the PCs own can work in a similar way. First, this creates specific roles for characters to fulfill, particularly that of captain. Second, by developing personalities for NPC crew members, the GM can make large-scale battles more dramatic. Third, the possibility for buying and selling cargo, and thus turning a nice profit, creates opportunity for additional interactions.
  • As mentioned above, NPCs and plot hooks related to the PCs' background stories can be used to create supplemental adventures, or to add complications to existing ones.
  • Ongoing activity for the organizations to which the PCs belong can work in the same way, with side missions occurring at opportune times or even being woven into other business.
Again, Chapter 2 of the Ultimate Campaign supplement presents extensive rules for what kinds of things the PCs can do during their downtime between adventures, and the GameMastery Guide details the boons that organizations and other NPCs can award to the PCs.

The Aftermath
Finally, the events at the conclusion of a campaign have important implications for future campaigns; some things to consider include the following.
  • Even before the main story arc is resolved, it's important to know what each PC's “happily everafter” looks like. That is, after all, the ending toward which each character strives, setting up for retirement.
  • Many PCs could find themselves in situations of power, either by rising up through their organizations, building their own power groups, or taking advantage of special situations (for example, the possibility for a change of leadership on Crossroads).
  • The same goes for ships that run regular routes between the planets; future PCs might even find their starts as members of such crews.
  • In this way, one campaign's PCs can become important NPCs for the next campaign that the GM runs.
  • Similarly, the stories of the PCs' exploits become the legends of which bards sing to their audiences in marketplaces and taverns around the worlds.
  • If the PCs should fail in their efforts—especially if the demons should be able to use the Godsharp to destroy Homeworld—then an entirely new campaign can rise from the ashes of the previous one.
Once more, Chapter 3 of Ultimate Campaign has extensive suggestions for character retirement, along with rules for game mechanics that can add layers of complexity to the PCs' activities.